Catholic School Matters

April 18, 2023

School Security

The recent school shooting in Nashville has prompted many private school leaders to examine their processes and procedures. We're going to consider an Ad Hoc security committee on the Diocesan School Advisory Council as well as a security workshop.

Until those efforts come to fruition, I thought I might share an approach to school security I learned from a workshop given by ASSA ABLOY. They framed school security in four areas:

  1. School perimeter. How open is your property? How likely is it that people might wander onto your site? Do you have an open parking lot next to the school? How much traffic do you get? How open is your campus property?
  2. School envelope. How easy is it for people to get into your building? Most of our buildings are 50+ years old and are thus designed for multiple access points. With warm weather, how about windows? Can people climb in windows during or after school? Are you connected to the church or rectory? How many people have keys/access to your building(s)? Can outsiders look in directly to your classrooms?
  3. School entry. When visitors enter, are they directed to an office? Many schools hold to a front door entry system. But what happens next? Also, are there times of the day with open accessibility to all?
  4. Classrooms. How open are your classrooms? Are they locked? If not, can they be locked easily?

These questions aren't meant to be all-encompassing--nor are they intended to throw you into a stress spiral. They present a way to organize your efforts to make your school safer. After all, if you're worried about people wandering into your school, an outside security guard might be a better strategy than a new classroom locking system. Identify where you have issues and then figure out how to address those issues.

Stay tuned as we bring resources and best practices to the forefront. Until then, this four-part framework should be helpful to examine your priorities.

Previous blogs can be found here. Want to keep up with the conversations surrounding Catholic education? Set up your own Google Alert, subscribe to this newsletter by clicking "follow," or subscribe to the Catholic School Matters podcast.

Dr. Tim Uhl

Kari Buchinger on Academics

Time to nominate one student from your school for the March Character Award. Complete the form here!

After a long Easter break there was a bit of a concern about squishing a character trait into the last two weeks of April. It was suggested instead that we extend the May trait and have a little more time to focus on optimism.

Optimism ties directly to how we interpret events that occur around us. Teaching and encouraging optimism can help the emotional wellbeing and self-esteem of the students in our schools. We can help children learn to be more optimistic by:

  • Focusing on the Positives

  • Identifying positives in the midst of negative experiences

  • Engaging in problem solving

  • Discuss overcoming challenges

  • Eliminating negative self-talk

  • Remembering setbacks are temporary

Journal writing can be a great way to help students become more optimistic. You may want to give some of these journal prompts a try in your classroom.

  • Describe an accomplishment that you are proud of.

  • What is the best day of your week?

  • Tell me about your best birthday ever.

  • Describe the best memory you have with your family.

  • Identify a habit that has helped you grow.

Book Recommendations:

  • What Do You Do With a Problem? By Kobi Yamada

  • The Power of Yet by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

  • The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson

  • The Gratitude Jar by Katrina Liu

  • The Sour Grape by Jory John

X-STREAM Games is just a few weeks away. Don’t forget to sign up below!

  • Arcade Academy - Students showcase arcade games made from cardboard and recyclable materials.
  • Kitchen Chem - Theme: Wedding Feast of Cana- In Jesus’ first miracle he turned water into wine. For this year’s competition we ask students to transform raw ingredients into something new that could be served at a celebration, like an appetizer or small dessert.
  • Public Speaking Students present on a topic of their choice. Consider something you are passionate about, something you learned in a STREAM academy, dramatic reading, poetry, etc. Check the booklet for more details!
  • Robotics VEX IQ - Is your robotics team ready for this year's Slapshot competition?
  • Science Scrimmage - Participants are challenged to build a ping pong pick up device with as few materials as possible.
  • Shark Tank Challenge: Create an invention that would make the world a better place, and improve the lives of future generations.

Schools are also invited to bring STREAM projects they have completed throughout the school year display during the event. Sign up here!

Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari

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Office Updates

Here's the link to the Office Blog

Chris Riso on Government Services

Title IVa Opportunity: The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) of 2022 provides funding to support public school districts through Title IVa subgrants (The Stronger Connections Grant Program, or “SCG”) to high-need Districts to establish safer and healthier learning environments, and to prevent and respond to acts of bullying, violence, and hate that impact our school communities at individual and systemic levels. Our schools can access equitable services through these grants, just like with the current Title IVa programs, which means no direct funding or subgrants to private schools which elevate Federal Financial Assistance (FFA) concerns. I am not sure if the program guidance has been released in NYS yet; nonetheless, if your school is interested in equitable services under SCG you should reach out to your school district of location’s Title IVa program contact now and let them know what needs you have that might fit under this program. Districts are required to consult with non-public schools prior to applying, so let's be proactive!

Important: Mandated Services – Forward any NYSED “Post Review” or “Hold” emails: Now that your Mandated Services claims are submitted, some schools labelled as “HOLD” or “Post Review Pending” will get an email from NYSED at some point. Please forward to me any emails you get from the state that request follow-up on your end to resolve a claim. I highly recommend you allow me to assist you during this review process. Be especially careful with anything you say to NYSED representatives on the phone – I recommend you get their requests in writing and make your responses in writing.

BOCES Textbook Meeting: The Erie 1 BOCES Annual New York State Textbook Loan meeting will be held on April 26th from 1pm to 2:30pm at 355 Harlem Rd, West Seneca, 14224 in Room B2A. They will review the NEW Textbook Website and explain how to place orders, add books, and add new students. They will be reviewing the NEW Textbook Website. Discussing how to place orders, add books and add new students. Please RSVP by going to this website. If you have any questions please contact

BOCES Title IIa Consortium Meeting: The next Erie 1 BOCES Title IIa Nonpublic School Consortium Administrotors Meeting will take place on 5/8/23 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. via Zoom. They will share information on upcoming E1B workshops and discuss scheduling sessions at your building for the remainder of this year & next. Science coordinator Renee Sossong-Brady will be there to share updates on NYS Science requirements and resources available through their office. Email me or Mary Jo Casilio if you need the Zoom link.

NYS Required Health Examination Form Update: The 2023 NYS Required Health Examination Form has been updated (click here); click here for the Fillable PDF. The form was revised to meet Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) law requirements. The changes are mainly for functional use. Schools are encouraged to share the 2023 updated Health Examination Form with their parents and providers, however schools may continue to accept the 2022 version.

Previous posts from Mr. Riso

Athletics Info

Save the Date!

  1. Weekly principal Zooms at 9:00 am on Wednesdays
  2. 8th grade retreat April 21st.
  3. Celebration (Awards Ceremony) May 30, St. Stephen's
  4. New Teacher Inservice (including VIRTUS), August 29th
  5. School Board workshop September 22nd
  6. Fall Professional Development day, October 6, 2023 @ St. Mary's HS.


  1. School Visit Form, spring 2023.
  2. Devotional Calendar 2022-23.
  3. The Fall 2022 Diocesan Health Scorecard; The spring 2022 Diocesan Health Scorecard.
  4. School Pastor's Administrative Guide
  5. "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
  6. New Policy Manual for all Catholic schools in the Diocese of Buffalo.
  7. New Operations Manual for Diocesan Catholic schools.
  8. Administrator Goal Sheet and the new Administrator evaluation form

Articles for Your Reflection

Catholic School Matters Podcast

This season's Catholic School Matters podcast season is back on the air. This week's episode is a conversation with Dr. Antonio Felix of Los Angeles. Antonio directs the PLACE Corps, an LMU-sponsored teaching program for teacher volunteers. Antonio won "Catholic dissertation of the year" at last week's AHERA conference so we discuss his research on Hispanic Catholic school teachers. Previous episodes:

Here is a link to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Catholic School Matters

A weekly newsletter of resources to spur enrollment and excellence in our Catholic schools.

Location: Buffalo, NY, USA
Phone: 716-847-5520
Twitter: @WNYCatholicEd

Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

March 28, 2023 "News & Notes"

March 21, 2023 "Purpose & Mission"

March 14, 2023 "Financial Metrics"

March 7, 2023 "Operating Principles"

Feb 28th "How to Use the Newsletter"

For previous newsletters, click this link

A few years ago I set out to write a book which would explore the challenges of Catholic school leadership. My premise that there are no easy answers and that we have to learn from our (and other's) mistakes in order to form a mindset appropriate for orchestrating conflict proved prescient as we all faced completely new and unexpected challenges in 2020. The book,Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic Leadership is now available on Amazon or on the Barnes & Noble site in print or e-book formats. The book explores issues in Catholic school leadership and the tensions between building community and following Church policies and introduces deliberate practice as a method for leadership formation.