St. Mark’s is committed to the goal of maintaining a diverse student body, and families of many different faiths play an important role at our school. Because St. Mark’s is a Christian school, we are committed to the task of helping all students grow in their understanding of their relationship to God and all persons. Chapel services are an important part of the St. Mark’s program and are required of all students without exception. While certain customs and practices of the Episcopal Church are followed, no effort is made to encourage students to become members of the Episcopal Church.
Christian Education Curriculum
Preschool – St. Mark’s Preschool students are taught Christian education and attend weekly chapel services. Our preschool students are introduced to the Bible stories through music, prayer, puppetry, and drama. The values of caring, sharing, and loving are taught in a Christ-like environment. The goal is to help the children develop Christian character and to see themselves as unique and special creations of God. Preschool students also participate in Godly Play, a program which invites preschoolers to discover God, themselves, and one another through our sacred stories. Based on Jerome Berryman’s work in the Montessori tradition, Godly Play uses a careful telling of scripture stories, engaging story figures, and activities to encourage children to seek and find answers to their faith questions. Godly Play respects the innate spirituality of children and encourages curiosity and imagination in experiencing the mystery and joy of God.
Kindergarten to 3rd Grade – It’s a Wonderful World – Christian education students will acquire an understanding and appreciation of the content of the Holy Bible as the story of God’s people from creation onwards. The students will learn to respond to biblical stories and contrast with personal real life experiences. They will also learn how scripture can influence their choices for making proper decisions as pertaining to each student’s values and character. The curriculum will be taught through creative art, music, drama, puppet play, story time, role play, games and Chapel participation. Each grade will also have a specific service learning experience that will teach the skills of service to others, empathy, kindness, caring, peace and mercy. The Christ-like environment of Christian Education class will show our students how to forgive, love, rejoice and pray.
4th Grade Christian Education – The Garden of Life – In this course students are introduced to God’s dream for us in the Garden of Life. The class will learn good news for living as revealed in Scripture through a Christian foundational lens. Students will become familiar with parables and teachings of Jesus and as carried forward in the communities of the early Church. They will learn about the traditions of the Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes while at the same time be given an opportunity to express prayers in their own words. Students will experience the curriculum through the seasons and special feasts of the liturgical year. Through creative arts, crafts, games, skits and presentations, they will have an opportunity to engage the material and help make the story come to life. Children enjoy sharing what they treasure while learning about whom God loves and treasures – the children of God. A highlight of the year is the class involvement in God’s Green Earth Day. Students are encouraged to embrace the principles of the PeaceBuilders Pledge which is a tool to help them learn how to build healthy, happy, and respectful relationship “at home, at school, and in their community each day.” They learn about God’s vision for peace and justice through the Bible. This is the year students will receive training to become acolytes and assume responsibilities for Chapel duty.
5th Grade Christian Education – Survey of the Old Testament – This course is an academic journey through time from creation through the Messianic promise as found on the pages of the Bible. Students will learn about creation, Exodus, and the main stories that have shaped salvation history. They will have an opportunity to express themselves through visual arts, projects, biblical skits, and creative writing which make the ancient characters come alive. Students always enjoy the games and activities designed to support the curriculum and to help them integrate the material in appealing, meaningful and age appropriate ways. After learning basic Bible skills and building a working knowledge of the Old Testament structure, students will learn about persons, places, holidays and symbols that make the “holy” in Judeo-Christian tradition especially as connected to the story of Jesus. They will engage the themes, characteristics, literary devices, historical and geographical aspects of an ancient people as revealed in the Torah especially the Law given to Moses in the Ten Commandments. Psalms and Proverbs will be a place for exploration and creativity. Students will enjoy a bit of Hebrew and Jewish culture in song and dance. They will view the contemporary location for an ancient history. And, they will explore the history, science and technology that continue to contribute to unlocking the ancient past through the Dead Sea Scrolls. One highlight of our course is an experiential lesson with a sampling of a traditional Seder meal.
6th Grade Christian Education – Survey of the New Testament – This course is an exciting walk through the pages of the New Testament from an academic viewpoint. Students will have an opportunity to express their creativity through visual arts, projects, biblical skits, and writing. They will engage one another in games and activities designed to support the curriculum and to help them integrate the material in appealing and age appropriate ways. After building a foundation of New Testament structure, students will learn the themes, characteristics, literary devices, historical and geographical aspects of the synoptic Gospels (especially St. Mark) and the Gospel of St. John. They will tour the missionary journey and letters of St. Paul for traditional Christian message and terms. Finally they will explore the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit as revealed in Scripture. They will also thoughtfully extend their service to those in need.
7th Grade Christian Education – Building a Life on Christian Values and Virtue Ethics – This course tours classical Scripture based values, philosophical virtue ethics, and legal structures that guide and guard moral decision-making. The study provides models and approaches for making life decisions. Role plays and case studies provide an up close look at life application, dealing with issues such as family values, loyalty, relationships, friendship, inclusion, truth, reputation and integrity. The students are challenged to become aware of moral issues that arise in the news and to recognize the importance of ethical standards in the workplace. Finally, they are called to think about the critical needs of their world as expressed in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals as they are challenged to care and to respond to human need such as poverty and hunger. A project in Fair Trade will globally connect the class to villages across the world. One highlight of the course is a student produced television program using contemporary issues. They will also thoughtfully extend their service to those in need.
8th Grade Christian Education – Comparative World Religions – This survey course is an interesting and insightful look at the major religions and their significant elements such as history and beliefs, traditions and practices, ceremonies and holidays, sacred writing and places of worship. Beginning with the student’s own sense of religious identity, the exploration into the world of the “other” helps the student understand the differences that make each of us unique and the similarities in attempting to interpret and cope with the challenges of the human experience. Using online tools they will research “religion in the news” and discover the many ways religion influences events in our contemporary world. A dialogical relationship with our partner school in Haiti will provide a real global connection for the students. One highlight of the course is The World Feast which is a tasty way to explore diversity. They will also thoughtfully extend their service to those in need. [/tab] Our school Chaplain is Dr. Judy Kane. St. Mark’s Cathedral School shares the Christian values, high academic standards, and commitment to diversity, which are the trademarks of Episcopal schools nationwide. The school is careful not to substitute religious indoctrination for education. Instead, the central tenets of the Christian faith are affirmed. The spirit that permeates is ecumenical.
Through twice weekly chapel services, various service projects, and the integration of Christian principles in the curriculum, students have many opportunities to develop as spiritual beings. Whether they are reading scripture in a chapel service, collecting food to be distributed, raising money for charitable organizations, or contemplating the ethical dilemma faced by a famous person in history, St. Mark’s students are challenged to consider their relationships with God and their neighbors.