St. Mary's Newsletter

St. Mary's Preschool and Elementary School

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The Season of Advent

I hope your family had a restful and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday, and that you were able to spend time, whether in person, by telephone, or by zoom, with those you love. December is here and the season of Advent is underway. Advent is not only the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year, but also the season encompassing the four weeks leading up to the celebration of Christmas. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops tells us that the Advent season is “a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas. The final days of Advent, from December 17 to December 24, focus particularly on our preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of our Lord”.

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St. Mary's Jesse Tree

In this celebration of Advent, St. Mary’s has a majestic Jesse Tree in the Commons that students will be filling with handmade ornaments connecting the custom of decorating Christmas trees to the events leading to Jesus’ birth. The Jesse tree is named from Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesse was the father of King David. We adorn a Jesse tree with ornaments that represent the people, prophesies, and events leading up to the birth of Jesus. The ornaments of the Jesse tree tell the story of God in the Old Testament, connecting the Advent season with the faithfulness of God across four thousand years of history. Each of our classes will decorate the tree with their respective old testament theme before school dismisses for Christmas. If you would like to learn more about the Jesse Tree and starting this centuries old tradition in your home, the following link provides information and ideas to get you started.

With the material hustle and bustle of Christmas overshadowing so many things these days, we are blessed to be able to reflect and prepare for the true meaning of Christmas in our school community.

Toy Reminder

Just a gentle reminder that students should not be bringing toys, electronics (including any type of phone or smart watch) and/or trading cards to school. We are experiencing a rise in arguments and other issues related to items being traded, taken, or being snuck into classrooms, at recess, and in After School Care. In addition to speaking with your child about not bringing these items to school, please ensure that your child's backpack does not have small toys and electronics in it as well. Your cooperation in this area is appreciated, thank you.

Once a month Preschool classes have a themed Show and Tell Day, as well as some of the Elementary classes. On these days it is fine if students bring a toy or favorite item to show and share with their classmates.

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Outstanding Lunch Balances

St. Mary's free lunch program went into effect on Thursday, November 4. If your child ordered lunch before this date, your family may still have a lunch balance. Many families have not paid lunch balances from August, September, and October...all of which are past due. Please go to your FACTS Family Portal under the lunch tab to see what your balance is and pay it promptly. Thank you for your attention, if you have any questions please call the school office at 623-1465.
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Library News

St. Mary's has seen its shelves continue to fill during the 2021-22 school year thanks to school resources, Home & School book donations from the Fall Book Fair, and various personal donations from friends of the library. As of December 1, we have welcomed 371 new fiction and non-fiction books to the school library.

Students in Advanced Learners-5th Grade enjoy visiting the library each week for the newly created 30 minute special. Each grade enjoys story time with titles ranging from picture books to chapter books, depending on the grade. Grades 1-5 also have time to look at and check out books.

A couple of smaller library shelves have been added this year, and one of which holds the new library additions for Pre-K and Advanced Learners. Following their weekly story time, students select books to sit and read until it's time to return to class. They are excited to share their books with others and to share in the experience of being readers! The second set of library shelves, housed just inside the library entrance, include numerous new library additions as well as highlighting themed books (seasonal at this time) on the top shelf.

As part of the library curriculum, students have been learning about the purpose of the card catalog and how to use it, how to determine the reading level of a book on the library shelves, and where nonfiction books are located in our library. Next semester the Dewey Decimal System will be the primary instructional focus.

Another new addition to our library is our collection of puzzles. What a fun way to spend some family time! Currently, we have a 55-puzzle inventory, and at this time, we're looking to share these puzzles with classrooms and then will determine the process by which a student and/or family might check out a puzzle.

JACS Outstanding Educator and Benefactor Awards

Each year during Catholic Schools Week, JACS recognizes one outstanding educator within the JACS system and one generous benefactor. If you would like to nominate an educator who goes above and beyond to educate, nurture, and inspire students, please consider filling out a nomination form this year. If you know of a JACS supporter who is generous in sharing their time and talents in ways that helps our school thrive, please consider nominating him or her as well. Nomination forms for both awards are included in your Family Communicator today. Deadline for both awards is Friday, December 10. Nomination forms may be dropped off in the St. Mary's School Office or emailed to

Tis the Season for Scrip Shopping

Do you cringe at the thought of long lines to do your Christmas shopping? JACS has the perfect solution to Christmas shopping that makes shopping easy for you AND helps raise funds for our school system. SCRIP gift card shopping is a painless and easy way to purchase gift cards for holiday shopping, with companies sharing a percentage of sales with the sponsoring organization. Gift cards may be purchased in increments starting at $10 and can go up to $1000. An informational letter and list of SCRIP retailers was included in your Family Communicator last Friday, and the office has more forms if you need an extra. More information and order forms may also be found on the JACS website using the following link:

To order the gift cards just fill out the SCRIP form, add up your totals, write a check to "JACS SCRIP" and drop it off at the St. Mary's school office or mail the order form to JACS Development Office, 930 South Pearl Avenue, Joplin MO 64801. SCRIP orders will take about 2 weeks to arrive and to receive gift cards in time for Christmas giving, orders should be placed by Monday, December 6.

If you would rather shop online, you can create an online account at, and percentages will still be given to JACS. Online ordering allows you to select the cards and amounts you would like, completing payment with your credit card.

St. Mary's Christmas Programs

Make plans now to attend the Preschool and Elementary School Christmas Programs! The Preschool program for Early Learners, Advanced Learners, and Pre-K students is scheduled for Tuesday, December 14 starting at 10:00 a.m. in St. Mary's Church. The Elementary program for Kindergarten - 5th Grade students is scheduled for Wednesday, December 15 starting at 6:30 p.m. in the St. Mary's Church. Dress attire for both programs is holiday dress with no jeans. Ms. Kessler always does an amazing job with St. Mary's programs and you won't want to miss the fun!
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Christmas Tamales and Queso

Speaking of Christmas, St. Mary's is excited to be partnering with Festival Mexican Restaurant to offer our families tamales and queso, just in time for the holidays! An order form is included in your Family Communicator today so you can see all the delicious options. Items will be delivered right to St. Mary's for your convenience with two different delivery dates: Tuesday, December 14 or Wednesday, December 15. A percentage of proceeds from the sales will go towards 5th Grade's Spring Trip in May. Festival's tamales and queso are an amazing treat any day, and would make great gifts for family and friends as well. Please see the order form for more information.

4th and 5th Grade Enrichment Opportunities

Mrs. Lone will be starting her awesome after school enrichment program for 4th and 5th graders, held on Thursday afternoons from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in her classroom. The 4th and 5th grade students will rotate each week, with roughly two opportunities for each grade per month. During her enrichment program, Mrs. Lone will take what students are learning in the classroom and expand on the information with engaging projects and activities, including those related to current events and holidays. The cost will be $5 per session for each student attending.

5th graders will have their first class on January 6 and 4th graders will have their first class on January 13. If your child is interested in participating, please bring a note with your child's name, classroom teacher, and your phone number. Please respond as soon as possible so your child's name may be added to the list (in the order they are received) and supplies may be purchased. Enrichment classes are capped at 15 students each week.

Please note that even though this is an after school activity, the expectations and rules that pertain during the school day still apply. If a student does not conduct himself or herself in a manner that reflects these expectations, they may lose the privilege of attending. Students not picked up from Mrs. Lone's classroom door promptly at 4:30 p.m. will be checked into After School Care.

Important Dates to Remember

Monday, December 6: Feast Day of St. Nicholas

Monday, December 6: Reconciliation for 3rd-5th Grades, 10:00 a.m.

Tuesday, December 7: First Tuesday at Club 609

Tuesday, December 7: Preschool's Green Color Day and Show and Tell

Wednesday, December 8: Feast of the Immaculate Conception, School Mass at 8:30 a.m.

Thursday, December 9: Ugly Sweater Day!

Tuesday, December 14: Preschool Christmas Program, 10:00 a.m. in St. Mary's Church

Wednesday, December 15: Kindergarten-5th Grade Christmas Program, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, December 16: Preschool's Polar Express Party, 8:30-10:30 a.m.

Thursday, December 16: Christmas Crazy Sock Day and Free Dress Day!

Friday, December 17: End of 2nd Quarter

Friday, December 17: Classroom Christmas Parties, 10:00-11:00 a.m.

Friday, December 17: Noon Dismissal, NO AFTER SCHOOL CARE

Saturday, December 18-Sunday, January 2: Christmas Break

Monday, January 3: Classes Resume

Wednesday, January 5: Charity Dress Day

Friday, January 7: Grade Cards Sent Home

Tuesday January 11, 18, 25: 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Spelling Bees

Friday, January 14: Noon Dismissal, Faculty PD Day

Monday, January 17: No School, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Thursday, January 20: Free Dress Day

Friday, January 28: St. Mary's Final Spelling Bee, 10:00 a.m.