Welcome back everyone. I am so excited to start this school year and I’m sure you can guess why. In thinking about what to write for this first blog post I kept remember all the changes I have seen at St. Philip’s. If you didn’t know I am a former student and have always felt that St. Philip’s was my home. I love it here so let’s get a little personal, this is a blog after all.
As a St. Philip’s Alumna I have seen this school go through huge changes. There are hardly any remnants of the days when I was a 1st grader in my blue plaid jumper playing jump rope with my best
friend Tricia Weber. Then later, roaming the halls, creating student council posters as Commissioner of Publicity and rolling my skirts hoping not to get caught by my teachers (the only remotely disobedient thing I ever did). Back in those days we had to be radioed over to the school office and wait at the glass door for Tony or Roman to come escort us. We would walk by the rectory and I was always a little in awe, wondering if we would run into Father Mark. After graduation I didn’t think I would be back that often. My brothers still went to school here and my mom was a teacher but I was pretty ready to move on.
Four years of high school and a year of college went by before I found myself attending PCC and looking for a part time job. A few other alumni had started working in Falcon’s Nest and I felt myself drawn to come back to the place that had shaped me for so many years. I started subbing for the teacher’s assistant in Mrs. Webster’s class and stayed on after that. Mrs. Simone and I took over Drama Club and directed the last musical in the old parish hall. I watched as the campus transformed from what it was when I was being educated here to what it is now. That first Drama Club performance in Holy Angel Hall was thrilling and then the new school building was being built and I was approached to become librarian. My love of books made the possibility of being a librarian exciting as well as the fact that St. Philip’s hadn’t had an official school library since I was in 2nd or 3rd grade. The prospect of building something from the ground up was a little daunting but I threw myself into our little library with gusto! The space was cozy and inviting and I loved it. A few years after our library opened I attended my first American Association of School Libraries conference. I was excited because I was starting to implement a lot more than checking out books into the library class periods. Research and reference skills in a digital age became something I felt our students needed. They must know how to wade the murky waters of the internet and not only find but correctly use information. That first conference opened my eyes to so much potential. At first our little library could sustain my plans but slowly the space seemed to get smaller and smaller. We needed a larger area that would support the education the students received in the classroom.
The library had become a place where Junior High students spent their time working on class work, home work, printing, checking out book and researching all while I was with kindergarten trying to have story time. It was mayhem most of the time. After one such day while pondering, dreaming yet again about a bigger space, and what it could mean for the school my thoughts went to our basement. This space was not used to it’s full potential. I remember approaching Mrs. Ramirez and waiting, knowing that such a big proposal would take time. Patience is not one of my best qualities but I tried hard to wait knowing the time would come. St. Philip’s was going places! The newly formed Tech Committee was doing amazing things for us and a new library seemed to be the natural next step. One day our school, this place I love so much would have something innovative and modern a place where students could go to read and learn, research and create. A space that is special because it is unique.
We now boast a beautiful Learning Commons with space for a full class and other pockets for students studying and working independently. We have an impressive A/V Room set up to allow the students to produce any project they conceive of. Have you watched morning announcements live yet?! Will you excuse me for a moment while I shout out to the world, “WE ARE LIVE-STREAMING MORNING ANNOUNCEMENTS.” We have enclosed study spaces for teacher-student tutoring and student collaboration as well as a mini classroom for bigger small groups. Yes, I am still working on that descriptive phrase! We have a Primary Learning Center that was tailor made with our youngest students in mind. Did you read Miss Malissa’s blog post about introducing Library Lion to kindergarten and the first classes in the PLC? If you haven’t yet you should go read it if just to see their excited faces while they sit in our brand new Story Corner. The PLC also has it’s own tutoring room for teachers to use with our younger students. The whole area is now spacious and inviting.
There has been so much excitement around here over both the Learning Commons and Primary Learning Center. I’ve joyfully listened to each student exalt the space and stare in wonder at the possibilities. I’ve nodded in agreement when Maria Boutros exclaimed “it’s so modern” and laughed when Valentina Moschella fervently proclaimed that “it looks like a real [library].” Daily I’m reminded of all the hard work that went in to making a day-dream become a reality. The people who took the time building and creating this space need to be thanked over and over. Our student’s are so very fortunate. Each grade will benefit from this great new addition to our school. Every student is welcome to explore, research, learn and create. I am so excited to watch them and guide them. I am ecstatic to have Ms. Malissa by my side and know she is going to continue to encourage the K to 2nd students to become readers and thinkers. I am eager to finally have Jr. High students come for classes and passionate about new 8th grade opportunities (more on that in another post).
It’s hard to remember what St. Philip’s looked like when I went to school here. While doing yard duty I was remembering the pickup line when I was a kid. Parents today still drive by where the former line used to be but the outside is greatly altered. We have evolved and moved forward. Our innovation has kept us ever changing, as we should be, but the heart and spirit of the school remains the same. Welcome to the new school year, the new Learning Commons and Primary Learning Center.