Students take papal conclave inside classroom

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, March 13, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- On a day where the leader of the Catholic Church could be chosen, students at St. Mary On The Hill Catholic School got to experience something new.

"I knew this was history in the making ... I can tell they're getting anxious, they want an answer," said Sherre Watwood, a teacher at the school.

And there finally was white smoke.

But earlier on Wednesday, Watwood's seventh grade religion class sat, waiting and watching.

"I just think it's very important for them to understand how important this is for the Catholic Church," Watwood said.

Her middle schoolers got a taste of how stressful it might be as a cardinal in the Catholic Church by holding a conclave. The vote was complete with 13 cardinals that Watwood thought were good candidates.

Hours later, the students had their answer.

While the new cardinals are sworn to secrecy about their vote, these seventh graders aren't.

"I voted for Cardinal Tagle," Williamson said.

But on Wednesday, Watwood's class didn't just watch history, they became a part of it.

"He could be our pope for the next 20 or 30 years, and these kids could be in their 40s ... they might not get to see this again for a really long time," Watwood said.

But this time is a time all these students will remember -- and so will their teacher.

"You know, next year when I teach this class, I'll go over it, but it won't be nearly as exciting it is this year," Watwood said.

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