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Column: Stress of semester can’t dilute solemnity of season

Kathy O'Hara is the superintendent of archdiocesan schools.

Kathy O’Hara is the superintendent of archdiocesan schools.

by Kathy O’Hara

Dear friends of Catholic schools,

Although it may not seem like it by looking at any school calendar, this is an extremely “lively” time of year in schools. Teachers look forward to second semester when they can have students’ “undivided attention” for consecutive months in order to solely focus on teaching and learning. Unfortunately, in the Midwest, the weather can play havoc with that plan!

It also is the time of year in which there is much assessment taking place in schools. Pastors and boards are evaluating school leaders, school leaders are evaluating teachers, and teachers are evaluating students. The results of all of this assessment can lead to an underlying sense of excitement coupled with nervousness.

Add to this the arrival of spring, extracurricular activities that may need to be rescheduled due to weather, and the month of May — a month my predecessor often described as “the month into which everyone having anything to do with schools tries to cram in everything that they did not get to in the first 8 1⁄2 months of the school year.”

Indeed, the last quarter of any school year can be “interesting,” to say the least!

However, you may have noted something missing in the above description of school life. In Catholic schools, the most important aspect of this time of year is our celebration of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.

How fitting it is that in the midst of what can sometimes be the angst of second semester, we are called back to the one and only truth that really matters — the one that John so beautifully writes: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.”

Regardless of what stress there may be in schools at this time of year, each Friday in Lent Catholic school communities pray the Stations of the Cross and are reminded of what Jesus endured to save us. We are called to remember the great joy that awaits us if we are faithful.

Regardless of the challenges we face in schools, if we remember Good Friday and Easter, we always should have hope and joy.

That is the greatest witness we can bear to our students. Alleluia!

¡Vaya con Dios!

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Kathy O'Hara

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