We gathered in Colman Hall to recognize and thank those who were selected by their peers as the February GEM recipients for being among the most “helpful” students at Sts. Simon & Jude School. Thousands of years ago a famous philosopher said that “We are what we repeatedly do.” Here at SSJ, we have students who are very good at being helpful…that’s probably because they do it all the time…they obviously practice! It starts small—maybe they help fold laundry at home…maybe they help a neighbor rake the leaves in the yard…perhaps they help a classmate pick up books that have fallen to the floor…maybe they help an elderly parishioner by holding open a church door…these are all small acts of kindness, but in the big scheme of life, they matter. These students don’t wear super hero capes; they probably don’t even think that the things they do for others are that important—but they are wrong! These acts of helpfulness are very important to the people who are receiving them.

When helpfulness is taught and practiced on a daily basis, everyone’s spirits are lifted and even difficult days become easier. It is often said that we rise by lifting others! If that’s true, these students must be able to float!

  • TYKE – Joshua Herring
  • Kgn. Bonny – Carl Bradshaw
  • Kgn. Tucker – Elijah Lowenberg
  • Grade 1A – Aaron Zaby
  • Grade 1B – Maxwell Menke
  • Grade 2A – Luke Jones
  • Grade 2B – Dylan Petruolo
  • Grade 3A – Abigail Lowenberg
  • Grade 3B – Etahn Nguyen
  • Grade 4A – Jayvin Le
  • Grade 4B – Hope Hombrecher
  • Grade 5A – Reese Negro
  • Grade 5B – Kaylie Tran
  • Grade 6A – Lena Do
  • Grade 6B – Nolan Jacobsen
  • Grade 7A – Kaitlin Chan
  • Grade 7B – Allison Lytle
  • Grade 8A – Kaitlin Rogers
  • Grade 8B – Christopher Chan

Joining us at the assembly was our guest speaker, Andrew Michalak. Andrew was a graduate of SSJ’s Class of 2007, Servite High School’s Class of 2011, and Santa Clara University (2015) where he majored in chemistry. He shared with our students and guests how he learned the meaning of being helpful when, as a young boy, his father took him to Tijuana, Mexico, to help build a house through the Corazon Foundation.

Andrew remembered making a long drive early in the morning, and then working during the hot day bringing his father tools and other hardware while intermittently laying with children his age. When Andrew was a sophomore in high school, a classmate’s mother passed away unexpectedly at the beginning of the year, and his classmate suddenly found himself without a home near the school. His classmate began to commute every day from Los Angeles until he finally realized he could no longer afford to spend money riding the train and he needed to switch schools. On the day he came to say his goodbyes to everyone, Andrew thought to himself, “Would I want to switch schools, disrupt my studies, have to make new friends, and move to a new city if my mother died?” That day, Andrew asked his classmate to come and live with his family because he knew that’s what he would have hoped for if he was ever in that unfortunate situation.  Andrew’s friend lived with the Michalak family for three years!

Andrew now works as the LEAD scribe in the ER at Mercy San Juan Hospital in Sacramento. (A scribe is someone who is trained in health information management and the use of health information technology to support it.) He works closely with doctors to help deliver the pinnacle of efficient patient care. Andrew’s desire to be helpful continues as he has recently applied to medical schools. We are extremely grateful for the role model Andrew has become for our students, and we wish him much luck with his future endeavors.

And finally, I would like to thank all of our parents for the role models that you are to your children. All of the Christian qualities that we celebrate every month—prayerful, respectful, compassion, kindness, helpfulness, etc.—are no doubt behaviors that are highly valued in your home and displayed often by you. We will continue to encourage our students to imitate what we celebrate here at SSJ! Thank you for all that you do!