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The pictures of saints hanging in Cathedral of the Holy Spirit Elementary would look familiar to students' families and close friends if they were to walk down the school halls.

That's because the posters show "saints among us" — loved ones selected by each student.

The school-wide project encouraged kids to think of someone in their lives who exhibits the qualities of a saint. Once a student had a person in mind, the next step was to get in touch.

"We had to call or meet them somewhere and interview them," sixth-grader Landon Gerving said.

Each student proceeded to ask 15 questions about that person, focusing on their faith.

The catch? They couldn't reveal the details of the project.

Sixth-grader Ben Mormon gave a vague explanation when he asked to interview his mother, Jennifer.

"We're doing a project for religion class and need you to answer these questions," he told her.

She willingly complied.

Earlier this week, she found his finished poster next to the school entrance with her picture under the title "Saint Among Us." Included on the poster was information he compiled from the interview.

"My mom came in and saw it and started crying," Ben said.

Sixth-grade teacher Jessica Gendreau came up with the idea for the project when she watched "St. Vincent." In the film, a boy has to research someone in the community he considers a saint.

Gendreau thought she should try the project at Cathedral.

"We can relate them to our faith and our everyday life," she said of the loved ones selected by students.

Sixth-grader Mary Richter chose her grandmother, Sharon Wilson. During the interview, she asked how Wilson handles situations where she feels jealous of other people.

"She said the best thing to do is pray or think good thoughts about them," Mary said. "That has really helped me."

Sixth-grader Megan Wahl also interviewed her grandmother, Carlotta Miller.

The two have always been close — they live in the same neighborhood.

Nevertheless, she learned several facts about Miller that she previously didn't know. Her grandma liked to cross stitch and make blinds as a young girl.

"She goes to church three times a week," Megan said. "She tries to help out with community work as much as possible."

The students are working on a religion unit about saints. They held a saints carnival this week and researched their patron saint.

The "saints among us" posters will remain on display throughout November in honor of All Saints' Day. At the end of the month, students will give the posters to the people they chose to interview.

"It helped us realize saints aren't just in heaven," Landon said. "They can be among us on Earth."

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(Reach Amy R. Sisk at 701-250-8267 or amy.sisk@bismarcktribune.com.)

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