As I sat down to write this year-end message, the song Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day began to play on my Air Pods. I found the first verse to be very telling:
Well, the COVID-19 pandemic is definitely a turning point. None of us could have expected how the 2019-20 school year would end. I want to acknowledge the many extraordinary events that happened this year, from September to early March. We had successful extra-curricular events, fascinating field trips, and many exciting learning activities. We even had a Ski Trip in March. Then all of a sudden: a turning point. I still remember going around to classes on Friday, March 13, to tell students that while we were planning to have school on Monday, everyone should take their stuff home just in case.
Our transition to off-site learning had a few bumps, and I can say we made some mistakes. But overall, Father Leonard Van Tighem School staff migrated to off-site learning very quickly. I could not be more proud of our staff and students. Also, thank you to our parents for all their support. Although many of us transitioned smoothly, I must acknowledge this has been a difficult time for our community. Some of our families lost their jobs and income, and I think we all had some feelings of isolation. We followed the formula of relationships before rigour, grace before grades, patience before programs, and love before lessons. We must continue to strive to support all the members of our community, especially those in need.
As both staff and students struggled with missing connections, it was terrific to make some connections via home visits, parades by the school, and the Grade 9 Farewell. During this last week of school, we were able to see many of our students during the resource drop-off and the elementary report card pick-up. These connections were just as important to the staff as they were for the students.
The cancellation of classes in March affected everyone in the FLVT community. I do want to shout out four groups who were profoundly impacted by school closures. These are our Grade 9s, the staff and students involved in our Aladdin Jr. Production, families that are leaving our community, and staff that are leaving Father Van Tighem School—especially Mr. Hauck, who is retiring. These groups or individuals were looking forward to a special spring, but unfortunately, our plans changed. For those leaving us, we wish you all the best.
The next school year is still in doubt, and we do not know what September will bring. Many of us, no matter where we are, will be watching the government announcement on August 1. No matter the decision, rest assured that the staff of Father Leonard Van Tighem School will do our best to provide excellent Catholic Education for your family. I am a bit of a space nerd, and recently I was watching the movie Apollo 13. At one point, the NASA directors were predicting that Apollo 13 would be their greatest disaster. The flight director responded that it would be their greatest success. Whatever September may bring, I believe we will succeed as a learning community. Please know that as soon as we know any specific details about our school in September, we will share them with our entire community.
On behalf of everyone at Father Leonard Van Tighem School, we wish you a safe and blessed summer. Please be safe out there. We are in this together.
“God give me clear eyes, a faithful heart and courage to soar.” St. Kateri, pray for us.