Greetings once more from all at St. Anthony’s.
I hope that the old adage about March entering like a lion and leaving like at lamb holds true. The cold, snow and icy winds have taken their toll on the community life, with people huddling for warmth while other are cutting and collecting firewood. We continually remember those in nearby Gallup who need to find shelter wherever they can. Amid all of this, the indomitable spirit of the young shines through and brings joy to the most chilled of hearts.
The students demonstrated their spirit of joy and inventiveness for Valentine’s day. The student council initiated a competition for the best-decorated door on classrooms. (Where do they get the ideas?) Needless to say, the student body took up the competition with gusto! Colored paper and ribbons soon became in short supply. The council members made up ‘candy grams’ (bags of sweats) and sold them at a small profit. The student council provided the judges who carefully examined every room. There may have been a little sentimental bias when the Kindergarten got its extra special prize.
Valentine’s day festivities quickly gave way to Ash Wednesday’s more sober atmosphere. At the distribution of ashes, I continued a practice from Covid days and used a cotton bud for each person to be signed. It worked well except that in the cafeteria afterwards it was judgment of the artistic quality of forehead ashes that filled the conversation, rather than the “he got you good” of previous years. With no personal artistic talent, I appreciate the beauty created by the students as they make posters to illustrate the lessons they have learned.
I also resurrected a practice I devised for Lent. Every student received a card and an envelope. They were asked to write what they were doing for Lent, seal it in the envelope on which they were to write their name and return it to me. Each week of Lent I mix up the envelops and return them to the students. It forms a reminder of what they promised to do… after all, 40 days is a long time. (I would love to read some of the cards but I am only the angels’ postman.) I must mention that Ms Trinnie in the cafeteria supplied the most delicious tomato and vegetable soup slightly spiced that day. Every plate was returned empty and clean including my own. Trinnie has ways of getting kids to eat vegetables!
The somber atmosphere was short lived. We have deemed it safe to once again hold our Native American Day at the school on 10th March. Limited numbers of family will attend the gym as each class performs a traditional Zuni dance. Practicing has begun and the beat of the drums echoes around the campus. (Ever since I ministered in Africa my feet will not stand still when the drums come into ear shot.) The kids love the dance, the music and the thrill of taking part in their own ancient traditions. Needless to say the families are equally proud as their children rejoice in their own heritage.) We will be live-streaming the event from the gym and it can be viewed on https://stanthonyzunichurch.dyndns.org . The recording will remain on the site for several weeks. It will be well worth watching. Look out for my Scottish kilt brought out of storage for the occasion.
The preparations are not left to the students. Everyone gets involved. I confess that I felt a little elated when I saw our custodian bringing out totes containing the costumes for the different dances from the basement storage where they had lain unused for three years. For three evenings, Sr Marsha, parents and teachers gathered to fabricate headdresses and costumes for the students. Every year new things are added to the performance, which means parents artistic skills are again put to the test. Even our maintenance people are involved as we install cameras and projectors in the gym so that it will be seen by the wider community. It’s all hands on deck.
Another come back is this year’s Science Fair. Although we continued to hold the fair during covid restrictions, this year we can once again have it open to families to browse the exhibition. These events, although small in themselves, contribute to the purpose of the school. Parents, teachers, students and staff work together to make learning enjoyable and relevant to the students’ future as part of the larger community.
It is also difficult to believe that we are almost at the end of the school’s third academic quarter. The year will soon be over and already we have plans in place for summer school and different “camps” with groups coming to Zuni to help our students stay busy. But, more of that in future letters.
The winter brought with it many illnesses causing students to be off school. At the last student recognition day, for the first time there was no student with perfect attendance. Despite that, most seem to be doing well academically. After school tutoring and Ms. Angel’s remedial classes are ensuring that those who need help are receiving it are catching up with their classmates. Another parent teacher conference day is scheduled for March and these highlight the needs of individual students should they be necessary. Once more, that combined effort of school and family ensures that the student receives the considerable best that we have to offer.
This month has been a time of preparation in many ways be it academically, socially and spiritually or just for fun. I am looking forward to reporting to you in April on the events, achievements and joys to be celebrated. Meanwhile we move forward with joy and hope.
As always I thank you for making it all so wonderfully possible.
Fr. Patrick McGuire
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