Principal’s Letter

Dear Families,

I wish you a Happy New Year!  There is an internal optimism that springs with the turn of the new year.  And when we are faced with events, like yesterday, that go against these feelings, our shell of understanding can be shocked. How did we get here? How do we react?  What do we tell our children?  Finding the right words to describe or explain these dark moments to children is a challenge for any parent or educator. Every school is a reflection of our country. We are of different faiths, cultures, and have different political beliefs.  Regardless of the fabrics that constitute our identity, our work as parents and educators is to listen, observe, and acknowledge how events may manifest in our children’s actions. In witnessing the assault on the Capitol, we saw protest taken too far, we saw violence, and we witnessed racist extremism. Racism and violence are antithetical to our Catholic faith. How do we now, in the words of the St. Francis prayer, show that we are instruments of peace, of social justice, of change?  I find myself asking, “What am I called to do?”

What are we, as a community called to do?  How do you, parents, respond when your children ask, “why?”  It is okay to tell them that we, our leaders, are learning too.

I encourage you to utilize the tips and access the resources made available by our school counselor, Chloe Shaw.  Here is a sampling of some of the tips.

  1. Follow your child’s lead and listen, understand, and validate their experience. 
    • Your child may be feeling a range of emotions – from fear, anxiety, anger, and sadness, to confusion or helplessness.  They may also not even be aware of or concerned by what is going on and that is completely fine, too.  Your child’s feelings will depend on what they know as well as their age.  The number one piece of advice is to follow your child’s lead.
  2. Help your child focus on what they can control.
    • Set limits on news consumption and encourage your child to focus on things in their life that they (and your family) can control.
  3. Look for the helpers.
    • Remind your child of the many adults in their lives and in this country who care deeply about them. Talk about and tell stories of the helpers and people doing good now, and in the past.  This emphasis on the positive is comforting and reassuring to kids.

We are not alone. Together, I pray that we can begin this new year, remembering that Christ is with us.  Let us bring the gift of St. John strength in community, hope, and support for one another as we move into the new year.

With the new year, we are hopeful! Preparations continue to bring more students to in-person learning. We are working on a return for intermediate students (grades 3-5) beginning, tentatively, January 20. Based on the new metric delivered by the Governor on Wednesday, December 15, at the moderate COVID-19 activity level DOH recommends careful phasing in of in-person learning starting with any elementary students not already in-person and middle school students. All safety precautions (masks, physical distancing/small groups, frequent hand-washing and sanitizing) must continue to be observed as we bring more students, in a hybrid format (alternating days), into the building. Once the school successfully transitions our intermediate students into the building, we will move to bring the middle school students on campus. Intermediate families: Look for more specific information tomorrow from your child’s teacher.

Parents of students in PreK-2, start thinking now about increased traffic on 79th Street. Review the traffic guidelines and take care of our neighbors by not blocking driveways or leaving your car unattended in the pick-up/drop-off zone.

The Special Task Force for Catholic Schools, focused on the Ministerial Covenant, is launching a survey to help inform their work and to assist them in providing recommendations to Archbishop Etienne. The survey is for all Archdiocesan schools, alumni of Catholic schools, parents of students, and parishioners.  Employees of our Archdiocesan schools sign the Ministerial Covenant (employment contract) annually.  It is very important that you participate and provide your candid thoughts and views on the questions.  Please take the time to read it, carefully discern the questions, and complete it.  The results will be presented to the Archbishop. Thank you for your input and support.

A final announcement: Coming soon, St. John School has partnered with SchoolAdmin, a student enrollment and tuition/fee management system. It replaces PowerSchool Registration and Smart Tuition. More information to come via email on how to register for the 2021-22 school year next week.

Let us go forward with renewed hope. As Maya Angelou wrote, “Each new hour holds new chances for new beginnings.”  Together we can act with Justice, love with mercy, walk humbly with God.

Bernadette O’Leary