January 26, 2018

2018 Catholic Schools Week Supplement

‘My class is just like a family’

By John Shaughnessy

Leigh Anne GamindeLeigh Anne Gaminde was 8 when she faced the kind of difficult transition that would have challenged someone much older.

She moved from the Philippines to the southern Indiana community of Madison to live with her mother—a transition that also included starting at a new school when her command of the English language was rudimentary.

Ten years later, Leigh Anne looks back on that time at Pope John XXIII School and still marvels at the reception she received from her classmates as a new third-grader.

“It was very scary for me because I wasn’t familiar with anything in America. I was expecting them to be mean because I was different from everyone else. But it wasn’t like that. I’ve never felt any discrimination, and no one bullied me because I wasn’t from here. I’ve just been welcomed since the time I came here. It just really eased my nerves, and gave me another look at people.”

That feeling has intensified during the past nine years, says Leigh Anne, now one of 28 seniors at Father Michael Shawe Memorial Jr./Sr. High School in Madison.

“My class is just like a family. We’ve helped each other grow.”

So has the Catholic education she’s received at the two Catholic schools in Madison.

“It’s helped me get closer to God and my faith. And it’s helped me discover myself more. At Shawe, we do things that challenge us and push us out of our comfort zone. It’s made me realize I’m capable of so much more than I thought. It’s made me more courageous and outgoing with people, too.

“Being with the same teachers, I’m much more comfortable talking to them. I’m not afraid to ask them for help. And being with the same people, I’ve made long-term friends. I know they’re going to be there for me even after we’re out of school. I’m really thankful for everyone. Being a senior, I’ve learned to appreciate everyone even more.” †

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