Thursday, October 07, 2010

No place like...

So welcome back from fall break and welcome to homecoming week here at JPII! This is meant to be a week of celebration and fun together, even as we continue to do our jobs as students and teachers. We have much to be proud of at JPII and there is much to celebrate. In just our 9th year of existence—we were founded in 2002—JPII is one of the most highly respected academic institutions in Nashville, a product of your hard work, your teachers’ hard work, college acceptance rates, AP scores and many other factors.

The three big events this week are the bond fire Wednesday night (a new tradition, begun last year), the homecoming game on Friday, and the dance on Saturday. I hope all of you make plans to attend all three events.

The idea of “Homecoming”, of course, is that alumni “come home” to their alma mater, to reconnect with old friends and to remember. Our alums are still very young—the first alums graduated in 2005, which means they’re only about 22-23 years old today. We expect to see many of them at the game on Friday.

Also implied in the word "homecoming" is that school is HOME, which is not the way we usually refer to school—it’s a little odd to call it that. But consider these facts:

You go to school here from 8-3. Unless you get here as the bell is ringing (and some of you seniors have that down to a science) and you’re the first one out of the parking lot, that means even if you’re not a member of a club or on a ball team, you’re spending 8 hours/day, or 40 hours/week here. But if you DO play a sport, it’s likely you’re not going home until 6, 6:30 or 7p.m, which means you’re spending about 11 or so hours/week, or 55 hours/week total—and that’s conservative, because it doesn’t take into account your games here.

Compare that to what else you do:

• “Entertainment Media” (TV, gaming, phone and on line time= 7.5 hours/day (!), or 52.5 hours/week
• Teenagers average a measly 6.5 hours of sleep on school nights and 8-10 on weekends, which means somewhere around 48-50 hours/week.
• Average time with friends per week (outside of school time) =8
• Eating (one hour/day of “primary eating” which doesn’t count grazing in front of TV)=7
• Time with parents—30 minutes/day for mothers, 15 minutes/fathers = 5.25 /week

So in a very real way, you spend most of your life here. This is where most of your friends are. You spend about as much time with your teachers as you do your parents and even more with your coaches.

And as I watch you walk the hallways between classes, or sprawl out on the floor and do homework, or gather here for assembly or mass, as you laugh with team mates and share the ups and downs of winning and losing, experience the satisfaction of doing well in class or the frustration of doing poorly, when you compete in house games, or when I realize how well you know each other and how well you know your teachers—their strengths and their idiosyncrasies—then calling school “home”, albeit your second “home”, begins to make sense.

This is a great time of year. The summer has passed, fall has arrived, there’s beginning to be a cool nip in the air. The leaves are changing color. Just as the seasons come and go, so the seasons of our life come and go, often too quickly. Seniors, you begin your last high school homecoming; freshman, your first. I suspect you seniors are feeling a bit nostalgic remembering how it only seemed like yesterday you were also going through your first.

Appreciate this time. Revel in it. Thank God for it. Celebrate this week with your classmates and teachers. Be proud of your family—your teachers, classmates and friends.

There is, after all, no place like home.

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