High School Celebrates Compassion Week

By Suzanne Bizot Gorman, Head of the Downtown Campus

CompassionWeek2Following from our own mission statement (St. Francis School cultivates a joyful, compassionate, intellectual community that celebrates individuality and inspires independent thinking for life) and from Louisville’s status as a “compassionate city,” the High School deemed March 21st – 25th our “Week of Compassion”.  Events began Monday with a panel discussion featuring teachers Ralph Marshall and Trent Apple, senior Jonny Simpson, and peace educator Cory Lockhart, all describing various meanings of compassion.  Tuesday through Thursday Flex periods provided time for workshops led by trained student facilitators.  We debriefed these workshops, which included activities and discussions around comfort zones, perspective, communication, and gratitude, on Friday in advisee groups.  Having this week focused specifically on compassion has led to greater dialogue within the student body and has heightened awareness of both others’ needs and the way in which we should strive to treat one another.  A big thanks to Bob Jones and the Sacred Space Committee for planning the week, and to the student facilitators for taking the time to go through training with Cory Lockhart and for being willing to lead these activities:  Lena Crum, Everett Davis, Charley Drew-Wolak, Kate Jones, Jillian Morrison, Nan Elpers, Jonny Simpson, Gabby Smedley, Brownie Southworth, and Jay Swan.

Sometimes I feel like a crusader in the area of teenage public relations.  The outside world seems so disdainful of the teenage being (and I know that’s not new; every generation seems to think the teenagers coming along will be the ruin of civilization), but one of the reasons I love my job is that I get to see just how wonderful teenagers can be. Three examples:  First, I received an email last week from our friends at Educational Justice, a Louisville nonprofit that recruits high-achieving and service-minded high school students to help combat educational inequity by serving as one-on-one tutors and mentors to middle school students for an hour each week.  This email shared details about how successful Sam Edwards-Kuhn, Natalie McClain, and Madison Ebel have been at working with their assigned students and making a difference in their lives.  Second, last week I finished our annual sexual health education unit in my 9th grade Health and Skills class, with the classes being led by our Planned Parenthood Peer Educators Rosemary DeMarco, Ruby LeStrange, Catherine Dean, and Willa Tinsley.  And these students don’t just help out here; they led the Healthy Choices classes at Goshen, and they travel to other schools and community events to help spread education throughout the year.  Their commitment to this work is significant.  Finally, earlier this week, Alex Resnik, Patrick Spencer, Ella Rennekamp, Emma Boland, and Olivia Bajandas spent part of their evening volunteering with My Dog Eats First, a local nonprofit that collects pet supplies and distributes them each Wednesday night to homeless and low-income people with animals.  This teenage generation is compassionate and kind; they are energetic and active; they care deeply about people and causes.  They inspire me!

A final thought:  Our Quick Recall team finished its season at the State Governor’s Cup tournament this past weekend.  While I’ve written about them before, their accomplishment really deserves another mention, because I don’t think we will see a team like this again any time soon.  Over two years, this varsity squad never lost to another private or independent school.  They went undefeated in the regular seasons and league tournaments with a two-year record of 26-0.  They also qualified through District and Regionals for the State Governor’s Cup competition both years. A huge congratulations to seniors Sam Borden, Sam Edwards-Kuhn, Rose Gilbert, Zoe Koss, Lucy Lv, and Madison Ebel for all their hard work and dedication.