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St. Brendan Catholic School and New Horizon Islamic School Kindergarteners Enjoy Pizza Party

Students from St. Brendan’s Catholic School and New Horizon Islamic School enjoyed a day of learning and a pizza party last week. (all photos from Stacy Herman)

Editor’s Note: Our thanks to Stacy Herman of St. Brendan’s Catholic School for sharing this story with Buzz readers. Before the pandemic, we reported on the pizza party she organized for St. Brendan’s students and New Horizon in 2019.

Back in 2016, I contacted the New Horizon Islamic School. I am the kindergarten teacher at Saint Brendan School, and at the time it was the beginning of the Muslim ban and New Horizon and the Islamic Center of Southern California had just received a bomb threat. I called their principal, Jolanda Hussein, and asked if they would be interested in bringing their kindergarten over to our school for a pizza party play date. To my great surprise, she immediately said yes, and it was the start of a lovely friendship and a positive interaction between both communities.

The following year, the Saint Brendan kindergarten visited New Horizon, and I took a group of about fifteen women to their Friday service at the mosque. Jolanda and her family joined me at Saint Brendan’s that year for Christmas Eve Mass. We have been able to share our faith traditions a few times since.

In 2019, the entire New Horizon School came over to Saint Brendan’s, and we had an afternoon play date for grades K-5.

COVID restrictions stopped us from meeting in 2020, but the communities still worked to support each other. Last year, our school worked with New Horizons to collect a truckload of household supplies for Afghan refugees, and the children of New Horizon donated their “sadaqa” offerings to the Saint Brendan Toy Drive, which benefits Alexandria House. It was amazing to see children who don’t even celebrate Christmas want to help make Christmas special for kids in need.

We were so exited to get to meet again on April 27th at Saint Brendan’s. We started our get-together in our gym. The children of Saint Brendan’s learned the song “Salam Alaikum” to greet our visitors, and one of the New Horizon students demonstrated the Islamic call to prayer. The children then broke up into class groups. We had student ambassadors that made sure that the New Horizon students were integrated into the children’s social groups, and SBS parent volunteers to visit and chat with the parents from New Horizon. The children had pizza and a balloon party, and then they went into the various classrooms for age appropriate interfaith discussions and art projects. We ended the day with ice cream and bubbles and sidewalk chalk outside.

Stacy Herman is the kindergarten teacher at St. Brendan’s Catholic School located in Windsor Square. 

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