It was a beautiful spring morning in Garden City. The malaise of the winter was long gone. The warmth of spring had overtaken the quiet community surrounding St. Anne’s Church and School. For elementary school students, great weather means raucous time on the playground. But not on this morning.
First graders marched from the school along the sidewalk with a sense of reverence, and perhaps a little unease. This would be the day that they released their precious ladybugs into the wild.
This journey, in fact, began weeks ago. Mrs. Mitchell instructs all science lab experiments for grades Pre-K to grade 4 at St. Anne’s School. She explained that the ladybugs arrived in the classroom as larvae. Not much to look at, but interesting still. For the first week, the students watched the larvae eating, grow, and molt. Next they entered the pupal stage, attaching themselves to the walls of “ladybug land.”
After a week, the ladybugs finally hatched. One student was surprised, “Ladybugs hatch without spots! It takes a few hours for them to appear.” Now active and hungry, these tiny ladybugs devoured raisins, cut in half by students and then soaked in water. Students watched more growth of the ladybugs until they became the familiar black and red insect they had come to know.
This was the final week of observation fostered unique classroom conversations. The central question: How and why God created ladybugs? They are naturally protected by their terrible taste. They also lay their sticky eggs on the underside of the leaf to protect them from rain and predators. Ladybugs are a huge help in keeping the leaves on plants healthy by eating the aphids. Each ladybug can eat up to 1000 aphids a week. Farmers adore ladybugs because they are an essential part of a healthy crop.
Principal Paul Morisi summarized the science lab and how it integrates into their Catholic Faith, “We discussed how God makes all living things grow. We discussed how living creatures help each other, and not just humans. Animals, insects, and plants can help each other as well.”
Prayer and Gratitude
Principal Paul Morisi was on hand for the big moment. “Studying the ladybugs brought life into our classrooms, but it was important to bring that life back into nature,” he shared.
Releasing the ladybugs was an anxious moment for the 6 and 7 year olds. Their teacher led a genuine prayer, asking God to protect them as they begin to make their way in the world. They concluded by reciting the Hail Mary.
At the “amen,” the students released their ladybugs. The students were very gentle and patient when releasing–it took over 20 minutes for all the ladybugs to make their way onto the leaves. Students observed the the tiny insects finding homes, and then it was back to the classroom. On their march back into St. Anne’s they were careful not to step on any of God’s little creatures.
Are you curious about St. Anne’s School? You can schedule a school tour through their website.