It’s ten in the evening on a Friday night and I find I am reflecting on this school day. It has been a tough year. We lost our longtime friend – school librarian and music teacher – Celeste Dueber to cancer at the end of September, and our principal, Maria Tollefson to cancer at the beginning of November. It seemed like the entire first quarter was filled with prayers, rosaries, and funerals. The assistant principal stepped into the principal position and all the school community stepped up in any way they could to help her. It was on everyone’s minds that school needed to continue in all ways, for the sake of the students and in honor of those two special ladies we had lost.
This day in February was a testimony to the outstanding community at St. Didacus. The morning began with our regular Friday prayer service by the Kindergarten students. Regular morning classes were held until recess. Excitement filled the air as students from preschool through eighth grade, wearing jog-a-thon tee shirts, school shorts and running shoes began their stretching exercises led by servicemen from the Navy and a San Diego Sockers player. Students ran, jogged, and walked the rest of the morning with a DJ providing music to keep students pumped up! Parents provided water stations on this warm February morning.
When noontime came, the jog-a-thon was over and lunch was served. With donations from the Knights of Columbus, parents barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers for the entire school. After lunch, the DJ played music and a dance party began. The faculty and staff had secretly been practicing a dance, and a flash mob was created. The students were so surprised and joined in the dance! Jogathon prizes were announced and the total raised was over $30,000! School was dismissed at 1:45 pm and the majority of the school went home.
Some students and staff did not leave, however. The academic decathlon team met and worked until 4 pm. The sports teams had practices. By 5 o’clock most of the students had been picked up from daycare. Then at 5:30 pm, things began picking up again.. Over sixty students in grades 5-8 have begun to arrive for their monthly Junior Great Books meeting. Eight young adults came to help run this special reading program that runs until 8 pm.
I am finally home and it has been a long day. But I can’t help but think – what a great place St. Didacus is! So many people have helped make this a very special day for the students: faculty and staff, parents, the Navy, the San Diego Sockers, the Knights of Columbus, decathlon coaches, sports coaches, and Junior Great Book Leaders. I just know Maria and Celeste are looking down from heaven and are smiling at all the good things happening at our school!