The beginning of the school year is a very intense period. Our faculty returns during August, working in the heat to unpack supplies, rearrange furniture, put up fresh classroom décor, and study curricula in order to prepare engaging lesson plans. As the countdown to the first day of school began, so began the process of intake conferences, where teachers are all ears, learning as much as possible about each child from the perspective of parents. Our culminating events are our Curriculum Nights, when parents gather in class groups to hear how the year will unfold for the students. As we arrived at Labor Day weekend, everyone, including faculty, staff, parents, and children, took a deep breath, relaxed for a bit, and regrouped for the fall term. Yes, it takes a lot of energy, planning, and preparation time on the part of everyone to open the school year. It is, however, time well spent.
The important thing to note, however, is that St. Michael’s enjoys a very deep partnership with parents. This partnership is the essential piece. Our common focus is the child. Our goal, whether for teacher or parent, is to do all that we can to support the success of our students. Relationships are important. Communication is important. Trust between all parties is important. Every single teacher and every staff member wants each school year to be the best yet. To say that we are passionate about what we do would not be an exaggeration. We are willing to go to great lengths to see the light go on and a smile of understanding on a student’s face. To hear the words “I finally get it!” is music to our ears.
As we hit the ground running in our first trimester this fall, I want to thank our partners: our parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles. This partnership is the key to our success as a school and, more importantly, to the success of our students. We invest our time in them. We all believe in them. Whether we are sometimes the sage on stage or, better yet, the guide on the side, it is our privilege to be a part of this chapter in the lives of our students. Together, we will make good things happen every single day. Hand in hand, we will accomplish our goals. Therefore off we go. The year has launched. Already we are seeing big dreams coming true.
Head of School
A recent article in Great Schools presented a great suggestion for the control of cell phones and electronic devices. Establish a digital curfew! Studies continue to confirm that using “smartphones” late at night, particularly visits to social media sites, has a direct link to depression, reduced self-esteem, and poor coping skills. Without question, we have seen this played out at St. Michael’s with our students, particularly those who are not able to put their devices aside or impose their own boundaries. One survey even found that 1 in 5 teens regularly woke during the night to check their messages. The result of sleeping with phones and checking them often is that sleepy, tired students come to school and struggle to be attentive throughout the day.
So how do we help our young smartphone users get better sleep and unplug for the night? The idea of a digital curfew makes perfect sense. Establishing the habit of turning off and turning in devices for the night might just come as a relief for kids who just don’t yet know how to say “no”. Perhaps, even collectively, everyone in a household could turn off all devices before turning in for the night. And for those who say, “But my cell phone is my alarm clock”? Most drugstores sell simple alarm clocks for $10 or less!
The complete article, “Does Your Teen Have a Digital Curfew?”, can be found on the website www.greatschools.org.
Those in attendance at Curriculum Night this year were greeted with a hand fan that invited everyone to help us beat the heat in the Student Center. For those who were not in attendance, here’s the message behind the fans: We are in the final push for our capital campaign, “Setting Our Course for the Future.” As a community, we have accomplished so much through this campaign, including the addition of Tankersley Hall, a new lower school Science and Language Classroom, renovated administrative offices and reception area, and an amazing launch to our STEM Initiative. What remains is the funding for air conditioning for our Student Center, the activity hub of our campus. Our Student Center is a busy place, serving as the location for P.E. classes, sports practices and games, weekly chapel services, fine arts productions, parent gatherings, school functions, and occasional use by the church. As we welcome visitors to various events, we cross our fingers that the weather will cooperate and that the temperatures in the facility will stay at a relatively comfortable level. At this time of the year, as well as at the end of the year, conditions in the gym are just plan HOT. So what will it take to make air conditioning a reality? If we are able to raise at least $125,000, we can make this happen.
We are so grateful for those families who have already participated in the Capital Campaign, making the new physical and curriculum improvements possible. The opportunity remains, however, for everyone to be a part of making “phase 2” possible. Your participation, at the level right for your family, will help us to achieve our goal. Your donation, earmarked for the Capital Campaign, will make a difference. As the fan says, let’s beat the heat together!
In consideration of our friends in the Harold Bell Wright neighborhood, we would request during arrival and dismissal times that you please use our main entrances off of Wilmot Road, and park on the west side of our campus. Should you be driving in the neighborhood, please be mindful of all traffic circles and merging streets as well as the speed limits, which keep the streets safe for walkers and bikers. We all want to be good neighbors and limit the traffic flow through the HBW neighborhood. Thanks for using the school-designated parking.
Head of School
Girl Scouts will meet after school on Friday, September 8, in the Labyrinth Courtyard and Smith Parish Center.
As our first week of school concluded, our fourth through eighth grade students brought their backpacks to Friday Chapel to have them blessed for the year. As a follow up on Monday, three eager Kindergarten students helped me to unpack my own backpack, which was loaded for the day. As we unpacked, the students found my laptop, my snack, my water bottle, my math book, my notebook, and my planner. These are common items that each student brings to school each day and can create a rather heavy load.
In addition, however, we found several other “items” that frequently find their way to school with our students and add a much heavier weight to their backpack and to their day. Those might include worry, fear, guilt, shame, and anxiety. Perhaps a student is worried about making new friends, or finding her way to a new classroom, or remembering her locker code, or forgetting her P.E. uniform. Maybe a student is embarrassed or afraid he will be in trouble for any one of these things. Maybe there is a forgotten homework assignment or a lack of confidence in material that is included on a quiz. Perhaps there is worry about leaving Mom or Dad for the whole day as one adjusts to a new school schedule. There are so many reasons why a student might worry, and that worry can lead to fear, guilt, shame, and anxiety. The baggage can be heavy, and that silent baggage can make or break a day for a student.
My Kindergarten helpers helped me find some other “items,” however, that we could bring to school to take away the heavier thoughts and burdens. If we can bring joy, a big smile, kind words, a positive mindset, forgiveness, and friendship for everyone, the worry, fear, guilt, shame, and anxiety may lessen or go away. When we can extend compassion to one another and a listening ear of understanding, our “backpacks” will become much lighter. Each one of us has the opportunity to make the day better for someone else. The challenge to everyone as we begin the school year is to be kind, smile, listen, be positive, and reach out to be that friend who can make something good happen for other people. It’s an easy challenge to accept. Already, my backpack feels lighter!
Head of School
This summer, St. Michael’s students were making waves and winning tournaments and games, as well as being recognized in their selection for special teams. We are so proud of how our students take their gifts and talents well beyond the adobe walls. Three cheers for each and every one. Please keep us posted on your student’s achievements outside of school so that we can applaud his or her accomplishments not only in sports but in other extracurricular activities.
- Blake Eklund – Blake’s lacrosse team won a Texas All-Star Tournament. Blake also was selected to play lacrosse for the West Coast Starz, a premier youth lacrosse program comprised of players from California and neighboring Western states.
- Jace Springer – Jace’s basketball team won their age bracket for the Coca-Cola National Tournament and the Big Foot Hoops International Tournament.
- Jensen Peyton – Jensen won the championship of the 2017 Armed Forces Tribute Handball Tournament.
- Franklin Van Straalen – Franklin won 1st place with his team in the Arizona state bowling championship for his age group.
- Hayden Corrado – Hayden’s baseball team placed second in the district tournament.
- Sydney Even – Sydney competed in the Arizona State Swimming Championships and won the 800 Free.
- Luke Brown – Luke’s soccer team won their tournament in Phoenix.