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!

Our Faculty in Action!

Debbie Adkins Science ProjectBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

This is the time of year when my Lower School counterpart, Jen Griffith, and I take a few weeks to observe each and every faculty member teach a classroom lesson. We do this for several reasons: to provide teachers with feedback on their teaching techniques; to see what is going on and be present in the classrooms; and to keep abreast with curriculum. As I always say to our wonderful teachers, I inevitably wind up feeling like I get more out of it than they do! And it is a visual, sonic, and experiential reminder of all the wonderful things happening in our building every single day. In the last two weeks alone I’ve witnessed:

  • Students doing a group work simulation on how pollutants get into waterways in Debbie Adkins’ class.
  • 7th graders learning how to play and sing “Hey Jude” on ukuleles in Bob Bertke’s music room.
  • Students learning about the Han Dynasty in ancient China through visiting multiple classroom stations (art, calligraphy, inventions, etc.) in Brandon Doble’s room.
  • Mexican Suns Alex Taylor Art ClassColorful Mexican sun masks coming to life via clay and kiln-firing in Alex Taylor’s art room.
  • A wonderful parallel between the difficulties associated with excessive immigration in the Reconstruction Period in post Civil War America and what is going on politically today in our country (through poetry no less!) in Patrick Donovan’s 8th grade language arts class.
  • Another simulation that demonstrated the vast differences in wealth and power among social classes during the Middle Ages in Julie Mushkin’s class. (Skittles are great motivators!).
  • And finally, an impressive experiment that culminated with DNA being extracted from strawberries for all to see in a lab in Jason Chlopek’s science class.

And from Jennifer Griffith:

  • Andrew Frechette, Heather McGraw, and Annette Rudd’s junior kindergarten and kindergarten classes preparing for the Chinese New Year celebration by reading books about Chinese customs and culture, and creating a dragon head from cardboard for the parade.
  • Colonial America Activities_12nd and 3rd grade Spanish classes starting rehearsals for “The Three Little Pigs” play with Salema Jenkins, which they will perform for the Lower School at the end of April.
  • 1st graders in Julie Dayton’s class preparing for the 100th day of school by writing what they think they will and won’t do when they’re 100 years old.
  • 4th graders making toys, crafts, and foods (johnnycakes) to experience what life was like for children in Colonial America with Sarah Dewberry, Joanne Brock, and Christine Brinkmann.
  • 4th graders in Michelle Hall’s science class making and experimenting with pulleys.
  • 3rd and 4th grade “Acts of Kindness” Project holding a bake sale to benefit Go Ministries. They made $300!

What you will notice in all these scenarios is that few of these activities involve worksheets or rote memorization. Almost all are interactive, interesting, fun, involve group work, and generally allow for differentiation. And I have to say in an ironic way, this is “routine” for St. Francis. We sometimes focus so much on all the other good things we’re doing around here that we forget that some of the most magical things are happening right under our students’ noses every day! I can’t wait to continue on in this journey over the next few weeks!

Doughnuts with Dad

Doughnuts With Dad_3By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

An exciting event happened today in the Preschool – which included yummy treats, special guests, and very excited children – Doughnuts with Dad! Here are just a few reasons that our four and five-year-olds love their dads: “You give the best hugs and kisses,” “You give me cupcakes and take me to the store,” “You play boss and tickle machine with me,” and “You drove to the airport and then flew to get me and then we flew back.” This event gave us a wonderful opportunity to talk to the children about how they like to spend time together with their dads or a special person in their lives. Young children love celebrations and showing their families what they enjoy doing at the Preschool. Thank you to all of our guests for visiting today! 

Put on a Happy “Face!”

Brad Devlin Faces Workshop_1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

Making sure our students have a meaningful experience in the arts has always been a core value at St. Francis. To that end, not only do we have wonderful art teachers at every level who engage the children multiple times each week, but also our Art Department actively seeks out local artists to come to campus and present an artist-in-residence program that connects our students to the community.

In the past decade we’ve had local craftspersons teach metalworking, wheel throwing, textile and puppeteer design – and even chainsaw art! This year we are delighted to have local artist Brad Devlin lead our Middle School students in a mixed media project, turning everyday materials into expressive “Faces!”. Brad is known for his incredible talent to transform found objects into acclaimed works of art that invoke thoughtful conversation about a wide range of issues and emotions. He has an innate ability to turn reclaimed relics, salvaged material, and ordinary stuff into works with historical, artistic, and personal meaning.

Brad Devlin Faces Workshop_17Brad came to Middle School Morning Meeting a couple of weeks ago to show us some of his fanciful creations – and this week it has been the students’ turn. The loud banging in Alex Taylor’s art room has been worth the wait to see what our kids are creating!

“It’s really cool to watch the students translate Brad’s enthusiasm into beautiful works of art that teach the value of recycling and the power of imagination,” observes Judy Riendeau, Lower School art teacher. Parent volunteers and staff helped with this effort, and were equally amazed to see the students engaged in a new and challenging way. “It’s hard for me to imagine my son using a hammer, drill, wire cutter, staple gun, awl, and sandpaper in a beautiful project – other than at St. Francis,” shares 7th grade parent Tricia Erwin. “How fun to see this ‘stuff’ come to life. Mr. Devlin was thought provoking, fun, and caring.”

Brad Devlin Faces Workshop_14“What a great (large!) group of inquisitive, creative, and polite kids,” Brad commented after his first day. “I always come away from one of these workshops energized, and full of new ways to use new and old materials. Thanks to Judy and Alex, and all the other volunteers who came to help.”

We appreciate our parent support for Art to Remember and this workshop which enabled us to offer this unique experience with Brad (aka the “Master of Found Materials”). A special thanks to Ben Reif for the use of his drills and the donation of wood for materials. Thanks to parent volunteers Scott McGraw, Tricia Erwin, Tammy Nofsinger, Aimee Caudle, Gerri Willis, Robin Hilton, Joe Walden, Gretchen Davis, and Michelle Koch.

Brad’s work can often be seen at Galerie Hertz, as well as at this year’s Imagine! Art Auction + Scholarship Fundraiser on Saturday, February 25th at the Tim Faulkner Gallery (and you can “friend” him on Facebook to see more of his work).

Year of the Rooster!

Chinese New Year Parade_1By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

We kicked off the Chinese New Year a few days early in the Preschool. Our Yale-China teaching fellows Angel Yip and Tommy Kwan worked with our faculty to plan a day chock-full of celebratory fun and hands-on learning. Each class participated in activities such as creating paper fans, Chinese writings, and dragon horns. The Junior Kindergarten class joined us for a parade through the Lower School led by a beautifully constructed dragon created by the Trailblazers class. The Yao family donated red envelopes called “hongbao” to all of the children in Preschool, Junior Kindergarten, and Kindergarten, sending everyone good luck and well wishes. Thank you to World Language teacher Daphne Tang for bringing in traditional Chinese celebration clothing borrowed from Western Kentucky University. Over the next few weeks, the Chinese New Year will be celebrated throughout the U.S. and we look forward to reading and learning more about Chinese traditions.   

Mark Your Calendars
Dads (or special guests) are invited to join your child’s class on Friday, February 3rd from 9:00 – 9:45 a.m. for doughnuts and coffee.  

Re-Enrollment is Now in Progress!
Guarantee the placement you want for next year by returning your online contract. We are in the process of re-enrolling for next year. As a current Preschool family, you have priority for your children’s placement. If you have another child that you are interested in enrolling in Preschool, please contact Kelli Carter at 502.795.3464.