Messages From the President

News from the Hill Letter - January 15, 2021

To the East Catholic Family,

Happy new year, once again, and praying that all are safe and well as we continue to battle the ongoing pandemic and the volatile political climate of our nation’s presidential transition. Today would have been the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 92nd birthday. He remains one of the shining lights in my life. I spent the early years of my career as an English teacher, and on dozens of occasions looked to Dr. King’s words to help illustrate to my students the power of language. His writings were prolific and covered myriad topics, so in this time of unrest, I look to one of his hundreds of well-known quotes for inspiration and hope: “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” May we all turn to love and prayer in these difficult times.

End of Semester One and Beginning of Semester Two:

Today is the last day for semester one, and grades closed at the end of the school day. We ask your patience as we do our due diligence in grading, selecting comments, allowing for administrative review, and making sure our bookkeeping is accurate. We plan to post grades officially on Friday, January 29. Semester two will begin on Tuesday, January 19 following our long weekend.

COVID-19 Update:

Thank you all for your cooperation and understanding as we went remote in our first week of 2021. We anticipated positive test results following the holidays, and we did have four cases that surfaced over the course of that week. Thankfully, because we were remote, we minimized exposure and the need to quarantine. It has been great to be back this week! We also are excited that Connecticut has moved to phase 1b of the vaccine rollout, and a number of our faculty and staff have already received the first dose of the vaccine. We are very blessed! 

Enrollment Contracts for Returning Students:

We have sent home enrollment contracts for returning students. It is important that families return the signed contract with the $250 registration fee. New this year, students will not be able to register for next year’s classes without a signed contract and paid registration fee. This policy is consistent with best practices.

Enjoy the long weekend! Please remember to wear masks when at school and when out of school, please social distance, and wash your hands. I am very proud of our East Catholic family and wish you all the best in 2021!

Stay safe, be well, and God bless!

Peace,

Sean P. Brennan ‘85
President

Message from the President - January 8, 2021 

Dear East Catholic Family,

I am reaching out to connect with all of you as the nation rises above the divisiveness that led to unthinkable violence at the U.S. Capitol this week, and that still marks too much of our interactions with one other. As our country processes the shock of what transpired in Washington, D.C., our community stands together in the condemnation of violence and the call for prayer as we move forward. We pray for those hurt or killed, those who remain angry or dispirited, and those who seek healing and reconciliation as we move forward as a country.

This year’s community theme of inclusion seems an appropriate lens through which we can view recent events. We encourage members of our community, students and their families, faculty, staff, and alumni to speak with their peers about what they are feeling, and to do so with respect and openness to the views of others. As we work to process and heal during these difficult times, I would like to remind our students that they can reach out to teachers, coaches, counselors, or parents if they need help processing what they are witnessing.

I remain optimistic about the future of the United States of America. While we have significant work to do, I hope we can come together as a nation and reclaim the vision laid out by our forefathers: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” May we live up to this aspirational goal.

Peace,
Sean P. Brennan ‘85
President

News from the Hill Letter - December 18, 2020

As we close out a wonderful stretch of green, in-person, learning, I wanted to take a minute to wish everyone in our East Catholic family a blessed and merry Christmas! I will give a couple updates below to be sure we are transparent and open about all that is happening here at East Catholic.

COVID-19 update

I thought it would be helpful to have a summary update of how the past four months measure up in regards to COVID-19. Thank you all for all you are doing to keep us safe, healthy, and in school!

Orange, yellow, and green; Since September 8, we have had:

  • six days of orange
  • 14 days of yellow (planned training period)
  • 49 days of green

Positive Cases:

We had our first positive case of COVID identified on September 25, 2020. Since then, we have had a total of 21 positive COVID-19 tests (16 students and five faculty/staff) or 3.8% of our total population. We have quarantined over 250 people through our contact tracing protocol, and we have yet to have a positive COVID-19 test due to transmission within the school building.

End of Semester and Change to Exam Plan:

As we look to the end of the semester, which will be here before you know it, we had some good dialog on the best way to assess student growth. With roughly 15% of our students learning from home, we could not find an even playing field to give exams to in-person and remote learners. Additionally, the levels of stress and anxiety were worrisome, and we did not want to add to those levels. Therefore, in lieu of traditional mid-year exams, we will be following our regular academic schedule through the last week of second quarter, January 11 through 15, 2021. There will be no school for students on January 13, (which is on the annual calendar, for a faculty/staff retreat day). Mid-year or semester grades will be the average of the first and second quarter grades. 

Admission Update:

Our first round of acceptances for the Class of 2025 went out this week. We are excited about the talented group of future Eagles that have been accepted already. Please be sure to get your applications in as soon as possible so we can include you in next year’s freshman class or if you have students who are looking to transfer into an upper grade.

Reminders About Next Week:

As previously announced, we will be fully remote next week on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We will be using our COVID-19 orange schedule. Monday and Tuesday will be full days, and Wednesday will be a half day.

Let me close by wishing everyone some good down time over the Christmas break. Please remember to wear masks when out and about, please social distance, and wash your hands. I am very proud of our East Catholic Family, and I wish you all a merry Christmas!

Stay safe, be well, and God bless!

Peace,
Sean P. Brennan ‘85
President

News from the Hill Letter - December 4, 2020

Dear East Catholic Family,

It was good to see our students back in the hallways and classrooms following Thanksgiving break! We are closely monitoring those who traveled and those who may have exposure to positive cases. Quarantining, getting tested, and erring on the side of caution continues to serve us well. Please always remember, if you have symptoms, especially a fever, please stay home and seek medical advice. Also, if a student is awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, please keep her/him home until the result comes back. If feeling up to it, students can certainly go to remote learning when home. Remote learning is always an option, especially for health and safety reasons.

Please understand we will notify you directly by an administrator if your son or daughter has been in close contact and must follow protocols. We will also update the entire East Catholic family on a regular basis with a positive case counts, etc. Our threshold for shutting the school down depends primarily on teacher coverage. If we have a critical mass of teachers quarantining, we may not be able to responsibly monitor all classes. Obviously, should the Governor shut down the state, we would also comply.

Please see the adjusted schedule below for the upcoming weeks:

  • December 7–11 - In Person - Green
  • December 14–18 - In Person - Green
  • December 21–23 - Fully Remote - Orange (half day on December 23, 2020) - Offices Open 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. 
  • December 24–January 3 - Winter Break
  • December 24–27 - School Offices Closed
  • December 28–30 - School Offices Open 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • December 31–January 3 - School Offices Closed
  • January 4 - Classes Resume - Green

We have experienced blessings through an opportunity to talk with medical professionals from our East Catholic family last week, to get their input on our health and safety protocols. Additionally, we were fortunate to have a Zoom meeting with Dr. Walter, Chip Trymbulak ‘85, P’14, P’17, P’21, with our faculty and staff on December 2. 

With their guidance, we share with you our updated protocols on a number of fronts:

Positive Cases

If a student tests positive for COVID:

  • Quarantine for at least ten days from date of positive test
  • Students who have COVID-19 symptoms must be fever free for 72 hours to return to school
  • Students with positive tests and/or COVID-19 symptoms should see their physician
  • Please provide test results to Diane DeCarlo, our school nurse.

For those in contact with a positive case:

Through contact tracing, any student or faculty/staff member within six feet for 15 minutes or more, with or without a mask, will:

  • Quarantine for ten days from last point of contact with a negative PCR - COVID-19 test (non-rapid). Please take the test five days after point of contact.
  • Share written results of the test with Diane DeCarlo, our school nurse.
  • If a student lives in a household with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19:
  • Quarantine for at least 14 days from a positive test
  • Highly recommended to get a PCR - COVID-19 test (non-rapid). Please take the test five days after point of contact.
  • Share written results of the test with Diane DeCarlo, our school nurse.

Travel:

If a student or faculty/staff member travels to a red state (designated by the State of CT):

If you have traveled to any state other than NY, NJ, RI, or HI (these may change so please check the link), you must provide a negative PCR - COVID test (non rapid) to Mrs. DeCarlo prior to returning to school. 

  • You can bring test results to school, if you wish. 
  • The can test in another state within 72 hours of your return to CT or after you return to CT.
  • If a student travels to a country the CDC has designated level three or four:
  • Map and travel notices

Map and Travel Notices

  • You must provide a negative PCR - COVID-19 test (non rapid) to Mrs. DeCarlo prior to returning to school. 
  • You can bring test results to school, if you wish. 
  • You can do the test after you return to CT.

Masks:

All students, faculty, staff, parents, etc. are to wear a mask when on campus

  • Please remember that the main purpose of masks is to protect others from us
  • Medical professionals recommend a surgical mask (usually light blue)
  • You may wear a cloth mask over the surgical mask
  • N-95 masks not necessary
  • Bandanas, gaiters are not allowed

We are incredibly thankful to Dr. Chip Trymbulak and his wife, Dr. Helen Trymbulak, for their guidance during the heightening of this pandemic. As always, we focus first and foremost on the health and safety of our East Catholic family. Please be in touch with any questions or concerns.

Stay safe, be well, and God bless.

Peace,
Sean P. Brennan ‘85
President

News from the Hill Letter - November 14, 2020 

Dear East Catholic Family,

I hope you are all are safe and well. These are trying times in our country. An unsettled election outcome, a surging pandemic, and our own school closing down for a short period of time makes for a number of real challenges. Please be sure to take deep breaths and be sure to be taking care of you mental and emotional health as well.

With our most recent positive COVID-19 cases, we have continued to follow CDC, CT State Department of Education, and DPH guidelines for contact tracing. Teachers keep reliable seating charts for each class, and we work from those charts to find those who have been within 6 feet of the positive case for more than 15 minutes in a 24 hour period. Often that will include teachers as well. We also look for participation on teams and activities at East Catholic. Once we get a list of those students and adults, we contact each family by phone and let them know the protocol for quarantine. 

Those affected:

  • Must quarantine for 14 days from the last point of contact with the positive case.
  • We highly recommend that the individual get tested (not the rapid test) after five days from last point of contact.
  • We request that you share the test results with Diane DeCarlo, our school nurse.

To date, we are quite confident that we have had no spread from contact at school. We have concern however, that individuals are not remaining as diligent outside of school. The Halloween weekend seems to have contributed to our rise in cases. We know everyone is getting tired of all that we have to do to remain safe, but we must remain focused on doing our best.

School will remain closed for the rest of the week. Remote learning is in place through Wednesday November 18, but offices will be open November 16 to 18. We plan to return to in-person (green) on November 19, God willing.

Lastly, I would like to congratulate all of our fall sports teams for their hard work in what was a longer season than many anticipated. It was great to see our Eagles representing our school!

More to come on how we will approach the upcoming holidays.

Stay safe, be well, and God bless.

Sean P. Brennan '85
President

News from the Hill Letter - October 30, 2020 

To the East Catholic Family,

It is hard to believe that October is coming to an end! Snow is in the forecast, the first quarter is ending, and it is November on Sunday. Once again, I want to thank all the members of our East Catholic family for their diligence in following our health and safety protocols.

Winter is Coming: 

On days when we cannot attend school in person due to snow, we will teach and learn remotely. We will share a schedule for those days next week. There will be additional time between classes and no need for four lunch waves. School will begin at 7:32 a.m. and end at 2:00 p.m. If there is a widespread power outage on those days, we will have to cancel school altogether.

Upcoming Events: 

Remember to vote if you are 18 or older! Election Day is Tuesday, November 3. We will have spirit week next week, culminating in the walkathon on November 6. Please be sure to make a contribution to one of our biggest fundraisers of the year. There is a Jesuit College Fair on November 9; please see the school counselors for information. We will celebrate Veterans Day on November 11. There will be no school on the November 11. On November 12 we will have a virtual all-school assembly at 12:45 p.m. in your last period classroom. We will have the good fortune of hearing from Eric Kapitulik, founder of The Program. We will send the link out to students, parents, and faculty/staff.

Pray for Our Country: 

As we approach Election Day in four days, I pray that everyone may find kindness and love as they vote.

Stay safe, Be Well, God Bless,
Sean P. Brennan, ‘85
President

News from the Hill Letter - October 16, 2020 

To the East Catholic Family,

The past two weeks have been very busy! In addition to our continued success of having most students back on campus, five days a week, we were able to have some celebrations and a virtual back to school night.

On October 8 and 9, we had the yearly Book Awards and Academic Awards by department. Typically, this event is one night in the spring, but we adjusted and had two morning celebrations which were live steamed for families and put up on our YouTube channel. Many thanks to Mrs. Perillo, Mrs. Reilly, and the school counselors for their help in organizing those two celebrations.

We also inducted the newest class of members in East Catholic’s chapter of the National Honor Society on October 15. Some family members were able to attend that event. Many thanks to Mrs. Jenna Taylor-Persico and the NHS officers for their help in planning and preparing that event.

Typically, back to school night happens much earlier in the year, but given all that we were doing early on to reopen, we postponed it. We realized that we could not bring all of the parents onto campus with all of the restrictions on social distancing, so we decided to go virtual. On October 14, we had teachers in their classrooms, and parents were able to log into Google Meet classes from home. I know we had a few technological glitches, but when you think about the fact that we have 195 sections, I think it went pretty well! Many thanks to the parents who emailed me about how appreciative they were with how well it went and how much they enjoyed virtually meeting the teachers.

Lastly, please join me in congratulating Ms. Gina Burby for her award, The Light of Christ Teacher Recognition Award from the Office of Education, Evangelization, and Catechesis of the Archdiocese of Hartford. Mrs. Burby does so much at East Catholic and has devotion to all that our school represents. Through her work she truly shines the Light of Christ!

Thank you to everyone for continuing to keep the health and safety of everyone in our family front and center in your hearts, minds, and souls. As always, please be in touch with any questions or concerns.

Stay safe, be well, and God bless,

Sean P. Brennan, ‘85
President

News from the Hill Letter - October 2, 2020 

To the East Catholic Family,

Our community should feel very good about how well we are handling going green! Having the majority of students back on campus has put everyone in better spirits. We remain diligent in following health and safety protocols, and respectfully ask that students and parents reinforce mask wearing, washing hands, and social distancing when not at school.

One of my favorite parts of being in a school community is getting to see students perform. Whether it be on the stage or on a field, artists and athletes in action gives my heart a boost! On Thursday, I was able to see the boys soccer team, both boys and girls cross-country, and volleyball in action. Our student-athletes were giving it their all in competition against another school for the first time since March! It was great to see. Please remember that fans need to wear masks as well.

On Saturday, September 26, we had a celebration and dedication on campus. Alumni who played football for Coach Jude Kelly from 1979 to 1987 gathered together to honor the man who had such an impact on their lives. I was fortunate to be one of them.

Here is what I read at the dedication of Jude Kelly Way, a conditioning hill on the upper field:

From 1979 to 1987 the East Catholic High School football teams were blessed to have Jude Kelly as their head football coach. During his tenure, the East Catholic High School football team won numerous conference titles and took home CIAC State Championships in 1983, 1986, and 1987. While success is often measured by wins and losses or by championships won or lost, anyone who played for Coach Kelly found true success in the care and compassion that he gave to each and every player. An impactful mentor to all who played for him, Coach Kelly instilled the importance of teamwork above all else. No individual was greater than the team, a life lesson that remains with many of his players to this day. Today we dedicate “the hill” and officially rename it Jude Kelly Way, for his way is unlike any other, and we are forever indebted to his love for us all.

As we head into October, please remember that shorts are no longer permitted. I hope everyone has a good, and safe, weekend!

Sean P. Brennan, ‘85
President

News from the Hill Letter - September 18, 2020

As week two of our training period comes to a close, I want to thank all of our students, faculty, and staff for their commitment to all of our health and safety protocols. We have one week to go, and God-willing, we will be able to open in our green phase on September 28. As I mentioned in morning announcements today when thanking the students for their good work, it is also incredibly important that students be responsible when away from school. I know of six or seven schools who have had to close and go fully remote because students had parties on the weekend with 50-150 students in attendance, clear violations of state mandates and moral responsibility. I encouraged them to avoid those selfish decisions for the good of their families and our East Catholic community.

As students may be reporting, we have put stronger focus on our dress code and other policies this year. It has certainly been an adjustment for some, but please understand that we put our policies in place to make our community stronger. As more students embrace the rules and regulations we have in place the stronger we can be as an East Catholic community. On those occasions when students do not follow the rules, there will be fair and appropriate consequences. Please encourage your sons and daughters to comply, and there will be no problems.

Lastly, I am bringing back a school spirit mantra from the 1980’s when I was a student at East Catholic. When we are at games in the future, I hope we will be able to revive it loudly and proudly. You will be seeing it on social media and marketing materials soon. Fans would begin by yelling “We Are,” and then after a short pause would yell “EC!” We would then repeat it louder and louder. For the parents who are alums from that era, I hope you remember those moments. So when you see the hashtag, #WeAreEC, understand that it is not something new, but rather a tie to our proud history that conveys pride in our school family!

As always, please be in touch with any questions and concerns.

Peace,
Sean P. Brennan, ‘85
President

News from the Hill Letter - August 28, 2020

Dear East Catholic Family,

It has been so great to have students back on campus this week! Following three days of faculty/staff meetings, we had each class on campus for a half day, starting with the seniors on Tuesday and finishing with the freshmen on Friday. We reviewed many of the health and safety protocols outlined in our COVID-19 management plan; please take the time to review thoroughly with your son or daughter.

During this time of training, I am reminded of a quote I like very much by Mother Teresa, “The greatest good we do is what we do for one another.” Her words ring true on many fronts, but I find them truly apropos as we return to school during this challenging time. It will be incredibly important for each and every one of us to follow our health and safety protocols. We wear masks to protect ourselves and one another.

As I mentioned in the last News from the Hill, each year, I select a theme for the year, and for the 2020-2021 school year, East Catholic will be focusing on the theme of inclusion. I had the chance to speak with each class on the topic citing the importance of kindness and respect towards all with whom we come into contact. I reminded them of the ECHS mission statement which closes with, “Guided by the teachings of Jesus Christ, East Catholic is a welcoming environment for all students.” To help with this important messaging, I asked Jencih Manhertz and Mackenzie Talavera to speak with each class on this topic, and they did a great job speaking out against racism, implicit bias, microagressions, and cultural appreciation. We are fortunate to have such thoughtful and passionate students at our school.

With the orientation days completed, we will continue our training program starting on Tuesday, September 8. The blue group (A-L) will attend school in person and go through all eight classes with an extended lunch period. The white group (M-Z) will attend school in person on Wednesday, September 9 and go through all eight classes with an extended lunch period. There will not be any schoolwork assigned for those days, and the group not in school does not need to attend remotely. Fully remote learners should virtually attend classes on Wednesday, September 9.

Regular class rotation will begin on Thursday, September 10, with Day one. From the September 10 to 25 the blue group and white group will alternate days of in-person and remote learning. If all goes well, we will open at full capacity on Monday, September 28! We can do this! We will need everyone’s cooperation and buy in, but it is possible. We advise the need to reschedule our back to school night, originally scheduled for Thursday, September 10. Details will be forthcoming.

As always, please be in touch with any questions you may have. Stay safe and be well!

Peace,

Sean P. Brennan ‘85