Steve-o The Magician Delights the Preschoolers

Steve-o The Magician_1By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

The preschoolers were treated to a very entertaining magic show by Steve-o, aka Louisville magician Steve Haffner, on Tuesday. The children were delighted with Steve-o’s brand of comedy magic, the opportunities for audience participation, and all the boisterous fun!  

Thank you to all of the families who made donations to the Love from Louisville Drive. We are overwhelmed with your generosity and willingness to support our efforts with a short time frame. Our drive at School will conclude on Monday, March 20th. The drive will continue in the Louisville community until Wednesday, March 22nd. Click here for information about additional items needed and other drop-off locations.

Upcoming Dates to Remember

  • Tuesday, March 21st – Big Sing
  • Thursday, March 30th – Fours class visits the Oldham County Main Library’s Science in Play 2 Go Exhibit

It’s De-lightful, It’s De-licious, It’s De-lovely!

Anything Goes Dress Rehearsal_1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

For those of you who have been in the Main Amp over past couple of weeks, you have noticed our stage has undergone a major transformation into a cruise ship! The perfect backdrop for the St. Francis Drama Project’s spring musical production of Anything Goes! Here is a description of the show you can find on our ticket reservation page: 

Music, dance, laughs, and the age-old tale of “Boy Meets Girl” – no musical puts it on stage better than Anything Goes! And the St. Francis Drama Project is proud to present this hilarious shipboard romp as our spring musical! The story centers around madcap antics aboard an ocean bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to English dandy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy #13, Moonface Martin, aid Billy in his quest to win Hope. The musical is wrapped around one of Cole Porter’s most magical scores and introduced such songs as “Anything Goes,” “You’re the Top,” and “I Get a Kick Out of You” to the American public. Please plan on joining us for Anything Goes, a show that is quite simply “Delightful, Delicious, and De-Lovely!”

Performances are Friday, March 24th at 7:00 p.m., Sunday, March 28th at 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 28th at 6:30 p.m., and Wednesday, March 29th at 6:30 p.m. Tickets online are $9.00 for adults and $6.00 for students and can be purchased hereTickets at the door are $8.00 for adults and $5.00 for students; however, we cannot guarantee that seats will still be available.

On a personal level, it is so gratifying to see Middle School kids delighting in the music of Cole Porter! You can hear them singing the tunes walking down the halls between classes, without a trace of sarcasm to be found! Also, to have 54 Middle School kids in involved in the show speaks volumes about their dedication to our drama program. And if you happen to see the Sunday matinee on March 26th, an additional 20 Lower School students will join us for one number, bringing the number on stage from 54 to 74 overall for that one song! I can safely say that’s a new St. Francis record! I hope you get a chance to see this ambitious production and all the work so many have put into it. And I wouldn’t wait on purchasing your tickets – our musicals have a tendency to sell out in advance!

On another fun note, I opened a door in carpool this morning and was suddenly looking at Sophia and Emmy Sower! They are on spring break from their new school in Michigan and decided to pay their “old” classmates a visit. I had forgotten today was that day! What struck me was Andrea Sower’s comment, “Only at St. Francis would kids want to give up a day of spring break to go back to their old school voluntarily (and be allowed to do it!).” Our pleasure. Former students are always welcome here, and we were thrilled to welcome them back!  

Parent-Teacher Conferences Strengthen Communication

Parent-Teacher Conferences RHBy Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

Parent-Teacher Conferences are on Friday, March 17th. These conferences provide a valuable opportunity to strengthen communication between home and school. You and your child’s teachers can share information, as well as brainstorm ideas for any areas of concern. Our partnerships with our families are important because working together improves the likelihood of a successful learning experience for our preschoolers.    

Did you know?
Our teachers receive a minimum of 15 hours of continuing education each year. Over Winter Break, we attended a workshop on classroom environments. Our approach has always been to look at the classroom as a third teacher.  It’s more than rearranging furniture and placement of materials on the shelves. Everyone returned with new ideas and reflected on what our space means to our families, children, and teachers. We’re sure the children will notice the changes in their classrooms right away.

Thought-provoking for Students and Parents Alike!

Screenagers_4x6_RG ArticleBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

This week on the Goshen Campus we showed the recent documentary, Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age, to both our Middle School student body and to interested parents in an evening showing on Tuesday. Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age takes a hard look at the deleterious effects of ever increasing screen time via cell phones, tablets, and computer screens among our youth. It was appropriate for kids and adults both – although the two groups may have widely divergent views on the film’s themes!

Here are some of the salient points and memorable quotes I took away:

  • Searching for information and stimuli via electronic devices satisfies basic human instincts and, in fact, produces dopamine and pleasure.
  • When asked how they feel about their cell phones, many teens used the word “addicted” without any sense of shame.
  • Multi-tasking via multiple screens may appear more productive, but studies have shown that it actually reduces one’s productivity.
  • Using cell phones during class reduces students’ comprehension of classroom material. In fact, if two students are sitting next to one another and one has a phone out, it reduces both of their comprehension levels. This is contrasted with doodling, which actually increases concentration for some students. They are engaged with what is going on, whereas with cell phone usage, students are “elsewhere.”
  • Teenage boys are currently averaging 11.3 hours per week locked onto screens outside of their time in school. In many cases, most of these hours are spent on video games, and those are often of a violent nature. These type of video games usually produce a decrease in one’s ability to have empathy and instead increase aggressive thoughts.  
  • Teen (and pre-teen) age girls, conversely, frequently use their cell phones to post photos on social media, and often these are pictures of themselves attempting to “pose” as they see adult women portrayed in the media.
  • Schools tend to have one of three responses to cell phone usage: an outright ban on them; the “anything goes/Wild West” approach; or something in the middle. The last approach attempts to teach kids about how best to use this technology as they will use it in their adult and work lives. While we don’t allow cell phones to be out and used in general on the Goshen Campus, this is more in line with our current practice. Teachers determine when they are appropriate educationally in their classrooms.

So what to make of all this? While students may think we show them films like this to drive home the point that “cell phones are bad” or harmful, that is certainly not our intention. We had our kids discuss the movie in their advisory groups afterwards and the discussions were lively. Shelly Jones led a summary of those conversations at Morning Meeting on Wednesday and many of the kids clearly understood that we are in partnership with them in trying to find the proper balance of healthy technology usage in their lives.

The parent discussion after the adult screening was also very engaging. Here are some of the takeaways from that discussion:

  • Limit-setting regarding screen time in the home is perfectly acceptable. Kids need to have limits and know that other families are doing the same thing. Firmness in this area is essential by the parents. Many families collect screens at a certain time every night.
  • Some families even provide their kids with cell phone “contracts” upon receiving them, defining parameters around their usage.
  • Kids need to be taught that time away from screens is critical and real! Learning how to maintain eye contact and have two-way conversations is a skill that humans will always need. (As one expert said, “No business contract is ever sealed over a teleconference. The business trip will never go away.”)
  • Participating in extracurricular activities and other healthy alternatives to excessive screen usage is more positive for kids.
  • Consider alternatives to constant technology usage such as “a no-screens carpool time” or “tech-free Tuesdays”.
  • Talk to your kids about screen usage. Having an honest exchange and explaining your reasoning is better than simply issuing edicts.

There are no easy answers. But one thing is for sure – this topic is not going away. The best thing we can do is help  educate our kids and stay engaged with them on this topic. And thoughtful movies like Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age are a step in the right direction.

I also want to take a moment to thank all of you for your kind words of support in regards to my recent trip to Japan to run the Tokyo Marathon. I could feel the support of the whole SFS family and it helped tremendously when the going got tough. I feel blessed as always to be a part of this special community!

Living History Museum

Living History Museum_22By Sarah Dewberry, Language Arts/Social Studies – Goshen Campus

As many of you know, Reed is away this week after running the Tokyo Marathon with his daughter last Sunday. This completed the Six Marathon Majors for him and he has been sending us photos of this travels (which can be found in this week’s photo gallery). Lower School language arts teacher Sarah Dewberry is filling in as “guest columnist,” sharing information on the 4th grade Living History Museum.

Colonial America was alive and well in the Lower School on Tuesday when the 4th graders presented the annual Living History Museum. As the culmination of a month’s study of Colonial America and the people of that period who made their mark on history, each 4th grader read, researched, and wrote about someone living in the colonies during that time. They created a visual project to display their knowledge and presented the Living History Museum to their parents and the student body.

As they perused the exhibits, visitors to the museum had the chance to talk with Alexander and Eliza Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Paul Revere, Betsy Ross, and Pocahontas, among others! They may have dominated – or been stumped by – a variety of trivia games. Perhaps they heard the story of Mary Ludwig and how she got her nickname of Molly Pitcher. Visitors took in the plentiful information found on a variety of display boards, admired sculptures and scenes created by the students, or found themselves in a tour of a virtual Minecraft creation. Creativity abounds in 4th grade!

Parents Extend a Helping Hand

CarpoolBy Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

We want to thank Shari Broecker (Olivia Kate’s mom) for helping us with carpool on Monday. She didn’t hesitate to jump in and help when she heard the majority of our teachers hadn’t made it to school yet due to an incident on Highway 42. Fortunately, our teachers were only a few minutes late, but the kind gesture is one of many that we experience from our parent community each day. We also want to thank the Brabandt family for the occasional unexpected doughnut drop-off; it is always very appreciated!

Parent-Teacher Conferences are Friday, March 17th. Please note that the Preschool will be closed on Friday, March 17th and the conference sign-up link will be emailed to families early next week.

Summer Camp dates and information can be found on our School’s website. Our one-week sessions feature a summer full of outdoor activity, imaginative learning, and creative fun! There is still time to receive the early bird discount for signing up before Monday, April 10th. Use the code EarlyBird when registering. 

Wyverns Lend a Hand in Nicaragua

Luis Reyes NicaraguaBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

While many of us enjoyed our Winter Break on the slopes, traveling, or with a “staycation,” a determined group of 7th and 8th graders spent their week in Nicaragua helping build a home for an underserved family. This once-in-a-lifetime experience was planned and organized by Middle School Spanish teacher Angela Ponzio, and also allowed our kids to be immersed in the Spanish language while there for a week. Sure, they had fun and enjoyed some downtime, but they also worked hard to make a home become a reality for a deserving family. The students spoke up at our Morning Meeting on Monday and were clearly touched by the experience. They spoke about what the trip meant to them and what they learned and gained from the incredible experience (one of them, Sophie Johnson, spoke entirely in Spanish). Especially touching was Luis Reyes’ comment that given a choice between his cell phone and helping the family in Nicaragua, he’d choose the service option (very telling in this day and age). Here’s more from Angela Ponzio on the trip:

“This trip has been a blessing to us all. The students came to give, and all agreed at our final evening reflection that they felt as though they had received more because of it. It’s amazing how that works. As Michael Mahoney said, “The trip gave our students a glimpse into the developing world and its continuing struggle to cope with endemic poverty. Admittedly, we parachuted in and then departed, but the kids and we three teachers will have potent memories that shore up the abstractions of standard American education. There is no substitute for experience. You can’t beat learning through daring.” It was remarkable to witness the bonds between the students growing stronger day by day. “Being united with a common goal and being immersed completely in the culture language and people was awesome!” Levi Tyler believes, “I’ll never forget it.”

For many of us, our final days were filled with tears and emotion, as we bade farewell to the children that we played, talked, and bonded with daily at the construction site. “It was amazing to see what little they had but how much they shared with us,” shares Audrey Brinkmann-Piuma. “Even though they didn’t have much they were so happy. It’s weird to come back to a place where people have so much and still want more.”

To the students, I know that I am not alone when I say that we are so proud of you all. You gave 100% of yourselves to the project and the people of Nicaragua. You worked tremendously hard building the house alongside grown adults. It is no secret: we will miss Nicaragua so much, but we’ve left our footprints behind and changed lives by lending a hand! ¡Viva Nicaragua!”

What compelling statements. We also honored the students at a full school assembly at the end of the day on Wednesday and showed a video created by Luis Reyes with tons of pictures of their week. Kudos to Angela Ponzio, and to Michael Mahoney and Christine Brinkmann for helping chaperone and supervise the kids.

I also want to take a moment to thank all of you who have wished me good luck on my trip to Japan this week to run the Tokyo Marathon! The cards the kids made meant the world to me, and I’ll be thinking about them and St. Francis during parts of my run. I’ll be sure to send along pictures and an update. Lower School LASS teacher Sarah Dewberry will fill in for me next week with an article about the 4th grade Living History Museum, so be on the look out for that! Sayonara!

The Gift of a Spring Preview

Gift of Spring PreviewBy Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

This week we have enjoyed the gift of a spring preview. The Preschoolers have enjoyed many opportunities for outdoor play on the playground, a visit to the garden, and a community Big Sing.

Did you know?
There is an important space in each of our classrooms dedicated to the discovery and interactions with nature. These spaces are often referred to as our science centers. They may contain items that children have found outside, such as rocks, seed pods, sticks, pinecones, acorns, evergreen needles, leaves, and occasionally a birds’ nest. Sometimes, items such as seashells, fossils, cocoons, or flowers are brought from elsewhere. These spaces are also the place where tools for investigations are located. We use magnifying glasses, magnets, tweezers, eyedroppers, tornado tubes, scoops, funnels, plastic tubing, or color wheels, among others! Our teachers sometimes add tubs of water, sand, ice, or snow to aid in the children’s exploration. Often, children can be found working together with these materials, and we ask them questions to enhance their collaborations and practice new vocabulary words. As with all of our classroom centers, our curious preschoolers surprise and delight us with their questions, comments, and creative ideas.  

Preschool summer camp dates and information are now on our School’s website. Our one-week sessions feature a summer full of outdoor activity, imaginative learning, and creative fun! Camp sessions fill up quickly, so reserve your spot today!

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!