Diversity Corner January 2018

By Kisha Watts, Director of Diversity and Director of Admissions – Downtown Campus

Diversity, equity, and justice are core to St.Francis’ mission. We have been thoughtful about providing the community with strategies and tools to navigate diversity. Over the summer, the faculty and staff read Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum. This was a powerful book for us and allowed us to engage in great discussions during our opening professional development meeting in August.

In October, the Lower, Middle and High School faculty and staff had another professional development day dedicated to diversity, equity, and justice. We read three articles regarding privilege. Once again, we broke up into small groups and had discussions about the articles. These discussions were led by faculty and staff facilitators. The Preschool had a separate a professional development day and had the chance to discuss diversity, equity, and justice within their division.  

In January, we brought an outside facilitator to campus for a full day of diversity, equity, and justice work. Crissy Caceres (you can read her bio here) was our facilitator for the day and created one of the most engaging professional development days many of us have had the chance to experience. Crissy did several activities with us, and we were charged with creating a diversity, equity, and justice plan for St.Francis. Crissy is also going to send us recommendations for next steps within a few weeks.

Other exciting news involving diversity work includes a Middle School Black Student Association, a Preschool Diversity Book Club for parents, an affinity group for parents, and thriving student groups on both campuses. We also sent three faculty and staff members to the annual National Association of Independent Schools’ People of Color Conference, which had over 6,000 participants from all over.  

We are excited about building our “toolkits” at St. Francis so that we are able to fully support everyone in our community. While it’s hard work, it’s great work. As we continue this work, we will work with other constituencies in the community to fully engage everyone. Thank you for joining us on this journey!

Welcome to 2018!

By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Welcome to 2018! Hard to believe we are halfway through the year (1/8 of your high school career, as the freshmen and I discussed recently). The calendar turning to January always prompts us to be looking toward the next school year, too, so in this newsletter you’ll see the major dates for 2018-19.  

Despite some illness running through the school, as it seems to be everywhere, the Wyverns are back at it full throttle already. Ski Club is in full swing, the Science Olympiad squad has an invitational competition tomorrow, and the Quick Recall team goes for yet another league championship next weekend. We’ve also switched Projects, as we do every quarter, and there are some particularly interesting offerings. One is Coding, in which students will learn some basics in the programming language of their choice. Another is Vegetable Farming, a yearlong initiative to grow food on land owned by math teacher/Dean of Faculty Brian Ray. The produce will ultimately be donated to a local service agency, and during the winter months, the focus will be preparing the land for planting, planting early spring crops, and seeding later crops in a greenhouse. Other students are playing card and board games or games from around the world, planning the Women’s Retreat, preparing for the Kentucky United Nations Assembly, building props for our spring musical Little Shop of Horrors, playing jazz, working on the Yearbook, preparing for Science Olympiad competition, and focusing on AP World History.

Monday, of course, is the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. I recently came across a paper that Dr. King wrote about the purpose of education in 1947 as a student at Morehouse College. It reads in part, “To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.” As we work to push students to think critically and think for themselves, Dr. King’s words resonate 70 years later.

March Madness? Wyverns Create December Delirium!

By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

St. Francis basketball has certainly had its ups and downs over the years. And for the second time in just a few years, our Wyverns have had to become “road warriors” due to gym construction or repairs. Well, all those road games paid off as both boys and girls teams brought home the championship in our Middle School Holiday Basketball Tournament at the Old Male Gym! 

In addition to winning two games each, there were many other highlights. Here are the students who earned their way onto the All-Tournament teams:

Girls: Elizabeth Boyd (7th grade), Ayda Marshall (8th grade)

Boys: RJ Ballenger (7th grade), Robert Boyd (8th grade)

And we also had two Hotshot Contest winners as well. For the girls, 8th grader Anna Hardwick-Jones won and for the boys, 8th grader Isaiah Robles took top honors, also setting a new Wyvern record with 36 points (eclipsing the 30 put up by sharpshooter Kyle McLaughlin two years ago).

Congratulations to coaches Shavar Cowherd and Kara Spalding for leading these teams to impressive tournament victories! Our Wyverns are really taking flight – but ready to return home for home games this week. Go Wyverns!    

Art to Enhance our Curriculum

By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

All of our Preschool classrooms are stocked with a variety of art materials for the children to use throughout the day. Creating self-directed art is a hands-on activity that helps children learn in many ways. By drawing, making collages, and using watercolors to paint, children learn about shape, color, and texture. They are practicing making decisions about what to make and what materials they will use. Those fine motor skills are enhanced by cutting with scissors, holding a crayon, or sculpting with clay. When children observe what their friends are creating, they are learning to appreciate the artwork of others.   

New vocabulary words are introduced when children talk about their work with adults. We use phrases like, “Tell me about your picture.” Preschool-aged children often create things that are symbolic of something else; for example, something they have just built in the block center or a butterfly they just observed outside. The practice of using symbols will become important when they are learning to read. Art can also enhance science concepts when colors are mixed or how adding paint to water can create changes.  

Creating art in any form helps children develop their imaginations and practice many skills for learning. At the Preschool, our goal is to give children the confidence to express themselves through art and to feel a part of a creative community of learners whenever they create something new.  

New Year, New Book Drive
Thank you so much for donating new books to our classrooms through the New Year, New Book Drive. Our classroom books endure heavy use and handling, so restocking our shelves with new titles is something we work on each year. This was the most successful book drive we’ve had yet in the Preschool! Thank you, thank you!

Thank you to Greg Rash for donning the Santa suit for our holiday sing-along! He is the husband of Kim Rash, our fabulous Lower School music teacher.

Alumni Profile: Louis Winner ’94

Louis Winner '94_4x6_2MPBriefly describe your path after leaving St. Francis. 
After high school, I attended Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana and graduated a year early. Once I completed my undergraduate degree, I attended law school at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, which had an accelerated program that allowed me to complete law school a semester early.

After law school, I moved to Los Angeles, California and worked in a boutique, entertainment law firm for a few years. In 2001, I moved back to Louisville and began to practice law in Kentucky, focusing on complex family law cases. Currently, I am a Partner and the head of the family law department at the law firm of Clay Daniel Walton Adams PLC in Louisville, Kentucky. On occasion, I still litigate a few entertainment law issues as well.

In my free time, I hike, climb mountains, whitewater raft, and kayak (on occasion), and when I am on the coast, I surf.

[Read more…]

Managing Stress through Exam Week

Zen Zone_Main Image_2MPBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Exam time! High School students take seven sets of exams during their four years, each December and May (except that seniors are exempted from non-AP exams in May). The point, of course, is to prepare them for the kinds of cumulative exams they’ll take in college. We even use “blue books” for history and English, just as colleges do. In addition, we want to help them learn to manage their stress. So we provide “brain food” – muffins, bagels, granola bars, fruit, etc. – to ensure that they’ve had something to eat before they go into an exam; schedule “therapy” dogs and cats (“therapy” in this sense equals friendly, happy, and amenable to being petted for a day) to be at school each day; and, new this year, are featuring the Zen Zone, with tea and hot chocolate, a bubble wrap wall (pop to de-stress!), a coloring station, a relaxation area, and a “Words of Encouragement” wall. For me, the sophomore hallway is a feel-good area, with the lights festooned across the lockers and the Christmas/Hanukkah decor (not to mention some sophomores decked out daily in holiday wear; other students got in on the act this week, as well!).  

As this is our last Wyvern Weekly of 2017, I wish all of you a restful and peaceful Holiday Break and a very happy New Year!

Gifts with a Purpose

Gifts with a Purpose_Main Image 4x6_2MPBy Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

The holidays are here and we have received a few requests for ideas for toys and gifts for preschoolers. In the Preschool, we are fond of toys that are open-ended because they have a high play value and can be used for more than one purpose, wherever those imaginations may go. Building blocks such as Magna-Tiles and play scarves and items that can be used for pretend play (for example, a doctor’s kit) can be revisited time and time again. Books and puppets are also great gift ideas for young children.

Next week will be a festive one as we prepare for the holiday break. In conjunction with the Lower and Middle School, we will participate in the Holiday Dress-Up Week! Monday is Mismatched Day, Tuesday is Pajama Day (a favorite), and at our Big Sing on Wednesday, festive holiday wear is encouraged. We are expecting a special visitor from the North Pole to stop by the Big Sing.

Happy Holidays to All!

Happy Holidays Pic_Main Image 4x6_2MPBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

Well, time flies, as the adage goes, but it seems to me that time has hit warp speed (then again, that might just be a function of my age!). It seems like just a few weeks ago we were talking about the start of a new school year, and here we are barrelling into Holiday Break. So while we recharge and get to spend memorable time with our family and friends, we’ll miss your wonderful children. And, if I might suggest, take some time to ask your children about the first half of their school year. Ask the little ones to read aloud to you to see their improvement in action. Ask the Lower School students what they thought of Coco, and the Middle School students the same about Wonder. Ask them about themes and lessons learned. Ask the 8th graders about prejudice reduction (and maybe about how it feels to only have half a year left on the Goshen Campus!). Ask them if their school days are fun as well as educational. Ask them about lessons learned on the fields and courts and stages as well as in the classroom. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll realize that in addition to all the gifts they receive this special time of year, you are giving them the most special gift all year round – a St. Francis education.

Happy holidays, and we’ll see you very soon (warp speed time) in January!

6th Grade Trip to Pine Mountain Settlement School

Pine Mountain_Main ImageWhat do folk dancing to live bluegrass, tall tales, crawdads, cave exploration, and coal have in common? All were a part of the 6th graders’ Outdoor Education experience last week at the Pine Mountain Settlement School nestled deep in the Appalachian region of Eastern Kentucky. Students made the five-hour journey via coach bus with instructors Brandon Doble, Anne Holmes, Lindsy Serrano, Alex Taylor, and Shelly Jones. The students spent the week in small groups studying the past and present inhabitants of the region, flora, and fauna. Courses included Native Americans, Early Settlers, Stream Ecology, Forest Ecology, a Night Hike, the Summit Hike to the top of Pine Mountain, Orienteering, Storytelling, Folk Dancing, Appalachian Toys, and Geosphere. Students enjoyed their homemade meals in Laurel House, many of the ingredients for which had been grown in the organic gardens at the Settlement School.

On this particular trip to Pine Mountain, the 6th graders became the first group from St. Francis to have a live bluegrass ensemble for the Thursday night folk dance. Dr. Sky H. Marietta, Ed.D, the Curriculum and Instruction Specialist at Pine Mountain, said “KET ought to be here tonight filming this!” Some of the region’s finest bluegrass musicians – banjoist John Haywood, fiddle player Brett Ratliff, and guitarist Sean Stamper – played traditional folk tunes for the dance, performed a few “extra” tunes for the students’ enjoyment, and explained the history of their instruments within the historical context of the region.

These up close and personal experiences with nature, place-based education, and first-hand experiences with artists and activists working in Appalachia today are among the many reasons we greatly value the St. Francis Outdoor Education Program that includes the trip to the Pine Mountain Settlement School. On the Goshen Campus, we often speak about the importance of “Leave No Trace,” but when students see on a large scale what happens when humans leave quite a large trace, such as the evidence of mountaintop removal coal mining when they hike to the overlook, the phrase takes on new meaning.

Should you or your family be interested in visiting Pine Mountain Settlement School on your own, the Settlement School provides ongoing weekend and summer programs for individuals, groups, and families. For more information, visit the website. Just be sure to tell them that the St. Francis 6th graders sent you!

Encouragement Club Inspires

Encouragement Club_2MPBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

This fall, under the guidance of sophomore Adelaide Lenihan and with the help of other SFS students, the Encouragement Club has come into existence. The Encouragement Club endeavors to spread kindness and brighten the day of the student body, through individual reach-outs or larger-scale efforts. The above photo shows a recent effort from the Club to demonstrate care and concern for their fellow students. As we transition from the gratitude of Thanksgiving into the celebration of December holidays and the New Year, their example is truly inspiring.

Kudos to all those who wrote, directed, or acted in the Showcase of Plays last weekend – it was an alternately hilarious, dramatic, and poignant performance. Mark your calendars now for March 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, when the musical Little Shop of Horrors will take to the stage!

We have three regular school days next week (Monday – Wednesday) and then exams begin on Thursday. Please see the exam schedule in School Notes. As usual, we will have “brain food” (muffins, granola bars, fruit, etc.) available for the students to ensure everyone’s eaten before going into an exam. The school will be open normal hours and students are welcome to be here during those hours outside of their exam times.