Archives for January 2016

Quarter II Progress Reports on the Way!

By Reed Gabhart, Head of the Goshen Campus1stGradeScience_3

Your child’s second quarter Progress Reports will be posted on the Parent Portal this afternoon! It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through this school year, but the beginning of the second semester (and the snow!) clearly points to that fact.

Our teachers put a great deal of time and care into our reports. Whether it is the narrative comments from the Lower School faculty, or the combination of grades, effort and behavior ratings, and comments from the Middle School teachers, we strive to give you a clear picture of your child’s progress in all facets of school life. Depending on your child’s age, I hope you can spend some time sharing the report with your son/daughter. When I ask, “Who saw their progress report?” at Morning Meeting, I’m always surprised by the number of kids who have not. While progress reports are intended primarily for parents, students of a certain age should certainly be aware of their own performance. Whether that is cause for celebration or perhaps setting up new goals or strategies to improve, it is good for students to be involved with their own learning. Our Middle School advisors will discuss reports with their students next week, too.

I also want to remind Middle School parents that although we’re no longer doing a quarterly effort recognition, we are planning to hand out the Elizabeth Archibald Effort Award at the end of the year to a select group of deserving students in each Middle School grade. We are compiling data as the year progresses and will honor these students at our final assembly in May.

I also want to commend our students for how they handled last Friday when we had a “Security Day” in response to local law enforcement information. The information we shared with students depended on their age level, naturally, and I asked Middle School students to take the day seriously and not make jokes about it or try to scare students who might be more nervous. I was very pleased at day’s end when I hadn’t received one report of such behavior. I can’t say I was too shocked, though. When given honest information and dealt with maturely, our students usually do the right thing. Now, If we could just get them to resist that snowball urge …

Have a meaningful three-day weekend with your children, and we’ll report next week on our annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assembly from earlier today.

JEN Conference Wows Students

By Bob Bertke, Middle School and High School Music JEN3

The Middle School Jazz Band and the High School Jazz Combo performed at the Jazz Education Network’s annual conference last week. JEN is the biggest and most important meeting for the jazz world. Groups and musicians from the United States, South America, Asia and Europe took part in this great event. Leading figures in jazz taught classes and clinics and performed fantastic concerts over a three-day period at the Galt House. Having two groups perform at this international event is a huge honor, and it made an unforgettable experience for our young musicians, not only because of their performance, but also because they got to meet, listen to, and learn from some of the greatest musicians in the world. Below are thoughts from some of the MS and HS students who participated.

“I liked how we all worked together to create good sounds.”
Audrey Brinkmann-Piuma

“I liked how we all worked toward one common goal of making a piece of music the best it could be. Jazz has been such a great experience. It opened me up to so many new types of music.”
Natalie Stewart

“I was so nervous on the way to school, but when we arrived at JEN I became excited. It was an honor to play at JEN. I had so much fun that I would do it three more times. The concert went great! We got great advice. This was a marvelous experience.”
Noelle Dry

“JEN was amazing! The people there had one purpose – to make people happy.”
Amelia Gorman

“Right after playing, Mr. Bertke tells me the two people we just performed for have won Grammys!”
West Middendorf

“I liked that we got to walk around and meet really cool jazz musicians.”
Gabby Alvarez

“I thought JEN was really fun. The most fun I had on that trip was playing my guitar in front of people.”
Kameron Julian

“I got to see Wycliffe (Gordon) and his band. I got all of their signatures. They were amazing and it was a really good experience.”
Lucy Frederick

JEN was life-changing.  A professional environment that promoted learning and structure, yet managed to stay non-pretentious and accessible.
Jesse Lanier

The performers and clinicians, through their mastery of the art, inspire me to focus and push to become as great as they are. It’s a new dream to be invited to play an evening concert at JEN, or the equivalent in the classical world, if I choose that route. JEN has opened so many new doors to the art, and formed connections with people I wouldn’t have dreamed of meeting. Having attended the conference, I have gained a new perspective on what it means to be a musician, and how much work goes into being a great one. I hope to attend again in 2017 when the conference is held in New Orleans, to continue the process of becoming a better musician.
Jay Swan

Parent Association

Parent/Daughter Dance January 22nd 7:00-9:00 p.m.!ParentDaughterDance16
Please join us for a special evening of fun with your daughter! Snacks, drinks, chocolate fountain, photo booth and a DJ provided! $35/family. Located in the Multipurpose Room.

We need your help! If you are able to assist in any way (decorating, volunteering during the event, etc.), please email co-chairs Shannon Kastman or Kandi Walker. Thanks!

SFS PA is on Facebook!
Don’t forget to “Like Us” on Facebook. Also, to make sure you are seeing all our posts, be sure to “follow” us as well. Thanks!

Mark your calendars
January: 4th Grade Teacher Appreciation Month
Friday, 1/22:   Parent/Daughter Dance from 7:00-9:00 p.m (G & PS)
Tuesday, 2.4:  PA Meeting at 8:40 a.m. (G & PS)
Friday, 2.12:  Valentine’s Day Class Parties at 11:00 a.m. (PS) and 2:45 p.m. (G)


Snow Unlocks New Adventures in Learning

By Renee Hennessy, Director of PreschoolPSTurkey

The snow showers on Tuesday brought excitement, laughter, and a few questions. On the way inside the building, a child asked, “What about the turkey?” She was very interested in the whereabouts of our school turkey and was concerned about him being cold. She wasn’t the only one concerned; apparently all of the children were asking where the turkey was, so the investigation began. Eventually he made his way to the front of the school with his peacock friends. This led to a conversation about caring for animals when the weather changes.  

The Ducklings class brought snow inside to explore, and they loved watching the snow through the big doors.  It truly is majestic watching the snowfall through our windows on this campus. The Adventurers class took water outside in different containers to see what would happen. The Otters class suited up in their winter gear and ventured outside. They slid down the berm on their “sleds” and built a snowman.    

Outside Winter PlayPSSnow_2
Now that the cold weather is here, please remember to send your child to Preschool with a warm hat, mittens and a heavier coat.  We try to provide the children with an outdoor playtime or walk as often as we can – even in the winter.  Don’t forget to label all outerwear with your child’s name. Thank you.   

Snow Day Ideas
Why not use a snow day or extra time this month to help your child make his/her own homemade Valentine’s Day cards?  Grandparents, aunts, uncles or other special friends would no doubt appreciate cards made by your preschooler. You can teach your child how to cut out heart shapes from paper by folding a small piece in half and helping them cut an “ear” shape beginning and ending at the fold. Parents of younger children can do the cutting and let the child decorate the hearts or glue them to paper.  Take dictation from your child and write his/her words on the cards.  You can spell the words for your older child to write on the cards.  Let your child choose how the cards will look, and remember to have fun!

School Notes for Week of January 11-15

  • Congratulations to junior Jay Swan and 6th grader Natalie Stewart for participating in the KMEA 5th District Honor Band last week. Also, Jay will be participating in the University of Louisville Honor Band Concert this weekend. The concert is Sunday at 3:00 p.m. at the UofL School of Music’s Comstock Hall. It is free and open to the public. Don’t miss it!
  • Host family needed for Chinese student for one week: January 23-31. Thanks to all who have offered to host Chinese students for the last week in January. There is still a need to house Zhenyu Hang, a 15-year-old 10th grader whose favorite subject is English, but who is also allergic to dogs and cats. We are hoping to find a 7th or 8th grade family who might take her in for the week and help get her to the Downtown Campus Monday through Friday and bring her home (although arrangements can be worked out). A $200 stipend is offered to defray expenses. Please contact Chinese teacher Bob Jones as soon as possible for more information.   
  • On Thursday, February 9th at 7:30 p.m., KCD will host Dan Harris, an anchor at ABC News. His book 10% Dan Harris LectureHappier recounts how he came to realize the power of meditation and the importance of finding time to reflect. It is a very powerful message. Dan had a panic attack on the air (available on YouTube) and from there he realized that he was slowly killing himself. Dan is an accomplished speaker with great rapport, humor, and a very important message. This event is not ticketed; it is free and open to the public.  Organizers anticipate a big crowd, so please come early to ensure getting a seat.  
  • Congratulations to the following High School students who made the Honor Roll (all As and Bs) for first semester:
    12th Grade: Gilman Bagga, Truman Baize, Sam Borden, David Borders, Page Dabney, Charley Drew-Wolak, Madison Ebel, Sam Edwards-Kuhn, Nan Elpers, Kinsey Emerson, Olivia Ford, Rose Gilbert, Zoe Koss, Jesse Lanier, Jackie LeMastus, Lucy Lv, Chris Malpartida, Michael Malpartida, Paige Pence, Emmaly Saliga, Jonny Simpson
    11th Grade: Emma Boland, Madeline Case, Catherine Dean, Anna Lyons, Oona Milliken, Jillian Morrison, Scott Morrison, Elise Pfeiffer, James Risley, Shams Shaker, Matthew Siciliano, Gabby Smedley, Tom Soenkson, Andrew Thurstone
    10th Grade: Aakriti Bista, Eva Borders, Tanner Dehler, Sam Erbes, Clay Foye, Zoe Hall, Chris Jayes, Scout Kay, Shelly Lancaster, Natalie McClain, Alexis Nelson, Charlie Owen, Christina Saliga, Nicholas Scarfe, Thomas Simpson, Willa Tinsley, Maris Woldin, Will Yelton
    9th Grade: Iqlas Abukar, Evie Boland, Hope Carstanjen, Evvie Cooley, Chandler Durbin, Chris Hammond, Elizabeth Johnson, Erin Lyons, Maggie McGraw, Gabe Mutchnick, Megan Read, Clay Smedley, Michael Snyder, Patrick Spencer, Logan Wourms

Students Participate at Jazz Education Network Conference

Our Middle School and High School students had the incredible opportunity image
to work with some highly talented musicians during this year’s JEN conference.


Photo Gallery for Week of January 4-8

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Great Energy Helps Begin Second Semester

By Suzanne Bizot Gorman, Head of the Downtown Campus

Welcome back!  Hope everyone enjoyed the break.

The second semester has begun with great energy.  We’ve enjoyed many visits from young alumni home on break from college this week.  We also have welcomed three new students:  Alessandro Santucci, an exchange student from Italy; Caroline Parker (9th grade), and Ethan Mattingly (9th grade).  We are glad to have them and their families as part of the St. Francis community!

Last Monday, before the students returned to school on Tuesday, the faculty and staff enjoyed a rich day of professional development.  The theme was essentially the resources we can provide to one another, so the day included presentations from our Counselor Terri White (as well as the Goshen Campus counselor Julie Marks) on depression, anxiety and suicide prevention; Benjamin Studevent-Hickman about the upcoming publication of his book about a group of ancient cuneiform tablets; Ralph Marshall regarding his pedagogical inspiration, the late professor Bibhuti Yadav; and college counselor Kit Llewellyn and Centre College associate director of admissions (and former SFS Admissions Director) Annie Murphy on the all-important college recommendation letters that faculty spend innumerable hours on every fall.  We also spent time within academic departments with our colleagues from the Goshen Campus, from 1st through 12th grade, which we try to do several times each year because of the wonderful opportunity such meetings provide to exchange ideas and discuss curriculum and pedagogy.

In this week’s Counselors’ Corner article, you will see information about next week’s visit from a Freedom from Chemical Dependency educator, Stephanie Kootsikas.  Each student will have two sessions with her, and we invite you to a parent session on Wednesday, January 13th at 8:30 a.m.  Please join us if you can!

EP3 and FCD!

By Reed Gabhart, Head of the Goshen CampusEP

EP3 and FCD? A new Star Wars drone? No! As we returned from a wonderful Holiday Break, a couple of old St. Francis “friends” were waiting to welcome us back! EP3 stands for Elective Projects Session 3 (as the faculty knows it). Our third session of Friday Projects started this week and will run until Winter Break. We sometimes take Projects for granted here, but they really are a unique component of our program and “so St. Francis”.

Every Friday for the last two periods of the day, teachers in grades 3 – 8 offer “mini-courses” that showcase a talent or passion they have that exists outside the regular school curriculum. These projects allow students to mix across grade levels and choose something that interests them. They get to see their teachers in a different light and learn and experience new things, and what a cool way to end the week! For this third session of projects, students in Middle School can choose among yoga with Patrick Donovan, working on a school newspaper with Heather Varda, watching Chinese movies and playing Chinese games with Qianxin Zhu, receiving additional math support with Erin.Staley, 8th graders will continue to work on this year’s yearbook with Rosanne Conlan, receiving an introduction to graphic design with Alex Taylor, achieving world dominance in WWI via the board game Diplomacy with Michael Mahoney, making the local and global community a better place through service learning with The We Act Club with Shelly Jones; conducting YouTube Chemistry experiments with Brian Kirby, busting moves with Angela Ponzio’s Dance Squad, competing on the school’s Science Olympiad Team with Jason Chlopek, staying ahead of their homework in an extra Study Hall with Sarah Wallace, sharpening their musical skills in  Bob Bertke’s School Band project, or being immersed in Greek comedy in the SFS Drama Project spring production of Aristophanes’ The Birds with Lon Church and me.

I think you’ll agree that’s a pretty impressive list! About the only drawback to Elective Projects is that students can only choose one! (Although we do find creative ways to “share” them when the situation warrants it!) A BIG thanks to Heather Varda, who heads up and organizes our Projects program and has the tough job of assigning students to all the different choices!

Welcome to our new 8th grader, Jonathan Erwin!  We are glad to welcome Jonathan and his family to St. Francis.  

Next week, an educator from FCD, Freedom from Chemical Dependency, returns to campus on Monday and Tuesday to educate our students in grades 5 – 8 about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.  See more information about this in the Counselors’ Corner article below and please try to join us for the parent presentation with our FCD educator on Tuesday, January 12th at 8:40 a.m.!

First Week Back Full of Smiles, Hugs

Renee Hennessy, Director of Preschool PreschoolPlay1

Welcome back!  This week has been full of smiling faces and warm hugs from our preschoolers.  Everyone is excited to be back in their classrooms and reunited with friends.  We are welcoming two new friends, Stella and Calliope Davis, to the Adventurers’ Class, and their parents, Christy and Stephen, to our community.  We are seeing double in the Preschool with twins in each Preschool classroom!

I want to thank Arra Whitty for donning the Santa Claus suit for the Preschool children before break and handing out candy canes.  Thank you to our fabulous PA for providing treats and crafts for our classroom holiday parties.