I distinctly remember going back to school in the fall as a child growing up in New Jersey. At Catholic grade school – they call it Grammar School in the east – I can still vividly recall the smell and feel of a new, white shirt, fresh out of its plastic wrapping. After removing the pins and cardboard inside the collar, it was still pretty stiff the first time I put it on. Adding a new, knit tie completed the torturous process.
I must tell you the truth, in case you haven’t already figured it out. I didn’t like returning to school back then, especially because of how hot it was immediately after Labor Day when we started – also a change from modern day where we get a jump on school in mid-August. Of course, we also had no air conditioning. How great would it have been to begin classes in the comfort and coolness of the beautiful Mongan Academic Building in St. Martin, or the wonderful, new, state-of-the-art campus in OTR?
As I got older, going to high school, then college, I actually began to look forward to the start of the school year. I got to see old friends again, and was anxious to make new friends of the people who arrived at school for the first time.
Then in law school, attending at night as an adult learner with a family at home, I went year-round, and discovered all the things we now know about learning and academic progress: that going to school in the summer has many advantages. We know from reliable data that students who attend fall, spring and summer semesters retain more knowledge, have a better chance of success, graduate sooner, and with less debt. That’s a winning combination! You should consider it next summer, for sure.
So, if you are a new student, welcome! If you are returning, welcome back! I hope you will reconnect with former classmates, and make new friends.
Chatfield is a friendly place. One of our Ursuline core values is to create a community of support for one another. Make it a point to say hello to someone who might look lost, or confused, or overwhelmed. Give them some encouragement or simply a kind word. You might be beginning a friendship that will last a lifetime.
And please stop me in the hall when you see me, too, to introduce yourself. Be ready for me to ask you about your classes, your instructors, and your academic progress. Like the rest of our board, faculty and staff, I am interested in you, committed to your success, and proud to have you as part of the Chatfield family.
Have a great semester. See you at Chatfield!
-John P. Tafaro, President