On Thursday, January 26, many weeks of preparation culminated in the school Science Fair for our seventh and eighth grade students. Under the guidance of St. Alphonsus/St. Patrick School junior high science teacher, Mrs. O’Hara, the students develop a hypothesis, design an experiment to test their hypothesis, conduct the experiment and analyze the results. A written report that includes a review of the literature about other similar studies accompanies the displays that are presented by the students at the science fair. Pairs of judges rate the student’s work and the scores are averaged and tallied to determine who will represent our school at the regional science fair. The science experiments were quite varied this year and showed excellent application of the scientific method. There were experiments that involved behavioral science, chemistry, physics, consumer science, material science, computer science, and even cellular molecular biology! The critical thinking and problem solving fostered by the science fair are very important skills that students need to have in their toolbox for life. Pictured here are the student projects along with their abstracts and their displays.
The Stock Market Game (SMG) program is used in thousands of classrooms nationwide to help teach core academic subjects while emphasizing the importance of long-term saving and investing. Students work together in teams to conduct research, invest their hypothetical $100,000 cash account and manage their portfolio over time. Through their participation, student teams gain practical knowledge about the markets, learning such concepts as risk and diversification. While the students think they’re playing a game, their teachers know they’re learning real-life economic and financial skills that will benefit them for years to come.
Ms. Burke, our junior high Math teacher, and Mrs. Yakes, our technology teacher, work together as a team at St. Als/St. Pats to bring this learning experience to our eighth grade students. They use the SMG program’s online educational resource library as a tool to enhance student engagement with math, language arts, social studies, business, and technology, while integrating investment concepts into their existing curriculum. The cross-curricular lessons and materials address many important learning standards.
One of the most charming and helpful programs at St. Alphonsus/St. Patrick School involves our older students helping out our youngest students in many ways. Our eighth graders are paired with Kindergarten students, our seventh graders work with first graders, and our sixth grade students team up with our little preschool kids. The Buddies often work on cooperative projects together such as when the eighth graders help their little buddies plant flower bulbs at the front of our school. Everyone anxiously awaits the springtime floral explosion! Also pictured here are the seventh grade students helping their first grade buddies accomplish digital research and notetaking for their penguin project. The first graders were so grateful for the kind assistance from their buddies! Sixth grade students get together with their preschool buddies every chance they get. They are looking forward to doing a Valentine’s Day project with them soon. The guidance provided by our oldest students to our youngest students makes life better for both groups. The older kids learn valuable leadership and service skills while the youngest students get extra personalized help and attention. It is definitely a win-win program!
Our junior high students teamed up during the month of December to create facsimiles of “ugly sweaters” that were intended to highlight talents and features of the wearer. Each sweater designer also had to create a runway narrative that he or she read as the sweater was modeled by the recipient. Some of the sixth grade students even teamed up to create “ugly sweaters” for some of their teachers.
In the end, all concluded that the sweaters were not ugly at all but rather beautiful representations of the people they were specially designed for. Everyone had a great time watching the “fashion show” and many of the very artistic “sweaters” will be treasured for a long time by the receivers.
Each year, Mrs. Parry guides the eighth grade students on a journey that culminates in a piece of artwork. Like the masterpieces that these student creations emulate, the paintings require several stages and take quite some time to reach their framed display state during Catholic Schools Week. As the students work on the art, they are also journaling in their language arts classes with Mrs. Bruno and applying math skills as they maintain the proportions of their painting on their canvas. Along the way they also employ technology to help with research and to communicate about their overall experience. This amazing learning experience teaches the students about art, about perseverance, about what it really takes to create a masterpiece on canvas that lives on long after the artist, and finally, about themselves and what they are capable of doing. These photos depict some of the early struggles of the student artists as they endeavor to get the colors and proportions just right.
Another part of the journey involves our young artists visiting The Art Institute of Chicago to see real artistic masterpieces and to learn more about the artistic process. There are also some photos of this traditional field trip included here.
The whole school eagerly awaits the finished masterpiece paintings that will be on display at the Art Fair during Catholic Schools Week that begins with our open house on January 29!
On Wednesday, December 14, the children in first grade through the fourth grade and the Liturgical Choir joined to present a Christmas concert for their parents and friends. Under the direction of Mr. Joe Martorano and accompanied by talented musicians, the students sang a program of Advent and Christmas music designed to highlight the true meaning of the Christmas season, intermixed with a sprinkling of lighthearted familiar Christmas carols. The lovely melodies and meaningful lyrics helped add meaning to our Advent of waiting for the Christ child. Unique this year was a live streaming of the concert that allowed even far away relatives to enjoy the concert!
Then on December 20, the band members from our school combined with those from St. Germaine and from Ss. Cyril and Methodius to present a wonderful Christmas band concert. The band is directed by Mr. Patrick Mooney.
These concerts showcase the musical talents of our students, and they help to get everyone into the true spirit of Christmas.
During National Computer Science Education Week (December 5-9 this year) all of our students join millions of others around the world and attempt to learn a bit of computer coding and even some app invention. This has become a nationwide campaign to expose students to this important skill. The exercises the children participate in also fit very well into our STEM initiative (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math). The students listen to short tutorials by famous personalities and expert computer scientists as they attempt to complete the wide array of tutorials available. These short instructional videos are designed to pique interest in computer science and guide the student’s coding experiences.
All of Mrs. Yakes’ students from PreSchool up through the 8th grade are given the opportunity to try computer coding. Many tried this year’s specially designed tutorial based on the new Disney movie. Moana. Students used Blockly (a simplified coding language) to create their programs and they were able to reveal the actual coding language that lies beneath the blocks. Other students experimented with tutorials offered by Tynker and by Code.org. Some even tried their hand at more complex coding and App creation using the MIT App Inventor site. If you would care to check out this year’s possibilities for the Hour of Code, click these links to try your hand: Hour of Code 2016 and the MIT App Inventor.
These lessons will be ongoing in the lab so that students can continue their opportunity to experience computer coding and gain some appreciation for what computer scientists do to help make our world a better place. In the words of Bill Gates, every student should learn how to do computer coding because “it teaches you how to think and how to solve problems”, and those are very important skills indeed!
Mrs. Jenkins’ Kindergarten students orchestrated our school Liturgy service for the first time on Friday, November 18. They sent the tone for the Mass with a beautiful handmade banner proclaiming the need for us to be thankful for our many blessings. Our youngest students led the readings and prayers with just a bit of support from their eighth grade buddies! The children then worked with the choir to sing and sign and beautiful hymn after Holy Communion. Included during the liturgy was a blessing over the food we collected for the community open pantry during the month of November.
As part of their Language Arts Class with Mrs. Bruno and their Technology Class with Mrs. Yakes, the eighth grade students recently created Public Service Announcement videos. They did their best to express what our 2016-17 school theme means and showcased how we live the theme, We Are the Work of God’s Hands. The students worked together in small cooperative groups on the scripting and taping, but then each student created their own take on the final video presentation. The students are pleased to show off their writing and speaking skills, their videotaping, editing and production skills, AND our wonderful school and the ways that "We Are the Work of God's Hands!" All of the videos are available for viewing on a special website. Click on this link to visit the website. Pictured here are the eighth grade students sharing their video creations with their kindergarten buddies.
On Saturday November 12th, fifteen of our sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students attended Montini Catholic High School to participate in a math competition. There were over 400 students who attended from 33 of the area’s best public and private schools. Representing our school from sixth grade were Caleb B., Garret C., Connor K., and Nick V., from seventh grade were Vince C., Ian M., Scarlett O., Ryan O., and Alex P., and from eighth grade were Christopher C., Paige C., Abby G., Will G., and Gabby S. We are proud to announce we had many winners! In sixth grade, Caleb B. earned an eighth place honor. In seventh grade Alex P. earned a seventh place honor and Ian M. earned a fourth place honor. In eighth grade Will G. earned an eighth place honor. We are also happy to announce that our seventh grade team took a third place team victory overall! Congratulations to the parents of these students and to the faculty who have taught them throughout the years. We are so proud of our Celtics!
On Veteran’s Day, November 11, Mr. Munyon and his fifth grade students, along with Mr. Lundberg and Mrs. Bruno and the Worship Commission, joined forces to create a very moving Veteran’s Day Service as part of our Friday Liturgy. All were welcomed into the worship space by a most meaningful display of the Veteran’s Table. The symbols that were part of this display included item such as a single red rose to remind us of the life and the blood that was shed and a slice of lemon to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land. There was a lit candle to show that America is a light in a world of darkness and salt to symbolize the tears of the families with missing soldiers. A Bible represented the strength gained through faith and an inverted glass and tilted chair signified the inability of those lost to wars to share in this Eucharistic meal with us.
We were so pleased to welcome veteran and former teacher Mr. Kerry O’Donnell back to our school as the keynote speaker. Other highlights of the morning included the cast of our recent school play, Kilroy Was Here, reprising the beautiful song We Are One, the reverent recitation of the names of many Veterans, and a special blessing that was offered to all of our visiting vets as well as those who could not be with us.
Another activity to honor and benefit those currently serving in the military was spearheaded by Mrs. Lerch and the National Junior Honor Society. She found out about a dentist who was willing to collect leftover Halloween candy, pay for it by the pound, and then ship it overseas to soldiers currently serving. There was a great response from our school community. Many pounds of candy were collected and sent to servicemen along with handmade letters and cards.
Our school is very happy for our newly appointed Cardinal Blaise Cupich. We wanted to do something special to congratulate him. After Mass on Friday, November 4, the whole school created a special performance of our theme song for this school year, The Work of God’s Hands by Michael Schmid.
On November 5, the St. Alphonsus/St. Patrick School Drama Club along with Lucky Star Productions produced a wonderful musical play that transported their audience back to the early 1940’s. The student performers and their director, Mrs. Margie Novotny, worked for months to hone their thespian skills and musical song and dance routines. All of that hard work culminated in an outstanding performance. The cast performed a complete dress rehearsal for the entire school on Friday before the official show on Saturday. The play received rave reviews from all of the faculty and students. Everyone enjoyed seeing the play on a real stage thanks to Mount Assisi Academy who allowed us to use their facilities.
This charming patriotic musical drama was hugely successful thanks to the dedicated sponsors, the hardworking student performers, and the many supporting parents and staff members who helped with creating sets and arranging all of the other necessary components of the play. The entire school community took delight in watching “our kids” work musical magic on stage as the Kilroy Was Here story unfolded. Everyone, actors and audience alike, look forward to future performances!
The Worship Commission, under the direction of Mrs. Eileen Bruno, consistently creates wonderful backdrops for our liturgies. Their transformation efforts for the annual Mass of Remembrance are always especially meaningful for our school community. This year, the names of loved ones who have passed were represented on butterflies colored and decorated by family members. They were meant to demonstrate that upon death, life is changed but not ended. The first grade students did a beautiful job orchestrating the liturgy celebration with just a little help from their seventh grade buddies. It was a lovely way to remember special people who are no longer with us on earth.
On Friday, October 28, the gymnasium underwent a miraculous transformation and again became a reverent worship space just as it does for our all school liturgies. This time, however, it became a hallowed hall of holy saints.
Under the direction of Mrs. Bruno, the eighth grade teacher, each eighth grader dressed up to represent their chosen Confirmation Saint and posed beside a stained glass window backdrop that they had created. The “stained glass windows” were filled with rich symbolism important to their Saint’s story. Complete with candle light and hushed voices, the setting became a very holy place and a spectacular way to honor All Saints Day. The younger grades were welcomed in and after an introductory Litany of the Saints, they gathered in small groups at each Saint to hear the story of their life. Young children and visiting adults alike listened with rapt attention as the 8th grade Saints revealed details about the faith and life of the inspiring person they represented. As the young students left the museum, they were able to choose an artifact or holy card that the eighth graders had made to remind others of their Saint.
This experience really helped make the Saints come alive not only for the eighth grade Confirmandi, but for our whole school community. We are so fortunate to be able to provide these experiences both for those creating them and for those praying with them. Later this year, the students will create webpages about their Saint that they will also be able to share. When our faith life is woven in such a beautiful way with our other learning, we recognize and feel our Catholic identity deeply. Great job eighth grade leaders!
The fourth and fifth grade technology classes have been working on their October book reports for Mrs. Cunningham in a unique way this past month. They had to select a biography book and their book report was done with Mrs. Yakes in the computer lab in presentation form which they were then able to share with their classmates.
The fourth grade students created a PowerPoint presentation about their chosen famous person. They were challenged to not only find basic information about their person, but also to infer character traits that helped them accomplish the great things they did. The students dressed up as their famous person on Halloween to deliver their presentation to their classmates. Can you guess who each student represents in the photos?
In the fifth grade, the children also read a book about a famous historical figure and did digital research and note-taking as well. They then developed a script and recorded a video PhotoStory report about their biographical subject. This challenging project involved many steps from start to completion. The finished Photostories can be viewed on this website: https://sites.google.com/a/stals-stpats.org/historicalfigurephotostories5th2016/
Imagination was everywhere during the days leading up to and including Halloween. Doors were decorated with Halloween themes! The traditional I SPY Haunted came out in the Computer Lab for the younger grades just before Halloween, and several of the children found their way out of the mansion this year! The Family School Association hosted a fabulous Halloween party on Friday, October 28 complete with costumes, games, food and even a soup cook-off. On Halloween itself, the Pre-school through third grade paraded their costumes for the older students and parent on-lookers, and then had a chance to enjoy treats and games at their classroom Halloween parties. Alumnus Madison Wall and Mrs. Wall even helped the extended day students mix a little science with Halloween fun as she showed them how to create “Ghost Bubbles” using carbon dioxide vapor from dry ice. The children learned about the sublimation properties of frozen carbon dioxide, which is unique in its change of state directly from frozen solid to a gas. Ms. Wall used a unique tubing contraption and soap solution to trap the CO2 gas inside of bubbles-----hence, ghost bubbles! It was fascinating and fun! Enjoy the photo gallery of our many Halloween festivities!
On Friday, October 21, the halls of St. Alphonsus/St. Patrick School were filled with love and caring as many grandparents and persons that are special to our students came to visit and share the morning. The day began with a beautiful liturgy officiated by Father Kurt with the help of our fourth grade students. The fourth graders set the tone for the day with heartfelt words that expressed how special a grandparent’s love is to us and how much we learn by watching what these treasured family members show us about faith and goodness. Other readings and touching comments by Grandma Fiore added to the ceremony. Our special guests then had the opportunity to visit the classrooms with their grandchildren and to enjoy a reception in their honor. It is apparent that our students are very much loved and supported by their families and extended families. Enjoy viewing some photos from the day……
On Friday, September 23, the St. Alphonsus/St. Patrick School Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society inducted eight new members. Our Principal, Ms. Payne and the NJHS advisors, Mrs. Teri Lerch and Mr. Joel Munyon, along with the current members, welcomed the new inductees in a formal ceremony that celebrated the qualities that are the hallmarks of the society. Student members resolved to carry out the five pillars of Character, Scholarship, Leadership, Service, and Citizenship. The new inductees included eighth graders Ela S. and Tatiana S..and seventh graders Luke A., Vince C., Ian M., Scarlett O., Julia P., and Alex P. They were ushered into the NJHS by our existing eighth grade members Christopher C., Paige C., Abigail G., William G., Connor K., and Ryan M.
True to the mandate given to these young people during their induction, our NJHS students strive to be "servant leaders". NJHS members work throughout the year to foster the touchstones of NJHS by sponsoring projects that benefit the community, our parishes, and St. Alphonsus/St. Patrick School. We are very proud of these hard-working students.
The new Collaborative Learning Center (CLC for short) is taking shape nicely! The room is a wonderful learning space complete with comfortable seating for a discussion group, modular furniture that can be reconfigured to match the needs of the group, and a large screen on the wall that functions as a Chromebook.
This new learning environment is based upon the view that knowledge is a social construct. Collaborative activities that are student focused, involve real world problems, and emphasize active “doing” and working in groups are known to promote authentic and deeper learning experiences.
The CLC is available to all teachers and students for use and has already been the site for many projects. Pictured below you will see the drama club during the early stages of producing this year’s play!
The room and its many possible uses will continue to evolve. We are grateful to the many generous donors who contributed to this project at last year’s gala and to all that have contributed to the construction of the CLC and the relocation of the regular library. Mrs. Hoster is working hard to get the traditional library back in service in its new location!
One of our most inspiring and touching back-to-school events is the eighth grade Leadership Mass. We have watched our eighth graders grow from little children to mature students willing to accept the mantle of leadership. During the Mass on Friday, September 9, the eighth grade class pledged to use their gifts and talents to lead the school this year and to help all of our students and our entire school community live our theme, We Are the Work of God’s Hands. Throughout the year these young leaders will demonstrate with their service and leadership some of the ways that God expects us to also be His hands to help make our world a better place. The school community promised to help our fledgling leaders along the way and to champion their successful leadership accomplishments as well.