|Ever Strong at Christ Our Savior Catholic School in South Holland.|
Last week I got an email that begins with journalistic clarity I could never improve upon:
“My name is Carolyn Strong and I am a parent at Christ Our Savior Catholic School in South Holland, Illinois. The archdiocese recently announced that they were closing four Catholic schools. What they failed to say was that all of these schools were located in either Black or Brown communities. What they also failed to acknowledge was that with the closing of Christ Our Savior and St. Ann located in South Holland and Lansing respectively, they have created a 25-mile dearth of Catholic education in the southeast suburbs.”
That seemed worth a follow-up. I phoned Strong, who has a doctorate in education.
“We have 146 students, all Black and Brown, 137 Black, nine Latino,” she said. “It is the only all-minority Catholic school outside of the city. There are no others. My decision to send her there: because I am an educator, there are certain things I’m looking for. Because we’re a two-educator household. Because I am raising Black children, what I’m looking for is a mixture of academic rigor and cultural responsibility and a chance for my child to see herself reflected in the day-to-day of the school. Representation is very important. I’ve learned from my own work, which centers around Black students, the impact of anti-racism on Black kids. Representation matters. When you’re ‘othered’cq from such a young age it has an impact moving forward; it’s not a good one. That was top of mind choosing a school.”
She has two daughters. Eden, 18, in the middle of her COVID-constrained freshman year at Northwestern. And Ever, 5, in first grade at Christ Our Savior. That age gap is no accident, Strong said. Raising a gifted daughter requires undivided attention and determination.
“There are people who believe you can’t be both Black and smart,” Strong said. “The things we went through with our older daughter. People doubting her. We came in with IQ scores. Came in with testing. None of that stuff mattered. All they saw was a Black child.”
Christ Our Savior is different.
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