I am sending this message early, since we are entering a holiday weekend. I am hoping this email finds you safe, happy, and healthy!
This past Sunday was the Sixth Sunday of Easter. At Mass, Father Beretta spoke about how Michelangelo responded to his 87th birthday. He was an accomplished man. People came to celebrate him and congratulate him for all that he had done in his lifetime. He interrupted the partygoers and simply said, “I am still learning,” as if to say that he was not done yet. Father said this was a beautiful reminder of how we are called to respond. It was a sign of a life well-lived and committed to learn and grow even more. Learning is the meaning of life. As we continue to learn, we do indeed grow. Our bodies start to diminish in the absence of learning. I saw this with my own father in his last year of life. We thrive when we are aware of our blessings and can appreciate what we have. Where there is learning and growing, there is hope. Father Beretta described this time we are currently in as the “greatest disruption to human life and community on a global scale.” We have to ask ourselves, “Are we still learning? Are we symbols of hope for others?” In the first letter of Peter we are reminded that we are called to always “be ready for people to ask you for the reason for the hope you have.” Think of that time in history. People were persecuted and risking their lives simply to be baptized and profess their faith. They were in hiding, but they were full of hope. As we are still somewhat locked away from each other, unable to end our school year as community and as a whole group in our church, let’s stay hopeful. All transitions in life come with challenges. We can use this time to renew our prayer life, to commit ourselves to continuing to grow, learn, and hope, and to remember that Jesus is always with us. He may not be following our timeline, but He made a promise to us to always be by our side. Our patron saint, St. Francis de Sales, referred to “knowledge” as the 8th sacrament and he reminded us to stay humble, learn, and be men and women of optimism. I love the Salesian philosophy that “hope” roots our lives, grounds our learning, and points us in the direction of living.
As we are winding down this school year, I am filled with hope and optimism. I am not going to lie. I am very disappointed to not celebrate our closing Mass as a school community. I am not happy that I can only have one graduate in the church at a time. I am very sad and honestly have cried because I can’t hug my students goodbye as I have for 19 years (especially my graduates). However, we need to be safe and remain hopeful that all we have done these past couple months will allow us to return healthy, happy, and stronger than ever in September. I do have high hopes for that. I will continue to use School Messenger email for communications, but will not do Tiger Talk for the remainder of the school year. Communication will be more frequent at times to keep you current on what is happening. I have just a few things to update you with right now.
New School Uniform:
After multiple parent suggestions and with the approval of the parents on the Home and School Board, we will be changing the official school uniform. This will be a transition over the next school year, so no one needs to buy anything new right now. However, when it is time to purchase new uniforms, the new school shirt will be navy blue with the school logo. As always, that shirt can only be purchased at Rush Uniform. This color will be very helpful in preventing stains and should last longer than the white shirts. The school pants will be khaki school pants. Students will be permitted to wear solid white sneakers for comfort. I will not choose the solid white sneaker, but it must be solid white with no colors or colored embellishments. The official school uniform will be the same for everyone in the school. There will be no difference between elementary and middle school uniforms. Everyone will wear a navy blue polo shirt, and everyone will wear khaki colored pants. By 2021-2022, everyone is expected to be in the same uniform. The gym uniform will remain unchanged. I know that uniforms are really not that important at this time. It has been the furthest thing from my mind the past couple of months. However, I want everyone to be aware of the changes being made. When you go to purchase new shirts at Rush Uniform, the white shirts are no longer available. If your child is in 7th grade and entering 8th for the upcoming year, you do not need to buy anything new, unless you choose to do so.
June 3rd School Drop-off and Personal Belongings Pick-Up:
Please follow the directions in my previous email regarding picking up. Be sure to wear a mask and have only one adult approach the table with your oldest child’s teacher (except 8th Grade). Please stick to your scheduled time slot and be prompt, so we can accommodate everyone in a safe manner. Both delivery and pick up will be no-contact. Boxes will be available at each area for returning textbooks and iPads. Mr. McMillan will be checking and collecting iPads for middle school (per his email yesterday) and Ms. Cripps will check and collect iPads for 5th Grade.
Italian Festival Dinner Kit Fundraiser:
With the cancellation of this year’s Italian Festival, we are considering a Festival-themed Italian Dinner Kit Fundraiser to help the parish recoup some of the funds that would have been raised at this year’s Festival. Meal kits would include dry and frozen restaurant-quality foods, with size options designed to serve 4, 8, or 12 people. Prices will be finalized based on products to be offered. Meal packages would be ordered and paid for in advance, and would be picked up at the parish on a weekday evening. If you would be interested in supporting this effort, please email Anthony Albence (firstname.lastname@example.org) or send a FB message to our school Facebook page with the following info:
Serving size (for 4/8/12) & quantity of dinner packages you might be interested in purchasing.
Re-Entry Plan for the 2020-2021 School Year:
As you can imagine, especially those who know me well, I have several plans for next year. I have plans A through F in my brain, just waiting to be shared. I have so many ideas that I started a Re-Entry Team of 6 other staff members just so my head does not explode. I have looked at the layout of the school, how to space desks, how traffic will flow through hallways, how to move teachers rather than students throughout the day. The possibilities are endless. I am totally confident that we will be ready to implement whatever we need to do. My teachers had 4 hours’ notice to prepare for this pandemic and online teaching, and I am truly amazed by what we accomplished. I have friends in other schools and have heard horror stories. Teachers were unprepared. Students did not have access to books or electronic devices. Teaching started several weeks later and ended sooner. Some schools did nothing. We transitioned into remote learning, and our students showed up for class. They worked hard. On June 3rd, we will have completed our 180 days of school, ready to move on. They paid attention in large online group meetings, and I can assure you that is a challenge even for me. I could not be more proud of our school community. Parents became full-time teachers while running houses and still working full-time jobs. You all are amazing! Truly amazing. I am so grateful to each and every one of you for sticking with us through this time. Everyone stayed with us. 100% of you hung in there. Nobody quit. Nobody gave up. We are resilient! Although we have no idea what September will bring, I promise you that we will be ready for it. Next year will be a great year. We have to make up for some lost time and celebrations. There are people to be celebrated and acknowledged. It will happen, in God’s time.
So please stay safe! Be careful as the state slowly starts to reopen. I look forward to sharing with you when I have some good news to share about Communion, our graduates, and much more. I was able to attend a little Pre-Communion celebration online with our Second Grade class. That will have to suffice for now, until we can reconvene in our gorgeous church and I can give them our little gift. Mrs. Achenbach, Mr. Shields, and I are happy to say that we can at least see our graduates and their immediate families, one at a time, for a photo opportunity in the church. Each class made a little video for the Class of 2020, and we are finalizing that now. Anne D’Ascoli is currently working on her photo collage cd as well. That is always a tear jerker, seeing them all grow over the years. The 8th graders have their graduation gowns at home for family photos. Mrs. Achenbach delivered shirts and yard signs personally to each graduate’s house (wearing a mask and safely distancing). We are still working on a graduation program. I was so emotional that I even wrote them a poem to replace the one that we have used in the program for years. I just felt like they needed a little extra attention. We hope to gather everyone later this summer if restrictions are lifted. In the meantime, help me wish them well. Pray that they always remember they have a home with us. Pray for their health, happiness, and success. This is a very special class. I am certain that they will accomplish great things. Let’s also pray again in thanksgiving for our wonderful friends moving on after this school year. We hope to celebrate you soon, Kathy Potts, Mary DeJoseph, Isabella Spitelle, Ellen Tannenbaum, and Courtney Seehusen. We love you all and know you will not be able to stay away.
“There are difficult moments in life, but with hope the soul goes forward and looks ahead to what awaits us.” Pope Francis