NFTH: January 21, 2020
- From the Head of School
- Upper School
- Middle School
- Lower School
- Fine Arts
- Chapel Corner
- Healthy at the Hall
From the Head of School
Dear Saint Mary's Hall Community,
Robotics, Computer Science, and a New Bioengineering Course
This past weekend Saint Mary’s Hall hosted our first Robotics competition, FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) North San Antonio League Meet 3. FIRST is the world’s leading youth-serving nonprofit organization advancing STEM education. This year in the San Antonio area there are 72 teams of students in 7th-12th grade participating in four leagues. Our Middle and Upper School FTC teams have advanced from league to regional (Round Rock, Austin, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi) competitions for the past three years, and we have a good chance to advance again this year.
These SMH students’ interest and dedication to robotics and engineering are nurtured from the time they join our SMH family. In Lower School, students explore several coding robots in science classes with teachers, such as Form 5 Social Studies and Science Teacher Claire Damarodas and Lower School Science Teacher Bitsy Mayberry, and during library visits with Lower School Librarian/Instructional Technologist Linda Wells, Lower School Instructional Facilitator and Technologist Teresa Bohlsen, and Lower School Library Associate Angie Veale. Growing into Middle School, our students practice their math and physics skills by building and programming Lego robots. Our Form 6 and 7 school students have participated in the Lego Sumobot competition hosted by Bexar Chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers for the past two years, winning 2nd place the first time and both 1st and 2nd places last year.
Robotics/Computer Science/STEM Teacher Dr. Hong Zhou oversees our robotics and computer science programs at Saint Mary’s Hall. We are exceptionally fortunate to have a robotics and computer science educator with the pedigree, training, and passion of Dr. Zhou. Dr. Zhou received her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching from The University of Texas at San Antonio. She has taught computer science and technology-related courses to students from Kindergarten to graduate school, and has been mentoring and coaching robotics teams since 2009. During summer break, she has taught robotics camps at SMH and DukeTIP, and grades AP Computer Science exams for the College Board. We find that most students in our robotics and/or computer science programs have a tremendous passion for this subject matter, for their participation, and for their instructor, Dr. Zhou.
Recently, senior Felicia Early, who is heavily involved with the Robotics Club, has competed in FIRST Tech Challenge, and has been the leader for the team for the past two years, wrote a blog about why she loves STEM/STEAM at Saint Mary’s Hall. To read her blog, click here.
For next school year, Saint Mary’s Hall is pleased to offer a new bioengineering Upper School course taught by Dr. Zhou. Students will apply their knowledge in biology to conduct research in human anatomy, followed by designing and constructing prosthetic body parts such as a hand with functioning fingers. Bioengineering merges biology and engineering. It is an interdisciplinary field allowing students to develop an in-depth understanding of engineering to solve biological or medical problems. It also helps students improve and refine critical-thinking, analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills, as well as use their creativity and imagination in real-world situations.
Massive growth in our knowledge of the life sciences combined with quickly advancing technology has created a huge demand for bioengineers. Saint Mary’s Hall is excited to be able to provide this cutting-edge course to introduce students to a growing field.
In addition, our Lower School is hosting a STEAM Adventure on Tuesday, January 28, 5:30pm – 7pm, in our Ancira Event Center, allowing Form 3 - 5 students (and their families) an opportunity to participate in a variety of science and tech-related activities. To learn more, click here.
Head of School
Saturday, May 2, 2020
The Quarry Golf Club
In August of 2003, members of the Saint Mary’s Hall Barons’ Club held the first annual golf classic to raise funds for the Athletic Program. Two years later, the tournament was renamed for student, Ben McMurray.
The tournament was chosen as a living memorial for Ben because the teamwork, family atmosphere, sportsmanship, and fun surrounding the event reflect Ben’s loving and giving character. The event serves as a celebration of Ben’s life, while raising funds for SMH athletics and the Ben McMurray scholarship.
Visit www.smhall.org/BMGC to register.
Sponsorship opportunities are also available.
Junior students and parents: Please mark your calendars for the mandatory Form 11 College Information Night on Wednesday, January 22, from 6:30pm-8:30pm (mandatory for students, highly encouraged for parents).
Juniors should be sure to pick up their Kick-Off Packets from the concession stand in the galleries prior to entering the Coates-Seeligson Theater/Chapel.
Along with hearing from the College Counseling team and some current seniors with good advice, SMH is blessed to host Trinity University Dean of Admission Justin Doty as the keynote speaker.
On January 10, Myrka Alvarez (Form 4) got to serve as "Head of Lower School for a Day" as part of a Passport package her family won at Passport this past spring. As part of her duties, she interviewed Head of Upper School Brent Spicer to get the scoop on the toughest and most enjoyable parts of his job. What a delight to host such a polished and professional young “adult.”
See the Lower School section of this News From the Hall for more details on Myrka's day as head of Lower School.
For a look at everything that's happening in the Upper School this week (including college visits to SMH, varsity and JV games, important assemblies, meetings, and upcoming birthdays), please read The Week Ahead.
Amy Williams-Eddy’s Creative Writing students practiced the art of found poetry recently, using existing sources as their basis to create new and inspired pieces of their own. Work from SMH poets listed below has been posted in the upstairs hallway of the Marrs and Verna McLean Library Complex for all to see and enjoy:
- Mafer Benavides (Form 12)
- Emily Braddock (Form 11)
- Joy Ding (Form 12)
- Emily Garrett (Form 12)
- Stella Markey (Form 12)
- Isabella Sanchez (Form 12)
- Natalia Zambrano (Form 12)
This week’s spotlights feature Amy Williams-Eddy and Nate Cassie.
Upper School English Teacher Amy Louise Williams-Eddy is from San Antonio and earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). She earned a minor in Classics before then moving into the graduate program at UTSA where she earned her Master of Arts degree in English with a focus on American Literature and Creative Writing. Amy began at SMH in 1999 as a long-term substitute for two different teachers. She taught American Literature and Creative Writing while also sponsoring a writing lab and The Walrus, the literary magazine. Her favorite memories so far at SMH stem from her time as literary magazine sponsor when she got to work so closely with students during their workshops. “I got to know the students so well and it was just creative and fun. One of those students was current Admission and Enrollment Management Coordinator Morgan Mayberry (Class of 2005).”
What Amy’s colleagues might not know about her is that she loves movies and makes a point each January, after the Oscar nominations come out, to see all the movies that get nominated for Best Picture. Her favorite movie of all time is Moonstruck because “it’s just so Italian.” Her favorite San Antonio restaurant (at the moment) is actually in Converse called Lai Sinh. “It has amazing pho and the Vietnamese bowls are incredible,” she said. Her favorite artist is her daughter, Ellie (Class of 2016) … awwww. If Amy could have another career she might have been a family lawyer so that she could “fight for those who need someone to do it, but who don’t have anyone. I’d also probably give away my services for free a lot. I’m a sucker.” Your SMH students are glad you’re here with them, Amy, fighting the good fight!
Upper School 3D Art Teacher Nate Cassie claims San Antonio as home now, but grew up in several different places. He was born in New Jersey, lived a lot in the midwest, and went to Franklin High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Go Sabres!). When asked if his parents were in the military, he said, “God’s military! My father was a preacher.” Nate double majored in Studio Art and Religion at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He also got a minor in Art History there. His Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Sculpture came from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Nate began at Saint Mary’s Hall in 2015 teaching 3D Art and AP Art History, which he continues to do today. His favorite memories thus far have come from lunch with his colleagues, which he just finds funny and enlightening. What any of us who aren’t close to Nate might not know about him is that, in addition to being a working artist, he is busy renovating a small house.
Nate’s favorite San Antonio restaurant is Cured, where he enjoys the quail legs. His first car was not even a car, but a 1989 or 1990 white Chevy S-10 pickup truck. He didn’t even have that until he moved to Texas at the ripe old age of 24. His favorite movie is Fitzcarraldo, which was not easy to find since, Nate admitted, he’s also a terrible speller. In any event, Fitzcarraldo is a movie about a man driven to achieve an absurd dream. We are all glad to see there are no parallels between that plot and teaching at SMH. Thanks for bringing such a positive spirit and joy of life to work each day, Mr. Cassie!
On Friday, February 7, the Middle School Sports Council will be hosting a Movie Night for all Middle School students!
The movie will start at 6pm in the Remmert Theater with drop off at the Upper School Circle. During intermission, pizza will be available for $2 a slice and drinks will be provided free of charge. There will also be entertainment provided during intermission that the students won’t want to miss! Pick up from Movie Night is at 8:30pm sharp in the Upper School Circle. Hope to see you there!
Creating the Healthiest Nation: FCD Prevention Works™ (FXD) at the APHA Annual Meeting
Every year, the American Public Health Association (APHA) gathers professionals in the fields of health promotion and disease prevention to discuss the major health issues of our day. The November 2019 APHA Annual Meeting focused on the theme "Creating the Healthiest Nation: For science. For action. For health." FCD was invited to give two presentations related to this theme. FCD is a company that we bring in yearly to address these issues. Our first presentation was on the role of parental boundaries and their influence on adolescent substance use.
FCD Student Attitudes and Behavior Survey
FCD's presentation was based on data collected from the FCD Student Attitudes and Behavior Survey. This survey is a 50-question research instrument, designed to give a snapshot of a school community's substance use; attitudes towards substance use; perceptions around peers' use of alcohol or other drugs; and attitudes about school, family, and substance use policies. On a larger scale, this data is aggregated to look at global trends.
The survey asks students to report their own alcohol and other substance use on a lifetime, annual, and past-30-days basis. Students are also asked to report agreement or disagreement with six statements regarding parental involvement in their lives. These statements are:
1. "My parents show interest in my schoolwork."
2. "The rules in my family are clear."
3. "My parents want me to call if I'm going to be late getting home."
4. "My parents would know if I did not come home on time."
5. "My family has clear rules about alcohol and drug abuse."
6. "When I am not at home, one of my parents knows how to contact me in an emergency."
From 2009 to 2018, the FCD Student Attitudes and Behavior Survey was conducted among 121,483 6th-12th grade students in 35 countries. FCD used this database to examine the relationship between parental involvement and student substance use.
Students who expressed agreement with all six statements, versus agreement with some or none, were less likely to report using substances and more likely to report getting higher grades in school.
When looking at the six statements individually, agreement with two of the statements was consistently associated with lower annual and monthly use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. Students who agreed with the statement "my parents would know if I did not come home on time" were:
- 30% less likely to report using alcohol in the past 12 months, and past 30 days
- 34% less likely to report using marijuana in the past 12 months, and 35% less likely in the past 30 days
- 30% less likely to report using electronic vaporizers in the past 12 months, and 28% less likely to report using in the past 30 days.
If a student agreed with the statement: "My family has clear rules about alcohol and drug abuse," they were:
- 44% less likely to report using alcohol in the past 12 months, and 37% less likely to use in the past 30 days
- 41% less likely to report using marijuana in the past 12 months, and 40% less likely in the past 30 days
- 26% less likely to report using electronic vaporizers in the past 12 months, and 27% less likely to report using in the past 30 days.
For action. For health.
Parents are in a unique position to structure an environment for their children that promotes healthy choices and non-use. Parents showing interest in their child's life, and having clear rules about substance use and other topics, have the power to create a positive environment where teens can thrive.
Parents with children of any age can be coached to have age-appropriate conversations around substance use and building healthy habits. In FCD's recent e-journal series on permissive parenting, we provided tips and resources for parents who want to foster a climate of prevention in their home.
To receive a copy of that e-journal series, or for more information on resources available for your community's parents, email email@example.com.
Middle School Student/Parent/Advisor Conferences will take place on Wednesday, January 22 between 8am and 4pm in respective Advisors’ classrooms or offices. There will be no Middle School classes, and students are required to attend the conferences with their parents (Upper and Lower School will have regular classes that day). Students have been preparing for their conferences over the last two weeks by reviewing their grades and comments, reflecting on what went will for them Semester 1 and identifying what they need to improve for Semester 2 by setting goals and making plans to achieve them. You may still sign up for your conference with your student’s advisor on the SMH Community Portal, just as you did in August. Just follow these instructions. Conferences will be student-led, so be ready to listen and learn from your student!
Report cards for Semester 1 were posted on the SMH Community Portal for your review on January 14. SMH asks that you take some time to read through the grades, conduct marks, and any comments prior to your Advisor conference on Wednesday, January 22. Please refer any questions you may have directly to the teachers.
On January 13, Middle School Counselor Leslie Palmer delivered an inspiring Chapel message on the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Students viewed a video that showed significant events from Dr. King’s life, while Ms. Palmer highlighted how he left an example of love, service, and courage. Chapel closed with a prayer written by Dr. King and a call to service in his memory from Ms. Palmer.
Come one, come all to the Middle School Talent Show on Friday January 31 from 1:30pm-2:45pm in the Coates/Seeligson Theater/Chapel. All Middle School students are encouraged to attend, participate, and enjoy. Solo and group acts welcome! Rehearsal dates include: January 28, 29, and 30 during activity period. This event is always very entertaining and spotlights Middle School talents and abilities.
Middle School with be having a Sprit Out-of-Uniform Day on Thursday, January 23!
Parent support of last year’s Passport 2019: Ignite! continues to provide fun opportunities for students this year.
Form 4 student Myrka Alvarez was the Lower School head for the day on January 10. Her first decisions as Lower School head were to give all of Form 4 an Out-of-Uniform Day and to order breakfast for lunch on the SAGE Dining Services® menu that day for the whole school. Thank you to her parents Omar and Marlena Alvarez for the purchase of the Head of Lower School for a Day after having the winning bid at Passport 2019. Parental support of Saint Mary’s Hall makes all the difference.
Head of Lower School Khristi Bates said, “Miss Alvarez met with me last summer to begin planning the details for her big day. She got to have input on everything from the lunch menu to administrator visits. Myrka did a wonderful job leading Morning Moments and greeting students. She has strong interview skills and her questions for SMH administrators were interesting and thoughtful. I enjoyed watching Myrka step into the role of head of Lower School for the day. I see a bright future ahead for her!”
Join us for a STEAM Adventure Tuesday, January 28, 5:30pm – 7pm, in the Ancira Event Center. At Saint Mary’s Hall, we believe that nurturing students' innate love of learning is essential. The best way to do this is through experiential learning opportunities. STEAM Adventure will allow Form 3 - 5 students (and their families) to participate in a variety of science and tech-related activities. There will be more than 10 booths with activities such as creating/building:
- a straw rocket
- pictures using focal lights
- slime, ice cream, or dry ice bubbles
- a brine shrimp ecosystem
- a Lego car and racing it
- animals using everyday items
- an adventure for a pint-sized robot
Please note that in order to ensure the best experience for our students, we ask that each student be accompanied by an adult.
In addition to all of the fun, Cheesy Jane’s Food Truck will be parked outside the Ancira Event Center beginning at 5pm. You can experiment, spend time together, and eat yummy food all in one place. We look forward to seeing you there.
Questions? Please contact Lower School Science Teacher Claire Damarodas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you remember coming home with your report card for your parents to sign? Times have changed, but the importance of parents going over report cards with their children has stayed the same. Lower School report cards went live online January 10. Lower School students have worked very hard during the second quarter and achieved a great deal. Enjoy their accomplishments with them and give encouragement for improvement where it is needed. Read the article, Tips for Talking About Report Cards, as a great resource for talking about report cards with your student.
For your convenience, Extended Care (EC) will be open to your Lower School student during your parent conference time on Thursday, February 6. All-day reservations will not be available and space is limited to students currently enrolled in Saint Mary’s Hall Lower School. So that SMH may plan appropriately, please make a reservation by contacting Director of EC Linda Blanks at (210) 483-9130, email@example.com, or stop by EC and visit in person!
Charges for the day will be billed at the drop-in rate of $10.50 per hour, with a 1-hour minimum. Hours of operation will be from 7am until 6pm. Please provide a peanut-free lunch for your child if applicable.
Tobin Fine Arts School
Before winter break, two of our alumni artists stopped by the Drawing & Painting classes to lead a critique for current students. Gabby Feuillet (Class of 2016) and Alicia Amberson (Class of 2016) were both star art students during their time at SMH, gathering multiple Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Gabby is now an undergrad in the Architecture Program at Rice University and Alicia is an undergraduate in the Studio Art Program at The University of Texas at Austin. Upper School Drawing & Painting Teacher Logan Blanco said of the experience, “They were so great and offered some wonderfully thoughtful feedback!”
Saint Mary’s Hall is a place where the arts and creativity flourish in students. Even students who are not actively studying in the arts in college tell us that they are still performing or making art as a way to center and relax.
A recent article from National Public Radio quotes Cristianne Strange, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Alabama Birmingham: "Creativity in and of itself is important for remaining healthy, remaining connected to yourself, and connected to the world."
Read more about how students and adults alike can benefit from the arts throughout their lives in Feeling Artsy: How Making Art Helps Your Brain.
Be sure to catch the brainpower of our visual artists in the current Upper School exhibition, now on display in the Coates-Seeligson Theater/Chapel galleries and in the Marrs and Verna McLean Library Complex.
Wanda Wiley Atkinson Director of Fine Arts
Tobin Fine Arts School at Saint Mary’s Hall
Recently, Caleb Miller (Form 12) auditioned for the All-State Band in Orange Grove, Texas. Competing against the top French horn players in South Texas, Caleb finished first overall! As a result, Caleb will be performing at the All-State competition next month.
Caleb joins orchestra students Matthew Averyt (Form 10) and Javier Hernandez (Form 12), who were selected in November, in representing SMH at All-State. All-State is the highest achievement a high school musician can achieve. Caleb is a member of the Upper School Jazz Band, under the direction of Band/Chamber Orchestra Teacher Trevor Docwra and studies French horn privately with musician and Prentice Huntington Miller & Reid Huntington Miller Endowed Chair in World Languages and Cultures Laura Renard.
Check out the Fine Arts Instagram page. This account is a great way to get an up-close and personal look at the day-to-day excitement in these amazing, ever-buzzing programs. In addition, check out Saint Mary’s Hall main social media channels for more Fine Arts news
on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
Over the past month, Barons have been giving up parts of their winter holidays and their first weeks of the semester to compete all over the state and the country. Whether it be San Antonio, Austin, Houston, or Phoenix, these students have had a successful start to 2020. Please see below for the various tournaments the team has attended.
Strake Jesuit Round Robin
At the beginning of the holiday, four SMH debate students were invited to and competed in the Strake Jesuit Round Robin for public forum debate. Round Robins invite a cross section of the most successful/competitive teams from across the country to compete in a format that maximizes education. Both teams picked up more ballots than they lost. Those students were Sam Hernandez (Form 12), Trey Plante (Form 12), Rylan Schendel (Form 12), and Nicholas Trujillo (Form 12).
Round Rock Stony Point Swing
The first weekend of the year, SMH speech students gave up part of their break to attend the Round Rock / Stony Point Swing. With only five students competing the first half of the swing and six students competing on day two, the team had a very successful outing.
Winston Churchill Classic
On January 10 and 11, a total of 25 SMH Speech & Debate students competed at the Winston Churchill Classic. Comprised of 58 schools, this tournament rivaled the competitive nature of the UT Austin Longhorn Classic, as four of the top five speech schools attended. Saint Mary’s Hall earned the 3rd Place Speech Sweepstakes, which consists of all the acting, public speaking, and extemporaneous speaking events!
Hugh Downs School of Human Communication Invitationa
Also on January 10 and 11, a total of 19 SMH Debate students competed at the HDSHC Invitational hosted by Arizona State University. Comprised of 123 schools from 18 states, this is one of the largest competitions in the country.
The women’s varsity soccer team made the drive to the Hill Country to compete in the Fredericksburg High School Hill Country Winter Classic. The annual tournament brings some of the strongest teams from around the state, and is slowly turning into one of the better high school tournaments in the State of Texas. The Barons finished the weekend with a 1-1-1 record, showing the potential the team can have as they set their sights on preparations for playoffs. Scoring summaries are below.
- Game 1 vs Lampassas
- SMH 0
- Lampassas 0
- Isabella Sanchez (senior) – 5
- Game 2 vs Stephenville
- SMH 0
- Stephenville 5
- Isabella Sanchez (senior) – 10
- Game 3 vs Riverside (El Paso)
- SMH 2
- Riverside 0
- Georgia Kemmett (sophomore) unassisted PK
- Georgia Kemmett (sophomore) assisted by Whitney McCormick (junior)
- Isabella Sanchez (senior) – 3
- Ellen Meltzer (freshman) – 1
In a rematch from earlier in the year that saw the freshmen team fall in the last minute of the game to the TMI junior varsiy (JV) team, the Barons were able to accomplish the upset the second time around. The freshmen men’s basketball team upset the TMI JV men’s basketball team, 56-48. Scoring was led by freshman Jonathan Largoza with 14 points. Freshmen Bailen Ganeshapa and Max Davis both added double-digit efforts. Be sure to congratulate these boys on a tremendous effort!
Boys Soccer Drop
The boys soccer team took on a tough and extremely talented KIPP Poder for their first game back from the break. The high scoring, back-and-forth action saw three goals scored by the Barons in five minutes, Aleks Dudhia (Form 8), Justus Kleberg (Form 7), and Marco Watson (Form 6), all assisted by goalie Bardia Mizani (Form 8). KIPP Poder answered back quickly, scoring three of their own goals. The second half saw Poder take control, scoring two more goals and eventually capturing the victory, 5-3.
Form 6 Girls Basketball Win
The new year brought an exciting weekend of Form 6 basketball for the girls. The Barons, led by Megan LaMoy’s 12 points, took the victory over the Geneva School of Boerne. Megan’s performance was supported by two 8-point efforts by Grace Beauchamp and Mazreen Sanjana. The girls look to build on the momentum in their next game as they take on Great Hearts Monte Vista.
- Middle School Boys B Basketball: SMH 24 - SACS 39
Women’s varsity basketball got back to action Friday night. The Barons faced a tough FEAST team in their first game after the break. Although the Barons fought hard, they ultimately lost the game, falling behind early. “We did some good things and can build on those as we approach district. I am proud of the leadership of senior Jillian Spicer and junior Caroline Berridge. That have done an excellent job since we have returned from the break,” said Head Basketball Coach Stephanie Mercer.
Managing Stress Through Sport
Whether you played little league, ran high school track, or were a kickball star on the playground, chances are you had a coach who was with you every step of the way. Too often, we overlook how coaches and trainers can shape our life both on and off the field. Megan Bartlett is the founder of We Coach, an organization that trains coaches and equips them with the tools and knowledge they need to help kids reach their full potential. In this Podcast, Megan shares about the connection between sports and stress management, the benefits of rhythmic and repetitive activities, and how to set positive and realistic expectations for young athletes.
Can't make it to the game? Tune in from home or while on the go via any device to watch SMH sports events live as they unfold. You can also relive the glory again and again, as all events are archived for future access. When you follow us on Livestream, you'll get updates anytime we add or update an athletic event.
It's easy! Join Livestream today:
1. Go to Livestream.com/smhathletics
2. Click the black "Follow" button on our page.
3. Create an account using your email or connect with Facebook.
4. Sit back and enjoy the game!
As is SMH tradition, the school devotes one Chapel day each January to remember the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King’s message of unconditional love, his courage, and his life of service to others offer lessons worth studying. With a strong commitment to the Gospels of Jesus Christ and a deep respect for the non-violence philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King’s work uplifted communities and led to changes that positively impacted the lives of others. These themes of love, courage, justice, and service, all deeply spiritual in nature, formed the division Chapels for January 16.
All Chapels began with the call and response from Psalm 118, verse 24: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Each Chapel ended with an age appropriate prayer.
Head of Lower School Khristi Bates led the Morning Moments Chapel. Students enjoyed the Kid President video, The Story of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Mrs. Bates noted that four of Dr. King’s core principles are worthy of reflection. These are the ideas that:
- Every human deserves respect.
- Every human deserves equal treatment.
- Each of us has a responsibility to do something to make the world better.
- Love conquers hate and violence.
She encouraged students to use their time and talent to uplift one another, their school, their families, and their community by being a positive, loving contributor, each in their own way.
Form 11 student Ryan Tanner, a member of the Bishops Chapel Society, welcomed students to the first Chapel of the year, opening with Psalm 118 and introducing the guest speaker.
This Chapel, led by Upper School Social Studies Teacher Jane Mannock, asked students to consider that the Civil Rights movement led by Dr. King demonstrates the power of like-minded individuals working together for a common cause. She reviewed the history of the late 1950s and 1960s, discussing notable figures who achieved and sacrificed much to address social justice issues and basic human rights. In speaking of Dr. King, she reminded students that in the face of violence, he noted that his Christian roots demanded he love unconditionally and serve others, especially those in need. She also cited his commitment to social justice, which was driven by his understanding that in a complex world, all things are connected. He felt that to achieve the best life for all its citizens, the United States needed to ensure all could exercise their rights under the Constitution equally.
Students learned that shortly before his assassination in 1968, Dr. King gave this reflection on his death and how he viewed the meaning of his life. His words remind us that the service we give to others leaves a legacy beyond our lifetime. View His Own Eulogy, Martin Luther King, Jr. - In His Own Words - Prophetic Final Sermon Excerpt.
In honoring Dr. King’s birthday as a Day of Service, the city hosts the largest Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day March in the country and organizes numerous service projects throughout San Antonio. Upper School Debate Teacher Colin Malinak reminded students that the Young Liberals Club march every year as part of their community service and invited everyone to join them.
Students enjoyed a highly engaging Chapel entitled Profiles of Love, Service, and Courage, written and presented by Middle School Counselor Leslie Palmer. Students watched a video about Dr. King’s life, then reflected on what happens when individuals demonstrate courage in action, such as:
- Defending someone who can’t defend themselves
- Standing up for what you believe in
- Speaking out against injustice
- Not letting fear of failure stop you from taking risks
- Disagreeing with someone who has more power than you
- Going against what “everybody else thinks”
- Risking injury to save someone else
- Being the first to do something
- Expressing yourself, even if you feel vulnerable
- Trying again after failing
Ms. Palmer also discussed Dr. King’s commitment to love and service using Scripture passages from 1 Corinthians: 13:4-8 and 1 Peter: 4:10. She urged students to consider Dr. King’s legacy of love, service, and courage in light of his belief that life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are we doing for others? View a quote from Dr. King displayed at the Middle School Chapel. Ms. Palmer closed chapel with a prayer from Dr. King.
The currently planned schedule for Chapels is as follows:
- January 27: Students in Middle and Upper School will hear Form 11 student Jennings Stuart speak about how one’s attitude affects those around them and reflect on the difference that positivity makes in one's life. Lower School students will have a reflection on love.
- February 3: There will be a Bishops Chapel Society presentation in Upper School Chapel. The Middle School topic is under development. Lower School students will have a reflection on courage.
- February 10: Upper School English Teacher Megan Soukup will share her thoughts on life as a spiritual journey in Upper School Chapel. The Middle School topic is pending confirmation of the speaker’s availability. Lower School students will have a reflection on compassion.
- February 24: There will be a Lower School Chapel only, led by All-School Chaplain Rev. Dr. Cameron Gunnin.
- February 26: Upper and Middle School will have their Ash Wednesday Chapels with All-School Chaplain Rev. Dr. Cameron Gunnin. As is SMH tradition, ashes will be offered at a variety of times and locations throughout the day. Watch Chapel Corner for further details.
Healthy at the Hall
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about the importance of love and interconnectedness. He described how:“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
Wellness and resilience are directly related to human connection. In fact, research conducted by the U.S. government cites connections with peers and supportive relationships with family members as primary protective factors for youth against mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders in adolescence. In order for all children to truly be well, they must be able to see themselves reflected in others and connect. In a global society, it is of critical importance that students connect with people who share similarities and differences. The research on diversity is clear: strong connections within and between groups strengthens society.
The Importance of Diversity
In an article titled, How Diversity Makes Us Smarter, published in Scientific American, the following summary points are made:
- “Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups.”
- “It seems obvious that a group of people with diverse individual expertise would be better than a homogeneous group at solving complex, non-routine problems. It is less obvious that social diversity should work in the same way — yet the science shows that it does.”
- “This is not only because people with different backgrounds bring new information. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints, and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.”
Sometimes, people are hesitant to engage with others who share differences because of stereotypes. Stereotypes, or heuristics, exist for a reason: they help us understand the world around us throughout our development. As described in Zaid Jilani’s article titled, How to Beat Stereotypes by Seeing People as Individuals, “heuristics can lead us to make potentially damaging assumptions about other people.” He describes how the “idea that group membership determines innate qualities is called essentialism” and how essentialism can lead and has led to broader societal issues. He also describes how unconscious bias can contribute to divisive behavior. He describes the importance of storytelling and getting to know individuals as ways to overcome the divisions between people based on faulty heuristics or unconscious bias. He emphasizes going beyond empathy and engaging in perspective taking as ways to build connections between groups.
Your Children Will Follow Your Lead
You are the model for inclusivity and interconnectedness for your children. Lower and Middle School children will often follow their parents’ lead. You can assist your child’s ability to connect with others by connecting with others. For example, San Antonio hosts the largest march in the country that honors the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If you were unable to attend the event with your children, consider:
- Attending the Institute of Texan Cultures: https://www.texancultures.com/
- Attending a local arts event: https://theartsfundsa.org/San-Antonio-Arts-Organizations
- Reading books from diverse authors about diverse topics: http://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/bibBio.asp
After these kinds of learning experiences, talk with your children about the significance and relevance to society as well as to you and your family. Encourage your Upper School students to take a broad array of classes at Saint Mary’s Hall to be able to explore different ideas and challenge their belief systems. Adolescence is a period of identity exploration and teenagers will be better informed about their own identities by exploring others.
Saint Mary’s Hall will host a Parent Coffee on Wednesday, February 5 from 8am - 9:30am in the Remmert Theater to view Screenagers from physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston. The film’s run time is 67 minutes and will be followed by a brief discussion. Below is the film’s synopsis:
Are you watching kids scroll through life, with their rapid-fire thumbs and a six-second attention span? Physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston saw that with her own kids and learned that the average kid spends 6.5 hours a day looking at screens. She wondered about the impact of all this time and about the friction occurring in homes and schools around negotiating screen time — friction she knew all too well.
In Screenagers, as with her award-winning documentaries on mental health, Delaney takes a deeply personal approach as she probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, including her own, to explore struggles over social media, video games, academics, and internet addiction. Through poignant, and unexpectedly funny stories, along with surprising insights from authors, psychologists, and brain scientists, Screenagers reveals how tech time impacts kids’ development and offers solutions on how adults can empower kids to best navigate the digital world and find balance.
Please contact Wellness Director Dr. Sandra Lopez-Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Here are some additional articles and web pages for your reference:
What does personality have to do with emotional health? Health and Wellness Educator Amelia Teodosio’s Health and Wellness class used the Myers-Briggs personality assessment to uncover the answer to this question. After each student took the quiz on 16personalities.com, they discussed a couple of questions:
- How could you use your personality to contribute to the people around you?
- What about your personality could potentially lead to an unhealthy emotional state?
Also, students participated in a teambuilding activity which highlighted personalities even more. They learned not only about themselves but also how to work more effectively with their classmates.