Teaching Confidence and Compassion
My parents chose the best Catholic private high school for me. Through their hard work and sacrifice, I landed in Fontbonne Hall Academy, located in Bay Bridge, Brooklyn, and overlooking the great view of Gravesend Bay and the Verrazano Bridge. Truth be told, I wasn’t really happy at first, considering that all my friends went into a different school. But my mother, thoroughly convinced by her best friend that Fontbonne’s education is one of the best in the country, sent me even if it was against my will.
Little by little, I have come to appreciate Fontbonne. I have made a lot of good friends that I still keep in touch with every now and then.
Going to an all-girl high school has its downsides. At first, we were jealous of how our other friends spoke about gorgeous guys on their school’s sports teams. In our case, there were no sports teams to root for or guys to meet. But it did not stop us from enjoying our golden years. To expand our social circles, we went roller-skating at the Bay Ridge Roller Rink. On Wednesday nights, St. Bernadette’s had a social with cookies and soda and music. On Fridays, St. Finbar’s held the same event. But weekends were our favorite. We waited for it because we loved the weekly dances. We loved dressing up and getting ready to go out as much as we loved dancing.
Going to an all-girl high school comes with advantages too. It kept us focused on schoolwork and academics, which, of course, pleased our parents. Fontbonne had strict rules, but it taught us self-discipline and responsibility. It did not only highlight academic excellence, but it also guided and provided learnings for our spiritual growth. As our school motto states, Ex fide fortis, meaning, “from faith comes strength.” Going to Fontbonne shaped me to become resilient through the hard battles that I had to face in my life. I knew that I always had a God to go back to at the end of the day.
Aside from the academics and spiritual growth, Frontbonne teaches its students to become courageous and compassionate. I had to make the biggest decision of my life when my brother, Bob, was diagnosed with schizophrenia. If I had to take care of him, I would leave my career, my plans, my whole life. In the end, I chose to abandon the life I knew for him. I chose courage and compassion; it wasn’t always easy, but it helped me grow. I daresay that I became a better person for it. As another Italian saying goes, Audaces fortuna iuvat, or “the fortune favors the bold.”