“What are you thinking about?” Jon asks me as we make the turn from 787 onto Route 7. We’re on our way home from Albany where we met with Art and Theology teacher, Sue Silverstein and the principal of Bishop Maginn HighSchool, Mike Tolan.
Sue put up an Amazon Wish List for art supplies and books that the school needs. (The list sold out quickly, in just one day. Thank you all! )
Last year she couldn’t have in-school art classes because of Covid 19, so she sent her students home with all the art supplies she had. And the new English teachers is looking to expand their reading materials including books by Zora Neal Hurston and Sandra Cisneros.
Although the enrollment at Bishop Maginn has gone up since last year, the school still can’t afford some of the basics.
Bishop Maginn was able to partially open up last year during the pandemic in part because of the Army of Good. All of you donated enough money for them to buy what was required including social distancing signage and plexiglass barriers.
That’s when word got out that Bishop Maginn was a safe place in more ways than one. Not only was the staff able to keep kids safe from the virus, but the school’s reputation for making kids feel welcome and physically safe from bully and violence had spread.
But like many places in the country right now, gun violence is up in the city of Albany. And the kids who go to Bishop Maginn are feeling it.
Driving home I was thinking of the two kids that Sue told us about who saw one of the shootings. “They’re not the same anymore,” Sue told us. “They used to be happy just to come to school to get some special attention. Now they’re distant, angry.”
Life for so many of these kids is hard enough. To witness a shooting, especially in their own neighborhood is a trauma. I wonder how they’ll deal with it. Certainly, it’s good that the staff at the school knows about it. They will do what they can. But they can only do so much.
I couldn’t stop thinking of how the shooting those kids witnessed will affect their lives. In my mind I was going down the potentially troubled path they might travel because of it.
Back at that farm, everything is green and the sun is shining. It’s the safest place I can imagine, I feed Lulu a piece of bread and feel guilty for having so much.
“You can’t take it all in,” Jon tells me. “That’s why I try to do something good each day, even if it’s a little thing. And we are doing something. We’ll help get the kids the books and art supplies they need and make it a little easier for the teachers to do their jobs.”
With the help of teachers like Sue Silverstein, last year every student who graduated from Bishop Maginn and wanted to go to college was able to. And that can certainly make a difference in their lives.
So here I am, doing one small thing.
I’ll buy some paint or a book from Sue’s Wish List as well as spreading the word by writing about it. Because not only is it a good thing to do, but selfishly, I know it’s going to make me feel a little better.
I have no idea what will have to happen to stop the rise in gun violence around the country right now. But I do know that Bishop Maginn High School is a safe place for kids who live in the city of Albany NY, and we can at least do something to help keep it that way.