Fenwick Students of Italian Pray for Italy

COVID-19 global outreach project employs video app technology called Flipgrid.

Earlier this month, students in Level I Italian completed an Italy Outreach Project through the video app Flipgrid. “They recorded themselves praying for Italy in Italian and reading a letter they wrote to Italy in Italian,” explains Fenwick Italian Teacher and alumnus Mr. John Schoeph ’95. “Each student submitted a prayer and a letter as a video recording.”

Mr. Schoeph then compiled them into what Flipgrid calls a mixtape. “This mixtape plays them all as a video and also presents each video individually in a grid. Italy was struck so severely and early [by the Coronavirus pandemic] that it was important for our students to reach out,” he notes.

LISTEN TO THE FENWICK STUDENTS PRAY IN ITALIAN

“In the meantime, one student drafted a letter in Italian ‘to Italy,’” Mr. Schoeph continues, “while every student was required to find the e-mail address of one high school and one church in their assigned town or city in Italy.” Freshmen Angelina Squeo ’23 (Elmwood Park, IL) and Cate Krema ’23 (Western Springs, IL) compiled the e-mail lists of churches and high schools that every student was required to look up and submit.

Mr. John Schoeph ’95

With the e-mail lists ready to go and the letter drafted, their teacher inserted the mixtape link and sent off the e-mails. “We wanted to let Italy know that a group of beginner Italian students is praying for them and sending them our best,” Mr. Schoeph concludes.

To Italy, with love

The letter was drafted in Italian by fellow freshman Angelina Woods ’23 (Elmwood Park, IL):

I nostri carissimi in Italia, 

Noi siamo una classe d’italiano al livello il più base a Fenwick High School. Fenwick è un liceo negli Stati Uniti. Le priorità di Fenwick sono le preghiere, la studia, il ministero/il volontariato, e la comunità. Mandiamo le nostre preghiere a voi virtualmente e spiritualmente. Anche, mandiamo qualche lettere che offrono la nostra speranza e positività. Se potete, per favore condividete queste lettere e preghiere con la facoltà e gli studenti del liceo o con i parrocchiani della chiesa. Da una piccola scuola di Chicago viene molto amore per Italia.

(La freccia blu e bianca della mano destra dello schermo mette in funzione il video.)

Da una piccola scuola di Chicago a un’altra in Italia. 

Auguri!​

Translation:

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How Fenwick Prepared Me for the Great Quarantine

By John Nerger ’74

I loved my Fenwick experience of many years ago, but also painfully remember how I often felt trapped, confined, somewhat “quarantined” by life’s circumstances at the time. While attending school, I worked for a newspaper distributor overseeing about 100 paper routes and assisting the manager. This was a seven-day-a-week commitment, 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and a half-day apiece on Saturday and Sunday. My job, home chores and Fenwick’s rigorous course load left little time for much else besides eating and sleeping.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I enjoyed my job and reveled in its responsibilities, realizing at some level I was getting experience that would pay off eventually. It’s just that it didn’t leave me much time for extra-curricular activities, like the clubs and sports many of my Fenwick friends enjoyed. 

I felt cheated of a normal social life because, come Saturday evening, I was often exhausted and wanted to get to bed, knowing my alarm was set for a 5 a.m. jarring wake-up the following morning. I resented not having much time for a girlfriend or just hang out with neighborhood pals. My family didn’t have a car I could borrow to escape the confines of home.

Since my parents were financing Catholic education for their five children, I felt a little guilty going to Fenwick, where the tuition was higher than other schools, so I worked out of a sense of obligation to help with the bills. I worked that much harder at my classwork because I didn’t want my parents to think they were wasting their money on me.

Though I didn’t appreciate it at the time, Fenwick equipped me with the tools that helped me stay sane during those challenging times as an adolescent, even helping me tunnel under the barriers of my “quarantine” to escape:It was at Fenwick where I acquired a love of reading. When I read, I could go anywhere, any time — and I did.

  • It was at Fenwick where I gained a love of learning. Math, science and language (Latin) opened new doorways for me. The life of the mind had no walls or limitations.
  • It was at Fenwick where I began to strengthen what had been a thin and immature faith. Prayer took me to another world, an eternal spiritual realm I was just beginning to discover; one that returned far more than I gave to it, and one that proved more instrumental than anything else over my 63 years.
  • It was at Fenwick where my character would be shaped. Its rules, discipline, expectations and moral code, while not so obvious at the time, prepared me to thrive at university and persevere throughout my career.
  • It was later, after graduation, when I found how rigorous physical labor and exercise, Fenwick’s daily gym classes and intramurals notwithstanding, could free me of anxiety and improve my health and well-being.
  • And it would be later still when I would discover how love of another could be liberating and unbounded, freeing me from my selfish self; although the generous love experienced in my immediate family, and my Fenwick family to a considerable degree, certainly set the right conditions for this to occur.
Last summer, Nerger donned a Fenwick shirt while riding in RAGBRAI across Iowa. 

During the decades since, I’ve seen many ways one can find oneself trapped, even imprisoned. We may feel trapped or shackled by jobs we dislike, fears, unhealthy addictions, illness, sin and bad habits. I’ve experienced my share of these as well.

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Drawing Parallels between 9/11 and COVID-19

How do Friars respond during crises? Fenwick has asked the alumni community to share memories of when the world seemed upside down and how, we as a community, responded.

This Fenwick alumnus, who visited campus back in February, remembers the traumatic period following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 — and has an important message for today’s students.

By Dave West ’98

World Trade Center, NYC: the dreadful day the “Twin Towers” fell.

I was a senior at Duke preparing for a public policy class when the attacks of 9/11 jolted us all around breakfast time on a Tuesday morning. School abruptly shut down as did the country, and we quickly learned over the next few, confusing days that several graduated fraternity brothers, parents of classmates and thousands of others were killed in the towers, in the planes or in the Pentagon.

As a senior, thoughts quickly turned to what other attacks were next; how we’d ever get back to life as usual; whether there would be any jobs for us; and even whether a military draft might be brought back and we would all need to prepare to fight a new enemy halfway around the world. Our grandparents were “the greatest generation”… would we be good enough and up to the challenge?

Parallels to the present pandemic

The U.S. Pentagon on 9/11/01.

The answer was a huge, “Yes” then, and it will be again now. Despite the trauma of that day and the months that followed, the country persevered. I recommend students use this current pandemic shock to step back a bit and think about their goals, purpose and what they really want out of the next five, next 10, next few decades.

In my case, 9/11 was a catalyst to immediately pivot to pursue grad school and national security public service. I was able to serve in Washington and work with over 50 allied countries in counter-terror and anti-terror cooperation efforts. A friend of mine from Duke, lacrosse star Jimmy Regan, turned down a Wall Street job and enlist in the special forces, giving his life years later as a hero on the battlefield and inspiring us all even today. Others became doctors/researchers, teachers or strong executives building new companies, etc. 

The 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero in New York City.

I want to underscore to the students that people generally, and our economy and country in particular, are incredibly resilient. Families, economies and life as we know it are taking a hit right now due to the pandemic, but we will come out on the other side of it. The world will need Fenwick people to help lead and deal with the uncertainty, so we should all stay focused, positive and ensure we’re ready when needed.  

Health and safety to all.

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