Ms. Cleary’s Classroom

mhagandefaultchristmasMichael Hagan ’15

Ms. Cleary took a long due breath
As the children ran out to play.
At last the recess bell had rung
On that mid-December day.

But timid footsteps Ms. Cleary heard
A few yards behind her back.
“Ms. Cleary” spoke a nervous voice
The voice belonged to Jack.

Now you all have met a Jack, I’m sure.
Maybe you yourself were one.
No difference did the child see
In the meanings of mischief and fun

Just Tuesday Jack had poured his glue
On little Chelsea’s chair.
October’s prank of similar sort
Had cost poor Billy some hair.

Even Ms. Cleary was wary of Jack,
What tricks he might have up his sleeve.
She looked at him sternly as firmly she asked,
“Yes, Jack. What do you need?”

“That story you read about Santa,” said Jack,
As nervously nearer he drew,
“Ms. Cleary, I need you to tell me, please,
Is it… how can it be true?

I read, Ms. Cleary, I read a lot.
I read in a book last week;
There’s billions of people alive in the world,
Too many to count or meet.

How do they all get presents from Santa?
How does he not forget some?
And also, Ms. Cleary, my cousin Jake says…
Says believing in Santa is dumb.”

That mischievous smirk that Jack always wore
Was gone, and tears on their way.
She knew to put a hand on his shoulder,
But knew not what to say.

She took a seat on the classroom rug
Bidding him sit as well.
Struck, she was, for never’d she seen
In a child so much of herself.

Remembering well a winter’s day
Some twenty years before,
Ms. Cleary recalled what she was taught
On Ms. Webster’s classroom floor.

“You are right, Jack,” Ms. Cleary said,
“It seems like it just can’t be true.
But it is,” she began to explain to the boy
Not a lie, but the truth that she knew.

“There is a Santa Claus,” she said,
“I know that it’s hard to believe,
But I’ve met him myself, I’ll never forget,”
She said lifting her hand from his sleeve.

“I wasn’t much older than you are now,
When I began to doubt.
But I met him, Jack, and that’s when I learned
What Santa is all about.

Now I don’t mean the man in red at the mall
You’re a smart boy; he’s just an act
I mean the real Santa, I met the real thing,
And I promise that you will too, Jack.

One day, maybe soon, you’ll meet Santa Claus
He may not look like you’ve heard.
But Jack, he’s real, like you and me
And when you meet him you’ll learn.

We don’t have to rush, the time will come
For you to meet Santa Claus,
But if you could today, what would you say
To him?” She asked and paused.

“I’d say,” the child began to speak,
“I’d say thank-you. Thank you a bunch!
What can I do to repay Santa Claus
When I meet him? He’s given so much!”

“Exactly,” spoke Ms. Cleary, “Nothing,
And Jack, that’s just it.
Can’t thank him enough; you can’t pay him back.
You can only accept the gift.

But part of that gift is a lesson, Jack
To remember as long as you live.
Expecting nothing in return
He teaches us to give.

There’s another part you’ll just have to learn
More than the rest, it’s true.
The most wonderful part of meeting Santa
Is learning how much he loves you.

You’re more like Santa than you think,
One day you’ll make miracles too.”
The two walked to the door, Jack’s grin lit up.
Like a bolt to the playground he flew.

A very merry Christmas and blessed New Year to you and your families. “God bless us, everyone.”

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Attention Seniors: Stop Freaking Out!

Guest Chat – Submitted 12/15/14

Dan Hogan ’13

It’s that time of the year again at Providence College where stockings hang over the fireplace in Slavin, a tree sits in the middle of the Great Hall in Ruane, Ray has holiday decorations making it seem a little less dismal, and the student body is freaking out about finals. As I’m standing in line at Dunkin waiting to get my first coffee for the day this reality is all too clear. It becomes even clearer as I overhear two seniors discussing their plans for the future, essentially freaking out waiting for Armageddon, aka Graduation Day. Yes, it’s the time for people to freak out about being one semester closer to graduation and for the senior class this is all too real. Seniors have one more semester left until they leave the PC bubble and enter into the real world. They have one more semester to “live it up” before total responsibility hits them in the face. They have one more semester to be able to go out on a weeknight and be able to still function the next day. They have one more semester to see and live with their best friends every day. In essence, they have one more semester until life ends, as they know it!

Well 2015, I have a message for you, STOP FREAKING OUT!!!!! Yes, it’s true come May you’re lives, as you know it are going to change. The people you met at Freshmen Orientation or walking around your floor are not going to be the next room over or two houses down. You won’t be able to put off a paper until the last minute and be able to easily get an A-. You won’t be able to go out four nights a week and still be able to function the next day. However, this does not mean life ends. In fact, it is only the beginning. Yes, I know it is a scary time for most of you not knowing what you are going to do after receiving your diploma while many of your friends may have jobs or internships already lined up. Yes, I know it is daunting for those of you who do have a job who may have to move to a place where you do not know anyone else. Yes, I know you do not want to leave your roommates or friends and want to spend as much time with them as possible. However, it is okay.

As Bob Marley once said, “Don’t worry about a thing,’Cause every little thing gonna be alright.” He speaks the truth. Throughout your first year out in the “real world”, you will experience many different emotions. You will be excited to be making money. You will be sad come September when you see people heading back to PC for another semester. You will be frustrated with your job or living with my parents and still be asking the question “What am I doing with my life?” You will step onto campus for Fake Alumni and Alumni Weekends wishing you could stay and wanting to tell the freshmen to go back to high school.

Your first year out of school will be one of the biggest learning experiences in your life and you will grow more in this year than any of your four years in Friartown. You will meet new people and keep in touch with the friends you want to keep in touch with. You will start thinking about going back to grad school to pursue a new career path or new opportunities within your company. You will want to travel and see new places you have never seen before because your responsibilities are still minimal. You can still go out and have a good time, but you won’t feel like going to a place with loud music, tons of people, where you drink out of a plastic cup every weekend.

So if you are freaking out about your life after college, relax. You have your entire life to ask, “What do I want to do?” Enjoy the present and have fun. Don’t stress too much. God Bless and Go Friars!

P-Secrets

AbbyDefaultAbby Hevert, ’15

A few weeks ago, I posted an article about a new social experiment at Providence College. I asked my PC peers to anonymously submit secrets to me so that we can all have a better understanding about who we really are, and not just who we pretend to be. I heard from many different students, and some of their secrets are presented in this article. These secrets display the unique struggles that we go through every day and, more importantly, the striking reality of our immense efforts to hide these troubles. PC is often thought to be a kind of “bubble” where we all live, safe from the evils of this world. And, while this is partly true, we all bring more to the metaphorical table than we probably realize. At this table sit those who struggle with self-hatred, family problems, and battles with addiction. Here at this table, sit those who disguise, hide, and pretend to be perfect.

One of our peers says this: “I am a typical, PC girl. Dress in J. Crew, drive a nice car, and have a great group of friends. One of my parents has a severe addiction problem, and I have been dealing with him/her going in and out of rehab/homelessness the last 18 years of my life.” She is not alone as many of her peers also have difficult family lives. One says: “I met my uncle for the first time months before he was sent to jail for murder.” Still more admit to secret divorces within their family, one senior admitting that his or her parents divorced two years ago, and that his or her friends still do not know. Our families can make us cry, and calling home is often difficult, either because of relationship issues or because of underlying abuses: “Every time my stepmom calls me, her words cut through me like a knife and I’m brought to tears.” Another one of your peers admits to the instability in her home. Her mother “verbally and physically abused [her] for 3 years and it took a broken arm, even after 8 police and Child Protective Services visits, to get [her] out of [her mother’s] custody.” Our siblings can even cause concern: “Manic depression consumes an otherwise happy sibling.” Sometimes, we just want to save ourselves and each other: “My father’s mental illness has torn my family apart everyday since I was in the fourth grade. I wish everyday I could save him.” Some of our families also do not share in the affluence that many of our PC peers demonstrate: “Last week, I checked my bank account and found that I had only $15 left. Many people at PC can joke around and call themselves ‘broke college students,’ but it’s a different story when you go to Alumni to get a sandwich and realize you can’t afford it.”

Often, though, we struggle with our own mental health issues. Too many of us struggle with actual and real self-hatred and self-discomfort. One of us says: “I set very high expectations for myself. When I don’t meet those expectations I purposely punish myself, like skipping a meal or not getting enough sleep.” We are very, very concerned about not only what we think of ourselves, but what others think of us: “I have to pretend to drink more than I actually can when I go out because I don’t know how to tell my friends about my anxiety disorder and medication.” This is partly because many of us have a preoccupation with pleasing others: “I can’t handle letting people down.” Unfortunately, sometimes these internal battles within ourselves lead us to extremes: “I’ve attempted suicide twice.” “Nobody can see the cuts…I go to counseling and even check myself into Butler [Hospital] when I feel unsafe. I want to be better but my biggest secret and my biggest fear is that I’ll always be unhappy and no amount of help will get me out of it.” We sometimes have illnesses that make us doubt ourselves and those around us: “I think I have an Anxiety Disorder but am too afraid to tell my parents because I think they will think I am being ‘over-dramatic.’” And, so, we do not tell each other. And, instead, we let our secrets morph into paralyzing doubt. Too many of us have trouble getting through every day activities because of these issues. Some of us even have complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and cannot get out of bed on certain days. Some of the people closest to us often do not understand the things that plague us: “My roommates always joke about what I eat and how I eat so specifically but they don’t know I eat so little because I’m still recovering from bulimia/ I’m still bulimic.”

We often compare ourselves to others: “I only got offered the job after someone else turned it down. Everyone else got their first pick on the first try. Now I don’t know if I want to work for someone where I wasn’t the first choice.” This idea of being a “first choice,” or any choice for that matter, afflicts many of us. A few peers confessed: “I am so scared of being alone.” In fact, some of think that if we have not yet been in a romantic relationship, then no one will ever want us: “I feel like I’m the only one of my friends who hasn’t dated someone or isn’t dating anybody in college. It makes me feel unwanted and alone.” Also, the people we love sometimes don’t necessarily love us back: “The person that I’ve had unrequited feelings for [during] the past two years is hooking up with my best friend who knows how I feel about her.” We get afraid of somehow falling behind the rest of our peers and that scares us as well. Some of us are embarrassed about our virginity: “I am still a virgin and I get scared that no one will ever want me because of it.” The idea of not fitting certain molds often disturbs us. A few people wrote that they are gay and they have not told a soul, for fear of what people may think. As a result, many people are living secret lives, caught between a desire to be accepted and a desire to be happy.

And this is the ultimate tragedy. Many of us consider happiness to be a “catch twenty-two.” We sometimes believe that we have to keep our secrets in order to be happy. I am here to tell you, finally, that this is not the case. I also am here to tell you that you are not alone. Find the safe people with whom you can have the tough conversations. If our secrets die with us, then we deprive the world our whole selves as we offer only our seemingly “best” parts. I hope that we can be more aware of not only our whole selves, but about the secret plights that others undergo. So, the next time I become frustrated with a friend, a family member, or a stranger, I vow to consider the possibility that the person may be experiencing something I cannot fathom. We all bring something concealed to our Providence College table- I promise that the next dish I bring will be a huge plate of acceptance and compassion. I hope you can bring some too.

I think we are all starving for it.

Remembering Siobhán Ross

Ross-siobhan-WEB

“…She was a petite woman who drove motorcycles and loved adventure cycling. Her accent — she would speak about a cup of ‘cawfee’ — did not even hint at her love of English soccer and rugby, he said. And she insisted on riding her scooter, a Buddy International Saint Tropez 150, to work, whatever the weather.

‘She would always look for new things to try out to help the faculty be better teachers, to help the staff use the tools we have, and to foster student creativity,’ said Hauerwas. ‘But she always kept the focus on the people who were using that technology — supporting them, and making them feel capable and better about themselves whenever they had a problem with something. That was magic.'”  Read the full obituary at PC News

A memorial Mass will be celebrated in St. Dominic Chapel at Providence College on Friday, Dec. 5, at 11:35 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a memorial donation in Siobhán’s name to the Providence Animal Rescue League