St. Clare eighth graders Adrienne Medak, Emma Dennis, Sam Ruttledge and Jagar Shean work together on a project. (Courtesy St. Clare School)
St. Clare eighth graders Adrienne Medak, Emma Dennis, Sam Ruttledge and Jagar Shean work together on a project. (Courtesy St. Clare School)
Twenty-six students will graduate from St. Clare School in Southwest Portland June 11 at 7 p.m.

Sometimes asking the right questions creates the opportunity to reflect and learn; maybe even learn from those we thought we were teaching. One teacher at St. Clare took the opportunity and gained incredible insights from her eighth-grade students.

This year, with its many challenges and difficulties, the importance of striving to be a life-long learner has been magnified by all that has changed and all the new ways students and staff have had to learn and adapt. Cathy Kollars, eighth grade homeroom, middle school social studies and religion teacher, asked the eighth grade students to share thoughts from the past year.

When asked what they’ve learned to appreciate, one student said, “I have learned to appreciate the contact with others. The opportunity to learn with others, struggle with others and succeed with others is one of the greatest parts of being back in school.” Students acknowledged the sacrifices made by their teachers: “I appreciate how hard our teachers have worked during COVID,” one said.

Another reported realizing the morning alarm clock isn’t so bad, saying “waking up early to go to school is always going to be better than staying at home.”

Students were asked what would they say if they could go back to March 2020 and give their pre-pandemic selves some advice? Answers included, “I would tell myself that procrastinating might seem like a good idea at the time, but it actually puts more stress on you than just finishing the work”; “Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed”; and “Stick to a daily schedule!”

Another student said, “I would tell myself to have hope, faith and patience.”