What Matters When You’re Playing Golf? Love, Joy and Students
On Wednesday, September 26th Nativity Prep Academy held its 14th Annual Golf Classic at the Coronado Municipal Golf Course. The day was perfect – from the weather to the views to the food and to the camaraderie. While the foursome of Mark Hammond, Lou Lozano, John Gadzala and Patrick Baynes won the tournament, and several people went home with exceptional raffle prizes, the real winners included everyone there.
During lunch, the golfers were serenaded by bagpipes before setting out to enjoy the game. In addition to the obvious 1st, 2nd and 3rd place honors, competition included the longest drive, closest to the pin, longest putt and more. A moving moment for the golfers was interacting directly with students. Pulling up to the 10th tee, players were greeted by a small band of students who introduced themselves with smiles and handshakes.
At dinner, the group was addressed by former student, Abraham, who described being at Nativity Prep. “My first weeks there were eye opening. I was surprised by the amount of schoolwork. It took me a while to adapt to the overall rigorous environment. But it was all for a reason. Being low-income, we were all disadvantaged. The odds were against us to attend college, and this is the work necessary for us to excel in our future endeavors,” said Abraham, Nativity Prep Class of 2015, now a senior at St. Augustine High School. Abraham continues to come back to campus to participate in the graduate support program on a weekly basis as he sets his sights on college.
Our new school president, Dr. Gil Brady, announced that Nativity Prep had received a matching grant for $100,000 from a few new supporters who want to encourage new donors to join the community and current donors to step up their support. “We can continue to be a learning organization and affect the lives of so many if we find the resources to do so. I encourage you to become part of something that really, really matters.” He went on to add, “We love you and we want you to know you’re invited and welcomed to become part of something that matters.”
Jeff Bradley, representing the primary sponsor of our golf tournament, Sudberry Properties, gave his message to everyone in the room straight from the hip. “What’s more important and rewarding in your life? Is it new golf clubs? A new iPhone? Eagles tickets? Or those students?” pointing toward a group of current and former students. “I ask four things: 1. Think about supporting the school. 2. Visit the school. 3. Tell others about it. 4. Pray for it. I ask you to pray for these teachers. These teachers are so dedicated. For the staff, for the board members and especially for the students and their families.”
Two of our dedicated teachers were seated with some young people. When asked why she chooses to work at Nativity Prep, Maria Powers answered quickly, “This is it,” as she gestured toward Nativity Prep alumni, Moises and Viviana, “I’ve known these kids since they were like little, little. And now he’s in college and she’s about to graduate from high school and I’m gonna cry. But there’s nothing else more rewarding than seeing that, really. So, that’s why.”
Maria’s colleague, Lisa Trojnar, is a new teacher at our school this year and enthusiastic about her students. “There’s something special about that building. The first time I went in and met the kids, they welcome you, they’re engaged, want to learn.” She definitely sees herself as having a stake in the future of her students, “We know that they’re going somewhere and they’re going to do great things and we can say that we are a part of that process. That’s the ultimate reward.”
Mike Orlando, helped make Abraham’s education possible as a middle school sponsor, posed for a photo with him and talked about how blessed he feels to be a part of Nativity Prep. “When you go to the campus and you see the joy on the kids’ faces and the joy on the teachers’ faces and the administrators. And they’re all there for one reason and that’s to grow – to learn, to love God and to become better people. I’ve experienced that every time I go there, and I always cry when I see how these kids have worked so hard and how they come from homes where their parents care so much about them that they commit them to this, and the family to this. To see that is God’s love being poured out in the school. It just gives such pleasure to me.”
But perhaps Abraham summed up what matters the best, “I am confident that choosing to attend NPA has been the best choice I’ve ever made. I can say without a doubt that my future is brighter and more secure with the help I’ve been given at Nativity. And I am extremely grateful for the chance to fulfill my potential.”