On this hot and humid morning, the 2018-19 school year officially began for St. Thomas Aquinas High School. Today is the first day back for all students and the energy surrounding this homecoming was palpable. Salutes, high fives, and happy reconnections were visible at every corner. 197 Dover Point Road is alive again with youth, vigor and joy.
To launch the year, all students gathered in the gymnasium for the first of many Community Meetings. New initiatives such as SAINTS Block and Superfan were introduced. But, most importantly, the students had an opportunity to hear from their leader, Principal Collins.
With his characteristic humility and easy-going charm, Principal Collins spoke from the heart. His is, of course, a unique perspective as he sits atop the school triangle, a design shaped by faculty, staff and students. His words reveal what all know to be true about Mr. Collins. He loves his Saints and wants nothing but the very best for them.
Remarks from Principal Collins, August 29, 2018-
You are the finest students anywhere.
Let me repeat that: You. Are. The. Finest. Students.
I truly believe that...it’s not just an empty phrase to flatter you.
When I became principal at STA almost ten years ago, it was after spending over 25 years in the classroom...including 16 at St. Thomas Aquinas. And when I said “yes” to the position and moved from the classroom to the office, I knew what that “yes” would cost me.
I knew I would come to miss the daily interaction with my students, the give and take of a lively class discussion, the opportunity to learn as much from my students as they hopefully learned from me.
And, sadly, I knew that I would come to know fewer and fewer names.
That does not mean, however, that I haven’t been aware of each and every triumph, heartache, accomplishment, desire and need that you have had. Your teachers, the administrators, the staff, your parents and others sing your praises all the time...and frequently I learn just by observing you and your interactions with each other.
So, yes, I do mean it sincerely when I say you are the finest students anywhere.
But it’s not just a point of pride...for me it also carries an obligation. An obligation to provide you with the kind of high school experience you deserve.
Our theme for this year is “Raising the Bar.” For you, yes -- but asking students to raise the bar has always been an expectation. After all, it’s imbedded in our three word commitment to Challenge, Support and Transform.
“Raising the Bar” is also a challenge to the faculty and administration. We have always known that education was more than academics. But, by and large, we often tried to “squeeze in” those other components - spirituality, interpersonal connections, self-reflection, extracurriculars, and fun -- whenever we could find some space.
This year, we will make those things just as central to our core as the scholarly aspects by creating a structure that says “this is important.”
And so, we begin our commitment to raising the bar with this assembly -- the SAINTS Block -- the vehicle through which we will Serve, Aspire, Inspire, Nurture and Transform your SPIRIT.
Please join us in this commitment. Please help us celebrate you. And please help us create the high school experience that the finest students anywhere so richly deserve.
Thank you. God bless you. And welcome home.