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.!

Create your family’s Smart911 Profile

Smart911 4x6 ImageBy Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

On Wednesday, you may have heard your child talk about the fire drill that occurred at school. Each month, we will practice safely exiting the building in case of an emergency. I’m happy to report that everyone exited quickly and calmly. In your child’s backpack this week, you should find a flyer with information about the lifesaving program Smart911. We hope that you take the time to create a Smart911 Profile for your family, so emergency responders can quickly assist you in an emergency.

Plan to attend our Preschool Back-to-School Luncheon on Friday, September 8th. This is a great opportunity for you to meet other families in your child’s class, hear about the daily routine, and learn about the goals for the year. The PA contacted you this week with a sign-up for bringing side dishes to the luncheon. Ideally one parent for each child can attend this event. We hope to see you on Friday, September 8th at 10:30 a.m.

Friday, September 15th from 9:30-11:00 a.m. we will host Preschool Transportation Day, one of our favorite events of the year! This tradition began 19 years ago by a few dedicated teachers who wanted to share a hands-on experience of how the city moves with the children in their classes. It is such an exciting day, so please send your child to school dressed to spend the morning outside (think shoes to climb in and comfy clothes). We will be hosting our preschool friends from Keystone Academy, too. If you are free and would like to attend with your child, please let your classroom teacher(s) know.

Please note: Preschool classes will operate on a regular schedule for Wednesday, October 11th when the rest of the school dismisses at noon for faculty professional development.

Student Council Elections and Back-to-School Nights

MS Student CouncilBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

As we look ahead to the Labor Day weekend after the usually hectic start to another school year, our 5th through 7th grade Advisors elected their Student Council representatives over the last week to join our 8th grade officers announced last spring. Every student who wanted to serve had to give a short speech stating why s/he would be a good candidate. We elect our Student Council representatives by advisee groupings so they can easily get ideas during advisory time from their classmates and report back on meeting decisions in the morning, too. Of note, in 6th grade, Brandon Doble’s advisee group elected a student new to St. Francis (Claude Mahan) to lead them! Congratulations to our Middle School Student Council who I look forward to working with and have full confidence will do a great job advocating for their peers and helping the school community in numerous ways:

8th Grade:
President – Josie Cooley
Officers – Stevaun Butler, Lily Gilbert, and Natalie Koch

7th Grade:
Hilberg – Fairleigh Jones
Kirby – Aidan Keegan
Mushkin – Carly Schramko

6th Grade:
Adkins – Mya Stevenson
Doble – Claude Mahan
Holmes – Jackson Wood

5th Grade:
Koth – Molly Waggener
Spalding – Jude Sleadd

And as we get rolling with our new work (assigning jobs to council members to help the school, holding our first meeting, etc.), we are awaiting our Lower School counterparts to join us! Their elections will take place on Thursday, September 14th during lead time. Each candidate will give a short speech prior to votes being cast. Students in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades will elect a boy and a girl to represent their grade. You can see them “in action” each week leading our Lower School Morning Meetings, and they meet weekly with Sarah Dewberry and Emily Campbell to discuss issues of importance to Lower School.

Thanks to all of our Lower and Middle School parents who attended our Back-to-School Nights the past two Tuesdays! We had great turnouts, and parents were able to hear from all of their children’s teachers about the many exciting things they have in store for the year. My favorite moments included our new 5th grade Language Arts teacher Billy Spalding leading parents through “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” (with some deep knee bends thrown in for good measure!).  In Lower School, Kindergarten teachers Heather McGraw and Annette Rudd had their young charges “write” a personal page modeled after The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown, which they read aloud to the parents. Here are two sweet examples:

“The important thing about my family is they love me and I love them. I like to play with them. They take care of me. But the important thing about my family is they love me and I love them.” – Roscoe Plotts

“The important thing about my family is that my mommy tucks me in bed and my daddy always comes in when he is late from work. We have taco Tuesdays where we make tacos and I help them cook. They let me make a tradition. We bring back ornaments for our memories and I started it. But the important thing about my family is that my mommy tucks me in bed and my daddy always comes in when he is late from work.” – Lucy Kate Scantland

Wow! The excitement our teachers exhibit daily in their lessons clearly matches that of the students and is a huge part of our success! Congratulations to all our dedicated faculty for fabulous Back-to-School Nights in both divisions of the school! Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

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!

A Solar Eclipse Party!

PS Solar Eclipse_1By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

On Monday, time seemed to have stopped as we took a moment to be skywatchers together. We celebrated the moon passing in front of the sun in Preschool with a solar eclipse party for the younger children, munching on treats like Sun Chips and Oreos. The four-year-olds went outside one at a time with safety glasses and a teacher to look for the sun. In their words, this is what a few friends observed: Nathan commented, “I thought the sun was the moon,” and Emerson Von said, “When it gets dark outside like it is now, it looks like rain.” Everyone noticed right away the change in light outside from the classroom and thought it was going to rain. To extended the experience, our budding scientist David Beard demonstrated how the moon passes in front of the sun with a projector. This was a day we will remember for many moons!

Thank you for your patience this week with carpool. At the beginning of the year, it can take a little extra time to ease our friends into their classrooms. Please continue to use carpool drop-off; we can’t stress enough that children generally adjust faster when a consistent drop-off routine is established. I can assure you that if your child is upset when we initially greet him/her at the car, this doesn’t last for more than a moment or two. Preschool carpool drop-off is from 8:45 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

One last note about transitions:  During the first few weeks of school, it may take a little time for your child to adjust to the new schedules, classrooms, teachers, and friends. We are here to support your child and you through this process. Please feel free to reach out to me or your child’s teacher for suggestions on how to ensure a smooth start to the school year.

A Week to “Eclipse” Expectations!

Eclipse Images_1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

It’s not often that a total solar eclipse (well, 96%, but we’re not quibbling over that!) rolls around and even less often that it occurs on the fourth day of school! But the stars aligned (ahem) for us this year, and we found ourselves in such a cool position. And it was a really special event on the Goshen Campus, as the whole school dropped what we were doing to put on our solar glasses (courtesy of the Confucius Institute at WKU) and head outside to watch the climactic moments of this celestial show. And while some students may have expected “more,” the  majority appreciated the uniqueness and the circumstances that had to come together to make this rare event happen. We heard crickets chirping as the lights dimmed, our farm animals became quiet, and the temperature noticeably cooled as the sun seemingly disappeared behind the moon.

What I loved most about the event was the whole school experiencing it together, and the trust we imbued in our students to handle the safety precautions necessary to take part in a solar eclipse. They obviously took our precautions to heart, and it went off without a hitch. Special thanks to Brian Kirby and Jason Chlopek for leading the “science charge” with telescopes outside and educational presentations for the students to prep them for the “spectacle.” Brian traveled to Hopkinsville and brought back a “totality” video to share with our kids at our Welcome Back Assembly on Tuesday, too. His excitement while filming was one of the best parts! All I can say is, bring on the next one – 2024!

On a hiring note, Celeste Fuquay, who has headed up our Lower School Enrichment program in remarkable fashion the last two years, couldn’t return this year due to her graduate school schedule. We are sad to see Celeste leave and very appreciative for the job she has done with our kids. However, we are pleased to announce we found the perfect person for the position right here on campus! Parent Keyonda Turner (Kymani is in 4th grade and Keagan is in the Preschool 4s) has accepted the position and already started. Keyonda is a true supporter of St. Francis School and has a passion for working with young children. She is currently finishing up a degree in Early Childhood Education in the spring of 2018 and is happy to get a “headstart” on her future vocation with our Lower School students each day. Welcome, Keyonda!

A Welcome Back that “Eclipses” Most!

Solar Eclipse PracticeBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

The first few days of a new school year are always special, and this week has been no exception! The abundance of pent-up energy, joy at reconnecting with classmates, moving on to new classrooms and teachers, and yes, just a dash of angst for good measure all mix together to create a synergistic recipe that is tantalizingly delicious no matter how long you’ve been in a school setting (not to mention some of these kids have grown like weeds!). We are thrilled to welcome the students back and ready for a fantastic 2017-18 school year!

And, of course, one thing very special about the start of this year is the fact that a full solar eclipse is happening on the fourth day of school, and we are almost in the bullseye of its path! As we’ve already communicated, we will all be going outside to see the climactic moments of this rare event on Monday, but also taking strong safety precautions to ensure the kids’ well being. However, if any parents are uncomfortable with the situation, you may pick your child up early at 2:00 p.m. that day. We will have many teachers with each grade level to make sure the kids use their approved solar glasses at all times while outside. It should be a memorable experience for the whole school, and we are counting down the days until this momentous event.

One other special moment I’d like to share from the start of this year is from our first Middle School Morning Meeting. Before introducing the new teachers to the kids, I asked everyone to join me in welcoming back science teacher Jason Chlopek. The applause grew and soon turned into a crescendo and standing ovation that was goosebump-inducing. Jason came down front and spoke from the heart about his gratitude to the SFS community, and it was just such a heartwarming way to start our year. I think it was an omen of what is to come, and we are all excited for the promise that lies ahead!

Settling in Nicely!

Trailblazers Walking Down the HallBy Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

The children are settling into their classroom routines and are enjoying some of the amenities our campus has to offer. They have already visited the chicken coop and rabbit areas, taken nature walks around the School, participated in music class with Faith Murphy, and met librarian Lindsy Serrano. Each day presents a field trip opportunity on this campus, as there is always something to see and explore!

Children need time to feel comfortable in new situations. Fortunately, our Preschool faculty are quite adept at helping children transition into the classroom. Sometimes, though, we do see a few tears. This is normal and it often takes children several weeks to fully adjust to a new routine and often the second week is the hardest. Parents can help ease the transition by establishing a morning routine that is relaxed and unhurried. Allow enough time to arrive before 9:00 a.m., and if at all possible use our carpool drop-off system. For most of our families, we have found that the carpool routine makes for the smoothest goodbyes. Before separating, calmly remind your child that you will be back (after lunch, after rest time, etc.). Before too long, the transition from home to school and back again will become natural, and your child will have learned that greetings and goodbyes are a predictable part of their daily routine.

Chef Matt Thomas and his wonderful team from Sage Dining Services provide our preschoolers with two snacks and a nutritious hot lunch each day. Parents can find the snack and lunch menus on our School’s website and we also post a hard copy of the menus each month next to the sign-in table.

We want to thank Jacquelyn Stack and Renee Reithel, our wonderful Preschool PA reps, for providing refreshments, bubbles, and Wyvern tattoos at the Back-to-School Picnic on Saturday.

Have a great weekend!

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!

Capturing the Magic of SFS!

Morning Meeting ImageBy Alexandra S. Thurstone G’80, ’84, Head of School

Welcome back to school! On the opening day of the 2017-18 school year, I wanted to share a poem written by Kinsey Morrison ’14, which she read in the High School’s Morning Meeting on the first day of her senior year in 2013 (she is now about to start her senior year at Stanford University). You may not recognize the names or all the stories, but Kinsey perfectly captures the magic of SFS. Enjoy!

My Last First Day

On my first first day,
I wore a black strapless top
with matching sandals.
I had a huge crush on Gray Thurstone
and a terrible tanline.

On my first first day
I was a vegan. (Gag!)
I was 20 pounds lighter than I am now,
Probably because I was eating cardboard for lunch,
But I still desperately wanted to be
One of the skinny girls
And wear a bikini and a size small
Field hockey jersey.

On my first first day,
I went to Nancy’s and got a
Cranbran bagel with honey and no
Cream cheese – vegan days, remember?
And then I “officially” introduced myself
To Kit Llewellyn.
At 13, I made sure to get my foot
In the door of her office,
Which is probably why I still haven’t
Found my way out.

On my first first day,
Mr. Paice had a Mohawk,
I got to school 30 minutes early –
Which has never happened again –
And Sra. Katz intimidated me –
Which has never changed. 

Sophomores, if today,
Your second first day
Is a bad day that’s okay because you…
Won’t remember any of it.

And juniors, you’re pretty safe too,
Because all I remember from my
Third first day is that
Mr. Miron stole my keycard.

But freshmen…you better make it a good day.
I promise you will remember it.
I promise that this is the only school
In the world where Chinese Lion Dancers
Roam the hallways at the whim
Of a civil war re-enactor.

I promise you’ll get that joke eventually.
I promise that here,
If you work hard and show up,
You can be a leader in field hockey AND
Quick recall,
Even if you’re not the highest scorer
On either team.
I promise that you’ll cry in class a lot.
Usually, because you’re laughing so hard,
But sometimes, because you’re in Calculus.
I promise that your sports practices will get changed
At least once a week.
Or if you play field hockey,
Twice a day.

I promise you’ll like art,
And I promise you’ll hate the back stairway.
I promise you should go to the big games,
And the plays and the talent show,
Because that’s when you’ll realize
just how much love is in this room.

I promise that we are a family,
even if a highly dysfunctional one.
I promise that unless you’re Jack Costel,
You will get sick of McDonald’s.

I promise that Ms. Gorman does get sick
Of hearing about your day to day problems.
But you should tell her about them anyway,
Because somewhere along the line
She teaches you how to fix them yourself.
Most of them anyway.

I promise that you won’t be friends with everyone,
But you can be friends with anyone.
I promise that most of the poems are
Shorter than this one,
But some will be even longer.

I promise that sometimes 6:30 a.m.
Will come way too early,
And you won’t be as excited to get up as you were
On your first first day.
Okay honestly,
I promise that a few times over the next four years,
You’ll get three hours of sleep
And you won’t want to get up at all.

But I promise that there will be these
moments where out of nowhere
it hits you,
That this place is special,
And here you are loved.
And you know in your core
That this is where you belong.
One of those moments will be your last first day.

On my last first day
I think Gray is a good friend and a good man,
And somehow I still haven’t had a single class
With him, which seems mathematically
Impossible in a school this small.

On my last first day I still have a pretty bad tan line,
But my hair looks better
Because I got Jillian to fix it.
On my last first day
I can’t believe how much I didn’t know
on my first first day.
But I’m proud of how much I’ve learned
And how much I still will.

On my last first day,
I didn’t just come to school.
On my last first day,
I came home.