A couple of weeks ago, Tod “Skip” Johnson, who attended CSF through 9th grade and would have graduated with the class of 1962, stopped by to hand deliver a check for $25,000.
“This is to help with teacher salaries,” he said. “My wife Linda and I would like to make it an annual contribution.” We are grateful for their gift.
Teacher salaries have been a long-time struggle at the Catholic Schools of Fairbanks. Given our tight budget, and lower teacher salaries, it is often difficult to attract and retain the best talent. That said, we do have many fabulous teachers who have accepted a pay cut to be here.
If you take a minute to think about your childhood, what comes to mind? I’m going to guess your most vivid memories involve people. Maybe your friends, maybe your parents, maybe a sibling, or perhaps a teacher. Here’s one of Skip’s memories from his freshman year at Monroe:
Sister Paul Xavier – circa 1950s
It was a dark winter morning. I had arrived early at school as I did many mornings. Dim lights lit the school halls and the empty classroom where I sat working on homework that should have been completed the night before.
From the hallway, I heard the padded footsteps of Sister Paul Xavier. She had also arrived early to prepare for her day. As she entered the room, we exchanged pleasantries and then went about our respective business. After fifteen minutes of quiet, she came to sit next to me in the back of the room.
Sister spent a few minutes developing her purpose and then asked, “Skip, Why have you been ignoring your natural talents by acting like a wisenheimer? Why not put effort into your studies?” *A person who behaves in an irritatingly smug or arrogant fashion, typically by making clever remarks and displaying their knowledge.
She went on to remind me that ignoring my skills could lead to a lifetime of accepting less for myself. “This is a tragedy that too many inflict on themselves,” said Sister Paul Xavier.
Over the years, I have revisited this dark morning memory many times. I thought about it when I worked in Boeing’s “Think Tank” and again when I ran the flight testing of the 747. And now, it’s with me as I pass on wisdom I’ve learned to my children and grandchildren.
Sister Paul Xavier, who taught French, made a significant impact in my life. It’s important to “bring your own dog into the fight of being successful.”
Share your ICS or Monroe memories with us! Tell us about the teachers who made an impact on your life or your child’s life. We will compile the memories and share them in the newsletter and on our website.
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Mail: PO Box 71620, Fairbanks, AK 99707
Call: (907) 456-7970
August 9 - Back to School Social
Sept. 22 & 23 - MF Super Sale
Each year, we hold this large sale before HIPOW for items we are not able to auction (used furniture, for example). If you were thinking about having a garage sale this summer, but would rather not, consider donating your items to this sale!
As the basketball coach and athletic director, I am most often associated with the gym. In fact, I am sure many would assume this is the place I find myself the happiest when I am at work. I do spend a lot of time in our gym, however, this is not the room I enjoy the most.
So, I am sure the wheels are turning as you try to figure out the place in this building I enjoy the most. My wife is probably thinking bathroom–wrong. And, yes, I love the little kitchen in HIPOW where I find coffee and often some sort of snack. But, that’s not it either. Give up? The answer is the chapel.
In May, as I sat in Baccalaureate, it hit me. This is the room where I truly feel most connected to our school and its Community. Let me be clear: this is not a “Catholic thing” or necessarily even a “faith thing.” It is a “connection to those we are closest to” sort of thing.
Have you ever sat in the midst of a group of elementary kids and listened to them sing together with passion? If you have, you know what I mean.
I can pray and feel the presence of God just as easily in the gym as I can in the chapel. I don’t need a chapel to feel closer to God. However, it is here, more than any other place, where I feel we, as a Community, are one.
The chapel has provided me with no shortage of examples of excellence. Whether it be a solo by Emily Anderson or Ciara Newman, the guitar play of James Johnson or a Homily by the Bishop or Father Vance, seldom do I walk out of the chapel unmoved by the passion and commitment of someone in our school Community.
It’s in the chapel that we gather in support of those who are mourning the loss of a family member or loved one. It is during these moments I realize the power of this Community and it is at these moments I am strengthened by the knowledge of knowing if something ever happened to me, each one of you would be there for my family.
I work in the gym, I play in the gym and I have shared in great joy within the walls of our gym. However, next time you see me in the gym and it appears I am the happiest I could ever be, understand it pales in comparison to the strength, love and togetherness I feel as a member of this Community when I am within the walls of our chapel.
This partial story is reprinted from The Full Curl, published weekly by Coach Ostanik. You can find Coach O and Monroe Athletic results on Twitter @thefullcurl.
Buzz Otis, CSF community member and father of Ben ‘07, Patrick ‘12 and Jenna ‘15, and husband of Renee Webb-Otis.
Sam Richard Brice, great uncle to William Brice ‘16.
Donna Gavora, longtime CSF music teacher and HIPOW co-chair with her husband Paul in 1975, passed away in March. Parent of CSF board member Dan Gavora, Jennifer Button ‘84, Carrie Sachdev ‘86 and Matthew Gavora ‘89. Grandparent of Peter ‘16 and Lucas ‘15 Button, Dylan ‘14, Alexis ‘13, Chris ‘12, Nick ‘10, Cali ‘08, McKenzie (Koch) Kline ‘03 and Ben Koch ‘01.
Luke Bessette ‘99 passed away in June. Luke was living in Hawaii.
Gordon Depue, CSF supporter, passed away in June. He was 82.
Charla (Davis) Bodle ‘00 and husband Chris welcomed baby Noelle in March.
Michelle (Thompson) Kelly ‘01 and husband Diego welcome baby Fiona on April 11.
Weddings & Engagements
Carolyn Berg ‘04 married Jaron Sprong. The couple lives in Tucson, AZ.
Robert Purcell ‘98 is engaged to be married this summer.
Alyssa Norris ‘13 was named Outstanding Junior at WSU Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture.
Jalon McCullough ‘15 joins the University of Alaska Fairbanks basketball team this year.
Megan Schreder ‘10 was highlighted in a recent News-Miner article. Megan teaches fifth grade at Arctic Light Elementary (located on Ft. Wainwright) and serves in the Air National Guard.
Some of us spend a lifetime trying to figure out our calling. For others, it comes to us at a very young age. This is the abbreviated story of twin sisters Mariah and Sierra Minder who graduated from Monroe just seven years ago–2010–and their recent paths to find and follow their callings.
Mariah knew she wanted to be a doctor in the third grade. Sierra, on the other hand, has done a lot of “experimenting.”
“I was in Ms. Ward’s class,” Mariah remembers. “I had just watched the movie A Walk to Remember*, and I really wanted to know more about the main character’s illness. We went on a field trip to the public library and I started checking out all of the books I could on cancer.” *A Walk to Remember is a heartwarming story about a young girl who bravely battles cancer.
At this point in our conversation, Sierra chimes in. “She was so into cancer that I think the school faculty was scared someone in our family had been diagnosed. No one had, Mariah was just very interested in the subject.”
Mariah and Sierra both attended Gonzaga University. Sierra double-majored in psychology and political science. Mariah studied biology and had the chance to work in a lab sequencing the genomes of bacteria-infecting viruses.
It might not surprise you that Mariah went on to study medicine, she is currently in her third year of medical school at the University of Washington. Last summer, she traveled to the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) in Kampala through UW’s Global Health Immersion Program for 10 weeks.
“There is one cancer center in Uganda, so everyone who has cancer goes to UCI,” explains Mariah. “For a medical student, this is a great place to be.”
Sierra visited Mariah for a couple of weeks at the tail end of her stay in Uganda. Both sisters enjoyed their time there, but the experience especially touched Mariah.
“There is a lot of misinformation about cancer over there,” explains Mariah. “Part of my project was to educate Ugandan high school students about where cancer comes from. It was both educational and rewarding.”
Sierra’s post-collegiate endeavors have been a little less targeted than her sister’s.
“I’ve tried all sorts of things,” she says. Sierra coordinated former Governor Sean Parnell’s election campaign in Fairbanks. Then she worked for Conoco Phillips ‘up north’ in the oil fields for a winter.
Sierra also spent over a year in Washington, D.C. where she worked in the judicial and economic policy portfolios for Senator Dan Sullivan.
“I enjoyed my time in D.C.,” says Sierra, “but I felt called to try a path outside of politics.”
After receiving financial assistance from Gonzaga’s School of Law, Sierra moved back to Spokane and started law school last fall. She says the best part is getting to hang out with her little brother John (Monroe class of 2014) who is studying engineering at Gonzaga.
“I’m not sure where law school will take me, but I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be,” Sierra says optimistically.
Mariah recently completed her surgery rotation in Seattle and is off to Boise next for family medicine.
You might be wondering about love. “We’re too busy for that right now,” they chuckle.
Both Sierra and Mariah know one thing for certain: their education at Monroe prepared them for whatever lies ahead.
The HIPOW procurement committee met last week. As we brainstormed business donations and package ideas, it occurred to us the vast majority of the businesses discussed are local. They include Gene’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, Seekins Ford Lincoln, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, Denali State Bank, Gavora’s Fine Wine, Fort Knox, Mt. McKinley Bank, The Prospector and so many more.
These businesses are owned by people who live and work in Fairbanks and recognize the importance of giving back to community. Not only that, but they recognize the value of our schools.
Several weeks ago, a school parent called looking for a list of businesses that supported the Catholic Schools of Fairbanks. She wanted to shop for graduation gifts at these businesses and say “thank you.” We don’t know who this parent is, but if she’s reading this, we would like to say “thank you.”
Donations and tuition go hand in hand
All of the money raised at HIPOW and throughout the year helps keep tuition affordable. Monthly tuition is set at $677 (K-8)and $847 (9-12). We recognize not all families can pay this amount. So, let’s say a family of two students in the elementary grades pays $1,000 monthly. The gap of $354 (between tuition collected and full tuition) is filled by generous donors, both businesses and individuals alike.
When possible, please help us support the local businesses that help make our schools possible.