Holy Family School Newsletter

Welcome to the 2023-2024 School Year!


Dear Parents/Guardians:

I am excited to welcome you to the 2023 – 2024 school year! I hope you all have had a relaxing and fun summer break. The Holy Family School theme this year is “We Are So Blessed”. As we can all attest, the last few years have been challenging, but the HFS Community has emerged on the other side more resilient, more unified, and better equipped to handle an ever-changing landscape. We are very blessed to be in a school that allows us to talk about our faith and God, especially in these sometimes tumultuous times. Counting our blessings, and having an attitude of gratitude is where it all starts. Instead of focusing on all of the difficulties and challenges in the world I look forward to a positive focus and recognizing all the ways “we are so blessed”.

I would like to welcome all of our returning families and new families who are either just starting Kindergarten or have relocated from another area. We are excited to share all that HFS has to offer with you and believe you will soon feel as we do, that Holy Family School is a special place for all children, and we are all children of God. Our teachers and support staff are ready to welcome you into the new school year.

There are a number of things that I would like to remind you about and also some new things to share with you as we get ready to start the new school year. This year brings the promise of a renewed dedication, focus, and energy to the mission of teaching and learning at Holy Family School. We will be implementing JMC our new student information system (SIS), Believe and Read curriculum in grades K-2 this year and adding third grade next year, continued implementation of IXL, and providing free breakfast for all students this year. Due to breakfast being served, there will no longer be “scheduled snack or milk breaks”. These are just a few of the main things happening. More information on these topics and more are included below. Please be sure to read the newsletter in its entirety for important information.

Lastly, please remember that our school calendar is different from the public school calendar this year. Holy Family School will NOT have any scheduled 2-hour late start days, unless weather related. On those days parents will need to transport students to school and students will be able to take the bus home. Also, public school bus transportation does not start until Thursday, September 7th. Therefore parents will need to pick up and drop off their children the first two days of school, Tuesday, September 5th and Wednesday, September 6th. All students should be dropped off in the parent drop off location, the church parking lot behind St. Paul’s Church. This will help us to ensure the safety of all students, as well as manage traffic flow.

I am excited and eager to partner with you in your child’s education to ensure success! On behalf of the entire faculty and staff, I hope that you have enjoyed a restful and relaxing summer! Stay healthy, stay positive, stay connected, and count your blessings. I look forward to a great school year!

Blessings and prayers,

Ms. Lisa Otte, Principal

Holy Family School


Click here to sign up for time slots.

In order to ensure that everyone has quality time with their teacher, please be on time and respectful of the time allotted. Some classes will be on a tight schedule.


New Head Cook

My name is Tiffany Ritter. I was born and raised in Sauk Centre. I graduated in 2003.

I grew up in the restaurant business. My grandparents owned the Golden Eagle Supper Club. My uncle owned The Hub Supper Club, Gerards and Rohde's Midway. I worked at The Hub Supper Club and Gerards for about 6 years. I am currently working for my aunt with her food truck over the summer.

I am engaged to Ben Mayers. I have 2 stepsons and one daughter. Nathan will be in 10th grade, Seth will be in 8th grade and Bella will be in 2nd grade at HFS.

I am excited to have the opportunity to work with the students and staff at HFS. I am also excited to experience HFS with Bella.

I enjoy gardening, fishing, cooking, baking and spending time with my family.

New Academic Interventionist

Hello! I'm Emma Meyer from Meire Grove. You might have seen me around at St. Paul's or Centre for Christ helping with Hispanic ministry. I studied elementary education at Bemidji State University and graduated in 2019. Following graduation I spent a little over 2 years serving as a missionary and Kindergarten teacher in rural Honduras with an organization called Farm of the Child. I returned home in December and am living at home with my parents (Rita and Marv Meyer) and my youngest sister Miranda who is finishing 10th grade. I am looking forward to being a part of the Holy Family School Community this upcoming fall!

New Cafeteria Supervisor/Point of Sale

Karen Weber resigned her position to become a Foster Grandparent at the public school. She will still sub when needed. Her position has been filled by a parent of a new family starting at HFS in the fall.

Jana Hennen has two twin girls in 5th grade. Jana has accepted the position. Jana comes with experience and fulfilled this position previously at their former school.

New Phy Ed/Health Teacher

Michael Knoblaugh will come over from Sauk Centre Public School to provide support to grades 3 - 6 for physical education and grades 5 - 6 for Health. Michael graduated from Sauk Centre in 2012 and earned his degree through SMSU in Marshall in 2018.

He will be teaching PE and Health for grades 3 - 9 at both Sauk Centre Public School and at Holy Family School this year. He also coaches football, basketball, and baseball.

Special Education/Title Teacher (PowerZone)

Ms. Joyce Hunstiger will be returning to Holy Family School as the support staff for Special Education and Title services. Joyce is support staff who comes over from Sauk Centre Public School.


Holy Family School Parents/Guardians must transport to and from school September 5th & 6th.

Public School Busing: starts Thursday, September 7th

Parent drop off/pick up location: St. Paul’s Church parking lot

Student drop off time: no earlier than 7:55 a.m. Doors open at 8:00 am. (Staff will be supervising this area.)

Parents must transport their child(ren) on public school 2-hour late start days. (See school calendar.)

School Start Time: 8:15 am

School End Time: 2:45 pm

If you need to schedule any changes to your transportation, or you are new to the district, please contact Jon Fevig at the bus garage. You can email him at jon.fevig@isd743.org or call (320) 351-5802.


HFS is participating in the Minnesota Free Schools Program. This means all students may have one free breakfast and one free lunch at no cost on days school is in session. Parents are still strongly encouraged to complete the Application for Educational Benefits for Free/Reduced meals as there are many benefits to our school and students that are attached to this application, such as Title programming, training for staff, etc.

Breakfast will be a “grab and go” served from 8:00-8:20 on M-W-F and after mass on T-Th.

Students in grades K-2 will eat in the cafeteria and grades 3-6 will eat in their respective classrooms. Students will begin eating as soon as they arrive at school.

If your child(ren) will not be eating breakfast at school, please make sure they are eating something at home as Holy Family School will no longer have scheduled snacks or milk breaks during the day. Parents/Guardians do not need to bring any snacks to school this year.

Serving breakfast at HFS is new this year and there may be a need to make some changes along the way. With that being said, we ask for your patience as we implement this new requirement.

What is the MN Free School Meals Program?

The Free School Meals Program is a state-funded program that provides reimbursement for meals served to ALL students, regardless if they qualify for free or reduced-price meals. This means ALL students will receive breakfast AND lunch at no cost. Schools participating in the Free School Meals Program must participate in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program and adhere to the regulations of those programs.

This legislation provides a maximum of one free breakfast and one free lunch per day to students at participating schools. A second breakfast and/or a second lunch is considered an a la carte item and must be priced at the adult meal rate.


Mass for grades 2 - 6 will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting at 8:15 am this year. First grade will begin attending mass on Thursdays starting October 26. Students will need to be on time to school and report directly to church on mass days, but not before 7:55 the same as school. Please remember, if students are receiving the Holy Eucharist they should not be eating an hour before.


JMC - New Student Information System (SIS)

We have begun implementation of our new Student Information Systems (SIS) platform JMC (we will no longer be utilizing SchoolSpeak). JMC has a very specific roadmap laid out for us to receive training and to roll this out over the school year. The office staff have completed a large portion of the training and continue working on transitioning necessary items over to ensure that everything goes smoothly. We are very excited about this platform and they have been great to work with thus far.

Please remember that this will now be the primary line of communication between parents, staff, and administration. We will no longer utilize the REMIND app that has been used in the past.

The primary source of communication will occur via a direct text message, email and an automated voice message to families. There will not be an opportunity for families to respond to these messages as they are a one way communication tool. We look forward to the new and improved ways of communicating with our families! A handout with reminders will be provided at Open House/Orientation.


Believe & Read

HFS was approved to pilot the Believe and Read Curriculum beginning this fall (2023-2024 school year). HFS was selected through an application process to the Catholic School Center of Excellence (CSCOE). Believe and Read is based on the Science of Reading and incorporates all of the 5 modalities that are foundational in teaching a child to read.

BELIEVE AND READ: Implemented in partnership with Groves Learning Organization, a national expert in reading instruction, and Cretin-Derham Hall, Believe and Read is a three-year program that transforms literacy instruction through outstanding professional development and teacher coaching.

How it works:

The first year is K-2 ONLY; in year 2, we will add 3rd grade, and in year 3, we will train in-house coaches. This is a total cost benefit of $130,000.00 to Holy Family School.

How Believe and Read works:

  • Literacy coaches from Groves Literacy Partnerships will work with our teachers (K-2 in 2023-24, and K-3 starting 2024-25) over three years using a “train the trainer” model.

  • In addition to building students’ vocabulary and comprehension skills through their regular reading lessons, teachers will incorporate a daily 30-minute phonics- based lesson to ensure students are grasping the reading rules needed to achieve fluency.

  • Lesson plans are designed so that teachers will know exactly how and when to introduce each letter, along with its sounds, and build up to words from there.

  • Teachers will receive weekly support from a Groves Literacy Partnerships coach and help in tracking student progress through aimsWeb assessments.

Testimony From St. Ambrose Catholic School - Woodbury:

I can not tell you how valuable the Believe and Read instructional tool is!

We have seen so many positive outcomes for our students. Students that would learn to read with typical instruction grow and are more fluent readers and advance more quickly in their vocabulary. Those students that struggle with reading (especially those with dyslexia and specific reading disabilities) gain tools that allow them to have skills to attack a word and become able to decode and later encode words. They are able to unlock the puzzle of reading. I can share so many success stories. For example, one student who only had two years of daily Groves and received tier 2 intervention (Groves) went from basically a non-reader at the start of 3rd grade to almost on grade level by 4th! My only regret is we were not able to start earlier! It is a game changer, and we are leaving no child behind in reading; even those in the 10% are growing!

IXL for Math

IXL is an online web based program intended to help students gain fluency and confidence in math! IXL helps students master essential skills at their own pace through fun and interactive questions, built in support, and motivating awards. Students started using this program last spring and teachers will receive additional training during workshop week. HFS will continue to use this program to supplement our current math curriculum.

STEM Lending Library

The Catholic Schools Center of Excellence (CSCOE) is launching the Greater Minnesota C-STEM

Lending Library! This program, in partnership with the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering, circulates STEM equipment to schools throughout the school year.

Holy Family School will be participating in the STEM Lending Library. HFS will be receiving and utilizing a different STEM kit each month from October, 2023 to May, 2024 sent directly to our school. Students will be experimenting with STEM activities throughout the school year. The goal is for each class to have STEM at least once a month.

Here are some of the possible different kits we will receive:

1. Dash Robots (Hands-on Coding)

2. Bee-Bots (Simple PreK-2 Coding)

3. Keva Planks (Problem Solving Engineering)

4. Build Your Imagination (Fine Motor Skills and Problem Solving)

5. Microbe Petri Dish Exploration (K-8 Biology)

6. Zometools (Math and Creativity)

7. Squishy circuits (Electrical Engineering)

8. Math Manipulatives (Shapes for sorting, fractions, and fun)


The Minnesota Nonpublic School Accrediting Association (MNSAA) has shared the focus for the upcoming school year on health and safety practices and procedures. In response to the focus for the upcoming school year, HFS will be participating in ALICE Training in August.

ALICE Training

To ensure schools are prepared to proactively handle the threat of an intruder or active shooter, all principals and teachers will be trained in ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate).

We will be participating with the Public School staff and Law Enforcement to train on ALICE during the August workshop.

The letters ALICE stand for​ Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate:

Alert​– inform people of the threat, giving as much information as possible.

Lockdown​– Students and staff can choose to lockdown and barricade the room that they are in if they determine that it is not safe to evacuate.

Inform - communicate the violent intruder’s location and direction in real time.

Counter - Counter focuses on actions that create noise, movement, distance and distraction with the intent of reducing the intruders ability to accurately inflict harm.

Evacuate - when safe to do so remove oneself from the danger zone.

ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate).

This is a concerted effort and training on the part of the local law enforcement, emergency responders, fire department, the public school, etc. to prepare for a uniform response in the event of an emergency.


Some of the logistical changes that took place over the summer are listed below:

  • First Grade has moved to the upper level by Second Grade

  • Third Grade has moved to the lower level by Fourth Grade


Holy Family School supports new families as they learn the ropes. Although our amazing teachers and staff are always available, sometimes it is nice to talk with another parent and meet new people.

The Family Engagement Committee, also known as Parent Advisory Committee (PAC), welcomes you to our Mentor Family Program. Our goal is to draw from the experience of established student families to help the new ones. It takes a village, afterall! Information will be distributed to families during Open House/Orientation.


Medical Appointments

If your child has a medical appointment during the day, you will need to bring a doctor's note (available at any clinic front desk receptionist) to the main office for the appointment to be considered excused. Most clinics/offices are aware of this need and are more than happy to provide a letter.

Scheduling Outside Appointments

Just a reminder, that all outside appointments (for example, tutoring, hair cuts, etc.) should be scheduled outside of school hours. Per Minnesota Compulsory Education Laws, students may be marked unexcused for tardies and/or absences.
School Supply List

Click the button to obtain a copy of the school supply list. This list can also be found on our school website.

School Year Theme for the 2023-2024 School Year

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"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." ~ John 1:12 ~