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There was a family meal in the gymnasium of St. Joseph Catholic School on Oct. 12.

The occasion was “Faith Family Dining Day” – a new virtue-based restorative discipline activity held once a month. Students from all grade levels are placed into “Faith Family” with other students. Each family and their teacher are then assigned a virtue.

“The Faith Family consist of kindergarteners through 8th grade mixed together,” instructor Mandy Whitener said. “So, in one ‘Family’, you have about 15 students ranging from Kindergarten through 8th grade. Once a month, we highlight one virtue word for the entire month from one of the faith families.”

During the lunch, the students dine “family style” with bowls of food to be passed around. The event also offers and opportunity for students to learn table etiquette. But, more importantly, is the lesson of family and good virtues and the opportunity to talk with their family, according to Whitener.

The first meal was held in September. At that time, students and parents shared their thoughts on the event.

Clare, a fifth grade student, said “the food was amazing and it was a great way to interact with our virtue houses and get to know each other even more.”

Dave Werner prepared the spaghetti for that first meal – something that second grade student Luke was glad to share.

“It was great because Mr. Werner makes the best spaghetti I’ve ever tasted,” he said.

Emma, an eighth grader at St. Joseph, enjoyed the opportunity to visit with students in other grades.

“It was really fun to see all the kids from all the grades and be able to have table talk with the students as well,” she said.

One parent also noted the impact the Faith Family Dining Day has on building a “family” for the students.

“Our children spend more than seven hours a day with their teachers and classmates,” Jennifer said. “It’s heartwarming to see them sitting around a table growing closer to each other and stronger in their faith together as they are sharing a meal. There are children from each grade at one table so it is helping to bring the whole school together as one.”

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