I'm humbled. I transitioned from ICS principal to the CSF Director of Schools position in July of 2019. Believe me, I knew I had huge shoes to fill, but I was up to the challenge. The school year started off smoothly. Everything seemed to be going well. Then COVID-19 erupted and shook our world.
Given the economic fallout of COVID-19, I have been wondering if it's OK to ask people for assistance. Don't get me wrong, I believe in our cause wholeheartedly. We educate well-rounded young men and women who go on to be leaders in our community, in our state, and in our world. We educate our students to be men and women for others. As the mom of a soon-to-be Monroe graduate, I assure you my son's education has proven invaluable. Doors have been opened for him.
We started the Spring Matching Fundraiser with $35,000 from generous donors to match your donations. This is lower than the $100,000 of years past, but times are different. Bert and Becky Bell proved I was wrong in my assumption. They called to ask why they had not been asked to participate in the matching pot. (Becky graduated in the Class of '69.) With that, the Bells upped the matching pot to $60,000.
These schools are not possible without significant financial contributions from generous donors like you. This week, 20 of you gave more than $12,000 toward our goal of $60,000. Alumni, parents of alumni, past staff, past parents, and current parents all came out to support these schools. Additionally, some of you made good on pledges or renewed pledges. I'm humbled to be a part of this generous community.
Amanda B. Angaiak
Director of Schools/ President of Monroe Foundation, Inc.
P.S. Your matching donors are Bert and Becky '69 Bell, Jim and Sandra Haselberger, and Skip and Linda Johnson.
Stories from Jordan Higbee, Class of 2020
Around school, Jordan is known as “the sports guy” and for good reason. If he had been able to finish out the school year, he would have played on six Monroe sports teams: football, soccer, hockey, basketball, baseball, and track. "Very few schools can offer the opportunities I have been given here at the Catholic Schools of Fairbanks and I will always be grateful," says Jordan.
When asked about his favorite high school stories, Jordan talks about a sports-related memory that took place his freshman year of high school. Jordan missed a practice the week before the football team traveled to Barrow for a game. The coach, Coach Comeau, made sure Jordan knew not to miss practice again. "The whole weekend was filled with conversations, reminders, and incentives to be at practice from now on," remembers Jordan. The team lost the game 64-8. Jordan remembers it being the worst game the team played that season and he was beat.
Coach Cogley, the assistant coach, entered the team room and said Coach Comeau wanted to talk to Jordan. "My teammates were all saying things like “good luck” or “we’re praying for you” and that worried me," says Jordan.
"When I walked in the coaches room, Coach Comeau asked if I knew why he’d been so hard on me. I told him it was because I missed practice the day before we travelled. He said that wasn’t it. What he said is still motivating me today. He said “I’ve been on you so much because you are special. If you keep working as hard as you have been working these past few weeks, there is no doubt in my mind you’ll be the next football player from Monroe to enter the college ranks. Keep working and there is no doubt in my mind you’ll go far.”
They say the best athletes make the worst coaches because they expect others to be able to perform at their level. Jordan says, "I’m lucky, because I’m not a great student, but I am able to help others learn. I know how hard it is sometimes."
To fulfill his 50 hours of community service (required of all Monroe graduates), Jordan tutored ICS elementary students. He worked on math with third graders, social studies with the fifth graders, and spelling with the second graders. "I had such a great time volunteering, my service hour total was closer to 100 hours."
"Things like tutoring elementary students in the same building, mentoring kindergarten buddies, participating in MAGIS houses, and all school Masses make Monroe special. Without Monroe, I would not be the person, student, athlete, or friend I am today. This is a sincere thank you for helping to make these stories possible. I'm only one of the hundreds of children you have helped provide Catholic education for - it's working. It is my hope you will continue to support these schools."
What you'll need:
3 ripe avocado
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp sald
1 or two Roma tomatoes
Cilantro (fresh or dried)
This video could also be called "Coach O Unedited." Coach O is seeking a new, more qualified videographer. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have the qualifications. Just kidding!
Thanks to incredible community support, our annual Spring Fundraiser has been wildly successful in years past. As a member of this school community, YOU have been a part of this success. We are grateful. This year, you and I both know our world is different. The Spring Fundraiser Matching Pot is a bit different too. Thanks to Skip and Linda Johnson and Jim and Sandra Haselberger, we have $35,000 to match your donations. As we forge ahead into the unknown, we hope you will be able to continue to support our schools in some way. Perhaps you are unable to give financially and we completely understand, but maybe you can help spread the good news of our schools. With that, I give you good news:
A week after Spring Break, we implemented distance-delivery of education. Given many years of diligent planning and school-wide technology integration (we implemented our one-to-one iPad program in 2014), we were able to pivot quickly. All students in 1st through 12th grades have school issued iPads. These enable us to "push" academic content directly to the devices. These iPads also allow for seamless integration with our Google platform which allows students and teachers to "meet" virtually. There have been challenges along the way and the "new normal" is not always comfortable, but together, we're making it work and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.
Many of our parents have shared celebration stories in regards to this "new normal." They have praised teachers for their communication. They acknowledged CSF students' abilities to transition to online learning and stay engaged. They said they were getting to know their children/grandchildren in a new way. Someone mentioned a child getting up at the same time everyday to "work" alongside his parent from home. Some parents mentioned how watching a child video chat with peers and teachers brought a smile to their face. And finally, a student asked if a virtual class could be longer than the allotted one hour. How often do students want to stay beyond the bell? My heart is full.
While change is often uncomfortable, it can present new opportunities. Our CSF team has taken advantage of the new opportunities change has presented and will continue to work and grow on behalf of our students and families.
Speaking of growth, check out one of our members of the Class of 2020, Jenna Hernandez. Jenna has grown up at the Catholic Schools of Fairbanks - from pre-K through 12th grade. You won’t want to miss some of her CSF stories below. Each week, we will highlight someone from the schools to include students, teachers, and current families.
As always, thank you for your continued support of our students and these schools. We are grateful to have you as a member of the greater Catholic Schools of Fairbanks Community and we keep you in our prayers as we weather this pandemic together.
Amanda B. Angaiak
Director of Schools/ President of Monroe Foundation, Inc.
Stories from Jenna Hernandez, Class of 2020
Jenna is a self-proclaimed "volleyball girl" through and through. She says her coaches - David and Demi Obermeyer, Megan (McAfee) Stepovich, Kristy Parrish, and Laura Wayfield - helped her grow as a person both on and off the court. Jenna is pictured above with fellow senior volleyball teammates. From left to right: Madelaine Muramoto, Chloe Maynard, Jenna, and Lilloette DeMeritt.
"My most vivid memory from the volleyball program has to do with senior year regionals. The night before we traveled, I endured a personal hardship which left me very emotional and unmotivated. However, my team, coaches, and great friends came out to support me. They rallied around to help lift my spirits in a very touching way. In fact, having that support of a family on and off the court distracted me enough to pull through this tournament and play the best I have ever played. That, along with the rest of my team and coaches' hard work, resulted in us winning the regional tournament and many of us (including myself) winning All Tournament Honors and Awards."
Jenna also highlights her experiences as a member of the CSF community. She says her friendships span all grade levels - from her kindergarten buddies to her fellow graduates in the senior class.
"Since I'm a CSF ‘lifer,’ I have had the special opportunity to build friendships with many of the same people since pre-K. I am proud to call my classmates my brothers and sisters. We have all been through a lot together, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world."
The ICS/Monroe kindergarten/senior buddy program allows kindergarteners to learn from seniors and helps seniors explore what it means to be Loving. "The kindergarten/senior buddy program has come full-circle for me," says Jenna. "I still see my senior buddy from my kindergarten days around town. This year, through the kindergarten buddy program, I have been able to mentor younger kids while building close-knit friendships."
The smaller Monroe community has also helped foster inter-class relationships. "I mean, let’s face it - we all share the same two hallways so it was bound to happen," she laughs. Jenna talks about a friend in the sophomore class who has supported her unconditionally. "I am happy to call her my “sophomore soulmate."
"Having these lifelong Monroe friendships has granted me chances to understand what it means to belong to a community. Most importantly, I know what it’s like to be a part of a family who brings me closer to God. I simply couldn't have gotten this experience anywhere else," says Jenna.
CSF pre-K teacher, Ms. Conni Shabram-Beach, shares a hymn that is near and dear to her heart. It's called "All is Well with My Soul."
Imagine Jesus walking beside you today as we reflect on Luke 24:13-35, The Road to Emmaus, with Mrs. Balko.
My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Stir the following together until no lumps remain:
1/2 cup salted butter softened
1/2 cup brown sugar (or a bit less)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (or a bit less)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup plus 2 tbs flour and 1/2 tsp baking soda
Stir until dough is smooth. Finally, add chocolate chips (1/2 cup or so) or whatever else you like to put in your cookies (oatmeal, sprinkles, raisins)
Bake for 8 minutes.
Yield 24 cookies (depending on how much of the dough you eat)
Today, Mrs. Angaiak fielded questions from our school community about everything from fundraising to graduation and fall athletics.