I am sitting in a chilly room at St. Benedict's lodge, listening to the rush of the McKenzie River. It is midnight Friday of DCE, and we are deep into the mystery of the Encounter. I just finished a prayer of gratitude for the immense graces of this sacred experience—and for the "regular kids" who were in this room an hour ago and will be back again for another small group session in the morning.
Part of my job is to share stories of the extraordinary accomplishments of Jesuit students. In my "Principal's Blog" over the past 6 ½ years, you will find chronicles of heroic athletic accomplishments, monumental mathematical moments, and artistic achievements of breathtaking beauty. We have an amazing number of state champions, Carnegie Hall performers, All-Americans, Math Gold Medalists, International Science Fair winners and Drama State Showcasers.
But what about our "regular kids"? Where are the tales of all those "normal," hard-working students who populate our classrooms and hallways? A fair enough question.
Every Jesuit student is a precious gift from God, with a mind and heart and spirit, a unique story of struggle and triumph, each of whose greatest need is to be loved, as I am being reminded again this weekend.
We do not take any of the young people entrusted to us for granted. All of our students are both metaphorically and literally our children. My wife Jennifer and I have two "regular kids" of our own, both of whom graduated from Jesuit having made contributions, but never headlines. Of course, we love our kids beyond measure, knowing how bright and caring and hilarious they are, and we expect every adult who encounters them to notice those same gifts.
On this Encounter, there are five (5!) juniors who are children of faculty members. All of them are the apple of their parents' eyes. Each is worthy of columns of electronic ink—just like their 40 DCE brothers and sisters. Those of us lucky enough to work at Jesuit, especially those of us who are parents of JHS students, work every day to create the kind of school we want our own children to attend.
So let's take a closer look at these DCE faculty kids. There's the felicitously-named River Atticus Flamoe, a trumpet-blower whose name is a poem and whose gift is casual jazzy elegance. Here comes Jayla Lowery, a hip-happening junior who connects across campus and teaches us all about both style and substance.
Next up is Lizzie O'Mahony, a sparkler who not only can sing like an angel, but also makes both original films and origami that she shares with our community. Lizzie and her friend Jayla run our Unity Club, helping make Jesuit a safe place for all of our students.
Hailing from the Reinhardt household is Andrew, a red-headed golfer with serious game and an understated demeanor. Rounding out the five faculty kids on DCE is Melanie Wise, daughter of our new Stats teacher Patty White. Melanie is a transfer student to JHS, as was my daughter Molly. It ain't always easy being a high schooler, but try being a transfer AND the child of a staff member! In such a case, all you really want is to BE is a regular kid.
In my DCE small group is another crew of "regular kids": Sara and Jack and Maddy and Molly and Peter and Jack Henry and Adikus (yes, another!). They are into robotics and javelin, drama and cross-country, the Kindness Club and volleyball and other corners of student life. And they are AWESOME, the furthest thing from ordinary I can conceive.
All of these hard-working, caring kids are so much more than ordinary. They are each beloved, by God, their parents, and their teachers—and this blogging principal. What a delight and a privilege to hang out with them, to challenge them, and to watch them grow into the extraordinary young adults they are becoming, miraculously, right in front of our eyes.
On this weekend at St. Benedict's, the stories of these regular kids, and so many more, bring tears and laughter, as well as amazement at their resiliency and creativity and their sheer raging determination to live faith-filled, meaningful lives in our broken world.
So, as we venerate a lowly child born in a barn in the cold midnight of Bethlehem, let us celebrate all of our students, as we strive to do every day at that place of wonder and mystery called Jesuit High--home to 1,261 "regular kids," each of them a gift from God.
Merry Christmas, y'all.
Paul J. Hogan