On darts and 60
[The following is an adaptation of remarks by Dr. Paul Barker at the Mass for the Opening of School and 60th Anniversary of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School}
Today is about gratitude. We are grateful for the presence of so many guests this morning – alumni, former faculty and staff, friends. Students, in a majority of cases our guests' connection to Good Counsel goes back to long before any of you were born. I offer a special thank you to the alumni priests who have joined us this morning, spanning 40 years of our school history. Fr. Bob Lawton, Class of '65 is our oldest. Our homilist, Fr. Kevin Fields, Class of '04, is our youngest, ordained in June.
Thank you, too, to my predecessor, Good Counsel's longest-serving President, Mr. Art Raimo, who has joined us this morning from the Academy of the Holy Names in Tampa, Florida. Also with us are three past principals, Mr. Barry Fitzpatrick, Mr. Charles Dusterhoff, and our Athletic Director Mr. Pat Bates, Class of 1970. Also former Assistant Principal Gail Donahue. From the Xaverian Brothers Sponsored School Network are Executive Director Dr. Patrick Slattery and Formation Director Mr. Ben Horgan. From fellow XBSS school, St. Mary's Ryken, is President Mrs. Mary Joy Hurlburt. Our Board Chair Mr. Phil Mantua, Class of 1976, is here, as is immediate past Chair, Mrs. Rita O'Donnell. Xaverian Brother Mike McCarthy of the Class of 1962 is with us; Brother Mike was a freshman on the day we opened.
On this diamond anniversary, we owe the greatest debt of gratitude to those who founded this school. We give thanks for the twelve Xaverian Brothers and one lay teacher of 1958 who, under the leadership of Br. Mark McCarthy, started what we hold in trust today.
Some of you may be wondering why the big fuss about 60. Fifty? I get it. One hundred? Of course. And, by the way, our centenary is September 8, 2058. Students, not sure I'll make it but you can get it on your calendar now.
Why 60? Well, 60 is a number of significance. 60 seconds in a minute - a lot of time if you're only up by a point in a basketball game and not much at all if you still have five more problems on a math quiz. And just the right amount of time to slow down, be still, and pray in the midst of a busy day. 60 minutes in an hour. How fast can you get from zero to 60?
I invite you to think about a little less obvious 60. Maybe you have noticed how popular the sport of darts is in the UK and Europe. I stumble across it from time to time on some of the cable sports channels; huge, raucous crowds cheering on burly guys throwing tiny spears at a circle less than 8 feet away. Darts is a game most of us have played at least once. As we celebrate turning 60, think darts, particularly what it takes to throw the highest score with a single dart. It's not a bullseye; that scores 50. It's triple 20 for a score of 60. At Good Counsel, we have "made our 60" courtesy of year upon year of the steady hand, the keen eye, the true aim, and the occasional bit of luck. The steady hand that guided us through the turbulent 1960s, the steep decline in the number of Brothers, and the recessions of the 1980s and 2000s. The keen eye that saw the need to welcome girls in 1988 and move from Wheaton to Olney in 2007. The true aim that recognizes that what sets us apart is faithfulness to the approach to education handed down to us by the Xaverian Brothers.
Brothers like Mark McCarthy, Charles Borromeo, Bonaventure Scully, and Barry Fitzpatrick set the early direction for our school as a learning community committed to innovation. In the mid-80's, the Brothers turned leadership over to laymen. Mike Murphy, Charles Dusterhoff, Pat Bates, Art Raimo, Jack Graham, and Tom Campbell have exercised the leadership that has helped Good Counsel establish the reputation for excellence it has today. The real work, of course, gets done by amazing faculty and staff, many of whom have devoted a working life to this school – names like Kolar, Burns, Seel, Essig, Dalphonse. In the common, ordinary, everyday routine of a school day my colleagues bring to life the motto of the Xaverian Brothers: In harmony, small things grow.
And how we have grown. Who among Brother Mike and 256 other students there when the doors opened for the very first time on Georgia Avenue in Wheaton on September 8, 1958, could have imagined that Our Lady of Good Counsel High School would ever become the largest private high school in Maryland with 1,277 students and 12,235 alumni.
Students, you will continue to hear about 60 throughout this year. You've already looked fabulous making a human "60" for the drone photo a week and a half ago. The 60thanniversary logo is on the back of your t-shirt and the new banners on the driveway. Today, we look back. Throughout this school year, whenever you see and hear about Good Counsel at 60, remember the game of darts and let "60" inspire you to look forward. Think 60. Every 60 seconds, every 60 minutes, how steady is my hand, how keen is my eye, how true is my aim in the quest to become my best self as a GC Falcon?
Each one of us present here today is part of a 60-year story. Our collective hope, on this special day, is that Our Lady of Good Counsel High School will continue to be a community firm in its commitment to inspire young people to excel, serve, and love – today, tomorrow, and for the next 60 years. May God bless us all.