BLOOMINGTON -- Ask for the time at Holy Trinity Junior High School, and you'll find it's Catholic Schools Week.

The week also marks the annual clock project, in which eighth-graders produce art projects involving a clock.

Students often decide years in advance what they will make. Sixth-grader Caroline Talbot, 11, of Bloomington, already knows what she's going to do: "I'm going to do a recycling bin."

The larger-than-life oboe clock of Beth Koenen, 13, of Normal, has musical notes for numbers. It's made of Styrofoam, wood, plaster, paint and silver ribbons.

"It took a long time," said Koenen, whose dad helped her use a saw. "He also helped set up stuff the in the basement so the spray paint didn't get all over the walls," she said.

Basketball was a popular theme. Entries included a giant trophy marking the eighth-grade girls' team achievements in 2009.

"The goal is to be creative," said art teacher Brooke Boyd, who has led the clock challenge for about 15 years.

Clocks this year included a giant charm bracelet, baked goods, a freestanding stop signal, a giant butterfly, and a space shuttle at blast-off. Jack Fox, 14, of Bloomington, wanted to use a fog machine for the smoke, but it wasn't allowed in school.

More than 1,600 students, parents and teachers at Holy Trinity schools, Epiphany and St. Mary's grade schools, and Central Catholic High School will mark Bloomington-Normal Catholic Schools Week as part of a national recognition week.

"We try to do some fun things so the kids know this is a special week. It's their week," said Joy Allen, principal of Central Catholic High School.

The theme, Dividends for Life, reflects the lifelong payback students receive from a Catholic education, Allen said.

Local events include coloring contests, art shows, heart health awareness projects, writing letters of appreciation, and lunches for parents.


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