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Back to School Night, Gibbons Style




Parents in main gym for presentation during Back to School Night 2019.

If, as the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, then visiting your student’s classroom and meeting his educators, would equal more – much more.

That was the general feeling among the new and returning parents who attended Back to School Night 2019, which took place on a recent Thursday. The evening is our school’s official welcome back event, and an opportunity to gather in fellowship as a parent community.

Parents in lobby chatting during Back to School Night 2019.

Indeed, over 1,200 Gibbons parents filled the main lobby after being greeted with a handshake, a smile, or kind words from educators. With their student’s schedule in hand, parents milled around the lobby, discussing classes, exchanging start-of-school stories, and engaging with one another and with school administrators and educators.
At 7 p.m., parents entered the main gym for the opening presentation.

As in all things at Gibbons, the evening began with a prayer, led by Fr. Daniel Oschwald. What followed was a heartfelt speech by Adam Castiller ’20, who talked about how engaging in Gibbons’ mission transformed him as well as others.

Principal Nancy Barkan chatting with parents during Back to School Night 2019.

That is a message Principal Nancy Barkan embraces and shares. “Engaging with our mission, all are transformed,” she often is quoted saying. Barkan also talked about the school year, which includes the opening of the Cardinal Gibbons Short Journey Retreat Center and celebrating our school’s 110th anniversary.

“The community was so welcoming, and everything was so positive," said Tracy Day  

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

For returning parent Kristal Kypson, this Back to School Night was even more enjoyable than her first. “Going through the classes, I felt like I knew what’s going on here, but I still enjoyed meeting educators and supporting them,” Kypson explained. She said the year ahead for her daughter, Caroline ’20, will be full of all things related to college.

Asked what advice she had for new parents, Kypson said: “Find one of the many opportunities offered to get involved with here that will give YOU joy.” 

Senior parent with Tonya Holmes and student at Back to School Night 2019.

 Kypson knows the power of engagement. She has assisted in the cafeteria, with office-related activities, and with the Christmas luncheon for educators, which she described as her favorite. “It (the luncheon) is one small opportunity to show educators they are appreciated,” she said.

Tracy Day, the parent of Harrison ’23, already is actively engaged. She serves as a Class of 2023 representative and Gibbons Family Association board member. Day said she also hopes to get involved in the parent outreach opportunities Gibbons offers as well as “to help wherever she is needed.”

“Doing so,” she explained, “will enhance my son’s Gibbons experience.”

About the evening, Day said, “the community was so welcoming, and everything was so positive.” 

Freshman parents at Back to School Night 2019.

Agreeing with that assessment is Ann-Marie Sales, who also is a Class of 2023 representative and Gibbons Family Association board member. She is the parent of Isabella ’23.

“Gibbons clearly loves my child,” Sales said. “Educators are leading by example and forming the whole package - a good student, a good athlete, a good Christian, a good person.”

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