EUGENE — On Thursday, Dec. 12, third grade students at O’Hara School here spent the morning performing the story of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe. As a new project in religion class this year, students were divided into groups of eight and took on the roles of St. Juan Diego, Mary, a bishop, narrators and more. For audiences that included students, staff, parents and other visitors, each group performed the play at least once. Post-play, visitors were treated to a doughnut hole — a nod to a sweet pastry breakfast that traditionally follows the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, observed throughout Mexico and in many parts of the United States and Latin America.

The new addition to the third grade calendar was the collaborative effort of third grade teachers Gavin McKinnon and Katherine Cohn and Maryanne Obersinner, O’Hara middle school religion teacher. In addition to learning their lines for the play, students spent time in class studying the story of St. Juan Diego. His story is said to have converted millions of indigenous people in Mexico to the Catholic faith in 1531.

Bryson Horner, who performed the role of Juan Diego’s uncle, loved performing with his friends and the opportunity to spend class time learning with Obersinner.

Jack Londahl, an understudy for the bishop role, says his favorite part of the story is when the roses fell out of the tilma, or cloak, and revealed the image of Mary.

Students seem to have enjoyed the experience, says McKinnon, and “splitting the kids into many groups afforded all the students a chance to participate and made the experience more meaningful.”