Locks, Lights, Out of Sight.

This is what your child will hear next Wednesday morning when we do our first updated lockdown drill of the year.  Actually, what they will hear is:

“This is a drill.  Lockdown.  Locks, Lights, Out of sight.  This is a drill.  Lockdown.  Locks, Lights, Out of sight.”

srp_posterAs one of the first grade teachers told me when she was practicing with her students, “I asked them, ‘What’s my job?’  They said, ‘Locks and lights.’  ‘What’s your job?’ ‘Out of sight.'”  It’s a simple thing that, like fire drills and tornado drills, will go a long way in preparing the students in the unlikely event that we would need to do the real thing.  Unfortunately, in our world, this is something for which we need to prepare them.  But it doesn’t have to be big and scary.  Rather, it’s one more way that we can prepare their “muscle memory” by practicing.

So, what can you do at home?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Have an open discussion (age-appropriate) about how your child feels about the lockdown practices that the teacher has done in the classroom already.  Ask, “How do you feel about this?  Do you feel safe at school?”  Then let them lead.  You don’t need to plant ideas by asking, “Are you scared?”  Sometimes we, as adults, are more concerned because we think of all the potential things that could happen.  Children think like children.  Take the lead from how your child is feeling and respond accordingly.
  • In November, we included a link for the children’s book, I’m Not Scared, I’m Prepared! by Julia Cook.  If you have a younger child (PreK-2nd grade), you I'm not scaredmay want to discuss some of the concepts that are well-presented in this book.
  • If your child is concerned, share general safety guidelines that we use all the time with children:  look both ways before crossing the street, wear a helmet when biking, during a fire crawl low in smoke, etc.  These are all ways that we practice staying safe.
  • Finally, remind your child that God, our loving Father, always keeps them in His loving care.  He also sends His angels to watch over us.  We pray the Prayer to St. Michael at the end of Mass every day, asking his protection.

We anticipate that this drill will be just one more standard procedure that will take place in our standard routines and procedures.  Our teachers are well-prepared and we want your children to be so also.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Sister Mary Michael or me.

In the closing words of the Divine Office that the Church prays every night:  “May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.”  Amen!

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It is a Simple Little Graphic

but it tells a story.  I have many friends in LPS and you may note they do well, better than the State in every grade in both categories. 

testing scores

LPS and State data taken from Lincoln Journal Star, Saturday, December 22, 2018, page 1ff along with measures from the NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) site and NSCAS (Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System) proficiency standards which vary for each grade and subject matter.  The percentages illustrate the children who score as proficient in the state standards for Lang Arts and Math.  

I trust you will keep reading.  Between our teachers, our parents, our school and our curriculum we are doing well.  I am very proud of our school and the academic achievement of our children.  I am also very pleased with their knowledge of Jesus and His Church and their practice of virtue which will serve them very well also!

I am not a promoter of frequent testing.  Every day that you test you are not teaching, unless you use a formative assessment (which some of our teachers do) but standardized testing is not formative.  Students are not given the luxury of seeing what they got wrong and why, which is key to formative assessment.  Another caveat to be included is that students with IEPs were tested and included with our scores while I’m uncertain of the LPS inclusion policy.  We also test in several other areas but these are the two with consistent proficiency measures in NSCAS.  

So, although I am not a promoter of frequent testing, you as parents need to know our children are thriving academically; may they do so spiritually also and especially!  If you are interested in the details behind the numbers, I would be glad to share further in person or via email.  This little graphic took a number of hours to put together based on where LPS got their numbers and the comparable places from our standardized testing.  In the end we were able to arrive at the same ruler and present comparable data.

May the Good Lord continue to enable us to thrive, and may He especially enable the students who did not make the proficiency cutoff to learn well and enable all of us to know our great  intrinsic value in the eyes of God!

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Fear Not!

What would you do if an angel appeared to you?  Most of us like the idea of having a tangible sense of the spiritual world, but in all honesty, would we be ready to face an angel?  In the Scriptures, whenever an angel appeared to a human being, the message always started with, “Fear not.”  In today’s reading from the Book of Judges, we hear how the mother of Samson explained the appearance of an angel to her: “A man of God came to me;
he had the appearance of an angel of God, terrible indeed.”  Do we really have a sense of what it means to be in the presence of such holiness?DSC_0003

Yet, it is precisely because we are so unworthy that the angels proclaim, “Fear not.”  God, although He is infinite majesty and glory, loves us so much that He does not want us to fear the presence of holiness.  As some of the saints have proclaimed, “He is madly in love with us.”  Such madness led Him to lower Himself even further and actually become one of us.  And so that we would “fear not,” He even abased Himself to the point of coming as a helpless baby.  Who could fear that?DSC_0093Our children did a beautiful job on Tuesday of sharing this message of love with all who came for their Christmas program.  In a world full of so many fears, anxieties and challenges, the message of Jesus this Christmas remains the same, “Fear not.”

Fear not to give Him your worries and anxieties, but to be like little children.

Fear not to offer Him your heart and ask Him to rule more fully there.

Fear not to just be present to Jesus, without having to “do” things for Him.

DSC_0113May this Christmas and the coming new year be filled with the peace and joy that only our Savior can give!

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Fear not to trust in His deep and personal love for you.

 

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Faith – the Currency of Heaven

Father Doty used this line in a homily last week.  It was about the time Sister Mary Angela’s mom was dying.  Her mom was a woman of faith; a simple woman and probably one of the most hardworking women I have ever known.  Sister Mary Angela is the youngest of 13, not counting two who died at birth and three more who were miscarried.  The Rosary was a part of daily life, “Like it or not” as Sister Mary Angela recalls as a child, “we all prayed it together every night.”  And Sister’s mom was not just a one-Rosary-a-day woman.  When I think of how many times she must have prayed to our Blessed Mother, “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death,” it must have been millions.

Faith is the currency of heaven.  She had a lot to bargain with.  We figure she wanted to die on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, being so devoted to Our Lady.  But then there is the Sacred Heart and First Fridays which she also loved.  Only Monda could die on a First Friday after 4:00 making it the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception.  God has His fingerprints all over her passage to eternity.

We go today, Wednesday, to lay her tired body to rest, but her spirit surely soars.  She not only loved Our Lady, but was kind to those in need, was anointed shortly before death, AND RAISED 13 CHILDREN.  Now that’s a nice load to take to the Lord along with her faith.

Here’s her holy card.  She drew and painted the picture on the front. 

Monda

The photo is from her 90th birthday celebration back in May.  And the Rosary prayer, which the family approved by popular acclamation, describes her beautifully.

Monda2

Monda, put a good word in for us, will you?  May the Good Lord bless you and your family, especially today as they lay your body to rest.

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The REAL St. Nick

“Mom, this isn’t the fake Santa like at the mall, this is the REAL ONE!” the child said.  Funny thing is, with this one there are no presents around, no telling him what you want, only a silent presence.

We don’t want to feed the make-believe stories and materialism of our age, but children and Christmas are a delight. We want to help them know St. Nicholas’ origin and witness to his thoughtfulness and giving, hoping we will all learn to give in imitation of Jesus as he did.

We work hard at walking the fine line of saying only that which is true, yet not “leaking the secret” in any way. Fr. Christensen blazed the trail with very carefully chosen words.  We have modified the process a bit: the elves are no longer with us, or the book of naughty and nice, but the vocal point remains constant.  St. Nick leans on his bishop’s crosier as he enters dressed in a dalmatic, cope, and miter.  He is typically wearing the oldest shoes on earth, and comes in at a pace appropriate for one about 1600 years old, very slowly, very, very slowly.  Never have I seen such silent, focused attention by 400 children.  St. Nicholas slowly enters the church, processes down the aisle, steps into the sanctuary, stops, turns around and stands while a two-minute biography is read.  (I feel like the background voice in Charlie Brown cartoons, as I relay his history.  I read the real words, but let’s face it, they are so focused on watching, that for most the sound is, “Wa, wa, wa, wa-wa….” in the background).

st. Nicholas

Here is the bio we read, taken from www.stnicholascenter.org :

The real Santa lived a long time ago in the country of Turkey. His name was Nicholas.

Nicholas’ parents died when he was just a teenager. His parents left him a lot of money which made him a rich young man. He went to live with his uncle who was a priest.

Nicholas heard about a man who had lost all his money. He had three daughters who were old enough to get married. But in those days young women had to have money in order to get married. This money was a dowry and it was used to help the new family get started. If you didn’t have dowry money, you couldn’t get married.

This family was so poor they had nothing to eat. The daughters were going to be sold as slaves because they couldn’t provide for them at home any longer. They were very sad. They wouldn’t be able to have families of their own. And they would have to be slaves—no longer able to decide where they would live or what they would do.

The night before the oldest daughter was to be sold, she washed her stockings and put them in front of the fire to dry through the night.

In the morning the daughter saw a lump in her stocking. Reaching in, she found a small, heavy bag. It had gold inside! Enough to provide food for the family and money for her dowry. Oh, how happy they were!

The next morning, another bag with gold was found. Imagine! Two of the daughters would now be saved. Such joy!

And the next night, the father planned to stay awake to find out who was helping his daughters. He dozed off, but heard a small “clink” as another bag landed in the room. Quickly he jumped up and ran out the door. Who did he catch ducking around the corner?

Nicholas, the young man who lived with his uncle. “Nicholas, it is you! Thank you for helping us—I hardly know what to say!” Nicholas said, “Please, do not thank me—thank God that your prayers have been answered. Do not tell others about me.”

Nicholas continued helping people. He always tried to help secretly. He didn’t want any attention or thanks. Years passed and he was chosen to be a bishop. Bishops look after their people as shepherds look after their sheep. And that is what Nicholas did. When there wasn’t any food, he provided for his people; so no one went hungry. He always helped people in trouble. All his life Nicholas showed people how to love God and care for each other.

Everyone loved Nicholas. After he died, they told stories of the good and kind things Nicholas had done. Sailors took these stories about Nicholas everywhere they went. Some of the stories were about his special care for children—helping and protecting them when danger threatened. And so more and more people learned about good, kind Nicholas. They wanted to be like him. He is an example of how we should live. And that is why he became a Saint. —Carol Myers

Our current tradition here is to put a shoe out when we go to Mass. Our halls on Dec. 6 look like this:

shoes

When they return from Mass a holy card of St. Nicholas and a candy cane are in their shoe.

Praying you and your family can prepare for Jesus’ coming through knowing God’s love for us and giving the gift of self as the Father did in Jesus – and St. Nicholas imitated.

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Español?

Miss Mary Kouma is not just a phenomenal Spanish Teacher.  Note the picture below from LAST WEEK.  Don’t mess with Mary!

espaniol2

What a blessing Miss Kouma is to our school.  At first, I was going to say to our children, which is true, but it goes beyond the children, though they are the reason we are here.  Let me itemize the reasons:

·        Our children are learning Spanish well.  (Please don’t tell anyone, but sometimes when I go in to observe, I have little idea what the kids are saying!  And sometimes the kids are really little!)

·        The children generally enjoy Spanish class very much!

·        Miss Kouma taught Spanish at the high school level, so she sees clearly where the children are headed with language acquisition.

·        Before that she worked at a bank with Spanish speaking clients, so her conversational Spanish as well as formal Spanish is exceptional.

·        In several instances she has served as an interpreter in educational meetings.

·        And she does all this while teaching Spanish in “the airplane”, a long narrow room.  See the photo of class this morning.  The children are asking one another, IN SPANISH, “When is your birthday?”  They toss the ball to a classmate, who answers in a complete sentence with their birthday, ALL IN SPANISH.  Do you know your numbers and months in Spanish?  (If not, see the parenthesis above and join me there!)

espaniol1

And now for the instances that are icing on the cake!

·        Miss Kouma brings a young face of faithful Catholicism to the children!

·        Her positive enthusiasm as a faculty member is contagious.

·        She has volunteered to serve on the “Crisis Response Team”, and is a valuable member there.

·        Her choice of dress sets an example for our children, especially our girls.

We were the first, and I think to date the only, elementary school in Lincoln, public or private, to have a full time Spanish teacher.  Have I said I’m proud of Mary?  Thanks for being a blessing to our families, our faculty and to me.  May the Good Lord continue to bless you, Mary.

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CKs at St.P

Vocation awareness week – “We need something new,” I said to a few faculty members.  For years we have asked a few questions to classes, helping them explore a few horizons.  This year Mrs. Nealon said, “The kids think all you do is pray and come to school.  Tell them what you enjoy doing!”  Now don’t get me wrong we enjoy being here, but we did expound upon things a bit.  There are five of us CKs here and five days of the week, so last week each of us took a day and a couple minutes after Mass to tell the kids a bit more about us as unique individuals.  The St. Peter team is circled below in this community picture. 

 cks at St. P

I took Monday, here’s what followed:

Sister Mary Michael – I get to be married to the perfect spouse, Jesus, and live with my best friends.  I, and all of us Sisters, wear a wedding band on our left hand as we are married to the King.  He has claimed our hearts, which we gladly give to Him.  There is nothing like knowing I belong totally to Him.

 Sister Mary Guadalupe – Growing up I experienced Sisters, but I never thought about being one because I didn’t think that I was the kind of person that Sisters were. I liked playing sports and wanted to be a physical therapist. In 7th grade I had a moment when God let me know pretty clearly that I was called to be a Sister, but I wasn’t interested. Throughout high school and into college Jesus started changing my heart and instead of just thinking that I had to be a Sister, I started to want to be a Sister and give my life completely to Jesus. I found out that Sisters aren’t all alike and aren’t exactly what I thought they were. One of the many gifts that Jesus has given me in Religious Life is to become more and more the person He created me to be.

 Sister Edith Marie – In  Matthew 19:29, Jesus says, “And everyone who has given up houses or brother or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.”  Jesus was faithful to me in this promise. One desire I had before entering religious life was to travel.  At one point I even thought about being an airplane stewardess.  As I discerned my religious vocation, I thought the desire to travel would have to be sacrificed.  Several years after being a Sister, God fulfilled my desire by allowing me to attend World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany.  The opportunity to see different countrysides, cities, people, and to be involved in World Youth Day was exciting.  However, Jesus had even more in store for me.  My patron saint, St. Edith Stein, was a Carmelite in Cologne.  While there I was able to celebrate my feast day, visit different sites connected with her and to have housing a block from where her Carmel Monastery was when she was alive.  I was able to walk on the ground and pray in the places where she lived out her religious vocation.  What an unexpected gift!

 Sister Mary Maximilian – I was blessed to have the Sisters teach me in school here in Lincoln and since I was in 2nd grade, I wanted to be a School Sister of Christ the King.  I remember noticing how good my heart felt when I was around them.  As I grew, I tried to keep taking ‘the next best step’ towards the Lord which lead me to saying “yes” to Jesus and belonging totally to Him.

 Sister Mary Angela – Two tidbits that people often don’t know about me involve my growing up years.  First of all, my favorite number is 13 due to being the 13th child in my family.  Plus my mom had a great devotion to Our Lady of Fatima so I always felt a special connection to Mary since she appeared to the Fatima children on the 13th of the month.  Secondly, like many families, I grew up with dogs.  However, we didn’t just have one dog, or two or three.  In order to help support our large family, my mom raised about a dozen breeds of purebred dogs and sold the puppies, so we had 50-60 dogs on our farm.  Starting in 5th grade my chores every morning included about a half hour of carrying 5-gallon buckets of water to fill dog bowls for the day.  The dogs played a big role in my life since I got my first dog, Sally, for Christmas when I was five.  dog owner!.jpgShe was a Sheltie and I raised puppies from her until I was in high school.  One of her daughters, Sharlene, died suddenly when I was in 7th grade and this was actually a big grace in my life because it was the first time I can remember really praying to God from my heart, asking why He allowed it to happen.  I really enjoyed training my dogs and always had dreamed of having my own kennel of show dogs when I grew up.  But as much as I delighted in what I could teach them, I had never dreamed that God would use these same gifts to help me learn to teach children.  When He called me to be a Sister and to join a teaching Community, I found the reward of helping young souls know and love Jesus far outweighed any “trick” I could ever have done with a dog.  I consider this to be a testimony to the Lord’s creativity!

We are blessed to serve here in our school on a daily basis.  Thanks for sharing your children with us.

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