Bishop Noll Institute board members, alumni spread Christmas cheer to staff

Bishop Noll Institute board members, alumni spread Christmas cheer to staff

Bishop Noll Institute’s faculty and staff recently received a special Christmas gift as a thank you for persevering through an unprecedented school year. As teachers finished giving students their finals and staff prepared the building for Christmas break, they received a surprise gift of a take-home Christmas dinner for their families.

The gifts came to fruition at the suggestion of Bishop Noll Principal Lorenza Jara Pastrick and through the generosity of members of the Bishop Noll School Board and alumni from the classes of 1963, 1970 and 1995.

During the November Bishop Noll board meeting, led by Chairperson Jeff Cipowski, Pastrick shared the challenges her staff has faced this year. Bishop Noll administrators and staff devoted their summer months to creating a customized re-entry plan for the fall semester. Staff worked throughout the summer to adjust the existing facility to meet safety guidelines outlined by the Lake County Health Department and the CDC. Creative protocols were established to minimize exposure to the COVID-19 virus while maximizing in-class learning. Procedures to ensure social distancing, creation of student pods, focus on scheduling, traffic control, routine classroom and facility cleaning were just a few of items implemented under the direction of Pastrick, Assistant Principal Jaime Cavazos and their team.

Thanks to these measures, Noll experienced a low infection rate among its student body this semester, resulting in minimal interruptions to in-person learning at the college prep, co-educational high school in Hammond.

“I told the board how hard all the staff was working to open the school for in-person learning and then continue to maintain that safe educational environment,” Pastrick said. “I shared the challenges of daily instruction for our teachers, and we discussed the energy they were exerting for a successful school year. I told them about my role in keeping morale high this year and its challenges.”

Board member Dave Skibinki, a Bishop Noll alum who lives near Los Angeles, said he marveled at the commitment, creativity and innovation from each administrator as they presented their reports. He compelled the board to find a way to help, and suggested creating the BNI Staff Support Fund.

Skibinski said he wanted to encourage the staff to keep up the good work.

“My late wife, Annie Johnston, was an educator for over 20 years. When she died, I was amazed at the outpouring of good will and stories from her former students. The impact BNI is having on its students is tremendous and not always immediately evident.”

Bishop Noll is currently celebrating its 100th school year and has been delivering a terrific education for 100 years, Skibinski said.

“That tradition of providing a great environment to grow and prosper continues to flourish. I am fortunate to hear the stories during our board reports and hear the amazing efforts that everyone at Bishop Noll is making to continue our tradition. Those of us who have benefited from our Bishop Noll education can play a role in supporting today’s students.”

Bishop Noll President Paul Mullaney said the focus on students has long been a hallmark of the BNI faculty and staff.

“Everybody on our team has had to pivot this year in the way we perform our jobs,” Mullaney said. “But what hasn’t changed over 100 years is the commitment our BNI Family has to fulfill our mission of enhancing the formation of our young men and women in mind, body and soul at Noll.

“We are proud of our team, and proud that education was not canceled at Bishop Noll. The faith, strength and perseverance shown by everyone this year will be remembered as we head into our second century of educational excellence.”

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