Making Time for Community

Long Island is better than New Jersey. Queens is far superior to Brooklyn.

These proclamations — and many others — were thrown around a Regis cafeteria table on a recent Wednesday morning during a spirited sandwich making session. Roughly 30 Regians, including members of each class, had gathered at 10:15 a.m. to make Sunny Jam Sandies. Catalyst, a student-run organization devoted to the Jesuit ideal of service, spearheads this monthly activity that makes sunflower butter and jelly sandwiches that get donated to New York Common Pantry, a Manhattan organization dedicated to feeding the hungry. The students usually construct roughly 200 sandwiches during each 45-minute session, and they’re aiming to donate at least 2,500 by June.

A year earlier, these Regians would not have performed this service work in the middle of a normal class day. But thanks to the advent of Community Time, Catalyst and other clubs are now able to host meetings and organize activities during school hours, and busy Regis students can participate in more activities than they could in the past.

Community Time was introduced this fall as part of a broader update of Regis’ schedule, which is now on an 8-day (A-H) rotation. From 10:15-11:00 a.m. on most school days, students are encouraged to take advantage of Community Time by going to a club meeting, attending Mass, or meeting with a teacher in a resource center.

“Community Time allows our students to have an even more well-rounded, diverse experience at Regis,” Principal Fr. Anthony Andreassi, CO, said. “During dedicated school periods, students are able to hone leadership skills, participate in a new club, volunteer to help those in need, grow spiritually, or visit with a faculty member. This break comes after most students have completed two classes, so it can also serve as an opportunity to just catch one’s breath before usually two more classes and then lunch.”

Erik Roll ’20, one of the co-presidents of Catalyst, said the organization has already seen the benefits of Community Time. Once a week, the club hosts a service project at 10:15 a.m. in the cafeteria, rotating between Sunny Jam Sandies and the Patriot Project, which involves students cutting stars from decommissioned American flags to send to veterans and service members. Participation in these activities has increased since last year, Roll said, as a much larger group of students, many of whom can’t attend after school because of sports practices and other responsibilities, are now able to join.

“It’s really a helpful way for students to get involved in events that they want to get involved in but they wouldn’t be able to if they held it after school,” Roll said. “It’s more flexible, and it’s also much more inclusive.”

While Catalyst, one of Regis’ more popular activities, has taken advantage of Community Time, it also has been a boon for less thriving clubs. Francis Barth ’20, the president of the Foreign Affairs Club, said Community Time has invigorated the sometimes attendance-challenged group.

“Between my freshman and junior years, there were really only a few meetings during the first trimester until the president would give up given the poor turnout,” Barth said. “So far this year, every meeting has had at least 15 members engaging in topics ranging from the recent Israeli elections to the Turkish treatment of the Kurds. Fortunately, it appears that the club will continue throughout the school year.” Each morning, students have no shortage of options when Community Time arrives. At the same time the students prepared Summer Jam Sandies on that Wednesday this fall, Fr. Arthur Bender, S.J., ’67 celebrated Mass in the Regis Chapel of the Sacred Heart, the Glee Club held a rehearsal on the fourth floor, Regis ECO met to discuss the ecological impact of recent California wildfires, and two sophomore advisement groups squared off in an intramural soccer game.

Community Time also allows Roll, Barth, and the rest of the student body to sharpen their leadership skills and enhance their time management and prioritization abilities. “This is time that we’re setting aside for students to create as their time and space,” Assistant Principal for Student Life Christian Mariano ’99 said. “I don’t dictate to anyone: You’ve got to do this; you’ve got to do this.”

Barth, who also serves as Student Government President, said that, “Regians being Regians,” there was some initial skepticism among the student body. But after just a few months, it’s clear that Community Time — like debates about the superiority of one borough over another — is here to stay at Regis.

Posted: 12/17/19