The Nerve Center of All Things Eighth Grade

Onward and Upward!

Here we are: twelve days into the school year. We had our first liturgy as a school and the Student Council did an amazing job with very little instruction needed. I depended on their historical knowledge of "how things are done at St. Mary's" and they did not let me down. Thank you for preparing such competent and confident leaders!

This week, the 8th graders met up with their 2nd grade buddies--the same ones from last year--with the idea that they will continue their relationship so that the 8th graders can usher them into receiving the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist for the first time. What a wondrous time for all of them!

Some important details to propel you into the next few weeks:


We began MAP Testing this past week and we have a couple more to go on Tuesday. IOWA Testing begins the week of September 14. Please make sure students are having a healthy breakfast and getting lots of rest.

BACK TO SCHOOL NIGHT | Thursday, Sept. 10 7-9 P.M., Howley Hall

The junior high faculty is looking forward to connecting with you to present the program for students in grades 6 to 8. If we haven't already met, I look forward to meeting you. There are many important items to discuss including the Washington, D.C. trip and High School Admissions. You will receive a packet with DC info as well as the Mt. Hermon Teambuilding participant release form. There will be a surprise for the students whose parents are present!

WASHINGTON, D.C. | March 16-20, 2016

Because we have 35 students in the class, we may have a limited number of spots on the bus for chaperones. At Back to School Night, there will be a sign-up sheet for those who might be interested in joining us. I have very clear expectations for our chaperones and if you are up to the challenge, please sign up and we will accommodate those that we can. If you are chosen, we will need your personal identification information for the White House Tour.


The Gift Wrap Fundraising Catalog was sent home last week. Have you seen your packet? If not, please ask your student for it. The drive ends Sept. 13. Our class incentive is as follows: for every ten (10) items purchased, your student will receive one Trending Tuesday or Scripture of the Week homework pass.

Picture Day is Sept. 14. The order form went home last week. If you have not seen it, please ask your student for it. Complete it and return it to homeroom before Sept. 14.


In SchoolSpeak, under Homeroom in 8th Grade, you will find many resources to help you navigate the High School Admissions process. Please make sure you read through them, especially if this is your first experience. I recommend that you attend one of the High School Information Nights coming up. You will get an opportunity to hear directly from Admissions Directors and meet the teams from our diocesan high schools. Another valuable event is the Open House at each of the schools. I've provided you with calendar dates as well contact information and URLs for Admissions sites.

Many of you are already scheduling shadow dates. Please consider the following when scheduling these dates: the amount of time your child is missing academic instruction when he or she is away from school. Of particular concern is the science lab experience which can't be replicated. Please be mindful of the school calendar, especially as it pertains to events that is unique to the 8th grade experience. Also on the SchoolSpeak site noted above, you will find a link to a form that I'm asking you or your student to complete to let me know any scheduled shadow or visit dates. The week of Parent-Student Conferences as well as November 6 are ideal dates to shadow (except for those attending the 8th grade day at Notre Dame).

In the course itself, students will be navigating the admissions sites to familiarize themselves with the application process. They will begin to write their personal essays as well as spend some time in introspection regarding their personality types, learning styles, and their study habits, all with the idea that balance and wellness is the key to resilience and success in high school and beyond. More importantly, the objective of the course is to ease some of the anxieties of the process and help students with the transition and adjustment into high school.


This year, we are instituting a formalized school Service Learning Program that constitutes Outreach at the classroom and school levels, a middle school (grades 5 to 8) Service Block, and a day of service for the school and parish. Your students will have the opportunity to earn a Service Block and the honor to wear a RED service cord at graduation by completing at least five (5) hours of community service outside of the school day. (More details to come regarding the guidelines of this service.)

Here are a couple of opportunities to serve our Parish and School Fund-and-Friendraiser, the Country Fair. Dawn Shannon, our art program director is in need of talent to help spruce up booth signage. There will be several days after school between September 21 and October 8 for students to provide help with sketching and painting the signs. Details will come later. Please ask students to let me know of their interest.


We continue to work on classroom behavior as well as becoming exemplars to the younger students. Unfortunately, teachers and staff are continuing to observe behavior that is not consistent with Schoolwide Learning Expectations (COUGARS) and the Code of Conduct. Please remind students of school policy regarding cell phone use, uniforms, as well as practicing self-control, and showing respect for themselves, their teachers, and one another. Thank you for your support in making this a transformative year!

As I've said many times before, I feel blessed and grateful to be among you. I am learning and getting to know your children, and I am encouraged and hopeful for the future of our world.

"Moreover, that all can eat and drink and enjoy the good of all their toil—this is a gift of God." ~Ecclesiastes 3:13

Happy Labor Day and many blessings into the week!

Cecile Mantecón