St. Mary’s Catholic School Column

“S•E•N•I•O•R•S 2020: The one where they were quarantined.” The logo of the Class of 2020 is unfortunately all too descriptive of the final months of our seniors’ last year at St. Mary’s. The list of “should haves” seems to continue on and on…they “should have” had a final spring sports season, performed “High School Musical” for sold-out crowds, played in final concerts, travelled to Florida on their class trip, attended prom, had the chance to make a few more months of memories with their classmates. However, as their logo reveals, they are maintaining their sense of humor, their creativity, and their bond as a class. We are so proud of each of our seniors, proud of their hard work, their leadership, their flexibility, and their multitude of accomplishments. Congratulations to the Class of 2020!

We are also so proud of how our faculty, staff, students and families are adjusting to this time of the coronavirus. It is a time of uncertainty, of new challenges and routines, and of additional stresses. Yet, we have risen to these tests with perseverance, dedication, and, most importantly, faith in God’s goodness. It is so appropriate that the virtue for April is “obedience,” defined as saying “yes” to the loving will of God and those He has set over us. Obedience has taken different forms for various people — from the amazing healthcare professionals and first responders who are working tirelessly to keep us safe, to the essential workers helping to keep society operating, to those who are following the “stay at home” mandates in order to protect one another.

One incredible group of essential workers who are truly being obedient to God’s call are our teachers. Despite being faced with an unprecedented situation, they continue to keep their students and their education as their top priority. The teachers are continuing their classes with a combination of online and paper/pencil assignments. The high school teachers are available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the elementary teachers are available from 4 to 8 p.m. during the school week to answer questions. Both the elementary library and the elementary art classes have created Facebook groups for students, to continue to engage them in reading and in art.

We are so blessed by our staff members who have gone above and beyond to make distance learning a success. Every two weeks, there is a drop-off and pick-up delivery for homework packets. Volunteer staff members deliver in-town and out in the country. The Sleepy Eye Bus Company has provided transportation for country deliveries; we are so appreciative of their service as well. 

To help maintain a sense of normalcy, the elementary school does virtual daily announcements, including prayer, students-of-the-day, the lunch menu, and birthdays. A virtual “spirit week” took place on Facebook. The high school and grade school faculty hold virtual faculty meetings, while the administration is involved in Zoom meetings with other diocesan principals.  

All of our students are greatly missed, but we are so proud of how they are responding to this new academic experience. In addition, many of our students are using this opportunity to be of service, whether by sewing and donating masks to local hospitals and EMTs, or by creating prayer key chains, visiting nursing homes (through windows), decorating sidewalks with positive chalk messages and creating a walking Stations of the Cross for Holy Week. This mission of St. Mary’s School continues to be carried out by our students, faculty and administration.

As a school, we continue to plan for the upcoming weeks, using distance learning for the remainder of our school year. We also look forward to the 2020-2021 school year. St. Mary's School has decided to embrace the middle school concept, with grades 6 through 8 as the middle school, beginning with the new school year. These students will have programs, procedures, and policies geared to their particular age group. Schedules, teacher assignments, and other details are being carefully planned. We are very excited about this change as we believe that it will be a positive opportunity for our students.

2020 will always be remembered as “the one they were quarantined.” And, while this has meant unimaginable changes and challenges, we also know that God remains always good. He will not allow us to face any of this alone if we continue to turn to Him and remain obedient to His will. Know that each of you are in our prayers, during this pandemic and always.