Notes from the Head

Dear St. Michael’s Parents and Families—

It is so good to be back at St. Michael’s after a restful week away. I hope and trust that all of you enjoyed some time together with your family, resting and recharging for the second half of this first trimester. For me and my family, our four-day junket to Flagstaff was a blast. Alison and I and our kids are appreciating more and more with each passing month the treasures and wonders of the Grand Canyon State, our new home. Thank you to all of you who continue to suggest these wonderful places in Arizona (and beyond) to visit. 

Tomorrow, October 18th, is Grandparents’ and Grand-Friends’ Day, beginning at 7:30 am for registration in front of church, followed by a short welcome and presentation in the Student Center, and some time with students and teachers in the respective courtyards and classrooms. We look forward to welcoming our grandparents and grand-friends on Friday!

And thank you to those families who were able to attend our New Family Welcome reception the week before break. We are very happy to welcome nearly fifty new students (and close to 40 new families) this year. We give special thanks to those families who are serving, under a new initiative this year, as parent ambassadors for our new families. Dr. Matt Teller, Director of Admissions and Enrollment, and I look forward to finding time with each new family this year, beginning in January, after the Christmas and New Year break. . We want to hear about your St. Michael’s experiences these first six months!

We will be launching very soon, before the end of October, our 2019-2020 Annual Fund campaign (aka The Halo Fund). The Annual Fund (AF) helps generate revenue beyond tuition dollars to meet our annual budgeted FY 2020 needs. I and our Board of Trustees welcome gifts of any size. Last year, the St. Michael’s School community raised close to $120,000 for the Annual Fund, a (new) high mark for our wonderful school. My hope, my goal, my vision for the AF this year is to exceed our benchmark from last year, with the equally important goal of raising the number of gifts over last year. 

For the 2018-2019 fiscal year, through June 30, 2019, we had 100% giving from our Board of Trustees; better than 80% from faculty and staff; and close to 60% for families. 

Why are the percentages of constituent-group giving so important? Largely because it is a point of pride for our school community to say that we had (as the ideal) 100% giving from all groups—faculty, trustees, and parents. More importantly, however, high percentages of giving within the SMS community reflect very well on us in the eyes of other potential benefactors. 

Foundations, especially, will typically require applicants to report those numbers: How many of your teachers give to the Annual Fund? How many families? What about your Board of Trustees? They want to see commitment, buy-in, and broad support at the local level. This is my goal as well: getting our number of Annual Fund gifts up this year, regardless of the size of the gift, as close to 100% for families as we can. If you have any questions about a gift you might be considering, I am more than happy to find time to meet and chat.

With regard to giving and capital gifts, I am very happy to report that a foundation with close ties to St. Michael’s recently pledged the remaining $100,000 needed to complete our Lower School (West Wing) remodel, addition, and air-conditioning project, to begin in December. This is such welcomed news for all of us. A representative from our contractor of record, Cobre Systems, will also attend our Board of Trustees meeting next week to present a broad scope of the work (and cost) to install air-conditioning for the remainder of the campus, including our Student Center. I will provide updates as we move ahead in this process. 

As a final note, and one connected directly to our kickoff for the Annual Fund campaign, I am happy to report that we are in the final stages of confirming and announcing the appointment of our new director of philanthropy, after three months of diligent work searching for and interviewing excellent candidates for the position. I look forward to sharing that news with you next week. 

In the meantime, you are always welcome to stop and say hello in the mornings and afternoons at drop-off and pick-up, or to arrange time to meet and chat with me, at your convenience, about any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. 

Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you on campus!

Brendan Sullivan
Head of School


Coach’s Corner

6th-8th Sports

Our 6th-8th grade fall sports regular season will be wrapping up tomorrow. All of our teams had good seasons with a tremendous amount of growth from the beginning of the season to the end. Congratulations to all of our teams! Our volleyball and flag football “A” teams will be heading into our league tournament next week. Game times and locations will be announced after the league meeting on Thursday evening.
Winter Season
Our winter season for 6th-8th grade students will begin soon. Sign up sheets for coed soccer and girls softball are posted on the bulletin board outside of the athletic office. The winter season typically runs from the beginning of November to the end of January. Make sure your child adds their name to the sign up sheet if he or she is interested in one of our winter sports to receive important information about the upcoming season.
4th/5th Intramurals
Our winter intramural program for all interested 4th and 5th grade students will begin the week of November 11th. We will start with three weeks of volleyball followed by three weeks of basketball. The winter season practice weeks are a little broken up due to the holidays and our Christmas performances in the gym. Please check out the attached intramural document for more specific information. To sign your child up for our winter intramural program, simply email me and specify whether he or she will be participating in all six weeks or just part of the season.

9th Annual Vaquero Golf Tournament

Come join us for our 9th Annual Vaquero Golf Tournament on Saturday, November 9th at the Forty Niner Country Club. Enjoy the cooler weather and support St. Michael’s!

How can I support if I’m  not a golfer?  Feel free and join us for a BBQ buffet lunch.  You will have a choice of BBQ beef brisket or chicken, fresh tossed salad, roasted red potatoes, corn on the cob, cornbread with honey butter, brownies for dessert and iced tea or lemonade. The cost is $30.

Thank you to our sponsors for the Vaqueros Golf Tournament.  If you would like to sponsor (including sponsoring a teacher), please see the attached brochure.
Dyson Pediatrics-Title Sponsor
Brandon Blair- “Friends of Vaqueros” Sponsor
Gary Roberts/Pioneer Title Agency- “Corporate Tee” Sponsor
Philip and Alma Williams- “Team Sponsor”

Golf Tournament Brochure

Lunch Program

Hello families!

Exciting news! Did you know that this year we are focusing on creating a lunch program that contains more wholesome and nutritional items? This includes shopping for fresh organic veggies and fruits as well as proteins that are Non-GMO as much as possible. We make purchases from many different stores to find quality options and good prices. Kelly is taking much care and consideration as she plans and creates new menu items in addition to making many dishes from scratch.  One example is the delicious veggie pasta salad which contains organic fresh vegetables and cheese tossed in a homemade, fresh lemon vinaigrette. Of course, many of the lunches the children have enjoyed in the past are still available. We invite your children to explore and enjoy the new creations. Feedback, of course, is always welcome as we try these new items and ease into a new, more healthy lunch program. (Email

Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts will meet in the Parish Center after school this Friday. Girl Scouts are welcome to wear their vests/sashes to school on Friday over their uniforms. Contact Melissa Brosanders with any questions about Girl Scouts (

Free Money News

This is the last week to bring in your cut Box Tops for the fall deadline!  Please bring all cut Box Tops to your child’s teacher by October 21.  Scanning Box Tops with the app can continue and will begin counting towards the spring competition after October 21.  Contact Jen Thorn ( or Alison Cook ( for any questions.  Thank you for supporting the school!

Notes from the Head

Dear St. Michael’s Parents and Families—

Whether you are taking a trip to the outer reaches (!) or staying local, all good wishes for a restful week away with your children for the Fall Break. (My family and I are heading to Boston to visit my family, and then enjoying a few days of hiking and biking and rest on a first-time visit to Flagstaff.) We all look forward to seeing you back on campus on Monday, the 14th!

We will be hosting the parents of our new St. Michael’s families, tonight, Wednesday, October 2, from 6:30-8:00 pm in the Smith Parish Center here on campus for a welcome reception. If you are new to St. Michael’s, we look forward to enjoying with all of you some light fare (and beer, wine, and soft drinks) and, above all, to connecting with new friends.

Each month, we incorporate into our Monday school-wide chapels, division-level chapels and Mass services, and more informally through classroom instruction, a focused theme (from the Gifts of the Spirit in the Episcopal tradition). As October begins, we shift the focus of our monthly theme (or spiritual value, or ‘gift’) from Self-Control (September) to Love.

When I introduced our October theme this past Monday at our week-start school-wide chapel/assembly, I emphasized the concept and practice of love in the form of empathy, what C.S. Lewis, the early 20th-century Christian apologist and writer, wrote and spoke about in his book, The Four Loves.

In his widely read and best-selling classic, Lewis provides an in-depth look at this most common form of love, referred to in Greek as storge, the instinctual love that parents have for their children, that siblings have for one another, and that can and often does extend beyond family even further into relationships with friends and acquaintances at school and beyond.

In short, I emphasized the importance of practicing empathy, aspiring always to demonstrate sisterly and brotherly love as best we can with each other. I pointed to the many examples in any given day here at St. Michael’s of its living presence among our students: when one gives up her turn on the swings, for example, and allows another student who hasn’t had a chance to participate to do so; working together as a team for a project in eight-grade U.S. History class; being available to help a classmate by phone with a challenging Geometry assignment; and perhaps the most persistent show of care and empathy for one another, our eighth-grade students leading the way, serving as big brothers and sisters to our younger Kindergarten students through the Buddy program.

There are so many examples of simple love, consideration, and kindness that I witness—and that I am sure all of you as parents witness as well—here at school each day. At the same time, as I noted with students, our work and effort in building each other up is never done: the world needs so much more understanding and empathy and brotherly and sisterly love, those habits of mind and heart and character that have become, sadly, more and more the exception everywhere.

As a faith-based Episcopal school, how wonderful it is that we can talk about and demonstrate and embrace this practice of empathy, the concept of storge that Lewis wrote about so many years ago and that has such timeless relevance for our lives at school and at home, for today’s world, and for the world our students will inherit when they become adults.

I look forward to seeing you on campus.

All good wishes for a safe and restful break!

Brendan Sullivan
Head of School


Playground Help Needed!

Playground needs you!  If you have any time available and would enjoy spending time outside with your children and their friends, please contact Alisa Reed at  Playground volunteers are asked to be available from 11:25-12:45.  You choose the day(s) and/or frequency you prefer.