Today I was pleased to visit two of our Catholic schools as they marked the start of a new school year: St. Clement Mary Hofbauer School in Rosedale and St. Francis of Assisi School in Baltimore. I began my day at St. Clement, where I met and greeted the students and their parents during “drop-off”. I was surprised at how many smiles I saw (and how few tears over the unofficial end to the summer) and was so pleased to be able to go to the parish church to offer a blessing over the students, faculty, staff, and even the parents and grandparents. At St. Francis I was thrilled to be present for the beginning of the new International Baccalaureate Middle Years program, which officially begins in the middle school classes this year. I was most impressed with the responses of the students who shared their enthusiasm for and knowledge of the IB program, which is the first for a private school in Baltimore City. I was also on hand as the 4th grade got the school year off to a running start with a STEM project that involved problem solving and critical thinking in a fun and innovative way. Kudos to Mrs. Melissa Rowland for a great first day activity! I look forward to visiting many more schools this year and to helping our students “Rise Above” academically, spiritually, and in countless other ways. God bless all who are working to make this the best school year ever!