Principal stresses communication to build bonds

Mrs. Barthel notes the many success of the first semester


Ava Amos

Principal Mrs. Julie Barthel.

Nick Bozzelli-Levine, Reporter

It’s been quite the eventful semester on the Hill. Principal Mrs. Julie Barthel reflects on all the ups and downs (many more ups than downs) that the fall semester has presented, expressed her pride in the efforts from students and educators and conveyed her hope for a promising second semester. 

Q: What did you enjoy about the first semester?

A: “We put in so much time working hard in March, April, May, June and July to safely bring our students back to campus. Seeing the campus come back to life during such uncertain times felt amazing. It was so rewarding that we were all back together as one family. The first all-school Mass on the football field and Mario’s Mass in the (Welch Activity Center) was a huge highlight for me. We made it for most of the first semester, and I am so proud of our students and teachers.”

Q: What about the first semester did you not enjoy? 

A: “Being an academic leader, I thrive on collaboration in fulfilling our mission at Cathedral by educating the hearts and minds of our students. While it was necessary, it was discouraging at times that much of our energy went towards Covid-related matters, as opposed to focusing on professional growth opportunities and discovering new innovative ways to fulfill our mission.  Don’t get me wrong, we still focused on these things while discussing Covid matters, but just not as much as I would have liked.”    

Q: What is your advice to students and teachers on how to make virtual learning easier?

A: “Communication is key. If students are struggling, let your teacher or counselor know. Use the flex time built in the schedule to build relationships, get extra support and keep in touch with one another. Use the resources that Cathedral provides. That includes the Learning Commons and writing resource center. Stay active by joining clubs, even if it means they will be virtual. Lastly, stay positive and keep your faith strong. If students or teachers have ideas on how to help keep us all connected better, I certainly want them to reach out to me and share their ideas. We are all in this together.” 

Q: Besides the obvious development of going virtual, what were some important changes or pivots you had to make mid-semester? 

A: “We truly lived day by day. Being in administration, we plan months and even years ahead. It was hard to plan for what we know today, knowing that it will likely change. We had to keep the pulse of the school to know how to best serve our teachers and students. I believe creating Mission Mondays when we did was one of the most important things we could have done this semester. Ultimately, it not only helped our teachers breathe, but I firmly believe it also kept us in school for a lot longer had we not made that adjustment.” 

Q: Do you think Covid-19 will have any long-term impacts on the school?

A: “While dealing with this has been hard, I believe it has made us stronger as a school. We have learned many new things and have become more innovative because of Covid.  I have no doubt that many of the things we have learned through these hard times will serve us after the pandemic is over.”  

Q: What suggestions do you have for teachers to make the second semester better?

A: “The key is always relationships. How can we build strong relationships with our students and get to know them? This includes learning about how students learn, their passions and interests, their strengths and weaknesses.”

Q: What suggestions do you have for students to make the second semester better? 

A: “The same as the teachers—relationships. Get to know your teachers and communicate with them what supports you need.”

Q: What was your favorite thing that happened in the first semester? 

A: “As I said earlier, the day of service was a very special day for our school. It was the first time for us to experience Mass together as a school. As (President) Dr. (Robert) Bridges said that day, ‘They said it could not be done, but we did it.’ When there is a will, there is a way. I also was so proud of all of our educators and students to find a way to celebrate Homecoming. So many creative ideas were brought to us that we were able to carry through the week. Seeing the joy in our seniors’ faces, the nervous uncertainty in our freshmen and everything in between, made things feel a little more normal.  

“Go Irish! We will be back, stronger than ever.”