My entry into the Catholic school life came later than most. I started in sixth grade after more than half a decade in public schools. To say that this resulted in a split personality is an understatement.

It didn’t take me long to learn the system once I mastered the Big Three skills necessary for getting through the days St. Ambrose.

-Respect for straight lines in both geometry and queues.
-Elite-level memorization habits.
-Never questioning anything.

Despite learning the big stuff quickly, I was slow to learn a lot of the minutiae of the Catholic School culture.

Specifically, the JMJ and BVM acronym incantation.

JMJ means Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. BVM means Blessed Virgin Mary. The custom was that a student would write those letters on the top of each important homework assignment or test.

This was done so that the Holy Family would intercede on the student’s behalf for a positive outcome. Believe it or not, this request came when the student was unprepared or convinced of imminent failure.

If you know what a Hail Mary pass is, you’ll immediately understand.

My memory is a bit foggy on the effectiveness of this middle school lifehack. I think that I used it sparingly, just for times when I was really in need.

I suspect that if I had committed myself to create a wall mural like this one on the east side of Austin, I might have earned greater consideration.

If I’m lucky enough to make it to Catholic heaven I may just have my answer.

About the author: I am Stephen Kennedy, an experienced photographer with more than 2500 completed sessions in all 50 US states.

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