“The Lives They Lived”

The Lives They LivedBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Congratulations to Alexis Nelson ‘18, our 5th 1,000-point scorer in Wyvern basketball history! We had three until this year, when both Alexis and James Risley ‘17 accomplished this feat.

A longstanding St. Francis tradition every January is called “The Lives They Lived.” Named for The New York Times Magazine feature by the same name, our “The Lives They Lived” profiles interesting (and sometimes famous) people who died in 2016, with the goal of exposing our students to stories about people who lived truly interesting lives – by various definitions. Faculty and staff take turns reading pieces in Morning Meeting. Our lineup this year includes Prince, Antonin Scalia, Sharon Jones, Edward Albee, Ruth Hubbard, Fidel Castro, Vera Rubin, Tyrus Wong, Muhammad Ali, Fidel Castro, Gwen Ifill, Bill Cunningham, and more.  

Third-quarter Projects are underway, and the offerings are, as usual, quite interesting, including Dystopian Films, Pinterest Fails, 30 for 30, Baking and Cooking, Turkish Tea, KUNA, Science Olympiad, ULS, Jazz Ensemble, American Sign Language, AP World History, Simple Games (which are anything but), and Diversity Committee. This last offering is something of a trial run, as it is a student-directed Project. Under the auspices of Terri White and Angela Katz, interested students will be determining how they want to spend their time each Thursday afternoon during the Project period and, among other activities, will plan the upcoming school-wide Diversity Week. Over the past few months, students have expressed interest in being able to suggest and run Projects, and as a Progressive school, we thought it was a truly mission-appropriate idea.

Welcome Back!

hs-panelBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Welcome back and happy 2017! Hope everyone had a wonderful break.

On Tuesday, January 3rd, the faculty and staff returned from our holiday break a day early to work on our ISACS Self-Study, a comprehensive look at every aspect of the school that forms the basis for the accreditation visit we’ll have next fall. And we got to welcome our new Receptionist, Ashley Vega! At the Front Desk, our Receptionist is at the activity hub for students, parents, faculty and staff, so I know everyone will get to know her soon. Ashley grew up in Seymour, IN and has just moved to Louisville. She has a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, and is an artist working with 3-D mini sculptures. Her experience spans working with youth and working in an administrative assistant capacity, so we knew she would be a great fit for us. She’s working with Danielle for the next week until we say goodbye to Danielle next Friday.

On Wednesday, the first day back, we got right back into the groove with the 11th and 12th graders by spending lunch and flex periods hearing from a panel of recent SFS graduates about their transitions to college. Many thanks to Anthony Perry ’13, Kinsey Morrison ’14, Gray Thurstone ’14, and Lucia Burton ’15 for talking with our students. I hope the 11th and 12th graders got as much out of it as I did; our alums did an extraordinary job sharing their experiences – the easy ones and the more challenging – and giving really solid advice about navigating the upcoming transitions.

Second semester – here we go!

College Corner January 2017

college-cornerDon’t forget about your January 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 and research those possibilities online
  • Peruse the box of summer options in the College Resource Room and the bulletin board in the 2nd floor Atrium Commons

Juniors:

  • Using your PSAT scores, research a range of colleges which might interest you; utilize the My College QuickStart on the College Board website (your ID number can be found on your PSAT score sheet)
  • If you so choose, pursue SAT preparation independently or through a course
  • Register for the SAT and ACT to be taken in the spring (ACT.org and Collegeboard.org)
  • This is the last semester that counts in your GPA prior to applications; go for it!
  • Consider a college summer program or an activity related to your Senior Project
  • Be thorough and punctual with your Senior Project deadlines/proposal (coming later this spring – start thinking about it!)
  • All juniors will be meeting with Kit Llewellyn individually after January 20th
  • For students who are seeking extended time on the ACT and SAT, please be certain that your assessments/documentation are updated with The Learning Center so that you can apply for eligibility and register for the upcoming tests

Seniors:

  • It is imperative that you submit your FAFSA and any financial aid forms as soon as possible. Visit www.kasfaa.com for complete list of events and locations.
  • Complete your taxes ASAP, if you are considering applying for financial aid
  • Complete and send financial aid applications, ensuring you have completed the CSS Profile and /or the FAFSA if required and college specific financial aid forms
  • If a seventh semester mid-year report is required please let Kit Llewellyn know
  • Continue to research scholarship information (Fastweb.com)
  • Maintain your second semester grades; BEWARE of senioritis/slacking off!
  • Your academic year is not over; colleges are informed of any radical GPA slides
  • Submit all remaining application materials by the end of this month
  • Check with your colleges to make sure that nothing is missing from your file
  • Keep Kit Llewellyn informed of responses from colleges and any missing materials requested

College Corner December 2016

college-cornerBy Kit Llewellyn, College Advisor

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

Sophomores:

  • Talk to your senior friends about their applications/visits to campus/interview experiences
  • Be sure to keep up background reading (newspaper, novels, magazines, sci-fi) to maximize your performance on the SAT next year
  • Research possible colleges for admission using handbooks, catalogs, videos, virtual tours, and online resources
  • When your PSAT test scores arrive, study the results to discover where you need more focus or assistance. You will be sitting for a practice ACT test in the spring (Sunday, March 19th from 1:30-4:30 p.m.) for experience.

Juniors:

  • When you receive your PSAT test results, make sure to discuss your scores with Kit Llewellyn
  • Research possible colleges for admission using handbooks, catalogs, videos, virtual tours, and online resources
  • Using your PSAT scores and GPA as a preliminary indicator, begin narrowing the range of colleges you are researching
  • Register for the SAT and the ACT on one of the spring test dates (observe that some of the test dates fall during Winter Break, Spring Break, Derby, et al) so plan ahead
  • If you are interested in SAT/ACT prep courses or tutorials, Kit Llewellyn is a good source of information, especially since the SAT and ACT now have a writing component
  • Keep your academic focus during exams and this next semester
  • Check into some summer programs that you might coordinate with the proposal of your Senior Project

Seniors:

  • All of your evaluation forms and teacher recommendations have been submitted via Naviance to your colleges
  • You should complete SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests (if required) testing this month. Walk-in registration is possible, if you did not register on time. Remember that it is your responsibility to send your official scores from ACT and College Board to the universities.
  • If you are accepted early decision, withdraw applications to all other colleges by writing a note
  • If you are deferred early decision, write to the college stating that it is still your first choice and you will attend, if accepted in the spring
  • Parents, finish filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and/or the CSS profile (if applicable) for January mailing. The earlier the better!
  • Everyone will enjoy the holidays more if all of your paperwork is completed by exam week.
  • Realizing how the juggling of your daily work, sports, drama, jobs, friends, and family can be overwhelming, try to stay organized and manage your time wisely.
  • If a college requires an interview and you cannot make it to campus, it is your responsibility to call the admissions office and set up an alum interview locally.
  • As always if you need clarification or are confused about any piece of this process, do not hesitate calling or emailing Kit Llewellyn (502.736.1012)
  • Make sure to get all information regarding the financial aid process at EACH college/university; their requirements and deadlines vary

Spreading Holiday Cheer During Exam Time!

4th-5th-grade-play-2016_2By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

We’ve had a largely serious exam prep week with a touch or two of festivity – most notably the 4th/5th grade play performance on Thursday, bringing a bit of holiday cheer to the High School. The exam schedule is in the School Notes section of this newsletter, and as a reminder, the school is open normal hours but students only need to be here for their specific finals. Teachers are all here on days prior to their finals, available for help sessions with students. Other means of assistance:  Kittens will be in residence on Tuesday and a therapy dog in training will be available Wednesday, both for student stress relief. We also provide a “brain food buffet” with some healthy snacks each day in case students haven’t had the chance to eat before they come in to school. A little pre- or post-exam pool and ping-pong may help defuse stress, too!

Speaking of festivity, a huge thank-you to the Parent Association and all parents who contributed to the Faculty-Staff Appreciation Lunch on Monday. We are so grateful for our wonderful parent community and for this lovely annual event. Thank you all!

Kentucky Youth Assembly

kentucky-youth-assembly_1By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Just before Thanksgiving, 18 of our students participated in the Kentucky Youth Assembly (KYA). Group advisor (and French teacher) Jenn Buck provided the following detail: 

Students were split into two groups, with each writing a bill ahead of time to be presented and debated at the conference. Our Commonwealth bill was written by seniors Oona Milliken and Maddie Case and junior Hanna Cobb. Our Bluegrass bill was written by sophomores Mike Snyder and Caroline Parker. On the first night, students ranked the bills that would be chosen to be presented in the Capitol. Monday was our trip to Frankfort where the top-ranked bills from both groups were debated on the Senate and House floors. Our Commonwealth bill was debated in the Capitol while our Bluegrass bill was debated back at the Hotel. Unfortunately, neither of our bills passed both House and Senate. Many of the students did join in the various debates and small speeches made about each bill from the different schools, and had a great time meeting other students from all around Kentucky. Oona Milliken was named as outstanding delegate for our delegation!

showcase-logoIn other extracurricular news, our Showcase of Plays premieres tonight, with a second performance on Saturday (both at 7:00 p.m. at the High School). This is an always-entertaining evening of short plays (written in our Playwriting Project, led by Actors Theatre Education Director Jane Jones), along with a performance by our Improv Troupe and a special appearance by some “Dead Poets” courtesy of English teacher Juan Ramirez. Tickets are available at the door –  please join us!

Both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams started their seasons with wins this week. Bowling, Math League, and Quick Recall continue their competitive seasons as well; of note there are our varsity Quick Recall team’s winning season and junior Will Yelton’s first-place finish among all 11th graders in his division on the first Math League test this year.  

Soon, activities will wind down just a bit as students prepare for final exams. More on that next week!

Thankful for Our New Space

major-donor-partyBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

This week, we opened the school for two major groups:  on Monday, the donors who made our beautiful new spaces possible, and on Thursday, prospective students and parents at our Admissions Open House. The renovated space – and the way the students spend time together using them – continues to be one of the most significant things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving season.  

Other things for which I am profoundly grateful: the energy and passion of our teachers; the civic interest of our students; the families who partner with us.  I wish all of you a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving break!

First-Time Voters

i-votedBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

It is difficult to know where to begin recapping this week. Presidential elections are always exciting at the High School because for a number of students, it is the first time they have been eligible to cast a ballot! On Tuesday at Morning Meeting, we acknowledged that milestone and I reminded the students that nearly all of them will be voting in the very next Presidential election in 2020, which is a true privilege and something they should cherish and take advantage of. (Given that it appears nearly half of eligible voters did not choose to vote this go-round, I can only hope SFS alumni will do better. And I am sure they will!)

Wednesday morning found many students stunned at the results, which were the opposite of those predicted by polls. While we want to always take care that at SFS, acceptance and tolerance includes people at various places on the political spectrum, this election felt different to many because of the campaign’s divisive rhetoric. As I looked around the room in Morning Meeting, I saw students who, because of the election results, feel fearful for themselves, their families or their friends, based on their religion, race, gender, identification, etc. – feelings that transcend politics as usual. So we began. Alexandra and I both shared some thoughts, and then other students and faculty did. We acknowledged the pain in the room and talked about the divide in our country that must be seen and healed. Brownie Southworth ’17 shared a moving poem he had written while watching the election results, with a refrain of “We the People”. It was a meeting filled with understanding and with a sense of community.

Throughout the morning, classes happened as usual but discussions continued as well. Many students and faculty gathered to watch Hillary Clinton’s televised speech. Then, already scheduled for that day was an all-school screening of 13th, an incredible Netflix documentary that examines the 13th Amendment (abolishing slavery) against the history of the “war on drugs” and the prison industrial complex in which African-American males are disproportionately incarcerated. The film was followed up today by an optional discussion, sponsored by the Black Students Association, which was attended by dozens of students. History and law teacher Trent Apple opened with some explanation of the history of the 13th Amendment and the Constitution, followed by students sharing the moments they found most impactful in the film. Toward the end, BSA moderator Brett Paice asked BSA President Alexis Nelson ’18 what she felt the white students in the room could do to be allies. She responded that they could join the BSA, support their activities, be a part of their discussions. It can be difficult for white students – with the best of intentions, but not really understanding what to say or do – to be the kinds of allies they articulated wanting to be during the discussion. For me, what is vital about this conversation, the movie screening, and the discussions from Wednesday is this: St. Francis is a place where we can and will have the tough conversations on race – or on any other subject that needs it.  Where we will encourage people to be vulnerable, to open themselves to new ways of thinking and to ask questions rather than squelch those questions out of fear, and thereby never learn the answers. Where we will do our very best to know one another, to communicate without rancor, and to understand different points of view. It’s not a solution to all of society’s ills, but it’s a start.  And this week, there’s nowhere I am more proud or grateful to be than with this group of teenagers and adults.  

It’s Starting to Feel Like “Home”

high-schoolers-playing-poolBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

OUR NEW SPACE IS OPEN!!!!  

You all know that, of course, and many of you have had the chance to see it, but I had to say it again! It’s starting to feel like “home” to all of us. The students took quickly to their new digs, with the pool table in use all day every day, and the ping-pong table soon to be ready for play. The kitchen with its huge refrigerator/freezer and plentiful microwaves is fully operational. And the Wyvern Store is open, with a variety of snacks and drinks, including some substantial and healthier options like frozen burritos, mac and cheese, etc. The sophomore class is staffing the Wyvern Store, and all profit on items sold will go to their class fund. Parents, if you would like, you can purchase a Wyvern Store punch card in amounts of $10, $25, or $50 for your student. These will be kept in the Wyvern Store as “accounts” for each student who has one. If you would like to buy a punch card, please contact Danielle Tracey.

High School Halloween costume contest

We had our always-festive Halloween Costume Contest last week, with a group of seniors (Mariana Wilson, Ruby LeStrange, Gabby Smedley, Mac Smith, and Ethan Mackin) taking top honors by dressing up as some of the teachers, a bona fide teacher (Seth Miller) coming in second, and a group of freshmen (Carly Durbin, Dereka Robinson, and Destiny Otto) dressed as grapes taking the third spot. I have to give a personal shout-out to Lily the jellyfish and Evvie the highlighter, as well, for some really inventive costuming.  

Next Wednesday, we will have an all-school screening of the Netflix documentary 13th, which premiered in late September at the New York Film Festival. From critic Odie Henderson, the film “takes an unflinching, well-informed, and thoroughly researched look at the American system of incarceration, specifically how the prison industrial complex affects people of color.” Our Black Students Association will lead an optional discussion about the film the following day.  The film has been extremely well reviewed, and this should be a thought-provoking afternoon for all our students, as we hope it will (in the words of BSA faculty moderator Brett Paice) “provide much-needed context for the state of race relations and mass incarceration in our country.”

College Corner November 2016

college-corner

By Kit Llewellyn, College Advisor

Don’t forget about your November college preparation to-dos! Read on to see what you should be doing now as a Sophomore, Junior, and Senior. 

Sophomores:

  • Focus on your academics
  • Begin reviewing your personal preferences, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Talk to your “older” friends about their applications and college visits

Juniors:

  • On Saturday, November 12th, all juniors will sit for the Pre-ACT (just as you did for the PSAT) at SFS from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Please bring pencils, calculators, and a snack. The Pre-ACT fees will be billed to you.  
  • Work on a resume and keep it updated throughout the year
  • Chat with college representatives who visit our School
  • Begin searching possible colleges
  • Use weekends for short exploratory trips to nearby colleges/universities
  • Focus on your academics

Seniors:

  • Finish taking your SAT, SAT subject tests, and ACT
  • Early Action and Early Decision deadlines are usually November 1st
  • Kit Llewellyn will send your teacher recommendations, High School reports, transcripts, and school profiles electronically via Naviance
  • Students will send (paper or electronically) applications, fees, essays, supplements, resumes, and any other additional portfolios, writing samples or video/tapes
  • Students are responsible for sending their official test scores directly to colleges by contacting ACT and/or SAT and/or TOEFL
  • Most applications and school submissions will be sent by December 1st
  • Send in rolling admissions and state school apps (the sooner the better)
  • Keep working on January and February deadline applications
  • Research scholarships offered by companies, parents’ employers, civic and church groups
  • Polish your essays with Brett Paice, Cia White, and Juan Ramirez
  • Focus on your academics
  • Plan to schedule interviews with local alum or by Skype if visiting the campus is not possible (arrange by calling the admissions office)
  • If you have any questions at all, communicate with the Admissions Offices so that they know that your interest is genuine and deliberate
  • Then…submit FAFSA and CSS Profile (if required!) financial aid forms beginning October 1st. Money for financial aid has a tendency to run out quickly. Pleased adhere to these deadlines.