April 13-19, 2006
All Together Now
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Diocese hosts “Student’s Day” at Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School
The children who have been affected by the recent restructuring of schools in the diocese are breathing easier these days. They attended a pep rally at Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School on Friday, April 7. Students in grades kindergarten through sixth from Cathedral, Our Lady of Pompei, Holy Family, Most Holy Rosary, St. Ann, St. Charles Borromeo, St. James and St. Patrick gathered in the school’s gym.
The purpose of the day was to provide an opportunity for the students to join together and participate in fun activities while being introduced to some of the programs that will be offered at the new Bishop’s Academies in the fall.
Michael Colabufo, diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, said the day was designed to promote unity among the students and to help answer any questions the students had about the changes next year. The event began with Bishop Ludden and Bishop Grimes cheerleaders practicing their moves in front of an audience of nearly 800 children, teachers, administrators and parents, as they waited for the assembly to begin. The audience enthusiastically applauded as they showed their appreciation.
Dennis Meehan, principal of Bishop Ludden, welcomed everyone to the school. Accompanying Meehan was Tim Meehan, assistant principal at Bishop Ludden. They both were dressed with many layers of clothing, including coats, hats, gloves and shirts. By dressing in that manner, they demonstrated how students, when entering a new place like a school, have a tendency to judge one another by the color of their skin, hair, etc. The Meehans then shed their extra layers of clothing in an attempt to show the children how important it is to look beyond the surface of a person. “We should look beyond those things, because within each of us there are special gifts and talents,” said Meehan. “Jesus is amongst us. Our responsibility is to find Jesus in each other. If you do that, the remainder of this school year will be better, and also next school year.”
Colabufo also welcomed everyone to the rally. He told the students that they were gathering together that day as friends. Colabufo compared the gathering of students to Holy Thursday, when Jesus invited his friends to gather around him. “The reason for our meeting today is to ease any concerns you might have and to also answer any questions you might have,” said Colabufo. “You may be worried, but you are never, never alone. Your best friend, Jesus, will be beside you. Our reading today says that we should never lose our faith. If we stay close to God in prayer, he will stay close to us.”
At the gathering that day, eight student representatives shared a ritual of lighting candles that had been placed on a table at the front of the gymnasium. Father George Sheehan, Vicar for Catholic Educational Advancement, assisted the students. He said, “Just as these flames come together as one, we will become stronger and shine brighter.”
The prayer service ended with those in attendance singing “This Little Light of Mine,” led by a group of students. Bishop Ludden and Bishop Grimes’ student bands then treated the audience to a performance. Brittany Detran, sixth-grade student at Holy Family School, was inspired after hearing the bands’ performance. “I want to get involved in the band next year,” said Detran. “I’m interested in playing the drums.” The cheerleaders then performed and even brought some of the students out on the floor to cheer with them.
Next on the agenda was an explanation of the student activities that will be available for the students in the new schools next school year. Representatives from such organizations as Band Bus, “Just Like Me,” CNY Karate and Dance Factory explained what was involved in their activities. Time was allotted at the end of the event to answer some questions that had been submitted previously by the students. The most common questions asked by the students were answered that day. Questions such as “Why did schools change their names?” “What will our school uniforms, colors and mascots be?” “Will I make new friends?” “Are the new principals and teachers nice and will we be able to meet them before school starts in the fall?” “Will sports be offered?” “When will we get a list of school supplies that we will need?” “Are there going to be laptops in the schools?” “Will we have hot lunches and how much will they cost?” were all answered that day.
Those in attendance learned that the names of the schools were changed to signify the new beginning of the schools. Members of each school community will select its own colors and mascot, and the administrators are presently developing a basic uniform for the students to wear. The administrators also assured the students that they would make new friends at their new schools next year. They also said that the students would have an opportunity to meet their principals and teachers before the new school year begins. The administrators said they were working on the idea of sports being offered in the curriculum. The students will be receiving a list of needed school supplies over the summer. There will be laptops in the schools for the students’ use, and hot lunches will be available with the cost yet to be determined.
Parent Michael Tarnawsky attended the event to find out if anything new had developed since the first informational meeting that he had attended. “This was a little more informational than the first meeting,” said Tarnawsky. His daughter, Breanna, is a fifth-grader at St. Patrick’s School. “As far as the financial planning,” Tarnawsky reflected, “the change will be good.”
Mary Madrid’s son Liam attends Holy Family School and she came to the rally that day to learn more about the plans for the new schools and to visit her alma mater, Bishop Ludden. “This meeting was nice,” remarked Madrid. “It gave the children a good feeling of what to expect next year.” Holy Family sixth-grader Gwen Dougherty found the rally enjoyable. “It was really cool that the schools came together today,” she said. “I had a good time. The rally helped me because I feel anxious about the changes. Now I can tell my little brothers not to be scared when they attend the new schools in the future.”