Yesterday my daughter brought home a green piece of paper. Typically these notes are telling us about the latest fundraising event or special project she’ll be doing at school. Not this time. This time, the note apologized for the late notice but there would be an emergency meeting the following evening and it was important that we attend. Instantly I had a bad feeling in my gut. I had a suspicion that my daughter’s school was closing.
My husband and I talked about the need for us to attend the meeting. I would have to leave work early, he would have to reschedule a meeting he already committed to and we’d have to get a sitter because kids were discouraged from coming. In his typical fashion, he called the school to see if he could find out any information. Nope. The principal was not a liberty to say anything and yes, it was very important we attend.
When we got to the meeting there were whispers and murmuring. You could see the angst on the faces of the parents. Our suspicions were confirmed. Her school was being closed. The Arch Diocese could no longer continue to subsidize our children’s education. With a projected deficit for the year of over 600K, they could not continue to support a school who’s enrollment numbers continued to fall.
As we were being told this information by Sister M. (I’m not stating her full name for her own privacy), something happened that caught me totally off guard. My eyes started filling with tears, my nose started running and within a matter of seconds those tears began to roll down my cheeks. I had to excuse myself and leave the hall where we were meeting. I walked up a few flights of stairs and sat on the steps that lead to my daughter’s classroom and wept.
At first I was unsure why I was even crying. My closest friends will tell you, I’m not an emotional person. I don’t cry at weddings and typically I’m the one telling someone else not to cry. It was an odd feeling to not only be crying but to do so in a public place. My daughter had only attended the school for four months so we weren’t as invested financially or emotionally as other parents. Heck, I’m not even Catholic and only agreed to her attending parochial school because of the low student-teacher ratios, organic meals and sound curriculum.
But as I gathered my composure and walked back into that room, I realized why I was so upset. For a solid month, my daughter cried every time I dropped her off at school. She would ask when were going back to our “old” house. She didn’t have much interaction with other kids and kept to herself. Then one day that changed. She came home from school and told me about Leo, her new best friend. The next morning I dropped her off at school and she ran into the arms of her ESD (extended school day) aid and gave her a big hug. Later that week, when I asked her how was school, she beamed from ear-to-ear and said, “FUN! I’m learning things.”
She had become comfortable with her school and felt like she belonged. For a child who has celebrated every birthday living in a different state, she’s endured a lot. Some of the change has been positive but unfortunately, there has been a fair share of negative as well.
So in five months, she’ll endure another change as her school will close on June 30th. Tomorrow we begin the daunting task of trying to find her a new school that offers a summer program, has room for her in the fall and has ESD in the morning and afternoon. But more importantly we have to find a school that is going to love her as much as her current school does. THAT will be our greatest challenge.