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Parent Resources Updates

Setting up 2021 Family Faith Goals

In a time when family has become even more central to our lives amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic, setting up family faith goals will help your household grow even stronger together through prayer.

Before the New Year, contemplate on the elements of your faith that make you feel most connected to your family members – then, aim to nurture those connections through the goals you set as a family. Doing so will bring you closer to God and will make your family a stronger unit to face any obstacle that sits before you in the New Year. Below are a few examples of goals you might set for your family to strengthen your relationship to your faith.

Group Prayer and Meditative Reading

One of the most effective ways to come together as a family, especially around the holidays, is to read scripture together. Set aside time each week for reading together, and aim to discuss a certain aspect of the scripture related to something you’re experiencing currently in your lives, including issues at school, work, and home. Doing so will help you work through potential anxieties and also gives you a chance to celebrate joys and successes. Set aside a quiet space that’s roomy enough for the whole family, but also free from distractions.

Attend Virtual Mass

The pandemic has changed the way we all live, including the way we celebrate the Eucharist. If you live in an area heavily affected by the COVID-19 virus, it’s important to stay home and socially distanced, and so in-person mass may be out of the question. A wonderful alternative, however, is virtual mass. Check with your parish to see if they offer online services that you can attend through a streaming service. If not, consider spearheading the effort with your parish administration. Take charge of your faith in the New Year!

Prayer Before Meals

Eating is a symbolic activity – we gain and give sustenance, and we share it with the people that mean most to us. Before each meal you share with your family, aim to pray together. Thank the Lord for the food you’re about to share with the people you love, and give thanks for all the blessings you’ve received in your life, including the bounty set before you.

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A Christmas Letter From Our Superintendent

Dear Families,

As the Advent season brings us to the celebration of Christmas and the birth of Christ, I invite you to consider the following verse, When they saw the star, they were overjoyed Matthew 2:10. 

Being a parent, and in my case also a grandparent, we are presented with a unique opportunity to witness the pure joy that is a child at Christmastime. For adults, the holiday season is often filled with lists, gift wrapping, and errands. This year has brought additional stress and new challenges to navigate amidst COVID-19 concerns and social distancing. It has become easy for us to forget the joy of the moment. Children can see the world as we cannot; with an innocence and excitement for these celebrations. During the beginning of December, I decorated my Christmas tree with my young grandchildren. The moment the lights were turned on, I was greeted with excited yells and laughter. I couldn’t help but smile at their happiness, over something as simple as Christmas lights. This pure joy is the joy we should all feel during this time of year. Our children (and grandchildren) are the light in our lives, just as Jesus is a light for all people. 

We often forget, amidst the shopping lists and errands that we are celebrating Jesus coming into the world.  Jesus is the greatest gift God has provided for us.  The light and hope that his birth brought to the world, as described in the verse from Matthew, is a sentiment we should bring into our lives always, but especially during the Christmas season. I encourage you, throughout the coming days and weeks, to take time in your busy day, to pause and reflect on the meaning of the season.  Look to your children for the joy we all need and embrace the small moments that make this time of year so special. 

I wish you a very Merry Christmas filled with peace, joy, and special family moments, and a happy, healthy New Year. We are looking forward to welcoming in the new year with you. 

In Christ,

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

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Celebrating Christmas 2020 to the Fullest

An uncertain and frightening year has brought with it an opportunity to celebrate the holidays in a new light. The pandemic has affected each person differently, leaving the world with much to grieve, but also much for which to be thankful.

This Christmas, it will be important for us all to recall memories from previous years and to revel in the joy and nostalgia. It’s a time to come together, through faith and love, to celebrate the birth of Christ and what it means for each Catholic and his or her unique and precious relationship with God.

This year, the coming-together aspect of the holidays may be look different, but through faith and prayer, we all can celebrate Christmas 2020 and our savior safely. Below are a few creative ideas to celebrate the holidays fully despite each obstacle placed before us by this unprecedented year.

Christmas Zoom Toast

One of the best ways to stay connected with the people you love outside of your social distancing bubble is to communicate videoconferencing software such as Zoom. Up to 100 participants can join the call, allowing you to see the smiling faces of your entire family or friend group. Play Christmas music in the background and reminisce about the year and those past.

Go Overboard on the Decorating

Now more than ever, we need the cheer and joy of the holidays, and what better way to spread the Christmas spirit than through an above-and-beyond Christmas display? If you and your family normally just pull the Christmas tree out of storage and throw up a few string lights in front yard, consider spicing the season up with extra garland or lights in creative spots around your home, such as the staircase, bedrooms, or kitchen. Whether it’s a opting for a fresh-cut Christmas tree or trying out a new recipe this Christmas dinner, make this year special for all the right reasons.

Make a Commemorative Ornament with Your Children

For better or for worse, this year’s holiday season will be one to remember. In the years to come, your children will look back on how 2020 has impacted them and the world around them. On the back of the decorated ornament, have your children write out in paint or marker the things they are most thankful for, or things they hope for the year to come.

While Christmas this year will be unlike any other, there are so many ways and reasons to chase the spirit of the holidays and the absolute joy it can bring us all.

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Parent Resources Updates

December Meditations to Feel Centered and Less Stressed in the New Year

Meditation is a wonderful and effective way to reconnect with your faith. In the quiet, relaxed state of meditation, your body and mind both have the opportunity to feel a centeredness that will encourage you to start each day with a positive attitude and determination.

The Effects of Stress on the Human Body

The effects of stress on the body are numerous, effecting both the body and the mind in different but significant ways. Physically, stress can cause headaches and migraines, insomnia or excessive sleep, high blood pressure, and digestive problems. Emotionally, stress can cause restlessness and moodiness, anxiety and lack of motivation, and sadness or depression.

On the effects of stress on the human body, experts say that “forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress,” and “the lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50 percent, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.”

Meditation and Wellness

Luckily, though, meditation is a simple yet powerful technique for alleviating stress and its negative effects on the body. When practiced for as little as 10 minutes each day, meditation should reduce symptoms associated with stress by decreasing anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and encouraging relaxation.

To meditate, sit in a comfortable spot and position, such as on a yoga mat or area rug with your legs crossed and your hands resting on your knees. With your back straight, close your eyes and mind your breathing, taking long, slow breathes as you meditate. As you begin to relax and feel your heartbeat slowing, reflect on the meditations listed in the next section of this blog.

Meditations to Comfort and Inspire for 2021

• Your favorite bible verse (See the passages in the list below for inspiration.)
o Psalm 46:1-3
o Isaiah 41:10
o Isaiah 43:1-3
o Philippians 4: 12-13
o Romans 10:9
• Pray the Rosary or one of its prayers, such as the “Our Father” or “Holy Mary”
• A goal you’d like to accomplish for 2021 – think personally and professionally, as well in terms of your relationship with God and your faith

Regardless of how you choose to meditate, seek to strengthen your relationship with God by putting your faith at the center of the exercise.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Families,

We have been blessed throughout previous academic years with families who understand the importance of our mission for Catholic Education and who are committed to working alongside us to accomplish these goals. This year, while unbelievably challenging, has demonstrated the level of commitment our families have to support the Catholic Academies and Parish Schools within the Diocese of Brooklyn. It is incredible to witness. I find it inadequate to simply say thank you, as those words don’t even begin to cover my gratitude for your unending support but nonetheless, I will try.

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Parent Resources Updates

Finding the Strength to Be Thankful in 2020

With just two months left of 2020, we reflect today on the months passed and are reminded of the many changes that we and our families, friends, and colleagues have undergone. In these unprecedented and frightening times, it may be difficult to find things to be grateful for this holiday season.

An uncertain year and uncertain times have had the potential to turn our perception of this time of year around, but through faith, we are reminded of the many possibilities for blessing that have touched us. As you read on, reflect on the moments of happiness that have shined through the bad and the chaotic.

The Joy of Family and Friends in Times of Darkness

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the ways in which we view the time we spend with our families. We learn to cherish the moments we get with them, whether face-to-face or virtually. In times of darkness, we learn to hold on to our loved ones for comfort and stability, and it’s through our family and our friends that we find the strength to continue on when we feel discouraged or alone.

Sharing experiences and offering words of advice or understanding bring us close together. Enjoying the presence and existence of our loved ones will help guide us toward happiness. Let us be thankful for them.

Health in Uncertainty

With over nine million reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States, our health should be precious to us. Every day that we wake up in good health is a blessing, and we must take care to never take our well-being for granted.

Health serves as the foundation for the most powerful human joys and sorrows in life, and without it, we are truly unable to live our infinitely important lives to the absolute fullest, as God wants for us. Each day, remember how important your health is – to yourself and for the people around you. Let us be thankful for good health and the front-liners that put their own lives on the line to ensure it for the nation.

Let Gratitude Shine When Things Feel Dark

In darkness, one of the most effective ways to cope with pain, loss, and sadness is to let gratitude shine through with every interaction you have. This is difficult, and you may find yourself unable or unwilling to show thankfulness in moments when life seems anything but fair. A wonderful first step is to begin with the people you love. Let them know how thankful you are to have them in your life, and love and joy will come from your togetherness.

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Coronavirus News and Information Parent Resources Updates

Parent Letter – ensuring our guidelines for health and safety

Download a pdf of this letter

Dear Catholic Academy and Parish School Families,  

Since September, our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools have been open and operating safely and efficiently. Thank you for your support in ensuring our guidelines for health and safety have been followed. Every person in our extended Catholic Academy and Parish Schools’ community has the responsibility to observe social distancing and wear a mask. This is what will keep the doors to our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools open; this is what will continue to keep everyone at our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools safe and healthy. Our principals, teachers and health aides have rigorously enforced health and safety protocols in our Catholic Academy and Parish Schools. For all this is being done on a daily basis, we are most grateful.  

However, as students’ participation in outside extracurricular activities increases, the possibility of exposure to individuals who are positive for COVID may increase for both the students and their families. The same outcome can be true for attending any event with large numbers of people. This past week we have seen a very slight uptick in positive cases, and every positive case has been traced back to exposures at gatherings, parties, and events outside of the Catholic Academy/Parish School. We are sending this letter as a stark reminder COVID protocols do not end at the end of the school day and/or take the weekends off!  

With that being said, it is crucial that every family completes the daily self-screening checklist, prior to sending their children to the Catholic Academy/Parish School.  

If you can answer YES to any of the questions, your child may NOT enter the Catholic Academy/Parish School building. You MUST contact a health professional for guidance and notify the Catholic Academy/Parish School principal.  

As a reminder, the questions are:  
1) If your child has any of the following symptoms, that indicates a possible illness, which may decrease the student’s ability to learn and put them at risk for spreading illness to others. Does your child have any of these symptoms?  

-Temperature 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
-Sore Throat
-New uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing (for students with chronic allergic/asthmatic cough, a change in their cough from baseline)
-Diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
-New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever
-Shortness of breath Fatigue
-Muscle or body aches
-New loss of taste or smell
-Congestion or runny nose
-Nausea or vomiting    

2) To the best of your knowledge, in the past 14 days, has your child been in close contact (within 6 feet for at least 10 minutes) with anyone who has tested positive through a diagnostic test for COVID-19 or who has or had symptoms of COVID-19?  

3) Has your child or a member of your household traveled internationally or from a state with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 per the New York State Travel Advisory in the past 14 days.  

According to the New York State Department of Health, your child will need to receive a note of medical clearance and a negative PCR COVID test to return to school, should they develop any symptoms or be sent home from school.   

What else can we all be doing to maintain a safe environment for all? We can limit our exposure to large groups of people, continue to practice good hand hygiene, have a supply of masks on hand so that the fabric masks can be washed daily, and ensure everyone in your family receives a flu shot and all immunizations are kept up-to-date.  

We truly appreciate everyone’s honesty, cooperation and dedication, to keeping our schools safe and healthy places of learning. During the month of the Most Holy Rosary, we continue to entrust our students, teachers, principals and staff to our Lady; the cause of our hope and joy.  

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

Help reduce the risk of exposure and transmission of
COVID-19 by practicing the “Core Four”
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Fostering Mental Well-Being this Fall Semester

Now more than ever, the mental health and well-being of your child is crucial to his or her growth and success as the fall semester continues in full swing. From the excitement and fear that comes with such a tumultuous year to the confusion of struggling to adapt to new home and learning environments, it’s necessary for your family to support your child as he or she navigates the new terrain of distance learning (or face-to-face with new restrictions and guidelines).

The key to fostering an optimal environment for learning, in the home and beyond, is to instill in your child the knowledge that he or she will always have your family there as unwavering foundation of support. To do this, keep repetition and positive enforcement in mind, especially for younger children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “1 in 6 U.S. children aged 2–8 years (17.4%) had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.” Always remember that, above all, the mental health and well-being of your child is most important during this transitional time, both in school and world at large.

Maintaining your child’s mental health and well-being is a big task for any parent, but it doesn’t have to be scary. There are simple steps you can take every day that will be a positive influence on your child as he or she continues to navigate the new spaces and environments we find ourselves in.

1. First, make sure your own mental health is stable and that you’ve developed and are comfortable with your own methods of coping and being well before you attempt to apply the same practices with your child.
2. Focus on building senses of trust and compassion. Make sure your child understands that you and your family are always right behind him or her, no matter what. This will allow your child to go forth with confidence.
3. Practice repetition and consistency. Children grow and understand things best through repeated exercises and reinforcement. Most children crave routine and structure, so it’s important to build and maintain a home that your child can comfortably view as a safe space.
4. Establish healthy habits. From eating greener foods to enforcing a stricter bed time, your child will benefit from sticking to a fuller, healthier routine. Turn exercise into play time by throwing around a ball or going on a walk together in the park.
5. Encourage the development of self-esteem. You can give your child all the support in the world, but the most effective coping mechanism is self-esteem. Ensure that your child understands his or her worth and the importance of individuality in today’s world.
6. Pray! Nothing heals the soul like a conversation with God.

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Parent Letter from The Superintendent

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

The past seven months have been like no other in all my years in Catholic education and probably like no other in the history of American education. Despite the many challenges, I have been inspired by the heartfelt actions of our principals, teachers, and parents throughout this pandemic.  I am also sincerely appreciative of what our parents, teachers and school leaders are continuing to do, to support our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools, as we begin the 2020-2021 school year.

Catholic schools are faith communities and while our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools did an outstanding job moving to online learning, we missed having the students in class and couldn’t wait to pray, learn and play together again.  Most families over the summer, indicated they felt the same way. Some families chose to return to the 2020-2021 school year remotely, with their decision to enroll in the Saint Thomas Aquinas Distance Learning Program, with online instruction. Saint Thomas Aquinas will begin on September 16, 2020.

Our re-opening days last week, were well-planned, focused on the details and addressed the health and safety concerns of everyone.  Having your children return allowed each school community to see their students in person, welcoming their children back with a smile and a socially distant wave and engage the students in learning from the classroom setting. Whoever thought this would be the way learning would occur in 2020?  However, by everyone working together, we are all back stronger and ready to tackle what lies ahead. We once again wanted to remind you of basic tenets to support a heathy and safe environment:

We thank you again for partnering with us, allowing us to develop and educate the children you have entrusted in our care.

In closing, I share the prayer below:

Back to School Blessing

Dear Heavenly Father,

You sent us your Son,

how great is your goodness,

how great is your love.

Now as we send our children back to school,

we trust again in your care for them,

let them see clearly that which is good and reject all evil.

Bless their teachers—guide their hearts.

May our children learn and grown, always in your

sight and under your protection.  Let us teach them how

to stand firm, upon convictions yet be merciful and kind.

Guide them, oh Lord.  Bless them.  Pour out your

loving grace.  Let your glory shine in their lives.

And when they suffer, let us understand how to comfort them

without hindering your character-building process.

You are the architect of a holy life.  Build our

children up according to your will.

Oh loving Lord, our children are yours, since

the beginning of time.  Thank you for their lives.

Bless and protect their souls.

In Jesus’ name.  Amen

Sincerely,

Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.

Superintendent ~ Catholic School Support Services

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Brooklyn and Queens Catholic Academies and Parish Schools reopening Wednesday, September 9, 2020.

September 2, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians:

We hope you and your children are doing well and preparing for the reopening of our Brooklyn and Queens Catholic Academies and Parish Schools next week on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.

I am sure that many of you are wondering how Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement yesterday, delaying the opening date of New York City public schools until September 21, might impact us. We want to assure you that our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools will NOT be affected by this decision. We are proceeding with our plan to reopen on September 9 in either of two ways: 100 % in-person or hybrid. Our St. Thomas Aquinas Distance Learning Program will begin orientation on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

We expect that the New York City – Department of Education will fulfill its obligations to our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools. By New York City Education Law, the Department of Education must provide essential services like nurses, transportation, meals, and special education and related services. Other services like security guards and crossing guards are provided to us through other agencies.

It is also our expectation that the NYC Pre-K For All Programs will start as previously determined by your Catholic Academy or Parish School.

Again, we look forward to welcoming your children back to school, as scheduled, next Wednesday, September 9th.  Principals, board members, teachers, and the entire school staff at our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools have worked tirelessly this summer to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment is in place for all our students, faculty, staff and parents. Our re-opening plans are in compliance with updated mandates and guidance from New York City, New York State, Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control. Please make sure that you review your Catholic Academy/Parish School Re-Opening Plan available on their website

May everyone be healthy, safe, and well as you enjoy these last few days of summer.

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