Story and Photos By Beth Donze, Clarion Herald
Students at St. Angela Merici have no excuse to start the school day yawning – especially on “Hump Day.”
For the last couple of years, Wednesdays on the school’s Metairie campus have been designated as “Karaoke Wednesday.”
After the student-led prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, birthday announcements and updates from their principal on special school activities and accolades, Father Beau Charbonnet, St. Angela’s pastor, pulls out his acoustic guitar and brings students to their feet with a lively song from the Catholic “praise and worship” genre of music.
“They come in in the morning and they’re like, ‘It’s Karaoke Wednesday!’” said Paige Bennett, St. Angela’s principal. “They’re involved (in the singing) – even the seventh graders – down to the little ones!”
At the Karaoke Wednesday on Sept. 18, Father Charbonnet chose a few students at random to help him lead the day’s selected hymn: “Trading My Sorrows,” a song more commonly known by its clapping refrain: “Yes, Lord! Yes, Lord! Yes, yes, Lord!”
Bennett noted that Wednesday’s most crowd-pleasing songs tend to be those with hand motions, such as “Our God is an Awesome God.”
“If we take the songs from Karaoke Wednesday and move them to Mass, which we do quite often, they’re all singing, they’re involved,” she said. “The excitement in the gym carries over into Mass.”
https://youtu.be/pwhJOSqPhG0“But what really gets them going is, we have a coach at our school that has been here for over 30 years,” Bennett added. “Father will pull him up to do the hand motions and when he starts, the kids are drawn in like nothing before. They just love it!”
Typically, Bennett will start the daily morning meetings with a nugget of wisdom, news on a saintly feast or a Bible verse and its connection to her students’ lives. She involves as many students as possible in the meetings, taking a portable microphone to the gym floor to conduct Q&As.
Often, humor is injected. For example, Bennett told her students the reason their Sept. 18 gathering was beginning later than its usual 8:05 a.m. start-up time was that a family of ducks had slowed the school drop-off line.
Although Father Charbonnet confines his guitar-playing to Wednesday morning meetings, the priest attends as many of the daily gatherings as he can to give a blessing. As the youngsters leave the gym for their classrooms, they shout out St. Angela’s school chant: “Faith, spirit, body, mind. Be like Jesus all the time!”
As in all activities that bring joy, it’s not just the children who are reveling in the singing. Bennett said a handful of parents take part in the daily morning meetings, but parental attendance spikes noticeably on Wednesdays.
“Not only do the kids like to start their day with praise and worship, the parents love to see a little bit of that,” she said.
To see a video of Karaoke Wednesday, click on the link above or visit the Clarion Herald’s Facebook page.