DURYEA — Sarah Slusark never participated in a Vacation Bible School growing up, but she wishes she had.
The 17-year-old Duryea resident was a volunteer during the week-long program held Aug. 8-12 at the Nativity of Our Lord Parish picnic grounds.
She spent the week helping the students from station to station and also getting to know more about them.
“It’s a good way to get the kids involved and I’ve enjoyed some activities myself,” she said.
The theme of the Vacation Bible School was “Angels and Mary of the Miraculous Medal” in which the students learned about the Blessed Virgin Mary, angels and the meaning of the Miraculous Medal.
Activities included crafts, music, a daily game, a daily snack and also learning a Bible verse that had to do with either of the topics.
Pittston resident Pat Tanski, 66, and Jenkins Township resident Marie Payne, 72, led the Bible portion of the event by reading students a passage that goes along with the theme of the day.
“Going over the Bible verses kind of reinforces that (each story they’re told) comes from the Bible,” said Payne. “They’re not just stories out of a book.”
Participating children ranged in ages 4 to 18, with those age 12 and over acting as volunteers to help with the program.
According to Vacation Bible School Director David Tighe, this was the third year the program was held and it combines children from three churches — Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Duryea, Sacred Heart of Jesus in Dupont, and Queen of the Apostles Parish in Avoca.
The three churches combined totaled 68 children, 11 adult counselors and 20 student volunteers.
“It’s sometimes heard to get enough adults or enough youth interest in a Vacation Bible School individually,” said Tighe about the churches combining for the event. “Things work better when you have a large group and a broad base for the adult volunteers to help out and for the kids to come out to. If we did this with only one parish we’d only have about 20 kids. But, we get them all together and we get the energy and the spirit with all of that.”
Tighe said as the week went on the students got more acclimated with the counselors, the student volunteers and the programs and started to come out of their shells more.
Slusark mentioned that the students she was paired with were quiet as well, but warmed up to her as the week progressed.
“I didn’t know any of the kids when I first came in here,” she said. “But every day they keep coming back and saying ‘Ms. Sarah can we go here?’ or ‘Can we go here?’ It’s something that they enjoy — getting to know me — and I enjoy getting to know them.”
As the program’s conclusion on Aug. 12, the students put on a small show for their family members by singing several songs for them.
Afterwards, the students, along with their parents, counselors and student volunteers convened for a small picnic to conclude the vacation bible school.
“It went beautifully well,” said Tighe about the week. “It could not have went well without the volunteers we had.”