Archives for February 2015

Michael Trager-Kusman

Alumni Profile

Michael Trager-Kusman ’02

Michael left his job at the Department of Treasury in Washington D.C. to move to New York and pursue his passion. From starting as an unpaid pizza delivery boy, he climbed his way up to become a line cook at one of New York’s most premier gastropubs, The Breslin, where he met Tyler Morris, now executive chef of MTK Productions.  Michael had gotten the crash course needed to pursue his dream of starting a restaurant in his hometown of Louisville.  RYE on Market opened in the NULU district in early 2012, followed by Atlantic No. 5 in the summer of 2013.
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Basketball Season nears end and more notes from Coach Cowherd

ShavarCowherdThe basketball season has nearly wrapped up for all our teams!

Boys’ 7th/8th Grade Basketball
The 7/8 boys’ team finished their season with participation in the Anchorage Roundball Tournament. In first-round action, the Wyverns defeated Walden easily, cruising to a 38-16 win. On Saturday in the semifinals, the team faced Collegiate. Down several players due to illness and other reasons, the Wyverns made things interesting, but the experience and depth of Collegiate prevailed. The 7th and 8th grade team finished the year with an impressive 16 wins.

Boys’ 5th/6th Grade Basketball
The boys’ 5th grade basketball season is winding down. They played their final game of the regular season at MidAmerica last Friday night against Tully, falling in a really close battle 34-29. They finished the league with an overall record of
4-4 and a 6th seed in tournament play that will start this week. They also played in the Independent Basketball League Tournament that started last Saturday. Their opening-round opponent was CAL, and the Wyverns had them on the ropes for the majority of the game but were unable to finish, dropping the game 36-34. Stevaun Butler and Ian Von Feldt were both named to the IBL All-League Team. Ian was also named to the All-Tournament Team. Tonight, they will take on the OC Crush in the first round of their final tournament. St. Francis lost to the Crush earlier this season 20-27; the team looks to avenge that loss.

The boys’ 6th grade basketball season came to a close last night in the championship game of the Independent Basketball League. The Wyverns played tough but were unable to come away with the championship. Overall this season, the 6th grade team posted a 35-8 record. They won the Whitefield regular season and tournament titles and the John Paul II Holiday Tournament title, and were runners up for the IBL title. Quite an impressive year for a great group of kids. Michael Patterson and Lake Mackin were both selected to the IBL All-League and All-Tournament Teams for their efforts.

Girls’ 5th/6th Grade Basketball
The 5/6 girls’ team had a fabulous year that came to an abrupt end against KCD last Saturday in the ISBL tournament. The decisive height advantage of the Bearcats cost the Wyverns the right to move onto the next round. Coach Shannon Ragland praised the team for their effort and determination all season. The team finished with six wins.

Boys’ 4th Grade Basketball
The 4th grade boys’ team finished up their season after an early exit in the ISBL tournament. They played a total of 22 games and this was the most they’ve played in a season. The team was led in scoring by Tyler King and Nate Zimmerman. Coach Jason Chlopek already has his eyes set on next season.

Girls’ 3rd/4th Grade Basketball
The 3rd/4th grade girls’ team finished off the ISBL league this weekend. They came out strong and confident and won their first round game against CAL, 31-5. The girls went on to the semifinals to play Portland Christian. The girls were only down by four points at the half, but limited with seven players, they were tired by the second half and fell short with a loss 19-27. Carly Schramko and Abigail Runyon were top scorers throughout the tournament games. The whole team played their best best during the tournament and should be so proud of their hard work and great team spirit!

2nd/3rd Grade Boys’ Basketball
The 2/3 boys’ team had a tough January, dropping three of their four games overall during the month. Two of the three losses were by two points. The team finished the year with a winning record as they learned a ton and had a fun time.

Kindergarten-2nd Grade Basketball
The K/2 basketball team began in January and though they have yet to win their first game, they are getting better with each passing week. This group of boys and girls play their games in the St. Matthews League on Saturdays and Sundays and are coached by Tim Patrick and Nicole Butcher. They have one weekend of games remaining.

Middle School Track and Field
Track & field practices for the boys’ and girls’ 5th-8th grade team will start Monday, February 23rd. Weekly practices will be held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 3:00-4:45 pm. If your child hasn’t signed up to participate, please contact Coach Shavar Cowherd.

Snapshots from the Goshen Campus

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Louisville Children’s Museum Visits Preschool

Preschool Director Renee Hennessy


This week, the Preschoolers were invited to see a scene of Schoolhouse Rock performed by the 4th and 5th graders. The children absolutely loved the performance and were groovin’ in their seats. On Thursday, we enjoyed a presentation on the history of Louisville and Kentucky by Louisville Children’s Museum, a hands-on and interactive traveling museum. The Preschoolers enjoyed a mock “Run for the Roses” in a stick-horse derby, fishing for bluegill with magnetic fishing poles, and riding an imaginary horse with a real saddle. We are excited to support a wonderful program like the Louisville Children’s Museum that promotes play-based experiences for the children of Kentucky! You can learn more about their mission by clicking here.

The February 6th deadline for re-enrollment has passed and the Admissions Office has been busy processing your child’s class preferences for next year. If you are a current 3s parent and have not contacted Richard Butcher or Kelly Beach about next year, please do so right away. This is our most requested class and we have limited slots available. We are accepting new students at this time and you don’t want to miss out on your class preference.

Today, love was in the air as we had our classroom Valentine’s Day parties. Thank you to all of our parents for sending in valentines and special treats. Speaking of love, Geneva Burke in the 2s class became a “big” sister to baby brother Phoenix this week! Congrats to the Burke family!

Have a wonderful Winter Break!

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Notes from Heather Varda, MS LA/SS Teacher

HeatherVardaThe 5th and 6th graders had an opportunity to attend a dual field trip to the Muhammad Ali Center and the Kentucky Center for the Arts to experience a historical perspective of the Civil Rights era in Louisville. The students learned about Cassius Clay’s victories as a champion fighter who used his notoriety and conscience to help raise awareness of the injustice of segregation during the 1950s and 1960s. The Stage One play about Cassius Clay, And in This Corner!, at the Kentucky Center for the Arts was impressively engaging, artfully tackling the discrimination Muhammad Ali faced growing up in Louisville as a young boxer and Olympic athlete. It provided a wonderful real-life visual to enhance understanding of Muhammad Ali’s life, and his motivation to lead a life dedicated to changing people’s minds about race, and, later, religious intolerances found all over the world today. Overall, the students were impressed with the play and museum and learned interesting facts about the Civil Rights movement apart from Cassius Clay’s (Muhammad Ali’s) life.

AliTrip_2 AliTrip_4

Notes from Shelly Jones, MS LA/SS Teacher

ShellyJones_2014-15Last Thursday, Free the Children’s national speaking tour “It Starts With You!” visited
St. Francis. All students in 4th through 8th grade heard from two dynamic young women, Marisol Quevedo and Hannah Gavagan, who both experienced bullying in middle school and high school. Marisol and Hannah spoke of the power of words and explained the value of choosing kinder responses to others. They illustrated for students how in 10 seconds they have the power to take a stand that can have a significant impact on the lives of others. After their presentation, Marisol and Hannah spent the rest of the day in an action-oriented workshop for Middle School student council and We Act Club Bully_1members. Students learned how to create safe emotional spaces with peers, and they created an action plan for how to foster more “hot zones,” or areas in the school and the community where all students feel welcomed and accepted for who they are. A special thanks to Disney’s Club Penguin and Free the Children for making this valuable opportunity available for our students!

On a separate note, a special thanks goes to Rabbi Joe Rapport and his son, Lev ‘08, for leading the 6th graders in their exploration of Judaism as part of their World Religions Social Studies project. The students toured The Temple and learned a great deal about Judaism, as well as local history. A special thanks also goes to 6th grader Bentlea Schwartz for arranging the visit!



School Notes for week of February 9-13

  • Merit Scholars Announced! Recently, 5th and 8th graders from both within the St. Francis community and from other area schools took the Merit Scholarship Competition, vying for scholarships given to incoming 6th and 9th graders. There is an overall winner for each level, as well as runners-up in math/science and humanities. The competition is intense as 19 students competed for 6th grade, and 28 for 9th grade. The judging is “blind” as panels for both competitions have no idea whose work they are examining. Congratulations to the following finalists (there were six in each category), and winners from the St. Francis community!
    6th Grade Merit Scholars:
    Finalists: Ayda Marshall and Nicolette Bert
    Overall Winner: Lily Gilbert
    9th Grade Merit Scholars:
    Finalist and Honorable Mention Scholarship: Chloe Church
    Humanities: Lucy Biberman
  • MathCounts is happening this Saturday, February 14th at the University of Louisville. Students have been practicing for this competition over the past few weeks and are excited to get their math on. Those competing for the St. Francis School team are Eli Jaffe, Lorenzo Mahoney, Eston McLeroy, and Drew Perkins. Those competing in the individual portion are Noelle Dry, Connor Gorman, Evvie Cooley, Chloe Church, Chris Hammond, and Jennifer Johnson. Wish us luck and we’ll report our score when we return from Winter Break! A reminder that the competition is open to 6th-8th graders who love to do math! Get excited and join our team next year!!”
  • There is a new Office Manager/Receptionist on the Downtown Campus!  Danielle Tracey joins the SFS staff on March 2nd.  Many thanks to Goshen Campus parent Lindsay Ronay for referring Danielle to us!  She has most recently been a property manager at Mulloy Properties for the last several years, prior to which she managed one of the busiest Panera restaurants in Louisville and worked as an administrative assistant at the University of Louisville.  Having handled actual building fires, we are confident Danielle can handle our lesser versions of “fires” at the front desk.  Best of luck to our departing front desk maven, Sunny Ra, as she leaves to pursue her true passion and spend more time painting.
  • Want to see photos from the Father/Daughter Dance? How about photos of our basketball teams in action? Our “school photographer” Stephanie Tanner has posted photos on her website for parents to peruse and purchase. Check out these photo galleries from Stephanie and use the accompanying access codes.

Lunchroom Volunteers

Monday 2/23
Denise Waggener
Pam Smith
Karen Smith
Tuesday 2/24
Dace Maki
Dena Wilson
Kathy Kuhn
Wednesday 2/25
Tammy Carey
Denise Ragland
Caroline Boardman
Thursday 2/26
Karen WIlliams
Star Sohi
Lorrie Esterle
Friday 2/27
April Sargent
Weasie Gaines
Shannon Stocker

With Independent schools our similarities far outweigh our differences

Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus, Director of the SFS Drama Project

Last week, I had the “adventure” of traveling to Chicago (when Winter Storm “Linus” allowed it!) to take part in an ISACS accreditation visiting team. The school I was assigned to was Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, a Jewish independent school on the North Side of Chicago that serves students in preschool through 8th grade. As you are probably aware, all ISACS independent schools undergo an evaluation process every seven years to renew their accreditation. In fact, next year we will be surveying our community as to our performance in advance of our next accreditation. I’ve been on “that end” of the process several times, but this was my first time to evaluate another school. So what did I take away?
First, a Jewish day school conjured up certain images in my mind. I pictured a traditional school very different than St. Francis and our progressive mission. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Although BZAEDS’ location is radically different than ours, a four-story campus in downtown Chicago, the atmosphere and vibe inside was much the same. Lower School students were carrying their snack buckets down the hall, two by two, and smiling all the way. Middle School students were playing guitar in the stairwells and recording original compositions onto laptops for a music project (a la Mr. Bertke). I ate lunch with their student council, which was discussing crazy ways to dress up for “Spirit Week.” (I felt like I had stepped into one of our student council meetings, minus the ravings of Clay Smedley!). I met with Board members who talked passionately about their support of the school and future plans for growth, and also with their parent council reps, who mentioned the sense of “community” as the defining feature of their school.
After the school day, I also met with their Middle School faculty, who were clearly a tight-knit, committed group of educators. And while they had plenty of positive things to say about their school, they also had many thoughts about ways to make BZAEDS even better for the future.

So again, what did I learn? Mostly that with independent schools our similarities far outweigh our differences. We/they are communities of adults and students who have come together to educate our children to the best of our abilities while providing them security, a sense of community, challenges, exposure to other ideas, cultures, and opportunities, and, yes, love. I left with a great sense of admiration for their school and an even greater sense of pride in St. Francis. It’s easy to overlook all the wonderful things we have and do here, and sometimes we just need reminding of that.

And back at “home,” as we head off to Winter Break, our Middle School teachers announced a new batch of Elective Projects that will start the first Friday we return. As I listened to the offerings, I noticed some new and first-time projects that are exciting! Erin Staley is offering computer coding, which has really been in the news lately. She mentioned that she “is no expert” in coding, but willing to facilitate it and learn with the students (that’s the spirit!). Likewise, Jason Chlopek will lead “Lego League,” a robotics project. While our robotics team went dormant this year, Jason hopes to get it revved up and back in competition for next year! Sarah Linkous and Angela Ponzio are helping Spanish students to prepare for the Spanish World Language Showcase taking place at Centre College in late April – yet another academic opportunity for our kids! And continuing on are the uplifting service opportunities afforded by Shelly Jones’ “We Act” Club, and 45 kids will be putting the finishing touches on the SFS Drama Project Spring Musical “Oliver!” as well. Several other projects are also on the docket, including one led by parent Bob Smedley. Bob received training from Junior Achievement and will be leading an “Economics for Success” project for any interested Middle School students who want to focus on personal finance and career goals in hands-on and fun ways. Hats off to Bob, and I encourage other parents with project ideas to get in touch with us! This batch of projects reminded me just how “cool” and different they are and how they are truly a “St. Francis phenomena.” It’s a shame kids can only choose one!

A BIG thanks to those who helped out at our very successful LISC dance last Friday night in the gym! Faculty members Lindsy Serrano and Salema Jenkins joined me in chaperoning as well as help from several parents. Dena Wilson spearheaded decorations before the dance and Lon and An Church donated sweets for the dancers! And doing a great job guarding the new gym floor from soft drinks were Chris Zimmerman, Angel Medley, and Terri White. Bob Smedley and daughter Gabby did their usual fantastic job “spinning the tunes.” We had over 200 middle school kids in attendance and grossed over $1,000 for the 8th grade gift! I call that a success!

Have a great Winter Break!

Thoughts Photo Gallery

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Head of Campus Reed Gabhart, Thoughts

Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus, Director of the SFS Drama Project

In January, a local puppeteer group, Squallis Squallis 1
Puppeteers, treated us to a week-long artist-in-residency! (If you’ve ever been to Forecastle, you’ve probably seen their handiwork floating above the crowds in the form of whimsical puppets.) Thanks go to Fine Arts Department Chair Jenni Pollard for arranging this fantastic opportunity for the whole Campus! Having periodic Artists-in-Residence has become a regular addition to the arts curriculum at St. Francis. Our students have experienced working with pottery, clay, fabric, metal sculpture, and even chainsaw carving art over the past 10 years or so! They can now add puppet-making to that illustrious list! To top off their stay, Squallis treated us to a full-school assembly that was a sheer delight! It was a fabulous assembly that had the kids (of all ages!) enthralled, as puppets “ate” on stage while also imparting a valuable lesson about making healthy food choices.

Also, January is a month of very meaningful curriculum supplementation. Our 5th through 8th graders spent time with Rodney Poole, a prevention specialist from the organization Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD). Mr. Poole met with all students to provide the latest information from the field of substance abuse prevention. This is a program that School Counselor Julie Marks arranges every year and is invaluable for both our students and parents. Also, Julie leads our Middle School kids in educational classes designed to help them make “Healthy Choices.” These topics (which include relationships, gender issues, body image, and sexuality) are very informative, yet handled with respect and taste. They are always a crowd favorite!

MLKpresentation_3We held our annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assembly, honoring the great civil rights patriot. The whole school sang uplifting songs (with our kindergarteners leading us in one!), students read famous quotes from Dr. King, and we listened to an excerpt from his famous “Mountaintop” speech. It was inspirational to see our kids begin to clap after nearly every one of his sentences. His oratory, beliefs, and impact upon our society live on – and are being passed on to our children.


IMG_2207 EverestChlopek (2)

Our 6th grade class recently began heading up a composting program during lunch. Collecting our food waste and scraps will help feed our worms outside, educate the rest of the community about the benefits of composting, and feed our hungry chickens!

A CONGRATS to MS science teacher Jason Chlopek and his wife Megan on the birth of their son Everest.

Also, below you will see the Effort Honor Roll chart for the second quarter. Congratulation to all of these students for their hard work in the classroom!


Effort Honor Roll

8th Grade7th Grade6th Grade5th Grade
Lucy Jane Biberman
Eve Rudd Boland
Colby Boyd
Chloe Church
Evie Cooley
Mary Claire Duncan
Meredith Fleming
Cassidy Gilvin
Christopher Hammond
Jennifer Johnson
Sydney Lattis
Erin Lyons
Arabella Maki
Margaret McGraw
Margaret Mundt
Sean Sullivan
Reid Varda
Alexa Von Feldt
Abby Waggener
Wyatt Ware
Alan Ziegler
Olivia Zimmerman
Olivia Beach
Cloey Beardsley
Aidan Campbell
Ella Davis
Amelia Dimas
Grace Donovan
Caroline Frederick
Georges Ghali
Connor Gordon
Connor Gorman
Emma Grace Harvey
Eli Jaffe
Hayden Jones
Ryane Jones
Gary Jurige
Natalie Lancaster
Lorenzo Mahoney
Grace Malone
Eston McLeroy
Ford Middendorf
Izzy Payne
Drew Perkins
Sydney Ragland
Carolyn Siegenthaler
Rachel Silberman
Ellie White
Bradley Wilson
Holly Yelton
Audrey Brinkmann-Piuma
Owen Carey
Jake Chanda
Noelle Dry
Jasmin Gonzalez
Caleb Hennessy
Sophie Johnson
Lily Johnson
Emma King
Jimmy Lancaster
Lake Mackin
Audrey McClain
Bennett Middendorf
Stuart Middleton
Teagan Morrison
Nyla Nawab
Bella Nugent
Norah Patrick
Jack Plaxe
Emery Richards
Bentlea Schwartz
Drew Siciliano
Parker Smith
Natalie Stewart
Levi Tyler
Theron Varda
Nate Waggener
Lars Barbercheck
Nicolette Bert
Stevaun Butler
Josie Cooley
Kathryn Denham
Marley Diamond
Riley Elliott
Caroline Essex
Maddy Francis
Lily Gilbert
Olivia Hahn
Katie Hammond
Anna Hardwick-Jones
Poppy Kuhn
Sydney Marks
Ayda Marshall
Kyra Mefford
Camille Ogden
Lauren Prys
Reese Ragland
Isaiah Robles
Piper Shiflet
Ian Von Feldt