Teacher turns her luck into yet another contribution to school

FORT SMITH — In one of those rare moments where luck is trumped by grace, Haymée and Mark Giuliani won a one-year full tuition scholarship in a Trinity Junior High School raffle.
The scholarship, valued at $3,000, was donated by alumni who wished to remain anonymous. The students sold over $10,000 worth of tickets for the school, and the prize was awarded at “Celebrate Trinity,” a dinner with casino-style games, silent and live auctions and music Feb. 11.
Haymée Giuliani, who teaches Spanish and religion at Trinity, didn’t really need the tuition because her son, Patrick, is a ninth-grader and moving to Subiaco Academy in the fall.
When her students asked her to buy raffle tickets, she said she had a feeling that God wanted her to do so. Winning the scholarship was, to her, a grace God had granted because he knew that she would “do the right thing” if she won. Even though some parents offered to buy her prize for half its value, she decided to give away the scholarship to the winner of a 333-word essay who gave the best reason they deserve the free tuition.
Students entering seventh, eighth and ninth grades at Trinity will be eligible to participate, submitting essays by March 21, the feast of St. Benedict. A committee will evaluate the essays and present the scholarship at the school’s annual awards dinner in May.
Giuliani, a Mexican-American married to a Canadian-American, has been instrumental in making the newly diverse student body at Trinity a real family. Through the efforts of the Trinity Educational Trust, the Adopt-a-Student Program, which benefits primarily first- and second-generation Americans attending public school; and the Catherine McAuley Fund, benefiting Catholic school students, bring scholarships to approximately 20 percent of the student body.
Giuliani introduces Hispanic culture to the wider student body in a variety of ways. Every Nov. 2, her students celebrate the Day of the Dead, constructing an altar in the school lobby decorated with pictures of students’ deceased family members. Giuliani explains the custom of praying for the dead and the tradition of seeking indulgences.
Last fall, during a parent-teacher conference day, Giuliani, who is also president of the school PTO, started an international festival. Students and parents from many cultures participated, setting up tables with maps, pictures, and artifacts from their countries and samples of food. Father Kevin Atunzu, the school administrator, wore a bright green dashiki from his native Africa.
Before Christmas, her students had a posada at the monastery. Students dressed as Mary and Joseph, accompanied by “shepherds, angels and even a few devils,” went from door to door looking for shelter in Bethlehem.
As a reward for the students’ efforts selling raffle tickets, Dr. Jim Hattabaugh, Trinity’s principal, gave them a free dress day for Mardi Gras. Student council members hosted a free pancake breakfast at 7 a.m. and Giuliani and Tia Marsh, advisor for the Quiz Bowl team, sold beads and accessories to raise money for the National Quiz Bowl tournament in Chicago June 8-12. Hattabaugh dressed up as a Blue Man, wearing a bright royal blue body suit, blue tutu and Mardi Gras accessories.
The occasion gave Giuliani a chance to explain the history of Carnevale, as it is known in Central and South America.
In expressing the school’s appreciation for the family’s donation, Hattabaugh said, “The Giuliani family is instrumental to the success of Trinity. Their generous donation of the scholarship will enable a student to continue the Trinity tradition of service, academics and faith. Mrs. Giuliani’s impact on our students is just wonderful. She has an exceptional rapport with students, staff and parents in a very faith-centered manner. Her work with the Hispanic community continues to provide a much needed service to those parents and students. We are blessed to have her as part of our team.”

Maryanne Meyerriecks

Maryanne Meyerriecks joined Arkansas Catholic in 2006 as the River Valley correspondent. She is a member of Christ the King Church in Fort Smith, a Benedictine oblate and volunteer at St. Scholastica Monastery.

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