It’s an Adventure Time at Our Lady of Guadalupe’s after-school program

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org

Antonio Pimentel rolled a ball of dough in his hands, gently dipping it into a plate of powdered sugar. By the time he got to his third dough ball, though, his hands managed to get deeper into the sugar.

"Yeah, I'm a snowman," the first-grader grinned as he shook the excess powdered sugar from his hands.

Most Wednesdays after school, Antonio and his siblings head down to the teacher's lounge at Our Lady of Guadalupe School for Adventure Time, an after-school program that introduces them to hands-on activities that inspire fun and creativity.

The effort is the brainchild of students at Cor Jesu Academy. Senior Naomi See met Our Lady of Guadalupe's pastoral associate, Sister Cathy Doherty, last year at the Crossing the Delmar Divide pilgrimage and wanted to get to know the community at Guadalupe better.

"She happened to be one of the people I was walking alongside," Naomi recalled. "We started up a conversation and she was telling me about the (Hispanic) population there. I ended up going to Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe and got to know the community better. It was such a neat opportunity, coming off of that walk."

The school already had an after-school arts program, but the grant that funded it ended last year, said Cor Jesu senior Claire Koster, who worked alongside her friend Naomi to organize Adventure Time.

Since the fall, a group of Cor Jesu students have been coming to Our Lady of Guadalupe most Wednesdays and have a fun activity for students — painting, making slime, music lessons (Cor Jesu's choir paid them a visit) — and at this most recent class, snowmen treats, made with a mixture of crushed graham cracker crumbs and sweetened condensed milk.

"We put this on our pancakes," said fifth-grader Edwin Cortes, as he poured the sweet sludge into a bowl.

Fifth-grader Emily Solomon carefully crafted her snowmen — one for her, and one for a friend who could not make it. Emily has come to every meeting, and said, "It's fun. I like being around the girls."

Since the beginning, Adventure Time has been made possible by private donations. Sister Cathy noted that the school recently received a grant from the Brown Sisters Foundation to continue the effort. The program also recently expanded to Tuesdays, when adults from the community visit and have an activity related to their professions.

Sister Cathy admitted she was a bit stunned when the students called her last summer. "They had this all planned out," she said. "They really took to heart what we were talking about on the Delmar Divide walk. The zeal for social justice at Cor Jesu and then connecting with our school was just unbelievable."

Adventure Time is not just an opportunity for students to have creative fun, said Naomi and Claire, but also for the Cor Jesu students to broaden their knowledge of different cultures within the local community.

"What a privilege it is to be exposed to so many different communities — we look at it as informing what we want to do in the future," Naomi said. "And it's always keeping that human aspect in mind. Its so easy to lose our understanding of humanity." 

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