Saint Paul's Choir School Update

April 18, 2020

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Throughout the last two weeks, we have experienced the worst of the global health crisis in our own back yard and every aspect of our school, professional and personal lives have been disrupted. For our teachers and students, we have begun to transition to a new normal as our response to learning from home is becoming more routine even though it continues to evolve and change. Easter Week and the spirit of the Risen Lord’s promise of redemption is a welcome antidote to the immediate anxiety that surrounds us. I have found strength and great hope in the multiple ways that our community have imitated Christ’s message of hope and love. I am inspired by our teachers and humbled by our students who are all responding with tremendous flexibility, enthusiasm and energy to make the most of a situation that we know is less than ideal. I am also keenly aware of the tremendous support our parents and alumnae are giving so generously to help us achieve our goal to maintain our excellence in the face of this pandemic.

Our most exciting news came this week. April 15 was Decision Day for the students who were admitted to Saint Paul’s Choir School for next fall. Mr. Moran was thrilled with the response, which tallied twelve positive responses and two who are deferring to future years. Today he sent out welcome letters to all new families, and I encourage you to welcome them into our community when we have the opportunity soon. With the equally encouraging news that all our current students are expected to return next year, our enrollment will be strong and our early grade class at capacity. Mrs. Flaherty reminds everyone to send in their enrollment packages as soon as possible.

We remain open to the possibility that some families who have not been introduced to SPCS may find our program of outstanding academics and choral mastery compelling. Mr. Moran welcomes inquiries. He has also opened our summer program for registration. Designed for boys and girls ages 5 to 10, two or our new admits were introduced to the school during our inaugural Summer Chorus Program last year. The program is packed with fun activities and features a phenomenal music staff. Check here for details and spread the word to families with young children.

While we are experiencing learning conditions that are like nothing any of us could have imagined, we continue to improve and make progress towards meeting the educational needs of our students. This week we rolled out a new schedule that provides more structure to every day of the week and clearly marks out times for students to receive instructional support for the myriad of subjects and music lessons we offer at school. Our teachers meet at the beginning and the end of each day with their homeroom classes to pray, check in, share good humor and, most importantly, assist the boys in organizing themselves for a productive day. A different mix of classes and related assignments are offered each day and hence require elevated skills in navigating due dates and managing time effectively. For the boys who need extra help, teachers hold special tutorial sessions. Individual voice and piano lessons are carried on via Facetime or Zoom. The boys are provided some free time to complete assignments and practice voice or piano exercises. The schedule includes time for boys to attend the daily Mass that is streamed live from St. Paul’s at 11:00 every day.

As the elusive date for returning to school at 29 Mount Auburn Street appears to be increasingly pushed into the future, we believe it unlikely that we will return before the end of the academic year. Families should begin to plan, as we are, for this reality. This past week our faculty conducted, at my request, a complete survey of the learning goals and objectives we had at the beginning of the academic year and where we stand now with five weeks behind us since the shift to learning at home. The good news is that due to our quick response, we lost very little time of instruction. Yet, as we assess the realities of what is possible under the circumstances, the assessment revealed that there will be some areas of our objectives we will not meet. Overall, we are in good shape and expect to meet ninety percent or more in all subjects. Our boys will advance to the next grade with modest gaps that we are confident we can address with appropriate remediation during the summer and next year.

Many of you have inquired about specific ways to help address financial challenges related to the COVID-19 and postponement of events such as our Annual Gala and Spring Concert. I’m pleased to share that, with the leadership of our Parent Guild and the support of the Board of Advisors, we have established a plan to have a Day of Giving to provide financial resources to help us meet the payroll needs of our wonderful staff and to support scholarships for our students who qualify for financial assistance. Gifts designated to the Day of Giving are unrestricted and will be allocated as needed at my discretion.

Allocations would include:

  • resources to help faculty maintain and enhance the online delivery of our rich academic programs;
  • scholarship aid to families with financial need;
  • supporting the school community with unbudgeted expenses prior to the end of the academic year or during the summer as we establish programs to ameliorate learning gaps or re-engage the choir for rehearsals and performances.

As we head into a week of vacation, I recognize that there remains much uncertainty about the future. I ask that we all draw upon our past and the rich tradition of our faith as a guide for what to expect in the future. Our School history is marked with remarkable achievement most significantly as a choir school, in which boys combine their voices to make beauty come to life. Our Choir School’s innovation and determination is most powerfully exhibited when the fullness of all are playing their parts. Our enduring legacy has taught us that one of our most familiar — yet greatest — responsibilities is to pass on that sense of united strength that choirs so wonderfully and beautifully represent.

I ask that you reflect upon the Choir School motto, Repleatur os meum laude tua, through your commitment to our larger community and civic responsibility, and in the ways that you may choose to support the Choir School as we navigate these exceptionally challenging circumstances.

I wish that you remain blessed for you and your loved ones to stay safe and healthy during the Easter Season.

With all my love,