March 20, 2020

Dear Oakcrest Parents,

We are about to conclude this first full week of living without many of our well-worn routines. Perhaps there are aspects about this sudden change to ordinary life that we like very much—more sleep? Naturally there have also been moments of tension and frustration. In times of sudden change, especially when that change means we are cut off in a significant way from direct personal connection with people, we can tend to “shrink,” to close in on ourselves.

I find it helpful to think that others rely on us much more than we realize. St. Josemaría asked young people especially to think about this so that they would enlarge their horizons and grow their hearts; it can help all of us, young and not so young, at times like this. “Here is a thought to help you in difficult moments. “The more my faithfulness increases, the better will I be able to contribute to the growth of others in that virtue.”—How good it is to feel supported by the others.” (Furrow, 948).

It is precisely now when others need us the most—our families, co-workers, friends, and yes, people we will never know, but who are linked to us through the Communion of the Saints.  We have to extend our concern and our prayer to many others who count on us—whether they say it or not—to be persons of integrity, faith, and true compassion. This can be a great incentive when we are tempted to get down, or get small.

Thank you for all your kind and encouraging words this past week, especially the appreciation you have shown for the effort of Miss Black and the entire faculty for their launch of distant learning! I know Miss Black will be reaching out to you with some excellent, practical recalibrations for the learning in the days ahead. Please continue to communicate with the teachers and with her. Our Learning Specialist, Caroline vanKampen , and our Academic Advisor, Mrs. Catherine Courtney , are ready to help students who may understandably need a bit more support at this time.

Mrs. Hadley, our Director of Mentoring, has asked the mentors to call the parents of their mentees next week to check in and see how best to connect with their mentee. We thought it would be best to go through you. In this way, we can all be on the same page about what the best way to communicate is.
Looking ahead, we have decided to maintain distant learning for the next three weeks, hoping and praying that we can welcome everyone back on April 20.  However, we will be making plans for several scenarios, including a return sometime later in the school year or not until the beginning of next school year. We will do everything we can to preserve our beautiful end of the year events and traditions, most importantly those that allow us to celebrate with our beloved senior class. Class of 2020, you are very much on our mind and in our hearts. We will keep all of you posted and give as much advance notice as we can.

We want you to know that we are not aware that any member of our extended community has tested positive for COVID-19.  If you or a member of immediate family living at home has tested positive for COVID-19 and you have been in the school in the last 14 days, please let Matt Buonocore , our CFO and the head of our safety committee, know as soon as possible, since we are required to notify the Fairfax County Health Department. Prayers continue for good health for all.

As of Monday, March 23 the building will be closed.  However, if you have an urgent need to enter the building, please contact Matt Buonocore . Our Chaplain, Fr. Marty Miller, will be offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation outside the school on the following days and times. There won’t be access to the building. We hope to keep this up, and will apprise you of future dates. Feel free to tell friends and neighbors.

  • Saturday March 21   9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
  • Monday March 23    9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
  • Tuesday March 24    9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

I encourage you to read This Week at Oakcrest on Mondays for all kinds of updates and tips, and to take a look as well at the COVID-19 Updates page on our website. As we move out of this first week, we will keep you posted on various items of importance, but also try to not overwhelm with communication—we hope to strike a good balance.

To close, many of you know how much I love Maine and how I am particularly fond of lighthouses. When I think of the Oakcrest spirit that we all love, I am reminded of the humble, but necessary duty of any lighthouse worth its name---to keep the light shining! This is what I encourage you to do, Oakcrest families, faculty and staff!  Keep up your good work, trying to be patient, open, flexible, and cheerful. Many people are praying for you, so grateful for your example! Count me among those cheerleaders!
Warm regards,
Mary T. Ortiz, Ph.D.
Head of School