Archives for November 2016

Thankful for Our New Space

major-donor-partyBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

This week, we opened the school for two major groups:  on Monday, the donors who made our beautiful new spaces possible, and on Thursday, prospective students and parents at our Admissions Open House. The renovated space – and the way the students spend time together using them – continues to be one of the most significant things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving season.  

Other things for which I am profoundly grateful: the energy and passion of our teachers; the civic interest of our students; the families who partner with us.  I wish all of you a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving break!

Preschoolers Get a Visitor

tommy-kwan By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

As some of you may already be aware, Mandarin Chinese is offered as a language option for Middle School students. We are lucky to have several native speakers on our faculty, one of whom is Tommy Kwan. Tommy has a bachelor’s degree in education and experience teaching in primary schools here in the U.S. and in Hong Kong. Tommy is a Yale-China teaching fellow and will be visiting us monthly in the Preschool observing for a few months. We are excited to share our program with Tommy; please give him a warm welcome if you see him.  

coat-driveThank you to everyone who dug into their closets looking for coats to donate to our drive for Keystone Learning Academy! Our committee will be taking the coats to Highland Cleaners to be cleaned and then delivering them to Keystone. Also, a big thank you to Rose Anderson and Keyonda Turner for assisting with the coordination of the drive and delivering the coats. 

Little Things…

edicts_1 By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

As we head off to a well-deserved Thanksgiving vacation, “little things” around here remind me of why we are all thankful to be a part of the St. Francis community.

First, some unique signs have been popping up in our hallways. I didn’t give them too much thought at first, but then I found out their mysterious origin one day at Morning Meeting. From Shelly Jones:

“6th graders, in studying Buddhism and the First Unification of India, learned about an early emperor named Ashoka. Ashoka helped spread Buddhism throughout the Indian subcontinent through ancient billboards of sorts, creating pillars with messages about values like kindness, respect for all living things, justice, and the Buddhist concept of dharma. These writings, called edicts, were posted on pillars or inscribed on rocks and caves. They helped unify the people in this time period. In the spirit of Ashoka’s edicts, 6th grade students created posters with edicts connecting to our school’s core values and posted them throughout the school.”

Aha! Enlightened, I went in search of edicts one afternoon this week. Here are some I found:

“Think before you speak.” (I’m sure we all wish we’d obeyed this one at some point in our lives!)

edicts_2“To live life, you must see the beauty in all living things.”

“Questions are the key to life.”

“Only get what you can eat.” (Outside the lunchroom)

“Accept people for who they are…”

“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”

“To the world you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.”

What I appreciate most about these is not necessarily the “weight” of the saying, but rather that our 6th graders are spending time crafting them, thinking about them, and studying ancient Buddhism and looking for tie-ins to their own life and our School. It’s the sort of “little thing” we take for granted around here.

Second, also from Morning Meeting (one of my favorite things about St. Francis), we were treated to a short presentation from Anne Holmes’ humanities class about the origins of the swastika symbol. It was featured in the recent fall play, Anne Frank and Me, and no doubt caused a stir among some students. The humanities class investigated its origins and informed us through pictures that the swastika originally was a positive symbol in the Hindu religion that stood for “good fortune”. It only became associated as an “evil” representation of the Nazi regime later. Again, the notion of our students studying things as they come up in our school and explaining it to the larger community is so St. Francis.

And finally, at our very successful Open House this past Tuesday, it was refreshing to see the looks on prospective parents’ faces when they toured our school. We have a tendency to take for granted our open spaces and how free and confident our kids are in speaking with adults. They were marveling at what we consider “little things”.

So as we won’t have a newsletter next week, I hope you and your family enjoy our Grandparents’ Day performances and all the joy they bring, and the time you get to spend with each other celebrating family traditions. For these are the “little things” that make life so special.

Photo Gallery for Week of November 14 – November 18

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School Notes for Week of November 14 – November 18

High School Exam Schedule

Monday 12/12 – World Language

9:00 – 11:00 a.m. – Chinese, French

12:00 – 2:00 p.m. – Spanish

Tuesday 12/13 – Math

9:00 – 11:00 a.m. – Algebra I, Geometry, AP Stats

12:00 – 2:00 p.m. – Algebra II, Precalculus, AP Calculus

Wednesday 12/14 – Science

9:00 – 11:00 a.m. – Physics, AP Physics, AP Biology

12:00 – 2:00 p.m. – Biology, Chemistry, AP Chemistry

Thursday 12/15 – History

9:00 – 11:00 a.m. – Culture and Civilization Ancient, Culture and Civilization Medieval

12:00 – 2:00 p.m. – US History, AP European History, AP US History

Friday 12/16 – English

9:00 – 11:00 a.m. – English III, English IV, AP English

12:00 – 2:00 p.m. – English I, English II

The Scholastic Book Fair runs through November 22nd on the Goshen Campus! Volunteers needed. In the past, the fair has raised money for a graphic novel collection, a projector and screen for the library, and an e-book database. This year, the library is hoping to start a new audio/video collection, with a focus on books on CD.  

Volunteers are needed to help work the fair. Before school and after school are the busiest times. If you volunteer, you will either work at the register or restock books. If you would like to volunteer, please sign up using SignUpGeniusIf there is a shift you would like (especially an after-school shift and on Grandparents’ Day) that is filled, please email Lindsy SerranoThe more help, the better!

Join us for a parenting webinar on Wednesday, November 30th at 8:30 a.m. in the Goshen Campus Library. We are presenting “Girls’ Friendships & Drama: How to Support Your Daughter” with Tim Jordan. This webinar is intended for parents of girls 3rd grade and up, though all are welcome. For more information about the presenter, go to http://drtimjordan.com

Please RSVP to Natalie Bruner if you plan to attend. (RSVPs are not mandatory, but are appreciated, so that we know how many chairs to set up!)

It’s not too late to sign up to go to China on the St. Francis School Spring Break trip. We have received many deposits already, but enrollment is open until the due date for Chinese visa applications early next year. The trip is open to 7th through 12th graders and their parents or guardians.

The trip is March 30th – April 9th, and students will visit Beijing and Shanghai. It is an exciting program with visits to major sites such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tian’anmen Square, and the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, and the Bund Waterfront, Yuyuan Gardens, the Shanghai Museum, and a river cruise in Shanghai.

The cost of the trip is an incredibly low $2,645 per person, which covers airfare, China visa and supplemental medical insurance. The rest of the trip is entirely subsidized by the Confucius Institute at WKU.

Deposits and questions about the program can be sent to Chinese teacher Bob Jones

Don’t miss the opportunity to reserve your copy of the 2016-17 yearbook! We are able to offer a reduced price of $50 until March 1st, after that, the price will be $57. Similar to last year, the yearbook will come out BEFORE the end of the school year so that students can sign copies and have them for the summer break. We will mail a spring supplement full of great photos from end of the year activities, graduations, etc. to each of you who purchase a yearbook. The spring supplement comes with an adhesive strip to insert into your yearbook. Also, all yearbook ordering and purchasing is done through our yearbook company, Herff Jones.​

Click here to purchase the SFS yearbook now. Please contact Rosanne Conlan, Trisha Amirault, or Danielle Tracey for any additional questions.

Photo Gallery for Week of November 7 – November 11

 

 

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Families and Children

families-and-childrenBy Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

Recently I began planning our annual Preschool Thanksgiving Luncheon. It is so familiar to me that I almost take what it really means to our program for granted. For a small program like ours, it represents who we are and what we value: families and children. When a family first enrolls a child with us, we strive to develop a meaningful partnership with that family. Our teachers take note of the child’s favorite activity and special lovey, celebrate milestones, and give a gentle nudge to try something new when the time is right. A supportive network of teachers and parents working together means that children make greater gains in school, and nothing could be more important to us than this very simple fact. Next week, when we come together for the luncheon, know that it is more than a lunch, it’s a celebration. The luncheon is scheduled for Friday, November 18th from 11:00 – 11:45 a.m.

Open House
Our Open House is Tuesday, November 15th from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. The Open House is for anyone considering our School as an option. We welcome your good word about our program to your friends and neighbors. Please invite them to our Open House to hear more about our program. We thank you for your support.

Coat Drive
Our annual coat drive for Keystone Learning Academy runs through Friday, November 18th. Gently used coats of all sizes are needed to help those in Louisville who are less fortunate. Your support is greatly appreciated. Thank you to Highland Cleaners for once again cleaning the coats before they are taken to Keystone. You will find the donation box in front of the Preschool doors in the Main Amp.

An Emotional Week

By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campusms-morning-meeting

It’s been quite the week emotionally across America and certainly on the Goshen Campus. At Monday’s Middle School Morning Meeting, I asked Social Studies teacher Michael Mahoney to talk to our students about our electoral process in advance of Election Day. He did a superb job explaining the difference between a republic and other types of less-inclusive governments around the world. One of the main points was that regardless of outcomes, all of us need to be grateful for and respect the process, and to conduct ourselves with civility when things don’t go “our way.” The students received the message well.

That message was sorely needed on Wednesday as many of us, students and teachers alike, were a bit groggy from a late election night, and a little shell-shocked at the turn of events, which polls had not predicted. As we said to the kids, no editorializing, or “picking sides” publicly, but there was a palpable edge in the building. Shelly Jones framed the outcome nicely at Morning Meeting (I was at the Downtown Campus where a similar Morning Meeting was occurring), including this famous quote from Abraham Lincoln:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Framing this contentious election in advance, and afterwards, in such an even-handed, calm way was affirming for our students. I could tell parent visitors at our Morning Meetings liked what they were hearing. I have been proud of our students this week for comporting themselves very responsibly and not repeating party-line slogans. But, then again, this is not surprising considering our mission.

In an odd juxtaposition, our fall play, Anne Frank and Me, has been running all week too. The haunting story of Anne Frank and the Jewish populace in WWII has been a sobering countermeasure to the rancorous political process we’ve recently gone through. Adults and kids have been moved by the students’ performances, and we’ve all been very proud of how they have handled this material.

We added a new element to the fall play this year by adding an educational matinee during the school day. 40-plus 7th – 10th graders from Summit Academy came to St. Francis on Tuesday to see Anne Frank and Me, along with some other special guests. We were proud to share such a moving show with them, and they clearly enjoyed it. It was gratifying to pass this message of hope along to others, and our kids handled this unusual performance scenario wonderfully. To dovetail with President Lincoln’s quote above, I think it only fitting to close with Anne Frank’s most famous quote:

I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. Whoever is happy will make others happy too.”  

First-Time Voters

i-votedBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

It is difficult to know where to begin recapping this week. Presidential elections are always exciting at the High School because for a number of students, it is the first time they have been eligible to cast a ballot! On Tuesday at Morning Meeting, we acknowledged that milestone and I reminded the students that nearly all of them will be voting in the very next Presidential election in 2020, which is a true privilege and something they should cherish and take advantage of. (Given that it appears nearly half of eligible voters did not choose to vote this go-round, I can only hope SFS alumni will do better. And I am sure they will!)

Wednesday morning found many students stunned at the results, which were the opposite of those predicted by polls. While we want to always take care that at SFS, acceptance and tolerance includes people at various places on the political spectrum, this election felt different to many because of the campaign’s divisive rhetoric. As I looked around the room in Morning Meeting, I saw students who, because of the election results, feel fearful for themselves, their families or their friends, based on their religion, race, gender, identification, etc. – feelings that transcend politics as usual. So we began. Alexandra and I both shared some thoughts, and then other students and faculty did. We acknowledged the pain in the room and talked about the divide in our country that must be seen and healed. Brownie Southworth ’17 shared a moving poem he had written while watching the election results, with a refrain of “We the People”. It was a meeting filled with understanding and with a sense of community.

Throughout the morning, classes happened as usual but discussions continued as well. Many students and faculty gathered to watch Hillary Clinton’s televised speech. Then, already scheduled for that day was an all-school screening of 13th, an incredible Netflix documentary that examines the 13th Amendment (abolishing slavery) against the history of the “war on drugs” and the prison industrial complex in which African-American males are disproportionately incarcerated. The film was followed up today by an optional discussion, sponsored by the Black Students Association, which was attended by dozens of students. History and law teacher Trent Apple opened with some explanation of the history of the 13th Amendment and the Constitution, followed by students sharing the moments they found most impactful in the film. Toward the end, BSA moderator Brett Paice asked BSA President Alexis Nelson ’18 what she felt the white students in the room could do to be allies. She responded that they could join the BSA, support their activities, be a part of their discussions. It can be difficult for white students – with the best of intentions, but not really understanding what to say or do – to be the kinds of allies they articulated wanting to be during the discussion. For me, what is vital about this conversation, the movie screening, and the discussions from Wednesday is this: St. Francis is a place where we can and will have the tough conversations on race – or on any other subject that needs it.  Where we will encourage people to be vulnerable, to open themselves to new ways of thinking and to ask questions rather than squelch those questions out of fear, and thereby never learn the answers. Where we will do our very best to know one another, to communicate without rancor, and to understand different points of view. It’s not a solution to all of society’s ills, but it’s a start.  And this week, there’s nowhere I am more proud or grateful to be than with this group of teenagers and adults.  

School Notes for Week of November 7 – November 11

The Scholastic Book Fair is scheduled for November 15th through November 22nd on the Goshen Campus! Volunteers needed. In the past, the fair has raised money for a graphic novel collection, a projector and screen for the library, and an e-book database. This year, the library is hoping to start a new audio/video collection, with a focus on books on CD.  

Volunteers are needed to help work the fair. Before school and after school are the busiest times. If you volunteer, you will either work at the register or restock books. If you would like to volunteer, please sign up using SignUpGeniusIf there is a shift you would like (especially an after-school shift and on Grandparents’ Day) that is filled, please email Lindsy SerranoThe more help, the better!

The 5th graders are collecting items for The Center for Women and Families as part of their service learning project through November 16th. All Middle School students, 5th-8th grade, are welcome to make a donation on their grade’s behalf. They have the opportunity to help their class win a competition of giving the most donations, and then receive a cookie cake as a reward. Thank you in advance for considering support of this organization. The Center for Women and Families need the following items:

  • Full and twin sheets
  • Blankets
  • Towels
  • Kroger gift cards for groceries or gas (no canned food items)
  • Toiletries
  • Large size diapers

Join us for a parenting webinar on Wednesday, November 30th at 8:30 a.m. in the Goshen Campus Library. We are presenting “Girls’ Friendships & Drama: How to Support Your Daughter” with Tim Jordan. This webinar is intended for parents of girls 3rd grade and up, though all are welcome. For more information about the presenter, go to http://drtimjordan.com.

Please RSVP to Natalie Bruner if you plan to attend. (RSVPs are not mandatory, but are appreciated, so that we know how many chairs to set up!)

It’s not too late to sign up to go to China on the St Francis School Spring Break trip. We have received many deposits already, but enrollment is open until the due date for Chinese visa applications early next year. The trip is open to 7th through 12th graders and their parents or guardians.

The trip is March 30th – April 9th, and students will visit Beijing and Shanghai. It is an exciting program with visits to major sites such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tian’anmen Square, and the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, and the Bund Waterfront, Yuyuan Gardens, the Shanghai Museum, and a river cruise in Shanghai.

The cost of the trip is an incredibly low $2,645 per person, which covers airfare, China visa and supplemental medical insurance. The rest of the trip is entirely subsidized by the Confucius Institute at WKU.

If you have any questions about the program, please email Chinese teacher Bob Jones