As we approach Christmas, The Compass is sharing the winning essays and artwork from its 30th annual “Just for Kids” Christmas challenge on these pages.
This year, The Compass again paired with World Mission Services of the Catholic Foundation of the Green Bay Diocese to include “Just for Kids” art entries for the Missionary Childhood Association’s (MCA) National Christmas Card contest.
Teresa Fischer, who was an eighth grader at Holy Family in Brillion when she entered last year’s Just for Kids’ contest, was selected as one of the 24 national winners of this year’s MCA art contest. Her art can be sent as free e-cards for Christmas through this link: http://egreetings.missio.org.
She and her family traveled to Washington D.C. to receive her award on Dec. 1 to receive her award. Teresa’s artwork of the Magi will be displayed at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during Advent and the Christmas season.
This year’s Just for Kids art winners will be forwarded to MCA as 2018 entries.
Artwork by Irina Dimeo, grade 5.In total, The Compass received 241 entries this year: 96 essays and 145 works of art, from 36 classes in diocesan schools and parish religious education programs, as well as 10 individual entries.
This year’s Compass project contained both an art contest and an essay contest. The art entries reflect Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem.
The essays address this problem: “In Jesus’ time, there was no GPS. What directions did Joseph use to get to Bethlehem? From where did he get those directions — or from whom?”
Essays and artwork were reviewed by a panel of diocesan employees, and three winners selected in four age groups: grades pre-K to 2; grades 3-4; grades 5-6; grades 7-8.
Below are the 2017 essays by grade. Individual entries are listed first in the groupings, followed by classes. (Art entries may be viewed on The Compass Flickr account.)
GRADES 1-2 ESSAYS
Joseph followed the brightest star to Bethlehem. Other people followed the star to. — Colten Rataczyk, Holy Family Parish, Brillion: Grade 2
St. John Paul II Classical School, Green Bay: Grade 1
The way they got ther was because they followed the star. And the star guided them to Bethlehem. — Seamus Saindon
Where did They go? They went to Bethlehem. They rood a donkey all the way to Bethlehem. How did Mary and Joseph Get to Bethelehem? They God directions from the angel. — Sophie Matczynski
God told Joseph the way to get there. —Ethan Everts
Holy Family School, Brillion, Laurie Wagner: Grade 1
Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to be counted. They rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. The direction they went was south-west. They prayed to God to guide them to Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary were happy to find their way to Bethlehem to be counted. — Noah Goins
Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to be counted. They rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. The direction they went was south-west. Mary and Joseph might have used the stars to show them where to go. Maybe they asked someone to borrow their map. Joseph and Mary were happy to find their way to Bethlehem to be counted. — Orrin Greunke
What direction did Mary and Joseph use to go to Bethlehem? Joseph and Mary rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. The direction they went was south-west. Mary and Joseph used the stars to show them where to go. Maybe they even used a map. Joseph and Mary were happy to find their way to Bethlehem to be counted. — Paul Nowak
Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to be counted. They rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. The direction they went was south-west. Joseph might have asked if he and Mary could follow people. Maybe they even used the stars to show them how to get to Bethlehem. This is how I think Joseph and Mary found their way to Bethlehem. — Maggie Bolle
St. John Paul II Classical School: Grade 2
I think Joseph knew the way because he used to live there. — Gwendolyn Danz
Joseph lived there. He knew where to go. If Joseph didn’t remember, maybe the Holy spirit would gide him. I think Mary would be very tired. — Stella Kanning
Joseph new the direction he went to Bethlehem. I think the angel told him the directions. — Kolbe Everts
I think that Joseph and Mary got from the star or maby they got there with a compass with a donkey. Maby Joseph knew the way to Bethlehem and to have baby Jesus. — Sophia Lubinski
God told him everything. — Ella Kerscher
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were on their way to Bethlehem. I think they were following the star, or a compass, or the Angel Gabriel. — Andrew Greisen
Joseph used the stars a night and for day. Joseph used to live there so he new his way there. — Xavier Ullmer
God loved him so much so he decided to guide him all the four days it took him to get thare. — Joseph O’Loughlin
St. Mary’s School, Algoma, Mrs. Schaefer: Grade 2
Joseph followed the star of David to find his way. Jesus had his birth in a barn in Bethlehem. King’s from town’s saw a star that lead to the manager of Jesus. — Ethan
Holy Cross Catholic School, Bay Settlement, Sr. Carrie Zahringer: Grade 2
Joseph was a man who lived in Nazareth, who married a woman name Mary, who had an angel come to her saying you will have a baby whose name will be Jesus. You will take a journey to Bethlehem where he will be born. You will be guided with the STAR. Follow the light, follow your heart. — Lucy DeGroot
From Nazareth, Mary rode on a donkey while Joseph was leading. His guardian angel led the way to Bethlehem. — Ava McMahon
They journeyed over hills and around mountains to get to Bethlehem. Joseph was in front. Mary rode the donkey. They watched the stars by night. — Courtney Leisgang
Joseph and Mary took a donkey to Bethlehem from Nazareth. They saw a star in the sky that seems to lead the way they should go. Mary was riding the donkey. They probably stopped along the way to rest and pray. — Tristen Michiels
An angel may have told Joseph the way to the city called Bethlehem. OR maybe Joseph’s heart helped him know the way to Bethlehem. Or, maybe there was an unusual star that guided them. — Julia VanEgeren
Joseph and Mary looked at the stars at night and the sun by day. They listened to an angel who whispered the way. — Daniel Wildenberg
Joseph told Mary how they would get to Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph prayed a lot. The road to Bethlehem was an answer to their prayer. They probably prayed a lot on their journey too. Jesus would be born away from home in the city of Bethlehem. — Calli Host
Holy Family School, Brillion, Laurie Wagner: Grade 2
Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to be counted. They rode on a donkey. The direction Mary and Joseph went was south-west. They just knew how to get to Bethlehem because they had been there before. Joseph and Mary were happy to find their way to Bethlehem to be counted. — Dylan Skaletski
Come, see how Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem! They rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. The direction they went was south-west. An angel told Mary and Joseph how to get to Bethlehem. They used the stars to show them where to go. This is how Joseph and Mary found their way to Bethlehem. — Kalyie Eickert
Let’s learn how Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem. They rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. The direction they traveled was south-west. They probably used landmarks to go to Bethlehem. May someone made a path and the sticks were on the side of the road. Joseph and Mary were happy to find their way to Bethlehem to be counted. — Taylor Ware
Let’s learn how Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem. They road to Bethlehem on a donkey. The direction Joseph and Mary traveled was south-west. An angel might have told them how to get to Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary probably followed a path. They were happy to find their way to Bethlehem to be counted. — Deagan Schneider
Come, see how Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. They rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. The direction traveled was south-west. Mary and Joseph just knew how to get to Bethlehem because they had been there before. An angel also guided them. This is how I think Joseph and Mary found their way to Bethlehem. — Maris Delsman
Let’s learn how Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. They rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. The direction they went was south-west. Mary and Joseph probably followed the other people’s footprints. On the way to Bethlehem they used landmarks. This is how I think Joseph and Mary found their way to Bethlehem. — Gabriel Bolle
Let’s learn how Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem. They rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. The direction traveled was south-west. They probably used landmarks to go to Bethlehem. Maybe someone made a path and the sticks were on the side of the road. Joseph and Mary were happy to find their way to Bethlehem to be counted. — Garrison Jacques
Come, see how Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. They rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. The direction Mary and Joseph traveled was south-west. An angel might have told them how to get to Bethlehem. Joseph could have used a simple map to find his way. This is how I think Joseph and Mary found their way to Bethlehem. — Brooklin Taddy
Let’s learn how Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem. They rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. The direction traveled was south-west. Joseph and Mary probably prayed to God to guide them to Bethlehem. They might have used landmarks to find their way. Joseph and Mary were happy to find their way to Bethlehem to be counted. — Natalie Kiesow
Come, see how Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. They rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. The direction they went was south-west. An angel might have told Mary and Joseph how to get to Bethlehem. Joseph could have asked people if he and Mary could follow them to Bethlehem. This is how I think Joseph and Mary found their way to Bethlehem. — Conrad Pakala
Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to be counted. They rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. The direction they went was south-west. Mary and Joseph prayed to God to guide them to Bethlehem. They probably used the stars to show them where to go. Joseph and Mary were happy to find their way to Bethlehem to be counted. — Jaxon Lisowe
Come, see how Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. They rode to Bethlehem on a donkey. The direction they went was south-west. Mary and Joseph just knew how to get to Bethlehem because they had been there before. The stars helped them find their way. Joseph and Mary were happy to find their way to Bethlehem to be counted. — Evelyn Surman
St. Mary School, Greenville, Mrs. Doverspike: Grade 2
To get to Bethlehem Mary and Joseph used other people like the shepherds, he pointed the way. He also told them how many meters they still had to travel. Joseph also asked a family going to register in Jerusalem. How to get to Bethlehem. — Romy Wennger
Joseph knew the way to Bethlehem he believed in God. God gave him directions to Bethlehem. It took about 9 days to get there. It was very very hard for Mary. They were exhausted from traveling. Then Joseph said “We will be at the inn soon it will be comfy.” Once they arrived in Bethlehem they did not know the way to the inn so they asked for directions. — Scarlett Reichenbacher
Mary told Joseph how to get to Bethlehem. She told him every step and direction she knew how to get there because Joseph’s family was from Bethlehem and she had been there before to visit. It took about ten days to get there but they stopped at nighttime and traveled during the day. — Rose Cogswell-Hietpas
Joseph knew how to get to Bethlehem with no GPS because, Joseph’s Great, Great, Great Grandpa was born there. They walked about 90-100 miles to get to Bethlehem. It took them 9-10 days to walk there. The ground was very rough. It was probably a tough journey. — Maelin Wood
Joseph knew the way to Bethlehem because Joseph believed God and so when Joseph was praying God told him how to get there. — Joseph Immel
Joseph knew how to get to Bethlehem because his great great grandfather David the King of Israel was born there. He probably traveled there before. So he most likely remembered the trail. I know they traveled nine to ten days and rested over night. Joseph must have recognized some trees or a house. — Isla Vosters
Mary and Joseph/ Found a little boy/ The boy told them/ Only 30 kilometers/ Till you get there
Then a sign showed/ Up it said only 3 kilometers
Away finally they saw in the/ Distance it was Bethlehem. — Gavin Dobratz
Mary and Joseph knew the way because they saw signs and they followed the signs. Mary and Joseph had to cross deserts and they were followed by lots of cats. It took 9 to 10 days to get to Bethlehem. Then Jesus was born in a cave and wise men came to visit the Good News. — Brendan Albers
“I don’t know why this journey is taking for-ever it should come to an end soon. I don’t know why this girl is so big and she is riding me and the man is walking” I wonder if they know where they’re going. The lady seems to be giving directions but I wonder who told her? — Jadyn Griesbach
Joseph and Mary asked people along the road how to get to Bethlehem. Other people were trying to get to the home towns too. One person said, “It isn’t far then the next person said, “You’re almost there.” The third person said, “It is right down the hill.” — Olivia Webb
I saw a very, very bright flash it said “Do not be afraid” “I was terrified.” It said I was going to have a baby. I was scared. It said we had to name the baby Jesus. The next day we started to travol and how did we get there? Well we got to Behlehem by the stars. — Autumn Doucette
GRADES 3-4 ESSAYS
St. Mary School, Luxemburg, Mary Seleen: Grade 3
Mary and Joseph went back to Bethlehem because Joseph had to be counted at his home, but Mary was about to have a baby. She had to ride a donkey. Joseph had to know the way back to Bethlehem so he asked a few people how to get there and they showed him the way. — Carly D.
Joseph went to Bethlehem because he grew up there. Mary was having a baby but they had to go because the king was counting the whole town, so Joseph and Mary went to Joseph’s home town. Joseph used the stars to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem. — Onna H.
I think Joseph used the stars because in ancient times they used the stars but once he started to get to Bethlehem it started to get lighter. So he asked a shepherd where they were. They left Nazareth because they were being counted because the king wanted to know how many people he ruled. — Lana G.
Joseph used the stars to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem. He got directions from the angels that appeared to him. He used the North Star to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem. — Monroe S.
Joseph grew up in Bethlehem so he knew where it was. He probably went there once or twice or more. He probably remembered where he lived and where everything was like the church and playground and the stores. He might remember some people like some of his friends and some of his parent’s friends. — Molly Z.
Joseph did not need directions to Bethlehem because he used to live there. He probably visited Bethlehem a lot before he married Mary. He probably liked visiting Bethlehem. Maybe he thought it was a beautiful city and thought Mary would like it too. — Sophia B.
Joseph was in Nazareth with Mary they went to Bethlehem. Mary rode on a donkey. Joseph walked. They were going to Bethlehem because an angel said Herod the king wanted to count people. There was a path leading to Bethlehem so Joseph and Mary went on the path and went home on it. — John T.
St. Mary School, Greenville, Mrs. Doverspike: Grade 3
Joseph and I traveled to Bethlehem. We were sweating more than chickens in the oven because we were walking in the desert. “Excuse me young shepherd, how far is it to Bethlehem from here?” Joseph whispered. “Bethlehem, hmmmm. Just go south then start following signs,” little Shepherd answered. We got more directions and made it because God was with us. — Nathan McHugh
I am Mike the donkey, I am getting old so the journey through the blazing desert was difficult. I had to go over huge hills and through deep valleys. Of course Joseph knew how to get to Bethlehem that’s where one of his ancestors King David lived. We continued south traveling for 10 days. Finally we arrived at Bethlehem. — Jack Holdren
Joseph knew how to get to Bethlehem because Joseph believed in God, so God, along with the Holy Spirit guided Joseph to Bethlehem with the Holy Spirit. It took about ten days walking to Bethelehem, but Mary and Joseph trusted God so he kept walking until they got to Bethlehem. — Cassie Johnson
Do you want to know how I knew how to get to Bethlehem? Well I Dusty Donkey will tell you. I was the last donkey in the stable, Mary and Joseph needed a ride. God sent an angel into my dream he gave me directions to Bethlehem so I could get the precious package to Bethlehem. — Mallorie Werner
“Can you please help me end this long journey?” “I don’t know why but this lady has a big belly and she’s very heavy.” “Hey look there’s a house” brayed Donkey. “Go away” said dog “There’s no room here. This house is as full as a jar of jelly. I’m carrying a special load. I’ll find Bethlehem somehow.” — Teresa LaVoy
Mary and Joseph navigated to Bethlehem without a GPS. Back then they didn’t have GPS’s. But I know that they got there by just riding a donkey. Eventually they came to a man sitting by a tree and asked him where Bethlehem was and he said it was dangerously far away. But they still made the journey! — Katie Pomasl
Holy Trinity School, Casco, Gail Waterstreet: Grades 3-4
Once upon a time there were two people named Mary and Joseph. They wanted to go to Bethlehem. The angel told them to follow the brightest star at night and the angel said to follow the sun in the morning. They followed the directions the angel gave them. — Lauren Van Ess, grade 3
Once upon a time Joseph wanted to go to Bethlehem to see Jesus.
So he decided to ride his donkey to Bethlehem.
But he thought, “How will my donkey know where to go?” Then he saw some sheep! And they just started showing him where to go.
He thought they must have been sent by an angel! Then he knew he saw Bethlehem! — Danica Gagne, grade 4
A long time ago, Joseph and Mary needed to find a way to Bethlehem. They found the local map maker in Jerusalem. He told them to follow certain rock formations. Then he drew them a map and told them where to get a donkey for the trip. They followed the map, found a stable, there Jesus was born. —
Max Machut, grade 4
I think that when Joseph heard about Mary being pregnant, he prayed so much! When God heard all of his prayers, he gave the donkey directions. God told Joseph to listen to the donkey so they could get there. — Riley Westlund, grade 4
St. John Nepomucene School, Little Chute, Ms. Corrigan: Grade 4
Joseph might have gotten the news from his father or his family. Joseph may have made the journey with his family before. Because he traveled this journey before he knew the way, following his heart and family — Hannah Van Handel
Well, I think Joseph had probably memorized the trail to Bethlehem. Having memorized the way he followed the ways of his family. But if Joseph didn’t memorize the trail, Mary could have possibly known. If neither of them knew, God would guide them to Bethlehem. — Molly Neubauer
He must have been guided by God or followed the north star. Joseph might have been there as a kid. He might have gone there many times as a kid and memorized the way. Joseph must of gone to many places. He could have been told by people in Jerusalem. — Renee Osowski
God sent people to tell Joseph which way to go to Bethlehem. They may have pointed, walked, or traveled with Mary and Joseph. Ultimately, God guided Joseph with love and grace through it. Joseph succeed on the trip. — Campbell DeBoth
He used the arrows and a dirt path to get to Bethlehem. And he probably followed the North Star. The angels told him for directions for Mary and Joseph —Tyler Verstegen
Joseph knew that God was with him. God was with him the whole time. His heart told him to follow the stars. Joseph knew God was helping him. During the day God told him to follow the sun. Joseph knew that it was going to be a tough trip to Bethlehem, but they made it to Bethlehem. — Noah Faccio
Mary and Joseph followed the North Star. Joseph could have remembered that he had been there once when Joseph got into town. He didn’t know where to go, so the innkeeper helped them find a place to go stay. — Grace Van Grinsven
I think Joseph Followed his heart. He got the directions from his heart. I think that God guided him through it all. God guided him the way he should go. When he got there he thanked God so much for guiding him to Bethlehem. — Jacob Kerrigan
I think Joseph used God and the Holy Spirit to guide his way. I think God guided him because he chose them, God has a plan. Joseph and Mary did have a very hard time on the way. Joseph trusted God as he led them on their journey to Bethlehem. — Cooper Effa
God told Joseph to take Mary to Bethlehem. So Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem to be counted and for Mary to have her baby. God told Joseph to follow the North Star to Bethlehem. So Joseph followed the North Star to get to Bethlehem. — Lillian Zuleger
St. Mary School, Algoma, Mrs. Schaefer: Grades 3-4
I think Joseph grew up in a different city that was near Bethlehem and he had a friend that lived in Bethlehem. So maybe Joseph would sometimes visit his friend. When he would travel to his friend’s house, he would probably make a map to get to his destination. He would use the map he drew. — Jack, grade 3
Joseph might use stars to guide him on his donkey. Maybe he used the biggest star the star of David. He also could have followed a path. There could have been memorys that he remembered. He followed the path, and maybe saw the biggest star. He was probably confused but followed it anyway. Then he saw the houses from Bethlehem. — Emma D., grade 3
Joseph got his directions from the star of David to lead him to Bethlehem, for the birth of Jesus. He also could use directions from the light of God. The light of God led him to Bethlehem, so Mary could have Jesus the king. The light of God led to the manger of hay. — Amaya, grade 3
Joseph got directions from an angel like Mary. They traveled on a donkey. Joseph grew up in Bethlehem, so he would probably know how to get there. Joseph followed the star as well. Maybe a person in a near by town along the way tould him. Or God guided Joseph and Mary. — Ian, grade 3
I think Joseph got directions from the angel’s or from the north star at night from God. The angel’s helped Joseph and that’s how I think they got to Bethlehem. I also think they got directions from a innkeeper at a inn, and people on the streets, and innkeeper’s at town’s inn’s. I think that’s how they got to Bethlehem. — Faith, grade 4
GRADES 5-6 Essays
St. Mary School, Greenville, Kathy Ernst: Grade 5
I think that Joseph was guided by God’s angels, because there is no way that someone could navigate through deserts without a guide. I know that I would pray to God for something to give me a sign. The only thing is, why wouldn’t it say that in the Bible. So I can assume that God sent Joseph’s Guardian Angel. — Austin McHugh, Grade 5,
Holy Trinity School, Casco, Gail Waterstreet: Grades 5-6
Back in the old days there wasn’t a gps so without it people were lost. Mary and Joseph went and asked an old man. He said if they threw a stone and it pointed north. News got out that which direction the stone lands is north. So Mary and Joseph used that to get to Bethlehem. Soon the saw Bethlehem. The end. — Caleb Derenne, grade 5
When they didn’t know where to go an angel came down from heaven and gave a key to them. The key had an address on it and they had to go to that address. So after they got there a man inside told them, “there is a stable out back.” So they went there and had baby Jesus. — Colten Gagne, grade 5
It all started out on a clear, starry night. Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem on a request to register at your birth place. On this long journey, a dove flew across the sky. At that moment, Joseph knew that this was a sign of God to lead the way. Soon After they arrived the Savior was born. — Emma Schraufnagel, grade 5
One day Mary came to Joseph and told him that she was pregnant with God’s son. Joseph did not believe Mary. One night, an angel told Joseph in a dream that Mary was pregnant with God’s son. The night before the baby was due Mary and Joseph rode on a donkey to go to Bethlehe3m to have the child there. — Erin Heiman, grade 6
I think that Mary and Joseph traveled with a group of friends and family that were also traveling to different areas close to Bethlehem. I think that the couple traveled in the group when Bethlehem was in sight and from their they could see the town’s light and follow it. — Morgan Westlund, grade 6
Once upon a time there was Mary and Joseph. They were going to Bethlehem. Gold told them to look at the sky. They looked at the sky and saw the brightest star. They followed the star at night. During the day they followed a map. Finally they saw the town of Bethlehem. — Eric Van Ess, grade 6
GRADES 7-8 Essays
Was there ever such a night, as cold and dark, and yet as light?
A silent couple, quietly, trav’ling inconspicuously,
Going far from home today, but Joseph knows the way.
Even though he lives not there, this town’s not just anywhere.
David’s city, David’s son, soon to that family adding one.
He’s really going home today, so Joseph knows the way. — Magdalena Mortensen, home schooled, Green Bay: Grade 7. St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Parish.
Perhaps the Holy family started out in a large group with others from Nazareth. Then, after some time, continued on their separate way. Most likely there were others who were going to Bethlehem. They probably asked fellow travelers for directions along the way. For though they had no GPS to rely on, they had something, or rather someone better, GOD. — Olivia Scheibl, home schooled, 3-D Academy, Kiel: Grade 7
St. Mary’s School, Algoma, Grade 8
When Joseph was looking for directions he went to town. He found a person who looked trustworthy and they gave him a peculiar map. They left on a mountain path as the glowing city became a distant memory. They had a long 100 mile journey ahead. They looked right and left for desert pirates who were robbers. — Isabelle Haase
While walking through a desert Mary and Joseph ran into a man, and they asked the man if he knew how to get to Bethlehem. The man was quiet, Mary and Joseph gave the man some of their food and water then he told them the route to get to Bethlehem, they thanked the man then continued on their way. — Spencer Haack.