How would you describe Freshman Parent Focus 2018? "More than 350 parents caring for parents," Director of Parent Engagement Kerry Mann said, not missing a beat.
Examples of engagement were on display throughout the annual event, which took place on August 11, from 8 A.M. to noon. Indeed, as soon as they stepped on campus Class of 2022 parents were engaged by a spirited and loving school community committed to welcoming them, sharing the school's mission, and explaining that the transition to high school impacts more than just their freshman student.
"The most important part of this day is that parents begin to experience the joy of being part of the Gibbons Family and discover the different possibilities for their personal joyful journey over the next four years," said Michelle Jacobs,
co-president with Karen Woomer of the Cardinal Gibbons Family Association.
"The most important part of this day is that parents begin to experience the joy of being part of the Gibbons Family and discover the different possibilities for their personal joyful journey over the next four years," said Michelle Jacobs, parent of Anthony '20 and Lauren '18. She is co-president with Karen Woomer (parent of Craig '19 and Kevin '17) of the Cardinal Gibbons Family Association, which sponsored the event, now in its fourth year.
In that time the event - which includes Mass, four information sessions, and lunch - has grown in popularity. It also has remained "grounded and framed around the four pillars of the Family Association: Share, Spirit, Support, and Partner," noted Jacobs. The sessions, led by parents, offered insights about life at Gibbons and touched on such topics as Gibbons website, dress code, and carpool line. The program ended with lunch and continued fellowship.
"Every year, a new group of parents design each session for the incoming freshman parents based on their freshman year parent experience," she added. "They are passionate about welcoming the new families to Gibbons and strive to demonstrate for them what our Gibbons Family is like."
Among those parent presenters were Jessica and Mike Kaeding. They are the parents of Payton'19 and Regan'21. "I tried to remember how I felt four years ago as a new parents of an incoming freshman," said Jessica Kaeding, a sophomore class rep. "I know I had uniform questions, khaki confusion, carpool anxiety, and no idea where the attendance office was located! I did my best to share the important day-to-day workings of the school so that these new parents felt more prepared as they start these first few weeks of school."
Mike Kaeding added that his advice to parents was, "to get engaged in something at Gibbons that interests you. It's the best way to meet other parents and to start developing their own Gibbons network. In his session Mike talked about DadCRU, saying that he "wanted parents to understand the wonderful community that is Gibbons tailgating, and Dads to know that there is a fun opportunity for men to get involved in support of the school while building relationships and camaraderie."
Whether parents were just beginning their Gibbons journey or are veteran Gibbons parents, the program had something for everyone. Just ask Julie Sperrazza, parent of Mollie '22 and Christopher '19, who attended the first Freshman Parent Focus as well as the most recent one.
She said she attended this year's program for two reasons. "The first was that I wanted to be involved. It isn't enough to say, 'been there, done that' because each of my children is different and I wanted to feel a part of the 2022 class as well," Julie noted. "I also attended because I am on the Family Association Board and I wanted to show my support and the many ways to get involved in the Gibbons community."