Our Nativity Story
The Class of 2013
Nativity Parent since 1999
Katie ’08, Jon ’10, Ellie ‘13
I received an email from Nativity to make some comments as my last child will graduate this May. I was completely overwhelmed by the request and felt there was no way, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I am still overwhelmed by the thought and really don’t know where to begin, but I have a few thoughts.
I can’t imagine that there’s a better place for my 3 children to have gone to school for their elementary years. Nativity has been a wonderful partner in their upbringing. Nativity is not perfect. Everyday has not been a good day full of wonder and intellectual fulfillment. But there’s something very special about the Nativity community, so much that I can’t even express in words, something well beyond the excellent academic instruction. Some thoughts I can express:
- Nativity taught my children that it’s not ok to give in to peer pressure.
- Doing nothing in a negative situation is as bad as being a perpetrator.
- The Metro bus is ok.
- My children aren’t afraid of others who don’t look like them.
- They have learned to respect all people.
- They have seen the value of civil disobedience, and that the system can be changed.
- They know the value of volunteerism.
- My children have travelled around the world with Nativity.
- There is value in working toward a common goal and helping those less fortunate.
- Their opinions count and are given attention.
- Nativity went above and beyond to provide a safety net in times of extreme anxiety.
- There has been acceptance for those who are not Catholic.
- Nativity extended profound kindness when personal tragedy visited our home.
What you do makes a difference and is of such value. I am so sad that it is time for us to move on, Nativity will always be a part of all of us. Bob and Nancy, I just can’t thank you enough…. With love and respect (and many tears as I wrote this),
Nativity Parent since 1993
Erin ’02, Lauren ’08, Kelly ‘13
On a spring day in 1993 we registered what was then our one and only daughter for kindergarten at Nativity School. What an exciting time that was! I never dreamed that 20 years and two daughters later we would still be here, but ready to say goodbye. Our family’s experience at Nativity has been wonderful!
Here are some of my favorite things about Nativity-
- The global perspective- meeting children from all over the world, and getting to travel themselves has been an absolute favorite of our daughters. And because of the map program, our girls said they felt like geniuses about geography in high school.
- Full time art and music teachers and things like the publishing center and junior high choir taught our girls to appreciate the arts.
- The leadership opportunities and leadership expectations of the junior high and now the upper school are fantastic. There is nothing more rewarding than to see your child lead and plan service activities like the canned food drive and Hope week. And watching them develop into role models for the youngers students is an amazing sight.
- The friendships- the friends our girls and ourselves have made here will never be forgotten.
- And finally, the faith formation and Christian values are the main reason we’re here. I love that our daughters prayed and heard the Word of God every day.
To younger parents, you may occasionally struggle with tuition or other expenses and you may ask yourself is it all worth it?
My answer to you is YES! -it is worth every penny from your wallet and every hour of your time. A gift to you and your children you will never forget.
So, this is really not a permanent farewell, as we are committed to be active members of the parish- but we will miss you, Nativity School! So forgive me if you see me accidentally driving into the lot at pick up time– my car can probably drive itself there!
Thank you, Staff and teachers at Nativity!! And continued blessing to all of you!
Nativity Parent since 2005
Nativity has been nothing short of a godsend to Ian and our family.
Ian’s has brothers quite a bit older than he, none of whom had any learning issues…attitude issues, at times, perhaps, but school came relatively easy to them, at least to the point where parent intervention was only an occasional and short-lived necessity. Simple reminders such as, “Sure, you can go to the public school,” were motivation enough. Ian’s learning issues, on the other hand, have become a constant source of angst and too often friction in the home. To say much wailing and gnashing of teeth has transpired, particularly into the latter part of his tenure at Nativity, would not be over-stating the assessment of Ian’s educational woes. Needless to say, this was not confined to the home, but to the teachers and administration at Nativity (and, no doubt, his classmates as well).
You may be thinking, “This does not exactly sound like a godsend to me.” Understand, Ian’s parents are both immersed in the field of education, and “doctors don’t always make the best patients.” We recognize the issues Ian has faced, even in our struggles to make it easier on him, on us and on his teachers. We especially realize the difficulty this puts on a school with the limited resources of a parochial school such as Nativity, further hampered by its self-limitation on tuition bearing and contributing families. The feeling of ‘overwhelm’ that has emanated from this educational strife has only been outdone by the incredible response from the school, particularly his teachers but also Bob, Nancy and other school personnel who have encountered Ian’s special needs in one form or another. Beth Corbo took on a great part of the effort to mitigate some of these issues early and often. To her we owe a particular debt. But our greatest and most consistent source of succor has come from Dr. Buchino. Mary Ann not only assisted us and Ian with countless direct interventions, but also provided comfort and hope in her expressions of appreciation for Ian and all of his warts, which she graciously and thankfully saw as attributes which set him apart as a unique force in God’s mantle. Her support can best be described as the light that sets Nativity above and beyond a simple institution of learning, to a monument of Christ’s love for his children.
No journey through life is without strife. Ian will continue to find learning, as it is presently defined and valued, a challenging trek. Nativity and all of its shining points of light has provided a foundation that will keep him moving forward in his quest to find how he fits into God’s unique plan. We will likely look back on Ian’s grade school years with more fondness than we do at this time as the difficulties retrospectively become a source of pride in a challenge overcome. Through it all, Nativity, and the people who make it an honorable and Godly house of learning and\ love, will always be remembered well.
Nativity Parent since 1999
Amanda ’08, Jack ’09, Preston ‘13
As my wife and I reminisced about our time at Nativity we thought about the amount of time that a member of the Sheeran family had been enrolled in this great place. It started in the fall of 1924 when my Uncle Jack began the tradition, just a few years after the school opened. Then my father joined him seven years later, graduating in 1938. So that’s 14 consecutive years.
My sister Barb started the next generation of Sheerans in 1955 that did not end until my youngest sister, Terri graduated in 1982, so my parents had a child enrolled at Nativity for 27 consecutive years!
The next string began in 1995 when my niece and nephew (Maria and David) were here for a few years and it continued un-interrupted when our daughter Amanda began her Nativity journey in 1999. Jack followed the next year and Preston represents the last of this generation with his graduation next week. All told, that’s 59 years in which at least one Sheeran was being educated at Nativity!
While that is certainly an amazing fact, the real story is the impact that a Nativity education has had on our family. It has launched and provided foundations for degrees and advanced degrees as well as careers that are as diverse as the community it serves. To date they are:
- Band leader
- University Vice President
- University Budget Director
- Chief Financial Officer
- Chamber of Commerce Vice President
- Marketing Manager
- Music Producer
- And many chapters of lives yet to be written or rewritten
In truth, if the Sheeran family can be an example to others it is that any career is truly possible when you have the opportunity to attend Nativity School!
It would be a mistake however, to only speak of the educational aspects of being part of Nativity. Nativity taught all of us that we were all called to make this world a better place and it has been a guiding force in each of our lives. Our education was rooted in the Gospel and continually reinforced by the entire pastoral and school staff @ Nativity because they live it every day.
As a family we have given a lot to Nativity, but we have received so much more in return.
Thank you for everything,
Nativity Parent since 1998
Hannah ’07, Katie ’11, Meg ‘13
The years at Nativity…..where to start. So many great memories, events, friends.
Thanks to the staff and faculty for all that you have done for Hannah, Ellie, Katie, and Meg. They each have had a great learning experience because of your efforts.
The thing I have always liked the most about Nativity is the sense of community that it has. You can almost feel it oozing out of the bricks of the building it is so thick! The parents and kids all seem willing to pitch in and, as Meg would say, “get ‘er done!”
From starting as a new parent with Hannah and meeting people at the ice cream social her first year in kindergarten to being a “welcoming family” for other new families. Helping out with Nativity’s first version of the school and parish website was something I’ll always remember. Working on it in the back of the library on the computer until 1 or 2 a.m. some nights trying to get it up and running.
Getting to know our kids classmates as a coach has been another very rewarding part of my/our experience at Nativity.
One of the things that I treasure about our years at Nativity is the well rounded education that our kids have received. That includes a global perspective, strong academics rooted in our Catholic faith, a love for the arts including music instruments, singing, and the theater. Add to that encouraging not only the mind but also the body in all the various sports programs that Nativity sponsors.
Nativity has help nourish the mind, body, and spirit……. a great place to be now and in the future.
Nativity Parent since 2008
We will always remember our positive educational experience at Nativity. Christina started during the 4th grade and we found the staff, students and families very friendly, welcoming and inclusive. We were looking for a school with a strong Catholic and academic background; diversity; close family atmosphere and a global updated approach towards education. We found all of these qualities and more. Elaine enjoyed working with the students in the library and cafeteria. We were impressed with the families overall involvement and inclusion in this process. The school helped to mold the total person (mind, body and spirit) in a Catholic Christian envioronment. The school lived up to it’s promises and we found it to be a caring community focused on our child’s success as a person. We always felt connected even though we started late in the process. We are thankful for this experience and will remain friends with many for years to come. Thank You.
Class of 2012
A Legacy of Service to the Nativity Community
On behalf of all of those 24 families whose last child graduates from Nativity, we would like to say thank you, thank you, thank you. The gratitude that we all feel is boundless. We are blessed to have had the opportunity to send our children to a school that has helped mold them into the quality young men and women that they are. While we look forward to the next phase of our children’s education, we are all a little bit melancholy leaving Nativity behind. Our relationship with the school that has meant so much to all of us will change. We are passing the torch to the newer families just as we accepted those roles many years ago. What makes this group of graduating families so unique is the numbers and the intensity of involvement by so many. We served as athletic director, sports’ coordinators, coaches, room parents, parish council members, festival workers, PTA leadership, principal advisory board members, Christmas tree workers, fish fry volunteers, and many others. When these students were in kindergarten, (Can you believe it was nine years ago?) Bob Herring was forced into a little mini-retirement. Nativity reacted swiftly and decisively. We were not going to sit quietly while the man that that has now led Nativity school for 28 years was questionably fired. A group was formed called the LCC (Leadership Crisis Committee). This group of ten amazing parishioners worked tirelessly to get questions answered which eventually led to Bob being rightly reinstated as our Principal. Look at how many of those leaders are in this graduating class.
Perhaps never in the history of the school, has so much volunteerism left the school at one time. In the history of Nativity, I am not sure that any one person has volunteered in more important roles than Patti Newberry. She has led countless efforts in the school and in the parish. Nativity will of course continue to do what Nativity does. We are already seeing others step into the many roles we served. You can picture the sleeves being rolled up, just as those who came before us did. This special group of “last child” parents felt it was important to leave something practical behind. This volunteer effort, led by Margaret Shaw, presents to Nativity school this scale which can be used for many years to come.
Thank you Bob, Nancy, Fr. Paul, and all Nativity faculty and staff for the gift that is Nativity. God Bless.
Nativity Parents since 1993
Mollie Uehlein ‘12
Our story begins some 19 years ago with the enrollment of the first daughter at Nativity in 1993. With the 8th graders graduating in 2012 and becoming a part of the Nativity Alumni, so does our family graduate from Nativity, representing our last and final year of having a child attending Nativity. I’d like to be able to tell you that sending my daughter, Mollie, to Nativity was a well thought-out business decision based on the facts as they presented themselves. But that just wasn’t the case.
It started out as a head-to-head debate between my husband, Fritz, and myself over where Mollie would go to school. We are a blended family, my husband; had one daughter that had graduated from Nativity and another one still attending Nativity. My husband attended St. Johns Elementary School and went on to graduating from Moeller High School. As for myself, I’m a product of one of the best public school systems located in Ft. Thomas, Kentucky, from the get-go; our history set us at odds.
First round: We discussed our obvious merits. You know the “Well, I think I turned out alright” debate. (Like either of us really need to be reminded that we didn’t marry an ax murderer!)
Now, I had absolutely nothing against Catholic school, but I had some questions and concerns that I wanted answered:
- So, what am I paying all those tax dollars for if I don’t send my kids to public school?
- Will my child become narrow-minded if she goes to a private school? I want her to be with all kinds of kids of all different races and social status.
My husband, however, had his own position, and it might as well have been chiseled into stone tablets. It went something like this:
- I went to Catholic school.
- My brothers and sisters went to Catholic school.
- My nieces and nephews go to Catholic school.
- My kids go to Catholic school.
You might wonder how we finally found some middle ground. I have to give my husband all the credit for that. My normally agreeable, easy-to-sway husband would absolutely not budge. That told me just how important this was to him. Even though I respected his opinion, I still needed a reason.
He gave me one, and one I couldn’t beat. He told me that he wanted Mollie to think of God as part of her everyday life, not something she only thinks about on Sundays. So I gave in. Mollie started at Nativity in second grade and the rest as they say, is history.
Now, as her time at Nativity draws to a conclusion, I am grateful that she has made lifelong friends, has a good moral compass and has been exposed to things that she never would have been able to experience attending any other school.
There is a comfort at Nativity knowing that the student body and their parents have the same set of values as we do. The families at Nativity that you meet shadowing each other at games, field trips, club meetings, etc. are friends based on a shared value system instead of just a shared sport or function.
Nativity has provided our children with a safe, nurturing environment where they have learned, grown and have excelled-spiritually, socially, and academically. Nativity has given our children the opportunity to develop good leadership skills, which they will continue to utilize.
Nativity’s faculty is always looking for ways to stay current with academic and technological demands, which isn’t easy for a private school. But Nativity’s parent and community support get the job done! The teachers and faculty set excellent examples for the students. I have personally found that the teachers at Nativity are somehow always able to look at the strengths of each and every child.
Sending our children to Nativity has been one of the best decisions we, as a family, have ever made. We feel very blessed to have been able to give our children this opportunity. I suppose Nativity wouldn’t be for everyone, but it was the right decision for us. I can’t help but wonder when our daughters get married and have children of their own, if someday, they will start a discussion with: “Well, I went to Catholic school and I think I turned out alright!”
With Very Fond Memories
Nativity Parents since 1994
Katherine ‘02, Matthew ‘05, Michael ‘08, Sarah ‘12
First day of school for your child. That is probably what we will miss the most.
The night before, getting the clothes ready, all the first day stuff gathered, packed and ready to go.
Walking up to the school, hearing the sounds of that first morning. The excitement, the buzz, the energy that only first day has. Seeing the other parents, standing in the morning sun. (For some reason, we always seem to have beautiful weather.) The bell that rings. Your little one confident but needing a hug (but it’s us who really need it), then lining up, watching them walk off.
Gathering in the lunchroom, having a doughnut, the welcome and prayer. The announcements and Festival signup board.
The walk back to the car. You think how happy you are that life is different now. And how sad you are that life is different now.
Nativity Parents sience 1995
Dan ’04, Tom ’06, Kate 12’
The invitation to the “graduating parents” to tell our stories included the admonition: “Your story need not be long and involved.” Yeah, right. Our family has been members of Nativity parish for 50 years. My wife, Vicki, and I complete 17 years of parenting students at Nativity School this spring. A big part of our contributions to the life of the parish has involved Nativity School.
My parents, Tim and Sue (R.I.P.), sent me and my 5 siblings: Beth (Creedon), Mike, Patrick, Brian, and Shannon (Keesee), through Nativity School when it offered grades 2 through 8. When I started in fall 1967, Nativity School was run by the Sisters of Mercy. Gerry Ahrens taught us English in the 7th and 8th grades. Many wonderful families sent their children to Nativity, some of whom continue to do so: the Badinghaus, Benken, Burns, Hagerty, Lamb, Longeway, Muething, Sheeran, and Stickley families come to mind. I graduated from Nativity in 1974.
Vicki and I began our married life in Kennedy Heights in 1988, had two sons, then moved to Norwood in late 1992. There was no question where Vicki and I hoped to send our children to school: Nativity. Nativity School has been a daily blessing to us. Our son, Dan, who started at Nativity in 1995, graduated from Nativity with a strong science background in 2004, became a National Merit Scholar and will begin work on a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology at the University of Texas this June. Our son, Tom, who graduated from Nativity in 2006, is finishing his sophomore year at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, studying Food Marketing and rowing for their lightweight crew. Our daughter, Kate, will graduate from Nativity this June.
Nativity’s administration, Bob Herring (’64), Nancy Ciarnello, its faculty, and its staff each sacrifice themselves every day for the Christian education of their students. They don’t think in terms of job, they think in terms of vocation and mission. Nativity’s families contribute to the life of the school through great volunteer efforts in many ways, coaching, in the classroom, working the festival, selling Christmas trees, working the Lenten fish fries, selling mulch, working with the PTA, etc. The really important stuff, the literally exemplary education of our children, begins at home and extends to the classroom, the schoolyard, the playing field, and the church. The basic reading, writing, math and critical thinking skills, in the Catholic Christian faith, the arts, the world, and technology, happen incrementally, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, with the rhythms of the seasons, natural, liturgical, and educational.
Sometimes those rhythms are dramatically disrupted. My story is about a dramatic disruption, and the restoration of the rhythms of Nativity School. On Monday, November 24, 2003, just after the Thanksgiving Break began, former Nativity Pastor, Fr. Marc Sherlock fired then 19-year Principal Bob Herring without warning and without just cause. Fr. Sherlock wouldn’t say why Mr. Herring had been fired but did say that it was not due to any illegal or immoral behavior. Fr. Sherlock also told me that his termination decision was final. Within about four hours of Mr. Herring’s termination, over a hundred school parents and other parishioners assembled in the school hall to express their concern and to plan a response. We decided to go to the office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to protest Mr. Herring’s summary termination.
The next day, then-Cincinnati Archbishop, Daniel Pilarczyk, met with Joe Muenchen, who was President of the Pastoral Council, with my brother, Mike Garry (’76), who was President of the PTA, and with Meg Muething, another parent. Archbishop Pilarczyk suggested that the school parents organize ourselves to identify key leaders with whom the archdiocese could communicate. Therefore, we formed a group of 10 parishioners, each with different talents. We called this group of 10 parishioners the Leadership Crisis Committee (LCC) and we met frequently to decide how to proceed. For example, Patti Newberry, a journalist who now teaches Journalism at Miami University, helped us communicate our frustration clearly with the news media. The local news media covered this story with great interest, as did the national Catholic press. My specific mission was to assert Mr. Herring’s legal rights as his attorney
The days passed agonizingly slowly. We found a cryptic provision in the Parish Personnel Guidelines document which appeared to give Mr. Herring a right to binding arbitration before a panel of three arbitrators, so he invoked that right. Throughout the entire ordeal, Mr. Herring modeled his conduct in an amazingly Christ-like way. The arbitration panel was selected. On Friday, December 12, 2003, I and Fr. Sherlock’s attorney appeared for a pre-hearing conference before the panel of three arbitrators. The three arbitrators scheduled the arbitration hearing for Wednesday, December 17, 2003, just five days away, when they would hear the evidence and make a binding decision about Mr. Herring’s termination. Meanwhile, Fr. Sherlock’s attorney said that Fr. Sherlock wanted to mediate toward a settlement the following Monday, December 15, using an experienced federal mediator. Based on my prior conversations with Fr. Sherlock in which he reiterated the finality of Mr. Herring’s termination, I told Fr. Sherlock’s attorney that I believed that a mediation session would be a waste of the time which I needed to prepare for the arbitration hearing to be held two days after the mediation. However, I told him that Mr. Herring would meet Monday with the mediator and with Fr. Sherlock.
That Monday, December 15, the mediator negotiated a simple agreement between Fr. Sherlock and Mr. Herring under which Mr. Herring would be restored as Principal of Nativity School. Just before the Christmas break, our parish community celebrated in a dignified, prayerful way, and embraced Mr. Herring’s return with a short joint statement by Fr. Sherlock and Mr. Herring in the church sanctuary, followed by the singing of the Venerable Mother Catherine McCauley’s Suscipe, which she wrote after she had founded the Sisters of Mercy in 1831. I cannot hear that song, sung by Nativity school children, without remembering that time in late fall 2003, which seemed to shake Nativity parish and its school to its core, and God’s Providence in restoring Mr. Herring.
About three months later, in spring 2004, Fr. Sherlock requested and received reassignment to a parish in Tipp City, Ohio which does not have a school. Archbishop Pilarczyk then assigned Fr. Paul DeLuca to be the new Pastor of Nativity, for which I was, and am, grateful.
Mr. Herring continues to do good work in this, his 28th year as principal. Nativity’s students continue to test in the top 10% of the nation’s schools, and Nativity has received awards as a National Exemplary School and a National Blue Ribbon School. In 2006, Mr. Herring was one of two principals in the United States who received a National Distinguished Principal Award from the National Catholic Education Association.
The experience of Mr. Herring’s summary firing, then rehiring, shook my commitment as a Roman Catholic, then restored it. I believe the Holy Spirit was, and is, at work at Nativity. Although I have little confidence in the feudal system of governance of the Roman Catholic Church, I am far less likely to take God’s good gifts, including Nativity School and its people, for granted.
When I see infant and child baptisms at Sunday mass, when I see teachers and coaches helping to develop their students’ young minds and character, when I see younger parents engaged in the many activities necessary to fund and maintain a strong school, I am reminded of Christ’s love for his people, including the people of Nativity. I thank God for these people and for Nativity School.
Nativity Parents since 1996
Kayla ‘05, Tasha ‘07, David ‘08, Alex ‘12
As a parent, there are lots of things to figure out and the owner’s manual I needed on the day Kayla, my oldest was born, must have been misplaced because I didn’t receive it! Raising kids was a journey without a map, but Nativity stepped in and showed me the way. But Nativity did even more than help me teach and raise my children. Nativity has helped teach and nurture me into a better relationship with God.
I think “My Journey” really started with that fateful Monday afternoon before Thanksgiving when I got the call that said, “Bob Herring has been fired. We are meeting up at the school at seven o’clock tonight.”
My thoughts flew in so many directions. Is this a joke? Why would he be fired? How could this happen? What should we do? My mind and my heart just kept churning. That night, the cafeteria was filled with parents and parishioners wanting to know answers to those same questions. Thoughts and emotions ranged from hurt to anger. As then chair of Education Commission, I found myself in a leadership position within the parish and felt personal responsibility to help answer those questions. Together with the chair of Parish Council, the president of PTA, and a small group of other caring parents and parishioners, we set out to find some resolution to this burgeoning crisis within our parish and school community.
Over the next many days, we all faced challenges and fears. Would Bob come back? Would the school close? Would our parish survive? How can we, as a faith community, work together to find solutions? How can we respectfully challenge an action taken against us and remain obedient to the Church?
As days passed, the issues were resolved. Bob came back and things slowly moved back to some “new normal.” But each of us and the school were changed forever. The school program and the parish community rose to a new and higher level.
They say, “You don’t know what you’ve got until you’ve lost it.” They also say that going through a “significant emotional event” can cause other breakthroughs in one’s life or the life of an organization. During the time of our crisis, the parish and the school lost a leader in Bob Herring and faced the full emotional and intellectual experience of losing our parish school. We faced losing the great school and faculty that we relied on to help teach our kids about “the three R’s” and about our shared Faith. I faced the loss of a friend and the loss of trust in a Church and a Faith that I had been invested in for all of my life.
Hopes and Dreams for My Children: Through that experience, I had the good fortune of pausing to discern what I really wanted for my children and their lives. I wanted them to have a Nativity K-8 education. I wanted them to get “a solid academic education with a global perspective in which the arts and technology are integrated into the curriculum – all rooted in the Gospel of Jesus.” Now, as my fourth child is graduating eighth grade, I can’t imagine another school that could have given my children as many “life gifts” as Nativity. I feel great that each of them has left Nativity as a global citizen, prepared for high school and life, and as the best person that they can be. I am thankful to each Nativity parent, parishioner, teacher, and friend and to Bob Herring and Nancy Ciarnello for helping to teach and raise my children. It truly has been “a village” of caring and nurturing people.
The Benefits of Nativity School: While at Nativity, I learned how important a Catholic school education can be to my children, but also to every other child, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. In a world where public schools are struggling to maintain both academic and extracurricular programs, Catholic schools like Nativity are already experts at providing a well-rounded, values-driven, faith-based education at a reasonable cost and in a safe and nurturing environment. I learned how important it is for each of us to help sustain, support, and grow Catholic schools everywhere.
The Benefits to Me and My Faith Journey: Most importantly, though, I learned that my personal participation and involvement in my children’s lives, both at home and at Nativity School and Parish has been an integral part of my own personal Faith Journey. My love and passion for my children has grown into a passion for Nativity School. My experience at Nativity has led me to a deeper understanding of the relationship between faith, spirituality, action, and involvement in a community.
Now, I am also “graduating” from Nativity School. I can’t count how much I have learned during this time. I learned some of the material that my kids studied, as I helped them with homework through the years. I became a better parent by working together with teachers and other parents and I became a better person, just like my children did. I’m not sure, but maybe I’m even a little wiser
Hopes and Dreams for All Parents: With the benefit of hindsight, here are some of the things that I wish for current and future parents at Nativity.
- That you love your children and enjoy this process called raising them. It really does go fast!
- That you participate in the Nativity community of adults as partners and helpers in raising your children and others.
- That you think about what you want for their lives: knowledge, values, faith.
- That you at least consider that while you are helping to form your children’s intellect and spirituality, it is a renewed opportunity to look into your own.
I feel a little guilty. Nativity School and Parish did all these things for me and my children. I paid tuition for my kids but I got all this training and growth in myself, FOR FREE!!!
Nativity. A Great Place to Be.
Nativity Parents since 1997
Kevin 06′, Anna ’09, Ben ‘12
What we value about our experience at Nativity is the friendships we have made along the way. We always knew our children would make friendships that would last a lifetime, but what surprised us was how many relationships we would forge as our children were making their own friends.
The one thing we will always remember during our time at Nativity was the firing of Mr. Herring. This one event did more to galvanize the parish than any other action. We were all witnesses to how one bad event could turn into something positive. It was truly a positive experience to see how the parish banded together to preserve what we all loved – the leadership that Mr. Herring brings to the school and the lessons that he helps to instill in our children each day. I won’t go into the details of the weeks after Mr. Herring’s firing – but it is a story that I hope others will document. In the days prior to even knowing what the term “social networking” meant, this group of leaders was able to meet, plan, organize and create positive change. A lot of the leaders of that group are leaving with this year’s 8th grade class – Joe Muenchen, Patty Newberry, Greg Bell, and many others.
When our middle daughter, Anna, was in the third grade, one of her assignments was to create an acronym, using the word Nativity. We thought her creation says a lot about what is great about Nativity. As a third grader, she saw the value of the teachers, staff, and teamwork found at Nativity. So, here is our own version of Anna’s acronym.
- Nurturing staff, from Mrs. Kling’s worry basket, to Nancy Ciarniello’s warm smile and reassuring demeanor.
- Athletics and the Arts, to help build strong bodies and strong minds in our children
- Teachers, who bring a commitment to their profession that goes beyond selflessness, as they sacrifice higher earnings for doing what they love.
- Individuals. A diverse student body, each retaining their own individuality, while being a cohesive whole
- Values for a lifetime. Instilling the values of education, hard work, social conscience into our everyday lives.
- Institute of Learning. A strong curriculum, that continues to get stronger and continues to challenge itself – all with a global perspective, rooted in the gospel.
- Togetherness. Very few communities in the Cincinnati area are as close as the extended Nativity family. We look out for one another, we share in each other’s joys and sorrows, we work together to make the community stronger.
- Youth. We work together to improve the lives of our young, to make their world a little brighter and the world in which they live a little smaller.
Nativity Parents since 1998
Tom ’07, Chris ’09 and Marianne ’12
One thing we’ll always remember about Nativity is the importance of jumping right in and volunteering. It took being asked at first before we really got involved. Since then, we’ve realized that volunteers don’t always step up at first, but when Nativity leaders have asked for help we don’t think we’ve ever known anyone to say ‘no’. Thank God for those leaders who always show the initiative to ask!
Involvement has been what really creates the sense of belonging for us. Attending Mass and meeting the parents of our kids’ friends when they started kindergarten at Nativity was not enough to make us feel a part of the parish and school. Those first commitments to serve or help, like classroom parent, Boosters, lecturing or the festival, is when we really began to feel a sense of community and belonging at Nativity. Each involvement resulted in us getting more out of it than the help we provided. It’s how we met neighbors, parishioners, parents, students and began to acquire a stake in the community.
There’s a reason that Nativity always says that it’s the kind of place the where you ‘roll up your sleeves and get the job done’. It’s the reason that makes Nativity ‘a great place to be.’
Nativity Parents since 1999
Fran ‘08, AJ ’10, Bea ’12
As we write this letter, our third and final Nativity student is visiting China, one of 13 students and three teachers who make up the 2012 delegation to Long Cheng Middle School in Liuzhou. Everyday brings happy, chatty e-mails from our happy, chatty eighth-grader, who’s thrilled with everything about her great adventure – from her lively host student, Whane; to the welcome embrace of Whane’s large school community; to the beauty of the city; to the shopping, food and everyday conversations with Chinese students eager to practice their English. When we tell friends our 13-year-old is on a school trip to China, their reply is nearly always the same: “What school?!?” “Nativity, in the heart of Pleasant Ridge,” we respond.
And so it’s been for 12 years, since our oldest, now ready to graduate from high school, entered kindergarten at Nativity in August of 1999: every year has been a great adventure for every child. Frances completed all nine years at Nativity, A.J. followed two years later for his nine-year stay, and now Beatrice will complete her run as a member of the class of 2012. From the first year to the last, we have been ardent Nativity fans, boasting about its solid academic education, global perspective, arts and technology strengths, and Gospel focus to anyone who cared to listen.
The list of extraordinary offerings at Nativity is long: Two of our kids traveled to China and one went to the Ukraine. We had visitors from five different countries over the years. The global education – in addition to making each a map whiz – taught our children to appreciate different cultures and celebrate diversity. Thanks to the arts focus, we own an impressive collection of Publishing Center and Portfolio projects, not to mention multiple musical instruments. All three are also pretty comfortable on center stage, with years of Variety Show and Nativity Players shows as training. Each also knows what it means to lead and serve, thanks to a culture, especially in the junior high, that provides abundant opportunities to assume those roles. And all know that it does, in fact, take a village to raise a family; we’ve counted on the generosity of scores of Nativity parents over the years to lead our kids’ teams and troops, lend forgotten homework or textbooks, share carpool duty, or just look out for our kids as we looked out for theirs.
And yet, our Nativity story is perhaps best told through our children’s classroom experiences:
- It was Maria Hoeffer who first equipped us with a phrase to help Fran, a fretful first-grader, gain perspective and focus on what mattered. “Frances,” she’d ask to calm her worries. “Is this a big thing or a little thing?” It’s a line we still use with her and her siblings today.
- It was Chris Cain who first taught A.J., a reluctant reader, that reading could be fun. What a great role model for our second-grader: A guy teacher who let him read “Captain Underpants” in class!
- Kathy Palczynski had been our second-grade hero a couple of years earlier, identifying some reading and learning issues with Fran and sending her to the amazing Becky Close in the “reading van” for quick and effective intervention.
- Patti Burwinkel was a blessing for all three of our kids, making them work hard, respect their teachers and classmates, and prepare themselves for the rigors of the junior high years to come.
- Junior high was most transformative for all three. Andy Yost (why oh why did you leave us so soon, Andy?!?) was sent from God to convince Fran of her intrinsic worth and leadership skills. Margo Bellman was the next angel, always looking for and finding the best in our “less motivated” middle child. (Performing “Ice Ice Baby” with Ms. Bellman at Long Cheng remains one of A.J.’s best memories from China.) Gerry Ahrens and Dave Lucas provided the challenging course work (and comic relief) to keep our junior high students moving forward. Karen Gruenke demystified math (sorry, we’re not a big math family!) with her even-tempered and fair classroom management. Dave Arbogast provided a stellar example of how work (not just talent) can often be its own best reward. Mary Ann Bucchino was always at the ready to help at moments of greatest need. And Mindy Burger; what would the Newberry children be without the creative energy, wise counsel and warm spirit of Nativity’s fantabulous art teacher? While we loved and appreciated so many great Nativity teachers and staff members over the years, we reserve a special spot in our hearts for Mindy, who “got” our kids nearly as well us, recognized and nurtured their individual talents, and helped them think of themselves as capable artists and thus capable people. Frances got the art vibe back in Mindy’s classroom and will begin studies in art education this fall at a to-be-decided university. A.J. most recently has parlayed his love of cartooning into a budding T-shirt business with original logos. Bea, who considers her art talent meager compared to her siblings, has come to see herself as an accomplished graphic designer thanks to more than a few kind words from Mrs. Burger.
From kindergarten through eighth-grade, Nativity classrooms are filled with teachers who truly seemed to care about each of our kids and who provided the individual attention and instruction each needed to be successful. What a comfort to leave them at Ridge and Woodford five days a week, seven hours a day, knowing they were in the care of adults focused on their best interests.
That leaves Bob, Mr. Herring, Robert C. Herring, our principal and our friend. If you’ve been a Nativity parent for even just a few years, you know Bob is often the first one in and last one out of the building. He rarely skips a school event. He’s on duty in the parking lot and the cafeteria, spending nearly every other waking moment with teachers, parents and students, working hard to make Nativity a great place to be. Every time he unveils some new initiative – another Friendship Project, another Junior High initiative, another international relationship, another visiting artist, another classroom improvement, another tech upgrade – we ask if he isn’t getting tired. “If it was just lunchtime duty,” he’ll say, “I’d have given it up a long time ago.” And yet, he reigns with a light touch, from our perspective. Teachers have wide latitude to run their classrooms. Nancy Ciarniello, the most competent and accommodating of assistants ever, operates with his full faith and support. Parents are encouraged to bring issues directly to teachers or other parents before seeking his involvement. He is there to guide, to orchestrate, to inspire, to implement. Without his vision and drive, Nativity could very well be just another urban Catholic school in slow decline. With him at the helm, every year brings new and innovative ways to fulfill the Nativity mission statement. You may remember there was a little dust-up back in late fall of 2003, when Bob lost his job for a short time. You may remember parents weren’t particularly pleased. We were among those who took up the charge, launching and feeding the website that Thanksgiving break and the days that followed. We were incredulous that Nativity could dismiss its leader, its champion, its heart and soul. Like so many others, we were moved to act to protect Nativity, along with Pleasant Ridge and the surrounding neighborhoods, from what surely would have been a grievous wound. What an unsettling and yet energizing moment for our school and parish community. What relief and joy that Bob’s termination was reversed and he was back in the parking lot and the cafeteria and the school halls so quickly. You ruined a lot of Thanksgivings that year, Bob (how we sold one house and packed for another during those weeks remains a mystery) – but we forgive you. You were worth it. Nativity was, and is, worth it. Nativity will surely survive when you retire – although we really cannot believe you will ever retire – but it will not be the same school without you.
Frances, now 18, heads to college this fall. She’s had a terrific four years at Walnut Hills High School, with deep involvement in band and student government. As the senior class president, she’ll being giving a speech on commencement day. She got into the four colleges where she applied and, at this date, is leaning toward DAAP at the University of Cincinnati. A.J. is finding much success halfway through his WHHS years, too. He loved joining Fran in marching band last fall and puts maximum energy into rowing as a member of the Cincinnati Junior Rowing Club. He makes great friends wherever he goes and is looking to a future that includes either architecture or graphic arts studies. Beatrice will follow her siblings to Walnut, where she is promised membership in the Honors Program, and will likely earn a spot on the basketball and volleyball teams. A career plan is a ways off, but she’s got plenty of options.
As parents, we know we have played the most important role in shaping our children. But we know this too: Nativity provided the foundation. It was there that our three children learned to take up the task, see through the work, celebrate the victory and learn from the disappointment. It was there they learned to be citizens of the world. It was there they learned how to learn. It has been our most profound privilege and pleasure to call ourselves Nativity parents these past dozen years.
With love and gratitude
Nativity Parents since 2000
Cameron Vogel ’09, Brennan Vogel ‘12
One of the experiences that we value most about our children’s time at Nativity School is the emphasis on a global education and the exposure that both of our sons had to different people, cultures and traditions from around the world. In an age where stereotypes and labels prevail in our society, looking beyond Cincinnati not only opened our children’s eyes to the world, but also helped them look past those barriers in their own neighborhood. Both participated in the student exchange program, traveling to Kokkola, Finland, as well as hosting visiting students from Torkinmaki School in Finland. Our oldest son, Cameron, also went to EuroCamp in Germany where he met campers from 23 countries! Email and Facebook have made staying in touch with these friends scattered all around the globe possible while also providing an outlet to nourish these friendships to last well into the future. Additionally, Cameron and Brennan have embraced the study of both physical and political geography and have eagerly participated in the map studies program and geography bees. Being able to identify every country and capital in the world is no easy feat, but yet our kids rattle of places that I admit I have to Google just to learn where they are located!
It’s hard to believe that our time at Nativity will be coming to an end with Brennan’s graduation in May. Both boys look back with great fondness on the years spent here and as parents, Chris and I will be forever grateful for the wonderful foundation Nativity provided for our sons to develop into the people they are today. Nativity is truly a great place to be!
Nativity Parents since 2000
Ryan ’09, Meredith ’12
It is hard to believe our time at Nativity School is almost over. Here are our comments and advice we would like to give to other Nativity families.
- The grade school years go by faster than you would imagine.
- Get involved! There are so many ways to get involved at Nativity during the day, evening, or on weekends. Even if you work full time and have limited availability to help with various fundraisers or events, there are opportunities out there that you can join in on. Even if it is just attending your child’s extra-curricular events, you can meet other families which will make your time at Nativity much more enjoyable and memorable for both you and your child. Our whole family has developed friendships and connections at Nativity that will last after our children have graduated.
- Global education – awesome program! I think this program makes Nativity such a unique and special place for elementary education. This program not only includes the exchange program with other schools throughout the world, but it also involves the Map Studies program, Friendship project, International Day in Sixth Grade, and Foreign Language program. If allowing your child to participate in the exchange program is not an option, you could be a host to a visiting student or your child can interact with the visiting delegation during their visits to the classroom. This program definitely expands your child’s knowledge of the world.
- Junior High Leadership Program. This is a great way for your children to develop into a leader or at least become more involved in their school before they enter high school. For many children, this may be the last time they are in a “leadership role” in school before they enter high school and become one of the “little fish in a big pond”. Encourage your children to volunteer for the opening and closing ceremonies; be involved in the school masses; help with the Can Food drive, Variety Show, and Hope Project. This will make their time at Nativity much more memorable. In Junior High, the students are the leaders of their parent teacher conferences, which make them more accountable for their schoolwork and helps them set goals.
- The eighth grade Portfolio Project. This project allows the eighth graders to reflect on their years at Nativity and show how they have achieved the five aspects of the school’s mission. Although this is a huge project for the eighth graders and requires a lot of time and effort, it requires them to produce evidence that they have accomplished the goals and mission of the school and reflect on the five aspects in written essays. This encourages the students to reflect on their time at Nativity and it helps them realize their experience at Nativity has been valuable and worthwhile.
Dedicated faculty, staff, and administration. I think tenure of the faculty, staff, and administration speaks volumes about their dedication to Nativity. Mr. Herring’s door is always open to you to discuss your concerns, comments, or suggestions. Nativity is not the same school it was when our son started in 2000. Programs have been changed and new ones have been added to keep Nativity an excellent choice for elementary education and a “great place to be”.
Nativity Parents since 2000
What we valued about our experience at Nativity is that Nativity gave both our children an educational foundation to pursue
and achieve greater levels of academics. The academic challenges were always there for them to reach higher.
Nativity Parents since 2001
Claire ’10, Jack ‘12
“Hello, Bon Jour, Buenos Dias! Good Day, Guten-Tag, Konichiwa! Ciao, Shalom, Do-brey Dien! Hello to all the children of the world!”
One of our favorite “family” songs that we learned as our children went to school at Nativity.
We knew our children would go to Nativity when we moved to Pleasant Ridge – even before we had kids. Clete went to Nativity and we knew the school had a very good reputation. So, we signed Claire up for Kindergarten – 3 years later Jack started 1st grade.
Then we learned the Catherine McAuley Suscipe and we learned how to pronounce ‘suscipe’ – we have counted, and we can sing it 2 times from Nativity to our home.
We have a lot of wonderful memories from Claire and Jack’s experience at Nativity – learning to read and “do” math, the Sacraments, the Saint’s Museum (and St. Claire almost passing out because of heat), Jack actually passing out at lunch, the 4th grade River Project, the Invention Convention, and Journey to the Other Side. Who could forget Mrs. Frondorf’s Mummified Chickens, all of the Variety Shows, the 2 Friendship Journeys, our visitor’s from China and the Ukraine, Spirit Day, Camp Kern, Young Americans, and of course the 8th grade-Faculty Volleyball game (which unfortunately both of our kid’s teams lost miserably).
We have all made some very good, lifelong friends at Nativity. . It all started with being asked to “chair” the Ring Toss booth for one night at the festival, which eventually led to 2 nights (and now we are back to one). We thought it would be a great way for us to meet some of the people in the parish and the community. From there we worked the Spaghetti Dinner and had many laughs while serving and refilling people’s wine glasses. Being involved in PTA and helping with all the events brought us closer to the Nativity community. Chairing the Booster Pancake Breakfast and going to Men’s Club events helped us meet the “younger” Nativity parents. The spirit of community and camaraderie – everyone always pitching in to get the job done is one of the best things about Nativity, and I am sure we will still “pitch in” whenever needed. We truly could not have made a better choice in schools for our kids.
Nativity Parent since 2001
Samantha ’10, Caroline ‘12
Here is our ABC’s of Nativity:
A: Achievement, Academic Excellence, Annual Fund
B: Buddy Families, Boosters, Bid N Buy
C: Catholic Faith, Crown Jewel, Curriculum
D: Distinguished Principal, Delegates, Diversity
E: Excellence In Arts, Euro camp, Eucharist
F: Father Paul, Fall Fest, Friendship Journey
G: Global Education, Grand Raffle, Giving Tree
H: Homily, History, Hot Lunch
I: International Studies, Ice Cream Social, International Project Week
J: Jesus, Journal of Life
K: Kindergarten Round-Up, Kindness
L: Lighting the Way, Leadership, Love of God
M: Map Test, Market Day, Mass
N: National Exemplary School, Nativity Community, National Blue Ribbon School
O: Outstanding Opportunities, Otto Hahn Gymnasium
P: PTA, Portfolio, Prayer, Parish Council
Q: Quality Education, Question Box
R: Rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Reading
S: Spirit Day, Shadowing, Sportsmanship
T: Technology, The Arts, Teachers
U: Unified, United
V: Volunteerism, Variety Show
W: Welcome Committee, White Envelope, World Languages
Y: Young Americans, Yearbook
Z: ZIPPING THROUGH THE YEARS!!!
Nativity Parent since 2003, Nativity Grandparent since 1980
Back in 2002, I had a decision to make as to what elementary school I should send my son Blake. My sister, Jackie Anderson, a Nativity School grad, made that choice easy for me to make.
Nativity and its supporting staff of Principal, Teachers, Staff, and Parents have molded my little boy into a sharp minded and polite young man that I am very proud of.
The roots of any child’s education is essential to that child’s ability to succeed in life, and Nativity is definitely the best choice for creating a young girl or boy into a respectable young woman or man. Thank you Nativity!
I am a “Mother and Grandmother” who has many “Blessings”. Two of those blessings include, my daughter Jackie Anderson – class of ’85, and my grandson Blake Anderson – class of ’12, both being able to attend Nativity School.
As you open any door of Nativity you feel a welcoming spirit as soon as you walk in the door. Everyone is warmly greeted with worldly and diverse reminders of our Creator and impressive displays of student’s work.
Throughout Blake’s education I have attended several performances and I find myself in “awe” of the students confidence and talents when they put their best foot forward in the variety shows, Young Americans, and other performances. I ask myself, “Where does all this talent come from?” Am I in the school of creative and performing arts?” The answer is Nativity cultivates each student to reach their personal best! It is a wonderful thing… “Nativity Got Talent”.
One of the greatest highlights is attending the end of the year “gallery work” in which every student have work displayed beginning with kindergarten to the 8th grade. If you have not had the opportunity to attend, please make sure you do so, and invite family and friends. It will make you proud.
NATIVITY, you bring out the best in everyone. Nativity Parents, you are the greatest!. I cannot thank you enough for all your loving kindness, thoughtfulness, and sense of unity. If help is needed you simple have to ask a Nativity parent
“Miss Nancy”, you will forever go down in my books as “simple the best, you are lovely”; and to Nativity Faculty and Staff, you are to be commended for your challenging lessons, support, and lovingly preparing each child for their next phase in life. “Mr. Herring”,
the Principal of all Principal “thanks for treating each child as if they were your very own” the impression that you leave will be a lasting one.
Nativity Parents since 2003
Judy Harris Clark
When we started at Nativity School in Kindergarten, I wish we had known how fast the nine years would go. My son went from being one the little people in the courtyard, to the one of the admired “big kids” in the 8th grade.
Connected. The education process at Nativity continually connects the children to the world. Through the geography map tests to the frequent visitors from foreign countries, the children realize they are part of a large world that invites them to explore it. Our family has had the opportunity to host a child and most recently, our son has traveled to China with the Nativity delegation. Both experiences have broadened his view of different cultures
Compassion. Being in a diverse school was very important to us. Nativity students not only reflect diversity visually, but the children learn at an early age to value each other, regardless of skin color. Shortly after MLK day of our son’s kindergarten year, he was riding in back seat with a white classmate. I heard them talking to each other, saying, “If it wasn’t for Martin Luther King we would not be here.” I asked what were they talking about, they said, “ Mrs. Kling told us Dr. King’s speech where he said he dreamed little black boys and little white boys will be able to be friends. So because of him, we can be here today.”
Teachers have been extremely helpful showing us how to support Andrew. In the sixth grade, it was the lesson of letting go. Once Mrs. Daniels reminded me that this was Andrew’s education, I was able to let go of the feeling his success or failure reflected on my ability as a mother. He needed to take responsibility for his own education, starting with using the school issued daily planner to keep track of his homework
Community. Early on, we learned that our child would not go without because I forgot to sign a permission slip or failed to send lunch money. The staff and volunteers have treated our son like their own child from the first day he was at school. Knowing that I did not have to always be the “perfect working mom” provided some comfort, as I would invariably have to ask for a favor. I have found that people are so willing to help us out and we also reciprocate. We are grateful for friendships we have developed that helped get us through to the final quarter of 8th grade….sane and intact! From being able to commiserate over the latest project or a serious family crisis, I’ve seen the Nativity family step up to support and, at times, carry each other
Catholic. While we are not a Catholic family, we have a deep appreciation for the impact Catholic education has had in Andrew’s life. He has a respect for all faiths, as their merit was taught at Nativity. One day in December, as he was leaving kindergarten, Andrew loudly proclaimed, he was going to become Jewish. I found that odd, since he had never been taught about Judaism. I later learned that his teacher had explained Hanukkah in class and he learned Jewish children received gifts on multiple days, not just one. It was all about the gifts!
The Catholic faith, with its traditions and rituals, has been a wonderful experience for our family. We appreciate the reverence and awe of God in the mass. The biblical principles that were taught mirrored our beliefs, reinforcing the messages Andrew received at home and our church. Engage, enjoy and appreciate the tremendous gift you have in Nativity. A quality educational experience awaits you and your child(ren).
My experience at Nativity has been nothing but positive. My family has developed relationships and friendships with other families at the school that I expect will last the rest of our lives. It’s hard to believe this is our last year. Where did the time go?
I have many memories to take with me. Far more than I have time to write about. There is one in particular that always puts a smile on my face. My son, Andrew, was involved with the scouts at Nativity. I must admit that I was not a big fan of scouting when I was growing up but if my son wanted to be a scout then I was going to be supportive.
Every year the scouts would build these little model cars and race them in the school cafeteria. The fathers and sons had to design and build the cars from a block of wood. One of the parents invited us over to his house because he had a complete workshop in his basement. All I owned was a hammer, a screwdriver, and a pair of pliers so I jumped at the opportunity. After a while Andrew and I started to get into this project because there were several other fathers and sons at the house. We started to get ideas on how to build our car.
This workshop had everything we needed right down to electric saws for cutting and shaping our racecar. After a while my son and I got so involved with working on that car that we tuned out everybody else in the room. Suddenly I looked up and there was a boy standing in front of us with a puzzled look on his face. I said is something wrong to which he responded, “Why is he in here”? It was then that Andrew and I looked around and realized we were the only father/son duo in the workshop. All of the other boys were in the other room having a great time playing. To my son’s credit, he did not abandon me. He stuck with his dad and worked hard until that car was finished. And speaking of finishing, the Black Widow took second place.
Nativity Parents since 2003
Christina ’12, Sharon ‘12
We were living in Pleasant Ridge and members of Nativity parish when our daughters were three years old. Concerned about the city’s public education, we began looking for places/suburbs to move to so we could “find a good school system”. A co-worker of Roger’s mentioned that the school “right under our nose” was one of the best in the city. We investigated, liked what we heard and subsequently moved – 4 houses down from Nativity!
Along with all the normal reasons why one selects a school – caliber of teaching staff, quality of instruction, variety of activities, reputation for producing knowledgeable students – we additionally chose Nativity because of its religious values and its international focus. We felt that a small little school in a small area of the city that embraced a global education would open our children’s eyes to how one needs to connect and experience the world. Nine years later it has been the best decision. The main reason why? The people! Nativity is truly a welcoming community that embraces the “it takes a village” mentality. Everyone genuinely cares about each other and that can mean more in life than whether its achievement scores are the highest. Nativity is also whatever you make of it. If you don’t want to engage with others you don’t have to, but you will miss so much.
When we look back at the last nine years it is the people we met and the friendships we made that we will remember the most, and ultimately it was our interactions with them that have helped make us the people we are today. Thanks to all that make Nativity such a great place.
Nativity Parents since 2003
Everyone remembers where they were when they first heard about 9/11. That moment, that day, has had a lasting effect on our lives. The image of the towers falling will be forever burned into our minds. All of us have our own moments in time that have affected us deeply in some way. For many Nativity Parishioners it was the day Bob Herring was fired. I was busy coaching basketball at La Salle High School as we were preparing for a special pre-season event called Lancer Madness. I did not own a cell phone at that time so my wife Maura drove to La Salle to tell me that the pastor just fired Bob Herring. There was to be a meeting called by the parishioners in the cafeteria and I needed to be there. I happened to be the parish council chair at the time. I left La Salle early and rushed to Nativity where hundreds of people showed up expressing anger and confusion. Being pushed to the front of the room, questions ranged from how did this happen to what can we do? What was decided on that first night is that we would carry signs down at the Archdiocese offices showing our concerns. What was also decided was a group would be formed to help organize and plan a strategy to voice the concerns of the community. Our Business Manager had recently resigned, our principal was fired and our pastor was not speaking, so the newly formed group was called the LCC, Leadership Crisis Committee.
Over the next 5 weeks, the committee met 2 or 3 days a week, usually in our dining room. A website was designed to distribute information to the community. Every idea was discussed over and over again to ensure that we analyzed it from every angle possible. At the forefront of every decision was, “is this the Christian thing to do?” The talents of the people on the committee were simply amazing. Pat Sheeran, Patti Newberry, Mark McLaughlin, Diane Fisk, Mike Garry, Tom Choquette, Tim Garry Jr., Greg Bell, Meg Muething, and Shelley Castellini. Each and every person brought their unique gifts and talents and a huge amount of time to helping Nativity become whole again. I did not know these people very well when this started but a smile has crossed my face every time I have seen each one of them in the last 8 years.
This time period was both the best and worst of Nativity. Like most communities, we often took our faith and our parish for granted. This could no longer happen. The whole community was electric. Unfortunately, anger and frustration was all too apparent. Words were all too often written or spoken that were hurtful and divisive. Not all thought it was correct to question the church in this manner and some left the parish. Large community meetings were often attended by the media as the world looked on as this tiny parish questioned whether their principal was rightfully fired.
Most people in the Pleasant Ridge and surrounding communities understood the importance of a strong school at Nativity. Many people live in this community so they can send their children to Nativity. The fear was that families would seek new neighborhoods to live in for their children’s education. The flight of so many would have a ripple effect on our neighborhood as property values would reduce. Whether this could happen or not, it was voiced by many non- Nativity families who watched the events unfold with great interest. Nativity plays a vital role in our community. We are intertwined with it.
This experience was without a doubt the most stressful period in my life. There were so many emails to answer every day from people offering suggestions. The meetings would last late into the night and my brain had trouble turning off so sleep was difficult at best. A humorous development was that now I was carrying the “family” cell phone with me instead of my wife. The first time it rang in my classroom, I jumped up in the air. I didn’t even know how to answer it. That first month I was on it all the time, never giving thought that our cell phone plan was for very limited minutes. That month’s cell bill came to over $400. I had no idea. Maura explained to customer service that there was an emergency and they reduced it to $100. Now that’s good customer service.
After many agonizing weeks, it was announced that Bob Herring would be welcomed back as principal. Our pastor decided it would be best to begin anew at another parish. The coming months were a time of healing and enlightenment. Who were we are as a parish and where did we want to go? Fr. Paul Deluca welcomed the opportunity to come back home to Nativity. Fr. Paul spent 4 wonderful years at Nativity as a young priest. Father did an amazing job of being a calming influence and uniting the parish again.
When all of this first started, I had very little idea who Bob Herring was. My daughter was in kindergarten and I had no contact with Bob. Here I was working hand in hand with fellow parishioners to question his firing. Eight years later I understand what all the fuss was about. Bob has had the single greatest impact on our community over the last 30 years. Bob would tell us that there are many people that help make Nativity a great place to be, and he would be right. But his wise leadership and guiding hand has led our school to be a shining beacon in Cincinnati. I would like to publicly thank Bob for his many years of dedicated service.
The most important thing I learned over the last 9 years is the importance of getting involved. I started on Pastoral Council because a friend jokingly nominated me and told me that I needed to be involved. I became Pastoral Council Chair in my third year because the other two candidates turned it down. I later became Athletic Director and Mulch-meister from John Mitchell who seemingly had 6 jobs at Nativity. I coached my daughter’s basketball team for 6 awesome years and coached baseball/softball for 5 years. My wife and I served as chairs the first year of the newly resurrected Annual Fund. The more we got involved, the more we loved our parish.
It is hard to believe that Delanie will be going to high school next year. Our lives are going to change. I am passing the AD job along. Somebody else will be pushing the bags of mulch. I fear we will lose some of that connection to Nativity that you can only get by being involved. We will still work at the festival and I would love to keep frying fish during Lent. We will continue to worship at Sunday mass. There will be much less responsibilities but I can’t help feel some sadness because life will not be the same. Coaching the young ladies in 8th grade was very bittersweet. Nearing the end of the season, I knew that opportunity to work with these young ladies would soon be over.
The good news is that the memories made during this time don’t end. I have so many memories of Nativity because I was a part of Nativity. My wife Maura and I talk all the time about how blessed we are to be a part of this community. The greatest advice I can give to any parishioner is to give freely of your time and talents. The old saying of “the more you give, the more you get out,” is certainly true. Nativity will continue to be a “great place to be”, because countless others will roll up their sleeves and get the job done.
Nativity Parents since 2004
Ours is a fairly classic story of a family transferring from out-of-state — New York in our case — to a new community where we knew no one. That feels strange to write since it is hard to believe that our “tour” started only 8 short years ago and in that time, we have come to embrace and love hundreds of individuals in this extraordinary community.
As has been said many times, “you get out of life what you put into it”. We’ve put a lot into Nativity, and we’ve got even more out. We chose to contribute our time, talents and energies toward common goals to further Will’s education and broaden his exposure to worthwhile, positive experiences. In return, we have received knowledge, friendships and memories to last a lifetime.
Teresa remembers being “sold” on Nativity School as she and then, 5 year-old Will, were being given a tour by Bob Herring. Bob kept referring to the school song so Teresa asked him if he might sing a few bars. Without hesitation, he belted out the entire song at the top of his lungs. Teresa laughed and later commented that she appreciated his willingness to perform for a professional performer! That takes some guts!
There are so many incredibly wonderful experiences to cherish as we reflect upon our years at Nativity. Some highlights would certainly include Dave’s announcing the festival — pie baking contests, bid-and-buy parties, and games galore; Will’s fun and exciting art projects; Teresa singing with the CODE; Dave’s involvement running the scout program; Teresa’s providing leadership under Fr. Paul for the Lataere Art program and working with the Nativity Players; Will’s involvement in the variety shows 7th and 8th grade years allowing him to really spread his wings and fly; and, his many athletic pursuits, just to name a few.
But, undoubtedly the biggest highlight for us during our years at Nativity has been to see Will’s growth and development and his maturation into a young adult. To watch the evolution from a young boy, first day in a new school to a young man taking the leadership role in his own future in a student-led conference has been a remarkable transformation and nothing short of amazing.For our family, we cherish and place great value in the opportunities to embrace different cultures and ethnicities through large-scale foreign exchange and global arts and music programs. At Nativity, these programs have included The Friendship Journey, The Friendship Project, Young Americans, and many cultural exchange programs.
During our years at Nativity, we have been blessed to be able to host the directors of the Young Americans; host two Young Americans on a separate occasion; host the head of the German delegation twice; an Australian student, plus a bonus visit from his family on a separate occasion; a Finnish student and a Chinese student. Will has traveled to Finland in 7th grade and China in 8th grade, each for two weeks. These experiences not only have helped shape and mold his character, but also have helped accomplish prime objectives we set from the beginning of our Nativity journey: to help open Will’s eyes to all of the tremendous opportunities available in life if one studies, works hard, applies himself, and remains open-minded. The possibilities are truly limitless.
During these years, we have found the professionalism and dedication of teachers and administrators to be unparalleled and the commitment and involvement of parents generally to be unsurpassed. We have not experienced such a high level of intensity and genuine interest within the school and church community anywhere previously. Teachers Care! Parents Care! And that’s what makes Nativity such a great place to be! Our hope is that this legacy of profound faith and lofty educational ideals will continue for generations to come.
We cannot end this reflection without a big thank you to Bob Herring and Nancy Ciarniello. Bob’s guidance, vision, and courage really make it all at happen at Nativity, and Nancy keeps everything together running smoothly. We will be forever grateful. No matter where our interests and pursuits take us on life’s journey, we will always look back fondly on our many years of Nativity pride! And Will can always trace whatever he builds with his dreams to his solid Nativity roots and many long-lasting friendships.
Nativity Parent since 2005
This has been an amazing journey for Imani and me, one that has been full of surprises, growth, and learning. Imani transferred to Nativity entering 2nd grade, and has not looked back since. I have seen such personal growth in Imani that only a school that cares about the total student could provide. I would encourage parents that may have any concerns about their student, to make sure they work closely with the staff as they want our children to succeed as well.
The course of studies is designed to introduce children to new worlds and bold boundaries. This is just awesome. What I will value most from my experience at Nativity, have been the many, diverse experiences that were encountered, and how at the end of this particular part of the journey, they have proved to be invaluable lessons learned, and continue to encourage personal growth. I am very proud of the influence Nativity has played on our journey. Thank you to the amazing staff, the faithful parents, and the Nativity Commun ity. You are the greatest. Imani and I could not have done it without your help! PEACE!!!
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