Goodbye, St. Stephens School! We will miss you!
By Joey Cancelmo
We all know that sinking feeling when you learn something shocking, a feeling in the pit of your stomach that leaves you with a deep sense of loss.
This happened to us with the closing of Saint Stephen’s School on Grafton Hill. The school email, followed by an automated telephone call announced that due to low enrollment, the Catholic school, one of the city’s last “parish” schools, would have to close its doors. Forever.
For my family, St. Stephen’s was more than a school! When we first took our little daughter Gigi to an open house there, we met her future teacher – who had also been a student there. The experience was remarkable. The gleaming hardwood floors, the large chalk boards adorned with alphabet letters and pictures, the tiny desks, and mostly the feeling of security.
It is a big step for new parents: school for your little one … your child is off to an education! The school you chose for him or her is a BIG decision that can impact another person’s life. The wonderful energy that radiated throughout the St. Stephen’s building was part of the attraction – and the sense of security you feel when you are with people you love, like family.
We were told the little brick school was like a small family, and we would be included. When that first September rolled around, it was true – we had a young lady – Gigi – who came to us as a Foster Child, and we took her in as our own. We started the education process with a “day family” to keep Gigi safe and to teach her the social aspects that will be the foundation of her future.
This started at the school three years ago: our little girl in a maroon school uniform and a classroom full of children who were going to navigate the next 10 years together, before us having to choose the right high school. Well, we already did that: Notre Dame topped our list.
Two years of Pre-K for Gigi, leading to this year’s entrance into Kindergarten and a new style uniform crashed to a halt, leaving an empty hole in our hearts.
The closing impacted so many: We immediately felt bad for all the teachers, administration, the principal Mrs. M, all the volunteer parents and after-school program staff – the list is quite huge.
So with the new school year rolling closer, and now with the uncertainty of how classes will be taught in America and Worcester and actually visiting a new school to see if we can find the “connection” – it is all an arduous task, to say the least.
Education as we have come to know it has to make an about-face! I remember as a youngster watching the Jetson’s cartoon show on TV. I watched George Jetson and family communicate through their TVs and computers and ZOOMING! from their disk-shaped home nestled amongst the stars and planets. I think that pop imagery from my 1960’s childhood is now fact!