The Sentinel – December 11, 2013

December 11, 2013

Principal’s Message

Recently the Common Core Standards have received significant attention in the media and been a source of discussion and debate in both political and educational circles.  With this in mind, I thought it would be helpful to share with you some key perspectives that clarify the purpose and design of the Standards and also provide an understanding as to the extent to which they influence the curriculum of our school.

Perhaps a brief explanation of the nature of curriculum design in our diocese is a good place to begin.  Each year the diocese initiates the review and revision of one or more areas of our curriculum, for example math or social studies.  A committee comprised of staff from the Office of Catholic Schools and educators from around the diocese analyzes and considers nationally published standards, taking into consideration the various changes taking place in curriculum design.  After review and discussion, the committee is then tasked with designing curriculum standards that will best address the needs of the learners in our diocesan community.  The Diocese of Arlington has not adopted any national or Commonwealth set of standards, such as the Common Core or Standards of Learning, but rather seeks to study what is best and adapt it for our use. 

The Common Core Standards were written by educators at the request of the US Governors in an attempt to ensure that students across the country are held to the same standards of learning.

It is important to note that the Common Core Standards are neither a curriculum nor a text.  Rather, they are standards, i.e. statements of what a student should know and be able to do at a particular grade level.  (Example:  Solve word problems that call for addition of three whole numbers whose sum is less than or equal to 20.    Math Grade 1:  OA.A 2) A curriculum, on the other hand, includes what is taught, when it is taught, how it is taught and what materials are used.

Some of you have probably noted that some of our textbooks are beginning to include references to the Common Core.  This is due to the fact that 46 states, not including Virginia, have adopted the Common Core Standards.  As a matter of supply and demand, the textbook companies have begun to label their publications accordingly.  A key point to remember here is the fact that the textbooks we use are considered a resource, not the actual curriculum.  Each teacher plans instruction based upon the Diocesan curriculum, incorporating textbooks, strategies, manipulatives and technology in an effort to “deliver” the concepts and content in a manner that is engaging and effectively meets the needs of the learners.  The textbooks remain but one resource in a teacher’s toolbox.

In the public discussion regarding the Common Core, a few misperceptions have arisen. 

The Common Core forbids the teaching of Shakespeare.    This is not true.  The Common Core Standards do call for various types of reading materials:   fiction, non-fiction, poetry, etc.   Although the Diocese has not adopted the Common Core Standards, schools and teachers are encouraged to decide which actual readings are to be used in each of the literary areas, recognizing non-fiction as an essential element.       

The Common Core Standards are secularistic.    The Common Core Standards, by design, were written for the public schools in our country and as such do not incorporate our Catholic values.  The integration of our sacred faith tradition throughout the curriculum is what makes the enterprise of Catholic schools distinct and is in fact, essential to our mission.  

All student records will be kept in a common data base.   Not true.   The records of any student in the schools operated by the Diocese of Arlington are kept at the school or sent to a new school only upon the request of a parent.  No records are released to outside agencies, except in the case of a subpoena.    

I hope that this information is both helpful and insightful for you.  Should you have any questions or if I can be of further assistance in this regard, please do not hesitate to contact me at any time. 

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On Friday evening school families gathered to celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas at a prayer service that began in the church and was followed by a reception in the Parish Activities Center.  Through music, readings and prayer, the children had an opportunity to learn more about the life and legacy of St. Nicholas, culminating in their presentation of new shoes at the foot of the altar.  It was beautiful to witness the children processing a few at a time up the main aisle where they then placed their donations in decorated boxes.  In total, the children and parents donated 83 pairs of shoes and $95.00, all of which will benefit the House of Mercy.  Thank you, Mrs. Gina Michak and Mrs. Katherine Bachman, for organizing such a lovely event for our community.  I also wish to thank the members of the National Junior Honor Society who served as ushers and the members of the Schola who led the music.   It truly was not only a student-centered but student-led event and a growing tradition for our community.

The following morning a number of students, including the All Saints cheerleaders, as well as parents gathered in Old Town to represent our school in the Greater Manassas Christmas Parade.  I want to thank Mr. and Mrs. Chuck Stevens for once again coordinating the design and construction of our school float and for providing the storage space during the weeks leading up to the event.  They have been whole-heartedly committed to this project for many years and I remain grateful for all they have done to lead the effort.  I want to also thank all of the volunteer parents who assisted with the construction of the float and helped to coordinate the logistics, ensuring that our children had both a safe and enjoyable time.

A Prayer for the Second Week of Advent

God of power and mercy,

Open our hearts in welcome.

Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy,

So that we may share His wisdom

And become one with Him

When He comes in glory,

For He lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

One God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Handcraft Show Hosted by Father Juan Puigbó

Fr. Juan will host a Handcraft Show on Thursday, December 19th from 2pm to 7pm in the Library Side of the Church. A number of items will be on display and available for purchase, including beautiful wooden pieces handcrafted by Fr. Juan. This will be a good opportunity to buy your seasonal gifts! 

IMPORTANT REMINDERS

Our Lady of  Guadalupe Feast Day Mass – Tomorrow (10:00 a.m.)

All parents are cordially invited to join us for a special Mass in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Thursday, December 12th at 10:00 a.m. in the church.  In an effort to help our students understand the history of the feast day, a small group of students will re-enact the visitation of our Lady to Juan Diego just prior to the start of the Mass.  As Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of Latin America, portions of the liturgy will be in Spanish and the music will be provided by professional mariachis.  We look forward to this multicultural celebration of our faith and hope that many of you will be able to join us for this special occasion.

All Saints Christmas Pageant 2013

The students have been working hard to prepare a wonderful Christmas Pageant, and would love for you and your loved ones to attend.  This year’s Christmas Pageant will take place on December 19th at 7:00 p.m. in the church.  

If you are the parent of a sixth grader, as six grade is the featured grade, we request that the 6th grade students arrive at 6:30, dressed in their Christmas best. 

If you are the parent of a student in K, 1, 2, 4, or 5 grades, we ask that those students arrive at 6:45, so that we can make sure they are seated in the proper area.  Again, please have them dressed in their Christmas best as well!    

Please, direct any inquiries to Miss Sartor, at esartor@allsaintsva.org

Open House for 2013-2014 School Year

All Saints Catholic School will host an Open House for prospective parents on Thursday, January 16th beginning at 9:00 a.m.  All parishioners and members of the community interested in learning more about the parish school are cordially invited to attend.  Following a presentation and introduction at 9:00 a.m., tours of the facility will be provided. For more information, please contact Mrs. Joyce D’Eugenio, administrative assistant, at (703) 393-1490.

Annual Fund – Launched for 2nd Year!

Recently each family received an introductory letter and accompanying flyer outlining the goals of the Annual Fund.  Again this year, we invite you to make contributions of prayer, service and/or financial donations, all of which are important gifts that will help us sustain our mission now and into the future!  All funds received will be used in support of tuition assistance, the purchase of math & science equipment, and the installation of WiFi access throughout the school.

Tuition Assistance Applications for 2014-2015

Applications for Tuition Assistance for the 2014-2015 academic year are now available at the front office.  Again this year the Diocese of Arlington has partnered with FACTS Grant & Aid Assessment Company.  FACTS has also established an on-line application process that can be initiated through the company website (http://online.factsmgt.com/signin/3Q327)

The due dates for applications and supporting documentation are as follows:

High School                January 27, 2014

Elementary School      March 17, 2014

NOTE: All families with children enrolled in both high school and elementary school will need to submit an application by the January high school deadline.

Please note that all applications and supporting documentation must be received by FACTS rather than postmarked by the dates listed above.  Applications are not complete until FACTS has received all of the supporting documentation.  Only those families who are verified by FACTS as having submitted all of the required supporting documentation will be eligible for diocesan tuition assistance.

An overview of the Diocesan Tuition Assistance Program can be found at the following link:

http://www.arlingtondiocese.org/catholicschools/tuition_grant.php

Should you have any questions or concerns about the application process, please do not hesitate to contact a FACTS Customer Care Representative at 1-866-441-4637 or our school office.

Upcoming Events

Thursday, December 12th       

          Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day Mass (10:00 a.m.)

          Presentation & Decade of the Rosary (9:50 a.m.)

Friday, December 13th                       

          Sacrament of Reconciliation – Grade 6

Monday, December 16th         

          Advent Prayer Services (8:15 a.m.)

          Sacrament of Reconciliation – Grade 8 (9:30 a.m.)

          3rd Grade Field Trip to GMU Theater

Tuesday, December 17th        

          Deadline for Toys for Tots donations, sponsored by Peace & Justice Players

Wednesday, December 18th    

          2nd Grade Christmas Around the World Celebration

          Band Concert – Tentatively rescheduled for 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, December 19th       

          Pre-Kindergarten Christmas Pageants (10:00 a.m. & 1:15 p.m. in the church)

          Christmas Pageant (2:15 p.m. for students & 7:00 p.m. for parents in the church)

          Fr. Juan’s Handcraft Show (2:00-7:00 p.m. in the church)

Friday, December 20th           

          School Mass & Virtues Ceremony (8:30 a.m.)

          SCA sponsored Santa Hat Day (no cost)

          4th Grade Gingerbread House Project

          Classroom Christmas Parties (approximately 1:30 p.m.)

Monday, December 23rd        

          Christmas Holiday begins

Monday, January 6th              

          Classes Resume for the New Year

Links

          Diocesan Tuition Assistance Overview: http://www.allsaintsvaschool.org/index/wp-content/plugins/download-monitor/download.php?id=Tuition-Assistance-2014-15-Overview.pdf

          Past Due ~ Enrollment Survey: http://www.allsaintsvaschool.org/index/wp-content/plugins/download-monitor/download.php?id=Pre-K-K-New-Student-Survey.pdf 

          PVI College Night for Junior High Students and Families: http://www.allsaintsvaschool.org/index/wp-content/plugins/download-monitor/download.php?id=PVI-College-Night-Jr-High-FLYER-Dec-2013-2.pdf

          e-News Update from JP the Great: http://www.allsaintsvaschool.org/index/wp-content/plugins/download-monitor/download.php?id=JPtheGreat-e-News-Update.pdf