On March 17, 2020, life changed as we know it due to COVID-19.  As for school, we sent students home that day thinking we would all be back in a short while.  Of course we all know that was not the case as we did not return to school for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.  This has been a very difficult time for our Sacred Heart family.  This includes our students, our staff and all of those associated with our school.  There have been emotional and financial strains.  So many questions and trying to find the right answers.

It seems years ago that on Saturday, March 14, 2019, our boys’ basketball team celebrated winning a state basketball championship to where we are now a hundred days later.  During that time much happened.  We educated our students remotely over the next two months.  We had to make very difficult decisions including how to honor our seniors who were wrapping up their high school years to ready themselves for college and beyond.  We missed out on tremendously important fundraisers for our school including the biggest fundraiser of the year our Booster Club Auction/Fun Night.  We had an unexpected change in our administration that we did not see coming.  It truly has been a difficult time.

I have to give our teachers credit for how they handled the last two months of school.  If anyone thought our teachers caught a break and that they had an easy last two months of school due to our building being closed, think again.  Our teachers had to work even harder.  Going from face-to-face to remote learning wasn’t something that we were ready for.  No schools across the world were ready for it.  Our Sacred Heart teachers jumped right in though.  They learned on the fly how to reach our students through online platforms, zoom conferences, packets, and many emails.  They participated in trainings to learn these new techniques.  They spent extra hours developing lessons needing to be delivered in new ways.  They worked together and helped each other in this unprecedented time.  We could have taken an easier route but instead we did what we always do; strive for excellence and set high expectations.  Yes there were some mistakes made along the way but we did accomplish much during this time.  We weren’t perfect but we tried to be under the circumstances.  I also want to give our students and their parents (and grandparents) praise for their response to this new way of learning.  For our students and families that wanted to continue learning, this happened.  Our students and their families having the ability to adjust to this new way of learning is commendable.  Thank you for being so supportive during this time.

On April 17, I found out that Fr. Jirovsky was being moved to Wahoo Neumann to be their new CAO and that the Diocese was not sending us a replacement or a priest to take his place.  I was angry and sad all at the same time.  Then it became a feeling of worry.  How will we make this work?  How will our Sacred Heart family take the news?  How can we stay strong when it seems like we’ve had such a tough last three years?  Can I do the job to be the CAO of our school?  Can we find a K-12 Principal especially this late in the school year?  I continued to work and pray as we finished out this different kind of school year.  I worried much.  Finally on May 18, we were happy to announce that we have a new K-12 Principal, Jenny Dunn.  We have a person that understands how our school works and what it is about.  Jenny will do great work as she is motivated and hard-working.  I look forward to witnessing Jenny’s leadership.

Thank you Father Jirovsky! You came to Falls City Sacred Heart during a very difficult time.  Definitely not your normal circumstances.  In March of 2018, you were in a meeting in Lincoln when I expressed to a group of priests that our school community was hurting and we needed a strong leader to be our CAO.  I did not know you but you answered the call and volunteered to be that person.  You came in and calmed the waters.  You were just the kind of leader we needed at that time.  I will forever be thankful for this.  I very much enjoyed working with you.  You were great for our students.  Great for our teachers.  Great for our families.  Great for me.  Good luck and take care my friend!

The 2020-21 school year is fast approaching.  What will it look like?  What plan does God have in store for our school?  We continue seeking guidance from many places on how we will re-open school in August.  The Nebraska Department of Education, the Diocese of Lincoln Education Office, our ESU4, the Southeast District Health Department, Falls City Public Schools and local officials are all part of the planning for the 2020-21 school year.  There is great collaboration going on between many different people at many different levels.  I am thankful for this.  As we receive more information and guidelines, we will be developing our plan for how school will look for us in 2020-21.  There is still a great deal of work to do to prepare for a new school year.  We have a strong relationship with Falls City Public Schools which has only grown stronger during the pandemic.  I am thankful for this.  We are working closely with Mr. Heckenlively and Falls City Public Schools to develop the best plan for our students and families of our community.

Finally, I want to say I am thankful for Sacred Heart School.  It was a great school for our three children and our whole family has benefited from it.  We are appreciative of what Sacred Heart has provided our family.

Sacred Heart School – a family educating heart, mind, body and spirit for this life and the next.  Thank you.