This month we have a guest blogger, Elizabeth Haslam, Class of 2020
As a senior, the world we currently live in is most certainly not how I pictured the last semester of my final year of high school to unfold. Initially, I tried to remain optimistic and hoped for things to not escalate to the doomsday predictions of the media. However, as this global pandemic unfolded, I soon realized things would very different for an indefinite amount of time.
I soon realized many things I had been looking forward to for a long time would soon be taken away from me. The first of these things was our senior class trip to Disney. The suspension of in-school classes was next, and there is still uncertainty of how long this will continue. This meant I would not get to complete my two favorite independent studies I had designed for myself as a Pottery V student. I realized three-hour AP exams I had studied and prepared for all year long, would be completely changed and something I had not been preparing for the whole year. I also realized I would not get to have Decision Day at school where we get to wear our college gear to school, pin our names on the board in the Guidance Counselors’ Office, and receive a celebratory cupcake as we embark on the next chapter of our life.
Furthermore, I realized it was a possibility I may not have my senior prom. I was looking forward to my last high school dance with my boyfriend as the year was about to come to a close. Further still, the worst of all I realized that graduation as I knew it will most likely not occur. This was a very painful thing for me to realize, as being a Junior Marshall last year I had the privilege of watching the Baccalaureate Mass, Class Day, and the Graduation Ceremony, and was thoroughly excited to participate next year as a graduate of the Class of 2020.
It still breaks my heart thinking about it, as I have been dreaming of walking across the stage and receiving my diploma since I was in Kindergarten, as I have always been very studious. In addition, there is the possibility of my family no longer being able to travel to see me graduate because of concern for COVID-19.
Throughout all of this, I have been very frustrated. Particularly as the first major worldwide incident to occur for myself and my contemporaries, during my senior year when I was about to close one chapter and begin the next. I have felt robbed and betrayed by the world. However, I had to take a step back from all of this and realize there are worse things that could happen to a person.
I take comfort in knowing I am at home, safe and isolated, doing my part to help flatten the curve. Furthermore, I was extremely thankful to learn that Mrs. Shaw assured us we would have some sort of graduation, even if it was not on May 26th. Additionally, I am happy for my class, in Student Council, we are working to figure something out for prom and find ways to bring Bishop together, despite the distance.
After having these reassurances, I could not help but feel guilty. I realize experiencing the emotions I have is only normal, but I realized I am one of the lucky ones. I immediately thought of the young men in World War II and the Vietnam War who never got their senior prom or their graduation, and I could not help but feel guilty that some of these boys never returned home to even have a proper funeral. I also realize I am home safe and sheltered, while healthcare professionals and other essential personnel are working overtime, risking their own lives to help fight the “invisible enemy.” It is this remarkable response in the healthcare field, that I can clearly see the passion for helping others. It has further reassured me of my desire to go into pharmacy.
During these difficult times, there is no other school that I would want to be a member of. Mrs. Shaw, along with the counselors, administration, and our teachers have worked tirelessly to ensure we all maintain some level of normalcy in our lives during these difficult times. It is
We have entered the season of Lent, the part of the liturgical calendar where we focus on prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works to prepare for the celebration of Easter and the Risen Lord. Lent comes at a time in the traditional calendar when our New Year’s Resolutions have long been forgotten, so the Liturgical Calendar has given us a second chance at creating a new habit or getting rid of a bad one.
Over the course of my life I have made Lenten promises to fast from eating ice cream, fast from social media, or feast on daily prayer. In my early twenties I made a promise to fast from gossip more specifically speaking negatively about others. This particular promise was life-altering. I remember spending many times in groups of people and being silent. I became very aware of the fact that social gatherings turned quickly into conversations which were judgmental of other’s behaviors, appearances, and decisions.
I am reminded of this verse from a Lenten prayer which I reflected on recently, Fast from judging others; Feast on Christ dwelling in them…. Fast from gossip; Feast on purposeful silence.(www.xavier.edu)
It is important that we all think before we speak or more importantly what we post about anybody. We can never know what someone is truly feeling or dealing with in their life. If we stop and take a minute, an hour, a day and are silent when people around us are gossiping or negative, seeing how it feels, and instead say, “Maybe that person is going through a rough time.” How long would you be silent? How long before you would stop the conversation from occurring? How does this silence make you feel?
The year I fasted from gossip or negative talk; my spirit felt lighter. It had positive impacts on my social interactions. My statements were one of honesty and truthfulness! So this Lenten season, be mindful in your choices, speak from a place of love and compassion. The rewards will be greater than you can imagine! Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips, Psalm 141,v 3
Yesterday marked the beginning of Catholic Schools Week 2020! It is the one-week out of the year when we celebrate the Good News of Catholic Education! I have always wondered why we only celebrate this one week of the year, when we should celebrate what Catholic Education offers our students each and every day!
Where else can students pray to start and end each day, pray at the beginning of class, pray before meals? Where else can students come together to pray for the school, the community, the world in times of need or celebration? Where else can students collect over 7,000 cans of food for a local food pantry, pack several thousand bags of food for needy students, and help facilitate games for their local chapter of Special Olympics?
Where else can a student play a sport, be in a play, sing in the choir, enjoy pottery AND take Advanced Placement courses? Where else can a student shadow a professional in a possible career choice, be part of a leadership cohort, be a student ambassador, a peer minister, a mentor to a younger student AND have day to day interaction with caring teachers, counselors and administrators.
These opportunities happen daily at a Catholic School, they happen daily at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School!
When I am asked “Why Catholic School? Why Bishop McGuinness?” I always answer with, “Come walk our halls, come meet our students. Once you are in our building you will know why. Our school feels different, as Christ is present.” There isn’t a “Why?”, there is only a “Why not?”
November is a month when we are to be thankful. It is a time to take inventory of your life and be grateful for family and friends, to see the many blessings in one’s life, no matter how small. For the Bishop McGuinness Catholic School community it was evident of how grateful we all are when we celebrated our 60th Anniversary and honored the women of the Sisters of St. Joseph who founded our school.
I was humbled by the number of alumni who attended our event. We had alumni from as far back as 1961 and as recent as 2013. To have the Sisters of St. Joseph present who have taught here over the decades and to see our parents and alumni interact with them showing their love and respect was heartwarming!
The entire evening was a testimony to the impact of Catholic education on individuals and a community. I witnessed what it is to be part of a family, a Catholic school family and for this I am grateful, I am blessed. We all should be grateful and blessed for Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School.
I am grateful for the parents who make sacrifices in order for their students to receive a Catholic education, I am grateful for the Sisters of St. Joseph who have served Catholic education in the Piedmont and the United States; I am grateful for our alumni who continue to support our school; I am grateful to our faculty both present and past whom have made the commitment to teaching in a Catholic school; and I am grateful to our students for always striving to live out our mission.
In the end that is what we are all called to do-“to develop students holistically and equip them to live and serve in a complex world in need of peace, love, and justice.” We do this by living out the Catholic faith and being examples to each other and the community. Here is to 60 years of Excellence in Catholic Education and to 60 more years!