One Year Later: Saints Pave the Way

The following is a reflection by Mike Fletcher.

Fans of Back to the Future will recall that, at the conclusion of the first movie, Doc Brown tells Marty and Jennifer they need to move quickly because something has to be done about the future of their kids. As they journey ahead, Doc ends the film confidently saying, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”

LCA Time Capsule

March 12, 2021 marked an anniversary I don’t believe any of us really care to celebrate. It was one year ago when we learned that all K-12 schools in Ohio would close for a period of three weeks. The LCA administrative team gathered together to watch that press conference, just before the time when gatherings would be deemed unsafe. While the moments following that announcement undoubtedly included questions and uncertainty, the office in which we stood immediately filled with such a sense of urgency that fear and trepidation simply had no place to stand. Unlike Doc Brown and his friends, for whom roads would not be needed, we found that the roads we were to travel over the next year would be paved with each step we took. Despite an extraordinary number of unknowns, we too would journey ahead understanding that something had to be done about our children.

With a communion of teachers (Saints), LCA took on each challenge not by asking if it could be overcome, but how. Supported by our courageous families, Lakewood Catholic Academy spent 365 days showing how meaningful, purposeful, and joyful engagement of students can continue, and how faith, health and opportunities for growth can remain in balance in an unstable world.

St. Augustine once said, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” This approach so precisely describes that which we have taken — one which we are confident has made our families, and St. Augustine himself, proud. While we hope that the challenges we have seen over the last year need not be conquered again, we know that the road ahead will be anything but smooth, and it is with St. Augustine’s words in mind that we continue to move forward.

LCA Time Capsule

Through everything, the past twelve months has reminded us of the spirit, courage and strength of the LCA community. Even before taking on a worldwide pandemic, Lakewood Catholic Academy journeyed ahead each day knowing that something had to be done for our kids. The sense of urgency in that office on March 12, 2020 wasn’t born anew. It was simply exposed for the powerful and guiding force that it already was. As we begin to turn the corner on an unprecedented year, we remain committed to journeying forward on a road we will continue to pave, with a staff we will continue to admire, for students we will continue to love.

Roads? Where we’re going, we’ll pave the way.

From one generation to the next. On March 12, 2021, a time capsule was buried on LCA’s campus. Someday, future Saints can unearth its contents, which include words of reflection from our Saints at Home student journals, SaintsTV episodes, an LCA mask, and memories from the 2020 yearbook. When history called, the Saints of LCA showed up with courage and faith. May our small acts of fortitude inspire future Saints!

Hearts for Heroes

Valentines for Frontline Workers

During the month of February, the Saints of Lakewood Catholic Academy wanted to share love with all those in our community who have become our heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic — our dedicated medical professionals and first responders.

Teachers and students collaborated on a school service project called Hearts for Heroes to share some hand-made valentines with these community heroes. The gifts were delivered to hospitals, firehouses and police stations in time for Valentine’s Day. Additionally, our Saints created an inspiring video message accompanied with music by our talented music teacher, Ms. Amanda Podhradsky.

LCA: Proud to be an IB World School

As the holiday season approaches, I find myself deeply grateful that we are here. There is truly no place I’d rather be than at LCA — in this bustling building filled with committed teachers and energetic students. Most of us are learning together physically. That opportunity comes with new routines and responsibilities. Some of us connect remotely. That opportunity comes with new technology and patience.

I am often asked what it means to be an IB World School. There is simply no way to answer that in one sentence. But I do believe that a central characteristic to a true IB World School is an ongoing openness to growth. What does growth really mean? And what does it feel like?

As anyone who has worked or learned at LCA can attest, growth is often the result of discomfort. Those who learn in our community are not promised an easy chair, rather they are promised a ladder. And given the ladder, they climb. With aching muscles they ascend. Our new reality has demanded that we develop new skills to become masterful climbers. Even the smallest moments of our day have changed, and that reality has truly exercised our brain.

The ability of the brain to form and reorganize is known as neuroplasticity. Stanford University brain expert David Eagleman believes that this challenging new reality is good for our brain. “Our brains typically make a model of the world so they can operate efficiently in it,” Eagleman says. “The Covid pandemic has knocked us all off our paths of least resistance, such that our brains are forced to rethink everything…But the tiny silver lining is that getting knocked off your path of least resistance is the best thing that can happen to your brain in terms of plasticity.” Our mental gymnastics, while often exhausting, do pay off in the long run.

We do not walk this journey alone. All across the world, teachers and students are creatively adapting. The common sentiment seems to be a deep desire for growth. And, as an IB World School, we honor that passion.

I invite you to take time to view and read content on our IB web page. This page is where you will find LCA IB newsletter issues, including our most recent compilation that tells the story of 2020 thus far. You will also find our four IB MYP Policies which, through reflection and collaboration, have been recently updated. Implicitly and explicitly referenced in our policies is our commitment to fostering growth. A hunger for growth is at the center of what it means to thrive at Lakewood Catholic Academy. And for that, I am grateful.

Be a Saint!
Eileen Murphy McGuire
Dean of the IB Program

Leadership & Love: A Reflection

American Flag

I write to you today as both a parent and an educator. For those who know me, you are well aware that I am rarely at a loss for words, yet last evening I felt speechless. Today, through prayer, I found the words that I’d like to share with you.

If you are upset and frustrated after watching last night’s presidential debate, you are not alone. Policy issues aside, this event featured behavior that would be completely unacceptable in our classrooms. In fact, some of the behavior exhibited on that national stage would result in a school suspension or expulsion!

The politicians and pundits will likely continue to argue. As LCA educators, however, we will recommit ourselves to the important work of teaching respect and thoughtful conversation & dialogue. As people of faith, we will renew our commitment to form our students in humility, compassion, kindness, and social & moral justice. As academic leaders, we will rededicate ourselves to the intellectual tradition of Lakewood Catholic Academy that values truth and distinguishes the difference between facts and opinions. Since the world can’t look to our political leaders for this noble work, the world will look to us, the educators of tomorrow’s leaders. This is a heavy burden to carry during an already challenging year, but we will carry this work forward, because it is at the heart of our mission.

One small, tangible way that we at Lakewood Catholic Academy aim to build a more respectful and peaceful world is the incorporation of our communications class in both the seventh and eighth grade curricula. This class helps our students learn effective public speaking skills and introduces them to the art of true debate. As a former speech and debate competitor and coach, I assure you that our students are capable of more competent and constructive debate than what was televised last evening.

As the tumultuous political season continues to rage on, please be aware that, as a Catholic school, we do not endorse specific political candidates in our classroom conversations. Our teachers strive to share balanced perspectives when asked questions by our inquisitive students, and they regularly suggest that students share those questions with you, their parents. We encourage you to take time to thoughtfully and patiently discuss those issues that your children may bring to you.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recently reissued a document entitled Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. The guidance provided within that document states, in part:

Our commitment as people of faith to imitate Christ’s love and compassion should challenge us to serve as models of civil dialogue, especially in a context where discourse is eroding at all levels of society. Where we live, work, and worship, we strive to understand before seeking to be understood, to treat with respect those with whom we disagree, to dismantle stereotypes, and to build productive conversation in place of vitriol.

While there is indeed a heaviness to the issues we face today, there is also an undeniable source of hope. My son and your children have the benefit of being part of a school community and a faith that teach love – a radical love, Christ’s love, a love that knows no bounds, embraces differences, mercifully forgives and calls forth compassion. The type of love the world so desperately needs.

In the midst of national and global distress, I hope this brings you some peace. Your children are taught love. Yes, they will learn our first-class curriculum, complete with all the subjects with which you are familiar, but of greater importance, they will learn love and kindness. May God continue to hold us close, and may the love shared within the walls of LCA and the love experienced in your own family inspire and empower our children to heal a broken world.

With Love,
Brian Sinchak