Catholic School “Happenings” Newsletter
National Catholic School Theme: “Catholic Schools – Communications of Faith, Knowledge, and Service!”
School Mission: Growing Children in WAG – Wisdom, Age, and Grace!!
St. Helen "Happenings" is our monthly campus newsletter that gives parents information about upcoming school programs and events.” Happenings” will be posted for online access; please visit www.sthelenchurch.org, click on "St. Helen Catholic School," and then click on “Happenings Monthly Newsletter.” We encourage you to check our website and Facebook frequently for updates and information! Additionally, we encourage you to subscribe to your teachers’ and the principal’s NewsFlash for updates.
The campus is now using the country’s highest rated campus security tool – the RAPTOR identification system. This system provides us with the latest information on visitors’ criminal history checks and on sexual predators who may want to visit our campus. This goes beyond our usual Virtus screening……it is invaluable in protecting your children. So – please bear with us! We will ask you for your driver’s license each time you enter the building – please bring in your license or a state-issued picture ID with you each time you visit us! Thanks for understanding – it is done to protect your children!
Campus “Wish List:”
The teachers compose a “wish list” for their Teacher Web pages on our webpage. However, due to our unprecedented increase in student enrollment and the need for additional school supplies, we will begin listing general campus items on the Campus Wish List in this newsletter. Some items to consider and that will be most appreciated are:
- Electric stapler
- K cup coffees for both campuses
- 2 K cup empty coffee canister cups to fill with regular ground coffee
First Friday Breakfast:
Our next “First Friday” Breakfast will held on Friday, December 6, immediately after the 8:00 Mass. Students receive a donut (or donut holes) and a serving of milk. Locations for First Friday Breakfast have changed:
- PK3 and PK4 will have breakfast in their classrooms
- Grades K-5 will have breakfast in the cafeteria
- Grades 6-8 will have breakfast in the Middle School Commons Area
Our students really enjoy this special time of the month after Mass! Thanks to all the volunteers who make this traditional event as special as possible.
- Dance Class and the after-school Dance Club will perform for students in grades K-5 immediately after “First Friday” Breakfast in the Cafeteria on Friday, Dec., 6, at approximately 9:15 a.m.
- The Music and Choir Christmas performances will be held at 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, December 11, in Helena Hall.
- Dance Class and the after-school Dance Club will perform for students in grades 6-8 immediately after Mass and before the students’ Christmas Party on Friday, Dec. 20, at approximately 9:15 a.m. in the Cafeteria.
Field Trip News for Second Grade:
Second graders will travel to Main Street Theater to view a live production on Thursday, Dec. 12. They will eat lunch off campus. What a fun time is planned!
Each child's birthday will be announced on the speaker in the morning during announcements. St. Helen School celebrates students' birthdays in a fun and unique way as a group. For students in grades K-8, during the student's birthday month, the student will enjoy a pizza lunch with a cupcake and a drink in the cafeteria. Due to constraints of time and nutritional guidelines, no other birthday party favors or treats are allowed to be brought from home for birthdays. The next Birthday Club celebration for December birthdays will be on December 13!
For PK3-PK4 students, Birthday Club celebrations will include the entire classroom and be scheduled for their rooms as the same date other students experience Birthday Club. PK3 and PK4 students will have birthday treats in their own rooms to celebrate their classmates’ special day! If you would like more information for this fun day, please contact your child’s PK teacher for more information.
The 4th Grade classes will show their appreciation to the parish for the second collection towards our campus’ operating budget. On Sunday, December 15, the classes will serve donuts to the church attendees after the 11:00 a.m. Mass. Thank you to the St. Helen Church Community for your selfless support (approximately $70,000 annually)!
St. Nick’s Workshop:
Your children will be able to purchase “secret” gifts for family and friends at St. Nick’s Workshop from Monday, December 16, through Wednesday, December 18, in the Library. For minimal costs, your children will be able to make a “wish list” of gifts they would like to purchase, have wrapped, then bring home to tuck under your tree. Last year, the students really enjoyed hand-picking gifts under the watchful eyes of our volunteers. Please consider allowing them a few extra dollars to show their generosity and give you a nice surprise on Christmas morning! (Proceeds from the sales go to your children’s p.e. and athletic supplies.)
Junior High Mid-Term Exams:
Students in grades 6-8 will be taking their mid-term exams on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, December 17-19, in the mornings. Please encourage them to study, prepare, and complete their review packets. Mid-term tests are important tools in measuring your child’s cumulative knowledge of subject matter. Mid-term grades are posted on the 2nd 9-week report cards.
Magazine Reward Incentive – BMX Bike Show:
The HSA magazine fundraiser is sponsoring a reward program for all students who sold 5 magazines each. The show is highly entertaining and fun for all ages. The BMX show will be presented on Thursday, December 19, at 1:30 p.m. on the pavilion.
Student/Teacher Holiday – CHRISTMAS!
The next student/teacher holiday of the 2013-2014 school year is the Christmas holiday break. We will have early release on Friday, Dec. 20, 11:30 a.m. (with NO lunch or extended day provided). For the earlier PK dismissal, our “first dismissal” time will be at 10:45 a.m. on the pavilion. The holiday break will be observed from Monday, Dec. 23 – Friday, Jan. 3. School will resume on Monday, Jan. 6. The staff would like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous, blessed New Year! Rejoice – a King is born!
HELPFUL MONTHLY REMINDERS
Faculty Web pages:
You can locate teacher web pages by clicking on the "Faculty" link from the school website. Each teacher provides up-to-date information about individual classes, along with class schedules, and information about the teacher. Please visit your child's teacher web page. You can also email teachers directly from their web page by clicking on the mailbox.
Check Out Gradespeed!!:
St. Helen School enables parents to view their child's grades in every class at any time using Gradespeed! This communication tool uses technology to help parents stay current with their child's progress. Information on how to set up Gradespeed will be mailed only for new students in 1st-8th grades. Returning families can access their child's grades by using their same code from last year. If you have any problems accessing this website, please contact the front office. Kindergarten parents can use Gradespeed to track attendance only. Students in PK3 and PK4 will not be entered into Gradespeed for either attendance or grades. (Please allow teachers a week to update their gradebooks.)
School Board Meetings:
Our next School Board meeting is a closed door meeting, and it will be held on Thursday, December 12, 8:30 a.m., Oblate Center. For additional information and future meetings, please visit www.sthelenchurch.org, then click on the School tab. After arriving at the School’s webpage, click on School Board on the left.
All members of the School Board are volunteers and attend frequent Board trainings. These volunteers compose a leadership committee that is advisory, not regulatory. The information provided below may provide you with some answers to our frequently asked questions regarding the St. Helen Catholic School Board:
The board consists of the pastor, principal, faculty representative, three parishioner positions and four parent positions; all positions have three year terms. The board should reflect the cultural diversity of the school served as much as possible. Membership of the board should be at least 5 members and no more than 11. Officers should include a President, Vice-President, and Secretary. Any member of the board is eligible to hold office.
Persons in the following categories may not be considered as candidates for the Board:
- employees of the parish and school;
- spouses, children, or siblings of employees of parish and school;
- more than one member of an immediate family at a time; and
- board members or professional educators of another school system.
Many of our families purchase textbooks to keep at home for their children. If you have purchased textbooks for home, and they are currently unused, please consider donating them to the campus. We have no available textbooks to loan to families (due to increased enrollment), and, as you know, textbooks are very expensive! If you would like to make a textbook donation, please contact our Director of Instruction, Mrs. Rachel Bacilla, email@example.com. She will be happy to arrange the donation and we will all appreciate your generosity!
We have approximately 350 students and ALL of them are picked up/dropped off from personal vehicles…..following procedures is important so that traffic flows smoothly and everyone is kept safe!
For the safety of all students, we are not allowing parents to walk up and drop off their child in morning carpool. With a moving traffic line, it is dangerous to allow parents and students to walk up to the school building; it also slows down the progress of the car rider lines. Please follow the regular carpool procedures both in the morning and the afternoon.
We have had several walk-ups in the afternoons, and we have not permitted you to enter until we are almost finished with dismissal. If you have ever been in the building during dismissal, you will note this is our busiest and most stressful time of the day. “All hands on deck” is an apt description because EVERY staff member is on duty to ensure that no child is left behind and that all students are picked up by the appropriate person. Allowing more people into the hallway at this time causes more confusion and delay. Thank you for understanding!
Also, most important……. please be sure your family name is clearly visible on a LARGE card with an OVERLY LARGE font on your windshield during afternoon carpool (hanging your name card from the rear view mirror provides the best visibility). With the glare, the sun, and the angle of windshields, it is extremely hard to read many of your name cards. Another huge favor……if you are aware that there are several families with the same last name as yours, please try to have the initials or names of your children under your surname.
Just a few simple procedures like these will decrease the length of time you have to wait in the carpool line, and it will also decrease the length of time staff have to stand in the hot sun! Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.
As you are aware, St. Helen Catholic School depends upon fundraisers and the generosity of the Church and its constituents to provide an education for our children and close the gap between tuition and cost of service. There is approximately a $2500 gap between what you pay in tuition per child and the actual cost of educating your child. The gap is even bigger if you qualify for parishioner or sibling discounts. (Thanks to those of you who participated in our recent magazine fundraiser!)
If you ordered a poinsettia, cacti, or Norfolk pine from our recent fundraiser – thank you! The scheduled delivery date is December 6. The pick-up time for families is scheduled on December 6, 1 – 3:00 p.m., at the Oblate Center.
We count on you to support our numerous fundraising events throughout the year. Here are opportunities to show your support:
- Steps for Students is a 5K run/walk sponsored by the Archdiocese and endorsed by St. Helen Catholic Church. The event will be held on February 15, 2014. Additional information will be sent home very soon!
- The Monsignor Braden Annual Dinner Dance Gala is our largest fundraiser and is planned for February 22, 2014. Planning for this fabulous event occurs year round – and we need your help! We have two co-chairs this year, Janet Kilroy and Suzanne Polk. Please respond to their calls for volunteers, donations, and support! Back by popular demand will be the Mambo Jazz Kings (www.mambojazzkings.com), so come join us for a great time and help your school out, too!
- At least two fundraisers have been planned for each month. Some are BIG and most are small. The HSA has developed a fundraiser calendar so that you may decide how best to allocate your fundraising dollars. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Help Make a Difference for Our School with Labels – An Easy Fundraiser Project!
October was Labels month, but HSA's Labels Committee will continue to collect labels for the campus. Labels collected include: Box Tops coupons, Campbell's labels, Community Coffee UPC's, and Tyson labels during the 2013-2014 school year. For your convenience, please place all types of labels that our school collects in the Box Tops collection bin near the office.
A special thanks to everyone who brought in labels last year, during the month of October, and to the hard- working volunteers on the Labels Committee who counted, sorted and bundled all of them. Don't forget to ask friends and family to support our school with Labels. Every label counts, so keep them coming!
Wednesday Spirit T-Shirt Days:
Each Wednesday students can show their school spirit by wearing a spirit t-shirt. Students who participate in St. Helen athletics can wear their sport uniform during the season on spirit days. The school office is selling St. Helen spirit t-shirts for $10.00 each. GO SAINTS!!!!
Denim Dollar Day:
Denim Dollar Days are usually scheduled on Wednesdays. Our next Denim Dollar Day is Wednesday, Dec. 4. Students may pay $1.00 to wear jeans with their spirit t-shirts. The money goes toward buying new equipment for our athletic programs or closing the gap between athletic expenses and revenues (we do not have a gym, so we must rent a facility for practices and competitions).
Athletic Events & Competitions:
Our athletic competitions are listed on the school’s website. After you arrive at the Faculty Webpages, click on “Athletics” and view the schedules. We are so fortunate this year to be able to book the gym at St. Bernadette’s in Clear Lake as our home court for volleyball games! We would love to see you cheering our athletes! GO SAINTS!!
Academic Clubs and Competitions:
We boast a very active academic club calendar. Please check out our website to determine what clubs and co- or extra-curricular events your child might be interested in! We have had one speech tournament already, and the next one is scheduled at St. Pius X High School in January 2014.
Student School Hours for Grades K-8:
The instructional day is 7:50 a.m. – 2:50 p.m. Seven hours of instruction are required by the Archdiocese for students in grades K-8. Tardies will be counted when the 8:00 a.m. bell rings (Monday-Thursday). On Fridays, due to Mass, tardies will be counted at 7:50 a.m. (School also begins at 7:50 a.m. for PK3 and PK4 students.)
For extended day participants, the school is open at 6:30 a.m. and closes at 6:00 p.m. (this applies to all grade levels, grades PK3-8th). Teachers will receive students at 7:30 a.m. in their classrooms. Students will begin participating in academic warm-up activities at that time. Announcements are made promptly after the 8:00 a.m. tardy bell rings.
Student School Hours for Grades PK3 and PK4:
While Archdiocesan curriculum and accreditation guidelines provide PK3 and PK4 students with a structured, academic and social skills curriculum, the time requirements are not as stringent as with students in grades K-8. Due to the needs of our PK3 and PK4 students and parents, and also due to the campus’ traffic issues at dismissal, we have enacted a “first dismissal” time for students in PK3 and PK4. As many of you know, the first dismissal time is from 2:00 – 2:15 p.m. daily. Parents/Designated pick-up people may walk-up to receive their children on the pavilion at these times.
For PK3 and PK4 students who remain on campus, they are participating in centers or enrichment activities. This is not wasted time for our 3 and 4 year olds. This first dismissal also provides teachers with additional time to work with students who may need extra assistance on specific PK skills.
If the PK3 or PK4 students depart at the second dismissal time (2:50-3:15 p.m.), they are either paired with their older sibling or remain with PK staff during dismissal times. For PK3 and PK4 students who remain on campus for extended day, they are escorted to the appropriate extended day area. Please note: PK3 and PK4 arrival times are the same as other students – 7:50 a.m.
We are very happy to provide a part-time counselor for your children this school year. Many thanks go to the HSA for sponsoring the majority of the counselor’s salary.
To continue the student services we currently have in place – counseling, library, and intervention programs, athletic and academic competitions to name only a few – a portion of your tuition fees are dedicated for expenses and salaries. As you know, we are a tuition-driven institution and costs go up approximately 3% each year to cover staff raises (we are very fortunate to have teachers who are degreed and certified – a rarity!). In order to maintain our high standards of educational excellence, please continue to refer your family and friends to St. Helen! We need to keep our enrollment numbers high and, essentially, all of our classes full.
Get Ready to Clean out Your Closets and Support our School!
Save those school uniforms that your child has outgrown, and send them in to our school during the month of December! We will be collecting all used uniforms that meet school guidelines and are in good condition. Each used uniform will be sold for $5 each during our Semi-Annual Used Uniform Sale in January. Proceeds from this fundraiser will be used for 8th grade graduation. Students who contribute to the Used Uniform fundraising program will be able to come to school in free dress on the last used uniform drop-off day, December 18th!
- Used Uniform Drop-Off Dates: December 2 - December 18 (drop-off used uniforms in the Used Uniform Bin near the school office)
- $5 Used Uniform Sale: January 8th from 3:00 pm to 3:30 pm in the FLC
Our next HSA meeting will be held the evening of Wednesday, February 12, 6:30 p.m., in Helena Hall. We will alternate between morning and evening meetings this year to better accommodate our parents. All parents are welcome to attend any of the meetings and are encouraged to get involved in their Home and School Association. If you do attend the HSA meeting, your child will LOVE it…..he/she gets a “free dress” pass! The next “free dress day” for parental HSA attendance is Thursday, February 13.
If you are unable to attend the meetings, be sure to stay informed by looking at the "HSA" link on the school web page to see what is happening around the school with the HSA committees. Kathryn Cordes is the president of HSA this year. Another great way to keep updated on HSA news is to sign up for their newsletter. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be included for the e-newsletter.
New 9-Weeks Begins:
The third 9-week grading period begins when we return from the Christmas holidays, on Monday, January 6, 2014. Report cards will go home on Thursday, January 9.
The annual Geography Bee will be held in the Cafeteria for grades 4 -8 on Thursday, January 9, 9:00 a.m. Third graders will be invited so that they may see what they have available for next year.
PK4 Mass Attendance:
Our two PK4 classes will begin attending Friday Mass on January 10. They will sit towards the back of the church and leave when Communion begins. We look forward to welcoming our new attendees!
St. Pius X High School – Middle School Rally:
Our Academic and Fine Arts (AFA) team members are eagerly awaiting their next tournament, which will be held at St. Pius X High School on Saturday, January 11. These students work hard all year long to show off their talents at local speech/drama competitions. Wish them luck and please continue to pray for their success!
The annual Spelling Bee will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 8:30 a.m. in the cafeteria. Students in grades 3 -8 are participating, with 2nd grade serving as the audience.
High School Placement Exams:
If you are considering having your child apply for attendance at a Catholic High School, now is the time to jump into action! Applications are being accepted in early January 2014. Go to your preferred school’s website, review the application information and determine locations for the placement exams. The HS placement exams will be held on Saturday, Jan. 25.
Catholic School Week:
The annual Catholic School Week is held across the nation, beginning Sunday, Jan. 26. The week will begin with a “kick-off” Mass at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26. The campus will host a Preview Day for Prospective Families after Mass, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Tours will be held for new families. (This is a change from year’s past – returning families will be welcomed to an Open House on Friday, Jan. 31). Please look for more information to come in the new year!
Steps for Students :
Steps for Students is an Archdiocesan-wide fundraiser that supports the Catholic schools with 100% return! The 5K walk-run will be held in downtown Houston again this year on Saturday, Feb. 15. The students recently participated in our big “kick-off” for Steps, and they loved making the video for public release! Check out the Steps for Students webpage on the school site, and please join us as we “step out for students!”
Dinner Dance Fundraiser:
The school’s largest fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 22, 6:00 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus Hall.
This year’s theme is “The Black and White Ball” and it should be a fun night for all adults in the St. Helen Community! Please go to the St. Helen webpage on the church’s website (www.sthelencatholicchurch.org) and click on Dinner Dance documents. Join us for a great meal, dancing, and camaraderie with our families and friends!