Notes from the Head

At this time of the year, when the days are full, classes are being completed, and final preparations are being made to close out the school year, the idea of striving for peacefulness seems out of reach and even comical. Many days feel anything but peaceful.  And yet, as we talked about peacefulness in our Monday Chapel, students and teachers alike took a deep breath, perhaps wishing for this important virtue to be present in each of us. In the Benedictine way of living, a model for peace is offered up. There are three steps, and the simplicity of this model can be a goal at any age.

First, be gentle with yourself. Like many people, I can be my own worst critic, and yet I know that self-acceptance is important. I know how hard our students work both in the academic arena as well as in those important extracurricular activities. They strive to do their best. They set very high standards, and they work to achieve their goals. In the process, however, this reminder is given: “be gentle with yourself. ” Perfection is not the goal.

Second, be gentle with others. Pointing fingers, blaming others, and expecting more of others than we would expect of ourselves, do not create peace or leave anyone with a peaceful feeling. An understanding heart, a kind and encouraging word, and gracious affirmation create peace-filled relationships and give the message that “I like you just as you are.”

Finally, the third step in the model for peace is to be gentle with the Earth.  We are God’s stewards here, taking care to preserve our corner of the world. The beauty surrounding Tucson, the mountains and canyons, and the occasionally running streams remind us that we are caretakers, and so we strive to leave the world a better place.

At St. Michael’s, throughout the year, we talk at every opportunity about how to be our best selves and model well for others. Though never done with perfection, we strive to be kind, to show tolerance and understanding, to forgive as we are forgiven, to show respect, to love justice–persevering even in the face of challenge–and to handle each other with care. It’s not always easy to do this. Sometimes we make mistakes, but we practice patience because God isn’t finished with us yet. And that’s a good thing. So as we head toward our summer break, be sure to take deep breaths along the way, remembering to be gentle with yourself, with others, and with the Earth. It’s a perfect way to end our school year as we pause for some much-needed summer refreshment.

Margaret Moore

Head of School

Middle School iPad Turn-In

The end of the school year is right around the corner, and this means it is time to turn in iPads for the summer. Seventh and eighth grade students will be turning in their iPads and charging cords on Thursday, May 25th. Devices must be turned in that morning in order to go to the class party that afternoon. If you are planning to be absent the last two days of school, please make arrangements with your homeroom teacher to turn the iPad in early.

In addition to the iPad, eighth graders must turn in both pieces of their charging cord or they will be billed $20 per piece. Both pieces should look like this:

Seventh grade students will be assigned the same iPad next year and will not turn in their charging cord and box next week unless they will not be returning. They must turn their iPads in for summer maintenance though.

Each student will fill out a form describing any damage to their iPad, and homeroom teachers will verify it before it gets turned in. Please take a look at your child’s iPad before it is turned in so that you are not surprised if billed over the summer for repairs.

National Junior Honor Society

We are excited to announce the 2017 members of the National Junior Honor Society. Membership in the National Junior Honor Society is open to all seventh and eighth graders who achieve both a minimum of a 3.7 G.P.A. as well as a determined completion of hours of service to the community. The seventh graders have a requirement of twelve hours, while the eighth graders must complete at least twenty. In total, our students contributed over 800 hours of service! National Junior Honor Society members must also demonstrate qualities of leadership, citizenship, and strength of character.

We celebrated our new and returning members during a special luncheon held last Friday, May 12th. Congratulations to the following students:

Seventh Grade
Catherine Bennett, Clare Daubert, Sydney Even, Fiona Fischer, Ellie Greenwood, Lucy Harris, Serena Hsu, Xochitl Martinez, Varga Michaud, Nathan Monroe, Tanvi Narendran, Ava Neher, Abigail Nordstrom, Chloe Pesqueira, Jensen Peyton, Nico Rivera, Carmen Roe, Linden Solgonick, Jace Springer, Sophia Terpning, Franklin Van Straalen, Nicole Witte, Talia Zuckerman-Brown

Eighth Grade
Lilly Bedwell, Elliot Chubon, Brooke Dyson, Bella Foust, Andrew Gioannetti, Martin Gioannetti, Madeline Greene, Dylan Greenhill, Katherine Hawes, Francis Honaman, Aidan Huber, Ellie Kearney, Willa Kleiner, Thomas Monthofer, Sofía Peña, Cameron Strong, Nicholas Zaetta

National Spanish Exam

Every year our eighth graders take the National Spanish Exam.  This exam tests vocabulary and grammar, as well as both reading and listening comprehension skills. Congratulations to the following students who attained national recognition by placing in these categories:

Oro (Gold): Katherine Hawes and Andrew Gioannetti. These two students not only placed nationally but won cash prizes for their placement in the State of Arizona NSE competition.

Bronce (Bronze): Brooke Dyson and Cameron Strong

Honor (Honor): Elliot Chubon, Madeline Greene, Willa Kleiner, Andrés Peralta, Maya Leuthold, and Sofía Peña

Kevin Cessna-Buscemi, the National Director of the Exams said, “Attaining a medal or honorable mention for any student on the National Spanish Examinations is very prestigious, because the exams are the largest of their kind in the United States with over 157,000 students participating in 2017.”

Way to go!

Bounteous Book Drive

St. Michael’s recently received a letter of appreciation from Marty Croissant, founder of ANGEL HEART PAJAMA PROJECT, which provides books as well as pajamas to children in need in our community, many of whom are awaiting adoption.  During our annual Love of Reading Book Drive, our families donated an impressive 599 books to this worthy organization.  Thanks to all contributors!

Netflix Series Recommendation

Recently, there has been increasing concern expressed on many levels regarding a Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, which was released this spring. The series is based on a young-adult novel of the same name and centers around the suicide of a high school student. The intent of the producers was to help those who might be struggling with thoughts about suicide. Unfortunately, according to published reports, there appear to be many teenagers who are binge-watching the series without adult approval or guidance and support. The graphic nature of several episodes, as well as the difficult topics, is not appropriate for young teens, including middle school age students. Many educators, parents, and school counselors are now raising the alarm that the show glamorizes risky behavior, leading to potential copycat behavior. The National Association of School Counselors does not  recommend this series, particularly without parental presence and support. St. Michael’s does not recommend 13 Reasons Why for any middle school students as it is rated for mature audiences. You may choose to inquire if your child or any friend has viewed the series and follow up with your own family discussions around any questions or concerns that are raised by your child.

We take the mental and emotional well being of our students very seriously and offer listening ears and support without judgment. Should we have any concerns, our faculty and staff will always reach out to parents to share concerns and partner together on behalf of a student. For more information, please refer to the National Association of School Psychologists’ website for resource recommendations for parents as well as more information about this series (www.nasponline.org).

Class Placements

The question often comes up at this time of the year regarding the process used for class placements. The practice continues to be that the classroom teachers offer the best recommendations for placement of students. Much thought and consideration go into this, and it is the current grade-level teachers, working together as a team, who make the recommendations for placement. The first consideration is to place a student with the teacher and in the class where he or she can be most successful. In addition, teachers, knowing each child’s personality, chemistry with students, and learning style, make class recommendations to the division directors. We do not encourage parent requests for specific teachers; however, should a parent have particular requests, we recommend speaking with the child’s current teacher about the reasons for a request. All teachers work very hard and thoughtfully in composing recommended class lists with the ultimate goal of having balanced class groupings in which each student can have a successful school year. We appreciate the trust that is given by parents as these placements are made, and know that our partnership on behalf of each child yields a great outcome.

Notes from the Head

When I first joined the St. Michael’s community five years ago, I would take time during the summer days to wander the campus. I needed to find my way through the various courtyards. I wanted to become familiar with the environment that everyone spoke so highly of. What struck me was how peaceful the campus was. That continues to be an appropriate word to describe our unique environment. Yes, it can be noisy with more than 350 students and adults during the day, but the peacefulness remains.

Peacefulness is the virtue we are talking about this closing month of the school year. What a perfect topic as we head toward summer. The world is a very hectic place, and our students lead very busy and often chaotic lives. Our faculty and staff work very hard, often into the late hours of the evening. Stress levels can be high at various times of the year, and the end of the year certainly has its fair share. But at St. Michael’s we have many places that help to restore the soul. On Monday, I asked the students what creates a sense of peacefulness on our campus. Immediately hands went up with lots of ideas: The wetlands with the small waterfall. The many plants and flowers throughout the campus. The courtyards with the fountains. The beautiful chapel that welcomes us to worship. And I had to agree. What a gift it is that our students can come to school in an environment that offers peaceful, tranquil beauty. What a gift to work in such a place.

I invited the students to take time when life is hectic or stressful to pause for just two minutes in a courtyard, by the wetlands, or when they are in chapel. Take just a moment to breathe deeply, observe the beauty, pause, and be still. In that moment, one’s soul can be refreshed, nerves can be calmed, and a sense of peacefulness can be restored.

Often we don’t realize the gifts that we have in this place until we are no longer here. So I shared a story of an alum I recently saw. We ran into each other in St. Michael’s Church one Sunday morning. After we caught up with school and family news, I asked what brought her that day to St. Michael’s, which is not her church home. She said, “I just really wanted to be back in this church. I’ve missed it, and it was such a special place when I was here.” Peacefulness. Sacred places. Places that restore the balance. St. Michael’s is filled with them. How special that we can work, learn, play, and pray in an environment that offers peacefulness on a daily basis. Feel free to slow down. Breathe deeply from time to time, for God is present here.

Coach’s Corner

Well, our sports seasons have come to an end for this year. I would like to say congratulations and great job to all of our athletes that participated in any of our sports this year. Also, a huge thank-you to all of our amazing coaches and all of the teachers that supported the kids’ participation in our sports program.

Middle School Sports
Congratulations to the Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball teams! Both of the “A” teams made it to the league championship game. The boys lost a heart-breaker to a tough Tucson Country Day School on a last-second shot. The girls were able to hold off a skilled Pusch Ridge team and win by one point to attain their second-ever championship and first since 2008. Way to go, Eagles!