Letter from the Principal – September 8, 2016

Dear Holy Family Parents,

Greetings to all! Some of us are old enough to remember when Labor Day signified the official return to school. It wasn’t until about 1987 that the State of Indiana adopted a 180-day academic year, and it seemed that before then, you could accomplish a school year between Labor Day and Memorial Day. There was little, if any, mention of “making up” days canceled by weather. Of course, in those days, Little League baseball seasons lasted about 12 games primarily in June-July, rainouts often weren’t rescheduled and “travel club volleyball” wasn’t yet available for 5-6th graders…

As it is, with the passing of Labor Day, we have completed 30 days or 1/6 of the school year! It is definitely time for each family to take stock as to how things are going in 2016-17. In a few weeks we’ll be having Parent-Teacher conferences and will mark the end of the first nine-week grading period. I hope all families are regularly visiting jupitergrades.com. This is designed not only for students and teachers, but most importantly, for parents. In addition, finalized parent reports from the spring 2016 ISTEP+ assessment are now available.

School Year Theme – This year, we are celebrating Fruits of the Spirit – not coconuts, watermelons, and cherries – but instead love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These wonderful “fruits” {Galatians 5: 22-23} represent behaviors that, regardless of which household of faith we belong, are universal and much-needed in our school, society, and world. So, for each of the nine months ahead, we will be celebrating and practicing one of these fruits of the Spirit. In September, we will focus on love here at school. We ask that parents and children work together at home ti engage in conversation, practice, games, prayer, and readings that reflect our love for one another. We hope that by the end of May, students will not only be able to define and provide examples of each, but will have embraced them in their heart, words, and actions.

Buddy Bench – Prior to leaving the New Albany Area to make her new home in the Austin, TX area, interventionist Amanda Schmidt used proceeds from her sister’s estate (Jessica Bonewell) to purchase a Buddy Bench for the Holy Family Playground. If you aren’t familiar with the  Buddy Bench, be sure to Google it. In short, a Buddy Bench is designed to be used by someone who may be feeling lonely or down. When noticed by another, this student may be joined by a “buddy” who will sit with, chat, invite to play, and generally lift that person’s spirits. The Buddy Bench has been very successful in many schools across the country in helping a child get through a rough moment. Mrs. Frossard, school counselor, and teachers will be providing more info to the students as to how the Buddy Bench works. Thanks, Mrs. Schmidt, for thinking of us!

STAR Assessments – In the next week, teachers will begin administering a new assessment to students in grades K-8. All STAR assessments are computer-adaptive tests (CATs). Computer-adaptive tests continually adjust the difficulty of each child’s test by choosing each test question based on the child’s previous response. If the child answers a question correctly, the difficulty level of the next item is increased. The assessments are short, approximately 20 minutes each, and are administered 3 times per year in Math and Language Arts courses. Science and Social Studies assessments may be available in the future. These assessments are designed to help better understand student needs, strengths, and areas for improvement. They enable teachers to better plan instruction.

Get out Your Walking Shoes! – Next Thursday (15th) marks an important fundraising event as well as a fitness awareness activity, as we collect funds and celebrate our Walkathon! The Walkathon was designed several years ago to help provide support for the school operating budget – approximately $50 per student is budgeted toward this. At the same time, encouraging physical fitness, demonstrating school spirit, and celebrating the first nine weeks of school are rolled into this mid-September activity! Numerous parents from our PTO volunteer to help provide this activity, and all are welcome to join in the Walk! (Please let your child’s teacher know if you are planning to walk.) Pre-school and primary students will walk on campus and enjoy the bounce houses, and 3-8th grades will take a hike from campus to the middle of the Holy Trinity Cemetery and back (about 2 1/2 miles.) Special prizes will be awarded to those who meet or exceed the personal goal and to classes for group competition. Thanks in advance for helping us to meet this financial goal! Note: Next Friday, September 16th, is a non-school day for students as teachers participate in an in-service day.

Finally, thank you for your ongoing support of Holy Family School, both by your decision to bring your child(ren) to us, and also partnering with us in their faith development, education and activities! Yesterday, Mrs. Huber and I attended a mass in Indianapolis with Archbishop Tobin and many school and ministry representatives from the Archdiocese. Being there helped heighten for me a sense of connectedness to the greater Church of central and southern Indiana. This connection provides us many blessings, some unseen and others behind-the-scene, but all for the betterment of our children and our world.

Peace to all,

Jerry Ernstberger