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Transitions, Part 2

A letter of reflection, change, hope and encouragement to the Families of 2020 Graduates by Allison Colombo, Diocesan Counselor

Dear Parents & Guardians, 

It is hard to imagine how quick these years have flown by, isn’t it? Your child is no longer looking through that classroom window, hoping you will stay all day in case they do not make friends on the reading carpet. Maybe your child no longer wants you to write a note to put in their lunch box because “it’s just not cool in High School, Mom.” While this is an exciting time and a milestone for you as a parent and guardian, it is also the closing of one chapter and onto the next. 

These next 4 years in High School is something you are going to go through with your child, but this time it will look a little different. Now, there may be less of you packing lunches, but rather handing out lunch money to buy. You no longer will have to stay up completing that diorama at midnight for Science, but instead find out that you ran out of printer ink for their paper due tomorrow morning at 8 AM. While these changes to how school looks can be scary and worrisome, it can also be so exciting. 

You will be alongside your child as they start to shape themselves into the people they wish to become. Conversations may change from talking about the latest toy they want for Christmas, but rather the newest iPhone so they can keep up with weekend plans with friends. You will stand beside your children as they make new friends, try out for new clubs and sports and may not make the team. You will stand beside your children through some of the happiest and most challenging times.  But remember, remain proud of yourself because through every struggle your child faces, you are right there next to them facing it together. 

As they blossom into young adults, don’t be afraid to talk to them about important topics. While some things may be uncomfortable to bring up, they will thank you in the end for educating them and supporting them through it all. Your involvement in their High School experience is still so crucial to their success. Meet-the-Teacher night may look different but immerse yourself in this new community that will offer you support through educators, Principals and Counselors. 

Congratulations to parents and guardians of the Class of 2020, you made it!

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Great Work

“Lucky is the child who grows up with parents who basically accept and love themselves, and therefore can accept and love their child, who reminds them so often of their own selves.” — Magda Gerber

Magda Gerber was an early childhood educator who became an advocate of infants and families.  I often find the rationale for work I do in her philosophies.  I go back to her in my own parenting and I see nuances in the wisdom and care of the staff I work with daily and in the support of my friends, family & peer parents.  Those peer parents include some of the parents who come and sit with me at our workshops and events, who follow along on our social media.  This work of parenting is not easy and I admit that at each parent meeting we hold.  Ironically, I go out to support parenting but find my parenting supported just as much if not more.  I am grateful as in these days parenting seems impossible when faced with a hurting world where hurt people hurt people. 

I reflect on this quote.  What work can we do inwardly?  Remember those spiritual practices?  Remember that self-care?  Quiet moment to reflect – busyness can help us avoid this work – but as an educator and a catechist, I often saw the benefit of letting a student consider something on their own terms before diving into the next thing.  That is great work.  This is where connections form and questions rear.  We can seek the knowledge we need next in this safe space we provide.  Can we get better?  This work trickles to our children.  We speak with love to guide and teach our families.  That love of self radiates in action; it envelopes those we meet.  I am reminded of this quote by those around me this week.  Protests and prayer services held in my community this week asked us all for love.  Let those loving moments soothe fears and uncertainty, let it heal and let anything less get out of our way.  Keep it steady because healed people heal people.

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Bonus Time

child reading

by Cary Anne Fitzgerald, PDHP Parent/Community Outreach Coordinator

These past few weeks…have they simply passed, is there something that defines this time in for us?  A friend recently reflected on this with me.  She shared that she could say that her husband had accomplished an inordinate amount of house projects and she felt relief at “not having to…” when obligatory social events were concerned.  Yet, she grappled with the answers to the question, “what will you tell your grandchildren about this time?”  Is it ok to not have an answer?  Is it ok to revel in the simple during an extraordinary time?  Time that harkened back to when we were growing up: playing outside, arts & crafts, movies, cooking & baking, reading and board games…time with parents.  Or do we need to go big…or, well, you get it…

                For me, I love the time home.  Yes, I miss spending time socializing with friends and family but as a parent who works evenings, this time was a gift.  I learned how voracious a reader my daughter is.   At her age, I would get lost in a book.  I particularly loved this during summer nights.  Sometimes, I would sit out on the porch with my grandmother, both of us just reading our books.  One night, I broke her reverie by inquiring if we should think of going in now…she looked at her wristwatch.  Sheepishly, she nodded, “I think so.  Ummm, it is 3am!”  My daughter also is quite the artist.  She selected a notebook where she can draw to her heart’s content; that huge blue book is everywhere! Now, there is always balance…if you saw the bike, the skateboards and the surfboards, you will also understand when I say that I learned – or maybe, remembered – that my daughter is a thrill seeker, a daredevil, just like her father.  As I talk to my neighbor, Therese, from the proper distance, she laughs as she watches my daughter sail past on her bike, hands in the air.  I think she laughs harder at my incredulous face and the direct opposition of my husband hiding his admiration! 

                There is a saying that rears its head every year at this exact time, reminding us parents that time gives us 18 summers, 18 years with our child(ren).  When my future grandkids ask me what I did with this time, I will get to tell them all I know about their mom.  This is my bonus time.

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This One’s For The Kiddos!

cap for graduation class of 2020

By Cary Anne Fitzgerald, PDHP Parent/Community Outreach Coordinator

Little learners are missing the routines and community of peers that had been nurtured into existence by all the important caring adults in their lives. 

Elementary school students look to no avail for the golden time of the last trimester, filled with celebrations, activities and fun to applaud the learning done, the bonding created within classroom and school community.  There will never be another year like this exact one.

Junior high and high school students feel an absence of a place they have made their own, examining a richer sense of self within classwork, meaningful relationships, extracurriculars that dig deeper.  Each year is a milestone. 

Our Graduates look back on all these years that have passed them by and grieve a loss of all this and more; a precious and fleeting year frozen in time. 

And yet all this heaviness we glimpse at is in only one aspect of their lives. 

What remains?  The love of self, of learning, of family, of “academy/school family” (as some of my Family Fun Nights participants say it so well), of others, of community, of health and wellness, of faith, of universality.  The hope that these hard lessons will not be in vain.  That surrounded in that love and that hope, resiliency prevails.  

This weekend, I silently celebrated the College Graduates from my college as they heralded their commencement in all virtual platforms.  I saw the seniors from my high school parade in their cars around the surrounding streets, horns honking, tears wiped but smiles wide!  I watched graduation signage delivered to 8th graders’ homes.  I added to the cheers given online to friends’ children who were missing their graduations, proms, ring days, parties, senior days, etc. 

One thing is for certain, the Class of 2020 is already famous; forever endeared and unforgettable to all world over. 

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father and child washing dishes

By Cary Anne Fitzgerald, PDHP Parent & Community Outreach Coordinator

We end this week of National Prevention Awareness.  What have we gained?  It will be difficult to say.  In a strange way, this time of remote learning has helped expedite prevention messaging in a way I have not seen previously.  I know there are visuals out there now that can support our digital citizen children – after all they learn digitally.  I know there are prevention counselors, educators, specialists who are continuing the good work they do.  I know there are teachers who will boldly dig into these chapters in their health or science classes or in their morality lessons in religion.  I know October will bring the reminder of Enrique “KiKi” Camarena with red ribbons symbolically placed around communities to recall the DEA Agent’s sacrifice to the war on drugs. 

What about families? Parent, caregiver, the primary caring adults in a child’s life.  Where will you be?  Will you talk about this?  Will you notice behaviors?  Will you tune into your own use?  What are you showing the children in your life?  Is the only way to cope with the monotony and fear of reality to fill up a pint glass and get to it?  Or, get away from it?  Do we grab out Rose all Day cup and start our zoom cocktail hour unburdening all the stresses of remote learning and parenting “these Kids” all day?  Do we wax poetic about the next time we can go to a bar safely?  With prom and other rites of passage at a loss are we loosening up our expectations by opening up the liquor cabinet?  What are we showing our kids?

We – family – are one of the four statutes of protective factors when it comes to fighting against risky behaviors (there is, in fact, a whole science on this).  I can tell a crowd of parents and teachers to clap their hands at a given time.  While watching me through those directives, I clap earlier than I told them and so do they -a whole group!  I admonish but yet, they fail again and again to clap at the directed time.  They clap earlier when they see me do it regardless of what directions I verbalize. They heard what I said but did what they saw.  This is modeling that we hear of often in teaching and parenting. 

“Do what I say…not do what I do”.  What are we showing our kids?

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Important information from the NYC Department of Health and Department of Education.

Dear Families,

Health and safety is our top priority, and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health Department) and the Department of Education (DOE) continue to work together to keep the city’s students, families, and staff members safe, healthy, and informed as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic evolves.

The NYC Department of Health is currently investigating cases of Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome, or PMIS, a new health condition appearing in children in New York City and elsewhere. The NYC Health Department is also investigating the possible association between PMIS and COVID-19 in children. Some doctors think the condition is related to having COVID-19, but the connection is still not clear.

PMIS is a rare condition that is not contagious. However, because it is life-threatening, it is important to know the signs. Most children have a persistent, high fever lasting several days, along with other symptoms, including:

  • Irritability or sluggishness
  • Abdominal pain without another explanation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Rash
  • Conjunctivitis, or red or pink eyes
  • Enlarged lymph node (“gland”) on one side of the neck
  • Red, cracked lips or red tongue that looks like a strawberry
  • Swollen hands and feet, which might also be red

You should call your doctor if your child becomes ill and has had continued fever. Your doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and use that information to recommend next steps. If your child is severely ill, you should go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 immediately.

Although it is not yet known whether it is associated with COVID-19, it is important parents and children take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Parents should help their children understand the importance of the following measures and ensure their children follow them:

  • As per NYS Executive Order No. 202.17, all people over the age of two who can medically tolerate a face covering must wear one when they are outside their home if they cannot maintain physical distance from others.
  • Physical distancing and good hygiene remain critical, even while wearing a face covering.
  • When outside the home, adults and children must maintain at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and others whenever possible.
  • Parents should remind children of the importance of good hand hygiene and should help ensure that children frequently wash their hands.

The health and safety of our communities remain our top priority, and we will continue to follow all guidance and take all appropriate measures to help keep our students, families, and staff members safe.Please contact 311 with any questions.


Richard A. Carranza
Department of Education

Oxiris Barbot, MD
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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You, Teachers

teacher student classroom

by Cary Anne Fitzgerald,

PDHP Parent/Community Outreach Coordinator

It is Teacher Appreciation Week.  This is a big one this year.  Despite this week, it often feels like the world forgets about the contribution of teachers, but those who occupied a seat in their classrooms – whether in real or virtual time – will never forget.

Teacher, you spent time, energy, and your own resources decorating a welcoming learning environment.  You prepare yourself to greet your students daily.  You work long past the dismissal bell.  You worry through the night.   You unknowingly become a safe space for many children. You rarely break during the day to attend to your needs, focusing on those of your students.  You probably call them “your kids” and they have probably accidentally called you mom or dad as you have nurtured them, just like family should.  You open eyes to wisdoms while searching to unlock varied learning styles.  You encourage those eyes to search within for talents and to look beyond you both.  You see them, you spark them and you set a fire.

Teacher, your kids stand up taller, they speak with more confidence, they smile wider.  You made them understand, believe and be an integral part of something that you have created.  You leave them better than they were before; you are thanked and you are cherished.  You are recalled in the recesses of their minds as they move along the paths you’ve lit for them.  You are the silent prayer when it gets too hard or too tough.  You are remembered as those paths become travelled.  You are invisible but present in their homes, among their friendships, backing up their contributions in work and society.  You remain part of their generations to come.  You are hope that all these things will be. 

As I said in the beginning, the world will forget, but you know that one – your kid – who will always remember.  Thanks for being there for them.  All they needed was you, Teacher.

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Happy Teacher Appreciation Day

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Thank You Catholic School Teachers

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Statement Regarding Remainder of School Year

Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn, which includes all elementary Catholic academies and schools in Brooklyn and Queens, has issued the following statement following Governor Cuomo’s school closure announcement:

“We just learned of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s decision that all elementary and secondary schools shall remain closed for the duration of the current 2019-2020 school year, as New York continues efforts to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. As such, the Catholic academies and parish schools within the Diocese of Brooklyn, which includes Queens, will remain closed through the end of June. The distance and digital learning platforms in place will serve as the instructional program for our schools for the remainder of this academic year.

I am very proud of our schools and academies, who were successfully able to transition to a distance and digital learning platform almost immediately upon our school buildings being shut down. This would not have been possible without the hard work of our teachers and the leadership of our dedicated principals, who rose to this enormous challenge. Our Catholic schools and academies have continued to provide each of our students with a faith-based academic program, ensuring that they are being challenged to learn every day. Our parents have also contributed immeasurably to the success of this new digital learning environment.

We will be working with our principals and teachers to ensure that our milestone celebrations (graduations, step-up ceremonies, and other achievements) will be honored and recognized. As we have done so far during this pandemic, we will continue to assemble and share resources for our families as we confront this challenging end to the school year.

The Coronavirus statistics indicate that both Brooklyn and Queens have been the hardest-hit areas in New York City and State. As a Catholic school community in the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to pray for everyone’s health and safety. Our faith, love, and hope remain central to all we do now and in the future.”