Students of Saint Pat’s

My students listening to the docent
at the Art Institute of Chicago.

I teach at Saint Patrick High School, the oldest all-male high school in the city. I have taken my boys on two art field trips this semester, one to the Art Institute of Chicago, and one on a four day tour of the art museums in New York.  Both trips held surprises for me.

Our first trip to the Art Institute of Chicago included students in the beginning art class who have just started being introduced to art.  It was a docent led tour and the docent was just beginning to entertain general questions about art when one of my sophomores asked, “Isn’t art a reflection of the artist’s emotion?”  The depth of the question is what was surprising to me.  He never took an art class, and he just started learning about art history, and here he was making these connections.  And no, he wasn’t an honor student.  I think when anyone watches the silliness of teenage boys and has a chance to hear their conversations (especially the students who talk about which superhero would win in a fight) it’s easy to forget how deeply they may be thinking and processing material you’re presenting to them.

Our trip to New York held a couple of pleasant surprises for me.  

My students listening to the talk about
the Guggenheim’s on Kawara exhibition.

The first came on the first night when my husband and I went to all the rooms to do bed checks at the designated “lights out” time.  Two seniors were not even close to being ready for bed.  When we open their door, they were busy ironing their clothes.  They said their clothes were too wrinkled to wear.  I was surprised that they cared that much about the shirts and jeans they brought, and that they knew how to iron!  Good work moms!

During the trip, I also came to understand why our students are so amazing.  Whether a student is interested in art, theatre, music, science, math, chess, athletics, etc., students at our school always find a place to fit in. During the trip, I realized that is because our boys really understand how to dissolve their cliques and pull together as a team. The group included sophomores through seniors, and the seniors took care of the sophomores through their leadership and their example while they included everyone and their humor and their fun.  Our sophomores and juniors are extremely mature. They were able to identify behaviors and others that bothered them, avoided the behavior in themselves, and were able to separate themselves from annoyances so as not to create tension or confrontation.

Great job men!  I’m really proud of you all!

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