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The Arc- SJA's School Blog

June Letter to Families

June 08, 2020
By Mr. Gabriel Jakubisin

Dear St. Joan of Arc Families,

Although the celebratory Sacraments of Initiation received by our 2nd and 8th graders this week, the existence of racism and social injustices in our country, and today’s feast of Trinity Sunday may not seem closely related, it is our faith which allows us to view them together.

The Bishop of Toledo added his voice on Thursday to the many voices crying out for justice for those in our nation suffering due to racial prejudice and other social injustices; I shared his words with our SJA community that afternoon. It is possible, despite the divisive rhetoric we commonly see on social media, to ask all people of good will to work against racial injustice without supporting rioting or accusing all police of brutality. We have many fine, heroic members of law enforcement in our SJA community whom we want to support; we also have many members of our SJA community who have faced the terrible, sometimes flagrant but sometimes unnoticed, injustices and racial prejudices permitted by a country that still has not yet achieved its dream of “liberty and justice for all”. We must support them too.

The Mass is the perfect place to bring our longing for such justice. Today’s feast, the celebration of a central mystery of our faith, three divine persons in one divine being, asks us to reflect on the interplay of unity and community. We call the Church the “Body of Christ” because the members of the Body must imitate the unity and community they find in their Lord and God. But, the Lord that we look to in our religion is not only a bright and beautiful image of perfection; we have a God who endured great suffering at the hands of his own people and died for their sins. At every single Mass, the priest breaks the consecrated Host in half during the “Fraction Rite” (this is just before or during the Lamb of God). As it was on the Cross 2000 years ago, so in our Masses today, the Body of Christ is broken. It is broken symbolically by the priest, it is broken in each of our own sinful hearts, and it is broken in our lived reality of disunity and injustice. We have not yet reached the unity and community to which we are called.

Our 2nd graders yesterday received into their bodies the living Sacrament of our Lord, bringing them to a greater participation in divine life and a greater participation in our communal Mass. Our 8th graders on Tuesday were filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit in their Confirmation. With our students, may the continual reception of the Eucharist and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our community strengthen us to continue the work of Jesus Christ as we heal the Body of Christ on earth.

St. Joan of Arc, pray for us! Go Warriors!

Gabriel A. Jakubisin, SJA Principal

May Letter to Families

May 02, 2020
By Mr. Gabriel Jakubisin

Dear St. Joan of Arc Families,

To my shame, I haven’t written my “Letter to Families” in two months. The March letter was superseded by school safety concerns; by the time April arrived, I was so consumed with thinking about distance learning that I didn’t notice the month had changed!

During this last day of April, I’ve had some cause to reflect. Two Zoom calls in particular impacted me. The first was our weekly Faculty Zoom call, where I meet with all the teachers of the school. The second was a first, the “Fratelli” call, where I met with my three brothers. 

During the Faculty Call, I had cause to reflect on the mission of the Catholic school. Although all schools educate the mind, and all good schools care for the social and emotional well-being of their students, Catholic schools have a particular mission. Catholic schools have the particular aim of forming Saints. The mind and the social/emotional well-being are not ignored, but find their place in the work of sanctification, bringing the whole person to fruition in the image of God.

My “Fratelli” call was perhaps not quite as theoretical. We’re barely Italian (less than 10%) but our group chat is named “Fratelli” and we decided this week, for the first time, to have a Zoom call. During our call, we laughed and joked, shared challenges and triumphs, and encouraged each other in our life’s work. 

My hope is that, in all the family time forced by this “stay-at-home” and “social-distancing”, that each individual SJA family would be reminded of these two things. First, each family is called to help each member to achieve their “best life”, in other words, sainthood. Second, in that process, we simply love and help each other along, strengths and weaknesses included, as we journey through life, supporting (and cajoling) as we go.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to myself or my staff with any questions or concerns. And thank you for entrusting SJA with your children’s education and formation.

St. Joan of Arc, pray for us!  Go Warriors!

Gabriel A. Jakubisin
SJA Principal

SJA Bridge Project

April 25, 2020
By Mr. Gabriel Jakubisin

Dear St. Joan of Arc Families, 
As you know, we face an unprecedented challenge with the coronavirus. As a school community, we share the same challenges as those faced by schools nationwide and globally. Each family also finds itself uniquely impacted, be it job-related, health-related, or other circumstances. Our goal as a school has been to continue providing a quality education, partnering with you as parents in forming your children into saints, servants, and scholars. As we look to the future, with the rest of our state and nation, we don't know what the fall will bring. We hope that August sees us returning to school as usual on the 20th, but we have to acknowledge that there is uncertainty even there. We want to be forward-looking, though, as an institution and prepare as best as we can. 

As we engage in contingency planning, we predict the need for remediation. Despite our teachers' best efforts (whether they are official faculty or you, our "at-home teachers"), we foresee that the challenges of distance learning, especially compounded by the "summer slide", may affect some students negatively. Knowing both our Christian mandate and our responsibility as educators, we want to prepare now for getting these students back on track. 

For this reason, we are announcing the SJA Bridge Project, to bridge educational gaps in math and reading during the fall semester. This plan was crafted by our team and involves three phases:

Phase I: Data Gathering -students will be tested using the STAR test during the first week of August (before school actually starts). A schedule for testing will be sent out well in advance, with limited make-up testing availability. The STAR test will give us focused data on the particular areas of struggle for individual students. Teachers will examine this data in addition to surveying families and consulting with the prior year's teacher and thus develop a plan for students who reveal gaps.

Phase II: Consultation -teachers will invite families of students identified as having greater-than-anticipated gaps in knowledge for a parent-teacher conference to discuss the remediation plan.

Phase III: Remediation -students in need of remediation will be placed in groups, no larger than four students, who have the same learning needs and matched with a teacher. They will meet from 3:00-3:45 on an assigned day each week during the first quarter. At the end of the quarter, students will be re-assessed. If necessary, we will continue the program at the level necessa1y during the second quarter.

A few points worth noting: 
1.    If school does not resume as anticipated in August, we will modify this project as necessary to best serve students.

2.    This project will be carried out at no additional cost to families. Generations of generosity makes these and other such efforts possible.

3.    The idea of testing in May was considered. Although the logistical problems of such a testing are perhaps not insurmountable, they are formidable. More importantly, though, a spring testing would not give us information as to how students were affected by the summer.

4.    We are also examining possibilities and strategies for maximizing the summer months. This plan for the fall does not supersede the needs of the intervening months. As the year closes, there will be further communication on our summer plans.

More information will be forthcoming on the testing schedule, the conference days, and the like. However, knowing that concern for the fall may be foremost in your minds, we wanted to let you know that we are as eager to see "normal" school resume as you are and eager also to make it as excellent and effective as possible for your children. Hopefully, knowledge of this bridge project will help calm those concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions. 

Be assured of our prayers for you and yours. 

SJA Principal

St. Joan of Arc Pastor


February Letter to Families

February 05, 2020
By Mr. Gabriel Jakubisin

Dear St. Joan of Arc Families, 

I’ve run through a number of different ideas to write about in this month’s Letter to Families. While I’ve thought of many topics that would be fun to write about, I’ve struggled to settle on one that would be most beneficial for our community. 

That being said, perhaps a short, hopefully uplifting, note on gratitude will suffice for this month. According to some, we’ve passed the “most depressing day of the year” -- Blue Monday -- January 20th. Some years ago, the 3rd Monday of January received this unofficial title. Certainly, although the days are getting longer, spring seems to approach slowly at this time of year. To my mind, the antidote, or part of it, is gratitude. 

● One of our students, unprompted, drew me the wonderful picture for today’s letter. 

● Mrs. Schmakel, Mrs. Perry, Sr. Kathleen, and Mrs. Smith make our office a bright and cheerful place to work. 

● Our students behave wonderfully at Mass and sing even better than they behave. 

● Our teachers pour themselves out generously for our students. 

● Our parents care deeply about their children and long to see them succeed and be happy. 

● So many members of our school and parish community attended the Cross & Shield Gala on Saturday night. 

● Innumerable individuals stepped up and gave numberless hours to make that event a great success. 

...for these things, I am truly grateful. 

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to myself or my staff with any questions or concerns. And thank you for entrusting SJA with your children’s education and formation. 

St. Joan of Arc, pray for us! Go Warriors! 

Gabriel A. Jakubisin
SJA Principal

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