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

JK/Ks Delight the Residents at the Beehive Homes!

Beehive Homes Visit_1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

Everyone talks today about how “busy” we all are and the hectic pace of such a connected world. But sometimes you just have to take a step back and make room for something worthwhile and special in your day. That was the case this Thursday when I accompanied our JK and K students on a field trip just down the road to sing Valentine’s Day songs to the residents at the Goshen Beehive Home.

And while I thought about cancelling to make sure I attended to all of my “important” emails, I’m so glad I didn’t! Faith Murphy, Lower School music teacher extraordinaire, had our little ones in tip-top shape and ultra-excited to sing to their newfound friends. It was so heartwarming to see the responses from the residents who tapped their toes, nodded their heads, sang along a bit, and smiled throughout. Our teeny chorus enthralled them with their enthusiasm, dance steps, voices, inimitable cuteness, and, of course, youth. What led to this touching field trip? From Faith:

“When Kim Aberle taught the JK and K kids, she used to take students to sing songs at nursing homes. I felt it was time to bring back that tradition. I really wanted to go to Beehive because they are so close to our school. We started practicing at the beginning of January, and the children all worked hard and were very excited for this visit. It was very well received by the residents there, and I am hopeful that we can continue a relationship with them in the future. Everyone, big and little, got something out of it. I couldn’t be more proud of my students!”

One of my favorite moments of the exchange was at the end when our kids presented valentines to the residents. They approached them a little timidly in groups of two or three and asked them questions. As they grew more confident, the questions turned to laughter, shortly thereafter followed by hugs, and I even saw a kiss on the the cheek. Talk about lumps in the throat!

At St. Francis, we are firm believers in service learning and contributing to the local community. This was one of the finest examples I’ve been able to witness. Kudos to the JK and K teachers and Faith for making such a wonderful memory  – for the residents at Beehive, and for our impressionable youngsters as well. I hope everyone has a wonderful Winter Break!

Winter Sports Spirit Night

Spirit WearBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Tonight we celebrate our Winter Sports Spirit Night, honoring bowling and basketball athletes. The School Committee planned a Pajama Day yesterday, followed by Wyvern Wear Day today, and has also made banners for the basketball teams to run through prior to their games. Activities will get underway at the Goshen Campus as soon as we get out there after dismissal, as the faculty take on the students in a basketball game. (It is important to note that we do not allow current basketball players to take part in this. After all, we do not want them worn out for their actual games. And also, we don’t want to lose too badly.) Class of 2017 athletes will be honored with Senior Night festivities prior to tip-off of the boys’ basketball game v. Covington Latin at 6:00 p.m., followed by the girls’ game against Covington Latin at 7:30 p.m. Students will enjoy free popcorn and soft drinks and some halftime contests during both games. Thanks to the School Committee and to our Athletic Coordinator Catherine Lafronza for all the planning and work on this – looking forward to a fun night!

Our Faculty in Action!

Debbie Adkins Science ProjectBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

This is the time of year when my Lower School counterpart, Jen Griffith, and I take a few weeks to observe each and every faculty member teach a classroom lesson. We do this for several reasons: to provide teachers with feedback on their teaching techniques; to see what is going on and be present in the classrooms; and to keep abreast with curriculum. As I always say to our wonderful teachers, I inevitably wind up feeling like I get more out of it than they do! And it is a visual, sonic, and experiential reminder of all the wonderful things happening in our building every single day. In the last two weeks alone I’ve witnessed:

  • Students doing a group work simulation on how pollutants get into waterways in Debbie Adkins’ class.
  • 7th graders learning how to play and sing “Hey Jude” on ukuleles in Bob Bertke’s music room.
  • Students learning about the Han Dynasty in ancient China through visiting multiple classroom stations (art, calligraphy, inventions, etc.) in Brandon Doble’s room.
  • Mexican Suns Alex Taylor Art ClassColorful Mexican sun masks coming to life via clay and kiln-firing in Alex Taylor’s art room.
  • A wonderful parallel between the difficulties associated with excessive immigration in the Reconstruction Period in post Civil War America and what is going on politically today in our country (through poetry no less!) in Patrick Donovan’s 8th grade language arts class.
  • Another simulation that demonstrated the vast differences in wealth and power among social classes during the Middle Ages in Julie Mushkin’s class. (Skittles are great motivators!).
  • And finally, an impressive experiment that culminated with DNA being extracted from strawberries for all to see in a lab in Jason Chlopek’s science class.

And from Jennifer Griffith:

  • Andrew Frechette, Heather McGraw, and Annette Rudd’s junior kindergarten and kindergarten classes preparing for the Chinese New Year celebration by reading books about Chinese customs and culture, and creating a dragon head from cardboard for the parade.
  • Colonial America Activities_12nd and 3rd grade Spanish classes starting rehearsals for “The Three Little Pigs” play with Salema Jenkins, which they will perform for the Lower School at the end of April.
  • 1st graders in Julie Dayton’s class preparing for the 100th day of school by writing what they think they will and won’t do when they’re 100 years old.
  • 4th graders making toys, crafts, and foods (johnnycakes) to experience what life was like for children in Colonial America with Sarah Dewberry, Joanne Brock, and Christine Brinkmann.
  • 4th graders in Michelle Hall’s science class making and experimenting with pulleys.
  • 3rd and 4th grade “Acts of Kindness” Project holding a bake sale to benefit Go Ministries. They made $300!

What you will notice in all these scenarios is that few of these activities involve worksheets or rote memorization. Almost all are interactive, interesting, fun, involve group work, and generally allow for differentiation. And I have to say in an ironic way, this is “routine” for St. Francis. We sometimes focus so much on all the other good things we’re doing around here that we forget that some of the most magical things are happening right under our students’ noses every day! I can’t wait to continue on in this journey over the next few weeks!

College Corner February 2017

college-cornerBy Kit Llewellyn, College Advisor

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

Sophomores:

  • Consider a college summer program. Do your research on the Internet or with Kit Llewellyn.
  • Continue enjoying your extracurriculars, hobbies, or a part-time job.
  • Think about using the February Winter Break for visits to nearby colleges/universities for initial comparisons.
  • Give a lot of energy to your studies!

Juniors:

  • Register for the SAT and ACT tests online at www.collegeboard.org or www.act.org.
  • Those students who are eligible for extended time need to check in with Michelle Salerno in order to complete registrations for the SAT and ACT.
  • Those students who believe that they will qualify for fee waivers for the SAT/ACT, please see Kit Llewellyn.  
  • This is the last semester that counts towards your GPA so go for it; show the colleges what you have to offer!
  • Consider a college summer program, course, or job.
  • Each junior will have an individual meeting with Kit Llewellyn and together they will generate a list of suggested colleges.
  • Parents of juniors are encouraged to make appointments with Kit Llewellyn after the lists are composed for further discussion and planning.
  • Plan on taking the SAT in March or May, the ACT in April or June, and SAT Subject Tests in June if your colleges require those tests.
  • Consider planning some college visits during the February Winter Break and the April Spring Break.

Seniors:

  • Complete your taxes, send financial aid forms (*FAFSA and CSS Profile forms when required) and the specific aid forms from the individual colleges.
  • If a seventh-semester transcript is required, please ask Kit Llewellyn to send it.
  • Mid-year reports are required by some colleges.
  • Continue to research scholarship info in Kit Llewellyn’s office and online at fastweb.com
  • Keep working on your Senior Projects and enjoy!
  • Your senior grades will always be a permanent piece of your high school record…don’t slack off!
  • Check that all of your colleges have received all materials: applications, fees, test scores, recommendations, and financial aid forms.
  • Carefully read all emails and information coming from admissions offices: acceptance procedures, housing, financial aid procedures, registration, and orientation. Periodically check your spam because sometimes important messages may be posted there.     
  • Keep Kit Llewellyn informed of your acceptances (and otherwise!).

Doughnuts with Dad

Doughnuts With Dad_3By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

An exciting event happened today in the Preschool – which included yummy treats, special guests, and very excited children – Doughnuts with Dad! Here are just a few reasons that our four and five-year-olds love their dads: “You give the best hugs and kisses,” “You give me cupcakes and take me to the store,” “You play boss and tickle machine with me,” and “You drove to the airport and then flew to get me and then we flew back.” This event gave us a wonderful opportunity to talk to the children about how they like to spend time together with their dads or a special person in their lives. Young children love celebrations and showing their families what they enjoy doing at the Preschool. Thank you to all of our guests for visiting today! 

Staying Connected with Alumni

Alum Napo Matsoso_1By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

My counterpart Reed Gabhart focused on alumni last week; this week, that’s foremost on my mind. As Reed noted, any teacher or administrator will tell you that one of the most rewarding aspects of the job is staying connected with students after graduation and watching their adult lives unfold. At the High School, we’ve seen many recent alumni coming through in the past few weeks, before and after the Holiday Break while they are home from college. Last week, we had a particularly special visit from Napo Matsoso ’13, a senior at the University of Kentucky who was just drafted 31st by the New England Revolution in the Major League Soccer draft. If you aren’t familiar with Napo, you can read more about him here. His success is a testament to incredible dedication and hard work, and we’re excited to have been a part of it.

We also had a visit last week from alum Embry Rucker G’87, ’91, brother of our Director of Advancement Síofra Rucker G’84. Embry is a traveler and photographer whose roster of clients is long and impressive (Nike, Target, North Face, Sony, Olympus, Canon, Home Depot, Oakley, People, ESPN, Runner’s World, and many others). He was in town and generously came by to chat with our aspiring student photographers.

To cap off the week, we had a visit from our founding Head of School Tom Pike. Tom has been retired for over a decade now, but he pops in from time to time – this week, to show his daughter and granddaughter, visiting from out of town, our newly renovated spaces. Tom also made time last weekend for James Risley ’17 to conduct an interview with him for a Senior Project focused on an oral history of St. Francis High School/School. (Trivia question: What was the other final contender for the School’s mascot, besides the Wyverns? I kid you not: The River City Rats.) It is rather extraordinary for a school to have had only two Heads in 40 years – just one of the many special things about St. Francis.

Put on a Happy “Face!”

Brad Devlin Faces Workshop_1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

Making sure our students have a meaningful experience in the arts has always been a core value at St. Francis. To that end, not only do we have wonderful art teachers at every level who engage the children multiple times each week, but also our Art Department actively seeks out local artists to come to campus and present an artist-in-residence program that connects our students to the community.

In the past decade we’ve had local craftspersons teach metalworking, wheel throwing, textile and puppeteer design – and even chainsaw art! This year we are delighted to have local artist Brad Devlin lead our Middle School students in a mixed media project, turning everyday materials into expressive “Faces!”. Brad is known for his incredible talent to transform found objects into acclaimed works of art that invoke thoughtful conversation about a wide range of issues and emotions. He has an innate ability to turn reclaimed relics, salvaged material, and ordinary stuff into works with historical, artistic, and personal meaning.

Brad Devlin Faces Workshop_17Brad came to Middle School Morning Meeting a couple of weeks ago to show us some of his fanciful creations – and this week it has been the students’ turn. The loud banging in Alex Taylor’s art room has been worth the wait to see what our kids are creating!

“It’s really cool to watch the students translate Brad’s enthusiasm into beautiful works of art that teach the value of recycling and the power of imagination,” observes Judy Riendeau, Lower School art teacher. Parent volunteers and staff helped with this effort, and were equally amazed to see the students engaged in a new and challenging way. “It’s hard for me to imagine my son using a hammer, drill, wire cutter, staple gun, awl, and sandpaper in a beautiful project – other than at St. Francis,” shares 7th grade parent Tricia Erwin. “How fun to see this ‘stuff’ come to life. Mr. Devlin was thought provoking, fun, and caring.”

Brad Devlin Faces Workshop_14“What a great (large!) group of inquisitive, creative, and polite kids,” Brad commented after his first day. “I always come away from one of these workshops energized, and full of new ways to use new and old materials. Thanks to Judy and Alex, and all the other volunteers who came to help.”

We appreciate our parent support for Art to Remember and this workshop which enabled us to offer this unique experience with Brad (aka the “Master of Found Materials”). A special thanks to Ben Reif for the use of his drills and the donation of wood for materials. Thanks to parent volunteers Scott McGraw, Tricia Erwin, Tammy Nofsinger, Aimee Caudle, Gerri Willis, Robin Hilton, Joe Walden, Gretchen Davis, and Michelle Koch.

Brad’s work can often be seen at Galerie Hertz, as well as at this year’s Imagine! Art Auction + Scholarship Fundraiser on Saturday, February 25th at the Tim Faulkner Gallery (and you can “friend” him on Facebook to see more of his work).

Year of the Rooster!

Chinese New Year Parade_1By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

We kicked off the Chinese New Year a few days early in the Preschool. Our Yale-China teaching fellows Angel Yip and Tommy Kwan worked with our faculty to plan a day chock-full of celebratory fun and hands-on learning. Each class participated in activities such as creating paper fans, Chinese writings, and dragon horns. The Junior Kindergarten class joined us for a parade through the Lower School led by a beautifully constructed dragon created by the Trailblazers class. The Yao family donated red envelopes called “hongbao” to all of the children in Preschool, Junior Kindergarten, and Kindergarten, sending everyone good luck and well wishes. Thank you to World Language teacher Daphne Tang for bringing in traditional Chinese celebration clothing borrowed from Western Kentucky University. Over the next few weeks, the Chinese New Year will be celebrated throughout the U.S. and we look forward to reading and learning more about Chinese traditions.   

Mark Your Calendars
Dads (or special guests) are invited to join your child’s class on Friday, February 3rd from 9:00 – 9:45 a.m. for doughnuts and coffee.  

Re-Enrollment is Now in Progress!
Guarantee the placement you want for next year by returning your online contract. We are in the process of re-enrolling for next year. As a current Preschool family, you have priority for your children’s placement. If you have another child that you are interested in enrolling in Preschool, please contact Kelli Carter at 502.795.3464.