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Ithaca Journal: Lone Catholic school in Tioga County may close

February 3rd, 2015, Promulgated by Ben Anderson

From the Ithaca Journal: Lone Catholic school in Tioga County may close

St. Patrick School has been a staple in Owego for 155 years. But like many Catholic schools in recent years, it is in danger of closing.

Prayer is in order for the bishop and all those involved.

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8 Responses to “Ithaca Journal: Lone Catholic school in Tioga County may close”

  1. avatar christian says:

    The financial estimate of tuition for a child K-6 at St. Patrick’s School in Owego appears be relatively low compared to what I remember paying for our children’s tuition at that grade level in Monroe County over a decade ago.

    I know it must be harder to get enrollment in parochial schools nowadays with the economy being in its present condition and so many people out of work or underemployed.

    But one thing I would like to say is for people who can afford to send their child or children to a parochial school, they will want to know the difference that this particular Catholic parochial school will have over sending their child or children to the local public school where they will not have to pay tuition. We decided on a Catholic school education for our children because we wanted the Catholic Christian identity and principles for education during our children’s formative years.

    One drawback we experienced though, was that punishment, suspension, and expulsion was not dealt out equally across the board due to the financial considerations involved. One potent example was a classmate of one of my sons who got beaten up on a regular basis one year, by a group of boys during the period directly after lunch when they were all sent out to the parking lot to bide their time before class began. This boy was rather slight and pale, and quite shy and timid. We learned there was no adult supervision during this considerable period of time while they were out in the parking lot.

    My son was quite concerned over this boy being beaten up by a group of boys on a continual basis. The activity had been started by a core group of boys and more boys joined in as time went by. My son reported the situation to adults, including teachers, repeatedly, yet nothing was done.

    One day, my son, out of compassion for this boy, went over and shielded this boy when the gang of boys went to beat him, and took all the punches for him. He came home in rough condition and relayed what had happened; how he intervened for this boy because he couldn’t stand to watch him being beaten anymore.

    I went into the school the next day, and talked with the principal. I told her that my son came home beaten up the prior day, because he told me he couldn’t stand to see this boy beaten up anymore and went over and shielded him, taking all his punches. I told her my son felt frustrated because he had continued to report the situation of this boy being beaten out in the parking lot on a repeated basis, yet nothing had been done. I questioned why the situation had still not been addressed and dealt with. The principal stated she was looking into the situation.

    I also questioned why the students were left in the parking lot for that period of time everyday, without adult supervision. I was told they had no one to supervise the students.(I was told all the teachers were at lunch during this considerable length of time).

    After my talk with the principal, my son reported to us that his teacher addressed the entire class as a whole and said all the boys that beat this boy up were like the soldiers who mocked, beat, whipped, and crucified Jesus.

    I meanwhile talked to the victim boy’s parents and relayed that I was concerned and had talked to the principal about the situation. I also told them that my son had been reporting the situation and even shielded their son one day. The parents stated they had also complained to the school.

    I questioned my son to if the students responsible had been disciplined and he stated not all of them. He said some of the boys involved had been kicked out of school, but the main few core group of boys which were really bad, especially the one boy who had started it, were all still there. I got the names of the boys who were the ring leaders, especially the main instigator. I then talked to the principal and she insisted all the boys that had been involved were removed from the school. I relayed that according to my son, not all of them had been removed. I stated that my son could not understand why the main group of boys, especially the one who instigated it, were all still there, and then I gave her their names. The principal didn’t comment.

    ***It turned out that the victim boy’s parents removed him from the school before the school year was through, while this core group of bad boys, especially the main perpetrator, remained at the school.

    1. I noted the parents of these core group of bad boys were affluent, held good jobs and positions, and were able to pay full tuition. They were held in high esteem by the principal. These parents would also be more in a position to bring a lawsuit against the school.

    2. The boys who were removed from the school did not have parents with good jobs and positions; and they probably did not pay full tuition.
    ***So unfortunately, children learned from a Catholic parochial education that in some cases, position and wealth outweigh the situation of right and wrong, and children of affluent parents are relatively untouchable.

    3. I really resented that my son was not listened to when he reported this other student’s victimization out of concern. We empowered our sons to be responsible and accountability and to do the right thing, yet as a good, truthful, compassionate, student, he was not listened to when he tried to get help for this boy.

    4. I do not think students should be left unsupervised especially outside in a parking lot, for a considerable length of time (and on a regular basis).

    There were other issues, but I am limiting my comments to this situation. Overall, we encountered some excellent Catholic teachers, and some very good ones, but there were a few others that left a lot to be desired to put it mildly.

    ***I think there needs to be consistency in Catholic principles and teaching approach among teachers and other employees of a Catholic school.
    Catholic principles of kindness, charity, compassion, and brotherly love need to be taught, emphasized and withheld.
    There should be no bias to position, title, or wealth in regard to disciplining students.
    And students should never be left unsupervised, especially for a considerable length of time, on a regular basis, especially outside.

    When you want parents to enroll at your Catholic parochial school, you have to ask yourself if you are able to offer more than a public school can. This also includes proper supervision and appropriate discipline. And this also includes treating students seriously and with respect.

    I would have to say if I was enrolling my children in a Catholic parochial school nowadays, I would pick St. John Bosco School or another Catholic parochial school run by parents (not the Diocese) with an excellent Christian curriculum and reputation.

  2. avatar gaudium says:

    Christian,

    I’m sorry about your terrible experience. Ours was different and we have no regrets about sending our children to Catholic school. We definitely could not afford it and sacrificed greatly to pay tuition even cashing in our life insurance and having no savings at all. They are such wonderful adults now. They are our heroes. I pray that your son will be blessed for his heroic actions in protecting another child.

  3. avatar christian says:

    gaudium – We sacrificed greatly to send our two sons to Catholic schools. We both worked full-time plus hours yet were very involved with the school and also our children’s education. Both of my sons grew in Christian virtue from childhood to adulthood. There are many stories involving both sons while they were quite young involving courage, thoughtfulness, kindness, compassion, and generosity toward others of all ages which touched us deeply as well as making us so proud of them. My sons have grown into courageous, kind, thoughtful, compassionate, generous young men. They are God’s heroes.
    Our children are our riches.

  4. avatar gaudium says:

    Christian,

    THAT’S what it’s all about!

  5. avatar TomS says:

    Cristian, I can relate to your experience in Catholic School. I attended a Catholic junior high school in Elmira, NY in the late 1970’s and had an absolutely miserable experience. I was verbally bullied constantly by a group of boys because I have a hearing difficulty and was very shy. As in your son’s friend’s situation there was a ringleader among the boys who was the chief instigator. Going to the principal did nothing and I ultimately went on to a public high school. My parents thought a Catholic junior high school would be better for me because the children would exhibit Christian values. However, this was not the case. I read in the news all the time how teachers do nothing about bullies, verbal or otherwise. This is not to say that all Catholic schools are this way, and I hope they are not, but this experience wounded me very much and shook my faith for a long time. As for the financial situation, my parents were not well off, much as the kid you were describing and some of the bullies came from well off families. It could be fear of losing financial support was the reason the principal did nothing, but I will never know.

    It could also be how one is raised. I was raised never to pick on or look down upon people because od differences or handicaps. Hopefully this Catholic school in danger of closing will be allowed to remain open and provide an educational and spiritual experience similar to the one Gaudium describes.

  6. avatar gaudium says:

    I am sure that bad — and good — things happen in public schools as well. It’s one of the reasons why many people choose to home school. Grouping our children into narrow age cohorts has a way of creating a Lord of the Flies environment in which the strong try to dominate the weak. Horrible but true. It seems odd to me that we put our children through an educational system in which they are segregated by age to prepare them for a world that is anything but. In my experience, the home-schooled children I have met are much more comfortable relating to adults and to other children of different ages than are children attending either public or private schools.

  7. avatar christian says:

    It’s interesting that you mentioned “Lord of the Flies” gaudium. That’s exactly the term I was thinking of in regard to what was going on in the parking lot after lunch in regard to that one boy being gang-beaten on a regular basis. My son was not friends with this boy. What was strange, was this boy was not grateful to my son for shielding him and taking all the punches for him. My son tried to be friendly and kind to him, but this boy rebuffed him. My son was sensitive and considerate of others, and couldn’t understand why this boy treated him in this manner. (I thought it might be due to embarrassment because my son shielding him from the gang attack highlighted the fact was being picked on and needed defending. I also thought this boy also lacked social skills).

    This situation of children left in the school parking lot unattended for a considerable amount of time; probably in the vicinity of 45 min.-1 hour, occurred at the elementary school level. The grade levels ate in shifts. The children had to get up after they ate and go out to the parking lot to allow other children to come into the cafeteria to eat, and remain there until their grade level class began. Any parent volunteers were put to use in the cafeteria to help all the students to get through the lunchtime and were strictly stationed cafeteria.

    The situation of the gang beating in the parking lot occurred within one of the earlier grade levels. Tell me, does leaving young children outside in the parking lot unsupervised, for a considerable amount of time during school hours, sound like a good idea to you? I think students should be supervised period, regardless of grade level, but particularly young children, especially outside. No thought was given of “stranger danger”-the possibility of a stranger taking off with a young child. Also, no thought was given to discipline and the possibility of things getting out of hand.

    My son was very frustrated due to the continuous reports he made to adults, yet nothing was done. The cafeteria monitors (volunteer parents) relayed it was their job to watch the cafeteria and they couldn’t go outside. The teachers he reported the situation didn’t take action because that would mean they would have to give up their lunch break or cut it short to go outside and find out what was going on. Apparently, they did not care that much to what was going on in the parking lot while they were at lunch, and it was probably easier and more convenient for them to dismiss it as kids squabbling.

    The mindset of particularly the principal, appeared to come from another time period. -A rotation of children daily, left outside in the parking lot unsupervised, collectively, for long periods of time. Also, the expectation that mothers were, or should be, stay-at-home moms who were able to come at a moment’s notice to the school if there was a problem. (Certainly, nothing against stay -at-home moms). The expectation that the father was the main and only breadwinner for the family and shouldn’t be bothered or considered responsible for their children’s academic performance or other issues at school.-Both parents should be involved with their children’s academic performance and other issues at school.


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