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The Arc- SJA's School Blog

To Build A Fire

October 11, 2017
By SJA 8th Grader Bennett

Over the past year, SJA has focused on descriptive writing at all grade levels as a way to foster students' creative thought process and enhance their communication skills. The fruits of our labor are definitely showing and so we will be showcasing students' work through out the year.

Recently, Mrs. Leonard's 8th grade class wrote some descriptive paragraphs as part of a test.

The prompt was:
Explain the theme of To Build a Fire (which is a short story we read in class). What is the theme of the story? How do you know this? How does the setting play a role in the theme?

SJA 8th Grader, Bennett, wrote:
"The theme of the story "To Build a Fire" is that you should always trust in others and have faith. For without faith, we are nothing but empty bodies seeking and looking to serve a better, more supreme purpose. The man in the story had no faith, so he had to face the worst fate imaginable: death. I know this because in the beginning, an old man warns him of the weather, but he ignores the old man and thinks he will be fine. But he is not; he gets frostbite.

The way the setting plays a role is by presenting the man with a conflict. This conflict is man vs. self vs. nature. This is because the man has to deal with self-doubt, but then must also fight the mean conditions of the Klondike."



What a Delight to Prepare for Mass!

October 04, 2017
By Sister M. Valerie Schneider

St. Joan of Arc welcomed Sr. M. Valerie Schneider to our parish this summer as the Pastoral Associate.  Today she shares her reflections on some new initiatives to prepare for Mass and "Take Back Sunday".

What a Delight to Prepare for Mass!
Sr. M. Valerie Schneider, Pastoral Associate

What a delight it is to help the school children prepare for their weekly liturgy! The teachers have graciously invited Mr. Kevin Foos and me to their classrooms to help children prepare the liturgy. We select songs and write an introduction and General Intercessions (petitions).  At the next in-service day, Mr. Foos and I will offer some suggestions to correlate the weekly school Mass with weekly Advent activities so that the hour in church feels more integral to all the students do.

The students are enthusiastic and cooperate wonderfully to make each Mass meaningful. On the Feast of Saint Matthew those with the first or middle name “Matthew” were privileged to be in the entrance procession. On another day the sixth-graders of Mrs. Linda Bombrys class made puzzle pieces. Putting the pieces together, we saw the qualities needed to be a disciple.  On September 29th, the Feast of the Archangels, the trio of Raphael, Michael, and Gabriel visited the church before Mass. They told us the meaning of their names and the story of Michael’s driving out the bad angels from heaven. As they flew back to heaven, we saw a few angel feathers in the aisles.  On October 6th, grandparents are invited for a 10:15 Mass after they visit their grandchildren in their school classrooms. For this Mass the second-graders and their teachers selected readings about family relationships that need to be “rooted and grounded in love.” The second-graders will say a poem before Mass, and grandparents will receive a special blessing.

Prayer opportunities are not limited to Mass, though. Throughout the novena and feast of Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary (September 28th-October 7th) there will be several special observances. On Monday, October 2nd the whole school will pray the rosary at 2:00. Students standing around the perimeter of the church represent the Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers. These “beads” will hold battery-operated candles to be lit at each prayer. The eighth-graders made posters of the Joyful Mysteries. These will be planted in the yard for an outdoor rosary prayed at 4:30 on Saturday, October 7th. We hope to have five families lead a decade and many other school families to attend.

On one weekend each month a particular grade level will be invited to the 5:00 pm and 9:30 am Masses. This new endeavor will begin on October 7th-8th when the families of the second-graders are especially welcomed. On that weekend you’ll see the second-graders’ photo on the bulletin cover. The children will carry the bread and wine to the altar and introduce the Mass with a prayer-poem. We hope to see every family with a second-grader there, whether from PREP or SJA.

Parents, you have entrusted much of the religious upbringing of your children to the school staff. We work with you not instead of you. Please take the time to bring the religious dimension into your home. Together we can “Take Back Sunday!” 

Meet Mrs. Stacey Keller

September 27, 2017
By Jackie Terrill

For the 2017-2018 SJA school year, we have been blessed to have a teacher return to our community. Let's meet Mrs. Stacey Kellery,  Enrichment teacher:

Name: Stacey Keller

Educational Background and Credentials:
Bachelor of Art in Early Childhood Education, Lourdes University
Reading Endorsement (K-12), Lourdes University

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and your teaching history.
My name is Stacey Keller and I am the Enrichment teacher. I have been married to my husband for 8 years and we have 3 beautiful children, ages 7, 4, and 3. I have taught at SJA in the past. I started out as a first grade assistant, then taught enrichment, and finally moved to preschool. I left teaching the past 2 years to stay home with my children. I love being home with them, but do miss teaching. Working as the Enrichment teacher (again) for 2 days a week is a perfect fit for me, as now I get to spend time with my children as well as teach.

Why do you choose to teach at St. Joan of Arc Catholic School?
SJA has been all I have known. I started here the fall after I had graduated college and absolutely loved it. I have also subbed at SJA while I was off for two years. The school does amazing things for the children and the staff is great. I am proud to be a part of the staff again. 

Tell us about a meaningful moment with a student.
It is hard to narrow it down to just one. I think my most favorite thing is just seeing the students and having them come to you in conversation about certain activities you have done and topics that were discussed in the past. 

What is your favorite unit/topic/project to teach and why?
I love it all. One of the best things about enrichment is that it has no limits. Being able to take what they are learning in class and build off of that is so fun. Getting them to think outside of the box and put their critical thinking skills to use. They love a challenge!

What do you hope students will learn from being a part of your classroom?
That they are able to work hard and challenge themselves no matter what is being learned.  

How do you motivate your students to be active learners in your classroom?
I definitely try to incorporate their interests and ways they enjoy learning into the lessons. Hands on projects, experiments, and STEAM projects are all motivational techniques.

Navigating High School Visitations and Lessons in Stupidity

September 20, 2017
By Jane Freisner

No matter if you have an 8th grader or a kindergartner,  all parents think about which high school their child will choose.  Today, SJA parent, Jane Friesner, shares her thoughts on this process...

What I Would Do Differently – Navigating High School Visitations and Lessons in Stupidity

Could it really be happening, our beloved children getting ready to leave the safety of grade school to explore the unknown world of high school?  As I write this, I am tearing up a bit as I get ready to do just that with our youngest son, Nathan.  Just this week, I sent a panicked note to Mrs. Cain when I saw I missed out on the only two slots left for 8th grade visitation driving.  How could I not experience this with my last child?

Yes, high school is a big decision, I can’t sugar coat it.  It is four years that fly by way too quickly.  High school is an important gateway to college, a job, the military, or whatever comes next.  How can we help and not hinder the process?  

I feel compelled to tell a story.  I recently signed a Board Member statement for a religious order that I was planning on being involved with. One of the statements went like this, “Support and uphold the mission and charisms of the Community.” (A charism is a gift of the Holy Spirit given in a particular way to an individual or to a group to build up the Kingdom of God for the good of the Church). While signing, I announced, “Sister, do you happen to have something I could read about these charisms of the Order so I can sign this in good conscience?”  I had attended the high school sponsored by this Order almost 40 years ago, how could I remember?

After digging in to my reading, I discovered many of the charisms of the foundress of the Order were mine as well.  It was an “aha” moment for me!  I had this sudden revelation that, quite possibly, I was drawn to the high school I attended not because of the list of pros and cons I had made, but maybe because the Holy Spirit drew me in.  Maybe it was because a saint, the foundress, was praying for me as I shared her charisms!  Something must have drawn me in because I had to go way across town to attend this high school when another was in my back yard.  My parents and friends thought I was nuts!

So maybe, just maybe, this decision about what high school to attend is really being made in the souls of our 8th graders and we have much less control than we like to think.  It may be the reason our young teens, when asked, “Why do you want to attend this high school?” respond, “I can’t give you a reason, I just feel at home there.” In my younger years of parenting I am sure I responded more than once that that is not a good reason, thus a lesson in my stupidity. Sometimes matters of the soul cannot be articulated.  

Since we all may be a bit more comfortable with asking practical questions during this process, while our students sift through the spiritual side of things, here are a few things to think about that I wish I would have……

Don’t be fooled by the “show” of high school visitations. As the infamous Gretchen shares, “I don’t want to talk until you have gone to Open House and shadowed.”

Never think a Catholic high school is out of reach financially.  Some give more scholarships than others.  Most offer work-study.  Students come from all different socio-economic backgrounds at all schools.

Put away your pride and be honest with yourself about your student’s abilities, learning disabilities/differences, studying habits, etc.  Inquire about tutoring, extra help, etc.  Make another appointment to ask about these things if you would rather not speak in a group.  I have talked to very few parents whose children did NOT reach out for help at some point during high school. Remember, the goal is for your student to succeed! 

Ask about class length and class period structure.  Some schools have more classes during the day, but shorter class periods.  Some have fewer classes but longer class periods (similar to college).  Help align the class structure with the attention span of your student and how many classes your student can juggle at one time.

Advanced Placement (AP) classes may not transfer to certain colleges, even if a student receives a 5 (top score).  If your student is really looking to get a head start in college, ask the high school what opportunities are available to earn direct college credit and what fees are involved. Taking AP classes make the high school statistics look good, but it may not be the best choice for your student.  Now, if your student just wants to take AP classes for a challenge, that’s another story…..

Special modifications are available for ACT/SAT test taking such as extended time, quiet rooms etc.   Ask about this freshman year so you can have all the documentation in place to apply for modifications.

Your teen may prefer a public school – that’s fine too.  I had a wonderful Christian neighbor who made a conscience decision to send her children to public schools so they could be a light to others.  

I was very worried that I would never know my teenagers’ friends as they came from all over the city.  If you want to get to know your teenager’s friends, cook for them.  Food is the teenagers’ language!  You will have a constant flow of them at your house and will be in touch with much of what’s going on.

These are just a few thoughts I had but would love to have parents share other experiences so we can help each other!

Jane Friesner

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Recent Posts

10/11/17 - By SJA 8th Grader Bennett
10/4/17 - By Sister M. Valerie Schneider
9/27/17 - By Jackie Terrill
9/20/17 - By Jane Freisner
9/13/17 - By Kris Witker