Diocesan News

Catholic Fourth Graders Join the Galaxy of Published Authors, With a Book on the Solar System

The students at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Academy who wrote and illustrated “Our Galaxy System.” (Photo: Alicia Venter)

SUNSET PARK — A handful of students at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Academy have earned the title of published author, with the help of their fourth grade teacher. 

Their new book, “Our Galaxy System,” tells the history of space travel and informs readers about the solar system, from its planets to the Milky Way. All 14 children in Nichola Senaratne’s class helped write and illustrate the book, which is packed with facts about the solar system, explaining the size of Jupiter, who the first man was on the moon, and the James Webb Telescope.

Among those students is Sabrina Seweryn, who found joy in doing research for her informative pages on the Milky Way and the solar eclipse of 2024. Thinking about how her parents and teachers would feel reading her pages, Sabrina is proud of her work in “Our Galaxy System.”

“I’m very happy that I had this opportunity. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that most kids can’t take,” Sabrina said.

The project was the brainchild of Senaratne, a writer herself. She chose the topic, looking to build upon their preexisting interest in the outside world and what is beyond the Earth.  The students also drew, by hand, a picture to complement their explanation of the topic.  

It took about three months for the book to be completed and sent to Student Treasures Publishing, a program that has helped create more than 17 million young authors. From there, the book came off the press and into the hands of Senaratne, who proudly displayed it to the students this month.

All 14 students in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Academy’s fourth grade class contributed to “Our Galaxy System.” (Photo: Alicia Venter)

“There’s going to be something they will always remember about their fourth grade. I wanted to make it special,” their teacher said.

The book is more than just a class project, Senaratne explained. She is not just trying to instill English Language Arts and math skills in her students; she wants to show them that they are capable of becoming whatever they want, whether it’s an author or an astronaut. 

After a celebratory publishing party held for the students on Monday, June 17, Senaratne is now looking to sell “Our Galaxy System” on Amazon.

As he wrote and illustrated the history of the moon landing, fourth grade student Israel Gomez grew in his love for space as he read about Neil Armstrong and the galaxy.

“You just feel like you accomplished something,” Israel said. “They say space is infinite, so we have a lot to learn.” 

In her research about the beyond, Sabrina — whose favorite planet is now Mars — couldn’t help but be reminded of her faith.

“God is the one who created everything that makes people, especially children, happy and makes them enjoy every single thing that is in our solar system,” she said.