Connelly Contact Summer 2020 – Head of School Letter

Letter from the Head of School

"We are each other's harvest; We are each other's business; We are each other's magnitude and bond." - Gwendolyn Brooks

At first blush, it might seem that unity is an ironic theme for a magazine issue published in a year that found the world in isolation. After all, it was just a few months ago that students, faculty, and staff hastily scooped up all their laptops, books, files, and potted plants thinking that the arrival of the novel coronavirus would prevent school from returning to session after spring break.

Set up at makeshift workspaces at dining room tables or at desks in their bedrooms, Holy Child students continued with their classes. Holy Child was not closed. Things were just different.

Our amazing faculty pivoted quickly to this new way of teaching, instructing students via Microsoft Teams, while staying mission-centered. Our student body demonstrated amazing resilience, remaining positive and engaged in their work, amidst the disappointment of the cancellation of spring sports, prom, and so many other Holy Child traditions. Our administration worked hand in hand with teachers to iron out kinks and make changes when something wasn’t working as well as it could.

Community is the heart of Holy Child. The isolation of the lockdown was difficult for a school that thrives on interaction, collaboration, and sisterhood. During this time apart, we looked to the stories of Cornelia Connelly’s determination and resolve to guide us through this challenging time. Even in a community like ours, unity is something that we have to work toward and invest in. It’s easier to feel unified when everyone is wearing the same skirt, playing on the same team, and praying in the same chapel. Virtual trivia nights and bingo parties, socially-distant surprise Ring Day celebrations, and musical performances delivered electronically gave us the connections we craved. We found new ways to pray together, celebrate together, and stay connected.

As the summer began, the country was reeling from the senseless murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Rashard Brooks. The outrage felt across the nation was felt in our community, too. Alumnae reached out to share personal stories and current students rose up in support of Black lives everywhere. A new group, “Tigers for Black Lives,” participated in a caravan - organized by current seniors Jaden Faunteroy and Lola Hill in which dozens of cars traveled together from Bethesda to Potomac, displaying signs with messages of unity. The caravan concluded with a moving gathering on the turf field (you can read Jaden’s speech on page 28). Tahana Augustin, a member of the class of 2016, was instrumental in bringing together alumnae who shared their deeply personal experiences of microaggressions, code switching, and feelings of invisibility. Because of brave alumnae like Tahana Augustin and motivated students who spoke out, Holy Child is listening intently, learning, and committed to being an antiracist institution. I look forward to sharing all the great work our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Steering Committee (consisting of students, parents, alumnae, and faculty) are doing this year in our winter issue.

As I write this, it is the middle of summer, and the pandemic is still raging in many parts of the country. Like all schools across the U.S., Holy Child is planning the start of our school year, contemplating the many variables and moving targets. In spite of so much uncertainty, I am confident in the unity of the Holy Child family. We will continue to be flexible, creative, and innovative in our instruction whether in-person or virtual. We will continue to find ways to stay connected, create bonds, and make memories. We will be responsible citizens and respect guidance that will keep our friends and family safe, and pray in unison for the health and welfare of our community. It is because of bonds of our united community that we not only weathered the storm, but discovered strengths we didn’t know we possessed.

I am so honored to be a part of this incredibly special community.

Dr. Shannon Gomez, Head of School