March News

Faith, Academics, Service and Teamwork

March Reflections

The month of March is upon us! We can all agree that this year has been like no other. The world around us continues to evolve, change and I have to say at times very overwhelming. If the world was noisy before this pandemic began the volume has been raised. All aspects of our lives have been placed under a magnifying glass amidst all the changes that we have had to make when addressing this crisis. We have moved from crisis to challenge to change. ( I heard or read that recently) We continue to remain vigilant and following the guidance of our community leaders each and every day.

In all honesty, many times I feel what else is there to say. We continue doing what we know, hopeful and moving forward. Searching for something new to share, the divine never fails.

The month of March not only brings Spring Break but also the feast of St. Patrick. In my reading, I recently came across a reflection by Melissa Musick Nussbaum in "Give Us This Day". She reminded readers that in all the changes made in the response to COVID-19, she relates this to the controversy of the early church in responding to their new belief in Christ and the struggle they had with change. They struggled with wanting to hold on to their traditional ways which in many cases was law. Within the crisis around them and they asked the question "Is Christ sufficient?"

During our time, we may ask the same exact question? In response, Ms. Nussbaum reflects on St. Patrick's Breastplate:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ in me,

Christ to comfort and restore me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in the mouth of a friend and stranger.

Within all the noise, anxiety, and fear, we are reminded that St. Patrick's breastplate is offered to all of us! It is not a breastplate based on fear but the contrary. She states, " what the saint offers is no fierce metal, but the pierced, breached flesh of the crucified Christ- Christ only, Christ alone, Christ with me, within me, behind me, before me and beside me."

The reflection goes on to describe that this shield is not one to barricade as we know but the opposite of that. How so, " ...the breastplate of St. Patrick opens outward, like arms spread, hands open, fists unclenched. The breastplate is a shield- but it protects me, not from my foes, but from the coldness of my own heart. This breastplate is a shelter-but it is a shelter, not from the world, but for the world, a shelter where Christ can be born into the world. This breastplate is offered to me, not force upon me."

So at this point we ask and answer do we receive the breastplate that St. Partick describes - " Do we want it? Will we receive it ? Take it as our own? as Ms. Nussban asks, "Is Christ sufficient?'

As we continue to do what it takes, we remain united as a community of faith as we have always been. The last 12 months have strengthened that bond and our faith continues to be the light in our path.

We approach St. Patrick's Day this year in a very different way - and celebrate the great gift! As we continue in our Lenten journey, we await and hope for life renewed as we approach Easter.

Peace to all,

Mrs. Ana E. Gomez, M.Ed.


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Safety Protocols & Travel Update

In regards to our Return to School Plan, the travel portion has been responding to the needs of the community and what is actively happening around us. We continue to follow the lead and requirements mandated by the Diocese of Brownsville, Public Health Officials, state and federal guidelines. Before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, Bishop Daniel Flores mandated that any travel outside the valley would require a quarantine period of 14 days. This past week, in response to CDC guidelines the following changes have been made. These guidelines apply to faculty, staff and students.

* It continues to be recommended to use masks, social distance, and avoid large crowds. With the option to wear a mask will come into play on Wednesday of this week, we continue with our requirement of its use in all of our Diocesan schools and parishes.

* Community is encouraged to vaccinate to assist with the response of this pandemic. With the third alternative of a vaccine becoming available, there have been questions surrounding its creation and being accepted as a Catholic Christian. The Bishop has released a statement and is found below.

* In-state travel is permissible however, great caution and care should be given. If one feels that there is a possibility for exposure within the details of the trip then it is highly recommended that one takes precautions and quarantine. If in doubt please consult with the administration.

These requirements are for International Travel including Mexico or out of state.

If there is a NEED to travel the following guidelines are required for all teachers, staff and students before returning to the school campus.

Many have asked the question about going into Matamoros. We do have a few families who cross daily who take all precautions as we do on this side of the border as they go home and cross to go to school. We are a border town and this is permissible. Further travel into Mexico, will obviously require quarantine. Again, if there is a question please do not hesitate to consult the administration.

*Any person traveling must follow guidelines that may include testing and self-quarantine. The following are to apply: (Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - CDC)

A full 7-day quarantine after travel. Testing may occur on the 3-5 day.

* If you test NEGATIVE…

-Stay home and complete the 7 days self-quarantine

- Watch for symptoms of Covid-19

-Take precautions to protect others

-If you test POSITIVE or develop symptoms of Covid-19…

- Do NOT come to the school campus

- Immediately isolate yourself

- Follow public health recommendations

If you don’t get tested…

- Stay home for 10 days and self-quarantine after travel

-Watch for symptoms of Covid-19

-Take precautions to protect others

Along with CDC regulations, please follow all diocesan, state, and local recommendations or requirements about travel.

We have appreciated the communication parents have had in regards to travel and your compliance with the requirements in place. This is to keep everyone safe and by communicating you are doing just that!

Spring Break - Quarantine Precaution

In response to taking all safety measures, the Diocese of Brownsville is requesting that the school communities facilitate virtual learning for Monday, 3/22, and Tuesday, 3/23. In-person classes will resume on Wednesday, 3/24. St. Mary's School will follow this protocol and Little Saints Learning Center will be open for daycare the complete week.

Faculty, staff, and students who will be traveling out of state and/or out of the country are asked to follow the quarantine procedures outlined above as directed by the Diocese and the CDC. The quarantine period begins the day you return to Brownsville.

Teachers are providing a travel survey for parents. We ask that each family complete.

The school will schedule and provide COVID-19 testing. Parents may call the school to set up and schedule.

We continue to examine the local situation and if there is a need to extend the virtual learning window to facilitate a school-wide quarantine as we did after Christmas break, families will be notified immediately.

Flexibility will be granted to all families who wish to extend their quarantine based on their individual family's needs. We ask that you communicate with the school so we can support you. All students who quarantine are expected to connect with their teachers virtually.

We thank everyone for your cooperation and care!

Cafeteria Service Reopens : An Act of Love

Mrs. Dolores Ongaro has been part of our school community for 33 years! She has been part of our cafeteria crew and is now the manager holding the key secrets to all of the special recipes. She has served thousands upon thousands of little mouths over the years. Some of these special kids are now parents of students today!

Mrs. Lolis as she is known loves what she does at St. Mary's and does so with a huge heart. It never fails that when an alumni returns or students are asked to list the great things about our school community the cafeteria makes the list. Then come the favorites: fideo, enchiladas, homemade pizza, and the list goes on!

Our cafeteria service will continue to provide a well-balanced meal with fresh items. Though the physical cafeteria will remain closed, pre-order lunches will be delivered in individual containers to the classrooms. March is our first go around and we have had an overwhelming response. A menu and order form will be sent at the end of the month for April.

We thank Mrs. Lolis for her dedication to St. Mary's and we give thanks that we are able to provide this service.

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We've Got Spirit!

We are the St. Mary's Saints and will always be! However, our Student Council will be in search of a school mascot to accompany our community and show school spirit.

Our council lead by our president, Arantza Velarde, has narrowed down options for students to select a mascot that will inspire our school community. This new mascot will retire, Mr. Bubbles who was a fish inaugurated by students in the early 2000's.

Students will fundraise to purchase mascot suit that will be unveiled in the spring of this year. The entire school community will vote via Google Form to narrow down three top choices that will then lead to a final vote!

We look forward to the result and the spirit that will bloom! Go St. Mary's Saints!

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Healthy Living- We Continue to Focus on Emotional Wellness

As we continue to work through this school year and more and more students return to the classroom, we are well aware of the academic needs but also the social-emotional needs of our students. The effects are evident and different with each individual. Stress is one that we find in our students at different levels.

Our counselors, teachers, and staff work daily in connecting with students and acknowledging the need to be present in every moment. We continue to seek opportunities to make connections with each other to grow and most importantly learn.

We slowly begin to add elements to our daily routine here at school and it's nice to see the excitement in our students. The response to our cafeteria service opening is one prime example. Visiting the classroom this week during our celebration of Dr. Seuss' Birthday and asking the students if they miss going to the library they all said, yes!

As we slowly begin to add things back into our routine in school, at home, and within the community let us continue to be aware of ways to alleviate the pressures of every day and provide positive opportunities to feed the hearts, minds, and spirits of each other.

Student Academic Targets

Third Quarter Progress Reports were uploaded to FACTS SIS on March 3rd for students in 1st- 6th Grade. Teachers also shared a Growth and Habits Report to share progress on their students.

We would like to remind parents to feel free to reach out to teachers and request a phone or Zoom conference at any time. Parents may make contact directly with the teacher or call the main office.

As we continue working with our students with the many challenges experienced over the last

twelve months, teachers have incorporated many tools and resources to support students in-person and virtually.

As has been shared in previous communications resources such as ST Math and Reflex Math are being used across the grade levels to support students and provided data for teachers to meet individual needs. Teachers in grades 2nd - 6th will also begin using Khan Academy to support these two resources. Lexia Core Reading has been issued to students in Kinder - 2nd grade to support development in reading and target levels. Interventions for both core areas are provided as students work through these resources on a one-to-one basis or in a small group.

A team of support with Mrs. Denise Salazar, Mrs. Carmina Gonzalez, Ms. Judy Faulk, Mrs. Ale Rico, and Mrs. Ana Loya have been providing intervention with students in the core content areas.

Plans to provide summer intervention, enrichment, and support is in the planning stages and details will be shared. Groups will be targeted and limited in size. Information will be provided once details are in place.

We thank parents for their support and we thank our teachers for all of their hard work!

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Calendar Dates

March 10th - Ms. Rico's 4th grade Class - Children's Liturgy 8:30 a.m. Live stream

March 11th - Material Pick up at Dismissal from 3:45 - 4:15 if directed by the teacher.

March 12th - Spirit Day - Blue Jean Day Donations to the Mission Bag for out of uniform privilege

March 15th - 19th - Spring Break - No Classes Little Saints and St. Mary's

March 15th - Early Registration Closes at 11:59 p.m. Registration continues till available spaces are filled.

March 17th - Feast of St. Patrick

March 19th - Feast of St. Joseph

March 22nd - Little Saints Classes resume

March 22nd and 23rd - Virtual Classes for St. Mary's School

March 24th - In-person Classes resume for St. Mary's School

March 26th - Early Registration Raffle

March 26th - Spirit Day - Blue Jean Day ; Donations to the MIssion Bag for out of uniform privilege

March 26th - 6th Grade Students will participate in the Stations of the Cross at 6:30 p.m. at the Chruch- Live Stream on the parish FB page

March 28th - Palm Sunday - Holy Week

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