Archives for September 2016

Photo Gallery for Week of September 12 – September 16


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A Festive Day!

nms-matthew-sicilianoBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Congratulations to our National Merit Semifinalist this year, Matthew Siciliano! In other exciting news, congratulations to our Dragon Boat team, who won their division at the Dragon Boat Festival last weekend. (See Bob Jones’ article below for more details.) And in epic news, a huge thanks to Buffalo Construction, Inc. (the firm spearheading our renovation project) for treating the entire student and faculty/staff body to a free lunch today from Booty’s Food Truck!

After recovering from the exciting surprise lunch, we regrouped to have a few classes, and then had a festive send-off for our fall sports teams as they headed to the Fall Sports Picnic!  Students (particularly the freshman class) helped blow up nearly 300 balloons yesterday. At the end of classes today, as the field hockey, golf, and soccer teams stood at the bottom of the atrium, the rest of the school lined the stairs and dropped balloons and candy as the teams were introduced. Good luck to all the Wyvern competitors tonight – and win or lose, we all get to enjoy a festive bonfire afterward!

Snapshots from this week: Colleges have been visiting, and Kit Llewellyn, our College Advisor, always tells me how impressive our students are to these admissions representatives. Kit constantly marvels at how well our students are able to articulate (to total strangers) who they are and what they are interested in. PSAT preparation is underway for the juniors, thanks to parent and standardized test tutor extraordinaire Audrey Morrison. I saw one of David Word’s science classes outside in the Courtyard yesterday, in a circle holding hands, cracking up. I am not exactly sure what they were doing, but I suppose whatever it was defines the phrase “hands-on learning”?  Our Workshop (MakerSpace) is essentially finished, thanks to the construction crews and to the efforts of the science department. We will show pictures and report more on that in an upcoming newsletter. The Project Warm Community Service group attended the Project Warm Green Spark Awards Luncheon at the organization’s invitation. Quick Recall practice is underway; the Improv group is organizing; the Black Students Association had a guest speaker at a lunchtime meeting; and the Underground Lifting Society is working out hard in the Fitness Room. Feels like we are in full swing!

Pot of Gold at the end of “The Reading Rainbow!”

levar-burton-reading-to-sfsBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

This Tuesday, the entire campus, from Preschool to adults, were treated to an assembly I don’t think any of us will ever forget. Renowned actor and educational advocate LeVar Burton came to St. Francis to promote his very successful Reading Rainbow series on PBS! And while most of our kids have no idea of the ground-breaking impact the miniseries Roots had on a 1970s America, nor saw him on Star Trek The Next Voyage, they did understand this was a famous man from his Reading Rainbow program on public television. They were shown clips from his past shows in advance, and snippets from Reading Rainbow, so they knew a famous actor was coming to read to them!

At the start of the assembly, with an extremely packed main amp, I had never heard the student body so absolutely quiet (can we recreate this?). You could have heard a pin (or shoe) drop. After an introduction by Alexandra, the kids erupted in applause when LeVar Burton came out smiling broadly. The next hour was magical. At the beginning, LeVar told us his mother was an English teacher and reading was put on a pedestal in his home. As he said, “You either read a book, or my mom hit you in the head with a book, so you were dealing with books either way!” He read two stories to the students with great expression and many different voices. The first, Enemy Pie, was both entertaining and instructive for kids and adults, with the lesson of trying to get to know and understand your perceived “enemies,” rather than have them at all. It ended so gloriously positive.

He also showed a couple of very entertaining film clips, including one “related” to Star Trek about the science behind how astronauts, how shall we say, “relieve” themselves in space (Ok, he said, “poop,” so I will too!). As you can imagine, this was a big hit with all ages!

But the highlight of the assembly was probably when Kim Aberle had our 4th and 5th grade students sing and play LeVar their rendition of the Reading Rainbow theme song on xylophones. He took out his cell phone and filmed us during it, and was obviously touched. The kids were mesmerized by his magnetic presence, but most undoubtedly also received his message of the importance of reading and education in general, and treating everyone with compassion.

Afterwards, the faculty were treated to a half hour “meet and greet” with LeVar, which was very special. Many pictures were snapped and there were probably a few unwashed hands that night! Joanne Brock had LeVar Burton t-shirts made up beforehand, which tickled him to death. It speaks to his appreciation for teachers and education that he includes these personal “touches” with teachers in his visits (and for our parents, we apologize that you couldn’t attend the assembly, but those were his instructions).

Special thanks to Ginny Frazier and Rachael Hicks for making this memorable day happen. We are among only three schools he is visiting this year! Thank you to Lower School Dean Jen Griffith, who doggedly pursued this opportunity for two years! She was a true “Nervous Nellie” the morning of the assembly, hustling to and fro making sure everything was perfect for LeVar. And thanks to Librarian Lindsy Serrano, who was in absolute heaven, as Reading Rainbow inspired her to become a librarian in the first place! At the end of the assembly, some grateful tears streaked down her face (much like The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm had during LeVar’s second story). This certainly was a “pot of gold” day for St. Francis School!

Excitement in the “air”

By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Directorexcitement-in-the-%22air%22

Last week we hosted one of our most highly anticipated events in the Preschool: Transportation Day! The assembly of vehicles mirrored the internal workings of a city. There were vehicles ranging from a horse trailer to a city bus represented. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and the Louisville Metro Police Department helicopter made it, providing us with quite the show. Our students had the the opportunity to look inside the helicopter and meet the pilots. The pilots hovered a bit and then flew over the school and parking lot for a grand exit. We all felt a sense of wonder watching our new friends take flight. As the little ones began to tire and head inside, I noticed a group of wide-eyed 7th and 8th graders peering over the hill. They wanted to take part in the fun, and walked through the event during their snack break. The excitement for the day permeated throughout the campus, and we look forward to many more days like this!

The Transportation Day committee would like to extend a BIG thank you to the following businesses and friends of St. Francis who participated in our event: Buffalo Construction, Goshen Post Office, North Oldham County Fire Department, Hermitage Farm, TARC, Kroger, Ernst Construction, Bob Hook Chevrolet, Louisville Metro Police Department, Pro-Lift, Johnny Cantu (boat), Mike Davenport (Corvette), and James Hood (motorcycle). We also want to thank our friends from Keystone Learning Academy for spending the day with us!

On Tuesday, the Trailblazers class enjoyed an author visit with the talented LeVar Burton. For those of you who are familiar with his television show Reading Rainbow, you know his storytelling is phenomenal, and the children were absolutely enthralled. He read two stories, Enemy Pie by Derek Munson and The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, co-authored by LeVar and Susan Schaefer Bernardo. He also showed a short Reading Rainbow clip detailing how astronauts use the bathroom in space. This was a riveting topic and very memorable for everyone in attendance.

We rounded out a very busy week with our first Big Sing of the year. The talented Faith Murphy led us through singing the classic favorites such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and the “Wheels on the Bus”. We try to have one Big Sing a month that parents are always invited to attend, and it begins after morning carpool at 9:10 a.m. We would love for your little one to wear his/her St. Francis Preschool t-shirt on Big Sing days.

The Preschool continues to grow! We welcomed new friends Ieyden, Zander, and Gitel Martz this week.

Have a great weekend!

School Notes for Week of September 12 – September 16

Goshen Campus Picture Days! Picture Days for the Goshen Campus are Monday, September 19th – Wednesday, September 21st.

  • Monday, September 19th – JK/K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Faculty/Staff
  • Tuesday, September 20th – Preschool (4s, and 2 Day 2s), 4th, 5th, 6th, and Faculty/Staff
  • Wednesday, September 21st – Preschool (2s and 3s), 7th, 8th, and Faculty/Staff

2014 trip at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing

Spring Break student trip to China. We are offering St. Francis School students an opportunity to travel to Beijing and Shanghai in China during Spring Break, March 30th through April 9th. The trip is open to all 7th through 12th grade students, and not just to those studying Chinese at St. Francis. Parents are also encouraged to participate if space allows. 7th and 8th graders will need a parent to accompany them (or one parent could agree to accompany a couple of students).

Thanks to the underwriting of the WKU Confucius Institute, the cost of the trip is comparatively affordable at $2,645 per person, based on a group of 30 participants. The cost includes round trip airfare, visa, medical insurance, accommodations, transportation, and most meals. Essentially, the Confucius Institute underwrites all our costs in-country, which is how we can offer an 11-day trip for this price!  For those students and adults who went on our 2014 trip and received a 10-year visa, the cost would be approximately $240 less.

The tour will visit Beijing and Shanghai. Students will participate in language classes at North China Electric Power University, and there will be daily field trips and cultural activities. We will visit the Great Wall at Badaling, the Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, the Capital Museum and a local High School. Following a high-speed train ride to Shanghai, we will visit the Bund waterfront, the Shanghai Museum, and Yuyuan Gardens, and have an evening cruise on the Huangpu River to see the spectacular Shanghai skyline.

Please email organizer and High School Chinese teacher Bob Jones if you have any questions. Informational meetings will be held at the High School and at the Goshen Campus in the near future. A deposit of $500 will be due by October 31st.

Our Good Earth 2016

Get your tickets today for this year’s Our Good Earth and join us on Saturday, October 15 in the fields of our Goshen campus for dinner, drinks, music, dancing, silent, and live auction. All proceeds benefit athletic and extracurricular activities school wide.

Photo Gallery for Week of September 6 – September 9



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School Notes for Week of September 6 – September 9

Middle School Back-to-School Night is Wednesday, September 14th at 6:30 p.m. on the Goshen Campus. All Middle School parents are encouraged to attend to hear more about the upcoming year.

Goshen Campus Picture Days! Picture Days for the Goshen Campus are Monday, September 19th – Wednesday, September 21st.

  • Monday, September 19th – JK/K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Faculty/Staff
  • Tuesday, September 20th – Preschool (Kelly P., Paul, and 2 day 2’s), 4th, 5th, 6th, and Faculty/Staff
  • Wednesday, September 21st – Preschool (Holly & David’s group/Noelle & Penny’s group), 7th, 8th, and Faculty/Staff

Transportation Day

By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Directortransportation-day

I want to thank all of our parent volunteers who helped today with Transportation Day. Christy Davis, Jenna Vetter, Rose Anderson, Sarah Usandizaga, and Craig York worked to ensure that everyone was safe and were able to experience all this day has to offer. The Transportation Day committee performed their usual magic and assembled a diverse collection of vehicles. Randall Hood, Lilian Brents, and Jessica Washer were instrumental in making this day happen for your children. A big thank you to our own Holly Whitaker for all of her help in organizing the event.  

A Note from Ms. Faith
Our Preschool friends are having a blast in music and movement. We’ve been spending a lot of time getting to know one another, as well as getting to know some fun instruments in class. I hope you will be able to join us for our first Big Sing of the year on Friday, September 16th! Big Sing is our monthly get-together to share music as a Preschool community, along with any family and friends who would like to attend. It’s a chance to sing and dance with your little Wyvern, and get to see in action those songs they keep singing at home! Please consider joining us next Friday, September 16th after morning carpool. Hope to see you there!

Calendar Changes
We changed the date for the Preschool Back-to-School Luncheon from Friday, September 23rd to Friday, September 30th. This is a great opportunity for you to meet other families in your child’s class, hear about the daily routine, and learn about the goals for the year. We hope to see you on Friday, September 30th at 10:30 a.m.

World Fest Field Trip a “World Beater!”

worldfest1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

At St. Francis, we realize education happens everywhere, all the time, and not just in the confines of a classroom (even if ours are not too confining!). A perfect example of this occurred last Friday when Lower School Spanish teacher Salema Jenkins organized and took our 2nd through 4th graders downtown to experience the annual WorldFest celebration on the Belvedere. What an undertaking! The mere thought of being in charge of 80+ young children in a downtown setting abuzz with life and music and a multitude of strangers would make most of our heads spin. But Salema pulled this field trip off with tremendous aplomb and to rave reviews. From Salema:

“Last Friday, September 2nd, 82 St. Francis students and about 40 chaperones invaded the Belvedere to take part in WorldFest 2016! For the past two years, I have always shared with students that WorldFest was happening Labor Day weekend. Last year at WorldFest, I lamented to Kristin Gilbert, SFS parent and owner of Gelato Gilberto, that many students desire to attend, but can’t. She then suggested that I bring them. Why? Experiences like WorldFest or traveling to other countries bring to life what students are learning in school in ways that may never be achieved within the confines of a building. It also humanizes the languages they are learning; it puts a face with the language they learn each week. What a great idea she had given me! So, I decided a year ago that I would bring all of my students to WorldFest next year!

Some of the highlights of the trip included seeing all of the smiling faces as I walked by, hearing that 2nd grade students demonstrated leadership qualities and walked up to various vendors to complete a scavenger hunt, and watching 2nd and 3rd graders dance to the beat of a steel drum.

I had the opportunity to thank Kristin on Sunday for giving me this idea, and I am thanking her again publicly. St. Francis students were also able to enjoy delicious gelato from their stand at WorldFest, as it was one of the items on their scavenger hunt (they had to find out what country gelato comes from). Other items on their scavenger hunt included dancing on the dance floor during one of the performances and having their chaperone record or take a picture, and asking someone whose first language was not English or Spanish to teach them how to say “hello.”

For the majority of their experience, students walked around to each vendor to see their beautiful crafts, taste the amazing food (or at least smell it!), and see what information and resources vendors had geared towards children. Anne Farra even challenged her students to see how many free items they could collect. At last count, they were able to get 20 free items from vendors, including Turkish food. Even Baby Wyvern enjoyed that free treat!

At 1:00 p.m., the 4th grade students and their chaperones had the incredible opportunity to witness 156 people representing 46 countries become citizens of the United States. They also witnessed their curriculum come to life as an alumna of St. Francis School personally answered one of their guiding questions of why people set out for the unknown. They listened as one of the speakers read Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise,” a poem that they themselves had just read in Language Arts with Sarah Dewberry and Joanne Brock.

This trip truly encompassed what progressive education should be like. This trip integrated fine arts, world language, social studies, music, language arts, and even a little math, especially when they wanted to buy both a churro and a bubble machine, and had to figure out if they had enough money.

I’d like to thank the almost 40 parents and chaperones who accompanied us to WorldFest and all of the families who returned Saturday, Sunday, or Monday to enjoy the fun together as a family. I’d like to also express gratitude to Brent Turner of the Office of City Events who helped me with planning the trip as well as with the 4th graders attending the Naturalization Ceremony. Next year I hope that more students will be able to experience WorldFest!”

If I knew how to say “major kudos” in Spanish, I would, but instead I’ll just say, “Muy Bien, Salema!”