As always I send warm greetings from the High Desert, as we near the end of the first quarter of our school year. While I am put away my light weight summer clothes and long sleeved shirts are put back into use I realize that winter is almost upon us. Temperature might be falling but it doesn’t bring down the enthusiasm and joy of our young students. The joy of life among the young is always an inspiration for me especially when my old bones are slowing me down.
As I mentioned in my last letter, we have at last been able to take part in cross country running. Four evenings each week after school, the students are running through the campus at amazing speeds under the guidance of Ms. Deeann ( teacher) and Mr. Matt (from our maintenance crew who is an ex-marine and well loved by the students). Such is the excitement that at times I have had to step out of the way of the stampede! Our team has been taking part in races in the area and has equipped themselves in the most excellent fashion. We are hosting the final event of the season and thankfully the weather has so far been favorable as the kids run the demanding courses. It may be the end of the cross country season but all are looking forward to the start of the basketball tournaments. How can we ever keep pace with youthful vigor?
We also completed the election of our student council. The election process truly rivaled any political campaign. Posters went up all over the school. I was quite proud as candidates gave five minute long speeches to the whole school to elicit votes. Some of talks were excellent and carefully crafted. There are quite a few budding politicians among our student body. (Hopefully we will have instilled a strong moral compass within them for the future.) The council was inaugurated during the “All School Mass” with each member taking a light from the school candle and promising to serve to the best of their abilities. Already our 2nd graders on their own initiative have begun a “Socks Drive”. Last time we did this I had the pleasure of taking bundles of new socks to the homeless in Gallup. My own experience with people who spend their days walking the streets tells me how vital it is that they keep their feet in good shape. So our kids are addressing a real human need in the small way that they can. If only others could follow suit where would the world be?
As much as I enjoy reflecting on our social life at the school I have always to remember that we are an academic institution. Reports from all of our teachers are very encouraging. We have another parent teacher conference day in October and I am sure that everyone will be very happy. One evening I answered the school door after hours and a parent was there to collect her daughter. Unbeknown to me Ms. Laura was giving math’s coaching to some of her students who were struggling. When I told the student her ride was there she said “please just a few more minutes ‘till I finish this problem.” A moment like that warms the heart when I experience the enthusiasm of a student to learn and the dedication of a teacher to help them progress. How blessed are we at St. Anthony’s?
I have been manning our finance office of late while Ms. Priscilla has been off looking after her sick husband George. I am sorry to report that unexpectedly George went to the Lord in his sleep one night. He was a good friend of our school. Although retired he would come into the school during the summer to paint throughout the campus. He and I had many a laughter filled conversation as he gave me good advice on how to maintain some of our century old buildings. Many of our faculty attended our prayer vigil for George and shared the deep sense of grief experienced by Priscilla and her family. I and our maintenance staff will miss George and his good natured approach to any task. It was a joy to know him and we are deeply grateful to have Priscilla back to look after our finance office.
October will see us hosting visitors from WCEA our accreditation foundation. As previously mentioned, we have been preparing for this visit for more than a year. Sr. Marsha, our school principal, has been guiding the faculty in a self-study program which delved into every aspect of our school life. They have produced a study report for the accreditation team which runs to one hundred pages all carefully crafted. I took part in the finance study and our group report went to the faculty redaction group. Between my British grammar and hurried writing there were a lot of corrections to be made to the text especially by inserting commas. I went to bed that night thinking, “Thank you Lord for a good day Comma please use it for the good of the students”!
Although it was a massive effort in reflection and articulation of our own findings it has been beneficial to the whole school as teachers discussed approaches to teaching, aids for students, further aims and goals to be achieved. I am deeply grateful to Sr. Marsha for her expertise and to all the staff, school board and parents who took part. I will fill you in on the outcome of the visit over the next few newsletters.
Winter ‘s approach, sports , accreditation and academic achievement aside our school moves on with diligent study, joy and laughter, as our young people grow to maturity in mind heart and spirit.
As always, I thank you for making it all possible.
Fr. Patrick McGuire
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