Kelly Light started as the Notre Dame High School Principal on August 15, 2020. There were two big things going on in her life at the time – A worldwide pandemic and she was seven months pregnant with her third child.
Due to the timing, Light, a 2006 graduate of Notre Dame, had mixed emotions about applying for the position. However, she was reassured by the outpouring of support from her family and current employees. She was delighted when she was asked to be the Principal and appreciative of the faith Fr. Joe Konikattil (Designated Pastor of Notre Dame & St. Mary’s) had shown in her. Light said, “I was excited and humbled to be offered the position and Fr. Joe was looking forward to mentoring me as he has a significant amount of experience in Catholic education.”
After a tremendous amount of planning, Notre Dame opened on September 8 for the 2020-21 school year. Many changes and new protocols had to be implemented immediately to keep students and employees safe. Light said, “Managing safety guidelines and providing students with a quality high school experience has been the biggest challenge so far. I’m grateful to the parents and students for their continued support of Notre Dame and for their understanding with decisions that have had to be made. I’m also very appreciative of the faculty and staff for making the best of a difficult situation.”
Light gave birth to a son, Jamison, in mid-October and took six weeks of maternity leave. During that time, she felt a little frustrated about not being at school but was very confident in the ability of the people she had left in charge. Light said, “We didn’t miss a beat and I was kept well informed about how things were going.”
Two Notre Dame Graduates, Patty DuPont ’77 and Becky Korn ’89, took charge of the school during Light’s absence. DuPont is the director of religious education and has taught at Notre Dame for twenty years. Korn has been the school counselor for seven years. Both commented on how this time gave them a much greater appreciation of what a Principal does and the challenges that come with it. Korn said, “When you see something through someone else’s eyes, it gives you a greater understanding of their role.” DuPont echoed those sentiments and added, “We were very appreciative of the help and support Fr. Joe gave us.”
Upon Light’s return, the Notre Dame students have had a mixture of remote and in-person learning which is dependent on the number of coronavirus cases in Harrison County. A rewarding aspect for Light is seeing the students and employees continue to succeed despite the difficult circumstances. She said, “Events and activities have had to be cancelled, but everyone is doing a great job in challenging times.”
At the time of writing, Notre Dame Students have only just returned to the building after the Christmas break. Looking forward, Light is positive saying, “The biggest goal, having got the students safely back into the building, is to build them back up emotionally and spiritually. I want to focus on making the school a positive place to be and continue to grow and improve.”