A Visit from a Special Wyvern!

Wyvern_4x6By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

We had a visit this week from our Founding Head, Tom Pike, and his daughter Lisa Pike Bailey (who, interestingly, teaches at the Kingswood-Oxford School in Connecticut, which like St. Francis is one of the very few schools in the United States that has the Wyvern as a mascot!). Tom helped found the Goshen Campus in the 1960s with St. Francis School’s first Head, Frank Cayce and then, in the 1970s, worked with parents and founding Board members to create the High School downtown. He retired in 2003, after 25 years as Head and after a two-year mentorship with Alexandra. It is almost unheard of in Independent school circles to have had only two Heads in 40+ years of existence! Tom continues to come to Graduation each year, where he presents the Thomas H. Pike Award, given to the student who best exemplifies values especially important to the St. Francis community: a compassionate and respectful nature, a willingness to ask constructive questions, determination to make one’s very best effort, and self-confidence as an independent young adult. We introduced him in Morning Meeting, and I hope the students were able to understand for a moment that everything we do here, every day, relates back to the vision and energy of this now-elderly man (still with a twinkle in his eye) who dedicated his life to education and to teenagers. 

Speaking of the Wyvern, our mascot and the story of why it was chosen, back in the day, were featured in an article in the Lexington Herald-Leader last week. Current students were shocked to learn that they were *this* close to being the River City Rats (and grateful for the Dungeons and Dragons crowd for saving the day). If you haven’t seen the article, check it out here.

Downtown and Goshen Campuses Have a “Field Day”!

Two-Campus Field DayBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus and Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

This Tuesday brought one of our most fun events of the year – our Two-Campus Field Day, held at Goshen. With our two campuses 20 miles apart, our students don’t get to interact together nearly as much as we wish they could, and this event brings them together in a fun-filled (and wacky!) way. After a delicious picnic cookout of hamburgers, brats, and hot dogs courtesy of Chef Matt and his incredible crew, and an opportunity for our 4th and 9th grade penpals to meet one another, our JK – 12th grade students banded together in groups with various grade levels mixed together. Each group had an animal name with a tall sign to match to keep them together. Thus, Goats, Turkeys, Bees, Hedgehogs, Pandas, Zebras, Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, and more parade around the campus (many in costume or make-up!) doing fun activities and games together. A group of teachers designed the activities this year, and we decided to branch out and include more activities than team-building games. Our kids rotated every 20 minutes and moved from stations inside (“Just Dance!”), to the play shelter (creating a Mandala art mural together), to team-building games on the soccer field, and finally to the track for field games. This was where we were both stationed and got to watch all ages work together in tug-of-war, sack races (their different techniques were fascinating!), and everyone’s favorite – a water balloon toss! The little ones were particularly adorable during the water balloon toss – they would approach us and say “My balloon broke so I need a new one” and it was difficult to have the heart to explain to them that the balloon breaking is when the game ends! Admittedly, we handed out more than a few “second-chance” balloons.

Article Image Field Day_1What we noticed this year was a heightened sense of camaraderie among the kids. As we’ve now done this three times, it gets better every year, and everyone knows what to expect. It was touching to see the kids during the unstructured times hanging out together. Many Middle School and High School kids played basketball together on the sport court and had a ball (literally and figuratively!). More than one Lower Schooler managed to hitch a piggyback ride from a High Schooler in their group. The students clearly enjoy seeing each other and there is a palpable nostalgia as the older students look back in fondness at their “youth,” while the littler ones are in awe of the “big kids.” It helps us to be one school – and Wyverns (as opposed to cockroaches!).

We also wanted to share with you what we did on our Professional Development afternoon on Wednesday. After students dismissed, the Downtown faculty traveled to Goshen for discussion around three articles selected by our Director of Diversity, Kisha Watts (who is also our Downtown Campus Admissions Director). Related to the book all faculty and staff read this summer, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, the articles were “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh, “What White Children Need to Know About Race” by Ali Michael, and “What Happens When Minority Kids Are Taught Not to Talk About Race” by Jesse Singal. We had small-group discussion about the articles, talking about the importance of open communication, recognizing privilege, and working with students on issues that are really complex. Our commitment as a school is to having these hard conversations, to not shying away from the difficult moments, because we believe that within the St. Francis community, we have a real (and perhaps rare) opportunity to talk openly and honestly with one another, living out a few of our core values in particular: inclusivity, community, thought, openness, and expression. Our Professional Development day in January (right before students come back) will continue this work, as we are led in sessions with Crissy Caceres, Assistant Head of School and head of the Office of Diversity and Equity at Georgetown Day School.  

Diversity Week!

Diversity Week_Main ImageBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

As the photos included in this newsletter show, we had an amazing Diversity Week! This annual tradition showcases students’ heritage through a Diversity Fair, a Diversity Potluck, flag-making, and more. The Diversity Fair on Tuesday showcased tables staffed by students and from organizations in the community. Our students from Spain, Germany, and China had tables; there was African storytelling and Norwegian fortune-telling; and Mexican and Somali heritage were represented (to name a few), along with community partners such as the Adelante Hispanic Achievers organization. The Diversity Potluck fed dozens from dishes brought in by both students and adults in the community, featuring some favorite recipes. Friday afternoon after Community Service brought the finale of Diversity Week activities. The week was enjoyed by all! Terri White spearheaded the Diversity Week events, assisted by Angela Katz and a fantastic student Diversity Committee. A huge thanks to all of them!

The We Act Group is excited to report that the Color Run raised over $2,000 and the final tally on the Penny Wars (together with the Goshen Campus’s Coin Drive) for hurricane relief is also over $2,000! The Color Run funds will support the Offin Children’s Center in Ghana, and the Penny/Coin funds will be divided into fourths, with an equal allotment supporting relief efforts in Texas, Florida, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. On behalf of the We Act students and of the nonprofits we are helping, thank you so much for your support!

Just a reminder that next week brings our Two-Campus Field Day at the Goshen Campus on Tuesday and a half day for the PSAT on Wednesday. The quarter ends next Friday, and grades and comments will be out the following Friday, October 20th.

College Corner October 2017

college-cornerBy Kit Llewellyn, College Advisor

College Corner appears in the Wyvern Weekly once a month, with suggestions and dates to help make the college search and application process as stress-free and enjoyable as possible! Read on to see what you should be doing now as a freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior. 

Freshmen:   

  • Get acquainted with your teachers, the coursework, and the activities available for Wyverns
  • Know that how you perform and how you get involved this year are strongly considered by colleges/universities

Sophomores:   

  • The PSAT is scheduled for Wednesday, October 11th from 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. in the Commons Room (Kit Llewellyn has registered all students). Please bring 3 (#2) pencils and a standard calculator fully charged or with fresh batteries.
  • Colleges take your grades from this year into consideration, so be sure to study hard!
  • Begin some college research and visit with the college reps who come to school (always check the calendar in gathering space)
  • Get involved in sports and extracurricular activities, and explore your interests!

Juniors:      

  • The PSAT is scheduled for Wednesday, October 11th from 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. in the Commons Room (Kit Llewellyn has registered all students). Please bring 3 (#2) pencils and a standard calculator with new batteries.
  • Begin reviewing your personal preferences, strengths, and weaknesses in order to make your college search meaningful and thorough
  • Accumulate data for your brag sheet/resume so that during your senior year when you are preparing it, you do not omit any activities or extracurriculars

Seniors:       

  • By October 11th, be ready to complete your Common Application, put finishing touches on your essay, learn some tips regarding interview techniques, and generally begin to see the light re college application deadlines
  • Take the SAT and/or ACT, and, if required, register for SAT Subject tests. Remember, many selective colleges require literature, math, and possibly a third subject test of your choice.
  • Confirm all college and financial aid application deadlines
  • Finalize your list of colleges with Kit Llewellyn
  • Complete your resumes and submit to Kit Llewellyn
  • Your teacher recommendation requests were entered in Naviance by Kit Llewellyn
  • Work on college essays as directed/guided by the English department
  • Determine your college costs with your family, research scholarships on fastweb.com, and obtain all related financial aid forms from each of your colleges/universities
  • If you are planning on applying early decision or early action, the usual deadlines are November 1st; your teacher recs and High School report forms should be in the appropriate hands by the last week of October
  • Send in rolling admissions applications – the sooner the better, particularly to the state schools

As a reminder, the registration deadlines and test dates are as follow:

ACT:
Deadline/Test Date November 3rd for the December 9th test and January 12th for the February 10th test

SAT:
Deadline/Test Date – October 5th for the November 4th test, November 2nd for the December 2nd test, and February 9th for the March 10th test

Students Engage in Special Opportunities

HS Main ImageBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

We have had a number of special opportunities for students this month. Last week, the Biology students experienced the Pulse of Surgery program at the Kentucky Science Center. They viewed a live heart surgery and later were able to explore other interesting cutting-edge medical technology. Biology teacher David Word told the rest of the student body about the surgery the next day because the patient was a heroin user whose heart condition was a result of her drug use. He said that he has been taking students to this program for years, and never seen anything like it – an important caution to the student body as heroin takes an ever-stronger foothold in the Louisville community.

Yesterday, 10 students (our Black Students Association and Diversity Committee leaders among them) and history teacher Ralph Marshall (who is also this year’s Sacred Space Committee Chair) went to the Non-Violence Symposium sponsored by the Drepung Gomang Center for Engaging Compassion. Held deliberately on International Day of Peace, the Symposium included a morning component for young leaders and an afternoon session featuring Mayor Greg Fischer and other local civic leaders. At the end of the day, the group launched Nonviolent Compassionate Louisville.

Next Tuesday, 17 juniors and seniors will attend Thrivals, an annual student-oriented component of the IdeaFestival. This year’s Thrivals, subtitled “Finding Your Algorithm for the Future,” was preceded by each student being given copies of Grit by Angela Duckworth and Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil (who was also one of the presenters). Thrivals participants this year “will be challenged to use their imagination to consider not only how humans have used their minds to change the past but how humans might also use their minds to change the future.”

Both the Pulse of Surgery program and Thrivals were downtown, so our students were able to walk from school. As ever, this proximity to events is one of my favorite aspects of being a downtown school!

Dragon Boat Team Wins Scholastic Division for the Second Year!

Dragon Boat Races 2017_Main Image 4x6By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

It’s been a festive week at the High School! Last Saturday, our Dragon Boat Team repeated as Scholastic Division Champions at the Louisville Dragon Boat Festival. Overall, they finished 6th out of 22 teams (including some that train for the event and travel to it!). Congratulations to teachers David Word and Chris Hutchins for spearheading this year’s event, and to all the other rowers:  students Angela Liu, Sam Yost, Caroline Pepa, Hanna Otto, Kelly Baize, Eden Baize, Justin Strothman, Connor Strothman, Bennett Middendorf, Grayson Razavi, Chris Hammond, Clay Foye, Lily Johnson, and Josh Arnett; parents Chrys and Doug Strothman; High School teacher Ralph Marshall, former High School teacher Bob Jones, and Goshen teachers Billy Spalding and Jason Chlopek.

As the week began, so did the build-up to the Fall Sports Picnic and Bonfire. Tuesday was Pajama Day, Wednesday was “Dress Like a Teacher Day” (with Mike Snyder’s Jenn Buck and Osaz Omoruyi’s Juan Ramirez garnering top honors), and Thursday was “Twin Day” (with Michael Crinot and, again, Osaz Omoruyi winning by a landslide, Parker Smith and Victoria Richardson in second place, and Caroline Pepa and history teacher Ralph Marshall in third). Friday is Wyvern Spirit Wear Day and we’re sending the fall sports teams off at the end of the day with banners and balloons. We’ll enjoy a student-faculty volleyball game, celebrate Senior Night after the games conclude, and then gather for our third annual Bonfire. Because even tradition can be improved upon, this year, by student request, we’re featuring a Watermelon Eating Contest. I watch the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest every July 4th, so I feel well qualified to hold this competitive eating event, the first of which I am aware in St. Francis history. Results to come next week! Hope many of you can join us for the games and picnic.  

Penny Wars

HS Coin Drive_4x6By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Thanks to all the parents who joined us for the Back-to-School program last night! We love getting to show you what happens in our classrooms every day.

We also appreciate parent support of our Penny Wars to raise funds for hurricane relief, in conjunction with the coin drive on the Goshen Campus. The generous spirit of our students has been evident all week, and we look forward to announcing the total raised soon.

Another upcoming event sponsored by the We Act groups on both campuses is our Color Run on Saturday, September 23rd, proceeds from which will support the Offin Children’s Center, an orphanage and education center, in Offinso, Ghana. Regular registration for that ends today, so please register (see information in this newsletter) and come out to have a great time while helping us help others!

Speaking of great times, next Friday is our annual Fall Sports Picnic and Bonfire, all held at the Goshen Campus. We’ll have a bus to and from Goshen, leaving after school and returning downtown about 10:30 p.m. Events include a student-faculty volleyball game, varsity field hockey and soccer games, a grill-out, and a bonfire just for High School students from 8:00 – 10:00. Please join us!

400 Service Hours in the Books!

Community Service Projects_4x6By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

We kicked off our Community Service program for the year with visits to 16 different sites, plus one group – We Act – that spends its time planning global and local service projects. The 16 sites this year are Gilda’s Club, Project Warm, Christian Care Communities, Kentucky Refugee Ministries, Louisville Grows, Kentucky Science Center, Louisville Nature Center, Chestnut Street YMCA, House of Ruth, Boys and Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana, New Directions Housing, Olmsted Conservancy, Americana Community Center, Family and Children’s Place, and Heuser Hearing Institute. In just our first morning (of six throughout the year), our students and faculty/staff put in over 400 hours of service to these nonprofits in our community! We’ll continue the work on five additional service days, one each in October and November, and three in the spring.

The We Act group, for which I am lucky enough to be the faculty moderator, is in its fifth year at the High School. Last year, along with our Middle School peers, we finished a four-year goal of raising $10,000 to build a school in Haiti. This year, we’re focusing our global efforts on partnering with an orphanage in Ghana, through a connection with one of our school families.  Information about our first event, the My School Color Run on Saturday, September 23rd, is included in this newsletter, and we would love to have your support for this fun, family-friendly event! The students and I will decide what local causes and projects to focus on as we get farther into the year. We also will be doing a “Penny War” coin drive next week and a cookout later in the month to support hurricane relief efforts in Texas.

Each Community Service day will feature service work in the morning and an all-school event in the afternoon. Today was the Black Students Association film viewing; this year, they selected the documentary Trouble the Water about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Brett Paice and Trent Apple provided some context beforehand about New Orleans, and students engaged in discussion after. (The BSA had selected this movie before the advent of Hurricane Harvey, so its timeliness is coincidental.)

I look forward to seeing you at Back-to-School Night next Thursday at 6:30 p.m.!

Solar Eclipse, Projects, Community Service, and Extracurriculars, Oh My!

HS Eclipse 2017_1By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Our week began with the viewing of the solar eclipse (the way the leaves made crescent-shaped shadows instead of their normal pattern was one of the students’ favorite parts) and didn’t slow down from there! Thursday afternoon brought our first Projects period of the quarter. This weekly 65-minute block is intended to be stimulating, enriching, and community-building. Students can choose from two more academic offerings – Playwriting with Jane Jones, Education Director at Actors Theatre, and Jazz Ensemble with resident music guru Bob Bertke, both of which involve credit – or selections like Yearbook, 3-D Design, Diversity Committee, Dungeons & Dragons, Music of New Orleans, Chess, Japanese Culture, Origami, Euchre & More, and ULS (Underground Lifting Society – our workout/fitness group). Project selections change every quarter, with the exception of Playwriting, which runs the first two quarters and provides the plays for our Showcase of Plays in December, and Jazz Ensemble, which meets all year.  

We held an assembly with all students on Wednesday to discuss our Community Service program. Students will form groups and travel to one of 18 sites on six different days this year.  The first Community Service day is next Friday, September 1st. More to come about that next week.

Morning Meeting announcements about extracurricular opportunities have abounded this week.  Meetings have begun or are soon to start for Quick Recall (Varsity and JV), the Black Students Association, the Improv troupe, Kentucky Youth Assembly (KYA), the Outdoor Activities Club, the Dragon Boat Race team, the A Capella Ensemble, and more. Our field hockey, soccer, and volleyball teams are well underway on their seasons, with a few students also picking up cross country and golf. We are definitely BACK!

The Freshmen Kicked Off the Week!

9th Graders at Camp PiomingoBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Welcome back to school! This has been a wonderful week, beginning with our 9th grade orientation on Tuesday. The freshmen walked through their schedules, learned some ins and outs of the school, and went to Camp Piomingo for some team-building activities. We welcomed 46 of them, just shy of the sophomore class’s 47 students.

Wednesday was a smooth first day, and we’re sailing on through the week. The seniors departed yesterday afternoon on the annual Senior Rafting Trip, and we’re looking forward to hearing about their adventures upon their return. Monday brings the exciting solar eclipse, and as you know, we’re looking forward to taking students outside (with safety viewing glasses) and watching it. Physics teacher Benjamin Studevent will give a presentation Monday morning about the eclipse and viewing protocol.

At the start of every year, I am always so grateful for all these wonderful teenagers you share with us. The pool balls are clanking, the ping-pong balls are flying, the microwaves are back in use, field hockey bags are lining the hallways, noise fills the stairwells, and it is all completely marvelous. Can’t wait to see what the rest of 2017-18 has in store!