The Long Family - BLESSED SACRAMENT SCHOOL
"We will never regret choosing Catholic education for our children and we feel so lucky to
have such a wonderful parish and school to call home." -- Tara and John Long


The Long Family, Blessed Sacrament School


"Making People Happy" That should be professional photographer Tara Long's slogan. Her unique vision through the lens of her camera also happens to be very similar to the vision she has for her own family. Making people happy is one of the things she loves most about her job and her life.

"I get to be silly and run around and capture those raw moments that happen in a family. It's really magical…a little window into the love that happens within each family" she says. "It fills my creative side, but it is one of the very few jobs on earth where you make people happy all of the time. I get to meet the most amazing families and be a part of their lives, and I have made so many lifelong friends from families that started out as clients…I am happy that I get to make others happy, and I think it really stems from the loss of my mother. She passed away 11 1/2 years ago and the pictures of her that I have are so precious. I think photographs are a confirmation of what we already know and the stories we hold in our hearts" says Tara, who urges young mothers to take these types of pictures with their kids so they will have tangible evidence of happy moments shared.

Tara and her husband John grew up in Springfield. He went to Little Flower School and she went to Blessed Sacrament. They started dating before their freshmen year at SHG (Class of '97) and both went on to Eastern Illinois University; Tara earning a BA in Elementary Education and John earning a BA in Political Science. John continued his education at SIU Carbondale School of Law where he graduated summa cum laude. While John was in law school, Tara taught elementary school in Cape Girardeau, Missouri for three years. The couple moved back to Springfield when John completed his studies. Tara taught elementary school in Rochester. John found employment as an attorney in the law offices of Cavanagh & O'Hara, where he still works. In 2011, Tara launched what she calls her second dream job, Tara Long Photography, specializing in photography of newborns, children and families.

The Longs now have three children, all enrolled at Blessed Sacrament School. A year after first child Lennon was born in 2005, Tara took on her first dream job of stay-at-home mom. Lennon started pre-school at Blessed Sacrament and is now 10 and in the fourth grade. He is a member of the school's Robotics Club, and according to his mother "he hasn't stopped talking about it!" He also enjoys playing on the soccer, basketball, baseball and flag football teams.

Norah, eight (second grade), has also been at Blessed Sacrament since pre-school. She loves Science Lab, playing soccer and basketball with classmates, and taking Irish dance lessons with her cousins who also attend Blessed Sacrament. Youngest child, Harrison, is five and in Kindergarten. He loves reading with his teacher Mrs. Harth. He also likes playing on the soccer and basketball teams with his classmates. Tara says all of her kids love PE and visiting the "amazing" new school library.

There are many local Catholic school alumni in the family, including Tara's mother, the late Mary Mulholland O'Hara (SHA) and her father Michael O'Hara (Griffin). In addition, several nieces and nephews have graduated from or are currently enrolled at SHG, along with several who are presently enrolled at Blessed Sacrament or St. Agnes Additionally, Tara's sister, Andrea Rupnik, is a pre-school teacher at St. Agnes.

For Tara and John, there is much to admire about Catholic education, and Blessed Sacrament School in particular.

"The staff not only gives our children quality education, but they go above and beyond to really get to know our children. I am always in awe at parent-teacher conferences of how every teacher really knows each one of our children. We are constantly letting everyone know how incredibly happy we have been with Blessed Sacrament School, and we truly hope all schools are this wonderful, because the students that come out of a wonderful place like this are going to not only do something meaningful with their lives, they are going to help change the world for the better" says Tara, who attributes this success to the "co-teaching" strategy that exists between parents and teachers.

Tara and John show their commitment to their parish, school and community through involvement. Tara participates in the new Blessed Sacrament Women's Club and can be seen around school -- often with her camera -- helping out as a room mom or with special activities and taking photos as needed. She is a member of the newly-formed Circle of Hope, which helps provide support and education innovations at the Hope Institute for Children & Families. John helps with after-hours parish functions like Ladies' Night Out or the annual school auction. He is a board member of St. John's Hospital's Friends Leadership Council. They are both also members of The Young Philanthropists, which has given more than $40,000 to local youth charities. And the Long kids are givers, too. Each year, in lieu of birthday gifts, they do a toy drive. This year, along with family and friends, they gave $500 in gifts to St. John's Children's Hospital.

The Longs see all of this as living their values, which are reinforced in Catholic education. Tara and John feel that their own Catholic educations positively shaped their lives, and they want their children to benefit in the same way by "developing into adults that will change the world for the better through God's word," according to Tara. "We are amazed at the commitment we see from the parishioners, Father Jeff [Grant], the staff at the church, the faculty at the school and the parents who work together to make BSS a place for children to grow educationally and as workers of God. There is something truly special going on in the halls of BSS, and we are so blessed to be a part of this community of faith. I know we will never regret choosing a Catholic education for our children, and we feel so lucky to have such a wonderful parish and school to call home" she continues.

Over the past few years, Tara has been striving in her photography to capture what she calls "real moments," by portraying families in a state of "just being." These are exactly the kinds of moments she wants to enjoy with her children, but sometimes that means savoring the moments in favor of photographing them. "As much as I always want to have my camera out to capture those moments in my daily life…I have found that sometimes it is just better to be a part of the moment than dashing off to get my camera to try to capture a moment that has probably passed by the time I returns" she says.

Besides, there will be plenty of pictures for her children's photo albums, and she hopes that in the future when her kids look through them, they will feel what they already know…that through it all, love remained. Tara, a Beatles fan, cites the late John Lennon to emphasize her point:

"We've got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can't just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it's going to get on by itself. You've got to keep watering it, you've got to really look after it and nurture it."

To that end, the Longs will be cutting back on a lot of extra-curricular activities this summer and renting an RV to see the western United States as they enjoy time just being a family. Tara looks forward to enjoying many "real moments." Not all will be captured with her camera, but that certainly won't make them any less special.



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St. Aloysius
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