Dear Saint James Community,
We are deeply saddened by recent events around our nation. We grieve with you for every person who has experienced racial injustice. St. James Episcopal Day School is not only built on academic excellence but also spiritual formation within a warm, loving, Christian community. We are called to be people of hope. This means our community is not a place for racism and hatred. We have an obligation to focus on listening to one another, showing empathy, celebrating differences, and loving unconditionally, just as Christ would do. What a beautiful gift we can give the world: teaching a generation of children to lead positive change that is long overdue!
While no small task, we are up for the challenge. Our faculty, staff, administration, and clergy are committed to supporting you and your children during these challenging times. Please be on the lookout for communication from our school counselor Ally Bayard in this Sunday's Scoop that will include links to resources that can help you to help your children better understand what is happening in our world.
We want to listen to the voices of those calling out to us, and to take positive steps together with you this year and in years to come. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”
Bridget Henderson & The Rev. Dr. Michael Kuhn
Message from Fr. Chris Duncan sent to St. James Church
Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Each of us is invited by Christ into the work of redemption and transformation. As the hands and feet of the body of Christ, as the Church, and as Episcopalians we are called to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves as we strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.
There are no words to fully express the pain, sorrow, and anxiety we feel as individuals and as a society, yet our words are important and listening to the words of others as we attempt to give voice to pain matters. Since the events of the killing of George Floyd our society has joined voices crying out “Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.” As the Church we are not called to ignore the pain, sorrow, and anxiety that so many in our society and around the world live with generation after generation and day after day. It is my hope that the Church will see this time as an opportunity to share the love of Christ through gracious listening, acts of mercy, and reconciliation.
When we consider the vastness of God and God’s creation and God’s gracious self-revelation to creation, we are welcomed into God’s infinite mercy and love. It is easy to feel overwhelmed as we seek to contemplate what is awe-inspiringly incomprehensible, unfathomable, and mysterious. At times like this, it can become hard to fix our eyes on the image of the all-powerful loving God. Yet, two theological truths remain: Imago Dei and Incarnation.
Imago Dei is the message expressed in Genesis 1 during creation in which humans are created in the image of the triune God. Thus, all people bear God’s holy impression in and on our very being. Therefore, all people must be treated as creatures in the image and likeness of God. Incarnation is the term used to express God becoming flesh in Jesus and in doing so blessing creation through that presence. It is through the Incarnation that we are transformed by the Passion and Resurrection. It is through the Incarnation that we are invited to participate in Christ’s ministry as the hands and feet of God within the world.
I share this theological teaching because these two transformative truths of Imago Dei and Incarnation supersede the divisions we create due to race, religion, gender, sexuality, nationality, age, size, class, education, etc. This leads to two questions upon which we can reflect:
These are simple questions that are not easy to answer. Christ himself taught us that following the way of God’s love is not easy. It is uncomfortable. It is hard. It leads to change. Christ invites us to die to self in order to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. That is our calling. In fact, it was the very God that created us in his image and came into the creation in the flesh who gave up everything for us on the cross and opened the way of life and love through the Resurrection. This is why the last part of our Baptismal Covenant asks two questions:
And we answer committing ourselves to this work, saying, “I will, with God’s help.”
The road to healing and reconciliation is not easy. The love we are to have is meant to be active love in order to build up the kingdom of God so that lives are transformed more fully into the image in which we were created. As we walk this hard path, we are reminded that the God of love is with us and in us, even in our tears, our fears, and our brokenness.
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.
“Send us now into the world in peace; and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart.” - The Book of Common Prayer
On Thursday, May 21st, 2020 at 10am, St. James held a special graduation ceremony for its fifth graders. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the school administration chose to host a virtual graduation with a “drive by” presentation of candidates outside of the school on Convention and Fourth Street downtown. Twenty-six graduates and their families joined the faculty and staff in watching a pre-recorded video ceremony for all to enjoy together. The ceremony followed a traditional prayer service format from the Book of Common Prayer, with readings, songs, and prayers led by teachers and fifth grade students. Interim Head of School Michael Kuhn gave a homily focusing on the bittersweet emotions at graduation and the idea of ascension.
At the end of the ceremony, each student was driven by family members through the school's carpool route one last time, to a stopping point near Bishops Hall. Rector Chris Duncan led each student out of the car down the sidewalk to receive a graduation certificate and a gift from the school, and to take a picture. Then, students returned to their cars and rode with their families to park in the church parking lot to wait until all graduates were called.
St. James Episcopal Day School ends in 5th grade, making this graduation ceremony and the fifth grade year particularly important milestones in the life of the school. Typically the fifth graders take a class trip to Houston in the spring before graduation, but this year’s trip had to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The fifth grade class raised money for their trip throughout the year through fundraisers including monthly donut and pizza days and a family bingo night in the fall. Although they were sad to miss their class’s trip, this year’s students opted to donate of the money they'd raised to the school by funding three special gifts: a sun sail over one of the outdoor play areas at school, two refillable water bottle stations, and painted inspirational messages on a stairwell in Werlein Hall. Thus, the Class of 2020 will be remembered not only for their intellect, their friendships, and their unusual graduation ceremony; they will also be remembered for the incredible generosity and patience they showed their school. The students will be missed by their younger classmates along with the faculty and staff at St. James, but we all look forward to witnessing the great things they do in middle school and beyond.
Congratulations to St. James alumni graduates in the class of 2013! We are proud of all of these college-bound seniors for their accomplishments and future plans. Check out their Senior Spotlights below:
For parents with children in preschool, school closures bring about a unique set of challenges. Without new places to visit or new friends to interact with, young children can grow restless and irritable, and so can their parents! Many parents are also trying to work from home, so they need plans for keeping their toddlers and preschoolers occupied while they answer emails and phone calls. Children ages 2-4 are not expected to be practicing time tables, reading independently, or writing in journals, but they still need activities to keep their little minds and bodies growing.
The St. James Early Childhood Development Center is continuing to provide an exceptional education for our students during the COVID-19 closure, while also being highly flexible and optional to meet the needs of each family. Our teachers post daily Morning Meetings, read-alouds, interactive videos, and lesson plans that highlight early childhood skills and concepts in our SeeSaw online learning platform. Thanks to SeeSaw, our First Year students can sing along to the Bumble Bee Song with Ms. Donna and Ms. Chandra, Second Year students can watch and listen to Ms. Laura read Mouse Paint to them, and PreK-3 students hear their teachers sing their names during their morning “We’re Glad You’re Here Today!” song, as if they were sitting on the classroom rug. Daily lesson plans include links to stories on YouTube, counting games, fine motor skill challenges, and more. This week, the ECDC teachers even dropped off supplies for egg dyeing at each child's house, as happy gifts for the students they love.
Instruction is asynchronous, meaning parents have the ability to decide if and when their child will do the activities, without the pressure of attending class at a certain time. Second Year parent Molly Israel said, “With both parents still working full time, we don’t follow the lesson plans to the letter, or finish every suggested project, but we like the flexibility to carry out the activities when it works for us. The look on Stafford’s face when he sees Ms. Laura (or DeSha or Janine) is priceless and melts my heart. Our favorite videos, like the butterfly song and morning prayer, are played over and over at Stafford’s request.”
ECDC director Janine Borne also shares resources and optional activities daily through the HiMama app. These resources such as a Color Scavenger Hunt or a Fruit Taste Test can be downloaded and printed easily, and most use items found around the house like cardboard boxes and cotton balls. All instructions are stored in HiMama for parents to access even after school reopens on rainy days, sick days, or long weekends at home.
While we miss seeing their precious faces on campus, we hope our students and their parents still feel loved and enriched by St. James during these unprecedented times. For more information about openings in our First Year, Second Year, or PreK-3 classes for next year, contact Admissions Director Julia Spaht at email@example.com.
With care in mind for our students, faculty, staff, and all our families, St. James Episcopal Day School is following the recommendations of our Diocesan Bishop and the Louisiana Governor's Office to close our buildings until we are directed otherwise. In response to this, we have shifted our learning into our students' homes, giving instruction via distance learning, offering prayers through video chapels, and keeping in touch with one another through technologies appropriate for our children.
We have taken the following steps to ensure we are supporting our parents and students during this time:
We are aware of the stress school closures place on many of us, especially those who are trying to work while tending to our families and often working in the same shared space. As we work through the challenges, our school leadership will continue to help keep our community of parents, students, teachers, and faculty connected. The St. James’ community will pull through this together. We are so grateful to all for taking on this challenge and believe that our school will be stronger having gone through this together.