Greetings once again from spring time in Zuni. (Sounds like a good title for a song!)
Again, let me apologize for yet another tardy letter this month. While writing to you is always a priority for me, our staff have been dragged in all sorts of directions these past few weeks but thankfully we have been managing to stay on top of the everyday work of keeping the school running smoothly.
These weeks have been sort of an “in-between” time. As I write school is on break for Easter. While I am thankful for some quiet time on campus, life has a dull feeling with the absence of the students. At the school mass on the last day of classes I asked how many wanted to come to school instead of taking vacation. About half of the hands went up; needless to say they were all in the lower school. But it was a lovely feeling to know how much the kids enjoy St. Anthony’s.
Perhaps the early Easter celebrations may have had something to do with the sense of excitement. Lenten observances were interrupted with an Easter egg hunt. In fact we had several of them. The Fifth graders were tasked with organizing several sessions for each class. Rather than have all the students searching at one time, covid protocols dictated hunting in smaller numbers. It also gave the littlest ones the best chance of finding eggs. Fifth graders were masterful in their organization. Some were on the edges of the designated site, others were waiting with gift packages for everyone and of course a few making sure that all the eggs were being found. I couldn’t believe the pounding in my heart and near tears in my eyes as two 2nd graders came over and gave me their largest eggs. Innocent hearts are so full of generosity!
I felt for the fifth grade students as all the candy disappeared with the students returning back to their classrooms. I made a raid on my candy supply for Easter Sunday and made sure the fifth graders were suitably rewarded for their efforts.
The academics of the school move on pace with a good balance of study and fun. Our first graders are soaking up their lessons at an amazing rate with reading skills becoming noticeably better. I also noticed that their teacher, the quiet and reserved Sr. Satya, was being chased around the playground by her students in a game of tag. I am not sure who was laughing more heartily!
A feature of this last month has been a poster competition amongst the students with a winner for each grade. This was an unusual event in that the theme of the posters was Peace. Following on class exercises on “Care for the Earth” and Lenten thoughts, there were some surprising artistic renderings. The winners presented their masterpieces at the beginning of Mass and I had the joy of presenting medals to the winners (which they wore all the way home from school). The variety of themes enabled me to speak of different types of peace – the absence of war, economic prosperity and serenity of heart. I think the message took root even among the youngest.
With the absence of Ms. Edwina on maternity leave, she gave birth to a beautiful little girl who was baptized on Easter Sunday. Mr. Bobelu, the brother of Ms. Bobelu our seventh grade teacher, has been doing a long term supply. He had retired from middle school teaching and was a little unsure about handling younger students. However, he proved to be a wonderful addition to the faculty and we see the results of his excellent skills. As his time ended and we broke up for the break. He was quick to let me know that he will be happy to come back to St. Anthony’s at any time. I had the feeling that he simply enjoyed his time with our delightful students. St. Anthony’s clearly worked its magic once again.
This may well be an “in between” but for those of us whom I like to call the support staff there is no letup in work. Although I did insist that maintenance and custodial staff have a few days off during the Easter break. Ms. Cordelia and Mr. Isiah have both been sanitizing the school yet again. The cafeteria is used on Sunday for coffee after Mass. Of course on Easter Day there was yet another Easter Egg hunt organized by Ms. B a member of the school board. The biggest issue on hand was whether the kids could wait until after breakfast before scouring the yard. This was the first ‘Pot Luck’ breakfast that we have had in two years. The parishioners were just as excited as the children. In less than thirty minutes there was not an egg left to be found. Once again there were heartwarming moments as I noticed the older children share their finds with the younger little people.
Next year in 2023 we celebrate the centenary of the school and current mission’s foundation. I will of course bring you up to date on our schedule of celebrations which most likely will be held at the end of September or early October 2023.
Meanwhile some of our buildings are showing their age just a little. The main school buildings are in good general repair thanks to the work carried out two years ago. But of course they will need a little more ‘spit and polish’ plus some better audio visual equipment. Our largest task will be with the gymnasium. Despite the windy season that we have in this area at the moment Mike and Mat, the maintenance men, are working on the gym roof. It has a tunnel shaped center within the rectangular frame of the building which makes it liable to leaks. We managed to touch up the internal paint work last summer but it will need further redecoration. It is a major task since internally the gym is 30 by 60 feet and 30 feet high!
During the break we have had six volunteer veterinary staff staying with us on campus. There is no veterinary staff in our locality. The nearest is forty miles from here. The ‘Earth ship’ organization has been building a clinic for several years (as funds become available to them) and they too have been hosted at St. Anthony’s. We see this as another small contribution to the local community.
It is hard to believe that we are entering into the final portion of the school year. There is of course the sense of anticipation amongst the 8th grade students who are now thinking of themselves as high schoolers. We keep reminding them that they still have to earn their graduation certificates. I am sure all will do so with flying colors.
Albeit that Easter is a quiet time within the school, there is never any ‘down time’. We welcomed a group of visitors from the Catholic Extension Society which helps support many rural parishes. Despite the absence of students I gave them the grand tour of the campus and spoke of the school history and the joy amongst our pupils. I believe they were suitably impressed. But of course they should be since St. Anthony’s is a wonderful gift to individuals and community alike.
As always… I thank you for making it all possible.