Food, football, and family have developed into the defining trademarks of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Yet, over the past two years, it has become difficult at times to recognize the blessings in one’s life amidst all of the horrors and struggles that everyone has undergone. As we emerge from this pandemic, students and faculty have begun to reflect and give thanks for areas of their lives that they often overlooked before the pandemic.
“I have spent a lot of time thinking about this question,” said St. Louis U. High president Alan Carruthers. “I think there's a variety of things that I have learned to value even more because of the pandemic.”
For Carruthers and others, the pandemic made them more appreciative of their families and their presence. Many have family members that live out of state, or in Carruthers’s case, outside of the country.
“My parents are visiting me and my family right now and they hadn't seen their grandchildren for two years now and I hadn't seen them in two years,” said Carruthers. “So just the ability to see one's family, and just to be with them is so great. I am so grateful for that opportunity, and have learned to appreciate it.”
Students, though, have a completely different reason for a new outlook of gratitude for their families. During the pandemic and quarantine, the only social interaction students had was with their families, leaving many to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with their parents and siblings.
“I am really thankful for my parents because the pandemic was a tough time where I didn't really see any of my friends or really go anywhere,” said senior Chris Brooks. “I became more connected with them emotionally, just because I talked to them so much and spent a significant amount of time with them.”
While the pandemic provided newfound opportunities to grow in relationships with one's family, it created a period when bonding with friends was limited to FaceTime and texting.
“I have become so grateful for being able to see people face to face,” said senior Matt Kluba. “When you see somebody's eyes you can only tell part of their story and only connect with them on one level. But when you see their nose or mouth, their cheeks, you get the full pie, not just two pieces.”
During the height of the pandemic, when one had the chance to see their friends, these encounters often had to be extensively planned out. Gone was the era of spontaneous meet-ups and frequent adventures with friends, a luxury that most took for granted before the pandemic.
“I am grateful for spontaneity. I felt like the pandemic made it so that everything had to be planned,” said Math teacher Tracy Lyons. “You had to know who was going to be there? Where had everyone been before? I like to be able to just go, ‘oh, we're gathering here. Great. I'm ready. I'm coming. I'll be there when I get there.’ But for a while that luxury disappeared.”
“This year I am extra grateful for mobility,” said senior Ismael Karim. “For the ability to go where I want, when I want in order to see the people that I love.”
Separated from their beloved members of the SLUH community, the pandemic made many realize just how grateful they were for in-person learning and the community of SLUH.
“I realized the positives of in-person learning compared to online learning and am so grateful for being in a classroom with my fellow students and teachers,” said senior Jared Thornberry. “I realized that a key part of my learning came from being in a classroom and seeking one on one help from a teacher.”
Over the course of the past two years, the school has undergone many intense shifts, forcing
teachers to adapt to teaching in a block, hyflex model. These switches threw teachers into uncharted territory and relied on their fellow faculty members for assistance.
“I'm very thankful for Mrs. McBride, Mr. Dickmann, and Mr. Griggs from the IT Department. Technology is not a strength of mine,” said Social Studies teacher Tom Kickham. “We have had to rely on them a lot because of the pandemic and they've always been very available and very patient to help keep us going.”
SLUH is formed of many different vibrant communities, and these communities helped keep many of the faculty and students encouraged in even the toughest times.
“I'm grateful for this community of Jesuits that I live with,” said Principal Fr. Ian Gibbons, SJ. “And for the great witness that we've been to the city in our responses. They have been a great source of comfort for me in the pandemic and I am truly grateful for that.”
“I am grateful for my good health and for this community,” said Food Service Consultant Kathy Hylla. “The fact that I maintain not getting sick with all you guys, thank you so much. I am just so grateful that I get to come here every day and see you, boys. That is truly a great and incredible gift.”
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