St. Mary School photo
Students from St. Mary School in Medford show crosses they made for alumni and benefactors.
St. Mary School photo
Students from St. Mary School in Medford show crosses they made for alumni and benefactors.
MEDFORD — Tia McKenzie, an art teacher at St. Mary's School here, has Catholic education experience from both sides of the teacher’s desk.

A transplant from Portland, McKenzie started teaching in southern Oregon’s Catholic schools just a few years ago. But she's a product of Portland’s St. Agatha’s School and La Salle Prep. She notes that though she’s far from her family who still live in the Portland area, the familiarity of a Catholic community and its traditions have made her transition easier.

This winter, McKenzie decided to incorporate a lesson on gratitude for a Catholic education into her middle-school class. Her students created more than 140 fused glass crosses to give to St. Mary’s alumni, friends, and donors — the people who have made the school possible for almost 150 years.

Glass fusion is a process in which glass is assembled into a design and then fired in a kiln. Each St. Mary's art student has made a fused glass cross to show their thanks to those who helped with such things as construction of the Italianate St. Mary’s Chapel and a new fine arts and athletics facility, the Naumes Center.

"The crosses serve to link the students, placing them and the recipients in a cycle of generosity and gratitude nurtured by their Catholic faith," says Linnea Schulenburg, marketing director at the school.