The Sentinel – September 5, 2012

Principal’s Message

Each spring students in grades two through seven participate in the Terra Nova, a nationally normed standardized testing program. The results of this annual assessment provide data with which we can determine the strengths of our curriculum as well as areas for future growth and improvement. Most importantly, the data becomes the basis for the annual instructional goal-setting process by which the teachers “narrow the lens” of instruction so as to more effectively meet the needs of the children in our classrooms.

I am pleased to announce that all grade levels scored in the top 10% of the norm group in reading, language arts and math. I am very proud of our students for this outstanding achievement and exceedingly grateful to our faculty for their continued commitment to academic excellence!

This week I am providing to you several testing charts which are linked to this letter and that will also be available on our website for your review. The bar graphs are designed to provide a quick overview of grade level performance in reading, language arts and math and include a comparison to the diocesan averages. All of the scores are percentile based, benchmarking the performance of our students and the entire diocese to that of the national norm group.

When reviewing these scores and planning for the year ahead, a metaphor that I have found to be helpful is that of an annual “tune-up”, similar to that of an automobile. In examining the data, we can identify specific areas that need some refinement or extra attention. While there is no need for a complete engine overhaul (top 10% and going strong), it is important that we view this as an opportunity to pinpoint our efforts so that the engine of learning at All Saints continues to move forward.

A year ago I announced that we would focus our attention across the school on the area of reading. I am pleased to share that these efforts resulted in measurable gains across three grade levels (5-7). Even more impressive has been the performance of our students in the area of language arts. With grade level averages at 80 percentile or higher and 5 of 6 grades demonstrating higher scores than the previous year, language arts is currently the instructional strength of our school as measured by the Terra Nova.

With a small decrease in math scores from the prior year, particularly in the subtest that measures computation, this will be the focus of our instructional program in the new year. We will be striving to improve the level of “computational fluency” among our students, i.e. their capacity to solve math problems quickly and accurately. This is not to say that hands-on learning and the use of manipulatives will be reduced. Rather, the same approach of teaching for meaning and understanding in the math classroom will continue with extra efforts directed at reinforcing skills already learned. One strategy that we will use in support of this effort will be that of ensuring that math review is part of the daily practice of morning work for all students. Providing regular, on-going opportunities for our students to practice what they have learned will help them to sharpen their skills and retain concepts.

Having identified these objectives to be strengthened across grade levels, the teachers have already completed a process entitled Planning for Instruction, by which they have crafted clear, measurable instructional goals that are linked to this data. With the recognition of a pattern across grade levels, there is the opportunity for teachers to collaborate and share new ideas and strategies. Most importantly, with everyone moving in the same direction and striving for the same goal, excellence in mathematics, I know that we will continue to see measurable growth in what is already a very strong program.

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Last spring, All Saints conducted a three question development survey requesting your feedback on the idea of launching an Annual Fund to benefit our school. The Annual Fund model we proposed would seek to provide a continual source of financial support through the request of three gifts: gifts of prayer, gifts of involvement, and gifts of financial participation. This specific model has been implemented with great success by several elementary schools in the Arlington Diocese and reflects a national trend in Catholic school development.

Out of the 95 parents who completed our online survey last spring, 35 survey respondents (36.8%) indicated that they would support an Annual Fund, 25 survey respondents (26.3%) indicated that they would not support an Annual Fund, and 35 survey respondents (36.8%) indicated that they were undecided. In the comments section of the survey, a majority of parents who were undecided asked for additional information about how the Annual Fund would work, its effect on the PTO budget, and details on how it would benefit the school.

Based on this feedback from our initial survey, we will be providing additional information on the mechanics of the Annual Fund in our next issue of The Sentinel on Wednesday, September 12. We will also host a town hall style meeting on Tuesday, September 18 at 9:00 a.m. in Father Kelly Hall. All parents interested in learning more about the Annual Fund concept are cordially invited to attend this session. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with you and exploring how this new direction might help to support our commitment to providing the gift of a Catholic education now and into the future.

Today I also wish to share with you the exciting news that Mrs. Cote is expecting her second child. The due date for the baby is January 25th. We congratulate her and her husband on this wonderful occasion and wish them every blessing as they continue to prepare for the birth of their baby.

During the opening days of the year, Mrs. Cote has done a marvelous job of creating a sense of community within her classroom and has already established routines in support of student learning. She enjoys the children and looks forward to continuing her career at All Saints. As such, it is her intent to continue teaching, to the extent possible, up to her due date and to return to All Saints after a period of maternity leave. In the months ahead I will finalize the plans for the classroom during the period of Mrs. Cote’s leave. In the meantime, please know of my commitment to ensuring continuity of instruction and to maintaining the wonderful learning environment that Mrs. Cote has already established during her first week at All Saints. Again, congratulations Mrs. Cote!

IMPORTANT ARRIVAL & DISMISSAL REMINDERS

The following is a list of important reminders that will help us maintain an arrival and dismissal system that is safe, efficient and courteous.

With the increased number of cars on the property, it is vitally important that all drivers be especially attentive, proceeding slowly and with caution. Parents are asked to refrain from cell phone use when entering and exiting the property.

Parking:

¨ It is important that parents park only in those areas identified for our carpool system.

¨ Parents are asked not to park directly in front of the school building since this area is a designated fire lane. Access to this area is restricted by traffic cones.

¨ Those visiting or volunteering in the school during the day are asked to park in the lot in front of the new church. (Please refrain from parking in those spaces reserved for the clergy and from parking in Lot #2, directly across from the priests’ parking area, as this section is used by the parish staff.)

¨ When arriving for afternoon carpool, parents are asked to refrain from parking on Stonewall Road and other areas of the property. For the safety of the children, it is important that each family participate in the school organized dismissal system.

Arrival & Departure:

¨ When entering and exiting the property please use right turns only. This will minimize the traffic that sometimes occurs on Stonewall Road, thereby helping us to maintain positive public relations with our neighbors.

¨ In that our carpool system brings together many people, it is a time for discussion and community building. However, once dismissal begins, we ask that parents wrap up conversations so that complete attention may be directed to the children and so that we might avoid any unnecessary delays.

¨ When arriving for afternoon dismissal, parents are reminded to use great caution when exiting their vehicle. We recommend that parents not open their doors until the next row of cars has arrived in the adjacent parking spaces.

¨ For the safety of all involved, drivers are asked not to exit the carpool lines unless directed by a staff member to do so. Teachers only wave drivers forward after verifying that the adjacent lanes are clear of pedestrian traffic.

Morning Arrival ~ Tips for Parents

With the Pre-Kindergarten program now in session, there is increased traffic in the rear parking lot during morning arrival. So that each child in the Pre-K may be escorted into the classroom by a member of the staff, all Pre-Kindergarten families are required to arrive via the rear lot. However, all other school families have the option of using either the front or rear lots during morning arrival. If there is a line of traffic entering the rear lot, parents are encouraged to use the front lot as an alternative. Additionally, parents are reminded to enter and exit the property using right turns only so as to maintain a steady flow of traffic.

Special Carpool Privileges?

One of the more popular items at our annual auction is that of the privilege of being “first in carpool”. The families who win this item are invited to park in front of the dismissal area and have the opportunity of exiting the property in advance of the community. It is for this reason that you will observe patrols escorting students to cars parked in front of the parking area during afternoon dismissal.

Looking for a Carpool?

All Saints parent Mr. Jim Griffin has volunteered to serve as a carpool coordinator. If you are interested in a carpool for your children, please fill out the short form below and email it to allsaintscarpool@hotmail.com and Mr. Griffin will put you in touch with other families in your area who have expressed an interest in carpooling.

Name:

Address:

Phone Number:

Preferred email contact:

Number of children you need transported:

Number of spaces in your vehicle for transporting others:

Prefer to drive morning or evening, or no preference?

Please be aware that the above information will be plotted on a map with a private URL that is only available to All Saints parents who have expressed an interest in carpooling. The URL will be emailed directly to you and will not be available any other way or discoverable by any search engine.

Recognizing that parents are solely responsible for determining transportation arrangements to and from All Saints Catholic School, the school assumes no role in this process and neither recommends nor endorses any particular carpool arrangements. In the unfortunate circumstance of an accident or injury, the parent’s own personal automobile liability is primary in the event of a claim. Nonetheless, the school values the collective efforts of parents and is pleased to support this initiative by communicating the opportunity to parents.

SCHOOL SAFETY INITIATIVES

School Messenger Emergency Notification ~ SYSTEM TEST ~ Wednesday, September 12th

The Diocese of Arlington uses the School Messenger notification service to send important information to families through phone calls, emails, and text messages. In the event of an emergency, All Saints Catholic School will activate the School Messenger system. As the system will only be used for this purpose, parents can anticipate that any communications received via this program are critical and deserve particular attention.

In order to ensure the functionality and accuracy of the system, All Saints will conduct a test on Wednesday, September 12th. A test message will be issued via both recorded phone message and email to the emergency contacts of all students and staff at approximately 10:30 a.m.

In accordance with wireless carrier requirements and to protect against unsolicited text messages, during the year you may receive a text message providing you the opportunity to “opt in” should you wish to receive important School Messenger announcements via text message.

The message you receive will be similar to the following:

“Please OPTIN to receive TXT alerts from <<Customer Name>>.Rply OPTIN 2 register, STOP 2 OPTOUT www.schoolmessenger.com/txt Msg&Data Rates May Apply”

So that you may receive important communications from All Saints via text message, we encourage you to reply with “OPTIN” when you receive such a verification message.

To opt out of all text messages from SchoolMessenger, including the verification message, go to http://www.schoolmessenger.com/txtmsg/ or reply STOP to the opt-in message you receive.

The Diocese and the school do not pay for text message charges that may be incurred by the user. Check with your wirelesscarrier for possible charges.

Student In-Service ~ Sexual Harassment, Our Policy & Response (Grades 6-8)

In accordance with diocesan policy, students in grades five through eight will participate in a brief classroom presentation within the next two weeks on the topic of the prevention of sexual harassment. Mr. Conroy will visit each of the homeroom classes for approximately fifteen minutes, providing an overview of the diocesan policy and explaining to students how they should best respond if they encounter any behaviors of this nature. Should you have any questions about this policy or presentation, please do not hesitate to contact the principal.

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 “substantial contact” with children are required to complete a background check prior to working in the school and to complete VIRTUS training within 45 days of commencing service.

In accordance with recent clarification provided by the diocese, full compliance for an adult parent volunteer is not required for open events. (An open event is one that is open to the public, infrequent and publicized, such as Field Day, concerts and special events/assemblies.) However, full compliance is required for adult parent volunteers who wish to participate in closed events. (A closed event is one that is not entirely open to the general public such as classroom activities, parties, field trips, etc.) For this reason, all parents who wish to attend field trips or volunteer in support of classroom activities are required to complete the background check process and attend VIRTUS training.

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 the school. Those who have not yet completed the background check process may request a packet of forms from the front office.

We are hosting two live Virtus training seminars (the 4-hour training):
Saturday, September 22nd at 9:00AM in FKH
Saturday, November 17th at 9:00AM in FKH

The diocese also requires volunteers who have completed the full VIRTUS 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 following is a list of upcoming sessions. (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)

We have the following opportunities for completing the half-hour Virtus update:
Tuesday, September 11th at 7:00PM in the Art Room
Thursday, September 20th at 2:15 PM in Meeting Room 1
Tuesday, October 9th at 7:00 PM in the Art Room
Tuesday, November 13th at 7:00PM in the Art Room
Tuesday, December 4th at 7:00PM in the Art Room

PTO Corner

Our first general membership meeting will take place this week at Back to School night. We look forward to the opportunity to share information. You (the PTO membership) will also be asked to approve our budget for this school year. A copy is attached to the Sentinel for your review.

The parent rosary group will get started this Friday at 8am and will meet inside the church on the left side of the altar. Linda White is our rosary leader this year. The rosary will be prayed weekly in that 30-minute window between morning drop-off and the 8:30 school Mass. All are welcome!

To all new parents, please take advantage of the New Parent Coffee next Tuesday, Sept. 11. It is a terrific time to gather information and connect with other new parents. Volunteers from the PTO board will also be present to provide information and support. We hope to see all of you there!

CYO Track & Field news for the All Saints Roadrunners

The first track & field practice and parents’ meeting (registration) will be held on Sunday, September 9th, from 1–2:30 PM, at the track behind the Manassas Baptist Church, on the corner of Stonewall and Sudley Roads (across from the Post office). Bring your running shoes and water bottle and be ready to run! Please see attached flyer for more information.

IMPORTANT UPCOMING EVENTS

Back to School Night

Back to School Night & PTO Meeting (Parents of Grades 1-5) – Thursday, September 6th beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the gym. Following an opening presentation and introduction of the PTO Board, teachers in grades one through five will present an overview of programs in their classrooms.

Middle School Back to School Night (Parents of Grades 6-8) – Thursday, September 13th beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the gym. These sessions will provide parents with important information about our many programs and plans for the 2012-2013 school year. For this reason, at least one parent from each family is required to attend this session. Again this year the event will begin in the gym with a brief overview of the Edline program.

Schedule

7:00 p.m. Presentation in Gym (Introduction to Edline)

7:30 p.m. First Classroom Session Begins

9:35 p.m. End of Final Classroom Session

New Parent Coffee

All new parents are invited to enjoy “coffee with the principal” on Tuesday, September 11th beginning at 9:00 a.m. in Father Kelley Hall. Following a brief presentation, there will be time for questions and discussion about our school community and its many programs. Babysitting services will be offered by Mrs. Carol Rice, coordinator of the Parish Nursery, in the adjacent meeting room. Plan to attend and meet other new families who have recently joined our community!

Calendar Change – Priests Barbecue

The annual Priests Barbecue originally scheduled for September 26th has been moved to Friday, September 21st.

IMPORTANT REMINDERS

Emergency Information Form

Please complete the diocesan emergency form and return it to the office by Friday, September 7th. This form is critically important in that it provides us with the necessary information to contact you in the event of an emergency.

School Directory

In recent years, the process of verifying current contact information for families and authorization to include email addresses has been a multi-step project that has taken a significant amount of time to complete. In an effort to improve both efficiency and accuracy, this year all families are asked to submit electronically the contact information they wish to be published in the annual School Directory via the new newsletter subscription system. We ask that directory listing changes be made by Friday, September 7th. Please note: We will be unable to include in the directory any changes made after that date.

1) Go to Subscription Management page

http://www.allsaintsvaschool.org/parents/newsletter-directory-listing/manage-subscriptions/

2) Enter primary family email (these were imported from old newsletter list) for directory listing to receive email verifying account. If email is not found go to New Subscription page (http://www.allsaintsvaschool.org/parents/newsletter-directory-listing/) and select “School Directory Listing” and skip to Step 5.

3) Click link in email to verify account.

4) Go to “Subscribe” tab and select “School Directory Listing”

5) Fill out fields following the example formats for each field.

6) Submit listing.

We hope that these changes will enhance our communication with you and streamline some of our procedures. Should you have any questions regarding these changes, please do not hesitate to contact us at support@homework.allsaintsvaschool.org.

Parent ~ Student Handbooks

The 2012-2013 Parent-Student Handbook can be accessed electronically via our website: www.allsaintsvaschool.org. Please take some time to review the policies and procedures of our school and discuss them with your children. Each family is asked to sign and return the acknowledgment form by Friday, September 7th. Those families without access to the website are invited to contact the office to request a hard copy of the handbook.

Homework Central

At the close of last year, we received notification that “Homework Hero” would no longer be available as of the end of June. For this reason we are adopting a new platform for posting homework, one which has been designed by one of our school parents, Mrs. Tamara Halstead. Similar to Homework Hero, all teachers will post an individualized classroom page that provides curriculum highlights and a list of daily assignments. A link to each teacher’s page can be found at “Homework Central” located directly on our website at http://homework.allsaintsvaschool.org/. (See Quick Link on homepage right sidebar or under “Academics” or “Parent Resources” tabs)

Tuition Questions???

Should a question arise regarding your schedule of tuition payments, please contact Mrs. Joyce D’Eugenio, administrative assistant, at 703-393-1490. She is happy to assist in providing additional information about the program and answering any questions that parents might have.

Use of Student Photos for Marketing Materials

In recent years, a formal marketing program has been implemented at All Saints and we are presently making a consistent effort to share the success of our program via local newspapers and our website. It is important that parents understand that they retain the right to object to their son/daughter’s inclusion in these printed or electronic materials. A “Waiver Information/Right to Object Form” (Appendix N) is located on the website within the forms section associated with the parent-student handbook. Please note: If the form is not returned, we will assume that you waive your right to object.

Boxtops

Please remember to turn in boxtops to count for the summer collection. Please label the ziplock with your child’s homeroom and teacher’s name and submit it to the office by the close of this week.

Upcoming Events

Thurs., September 6th Back to School Night for Grades 1-5 & PTO General Assembly Meeting (Gym/7:00 p.m.)
Fri., September 7th     Deadline for Submitting School Directory Contact Information
School Mass – Grades 1-8 (8:30 a.m.)
Free Ice Cream for All Students – Courtesy of Fr. Bob!
Emergency Forms due in Office
New Student Breakfast; Doughnuts & Juice with Mr. Conroy & Mrs. Campagna
Mon., September 10th 6th Grade Field Trip – “The Edge” Team-Building Experience
Tues., September 11th   New Parent Coffee (FKH/9:00 a.m.)
Wednesday, September 12th       School Messenger Test Message (10:30 a.m.)
  NJHS Book Wrapping Service – Grades 6-8 (3:30 p.m.)
Thursday, September 13th Room Liaisons Meeting (8:30 a.m.)
Middle School Night (Gym/7:00 p.m.)
Friday, September 14th School Mass – Grades 1-8 (8:30 a.m.)
SCA Installation of Newly Elected Officers & Reps. (1:30 p.m.)

 

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