Virtual Back to School Night

Thursday, October 1, 2020

 530pm- 7:10pm via Google Classroom

Followed by Virtual Financial Night for 11th and 12th Grade Parents 

Overview:

Saint Dominic Academy welcomes all of our new parents and welcomes back our parents who have shared years with us. While we cannot host an on-site Back to School Night, we did want to offer a real-time event, so that you can meet your daughter’s teachers.  The event will be conducted via Google Meet. Your daughter need to be present at home with you for this event, as she has to let you into each class period via  the Google  Meet link for each class. Please follow the time schedule below. 

Homeroom:

The event will begin in your daughter’s homeroom where the homeroom teacher will explain how to return the Parent Student Handbook forms via Google Docs.  Then, you can travel virtually from class to class to meet each teacher. 

Guidance:

Guidance will reach out the Monday  prior to this event with their email addresses. We ask, if you want to talk with a teacher one on one about his/her class, please email guidance and set up a separate virtual meeting. Back to School Night is really structured for the teacher to give a brief overview of class curriculum and for you, as parents, to put a face to the names you hear about from your daughters. Individual questions cannot be fully accommodated at this event.

Friday, October 2, 2020:

The teachers and administration appreciate all the understanding and cooperation given by both our parents and students during this Hybrid Learning period. As our teachers and students arrive at Saint Dominic Academy by 730am each morning, and will undergo a full day of remote and in person classes prior to this Back to School Night, and will then be back “in the classroom” until after 7pm, Saint Dominic Academy will be closed on Friday, October 2nd.  There will be no remote classes or club  meetings on that date. 

Schedule:

Homeroom: 530-540pm

1st Period: 5:45- 5:55pm

2nd Period 6:00- 6:10pm

3rd Period  6:15-6:25pm

4th Period: 6:30-6:40pm

5th Period: 6:45-6:55pm

6th Period: 7:00- 7:10pm

September 21

I heard on the radio last week, that it has been seven months since the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed in New Jersey. I know, just from looking at my datebook that we have been in some form of this state of emergency for six full months now. Six months — a long long time, yes?  And we’ve all been so strong; we’ve put on brave faces for our children and we’ve risen to the occasion when it came to caring for older family members and some of us have faced sickness and loss and death of loved ones. We’ve learned how Google Classroom works, even if it’s been decades since we ourselves have been in schools and we mastered the art of Zoom, and most of us know how to use Door Dash, Grub Hub and Instacart and I would think we all owe a great deal of gratitude to Amazon.com and to all of our delivery drivers—as they rang our doorbells almost daily- masked and ready to hand to us what we needed but could not go out and get.

Restrictions have eased, but they are still in place and so still, we all need to be so very strong—September brought a new set of hard decisions; homeschool? Remote classes? Hybrid classes? Do we use the school bus? Public transportation? Do we play sports? Go back to ballet?  Can friends get together safely? If we send her to school, can she still see her elderly grandparents? What will happen if there’s an outbreak? What if our child contracts COVID and is asymptomatic? What if they then carry it to someone who gets very sick?  It’s a hard time to be a parent and the strength we need to pick our heads up each morning and get through the days with bright smiles, warm hugs, and words of reassurance and comfort, before we can lay our weary heads to rest at night is monumental.  Where do we find it? From deep within, from the example our own parents set for us in years gone by, and of course, from God.

I don’t know about all of you parents, but there are days when I just need a bit of a release from all the weight I feel on my shoulders- at work and at home.  And yet, could it even be possible…for I am too tired or too stressed or too hyper from being so vigilant about everything to even sit down and have one of those “good cries” that provide a much needed stress relief.  So, I wonder, are our students, our children feeling the same way?  All bundled up emotion with no outlet? After all they see us making the best of things, rising to meet challenges each day and I am willing to bet we rarely, if ever let them see us scared or upset or crying.  Age 8 or 18, they imitate us—because we work to shape them into the adults and parents they will someday be.  So, how can we help these students and our children to find a way to just “let it go” and almost purge all the pent up emotion.

All I can offer is what works for me; and I am well aware it will sound perhaps a bit strange.  We all know, those of us who love to sing and those who just love music  that music has the ability to bring forth great emotion; joy and sorrow.  What I’ve found helps me is music—and one song in particular. All I have to do is hear it and tears well up, and before I know it, I can have that cry I so need and then dry my eyes, smile with not only my mouth but with my heart, and go back to the business of my life as a wife, mom and Head of School. 

What song? Well, that’s kind of a funny story—and in fact it was pretty much a parlor trick in my house when I was growing up. I have no idea why, but from when I was a tiny child, if I heard Peter Paul and Mary sing Leavin on a Jet Plane, I would cry and cry. My parents were, at first very comforting, then slightly bewildered and then and I’m sure they will be less than pleased to have this told, amused by it. I can remember times when family or friends were over and my dad would start to sing it—to show them the effect it had.  As a parent now, I don’t blame them—it was kind of a strange and unusual reaction and it never failed. 

You might think all these years later the effect would wear off. But no—although I’ve progressed…I can listen to the song, I can even sing along—for a verse or two at the  most and then the tears start to flow. It never fails and these days it’s my husband and daughter who look at me in bewildered amusement.  But I’m happy to have remembered the effect that song has on  me—because now, when I need a good cry, I can just say “Alexa, play Leavin on a Jet Plane” and in 3 minutes I feel so much better.

We all need a release from being so strong all the time. Whether yours is music or something else, find it and put it to good use on the hardest days. And, help your daughter find her release as well—with the weight of school and sports and socializing amid unprecedented times on her shoulders, she needs it as well.  Borrow “my song” if you’d like—I think it just might do the trick!

Stay strong and thank you, thank you, for returning your daughters to SDA this fall!

September 14

A picture, they say, is worth 1,000 words.  So, save for a brief sentence or two, I’m going to let the photos below, of our hardworking and dedicated faculty and staff here at SDA speak for themselves. What you see are our teachers and staff, in two days of workshops, observing all social distance and mask guidelines in order to prepare for school. The presentation itself focused on how to meet with both live and full remote students at the same time, using iPad, Apple TV, Whiteboard App, and remote microphone all at once. 

More than ever, this year, teaching is a work of the HEART and I thank all of our dedicated teachers from the bottom of mine! 

September 7

A Reading and Reflection… as we begin our school year and open our building tomorrow to teachers and staff and to students next week, we ask for the entire Saint Dominic Academy community to join us in this prayer. The initial reflection is taken from the Bible and I ask that you join in the personal petitions I call for, on behalf of all at SDA and in our entire world. 

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

A time to be born and a time to die…

We pray for those in our SDA family who have lost loved ones, and for those who will

welcome new life this year.

A time to kill and a time to heal…

As the peril of the COVID- 19 virus continues to threaten lives the world over, we pray for theeventual healing of our community, our state, our country and our world.

A time to weep and a time to laugh…

Each of us wept many times from March onward, but we offer prayers of thanks for the moments of laughter that filtered through our lives, as we spent more time with family, united in isolation.

A time to mourn and a time to dance…

We mourn many things…for the loss of family members, for our SDA community the loss of ability to celebrate our senior class last year, the loss of the college experience for young people around the country, the loss of the support of friends as we spent days seeing nobody.

And yet, we pray there are more dancing moments in our future…and we celebrate the ones that shone through these past months…weddings that have shown that love conquers all, new grandchildren’s first smiles and first steps…even if seen only through a computer, and the new strength we have all found inside ourselves.

A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing…

As we dwell still in the time where we must refrain from embracing, we pray for the days when we can once again embrace our friends. Until then, we ask God to let our hearts shine more brightly, so that our love for others becomes an intangible embrace, offering friendship, comfort and hope.

A time to love…and a time for peace…

It is always this time; every day–when we come together as a school, when we come together with family, when we connect with friends- remotely or otherwise…we share our message of peace and hope, our prayers for love and kindness to overcome all that saddens our hearts…and we remember always that if we put forth love, we will find love.

August 31

When I was six years old, I suddenly got very sick. I was in Christ Hospital in Jersey City for almost two full weeks in March. I only remember bits and pieces of my time there, but I have one memory that still stands out clear as day.  It was that year that Cabbage Patch Kids were the newest craze–not sure if anyone recalls, but you had to adopt one in advance and it took so long for them to come into the local Toy’s R Us. You could not choose hair or eye color; you got what you got. And, if you recall the craze, then you recall the prices—sky high! I had not asked Santa for one that past Christmas, but while I was lying in my hospital bed, I wanted one more than anything. 

My dad was working at the time in Morristown and would visit me daily before work or after work. My mom was not back to work yet, she had six year old me, my four year old brother, and my almost two year old brother. I don’t know how she found the time to be at the hospital every day, but she was there. She listened to me talk about this Cabbage Patch Kid, probably until she had a headache from it. I was going to take the “baby” I adopted to the park and put her on the swings and read her bedtime stories and have picnics with her–I realize now it was all the things I wanted to do but could not while I was sick. I realize now also that the cost of a Cabbage Patch doll, on top of the daily costs of three kids, me in Catholic school and now this hospital stay–was most likely too high for my parents at that particular time.

But my mother listened each day; I was hoping for one with red hair and green eyes, like the one in the TV commercial constantly showing in the hospital room. And she made me a promise–and she kept it. Today, at 43 years old, I can still hear her clear as day… “ Things will get better. It won’t be like this for much longer. And when you come home, we’ll go to the park and go on the swings and have a picnic…and you’ll come with me to Toys R Us one day and pick up your adopted doll. It will get better Sarah, just wait a little longer. I’m your mother and I promise you- it will be ok.”

What made me think of this, so many years later? Well, I guess it’s because mothers all over NJ and all over the United States and even the world, are probably uttering similar words–plugging in the routine activities or new expectations their daughters and sons had; activities and expectations that seem to once again be on a unknown “hold.”  

You will get to go away to college; it won’t be remote forever. 

You will get to go back to school…soon, I promise.

You’ll take your road test soon–you’ll be driving before you know it…trust me. 

In just a little bit longer you can: see your friends inside, have a sleepover, go to dancing class, go

back to sports, and CCD classes…just hang on a bit longer. 

It’s not the end of the world; you’ll have your wedding, your baby shower, your sweet sixteen –we’ll make it happen and it will be beautiful–just be patient. 

Things will get better- the world won’t stay this way forever.

And for those interested in the end of my six year old story…well the day came and we went to Toy’s R Us and picked up my “baby.” She had blond hair, brown eyes, was dressed in a grey track suit and came with a yellow pacifier in her mouth. ( it’s amazing what the mind can recall!)Her name was Rena Madeline and to this day, she’s still in my house. And we went on a picnic at Hudson County Park and we went on swings and I read her bedtime stories as my mom read stories to my brothers and I think it was at six years old that I learned for the first time–my parents, my mom will not make a promise she cannot keep. I’ve had faith in that ever since—and I call her daily just to hear her say to me:

Sarah, it won’t be like this forever–just hang on–you’re doing the best you can. It will get better, I promise.

And just like that, I have the strength to go on, and the strength to make that same promise to my own daughter–just as each of you make that promise you your daughters daily. We mothers and fathers, we promise–and our children believe. They believe because they have faith in us and trust in us to make good on the promise. It’s us, the adults, who have to have faith in a higher power, and to ask for the strength and the wisdom to “hold on–just a bit longer” so that we can show our children daily, that one day soon, we’ll make all these promises come true. 

Keep the faith, mothers and fathers—keep making the promises we all need right now. We know, it will get better.