Magazine article Momentum

A Catholic Relief Services Global High School Shares

Magazine article Momentum

A Catholic Relief Services Global High School Shares

Article excerpt

French author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry instructs through a beautiful parable about the complexity and delicacy of developing ties and forming relationships. In Saint- Exupery's story of The Little Prince, the title character goes on an odyssey meeting a variety of individuals. Often the Little Prince does not know how to communicate or interact with those whom he meets on his journey. However, at a critical point on this odyssey, the Prince meets a Fox and this encounter changes everything for the Prince. It is the Fox who guides and teaches the Prince of the delicacies, responsibility and the mutuality of forming a relationship. According to the Fox, unless one builds a relationship with a person and grows true understanding, that person will remain indistinguishable from the hundreds of thousands of people in the world-and you, too, will not be "unique" or special to him or her. The Fox sets the ground rules for relationship building and instructs the Prince to meet him every day in a large field at the same time each day. Each day, the Prince arrives at their designated spot and sits a little closer to the Fox. Finally, with patience a unique relationship of trust and admiration is formed.

The relationship that has been established between, Bishop Shanahan High School, Downingtown, Pennsylvania and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is much like the Prince and the Fox in Saint-Exupery's time honored story. The relationship began with a natural disaster and a community response.

On January 12, 2010, the earthquake that destroyed portions of Haiti evoked an immediate response from the Shanahan students who were anxious to do something, anything that might lessen the suffering of the Haitian people. At a school liturgy the following week, baskets were passed and a collection was taken. Students, parents, and faculty generously responded with a collection totaling more than $7,500. The next task was to find how best to make sure that the people of Haiti received the much needed funds. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia's Office of Catholic Education recommended Catholic Relief Services. The relationship between BSHS and CRS was begun.

In the Spring of 2010, CRS contacted Bishop Shanahan and offered to provide a presenter from Haiti who would come to Shanahan and speak to the students. The presentation offered pictures, maps, and an explanation of the reality of life after earthquake and how the CRS funds aided the Haitian community. The students' minds and hearts were ignited by the presentation. The compelling question was how the Shanahan School Community could continue to help those in need who are beyond the US borders.

Bishop Shanahan students, like all teenagers, have noble hearts and want to make a difference. The motto which guides our school community is to strive to be "People of God and People for Others." Shanahan students have always been philanthropic by nature. Each week, Wednesday is titled "Charity Wednesday." In Religion classes, students make a free will offering for student- designated charities, which may be either local, diocesan or international.

In 2011, the school community began its preparation for Middle States reaccreditation. Students were members on the MSA planning team. When it came time to select objectives which would guide Shanahan over the next seven years, the memories of CRS presentations about international need and the opportunity to learn and grow, while responding to those needs immediately caused the planning team to select Global Awareness as an Action Plan for Middle States accreditation. The Catholic Relief Services curriculum became the compass offering a well developed curriculum, annual themes, teacher training and student presentations.

In the school year 2012-13, Bishop Shanahan designated a Global Awareness Week with the theme, "Scarcity of Water." Students made videos, wrote poems and prepared art work with this theme as the center. Both students and teachers were pleased with the exploration and student response. …

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