Story by S.L. Hansen
Editor's Note: Photos of the wax museum are posted in the photo gallery.
LINCOLN (SNR) - Fifth-grade confirmandi at North American Martyrs School in Lincoln had a unique opportunity to learn more about their chosen patron saints while raising money for the school’s ongoing mission project.
Each student put together a costume and props and staged a “wax museum” in the parish hall Wednesday, Feb. 25. Each student posed as his or her saint and remained motionless until a visitor dropped some money into his or her cup. Then, the student “came to life” to tell the saint’s story.
According to principal Sister Janelle Buettner, M.S., the idea of dressing up as a patron saint has been a mainstay for students. However, a new twist was added last year when it was turned into a wax museum.
Fifth-grade teachers Kylie Pippitt and Michelle Kruse were behind the change.
“In the past, the kids would go one at a time on stage,” Mrs. Pippitt said. “We both thought it would be better to set it up as a wax museum.”
Another advantage of this was the opportunity to raise money for their mission project: building a well in Sudan.
“They’re building it in a town where they don’t have much water,” explained fifth-grader Gage Campbell.
He considered what it would be like for his family without indoor plumbing or a well near their home.
“It would be pretty hard to survive,” he said.
Students bring in donations for weekly collections every Friday, host no-uniform/jeans days for a dollar, and put on a raffle during Catholic Schools Week. The confirmandi saints wax museum is another opportunity to raise funds.
“Last year, they made quite a bit of money,” Sister Janelle reported.
Mrs. Pippitt and Mrs. Kruse didn’t remember quite how much the grand total was, but Mrs. Pippitt noted, “It was several gallon buckets.”
This year’s totals were not available at press time, but with 57 students in the confirmation class, the donations were sure to meet or exceed expectation.
The wax museum is also an opportunity for the kids and their parents to get creative about putting together a costume and props.
“We stress to the kids, ‘You don’t necessarily have to buy something. Let’s find what you have in your house,’” said Mrs. Pippitt.
“Some of the parents were asking other parents for suggestions or items to borrow on social media,” Mrs. Kruse said, pleased that the project is building community among school families.
Becky Spiegel helped her twin daughters gather items for their saints. Between a thrift store and things around the house, they were successfully able to dress Emily as Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and Lauren as Saint Maria Goretti.
“I’m dressed as a nun, because she was a nun,” Emily said. “I have a black dress and bonnet and a shawl around my dress… I’m carrying a cross and a rosary.”
Emily said that Saint Elizabeth Ann Seaton is a saint she has always admired.
“She’s been there for me, and I’ve prayed to her for a long time,” the fifth-grader said.
Having helped three older children with their saint costumes, Gage’s mother, Lisa Campbell, allowed him to take charge of his own costumes and props.
“He did most of the work himself,” she said.
Gage was Saint Michael the Archangel, which required spending “several weekends” gluing cotton balls onto large cardboard wings, twisting pipe cleaners into a halo and acquiring a shield and foam sword to pose with.
“I’ve always liked Saint Michael and felt a connection to him, and I’ve always liked his prayer a lot,” Gage said.
As Sister Janelle pointed out, the wax museum is also an evangelization opportunity. The other students learned more about various saints when they went to the museum after morning Mass, as did parents, grandparents and other family and friends who were invited to view the saints museum in an afternoon session.
Gage estimated that he said his Saint Michael speech “maybe 25 or 30 times” through the day.
“I think it got a little easier by the end,” he said.
Parents, teachers and principal all agree that the wax museum is a great way to help the students know and learn why they can rely on their patrons well after their March 9 Confirmation.
Sister Janelle noted, “A lot of Catholics will admit they forget who their confirmation saint is sometimes. Our kids say it over and over and over again that day; they won’t forget.”
Mrs. Kruse agreed.
“They use these saints as an example and also pray for their intercession as they prepare for this sacrament,” Mrs. Kruse said. “This really helps them get to know their saints.”
“I think it’s a great program that they are doing. It teaches their kids a lot about their saints and also raise money for the missions as well,” Mrs. Speigel said.
“It’s a chance for our confirmation students to dress up and have fun and learn something at the same time,” Sister Janelle said. “They really embody their Confirmation saints.”