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.

12th Annual National Youth Arts Awards

NYA LogoThe results of the 12th Annual National Youth Arts Awards for the 2016-2017 season have been announced and we are proud to say that St. Francis School earned 9 awards and 17 nominations!

Awards:

Lead Actor in a Play: Thomas Simpson as Winston in 1984
Lead Actress (Junior Division): Teagan Morrison as Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes
Lead Actress (Junior Division): Teagan Morrison as Nicole Burns/Nicole Bernhardt in Anne Frank & Me
Supporting Actress in a Play: Zoe Koss as Claire in The Breakfast Club
Supporting Actress in a Play: Hannah Jones as Claire in The Breakfast Club
Supporting Actress (Junior Division): Amelia Dimas as Allison in The Breakfast Club
Supporting Actress (Junior Division): Audrey McClain as Renee Bernhardt in Anne Frank & Me
Supporting Actor (College Division): Gray Thurstone as Bender in The Breakfast Club
Ensemble: The Breakfast Club

Nominations:

Lead Actor (Junior Division): Jimmy Lancaster as Billy Crocker in Anything Goes
Lead Actress (Junior Division): Sophie Johnson as Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes
Lead Actress (Junior Division): Natalie Koch as Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes
Supporting Actor in a Play: Aaron Lattis as Andrew in The Breakfast Club
Supporting Actor in a Play: Clay Smedley as Brian in The Breakfast Club
Supporting Actress in a Play: Paige Didier as Allison in The Breakfast Club
Supporting Actress in a Play: Jillian Morrison as Party Member (Julia) in 1984
Supporting Actor (Junior Division): Theron Varda as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh in Anything Goes
Supporting Actor (Junior Division): Jackson Sleadd as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh in Anything Goes
Supporting Actress (Junior Division): Lily Gilbert as Little-Bit/Liz-Bette Bernhardt in Anne Frank & Me
Supporting Actress (Junior Division): Sophia Kirby as Little-Bit/Liz-Bette Bernhardt in Anne Frank & Me
Supporting Actress (Junior Division): Bentlea Schwartz as Erma in Anything Goes
Supporting Actress (Junior Division): Mellie Simpson as Erma in Anything Goes
Ensemble: 1984
Ensemble (Junior Division): Anne Frank & Me
Ensemble (Junior Division): Anything Goes
Direction: Reed Gabhart for The Breakfast Club

To see the full list of winners for this ceremony, visit the National Youth Arts website.

College Corner September 2017

college-cornerBy Kit Llewellyn, College Advisor

College Corner appears in the Wyvern Weekly once a month, with suggestions and dates to help make the college search and application process as stress-free and enjoyable as possible! Read on to see what you should be doing now as a sophomore, junior, and senior.

Sophomores:

  • The NACAC College Fair is Saturday, September 9th from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. at Bellarmine University
  • The PSAT is scheduled for Wednesday, October 11th at 8:30 a.m. in the Commons Room (more information to come)
  • Keep track of all your activities/jobs/interests for your resume
  • Work hard and give your energies to your studies and activities

Juniors:

  • The NACAC College Fair is Saturday, September 9th from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. at Bellarmine University
  • The PSAT is scheduled for Wednesday, October 11th at 8:30 a.m. in the Commons Room (more information to come)
  • Colleges are focusing on your achievements from this year, so give it your all
  • Purchase or borrow college reference books
  • Confirm your High School CEEB code number (181604)
  • Confirm your Social Security number
  • Pay attention to the calendar in the gathering space to be aware of visiting college representatives and financial aid seminars

Seniors:

  • On Wednesday, October 11th, all seniors will be meeting with Kit Llewellyn in the morning. Brett Paice, Juan Ramirez, and Michelle Salerno will be available for essay writing and Kit will be available to help with Naviance logistics and completion of the Common Application
  • Be aware of visiting college representatives/presentations on campus and in Louisville by looking at the calendar in the gathering space
  • Finalize your college list on Naviance and note the deadlines and test requirements
  • Complete your resumes and personal profiles on Naviance
  • Complete your Common Application and polish your essays and supplements
  • If necessary, register for a retake of the SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject tests in October and November

Register for your SAT and ACT tests at collegeboard.org and act.org

Special Events on the Goshen Campus

By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus8th Grade Class Day_1

With less than one week to go we are in “battle stations” as we just finished our 8th Grade Class Day and are getting ready for 8th Grade Graduation, Blue/Red Field Day, the Final Assembly, and a myriad of other special events on the Goshen Campus! The beginning and end of the year are both especially hectic times, but I have a hunch I know which one the kids like more! (In all honesty, I bet you’d be surprised!).  

In just the past week, we’ve had several fun-filled and memorable events occur. Our 7th and 8th graders had a ball at their Formal Dance (the “Luau Dance”) at Gingerwoods last Friday night  (and a BIG shout out to Hope and Morton Boyd for graciously hosting us yet again). Our limbo contest winners were Nicolette Bert, JT Montgomery, Katie Mushkin, and Pepper Hilton, and our Prince and Princess were Ayda Marshall and Robert Boyd. The Queen and King of the swank affair were Teagan Morrison and Caleb Hennessy. Big thanks to all the parents who helped with decorations, and especially Denise and Rick Waggener, Liz Foye, Amy Richards, Kim Schwartz, Renee Hennessy, Robin Hilton, Tammy Nofsinger, Denise Ragland, Kim Diamond, and Michele Koch. And our 7th grade students and parents did a marvelous job cleaning up. That was followed by the 8th grade lock-in back on campus, which went off without a hitch. Thanks to brave souls Michael Mahoney, Julie and Jeff Mushkin, and Kelli Carter for taking that one on for us!

We also had a very successful Picnic + Playtime event on our Preschool playground Monday! It was a gorgeous day and we had a larger than expected turnout. While the parents mingled, the kids ran and explored our natural playground while also munching on apples and cheese sticks. We’re always trying to get more families on campus to see all we have to offer, so kudos to our Admissions team and Renee Hennessy for hosting such a wonderful (and fun!) event.

Tuesday brought us a Service Dinner hosted by the Class of 2017 to raise funds to help a little girl in Nicaragua attend a private school. Many of our 8th graders met her on their Hand in Hand Ministry trip over winter break and wanted to continue to help in even greater ways. They organized this dinner with their 8th grade advisors, and special thanks to parent Dawn Bastian for cooking such a delectable meal for everyone! That was followed by the always-entertaining Middle School Talent Show! It was another tour de force, highlighted by Elijah Foye’s Irish dancing skills, which are simply jaw-dropping, and then the mysterious magic act of Jamie the Great and sidekick Hayden Jones! They blew the crowd away, and more importantly, the 8th grade raised over $500 for their Class Gift, which will be announced soon!

With less than week to go, we have many more events to go, and I’m sure all will be special. I can’t believe another year has gone by so quickly. The cycle seems to get quicker every year (maybe that’s just my age!), but it has been a fantastic year in so many ways on the Goshen Campus. And we will start working on next year as soon as this year ends! Thanks for all your support, your belief in our Mission, and for entrusting us with your children. Tell your friends and acquaintances about us, and have the best of summers! We’ll see you before you know it!

Awards Day and Senior Luncheon

Senior Luncheon_1NEWBy Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Awards Day and Senior Luncheon, both celebrated yesterday, are two of my favorite events of the year. Awards Day runs the gamut from the serious to the silly to the sublime, with students recognized for who they truly are and what they contribute to the community around them. I love that about our Awards Day – it feels so genuinely reflective of our ethos as a school. Ditto that sentiment for Senior Luncheon, of course. This event featured the faculty delivering individual speeches for every member of the Class of 2017, with their parents joining us, as well. The depth of the relationships in the St. Francis community takes my breath away, as does the ability of the faculty to articulate those and send our seniors off with such love. I hope to see many of you at our final celebration with the Class of 2017 – Graduation on Friday, May 26th at 4:00 p.m. at Actors Theatre.

From Prom last Friday night, where the dance floor was filled until the end, to our final Advisee group meetings yesterday, it’s been an incredibly fun-filled and emotional week. The underclassmen are into exams now, so “fun-filled” is no longer an apt descriptor for them.

This is our last newsletter for the school year, so I’ll sign off with best wishes for a terrific summer for all our St. Francis families. 2016-17 has been an incredible year, and while we all need a little time to plan and prepare for next year, I can’t wait for August to get here!