Nervous smiles, giggling girls, bright new hairbows, shiny white sneakers, and bags brimming with new supplies are a few sights of the first day of school. Our new school year has begun and the quiet campus that was repaired and scoured throughout the summer now feels normal again as students arrive each day ready to learn and grow in their new academic year. We welcome twenty-four new families and many new siblings to St. Nicholas Catholic School this year.
Before the year began, our entire faculty and staff, along with Fr. Matt and Michael Sternhagen attended a retreat at St. Nicholas Parish Hall, where we worshiped and gathered together, to foster new relationships. A few team building games got us comfortable before we began the deep discussions that come with the commitment to accepting a job at a Catholic school, and in particular at St. Nicholas School.
Our Pope states that, “Catholic schools need “innovative ways of uniting research with best practices so that teachers can serve the whole person in a process of integral human development. In short, this means forming the head, hands, and heart together: preserving and enhancing the link between learning, doing, and feeling in the noblest sense. In this way, you will be able to offer not only an excellent academic curriculum but also a coherent vision of life inspired by the teachings of Christ,”
The mission of Catholic education must be felt every hour of every day in our classrooms, on the play yard and in the community. It is not merely a Religion class but more importantly weaved throughout–inherent in all we do. For the past four years we have embraced this passage from 1 John 3:18: Dear Children, let us not only love with words or speech but with action and truth. Each year we would focus on a specific part of this important passage. One year we focused on words and speech, and discussed at great length about how we talk to each other with our tone and choice of words. We have also focused on truth: where we looked deeply at how to be people of integrity. This year, as we culminate all the work of past years into the overarching theme, we will focus on how to bring the light of Christ to others in our community. We title this focus Stewardship. Each month we will explore all that is possible when shepherding our students to be the light in our community. We are excited to plan new field trips to reach out to the needs of our community and connect our students with the rewards of serving. In our first act, six of our 7th grade students served and visited with our parish elders at the Lunch Bunch in August. It is always a joy to watch the students engage in conversation with our wise, experienced parishioners.
Last Saturday, our community took part in a beautiful Welcome Mass & BBQ to commemorate the opening of a new school year. A wonderful collaboration between parish and school where hundreds of family members came together to build community. We look forward to more collaboration with our clergy, Michael Sternhagen, Catherine Campbell, and Anton Pham, as we now embark on all the liturgical and sacramental events in the new year.
Soon we will have our Open House on October 24th from 9:00-11:00, where we will once again open our doors to escort prospective families who are interested in a Catholic education. But for now we will enjoy the newness of the school year, the excitement that comes from starting again and building new friendships and bringing the light of Christ to our students.
Please let me end with my deepest appreciation for all the support of the parish community during the past few weeks.
Jan Popolizio, Principal, St. Nicholas Catholic School