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St. Augustine Alumnus honored for volunteer work

November 11, 2017
St. Augustine Alumnus honored for volunteer work

St. Augustine Catholic School

Six generations of the Parks family have attended Saint Augustine Catholic Church and School in Washington, D.C. Even as her grandchildren Christopher Clarke, kindergarten, and Victoria Clarke, fifth grade, walk the halls of the school, their grandmother Ingrid Parks Clarke ’62 returns to her alma mater every school day to volunteer.

“I just love the school,” she said.

When the school needs office help, chaperones for a field trip, and help with its afterschool programs, Mrs. Clarke is there to assist. She shows up at 6:30 a.m. because that’s when she came to work for 34 years before she retired. She rolls up her sleeves to volunteer at St. Augustine, a place that her great grandmother on her mother’s side first attended as a founding parishioner.
On Oct. 5, Ingrid Clarke received the Volunteer of the Year award from the Catholic Business Network – DC for her nine years of service at the parish school.

Times have changed profoundly. The Baltimore-based Oblate Sisters of Providence in her youth used corporal punishment, backed firmly by parents and grandparents who sent their children to St. Augustine. There were no lay teachers.

“The Oblate Sisters didn’t play,” Mrs. Clarke said.

These days, teachers refrain from corporal punishment, and there is only one religious teacher, Sister Bibiana Okoro, HHCJ, director of religious education. Parents have a different level of involvement than they did in previous generations and sometimes question teachers.

Yet, there is continuity, as Ingrid Clarke sees it. Students still wear a uniform. She appreciates the strong relationship she has with the teachers and staff at St. Augustine and respects their dedication to the school’s mission. They call her “YaYa,” which is what Nicholas first called her as a baby. After her mother passed away nine years ago, according to Mrs. Clarke, it made perfect sense for her to take her energies to the parish school.

Graduates of St. Augustine continue to attend top local high schools, after all, and Mrs. Clarke sees the difference a Catholic education can make for a young person. Students pray five times a day and attend a weekly school Mass, as well as take Religion classes.

There are also similar material needs that sometimes present themselves from the times of previous Parks family members. When Ingrid’s brother Lawrence H. Parks II ‘75 attended St. Augustine School, their mother would discretely pack a lunch for him and a classmate who oftentimes did not have food. These days, Mrs. Clarke helps out one of Victoria’s classmates at St. Augustine in a similar way.

Trained by Lawrence Parks, Victoria and Nicholas Clarke are also altar servers at St. Augustine Church. Mrs. Clarke, who lost her husband Vincent Clarke earlier this year, also teaches Sunday School at St. Augustine and is a member of the Sodality, so one can say that on a majority of weeks each year, Ingrid Clarke volunteers six days a week at St. Augustine.

“I’m doing the same thing with my children that my mother did with me: talking up St. Augustine,” she notes with a smile before getting back to work at the school office.