By Dr. Samuel Torres
Isn’t it wonderful to experience some of the normalcy we missed with our usual May traditions?
Having gone full circle with on-line learning marking the beginning of our school year and ending the school year with students on campus is cause alone for celebration. Getting to our customary rites of passages, promotions, and graduations means something extra special this year as we look back on the separation we have endured.
By now we know each step of the journey has its joy and challenge. Transitional Kindergartners and Kindergartners tearfully missed parents while attending school but embraced new friends and fun opportunities. Fifthh grade to middle school transitions are marked with new independence and solid confidence. Eighth grade promotions highlight new questions and the certainty that they are well-supported in learning and decision-making.
Becoming a responsible and faith-filled adult does not happen with one experience. The adult commitment to enter college, a religious vocation, marry, begin a family, start a business, are cultivated over time and through many relationships. The process of reflection, discernment and personal navigation is woven through time in a collection of opportunities presented to each student. Parents have also marked this journey from their viewpoint and honored their child in these important growth steps. Parents, you have begun a wonderful work in your child. I often witness your tears and joy at the end-of-year celebrations marking these important milestones for your child.
The resiliency that has been exhibited this school year is a reminder that the future of this world is in good hands. Our children achieved, grew, and matured at a pace not seen before. Whether we are in a pandemic or preparing to exit the pandemic, school days continue to shed from the calendar. The question that was first posed, “Will our children learn? Will our children lose the ability to socialize?” Looking back at March of 2020 and the current reality, our children have learned to navigate adversity. A value that will guide them in their lives. Valedictorians and Salutatorians will remark on the great achievements of these incredible students. They are stronger and wiser in so many ways. Time spent with friends will have more meaning. Their new appreciation for parents and teachers has elevated many to strengthen their commitment to their studies and take ownership of their contributions. Truly our sacrifices this year have brought out the best in so many students.
A transitional impact taking place this year in our Diocese is due to the one president and two principals who have elected to retire. Each one has earned their retirement and all accolades that come with it. These three who are retiring have an accumulation of over 100 years’ experience serving families in Catholic Education. [Please see related article on leadership transitions].
As our Lord looks down upon us. We pray for and thank those who have served and for the loving and generous faculty who desire to share their talents and gifts with Catholic school children. Each school community is a beautiful example of the church we must work to build each day. As students transition from one level to the next, they experience the joy and challenge of asking new questions, building confidence, and growing into the person God has called them to be. Each stage, each step is precious in His eyes. We are blessed. He walks the journey with us. The destination is not the only viewpoint. The significance of the journey we are taking together has lasting and meaningful outcomes for today.
Dr. Samuel Torres is Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of San Bernardino.