SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — At St. John School, students get a class that they may not get to experience anywhere else – religion. You may think that this just includes reading the Bible and saying prayers, but high school religion teacher Marilou McClimans has incorporated many important virtues into her class that tie into faith and everyday life alike. On a Thursday, Mrs. McClimans rushed into her junior religion class and exclaimed, “I have to show you guys something! I finally found it!”
She continued to show her students a video of 28-year-old Alex Sheen speaking on-stage about what he likes to call “promise cards.” At a young age Alex had lost his father of small cell lung cancer and titled his eulogy "because I said I would," because his dad was known to always keep a promise. Alex then came up with the idea of promise cards, which were blank cards with "because I said I would" written at the bottom. The idea was to write a promise on the blank portion and it would help people keep promises because too many people are saying "I'll get to it tomorrow." In a short time, this became a worldwide social movement.
After watching the video, Mrs. McClimans told her students in grades first, second, 10th, 11th and 12th to get out a piece of paper and write down 10 promises they were determined to keep and that would benefit others. At first, students said it was hard to get the hang of but it became easier as they put thoughts of themselves to the side. After writing down their promises, Mrs. McClimans reviewed everyone's promises and then gave everyone 10 promise cards of their own. As carefully and neatly as they could, everyone wrote down each promise onto the card. When finished, a few students tried giving them to Mrs. McClimans as they normally would an assignment, but she said, "No, keep it. Those are for you."
To prevent students from losing their cards, giving up or putting off their promises, Mrs. McClimans told her religion classes to keep the cards and every time they fulfill a promise to write how and when they did it. At the end of the third nine weeks she will collect and review them.
"I think it really teaches students responsibility," said junior Michaelangelo Zullo. "It teaches them not to make empty promises." Promise cards are available on the Because I Said I Would website and are able to be sent anywhere in the world. Alex Sheen charges nothing for the cards, he just wants to help change the world and benefit others. Whether it's as simple as "I'll clean the house today" or something life changing like "I will always fight heroin!" promise cards can be a benefit to people big or small.
If you ever see Marilou McClimans, she will always be wearing her "because I said I would" bracelet.