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Church History With 4th Grade

Donum Dei employs a year-round calendar to benefit our entire learning community. These rhythms of learning and rest consist of five, eight-week sessions that are separated by one-week breaks. In addition to regular field trips, our teachers purposely schedule fun outings for the final week of each session that seek to solidify lessons learned during the previous seven weeks.


In their movement through their History curriculum, our 4th graders learned about the Great Schism of 1054, the official date given to mark the split of the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is one thing to learn about a moment in history in the classroom. It is another thing to be given the gift of learning within the context of two beautiful San Francisco cathedrals: Holy Virgin Cathedral and Star of the Sea.



Our 4th grade class and parent chaperones had the unique pleasure of learning from Father Peter at Holy Virgin Cathedral. Within the frescoed walls of the cathedral, students learned about the traditions and practices of the Orthodox Church, starting with the history of the cathedral itself. Consecrated in 1977, the walls are covered with frescoes depicting Jesus and his friends, as Fr. Peter described them. In the Eastern tradition, these paintings are always 2D to intentionally display both the divine or spiritual nature of an individual in tandem with their physical nature. These paintings depicted well-known stories from both the old and new testaments, as well as historical Christians worthy of imitation. Fr. Peter also shared the ways that the Orthodox Church approaches formation with opportunities to engage each sense (sight, smell, taste, sound, touch) when present in church and participating in prayer. Our 4th graders listened attentively and interacted thoughtfully with Fr. Peter's presentation and questions.



Following a picnic lunch at a nearby park, the 4th graders proceeded to Star of the Sea Catholic Parish and spent time in quiet reflection and prayer. They also enjoyed observing the statues of Mary on the eastern and western walls of the church, depicting her from various places around the world.


This field trip is just one example of the ways in which we seek to impart a rich, classical curriculum both inside and outside of the classroom by providing opportunities for students to engage with curiosity and wonder. Many thanks to Fr. Peter and Star of the Sea for hosting our 4th graders!



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