Shout `hooray' to the principal

School: At a surprise assembly, pupils at St. Louis Catholic School performed music and skits in honor of their principal, Terry Weiss, and her 25 years of service.

January 31, 2001|By Laura Dreibelbis | Laura Dreibelbis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The advent of Catholic Schools Week took on added significance this week at St. Louis School as Principal Terry Weiss was recognized and thanked for 25 years of service in the Baltimore Archdiocese.

Weiss, a native of the Baltimore area, reached the milestone this month and was surprised repeatedly and moved to tears more than once as she accepted gifts and accolades from pupils, parents and staff members Monday.

"In all the years I've been in Catholic school education, this is the best tribute I've had," Weiss, principal at St. Louis for five years, said after two ceremonies at the Clarksville school.

The first was the week's opening Mass, during which Monsignor Joseph Luca thanked her for her service, and the 515-member student body, the staff and parents gave her a standing ovation.

"It's much easier to give an award than to receive," Weiss said, adding that she was humbled by the recognition and thanked everyone who helped her.

She was again surprised 30 minutes later when she was called to "an emergency in the second grade," but instead was led into the gymnasium where everyone gathered to shout surprise and present a tribute of original songs, cheers and silliness from each grade - kindergarten through eighth.

Signs that read "inspiring," "kind," "friendly," "respectful," "pretty" and "helpful" were among those that surrounded the stage. Student Council President Danielle Sparklin and fellow eighth-grader Caitlin Preas presented Weiss with a huge basket of flowers.

The middle school chorus opened the program singing "Hero," the lyrics of which were about being one.

Kindergartners and second-graders used their own words and sang to the tunes of "Theme From the Addams Family" and "Frere Jacques" to honor their principal. First-graders sang a "Hooray for Mrs. Weiss" song, raising their hands in cheers. Third-graders sang a Hail Mary prayer in Spanish. Fourth- through sixth-graders recited original cheers using letters to the words "principal" and "Mrs. Weiss."

Seventh-graders performed an original "Recipe for a Star Principal" skit, combining "ingredients" printed on banners such as patience, inspiration, discipline and vigilance. Each banner was put into a large paper bowl to complete the "cake." The "cake" was frosted with Catholic faith.

Eighth-graders ended the performance by thanking Weiss for several new programs and then sang "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack.

"It's a little scary to think all this went on and I knew nothing about it," Weiss said at the conclusion of the program, adding: "This has touched my heart in a way I cannot express."

Danielle said Weiss is "just wonderful" and has always been available if a problem arose. The whole school worked together to plan the event, practicing in secret to maintain the surprise.

A number of additional events fill Catholic Schools Week with each day dedicated to a different aspect of the school. Teachers, parents and children are recognized on a day for each. Older pupils will teach various literature genres to the younger grades on literature day.

The culminating activity will take place Friday with the conclusion of the "Mathathon" begun this month. Pupils collected pledges for the number of math problems completed. More than $11,000 has been received thus far, and all proceeds will go to Churches Concerned for the Homeless in Howard County.

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