After Spring Break, School Year Flies By

By Suzanne Bizot Gorman, Head of the Downtown CampusHSCommServ_1

Ask any senior, and s/he can tell you exactly how many days of school are left!  It’s really unbelievable how quickly time starts to go after Spring Break, with Advisee Games, AP exams, and all the senior events on the horizon.  

Our Poetry class students, along with Cia White and Juan Ramirez, are in New York for a long weekend at a Sarah Lawrence College poetry festival!  We finished our last Community Service day this week, with a rough total of 2,500 hours of service performed by students and adults over the course of the school year.  Our annual Pennies for Patients collection also ended, with over $500 total donated.

All students are taking the High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE) this week or early next.  This will be our third year doing the survey through Indiana University, and the results each year help us look at how engaged our students are and therefore think about the kinds of school climate and culture we want to create in order to ensure as much engagement as possible.

In a couple of weeks, we’ll begin to conduct course registration for current 9th, 10th, and 11th graders.  That process will be online this year (rather than the paper forms you may be used to seeing) and we’ll give you more information regarding that.  Parents will still have the opportunity look at the classes their students are registering for, of course, and to ask any questions you may have.

College Corner

By Kit Llewellyn, College Advisor

Sophomores:

  • Send off for college viewbooks; browse the college websites
  • Listen in Morning Meeting to the acceptance announcements and chat with seniors about their college admissions journey
  • If you have a learning difference and need extended time on standardized tests, make sure your documentation is updated, and contact The Learning Center (Emily Boyle) in order to verify your documentation

Juniors:

  • Take the SAT Reasoning and ACT tests
  • Register for the June SAT Reasoning and/or Subject tests and ACT tests
  • Keep your focus
  • Meet your deadlines for Senior Project Proposals
  • Review list of suggested colleges with Mrs. Llewellyn and begin researching/exploring
  • Make sure your learning difference/special needs documentation is updated if you expect to receive extended time on your standardized tests
  • Update your profile and resume on Naviance

Seniors:

  • All colleges should respond with financial aid offers by early April
  • Meet with Mrs. Llewellyn and parents to discuss which college is your best match
  • Consider financial aid packages carefully as offers arrive; you should have received your SAR from FAFSA
  • Try to visit or revisit the colleges that have offered you a place
  • Listen to the advice of your parents and Mrs. Llewellyn, but insist that the choice be yours; do not be overly influenced by the college name prestige
  • Follow acceptance instructions carefully
  • Students on waitlists should write letters expressing interest and send any additional information
  • Make your final college choice and submit your deposit by May 1. This is not a postmark deadline!

Every day is Earth Day at St. Francis

By Renee Hennessy, Director of Preschool IMG_0470

We returned from Spring Break to finally see signs of spring. The beautiful tulips have made their appearances around entrances and playground areas. The peafowl are really growing into their feathers and are quite the quirky little pheasant family.  The misty mornings are giving way to warm afternoons and we are able to spend more time playing outdoors.  We are excited to announce that we have a new “kid” on campus, a baby goat that has joined our school community this week. He will live in the chicken enclosure area for now.  Each Preschool class will visit the garden with Ms. Christine to learn more about goats, and our newest Wyvern is a sweetie!  Over the next few weeks,  20 more goats will make St. Francis their new home.  We are very excited about the many learning opportunities we have here in our backyard.   

Next Friday April 22, is Earth Day, but really every day on this campus is Earth Day.  We plan to spend that day outside planting sunflower and wildflower seeds around the playground.  Our garden box will be cleaned out and fresh soil added, and we’ll plant parsley, chives, spinach and tomatoes.  If you would like to volunteer to help, please bring your gardening gloves and join me and a group of exuberant mini-gardeners at the Preschool playground around 9:00 a.m..

Our next Big Sing will be on Tuesday, April 26.

Photo Gallery for Week of April 11-15

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School Notes for Week of April 11-15

On Saturday, Goshen Campus teachers Salema Jenkins and Joanne Brock and 2nd grader Piper Kuhn will be representing St. Francis School on Team Fighting Irishman at St. Baldrick’s at Our Lady of Lourdes at 6:00 p.m. There are 223 participants and 22 teams who will be shaving (or cutting) their hair to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. Team Fighting Irishman has raised close to $11,000 of its $16,000 goal. The team stands for Patrick McSweeney, a local 16-year-old hero and close friend of Joanne Brock, who has been battling leukemia for 12 years. He is currently in a cancer trial at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia that is funded by money from St. Baldrick’s. The team welcomes anyone to come out and cheer the Wyverns on Team Irishman on Saturday, make a donation here, or join the  team and help be a hero to kids with cancer!!

IzzyGrassBird6th grader Izzy Grass won the middle school division of the Louisville Zoo’s Earth Day art contest. Izzy made a sculpture of an eagle out of found materials. Izzy will receive her award this Saturday, April 16, at 11:00 a.m. as part of the Zoo’s Earth Day celebration.

The 6th Grade Class and the We Act Club are collecting the following personal care items to donate to Kentucky Refugee Ministries: toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, soap, hand sanitizer, shampoo, and gallon-size ziploc bags.  Bins will be placed in the Middle School Amp. Collection ends on Thursday morning, April 21, when the students will deliver the items to We Day Kentucky.

The High School We Act Group is also collecting personal care items to donate at We Day Kentucky.  Please send in hand sanitizer, shampoo, and/or feminine hygiene products by next Thursday, April 21st!

The 6th grade, the Goshen We Act Club, and the High School We Act Group are excited to attend We Day Kentucky at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts next Thursday! The students “earned” their tickets to We Day, a day celebrating service and compassion, through their service learning projects. The 6th grade helped our global citizens arriving in Louisville as refugees by sponsoring a coat drive for Kentucky Refugee Ministries. The Goshen We Act Club donated to the Louisville Zoo to help feed the lemurs. They also raised awareness of the needs for education and clean water in Haiti through skits they performed at Middle School Morning Meetings.  Together, the Goshen and High School groups raised money to help build a school in Haiti via snack cart and hot chocolate sales (Goshen), cookouts and an upcoming car wash (High School), and Lower School Parents’ Night Out (both).  The High School group also volunteered with the nonprofit My Dog Eats First to assist homeless and low-income people with caring for their pets.  
(**Details for Goshen students attending the event: Students will leave school just after morning check in and travel via SFS bus  will be provided at the event, but event organizers are asking all students to bring a refillable water bottle to cut down on plastic waste. Students should also dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes, as the event will conclude with a Walk for Compassion outdoors. We will return to school around 2:30. Event organizers will also be selling T-shirts, bracelets, water bottles, etc. this year. If your child would like to bring extra money with them to purchase a souvenir, they may do so.  Should you have any questions about the event, please contact Shelly Jones)

“Stretch Run” Lies Ahead … Birds Reflections

By Reed Gabhart, Head of the Goshen Campus8thPlanet_2

After a long (and much needed!) Spring Break, we returned Monday and the kids were brimming over with excitement. We talked at Morning Meeting at how fast the final seven weeks will go! It is an action-packed time of the year, as much as the beginning of the school year is, but will fly by, leading to saying goodbye to our 8th graders at another memorable Goshen Campus Graduation and final assembly. In the next week alone, we have a Buddy Day, an 8th grade field trip, a track meet, the We Day community service celebration, outdoor education trips to Mammoth Cave for our 5th and 7th grades, and preparations for our Middle School Talent Show! Wow. I’m sure there’s more tucked away in the calendar, but that’s enough for now!

I wanted to take a look back at our very unique spring Drama Project production of Aristophanes’ The Birds. I would estimate about 550 people saw these four productions and were highly entertained by the combination of ancient (yet prescient) lines, highly colorful costumes (complete with beaks and wings), modern music, and fourth-wall breaking comedy. The kids dancing passionately at curtain call after each show was one of my favorite moments. This year at our cast party, I asked the actors and crew members to write a reflection on either the show or their experience doing SFS drama. This was optional and not something I do every year, but I was so impressed at the care and sentiment put into their comments. Here are some highlights:

“I’ve been at St. Francis only one year, but I’ve never seen and received the same amount of kindness and joy in any other school. This drama program has taught me so much about acting, as well as bonded me with a very special group of people … the only thing I wish could have been different is how long I spent here. I wish I could’ve arrived at this amazing place much earlier than I did.”
Colleen Torrans

“I’ve never been a part of something where everyone is like a huge family, and I really, absolutely mean it. I was so happy to get to be a part of the play working on costumes.”
Bennett Middendorf

“Throughout my time in the St. Francis Drama program, I have tried out for every play except one. While I did not make it into all of them, those that I did accepted me with open arms. I have met some wonderful people that have become lifelong friends. I have been part of a loving community that I am almost unwilling to leave. The Birds was my last play in the SFS Drama program and it was one of the best. I feel as if I am wanted and needed in this wonderful school.”
Sean Denham

“I’ve had an amazing four years on the St. Francis stage. I’ve made so many memories. I found my love of acting here, and it will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Amelia Dimas

“This year I had the opportunity of being in The Birds. I had a blast! The dances were great and colorful. Throughout rehearsals and performances the cast started to feel like one big family; laughing, doing vocal warm-ups, and ‘flying’ together.”
Natalie Stewart

“From the start I knew this experience would be awesome, but I didn’t know it would be EXTRAORDINARY! This experience has been amazing, from learning more about theater to making new friends. Even though it was a little tiring at first, I can’t describe how much the past couple of months have been worth it!”
Lily Gilbert

The SFS Drama program really started and sparked my passion for the arts. I have really found my voice and my love on this stage. SFS offered me a comfortable, brilliant, acting experience … SFS drama is my favorite experience and I am excited to see future shows.”
Caroline Frederick

“The Birds was a really unique show. It was very fun to be in. It allowed everyone to express their colorful creativity because we made our own masks and costumes. I LOVED IT! We will miss Mr. Church next year!”
Audrey McClain

I love and appreciate words such as family, comfortable, fun, bonding, and kindness that the kids used to describe this show and program. They are very reminiscent of the SFS mission statement. I was honored to work on this play with this great group of Middle School kids and Lon Church.  And, Audrey, we will all miss Mr. Church next year as he and family head home to Minnesota. But the many wonderful memories will remain!

Photo Gallery for Week of March 21-25

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The Birds Premieres Tonight!

By Reed Gabhart, Head of the Goshen CampusBirds_1

The Birds! (not Hitchcock’s!)

As I mentioned last week, the SFS Drama project’s spring show, Aristophanes’ sociopolitical comedy The Birds, takes flight starting tonight! A colorful and fun mix of comedy, romance, satire, mortals, gods, lots of birds, and even modern music and dance, The Birds is sure to please – and make you think. As I wrote my program notes earlier this week, I wanted to share with a larger audience some of the philosophy behind the SFS Drama Project:

One of my main goals with the St Francis Drama Project is making sure these Middle School students get a broad and varied experience with the wonderful world of theater during their four-year “careers” here. So I tend to think in terms of four-year cycles. For the Class of 2016, they have had quite the journey across eras and genres. From the modern teen angst of John Lennon and Me (Caroline Frederick’s first SFS play), we moved to the world of rock-and-roll in the 1950s and musical theater via Bye Bye Birdie. The genteel American classic comedy Harvey was up next, with the Bard on deck in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors (the first show Lon Church directed for us!). We then traveled to turn-of-the-20th-century Russia for the wacky fable Fools (Amelia Dimas will never forget those fun Friday after-school rehearsals in the Chinese room), and then to the grimy streets of London town awash with the great songs and choreography in Oliver! We rounded out this “cycle” letting Middle Schoolers immerse themselves in Oscar Wilde’s English comedy of manners, The Importance of Being Earnest, and now find ourselves in ancient Greece laughing at Aristophanes’ The Birds, the same as audiences did over two centuries ago.

I think you can see our students get a very well-rounded travelogue both in eras, genres, and even geography. And coupled with that, the focus is on three key planks: helping them to become better actors and technicians, learning to function as a dependent ensemble, and having fun. It’s a very simple formula, really, but one that has proven very successful for us. Their enthusiasm inspires me every single rehearsal and show.

I hope you can fly with us in the next week!

Showtimes are Friday, March 25th, Tuesday, March 29th, and Wednesday, March 30th at 6:30 p.m., with a Saturday, March 26th 2:00 p.m. matinee. As we did last year with Oliver, we are selling tickets in advance (in the case of sellouts) through Bidpal. The link to purchase tickets is here

The Birds has little to offend young audiences, but it is recommended for students in grades 4th and up.

Surprise Visitor Arrives for Preschool Egg Hunt

By Renee Hennessy, Director of the PreschoolIMG_2767

Thank you to all of our families for supporting the spring egg hunts, and sending in oodles of eggs to support our friends at Keystone Learning Academy.  The children had an eggcellent time searching for brightly colored eggs with the assistance of a special helper, Mr. Bunny!  

A special thank you to Jessica Washer for counting ALL of the eggs and to Matt Washer for donning the bunny costume.  Thank you to Christi Hootman for driving the eggs downtown to Keystone.  I also want to thank the parent volunteers who hid the eggs and stayed to help the preschoolers FIND them:  Nicole Butcher, Courtney Celasun, Kirstie Smith, Caroline Boardman, Lillian Brents, Kirk Shoemaker, and Jessica Washer.

Tuesday, March 29th is our Big Sing for the month.

Next Friday, April 1st, begins our Spring Break.  Have a wonderful time!  We will see you on Monday, April 11th.  Happy Spring!

High School Celebrates Compassion Week

By Suzanne Bizot Gorman, Head of the Downtown Campus

CompassionWeek2Following from our own mission statement (St. Francis School cultivates a joyful, compassionate, intellectual community that celebrates individuality and inspires independent thinking for life) and from Louisville’s status as a “compassionate city,” the High School deemed March 21st – 25th our “Week of Compassion”.  Events began Monday with a panel discussion featuring teachers Ralph Marshall and Trent Apple, senior Jonny Simpson, and peace educator Cory Lockhart, all describing various meanings of compassion.  Tuesday through Thursday Flex periods provided time for workshops led by trained student facilitators.  We debriefed these workshops, which included activities and discussions around comfort zones, perspective, communication, and gratitude, on Friday in advisee groups.  Having this week focused specifically on compassion has led to greater dialogue within the student body and has heightened awareness of both others’ needs and the way in which we should strive to treat one another.  A big thanks to Bob Jones and the Sacred Space Committee for planning the week, and to the student facilitators for taking the time to go through training with Cory Lockhart and for being willing to lead these activities:  Lena Crum, Everett Davis, Charley Drew-Wolak, Kate Jones, Jillian Morrison, Nan Elpers, Jonny Simpson, Gabby Smedley, Brownie Southworth, and Jay Swan.

Sometimes I feel like a crusader in the area of teenage public relations.  The outside world seems so disdainful of the teenage being (and I know that’s not new; every generation seems to think the teenagers coming along will be the ruin of civilization), but one of the reasons I love my job is that I get to see just how wonderful teenagers can be. Three examples:  First, I received an email last week from our friends at Educational Justice, a Louisville nonprofit that recruits high-achieving and service-minded high school students to help combat educational inequity by serving as one-on-one tutors and mentors to middle school students for an hour each week.  This email shared details about how successful Sam Edwards-Kuhn, Natalie McClain, and Madison Ebel have been at working with their assigned students and making a difference in their lives.  Second, last week I finished our annual sexual health education unit in my 9th grade Health and Skills class, with the classes being led by our Planned Parenthood Peer Educators Rosemary DeMarco, Ruby LeStrange, Catherine Dean, and Willa Tinsley.  And these students don’t just help out here; they led the Healthy Choices classes at Goshen, and they travel to other schools and community events to help spread education throughout the year.  Their commitment to this work is significant.  Finally, earlier this week, Alex Resnik, Patrick Spencer, Ella Rennekamp, Emma Boland, and Olivia Bajandas spent part of their evening volunteering with My Dog Eats First, a local nonprofit that collects pet supplies and distributes them each Wednesday night to homeless and low-income people with animals.  This teenage generation is compassionate and kind; they are energetic and active; they care deeply about people and causes.  They inspire me!

A final thought:  Our Quick Recall team finished its season at the State Governor’s Cup tournament this past weekend.  While I’ve written about them before, their accomplishment really deserves another mention, because I don’t think we will see a team like this again any time soon.  Over two years, this varsity squad never lost to another private or independent school.  They went undefeated in the regular seasons and league tournaments with a two-year record of 26-0.  They also qualified through District and Regionals for the State Governor’s Cup competition both years. A huge congratulations to seniors Sam Borden, Sam Edwards-Kuhn, Rose Gilbert, Zoe Koss, Lucy Lv, and Madison Ebel for all their hard work and dedication.