We are back at it with our fourth Community Service day of the year today. Students who worked outside had to battle cold and muddy conditions, but persevered nonetheless! This afternoon, we had our second "half' of Cultural Day, which includes thematic downtown field trips for each grade. The 9th grade, focused on media, visited Red Pin Media (publishers of LEO, the Voice-Tribune, and more). The 10th grade, themed around art, took a trip to the Speed Art Museum. The 11th grade, centering on the legal/justice system, visited the Jefferson County Law Library for a seminar on "Knowing Your Rights." And the 12th grade traveled only as far as the Space for Thought, where they continued their theme of preparation for college and life with a financial literacy seminar with our Business Manager, Greg Borders. The BSA's Soul Week, highlighted by a panel of speakers on Wednesday, finished in fine fashion with "The Feast" today; next up is Diversity Week with its annual Potluck and Fair, as well as some student education on intersectionality. And in between the two Weeks is tonight's Women's Retreat. This 17th annual event is a favorite for many of us on the faculty and staff, as we always look forward to this time with the fabulous young women of St. Francis. The tennis team had its first match and the baseball team its first scrimmage game this week, so we're managing to be underway on spring sports, despite the weather challenges. Fingers crossed for some better weather soon for our spring sports athletes. In other competition news, this weekend our Quick Recall Team, sophomore Drew Siciliano and freshman Aidan Kash compete at State Governor’s Cup - sending them good luck!
Last Friday was a special day on the Goshen Campus as Lake|Flato architect Danny Davy flew in from Texas to see firsthand the progress on the Main Amp and theater project. He started his day attending our Middle School Morning Meeting and gave a cool presentation showing what it means to be an architect. He talked about the creative side of his profession, but also how math is integral to what he needs to know. (It’s always great for kids to get an answer to the question “Why do we need to know this?”) That afternoon, a group of donors, school administrators, project personnel, and local media donned their hard hats and took a tour of the construction project to see the progress that’s been made (and of course, the Wyvern and Buffalo Construction buffalo mascots were on hand to lend some “pomp to the circumstance!”). It was awesome to see the full size of the stage and be able to visualize it in its new configuration. This has certainly been a challenging year in many ways on the Goshen Campus, with the heart of our school inaccessible, but seeing what is only a few short months away from reaching fruition gave us all a spring in our step! Our students, faculty, and community are in for a real gem, and we all can’t wait until next year! As part of helping to make this dream a reality, each of our grades is taking on a fundraising project to support the Main Amp and Theater building. Our students will learn firsthand that philanthropy takes all of us. Each class will have a shiny plaque on one of new theater seats as acknowledgment of their hard work and support. Also this week, Lower School Director Jen Griffith and our JK and K [...]
Our preschoolers adored the puppet show Tricky Fox, performed by Squallis puppeteer Nora Christensen this week. The story was brought to life through the beautiful puppets, the interesting voices she used for each animal, and the silly humor that preschoolers (and teachers) love! Our friends laughed and giggled at Trixie the fox as she tried to “trick” nice people into getting her a pig. We learned a big lesson about being a good friend - it’s not nice to trick people and we should be kind to one another. After the show our preschoolers were invited to interact with and play with the puppets. Nora shared her “tricks” about how she makes the puppets move their mouths, heads, and hands. The show sparked imaginations and hand puppets were seen throughout the day everywhere we looked. Spring Egg Hunts Our Spring Egg Hunts and parties will be held on Wednesday, April 17th following morning carpool. We are asking for volunteers to help hide the eggs that morning. We are also asking each child to donate two dozen plastic eggs by Wednesday, April 10th. Each year we contribute half of our collected eggs to Keystone Academy in support of their egg hunts. The eggs can be filled with toys, stickers, fun band-aids, or non-chocolate, non-nut candy. Please tape the eggs shut (so they stay together when hidden), and remember an egg could be picked up by a two-year-old or a five-year-old. Thank you for supporting our egg hunt and one for our friends at Keystone! Volunteers Needed for 2019-20 Love St. Francis School? Want to get to know other parents and be involved in the Preschool by assisting with organizing events and partnering with the staff and Preschool Director on various projects? Then you might be perfect as a co-chair of the Preschool [...]
Our spring play has its world premiere tonight at 7:00 p.m. (with a second performance tomorrow evening, also at 7:00 p.m.) and I hope many of you can join us! Titled Fancy Me Mad, it's an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe works created by our English teachers and drama team of Michelle Salerno and Juan Ramirez. Fancy Me Mad is also site-specific, with each short play performed in a different area around the school. In the afternoons over the past few weeks, I've been witness to some fascinating things around school: hearing random blood-curdling screams and coming across skeletons sitting in a windowsill, for starters. I watched the dress rehearsal last night and was a) completely creeped out by these otherwise pleasant students coughing, bleeding, murdering, and generally tormenting one another through the evening and b) impressed with how well they pulled off this complex production. Please come see Fancy Me Mad! More information below. Plays include The Masque of the Red Death, Berenice, Pit and the Pendulum, Ligeia, William Wilson, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Cask of Amontillado, The Black Cat, and The Raven. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students (plus credit card fees). Click here to purchase tickets. Online sales will close three hours prior to the start of the show. Tickets can also be purchased at the door with cash or check. Note: Due to subject matter, this is appropriate for Middle School audiences and up. There will be an elevator available for those who need it.
One of the highlights of our program is our community Big Sings. The tradition began many years ago as a way to connect families in a more meaningful way to our music program. Faith Murphy has continued the tradition with new ideas, energy, and song selection interwoven with storytelling. We are proud of this music tradition and appreciate our parents’ support and participation. Next Thursday, March 14th, Squallis Puppeteers will present Tricky Fox for the preschoolers. The puppet show is based on the book The Tale of the Tricky Fox by Jim Aylesworth. On Monday, March 18th, we are welcoming local children’s book author and artist Mary Maier to read her book Hoo Hoo Who?. Sharing stories with children through music, nursery rhymes, puppetry, and good books often innately invites children to join in and participate. They become the characters and feel their emotions, and they are building the necessary skills needed for learning to read. Connecting our students to literacy-rich experiences helps stimulate intellectual growth and increases their vocabularies. Our greatest advice to families is read, read, and read some more. Lastly, if you are looking for a family-friendly activity that is sure to bring giant-sized fun for all, check out the Forest Giants at Bernheim! Danish artist Thomas Dambo is creating giants from recycled wood and materials on site through March 18th. You don’t want to miss this gigantic opportunity. I’ll see you there!
One of the events I always look forward to each year is going down to the Lower School to take in the presentations our 4th graders make for the Living History Museum. This year was no exception. As you enter, you quickly see these youngsters dressed up in their colonial garb as some of the famous dignitaries (or not so famous in many cases) of the period. One thing that struck me this year was the inclusion of some historical figures of whom I’d never heard. Racheal Ballenger regaled me with a very thorough recitation about the extremely interesting and groundbreaking life of a slave from the era, Mum Bet. Likewise, Isala Leksrisawat enlightened me about the “female Paul Revere,” Sybil Ludington. Lucas Snow took on the decidedly unpopular King George III - what a brave choice! When Hawa Muse gave her talk about Molly Pitcher, I asked her what she took away from Pitcher’s life, and she exclaimed, “Women can do anything!” And I earned a $100 Ben Franklin buck from Luke Walden, so I’ve got that going for me. But seriously, this is such a worthwhile project for our 4th graders and parallels the experience they will have as 8th graders doing their Capstone Project in four years. Congratulations to all of our 4th grade scholars and teachers Sarah Dewberry and Joanne Brock for guiding them with hands-on and off expertise. Here is a quote from Sarah on the process: “After two months of hard work and research, the 4th graders presented their Living History Museum on Tuesday. Each student chose a person who had an influence on early American history, specifically during the 1600s and 1700s. In addition to the obvious George Washingtons and Thomas Jeffersons, we also had Benedict Arnold, King George III, Sybil Ludington, and Benjamin [...]
Welcome back from Winter Break! We've slipped right back into the flow of things with the official start of spring sports practices, the continuation of Senior Projects, and the banquet finale of the winter sports season. Yesterday, we sent off a student group and French teacher Jenn Buck to New York for a model United Nations conference and Big Apple adventure! As a Progressive school, student involvement and voice are a key component of all we do. In addition to the Gender Equity Rights Initiative group bringing a speaker to campus this week (Molly Kaviar of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth), we have upcoming plans for Diversity Week, Soul Week, and Gender Week, with students busy organizing events and recruiting speakers. Students are also taking a lead role in our annual Women's Retreat planning, as we look forward to this 17th annual event And the School Committee is beginning to put together the annual Talent Show for late March, finding a student emcee and working out other logistics. A primary way we hear student voice is, simply, that we ask them! In addition to getting feedback before break on our recent FCD substance use education, this week we shared with them the new school website (hope you’ve checked it out!) and sent them an online form to share feedback on it. Just today, we surveyed students on whether they are satisfied with the school's lunch options or would like additional in-house ones. Next week (see more information in the newsletter), we’ll be participating in the national High School Survey of Student Engagement through NAIS and Indiana University, which will give us good information about the kinds of plans and programs we might implement to even better serve them. And we will be asking students in the next couple of weeks to weigh [...]
Welcome back! We are very excited to see our friends return this week from Winter Break, and they may have noticed a few changes in our Preschool classrooms. The Pandas relaxed in the new quiet story space in their room. The Adventurers arrived to find the return of wooden blocks, tree blocks, and new puzzles (a few other materials have been stowed away). And the Trailblazers explored new plants, books (thank you, parents, and friends of our program), and matching and letter recognition games. We are routinely thinking about our environment, what the children’s needs are, and how we can support and extended their learning. Parent-Teacher Conferences are coming up on Friday, March 15th. Please note that the Preschool will be closed and we will not offer childcare during conferences. The link to sign up for conferences will be emailed to you next week. Here are a few pointers for your conference: Prior to your conference, write down any questions you may have. Feel free to take notes during the conference. You will receive a good deal of information in a very short time, and it can be hard to recall everything at a later date. Let your child’s teacher(s) know of any big changes at home (new house, new sibling, new routine, etc.) which can greatly affect your child’s behavior at school. Ask what you can do at home to help your child. Feel free to contact your child’s teacher(s) at a later date with any follow-up questions or information. “Camp Curious” registration is open! Our Preschool summer camps run from June 3rd through July 12th, with several options for families to choose from this year. Two-, three-, or five-day options are available each week, as well as an option for Early Morning Play from 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. for [...]
Prior to Winter Break, we were treated to a colorful and funny musical romp of a 4th and 5th grade show in the form of Seussical KIDS (a younger version of Seussical the Musical). And like all of our productions this year, our little Cats in the Hats, Hortons, and Wickershams (to name a few) had to practice and perform in many places due to our ongoing theater renovation. No matter! Lower School music teacher extraordinaire Kim Rash, with the help of Sarah Dewberry, Joanne Brock, Faith Murphy, Billy Spalding, Christine Brinkmann, Charlie Patton, and many, many volunteer parents, nonetheless wowed our 4th and 5th graders and delighted audiences with this whimsical show. Here is a quote from Kim: “Seussical KIDS, performed by the 4th and 5th grade classes, was a super smash of a success. Students entertained audiences, whether it was on the stage at Gingerwoods, in our Multi-Purpose Room, or in the Performing Arts Space on the Downtown Campus. The show was full of color and flair, with set pieces, costumes, and makeup that were as much fun to look at as they were to wear. After the play, 4th grader Nolan Reif said that he learned that "plays take time to put together," and fellow classmate Luke Walden said he "learned to be confident in this show." Fifth grader Bren Willis said that she "learned to be a better performer and actor." Of course, many commented that they loved the cast party! All of these comments point to the purpose of doing a class play. They instill pride in our children, help them work together as a team, and teach public speaking skills. I am so very proud of every single one of them and am thankful for all of the grown-ups who helped make Seussical KIDS a [...]
We kicked off the Chinese New Year this week in the Preschool with a parade through the Lower School, led by a beautifully constructed dragon created by the Trailblazer class. Our junior kindergarten friends joined us for the parade, too! The parade route included spectators from kindergarten through 4th grade, as well as many of our supportive faculty and staff. This week, each Preschool class participated in Chinese activities such as creating paper fans, trying calligraphy and Chinese writings, making shakers for the parade, and constructing lanterns to light our classrooms. We enjoyed a traditional snack of long noodles (for a long life), and oranges (good luck). We look forward to reading and learning more about Chinese traditions over the next few weeks. We want to thank all of the parents who have sent new books to our classrooms for the Preschool PA’s New Year, New Book Drive. We have received over 40 new titles to add to our classroom libraries that celebrate diversity, kindness, and compassion. Thank you, thank you! There’s still time to purchase a book or two off the list. And it's super easy. Click here, do your shopping, and check out! Over 20 years of summer fun with St. Francis Preschool... Calling all explorers seeking adventure, naturalists looking for wonder in nature here in Goshen, gardeners, artists, and scientists. Summer camp information is coming soon! Preschool camps will run June 3rd through July 12th for ages two through rising kindergartners. Registration will open at the end of February.
As we gyrate from 20-below wind chills to 70-degree temperatures within one week, one thing is certain - our 7th/8th grade Governor’s Cup team remains hot either way! Last weekend they participated in the Regional Competition where they produced another round of great results! The team finished fourth overall, and three of our students placed high enough (top five) to move on to the State Competition in March! Here are the regional highlights: Quick Recall - 4th place Language Arts - Amelia Gorman (5th place) Arts & Humanities - Amelia Gorman (5th place) Social Studies - AJ Stevenson (2nd place), Jack Rutherford (3rd place) Science - AJ Stevenson (4th place) Composition - Amelia Gorman (5th place) From coach Lindsy “Belichick” Serrano: "Our team was so excited to make it to the final four in a very tough region! To place fourth our first time at Regionals is quite a feat! We are very proud of our teammates that will be continuing on to state in March and are back in the library practicing for next year!" Lindsy has done a fantastic job coaching this team and our program is really on the upswing! Congratulations to all and the future looks “bright” for our Governor’s Cup team! Our 4th/5th grade team coached by Misty Chanda and Andrew Frechette swings into action this weekend here at St. Francis, and we look forward to their competition and results, too! Also, last week, our Middle School Chinese students hosted a Chinese New Year Assembly for the whole school on Friday. Chinese teacher Qiuhua Qin led the Middle School students in many different cultural songs and dances. The 5th graders performed the Chinese Zodiac Song, telling the story of The Great Race and introducing the 12 zodiac signs in order. The 6th graders performed two Chinese [...]
It was a big week for the boys' basketball team, with a visit to the University of Louisville men's basketball practice on Wednesday (coincidentally, they left shortly before Adam Sandler, in town to perform, visited the U of L practice as well!). Also on Wednesday, flanked by his teammates, senior Jeremiah Smith committed to play for Greenville University next year. Congratulations to Jeremiah! As I mentioned in my article last week, we had Will Straughan from FCD (Freedom from Chemical Dependency) at school Monday - Wednesday. Each grade met with him twice; as well, he spoke to parents on Tuesday morning and to the faculty on Wednesday afternoon. He was well received by the students and was able to hold some really important conversations. FCD's approach is health-based, focusing on the effects of substances, especially on teenage brains. It's an approach that allows for lack of judgment and opens the door to discussion. We encourage parents to take this opportunity to engage with your students about substance use. You might ask them what Will focused on with them, whether anything discussed was surprising, or what they agreed or disagreed with. Finally (and I think I showed great restraint in not making this the headline), I must report that the faculty team (with the addition of senior Caden Kirby) was victorious over the students in last Friday's basketball game! And this was without the stellar skills of Tony Butler, who was off coaching a middle school game. Winter Sports Spirit Night also brought a win for the boys' varsity team and was great fun for all. Thanks again to Goshen parent Shari Broecker for bringing a bouncy house for the high school students to play in!
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 the ways we help our teachers to continue to develop as progressive, caring, and effective educators!
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 or a cookie sheet as a tray to “capture” the water as it melts. Chinese Lunar New Year Parade It’s the Year of the Pig! Please have your child wear something red (for good luck) on Tuesday, February 5th. Our preschoolers and [...]