The “Great Pumpkin” Time of Year

As September moves rapidly into October ( a favorite month of mine), our nightly televisions will soon be full of Halloween themed episodes, movies, and specials. A favorite each year for me, ever since I was a little girl is the classic “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”  Of course, parents when you and I were younger, we got to watch it ONCE a season when it was on network television. (Do our kids even know what network tv is? Hmm…network, is that like Netflix I can hear them asking!?) Thanks to Netflix and other wonders of technology, it can now be watched as many times as little minds want to see it. So, in my house, it has been on more than once a week since the 1st week of September, and what Abigail watches, Mommy watches too!

As such, I have become quite an “expert” in Great Pumpkin lore, as presented by Linus and his blue blanket, but today that is not what I want to talk about with you for a few moments. Today, after having watched Lucy yank that football away, call her brother a blockhead, boss the neighborhood children around on Halloween night, I want to talk about sisters; especially big sisters and what it means to be a sister! During my first viewing (this season), I thought to myself “Wow, what an awful sister that Lucy is.” And then, as I watched (and watched and watched), while I still thought she was pretty mean most of the time, I noticed a better side to her as well.

Being a big sister myself, I do know how it is possible to get frustrated by little brothers at times.  Do I recall, with some tinge of regret, yelling at my brothers during our childhood, making fun of them, bossing them around?  Yes I do. (I also recall numerous grievances heaped upon me by the two of them, but that is perhaps a tale for another time.)  And so, I can understand this cartoon girl’s frustration- she does not want her brother to get mocked for sitting in that pumpkin patch. She does not want him to miss out on trick or treating or the Halloween party. (In fact, she asks at each house for an extra piece of candy for him, calling him a blockhead while she does it!) But, because it is sometimes hard to express one’s true feelings; how does she try to ensure that he does not miss the fun of the season?  By harassing him until he sees things her way; which he never does.  Is her approach the right one? No, but it is the one she is most comfortable with, the role she knows best and so, that’s how she “cares” for him.

For those of you who have not had the chance to watch it this season, (you can message me I will give you our DVD GLADLY!), let me remind you of the end of the cartoon. It’s 4am after the fun of Halloween is over and big sister Lucy gets up to check her brother’s room.  His bed is not slept in. And so, she dons her hat and coat (and scarf…where does the Peanuts gang live if they need scarves on the first of November?) and goes out to the pumpkin patch to guide her little brother into bed. She takes off his shoes, tucks him in, and leaves and he never wakes up long enough to notice this gesture of kindness and love. I am sure most of the kids watching don’t really notice it either- they  just laugh at the idea of a kid sleeping in a pumpkin patch. But it has caught my eye again and again. This big sister really loves her brother; she cares for him but cannot fully express it.

At Saint Dominic Academy, we have worked since 1878 to build up that sense of sisterhood; that every girl who walks through the doors of the school is connected to every other girl- “spiritual siblings” to each other as they journey through high school together.  Does every girl always treat every other girl with kindness and compassion 100% of the time each and every day?  Sadly no, but as a sister, I know how much of a challenge that is.  However, in our school, there is always that sense, that feeling that every girl truly cares about every other girl’s well being. Every young lady at SDA would head out to the pumpkin patch at 4am if another girl was left there. Every SDA alumna would trek out there too to retrieve an SDA sister.  The sisterhood encompassed, not only inside the four walls, but inside the hearts of every member of the SDA family is what allows each young lady to be a big sister to every SDA girl who comes after her and a little sister to every SDA alumna who has walked the halls before her.  It’s tough to be a sister at times, isn’t it? But, I know too it is also one of the nicest things in the world to be as well!

Purple Ink…Think Positive

On our opening day of school, I had the chance to talk and share with the administration, faculty and staff my overall “theme” for the 2017-2018 school year.  This year, we are all, adults and students- making a concentrated effort to “Think Positive” and to be positive in all we say and all we do. If you will indulge me briefly this week, I will share the origin story of where I received this inspiration.

This past summer from June 25 to July 30th, Abigail was in a theater camp, putting on Willy Wonka Jr. Not my favorite show by any means(although I much prefer it to the new version on  Broadway…we saw that and were horrified by the violence depicted!)  and she played Grandma Josephina, which was interesting in and of itself.  After listening to the music daily and running lines with her each evening, the story began to grow on me.

By the time the weekend of the 4 shows ( yup FOUR with a cast ages 5-12) arrived, I was excited and sat back in my front row seat ready to listen and be entertained.  And during each show, one song and one particular line within the song kept standing out to me.  “Write your thoughts down in purple ink…think positive!”  That just stuck with me and I kept turning it over and over in my head during the month of August.

What a wonderful theme for us here, at SDA as we begin our Middle States Evaluation.  All of us, all day, every day, for this entire school year should think positive, be positive, and embrace all of the wonderful things that will happen at SDA during the next 10 months.  Let’s see how many positive thoughts we can accumulate during the year!

And, today, I am asking parents, alumnae, and readers of this blog, if you have a wonderfully positive memory or thought or story about Saint Dominic Academy, then type it out in purple ink and send it to me via email!  I will do my best to be your positive inspiration if you will be mine!

September 11, 2017

Today, I ask all of you who read this blog to take a quiet moment and read this prayer in memory of the September 11, 2001 tragedy.  For those of us who remember it well, our lives will never be the same.

Lord of Mercy, Prince of Peace,

This date, 9-11, carries a heavy burden of memory. 

This day does not pass in the calendar without our remembering.

We remember images of death. Images that human eyes were never meant to see.  We remember words our ears were never meant to hear, the tender last words of husbands and wives who would never embrace again.

We imagine the feeling of emptiness in the arms of children who at the end of the day could not find mom or dad for their welcome home hug. We remember our own feelings of emptiness as our sense of security, as our own confidence in the predictable order of life and work was radically shaken.

This date, 9-11, carries a heavy burden of memory. 

We remember the heroism of the many that lost their lives in saving others. We remember all those who suffered and died, we grieve for them still, friends and strangers alike, along with their families and friends.

This date, 9-11, carries a heavy burden of memory.

And it is right that it should not pass from our memory. But today and in this prayer, along with our remembrance of profound loss, it also seems right that we give voice to our deep longing for peace, and with this prayer, commit ourselves to those actions that will draw us closer to our most ancient and most holy desire, peace among all God’s children.

http://www.oldstpats.org/prayer-of-remembrance-for-911/

New Beginnings 2017

Sitting at the shore during my time away, I watched the sunsets almost every night.  Sometimes alone, sometimes with family and/or friends, but I did my best daily to stop and take a few moments as day turned to dusk to just sit, stare and gain a sense of perspective and peace.  For, with each passing sunset, I knew in my heart that summer was one day closer to ending and school was one less sunrise away.  For many of us who work in education or who have children in school, we know that our “new” year each year does not begin on January 1st, but rather on a Tuesday in September, the day after Labor Day, when a new school year kicks off.

This year is no different for me; my new year, my 2nd as Head of School will truly get under way on September 5th.  For the parents of our beloved SDA students, that new year for you and your daughters begins that same week. Whether they are joining us as 7th graders, 8th graders, 9th graders or transfers, or whether they are returning for another year with us, I know each young lady has a sense of both excitement and disquiet at what the next 10 months holds for them.  Parents, I imagine you have that same sense; although you’ve been sending your daughters’ to school much longer than I have been doing it. ( I have a 1st grader heading off on September 6th and I am not sure who is more nervous, she or I!)  You are excited for all the events and experiences that the new year will have to offer and at the same time, are nervous for those unexpected challenges that may and often do spring up, catching each of us off guard at one point or another.

And so, what can we do, you and I together, as summer draws to a close for another year?  Well, we can have faith in each other; you can know in your mind and heart that when your daughter walks into SDA this September, she will be treated with respect, compassion and understanding. She will learn to lead, she will learn to make a difference in the world.  You are entrusting me, as Head of School and all members of the SDA community with your greatest gift and we will do our best daily to make her year a wonderful one.  You can reach out, at any time, to me, to the administration, to the teachers if you have question or a concern or just want to touch base about the progression of the year. We are here for both parents and students and I hope to get to know each of you even better this year.

Most importantly, the one thing we can do to prepare for this upcoming school year and ensure its success is to pray.  And what better time to do it, (for me anyway), then at the close of each day?   I will try my best, even with the hustle and bustle of the school year, both mine and Abigail’s, to take a moment each day to stop, look, and gain a fresh perspective on all that tomorrow will offer the both of us. I encourage you and your daughters to do the same.  For, if we reflect daily on the beauty and wonder of God all around us, our days will be filled with a sense of peace, of faith and of love.

Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year!