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A Night of Engagement
Rachelle Garbarine

One by one, the students talked about the uniqueness of Cardinal Gibbons by sharing with the audience the feelings - Supported… Harmony… Belonging - the school stirs within them. Following their lead, Principal Jason Curtis spoke about how he feels working with what he described as the most dedicated, and loving group of educators. He also thanked parents for entrusting to them the care of their students.

Parents engaging with parents at BAck to School Night 18.

That was just part of the opening presentation for Back to School Night 2018, which took place at 7 PM on a recent Thursday. The evening is the official welcome to new and returning parents, and an opportunity to gather as a parent community and to meet educators.

Assistant Principal for Instruction Nancy Barkan welcomed parents, who packed the gym for the opening presentation. As in all things at Cardinal Gibbons the evening began with a prayer. What followed were talks by Science Educator and Director of Leadership Formation Gabi Burn’08 as well as by students, Rob Treadway ’19 and Jack Pendergrass ’19. The speech by Erin Daley ’20, who was unable to attend the presentation, was read by Director of Technology Lesley Coe. 

Principal Curtis then spoke about how excited he was for the parents not only to meet, but also to introduce themselves to their student’s educators. In addition, he encouraged parents “to find out what is going on and to discover their role at Cardinal Gibbons.”

Educator Sarah Kuszai at Back to School Night 18.

About what is going on at school, he talked about the purchase of the Short Journey Retreat Center, which will open as the new permanent home for Cardinal Gibbons’ retreat program next year; and about the continued growth in curricular and co-curricular programs, including internships as well as leadership and service opportunities. “Our students,” he said, “demonstrated they would take these programs further.”

He went on to explain The Cardinal Gibbons Fund, which makes possible all the programs, offerings, and opportunities the school provides to students. “The fund,” he stressed, “matches our students’ passions, which are unlimited.” He also told parents their support was needed to enhance the school’s endowment, which will ensure Cardinal Gibbons’ future for our children and grandchildren.

In ending his talk, Principal Curtis spoke about engagement. “Having our hearts and minds changed only happens when we are fully engaged,” he said. “Our vision is for every single student and every single parent to be engaged.”

After the presentation, parents left the gym to follow their student’s class schedule and visit each of their student’s educators.

Freshman Parents at BAck to School Night 2018.

It was an exciting evening for first-time Gibbons Parents Kimberly Brackett-Jones and Todd Jones (pictured right). Their son, Carter, is a freshman, who Kimberly said is “learning plenty, getting involved, and loving Gibbons.”

About the evening, Kimberly said: “We not only got to meet and hear from each of our son’s educators… but also got a glimpse into what his daily experiences at Gibbons are like.”  She also said she was struck by the school’s supportive environment. “There is much to be anxious about in the world,” she explained, “Cardinal Gibbons seems to strike an excellent balance between real responsibility and the room to breathe, learn from mistakes, and genuinely grow…”

As their last Back to School Night at Cardinal Gibbons, the evening was filled with mixed emotions for returning parents Jamey and Kevin McCarthy, whose daughter, Tess ’19, is “embracing every aspect of her senior year,” noted Jamey. The couple’s son, Ryan, is a 2014 graduate. The couple pictured below with science educator Joleen Smith.

Senior Parents with Educator Joleen Smith at Back to School Night 18.

“We are surprised by how quickly the time has passed… and know these moments of our daughter’s senior year will be fleeting,” said Jamey. “Cardinal Gibbons has exceeded our expectations at every turn and it has been a wonderful journey for our entire family.”

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