Weekly Letter (Oct 13, 2014)

Dear Parents and Students,

 From time to time it’s good for us to get away from the noise and the crowd, turn off the cell phone and ignore the computer. These quiet moments can be that simple, quiet moments or they can evolve into reflection or prayer. Recently in a reflective mood I thought about what Catholic education means to me.

 I have to admit that I could be the “poster boy” for Catholic education. Since September 1959 I have been linked to one Catholic school or another (at times more than one) as a student, coach, teacher, principal or parent.

 Once I took the time to figure out how much all of that Catholic education cost me. Two kids (Kelly and Mike) through nine years each at Good Shepherd, four years each at Sacred Heart Cathedral, seven years of Catholic colleges (Holy Cross, Providence, and Notre Dame) added up to over $250,000 in tuition! I would love to have that money back, but I would never return the great education my kids got at those fine schools.

 I am not trying to down play the value of public school, they are the backbone of any free society, but Catholic schools give something extra. We sell chocolate and hold Galas and festivals to help keep tuition costs low, but we also reach out to help others.

 Every class has a community project: K and 8th both participate in environmental projects in the Presidio, 1st raises extra funds for the Leukemia Society through their “compound word snack sale”, 2nd and 6th both visit Saint Anne’s Home, 3rd graders visit Institute On Aging, 4th goes to the VA Hospital, 5th works with P.I. Malakas Outreach,  and 7th volunteers at the San Francisco Food Bank.

 On top of all that, the school has a few major projects. Right now we are collecting for the Food Bank, on October 25 we will participate in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Golden Gate Park. At Christmas we will adopt 3 or 4 families and buy gifts for them. In the spring our biggest outreach program is Pennies For Patients. Students bring in loose change (we aren’t crazy, we accept checks too) to help conquer leukemia and lymphoma. I often tell them about how this country conquered polio in the 1950s and 60s, and I assure them that they will see leukemia eradicated in their lifetime. And then I ask them which disease they want to beat next. Believe it or not, they all have answers.

 Our outreach programs may seem simple, the $5000 we collect for Pennies For Patients probably pays for a few minutes of research, but together with others across the country our kids learn that they can make a difference. What Star students do today is not nearly as much as Star grads will do in the future. Research shows that Catholic School graduates are far more likely than their public and private school counterparts to become firefighters, police, social workers, nurses, doctors, teachers and other professionals who serve the community. They also tend to be more involved in politics (on all different sides) and charitable fundraising.

 Years ago, the phrase “educate the whole child” became popular. It referred to an education that was not simply academically oriented but also addressed the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the child. This is where Catholic education comes from. It isn’t just the head, it’s the heart and soul too.

 God bless you all,


Terrence Hanley


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