Class started with a prayer. I sat in silence as the children recited the words from memory in a language they'd grown up with.
At Monsignor Peter Adamski Polish Saturday School at Buffalo, this is how every class begins. Students here are typically of Polish descent. Through Polish Saturday School, they are able to learn not only the language, but the culture and traditions of their relatives.
The charismatic, friendly teacher, Father Czeslaw Krysa, as well as his small class of six students was welcoming as I sat in the back next to my friend Jessica Carroll.
The class I attended was the most advanced. Each of the students was preparing to take the regents exam in June. I'm immediately impressed by their knowledge of the language.
The students practiced poems for a play. The class then progressed to discussing basic matters of the Catholic faith, all relating to Easter. Students also studied history, grammar, culture and took a lunch break before engaging in a Polish game similar to tag at the end of the day.
The sense of community at the school was wonderful. While the children were in classes, the parents gathered in the cafeteria to socialize and play games such as chess and checkers.
Jessica, a sophomore at City Honors who is graduating the Polish School program, says, "It's interesting to be able to be a part of a group of kids who have so many things in common with you."
It's clear that the other children appreciate this as well. Everybody here acts like family, and the community is wonderfully close-knit.
Krysa is able to embody the spirit of the school in one sentence: "We want to look after each other, not just in class."
The school is located in the Baker Academy school building in Cheektowaga. To contact the school, visit www.polishsaturdayschool.com.
Anna Hyzy is a sophomore at City Honors.