NEWTOWN >> In a moving retelling of the Good Friday and Easter story, seventh graders at Saint Andrew School in Newtown re-enacted the 14 Stations of the Cross during two performances inside the school’s gym on April 17.
“The Stations of the Cross” recounts Christ’s last hours, from his sentencing by Pontius Pilot to bearing the cross to Calvary and his crucifixion.
In a slow possession across the gym floor, the students portrayed Jesus’s pain-filled walk to Calvary. Bearing a heavy cross, Jesus is met along the way by his mother, Mary; a woman named Veronica who wipes his face; Simon, who helps him carry the cross; and a group of weeping women.
At the cross, Jesus is stripped of his clothes, nailed to the cross, utters his final words and then takes his last breath in a Good Friday scene that will be remembered throughout the Christian world this week.
As school principal Nancy Matteo watched the scene where Jesus’s lifeless body is removed from the cross and placed on a white sheet, tears welled up in her eyes.
“This is the most beautiful thing that happens in this gym among the many things that we do here throughout the year. I love it,” she said. “It’s inspiring and moving and puts you in the Easter spirit.”
The pageant culminates in dramatic fashion as the stone in front of the tomb is rolled away, a fog envelops the tomb and the risen Christ emerges to a chorus of angels and his arms outstretched - the nail wounds evident on his hands - in triumph over the grave.
“These children will never forget this,” said Matteo. “It’s very memorable, which I think is wonderful. When you’re in something like this, it is very difficult to top. This is the ultimate.”
Appearing in the pageant were Lana Leiter (narrator), Stephen Zaglin (narrator), Daniel Nipper (Jesus), Michael Donohue (Risen Jesus), Madeline Thievon (singer), Alexa Windish and Lizzie Grunwell (Mary), Noah Schneider (Simon), Natalie Boedewig and Giovanna Montalbano (Veronica/Mary Magdalene), Dean Bergkoetter (Pilate), PJ Kraunelis (Barabbas), Lauren Braun, Grace Lawall and Erica Johnson (weeping women), Brendan Schultz, Michael Kinney and Jack Paessler (soldiers) and Estella Schlosser and Nora Arminio (crowd foreperson).
Dancers were Grace Balsamo, Riley Beauchmin, Cate DeGraw, Keriann Featherstone, Eva Kelly, Savannah Leichner, Brielle Leinheiser, Amanda Millevoi, Julia Schuman, Darby Spencer and Sarah Warunek.
Portraying members of the crowd were Gabriella Beltrante, Dominic Gallo, Ethan Hellyer, Chris Kopertowski, Julia Mack, Lily Moore and James Muller.