The origin of Valentine’s Day seems to have begun as a feast day for Saint Valentine, though its connection to love and romance is somewhat unclear. It could have been that Saint Valentine performed weddings for those forbidden to marry, or because of the “lovebirds” who were courting at the start of the spring season. In any case, these historical contexts are hard to imagine in comparison with the pop-culture holiday it has become today.
While spreading love is of utmost importance to our community (one of our founding visions is to “place children’s love for humanity at the center” of their education), for many years we have held a tradition at St. Paul’s of not celebrating Valentine’s Day on our campus – at least not the same way most places celebrate. Our aim is to foster a loving environment every day of the year, not just on the one day that we see red hearts posted everywhere. If we message Valentine’s Day to our students as a day when we show our friends we love them, what will that message say about the other 364 days of the year?
Everyday is a perfect day to help a friend, to give a hug, to say “I love you!”, to share God’s love from one heart to another. Candy and chocolate aren’t needed to spread love. Buying gifts isn’t what spreads love. Instead, we can spread love through kindness, helping, and accepting those around us.
This idea is what gave birth to the St. Paul’s Episcopal Montessori School tradition of raising money for an annual February Fundraiser. In lieu of a traditional Valentine’s Day exchange, our Upper Elementary students spearhead a fundraising campus-wide effort for a nonprofit organization. In the past we have donated to nonprofits like Heifer International, Texas Water Mission, and Animal Defense League. This year, they have chosen to donate funds to Team Seas!
The Upper Elementary (4th-6th grade) students will synthesize the information they learn about the Team Seas project into simplified presentations for the younger classroom communities. It is a sweet tradition that allows our older students to model the important virtue of spreading love through giving to and helping others. Each classroom will be supplied with a collection jar to collect coins and cash donations from families.
I hope that you will join us in spreading love this February through this fundraiser for Team Seas!