Students Surprise Teacher With Dream Trip

Teacher Accepts Students' Generosity

When Sister Nicolette Etienne went on stage at Holy Name Catholic School, she thought she was among staff members getting an award.

But Etienne, who turned 50 Wednesday, soon found out she was there for a celebration in her honor and that she'd been given a trip to France, RTV6's Julie Pursley reported.

Eighth-grade students spent months secretly preparing a dream birthday gift for Etienne.

"She was talking about one day toward the beginning of the year how it is her dream to go to Lourdes," said student Lindsey Corsaro. "It kind of started out as a small idea, almost like a joke. How cool would it be if we sent here there?"

Students collected donations to cover the cost of two roundtrip tickets for Etienne and a guest, plus more than $3,600 to cover expenses.

"These kids are No. 1, not that we have favorites, but they're pretty special to me," Etienne said.

Etienne had wanted to travel to Lourdes since learning that her mother went there as a teenager on a prayer pilgrimage.

"(Her mother) basically asked God in prayer to please allow her to be a wife and a mother, to let that be her vocation, but that in exchange, she would give very freely any children with whom he blessed her," said Gina Fleming, the school's principal.

"I have a brother who is a bishop, a brother who is a priest and a vicar general and another brother who is a priest," Etienne said. "I think Mary was really listening when my mother was praying that day."

The act of kindness shown by Etienne's students shows they are listening to her teachings.

"Just because you're a kid doesn't mean you can't do a whole lot. When everybody gets together, obviously like we've done today, you can do a lot," said student Dolan Monroe.

Community members helped the students achieve their goal through donations. Etienne plans to take the trip in June.

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