As old Mother Nature cast the Bayonne landscape into sheets of ice during one of this winter’s many storms on Feb. 1, students from All Saints Catholic Academy jumped up, down, and sideways, doing things like the “Double Dutch,” the single jump, and the swing around – not to stay warm, but to promote healthy hearts.
The jump-a-thon was a public service component of the school’s programs and involved the whole school population. All Saints Catholic Academy, located at West 13th Street, held the event as part of Catholic Schools Week.
“We wanted the students doing something physical.” – Sister Eileen Jude Wust
“The Student Council selects the charity they wish to give to,” said Principal Sister Eileen Jude Wust.
The program was the centerpiece in a series of events that marked Catholic Schools Week, and was generated partly from the students’ desire to think healthy. Also included in the event was a donation to the Have a Heart Foundation, which encouraged kids to bring in a baby item. Have a Heart Children’s Cancer Society was formed for the sole purpose of improving the quality of life of children struggling with cancer and their families, assisting them with medical bills, treatment, equipment, transportation, and household expenses.
Students enthused by the effort were prohibited from fundraising outside of their homes, but they could find sponsors for their individual cause.
Sister Wust should not have been surprised by the amount of money raised, since the school has been generating similar amounts for other groups. Last year, students raised $5,400 for Habitat for Humanity in Jersey City, when most expected the school to generate no more than $700.
Even dance organizers were a bit stunned by the amount of funds raised, saying they had expected somewhere in the range of $700, but not more than $5,400.
In 1974, the National Catholic Educational Association and the United States Catholic Conference united to create Catholic Schools Week. This year, it ran from Jan. 30 to Feb. 5, and was designed to highlight the academic, social, and artistic benefits of Catholic school education.
Nearly all Catholic schools around the nation take part, and the event includes local Catholic elementary and high schools.
In All Saints, the week included a literary breakfast, a special person’s day, a book fair, and a crafts day (with crafts designed for senior citizens and given to local senior centers).
But the fundraiser jump-a-thon proved to be the centerpiece of the week, as students jumped around in the newly restored gymnasium.
Coordinated by Mary Cole, the school’s physical education teacher, each student jumped around for about 45 minutes, not only raising funds for heart research, but also learning about their own hearts as they got the benefit of the exercise.
“When we looked for something to do this year, we thought about the dance-a-thon we did two years ago,” Sister Wust said. “We wanted the students doing something physical.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.