By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus This odd week with the Wednesday gap is closing with a bang! Tonight is the Winter Sports Spirit Night, with balloon send-off for the teams at the end of the school day. And last night was the annual Winter Concert featuring the Vocal Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, and Music Performance classes, under the direction of Bob Bertke. It was a superb evening encompassing Motown hits like “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and “Natural Woman,” jazz pieces such as “St. James Infirmary” and “Sing a Song of a Song,” and a capella numbers like “Daft Punk” (Pentatonix) and “Dear Theodosia” (Hamilton). Over 20 of our students are in one or more of the groups, and they certainly put on a show! Other exciting happenings of the week include a Year of the Pig New Year celebration in Chinese classes, featuring dumpling-making - and a special dinner for Chinese language students this weekend at Jade Palace. As well, a group of students from various SFS diversity, equity, and inclusion groups were able to see Pipeline at Actors Theatre on Wednesday (despite having no school) and then present about it at the BSA meeting on Thursday. Senior Project presentations began (3 down, 29 to go!) and we’re gearing up for the annual Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD) sessions, which I’ll share more about next week.
By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus While the flu and polar vortex may be grabbing the headlines this week, school and instruction are still carrying on as normal. And to that end, I thought I’d write this week on one of the ways we help our faculty to grow and develop over time. Every year, Jen Griffith and I observe every faculty member teach a lesson in the winter months. Teachers write a lesson plan in advance detailing their goals, modes of differentiation, and, most importantly, what they’d like us to be on the lookout for in terms of improvement. After observing the lesson, we set up an appointment to talk about it in detail, going over the strengths and suggestions for improvement, and especially addressing the area they asked for help in. It is a fascinating exercise every year to see 15-20 teachers in different subjects and grades going about their daily business. I always end the process rejuvenated and reaffirmed about the excellent work that goes on in our classrooms on a daily basis (no matter the temperatures!). Additionally, our teachers on their own are beginning to form “Critical Friends” groups in which teams of teachers also observe each other and do a similar process on a peer-to-peer basis (and a tip of the cap to Patrick Donovan for taking the lead in this area). This was completely voluntary, but shows our faculty’s commitment to ongoing development. While all this may be “routine business” to us, I thought you might like a peek into one of [...]
By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director Our preschoolers are curious and ask many questions in a day. We build on this curiosity and their everyday experiences, and support them in pursuing the answers to their questions of “Why?” A few projects have emerged over the past couple of weeks where the children are engaged in observing, predicting, and reflecting on the outcomes of their experiments. Currently, we have crystals and bean sprouts growing in the Trailblazer class, and the Adventurers gathered objects from their classrooms and placed them in water outside to see what would happen. Group discussions are then used to encourage children to hear the ideas of others and to support their own developing theories. Our teachers follow up our children’s ideas by taking dictation of their thinking, or by asking them to draw their ideas. Science concepts are always supported by hands-on experimentation and play. Looking for an activity to do on a wintry day at home? Place water in a bowl and add food coloring. Have fun coloring the water, encouraging your child to make swirls or designs! Then place the bowl outside overnight and see what happens. The next day, bring the bowl inside and place some salt into a smaller bowl to use as “paint” with a small paint brush. “Paint” the frozen water with the salt to see what happens. You can also use salt water in small droppers to observe the change. What does the salt do to the frozen water? You can set this activity up in a foil baking pan [...]
By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus Next week brings the start of our Senior Project presentations! The Senior Project process extends over the better part of a year, with students completing proposals in the spring of their junior years, working on the projects from that summer on, and presenting their writing and research in the spring semester of senior year. Topics are always eclectic and wide-ranging; this year's offerings include Training a Psychiatric Service Dog, Exploration of the Diverse and Varietal Regions of Tuscany, The Sound Design of Modern Movies, Environmental Education in Early Childhood, Adding Instruments to the Negro Spiritual "Wade in the Water," Constructing a Writing System, A Taste of Somalia, A Modest Fashion Lookbook, An Art Show Inspired by Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Catholic Beliefs, and many other fascinating topics. Each senior is assigned an advisor to consult throughout the process and a grading committee of three, who read the written component, evaluate the research, and attend the presentation. As noted in our Curriculum Guide, the Senior Project is intended to provide all St. Francis seniors with the opportunity to devote concentrated effort and time to a project focused on that which interests them most, to develop those independent research skills which are more and more being expected of college-bound students, to experience the tensions and rewards of a public presentation of their work, and to demonstrate that their years at St. Francis have culminated in the maturation of the integrated and confident intelligence which it is the School’s Mission to encourage and affirm. Senior [...]
By Leslie O’Connor, College Counselor College Corner appears in the Wyvern Weekly with suggestions and dates to help make the college search and application process as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. Attention, 9th and 10th Grade Parents: St. Francis is offering a great opportunity for our 9th and 10th graders. The Pre-ACT will be given on Sunday, February 10th on the Downtown Campus from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. Every 9th and 10th grader is signed up to take advantage of this practice test. Parents of seniors, juniors, and sophomores, read on for specific college-related information! Seniors: I am happy to report the seniors have been receiving college acceptance letters and scholarships. Please keep all college decision letters and scholarship information so that I can total the amount of scholarship money earned by the Class of 2019! Seniors should also continue checking emails and open college mail, as these communications contain important information about housing, orientation programs, fees, and academic advising appointments. If students have been deferred or waitlisted at a first-choice college, please have them speak with me for guidance about next steps. Juniors: I have met with all juniors individually to review PSAT scores and discuss standardized testing. Every junior should plan on taking at least two college admission tests this year, the ACT and/or the SAT. Dates have been emailed and given out as a paper copy to all juniors. On Wednesday, January 23rd, I met with the junior class as a group to discuss some key college planning information. My presentation focused on the importance of [...]
By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus I was beyond pleased over the holiday weekend to get an email from coach Lindsy Serrano about our 7th/8th grade Governor’s Cup team! They had a phenomenal showing at their District Competition. Let’s get straight to the highlights: Arts and Humanities - Allie Rahman (2nd place), Amelia Gorman (3rd place) Composition - Amelia Gorman (1st place) Language Arts - Amelia Gorman (3rd place) Science - AJ Stevenson (1st place) Social Studies - AJ Stevenson (1st place), Jack Rutherford (5th place) All of these students will move onto the Regional Competition. In terms of team results, our Quick Recall team placed 2nd and will be participating at Regionals as well. And in the “not surprising department,” we are proud to say that St. Francis also won the Hume Sportsmanship Award! How fitting for a St. Francis squad! Put all this together, and we are very excited to announce that our Quick Recall placement, combined with our written assessment scores, gave us a first place finish at Districts this year! A HUGE congratulations to Lindsy Serrano for coaching this team during school lunches and recesses to such heights. Here is a quote from Lindsy: “I am just so honored to be the coach of such a funny, smart, and talented group of students. Every kid shined at Districts and they worked so well together as a team. I am especially proud of winning the Hume Sportsmanship Award. It’s great to see our values of community and compassion at work during what can [...]
By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director All of our Preschool classrooms are stocked with a variety art materials such as watercolors, Cray-Pas oil pastels, crayons, markers, clay, and tempera paints. Creating self-directed art is a hands-on activity that helps children learn in many ways. By drawing, making collages, and using watercolors to paint, children learn about shape, color, and texture. They are practicing making decisions about what to make and what materials they will use. Those fine motor skills are enhanced by cutting with scissors, holding a crayon, or sculpting with clay. When children observe what their friends are creating, they are learning to appreciate the artwork of others. New vocabulary words are introduced when children discuss their work with adults. We use phrases like, “Tell me about your picture.” Preschool-aged children often create things that are symbolic of something else; for example, something they have just built in the block center or a flower they just saw outside. The practice of using symbols will become important when they are learning to read. Art can also enhance science concepts when colors are mixed or seeing how adding paint to water can create changes. Creating art in any form helps children develop their imaginations and practice many skills for learning. Our goal is to give children the confidence to express themselves through art and to feel a part of a creative community of learners whenever they create something new. Preschool Doughnut Day You are invited to join your child for doughnuts on Friday, February 8th. We will be serving doughnuts and [...]
By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus Happy Friday! As we head into a three-day weekend with Monday off school to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, I thought this was an opportune time to let you know of a change in our diversity efforts at St. Francis. We recently made the decision to have Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinators on both the Goshen and Downtown Campuses (DEI Coordinators for short). You’ll notice the addition of the words “Equity and Inclusion” to the previously solely used “Diversity,” as this is actually more reflective of the work we want to strive for and educate students about. I’m pleased to announce that librarian Lindsy Serrano enthusiastically accepted this appointment on the Goshen Campus! She will shepherd our work and meet regularly with Alexandra Thurstone, Jen Griffith, Shelly Jones, Julie Marks, and me so we’re all on the same page in this critical area. Additionally, she will also attend and be apprised of the meetings and work we’re doing with our Middle School Black Students Association (BSA), Queer Straight Alliance (QSA), and Diversity Committee. These groups are led by Salema Jenkins, Emily Campbell, and Brian Kirby respectively. Finally, she will coordinate with the High School DEI Coordinator Brett Paice on cross-campus activities. One example of their recent collaboration is that these groups planned our annual Martin Luther King, Jr. assembly which happened this afternoon before we dismissed for the three-day holiday weekend (too late for “press time!”). The students were given ownership into the planning of the assembly instead of administrators [...]
By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus We are headed into a long weekend commemorating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In SFS diversity news, we have decided to move to a model of campus Coordinators of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI for short). The longer title is more reflective of what we’ve long meant when we’ve talked about “diversity.” The new Downtown Campus coordinator is Dr. Brett Paice, English teacher and BSA Moderator. He will be working with our BSA, QSA, Gender Equality Club, and Diversity Committee, as well as with the Goshen Campus coordinator, Lindsy Serrano. This semester, plans include a BSA trip to see Pipeline at Actors Theatre, and various speakers and events for all our DEI groups are in the works. It’s admissions season at the High School and we are excited to welcome our new Admissions Director, Toni Robinson (see more information on her in this week’s newsletter). I’ve been reading applications and absolutely love getting to know, at least in this limited way, some amazing students who will join our Goshen 8th graders in the Class of 2023. And, of course, it’s college admissions season! We’ve had some exciting early acceptances, while other students wait anxiously for their colleges to respond. Seniors are busy as they continue to visit possible schools and weigh their options. They’re also occupied with their Senior Projects - I’ll share more about those upcoming presentations next week!
By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus After a nice, LONG Holiday Break, the kids came back full of energy (and stories!) and ready to roll on Tuesday morning! And while it took some of us older folks a few days to get back in the groove, we’re off and running again for the second semester. Highlights this week include welcoming some new students to school in kindergarten, 6th, and 7th grades, a new Projects session starting, which is always fun, and the 8th grade getting to take a rescheduled field trip today to the Speed Art Museum. They got to see the touring Picasso to Pollock art exhibit, along with the permanent collection, which I’m sure was fascinating. And perhaps less exciting to the students, their second quarter progress reports are being wrapped up this week and will be coming to parents electronically next week. Yay! Another event I was excited to attend was 8th Grade Night for our basketball teams on Tuesday night. While both games were really exciting in their own rights (including the girls’ heartbreaking loss coming down to the final shot rimming out!), what I was most impressed with was the hustle and spirit our players showed. They are obviously well-coached and played like their collective hair was on fire! And in the boys’ game, Coach Tony Butler must have delivered some “Gipper Speech” (tell the kids to Google that) as they came out and ripped off a 17-0 run to open their game. This included a falling-down three pointer from 8th grader RJ Ballenger [...]