For this week, we want to share a few stories about how our schools model for students good citizenship. Of course, we cover many facets of social studies in classrooms, including NY History and US History. But to understand our nation and our community requires more than knowledge. Positive experiences in childhood great life-long civic engagement.
Eighth Graders from St. Anne’s School See a Different Side of NYC
It’s common for area schools to reward students with end-of-year trip to New York City. In years past, St. Anne’s School in Garden City would bring students to see museums within the city, or to see a broadway show. After a 2-year hiatus (2020-2022), school leaders were thrilled to get back to normal and head into the city. But this year, it would be different.
Eighth graders, teachers, chaperones, and even Fr. Tom loaded up on a ferry boat to see NYC from the calm of the East River. The tour highlighted dozens of historical landmarks including the Freedom Tower, Roosevelt Island, and even a loop around Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The students were in different locations on the boat, but the significance of these landmarks places was discussed when we returned to school.
After getting off the boat, the students briefly touched Manhattan Island before climbing up to the massive USS Intrepid, a retired aircraft carrier turned into the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum. Per their website, the aircraft carrier first launched in 1943, fighting in World War II, surviving five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike. The ship later served in the Cold War and the Vietnam War. Intrepid also served as a NASA recovery vessel in the 1960s. Decommissioned in 1974, and today its permanent home is on the Hudson River as the centerpiece of the museum.
St. Anne’s School Principal Paul Morisi shares the importance of visiting the museum. “Visiting the Intrepid brings to life the sacrifice many make on our behalf. Our faith is all about sacrifice and doing for others. You care share this message in the classroom or from within the parish, but visiting the Intrepid helped bring this message home to the children in an unforgettable way.”
After a difficult couple of years, a big return to NYC was inspiring for everyone, especially their pastor. For Monsignor Thomas Harold’s version of the day, keep reading.
Service Club from St. Agnes School Honor Fire Department, Mayor after Tanker Fire
On Wednesday, March 23, 2022 selected members of the Service Club will walk to Town Hall to present Rockville Centre Mayor Murray and the RVC Fire Department and Police Department. The students brought a certificate of gratitude, hand-made thank you cards, and gift cards that the school families donated in response to the Tanker Fire that occurred on February 16, 2022.
The Tanker Fire made made headlines around the world (watch BBC Video) because of its quick destruction in the high-density commercial core of Rockville Centre. Roughly 500 homes and many businesses were without power. Two schools, St. Agnes Cathedral School and Riverside Elementary School, were also without power and were both closed the following day.
The fire started when a fuel truck crashed into a building, releasing 9,200 gallons of gasoline that spilled into streets and into the sewers. The gasoline caught fire, causing violent explosions.
“There was fire coming out seven or eight manhole covers all the way down about a quarter mile down Sunrise Highway,” Rockville Centre Fire Chief James Avondet said to abc7NY. “It was one of the worst things I’ve seen in my 47-year career.”
Cecelia St. John, principal of St. Agnes School, was grateful for the quick response from police and fire.
Understanding Memorial Day
On Wednesday, May 25th, Ms. Rubin’s grandfather came to speak with our 5th graders at St. Anne’s in Garden City about the meaning of Memorial Day versus Veteran’s Day. Stewart Rubin was in the Vietnam War, and he now serves in a Marine Corps Legion.
In addition, he taught the students how to properly fold and care for the American flag. The students ended their day singing God Bless America. We thank you for your service, Grandpa Stew! Lastly, a big thanks to Ms. Rubin and Ms. Minerva for putting together this wonderful, patriotic event!
A Pastor’s Perspective
Earlier we shared the story of a special trip to NYC for Eight Graders from St. Anne’s School. We want to finish with sharing a message from their pastor about the day. It’s heartwarming!
So how was what I experienced this past week with them so extraordinarily positive? Yes, this same experience could be enjoyed with eighth graders in other schools, but as a parish priest and pastor, my “field trip” with them affirmed all the work we do as a parish for our school and all the sacrifices their parents have made to afford them a Catholic parish school education at St. Anne’s.
Because of the pandemic our graduating class has not been able to take an end of year field trip since 2019. After some discussion, we made a change in the field trip. Rather than attend a Broadway play, we decided to see NYC via Circle Line to be followed by a trip to the Intrepid. So last Tuesday we left school at 8:00AM for the boat trip. Stuck in traffic on the bus on the LIE, we
got to the pier on the west side of Manhattan for the 10:00AM boat ride. We quickly boarded and immediately embarked on a trip around the city. The boat was sold out; most upper deck seats were taken, so we gathered on the deck in the bow of the boat.
We were about 50 people including the students, two teachers, and parents. As the “oldest person” on the trip, I so much appreciated the friendship, courtesy, and cheerfulness of our eighth graders.
Those qualities were present in these boys and girls from the beginning of the day to its conclusion. I noted their appreciation and gratitude to the bus driver; their behavior on the bus was exceptional, and at no time on the trip in nor on the return trip, did any of the adults have to leave their seat to correct any behavior or ask the children to quiet down. If you have ever taken a bus trip with 39 eighth graders, you know how unusual it is that no adult needs to go to the back of the bus.
On the boat the students had access to the entire boat, but at every meeting time, all the children were present and accounted for. The group never had to wait for stragglers. We all enjoyed a box lunch on the boat and the 39 students gathered in about seven smaller groups. Again, there were no issues. Some of the girls formed a circle of chairs. So courteous, one of the students rearranged the circle of chairs into rows as the girls had found them. Nobody asked this student. She did it on her own, a great expression of respect and courtesy for the crew of the boat. A large group of boys shared lunch together. After they scattered, one student remained behind. He made it a point to clean up after the group, picking up wrappers and debris left on the floor, making several trips to the garbage can. He did it without being asked.
My experience of the entire day and the behavior and respect of the children made me so happy as the pastor of our parish school. I saw in nine hours of this field trip how much St. Anne’s Parish School and the parents of these children have educated and raised respectful, responsible young Catholic men and women. Just a week prior, these boys and girls were confirmed by Bishop Coyle. They have expressed their appreciation and gratitude for Confirmation. Last Tuesday I saw the Holy Spirit at work in these boys and girls. One last story from the boat trip. Before lunch, I was the last to leave the deck to go inside for lunch. I stayed behind having a conversation with a member of the crew. Mistake!!! My hat blew off my head into the choppy waters of the Hudson. My bald head faced the rays of the full sun and that can lead to a painful scalp. When the kids went to tour the Intrepid, I stayed behind, hatless, and did some work and made some calls under the shade of a tree. When a group of the 8th graders came off the Intrepid and greeted me, they presented me with a new heat to protect my head. It was a great day! On a personal note, I will be visiting family in another state for the next week. Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend! Peace be with you!