The 2010-2011 school year was successful in a number of ways for the St. Michael School of Clayton. The budget exceeded expectations. Enrollment continues to be strong. The school is doing an excellent job of getting the word out about its mission and its unique program. The middle school program is taking root. All of this is important and great news. Beth Mosher, our head, Rev. Archie, the Chairman of the Board, and the faculty and staff of the School are all to be commended for the progress the school is making. As President of the Board of Trustees for the past two years, these types of metrics have been foremost in my mind when evaluating how the Board, the faculty and the staff are performing.
However, there is another aspect in evaluating the school, any school for that matter, which I had not fully considered until recently. Aside from monitoring the finances, the enrollment, the student performance, we all, consciously or subconsciously, evaluate what type of community the school is. It is hard to find a precise definition of “community,” however I think it involves more than just common effort, common location or common purpose. A community, the kind of community most people yearn for, involves truly knowing and being known by others.
This week I attended the funeral of Brandon Hsueh, a 2011 graduate. The funeral was held at the Church of St. Michael & St. George. The acolytes were all former students of the school who knew Brandon. Beth Mosher and Michael Hollohan read passages of scripture at the service. Rev. Fox, who provides chapel instruction at the school, officiated. Rev. Archie led the mass and read the homily. The first four rows of pews were occupied by about fifty current and former students of the school and every teacher. This was a tragedy in every sense of the word. During the service and even in the days leading up to the service, it seemed that the grief was almost too much to bear.
Yet, while the sadness of Brandon’s friends and teachers seemed almost overpowering, I saw other things as well. I saw students leaning on each other and mourning together. I saw teachers comfort their students, and a student comfort a teacher. It reminded me of a phrase that I have heard many times in the past. When faced with some crisis or tragedy people say that a “community comes together.” What I saw, however, was a community that already was together and has been for a long time. At the heart of that sense of community is the fact that our faculty and staff make the effort to know and understand every child that passes through the gates of the school, just as they knew Brandon Hsueh. As a parent and a board member I do not think I have appreciated the simple fact that the teachers and staff at SMSOC know every child in detail. They don’t just know grades or academic strengths of our children, they know their personalities, talents, passions, fears, anxieties-all the “stuff” that really matters when you are a young child.
So, to the Board, staff, faculty and parents of the St. Michael School of Clayton, I am happy to report that the bonds of our community are strong.
President, Board of Trustees