Written by Aidan Higgins
Saint John Paul II, Stratford
I am dust, and unto dust I shall return. In the meantime, I am growing, learning and appreciating the ride I get to take along the way. Like every other kid, I have to go to school every day, but unlike every kid, I love it. I have been at Saint John Paul II since pre-school. It is my extended family, and I can attribute who I am today, the way that I think, feel, believe and live, to that school family as well as the parents and immediate family I have been blessed with.
We all wear the same uniform but have different colored hair, eyes and skin and different personalities. We come from different backgrounds but blend together to share and learn from each other as well as from our teachers. They encourage us every day to learn and improve ourselves by being proud of successes and challenged by mistakes. Every year I have been there a teacher has changed how I look at different situations for the better. I remember being hugged and singing about Jesus loving me as vividly as I remember learning to read. We learn our faith by living it. Older students pair with younger ones to attend weekly Mass and we pray and sing together. I love learning about our religion because I can apply every lesson to my own life and share it with others. It feels great to join my classmates making sandwiches for the poor, collecting donations for families in need, dressing down and contributing to hurricane victim efforts, etc.
Our studies are not always easy. We work hard with teachers always ready to help when necessary. I remember being confused by some grammar intricacies, so I went to my ELA teacher, Mr. Frank, multiple times when he could fit me in, and he worked patiently with me until it made sense. On those days I learned not only how to locate a subject complement, but also to extend a helping hand to others in need. I try to help anyone who asks and give them the same patience and support I received when I was being helped.
Challenging projects or reports encourage independent thinking to gain insight and understand a wide variety of subjects. The religious part of the education tests how much you already know about your faith and teaches you material that you do not. The teachers provide assistance but they also challenge you to figure out things on your own. If you don’t understand something, you can simply raise your hand and ask for more help.
I play a lot of sports outside of school and share everyday experiences with kids from other schools. None describe their feeling about school the way I do. The best part about my school experience is how I feel like I am home every time I enter school. The entire school is a large family that supports one another constantly. I think everyone should have the chance to feel and share that warmth and compassion. I cannot express how thankful I am to receive a Catholic education. I can say that who I have grown to be is in a large part of who I have grown up with both at home and at school. I can honestly say that although I have a long way to go, today I am more than happy with who I am.