Dear HRA Families and Friends,
In the midst of another exciting week at 1010 W. Fireweed Lane, we were blessed with a new Pope. Everything about the very first words and actions Pope Francis took as our new Holy See impressed me. He began his tenure by asking us to prayer for our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Then, he asked us to pray for him. Then he blessed us. Then he went to pray at the foot of our Lady. Then he jumped in the bus with all the Cardinals rather than taking the Pope’s limousine and paid his hotel bill in person! I have a feeling, this Pope is going to challenge all of us to a radical new way of living our faith. I, for one, eagerly await his wisdom and encouragement. Viva il Papa!
The week began with a special presentation by Mr. Dick Armstrong on Monday morning. He is a donor and friend to the school. He presented the faculty with a special flag already framed that he had commissioned to be flown over the geographic center of the South Pole on January 15, 2013 while he was working in Antarctica for the month. He then gave the faculty and staff a framed picture of the flag flying at the site. The plaque reads, “Dedicated to the unselfish teachers and staff who do an outstanding job of teaching the future leaders of our country.” I hope to have both pieces hanging in the hallway of Kolbe for all to enjoy. Thank you so much, Mr. Armstrong!
After the presentation, Mr. Armstrong treated the elementary and the upper school to an outstanding power point lecture of his travels in Antarctica. The power point filled our imaginations with the wildlife, barren land, simple facilities, and unique scientific labs and machinery used by the modest number of people who bravely venture down to the South Pole. It was so exciting to learn firsthand about a place I know very little about. The students were attentive and asked intelligent questions at the end. Mr. Armstrong, an engineer and pilot, enjoyed the student’s questions and fielded them perfectly. Faculty and students enjoyed it immensely.
The sixth grade has just finished A Secret Garden and dressed up and enjoyed a special tea in the library this past Monday. Sixth grade teacher, Miss Viens, taught the young ladies and men the proper way to drink tea and eat biscuits. It was a dear sight for me to walk in and have them raise their teacups to me in greeting. Thank you for teaching the sixth graders the finer points in life, Miss Viens!
Tuesday, the upper school took their National Latin Exams. They were excited and threw themselves into the competitive test. I was delighted to hear their excitement and confidence after taking the test. We will see how they do and look forward to sharing the results with you at the awards assembly on the last day of school. Bravo to you Latin students.
Wednesday began as an ordinary day, but quickly turned into an extraordinary one. I had forewarned the students on Monday that we would all mobilize as soon as the white smoke appeared and meet in Kolbe to watch the new Pope emerge. I was driving around town doing errands for the school, when a series of calls came through alerting me to return to the school immediately as the Pope had been named. Parent after parent called me to be sure that the students were seeing this live. When I returned, I entered an electrically charged room. All the students, from k-12 as well as all the teachers were piously praying the rosary as they awaited the first sign of the Pope. The excitement in the room was palpable and moving. It is a testament to the teachers inspiring awe in the little ones that our students were so attentive to and delighted to witness this historic event. When Pope Francis emerged, the students burst into applause and were irrepressible in their excitement. I thought to myself, “Every one of these students will remember the day and the hour and the place where they were when they connected with their new Pope. How precious that I should be a part of that time and that memory with them.” Thank you HRA students for your immediate faith and love for this new Vicar of Christ!
The upper school finished Wednesday by striding for excellence at the Dome off Raspberry. They tested for the Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge. Mrs. Pearce will let each know if he or she passed later in the school year.
Mr. Gonzalez, father to sixth grader, Lilly, came to demonstrate to the 3rd through 6th graders the appropriate way to take down and fold the flag. He reminded all of us that each fold is supposed to be made while praying for the soldiers and the country at each fold. The students listened respectfully and took the presentation seriously. Mr. Gonzalez is former military and told the students how dearly he loves the flag and all it represents. The students learned that any flag that is dropped must be ceremoniously burned by an Eagle Scout because it has been desecrated. The flag, he told them, must be pressed to the breast while carrying it to keep it safe and to indicated how close to our heart it is. Thank you, Mr. Gonzalez, for such a moving demonstration and for teaching us how precious our flag and our freedom really is!
Thursday was the Science Fair. Because the students had practiced their presentations the previous Friday to their teachers and peers, they were prepared and ready. The judges remarked at how well prepared and smooth the presentations were this year. Thank you to Mrs. Jacki Rose for coordinating the judges and to Mr. Welsh, Mrs. Furby, and Miss Viens for preparing the students so well! Thank you also to the Acosta family for helping run the event and clean up afterwards! The results from the Science Fair will be announced at the Monday morning assembly. All parents are welcome.
Friday, each class went to the chapel at different times of the day to recite the Stations of the Cross for Lent. Pizza was served by our wonderful parents, Jen Dooc and Pam Bjelland. The seventh grade served lenten soups to the upper school. The Junior High Drama Class, led by Mrs. Furby and Miss DiCiero, entertained the upper school with memorized monologues from Shakespeare during lunch. The performances were moving and impressive in students so young. Seventh grader, Nicolas Williams, brought the room to a standstill with a spry and mischievous piece as Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Congratulations to all the performers.
After lunch I joined the upper school as they took off for community service in the afternoon. I went to Forty Days for Life and was so moved by the courage with which the students testify to the dignity of human life as they stood in the cold humbly praying the rosary in hopes that any women entering Planned Parenthood that day might turn away and Choose Life. I am so proud of these young people who already know how to defend the unborn!
At the end of the day, all students received their third quarter grades (please sign and return!) along with the most current invoice and share hour information for parents. Be sure your child delivered your sealed envelop!
Our unbelievably talented seniors continue to be recognized by colleges around the country. Jamie Cookson received acceptance from Gonzaga University in Washington. She was awarded the school’s “Distinguished Academic Achievement” Dussault Scholarship for $40,000! Bravo to you Jamie! Natalie Chennault was admitted to Concordia College in Wisconsin and North Dakota State this past week. Her hockey team also won their week-long tournament and are heading for California for more championship competition. Way to go Natalie! Michael Tappel also received the exciting news that he had been accepted to the University of Chicago this Friday. He was awarded the second highest merit scholarship award given worth $10,000 annually for all four years! I continue to be so proud of these gifted seniors! Go Knights!
- Discounted re-enrollment officially ends at midnight on March 15th. I encourage all those who have yet to re-enroll to please go onto Sycamore to re-enroll as soon as you can. Though you are re-enrolling, you need not pay your re-enrollment fee until May 1st. We would like to know and plan for all those who will be returning!
- All fathers and sons of HRA are encouraged to log onto www.catholicmenforlife.org to sign up for an hour or more in front of the abortion clinic on Lake Otis March 23rd. The hope is that there can be 100 men praying the rosary for the unborn every hour of that day from 7-6:30 P.M. Please consider being a party of this worthy cause.
- Thank you to all those who have provided us with more names for our Centurion list. We send this letter only once a year. It is a worthy and important final fundraiser for the year. If you have names of family and friends near or far who might want to contribute to our school, please email them to Miss DiCiero or bring the address in to us. We are so excited and grateful for all that you have done for the school to help us this year!
- College Night – Monday, March 18th. All 9th, 10th, and 11th graders are urged to attend the college night overview. There will be a financial aid officer to explain the process to parents. I will give students and parents an overview of how to prepare for college. The seniors will be on hand to tell give the students the “inside scoop” to applying to schools as they have so recently gone through the process. It should be a very informative night. All are welcome.
- On Tuesday, the upper school will celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph. Mrs. Schirda will set up the beautiful flower altar and provide the traditional fava bean salad, Fr. Augustine will lead us in the litany prayers, the faculty and students will enjoy lunch, and then Fr. Augustine will expose the Blessed Sacrament for adoration in response to the request of the new Holy Father, Pope Francis’ for prayers. The students will then carry around a picture of St. Joseph and pilgrimage to the elementary classrooms to pray and sing with each class. It should be a wonderful day. Consult the letter we emailed out last Monday to see what you might want to send to the luncheon. Parents and friends are welcome to join us.
- Mrs. Schirda will enjoy her last week of school before she begins her maternity leave. Please be sure to stop in to wish her well. She has been a vital part of the success of Holy Rosary Academy. I can never thank her enough for teaching the children so well and inspiring them to heights they would never have known they could reach without her gentle guidance. We love you Mrs. Schirda, and we can’t wait to meet your daughter! Go with God, dear friend of HRA!
- Mrs. Lisa Williams is ready to step in for her for the rest of the school year. Mrs. Williams has been sitting in Mrs. Schirda’s classes for months and has been doing some of her student teaching as she prepares to graduate from the APU Teacher Credential Program. Welcome, Mrs. Williams. Mr. Clarke, who substituted for Mrs. Morrison, will step in to teach Mrs. Schirda’s Latin III. He is a classics major and adept at Latin. I thank God for sending me these two phenomenal teachers at just the right moment!
- Grades 7 – 12 will have noon dismissal from Tuesday to Friday next week. Students have signed up for times to make their presentations in the afternoon. Grades K – 6 will have noon dismissal on Friday, March 22nd so that they can also make their presentations. This is a wonderful week in which the gifts and talents of our amazing students are on display. I hope it is a treat for you parents to see a tiny taste of what your child has learned this year!
- Anyone who knows a family interested in HRA is encouraged to send them to shadow a student for the day or enjoy a tour and meeting with me. I will also be at the Loussac Library taking part in the Independent Schools Fair, next Saturday, March 23rd in front of the Marston Theatre. I will have a booth there and would be happy to see anyone you send to me. The event goes on from 2-5 P.M.
Have a blessed week.
Miss Catherine Neumayr, Principal