Weekly Letter (Feb 13 ’17)

Dear Parents,

There are over fifty banners hanging on the wall at USF’s Memorial Gymnasium. They all look pretty much the same, either green lettering on gold background or the other way around. They also are hung there for pretty much the same reasons. They either acknowledge an athlete who had a great career on The Hilltop or a team that won the conference or played in a national tournament. In fact, there are even banners that remind everyone that USF Dons Basketball teams have won three national championships!

But one banner stands out from the others. It does not proclaim any individual who had a great season or career, nor does it acknowledge any team for winning a championship. It simply reads

In 1951 the Dons had a great football team, they went through a tough schedule and won every game that season! In a time when there were very few football “bowl games,” USF was considered by the Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl and the Gator Bowl. Unfortunately, each bowl stipulated that they would invite USF only if they left two of their players at home. Ollie Matson and Burl Toler were the only two black players on the team and the bowls did not want them to participate (1951 in the south).

When informed of this, the team did not discuss the situation, nor did they vote on anything. They simply decided not to go to a bowl game. That moment they lost a chance to play for a national championship, and because of the budget at the time USF could not afford to play NCAA football again. But the young men of that team never felt that they had lost anything. They had stood in solidarity as a team of brothers. They had chosen HONOR OVER GLORY.

Some might think that the dream of being National Champions was just that, a dream. But if one considers the record, I think it is clear that the 1951 Dons were the best team both as players and as brothers. One player was a consensus for All Americans, ten players were drafted by the NFL, five played in the Pro Bowl at some point in their professional careers, three are in the NFL Hall of Fame and one became the first black man to be an NFL referee after blowing out his knee in a pro try out. At least three of them were teachers and coaches in City high schools (one at SH, one at SI, and one at Ben Franklin Middle School). One served as mayor of Daly City, and the team’s public relations guy was a long time Commissioner of the National Football League, Pete Rozelle (also in the NFL Hall of Fame, but not as a player).

Often we get caught up in a competitive environment, we need to win, we need to be and have “the best.” It might be good to note that of the more than fifty banners hanging on the wall at USF’s Memorial Gym, the one that people respect and appreciate the most is hung in honor of a team that did not win that last game, because they loved each other like brothers.

God Bless You My Sisters and Brothers,

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (Feb 6 ’17)

Dear Parents,

In the late 1970s the Archdiocese of San Francisco initiated a process of formal evaluation and accreditation of all of our schools. The governing body we have been affiliated with all these years is the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. At that time WASC was accrediting public, private, and Catholic schools in twelve states. Over the years WASC expanded both in the number of states they cover and in the number of schools they accredit.

At the same time Catholic schools in the many dioceses in the western United States began to establish goals that were particular to Catholic schools. It was through this process that the Western Catholic Education Association was formed. As the years passed, WASC and WCEA became full partners and in recent years the WCEA has become the major partner in accrediting Catholic schools.

Next Monday a group of Catholic educators from the Archdiocese, led by a Catholic educator from the Archdiocese of San Diego will come to Star for their “pre visit.” I will be picking up the Chair at SFO mid-morning and bringing her here to meet the Star “leadership team” which is composed of Father Vito, Mr. Gallagher, Mrs. Lundy, Mrs. Poon and myself. Bret Allen, the Associate Superintendent of Schools will also be present, as will the members of the Visiting Team. We will spend some time getting to know each other and sharing the process of creating our self-study as we eat lunch.

After lunch, the Visiting Team will need some time to themselves working on their schedule and specific assignments. Before the end of the day I will give them a tour of our entire campus. Finally, right after dismissal, all the faculty and staff will meet with the Team for a brief social gathering. By 4:30 I will be headed back to SFO with the Team Chair and then we will wait for our formal visit on March 15, 16, and 17. I’ll share more about that with you in a future letter. Have a restful week.

Sincerely,

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (Jan 30 ’17)

Dear Parents,

Last Friday we sent home report cards and, for students in grades 2-8, STAR Renaissance Test scores. Please review both with your child and praise her/his success and encourage her/him in the areas that are a struggle. At our next Parent Club meeting I will share class results on the latest round of STAR Testing. Overall I have to say that I am very pleased with the results. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles told us that the majority of their students actually got lower scores the second time they took the test. Each of our classes earned higher scores in both Math and Reading. On nine of the twelve tests, our students have already exceeded the June 2017 target scores, in some cases by quite a bit. But bear in mind that these test scores reflect potential. Most students took 15-25 minutes to complete each test and all students took nine weeks to earn their report card grades. So report card grades are a more accurate reflection of student skills.

On a slightly different, but still academic note, we spent a lot of time in the last two weeks assessing preschoolers for entrance to our Kindergarten next fall and evaluating our eighth graders to send them off to high school. It amazes me that elementary schools lose the top 11% of students every year; the ones who are oldest, most experienced, and smartest. Then we replace them with kids who still can’t read and have trouble getting to the bathroom on time. Somehow it all works out and there is no other job that I’d rather have. God bless you and have a great week.

Sincerely,

Terrence Hanley

Principal

PS Happy Lunar New Year!

Weekly Letter (Jan 23 ’17)

Dear Parents,

Years ago I read a book entitled “When Bad Things Happen To Good People” by Rabbi Harold Kushner. It was a best seller in 1981 and the Rabbi wrote it when he was facing a very difficult time. The health of someone he loved dearly was in jeopardy and he spent hours asking God how such a bad thing could happen. Since he was a Rabbi he naturally felt compelled to keep his concerns and his relationship with God at the center of his questions.

I suspect that we have all struggled with personal tragedies and wondered how God could let something bad happen to good people. Fear and pain begin to push hope and faith away and we can really hit a spiritual wall. Rabbi Kushner chose to keep the faith in spite of the serious questions and doubts he had.

I can’t quote his entire book, but here is a short excerpt from it.

“I believe in God. But I do not believe the same things about Him that I did years ago, when I was growing up or when I was a theological student. I recognize His limitations. He is limited in what He can do by laws of nature and by the evolution of human nature and human moral freedom.

  I no longer hold God responsible for illnesses, accidents, and natural disasters, because I realize that I gain little and I lose so much when I blame God for those things. I can worship a God who hates suffering but cannot eliminate it, more easily than I can worship a God who chooses to make children suffer and die, for whatever exalted reason.

  God does not cause our misfortunes. Some are caused by bad luck, some are caused by bad people, and some are simply an inevitable consequence of our being human and being mortal, living in a world of inflexible natural laws.

  The painful things that happen to us are not punishments for our misbehavior, nor are they in any way part of some grand design on God’s part. Because the tragedy is not God’s will, we need not feel hurt or betrayed by God when tragedy strikes. We can turn to Him for help in overcoming it, precisely because we can tell ourselves that God is as outraged by it as we are.”

Rabbi Kushner’s bottom line is that when God’s children suffer, God cries with them. The opposite is also true. When God’s children are joyful, so is God. Don’t try to do the math on that one; it doesn’t work that way. Just accept the intimate love that God has for each of us.

Sincerely,

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (Jan 17 ’17)

Dear Parents,

Last month Sandra and I went to Casa Grande, Arizona to visit Mike, Allie and our grandson Emmett (21 months old). It’s hard for me to explain the joys of being a grandparent. I think you have to live this experience to understand it. Which brings me to a topic I’ve contemplated often over the years. Love is a lot like ice cream; there are many varieties.

The first love we usually experience is from our Mom and Dad and quite honestly those are two distinct types of love. Often Dad is the one who throws you up in the air and catches you and Mom is the one who cuddles you when Dad accidentally drops you. When we reciprocate that love, it is because we need those two parents and it may take years for that love to truly become a two-way street. The love we have for our friends as we grow up is another distinctly different type of love as is romantic love when we reach that stage. Mature, committed love is again uniquely different from other types of love. Loving our children is also different from any other experience we have ever had. We may love them equally, but we must show them love in a way unique to each of them. I sometimes wonder if God created each type of love specifically or if it was inevitable that the many flavors of love would simply flow just from God being God.

I joke that Emmett knows Mama, Dada, Abuela, and “Abuela’s traveling companion.” But I honestly feel that he has a clue that I am somebody special in his life. After all we share DNA, we look alike, I love the same people he does, and his parents trust me to take care of him.

Something I remember learning in high school is that no matter what we share we have less of, except love. As we share love, we grow in our capacity to love more and better. Be at peace this winter and let God’s love (in all of its forms) bring you the joy and faith to share love better.

Sincerely,

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (Jan 9 ’17)

Dear Parents,

epiphany |əˈpifənē|

noun (pl. epiphanies) (also Epiphany)

the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12).

  • the festival commemorating the Epiphany on January 6.

It is a story we all know, but have we really spent much time thinking about it? The three wise men (or Magi) who followed the star to Bethlehem were doing so because they believed that a king had been born. But they had no clear idea of what kind of king he would be, so they created a test for the baby king. They brought with them three gifts: gold, frankincense and myhrr. Their thought was to place each of the three gifts in front of the baby and see which one he reached for. After seeing which gift he chose they would know what kind of a king he would be. If the child chose the gold, he would be a “worldly” king interested in the things of this earth. If he chose the frankincense he would be a “heavenly” king offering incense to God. If he reached out for the myhrr he would be just like every other man and his life would end in death.

They must have been surprised and a bit confused when Jesus reached out and took all three gifts. Jesus chose to live among us as one of us. His love for us was (and still is) so strong that he had to share our earthly experience with us. In that sense He was a “worldly” king. But by grabbing the frankincense Jesus indicated that he was also a “heavenly” king whose mission was to bring the people closer to God. Finally, by taking the myhrr, Jesus foretold of His own death. (Myhhr is a type of perfume that was used to anoint the dead.)

The concept of resurrection was probably not one that the Magi were familiar with. Yes, Jesus would die just as every other man or woman has or will. But He rose from the dead to show us that life does not end but it changes. The love of God is eternal and it is ours. Be at peace as the Christmas season ends and always remember that God loves you.

 

Sincerely,

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (Jan 4 ’17)

Dear Parents,

Happy New Year! I hope you had a restful and fun vacation. I also truly hope that you were able to take a few quiet moments to consider how much God loves you.

There really is nothing new to write about today, so I thought I’d share some important statistics with you. This came to my mind for two reasons: prospective kindergarten parents have been asking about how long the faculty has been together and I’m already beginning to work on next year’s budget.

Star of the Sea School has 14 classroom teachers who have a total of 14 Teaching Credentials, 12 Master of Arts degrees, and a combined 179 years teaching at Star. We can add another 75 years to that if we count time some of us have worked at other schools. That means that each of us averages almost 13 years at Star and just over 18 years each as educators. These statistics are pretty boring, but you should know that longevity like this makes a school stronger, gives students a sense of security, and shows great dedication on the part of teachers.

Recently the schools of the Archdiocese have started using the STAR Renaissance Test to have an objective measurement of student skills. You may recall that in September our Math scores were good and our Reading scores were great. We now have the results of the 8th grade’s second STAR test of the year.

Our class average in Math rose from 850 to 875 (the end of year target score is 852). In Reading, the class average rose from 1150 to 1200 (the end of year target score is 858). We should all be very proud of these scores, especially the kids who took the tests. But it is also important to note that The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Department of Catholic Schools has been using the STAR Test since last year and they warned us that most scores dropped in the second round of testing in their Archdiocese. That makes our scores all the more impressive. The next round of STAR Testing (for grades 2-7) begins on January 9.

It isn’t hard to see the relationship among teachers’ degrees, longevity on the faculty, student achievement and a community that feels like family. Catholic schools rock, and Star is one of the best.

 

Happy New Year,

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (Dec 19 ’16)

Dear Parents and Students,

This time of year is exhausting for teachers and parents. The rush to finish units before vacation starts, combined with sending progress reports home are just part of the stress. Buying and decorating a tree; fighting the rush to go shopping; struggling with the guilt that you aren’t buying your wife a new car or really expensive jewelry this Christmas all make life very stressful.

But that is not the point of Christmas. God loves us so much that He chose to live among us. And He did not choose to live in a point in history that was easy, nor did He choose to be wealthy or powerful. Jesus came as a poor man living in a time and place with none of the amenities that we all take for granted. And rather than acquire that new car or the expensive jewelry, Jesus fed people. He taught people, healed people, and forgave people.

There is a line of scripture that appears in Isaiah, Matthew, John and Acts of the Apostles, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” This is what Christmas is about. We see the light of love, truth and knowledge in Jesus, God among us.

I must admit that as old as I am, I have never seen Jesus face to face. But I try to remember that I see his sisters and brothers at school every day. Have a merry Christmas, God bless you all, and find the quiet time to remember how God loves you completely.

Sincerely,

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (Dec 12 ’16)

Dear Parents,

Currently the Church is in the middle of the season of Advent. This is the first season of the Church year and is celebrated on the four Sundays that lead up to Christmas. Advent wreaths are prominently displayed in Catholic Churches with the four candles representing the four Sundays of the season. Three of the candles are purple, symbolic of penance and preparation. The fourth candle is pink and it also stands for penance and preparation but also the joy we feel that our waiting period is halfway over.

The fact that the wreath is a circle is symbolic of the eternity we look forward to in God’s loving presence. The fresh greens of the wreath speak to us of new life through the incarnation of Jesus.  Finally, the lighted candles represent the light of Christ.

We Catholics are big on symbolism in part because many Catholics over the last twenty centuries were not able to read and depended instead on the symbols to remind us of the stories. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But think of the last really good audio-visual presentation you saw. It was a series of pictures, symbols or phrases that helped the presenter tell the story and the audience appreciate the story.

In simplest terms Advent is a season of preparation. We prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus almost two thousand years ago and we prepare to meet Him again. It might also be good to prepare to meet Jesus in the next person we encounter. If we can learn to see that we are all sisters and brothers of Christ this world will be a better place.

God bless you all,

terry

Terrence Hanley

Principal

Weekly Letter (Dec 5 ’16)

Greetings Parents & Families,

I would like to tell you a bit about our latest influx of technology and new devices here at Star. Most recently we purchased a large order of HP Chromebooks that will allow us to provide class sets to our upstairs 5th through 8th grade teachers. Lockable carts have been placed in or by the classrooms for easy access and safe storage of our equipment. Teachers can now use a class set of devices to enhance their lessons, provide student learning scaffolds, and make good use of the World Wide Web and all the information it has to offer.

In addition to the new Chromebooks we have more laptops, desktops, and iPads which are used in our Technology & Computer classes for Kindergarten through 4th grades. Students are provided supplemental curriculum support, specifically in Math and English, and begin learning and practicing with coding and robotics in our class. The Google platform and its applications are primarily used by students and teachers, and its many services allow a wide range of possibilities for class activities. Students are taught not only about a subject through the use of technology but also how to care for such a wonderful tool.

The Appendices of the Family Handbook includes a Copy of Technology Acceptable Use Policy & Internet.This is something to which teachers may refer and utilize in class. The contract includes several terms and conditions designed to focus students on personal responsibility and acceptable use of their technology. Netiquette and cyber security are also high priorities. Students and parents should be familiar with the rules and regulations of the contract and understand various ways which we can work together to secure the safety and enjoyment of our students’ learning experience.

Students may also bring their own technology to use in class, and the attached permission slip is used to see that all personal equipment is also handled with care.

Best,

Mr. Kaiser