A Progressive School Visit

ISACS_4x6By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Alexandra and I spent Sunday – Wednesday this week serving on an ISACS visiting accreditation team. As you may know, ISACS sends teams to schools every seven years for a visit; our own is coming up this fall. Prior to the visit year, the school conducts a Constituent Survey (which you may recall having taken last spring) and writes a comprehensive Self-Study, covering all school areas and incorporating the data from the Constituent Survey. It is always a rich experience, being able to immerse ourselves in another school’s culture for several days. This particular school – The Roeper School in Michigan – is, like us, a Progressive Preschool – 12th grade on two campuses. We are finalizing the dates for our own accreditation visit, but it is only months away!

This week the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival visited us to perform Julius Caesar. Tonight into tomorrow is our annual Women’s Retreat. We are grateful to parent Karen Morrison and Gilda’s Club for hosting us for this event.  

Alumni Profile: Deron Simmons G’02, ’06

Deron Simmons G'02, '06 (1)Briefly describe your path after leaving St. Francis. 
After leaving St. Francis, I joined the school that the wonderful Kit Llewellyn recommended I visit as a junior in high school: Mercer University. I declared my major in computer engineering, and on the second day of my freshman year, a professor said “Look to your left, then look to your right. Two-thirds of your classmates won’t be here next year.” There were 375 people in that classroom that day. On graduation day, there were only four of us (including St. Francis’ own Brad Green G’02, ’06). 

[Read more…]

Advisee Games: A Favorite SFS Tradition

Advisee Games_Main ImageBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

The annual Advisee Games were enjoyed by all on Tuesday. We don’t have the final results yet, but competition was fierce in some quarters; in others, students enjoyed a beautiful day in the sunshine in more laid-back fashion. This is really one of my favorite SFS traditions, and I think most of the student body enjoys it as much as I do!

Before the Advisee Games on Tuesday, the We Act community service group attended part of WE Day Kentucky, an annual celebration of service, along with our Middle School counterparts. Reed Gabhart’s space below is filled with a detailed recap of the event by Shelly Jones, so please check that out. This was a particularly special WE Day for us, because our accomplishment of raising $10,000 over the last several years to fund the building of a school in Haiti was realized this year, and our group was featured in a film shown at the event. Check out the film and our spokesperson Elizabeth Johnson ’19 here.

Earlier in the week, we had a presentation from Moshe Ohayon, founder of Louisville Tutoring Agency and the nonprofit organization Educational Justice. The Educational Justice program matches high school student Activists with middle school student Achievers, with the goal of utilizing the intellect and achievements of the older students to help struggling younger ones. We have several students participating in the program currently, and they spoke about their experience in glowing terms. Moshe’s visit was to get signups from students who are interested in being trained over the summer to become Activists in the fall, and a number of students indicated their interest. It is a one-hour commitment per week for the school year and there is flexibility. Please visit www.educationaljustice.org for more information!

All Things Kentucky Derby

PS Derby Festivities_1By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

It’s been all things Kentucky Derby this week in the Preschool. It’s Louisville’s time to celebrate and we’re having our own Kentucky Derby celebration right here on the Goshen Campus on Wednesday, May 3rd. Invitations were sent home today for our Derby Races and Tea. Grandparents, parents, or special friends are invited to join us as we parade, run, and celebrate Louisville’s special day. The Parent Association sent a sign-up sheet via email this week for items needed to make this a special day for all of our guests.

The children are very excited about being able to visit the playground again with the warmer weather. Next week we will work on our garden box by planting seeds and flowers. To conclude our week of planting, on Friday the children will enjoy a program from Idlewild Butterfly Farm. The program will include touch-friendly insect ambassadors such as giant cockroaches and exotic walking sticks. We will then head outside for a ladybug release of 500 beetles.

Upcoming Dates

  • April 25th – 27th – Preschoolers work in the garden (dress accordingly)
  • April 28th – Visit from Idlewild Butterfly Farm
  • May 3rd – Derby Race and Tea & Grandparents’ Day at 11:00 a.m.
  • May 5th – No School – Oaks Day
  • May 8th – Paul Harshaw’s book reading for Preschool – 2nd grade
  • May 12th – Muffins with Mom from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
  • May 24th – Last Big Sing of the year. David Beard’s slide show begins at 9:00 a.m. in the Multi-purpose room.  
  • May 24th  – Last Day of School with early dismissal at 12:00 p.m.

Young Changemakers Among Us

We Day_Main ImageBy Shelly Jones, Middle School Dean of Students and Language Arts/Social Studies

“I am a changemaker.”

“I am the leader of today.”

“I can make a difference.”

A crowd of 3,000 students from across Kentucky, including the St. Francis Middle School and High School We Act group members, said these words together on Tuesday morning at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. The occasion? WE Day Kentucky 2017.

St. Francis students have attended this event (with initially a much, much smaller group of students) since its inception five years ago at the first WE Day Kentucky at the Muhammad Ali Center. St. Francis School’s Mission Statement talks about the compassionate community we strive to create. In keeping with this, all of our students are called to be their most compassionate selves and to think of ways to use their gifts to improve their communities and the lives of others. We have a strong commitment to service learning and community service on both campuses of our school. Thus, when the WE Schools movement came to Louisville, we thought it made sense to join the world’s largest network of kids helping kids. Schools and students can’t buy tickets to WE Day; they earn them through global and local acts of service. This year was particularly special for our students, as the St. Francis School High School and Middle School We Act Clubs were recognized for working together and raising $10,000 to build a school in Haiti with the “Brick By Brick” program through WE Schools. The High School students had to leave to attend their Advisee Games, but our Middle School students had a ball going backstage and then taking the stage to see a video feature about our school’s project and to give a “Thank you, WE Day!” shout out to the audience. Click here for a video that features student interviews and footage of the types of things our students did to raise the money over the last few years, such as cookouts on the Downtown Campus and hot chocolate sales on the Goshen Campus. A series of Parents’ Night Out events for Lower School students and the My School Color Run were also huge fundraisers that contributed towards reaching the $10,000 goal.  Many of you participated in these events, and we thank you!

Along with receiving a bit of recognition, our students heard inspiring words from Rasheeda Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter. She reminded the students of her father’s words: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” Ken Lolla, the men’s soccer coach at the University of Louisville, shared about his work inspiring his players to give back to the children in our community. We also heard from Craig Kielburger, the Co-Founder of WE and Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award Recipient. (The students and I even “geeked out” when we were able to have our photo taken with Craig, who created Free the Children when he was in 7th grade!) Musical guests also entertained and inspired with uplifting songs and words of encouragement. Performances by Jordan Smith, Ben Sollee, Justin Paul-Lewis, Teddy Abrams, and Harry Pickens were particular favorites. One of our 7th graders, Bruce Hanserd, was asked by Dr. Tori Murden McClure, President of Spalding University, to help her during her speech. Bruce held a visual aid, a replica of the boat she rowed to become the first American and the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean. As a result, Bruce gained a fair amount of recognition when we participated in the final event of the day, the March for Compassion around downtown Louisville. Students from other schools were chanting “Bruce! Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!” as we marched.

While the content students learn in their classrooms is very important, the special, out-of-the-ordinary experiences outside of the classroom sometimes create the most lasting memories and plant seeds of possibility in students’ minds. At WE Day Kentucky, our students felt inspired, recognized, and encouraged to keep giving back to their global and local communities. It was a good day!

Save your Spot for the Pegasus Parade!

KDFFront-row seats or bleacher seating, parking, dinner, face painting, a bouncy house, private restrooms, and more! St. Francis will host the Pegasus Parade viewing area in front of the High School again this year on Thursday, May 4th. Secure your spot and join us for a great family outing!

Guests may begin arriving at 3:45 p.m. The parade comes by the school beginning at approximately 5:15 p.m. There will be a direct bus from Goshen to the High School for any Goshen students attending the Pegasus Parade!

Click here to purchase your tickets. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Tamara Reif.

Coming and Going!

China Trip_1By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Welcome back from Spring Break! Two and a half weeks till AP exams; five weeks till regular exams; six weeks till graduation. Hang on!

Our China trip-goers are back safely and had a wonderful adventure. Next week, we send a group off to the Sarah Lawrence Poetry Festival in New York. As well, students have several interesting local opportunities in the coming weeks. Next week, a group will attend the Festival of Faiths panel “We Are Already One – Religion and Compassion in World Affairs” with Karen Armstrong (author of a book the freshmen read this year in Culture and Civilization), Ambassador Matthew Barzun, and Noah Feldman, moderated by William Vendley. And the Music Performance class will attend a rehearsal of the Louisville Orchestra. Next week also brings We Day, the annual celebration of service that our We Act community service group attends. The following week, a student group will attend the Actors Theatre New Voices Showcase of Plays, and we’ll have our 16th annual Women’s Retreat, planned by the women of the faculty and staff for interested students. One note about all these local trips: except for the Women’s Retreat (which isn’t too far, and thanks to Gilda’s Club for hosting us), we can walk to every single one. The benefits of a downtown location!  

Next week also brings our annual Advisee Games, weather permitting! (Rain date is Thursday, April 27th.) Students will dismiss that day from Seneca Park at 3:30 p.m., although some faculty and staff will return to school and can transport students who need rides back downtown. Pictures and report from the Games to come next week!

Trailblazers Visit the Science in Play2GO Exhibit

Pay2Go Exhibit_1By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

The Trailblazers ventured to the Oldham County Main Library just before Spring Break to explore the Science in Play 2GO exhibit. The children were introduced to blood and the body with hands-on craft and sensory activities. In other centers, they created roller coasters using ramps and balls, sorted and matched colors and shapes, built forts and structures with large foam blocks, and created patterns on the extra-large Light Bright wall. It was a fun, interactive field trip, and as usual, the bus ride was the best part of all!

Thank you to all of our families for supporting the spring egg hunts, and sending in oodles of eggs to support our friends at the Keystone Learning Academy. The children had an eggcellent time searching for brightly colored eggs with the assistance of a special helper, Mr. Bunny!

A special thank you to Jessica Washer for counting and sorting ALL of the eggs and to Dean Bucalos (Deanie’s grandfather) for donning the bunny costume. We also want to thank all of the parent volunteers who hid the eggs and stayed to help the preschoolers FIND them.

Upcoming Dates

  • Friday, April 21st – Big Sing at 9:10 a.m.
  • Wednesday, May 3rd – Preschool Grandparents’ Day from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • Monday, May 8th – Paul Harshaw will be reading his book Silo and Plyler’s Derby Horse Adventure to Preschool through 2nd grade from 9:20 – 9:50 a.m.
  • Friday, May 12th – Muffins with Mom at 9:00 a.m.

Anything Goes Recap!

Anything Goes Cast & CrewBy Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

As I said to the faculty last week, when we return from Spring Break, the final weeks of the school year feel like a rollercoaster car that’s just started on its descent after the climactic apex! All aboard! And while there is a lot left to do, learn, and experience between now and the end of May, I wanted to take a minute to look back at our spring musical, Anything Goes, that wrapped up as we headed to break.

The show was a phenomenal success! One measure is the fact that all four shows basically sold out in advance online! That’s 700 tickets! Another measure is four standing ovations. But most important to me is the fact that 54 Middle School students started this show, and 54 completed it. I’m pretty sure that is a record for a SFS production and represents over a third of our Middle School taking part and staying with it. And during the Sunday matinee we were joined by 26 Lower School choir singers, swelling our numbers to 80 for one song!

As the director of our program, I don’t want to crow too much about the show myself, but instead asked some of our 8th graders to write a paragraph about either the show or the SFS Drama Project. Of the students below, some are veterans of our stage, while one was only here this year. Here are their thoughts:

“Ever since I was in Kindergarten, I dreamed of being on the Goshen stage. I watched my sisters perform, and my older friends. Every year, one of the highlights would be watching another great St. Francis production. Now that I am finished with my time on the stage, I am so grateful to have had the experience. I made friends with kids who I never would have thought I would be friends with, I have grown closer to my current friends, and I have made many memories with the help of my friends. I am so glad that I have been a part of the St. Francis Drama Project and I am excited to come see future productions in the years to come.” – Sophie Johnson

“St. Francis’ musical ‘Anything Goes’ was spectacular. It was such an amazing experience and I loved being a part of it. I learned so much about acting, singing, and dancing from this musical, and I am so grateful for it. I can say that about both of the shows I was in this year. I learned so much and had so much fun doing the shows here because you always feel like an important part of the show and are always treated like you are the star. This program really believes in the saying, ‘There are no small parts, only small actors.’ Even though I was only at the Goshen Campus for one year, I am so glad I got to have the incredible experience of being part of the drama program.” – Katie Mushkin

“The St. Francis Drama Project has truly changed my life. Every show I’ve been in has taught me how to be myself, all the while pretending to be other people. ‘Anything Goes’ sticks out in my mind as perhaps the most demanding experience I’ve had, but by far the most rewarding one. Reno Sweeney made me more confident as a performer than any other role I have ever played. My cast-mates and I truly appreciate all the opportunities St. Francis offers its students, and the input from all the adults that makes the productions so wonderful. So I want to send a huge thank you to Mrs. Erwin, Mrs. Mushkin, Sra. Ponzio, Ms. Donna, Ms. Aberle, Mr. Bertke, and of course, Mr. Gabhart. You all are ‘the top!’” – Teagan Morrison

“The SFS Drama Project has completely changed the way I feel about myself in terms of self-confidence. Without these stage experiences that St. Francis has offered and encouraged, I would not be able to to talk in front of a crowd that is more than just my friends. But because of these plays that I have taken part in, I am able to express myself and be comfortable speaking publicly. In this spring musical of 2017, I was lucky enough to audition and receive the male lead in ‘Anything Goes’ as Billy Crocker. Becoming the lead in a play is very different than acting as a character with not many lines, which I have done many times in the past. There is a sense of much more responsibility and honor when you have to memorize a hundred-plus lines and sing many solos in songs. I have loved every minute of the SFS Drama Project, and would not trade those memories and experiences for anything in the world.” Jimmy Lancaster

As always, it’s hard to let the 8th graders leave us! This group is both remarkably talented but also committed, nice, and simply fun to be around. I will remember them fondly and the special year we had together in drama. But we have a rollercoaster ride to attend to, first!

It was also special to talk during the curtain speech before each performance about our theater expansion and front lobby renovation Capital Campaign project that was recently approved by our Board of Trustees.  With everyone’s support, the venerable Main Amp will take on an entirely new and dynamic look – hopefully for the 2018-19 school year! For me, I just can’t imagine actually having backstage space finally. Let the dreaming begin!

College Corner April 2017

college-cornerBy Kit Llewellyn, College Advisor

Don’t forget about your April college preparation to-dos! Read on to see what you should be doing now as a sophomore, junior, and senior.

Sophomores:

  • Send off for college viewbooks and browse college websites.
  • Listen in Morning Meeting to the acceptance announcements and chat with seniors about their college admissions journey.
  • If you have a learning difference and need extended time on standardized tests, make sure your documentation is updated and contact Michelle Salerno in the The Learning Center in order to verify your documentation.

Juniors:

  • Take the SAT reasoning and ACT tests.
  • Register for the June SAT reasoning and/or subject tests and ACT tests.
  • Keep your focus.
  • Meet your deadlines for Senior Project proposals.
  • Review the list of suggested colleges with Kit Llewellyn and begin researching/exploring.
  • Make sure your learning difference/special needs documentation is updated if you expect to receive extended time on your standardized tests.
  • Update your profile and resume on Naviance.

Seniors:

  • All colleges should respond with financial aid offers by early April.
  • Meet with Kit Llewellyn and your parents to discuss which college is your best match.
  • Consider financial aid packages carefully as offers arrive. You should have received your SAR from FAFSA.
  • Try to visit or revisit the colleges that have offered you a place.
  • Listen to the advice of your parents and Kit Llewellyn, but insist that the choice be yours. Do not be overly influenced by the college name prestige.
  • Follow acceptance instructions carefully.
  • Students on waitlists should write letters expressing interest and send any additional information.
  • Make your final college choice and submit your deposit by May 1st. This is not a postmark deadline!