October News

St. Mary's Catholic School

Hallow Means Holy - Anticipating All Saint's Day

Halloween one often conjures images of superheroes, ghosts, Darth Vader and Frozen’s Elsa, among many others. For many Catholics this raises the question, “Is this okay?” The answer: it depends. Halloween has its origins in the Church’s celebrations of All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2). As such, October 31 became known as “All Hallows Eve,” a name that evolved into Halloween.

Context is critical to one’s Halloween traditions. If the occasion is purely secular, if its emphasis is solely on the costume contest and the best treats, then one loses the opportunity to celebrate its true meaning. Families who come together to pray to the saints and for their loved ones during this time are more likely to enjoy Halloween at its best. Taking it a step further and using costumes that reflect the occasion (e.g., to dress up as a saint or an angel) open the door to catechesis and faith sharing. Above all, making the effort to attend Mass on November 1st (a Holy Day of Obligation) and November 2nd unites the community in celebrating this special time of year.

Having established the context, people do not have to ditch their favorite characters. It is the costumes that glorify sin and rebellion from God which Catholics should avoid. So if you decide to go with the latest fashion in Halloween costumes, ask yourself, “Will this bring my child closer to God, or will it make the darkness of sin more appealing?”

One final note – 2020 is a year unlike any other. In addition to the context issues in taking part in Halloween traditions, one must consider the current pandemic. Wearing masks is not likely to be a problem; trick-or-treating while maintaining social distancing is another issue. Catholics have an obligation to promote the safety of themselves and others. Consider options such as limiting trick-or-treating to a small group. Try a scavenger hunt with your family. Be creative!

Be safe and considerate. Remain closely involved with your children in this year’s festivities. Above all, join with Catholics throughout the world on the eve of All Saints Day in praying to the saints and for the souls of all the faithful departed.

Contributed by Ms. Monica Gonzalez

author and staff member of Mary, Mother of the Church

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Safe Return and Keeping the Connection Alive!

It was with great joy that our doors reopened on September 28th. The smiles, the energy and excitement was evident and overwhelmed the anxieties of new teachers, classrooms, and procedures.

As we continue in week two, our policies and procedures in place are all important to mitigate the spread of the virus that our community, nation, and the world continue to battle. We continue to take all precautions and listen to our health officials and leaders in guiding us through these times. We all seek to find normalcy in our lives while taking steps forward to live through this time.

We are also happy to announce that our health shields arrived and we have begun to install on each of our student's desks in 1st- 6th. We await our delivery for our Montessori and Little Saints students to provide additional protection.

Students attending in person have done a wonderful job practicing social distancing and wearing their mask and or shield. We do have extra masks for all students and staff but parents are welcome to send an extra in case the child wants to change it at midday. We have also delivered to each teacher a lanyard for each student mask to assist throughout the day.

We congratulate our students and parents during this time. We thank everyone for their compliance and cooperation. Together we succeed.

The 28th brought change for all students and teachers. The first three weeks had settled and then a new transition set into motion. Everyone has done a great job in meeting this head-on. We introduced new procedures but also new schedules and routines for in-person and virtual students. Perfect, by no means. There are always things to tweak and adjust. Many times, we are at the mercy of things out of our control like the internet. We thank everyone for their patience and compliance in all.

To support these changes and optimize success, communication remains key. Change is difficult for all and our school team is dedicated to supporting our students and their parents in managing the changes and times. There must be a strong connection between home and school and the doors of communication must remain open at all times. Parents are encouraged to reach out and schedule a telephone or virtual conferences with teachers. They are happy to connect with you. The administration is happy to connect with you. We are a team.

At this time, teachers are servicing in-person and virtual students maintaining the connection and doing a wonderful job. We have set up classrooms with extra cameras, screens, increased bandwidth to support our teachers and all students. The goal remains the same, to continue building the curriculum and hitting all grade-level targets.

The keyword to focus on is creativity. Teachers are definitely expanding their ways of reaching all students. Creativity enhances the process of incorporating new innovative approaches, resources, extends thinking, builds skills, and blends well with the traditional. Teachers continue to make cross-curricular/ social justice connections and hitting varying levels of depth of knowledge. The level of excellence remains high to challenge and inspire students. Teachers are working to build a balance in the use of technology as a tool and hands-on/ written/oral activities as well.

We must remain a team so all our students reach their highest potential.

Achievement Fall Testing

In the fall semester, students in 1st - 6th grade are given the benchmark in the areas of Language Arts and Math. Along with skills checks and observations in the new year, the data gathered will assist in guiding instruction and learning in this school year. The testing will take place between October 12th - 20th. A window of three days has been identified to administer to students in-person.

Virtual students will be tested online before the Thanksgiving break within the same period of norms. They will be administered the exam in a safe and secure manner. Teachers are being required by the Diocese to complete training prior to the testing window.

Teachers will guide all students during the testing window guiding students who are virtual to activities and on-line resources during test administration. This time will not be time off for them but teachers will work to create a meaningful experience for them.

We remind all students testing that they should have a good breakfast, get a good night's rest and do their absolute best. The results of the testing give a great snapshot of abilities and areas to grow. The data accurately measures academic progress.

Teachers will share all details with their students and parents via their weekly communication.

We look forward to sharing this information with our families.

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October Awareness Month - Spirit Week @ SMS

We know that the month of October is a week of awareness. At St. Mary's, we like to take the time to highlight many important organizations and causes. We remain aware of the community and our call to encourage, support and pray for our neighbors.

We invite ALL students to participate each day and engage in the activities planned at home and on campus.

We encourage all students to participate in our first-ever virtual rally! We look forward to it!

We thank Dr. Magallanes for organizing and our teachers for implementing each day. If you have questions about these events please do not hesitate to reach out to her!

October 26th - October 30th

Monday - Choose Kind and Unity

We are united, we are kind and we say no to bullying!

Wear your Choose Kind or orange shirt with jeans.

Tuesday - Pajama Day

Don't let bad choices ruin your dreams!

Wear your favorite pajamas to school! You may wear slippers, but bring tennis shoes to change for PE and/or recess.

Wednesday - Wear Red to celebrate Red Ribbon / Drug Free

Put a STOP to drugs! Wear a red shirt with jeans.

Stop and record! Participate in our St. Mary's virtual rally on Flipgrid by making a video about our Spirit Week! The class that participates with the most students, teachers and best Flipgrids will win a pizza and movie day for lunch on Friday!

Find the instructions and Flipgrid link in the Counseling Google Classroom.

Thursday - Crazy Day

We are crazy about doing our very best!

Wear crazy hair and mismatched clothes to school!

(Appropriate clothes only - no spaghetti straps, ripped jeans, short skirts or shorts).

Friday - Super Hero Day

You have the power to be a super student!

Wear a superhero costume or shirt w/jeans.

Inspire others with a positive and strong St. Mary's student attitude!

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Return to School Survey Quarter Two & Handbooks - Rules to Keep Us Safe

The second semester will begin on Monday, November 2nd. A survey may be found below to inform the school of the status of the students who have remained virtual. We ask that responses be submitted by Monday, October 26th to plan accordingly. The second quarter will end January 15, 2021. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the office if you have any questions.

All families have received the Return to School Plan. We thank our families for attending our virtual meetings in regards to our re-opening. As we do every year, our Parent-Student Handbook is also key in the day to day operations of our school community.

In the next week, we will be sending home a hardcopy of our handbook and providing virtual students access to our website. A hard copy may be requested. An acknowledgment will be required for each family and we ask that it be reviewed. The Return to School Plan is an appendix and currently supersedes certain policies due to CDC and Diocesan guidelines due to the pandemic.

Forms are also required at the start of every year. Student emergency contact information can always be updated via the FACTS SIS system (Renweb). All students have submitted technology usage forms as of date. Media Release Forms will be sent home to students who are in -person. Instructions will be shared with virtual students' parents to complete and submit very soon.

Please do not hesitate to call the school office if you need any assistance. Thank you for your cooperation.

2nd Quarter- Method of Instruction Selection Form

Parents of virtual students are asked to complete only. Thank you.

Important Dates - Mark you Calendars

10/ 13- 10/15 - Iowa Assessment

10/13- Children's Liturgy at 8:15 a.m. Mrs. Cazares' , 4th grade class

10/16 - Spirit Day - Jeans/Pride/Spirit shirt

10/21 - Children's Liturgy at 8:15 a.m. Ms. Garcia's 3rd grade class

10/23 - Pink Day - We bring awareness to woman's health and those who have battled and are battling breast cancer. Students may wear all pink or a pink top with jeans. Donations may be made to the Mission bag and will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation that supports the fight of cancer. https://ww5.komen.org/

10/26 - Deadline for submission of 2nd Quarter - Method of Instruction Selection Form

10/26- 10/30 - Spirit Week

10/28 - Children's Liturgy at 8:15 a.m. Mrs. D. Ruiz's 2nd grade class

10/30 - End of the 1st Quarter

Looking Ahead

11/1 - All Saint's Day

Day light Savings

11/2 - Start of the 2nd Quarter

11/6 - Report Card Day

Virtual Honor Roll Recognition - Details forthcoming

Student Council Election Process

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Prayer & Children's liturgy - A Very Special Part of Our Day & Week

We are so happy to have our students gather to celebrate mass. As we begin in-person instruction, one class at a time is attending mass while our students in the classrooms and at home are able to watch live.

We give thanks for being able to celebrate and engage our student's in the prayer of the Holy Mass.

Though closed to the public, only family members of the class celebrating are invited to attend following all protocols.

As a Catholic school, prayer is a big part of our day. In the month of October, we are praying the Rosary on Fridays at 2:45 p.m. over the intercom. Our students and teachers assist and offer intentions as we pray, reflect on the life of Christ, and request the intercession of our Blessed Mother.

We look forward to the days ahead where we can add groups and one day celebrate Mass completely as a school community and incorporate more opportunities to connect.

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Our Heroes - Parent - Grandparent Volunteers

This year due to the pandemic and policy of visitors allowable on campus, we are restricted to traffic in the building to keep the environment safe. The Diocese has allowed each campus two volunteers per quarter who can help with day to day operations. They are to be cleared by the Catholic School Office and adhere to all policies for safety.

St. Mary's Catholic School continues to be blessed with many who are generous with their time, talent, and treasure. For 50 years, the parents have been the heart of our school, and their support providing great success.

We are currently looking for parents who would like to assist with our advancement and 50th-anniversary efforts. All work will be done virtually with our team as we look at new ways to celebrate our community, fundraise, and promote our school and the beauty of it.

Those parents/grandparents who are interested in assisting are asked to email Mrs. Anna Lindsey, Admissions and Advancement Director at alindsey@cdobcs.org so that you may be included in a virtual planning meeting to be held on Thursday, October 15th virtually.

We are excited to share some plans and know our parents have some wonderful ideas too!

We look forward to great things this year! We are St. Mary's and we are Catholic School Strong!

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