Despite the many obstacles brought forth by the pandemic, Saint Elizabeth Parish School was proud to be able to uphold many of their annual traditions throughout the past school year. Students attended school in-person for the entire year, with only three weeks of virtual instruction due to quarantine issues.

“Not that I would look forward to doing this again, but this experience has reinforced that when the student body, faculty and parents all work together as a team, we can make things happen,” said Principal Dr. Diane Greco. “Our students were fortunate to have the opportunity to be with each other in person, which I feel created a new appreciation for school and an improved work ethic.”

While many schools around the country were forced to halt their traditional non-academic activities, staff and students at Saint Elizabeth Parish School worked to keep most of them in place. “Wherever there was a work-around, we tried our best to do it,” said Dr. Greco. “We had to change the format of many of the activities, but we made sure they were inclusive events in which all students could participate.”

These traditions included a virtual Back to School night, the annual kickball tournament, the installation Mass for the National Junior Honor Society, a virtual Christmas concert, Catholic Schools Week, a school-wide pizza bingo event, the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday.  The parish school children in grades two and seven participated in the parish celebrations of First Holy Communion and Confirmation this spring, too.

“We held our annual school-wide pizza bingo and realized the format change was actually very positive. In lieu of a sold-out crowd when this event was held in the evening, all students were able to participate since we held it during school via the PA system. The gym was filled with prizes and students from grade 8 were stationed at each classroom door helping to run the games. It turned out to be such a fun event,” added Dr. Greco. “Our Student Council and National Junior Honor Society remained active so that all grades participated in Christmas projects as well as service projects. The Yearbook committee remained in full swing and all of our students have a yearbook to commemorate the school year.”

She went on to say, “The most meaningful event was being able to present the Living Stations of the Cross, which is a big tradition. This was a milestone because we filled the entire church with students socially-distanced and masked. We had only four practices due to a 14 day quarantine of the eighth grade, but the students executed everything perfectly. I was so proud of them. This wasn't a show or performance; it was a truly prayerful service. The older students were aware that they were demonstrating the Passion of Jesus for the younger students during this very moving event and they did it so well. It was such a hopeful celebration.”

In conclusion Dr. Greco remarked, “Although there were many challenges a great team spirit was built along the way. We had 60 people, between staff members and volunteers, who worked hard to keep the school going this year. Teachers and substitute teachers really stepped up and helped make things happen for our students, especially when fellow teachers were forced to quarantine. The care and support our entire school community put forth was very heartwarming. Being constantly vigilant is emotionally challenging but everyone recognized that the only way to make things work was to work together.”

Students and staff at Saint Elizabeth Parish School have also curated a book entitled, “The Year without Basketball Nets” which includes each student's reflections on the historical 2020-2021 school year!

  • Julia Krumenacker