Preschool Transportation Day!

unnamed (3)By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

Today we hosted one of our most highly anticipated events in the Preschool – Transportation Day! The assembly of vehicles mirrored the internal workings of a city. There were vehicles represented ranging in variation from a motorcycle to a city bus.

The Transportation Day committee would like to extend a BIG thank you to the following businesses and friends of the School who participated in our event: North Oldham County Fire Department, TARC, Kroger, Ernst Construction, Waste Management, Oldham County Police Department, and Pro-Lift. We also want to thank our friends from Keystone Learning Academy for spending the day exploring cars and trucks with us.

We could not have accomplished any of this without our fabulous Preschool PA Co-Chairs, Jacquelyn Stack and Renee Reithel, for the volunteer support and coordinating this event. We would also like to thank former Preschool parents, Lillian Brents and Randall Hood, for their continued dedication to Transportation Day (even after their own children have moved on to the Lower School). Thank you to parent volunteers Shari Broecker, Anthony Celasun, and Deena Neimat. And lastly, we want to thank our very own Preschool teacher, Holly Whitaker, for continuing to keep the event special in the eyes of our tiniest students.

Next week we will have Picture Days on the Goshen Campus. Preschool pictures will be taken on Tuesday, September 19th for the following children: 2 Day Twos and Threes,  5 Day Twos and Threes, and Mr. Paul’s group. Wednesday, September 20th, the 3 Day Twos and Threes and Ms. Kelly’s group will have their pictures taken. If you have a student in the Lower or Middle School and you would like a sibling photo taken, please contact your child’s teacher and Rosanne Conlan.

Associates in Pediatric Therapy screened the Preschoolers on Wednesday. Children who attend on Tues/Thurs will be screened on Tuesday of next week.

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.

Supporting New Teachers and Service Learning Fair!

Mr. Spalindg's 5th Graders_1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

I thought I would write this week about how St. Francis School supports our new teachers. This year we have four new faculty members: Leonor “Leo” Provan in LS Spanish, Danny Ruano in 2nd grade Language Arts/Social Studies, Billy Spalding in 5th grade, and Maggie Sun in MS Chinese. First, we hold a New Faculty Orientation prior to school starting, at which Jen Griffith and I explain both our school philosophy and mission (which they are always already familiar with due to interviewing and personal research) and the ins and outs and procedures particular to St. Francis (I call this the “Kitchen Sink Meeting!”). Then they have lunch with their assigned mentor teachers. Veteran faculty members are assigned to new teachers to be their personal guides, helping navigate their way through all the aspects of school life a teacher faces, from the mundane (like email and voicemail) to the more involved (progress reporting and parent-teacher conferences). Having a friendly face nearby to answer your questions goes a long way to helping a new teacher become acclimated to St. Francis.

During the first month of the school year, Jen or I observe each of them teaching a lesson and give them feedback and any advice we may have. This will be followed up with another such observation mid-year, as well as an observation by their respective department chair. Then this week, our new teachers all attended a one-day professional development workshop put on by ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States who is our accrediting institution) called the New Teacher Institute. This features informational sessions and conversation pertinent to Independent school life. All four of our teachers reported a great day at this workshop and found it affirming to talk with other new teachers about what their first month of school has been like. Finally, Jen and I had a follow-up lunch with all of them this week to check in and answer questions they may have to date, such as on our upcoming interim progress reports going out next week.

All four of our new teachers are off to a fantastic start this new school year, and we are confident they are “St. Francis people” who will thrive here!

Service Learning Fair_RG ArticleThis week was also time for our annual Service Learning Fair put together with great care by our Service Learning Coordinator and Librarian, Lindsy Serrano. From Lindsy:

Every year, the Goshen Campus hosts a Service Learning fair, which is an opportunity for students to meet with local community service organizations and hear about ways that kids can help the community.  

Organizations participating this year included Creasey Mahan, Kosair, Paws with Purpose, Water Step, Arrow Fund, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Louisville Nature Center, Dare to Care, Neighborhood House, Volunteers for America, and Louisville Grows.

In the next few weeks, each grade will pick a service learning project and build a partnership with a community organization. It is always wonderful to see students get inspired and dream up ways they can help their community. Many of our visitors commented on how impressed they were with our students at SFS!

The Service Learning Fair is always an inspiring and noisy affair in our Main Amp but at the heart of it lies compassion and a desire to help others while also nurturing our students’ personal growth as people and citizens. Congratulations to Lindsy for making it such a success!


Dragon Boat Team Wins Scholastic Division for the Second Year!

Dragon Boat Races 2017_Main Image 4x6By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

It’s been a festive week at the High School! Last Saturday, our Dragon Boat Team repeated as Scholastic Division Champions at the Louisville Dragon Boat Festival. Overall, they finished 6th out of 22 teams (including some that train for the event and travel to it!). Congratulations to teachers David Word and Chris Hutchins for spearheading this year’s event, and to all the other rowers:  students Angela Liu, Sam Yost, Caroline Pepa, Hanna Otto, Kelly Baize, Eden Baize, Justin Strothman, Connor Strothman, Bennett Middendorf, Grayson Razavi, Chris Hammond, Clay Foye, Lily Johnson, and Josh Arnett; parents Chrys and Doug Strothman; High School teacher Ralph Marshall, former High School teacher Bob Jones, and Goshen teachers Billy Spalding and Jason Chlopek.

As the week began, so did the build-up to the Fall Sports Picnic and Bonfire. Tuesday was Pajama Day, Wednesday was “Dress Like a Teacher Day” (with Mike Snyder’s Jenn Buck and Osaz Omoruyi’s Juan Ramirez garnering top honors), and Thursday was “Twin Day” (with Michael Crinot and, again, Osaz Omoruyi winning by a landslide, Parker Smith and Victoria Richardson in second place, and Caroline Pepa and history teacher Ralph Marshall in third). Friday is Wyvern Spirit Wear Day and we’re sending the fall sports teams off at the end of the day with banners and balloons. We’ll enjoy a student-faculty volleyball game, celebrate Senior Night after the games conclude, and then gather for our third annual Bonfire. Because even tradition can be improved upon, this year, by student request, we’re featuring a Watermelon Eating Contest. I watch the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest every July 4th, so I feel well qualified to hold this competitive eating event, the first of which I am aware in St. Francis history. Results to come next week! Hope many of you can join us for the games and picnic.  

Preschool Back-to-School Luncheon

PS Luncheon_1By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

It was wonderful seeing everyone at the Preschool Back-to-School Luncheon! We enjoyed sharing our School and our goals for the year with you, along with the good food. Thank you to our fabulous Parent Association for bringing side dishes and assisting with cleanup.

Next Friday is TRANSPORTATION DAY! This is an exciting day that you don’t want your child to miss. If your child attends Preschool on Tuesday/Thursdays, you are welcome to bring your child and attend Transportation Day with him/her. Please send your little one to school prepared to spend the day outside climbing on and in a variety of cars and trucks. We prefer that they wear closed-toed shoes for this event; sneakers are the best for climbing. Children need to be signed into their classrooms by 9:00 a.m., so we can begin promptly at 9:30 a.m.

Penny Wars

HS Coin Drive_4x6By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Thanks to all the parents who joined us for the Back-to-School program last night! We love getting to show you what happens in our classrooms every day.

We also appreciate parent support of our Penny Wars to raise funds for hurricane relief, in conjunction with the coin drive on the Goshen Campus. The generous spirit of our students has been evident all week, and we look forward to announcing the total raised soon.

Another upcoming event sponsored by the We Act groups on both campuses is our Color Run on Saturday, September 23rd, proceeds from which will support the Offin Children’s Center, an orphanage and education center, in Offinso, Ghana. Regular registration for that ends today, so please register (see information in this newsletter) and come out to have a great time while helping us help others!

Speaking of great times, next Friday is our annual Fall Sports Picnic and Bonfire, all held at the Goshen Campus. We’ll have a bus to and from Goshen, leaving after school and returning downtown about 10:30 p.m. Events include a student-faculty volleyball game, varsity field hockey and soccer games, a grill-out, and a bonfire just for High School students from 8:00 – 10:00. Please join us!

“Lollipop Moments” and Everyday Leadership!

Coin Drive 2017_1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus, and Shelly Jones, Middle School Dean of Students

As you may have heard from your children by now, it’s been a truly positive start to the 2017-18 school year! The overall vibe on both sides of the building is one of joy and happiness at being back in school.

However, juxtaposed with our good fortune is the fate of so many in Texas who are enduring the horrible aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. And true to their Wyvern character, our kids were not content with just asking their parents to donate to the Red Cross. So this week we’ve had a coin drive organized by the We Act Club in which everyone has been asked to scour their houses and cars for loose change to bring to school. The We Act kids are rolling the coins and have a grand goal of raising $2,000 together with the High School We Act group (who are sponsoring Penny Wars there) by the end of the week to make their own mark on this terrible situation. Here’s some more from Middle School Dean of Students and We Act Club Sponsor Shelly Jones:

Last week during advisory time, our Middle School students watched a TED-x talk about “Everyday Leadership.” In it, educator Drew Dudley defines what he calls a “lollipop moment,” or a small moment when an everyday person says or does something that fundamentally makes someone else’s life better. (For a deeper appreciation of the lollipop reference and to facilitate a conversation with your middle schooler, feel free to watch the TED talk here.) The point of the talk is that we don’t have to be leaders with a capital “L,” or some grand, extraordinary individuals, to make a difference in someone’s life. Instead, he says we need to redefine leadership as an opportunity to help individual people, in small moments, in our ordinary daily lives. Dudley explains, “We need to redefine leadership as being about lollipop moments – how many of them we create, how many we acknowledge, how many of them we pay forward and how many we say thank you for. Because we’ve made leadership about changing the world, and there is no world. There’s only six billion understandings of it.”

Our Middle School We Act Club is hard at work, already, leading through such lollipop moments and creating opportunities for individuals to help individuals. As Reed said, in response to the flooding in Texas, our WE Act Groups on both Campuses sponsored a coin drive to donate to disaster relief efforts. Students cleaned out their family vehicles, closets, sofa cushions, and piggy banks to find spare change to donate. Some students, like 5th graders Caroline and Parker McCurry, even sold lemonade over the Labor Day weekend to raise funds.

Another upcoming opportunity for individuals to get involved in helping others is by participating in the My School Color Run on September 23rd. Early bird registration ends today, so please sign up here. Our Middle School We Act group heard from SFS Parent Stephanie Mutchnik about the opportunity to partner with the Offin Children’s Center, an orphanage and education center, in Offinso, Ghana. All proceeds from the My School Color Run will go to support the OCC, and our students will begin the work of creating a cultural exchange with the students and residents at the Center. More lollipop moments, or opportunities for everyday leadership and change-making, this time made possible by a parent in our School community!

What a wonderfully committed group of kids who have their hearts and minds in the right place! Their energy and drive reminded me to dig through my own change piles on Labor Day weekend to bring in a baggie full of coins. And who knows, with Hurricane Irma now looming off the Eastern seaboard, we may need round two next week, sadly. I’m sure our kids will come through and make us proud!

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!