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Celebrating Leadership through Villa Tradition: Passing of the Light

On June 5, the Villa Maria Academy community gathered for the tradition of Passing of the Light.  Passing of the Light is a prayerful celebration in Sacred Heart Chapel, where the eighth grade graduating class symbolically passes on the light of leadership of the school to the seventh graders.

Alumna, Madeline Gilbertson (’13), spoke about her time at Villa and what it meant to her, the friendships she made and how Villa was such a great foundation for her future. She spoke about spreading their light of leadership and welcomed the graduates into the Alumni Association.

The graduates were then commissioned, through their induction into the Villa Maria Academy Alumni Association, to remain faithful to the traditions and values that have become so much a part of their lives, and to continue to assume leadership and service roles within the family, the community, and the Church.

Alumnae were invited back to give the graduating class miraculous medals to welcome them into Villa’s Alumnae Association. Alums who had sisters in the graduating class, handed the medals to their sisters.

Thank you to our alums for being an integral part of the day!

A wonderful tradition during the Passing of the Light ceremony is for Mr. and Mrs. Koenig, past Villa parents and founders of the Emily’s Dash Foundation, to award a current seventh grader with the Emily Koenig Spirit Award, a leadership scholarship in memory of their late daughter Emily. Emily Koenig was a seventh grader at Villa Maria Academy when she died suddenly after being exposed to a deadly strain of bacterial meningitis. While at Villa Maria, Emily wrote and illustrated a book about inclusion, The Tallest Leprechaun, and Villa Maria maintains a copy of this book in the library.  Emily’s Dash Foundation raises funds to support the eradication of bacterial meningitis, promote anti-bullying & childhood literacy, and sustain the annual scholarships at Villa Maria Academy in Emily’s memory.

Each year, the Koenig family, with the help of the seventh grade, graciously honors a special seventh grader during the Passing of the Light ceremony.  The selected student embodies their late daughter Emily’s spirit of kindness and inclusion. The award is truly an honor, and the recipient is chosen by all of the seventh grade with only one award given per year.

After the Koenig’s come in to speak to the seventh grade, the class deliberates and prays upon nominating a fellow student from the class for this award.  Each student nominates a classmate and submits a short paragraph as to why that particular student reflects a kind and inclusive character.  The Emily Koenig Spirit Award also includes a scholarship and an award pin which are presented to the recipient at the Passing of the Light Ceremony.  Each year, a new name is etched on a plaque along with many other wonderful young women who have earned this award over the years. The plaque hangs in the middle school hallway at Villa Maria.

Congratulations to Annie S. on being the recipient of this wonderful honor this year! Before being announced, Sister Susan, Villa’s principal, read aloud some of the kind words Annie’s classmates wrote about her with their nominations and how they strive to be like her. Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Koenig for their continued support of Villa Maria Academy and the students.

Another special tradition during Passing of the Light is for the Blessing of the Yearbooks. Each Eighth grade student is given a year book to give out to a member of the faculty and staff.

We are so proud of you girls for! A big thanks to your teachers and all who helped make this timeless tradition of celebrating student leadership a success.

Villa Maria Academy empowers young women through leadership and service in the IHM tradition. As a Catholic elementary school, Villa is committed to the moral and spiritual growth of each student. As an all-girls school, Villa Maria differentiates instruction to the specific needs of girls, while integrating the latest in instructional technology.

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