Archives for May 2015

2015 Derby Camp Best Ever!

Maintenance - Goshen

Walter Denham, Maintenance – Goshen

Well, Derby Camp 2015 is on the books. And what a Derby Camp it was! I have talked to Bob Bertke and we declare this to be the best Derby Camp ever!

We started off on Friday greeting 36 campers who were eager to get going. After a few minutes of going over the rules for the day, we loaded the bus and headed off to Lazer Blaze. Connor Gorman won the first round and Georges Ghali won the second. Several of the 5th graders had a go at the bumper cars (I’m guessing to prepare for our third stop, Bluegrass Indoor Karting). In addition to winning the first game, Connor won the inaugural “Down the Clown” challenge, narrowly beating out Mr. Bertke.

After playing several arcade games at Lazer Blaze, we again loaded onto the bus and went to lunch at Qdoba at The Summit. In keeping with the yearly tradition, almost everyone went to 32 Degrees. Sean Denham came out with an enormous yogurt again. It weighed in at over 15 ounces!

Our third stop was the one everyone was waiting for, Bluegrass Indoor Karting. A great roar erupted on the bus when we pulled into the parking lot. We filed in to get checked in and to get our racing groups. After lots of race rubbing for the two races each, the fastest lap was turned in by Will Cole. Our “Bringing Up the Rear” award went to Caroline Frederick. Ayda Marshall had the most memorable quote of the camp by asking, “Mr. Denham, do they have a driver’s manual I can study before I drive?”

Then it was off to the movies, where we saw The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Good movie, lots of popcorn was devoured.

Back at school, we had pizza for dinner, and at 9:30 p.m. we played the greatest game ever, “Where’s Bertke?” Bob
was hiding somewhere outside and the campers’ job was to find him. Sydney Ragland, Michael Scheen, Brian Haupt 20150502_195744and Arabella Maki found him in two minutes (he was hiding in the bus). Bob relocated for a second round, and again he was found by the same group (henceforth known as The Bloodhounds!). A third game was called for, but I instructed the campers to go to the gym, where we played dodgeball. But this is Derby Camp so we played “Derby Camp Dodgeball,” complete with laser lights, music and strobe lights! As the clock approached 11:00 p.m., we played “Where’s Bertke, Brown, Frechette?” The three of them hid outside again (Andrew Frechette in a tree on the playground, Tina Brown under the table outside her room, and Bob Bertke on the porch of the creepy old house) and the campers had to take a picture of each and bring them to me to determine the winner, which again were The Bloodhounds!

At midnight we went inside, then lights out at 1:00 a.m.

Saturday morning we welcomed nine new campers after saying goodbye to four. This brought our total to 41. Breakfast, rules and on the road to Kings Island by 9:45 a.m.
Lunch was at Wendy’s outside the park. (Our receipt was over six feet long!)
At the park, we broke off into groups and went about our day. We decided that 3:00 p.m. was to be “Fury O’Clock,” with everyone meeting at Viking Fury to ride the ride that Mr. Bertke considers the greatest ever. Georges Ghali won the largest prize this year. He captured the crown from me by winning a 6′ tall, 3′ wide blue monkey. My prize was a 5’x5′ pig pillow pet, a close second.

Back on the bus by 8:00 p.m., we headed home with the 6th grade singing the entire way to Dairy Queen in Prospect at 10:30 p.m. We arrived at school, full of Blizzards and Orange Julius, at 11:00 p.m. Several games inside the school and then most were asleep by 2:00 a.m.

Sunday brought us doughnuts and check out by 10:00 a.m.

The campers behaved wonderfully wherever we went and I am proud of each and every one of them. Several stops paid our large group compliments on their behavior. The students represented our school and themselves to the high standards of SFS.

5th Grade Has Great Experience at Natural Bridge

5th Grade LA/SS

Heather Varda, 5th Grade LA/SS

The 5th graders experienced the wonder of our state park’s “Natural Bridge” last week. This has been an annual trip for the 5th grade, with an overnight stay in the state park’s lodge. The 5th graders learned some interesting facts about geology from our informative naturalist Drew, particularly that the Natural Bridge is a sandstone arch that was created from a massive earthquake and subsequent water erosion thousands of years ago. Additionally, the students had opportunities for bonding as they played team games from our Peace Education program and went on two long hikes as a group through the forest. This year the students also had the opportunity to try archery and to build a fire as a team. The American buffet is always popular on this trip, as the kids find something they enjoy from the hot line and salad bar, as well as the dessert bar. The outdoor education trips at St. Francis are magical experiences for many students, and these trips serve as an opportunity for an appreciation of our environment. The kids left the park with a greater appreciation of natural wildlife and can now identify a few wildflowers, such as the Dwarf Iris, Trillium, and Columbine flowers on the forest floor.


7th Grade Makes Great Memories on Class Trip

7th Grade LA/SS, MS Social Studies Chair

7th Grade LA/SS, MS Social Studies Chair

Car camping suits the 7th grade to a tee. With a fair share of uncertainty about what lay ahead, members of the Class of 2020 headed down I-65 to Mammoth Cave National Park two weeks ago. They met the first challenges like pros, quickly assembling the tents and stowing their gear at a campsite sheltered by towering trees. The adventure had begun.

Patrick Donovan, our director of outdoor education, led the way. Joined by Nita Duechle, Christine Brinkmann and me, Patrick instructed students on how to secure their tents and discourage the curious reconnaissance of varmints. Several students helped prepare the first night’s meal, pasta with vegetables, while others gathered wood. Carolyn Siegenthaler won the award for best gatherer of 7thGradeTrip_1kindling. On the second day of the trip, Patrick taught the 7th graders how to construct a small stove that could be used to prepare a hot meal. “At the beginning I utterly failed,” Amelia Dimas said of her attempt to make pancakes, “but in the end I managed to make a batch of edible crepes.” These cooking experiments were early practice for next year’s Big South Fork challenge.

As always, our students spent a good deal of time underground, exploring the caves, learning their history, and squirming through some particularly tight spots. “Mammoth Cave is much more than some massive case,” said Lorenzo Mahoney. “It has an interesting history, like the mining of niter for gunpowder during the War of 1812.” Everyone marveled at how dark the cave truly is when the lights are turned off; some even admitted that they were a bit frightened. In addition to the cave tours, the 7th graders hiked in the woods along the Green River and inspected the many sinkholes that funnel water into the caves.

After thoroughly cleaning the campsite, our intrepid students boarded the bus and headed north. At Bernheim Forest, thanks to Christine’s initiative, they were fortunate enough to get a special tour and lesson in sustainability from Claude Stevens. Dirty, smelly but also very happy, they returned to Goshen no worse for wear, having collected a few helpful skills and some really great memories.

Lots of Exciting Activities in the Preschool

Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

Hennessy, Preschool

This time of year is chock-full of activities; after the Preschool Derby, the days and weeks seem to fly by. Last week we hosted our first Preschool Derby on this campus and it was fabulous. Perhaps the KPDerby_4best one yet! The weather was perfect, the children were excited, and the grandparents were proud as they watched their little ones “Run for the Roses”. Thanks to all of YOU for sending in cookies and lemonade to make this day special for grandparents and visitors! The Fours even got to enjoy watching the kindergartners run in the Kindergarten Derby later that day!

On Wednesday, we honored our wonderful “Moms” with a special breakfast and lovely handmade gifts that were created with love and care. We also honored two retiring teachers: Karen Hopkins, with 13 years of service to the school, and Mary Pat Mann, with 20 years of service. We honored Penny Nowotny for 20 years of service to the school — she’s promised to stick around for another 20 years! Our retiring teachers will be honored with a brick on the Alumni Walkway of Honor this summer. Penny and Mary Pat Muffins_4were given an engraved abacus and will have their names added to the 20-year service plaque in the Main Amp. Each of these remarkable women has had a positive impact on our children and families.  And I know that I speak for everyone in the St. Francis community when I say it has been a privilege to be a part of the journey with you.

Have you made your child’s summer camp plans yet? Chances are you have thought about it but are waiting to sign up because this time of year is jammed with activities. If you haven’t registered your child, please do so TODAY. Our camp is for children ages 2 (by the first day of camp) to rising 1st grade. On Tuesday, May 12th at 3:30 p.m., we will host our Summer Camp Open House. Please plan on stopping by to meet the camp teachers and to hear more about our plans for our summer in the country! Click here to register here for camps.

May 20th: Last Big Sing of the Year (where did the time go?)! 9:10 a.m. – 9:40 a.m.
May 21st: Fours/JK Field Trip to Kentucky Center for the Arts to see BLEU! (that’s the correct spelling, it’s an Italian troupe!!)
May 27th: Last Day of School. Children who typically leave at noon remain on that schedule. Everyone else is dismissed at 1:00 p.m.!

PreschoolMoms_3 PreschoolMoms_4 Waitingfor Trainers_PreschoolDerby


High School Buzzing with Activity

Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

There have been some amazing events at the High School in the past couple of weeks! The weekend before Derby, SFS students went in two directions. One crew headed to Bowling Green for the state Science Olympiad competition. They finished an amazing 10th – details in the highlights section of this newsletter. Another group – over half the female student population – joined the female faculty CharlieHSand staff for our annual Women’s Retreat, at which we discussed various topics, made some art, and enjoyed good food and each other’s company. Keeping with the food theme, the Diversity Potluck later that week not only featured great food on a beautiful afternoon in our courtyard, but also turned into a jam session showcasing students and our IT Director, Charlie Patton! That led into the Talent Show the following day, which encompassed wonderful music of various kinds and a truly amazing aerial act from three of our students who perform with Turners Circus.

This week, on Wednesday night, we welcomed our incoming 9th graders for Registration, coupled with our annual HSTalen_3Student Art Show (featuring music, photography, film, painting, drawing and sculpture) and Senior Project Showcase (at which all the seniors showed off their hard work on these yearlong projects). It was a fabulous event on a gorgeous night. Thanks so much to all the 10th grade parents who sent in food, and to everyone who attended.

A huge shout-out to 9th grader Eva Borders, who won the 6th Region Tennis Tournament for the second year in a row. She’s awaiting her seeding for the State Tournament next week. Her previous State finishes are the Sweet 16 as a 7th grader and the Elite 8 as an 8th grader. Eva will be joined at State by senior Jamie Anderson, who lost in the Regional semifinals but still qualified for State. Good luck to them both!

A Memorable Derby Week for Goshen

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

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

Last week was “Derby-riffic” on the Goshen Campus! Wednesday brought one of our favorite Goshen traditions – the Kindergarten Derby! And to kick it off, we had our own “Oaks” of sorts, our first-ever KPDerby_12Preschool Derby (where we literally DID have three-year olds running!). The Kindergarten Derby, much like the real event, is full of regalia and pageantry – with only a touch of the rowdiness. Our JKers start us off by showing off their ponies, followed by the 1st and 2nd Grade Parade around our front circle! In a new twist this year, we had our first-ever Derby Princess, Harper Tillet, looking resplendent with her flowery bouquet while she helped Alexandra Thurstone kick off the parade! And then the main event: seven action-packed races in which all of our Kindergarten students run around the front circle to cavernous applause! And I think it is worth mentioning that I saw an article in the newspaper last week about another school’s version of this in which the fastest child actually wins the race. So the fastest runner is rewarded and the other “horses” lose? Our culture is that everyone cheers for all the horses and running the race is what is celebrated. It’s too bad we can’t “upload” that concept into more of our culture! And finally, our 8th grade class takes one final “victory lap” around the circle, nine years after many of them ran as “yearlings” (a cute moment for them no doubt, a little more touching and nostalgic for the older set). Thanks to our Kindergarten and Lower School teachers for making it such a memorable day, as always.


Who are those adults in disguise at the 7th/8th grade formal?

The next night brought another St Francis treasure, the 7th and 8th grade formal dance!
This year’s dance was held at Gingerwoods Reception Hall in Prospect (courtesy of Morton and Hope Boyd!) and the room was transformed into a beautiful gold and black spectacle for a “Night Under the Stars”! Nearly all of our students attended, and the atmosphere is so overwhelmingly wholesome you just have to be there to feel it for yourself. BIG thanks to Shelly Jones, Erin Staley, Kim Aberle, and Heather Varda for doing just that as chaperones. Bob and Gabby Smedley did their usual terrific job as our disc jockeys, and the photo booth supplied by Dace and Ben Maki, with TONS of outrageous costumes, was a huge hit too! Our 7th grade Prince and Princess were Connor Gorman and Olivia Beach, and the 8th grade King and Queen, the “Royals,” were Angus Middleton and Arabella Maki (all chosen by blind draw). The dance was another smashing success and a tremendous example of student buy-in and parent and faculty involvement.

Pair these events with another incident-free and successful 8th grade lock-in Thursday night (courtesy of Jason Chlopek, Lindsy Serrano, and Celeste Avery), and yet another “epic” Derby Camp weekend hosted by the inimitable Walter Denham, with help from Bob Bertke, Tina Brown and Andrew Frechette, and you can see it was a St. Francis Derby weekend. As a special surprise when I arrived at school Monday morning, I discovered what the 8th grade “cobbler’s elves” left for me in my office. Three-year old fillies and colts never grow up, it appears!