Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Holy Trinity Catholic High School - And The Gem Within It
Earlier this summer I met with Lucy Moore, principal of the then yet-to-be-opened Holy Trinity Catholic High School, and we discussed her vision for the school. At the time I was impressed with Lucy's ideas, but of course it can be difficult to visualize when you are sitting in a conference room and trying to picture a school that will house students from Grade 7-12. So, a couple of weeks I ago I contacted Lucy and asked if she would be interested in giving me a tour of the school and talking about how start-up of the new school has been. Not only was Lucy interested she asked if we could do it the very next day, and so I found myself at the school the very next morning.
When you walk into the front doors of the school you are struck by the grandeur of the soaring atrium, beautiful and expansive. On a sunny day it must be astonishing, and even on a grey cloudy day it was lovely. I met Lucy in her office and she quickly took me on a tour to hit the highlights of the school.
We began in the theatre which is, quite frankly, a marvel. It's been designed to be used for many purposes, from live theatre to zumba classes using the big-screen HD. The school will use it for their drama and dance productions, of course, but after hours it is available to the community to rent for other productions and purposes. I find that absolutely brilliant, as nothing is sadder than a beautiful theatre sitting empty most of the time. Theatres should be vibrant and lively, full of drama and comedy and dance as often as possible - and that is exactly the goal with this theatre.
There are expansive backstage areas, dressing rooms and the like. Then there are the dance studios, the band room, the art room...so many doors were opened and shut, so many wonders revealed, that it was a bit hard to keep up with them. It seemed behind each door was yet another spectacular room, a room that had been carefully designed for maximum usage.
We also visited the student lounge, a quiet little spot where one student was plugging away at homework when we visited, and the kind of spot I wish had existed in my high school instead of trying to do my work in a noisy cafeteria or hallway. There was the lunch canteen and lunch area, an open space for students to mingle (but in a way carefully controlled by lunch hours staggered according to grade). There was the very impressive area being prepared for the special needs students who will begin at the school in January, an area where they can be a part of all the school activities but also have the quiet and privacy they will occasionally require. There was the two gymnasiums, one huge and open, one smaller and more intimate, but both designed carefully for the needs of this specific student population.
We visited the photography and computer labs, rooms full of my beloved Mac computers (those who know me well will tell you I am never much more than 10 inches from some Apple product, from my iPhone to my iPad to the MacBook Air from which all these posts are written). The library, with a huge poster capable printer, impressed me too, as the written word is dear to me. We visited classrooms, and one in particular that housed an area referred to as the "publishing corner", where budding writers and journalists can write and publish their own words (this, people, thrilled me beyond speech, and Lucy's grin when I saw it showed she knew she had hit this target).
We also visited the regular classrooms, where Lucy explained how the desks had been specifically chosen because they could be moved into various formations, allowing different teachers to group students in circles or squares or whatever shape best suited their intent. She showed me the small rooms that would hold a student or two and perhaps a teacher, rooms designed as a quiet place for students to study or work one-on-one with a teacher if they were struggling.
Lucy showed me the small tables on the second floor, tables that look down over the atrium, and she told me how she had observed a student sitting there alone one day, eating her lunch, listening to music, and how that student in another setting, such as a busy lunch room, might have looked out of place and lonely. She commented instead that this student had a little spot all her own and seemed happy - and people, that sang to me because for a couple of years in high school I was "that girl", who often ate lunch alone and who longed for a place to do it where I could feel at peace and not out of place.
There was the second floor fitness room, filled with exercise balls and floor mats for fitness classes. There was the piano room, filled with Yamaha keyboards, and, as Lucy noted, a wonderful option for those students who cannot afford prohibitively expensive piano lessons.
Every door opened to another wonder, another amazing thing - and yet as we went on I found myself looking less and less at what was in each room and more and more at the true marvel of Holy Trinity - principal Lucy Moore. When I was in high school there were a couple of years when I would have been hard pressed to pick my principal out of a crowd as he came out of his office exactly twice, once for the opening assembly, and once for the closing assembly. But not Lucy Moore. No, Lucy is a hands-on administrator, out there picking up tiny pieces of garbage from the floor (and people, that's the cleanest school I've seen - ever), and answering questions from the students when we walked by (when I was in high school I would have never asked the principal a question - especially since, as I noted, I doubt I'd have recognized him). Before the school was built Lucy examined the designs of the school in minute detail, and adjusted everything as required. I doubt anything escaped her notice, from the lights to the doorknobs to the desks. She is exacting and detailed and incredibly, incredibly inspiring to me. You know what I wish? I wish Lucy had been my principal in high school. I'm not saying it would have changed the trajectory of my life, as I'm pretty happy with how it's turned out, but I think it might have changed how I looked at my high school experience. I think having a woman like Lucy as my leader would have shown me that there is a place for everyone in high school, even shy girls who eat lunch alone and aren't yet quite sure where they fit in. People, I think Holy Trinity is an astonishing, amazing school, beautiful and a treasure in our community - but I think the true gem in that school is a woman named Lucy Moore. People, I love Lucy, and I'm not even slightly ashamed to admit it.
Congratulations to Fort McMurray Catholic Schools on their lovely new school - and my thanks to them for putting a passionate, visionary person like Lucy Moore at the helm. I think she will steer this ship, and the student passengers, with confidence and dignity. I think these students are in for the best voyage of their life, and I wish them all a safe journey along the way to adulthood.