The Sentinel – Volume 11, Issue 4

Principal’s Message

Since the first days of school, students and teachers have been reflecting on our theme of Living Stonesand considering how we might incorporate it into our daily life at All Saints.  As a starting point, I invited the children to expand upon the theme so as to create a motto that we can include in all of our announcements and publications.  Through class-wide discussions, the students generated twenty-seven proposals.  The leadership of the Student Council Association, the National Junior Honor Society, and the Peace & Justice Players reviewed all of the entries and narrowed the field of choices to five. Last Friday, all of the students in grades K-8 selected the following as our school-wide theme for the year: Living Stones on the Pathway to Heaven. I am proud of our students for their thoughtful participation and grateful for the leadership of our middle school students who were so helpful in steering the process.

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During our year of self-study in preparation for re-accreditation, the faculty identified the topic of homework as an area for further discussion and consensus-building.  Subsequently, we included the following objective in support of this initiative in the first year of our five year plan: Develop a school-wide philosophy and framework regarding homework practices to establish greater consistency among grade levels and understanding among parents.

This goal was a focus for faculty dialogue and reflection throughout last year as we considered “best practices”, reviewed recent research on the topic, and created a framework in support of student learning at All Saints.  A copy of the new Homework Policy and Rationale can be found as a link to this week’s newsletter.  The document provides a brief summary of the research on this topic, an excerpt of our diocesan policy, and a list of practical strategies that the faculty has identified to ensure that homework procedures are effective and truly support learning.  I encourage you to spend a couple of minutes reviewing the framework as I believe it provides a clear explanation as to why we incorporate homework in our program at All Saints and what you and your child can expect in regards to this form of assessment.

In addition to providing a list of “best practices”, several suggestions for parents are included in the document as well.  Perhaps the most critical is that of allowing each child to work independently to complete homework and projects.  Parents are encouraged to provide a quiet learning environment while allowing the child to have full “ownership” of the work.  As homework is assigned so that students can “practice” skills, it provides the teachers an opportunity to determine each child’s level of mastery and tailor follow up instruction accordingly.  For this reason, it is vitally important that the students complete the work on their own with parents simply providing encouragement and ensuring completion.

It is important that I point out that while this Homework Policy and Rationale is a new document, the strategies outlined within are already being implemented.  As such, it confirms and clarifies what is already taking place as the faculty modified practices last year.  Most importantly, it creates a statement of what we believe about student learning and the role of homework at All Saints.  I hope you find the document helpful as you continue to support your child in the daily process of learning and growing.

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Last week one of our school parents shared with me a copy of a prayer entitled A Prayer for our Children. As we continue to settle into the routines of the new year, it seems particularly relevant and inspiring.

Please deliver our paternal hearts from worry and from fear,

And protect our precious little ones as they begin their new school year.

Though there’s little to be scared of, it’s a parent’s rite, it’s true,

To worry about children when they are out of view.

May your Angels be present in the classrooms and halls,

Outside in the schoolyard and inside the school walls.

May they watch over our children as they learn and as they play;

May your love be there to guide them throughout the long school day.

SCA Installation Ceremony

Congratulations to the following students who were installed as officers and representatives of the Student Council Association during a ceremony Friday afternoon.  Fr. Juan Puigbo, our new parochial vicar, served as keynote speaker and enthusiastically shared a message of great hope ~ that each student at All Saints is called to live a life of heroic faith!

Officers

President                                   Caroline R.

Vice President                            Monica G.

Secretary/Historian                     Samantha E.

Finance                                     Brandon M.

Religious Activities                     Mary Kate H.

Health, Safety & Ecology            Christine M.

School Spirit & Publicity             William P.

Class Representatives

Grade   4A                                Lance C.

4B                                Caralyne S.

Grade   5A                                Natalie M.

5B                                Shelby U.

Grade   6A                                Vivienne P.

6B                                Andrew C.

Grade   7A                                Alyson K.

7B                                Bridget K.

Grade   8A                                Gwendolyn B.

8B                                Olivia R.

Message from Caroline Rector, President of the SCA

Today we are celebrating the installation of our SCA officers and class representatives.  Yet, we should all be proud that we are a part of All Saints Catholic School, which has the distinction of being a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.  I hope that during this year, our community will look at us not only as an academic school, but as one of the most giving and caring schools.  This year our school’s theme is “Living Stones” and as living stones we strengthen the foundation of our church through service and sacrifice.

St. Benedict has a guide for daily living, and these rules should be followed by all, to guide us in our daily lives.  He said, “Morals are the foundation upon which a country rises to great heights.  Take away morals, and countries, leaders and individuals fall.”  Together let’s lead this school to great heights using our moral compass and by honoring our commitment to help others.

Thank you, God bless, and please remember these words from Mother Theresa, “Peace begins with a smile.” Let’s use that positive approach to work together, to pray together, and to be Christ’s Living Stones here at All Saints.

Lock-Down Drill

Six years ago our school Crisis Management Team implemented quarterly lock-down drills to familiarize students and staff with our security response plan.  Each drill is clearly introduced as a practice with teachers and staff providing age-appropriate instructions to the students.  The first drill for the year will occur on Thursday, September 30th at 10:00 a.m. (Please note: This drill has been scheduled for several weeks and is not in response to any concerns specific to All Saints.  Rather, it is another exercise by which we maintain a state of preparedness should the need ever arise to secure the facility and safeguard the children.)

Volunteer Thank You

A big thank you those volunteers who made last week a bit easier for the Liaisons and New Families.  The nursery was staffed to allow parents to attend gatherings – thanks to Mrs. Becky Ruwe, Mrs. Sue Collins, Mrs. Julia McGrath, Mrs. Marjorie Collins, Mrs. Karina Rodriguez, and Mrs. Rebbecca Steketee for their time taking care of the little ones.  And thank you goes out to all parents who donated food for the New Parent Coffee.    It truly turned into more of a continental breakfast buffet than a simple coffee.  Your generosity is overwhelming! Mr. Conroy noted that our school’s second mission statement should be “No  parent leaves hungry!”

There is not enough space to thank all the wonderful volunteers who dedicate their time to our school.  If your name does not appear please know that is it not for lack of gratitude on behalf of the faculty, staff & PTO.

Spirit News ~ Coming up!

Come join us for lunch at Chick-Fil-A this Friday, September 24th after the noon dismissal. This is a great opportunity to meet new families and reconnect with your friends. Invite your friends, carpool buddies and anyone whom you or your children want to visit with. Present the flyer either to the register or the drive through when you pay for your meal and the school will receive 15% of the proceeds. Chick-Fil-A is located off of Rt 28 near the Super Target at 9939 Sowder Village Square, Manassas, VA 20109 703 365-9292.

IMPORTANT REMINDERS

Calendar Revision for May

The Office of Catholic Schools has approved our request to reschedule the half day reserved for curriculum mapping from Monday, May 9th to Friday, May 6th.  As such, the half day will now coincide with the band trip scheduled for Friday, May 6th with the afternoon reserved for the curriculum mapping project.

PTO Volunteer Fair

In place of the PTO General Membership Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, September 28th, the organization will host the Second Annual PTO Volunteer Fair from 2:00-3:30 p.m. and 7:00-8:30 p.m. The event is designed as an opportunity for parents to learn more about the PTO and all that it does to support the school.

There will be tables set up with information about all of the different events and activities that the PTO sponsors and representatives from the PTO Executive Board will be present to answer questions.

The VIRTUS video training entitled Keeping the Promise Alive will be shown at 2:15 p.m. and again at 7:00 p.m.  If there is sufficient interest, additional presentations of the video training will be made available at 7:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Criminal Background Checks for Volunteers & VIRTUS Requirements

As part of the diocesan initiative to maintain a safe environment for all of our children, all volunteers with “significant contact” with children are required to complete a background check prior to working in the school.  As we begin a new year, in accordance with diocesan policy, only those parents who have completed the criminal background check are eligible to volunteer in positions that involve contact with students. Those who will be volunteering in the school on a regular basis or even repeatedly are required to complete the background check.  Those who have not yet completed the background check process are invited to request a packet of forms from the school or parish office.

The diocese also requires volunteers who have completed this training to attend an annual update entitled Keeping the Promise Alive.  This 30 minutes video training is a prerequisite for volunteering in the school.  The next presentation will take place on Tuesday,  September 28th as part of the PTO Volunteer Fair at 2:15 p.m. in Meeting Room #2 and & 7:00 p.m. in the Library.  If there is sufficient interest, additional presentations of the video training will be made available at 7:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. (Please note:  For planning purposes, volunteers are asked to confirm their intent to attend a session on the voicemail of Mrs. Janet Smith.  703.393.2158)

Upcoming Events

¨       Enrollment Management Team Meeting ~ Thursday, September 23rd (7:00 p.m.)

¨       1st Quarter Interim Reports ~ Friday, September 24th

¨       Noon Dismissal (Curriculum Mapping) ~ Friday, September 24th

¨       PTO Volunteer Fair & VIRTUS Update Training ~ Tuesday, September 28th (2:00-3:30 p.m. & 7:00-8:30 p.m.)

¨       Lock-Down Drill ~ Thursday, September 30th (10:00 a.m.)

¨       Priests’ Barbecue ~ Friday, October 1st (11:15 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.)

LINKS