January 5th, 2024
Lunar New Year Party
(Pardon the cropping, and small photos!! We'll plan photo ops better next year.)
Before I go any further, it is imperative that I first give a huge thank you to our two St. Therese parents, without whom, our LNY celebration would not have happened. Tram Pham (left) and her husband Souk, are proud parents of 4th grader, Oliver. Thuy Le (right) and her husband Vu, are mom and dad to 6th grader, Bao Ky. Together, Tram and Thuy are the masterminds behind the event! They have put in countless hours over the past year, planning, organizing and executing the spectacular celebration that we all had the privilege of enjoying last Friday. Let's just say that they completed their Fair Share hours, long long ago. Of course, it took a huge team to help with the heavy lifting, and we thank every single person who contributed to the event. In true St. T. fashion, it takes a village and the village showed up! Tram and Thuy were the driving forces, and we couldn't have done it without their vision and execution!
To everyone who helped out, I extend the same sincere gratitude, but the list would never end if I attempted to get everyone! The beautiful thing about Lunar New Year, and all of our school events, is that they are for everyone! We have a large Vietnamese population of students, but everyone contributed and participated--because that's who we are.
Thank you also to Father Gabriele for giving our event and our student body a foundation in the liturgy every day, and literally doing so by beginning the festivities, in mass on Friday. Father Gabriele was gracious enough to welcome his brother priests to our school to share in the celebration. As he mentioned, Jesus is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, so it was only right!
Stay tuned for many more pictures from the big day...
Catholic Schools Week, in Pictures
We have been so busy, that the wonderful photos of our events had to play second fiddle to the events themselves. I have been meaning to get these out to you. These are primarily from the different days of Catholic Schools Week. Stay tuned for the photos from the Lunar New Year party.
Upcoming Dates and Events
- February 12th - Choir practice resumes after school at 3:30 - 4:30
- February 13th - Class parties for Valentine's Day - Because Valentine's Day coincides with Ash Wednesday this year, class parties will happen on Tuesday instead. Please see specific notes from your child's homeroom teacher.
- February 14th - Ash Wednesday - 8:30 a.m. school mass, with distribution of ashes. Please join us for mass.
- February 14th - 8th Grade students selling bouquets, and flowers as a fundraiser, before and after school.
- February 15th - Sacramental preparation classes with Ms. Lavagetto after school.
- February 16th - Pizza lunch.
- February 19th - Presidents' Day - No school.
- February 20th - Archdiocese Inservice - No school for Students.
- February 21st - School mass
- +++++++++++March 4th Monday - Make up school day for snow days. 1/2 day with noon dismissal.
***Notes from 8th grade parents and volunteers:
- They will be selling flowers and goodies before and after school on Wednesday.
- Student Store operating after dismissal on Thursday.
- Pizza for sale for lunch on Friday.
- They send a sincere apology to any student who did not receive the correct order last week for lunch. Those students will receive a free lunch this week to make up for that. In the case that they don't like pizza, they will be reimbursed.
****Holidays, inservice days, early release days, and other special events will affect these days.
- Choir Practice : Mondays 3:30 - 4:30
- Student lead school Masses: Wednesdays 8:30 a.m. (Holy Days of Obligation will affect these mass times)
- Student Store: Thursdays at dismissal
- Pizza Fridays: for all students, at lunchtime on the last day of the week (Friday)
- Vietnamese Enrichment Classes: Fridays after school
Feel free to download these order forms, cut them in half, and send your child's order to school as early in the week as you can. The hard copies of the forms will go home with your child tomorrow also. Still, earlier the better! Thank you!
As requested by some, the story of why I adore LNY.
Why does Mr. Schoning get so excited anyway?
On Friday I told a story about my experience with Lunar New Year. A couple folks asked me to retell it, so here goes. (By the way, we are investing in a new sound system in our gym, so I hope you'll be able to hear it more clearly next year!!)
I had the opportunity to begin my teaching career in Phoenix, AZ. I quickly knew that I loved teaching and working with kids, and almost as quickly I was looking for a way to get out of the desert and back to somewhere green. I finished my contract in AZ, and a few job boards later, I found myself packing all my earthly possessions into a big duffle bag and boarding a flight to Vietnam, on a one way ticket. I accepted a job teaching English at a small school in the ancient town and former capitol, of Huế, Vietnam. I was supposed to be away for 9 months, which turned into close to a decade.
I fell in love with my surroundings, new culture, language, food and people. There was no way I could head back home after just one year. After a few years in my new home, I challenged myself to see if I could forcibly shake my infatuation with Vietnam. I took a job in Myanmar, and I loved that experience too! Ultimately, I found myself back in Vietnam after my contract in Mandalay, Myanmar finished.
One of my favorite things about living in Myanmar was that I found a Catholic church where mass was said in English. When I returned to Vietnam, I continued attending mass and told myself that I would continue studying the Vietnamese language, so I didn't need to find an English mass. Turned out that was easier said than done, but I stuck with mass. I became a parishioner at Phu Cam Cathedral in Huế. I'd be lying if I didn't mention that I was also drawn back by a smart, devoutly Catholic young woman who ran a NGO by day, and lead the youth group at Phu Cam Cathedral in her free time. She and I ended up getting married in the same church with the wedding presided over by Uncle Duc, my wife's favorite relative, who is a Catholic priest. We started a family and a few years later returned to Portland to see how we would like living here. I missed Vietnam, while my wife was enjoying the mild Oregon weather after a life in the tropics. I was seeking out Vietnamese everything: restaurants, schools, cultural events, church groups, and anything in between. For a long time, we attended mass at La Vang, where many St. Therese families are parishioners. I really wanted our kids to have a connection to their other home, culture, language, food, and traditions.
I got a call announcing the opening for principal at St. Therese and the person encouraged me to apply. "No way," I thought. I was unsure if I was ready to take on the huge responsibility. That was right up until I visited and saw the community for myself. I recently told Tram (LNY chair) that while it may sound silly, the first thing that got me really interested in St. Therese, was hearing about the Lunar New Year celebration. I was excited to have a place close to home to take my family for a LNY party--the fact that it was a Catholic school was a bonus!
Tết is the Vietnamese name for Lunar New Year, and it is a clumsy comparison to liken it to Christmas in the west, but there are similarities. Christmas started out as a religious holiday to celebrate Christ's birth, but like many things, it has been commercialized by toy companies and Hallmark. Tết, on the other hand is a cultural celebration throughout Asia, but as Catholics in Asia, it is centered in our faith, family, church communities, and in mass. In Vietnam, we would usually attend mass twice on the evening of Tết, once in the morning and again for midnight mass.
As I told Tram, "Tết for me was always about family, faith, togetherness, respect, and joy. I love it all, the meaningful traditions, and the party. For me personally and for my little family, it is indeed a big deal. The celebration is important to us, and I want our kids to have a real community connection to their culture and history. Thank you for doing the heavy lifting to ensure that for the whole community." Again, huge thanks to Tram and Thuy and the whole St. Therese community for celebrating with us!
I left for Vietnam with a duffle bag of clothes and a Lonely Planet travel guide. I came back with much more precious cargo, my family. I'm also forever grateful that traveling overseas was a big curve along the road map of life, towards St. Therese.
Happy new year! Chúc mừng năm mới!!
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Summer 2024 camp topics:
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