Roanoke Catholic Kindergarten Recreates Conclave

Roanoke, VA - This selection of the Pope is being closely watched by millions all over the world... including right here in our area.

And some local teachers aren't wasting the chance to use the event to introduce a life lesson for their young students.

All week those kids at Roanoke Catholic are getting a lesson in how a pope is selected by using the one thing kids definitely have a lot of - an imagination.

If you try... you can imagine that once the doors to the Sistine Chapel close...

What does that word... that Latin word "conclave" mean, Benjamin? With a key..."

And as the lock on that door is fastened - the 115 Cardinals entrusted to select the next Pope will begin their work.

"Someone who is like Jesus...".

It's not every year that Annette Mashburn gets to teach her students exactly how a Pope is selected so when Pope Benedict decided to step down it provided the 17-year veteran kindergarten teacher a chance to do just that.

"We wanted them to experience it and to really learn something about the electing of a pope. It's a very important time in our church right now," said Mashburn.

And while those 115 Cardinals are just represented by about 20 imaginary Cardinals - the lesson being taught tries to follow the real script.

"Can girls be Popes? No... So just our boys..."

But for this lesson they can vote for one of the boys in the class who will eventually land the title.

"Annnnd... Cardinal Benjamin...".

Each vote counted, presented to a second Cardinal and then put into a chalice.

A two-thirds majority is needed....

"We don't have 2/3 vote. So what does that mean? We'll have to vote again tomorrow," said Mashburn.

Which means when the ballots go up in smoke, on this day, that smoke will once again be black.

The two kindergarten classes vote two times a day... unlike the real conclave's four times per day.

They tell me they will continue the vote until the majority is realized... which they hope will happen before Friday... both at Roanoke Catholic and at the Vatican.