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MONITOR

THE

Official publication of The Diocese of Trenton

Vol. 2 • No. 5 • FEBRUARY 2021

MAGAZINE

Cause for Celebration Creating thankyou cards and breakfast-to-go for first responders, painting flower pots for assisted living residents and learning about vocations were just some of the ways students of Catholic schools around the Diocese of Trenton celebrated Catholic Schools Week. In a year of many challenges, the spirit of Catholic schools remains strong and vibrant.

 INSIDE… FROM THE BISHOP: This Lent . . . pray more, fast, care YOUNG CATHOLICS: First virtual DYC speaks to need for connection EL ANZUELO: Cuaresma, la campaña anual católica y recetas cuaresmales


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856-461-5400 In the past you have provided gifts to ensure the viability of our schools admissions@hcprep.org In the past you have provided gifts to ensure the viability of our schools the past you provided giftsYou to ensure for the nextIngeneration ofhave Catholic faithful. knowthe theviability impactofofour schools for the nexteducation generation of ICatholic faithful. You know impact of 5035 Rt. 130, Delran, NJ 08075 for the nextand generation Catholic faithful. Youthe know the of a Catholic wouldoflike to thank you profoundly forimpact offering a Catholic education and I would to thank you profoundly for offering www.hcprep.org a Catholic education andlike I would like to thank you profoundly for offering this incredible gift to others. this incredible to others. thisgift incredible gift to others. One way of giving during this time of the year is “Giving Tuesday.” Our school One wayduring of giving during this time of the year is “Giving Tuesday.” Our school One way ofdirectly giving time of the year is “Giving Our school programs benefit this 100% from all gifts during the Tuesday.” “Giving Tuesday” campaign. programs directly benefit 100% from during all giftsthe during the “Giving Tuesday” campaign. programs directly benefit 100% from all gifts “Giving Tuesday” campaign. The website for a Giving Tuesday gift is: www.leadinfaith.org forTuesday a Giving gift Tuesday gift is: www.leadinfaith.org The websiteThe forwebsite a Giving is: www.leadinfaith.org During COVID, support for our schools more is important than ever. have During COVID, support for our is schools more important thanWe ever. We have During COVID, support forfinancial our schools is more than ever.Our Weschools have have students that need more nowimportant than in than past years. students that need more support financial support now in past years. Our schools have students that more financial support costs now than in years. Our schools have had to step upneed spending health-related due topast COVID protocols. As a result had to step up for spending for health-related costs due to COVID protocols. As a result had to step up spending for health-related costs due to COVID protocols. As a result budgets arebudgets tight. are tight. budgets are tight. Your support, our Catholic here and today and tomorrow. Your support, will ensurewill ourensure Catholic schools schools are hereare today tomorrow. Catholic Schools Have It All... Your support, will our generation. Catholic schools arethe here today andvalues tomorrow. Educating the next Imparting same Gospel that formed Educating the nextensure generation. Imparting the same Gospel values that formed your your life. life. Educating the next generation. Imparting the same Gospel values that formed your life. and our students take it with Thank you forthe allowing the youngest of our Catholic family the same opportunity Thank you for allowing youngest of our Catholic family the same opportunity youallowing had beenthe gifted. Thank you for youngest of our Catholic family the same opportunity them wherever they go. Catholic you had been gifted. you had been gifted.

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100% of donations will go to your school of choice or you can designate the Diocesan Office of Catholic Schools for broader tuition or program assistance.

Your support, will ensure our Catholic schools are here today and tomorrow. Catholic Schools Have it All • 701 Lawrenceville Road • Trenton NJ 08648 • 609-403-7127 Educating the next generation. Imparting the same Gospel values that formed your life. 12   THE MONITOR MAGAZINE   February 2021 

Thank you for allowing the youngest of our Catholic family the same opportunity you had been gifted.

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PRAY  VOLUNTEER have come and expectfor so many years. Our enthusiasm need support more than ever. to relyDONATE

hasisnever because we are faith filled community.” During COVID, support for our schools morewavered, important than ever. Weahave VISIT WWW.LEADINFAITH.ORG has neverthis wavered, because we are a faith filled community.” Let’s work together to preserve students that need more financial support now thanNEW! in past Our to schools haveto make a gift! Textyears. leadinfaith 609-403-3323 vital part of our Church. had to step up spending for health-related costs due to COVID protocols. As a result PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY. budgets are tight.

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One way of giving during this time of the year is “Giving Tuesday.” Our school “ ARE open and living our mission EVERYDAY... just as you programs directly benefit 100% all giftsWe during the “Giving Tuesday” campaign. With the impact of from the coronavirus rely and forEVERYDAY... so many years. Our “We AREhave opencome and to living ourexpect mission just enthusiasm as you The website for a Giving Tuesday gift is: www.leadinfaith.org “We ARE pandemic, our Catholic schools open andwavered, living our mission EVERYDAY... just as you” has never because we are a faith filled community. have come to rely and expect for so many years. Our enthusiasm

FA I T H

Superintendent of Schools, Diocese of Trenton Superintendent of Schools, Diocese of Trenton

T H L ET A — Y T I N

– Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M.

ICS

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In the past you havethat provided gifts to ensure the viability of our schools world makes little room for for the next faith. generation of Catholic faithful. You know the impact of There is no substitute for the a Catholic education and I would like to thank you profoundly offering Dr. Vincentfor Schmidt value that strong Catholic schools Superintendent of Schools, Diocese of Trenton Dr. Vincent Schmidt this incredible gift to others. have to offer our Church. Dr. Vincent Schmidt

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Catholic Schools

Week 2021

In Focus

‘Let’s work together to become holier people’ The following is Bishop O’Connell’s homily for Catholic Schools Week, which was Jan. 31-Feb. 6. The Catholic Schools Week Mass was celebrated by the Bishop in the diocesan Chancery, Lawrenceville, and pre-recorded amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It was streamed Feb. 1 across all diocesan media. To watch the Mass, visit youtube.com/trentondiocese.

A Catholic school student displays what she likes about attending St. Joan of Arc School, Marlton. Staff photo

J

ust a little over one month ago, all Catholics and Christians celebrated the Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem on Christmas Day. Most families have figures of Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus in the manger in their homes.  These are not just Christmas decorations … they represent and show A Message from something that really BISHOP DAVID M. happened: God sent his O’CONNELL, C.M. Son, born of Mary, into our world to save the world and to teach us how God wants us to live. But baby Jesus did not stay a baby.  He grew up in Nazareth, obeyed his Mother Mary and foster-Father Joseph, learned from them and went into the world to follow God’s plan, what we call his “mission.” A very important part of his mission after he became an adult involved preaching and teaching others to look for God’s will; performing miracles; praying to God his Father and teaching others to pray and how to live in this world with others.  His life and lessons, recorded in the Four Gospels, are meant for us to follow. In today’s Gospel from St. Mark, the first Gospel written in the New Testament, the Lord Jesus tells his disciples that his message was NOT just for grownups and adults.  The Lord Jesus’ message was for young people as well.  He wanted the young to come to him, to learn from him, to come to know him.  The Kingdom of God was for them, too.   St. Paul tells us that the Church Jesus founded was a place where our fellow Christians prayed for one another that we all – young and old – would come to know God’s will, God’s wisdom and understanding so we could live our lives in a way worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, growing in our knowledge of God and strengthened by his grace and power so that we might be filled with joy and gratefulness to God who gives us his light and forgiveness. As I thought of these things from the Bible, I thought about our Catholic schools.  What is said in these Bible readings today describe Catholic schools and Catholic education. Catholic schools really represent your parents bringing their children – YOU – to the Lord Jesus so that he might embrace and teach you and lead you to his Kingdom where, like St. Paul tells you today, you can live lives worthy of the Lord, doing what is right. So let’s all work together – parents, teachers, staff, volunteers, supporters, parish priests and me, your Bishop – to become stronger, better, smarter, kinder, more prayerful, holier people, always eager to do God’s will, to do good, to love our Catholic Church and to love God and one another as Jesus taught us. February 2021    THE MONITOR MAGAZINE   13


In Focus

Schools like Donovan Catholic High School, Toms River, have been particularly concerned with spiritual and emotional well-being of their students. Courtesy photo

Catholic Schools surviving COVID

innovation, ded BY EMMALEE ITALIA  Contributing Editor

I

n a year like no other, presenting unforeseen challenges with COVID-19, Catholic schools in the Diocese are finding ways to persevere with the heroic help of teachers, school staff, and parish and school community support. “Everything is going well, but I say to God, ‘We made it through another day,’” reflected Craig Palmer, principal of St. Mary School, Middletown. “I honor our teachers every chance I get. It’s a tough situation; they’re giving it their best.”

professional practice and support each other on every level is truly inspiring.” All that was accomplished so far this year in Donovan Catholic High School, Toms River, “was possible due to the diligent work of our Reopening Leadership Team, faculty, staff, students and their parents,” said vice principal Jillian Kelly. “It is very important they know they are appreciated and thanked.” ADJUSTING EXPECTATIONS Trying to anticipate the needs of a

school community in a pandemic is no mean feat, as all principals and teachers can attest. Naturally, some unexpected situations arise as a result. Palmer gave the example of one of St. Mary’s teachers who has four of her own children in first grade and below. “Now you have her at her kitchen table trying to teach with her kids there,” he said. “I try to ask those who complain, ‘How is YOUR life going now?’ I never hired a single teacher who thought they would be teaching from home with their

 “I think we all expected that we would be spending more money this year.” In Sacred Heart School, Mount Holly, principal Kathryn Jensen said, “I have seen the staff really come together and bond, both personally and professionally. The way they share ideas for their

Teachers at St. Mary School, Middletown, are thinking outside the box – literally – to keep students healthy and engaged in their education. Courtesy photo

14   THE MONITOR MAGAZINE    February 2021 


Week

Catholic Schools

PreK students in St. Joseph School visit the Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine in the Toms River church. The school has a monthly Wednesday Community Day with at least one activity related to Catholic identity. Courtesy photo

with

ication children.” Jensen found that some surprising positives of the adjustments have been getting to know students and parents better. “We’ve always said that Catholic schools are families, but this experience has really brought us all together on a new level,” she advo-

cated. “This year has also cemented the partnership we have with parents … whether it’s picking up materials, helping to navigate a Google Meet, or even just communicating their child’s needs with the teacher because a student is learning at home, the parents have been instrumental in making this year a success for their child more than ever before.” Jensen pointed out the challenges of staffing during COVID, with a constant rotation of staff members quarantining. “Finding coverage often means another teacher is losing a prep period or myself going into a classroom,” she said. “I think we are all happy to do this … but that always means that something else isn’t getting done. In general, everything takes longer, even the simplest of tasks.” In St. Joseph School, Toms River, principal Madeline Kinloch said that one of their big staffing challenges includes finding substitutes. “Having them be able to teach the virtual portion is challenging.” To help meet the need, professional development was given to four or five substitutes to learn Zoom and Google Classroom digital platforms. “There are times I’m subbing as a pre-K aide, and the vice principal is covering other classes,” she added.

Courtesy photo

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Red Bank Catholic High School announced a new program Feb. 3 that seeks to give students both flexibility and pre-college preparation in one of several subject areas. Called “Academic Pathways,” the program offers Red Bank students the opportunity to enhance their learning experience, allowing for customization in specific concentrations – much like declaring a major in college. The program begins with the 2021-22 academic year. Karen M. Falco, RBC associate principal, describes the program as “a flexible exploration of opportunities within the academic program and practical experience to guide students in an area of interest.”

 “Today's academic preparation must include innovation.”

Whether in person, fully remote or a hybrid model, schools have adapted to ensure all students can attend classes and learn safely. That has meant classroom modifications like distance between desks and desktop transparent shields, as well as upgrades in technology and

The goals of the program are to engage students beyond the classroom, enable them to adapt to a rapidly changing global landscape, and promote Catholic-based, hands-on learning by doing and exploration. Subject concentrations include Engineering and Design; Criminal Justice and Law; Medical Science and Health; Entrepreneurship and Business; Humanities and Social Sciences, and Entertainment, Arts and Media. A standing school committee will enable the program to evolve current curriculum with use of faculty input and student feedback. The committee, studying documents on new “21st Century Trends,” recognized that today’s academic preparation must include innovation, flexibility and adaptability as they prepare RBC students for ongoing societal changes and their future career goals, committee members said. While students can start sooner than their

Continued on 54

Continued on 55

SAFETY AND TECHNOLOGY

“The way they [staff] share ideas for their professional practice and support each other on every level is truly inspiring,” the principal of Sacred Heart School, Mount Holly, says.

RBC’s new Pathways initiative to help develop students’ career interests

February 2021    THE MONITOR MAGAZINE   15


In Focus

In this pre-pandemic photo, children from Sacred Heart School, Mount Holly, pray during the 2020 Catholic Schools Mass. Catholic schools are encouraged to think of themselves as a business as well as a place of education – highlighting what sets them apart from others. Mike Ehrmann photo

Business guru urges Catholic school leaders to focus on experience, purpose BY EMMALEE ITALIA  Contributing Editor

W

hen it comes to bolstering Catholic schools and retaining families, understanding value and purpose goes a long way. That was the message Catholic school principals from throughout the Diocese of Trenton and beyond learned during a webinar featuring Stan Phelps, certified professional speaker, marketer and author of the Goldfish Series on business success. Phelps’ goal was to get administrators thinking about Catholic schools as a business as well as a place of education, and to use strategies to attract and keep school families. Those lessons came in the form of “Red Goldfish” and “Purple Goldfish,” after Phelps’ most recent publications. “The ‘Purple Goldfish’ is the experience you provide; the ‘Red Goldfish’ is the way you leverage your purpose to stand out,” Phelps explained. Noting that research has indicated that 80 percent of how people view one another has to do with “what is this  “Great person’s intent toward me, and what is their ability to carry out that intent,” brands don’t he pointed out that “social psycholoexist just in gists say it breaks down to warmth and competence.” “That’s over 50 percent of how peo- the brain; ple view your school,” he emphasized. they exist in “Great brands don’t exist just in the the heart.” brain; they exist in the heart.” The Catholic school brand is something Dr. Vincent de Paul Schmidt, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, wants to highlight in the Diocese. “We have to be competitive, have to be sure [our schools] are of high quality, which we do, but it may not be well-known,” he said. “The message is sometimes as important as the product.” Dr. Schmidt stressed that Catholic schools are naturally mission-driven, which shines through in every aspect of school life. “Mission drives the program … rooted in 2,000 years of 16   THE MONITOR MAGAZINE    February 2021 

history and doctrine,” he said. Phelps explained the reasoning behind the colors: purple for experience and red for purpose. “Purple is a metaphor for being able to do the little things to demonstrate warmth and confidence,” he said. “You really need to focus on the experience,” since success as a business is often “based on what others tell people about your school,” he said. Red represents the idea behind the RED campaign started in 2006 by rock group U2’s lead singer Bono and activist/journalist Bobby Shriver. They Stan Phelps partnered with for-profit companies to sell items from which a portion of profit would go to charity. Himself a product of Catholic schools in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, Phelps realizes the unique position administrators are in when deciding how best to promote their schools. “‘Red Goldfish’ is a great fit for Catholic education,” he explained. “[In 2020], millennials became 51 percent of the workforce … they put purpose as one of the main things they look for in a business – a for-purpose versus a not-for-purpose business. How do you stand out by embracing your school’s purpose?” Phelps stressed how marketing is changing rapidly, particularly in social media. “The customer now has a much bigger voice,” he noted. “Our brand is not what we tell people it is; our brand is what our customer experiences, how they feel about that experience, and what they tell others about who we are and what our brand is.” When choosing education for their children, parents can read reviews of others’ experiences online, Phelps pointed out. “Catholic schools have a great opportunity with their foundation and purpose that makes them different,” he said. “They have to find ways to bring that to light.”


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February 2021    THE MONITOR MAGAZINE   17


In Focus

Catholic Schools find new ways

to mark CSW BY EMMALEE ITALIA 

A

Contributing Editor

s Catholic schools across the Diocese of Trenton joined the 2021 national observance of Catholic Schools Week, three took time to visit with The Monitor about how their school was marking a rewarding, if unusual, year in Catholic education. Maria Sobel, principal of St. Mary of the Lakes School, Medford, believes the significance of Catholic Schools Week this year cannot be understated. “We’ve been here every day in person,” said the first-year principal, “and we have a lot to celebrate – the fact that a lot of our Catholic schools have children learning in person every day, while many of our neighboring public schools don’t. There’s just such joy for all of us to be here … celebrating our faith … and pushing the pause button.” St. Mary of the Lakes’ marketing and events manager, Kimberly Tabler, said that CSW is “a wonderful time for students to give back to their community, to celebrate themselves and the school they’re so lucky to attend.” Lizanne Coyne, principal of St. Mary Academy, Manahawkin, said that “Catholic Schools Week provides the children and schools [an opportunity] to focus on the benefits of a Catholic education and have some fun doing so.” Fourth grader Julianna Bak, who attends St. Ann School, Lawrenceville, finds CSW important “because it gives me a chance to appreciate my wonderful school and my faith … I look forward to Catholic Schools Week every year.”

“I think that a national week-long celebration of Catholic schools is so important to allow everyone to see what we do within our walls,” said Merry Socha, PreK-4 teacher in St. Ann’s. “It’s not just a submersion in our faith, but also top-notch academics, competitive sports, community outreach and so much more.” Typical CSW celebrations involve parents and the wider community coming to school campuses and participating in various activities; the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Catholic schools to creatively reimagine plans. The snowstorm at the beginning of CSW also caused some event rescheduling to the following week. “There aren’t the large gatherings or events to which they have become accustomed,” Coyne reflected. “But the children have learned to accept the changes because they are still together, sharing these experiences, work-

Showing appreciation, a student of St. Ann School, Lawrenceville, displays a thank-you picture for a first responder. Courtesy photo 18   THE MONITOR MAGAZINE   February 2021 


Week

Catholic Schools

As part of a Catholic Schools Week service project, students in St. Mary of the Lakes School, Medford, hold up their sign thanking first responders for their service. Hal Brown photo  For more CSW coverage, including photo galleries, visit TrentonMonitor. com.

ing through the disappointment.” This year’s celebration has changed in means, but not meaning, says Kelly Meyer, St. Ann’s integrated language arts teacher for fifth through seventh grades. “Although we can’t have the traditional activities … as a Catholic school we adjust,” she explained. “This year we will continue to send our thoughts, prayers, hope, and thanks to our community as well as our first responders, and we will celebrate our awesome students and their creativity through safe, fun activities.” St. Ann School seventh grader Jessiah Stephenson said that during CSW, “our bond with Christ becomes stronger through our experiences in learning about the Catholic faith … It’s important to celebrate the mission of Catholic education … because it teaches the love of Christ and good morals that will help you to build your integrity, develop healthy family values and care for others.” Jude Tabler, a second grader in St. Mary of the Lakes School, said that Catholic Schools Week is important “because we are celebrating how lucky

we are to be a Catholic student.” He enjoyed a break from homework and said that he and SML schoolmates viewed a video featuring their pastor, Father Daniel Swift, speaking about vocations. His class’s service projects included making coupons for their parents, helping to make breakfast bags for first responders and singing a song for them. “It’s important because the first responders work almost every day, and we’re repaying that job,” he said. “This is the best school community!” Meredith Daniel, middle school science teacher in St. Ann’s, said that “by giving students opportunities to participate in good works, such as making cards for first responders, students learn that showing appreciation for those around us should never be in short supply. … It’s through working together and through God’s grace that we can overcome any obstacle.”

A dapper young gentleman enters the gym for the PreK-K Prom, in its second year at St. Mary Academy, Manahawkin. This year, the students stayed within the boundaries of their individual hula hoops on the floor to maintain social distancing. Courtesy photo “This year, I know things will be different,” said St. Ann’s seventh grader Aubrey Davis, “but as part of St. Ann School, I also know we will adapt and make the best of it. Our faith teaches us to look for opportunities to shine in the darkness.”

February 2021    THE MONITOR MAGAZINE   19


In Focus

St. Benedict School faculty members, students and their families feed the fish in the Great Outdoor Learning Center pond. Mary Stadnyk photos

The Great Outdoor Learning Center includes a number of flower beds to help students learn about different types of plant life and harvesting, as well as a playhouse for children in younger grades.

Outdoor learning center a breath of fresh air for Holmdel school BY MARY STADNYK  Associate Editor

I

f there’s one good thing to come out of COVID, this is it,” Principal Kevin Donohue says of the new Great Outdoor Learning Center at St. Benedict School, Holmdel. The learning center is a 7,000-square-foot outdoor classroom geared to enhance the school’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education. It includes five garden spaces for planting and

harvesting; an area with a balance beam, geo-dome and playhouse; and a pond with several goldfish and a frog that the kindergarten class named “Prince.” In addition, each PreK3-5 grade level – the center’s target age group – has a specialized project that explores the question: “How can we care for God’s creation?”  “With the addition of the GOLC, we are able to teach multiple classes outside in a safe, socially distanced setting while dealing with COVID,” Donohue said, noting that except when the weather is

20   THE MONITOR MAGAZINE   February 2021 

harsh, the school plans to have students outside as much as possible. “This unique outdoor classroom setting allows us to safely operate classes and help differentiate our  “This is school community from neighboring schools and a labor of districts,” he continued, citing the benefits of love.” outdoor learning such as increased activity and health; broadening child development; advancing civic attitudes and behaviors, and engaging Continued on 41


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OUTDOOR LEARNING CENTER IN HOLMDEL Continued from 20

families and the community. “We want to make the most of our resources and give our families the highest quality Catholic education,� he said. The learning center project began with kindergarten teacher Tara Guido, who was inspired by a similar idea she heard about years ago while teaching in a private school in North Jersey. It took three years to develop the unused property behind St. Benedict School into the outdoor classroom. The finished project was officially unveiled in November. Vice principal Christine Keeling praised members of the school

community who helped with fundraising and donating supplies and manpower toward the project. “This is a labor of love,� Keeling said. “This is a real community effort.� In addition, Donohue noted that the National Wildlife Federation – America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization – also recognized the Great Outdoor Learning Center for successfully creating a Certified Schoolyard Habitat through its Garden for Wildlife program. St. Benedict School is one of more than 5,000 schools throughout the country to transform a schoolyard into a habitat that provides natural food sources, clean water, cover and places for animals to raise their young. Erin Michels, who has a second-grader and pre-K3 student

enrolled in St. Benedict School, said the learning center is a blessing to the school and parish community.  “This place is not just for the school,� she said, sharing that she often sees parishioners visiting the learning center after Mass on weekends. 

NEW VOCATION WEBSITE Continued from 34 

Diocese sharing about their lives. Plus, more content will be coming, including a page for parents of young men discerning the priesthood. “The more information we put out there and stories these men can teach through videos will hopefully give younger men the courage to

contact us so that we can begin putting them on a discernment path – whether it leads to seminary or not. Because it should be something you discern, come to a conclusion about and then move forward, one direction or another,� Father Jason said. To that end, the diocesan Office of Vocations is launching a postcard campaign to help draw people to the website. The postcards are being sent to priests, campus ministers, youth ministers and others on vocation discernment lists. The back of the cards read, “Why Not You? Why Not Now?� and ask those interested to fill out the contact form found at godiscallingyou.org/contact-us. “We want to know who they are and what we can do to help them in their discernment,� Father Jason said.

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personal hygiene products – all expenses above and beyond a normal operating budget. “I think we all expected that we would be spending more money this year,” Jensen said. “Of course, we have increased the frequency in which desks and bathrooms are cleaned, but we also invested in a disinfecting ‘fogger’ that disinfects the air and everything the solution touches.” Sacred Heart School also put air purifiers in each classroom to reduce viral transmission – an investment of over $450 for each classroom. “But they reduce the risk of transmission by 75 percent and that peace of mind was worth every penny,” Jensen said. “A lot of the cleaning was really

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given to us through the generosity of our parish.” CARES Act funding helped the school fortify its infrastructure and rewire internet, as well as fill two Chromebook carts. “We used our CARES Act funds to purchase thermal imaging thermometers,” said Kinloch. The thermometers are connected to the internet and positioned on a stand at the entrance to each of the school’s four buildings. The school also has hand sanitizing stations as well as static sprayers for the maintenance staff to clean classrooms efficiently. “We didn’t expect, with all the accommodations, just how messy the classrooms become – with our kids in cohort class all day, eating in the classroom, it creates more of a mess – and how often the teachers would have to clean throughout the

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54   THE MONITOR MAGAZINE   February 2021 

day,” Kinloch said. “We also revamped our [technology] server and system, and purchased Chromebooks for students,” she continued, noting that an additional private donation helped offset the cost. St. Mary’s School also used every bit of its CARES Act funding, as well as donations from school families. “We had all the bathrooms retrofitted with touchless sinks, flushers and soap dispensers,” Palmer explained, “and automatic hand sanitizers in all classrooms, as well as plastic shields on all the desks.” Additional investment in PPE (personal protective equipment) included face masks for each student, and signage on floors and doors throughout the building to direct foot traffic.

Teaching the Whole Student Catholic schools also have been particularly concerned with the spiritual and emotional well-being of their students, seeking to keep Catholic teaching and social health at the forefront. St. Mary School has adapted in many ways spiritually, Palmer pointed out – praying the Bishop’s COVID prayer each morning, as well as attending Mass once a week, alternating which classes will attend in the large St. Mary Church and which will view from their computers. During Catholic Schools Week, they

chose to focus on a different virtue of St. Joseph for each day: silence, prayer, courage, provide/protect and devotion. “I truly believe that the mission of our school and the fact that we pray every day as a school and we continue to foster spiritual exercises, that God has his hand in our being able to stay open,” Palmer reflected. “I know it helps a lot with the mental anguish we see in young people. Having that unity and social aspect and praying together calms them.” St. Joseph School has its school counselor go into each classroom once a week to discuss various topics on social emotional learning. “As we got into school, we realized how much we needed a social-emotional learning curriculum,” Kinloch said. “We didn’t realize it until we got kids in the building, the extent of the students’ need for that.” Kelly noted that in Donovan Catholic, a day of community engagement was created called WEdays – Wednesday Engagement – on designated Wednesdays every month. St. Joseph School, which shares a campus with Donovan Catholic, has also set aside a monthly Wednesday Community Day with at least one activity related to Catholic identity, and Mass in the afternoon. Overall, parents seem to be pleased with the Catholic school


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Monitor Magazine Feb 2021 Catholic Schools Week section  

Monitor Magazine Feb 2021 Catholic Schools Week section