We honor our seniors for the countless achievements we have witnessed over the last four years. We have enjoyed helping students learn, watching them compete, seeing them perform, assisting them as they navigate challenges, and laughing and praying with them each and every day. We are so proud of the class of 2020. May God bless you abundantly.
Closing Remarks for the School Year, June 2020
As a student, I was lucky enough to have a handful of remarkable teachers, wonderful people who opened my eyes to new intellectual worlds and broadened my sense of self at the same time. By some feat of magic these gifted professionals managed to be the most challenging and the most popular teachers in the school. They lit fires in the minds and imaginations of their students, and they inspired them -- to be better. I believe Totino-Grace is full of this brand of educator.
I think Totino-Grace students standout as well. Often it just takes a simple conversation with a TG student for people to come away impressed. It’s easy to see their goodness.
As we all know, the pandemic turned school operations upside down this past March. To make things more challenging, many of our families faced economic hardship and personal issues. It’s been hard for a lot of people. Like other schools Totino-Grace developed a distance learning program with very little warning. Above all else, we understood that students needed their intellectual and social-emotional needs attended to. We weren’t going to mail it in and teach to the lowest common denominator. That’s not the TG way. Students need authentic learning, real engagement and that’s what we sought to accomplish. So, what did I see this spring?
I saw teachers invite humor into their classrooms. There is nothing better than for students to have fun while working hard.
I saw teachers personally check in with their students to make sure they were okay: academically, socially, and emotionally.
I saw teachers commit to extra classes, beyond even office hours, and students take advantage of these opportunities – because they care about their own learning.
I saw choir and band teachers initiate new methods to create music in ways that have never been done at TG before.
I saw teachers use Socratic methods to invite thinking, debating, and conversation. That’s what good teachers do: challenge students to defend a potion and to think about how decisions impact others.
I saw Campus Ministry offer space for students to learn and talk about their faith while also exploring social justice issues.
I saw guidance counselors reach out to students who were battling through self-doubt and anxiety. Who does experience self-doubt occasionally?
I saw students write and edit. I saw them create projects. I saw them step up to the challenge – because they have goals and know that education will take them far.
That’s right, I saw students hungry to learn and move ahead, willing to be patient with their teachers as they maneuvered through Google Hangouts and Zoom classrooms.
And I saw students fight through screen fatigue in order to engage their own learning and make their parents and teachers proud.
As the president of our school, I am proud of how our school responded to the pandemic. Teaching online is not about watching a video, reading an article and then responding to a worksheet. It is an all-in venture. Our students rose to the occasion. They bought in; they worked hard.
Totino-Grace is planning to open campus for the 2020-2021 academic year as scheduled. We need to be together, on campus. We will continue to work with public health and government officials to provide for the necessary safeguards but we are cautiously optimistic in our intention.
TG Administrators are making plans and will share more information in the near future. In the meantime, be safe and be good to each other. Have a great summer.
And always remember... Live Jesus in our hearts. Forever!
Dr. Craig W. Junker, President
Evidence clearly shows that for students to really excel they need to have at least one “go to” teacher in the building who believes in that child and is willing to listen, challenge, and encourage. The enjoyment of learning and teaching comes down to relationships and how students feel about who they are and where they are going.
On behalf of our teachers, staff, and administration at Totino-Grace, my thoughts and prayers are with all of you as we face the incredible challenges and impact resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The strength of a school is a direct reflection of the strength of its people -- in particular teachers and students. The schools shining now are the ones that are moving forward, focusing on their students. To be clear, I like what I see in our students and teachers at Totino-Grace.
My prayer is that we look for tenderness and love to always guide us, that we are a sign of strength and peace to others, and that we remember that God is love. After all, we are the love that God is. I hope you have a blessed Easter.
I am a fan of cheering on our students. There is nothing more satisfying to see hard work pay off. On behalf of Totino-Grace High School, I am very proud of our dance team program. What an incredible run our E’gals have enjoyed.