Our Lady of Peace School Puts Faith in Focus During Pandemic
Like schools across the state and country, OLP eagerly opened its doors after the Labor Day holiday to welcome students in grades PK3 to eight back to the classroom.
“Yes, things are visibly different, but our spirit is stronger,” Principal Maureen Kerr said. “Like all dedicated educators we have been working very hard to make sure that our students return to a healthy and safe learning environment, but at OLP keeping Christ the center of All We Do will keep us focused on succeeding.”
She said the school’s theme for the year, “In Christ, We Can,” is seen throughout the building. “We have signs and posters displayed on the walls, in the stairwells, in the restrooms etc., reminding all of us, ‘In Christ, We Can — Wear our Masks to Keep us Safe; In Christ, We Can — Wash our Hands for 20 seconds; In Christ, We Can– Keep Socially Distanced; and In Christ, We Can — Keep Each Other Safe Together,'” she said.
The theme isn’t just words, Kerr said. “It will be our actions that follow them that will define us.
“With every challenge we face within our school and our world, I can confidently say as both a principal and parent that our students are being taught to treat people the way they want to be treated, to be empathetic, and to be grateful in both times of trouble and times of triumph,” Kerr offered. “In Christ we can!”
Kerr referenced Pope St. John Paul II’s address to the National Catholic Education Association in 1998, when he said Catholic schools emphasized each individual’s, “duties to God, to themselves, and their neighbors.
“Catholic education aims not only to communicate facts, but also to transmit a coherent, comprehensive vision of life, in the conviction that the truths contained in that vision liberate students in the most profound meaning of human freedom,” he said.
Our Lady of Peace School has been recognized three times nationally for innovations in Catholic Education by the NCEA’s Today’s Catholic Teacher publication.
“We are so blessed to provide a Catholic education to so many students and families,” she said. “With the pandemic and everything going on in our world I have great peace of mind that the children in our school are learning and growing academically, emotionally, and spiritually stronger like never before.
The school staff has a veteran staff teaching more than 200 children. OLP continues to work closely with Catholic Schools of West Virginia Superintendent Mary Ann Deschaine, the Marshall County Health Department, and the WV Department of Health and Human Resources to keep her staff and students safe.
“For all of us this is an opportunity to show our flexibility and compassion, knowing we have to modify our efforts at a moment’s notice to ensure the best health and safety within our school and our community,” Kerr said, adding that it is a monumental task to combat an invisible and unwanted invader we call the coronavirus, but with community moral and financial support the school has positioned itself to remain strong and adaptable.
“We have secured funds not only to cover much of the costs of the necessary items needed for the sanitizing and disinfecting within our building, but also to obtain materials and programs to thoroughly educate our students on the importance of healthy living habits
“Like all schools we have put in place many measures to ensure the health and safety of our school families as best we possibly can such as newly installed wall thermometers at each entry way to check the students temperatures each morning, lanyards and masks to ensure our students have them to wear safely each day, cleaning supplies for each classroom, etc. We have adjusted our day and schedules to allow for guidelines to be implemented successfully,” Kerr commented.