By Katie Konieczny, DSHA President and ’92 Alumna
Beginning on Wednesday, March 18, we transitioned our students to online learning, and our faculty and staff to working remotely. Thus, over the past couple of weeks, we have found ourselves asking questions and facing situations that are brand new to all of us – all with the care and concern of our community at the forefront:
- How do we care for the whole-person well-being of our students when the world can feel scary and we cannot be with them?
- How do we continue to engage our young women in the all-girls, college-prep curriculum while they must now tackle an entirely new method of learning?
- How do we foster a faith formation that is rooted in community while remaining socially distant?
As we began to dig into these questions – questions that would require swift and creative answers, rooted in community – the season of Lent was not lost on me. Each one of us was about to be giving up so much as we tried to find sense in a new way. Perhaps primarily for me, was the loss of fellowship that I have come to love so deeply with faculty, staff, and our girls. In the days spent planning the ways in which we would re-structure our same-but-new community, I found comfort and inspiration while reflecting on Jesus’ journey toward the Cross – a journey filled with time spent alone, challenges, and unknowns.
Divine Savior Holy Angels High School is a remarkable place. And perhaps now more than ever – as many organizations are currently experiencing – we are coming together as our mission desires, and all in support of one another through a massive challenge. Though we are all missing much, it has been incredible to witness the beauty, goodness, and truth that has surfaced during this time.
It is my pleasure and joy to share just a few examples:
The Beauty in Collaboration | Our dedicated faculty and staff have moved quickly and collaboratively to craft plans in support of each other and our students. New technologies have been implemented, lessons revised, and creative solutions to complex problems were required. Our technology team of John White, Quinn Loucks, and Jeff Kmiecik are a fierce trio that typically work behind the scenes as experts in their fields. Over the past two weeks, I have found so much joy in watching our faculty and staff celebrate them in gratitude for their tireless and selfless work. This team has been on our front lines, meeting the needs of students, faculty, and staff – they have been the definition of above and beyond. A favorite hymn of our girls at Mass is “We are One Body”. The beauty of seeing this come alive through our technology team has been such a joy – we are truly One Body in Christ. Each part matters.
The Goodness of Confident, Capable Young Women | It has been incredible to see our girls put their leadership skills into action, articulating what they need during this time. Last week, a group of students looking to maintain consistent connection with the DSHA sisterhood took the initiative to meet with Dean of Student Affairs Ruby Brock, DSHA ’92. They suggested we start up our daily prayer and announcements through video – with some fun “extras” on the side! Considering all that feels abnormal, we will now have a bit of familiarity to start each day. Click here to view the first two videos published this week – and make sure to watch until the end for some extra special fun courtesy of Principal Dan Quesnell!
The Truth in Seeking the Lost | Circling back to the questions asked at the beginning of this letter, the answer has largely been found in our faculty and staff’s care and concern for not only our community at large, but for each and every individual girl at DSHA. The theme of how we have addressed our approach to online learning is summarized as follows: student connection, engagement, and support. It is happening at the community level through class connections, all-school prayer intentions, and Applied Wellness community groups. But there has been an extra special joy in watching the proactive pursuit of meeting the needs of individual students. Faculty have sought to ensure each student has access to internet; counselors are initiating outreach with specific students who might need extra social/emotional support; and teachers are spending their own lunchtime over video chat with students who need extra help with homework, or just want to talk. The parable of the lost sheep from Luke 15 comes to mind as I reflect on the passion, effort, and love that our faculty and staff are showing our girls. It is a near-Herculean task to ensure that each of our 695 students feel connected when they are in the building with us. When we are apart, this feels near impossible. Yet as a Catholic community, we will go after those girls who might feel lost – even when they may not know they are. And we will not simply be with the lost; we will proactively seek those in need of connection, just as the shepherd did for his sheep. Just as Jesus has done for us.
As Catholics, it is our faith that we must lean into when we feel uneasy or when things feel uncertain. We must put our trust and faith in God. We are praying as a community, for our community – including you! And we invite you to join us in prayer for our students, faculty, and staff while we work together in brand new and creative ways, all as a connected community rooted in Christ.
Although our building is currently closed, we do plan to communicate through email during the coming weeks. Please stay tuned for more updates – including the beauty, goodness, and truth we find along the way.
If you are interested in more information about our online learning efforts, viewing our daily prayer and announcements, or accessing a variety of Lenten resources, please visit the 2020 Online Learning page on our website.
Please take care. You and your family are in our prayers.