NFTH: May 4, 2020
From the Head of School
Dear Saint Mary's Hall Community,
What a powerfully emotional day Friday was for many of us.
We opened our campus to allow Upper School students the opportunity to retrieve the contents of their academic lockers. We continue to strategize about plans for retrieval of personal items for Middle and Lower School students, and for athletics and fine arts items. I am very grateful for Director of Facilities and Security Dom Smith, and his Maintenance team for boxing up contents of all Upper School student academic lockers, and coming up with an orderly and safe way to distribute the boxes. Please see the slide show (below on the right) and short video which gives you a wonderful glimpse into this operation. There's a good reason that the Maintenance team is known as "The Heroes" around Saint Mary's Hall!
The ability to enter our campus after an eight-week absence was emotional for so many of us. This Form 12 parent summed it up best when she shared:
Driving onto campus today to get my daughter’s box of belongings was hard. I guessed it would be. It was bittersweet seeing the ribbons on the trees, all the empty parking spaces, an empty track and field. A flood of emotions came over me on this beautiful morning. A morning that felt so different from all the other times I’ve driven to SMH. Usually it felt rushed and focused, maybe even tense, thinking about the day - all the work and tasks ahead. Today it was reflective. Symbolic. The school grounds looked so lovely. The sun was shining. I knew I was not alone in feeling a wave of sadness come over me as I approached the circle and the giant stack of boxes, filled with binders, notes, pencils, and books.
It was so nice to see your kind, smiling face. I’m sorry I didn’t stop (because I know that’s against the rules). But seeing you there was symbolic. The end of your time at SMH must also feel bittersweet for you. As much as the senior families are hurting, I know your heart and mind must be full of a lot of those same raw emotions. Although I’m sorry this school year is ending this way, I hope eventually we will celebrate together. Even if it’s this time next year. I had a good cry on the way home. I thought about all the times we’ve dropped off and picked up my daughter or attended an event. Or all the times we waved to smiling faces in the parking lot or circle. Never thought this is how May 2020 on campus would feel. But it only feels so sad because it was so beautiful. That’s a good thing, right? I guess it’s true what they say ... That it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. She loved her four years at SMH and will always cherish the friendships formed.
All my best to the lovely staff who worked so hard to gather everything for our students. To you, sincere thanks for standing outside today and offering your smile to all of us who were crying.”
We look forward to welcoming you all back to campus sometime in the near future. Reunion will be so sweet.
Head of School
The leaders and members of the National English Honor Society did not let social distancing keep them from demonstrating how close our community is.
Once again, they collected several student and faculty “Voices of Gratitude” to help celebrate how kind, good, and special our community is. Here are several samples to make your day!
Middle School artists were challenged with creating a monochromatic (one color) drawing or painting from a photo they took around their house celebrating our guest of honor, Mother Earth. Take a look at the results!
In February, a total of 47 Saint Mary’s Hall Middle School students took the National Mythology Exam (NME). Since 1989, the exam is offered to students in elementary, intermediate, and middle school grades, 3-9. The NME is given to more than 9,000 students in approximately 400 schools around the United States and in several foreign countries.
Form 6 took a 40-item exam: 30 questions about general mythology, and 10 questions on a special theme (Perseus). Forms 7-8 took a 50-item exam: the same as Form 6 with an additional 10 questions on Book 12 of the Odyssey (Fitzgerald translation). In Form 6, preparation for this exam is part of the syllabus, but in Forms 7-8, it is an optional contest that students prepare for independently.
Awards are given at three levels:
- Bronze Medal for three to six errors
- Silver Medal for one to two errors
- Gold Medal for no errors
This year 35 students won awards: 10 Bronze, 15 Silver, and 10 Gold Medals.
Please congratulate these students! View a full list of results.
SMH students have access to their summer reading pages beginning, Monday, May 4th. Students may order their summer reading books through the SMH Spirit Store by clicking on the order links below. Once the orders have been received, the Spirit Store will mail all summer reading materials to you or your student.
Lower School Summer Reading: The Lower School theme for this summer is Highlight Your Summer with Reading. The summer reading web site includes summer reading assignments for Lower School ELA, Forms 2-5, and Form 4 social studies. Students get a sneak-peek at their summer reading book with a book talk from their classroom teacher.
Lower School Librarian and Instructional Technologist Linda Wells has prepared the 1,000 Minute Challenge and Just For Fun activities for students. Don't forget the library's plethora of ebooks that are available online by clicking the Library & ebook Database tab on the Lower School summer reading page.
- Lower School Summer Reading: http://libguides.smhall.org/lssummerreading2020
- SMH Bookstore order form for Lower School summer reading. This order link is specific to Lower School summer reading books only.
Middle School Summer Reading: Middle School English classes will have access to their summer reading pages and assignments by accessing their summer reading page. Each Middle School English teacher prepared a video discussing the assignment in detail. Once again, any books needed for their summer reading assignments can be ordered through the SMH Spirit Store order link below.
- Middle School Summer Reading: http://libguides.smhall.org/mssummerreading2020
- SMH Bookstore order form exclusively for MS summer reading.
Upper School Summer Reading: Upper School students who are enrolled in AP French and AP Spanish can find their summer reading listed on the URL below. Likewise, students who are enrolled in Calculus AB or Calculus BC will find their summer assignments listed under the Math Department tab.
- Upper School Summer Reading: http://libguides.smhall.org/summerreading2020
Questions regarding text book orders may be directed to Spirt Store Director Amy Lutrell: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lower School is still hosting Morning Moments, only virtually. Enjoy this Friday's Morning Moments!
While we still have several weeks of this semester remaining, some of you may already be looking ahead to summer. The Middle School math teachers have put together a list of summer math review opportunities for your consideration. Summer math review is not mandatory, but students who spend some time practicing their skills retain more of what they learned and feel more confident when they return in the fall.
Last week, Saint Mary's Hall celebrated a campus-wide Spirit Week complete with themed dress up days and virtual activities. The Middle School Sports Council planned and executed an online intramural. The game was Spyfall, a game where one person is a spy and is trying to blend into the group all while avoiding accusations from a suspicious group of spy hunters. All the Middle School Advisories had separate games going, led by a Sports Council member, and the participants had fun!
The winner of the intramural was the Baileys! With the victory, the overall race for the cup score is the Baileys (311) and Bennetts (301)!
While the Form 8 Advanced Robotics class can’t meet together to improve their robot, this poses a problem. However, Robotics/Computer Science/STEM Teacher Dr. Hong Zhou and her students are problem-solvers! The students studied multiple robots from various teams and composed 3D renderings of the components. Not only that, they are now fitting them on chassis, virtually! Watch the video above to see how it was done.
The non-profit Common Sense Media has some good recommendations for apps to help teach your student to word process, which might be a useful activity over the summer to help your student develop some word-processing speed for taking notes and writing papers in Middle School next year. View their recommendations.
Also, Common Sense Media wrote a very helpful newsletter about how to protect your child in online conversations. Please take time to read through this for important parenting tips.
Dear Saint Mary's Hall,
I hope you are able to take a moment and view my Chapel video message for this week.
This message focuses on two scriptures, Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28, and their message that God is at work, bringing good to us and through us!
This message has given me much hope in my life and is bringing me much hope at this time as I miss being on campus with you and finishing our year together. I hope and pray the message of these scriptures brings much hope to you and your spirits.
I’ll close with a quote from Max Lucado, a pastor and writer from here in San Antonio, and his book Grace for the Moment. Max writes, “God is God. He knows what he is doing. When you can’t trace his hand, trust his heart.” If it ever seems difficult to see God’s hand bringing good to you and through you, trust in God’s heart to do this because it’s at the core of who God is.
Praying for you, our school, and our larger community.
Rev. Dr. Cameron Gunnin
Healthy at the Hall
Dear Saint Mary’s Hall,
Today is May 4 and we are 2/3 of the way into the most unusual spring quarter in recent memory. Many of us have been juggling our identities every moment of each day for the last six weeks between parenting, teaching, and working (to name a few!). This week’s message is an expanded variation on hope by normalizing and validating your experiences as parents during the COVID – 19 crisis. I only encourage others to cope with practices that I use in my life. These four articles have been incredibly helpful in helping me balance all of my responsibilities and I hope they help you, too. We are always a work in progress.
The first article is titled, It Was Just Too Much’: How Remote Learning Is Breaking Parents, published by the New York Times. In the article, they describe, “For the adults in the house, trying to do their own jobs while helping children with classwork has become one of the most trying aspects of the pandemic.” While I do not feel broken, there are times that have certainly been harder than others. I felt reassured when I read the following quote, “Are your kids killing each other, or have you killed your child?” said Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, an education researcher and a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution. “Is there anything they’re eating that resembles healthy food in between the chocolate and sugar? If the answer is yes, give yourself a break.”
The second article is titled, It’s Okay to Be a Different Kind of Parent During the Pandemic, published by The Atlantic. It’s written by a woman who suffered the tragic loss of her husband while she had a toddler and was six-months pregnant with their second child. She offers parents who are coping during the coronavirus with sage advice and wisdom acquired amidst her own crisis. Noteworthy quotes include, “When something outside your control changes your life, it’s what you do with what you can control that really shapes your children.” She describes how, “Crises can teach you a lot about your capabilities.” It seems that the main point is, “Practice makes slightly better over time. It’s no ‘practice makes perfect,’ but perfect is not what you’re after. You’re not instantly going to be an expert homeschooling mom or dad who also works a full-time job, nor should you try. Once you’ve decided what kind of mom or dad you are, do something small every day to put that identity into practice."
The third article is titled, How to Stop Feeling So Helpless During Quarantine, published by the Greater Good Science Center. The main focus of this article is that, “Research suggests some ways to find a sense of control when you're feeling helpless.” The author encourages readers to remember: “Feeling a little out of control right now is normal, particularly if you’re facing physical limitations or financial strain. To regulate your emotions around coronavirus in a healthy way, you can try strategies like:
- Finding Silver Linings
- Gaining Perspective on Negative Events
- Letting Go of Anger Through Compassion
- Self-Compassion Break
Even when events and outcomes are out of our hands, we can still exert some influence over our emotional lives with these techniques.”
The fourth article is titled, Strategies for Supporting Learning at Home, and is simply a collection of developmentally appropriate ways to help your child continue to learn during distance learning published by the Child Mind Institute. I found it to be a helpful reminder of the practices I can put into place to facilitate learning.
Please remember that the Saint Mary’s Hall Wellness Team is here to support you and let us know how we can help you and your family.
Wishing you wellness,
Sandra L. Lopez-Morales, Ph.D.
Director of Wellness