Tiger Talk! May 1, 2020

Dear Friends,

Can you believe it is May today? Actually, now that you have been homeschooling, you are probably well aware of the day and are praying for June. May is a very special month in our school. We honor our Blessed Mother by praying the Rosary with our students during Religion class and celebrating Mary throughout the month. I was blessed to start my day today with the Seventh Grade Religion class, Mr. Limmina, and Mr. Colligan. We talked about scripture and I participated in their lesson. Mr. Colligan joined in for songs at the beginning and end of the class. It was like our own private Friday Mass. I miss those student-prepared school Masses and Mr. Colligan’s uplifting music very much.

Tomorrow would have been one of my favorite days of the year, First Holy Communion.  Please remember our sweet Second Grade class tomorrow. They have worked so hard to prepare for their First Eucharist, a day that will now be on hold until we can safely be together in our gorgeous church for this wonderful sacrament. Also this month, we typically hold our May Procession. For those of you who are not aware, the May Procession is one of our time-honored traditions. I remember it from my own school days at St. Anthony’s and from when my children attended the school. It is a special rite of passage for our Eighth Grade. Our entire student body reverently walks, two-by-two, through our halls, out the front door, up the street, around the fountain, and into our church. The Eighth Grade graduating class and Second Grade Communicants make a grand entrance. Once gathered together, we hold a prayer service where we sing our favorite songs honoring Mary and pray in a special way for her to watch over us. The May Court then places a crown of flowers on the statue of Mary waiting on the altar, surrounded by flowers from her children at St. Anthony’s. It is absolutely stunning and definitely a tearfully emotional moment. Eighth Grade wears their graduation gowns for the first time, and our Second Graders wear their Communion outfits or Sunday best clothing. It is an impressive sight to see 300 people walking silently up Ninth Street. Cars always stop to see what is happening, and parents gather like paparazzi. This year, we will be holding a virtual May Procession with our 8th Grade Class.

Nothing feels the same right now except our faith in God and our love for each other. I have been attending the virtual Mass at Salesianum for the last 6 weeks. During Father Beretta’s homily last week, he talked about “footprints in the sand” and how it related to Jesus rising from the dead and walking with His disciples. They were not even aware that Jesus was with them, walking beside them and talking directly to them. They did not recognize Him until He broke bread with them. Father reminded us that it is in our most troubled times that Jesus carries us in His arms. You may not see Him, but He is ever-present for us. Living in hope is always one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and for our families. God is always with us, walking silently or carrying us when we no longer have the strength to handle challenging days. These are challenging days for sure, but we have so much to look forward to in the months to come. Father said that this pandemic is not God’s plan, but however the world unfolds, God is with us. Challenges exist and God will be with us every step of the way. And as my favorite Salesian quote states, “Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.” Father reminded us at the end of Mass to believe that “there is more to be revealed in time; God’s time.”

Please remember in your prayers our good friends at All Saints Catholic School (ASCS). It was announced yesterday that the school would close at the end of this school year. As you can imagine, this is heartbreaking. When one of us closes, we are all touched by this. Our friends are there, and they will not have their school to return to in September. Some of those friends have already been through multiple school closings. I ask that you please pray for them. Reach out to them and let them know we are thinking of them. I talked to their principal, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Muir, yesterday. I wanted to reassure her that we were standing in solidarity with her and with her community.  Please know that every single child and family from ASCS is welcome at St. Anthony’s. Our home and our hearts are open. There is room in our school and in our hearts for all of their families. We will help welcome them into our school family, should they choose us. I have a few teaching positions open, and I have already started interviewing ASCS staff and considering them before others. We are a big collective family in our diocese, and we get better when we grow. God bless the All Saints community and God bless our Diocese!

Because of these challenging times, we will be following the diocesan recommendation to reduce the salary of our entire staff by 5%. A new salary scale was distributed by the Diocesan office this week. Obviously this is not ideal. I was not happy to report this to teachers during our Zoom faculty meeting this week that when they are working so tirelessly at home and accomplishing great things, their salary will not reflect their efforts. For the upcoming school year, every staff member will see a 5% salary decrease from this year’s salary. This decrease in no way reflects their accomplishments and dedication. They have impressed me beyond measure, and I could not be more proud of my friends. They are awesome! However, this will help to make up for a small portion of the revenue lost from not holding our Italian Festival. Due to city restrictions, we will not be able to secure a date for even a smaller scale festival in September as we had hoped. With that being said, we have secured a date for Casino Night. I hope you all will save the date and consider attending this adult event on November 21st. It is so much fun! More information will follow.

To help families in a small way during this time, we will not be charging the annual book bill next year. It is only $100 per child, but it is a small gesture. Mr. Shields secured the Payroll Protection Plan for our entire staff through this June, and we currently do not plan to reduce our current staff. On that note, if you have not already registered for the upcoming school year, please do so immediately. We would like to have an accurate count for ordering books. This year we had to order more than a hundred books (multiple subjects and grade levels) after the school year had started. I do not wish to repeat that. Please help us to plan accordingly for next year’s programs and staffing. We are so blessed to have a supportive parish and Education Fund. I thank Mr. Shields for his hard work in this area. He has been very busy balancing budgets, applying for loans, and planning for our sustainable future. Please reach out to him at bshields@stanthonynet.org if you have financial concerns. We will not turn a student away due to family financial strains.

To end on a positive, I have to make one more staff announcement for our school year. My good friend, Courtney (Mrs. Seehusen aka Ms. Palmer), will be leaving us at the end of this school year. Courtney and I became instant friends when she started. We have a lot in common. We both graduated from Padua Academy and Neumann University. We share the same values and love working with children and seeing their successes. Courtney was instrumental in helping with differentiated instruction for our struggling learners. She shares my value of social-emotional learning;  putting children’s emotional needs before their academics. I say this is “good” news because Courtney is leaving for a very good reason. Most people do not know that she drives an hour both ways every day from Maryland. Now that she is newly married and has a young daughter, Piper, at home, she wishes to stay at home with her family. They recently bought a new home, and she has started a very busy and happy life. Courtney has been with me for 13 years, so although she will be leaving the physical school, she will not be leaving us. She won’t be able to stay away. I will not allow it. She has been such a tremendous help and support to me both personally and professionally over the years. I expect to see her roaming our halls for years to come. I emailed Courtney today to ask if she had any thoughts to share. She said, “I have loved and cherished my time at the school, and it’s become a second home! I am leaving to be closer to home and spend more time with my family… It is bittersweet, I am looking forward to being available at home more, but it’s also just strange to think of not being at St. Anthony’s!” She added that she hopes her nephew, Shane, will let her “tag along on some field trips or something haha.”  I am sure that he will. I want to congratulate Mr. and Mrs. Seehusen on their new home. I wish them much love and happiness. God bless you and your family. Thank you for letting us keep your mother. For those of you who are not aware, our school secretary, Mrs. Anita Palmer, is Courtney’s mom. We really are one big extended family!

I will be in touch again soon with Eighth Grade parents. I believe Mrs. Achenbach has already scheduled a meeting for us next week to discuss graduation. We have to honor government and diocesan restrictions. We will be unable to use our beautiful church or gather in parking lots or fields. Safety is our number one priority. We will be sure to celebrate and honor our graduating class in the most meaningful way possible. If restrictions are lifted at a later date this summer, we may do something differently. However, with our graduation date approaching, we need to be practical and realistic. These children and families have been with us for a long time. Some have been in this school community with siblings for over 20 years. The Mazalewski family will have their 12th child graduate. This is a very special time in the lives of our students. We will be sure to make them feel loved and appreciated until we can gather as a group in the future.

Have a blessed weekend! Please follow us on Facebook. I promise it will make you smile. The pictures that our teachers and families are sending me are truly the highlight of my days. I thank each and every one of you for opening up your homes and lives and sharing your children with us and with the world. Nothing is better than the smiling face of a child! My mom is home alone, now that my father (her husband of 50 years) is gone. She adores the pictures on our page. I think she is our biggest Facebook fan to date! I can’t be with her right now, so know that you are spreading joy to the elderly community as well. Thank you! Keep up the amazing work you are doing at home with your children. You are doing a fantastic job. I have always said we are partners in your child’s education. Never has that statement been truer than it is now.

The Diocesan office posted a Novena for the Coronavirus Pandemic. I will post that every day, starting tomorrow, for the next 9 days. Join me in prayer to end this horrible virus and let us get back to all of life’s little celebrations we may have taken for granted in the past. Be well and stay safe!

 

Love and prayers,

Mrs. White 🙂

 

“To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is Hope. Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naïve and ignore the tragedy humanity is facing. Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn’t lock itself into darkness, that doesn’t dwell on the past, does not simply get by in the present, but is able to see a tomorrow.” ~ Pope Francis