Eighth-graders tell of faith, service and learning

Eighth-graders share their favorite memories of faith, learning and service from grade school in the Archdiocese of Louisville.
You can also see them in print in the 2021 Graduation Section.


Lorenzo Afable
St. Edward

Lorenzo Afable, St. Edward School

At St. Edward, Catholic students typically receive their last sacrament of initiation when they reach eighth-grade. That final step toward independent membership in the church was intimidating for many in my class. We each put so much effort into preparing for the sacrament that we just wanted everything to go well. All candidates were confirmed, but what made this moment so sacred was the sheer support we received. Parents, teachers, students and alumni came to celebrate the newly confirmed at the Mass and afterward, as well. In this moment of joy, I looked around and thought, “Wow. This is my home.”




Mary Shea Ballantine
Saint Francis of Assisi

Mary Shea Ballantine, St. Francis of Assisi School

Through my service at St. Francis of Assisi, I have adapted skills that I normally would not have learned through lessons. Speaking directly with people and standing face-to-face against issues in my neighborhood has allowed me to create a better sense of connection to the marginalized. We learn in class about our society and how it rationalizes hatred. However, my school fights this by speaking to those that are hungry for love. I have been moved by the ability to impact others’ lives by being empathetic and showing care to everyone.




Lucy Bancroft
St. Raphael

Lucy Bancroft, St. Raphael School

Something that I love about St. Raphael the Archangel is that we do a lot of service behind the scenes. Some of the things we do are make chili, sandwiches, and burritos for the homeless on our own time because the community is something that is very important to us. We have donated to the Angel Trees, donated blankets, served at soup kitchens, volunteered at vacation Bible school, and participated in our parish’s youth group. Faith is a big thing at St. Raphael. We learn lots in religion class on how much Jesus really sacrificed for us, which in turn helps motivate us to sacrifice for others in our community.




Mary Kate Baum
St. Raphael

Mary Kate Baum, St. Raphael School

St. Raphael has been a huge part of my life for about nine years. One thing I’m thankful for during my time at St. Raphael was confirmation. It was special to me because even though we were in the middle of a pandemic, we were all together as one receiving the sacrament of confirmation. There have been many things that have prevented us from going to church but St. Raphael always makes it a point to have everyone together even through these times. For example, we are doing the May crowning Mass outside this school year because our school and parish makes it a point for the whole student body to gather together even in these trying times.




Grayson Baumer
St. Athanasius

Greyson Baumer, St. Athanasius School

My favorite memory related to my faith was the Saturday before my first Communion. We all came into the school cafeteria and we baked the bread that would be blessed for our first Communion. After we baked the bread we made a lot more than we needed for the following day so we stayed for a while and talked to our friends while we ate the extra bread. It is just a very nostalgic and calming memory for me to think about every once in a while and it really sums up my time at St. A.




Benjamin Blackford
Sacred Heart Model School

Benjamin Blackford, Sacred Heart Model School

I’ve had many moments of enrichment of faith during my years at Sacred Heart Model School. Most notably, my school came together during the pandemic. It was a leap of faith for our faculty to wear masks and prepare in-person lessons for us. However, even online classes made me feel like I was part of a family, part of a community. Our teachers asked us how we were doing and made our classes feel as normal as possible during these tough times. When we resumed in-person learning, we were always mindful of each other’s well-being. I will carry these experiences with me forever.




Kalli Blair
St. Athanasius

Kalli Blair, St. Athanasius School

A memorable moment I have from eighth grade is our confirmation retreat. The whole grade was together the whole day which doesn’t happen much. We spent the day doing confirmation activities and it was really calming and a great experience. I specifically remember when we did confession and read our letters from family members. Opening up the note from my confirmation sponsor is a memory I will never forget and that letter will always be an important part of my confirmation experience. The Mass we had at the end of the day will definitely be one that I won’t forget.




Sara Bochert
St. James, Elizabethtown

Sara Bochert, St. James School, Elizabethtown, Ky.

Being a student at St. James has shaped me into who I am today. When I came to St. James, I remember not wanting to do my service hours because they took too much of my time. I never knew how much it could help someone in need. I remember one time that I was doing service at Feeding America for my service hours, and I saw a family come and help, then another, then another. Many of them were students at St. James also. It made me think about how this school is so involved with helping people. It makes me proud to be a student at St. James.




Reese Cambron
St. Dominic School

Reese Cambron, St. Dominic School

A memorable moment related to my faith that made me feel good about being a student at St. Dominic was when my classmates and I went on a confirmation retreat. I was struggling with my faith at the time. The people who were there helped me get closer to God and let me know it’s ok to grow apart, and it’s normal. I realized how lucky I am to go to a Catholic school and how great the community is. You feel welcomed. A lot of people don’t get the opportunity that we do, and I am thankful for that.




Alexander Craddock
Sacred Heart Model School

Alexander Craddock, Sacred Heart Model School

My most meaningful experience serving came at the Kid’s Cafe. It was my first time learning from service and it truly opened my eyes. The children there came from completely different families than mine, so I always thought they would be unhappy and unmotivated, but I saw something totally different. They were some of the happiest and most energetic people I’ve met. They wanted to learn, play sports and live their best lives, like me. I saw that God created all of us equal no matter our background or race, and on that day, I found a purpose in service.





Caroline Cronen
Our Lady of Lourdes

Caroline Cronen, Our Lady of Lourdes School

As my classmates and I prepared for our confirmation, we were all put into small groups to do service work. The group of girls that I was assigned to decided to help the community by organizing a week-long food drive at my school. I felt like the person Jesus wants me to live up to as we provided food for those who can’t feed themselves. It was really rewarding to learn how much we affected other’s lives for the better and I also felt my faith grow as we worked as a team in God’s name.




Melania Douglass
St. Margaret Mary

Melania Douglass, St. Margaret Mary School

One learning experience that made me feel good about being a St. Margaret Mary Mustang is the Festival of Nations. This festival is a very fun and creative way to learn about other cultures. When I did it as a sixth-grader, I had the country Japan and I learned so much about Japan that I have never heard before. I was so happy to share the information that I learned by doing fun skits telling an audience some facts about my country. I got to know some fascinating facts about other countries as well. It was so much fun, that I didn’t realize I was learning some awesome facts about other cultures.




Cooper Duckworth
St. Martha

Cooper Duckworth, St. Martha School

One moment that made me feel good about being a student at St. Martha was my confirmation. I wore a beautiful red robe, received a blessing from the archbishop, got oil on my forehead and became a permanent member of the Catholic Church. I made a promise to God. The best part about this experience is that I got to do it with my family, friends and teachers standing with me in support. My school community is something that I will always remember.





Chloe Dunaway
St. Martha

Chloe Dunaway, St. Martha School

I have many memories of St. Martha, but the 2020-2021 school year is one to remember. The coronavirus has had a large impact on my classmates and me, but luckily we’ve still found ways to make our eighth-grade year a significant one. My favorite memory is quite broad. I have enjoyed going outside, if the weather cooperates, of course. Whether it’s just to finish an assignment, enjoy the outdoors or get fresh air — it’s always fun! Jokes are made and games are played. I will miss moments shared with my classmates, but I will always treasure our time together.





Abigail Marie Ebelhar
St. Joseph School

Abigail Marie Ebelhar, St. Joseph School, Bardstown, Ky.

Attending St. Joe has been a fantastic, faith-filled experience. One of the most memorable moments for me was the last night of our 3DR program.
Ding, dong, ditch and run — 3DR — is an eighth-grade tradition here at St. Joe. Students nominate people who need a little cheer during the Christmas season. We delivered nativity pieces to nine different households this year. The looks on the nominees’ faces when we revealed ourselves on the last night were so grateful and happy that it was impossible not to share in their joy. It truly made me feel lucky to be able to participate in such a great program, and I’m so grateful to my school for this opportunity.




Lauren Elder
Holy Trinity

Lauren Elder, Holy Trinity School

I have absolutely loved my nine years at Holy Trinity. My favorite eighth-grade memory was getting to perform our musical, “Rock of Ages, Jr.” Mrs. Harrington, teacher and director, worked to ensure we were all safe, smiling and had so much fun! We were able to see people smiling (behind their masks) in the audience, as well as enjoy them singing and dancing along with us! Hearing people talk about the show afterward was totally cool. It was awesome knowing the shows were sold out. The Eyrie Theatre Company at HT is very inclusive, fun and rewarding. It’s an opportunity I hope all at HT will continue to appreciate and involve themselves in each year.




Patrick Hester
St. Aloysius School

Patrick Hester, St. Aloysius School

My confirmation experience through St. Aloysius has given me many memorable moments where I’ve experienced faith, service and learning. One of my most memorable moments was when I was in a soup kitchen working to get service hours. When I first arrived I was just trying to get through my shift as fast as I could, but I started to see more and more people that I could tell were going through a lot. All the people who walked in had a smile on their face, and you could see the faith in their hearts. I realized that my new goal was to help them out to the best of my ability. I learned that day to be grateful for what you have and who you have.




Colton Hoerter
St. Raphael

Colton Hoerter, St. Raphael School

Though I have only been at Saint Raphael for a year, last year and past years before that at my previous school, St. Leonard, I have experienced many faithful moments. The one I could recall the most is when I was handing this sweet veteran a thank you card at the Veterans Hospital on Zorn Avenue. The look on his face was amazing. I can quote the very thing he said, “Thank you, young man.” Even though this was a service project for my old school, I really enjoyed this experience and am very thankful that I get to be a part of the Catholic faith and have gotten to continue on here at Saint Raphael.





Noah Hoffman
St. James, Louisville

Noah Hoffman, St. James School, Louisville

When I look back on my time at St. James School, the moments that stick out the most and that have the greatest impact have been the relatively small ones. The often forgettable instances with teachers and in the classroom mean the world to me. Being cared for and trusted on such a deep level will stay with me the rest of my life. It’s all of those times I could do hands-on activities and talk with teachers when I needed help that I will always remember — it’s learning how to be me.




Sarah Jenkins
St. Francis

Sarah Jenkins, St. Francis of Assisi School

This year was my confirmation year, and I learned about how connected I am to my faith. I learned about the Holy Spirit and its gifts and saw what gifts I already had. I have received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, like piety. I see God in all people. Confirmation helped me see that in myself. I feel that I am closer to God after learning more about my faith. When you are a student at SFA you are constantly learning how to become closer to God. I truly love and feel that they have helped me with that.




Maureen Lally
St. Agnes School

Maureen Lally, St. Agnes School

I’ve been a St. Agnes student for nine years, and I’ve had many great experiences. One thing that I love about this school is that through service opportunities, faith experiences and more, every student who walks through these doors learns more than just curriculum. We learn how to be a good student, Catholic, friend and person. One experience that sums up my time at St. Agnes was when my grade travelled to the local nursing home. Each year we are given a stewardship theme that describes the service opportunities we work on throughout that year and our theme was the disabled. We took a field trip to the home where we got to talk to and learn about new people. I got to see a whole different side to both the community I grew up in and the people I had been with in classes. I know that day will stick in my mind for the rest of my life whenever someone asks me about my time at St. Agnes School.




Avery Lewis

Avery Lewis, Ascension School

Ascension’s academic awards at the end of each trimester have been very memorable for me. Over the past nine years, I have attended 27 award ceremonies and watched the community gather to celebrate one another. I have also been able to watch other students grow academically and individually. The ceremony takes place after school Mass in the church, which is perfect since we are celebrating our faith. During this time, the school and community gather together in support of each of our accomplishments. This ceremony is an example of how Ascension joins together in faith and academics.




Molly Meagher
St. Athanasius

Molly Meagher, St. Athanasius School

My confirmation is my most memorable experience with my faith. Maybe it’s because that is the most recent memory that I have, or maybe it’s because that’s the memory that made me really feel good about myself. Confirmation allowed me to receive the Holy Spirit and feel confident in my faith, being able to claim my faith on my own. I love being in the Catholic faith and in the eyes of God by my own decision instead of by my parent’s decision.




Ella Newton
St. Raphael

Ella Newton, St. Raphael School

St. Raphael was a big part of my life for nine years. One thing I’m thankful for during that time is all the opportunities I’ve been given to be able to get involved in the community. Some of the things I have been able to experience were being a Mass server, volunteering at a food drive, making sandwiches for the homeless, and more. Something significant about doing all these things at St. Raphael is that they were not all at school. I made sandwiches with my soccer team instead of at school, for example. St. Raphael has given me so many wonderful opportunities that have helped shape me as a good and faithful person, and that is how I will remember St. Raphael.





Emma Pierce
St. Bernard

Emma Pierce, St. Bernard School

During my time at St. Bernard, I have collected so many unforgettable memories. One of my most cherished ones is when I received the sacrament of Communion. I can still see everyone’s smiling faces and eyes of excitement. Everyone was nervous, but in a good way, a memorable way. Looking around at all the kids I had known for years made me think. I started to think about how lucky I was to be participating in my first Communion with them. I thought about how lucky I was to take part in something as extraordinary as the Eucharist with the people I love.




Ashlyn Poole
Notre Dame Academy

Ashlyn Poole, Notre Dame Academy

There have been many memorable moments in my career at NDA — whether it’s my service as part of our Y-Club or helping a friend in need. My favorite memorable moment has to be WE Day. WE Day is a day filled with a concert and a parade. You can even get a chance to be on the news. WE Day is a reward for our service to the community. Some of the things we did to receive WE Day include: WaterStep, collecting for the food drive, making care packages for the homeless and various other things.





Lee Prechtel
St. Athanasius

Lee Prechtel, St. Athanasius School

When I think about a moment that makes me proud, one memory immediately comes to mind. It was when our whole school came together and made a giant card for our priest who was leaving. Every kid had a small note that was included along with their name. It showed me that all of the kids cared enough to take time out of their day, and show Father how much they all cared for him. I know for a fact that it made him so proud to be a priest at St. A.





Melanie Schmidt
St. Athansius

Melanie Schmidt, St. Athanasius School

My favorite memorable moment was confirmation. The preparation for confirmation made me look at life differently. It made me realize how important praying and being active in my faith is.  It changed everyday things in my life. I pray more often and, when I pray, I am more serious and think more about what I am praying about. Confirmation itself was very peaceful and eye-opening. Receiving the Holy Spirit was very memorable and cherishable.





Aubrielle Schnieders
St. Paul

Aubrielle Schnieders, St. Paul School

Being a student at St. Paul has always been something that I’m proud of. There have been some key moments in my schooling that have especially impacted me and made me feel grateful that my parents decided to make the sacrifice to send me here. Many times when I was dealing with problems at school with education or at home, teachers and faculty have always been there to help me out and give me advice. I am so very thankful for my Catholic education because even though many people believe that a Catholic education means just learning about Catholicism, it is really more than that. My Catholic education has entailed my learning about God, but also it has taught me to be a good person in society. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to go to St. Paul.




Gwyneth Schulte
St. Michael

Gwyneth Schulte, St. Michael School

When I think of a memorable experience at St. Michael that demonstrates what it means to rejoice in the happiness of others, millions of different experiences pop up. Some of my favorite experiences occurred at the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS). We got to connect with old teachers and help others around the community. One day before Christmas break we all walked down to Kroger with the money, got from selling donuts at school, to buy Angels off the Angel Tree. Everyone ended up buying five or so each and we felt good knowing that we were making someone’s Christmas.




Ava Smalley
St. Patrick

Ava Smalley, St. Patrick School

My favorite moment that made me proud to be a St. Patrick student was in seventh grade when I went on the mission trip they offered. I will never forget the experience and how fun it was. It was just an amazing experience and I never thought that someone like me could change someone’s life like that. They were so appreciative of what we were doing and I highly recommend that kids go if they have the chance.





Catherine Seufert
Our Lady of Lourdes

Catherine Seufert, Our Lady of Lourdes School 

One of the most memorable moments that I’ve had while serving God was earlier this year when my small confirmation group and I got to volunteer at St. Matthews Area Ministries. A week prior to volunteering, my classmates and I organized a food drive by talking to the school about the food drive, putting up posters around the school and setting up boxes where people could put the food that they had donated. We were not expecting many people to contribute because we were in the midst of a pandemic that was worsening at the time, but people would come to school with several full grocery bags of canned food. By the end of the week, we had over five hundred items and we were practically drowning in food! We were so grateful. A week later we got to volunteer at St. MAMs. They were so grateful that we were not only donating large amounts of food, but that we were helping them sort it. I got to know some of my classmates a little bit better, and I got to know some of the other volunteers who worked there. It felt so amazing knowing that the food we donated helped so many people, and that we could always count on the Lourdes community, even in the most challenging times.




Rachel Smith
St. Andrew Academy

Rachel Smith, St. Andrew Academy

I previously attended a public school, and I came here for the first time in the fifth-grade. I am so glad that I transferred here because I have had so many memorable experiences. I have been able to learn about my faith at times other than during church and at Sunday school. I have had so many amazing teachers that have guided me through hard times. Whenever we went on school trips pre-COVID, I enjoyed being able to show that I went to SAA by wearing my uniform and showing that it’s a great school.





Maddie Stearman, St. Mary Academy

As a student at St. Mary Academy, a service experience that changed my life was working at WaterStep with my house members. As a sixth-grade student, I was highly unaware of the problems people would go through right under our noses. As my friends and I sorted through shoes, we realized how many people were donating to help. It opened my eyes to see that people are willing to give what they have to help others. The workers told us about how many people they have helped give clean water to, how many shoes they donate and how many lives they have saved. It made me enthusiastic to help fuel the cause and made me want to help out more, knowing that it feels good to help others.




Lily Sumner
St. Rita

Lily Sumner, St. Rita School

My teachers in my nine years of going to St. Rita have taught me how everyone has a different story to tell and to always help others no matter who they are. They inspired me to create a business called Wrapped In God’s Warmth. I collected donations of blankets, gloves, hats and snacks to create bundles. Along with the kits, enclosed was a prayer — a prayer of hope to show them that God will always be there in tough times. Being able to help the homeless in any way has taught me how to see things from a different perspective. St. Rita has been a great school to go to and has taught me several things.





Karen Luna
St. John Paul II Academy

Karen Itzel Luna Vaca, John Paul II Academy

One special moment that I have always remembered was when I was in sixth-grade. I was asked by the principal to go to St. Bartholomew and do a speech about how great John Paul is and a little bit about my Catholic faith. I was nervous, but I knew I was doing this for a good reason. I knew that sharing my faith with a whole Catholic community was a big step for me to take. I took this opportunity, and when I said my speech I saw smiles on people’s faces, and several people wanted to come to John Paul. Many people that day told me to keep expressing my faith and grow more in a Catholic community. I felt great and knew God was with me this whole time. I will always remember this day.




Troy’Shell Young
Nativity Academy

Troy’Shell Young, Nativity Academy

I can remember the first time that I went to Nativity as a seventh-grader coming from JCTMS in 2019. By it being my first time at Nativity Academy I really didn’t know what to expect or what types of people I would meet in a new school. But I had faith that I would meet at least one friend or maybe even more! Over my time at Nativity, I have met more than one. My faith has grown so much since I’ve been at Nativity Academy and I met so many friends.  As I prepare to go to Mercy Academy in the fall, I have a stronger faith in God and I am not afraid to share the good news about God.

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