November's This, That & Other

St John Academy

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

~ G.K. Chesterton

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Friday Greetings

November 2, 2018

Happy All Souls!

Looking back at a week (and month) just passing, we had quite a busy and festive week! Highlights include a beautiful Mass on the Feast of All Saints featuring great singing by our choir and work by our music teacher and director, Mrs. Dawn Kuker. (A special thanks to the talented Mr. James Senson who added to it all).

The week also featured very impressive presentations of a whole variety of saints from Mrs. Crowley's 3rd graders--great job! Of course, All Hallow's Eve had some fine weather--and for many of us--a whole mess of tricks and treats. The week began it's conclusion with a beautiful night of jazz, which brings us to a special day, All Souls.

As we've discussed with many of our students, feasts are occasions for celebration and memory. November is a month set aside to remember our loved ones who have died (and yet mysteriously live), but the feasts call us to deeper remembering: such as what life is all about.

These great feasts remind us of our mortality and transcendence, of family and communities of all sorts (including with the loved and living "dead"), of our desires for meaning, ultimate joy, and eternity--and that these desires are not in vain.

Looking forward--as stores and our children will soon remind us--Thanksgiving and the feast of Christmas are in sight...but before we get ahead of ourselves, let's enjoy this beautiful time of Autumn, Memory...and to keep going a'souling. (As some of the old traditions of Halloween and Christmas remind us--see below).



Jeffrey P. Presberg


Saint John Academy

P.S. In keeping with some of the above themes, you'll find some reminders of old American film masters who still have something to offer...and a variety of things including a poem by Wendell Berry that the faculty discussed... (We'll add some commentary for the poem next week.)

What's Up...Next Week and so

November happenings

Box of Joy deadline has been extended. We have one more week to hand in our boxes. If you still have your box at home please consider supporting this wonderful outreach program to supply needy families in Haiti with a Christmas box of gifts. Please have all your boxes at St. John Academy by November 13th at the latest. We have gotten great feedback from parents and teachers about how much their kids are enjoying shopping for and packing the boxes! So thank you all who have already contributed.

St. John Academy will celebrate all Veterans and active duty personnel with an assembly on Friday, November 9th, at 10:15 a.m. Please invite your family and friends! We will provide light refreshments prior to the program. Our program will include patriotic songs, poetry, and a special guest speaker. We will also present a slideshow of photos of your favorite Veteran/Active Duty Personnel. Please send any photos (with name and rank) at your earliest convenience to Mrs. Maleski:

We hope to see you all there!

Veteran's Day Flag Sales will take place this year beginning on November 5th. Flags will be $5.00 a piece. You may choose to take a flag or have the flag staked on our school/parish grounds to honor our veterans. 8th grade students will be available at dismissal to sell the flags or you may send an envelope to school with your donation and name and we will make sure a flag is sent home. Anyone choosing to have a flag staked may ask for the veteran's name to be acknowledged on the flag. You may send your loved ones name in an envelope or to The 8th grade will be placing the flags on the grounds beginning November 8th.

So Others Might Eat (SOME): Thank you so much for your wonderful generosity with the Thanksgiving Basket drive sign-up that was sent out on Monday. In only a few days four of our classes filled an entire basket with the items for a needy family to have a Thanksgiving meal, including the donation of a turkey! We even had to open up a second sign-up to create a second basket due to parent requests! If you haven't had a chance to donate yet, or you haven't received a sign-up genius, please contact Mrs. Escudero at SOME also provides the ability to contribute to buying a turkey for a family. If you would like to donate in addition to your designated item(s) please send cash or a check made out to SOME in the amount of $15.00 and we will deliver it to the organization. We are asking that items be brought in by Friday, November 9th. If you would like to volunteer to drive the items to SOME, please contact

VIRTUS Session to be held at SJA on Saturday, November 17th at 9:00 a.m. Please sign up for the session at space is LIMITED. Any parent who wishes to chaperone a field trip or volunteer in the classroom MUST attend a VIRTUS session. In addition parents need to also complete a package of forms from the Office of Child Protection. Please contact Mrs. Escudero with any questions or concerns at

A Time for Souling...and Treats!

Another kind of song with Cake

SOUL CAKE English folk song with medieval roots, performed when children and others went "souling" on All Hallows Eve, dressed in a variety of imaginative costumes. In return for the delicious cakes, the "soulers"--later called "trick-or-treaters"--prayed for the loved ones who had died from the cake giver's family--something we can still do! (The past soulers also traditionally went a' souling for such cakes during Christmas...echoes of which you'll find in Sting's version of the song).


A soul! a soul! a soul-cake!
Please good Missus, a soul-cake!
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him who made us all.

God bless the master of this house,
The misteress also,
And all the little children
That round the table grow.
Likewise young men and maidens,
Your cattle and your store;
And all that dwell within your gates,
We wish you ten times more


Down into the cellar,
And see what you can find,
If your barrels are not empty,
We hope you will prove kind.
(We hope you will prove kind,
With your apples and strong beer,
And we'll come no more a-souling
Till this time next year.)


The lanes are very dirty,
My shoes are very thin,
I've got a little pocket
To put a penny in.
If you haven't got a penny
A ha'penny will do;
If you haven't got a ha'penny,
It's God bless you!

A soul! a soul! a soul-cake!
Please good Missus, a soul-cake!
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him who made us all.

Rediscover and Share a Couple of American Film Masters: Capra & Hitchcock



The Screwball Comedy: Arsenic & Old Lace (The Coen Bros are current masters of that genre---Raising Arizona, Oh Brother Where Art Thou?)


The first film to win all 4 major academy awards: It Happened One Night


39 Steps...Rebecca...Rear Window...North by just name a few...
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Because I could not stop for Death


Because I could not stop for Death –

He kindly stopped for me –

The Carriage held but just Ourselves –

And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste

And I had put away

My labor and my leisure too,

For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove

At Recess – in the Ring –

We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –

We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –

The Dews drew quivering and chill –

For only Gossamer, my Gown –

My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed

A Swelling of the Ground –

The Roof was scarcely visible –

The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – ‘tis Centuries – and yet

Feels shorter than the Day

I first surmised the Horses’ Heads

Were toward Eternity –



for Harry Caudill

In the place that is my own place, whose earth

I am shaped in and must bear, there is an old tree growing,

a great sycamore that is a wondrous healer of itself.

Fences have been tied to it, nails driven into it,

hacks and whittles cut in it, the lightning has burned it.

There is no year it has flourished in

that has not harmed it. There is a hollow in it

that is its death, though its living brims whitely

at the lip of the darkness and flows outward.

Over all its scars has come the seamless white

of the bark. It bears the gnarls of its history

healed over. It has risen to a strange perfection

in the warp and bending of its long growth.

It has gathered all accidents into its purpose.

It has become the intention and radiance of its dark fate.

It is a fact, sublime, mystical and unassailable.

In all the country there is no other like it.

I recognize in it a principle, an indwelling

the same as itself, and greater, that I would be ruled by.

I see that it stands in its place, and feeds upon it,

and is fed upon, and is native, and maker.


Wylie Courson from our 7th grade class kindly shared this note about his beloved grandmother who passed away this autumn...

Luisa Ysabel "Chapy" Salinas

MARCH 11, 1936 – OCTOBER 5, 2018

Longtime McLean Resident & Great Falls Business Owner

Luisa Ysabel "Chapy" Salinas passed away peacefully Friday, October 5, 2018. Ysabel was born in Ancash, Peru on March 11, 1936. She emigrated from Peru to Canada on October 5, 1971. Later Ysabel became a proud United States citizen and built a thriving hair salon business in Great Falls, VA. She cherished her customers and all of the friendships built though many years at Leigh Corners Hair Salon. Ysabel was an inspiration to all personifying that hard work, perseverance, faith and a strong family make for a successful and happy life.

Her primary joy came from her grandchildren, children and large extended family. She is survived by two children, both of Falls Church; son Carlos F. Salinas, wife Mary Jean and grandchildren Stephanie, Nicholas, Mary Caitlin and Noah; daughter Tania Courson, husband Rob and grandchildren Wylie and Wyatt. Ysabel has now reunited with daughter Maribel who preceded her.

Also surviving are sisters Bertha Depaz and Ana Silva, some 85 loving relatives and husband of Lima, Peru. Deceased are sisters Delia and Libia, and brother Alejandro.

Visitation will be held from 6-8PM Friday, October 12, 2018 at Murphy Funeral Home, 1102 West Broad Street, Falls Church, VA 22046. A Funeral Mass will be conducted at 1:00PM on Saturday, October 13, 2018 at St. Ann Catholic Church, 5312 North10th St., Arlington, VA 22205. Burial will follow in Fairfax Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, Memorial Contributions may be sent to Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area (PFNCA) on 8830 Cameron St. #201, in Silver Spring, MD 20910

When the sun shines on the mountains
And the night is on the run
It's a new day, it's a new way
And I fly up to the sun
I can feel the morning sunlight
I can smell the new-born hay
I can hear God's voices calling
From my golden sky-light way
Una paloma blanca
I'm just a bird in the sky
Una paloma blanca
Over the mountain I fly
No one can take my freedom away
Once I had my share of losing
Once they locked me on a chain
Yes, they tried to break my power
Oh, I still can feel the pain
Una paloma blanca
I'm just a bird in the sky
Una paloma blanca
Over the mountain I fly
No one can take my freedom away

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You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

~ Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

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Top illustration by NC Wyeth

Bottom Painting: On the Saco by Albert Bierstadt