Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sense of Community

Sense of community

I love my son's school St. Mary Catholic School!  It brings a nostalgic feeling for me each and every time I set foot into that school. The schools "feel", and "look" (school climate) is much like that of the one I grew up in Holy Redeemer Area School (now Holy Redeemer, name change).   I remember when I was growing up that I felt small and the school felt so incredibly big.  I think every grade school actually feels that way you just do not realize it until you leave and return for some random reason and then realize how small it actually was. 

My grade school career began though, at Immaculate Heart Catholic school which was located across from the park directly across from Emmanuel Hospital.  It was at this school that I was one of a few that were Caucasian attending this inner city  Catholic school. The archdiocese of Portland decided not to fund that school the year I was completing my third grade with Ms. Fasulo (so loved her as a teacher).  So the following fourth grade year I switched schools with a few of my friends and began attending Holy Redeemer.  That was a trip.

Immaculate Heart was a neat school. I remember many teachers fondly!  Fran was our Kindergarten teacher, I remember Chapter One program which is now Title IA (I manage in my current district), then there was Ms. Benjamin, Mrs. Munson and Ms. Fasulo.   It was there, where I learned other important things like dancing from my fellow classmates who were in "step", learned to roll my eyes (which was a crucial thing to know how to do to be part of the "in" group) and have built many a friendship.  It was at that particular school where I learned the most about people, humans and how color didn't matter. Mind you I was one of a few (including my sister) Caucasian students attending this school. See this grainy early 80's photo below.
Can you find me or my sister?  Oh the memories I have of this school and of my friends.  Tess and Tress the twins, Kifah, Joanna, Willie (RIP), Zawdie, Jeff, Doug, Velvet, Stephanie, Kuniko, and many more.  Two things stand out for me.  One, my first communion, where just two of us were entering that sacrament  Jacques Bontemps (Sp?) and myself.  The second, one of my favorite memories was the whole school play at Matt Dishman Community Center, The Wiz!  Wow the memories, the friendships and the community!
Holy Redeemer was no exception.  A much larger school than that of Immaculate Heart but just a community oriented and relational! I have many friends and fond memories of those times; school yard dodge ball, burn-em-out, basketball, boy crushes, girl-friend drama, dancing, and great teachers.  I remember Friday night BINGO for the adults and our parents setting up for that. I remember graduation from eighth grade and much more!  A sense of home. 

When you grow up and have your own kids, you tend to want more for them! I am selective about their education. Though I work in public school systems, I believe that there is parent choice and parent right to impart or instill their religious beliefs and access the best possible things for your children as you can.  I love the Catholic community in Stayton.  Oddly enough, I didn't realize that I had connection with Stayton through my high school Principal Father Murphy!  It wasn't until I met with Father Murphy with my soon to be husband to discuss our wedding plans that he was to preside over.    It turned into a walk down memory lane for Father!  He and my husband knew many people in common as Father Murphy was the pastor at Immaculate Conception (our current church) and worked at Regis HS there in Stayton.  He is known by all! (HOME AGAIN)
Picture from the Catholic Sentinel taken at the Installation Mass for Archbishop Sample.
Central Catholic years continued to instill community, friendship, teacher mentors and relationships (in addition to the education I received).  A sense of home, adoration for teachers, priests and nuns.  Fond memories there as well and one that I would love to impart to my own children (sense of community). I keep in touch mostly through Facebook with many of my own classmates.  A great adventure for sure.
As I have and raise my own children, I want for them, what I was able to experience, sense of community, building relationships, and a learning environment that feels like home.  St. Mary Catholic school has begun to offer that for my oldest son.  It is a community effort from the fundraising, to collaborating with teachers, to being on the same page to instill religious beliefs at home and at school.  The parents are great! The teacher (so far Preschool) has been outstanding and my son, feels comfortable, at home, and respectful! This is his HOME, just as my school climate made me have that sense of home as well.  It is my hope that my children gain as much from their educational experiences as I have from mine and find their sense of belonging, friendships and mentors. 

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