Valentine’s + Doughnut Day!

By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

Each of our classes had a wonderful time celebrating Valentine’s + Doughnut Day! The preschoolers enjoyed bringing Valentines for their friends and decorating special cardholders for the ones they received from others. Thank you to the parent volunteers who helped make our parties a success, and Happy early Valentine’s Day to all.

The 4s classes attended the 4th/5th grade production of The Lion King KIDS on Friday. We watched the children practice while at carpool, and the beautiful props that have filled the stage have delighted us. The costumes that the children wore were creative and colorful. I’m always amazed by the students and faculty and what they can do.

“Camp Curious” Preschool Summer Camp sessions are currently on our website and registration is NOW open. Camp will begin on Monday, June 4th and run through Friday, June 29th and is chock-full of great activities for our explorers, treasure hunters, princesses and princes, future authors, and book enthusiasts! Spaces are limited. Please register here.

The Lion King Roars!

By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

I hope you were able to catch one of our performances of the 4th/5th grade play, The Lion King KIDS, this week! And that may have been difficult as both public showings sold out in advance online! Lower School music teacher Kim Rash really outdid herself this time, creating a beautiful version of this heartwarming and now classic tale. And I was also impressed at how our 4th and 5th grade parents answered the call to help out! The costumes they made and stage scenery were simply awesome! The first time I saw the “sun” on the back wall, my mouth dropped. Kim also had wonderful support from teachers Joanne Brock, our make-up queen; Judy Riendeau, with set painting; and 4th and 5th grade teachers Sarah Dewberry and Billy Spalding. I even got to make a cameo as a crazed wildebeest who hoisted Mufasa – Ben Rutherford – up in the air – and wrenched my back in the process! I had no idea Ben weighed 200 pounds! This was a wonderful experience our students won’t soon forget and just makes us all the more anxious to see our new theater come to fruition so we’ll have even more stage space for our wonderful productions. Kim, you certainly made us “Feel the Love” with this show! 

Also this week, Julie Mushkin and I took the cast and crew of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on a field trip to see Hamlet at Stage One Family Theater at the Kentucky Center’s Bomhard Theater! We were joined by the high school seniors, making it a very cool cross-campus experience. The kids absolutely loved the spectacle of Shakespearean tragedy and applauded loudly at the end when Claudius finally got his just desserts. With the combination of a ghostly spectre, Ophelia going mad, the “To Be or Not To Be” monologue, a fencing duel, and some madcap comic relief, this was truly a powerful presentation. When we came back to campus, I thought we’d debrief on the show for 10-15 minutes with the kids, but it quickly stretched into a 30 minute discussion! They had wonderful questions (“Why did they dress in modern clothes?”) and observations, and were able to draw connections to the language in our current spring production of Midsummer. And to bring all of this full “Circle,” they also were aware of the parallels between The Lion King and Hamlet! Our students comported themselves like perfect “gentles,” naturally, and Julie and I were very proud of their behavior and takeaway on this fantastic field trip.

Have a wonderful Winter Break!

Lions, Colonials, and Ballet Dancers – Oh My!

By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

As we chug towards Winter Break, the School is abuzz with many wonderful activities going on. First, if you haven’t been in the Main Amp in the past week or so, it has been transformed into an African savanna for our 4th/5th grade production of The Lion King KIDS! Lower School music teacher Kim Rash is doing her usual superb job of directing our younger students in the finer points of singing, dancing, acting, and learning how to be part of a large-scale production – all in a scant five weeks. She has also received tremendous parent and faculty support, as is evidenced by the beautiful sun adorning our up stage wall. Sadly, both public performances are already sold out, but we are working on “creative” ways to try and get more people into the Main Amp for one of these shows. Kudos to Kim and company for an experience our little ones won’t soon forget. 

Our basketball teams have been warriors recently, with several tournament wins to their credit! They have another tournament this weekend, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more hardware at a Morning Meeting soon.

And Sarah Dewberry’s 4th graders hosted their annual Living History Museum this Wednesday, in which all of her LA/SS students researched a famous Colonial American figure and presented them to their parents, replete with wonderful costumes. It’s always fun to listen to the kids tell us facts and figures on Benjamin Franklin, Pocahontas, Molly Pitcher, Alexander Hamilton (who seems to be enjoying a strange resurgence?!), and more. Once again, another example of superb project-based learning rather than dull worksheets at St. Francis. 

And finally, all our Goshen students have had the great fortune of spending time with our Guest Artist-in-Residence, ballet dancer Kristen Wenrick, all week long. And while ballet might not be everyone’s “cup of tea,” I think our students are learning a great deal and gaining some newfound insight and respect into everything that goes into this incredible discipline. Ms. Wenrick hosted a full-school assembly on Friday and students of the River City Ballet performed. A big thanks to Fine Arts Chair Anne Holmes for bringing this all together for us!

How Young Children See Technology

By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

Earlier this week one of the preschoolers was upset because a friend was “laying on the WiFi.” Another child happily declared that she was “Wonder WiFi Woman” and could fix the WiFi. During free play, this group started transforming their drawings into laptops and iPads, and as their teachers pointed out, they were fairly accurate in their representations. They are showing us what they know about technology and playing with their ideas of what it could be. Some of their ideas will be challenged or confirmed, and might even be elaborated on by their classmates. Students are also showing us their understanding of substituting objects they need for play, such as turning paper into iPads. I asked the group, “What is WiFi?” Their answers ranged from “It’s a show” to “It’s kinda TV stuff.” One thing is for sure, while technology is a part of our everyday lives, it can never replace the importance of play in preschool. 

Doughnut Day!
Don’t forget that you are invited to join your child for doughnuts on Friday, February 9th. Please come to your child’s classroom right after carpool. For those new to the School, this event usually only lasts 30-45 minutes. If a parent can’t make it, a grandparent or a favorite family friend can drop in. We hope to see you there!

Coping with Frustrations

By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

One of the most important lessons we can teach our children is how to cope with frustrations. In the Preschool, we help children develop and practice their skills by giving them opportunities to make age-appropriate choices and decisions. Sometimes sticking to the decisions they make can be difficult for them, but it’s important for children to experience the consequences of the choices they make. For example, at clean-up time, if a child decides not to participate, s/he may miss an opportunity to play in that area with those materials next time. Our expectations are that children are not allowed to hurt themselves or anyone else when they are frustrated. Working through those big emotions and developing coping skills takes time, patience, and practice. 

New Year, New Book Drive
The New Year, New Book Drive has been a wonderful success! Thank you to our current and former parents for donating books to the Preschool classrooms. Over 50 books have graciously been delivered in just two weeks! Wow! Click here if you are still interested in donating to the Preschool’s bookshelves.

Doughnut Day!
Don’t forget that you are invited to join your child for doughnuts on Friday, February 9th. Please come to your child’s classroom right after carpool. For those new to the School, this event usually only lasts 30-45 minutes. If a parent can’t make it, a grandparent or a favorite family friend can drop in. We hope to see you there!

Middle School Basketball Spirit Night, FCD, and Governor’s Cup!

By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

It was an action-packed Middle School Morning Meeting on Monday! We hyped up our Middle School Basketball Spirit Night held Monday night, which was rescheduled from our recent snow days. I attended the games (in an embarrassing white ensemble reminiscent of John Travolta) and was certainly impressed by the spirit and hustle of our 7th and 8th grade players and the obvious great coaching they’ve received from coaches Shavar Cowherd and Kara Spalding. But I was most impacted by the touching ceremony to honor all of our 8th grade players in between games. The pride evident on every player’s face, along with their parents’, was a real goosebump moment. I’m so glad our players got to finish this season in their home gym (and with victories to boot!).

Director of Counseling Services Julie Marks also introduced this year’s Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD) educator John Tummon to the kids during Morning Meeting. One of the things he said that struck a chord was that peer pressure, usually thought to be a negative, should actually be considered a positive thing instead. Children need to adjust their thinking to how they can support each other through positive peer pressure rather than succumbing to the power of negativity. FCD uses an evidence-based social norms approach to help promote healthy student behavior and attitudes, to correct false beliefs, and to decrease the number of students who use alcohol and other drugs. John shared with the students the reality that many students at most schools around the world do not regularly use alcohol or other substances. John also shared the latest brain science to help our students understand that the teenage brain is more vulnerable to addiction and delaying the use of drugs and alcohol is crucial to proper brain development. I’m sure our kids received valuable life lessons and strategies from our FCD association this week, and thanks to Julie for setting it up as she does every year.

Finally, we celebrated our 7th/8th grade Governor’s Cup team, who competed at the district level last Saturday. A BIG thanks goes to coach Lindsy Serrano and assistant coach Nate Hilberg for their dedication to coaching them during recesses and lunches and providing inspiration and leadership to our motivated kids! Here is more from Lindsy on their accomplishments:

The Middle School Governor’s Cup district competition took place last week at St. Aloysius School. Competition started on Thursday with the Written Composition portion. The rest of the team met early Saturday morning to take written subject-area tests and compete in the Quick Recall tournament. St. Francis School placed 4th in the Quick Recall competition and placed 3rd overall! We also won the Sportsmanship award. All of the students who placed 1st – 5th in the written assessments and composition portion have qualified to participate in the Regional competition. Those students are:

Composition – Jane McLeroy (5th place)

Arts and Humanities – Lily Gilbert (1st place), Amelia Gorman (3rd place)

Language Arts – Amelia Gorman (4th place)

Social Studies – Ayda Marshall (2nd place), Jack Rutherford (4th place)

Congratulations to all the students who participated, and a big thank you to their parents for supporting the event, along with Anne Holmes, Andrew Frechette, and Misty Chanda for helping with Governor’s Cup competition this year!  

Old Man Winter

By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

It’s all about Old Man Winter in the Preschool! We are turning our attention to winter activities in the coming weeks and each class will be celebrating the season in their own special way. For the Pandas, we brought the snow indoors and introduced a winter sensory bin, adding polar bears, spoons, cups, and more! They will also create ice paint using salt, paint ice cubes, and learn how to use a fork and white paint to create snowflakes. For the Adventurers, we were in the business of making snowmen. We also played with acetic animals on ice, watercolor painted on snow, and used colored water in eye droppers to melt the snow. The Trailblazers are studying animals that thrive in the winter and worked on making a snow storm in a jar as an experiment. These are just a few samples of the fun and creative things we have planned for the month of January.

The Power of One!

By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

Every week during our Middle School Student Council meetings we have a segment devoted to student suggestions. Most weeks these are items that are either somewhat routine (The water fountain needs fixing!) or impractical (Can we have a swimming pool?), but often completely appropriate. It was the students’ idea to have a formal dance for 7th and 8th graders about 10 years ago, and that has become a treasured tradition.

And then sometimes, out of the blue, comes something really noteworthy. Such a suggestion happened last fall and reached fruition as we entered the new year. Chef Matt Thomas from SAGE Dining Services comes to our Student Council meetings two or three times a year to hear from students about their likes, dislikes, and suggestions as to our lunches and snacks. Prior to this fall’s meeting, I received a lengthy email from 7th grader Meredith Snyder, who wanted to use his appearance to call attention to an issue that she felt was important for our community. This issue was the inclusion of the preservative TBHQ in some of our snacks. If you’re like me, you are probably asking yourself, “What is TBHQ?” I didn’t have to wonder long, as Meredith also included multiple weblinks on the subject to further educate us. Here is an excerpt from her email and plea:

It was announced at Morning Meeting on Wednesday, November 8th, 2017, that the Middle School Student Council would be having a meeting with Chef Matt about food. We, the Middle School student body, were told we could make suggestions to be brought up during that meeting. I have been wanting to bring this up for a while and I now have the opportunity. Cheez-It® Original crackers are a huge concern for me. I think our school should stop serving them at first recess on Fridays to the Middle Schoolers, and stop serving them as an after-school snack in Homework Hall and other activities. Cheez-It® Original crackers have health concerns and risks that are not very well-known and that’s what I’m writing about.

Adults and children love Cheez-It® Original crackers, but they have no idea what they are made with. They contain an ingredient by the name of TBHQ. A lot of people have no idea what that is or what it means. It stands for Tertiary butylhydroquinone. It’s a long name with many potential dangers and concerns. It is used as a preservative in many foods so the food stays “fresh” but it is a terrible thing, and can cause issues to humans.

TBHQ was tested in rats and a study was conducted by CSPI (Centers for Science in the Public Interest) and found that “… this additive increased the incidence of tumors in rats.” (The previous statement in quotes was from Healthline.com.)

There are many alternatives that can brought in instead of Cheez-It® Original crackers. Organic applesauce, fresh fruit, apple slices that come in little packs, and many more (double-checking that TBHQ is not thrown in those foods randomly would be necessary, and if it is, looking for another brand or distributor could be a potential option).

I really hope that this will be taken into account, and looked at in depth, as it is a problem. TBHQ is a very bad thing that is served throughout our school and there are ways to fix that with SAGE Dining Services, and our after-school activities.

Thank you,

Meredith G. Snyder

As you can see, Meredith was very thorough, respectful, and passionate in her request. And I’m happy to let everyone know the school did in fact meet with SAGE Dining Service about this and we all agreed to change our daily snack rotation and eliminate TBHQ in the process! On top of that, instead of a five-day snack rotation, we now have a 10-day rotation that includes items such as apples, bagels, fat-free vanilla yogurt, house-made granola (everyone’s favorite!), and even Goldfish® crackers. Why Goldfish®? Because they do not use TBHQ.

I applaud Meredith for having the courage and conviction to put the time into such a request (in addition to her schoolwork). I also applaud SAGE Dining Services for listening to the idea of one student, and I think we deserve a pat on the back, too. Student Council and the St. Francis School Mission in action – priceless!

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.