School isn’t just a building — it’s a community

By Erin Emerle

My timer just went off, alerting me that it is time to kick my sixth-grader off Google Docs because my kindergartener has a Zoom meeting with his class. The second-grader is posing her Flat Stanley on the stairs to get some staycation shoots for her project; Stanley is going to the “beach” (AKA bathtub) next. The third-grader is upside down on the couch but at least he is reading, so that’s something. Welcome to school during a pandemic!

Contributed
Lucy Emerle poses her “Flat Stanley” on the stairs as part of a class assignment for Lourdes Catholic School in Bettendorf.

My children miss their bright and sunny school building (Lourdes Catholic School in Bettendorf). They miss hugging their teachers and recess with their friends. They miss chess club, band and school Mass on Tuesdays. They miss all the colorful bulletin boards of their classrooms and the new graphic novel section of the library. They miss the book fair. They miss science labs. They miss dance-offs in gym and tambourines in music. They miss Miss Beth’s wonderful lunches. They miss basketball, scouts and robotics. They miss Mr. Sonny’s gentle reminders to tie their shoes, and the little ones miss him showing them how. They miss the weekly rosary, cuddled up next to their prayer buddies in the safe hush of the church. They miss being line leaders and door holders and Scientist of the Week. They miss a lot of things.

They miss all these wonderful things and will be so happy to have them back whenever they are allowed to return to 1453 Mississippi Blvd., but, until then, they still have a school. They still attend Lourdes Catholic School because a school isn’t only a building. It is the community, and pandemic or not, no one building can house that. No building could house how quickly and lovingly their teachers transferred lesson plans to function at home. No building could house how carefully all necessary materials were packed up and dropped off on porches. No building could house all the giggly Zoom meetings, the thoughtful emails, the willingness to be available whenever it worked for the parents still working; the mailed sticker packets and researched resources; and the staff and teachers who did all of this while adjusting to their own children being at home and needing them more than ever.

No building could ever house how creative and compassionate the staff and teachers have been over these unsteady scary weeks, finding every option available to connect and comfort the children they care for. No building could ever house that, but a fabulous, faith-filled school could.

(Erin Emerle is the mom to sixth-grader Will, third-grader Sean, second-grader Lucy, kindergartner Matt and 2-year-old Molly. They are members of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf.)

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