"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven." - Ecclesiastes 3:1
The summer of 2021 hasn’t felt very summer-ish at all. July was the wettest on record with over 10 inches of rain! But even though the warm, sunny days have been few and far between, it has clearly been summer. The school buildings are quiet, the classrooms are emptied of furniture, and the woodchucks have been the only inhabitants on the playground. A relaxed, peaceful summer vibe has pervaded the campus. Mostly.
Despite the relaxed atmosphere, a lot of hard work has been happening. Ms. Figueroa has been busy with a steady parade of students who are working hard to keep their academic skills sharp. The floors in all the buildings are sporting a new shine. Teachers are preparing lessons. And the Holy Spirit has been at work, helping us renew and refresh parts of the curriculum.
The process has been similar to the experience of painting a room in your house. During the lockdown last year, like many other people, we chose to do some renovations to our house. We painted six rooms over the course of four months! One thing I noticed during this time was that when you paint and refresh one room, the one next to it, which looked perfectly fine before, all of a sudden needs some sprucing up. This is basically what happened this summer with our curriculum.
We had the original goal to standardize and codify the literature and history courses for the high school, to create a coherent, organized program that would remain consistent year to year. Well, obviously the middle grades feed into this program, so they also got an update. When we looked at literature, we realized that a systematic grammar program would be an important addition. It appeared to be a rabbit hole inspired by the Holy Spirit. As we completed more research into the different programs, we became more and more excited about what was taking shape! In the end, we improved the history progression in elementary and junior high school, put in place a cohesive, systematic grammar program from grades 3-8, created a comprehensive humanities (literature, history, and theology) canon for grades 6-12, and replaced the elementary math program with a highly effective and much acclaimed Singapore math program, Math in Focus.
I should mention that during this process we consulted other people and institutions who share our vision of Catholic liberal education: staff members, Cana Academy and Mr. Tremblay’s friend, Andrew Zwerneman, the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, the Cardinal Newman Society, Catholic classical education publications, and others. Much thought, prayer, and research went into this project. We are enthusiastic about our new offerings and confident that these quality materials will enhance the learning experience of our students.
At Mass this weekend we heard Jesus compare the manna in the desert to the Bread of Life -- his own body, blood, soul, and divinity. The Israelites were sustained for 40 years by the miraculous manna, bread that appeared each morning covering the ground. The most poignant and relevant part of the manna, in my opinion, is that the Israelites could only gather the quantity of manna their family could consume in a day -- truly their daily bread. I’m a planner. I like to be prepared. Trusting in the daily manna would have been a difficult, albeit beneficial, spiritual practice for me. Every morning for forty years the manna appeared. When they grumbled that they needed more food, he sent quail into their camp. When they were thirsty, water poured from a rock. God was teaching them to trust him in a very powerful way.
Today, we do not receive the miraculous manna. God has gone even further. We now receive the Bread of Life, God’s own Son, into our very bodies. Meditating upon these realities reveals God’s immense love for us, and leads us to greater trust in Him. The more time I spend at Mount Royal Academy, the more clearly I see the providence of God working in our school and community. He is truly present here and is blessing and guiding us in this mission.
So as the relaxing, laid back days of summer are waning, I hope you are able to enjoy every last drop of summer fun you can! Rest, relax, and rejuvenate in preparation for an enriching school year ahead. Remember, we all get the back-to-school jitters (even the teachers!) but I hope we can all find comfort in knowing that the One who loves us beyond all reason has been here preparing the way for us. Just as he said to Jeremiah, “ For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer 29:11) Trusting in his love for us, in a few short weeks we will embark on a fresh learning experience. I can’t wait to see what he’s got in store for us!
- Mrs. Lisa Sweet, Academic Dean