Earlier this week, I turned the page on my calendar with great enthusiasm. Seeing that August has arrived means that school starts soon. I know this sentiment may not be a popular one, but I much prefer it when the school buildings and classrooms are bustling with staff, teachers and students all exploring new endeavors while engaged in our community. Suffice it to say, I am enthusiastic for the year ahead; and, I look forward to seeing you in less than a month, as well as welcoming our new FXW colleagues at that time.
For the past two years, we have adopted one of our four Charisms as our theme for the year. This year’s theme, “FXW is a Community of Faith,” has taken on new meaning for me this summer as our faculty and staff summer reading options all focused on this theme of faith. I was particularly inspired by Eboo Patel, author of two wonderful reads, Sacred Ground and Acts of Faith, as he spells out for us what it means to be “educated.” Interfaith literacy is a key component to being fully educated and throughout the year we will aspire to define and understand pluralism and how it impacts our daily lives and the world around us. In seeking to be inclusive, we have yet another reference as to how understanding each other leads to acceptance and fosters a greater sense of belonging.
While preparing to welcome our students back to campus for another school year, we can also take a moment to appreciate our wonderful school and its mission. The Founders of FXW intended for faith to be a significant aspect of the FXW experience, and because of that, I invite you to contemplate what leading a faith-filled life means for you and your family. I encourage you to consider your role in partnering with us in educating and enlightening our students on what is meant by a community of faith. I also invite all families to join us for our Back-to-School Mass at 9 a.m. on September 8 celebrated by Cardinal Cupich. As someone who consistently states, “All are Welcome,” we are so pleased to start the year with Cardinal Cupich and with faith as a theme, I am confident this will be an enlightening and enriching year for everyone in the community.
Also, I am pleased to offer some brief updates on several summer happenings and have attached information about our new teachers and staff. Of particular note, we welcome “back” to FXW, alumnus Sandy Morales, as our Spanish teacher at HNC. Further proof that I am old, Sandy and her twin sister Susana applied and enrolled as 9th grade students at The Latin School of Chicago when I was the Admissions Director. Welcome home Sandy!
As mentioned late in the school year, we have agreed in principle to a long-term lease at the Holy Name Campus. The immediate impact of this agreement means we can move forward with the plans to make significant renovations at HNC. We have commenced with construction planning on the Auditorium and Club Room (below the Auditorium) and you will see signs of this in the coming weeks.
This project is funded by two main sources: funds raised by a small campaign completed in 2010, the 20th Anniversary Fund, as well as reserves for capital projects from the last two years. This project is funded by the School, led by the School, and in partnership with both the Cathedral and the Archdiocese. Future projects will be initiated from a comprehensive campus master plan and as a result of strategic planning we are presently doing. Once we determine our programmatic priorities, we will then determine our spatial needs (and wants) to deliver an enhanced program and experience.
In a message last week to my colleagues, I informed them that demolition begins in earnest in late August and this will undoubtedly cause some scheduling changes; it will create dust; it will likely be inconvenient at times — and yet, it will be amazing when the last dumpster is pulled away and we host our first performance in a renovated, state-of-the art Auditorium this winter. I ask for your patience and support during the renovation of this project. I look forward to when we can celebrate its completion.
Finally, late last month my wife and I had dinner with Fr. Steve Katsouros, the founding Dean and Executive Director of Arrupe College of Loyola University, our neighbor just a block to the north. I was taken by his wisdom, his leadership, as well as his calm disposition as he addresses the challenges of being a “start-up” college as well as new model for higher education. In his book: Come to Believe: How the Jesuits are Reinventing Education (Again), Fr. Katsouros quotes the school’s Jesuit namesake, Fr. Pedro Arrupe. Fr. Arrupe states, “only by being a man or woman for others does one become fully human.” With this in mind, I recently thanked my colleagues — in advance of this school year — for taking a collaborative and compassionate approach to our “work” for others and I thank you for your confidence in us to deliver.
Enjoy the last weeks of summer.
Head of School