I give thanks to the Lord and to you that we have concluded yet another successful year at St. Anthony’s School. I really need to share with you some of the “goings-on” of these few weeks.
As I mentioned previously we have rigidly adhered to our Covid protocols which have been relaxed elsewhere in the State, although on the Pueblo the mask mandate is still in force. I am grateful to our school board and Sr. Marsha, our principal, for this wise decision which has added a sense of confidence among people despite the additional work for teachers and staff. We look forward to setting the protocols aside in the new school year. . Our hope is to restore all sports and school activities in what will be our centenary year.
The last weeks of the school year were of course marked with celebrations among individual classes and for the whole school. Good Sr. Marsha reminded the faculty that along with the parties there had to be teaching time. I think that in its own way added to the joy of the celebrations.
We ended with the awards ceremony in the school cafeteria, in which, for the first time in two years, the whole school could be present together. The buzz among the students, which I enjoy so much, was definitely present.
There were many A and B honors certificates to be distributed to the credit of all our students. Sr. Marsha remarked that for the first time in her long career there were no students with perfect attendance. It was a sharp reminder of the effects of the virus. I pray we will do even better next year.
Always a delight, the Pre-K transition ceremony took place, during which the little ones sang and danced. Although the class was small this year it was a fitting tribute to Ms. Phyllis who is taking a well-deserved retirement.
The highlight of the month was of course our graduation ceremony during which I had the honor of presenting diplomas to all sixteen of our 8th grade students. This was my 8th graduating ceremony beautifully executed by the students who demonstrated an amazing dignity. Our little church was packed for the occasion.
Most had opted for traditional Zuni dress which made the occasion all the more significant. I never cease to marvel at the time and effort that goes into the dressing in traditional costume especially with the leggings that the ladies wear. It takes forever to complete the ensemble.
A particular delight for me was the number of younger students who volunteered to form a choir for the occasion. They sang their hearts out. This was another ‘first’ for us and a tribute to the students and Sr. Marsha (the guitarist) who had been forming choirs for our “all school Masses”.
For the graduation Sr. Marsha had to be within the body of the church and was a little concerned but the students rose to the occasion.
The graduation was preceded by 8th grade breakfast during which 7th grade decked out in immaculate white shirts served the graduating class ( and me of course) at table. It was quite a spectacle equaled only by the amount of celebration cakes consumed. (I confess to taking a major part in the indulgence.)
Although the school year has ended summer school has begun and lasts for two weeks. It is an indicator of the success of this year that only a limited number of students needed to participate in the summer school. Following one week’s break after the summer classes we begin our four day Art and Sports camp with over fifty students already enrolled. (This has been a dream of mine for several years.) That too is followed by bible camp run by our friends from Daphne Alabama. While these go on I will be driving staff crazy as we push forward with maintenance work on our fifteen buildings. (How they put up with me I will never understand!) So we still have busy weeks ahead.
I mentioned in my last letter that the students had been engaged in pottery making during their Zuni language and culture classes. (I am still proud that we have our own kiln bought at public auction for $10.) I can’t resist showing you an example or two of their work. I am over awed by what seems to be a natural gift of artistry among the Zuni. I was present with the fourth grade when Ms. Cordie told them they could take their work home that day. The cheers that went up were deafening. I could not resist showing the students a gift of a bear carved from translucent stone which I received from one of the parishioners when I was inducted as pastor in 2015. Eyes opened widely and one of the students immediately said “I am going to try that’. I just wonder where that will lead.
Yes wondering where the future will lead is something I ponder often. How our graduates (some of whom I have known for seven years) will fare as they enter High School and onwards to college is not so much a concern since I know that they have been given a strong educational and moral foundation. But I hope and pray that they will have the opportunity to use their gifts and talents to build fruitful lives for themselves and families. With ten of our alumni included in this year’s National Honors List confidence is generated.
For today we can rejoice that another year has ended successfully with peace, growth and happiness. As the Irish would say – “a thousand thanks’ for making it all possible.