byDonis Tracy Pilot Correspondent
ROXBURY -- Forty professional men and women headed back to school on May 3, but only for the day.
This year's annual bus tour, sponsored by the Catholic Schools Foundation (CSF), took the attendees, most of whom are donors to the Inner City Scholarship Fund, to St. Patrick School in Roxbury.
"We can talk and talk about what we do for Catholic schools, but isn't it much better to actually get to see it with your own eyes?" Michael Reardon, director of the CSF, asked the attendees.
Among those in attendance were CFS founder, philanthropist and investment banker Peter Lynch, together with two members of the CSF Executive Council, Stephen R. Petersen and Thomas Mannix.
As guests arrived, they were divided into eight different groups and led by St. Patrick School students on a tour of the school. Each group was brought to a different classroom and were encouraged to actively participate in class.
After the tour of the school, the guests were led into the gymnasium and treated to lunch. During lunch, the second grade string orchestra performed several musical pieces. Principal Mary Lanata explained that the orchestra was formed at the beginning of this school year thanks to a grant from the CSF.
"We cannot say 'Thank you' enough to you all," Lanata said.
After the young musicians returned to their classrooms, Reardon noted that 95 percent of the 160 students at St. Patrick School receive partial scholarships from the ICSF.
"Without your generous support, St. Patrick's literally would not exist," he told the Bus Tour participants, adding that "it goes much further than just the school, because St. Patrick's is a vibrant part of the community that surrounds the school. So, in a sense, we can say that the revitalization of this area of town is also thanks in part to your support."
During lunch, John and Tchintcia Barros, parents of two young students at St. Patrick's, also spoke of the importance of a Catholic education. Both parents are products of Catholic education -- John Barros graduated from St. Patrick School -- and they spoke of their desire to give this same opportunity to their children.
"The values that were instilled in us were the values that we want to instill in our children," Tchintcia Barros said.
"The love in this school is real," added John Barros. "This place is special."
"And this school is special because of you and your generosity," he told the guests.
He noted that "the community benefits from the love experienced here," and cited several local business owners and community activists who are graduates of St. Patrick School.
Before leaving St. Patrick School, Thomas Mannix noted that "the special sauce here in this school is love."
"What we have seen here is electric, and I am so thankful to Peter (Lynch) for having gotten me involved in this. As we walk around these halls, we know, we see, we can touch, the difference that we have made. There's nothing better than that," Mannix said.