It is remarkable to look at a year of Student Activities here at St. Joseph High School. One year is not the whole picture of course; neither are four. I sometimes think of a year as a patch on a quilt – seamlessly sewn into our history – unique, sometimes breathtakingly beautiful, other times slightly flawed but only under scrutiny. As one stands back from the quilt, one sees that it’s really not a quilt at all, but a tapestry of fine silk: each thread a student, staff member, or family member adding dimension, color, and texture to our history, some fifty years in the making.
Telling you about each of this year’s activities is not really going to give you an accurate account of the year because many events are not just one-year events; the activities planned by the Student Council, the National Honor Society, Campus Ministry, the Athletic Department and our multiple club opportunities actually build on each other. They lay a foundation of safety, community, and friendships.
We introduce our Freshman to activities that they will enjoy as they move through their years at St. Joe’s. We welcome them with a luncheon on their first day; have a special liturgy to bless their Bibles, and a Freshmen Social sponsored by the Senior Class. We have added an overnight trip to Philadelphia in the fall. These events are planned for their class to make new friendships and to start to bond with the larger community.
Sophomores experience class building with their major events: a trip to Washington D.C., their Spring Fling and a Sophomore liturgy. They start to step forward into roles of leadership through the Walk-a-thon and other school- wide events like spirit week and charity works.
Juniors gain the privilege of wearing a St. Joe’s ring, a sign of honor, pride, and responsibility that they receive at the Ring liturgy. They also have their first formal affair, the Junior Ring Dance. Lastly, Juniors enjoy a trip to Quebec in the winter.
Seniors have a year filled with many activities as they step into leadership positions. It is finally their opportunity to get more fully involved with all that is offered in the classroom and throughout campus life. In the beginning of the year, they host the Freshman Social, help the staff during the first weeks of school, help plan the Walk-a-thon, help run the Pep Rallies, manage the Spirit Week activities, have their Homecoming Assembly, court of honor and dance. Senior year, although a time of great festivity, also has its stress. Applications need to go out and decisions are made for college education and future careers. The Guidance Department offers students many opportunities to seek out the best choices. The whole community breathes a sigh of relief when applications are in, letters of recommendation are done, and SATs are taken.
In the autumn we have our Spirit Week and drama production. As winter approaches activities are getting their finishing touches with the help of Seniors who are starting to teach the underclassmen how to manage decorations, gym time, and refreshments for events like the Luau, and Senior Citizen Prom. At the same time our chorus and bands are getting ready to perform their winter concert. Charity events, sponsored by our spiritual life activities, are bringing good cheer to local soup kitchens, nursing homes, and places of need.
The students take a break from activities as midterms approach, but once finished they are off to the March for Life, Catholic Schools Week events, and cheering at basketball games. The spring has its colorful season with the Art Show, Spring Concert, the Spring Musical, class trips to Broadway, museums, and other points of interest. May brings the Senior Prom, and the beginning of the Senior rite of passage. Final exams and projects are completed and then it’s time to celebrate with graduation practices, their yearbook, a barbecue, Baccalaureate Liturgy, and finally Commencement. It seems the year is over, but in a blink of an eye the Juniors gear up to claim the Senior Lounge and make plans for the next calendar year’s activities. When asked to write a few lines about student activities I wondered: How do you look at a year of activities? How do you look back at four years and how do you look back at fifty? You don’t really; what you do is look at the whole picture, a family, an extended family that reaches far and wide. You pause and reflect on shining moments that we experienced and celebrate them with bonds of kinship. This past year we did have moments of pure joy and they are now part of the tapestry. SJHS graduates throughout the many years leading up to this year have contributed greatly. They do leave us for awhile to pursue new adventures at their respected colleges, and in their careers and although they may seem to be far away, they really are close to the community, active as alumni, coming back as teachers, and even sending their children to share in the experience. Each one of these threads present and past is necessary, keeping the fabric of our identity strong.
In closing, last year was awesome, and this year is already gearing up to meet the challenge and make its special contribution to the tapestry. How do you look at a year of St. Joe’s activities? With fond memories and continuing friendships that will last a lifetime. We know that because many have already lasted more than fifty years. Enjoy the year, get involved and celebrate the 50 years of the SJHS community.
Director of Student Activities