Celebrating traditions is a favorite part of life within the Villa community, and traditions are planted deep within our history. Traditions help students practice and learn the importance of community, faith, leadership, and service. They celebrate important milestones and holidays, set examples for younger students, and pass the torch to the next generation.
A few of our traditions include:
Family Mass and Picnic
Each September the entire Villa family gathers for Mass in Sacred Heart Chapel and then the students parade to the front steps of the school, while their families watch and takes photos. After a short welcome and prayer, the girls are off to compete in games, blue against white. When the games are finished, the school family gathers for a picnic lunch on the lawn.
Big Sister/Little Sister
The first and eighth grades form a special bond through the Big Sister Little Sister relationship. Each eighth grader is paired with a first grader to mentor and lead through the year. The girls participate in a special activity at the Family Mass and Picnic, take a joint field trip in the fall, celebrate Christmas together, and have a picnic in the spring.
Mission Day is sponsored by the eighth grade to raise awareness, money, and goods for various mission projects. On Halloween, the gym undergoes a transformation and becomes a place for karaoke, haunted houses, cakewalks, and more. Each grade takes part in the celebrations and the funds raised benefit charitable causes.
Each Christmas season, the Villa community gathers in Sacred Heart Chapel to celebrate the miracle of Jesus’ birth. Led by the eighth grade, choir and handbell ensemble, the Christmas Pageant allows everyone to pause and witness the prayer of the season.
Early in May, the school gathers to celebrate Mary, the Mother of God. Led by our second grade communicants, students processes into Sacred Heart Chapel for Mass and the Crowning of Mary.
Passing of the Light
During this service, the eighth grade passes the leadership of the school to the seventh grade. Various symbols are used to represent the different aspects of Villa Maria Academy that the seventh grade models for the rest of the school. Held in Sacred Heart Chapel, the Passing of the Light occurs in early June.
Emily Koenig Spirit Award
Each year, Mr. and Mrs. Koenig, past Villa parents and founders of the Emily’s Dash Foundation, come to speak to Villa’s Seventh grade about the Emily Koenig Spirit Award. The Koenig family, with the help of the seventh grade, graciously honors a special seventh grader each year 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 7th grade with only one award given per year.
After the Koenig’s speak to the 7th 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 & 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.
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. For more information, please visit www.emilysdash.org.
Graduation marks the end of a young woman’s journey at Villa Maria Academy Lower School and is a bittersweet day for our eighth graders and their families. Graduation includes Mass in Sacred Heart Chapel followed by the awarding of diplomas and a celebration sponsored by the seventh grade.