A brilliant end to the first year of our partnership with Stephen C. Foster Elementary School and United to Learn
Back in the summer of 2022, the All Angels Foundation and the vestry made the commitment whereby Saint Michael became a partner with United to Learn and Stephen C. Foster Elementary School to work in collaboration to support the students at the school. The plan included in-classroom tutors, a community care closet, and teacher support. The M&O Committee also voted to send part of the Christmas plate to the school so that each grade could go on a field trip, most of them for the very first time. And as we dreamed with the school, a plan was made to have the Saint Michael youth host a day camp at Foster as part of their intercession programming. That dream became a reality the first week of June.
On day 1, our youth enthusiastically descended upon the Foster Elementary School campus and transformed it into a place of Journey—the theme for the week. They built a rock river (later topped with painted rocks by our campers), decorated the halls with balloons and travel memorabilia, created cheers to pump up the energy all week. Each youth was then assigned their campers for the week.
On day 2, the youth met their campers, loaded up in buses, and headed to the Perot Museum. The kids were ecstatic from the moment we arrived— this was the first time most of them had ever been to the museum. They were completely enthralled by all the exhibits and enthusiastically attempted the many hands-on activities. They soared like birds, learned about their bodies, admired the brilliant gemstones, shook on the earthquake platform, and challenged the athletes. Our youth camp counselors were fantastic in helping the kids explore and experience the museum!
Day 3 was our first day of camp activities, which included rounds of arts and crafts, music, movie time, and sports. Father Christian Basel helped all the campers make a tie-dye t-shirt. Samuel Moore, Father Nate Bostian and Luke Wiley led relays and sports outside. Heather Klossner led music—a highlight for our youth and the campers.
On day 4, the fun continued inside and out. The little kids played a giant musical chair game while the older kids played dodgeball. Campers made tissue paper-covered "stained glass" vases and candle holders. The candle holders were filled with electric candles and given to our Meals on Wheels seniors by our route drivers.
On our last day of camp, we played outdoor games, had percussion music time, and made beaded necklaces and bracelets. The kids filled the stained-glass vases they made with fresh flowers to take home.
One of the readings in Morning Prayer for the week came from 2nd Corinthians and it summed up our amazing week! Paul writes "and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work." One of the teachers shared with Principal Johnson how wonderful this camp is for children who have never been able to do something like it. Thank you to our youth and our new youth minister, Sam Moore, for showering this school with so much love and joy!
Thank you also to the over 100 volunteers who have supported this new partnership during the school year. Our faithful tutors, the stewardship team that built the canned good sculpture in the fall, the youth and young adults who then used the cans and more to stock the Community Care Closet. Also, we cannot help but send love to our brilliant Brighter Bites team that loaded avocados, pineapples and literally tons of other produce into bags to distribute to families in need. And a huge thank you to the cookie bakers from St. Mary’s guild who sent dozens and dozens of cookies for the students and the teachers. Finally, prayers of thanksgiving continue to ascend for all the Saint Michael families who have supported this ministry with prayers, Christmas plate donations, and who helped pack Christmas Craft kits at the Advent Festival. It has been a phenomenal year!
Principal Johnson shared that the initial reading score data for his kids shows they exceeded both Dallas ISD levels as well as state levels. He credits our partnership, in collaboration with the other partners and the fantastic teachers, in helping the school achieve their goals. As we have started planning for 2023–24, we have been asked to continue our individual work with the lower grades in reading and phonics. The school would also like our help in grades 3–6 with conversational English so that the students can achieve fluency as they move on to upper school, all of which is taught in English. We will also continue to provide community support throughout the year in various projects.
Thank you, Saint Michael, for taking on this sweet elementary school, and indeed, for all the work you do across our community, sharing God’s love and abundance near and far!
**This article was written by the Rev. Robin Hinkle and was featured in the 2023 Fall Archangel.