Thankfully the students are back “bright eyed and bushy tailed”! Well at least full of energy and all say they are happy to be back in school. I suspect their parents are truly delighted also. This has been a long very hot summer for all of us.
Although the Pueblo still holds to the wearing of masks in most areas there are hardly any restrictions. So at school we are returning to our full range of sports and social activities as long as the virus stays under control.
Having said that the night before school re-opened three teachers reported that they had been in contact with people who tested positive and as such they had to isolate for 5 to 7 days. Poor Sr. Marsha had to scramble around for teachers to cover classes for the first few days of lessons. As usual, our faculty rose to the task and classes took place as planned. It was another small reminder that we are not “out of the woods” quite yet so caution is still our motto.
One seemingly small event raised spirits when junior high classes returned to the cafeteria for meals. Last year they each collected trays for breakfast and lunch to eat in their class rooms. Having the whole school together at lunch really causes a ‘Buzz’ of lively excitement that is truly infectious in a good sense.
We are joined with two new teachers this year. Mr Bobelu who had subbed last year is now full time and Sr Ragini was finally able to come from India to complete our convent community and to teach Social studies with the junior high. Both have settled nicely and are well liked by faculty and students. It was nevertheless with a sigh of relief that I welcomed the students back and our daily routines went underway. That meant that my carefully planned summer maintenance schedule had to be brought to a conclusion. Not that we had been able to adhere to my plan as such.
Our first obstacle rose when an underground water leak was discovered at our teachers’ accommodation. No big deal one would have thought! Not so. Locating the leak meant digging a trench firstly in the garden then under the apartment. That was followed by finding the appropriate pipes that would stand the test of time and incorporating a shut off valve against future leaks. The Good Lord blessed us with rains, for which we were truly thankful. However our trenches seemed to attract every drop of water from the campus which meant pumping out water before doing any repairs!! My plumbing skills have been duly enhanced.
Neighbors suddenly found themselves being pestered by bees. Yes of course they were found to be coming from the room above our garages. On investigation we found a very large hive inside the wall reaching into the roof. There are regulations against killing bees which meant finding people to remove the hive. It took six days for 4 people to carefully extract and relocate the bees. Several members of staff got to enjoy some illicit honey while I bemoaned the wrecked room! That was one long process that I carefully supervised from a great distance!
Since we were, at opening stage but two weeks behind schedule we received a wonderful blessing. A group of 18 high school students from Centennial Colorado visited us for a few days after the teachers had returned to school. The young people were nothing short of marvelous in aiding the teachers prepare classrooms, help with painting, working with custodians, and weeding around the campus. Their cheerful industry meant that the school was well prepared for the return of students on 8th August. What a blessing those young people were!
Thanks to a government scheme (unusual for private schools) we acquired over 100 new lap tops for our students use. They of course had to be set up and protection put in place for the sake of the students. That meant several days of IT work but they are a wonderful new asset for the students and their much needed skills for the modern age.
I must share with you some sad news. Mr. Mike Breslin passed away at the end of July. Mike was chairman of our school board and among many talents he was a skilled photographer. A well-loved character and Navy veteran, Mike had been battling cancer for almost three years until he finally passed away surround with his family in Seattle. Mike loved Zuni and its people and had requested that Zuni traditions be followed for his funeral rites. Some 570 people tuned into the live stream of his Requiem Mass from the church and he was laid to rest finally on Zuni land. We will all miss Mike and the excellent contributions he made to our school and to our community. He will be hard to replace but we soldier on.
Each summer since I came to St. Anthony’s I work out detailed daily plans for improvements and renovations to the campus. Our long suffering staffs put up with me and remain cheerful as they move from task to task. For this I am deeply grateful. We are all just a little bit tired as the new school year begins but amazingly the laughter still permeates the corridors that in turn re-energize all of us. Perhaps the most important lesson that I have learned this year is that plan as much as you like there will always be surprises in store, just make it a blessing.
The new school year is hardly underway as I write but even the new students have settled well. There are always a few teething difficulties with students entering straight from public schools but this year less than ever, indeed the new students have entered into the St. Anthony spirit and add their laughter to our daily joy.
As I always say, and mean it sincerely, thank you for making St. Anthony’s possible.