Friends and relatives of fourth-grade class recently came from near and far to be honored at the school’s annual “Admiration Society Tea.”
The students, dressed in their best spring attire, welcomed their guests into a specially decorated classroom for an hour of heartfelt expressions of thanks.
Every year, visitors comment about how the seemingly small, insignificant adult and child interactions have such a profound, positive effect upon children.
Although some of the honorees may be admired by society for their professional accomplishments, military service or perseverance in the face of adversity, the children appreciate them for their human touch. There were few dry eyes throughout the presentations.
Over the years, guests have traveled from Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia to be honored by the children.
Ryan Feczko chose his uncle and godfather Michael Feczko, a Chicago restaurant entrepreneur, as the special person who has always encouraged and supported him. Ryan has become an avid reader since his uncle began sharing the fantasy series books that he enjoyed as a child.
The fourth-grader also admired his uncle’s ambition in opening his restaurant, Lucky’s, which was featured on the Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food” series. Ryan attended the filming and thinks his uncle makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches.
Especially moving this year was Nicholas Thomas’ admiration of his aunt, Charlene Parilla, for her patience, kindness and loving ways. She is a survivor of a ruptured brain aneurysm and was given little chance of survival in November 2009, just days before her wedding.
After a year-long recovery, Parilla married and was able to travel to Pittsburgh for Nicholas’ First Communion in 2010. She traveled from her home in Gaithersburg, MD, to attend the tea and spend the following week with Nicholas and his family.
Nolan Sapos gave a long-distance phone thank you to his cousin, Lt. Michael Curcio, who is a Navy helicopter pilot and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Curcio just returned to his base in Jacksonville, FL, after time at sea. Nolan honored his cousin for his service to our country.
Dominic Veltri spoke admiringly about how his grandfather, Carlo Veltri, had to assume the duties of head of the household when his father died. At the time, Carlo was just a teenager and had to take care of his family during wartime in Calabria, Italy.
Soldiers routinely patrolled in front of their seaside home in southern Italy and confiscated their valuables. Carlo now makes his home in Pittsburgh’s Whitaker Borough where Dominic admires his large garden and enjoys the delicious meals that his grandfather prepares.
This beautiful program was created by fourth-grade teacher Shirley Bates. Three years ago, she took a course on how to write a children’s book, which required her to assign her students to write and publicly present a book.
The project grew into the annual Admiration Society Tea and gives the fourth-grade students an opportunity to present their work and honor someone they admire.
Not only do the students write and read their stories aloud, but they also create a specially decorated box to contain their miniature book. Both are presented to their honoree, along with a certificate and fresh flower at the tea. A reception followed the event.
The students look forward to the tea with as much as anticipation as Christmas, according to Bates. One child excitedly told her that the Admiration Tea was a “once in a lifetime event.”
Bates said, “After the first tea, I realized it was the best thing I had ever done in my teaching career. I had given children the perfect venue to show love and admiration to someone close to them.”
St. Alphonsus School, located on Church Road in Wexford, offers the parish and surrounding communities a pre-kindergarten through eighth grade educational program that is deeply rooted in Catholic tradition and philosophy.
The diocesan school, under the leadership of Principal Sr. Mariella Bradley, RSM, actively teaches students to be contemporary Christians and tomorrow's leaders.
—Submitted by Jill Taylor Spero on behalf of St. Alphonsus School. If you have news you would like to share, please email Cindy Cusic Micco at email@example.com