Weekly Letter (Dec 3, ’18)

Dear Parents and Students,

“Look, I am going to send my messenger in front of you to prepare your way before you. A voice of one that cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Mark 1:1-3)

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent and our first family school mass of the year. How wonderful it was to see so many parents and students at mass and what a wonderful time of the year this is to be Catholic. All around us we see lights and decorations and hear music that prepares our hearts and minds to celebrate the Christmas season – the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

But let us remember that preparing does not happen through the adornment of evergreen conifers and the exchange of gifts alone. Our attitudes toward others must testify to the spirit of Christmas. We should also provide spiritual and corporal works of mercy to bring the joy of Christmas to the less fortunate. There are many ways to do this: volunteering to help the homeless or the elderly, going Christmas caroling at a hospital or nursing home, donating to a toy drive, or simply smiling and saying “Merry Christmas.”

One more way to spread the joy of Christmas is to participate in Star of the Sea School’s Adopt-A-Family program by purchasing a gift (or gifts) for members of the Star Community Home. Unwrapped gifts can then be brought to your child’s classroom no later than this Friday, December 7.

So, let’s not hold back. Let’s spread all of the joy and love we can this holiday season.

Happy Advent,

 

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Nov 26, ’18)

Dear Parents and Students,

We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families. I enjoyed reading about what the first graders were thankful for through a lesson that their teacher, Miss Skoblick, conducted with them this past Tuesday. So many of them are thankful for their families, friends, teachers and their school. It has been very endearing to hear them talk so lovingly of their families and the various aspects of their lives for which they are grateful. Thank you for allowing us to educate your children every day. We are reminded daily of the blessing that they are to us.

December is an exciting month at Star of the Sea School. Breakfast with Santa and our Holiday Boutique will take place on December 9 at 10 a.m. and students continue to prepare for our upcoming Christmas program. The program will take place on Wednesday, December 12, at 6:30 p.m. We ask that parents go directly to the church. The children should be in their classrooms no earlier than 6:15 and will walk to the church with their teachers. After the program, parents should pick up their children from their teacher in the church. We look forward to sharing the Christmas joy with you on the evening of December 12.

Finally, as we enter into the season of Advent, which begins on Sunday, December 2, it will be easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of Christmas preparations: shopping, baking, decorating, party planning, more shopping, or perhaps all of the above. As Catholics, we understand that Advent is a season of preparation, of conversion for the heart. So remember to spend more time this season feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the immigrant, reading scripture, attending mass, receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, and preparing our hearts for Christ’s coming.

Take care and God bless,

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Nov 19, ’18)

Dear Parents and Students,

As firefighters gain more ground in containing the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, more residents displaced by Woolsey Fire near Los Angeles are being allowed to return to their homes. Both fires started November 8, but authorities have not yet determined a cause.

We know that the Camp Fire was fueled by low humidity and strong winds and has destroyed over 11,000 buildings across over 140,000 acres. The entire population of Paradise, about 30,000 people, were forced to evacuate on November 9. Their  town was destroyed and nearly 1.000 people are still missing.

The Camp Fire has also ravaged parts of the Diocese of Sacramento including schools and churches. Please keep the families in Paradise and the surrounding communities affected by the fires in your prayers.

Pray also for the brave men and women who have responded to this disaster and battled the fires.

We have a short week this week, just Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday there is no school and Thursday is Thanksgiving which is not really a holy day for Catholics but maybe it should be, at least for American Catholics.

The Puritans who came to Plymouth in 1620 almost did not survive that first harsh winter. In fact, about half of them died. They were saved by a Native American named Squanto, who taught them how to hunt, fish, and grow corn.

In 1614, Squanto was taken by English settlers led by Captain John Smith and taken on a ship to Spain where he was sold as a slave. He was rescued by some Dominican friars who taught him in the Catholic faith. Squanto told them that he wanted to go back to his tribe in America so they helped him get to England, where he met John Slaney, who taught him English and arranged for him to get to Newfoundland. Squanto then served as an interpreter for the English and the Native Americans and crossed the Atlantic Ocean six times. After he came to the aid of the Plymouth settlers, helping them grow their own food, he arranged for a joint harvest feast with the local Wampanoag tribe. It was this event that is the basis of our Thanksgiving holiday. So remember, Thanksgiving was started by a Native American Catholic.

Also, remember that Monday, the 26th, is a 12:30 dismissal.

Take Care and God Bless,

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Nov 12, ’18)

Dear Parents and Students,

The work of a principal is multi-faceted. I am surprised at how many different responsibilities fall under the umbrella of the job. As a principal, I am involved in developing curriculum, assessing teaching methods, monitoring student achievement, encouraging parent involvement, revising policies and procedures, administering the budget, hiring and evaluating staff, overseeing facilities, not to mention bringing in the garbage dumpsters on Tuesday and Friday mornings.

But I am also a credentialed English teacher. And I have to say that after having taught for 20 years, teaching is, without question, the most important career there is. No other career affects as many people in as many ways as teaching does.

Teachers help to shape the minds and futures of many and they do this at all critical stages of life. Our Kindergarten, First Grade and Second Grade teachers, Mrs. Robinson, Miss Skoblick and Miss Conway, introduce young minds to the wonder and joy of learning and to the basic tools of education that students will use the rest of their lives. Elementary school teachers, Miss Ruiz, Mrs. Dominguez, and Miss Mosuela have the arduous task of inculcating a passion for academics in groups of tweens, whose minds are focused on their own development and their distinctive social worlds. Our middle school teachers, Mrs. Wesolek, Mr. Chen, Mrs. Lundy and Miss Dharmer are charged with teaching intellectual content to groups of  teens and pre-teens whose lives are often pretty intense both on the outside and on the inside.

There are few vocations in society that rival the importance of a teacher. Well known people in any field: music, athletics, engineering, medicine, politics – have a multitude of teachers to thank for teaching them the skills and values that allow them to be successful. Teachers are the builders of society. We build people here at Star of the Sea School. We build and develop future generations. There is no more important profession.

Take care and God bless,

 

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Nov 5, ’18)

Dear Parents and Students,

We are deep into fall and more than a week into the second quarter.  This month, we have our final Open House, which takes place on Thursday, November 15th. We invite all prospective Kindergarten parents to campus to encounter our school, our students, our faculty and staff,  as well as to learn about our classical curriculum. If you know of any interested families, please encourage them to see Star of the Sea up close and personal on this wonderful morning. Signups are here.

Below are some of the many events happening this month at Star of the Sea School.

Thanksgiving Canned Food Drive

We are in the midst of our annual Thanksgiving canned food drive, in which we donate all collected food to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank where our sixth and seventh graders have been volunteering for the past several years. Please encourage your student to bring in canned goods to school. Thank you so much for your efforts to help the neediest in our community.

November 6-9: Parent-Teacher Conferences and Scholastic/Green Apple Book Fair

Please be sure to check for the time and date of your parent-teacher conferences. Conferences are fifteen minutes in length so please arrive promptly. We will also have a Book Fair in the auditorium and Green Apple Books on Clement Street will have a section of discounted books just for Star of the Sea students as selected by their teachers.

November 5-16: Interim STAR Testing Window

November 21st – 23rd:  School Closed, Thanksgiving Holidays

Friendly reminder that school will be closed Wednesday, November 21st, through Friday, November 23rd, for the Thanksgiving holidays.  It is our sincere hope that students are able to spend this time connecting with family and reflecting on the many blessings in their lives.   

Please continue to support all of our extracurricular activities. Our volleyball and soccer teams are finishing up their seasons and will participate in playoff games. Signups for boy’s basketball and cross country have also begun. In addition, Star middle schoolers will participate in the Quiz Bowl on November 17th at Riordan High School.  Please come out and support the Hawks as they take to the field and the floor!

As always, we thank you for entrusting your children to us, and we look forward to a productive and exciting month.

Take care and God bless

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Oct 29, ’18)

Dear Parents and Students,

As we enter this new era in the 109 year history of Star of the Sea School it is important for all of us to think positively and focus on the opportunities before us. I watched a film last weekend on television called Up In the Air. In that film, the actor George Clooney played a character whose job was to fire people for companies that were downsizing. He always began his termination speech with, “I am here to talk to you about new opportunities.”  It is a bit of spin, a bit condescending to be sure, but it is also true.

We are in a time of transition at Star, a time for new opportunities. Some of the old patterns and routines have changed. It is natural that we may feel unsteady. But these are also the times when we are most amenable to change. Now is the time to begin anew, to explore, brainstorm, and consider carefully the changes to the school before we begin to naturally solidify into new patterns. We have a unique opportunity to begin in a new way. This is the time to think outside the box.

But it is difficult to do this all on our own. We will need to continue to develop new relationships, to lean on each other for support. We need to have realistic expectations, to have patience and understand that it may take some time to get the school back on solid ground again. We will need the constant support of our truly outstanding parent volunteers. They have already done so much for the school just in the first two months of our gradual transition into being the first school in the Archdiocese of San Francisco to adopt a Classical Education curriculum.This positive spirit of community has always been a hallmark of Star and it is what will help us keep perspective on what lies before us.

A time of transition is when we toss off the old but have not yet stepped into the new. While the circumstances are always different, some things stay the same such as the distinct spirit of the Star of the Sea School Community. Like that Star spirit, the skills and attitudes needed to successfully move ahead are always constant, namely being positive, patient, proactive, and recognizing that Star of the Sea remains true to its mission: to help our students develop their God-given potential in order to lead them to Jesus.

A new journey awaits.

Take Care and God Bless,

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Oct 22, ’18)

Dear Parents and Students,

This Friday, the 26th marks the end of the first quarter grading period for the 2018-2019 school year. We are looking forward to meeting with you at our upcoming Parent/Teacher conferences during the week of November 5-9. Please be sure to schedule a conference here if you have not done so already.  The conference schedules will be sent out later this week and will also be posted online on SchoolPages.  To help ensure your conferences go as smoothly as possible, I want to provide some background information and insight into the process.

It is very important that you review your son or daughter’s report card before the conference and to bring the signed report card with you.  It is helpful to write down any questions or concerns you may have in advance to ensure they are addressed. In addition, we encourage you to bring something to write with and something to write on if you have specific questions.

Each teacher will be meeting with many parents during the week so it is critical that we adhere to the scheduled time limit of 15 minutes. Although your conference will end when the bell rings, you can follow up with any further questions or concerns via email. Unfortunately, anyone arriving late to a conference can only be allotted the remaining scheduled time in order to give full time to the next family.

Although art, music, technology and P.E. teachers will not be available for conferences, we encourage you to email them with any specific questions or concerns you may have.

One final note, the Laurel School and our preschool will have full school days during this week so please keep this in mind when parking and only park in designated spots. It is imperative that vehicles not block drop off, safety, or pick up locations.

We want this to be a positive and rewarding experience for everyone. Thank you, in advance, for helping us make that possible.

Take care and God Bless,

 

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Oct 15, ’18)

Dear Parents and Students,

There is a lot going on at Star of the Sea School over the next couple of weeks. Our next Open House, our most important admissions event, takes place on our campus on Thursday, October 18th, from 9:00 am to 11:00 am.  Please encourage all family and friends with prospective kindergarten students to attend this amazing event. As we move closer to the month of November, keep in mind that we will have two more Open Houses on the 1st and the 15th.

Children and teens love to sing. It is an expression of emotion and helps bring us closer together. We have three wonderful music teachers this year in Mr. Gresens, Ms. Ascoff, and Mr. Kraehling who are doing some great work with our students. In addition, during the week of October 29th we have a great opportunity for our students to learn the Catholic Church’s original style of music: chant.  That week we will have a chant teacher from the Benedict XVI Institute, an organization dedicated to sacred music and art, come to Star of the Sea School to teach our students chant which they will then sing at our All Saints Day Mass on November 1st at 2 pm. Towards the end of the school year we have the opportunity to be included on the professionally recorded CD Children Chant SF. Proceeds from the CD will be returned to every school or parish that participates in order to support our music program.

Our Halloween Party will be on the 26th of October in the auditorium and we will have our annual Halloween Parade and Costume Contest on October 31st at 2:00 pm. Students are allowed to dress in costume on that day but we do have some guidelines. These guidelines were sent home with the students but I will reinforce them here. Please avoid any gore, violence, or blood. Do not dress up as characters from horror films and there are no weapons allowed as a part of a costume. What we would like to see are students dressed as people that we look up to and admire such as a scientist or inventor, a fictional character from a  book, someone famous from history, a great athlete, or maybe even…a saint.

Take care and God Bless,

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Oct 09, ’18)

Dear Parents and Students,

The month of October is one of two months dedicated to Mary. The month of October is also dedicated to the Holy Rosary. The Rosary calls to mind the most important events in the life of Jesus. October 7 is the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary.

According to an account by a fifteenth-century Dominican priest, Mary appeared to St. Dominic in 1206 after he had been praying. Mary praised him and then gave him the Rosary. She explained its uses and effectiveness to St. Dominic, and told him to tell other people about it.

Praying the Rosary regularly encourages us to slow down in our very busy lives. This, in turn, should encourage us to live life at a slightly slower pace than most people. We learn from Mary how to look at an experience and think about what it means for us. This slower pace also allows us to be present, to notice when someone needs help, to wait patiently for our turn, to focus on what is happening now. The Rosary will teach you this and that is why all Catholics should pray the rosary, especially during the month of October.

Report Cards will be sent home on November 5th and parent-teacher conferences will be held on November 6-9. Please sign up for times and days using our online scheduling system. Parent-teacher conferences last for fifteen minutes and are mandatory for all parents. If for any reason, you are unable to schedule a conference during that week, send an email to the teacher to schedule an appointment for a suitable time. There should be no “surprise” grades because progress reports went out last week and report cards will be given out before conferences.

Thank you for your support in every area of our school. Our parent volunteers have given so much of their time so far this year and have many fun, community building events planned for the coming months.  A special word of thanks to the those of you who volunteered at our first Open House of the year last Thursday, especially to our 8th grade tour guides, Vincent, Sinead, Johann, Aubry, Leia, Bailey, Kianna, Kay, Eva, and William.

Take care and God Bless,

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Oct 01, ’18)

Dear Star of the Sea Families,

Our mission at Star of the Sea School is to form Catholic leaders. Family and school represent the primary environments in which our children grow and develop, and at Star of the Sea, we value your involvement as parents. The foundation for good parent-teacher relationships includes frequent and open communication, mutual respect, and a clear understanding of what is best for each individual student.

We will host our first Open House of the school year this Thursday, October 4th, at 9 AM in the auditorium. We will have subsequent Open Houses on the 18th of October and the 1st and 15th of November. Open Houses are generally for families who are looking for a quality Kindergarten program. So why am I informing parents whose children are already enrolled in our Kindergarten through 8th grades about our Open Houses?

The reason is simple: Word of Mouth. Even though the school has an active marketing committee and has dramatically increased its presence on social media (check out our Facebook page), Word of Mouth remains the most valuable form of marketing—the one that parents trust above all others and the one that is most likely to increase enrollment for the school. If we want to generate interest in and publicity for all the great things that we do at Star of the Sea, we need to unleash the power of word of mouth. According to a Nielsen Consumer Survey, 92% of the people surveyed believe recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising. That is pretty powerful. So spread the word about what a great school this is. Like that old shampoo commercial from the 80’s said, “It was so good, I told two friends about it, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on…”

Thank you for the sacrifices you make and for your constant support of Catholic education and the mission of Star of the Sea School. Let us ask God for the conviction to live our Catholic faith and to carry Jesus’s message into the lives of our children, creating Catholic leaders and ultimately – saints!

Take Care and God Bless,

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal