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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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End of the Year Parent Letter

Dear Parents and Guardians of Catholic Academy and Parish School Students,

As has been previously shared, our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools have always had a strong relationship with our parents and guardians. This has contributed greatly to the success of our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools. The past three months have been a challenging time for families. Parents have dealt with their own jobs shifting to at-home work status or, even worse, having their jobs being eliminated altogether. Add to that, the stress of having to assist your children with their learning, which presented some additional challenges. I think the hardest part about the COVID-19 crisis has been the uncertain time frame and lack of consistent information from New York City and New York State officials.

Every day, updates and new developments are being shared by Governor Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio. Looking ahead, we are making plans to re-open our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools in Brooklyn and Queens for the upcoming academic year (2020-2021). Though we cannot determine what the health conditions will look like for the Catholic Academies and Parish Schools, as we approach September, our goal is to return to in-class instruction with all the necessary safety precautions.

A Re-Opening School Task Force has been developed and convening weekly meetings, to develop a strategic plan for the re-opening of Catholic Academies and Parish Schools in September 2020. The implementation of this strategic plan will include a variety of health and safety precautions. It is highly likely that social-distancing requirements will necessitate the need to limit the number of students in a classroom/school building at one time. The summer will allow us time to further our plans and put the necessary measures in place. Our priority is to ensure that our students, teachers, and staff can confidently return to a safe and healthy school building, conducive to teaching, learning, and faith formation.

Our Catholic Academy and Parish School buildings might be empty, but their ministry of Catholic education endures. We continue to journey together though these difficult times. We must continue to act together to ensure that our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools will remain strong and healthy both now, and when we can gather together again in the future.

In preparation for the summer months of July and August, I offer you the following prayer to share with your family:

Father, Creator of all, thank You for summer!
Thank you for the warmth of the sun and the increased daylight.
Thank You for the beauty I see all around me and for the opportunity to be outside and enjoy Your creation.
Thank You for the increased time I have to be with my friends and family, and for the more casual pace of the summer season.
Draw me closer to You this summer.
Teach me how I can pray no matter where I am or what I am doing.
Warm my soul with the awareness of Your presence and light my path with Your Word and Counsel.
As I enjoy Your creation, create in me a pure heart and a hunger and a thirst for You.
Amen.

Wishing you a safe and healthy summer.

We promise to keep you informed as plans evolve. Continue to monitor your Catholic Academy/ Parish School and Diocese of Brooklyn websites (https://catholicschoolsbq.org/).

Sincerely,

Thomas Chadzutko

Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.
Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services

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End of the Year Students Letter

Dear Students in the Catholic Academies and Parish Schools,

Wow… another school year is ending. Can you believe it?

While the past three months of the school year, have been done remotely, your Catholic education has continued. You are to be commended for your hard work and effort. Your achievements and accomplishments have been noted by your principal, teachers and parents.

Remember the start of the school year in September, the excitement of making new friends, the reconnecting with old friends, your new teacher(s) and your renewed enthusiasm to start anew?

This time of year (June 2020) is an excellent time for reflection on the closing school year. I ask you spend some time with your parents reflecting on the questions below:

• What are the two best memories you have of this school year?
• What was your favorite event/excursion/special performance this school year?
• What is the nicest thing someone did for you this school year?
• What was the nicest thing you did for a classmate?
• In what area do you feel you have improved in the most?
• What are 3 new things you’ve learned, that you didn’t know at the start of the school year?
• What’s the best piece of work/project/assignment you’ve done this year?
• What subject have you enjoyed the most? Why?
• What are 6 adjectives you could use to describe the best parts of this school year?
• What have you learned about yourself this school year?
• What are you most proud of this school year?

As you move into the summer months, I ask that you remember to set time aside for daily prayer and reflection.

I offer you this prayer to you as you begin summer 2020:
Take time to claim your strength; they are gifts of God.
Take time to have fun; it’s God’s way of teaching you your strengths.
Take time to grow yourself; only you can grow you.
Take time to trust yourself; God trusts you.
Take time to be self-reliant; it is better than being dependent.
Take time to share with others; they will bless you, and you will bless them.
Take time to have hope, you are a child of God

Best wishes for an enjoyable and safe summer!

Continued prayers!

Thomas Chadzutko
Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.
Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services

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End of the Year Teacher Letter

Dear Catholic Academy and Parish School Teachers,

The past three months have taught us that we are at our best when we work together toward a common goal. For our teachers, your common goal was to educate your children in a community of faith. I have been inspired by your strength and resilience throughout this crisis. Handed a Herculean task, you have risen to meet this challenge with dedication, talent, and love for your students that is nothing short of heroic.

So, dear teachers, as you move closer to the final days of the 2019-2020 school year, please do for yourselves, as you did each day for each child in your class; acknowledge your gifts and talents, your kindness and warmth, your hard work and dedication. Remember the faces of the students who told you through their computer screen how much they missed you, the families who thanked you for all you had done for their child, the kids who gave you pause to smile and even laugh, during these past three months.

I end this letter with my sincere thanks and appreciation for your commitment to Catholic education, as you delivered a Christ-centered instructional program, providing each child with the individual attention and support they need to reach their full potential.

Pope Francis frequently speaks of the importance of our teachers in promoting the faith. I would like to close with a special quote from our Holy Father: Educating isn’t a profession but an attitude, a way of being. In order to educate you must go out of yourselves and amidst the young, accompanying them in stages of their growth, standing beside them…

Christ, Teacher and Lord,
Bless all in this school as we seek to end our year
with the grace You so generously provide.
We give thanks for the students and the faculty, the administrators,
and all who have contributed to this year of nurturing and growth.
We affirm all the positive moments:
Of insight, of the excitement of learning,
Of accomplishment, of creativity,
Of laughter, of a sense of community.
We recognize the times of struggle, of difficult work,
of misunderstanding,
Even of failure…
We give these to You for transformation,
So they can become seeds that will find fertile soil.
As we leave for the summer,
May we take with us the knowledge
that You will keep us all in Your embrace
so we may rest and be restored,
And so we can continue in the ongoing discovery of Your Love.
Amen.

With respect and appreciation for all you do.

Continued prayers and blessings for you!

Sincerely,

Thomas Chadzutko

Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.
Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services

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Honoring Our 8th Grade Graduates

Please click the link below to view the Valedictorians, Salutatorians, and other award winners from the Diocese of Brooklyn & Queens 8th Grade Graduates of 2020!

https://2020grads.catholicschoolsbq.org/

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NET TV Honors The Graduates of 2020!

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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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Holy Trinity Catholic Academy Students Create Heart of Ribbons for Memorial Day

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WHAT ARE WE SHOWING OUR KIDS?

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?