Once a month the JEZSU community – even parents – come to school on a Saturday, which otherwise would be a day off. These Saturdays are dedicated to specifically themed programs aiming at community building, acquiring life skills, healthy and constructive lifestyle, fun, caring for our creation, showing our talents or serving the local community.
The January theme was ‘Constructive lifestyle, health and making wise choices’. Engaging 900 students in a meaningful way on a January weekend, from age 12 to 18 required contribution from not only teachers and school staff, but also parents, friends and alumni.
Beside the whole teaching staff over a hundred volunteers – parents, professionals, doctors, nutritionists, physiotherapists, lawyers, economists, engineers, dentists, members of organizations from the Local Ambulance Station, officers of the Hungarian Army, professors and researchers from the Semmelweis Medical University, representatives of organizations working for drug abuse prevention, and even a television crew devoted their Saturday to share their knowledge, experience and insights with the students.
It was not hard to engage the younger grades. Their events were interactive and fun, centered around healthy food, tasting raw vegetables and different fresh fruits. In the sustainable fashion workshop they made clothes for dolls, in the dental hygiene workshop everyone practised the best way to brush their teeth, and practised right body posture with the help of a physiotherapist. The children approaching adolescence had communication, stress management and conflict resolution workshops and discussed teenage skincare, personal hygiene.
Doctors and health professionals from the local Ambulance Station taught the 9th graders the use of defibrillators, and the basics of first aid.
The strength of the parent community was truly demonstrated by the over 50 parents who came to present their professions and answer the questions of the 10th graders. Each student selected two presentations of interest. These workshops helped the youth in their career choices.
Some higher graders were engaged with the National Television crew to create a series of short films discussing all kinds of issues concerning young people, like authority, rebellion, choosing a career, freedom, friendship and making wise choices. Each grade had a session of physical activity in one of the sports halls or sports courts on the campus. The whole 11th grade (140 students) traveled to the capital city, Budapest to the EDUCATIO, International Education Fair, to be more informed about possible choices in higher education.
Such extracurricular events need enormous input and energy from school staff, and sophisticated logistics from the organizers but it is worth it according to Mrs Edit Bukovszki, vice director. “The mission of the JEZSU is to develop the whole person, spirit, mind, body and soul. Our community Saturdays along with other community events like retreats, pilgrimages, sports events, art and drama performances make up an integrated structure of holistic education, and are indispensable to fulfill our mission.” (Szelenge Judit)
*The Fényi Gyula Jesuit High School and Kindergarten (JEZSU) is the only Jesuit high school in Hungary, (established in 1993). It is located in Miskolc, the north-east of the country. Over 900 students from age 11 to 18, out of whom 200 are boarders. 100 teaching staff including 4 Jesuits, and about 50 support staff work in the school.