December News

Catholic School Strong

Advent - Jesus is the Reason for the Season

Greetings! We are well on our way this Advent season focused on Christ. Our Advent journey has begun and we surely do welcome the season that brings great hope, peace, joy, and love.

The Church calls us to "watch and pray". We are called to do good works, penance, and engage in daily prayer to draw closer to our Lord, who remains the gift of life. He is the gift we celebrate at Christmas. We prepare to celebrate the birth of our King!

A traditional symbol and practice is the Advent wreath. Our 5th-grade students in Mrs. Guerra's homeroom did a wonderful job at our liturgy this week helping us review its purpose and sharing the grand impact it can have in our life if we pay close attention to the details and allow the Lord to work in our hearts. The students began by reminding us that Advent refers to "the coming and the arrival of something important."

The students explained and taught us the meaning behind the wreath. They shared the following:

The green wreath symbolizes the new and everlasting life that we can have through Jesus. The circle reminds us of God, who is eternal, who has no beginning or end. He has an endless amount of mercy and love for everyone.

Next were the candles, which the light from all symbolizes the light of God coming into the world. Jesus is the Light that takes away the darkness of our lives, brings us new life and hope. The candlelight also reminds us that we are called to be a light to the world.

The students went on to explain that the purple candles are to inspire us to prepare. They stand for hope, love, and peace. When we prepare our hearts, we can experience all of these things. The "pink" one ( rose color), reflects JOY. We find great joy in the celebration of Jesus' birth, death, resurrection and hold on with great anticipation in His Second Coming!

The white candle that is placed at the center of the wreath is the Christ Candle, which is lit on Christmas Eve. This serves as a reminder that Jesus is the center of what we are celebrating and remains the center of our lives.

On behalf of myself, Monsignor Bert Diaz, Fr. Alejandro Garcia, and the entire St. Mary's Faculty and Staff may everyone have a blessed Advent season and a joyous Christmas!

In Christ,

Mrs. Ana E. Gomez, M.Ed.


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STEM Days @ St. Mary's Catholic School

Developing Strong Thinkers and Innovators for the Future

Coming back from the Thanksgiving Holiday, we did not skip a beat. School preparations for our fall school-wide STEM activities were set to launch!

Students in kinder - 6th grade were given the opportunity to engage in challenges in teams of three. These activities serve as formative assessments where the school can gauge the level of development of our students within essential competencies drawing from concepts and skills they have learned. The challenge places them in situations where we see students draw from their own resources to take the thinking process to the next level.

The engagement stimulated in the activity ignites the cognitive processes beyond recall and requires the students to make their own decisions on how to approach a problem and or activity and imply more than one single step. The challenges increase in rigor to require next-level cognitive thinking/processes to require the student to problem solve, plan and draw evidence to support their ideas. Students work on connecting the dots by relating ideas in order to solve the problem using multiple steps and drawing upon a variety of skills.

This is done on their own but encouraged by the teachers and team members as they work together to achieve success learning from each other.

Teachers debrief and discuss observations within the individual classes, grade levels, and vertically. St. Mary's capitalizes on these opportunities to retrieve live data from observing and working with our students that helps drive our instructional plans and goals.

We congratulate our students and teachers and look forward to continued growth and success! We look forward to our spring STEM Days.

Sharing Christmas Cheer

We invite all families to participate in our annual toy drive. This year, we will collaborate with our parish, St. Mary's Catholic Church ministries the Works of Mercy, and our youth group. Their annual Giving Tree was initiated last Sunday.

A collection of toys for local children are collected and distributed to families. Gifts for children in the ages of 0-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 are requested. We invite our students to each purchase and return an unwrapped toy to school on Thursday, December 9th.

We will host a Dress Down Day for all students who bring in a toy that day. Students may wear a special outfit, play clothes on this day. We ask for students to refrain from wearing costumes or pajamas.

We thank you for your kindness and generosity.

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Mark Your Calendars - December Activities

Our school community prides itself on facilitating experiences for our students along with their learning. December is a rich month of many, many opportunities. Connections are made in all content/subject areas. We are in our second year of incorporating themes by quarter to impact learning. In the second quarter, we are centering around the theme of Around the World. Our recent STEM Day followed this theme. We will continue to see its influences in the days and weeks ahead.

Our students will be involved with the following activities this month. Families are invited where indicated.

Feast of St. Nicholas - Monday, December 6th- Teachers incorporate the life of St. Nicholas within their lessons to highlight the life of this precious saint and make the connection to Santa. Students are invited to take a photo with Santa, there will be letter writing and a special treat shared with all of our students.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception - This is a Holy Day of Obligation in our church. This holy day celebrates the conception of our Blessed Mother who God the Father destined to be free from sin to later carry His Son, Jesus. We contemplate her unselfish "yes" to God's will and service. Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, December 8th at 8:30 a.m. Parents are welcome to attend. Flowers will be offered to the Virgin Mary by class.

Christmas Around the World, Friday, December 10th - In connection with our theme teachers have planned a school-wide celebration of Christmas Around the World. Each classroom has selected a country and as a class discussed research on the country and how they celebrate Christmas. Displays are in the process to demonstrate the students' findings. Classes will travel the school, Friday, December 10th learning about each country. and marking their passports. Extraordinary details about each country will also be shared over the intercom by each class. This will be a day highlighting our similarities country by country about our Christmas celebrations and the unique traditions that we share. We hope in the future to add to this event and open it to the community.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Monday, December 13th- The feast of our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on the 12th. Following on a Sunday this year, our 2nd graders will present a very special Prayer Service Monday morning at 9 a.m. in the church. It includes a beautiful reenactment of when our Lady appeared to St. Juan Diego in Tepeyac Hill in 1531 sharing her love, wisdom, and care leading many to her Son. Parents are invited to this special event.

Christmas Program Day, Tuesday, December 14th - This is a very special opportunity for students to work together to present a very special message at Christmas. This year we will offer a day of programs. This is to implement protocols and divide grade levels to perform during the school day. Programs will take place in the church and will also be live-streamed for parents and family members who cannot be in attendance. The following schedule will be followed.

9 a.m. - Little Saints and Montessori

10:30 a.m. - 1st and 2nd Grade

12 noon - 3rd -4th Grade

1:30 p.m. - 5th and 6th Grade

Winter Wonderland, Thursday, December 16th - Student Council brings back this fun-filled event for our Little Saints- 2nd-grade students. A rotation of students by grade level will occur where students will share some Christmas cheer, participate in arts n crafts creating special items to take home. We thank Student Council for sponsoring this event.

School Posada, Friday, December 17th- The day before our break, students will celebrate with their classrooms in a very special way. Morning Prayer will include placing the Christ child in our manger scene and classroom celebrations. Pinatas will be shared, treats, and a meal before our noon dismissal.

Parish Posada, Saturday, December 18th at 6:30 p.m. - This will come back this year. Weather permitting it will occur on our blacktop. This will be an evening of prayer and reflection followed by a traditional tamale meal. Families are welcome to attend.

Christmas Eve Mass @ 5 p.m. 12/24 - Our students will participate in the Mass as lectors, choir members and reenact the nativity. We thank all of our students and especially our 2nd graders who will prepare the nativity. All welcome to join us!

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Plans Underway - Style Show 2022

We have received approval to begin planning one of our biggest fundraisers for the second semester, our style show. Our last show was in the fall of 2019. Keeping an observant eye on the process of the pandemic and following all recommended protocols, plans are underway. As things evolve, changes or adaptations will be made to keep to the spirit of the event but most importantly the safety of all.

Our style show is a popular event where students in PK-6th grade are invited to model and or dance for our event. Preparations occur during PE time not to interrupt the instructional day.

The event is held in the evening and includes dinner, show, and auction. It is a great celebration that highlights our students. Permission slips will be shared very soon to begin a count of who will participate across the grade levels.

There will be sponsorship and advertisement opportunities that will be shared soon. Our committee made of parents and staff members has begun meeting and will be reaching out to the community soon. Specific details will be shared as soon as they are finalized.

All funds raised support our school community's operating budget, special projects, and mission of the school.

We look forward to a great show! We are very happy to bring this event back.

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Continued Protocols

Since day one of this pandemic, everything in its regard continues to evolve. As things evolve so do our protocols and how we approach the needs of the community. We began with our Return to School Plan and any updates have been communicated to parents.

It is evident with each newly discovered variant as it is with most viruses, precautions need to be in place as the community continues to learn details surrounding the new variant and its impact. There is no need for alarm but awareness so we can respond to the change and keep everyone safe.

We continue with our standard protocols, and with the holiday season upon us, we know that gatherings and travel are highly possible. If we compare the 2020 holidays to now, we have made much progress and want to continue this march forward.

As was announced before Thanksgiving, as a parish school ( we are the only one in Brownsville), we fall under the guidance and protocols under our Bishop and the Diocese. It had been decided that travel requirements would stay in place in line with the CDC to protect our communities. Getting through this season, adjustments would be made and determined in January by the Diocese.

With that said, with the new variant, there are updated CDC guidelines in regards to travel. I have included the links to assist families. At this time it is not so much travel within our country but international travel that should be reviewed. Though travel is in no way forbidden, protocols for safety should be in place for each family and an awareness of the possibility of exposure.

We thank all families who have taken precautions for safety and your communication with the school. Once again, if there is any need for action to be taken in regards to a quarantine period, please do not hesitate to reach out to the school and reach out so we can assist.

I thank Dr. Magallanes, COVID coordinator, who has been diligently supporting families.

We continue one step at a time helping each other and keeping each other safe.

Calendar of Events

12/6 - Feast of St. Nicholas - Santa Pictures

Christmas Parade - 6 p.m. SMS will participate

12/8 - Children's Liturgy @ 8:30 a.m. Ms. Garcia's 6th-grade class - Feast of the Immaculate Conception

12/9 - Dress Down Day - Toy Drive

12/10 - Christmas Around the World

Father Daughter Winder Wonderland Dance @ gym 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

12/13- 2nd Grade Our Lady of Guadalupe Prayer Service @ 9 a.m. in the church

12/14 - Christmas Program Day - See schedule above @ church

12/16 - Children's Liturgy @ 8:30 a.m. Mrs. Salazar's 3rd-grade class

SMS Choir City Caroling Tour

12/17 - School Posada - Noon Dismissal/ Pride Shirt Day - Catholic School Strong / Shirts available in the Business Office for $15.00

12/18 - Parish Posada - School Blacktop/gym at 6:30 p.m.

12/20 - Christmas Break begins

12/24 - Christmas Eve Mass @ 5 p.m. School Children will prepare liturgy parts and participate in the Mass

12/25 - Merry Christmas

12/31 - Christmas Break concludes - New Year's Eve

1/1- Happy New Year 2022

1/3 - Teacher Professional Development Day - No classes

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Congratulations & Thank you!

We congratulate our Volleyball teams grades 2nd -6th for their participation in BANSA season that concluded last month. The girls grew in skill and in teamwork. They did a great job representing St. Mary's competing against local private schools. We thank our coaches and parents for their support!

Thank you to all for your support of our Book Fair and our Read-a-thon. We look forward t to the numbers and standings for our first-ever Read-a-thon and sharing them with our school community. Students were very excited and have been completing their minutes. Thank you for your support.

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