Aurora School Thankful for Grant
St. Rita of Cascia receives gift from Dunham Fund
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
October 4, 2018
AURORA— The word “thrilled” is a good description of Principal Elizabeth Faxon as she describes how St. Rita of Cascia School is using a grant from the Dunham Fund.
 
Faxon joined with retired St. Rita language arts teacher Pat Heneghan and Mary Rockwood, technology director and teacher, to work on the Dunham Fund grant application for a year and a half before it was submitted. They received a phone call in June that it had been approved, no additional steps needed. 
 
The Dunham Fund
 
“Established by John C. Dunham in 1996 . . . funded in 2007 in accordance with the provisions of Mr. Dunham’s trust . . . and nurtured during the intervening years by Mr. Dunham and a board of personally appointed advisors, the Dunham Fund honors Mr. Dunham’s life and philanthropy through grants to Aurora, Illinois, area organizations that have the vision and programs to help fulfill Mr. Dunham’s dream of ‘making the world a more comfortable, safer place for mankind to live and prosper.’ ”
The $275,000 grant, part of which was received over the summer, is providing interactive whiteboards for classrooms and handheld laptop computers for seventh- and eighth-grade students. The school’s computer lab will be upgraded as well.
 
Faxon referred to a STREAM curriculum in her remarks given before the ceremonial check presentation after an all-school Mass on Sept. 25. 
 
“Our expanded technology will serve students in the areas of science, technology, religion, engineering, the arts and math,” she said, adding, “As students in a Catholic school, the ‘E’ also stands for Ethical use. Our students are expected to use their skills in ways that contribute back to the community and treat all people with respect.”
 
After the check presentation, Faxon chatted with Wendy Hirsch, chair of the Dunham Fund Board of Advisors. 
 
Hirsch said she was happy to meet student representatives when they presented her with handmade gifts and said she felt, as she looked into the students’ eyes, that she is part of an important gift that will benefit a whole generation.
 
Bishop David Malloy celebrated the Mass, which welcomed also a number of parents and parishioners. He talked about the importance of the Mass, which, he said, he likes to describe as a place where heaven touches earth. 
 
He also spoke a bit about his experiences in Catholic school as a youngster and encouraged the students to realize and be grateful for the generosity behind the Dunham Fund grant — and  the generosity of many people past and present who built and who continue to support St. Rita of Cascia School. 
 
When they grow up, Bishop Malloy added, he hoped they too will be generous to the school and to the generations of students who will follow them.
 
The bishop was among those who enjoyed a demonstration of the new technology by eighth graders after they returned to class.
 
St. Rita School plans to offer English classes for parents in the evenings, and the new technology, Faxon says, will make it easier for parents to communicate with their children about what they are learning. 
 
New Spanish classes for fifth- through eighth-graders will help generational communication also, she says, adding that no assumptions can be made among students and parents regarding who knows how much of which language.
 
“We’re trying to connect everybody linguistically. We want to give the students access to a very powerful future for them and their families,” Faxon says. “We want to empower all of our people.”