School supplies without end

An NCEA exhibitor displays a SMART Board April 12. (CNS photo by Gregory Tracy)

The annual National Catholic Educational Assocation convention is not just about professional and spiritual development.

It’s also about school supplies.

The exposition hall, a must stop for the 10,000 delegates at this year’s convention in Boston was filled with traditional student supplies:  uniforms, markers, books and art supplies. But vendors also were selling what schools need such as software, SMART boards,  scoreboards and desks.

Many of the booths lure potential buyers with free candy or other giveaways. The school fundraising vendors — especially those promoting candy bar sales — naturally draw a large crowd with bowls of samples on display.

Part of the success for vendors at the convention follows the real estate maxim: “location, location, location.”

Some vendors on the periphery of the hall, for example, felt they did not get enough foot traffic.

The range of products on display illustrates the immense role these educators have. There were tools for making handwriting easier and others for electronically keeping track of students’ volunteer hours. There were plenty of previously mentioned fundraisers in all shapes and sizes — promoting sales of free-trade coffee, organic products, candles, cookie dough and gift wrap — to name just a few.

Several booths offered religious items such as rosaries, holy cards and books but others highighted religious programs such as service opportunities, religious orders, missions and theology programs.

By the convention’s end two booths had a particular appeal not for their location or their giveaways. One was selling comfortable footwear and the other offered nap mats.

Oompah band, schuhplattler give Bavarian flair to pope’s birthday


Children dressed in traditional Bavarian outfits dance for Pope Benedict XVI during his 85th birthday celebrations in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican April 16. (CNS photo/Gregorio Borgia, pool via Reuters).

VATICAN CITY — The apostolic palace’s frescoed Clementine Hall became the stage for a mini-Bavarian festival today to celebrate Pope Benedict’s 85th birthday.

A small band played “oompah” music and ten children dressed in traditional outfits swirled, stomped and clapped as they performed the Schuhplattler before the pope. They were part of a large delegation of Bavarian bishops and 150 government representatives from the region who came to greet the pope and celebrate his birthday.

The pope’s brother, 88-year-old Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, also attended the festivities as well as representatives from the Lutheran church and the Jewish community in Bavaria.

The children presented the pope with white flowers and a Maypole covered with colorful ribbons. They also recited a German birthday poem.

The government delegation presented the pope with gifts of a wooden crucifix sculpted by a well-known 18th-century Bavarian woodcarver and a large Easter basket filled with traditional cakes, dark bread, ham and painted eggs.

Take a look at our video coverage of the pope’s milestone birthday:

And here’s the Vatican’s coverage from the morning Mass: