Thursday Newsletter

September 7, 2017

September 7, 2017



First and most importantly, this Saturday is the Back to School Barbecue.  It is our annual celebration of being back at school with old and new friends all of whom your children enjoy; of being back at school with teachers who guide your children through a journey of thinking and learning; of being back at school where your children have opportunities to pray, to collaborate, to be in communion with God, each other and the world.  That’s worth celebrating.

At this year’s Back to School barbecue we capture 100 years of learning, playing and praying at St. Margaret of Scotland.  One of my favorite stories from SMOS grads, more near my age than yours, are the stories of going to Teen Town.  St. Louisans, ask your parents and your grandparents, they’ll remember.  (Hmmm, maybe it was a city thing?)   Apparently, it was a hang-out opportunity for teens to meet, dance, and listen to bands – and remember for a lifetime.



Across the entire Archdiocese of St. Louis, standardized testing will begin on September 18 and last the week.  In our case for students in 2nd through 8th grade will be tested.  4, 6 and 8 are mandated, although most of our schools choose to test 3rd – 8th, and sometimes 2nd.  We have in the past tested 1st grade and found it to be long, exhausting and of no value.  In 2nd grade the test is predominantly read by the teacher as the students work from question to question carefully guided by the teacher.  In 3rd – 8th, it is exactly what you remember: a set of directions with sample questions that seem super easy, the teacher then announcing you may begin, and at some point, ready or not, you are directed to  put “pencils down.”

How do we prepare our students for standardized testing, for the Iowa Assessments (new name, same old test)?  The most important preparation is everything we taught your children last year from knowledge based content, to analytical reasoning out of  multi-step problems, to calm, focused thinking.  Over the next two weeks, teachers will remind students of test taking strategies: working steadily; putting a mark by a question you can’t quite answer and moving forward and returning if there is time; remaining calm; paying attention to the details in the question; and always, always trusting your thinking.

What can parents do to prepare their children for standardized testing?  Remind your child of his or her mindful breathing, remaining calm keeps one’s whole brain focused.   Start to develop a pattern of plenty of sleep and healthy meals this week don’t wait until the night before testing.  In our overly busy 21st century culture, that’s a challenge.  I urge you to take the challenge – slow down, get plenty of rest and take time to eat healthy foods.  Your family will be the winner.

Finally, our 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th graders will take the Cognitive Abilities test – more testing after a full week of IA testing!  The CogAT is as close as we get to an IQ test, it attempts to test and evaluate how successfully your child will learn in a traditional school setting.  It is actually very helpful as we consider our students and their learning needs.  How best to prepare for the CogAT?  Did your child already get plenty of sleep and play time and eat a healthy meal?  OK, the last little known secret – the CogAT is filled with analogies.  You remember those: Hot is to cold as day is to night.  Only they are not that easy.  Practice analogies of every sort with your child.  And then, start folding origami peace cranes or any origami – the last section on the CogAT is the nonverbal.  And, if nothing else the origami folding will increase focus, attention to detail, and calm.



Please keep Mrs. Finnegan in your prayers as she recovers from an unplanned but successful appendectomy.
Two of our 6th graders came to me asking what we might do in response to the victims of Hurricane Harvey.  They weren’t really asking, they came ready with a suggestion.  How about a bake sale?  The middle school students with the guidance of Teen Outreach Program facilitator, Ms. Edgell, are planning a bake sale for the September 26 – all proceeds to go to hurricane relief funds.  Allow your children some extra chores around the house to earn a few extra dollars for this bake sale; as adults feel free to drop a 20 for a 50 cent brownie.  After school out on the parking lot.
Some of our families may remember the Duggan family, they moved several years ago to Texas.  They, like, so many families have been impacted by the extreme flooding.  With the guidance of Ms. Puckett, 3rd grade teacher, all students will be invited to write a letter, create a card or draw a picture to be sent to children who are living in shelters or whose schools have had to close temporarily due to flooding.
If you’ve been watching your school calendar then you know we have a Scholastic Book Fair coming up the week of October 2.  One day that week (yet to be determined), the students will be invited to purchase an out-of-uniform day and encouraged to dress in western attire (book fair theme).  The out-of-uniform collection will go towards families affected by one of the two major hurricanes of this season; the chance to dress out will be fun while at the same time reminding us that we are very fortunate to have choices of what to wear from our own closets.



September 11 at 7:00pm in school cafeteria: Nutrition and Wellness committee, all are welcome.  Help us insure our children’s healthy life practices.
September 13 at 8:00am in school cafeteria: 7th grade parent breakfast
September 14 at 7:00pm in school cafeteria: 6th grade parents and students have the chance to be introduced to Camp Sherwood Forest
September 18 – standardized testing begins
September 21 at 7:00pm in school cafeteria: Kindergarten parent meeting
September 23 in school gym: Mouse Races hosted by athletic association.  Sign up on WeShare.  You deserve a night out after all those meetings.
September 26 – bake sale
September 29: no school to allow for staff meetings

All of these events are posted both on the Fast Direct calendar included in your child’s homeroom teacher’s bulletin board and on the calendar able to be synced with your gmail.



August 6                    Packet Day and sale of Centennial tees and ordering other items

September 9              Back to School BBQ for current school families with Centennial

                                    theme, 5:30 to dusk

October 1                   Alumni Mass, Refreshments, and Open House, 10:00 – 1:00

                                                Ordered Centennial items to be delivered

                                                First peek at the keepsake Christmas ornament

October 14                 Walk-A-Thon with Centennial theme, Tower Grove Park 9:00 – 2:00

November 11            Feast Day on Flad with historical reenactment of 100 years

                                                4:30 Mass followed by festivities

November 16            St. Margaret Feast celebrated with Mass and announcement of essay contest winners.  (Essays to go in time capsule)

January 29 – Feb. 1   Catholic Schools Week – celebrating 100 years of faith and learning

February 3                 Centennial Gala at the Palladium: an evening of celebration, music and dancing renewing old friendships, forging new friendships. 

April 10                      100th day of 2018 celebrated with a parade at 1:00 through the neighborhood.

Announcement of Fine Arts contest winners (art pieces to go

 in time capsule)

April 27                      VIP Day (grandparents and dear friends) with Centennial theme

May 4                         Student Talent Show in Church hall, 6:30 – 8:30

May 20                       Close of Centennial celebrations with Pentecost Mass

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