September News

We are the Saints!

Mary, Our Mother , Pray for Us!

This week the students celebrated the feast of The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We were given the opportunity to reflect on the blessing of the life of Mary and her role in our salvation story. We are blessed to have Mother Mary as the patron of our school. She is the constant example and companion in our journey of faith. She is a constant cheerleader for us leading us to live as saints.

Every month we focus on a Marian virtue. It is highlighted in a unique way by grade level, where students can learn about Mary and how they too can live each and every day. This month we focus on blind obedience. This is complete trust in God. Mary's parents Joachim and Anna were open to the infant Mary as she was open to becoming the mother of Jesus. They gave themselves completely in service and trust to God. Joseph also through challenges and trials accepted his role, protected the family, and welcomed Mary and Jesus into his life. Blind obedience.

In today's world and continued challenging times, this reminds us of the need to be aware to live with hands open ready to give and receive freely to us and those we care about. Where is God guiding us? If we live with our eyes open, we can see what really matters, what is important and meaningful. If we live with eyes closed, hands crossed and tight fists, we are closed to all around us. We must remain with hands, hearts, and minds open to connect to where God our Father is guiding us. We are able to connect to the hope, love, and faith that sustains us and brings us true happiness.

I share the entrance antiphon from Wednesday's mass, " Let us celebrate with joy the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for from her arose the sun of justice, Christ our God." May we remain faithful, in companionship with Mother Mary as she leads us time and time again to her Son, Jesus.

We remain united in faith,

Mrs. Ana E. Gomez, M.Ed.

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Open House and Progress Reports

Positive Communication - Open House Week

Traditionally, St. Mary's School hosted a "Back to School" Open House Night to connect with parents at the beginning of the school year. Teachers in Montessori - 6th Grade created presentations after spending a few weeks getting to know their students/families, to review classroom procedures/policies, academic program, and resources, highlights for the year, and grade level.

We are excited to do so this week over a 4-day window. To keep with protocols and to ensure a safe environment, we have divided the grade levels over four days, and teachers will give one group presentation. We ask that only ONE family member attend the presentation per student, children remain at home, and that parents adhere to mask policy and practice social distancing. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. and concludes at 6:30 p.m. Attendance is not mandatory, however parents may schedule an individual conference with parents during the teacher's planning period by calling the school office.

New dates have been scheduled due to the probable weather concerns over the next few days. Please note the flyer below.

This is for St. Mary's students only, Little Saints parents may schedule or connect with their child's teachers at any time if necessary.

We look forward to a positive partnership with our parents to reach each student's potential.

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Rules! Rules! Rules!

Policies and procedures continue to be implemented to create a safe, nurturing environment. We also know within our times, that they are in constant change.

The Parent/Student Handbook was sent home to outline student life, expectations, policies, procedures, and family partnership. The Handbook is reviewed and revised annually. The following are highlights of changes as we continue through the 2021-2022 school year.

* pg. 7-8 - Our Daily School Hours begin earlier this year as the entire school begins instruction at 8:15 a.m. Our instructional day is tight and solid. It is important for all students to begin the day with their teachers and classmates every day. The first bell rings at 7:55 a.m. and the second at 8:00 a.m. These are warning bells. The gates will close at 8:05 a.m.

Prayer and announcements begin at 8:05 a.m. This is a very important part of our day as we begin with prayer. Everyone in the school community stops to connect with our God to begin our school day- together.

Students who arrive 8:05 and beyond are considered tardy. Excessive tardiness will be addressed. Consistent and excessive tardiness will affect the student academically in the long run. We are all working on establishing and nurturing good habits that will last a lifetime.

pg. 14- 5th and 6th grading weight

Teachers will resume the weighting system for calculating the final average. Assignments, activities, assessments, and projects will fall into the following categories:

20 % - Class Participation/ Homework/ Daily activities

40% - Formative ( Daily assignments, projects, quizzes)

40 % - Summative (final/formal writing assignments, projects, tests, presentations)

pg. 15- Honor Roll

Honor Roll status will also be determined in conjunction with attendance. Excessive unexcused absences and tardiness may also affect honor roll status. Attendance and arriving on time every day are important.

pg. 18 - Policy on Tardiness

pg. 37 - Uniform and Dress Code

Please review spirit/pride and kind shirt descriptions. In the 21-22 school year, we will follow a uniform policy for blue jean days ( Pride/Spirit Days) and Kind t-shirt days.

Blue Jean Days will be announced.

Students, when they travel outside of school for competitions or field trips, will also be directed with the specific uniform requirements.

Past Walk-a-thon t-shirts will not be allowable.

Teachers will be able to clarify if necessary.

Student's Progress Reports will be available online via FACTS SIS on Wednesday, September 15th at 4 p.m. The Progress Report gives a snapshot in the middle of the nine-week period on the student's achievement in all content areas. Students in 1st -6th grade will receive a Growth and Habits Chart from the teacher to take home, review and sign that they accessed grades via FACTS.

If parents need assistance accessing FACTS SIS they may call the main office for assistance at 965-546-1805.

Montessori students will receive a report card at the end of each nine weeks and Little Saints will receive a progress report in January and May.

Leader In Me School

We are very excited to be official members of Leader In Me with other schools across the globe!

Our school community is in year one of a three-year process of training and implementation as a Leader In Me school.

Leader In Me is a research comprehensive process to meet the needs of students and totally address the whole child. It is a companion to our focus on the gospel values and our Catholic faith. We are able to make direct relation and connections to scripture. This is a process that will impact our students but also our teachers and the greater community.

We are excited to begin this transformative journey and make a difference! Teachers will be incorporating weekly lessons beginning in PK-6th grade focused on the 7 Habits many of us know and have learned from Stephen Covey an American educator, author, and businessman. We are learning that we are giving the opportunity to reflect and look at ourselves and how we see and address the world around us.

This partnership comes at a great time in our school's history as we support one another in these challenging times and at the same time develop personal skills to respond to the world around us.

Our school community is in partnership with a team from Leader In Me who will be providing On-demand training and we are hoping in the future to bring them on to our campus and move into in-person training in years two and three.

We will be reaching out to parents to support us in this process and become part of it as well by providing support to families to incorporate the 7 Habits in their household. We hope to provide literature, training, and support to families as well.

This process and program supports our ongoing implementation and use of Conscious Discipline in the classrooms to also support student's social-emotional learning, management of conflict, and self-regulation.

We look forward to the fruits Leader In Me will bear in our school community.

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Protocols in Place - Impact from the Outside

The world continues to respond to the pandemic and we work very hard at the school to implement protocols for safety and to continue mitigating the spread. With the communication with parents directly, we are able to respond immediately following all guidance from our local health authority, the Diocese of Brownsville, and the state.

We teach and implement protocols at school however, we all need to remember that we must continue with protocols and protection outside the school building and day. If we are vigilant within the school and day yet do not practice safety protocols outside the community it remains a continuous cycle. This is a challenge for all.

Just this past week, our local health authority mentioned that cases in schools are coming from the outside. Most cases stem from the household being that each family member continues with normal regular activities then each gathering together at home without many protocols. Thankfully, many adults are vaccinated however, I repeat again our children are not therefore safeguarded must be in place. There must be a level of caution and awareness of our surroundings when we are moving about.

The approach we address these times is in some ways the same as last school year but are very different with the need to protect those who are unvaccinated and vulnerable.

We maintain our goal is to keep our students safe and remain vigilant in responding to needs as they come to the surface. However, all of our efforts are lost if families do not cooperate with practicing protocols outside of school and monitor activities for possible and levels of exposure. Communication is necessary and a must to keep everyone safe. If your child is sick, showing any symptoms and you are in doubt, do not send them to school and have them checked out by a medical professional. It is for the safety of all.

In all activities and outings, protocols must be in place. If there are no protocols how are we keeping young unvaccinated students safe at this time? If there are no protocols we must rethink our participation or implement them for their safety and that of others.

At the bottom of this newsletter is our Return to School Plan. This is the third time our school community has shared. We have made a few adjustments and they will be marked in orange. We have had situations and questions over the opening weeks of school and I encourage families to review the plan as it works hand in hand with our handbook and remains an active document as our community situation develops. Please keep informed.

Our school community will continue with public reminders as we await vaccine options for our young students. Please review the flyer below and above the Return to School Plan. Please help us keep each other safe!

We are here to support one another. Any questions or guidance may be received by contacting me or our COVID coordinator, Dr. Clara Magallanes.

Thank you for your continued support.

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Community Support

St. Mary's Catholic School has been blessed with community support from current families, alumni, and friends. Due to the pandemic, our school community was limited in allowing volunteers to enter our school. Following protocols and Diocesan guidelines we maintained limited in-person, on-campus support. Meetings or other support were held off-campus or virtually.

Currently, our school community is supported by a School Advisory Council that supports the administration of the school to secure its vitality and sustainability. Our council meets at least 6 times a year. The following are our members:

Chairperson: Benigno (Trey) Martinez

Co-Chair - Cynthia Guevara

Members: Liza D. Lopez

Terri Cristiano

Hector Garcia

Heydi Amador

Marie Ramirez

Dee Lopez

William Dietrich

They comprise of alumni, parents of alumni, parishioners, and current parents. They span the spectrum in careers from business, education, accounting, law, and law enforcement. They are an asset. At our final meeting last year, looking ahead, it was decided to create additional official committees alongside what was already in place. Joining our finance committee will be separate groups for Admissions and Advancement ( Marketing), Community Engagement ( Special Activities/Alumni/ Volunteer/ Community Outreach), and Building and Property Committee.

These committees will provide arms of support for our school that would then recruit additional support to assist and realize goals for our school. Safety protocols will still be enforced and creative ways implemented to engage the community.

Parent and community engagement are key. A Google Form will be sent this coming week to survey parents where they are interested in supporting the community if they are able. The form will elicit help in numerous areas for those parents who are able to support.

We look forward to partnering with our community once again to continue to work to move forward and keep St. Mary's Catholic School strong!

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Mark Your Calendar - Upcoming Events

REVISED: September 15th (1st & 2nd) - 16th (3rd & 4th) - Open House 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

September 15th - Children's Liturgy - Mrs. Ale Rico's 4th grade class @ 8:30 a.m.

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Quarter One Progress Report

REVISED: September 20th ( Montessori & 6th) - September 21st (5th)

Open House 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m

September 21st - 23rd - IOWA Achievement Benchmark Testing 1st -6th grade

September 22nd - Autumn Equinox

Prayer Service - Mrs. Karla Gutierrez's 5th grade class @ 8:30 a.m.

No liturgy this day. Service will be live stream

September 22nd -27th - Student Council Campaign

September 24th - Spirit Day Blue Jean - Navy Polo only; Donation to the Mission Bag

September 24th - School-wide Rosary at 2:30 p.m. led by 5th and 6th grade. ( Intercom)

September 28th - Student Council Election Day

September 29th - Children's Liturgy - Ms. Yvette Rey 2nd grade class @ 8:30 a.m.

Feast Day of St. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael

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