I have been involved in education for my entire life. I was a student from 1962 until 1983, kindergarten, grade school, high school, college and then graduate school. My first year in the priesthood, I taught eighth grade religion at St. Ferdinand’s School. After that, I became a full time teacher for five years at Aquinas (then Aquinas-Mercy). In 1989, I was recruited to teach at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School in Washington, Missouri where I served for thirty years as a full-time teacher and then as an administrator. When I moved to Holy Redeemer, I enjoyed interacting with the grade schoolers, while still doing Masses and confessions for various high schools around the area. All this is to say, that I have been involved with school for a long, long time.
Never in all of those years has the beginning of a school year been so wrought with planning, preparation and even a bit of controversy as this year has been. Covid-19 has made all of our lives a bit more complex, but it has made Back-to-School exponentially more difficult and complicated. Our principal Pam has worked diligently with a group of both parents and teachers to provide a plan for our school.
It is a good and thorough plan that takes in a multiplicity of variables as we progress through the school year. Needless to say, a plan is only as good as those who carry it out, and this year will require that all of us, parents, students, faculty and administration, do our best to help our children learn and grow, while also keeping them safe.
First and foremost, we need to be aware of our own bodies and take steps to keep ourselves healthy. Masks, though not 100% effective, have been shown to help, as has social distancing and hand wash- ing. As I have mentioned before, we need to help our kids become junior epidemiologists, not by frightening them, but by teaching them sensible and easy habits to follow.
I believe this school year will be awesome. Over the past few months, we have come to appreciate what our teachers and administrators do. We have become aware how precious the gift of education is to our young people. We have worked together to keep our families and our communities healthy and vibrant. The only thing I am worried about is that we get exhausted from all of this hard work. So be sure to take time for yourselves in the midst of all of this. Keep your sense of humor alive. And make these next couple of months, as complex and difficult as they may seem, an opportunity for thriving.
Note: 8:15 Mass will begin on Labor Day and will continue through the school year. We may ask parishioners to sit in a special section away from our students as we socially distance them at Mass. We are also looking for people as we restart Eucharistic Adoration. Could you offer one hour a month in prayer?