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Ezekiel Verzola looked through the Bible as part of a Bible scavenger hunt during class at Our Lady School in Festus on Aug. 23.
Ezekiel Verzola looked through the Bible as part of a Bible scavenger hunt during class at Our Lady School in Festus on Aug. 23.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

School helps students absorb, understand the Bible

6th-, 7th-graders at Our Lady School in Festus eager to tackle Scripture

Kylie Leitterman and her sixth-grade classmates at Our Lady School in Festus sought clues in their Catholic Youth Bibles to questions provided by their religion teacher, Maranetta Linderer.

Sixth-graders at the school learn how to research the Bible and to study the Old Testament. Seventh-graders focus on the New Testament.

Kylie likes it so far, stating that she is eager to learn more about God. “It helps you understand in detail,” she said. “I never knew some of this before.”

Her classmate Soren Brown said he is looking forward to learning more about the Old Testament because it tells about the times before Jesus was born.

Linderer began the class by leading students in prayer — a Hail Mary on this day. She explained the method for looking up Bible passages and referred to a search for answers as a type of scavenger hunt. Linderer suggested reading the Scripture in front of a passage for a clearer understanding.

Kylie Leitterman, left, and Neelah Cook shared their thoughts as they and their sixth-grade classmates worked on a Bible scavenger hunt at Our Lady School in Festus.
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
Pausing after scurrying from desk to desk to answer questions and provide guidance, Linderer asked: “Are you having fun?” She added that “later, we’ll journal about this and pray about” the passages.

The seventh-graders now are pros at looking up Scripture and putting it in perspective. During a beak from classwork, Brody Ervin said it’s important to learn about why Jesus died on the cross for us. It also helps in understanding the readings at Mass and how the parish pastor relates it to real-life events, he said.

Rowen Boyer agreed with Brody. “I like it when I know a Scripture and what the reading is all about,” he said.

Rowen learned to read the Scripture, think about it and read it again. One of his favorite Bible stories is the one about Jonah and the whale in the Old Testament. The Bible stories help him in his everyday life, prompting him to do little things to be kind or to help others.

A favorite Bible passage of Karli Payne is The Call of Simon the Fisherman (Luke 5:1-11), in which Jesus asks Simon to cast his nets once more. Simon lowers the nets, even though he’s skeptical, saying that they’ve been working hard all night and caught nothing. The catch ended up overflowing two boats with fish. “If you’re ever struggling in your life and start to lose faith in God, you can read the Bible or pray and it restores your faith in Him,” Karli said.

Doreen Berezowski, who teaches the seventh-grade religion class, said “it’s a privilege to share my love of God with these kids. They absorb it. Which means their families are top-notch because the students know what I’m talking about. They know the Bible. They have that faith. They’re a pleasure to teach.”

Tracy Kempfer, principal of Our Lady School, said students need to know and understand Scripture because it’s Jesus’ Word and it helps them know the history of their faith. “Hopefully, it makes an impact on them and they continue their faith life as they grow older,” Kempfer said.

Linderer, the sixth-grade teacher, said it’s an appropriate age for appreciating the Bible they received, a gift from the parish. In studying the Old Testament, “not only do we learn about the people and the stories, but we also learn how to look up the Scriptures to support what we are learning and discussing in class,” Linderer said.

“I find it so gratifying when the students make a connection with the Scriptures and stories that we read and the readings at Mass. Learning to read and understand the Word of God is the foundation of our faith,” the educator said.

Last year, Linderer had some eighth-grade students who posted Scriptures on social media daily. Other students in the class would “follow” them, and they would discuss the Scripture throughout the day.

The Catholic Youth Bible is used through eighth grade and also is used in religion classes at St. Pius X High School in Festus.

>> Our Lady School

Mission statement: Our Lady School fosters a faith-filled and academically strong environment, supporting families and working with the faith community to encourage the formation of the whole child through the examples and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Commitment: The school educates children in a community of faith and knowledge. “We are proud to be able to teach and live our Christian values on a daily basis. Students are taught to think critically, work independently, communicate effectively and show respect for themselves, for others and for the community,” Tracy Kempfer, wrote in a welcome to the school.

Catholic schools: Rooted in the teachings of Jesus, they are enriched by Catholic tradition and Gospel values and enhanced by the celebration of liturgy, sacraments and prayer. They further the children’s knowledge and practice of their faith and guide them to serve others through the use of gifts and talents.

>> Studying Scripture

By studying Scripture in Catholic schools, students are presented with stories of salvation history, as well as the prayers, prophecies and wisdom writings through which God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — has revealed His love for all creation.

Samantha Grone, director of religious education in the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Education and Formation, said that by learning how to use and navigate the Bible, “our students are able to become more familiar with the text, so that as they learn the contents of Sacred Scripture as it is taught in the classroom and proclaimed in the liturgy, they might truly make it a part of their own lives of faith.”

The intention is that by studying and reflecting on Scripture, especially the words and deeds of Jesus Christ in the Gospels, “our students encounter the living Word of God and become witnesses to the life of Christ,” Grone said.

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