Archives for February 2017

Wyverns Lend a Hand in Nicaragua

Luis Reyes NicaraguaBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

While many of us enjoyed our Winter Break on the slopes, traveling, or with a “staycation,” a determined group of 7th and 8th graders spent their week in Nicaragua helping build a home for an underserved family. This once-in-a-lifetime experience was planned and organized by Middle School Spanish teacher Angela Ponzio, and also allowed our kids to be immersed in the Spanish language while there for a week. Sure, they had fun and enjoyed some downtime, but they also worked hard to make a home become a reality for a deserving family. The students spoke up at our Morning Meeting on Monday and were clearly touched by the experience. They spoke about what the trip meant to them and what they learned and gained from the incredible experience (one of them, Sophie Johnson, spoke entirely in Spanish). Especially touching was Luis Reyes’ comment that given a choice between his cell phone and helping the family in Nicaragua, he’d choose the service option (very telling in this day and age). Here’s more from Angela Ponzio on the trip:

“This trip has been a blessing to us all. The students came to give, and all agreed at our final evening reflection that they felt as though they had received more because of it. It’s amazing how that works. As Michael Mahoney said, “The trip gave our students a glimpse into the developing world and its continuing struggle to cope with endemic poverty. Admittedly, we parachuted in and then departed, but the kids and we three teachers will have potent memories that shore up the abstractions of standard American education. There is no substitute for experience. You can’t beat learning through daring.” It was remarkable to witness the bonds between the students growing stronger day by day. “Being united with a common goal and being immersed completely in the culture language and people was awesome!” Levi Tyler believes, “I’ll never forget it.”

For many of us, our final days were filled with tears and emotion, as we bade farewell to the children that we played, talked, and bonded with daily at the construction site. “It was amazing to see what little they had but how much they shared with us,” shares Audrey Brinkmann-Piuma. “Even though they didn’t have much they were so happy. It’s weird to come back to a place where people have so much and still want more.”

To the students, I know that I am not alone when I say that we are so proud of you all. You gave 100% of yourselves to the project and the people of Nicaragua. You worked tremendously hard building the house alongside grown adults. It is no secret: we will miss Nicaragua so much, but we’ve left our footprints behind and changed lives by lending a hand! ¡Viva Nicaragua!”

What compelling statements. We also honored the students at a full school assembly at the end of the day on Wednesday and showed a video created by Luis Reyes with tons of pictures of their week. Kudos to Angela Ponzio, and to Michael Mahoney and Christine Brinkmann for helping chaperone and supervise the kids.

I also want to take a moment to thank all of you who have wished me good luck on my trip to Japan this week to run the Tokyo Marathon! The cards the kids made meant the world to me, and I’ll be thinking about them and St. Francis during parts of my run. I’ll be sure to send along pictures and an update. Lower School LASS teacher Sarah Dewberry will fill in for me next week with an article about the 4th grade Living History Museum, so be on the look out for that! Sayonara!

The Gift of a Spring Preview

Gift of Spring PreviewBy Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

This week we have enjoyed the gift of a spring preview. The Preschoolers have enjoyed many opportunities for outdoor play on the playground, a visit to the garden, and a community Big Sing.

Did you know?
There is an important space in each of our classrooms dedicated to the discovery and interactions with nature. These spaces are often referred to as our science centers. They may contain items that children have found outside, such as rocks, seed pods, sticks, pinecones, acorns, evergreen needles, leaves, and occasionally a birds’ nest. Sometimes, items such as seashells, fossils, cocoons, or flowers are brought from elsewhere. These spaces are also the place where tools for investigations are located. We use magnifying glasses, magnets, tweezers, eyedroppers, tornado tubes, scoops, funnels, plastic tubing, or color wheels, among others! Our teachers sometimes add tubs of water, sand, ice, or snow to aid in the children’s exploration. Often, children can be found working together with these materials, and we ask them questions to enhance their collaborations and practice new vocabulary words. As with all of our classroom centers, our curious preschoolers surprise and delight us with their questions, comments, and creative ideas.  

Preschool summer camp dates and information are now on our School’s website. Our one-week sessions feature a summer full of outdoor activity, imaginative learning, and creative fun! Camp sessions fill up quickly, so reserve your spot today!

Chant, Debate, Yak Dance, and Snow Leopard Dance!

Tibetan MonksBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

At the High School, we enjoyed a fabulous presentation on Wednesday from a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks. Thanks to parents John and Cindy Borders for making their visit possible and to parent Will LeStrange for accompanying the monks and helping explain the various aspects of their performance – chant, debate, Yak Dance, and Snow Leopard dance. The students were charmed by the monks and learned quite a bit about their culture, in addition.

Our Black Students Association (along with their counterparts from the Goshen Campus) had the opportunity to go to the Speed Cinema on Thursday for a special viewing of “I Am Not Your Negro”. We appreciate the invitation by SFS parent and Speed cinema curator Dean Otto. The groups returned to the Downtown Campus for pizza and discussion afterward.

Continuing these themes, we are gearing up for Diversity Week, with special programming each day next week planned by our student Diversity Committee under the faculty guidance of Terri White and Angela Katz. I’ll report more on that next Friday!

Photo Gallery for Week of February 20 – February 24

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

College Corner March 2017

college-cornerBy Kit Llewellyn, College Advisor

Don’t forget about your March college preparation to-dos! Read on to see what you should be doing now as a sophomore, junior, and senior.


  • On Sunday, March 19th, all sophomores will sit for the Pre-ACT from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. on the Downtown Campus. Please bring three #2 pencils (non-mechanical), a calculator, a snack, and $12 cash or check (issued to St. Francis School).
  • Begin visits to nearby colleges/universities.     
  • Research interesting and challenging summer courses, jobs, and activities.                
  • Use Spring Break to visit colleges along the way, if you are traveling.   
  • Take virtual tours online.


  • If you registered, take the SAT test this month.                   
  • Sign up for the May or June SAT, June ACT, or June SAT Subject tests, if applicable.
  • Use Spring Break to visit prospective colleges.    
  • Keep reading and finish up strongly this year.
  • Meet with Kit Llewellyn to look over your preliminary list of suggested colleges and share them with your parents through Naviance.
  • Compile your activities/community service into a resume on your Naviance account.
  • Research summer camps, seminars, and summer academic sessions on college campuses for your enlightenment.


  • Report any issues to Kit Llewellyn.
  • If colleges require additional information, send it immediately.   
  • If accepted, denied, or wait-listed by a college, notify Kit Llewellyn.
  • All colleges should reply with financial aid packages/scholarships by April 1st, or at least early April.
  • Meet with parents and  Kit Llewellyn to discuss which college is the best match.
  • Consider financial aid packages carefully!
  • Try to revisit colleges where you have been offered a place.
  • Listen to the advice of parents and Kit Llewellyn, but insist on your choice, if it feels right to you.
  • Follow acceptance/housing instructions carefully.
  • Students on wait-lists should write letters expressing interest and send additional  information (for instance, update on your Senior Project or any awards/honors received).

School Notes for Week of February 20 – February 24

The Science Olympiad Regional Competition is Saturday, March 18th at KCD and parent volunteers are needed to prepare and run events. Science Olympiad is an all-day competition where Middle School and High School teams participate in 23 events covering all aspects of science; from technology and engineering, to chemistry and physics, to life sciences. Teams from both of our campuses have been working hard collecting materials, studying, practicing, building, breaking, and rebuilding.

The Louisville Regional Competition is the only one in the state that is completely organized and run by teachers and volunteers from the competing schools. For this year’s competition, we are still in need of Event Supervisors for three of the events at the High School level: Remote Sensing (using remote sensing imagery, data, and computational process skills to complete tasks related to climate change processes in the Earth system), Hydrogeology (manipulating a groundwater computer model to answer questions about groundwater concepts, and evaluate solutions based on hydrogeological evidence, to reduce anthropogenic effects on groundwater), and Experimental Design (determining a team’s ability to design, conduct, and report the findings of an experiment actually conducted on site).

If you or anyone you know would be interested in volunteering to prepare and run an event or would like more information about the events, please contact Downtown Campus chemistry teacher Luke Johnson.  

IMG_4169Interested in taking art classes in Italy? Join Goshen Campus art teacher Alex Taylor for a Plein Air Landscape Workshop in Tuscany July 17th – 21st. Alex has been invited once again to conduct a one-week drawing and plein air landscape painting workshop with Tom Ruggio in Tuscany, Italy. The experience is a truly memorable one, as you experience art classes, art history, local history, Tuscan cuisine, and living in a delightful Italian town. The workshop is limited to six participants, so if you are interested, visit the website and apply early. Please contact Alex Taylor with any questions or for additional information.

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 or Trisha Amirault for any additional questions.

Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age

083016__FB_POST (1)St. Francis School and the SFS Parent Association are excited to announce an upcoming Parent Education opportunity. We will be showing “Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age,” a documentary film about the impact of the digital age on children and how to help families minimize harmful effects and find balance.

As stated on the website, “Award-winning ‘Screenagers’ probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, including the director’s own, and depicts messy struggles, over social media, video games, academics, and internet addiction. Through surprising insights from authors and brain scientists, solutions emerge on how we can empower kids to best navigate the digital world.”

There will be screenings followed by discussion for parents on both the Goshen and Downtown Campuses, and parents from either campus are encouraged to attend whichever screening is more convenient. We do ask that you register below for a free ticket. These showings are for parents only. The film will be be shown to Middle and High School students during the school day.

Tuesday, March 7th at 6:30 p.m.
Goshen Campus
Click here to register for your free ticket.

Thursday, March 9th at 6:30 p.m.
Downtown Campus
Click here to register for your free ticket.

You can find more information at

Sophomore TJ Richardson’s Story Inspires

TJ RichardsonSophomore TJ Richardson, who transferred to St. Francis School after the Holiday Break of this year, shares his remarkable story on overcoming obstacles and motivating others! Click here to read the article from WHAS11.

First International Trip of the Year!

Galapagos ImageBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

We sent our first international trip of the year off on Thursday – 18 students, Spanish teacher Angela Katz, and science teacher David Word headed to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands for nine days. They’ll be immersed in all things Spanish-language and ecological; it promises to be a wonderful trip. We’ll share some pictures in an upcoming newsletter. Next up: our Spring Break trip to China!  

Sarah Burrill, an educator from Freedom from Chemical Dependency spent three days with us this week, meeting twice with each grade, once in small groups and once in a larger group. She also hosted a Parent Discussion Group with our counselor, Terri White. Sarah connected well with the students and shared FCD’s core message of “delay” regarding substance use. She emphasized the plasticity of teenage brains and the importance of making healthy, rather than unhealthy, connections. Delaying use of legal substances until age 21 is key in preventing addiction. One of the things we ask in our Parent Expectations (listed in our Student-Parent Handbook) is for parents to support our efforts to prevent student use of alcohol or other drugs. Over the break, you might talk with your student about what s/he learned from and thought about the FCD sessions. We will be asking students for their feedback, as well.

Wishing all our students (and parents) a wonderful week. See you on the 20th!

A Little “Wove” in the Air This Week

Preschool Parties_1By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

We have noticed a little “wove” in the air this week. I overheard an original love song being sung this week to a group of children at carpool. It went something like this, “Standing in the wight (light) of the stars we have wove (love).” The friend who was singing this song announced very matter of factly that we all have “wove.” I can say with a great deal of certainty that small children don’t understand why they are celebrating Valentine’s Day at Preschool. In our classes, we are using this holiday as an opportunity to highlight feelings and emotions. We can’t forget that giving children the words to express their feelings for those big emotions they feel is important work for us all. When children recognize their feelings and emotions, it strengthens their self awareness and also the awareness of the feelings of others.

Here are a few children’s books that we recommend:

  • You Are My I Love You by Maryann K. Cusimano
  • Love Is A Family by Roma Downey
  • A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams
  • Mystery Bottle by Kristen Balouch
  • Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney