CCCS Drama Club put on the musical production “Kilroy was Here” at the Capitol Theatre this Fall. It was the 21st year our students put on a play. This one included 27 of our 6th, 7th, & 8th graders, and will certainly go down in history as one of the best productions yet.
That being said, I do have to confess that each year I have probably said the same thing; “This was the best show ever”! But in all sincerity, I have honestly thought that each year. Now it could be because I have watched most of these students grow up in front of my eyes. A large majority of them started at CCCS as kindergarteners. And to see them take the stage as 12 – 14-year-olds is a proud and sentimental moment.
The 14 year old, who steps way out of her comfort level to take the stage and stand in front of a microphone to sing and dance with two of her classmates, the 12 year old who is blessed with musical talent, but not usually one who is willing to take center stage, the 13 year old who rarely speaks above the level of a whisper (or mumble), but comes out on stage and moves up the aisle proclaiming his line in the play; those performances bring a tear to the eye of the teachers and staff who have been blessed to watch them grow up and grow in confidence.
And where does that confidence, or better yet courageousness come from? All those students I mentioned, as well as undoubtedly many others on that stage, found the strength to show up for auditions and say yes to the part they were offered.
I believe the courage comes from several areas. One, their parents are very supportive and encouraging. Two, their fellow middle school classmates are inclusive and caring. Third, and perhaps the primary reason, is that the students trust the directors of the Drama Club.
The students are confident that the part they are offered is one that they can handle. The directors, Mr. Dortenzo, Mrs. Cermak, Mr. Morrow, Mrs. Super, and Mrs. Moore know the students. They spend time each year choosing the play/musical, keeping in mind the students who will be taking the stage. This can only happen in a school where the teachers and students develop strong relationships. A school where the teachers know the students. I can say with certainty, that many of these 12-14-year-olds who took the stage on October 25, 2018, would never even think about joining a Drama Club in a school of 1,800 + middle schoolers.
CCCS offers many unique opportunities for our students. Most leave our school as leaders among leaders. The relationships they develop with other students and with the adults in the school are strong and important. These relationships help all of us, students and teachers, to Know Jesus, Love Jesus, and Serve Jesus in everything that we do.
A Joyful Noise
Corpus Christi’s eleven o’clock Mass on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time was noisy! Babies to the left of me, toddler’s to the right of me, a dissonance of cries and dropping toys somewhere behind me. And they were such beautiful sounds that I smiled throughout the Mass and watched some beautiful children doing what they do best, being who God made them to be.
Thinking back to when I was that Mom with noisy children at Mass, I’m pretty sure that I did not smile through the noise. Being older and wiser now, I want to assure these parents that they too, can smile through the revelry! We have no Church without children. We can all recall Jesus admonishing his apostles when they tried to keep the children from moving forward when Jesus was talking, saying, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”(Matthew 19:14)
Children make noise, they move and delight in what is around them. As the Processional hymn began a little one, barely old enough to stand on her own, began to blast out sounds that were surely singing in her mind. Her Mom, a CCCS alum and a beautiful singer herself, made a motion to quiet the little girl. And yes, I remember doing the same to my children years ago. This day I leaned toward her grandmother, smiled and said, “tell her to keep singing”!
She did continue ‘singing” here and there throughout the Mass. I could not help but notice two unrelated couples sitting in the same pew with this little girl. One a couple in their 40’s, another a couple in their 70’s. Throughout Mass they’d all take peaks at this Child of God and a smile would come to their faces, too!
And then all their faces really lit up when, upon returning to the pew after receiving the Eucharist, the little girl’s mom asked the one couple (40’s couple) if they would like to hold her. Which they gladly did and even shared their joy by passing her to the older couple.
Mass was an extra blessing for me on this last Sunday of Ordinary time! And I delight in the hope that many of these children that were making the joyous noise at Mass will one day have the opportunity to enroll at CCCS. Our school will certainly gain a chorus of beautiful souls if that happens!
Last month I “happened” to be in the hallway near our primary classrooms. I noticed a first-grade girl, (I’ll call her Susie) making her way to the water fountain, crying. As I walked toward Susie, I saw her teacher making hand motions, calling me down to the classroom. When I got to the classroom, the teacher quickly told me that one of Susie’s friends had died last night and asked if I would please take her somewhere to talk.
It is without any doubt in my mind that God put me there at that exact moment. My name is Patty Dolaway and this is why I have worked at CCCS for the past 32 years. It is where I am supposed to be today. It would be next to impossible to tell you the number of times that a faculty or staff member has been at the exact right place at the exact right time to “be there” for one of our students.
Susie, after some pretty heavy sobbing, was able to tell me that her friend who died is 5 years old. She had a chronic illness, but she died quickly and unexpectedly.
I happen to know that Susie’s grandfather died before she was born, so I was able to suggest that perhaps her grandfather could be her friend’s grandpa in Heaven. That did elicit a small smile and nod of her head. Her crying slowed down a bit and I suggested that she talk to her friend and her grandfather in her prayers and ask them to take care of each other.
About that time another teacher walked by and saw Susie’s distress and stopped to talk with her and share some loving thoughts. That is also what we do. We don’t walk away from sadness (or any emotion our students are having), we enter into it with them.
Taking care of each other is what we do at CCCS. Yes, we educate our students. In fact, we do that remarkably well. But it is in our relationship with our students, their families, and with each other that we grow in God’s love.
We try every day to model that often cliched saying, “What would Jesus do?” It is not a cliche at CCCS; it is the form and substance of what we do here every day. Do we fall short somedays? Of course, but we know that God will work with our imperfections to help us be the people our students need.
Our mission: To Know Jesus, to Love Jesus, and to Serve Jesus.
I hope that I can offer some small insights into what makes CCCS the right choice for our children.