Dear Parish Family,
Today, we begin a weeklong celebration of Catholic education. When I first arrived in Glens Falls and got an initial tour of our beautiful school, SMSA, the mission statement that was in every classroom immediately caught my eye and my heart:
“In a joyful Catholic atmosphere, we provide students with the ingredients for success: powerful minds, prayerful hearts and helping hands.”
Families who want their children to be in an academically stimulating atmosphere could not make a better choice for their child’s education. SMSA is a place where the values that Jesus taught are nurtured, and service is regarded as a natural part of everyday life. Here are just a few brief reasons that serve as snapshots of how this philosophy plays out in the day-to-day life of the school:
The sturdy steel lockers that were installed when St. Mary’s Academy (as it was known then) was opened in 1932 are still used by students today. You can’t help but feel sentimental when you see the vintage vents and latches. But one thing you won’t see are locks. There are no locks on the lockers at our school because they are not needed. The school environment is suffused with the value of respect and care for each other, and students are never out of the sight of watchful and caring adults and aides.
When middle school students come to school events, like Masses in St. Mary’s, they accompany kindergartners. Our youngest students are paired with our older students, so the young are given mentoring and care, and the middle “Someone from the parish follows up with me when I express interest or a need.”
“I feel able to be involved in the decisions that affect the future of my parish.”
“It’s not hard for me to get information about what is going on in my parish.”
While middle schoolers at SMSA are challenged to become eloquent public speakers, creative artists, and talented musicians, they are also allowed to retain childhood during their passage through their tween years. Unlike many of their public school peers, SMSA middle schoolers can avoid the temptation to compete in the world of teenagers. Middle school students wear uniforms instead of trying to keep up with fads, and have the supervision and structure to stay safe and be supported in making good choices.
In the gymnasium, a list of rules for conduct includes: “Don’t cause unfriendly rivalry. A school’s reputation is more important than an unfair victory.” In a world where “us versus them” thinking is tearing at the fabric of families and communities, SMSA teaches the values of Jesus and encourages doing the next right thing even when it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient.
Catholic education is an opportunity for “Higher Powered Learning.” And we give thanks to God that it is available to North Country families, right here in our time and in our own parish.
With the joy that comes with being your pastor…