Amid school closings, students offer important lesson

By Kevin Durso
January 19, 2012

I am a lucky person.
I’ve never had to deal with the loss of a parent. I’ve never gone to sleep at night wondering when my next meal would be. I’ve never had to live without a roof over my head. And, most importantly, I get to share each day of my life with people I love.
The recent news of school closings has taken a personal meaning in my life and my home. My sister is a sophomore at St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls, one of five high schools recommended for closure by the Blue Ribbon Commission in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
I am a 2010 graduate of Father Judge High School, the brother school to St. Hubert’s. I spent four years at that school. I haven’t been back there since.
Sometimes, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
Some might say this is a classic “boys will be boys” moment. And, yes, in seeing students from both ends of the spectrum, young men at Judge make high school seem like prison. The young women at Hubert’s make high school seem like home.
Judge students want to move on as soon as possible. Hubert’s students want to hold on to every day as long as they can.
Judge students have always had the opportunity to be grouped with the Bambie sisterhood through activities. The two schools hold a “Battle of the Sexes” competition every year, and students from both schools team up in everything from theatrical productions, to dance, to athletics and cheerleading.
In my four years at Judge, I never stepped foot in St. Hubert’s. I came to understand this family of sisters over the year and a half my sister has attended the school. And despite not having much association with the school, the announcement of its recommended closing was difficult to take.
My alma mater isn’t closing. If I didn’t go back for another five years, chances are I’d still be able to go back to where I came from. For Hubert’s students, especially the many I know who are either current students or recent graduates, that opportunity will no longer exist.
My sister has said that she has no regrets about attending the school, even as its doors prepare to shut for good in just a few months. Why? Friendship.
I once heard a saying that started with the line, “fate controls who walks into your life.” Through my sister, I have met quite a few people it has been my privilege to come to know. While there is no definitive answer, I’m certain that one of the keys to happiness is friendship.
I made some good friends in high school, but found that you tend to make more through other people. Some will last. Many fade.
I told a good friend of mine, also a 2010 Judge grad, in light of the announcement, that we really needed to make it a point to return to our old stomping ground.
I’m a sentimental person when it comes to certain things. And while I do hold fond memories of my high school days, I haven’t kept the place that provided many of those memories in mind.
My high school life consisted of strumming my guitar or banging a drum at everything from football games to jazz competitions. It didn’t take long for me to realize that part of the beauty of being part of a group is that it is a collective effort.
Age really is nothing more than a number in most cases here. As I learned in the band room at Father Judge High School, and furthermore here in the newsroom of the Loquitur: no one person is more superior to the other because of age.
Both operate as a unit, and their success feeds off of one another. A writer needs the assistance of an editor to create a masterful story, just as a melody needs a backing rhythm to form perfect harmony.
When I talked to some of these students, just days after the closing announcement, I found that while the pain still existed, the fire that they were fighting with had overtaken any sadness they may have still been carrying. And to be honest, you couldn’t tell the difference.
These students act like nothing happened. They act like every day is just another day in the life of the school, which for them, will never die. And they do it because they have each other.
Look at the front page of any newspaper, turn on the radio or local news and what you’ll find is daunting. We are living in a world, and even more frightening, a city that struggles on many ends. School closings are coupled with accusations against our own Archdiocesan priests. The nation is still trying to correct a struggling economy. Money is certainly not just an object anymore; it’s everything.
Here are a group of young women, who are a beacon of light because they are teaching us all about the things that money cannot buy: friendship and love.
The Beatles said it best when they sang “money can’t buy love.” With faith and integrity, these young women are showing many of us just what it means to give love and cherish friendship, the things that money just can’t buy.
Their fight is determined, but peaceful. And even with the odds against them, they enjoy every day they have together because they know that even if the school they called home is gone, the bonds formed there cannot be broken.

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Kevin Durso

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