NFTH: September 3, 2019
- From the Head of School
- Upper School
- Middle School
- Lower School
- Fine Arts
- Chapel Corner
- Healthy at the Hall
From the Head of School
From the Head of School
Dear Saint Mary's Hall Community,
The 2019-2020 school year is now well under way!
We’ve had the first day of class, Blue Tie Parade and Ceremony, Opening Convocation, Bennetts and Baileys Sorting Day in Middle School, Capers and Elliott Sorting in Upper School, Lower School Parent Night, first athletic games, auditions for our fall musical 9-5, had the SMH Dance Social, the Upper School Club Fair, and more! The energy, enthusiasm, and renewal has been beautiful (see photos below).
Our Barons family is growing, with new students at every grade level, as well as dynamic, highly experienced, new faculty and staff. I invite you to learn more about the new educators working with your children this year! Click here to see a fun video introducing them.
Last year’s senior class is now off to college (view a list of their matriculation and college acceptances). I invite you to learn about the extraordinary success of the Class of 2019. Last year’s seniors also thoughtfully participated in an exit survey, and I think you’ll be impressed with and excited by their feedback (view some of the student quotes from the survey).
Great schools like SMH “reload.” We have already seen strong leadership from the Class of 2020, this year’s seniors. If you were out and about in San Antonio this summer, the chances are very high that you ran into members of the Class of 2020. From working at H-E-B, Bill Miller Bar-B-Q, and Jimmy John’s to volunteering with SNIPSA, Camp CAMP, and Sunshine Cottage, our senior Barons were all around the city as they heeded the advice from our College Counseling Department to make the summer between junior and senior year one of intentionality. Assisted by the reduction of summer reading assignments, students in the Class of 2020 were able to take advantage of opportunities they might not otherwise had the chance to participate in before. Nearly half of the class had a summer job while 18 others were able to secure internships in fields they may wish to pursue in the future. We are so proud of our seniors and the footprints they left all over in acts of service as well. How many high school students do you know that spent time on the U.S.-Mexico border working with displaced refugees or completing research at a high tech lab at The University of Texas at Austin?
A group of seniors pursued a Cell Biology summer school class at SMH, and others had academic experiences at colleges in the U.S. and the U.K. As if that wasn’t enough, 80% of the class took advantage of college application boot camp in order to get started! They ended that week with a significant amount of work completed allowing them to have a smooth start. 91% of the seniors worked directly with College Counseling through boot camp and workshops before the Baron Bazaar had even occurred. They are well on their way! Of great importance, our seniors had plenty of time to travel and spend time with friends and family as well.
Our faculty also had great, productive summers. While many just engaged in “rest and relaxation,” most SMH teachers were actively working to grow as educators. I so admire our faculty and staff’s growth mindset. Many Saint Mary’s Hall faculty came together to spend time working on Faculty Summer Curriculum Work Grants to advance their curriculum for the coming school year. Faculty submitted grant proposals to be approved by their chair, division head, and myself, who funded the work with per diem pay for faculty participation. As part of the proposal, faculty were required to work in pairs or small groups on campus for anywhere from one to five days to complete their curriculum development projects. The grant opportunity was met with great enthusiasm by the faculty, who appreciated the opportunity to do in depth work on alignment, developing projects and resources, expanding research offerings and developing materials for new texts. As a result, we had 51 faculty members participate in 18 curriculum development projects that will be put into place this year and have immediate impact on students and learning. Click here to view a list of faculty and SMH summer curriculum grants. Additionally, as part of the Peggy Pitman Mays Fund for Teacher Excellence program, $30,000 is awarded to teachers for international travel and educational experiences relevant to their SMH teaching duties. This year, through the generosity of the Peggy Pitman Mays Fund for Teacher Excellence Program, the following teachers had remarkable summer professional development opportunities across the globe:
- Tess Eggleston, Form 4 Language Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Jay & Jennifer Jacobson, Upper School Mathematics, Singapore
- Kyle Petersen, Upper School Photography, Denmark and Norway
- Laura Renard, World Languages Department Chair and MS Spanish teacher, Tokyo, Japan
- Lourdes Saks, Middle School Spanish teacher, Salamanca, Spain
- Jill Severe, AP World History/Global Studies III-IV Teacher, Russia
- Jane Viccellio, Form 3 Language Arts, London, England and Frankfurt, Germany
All that to say, I fully expect this to be our best year ever at Saint Mary’s Hall.
God Bless Saint Mary’s Hall, our students, and their families.
Head of School
Senior Back-to-School Bowling and Blue Tie
On August 18, more than 70 members of the Class of 2020 met a few of their favorite teachers (and administrators) at Astro SuperBowl to reunite after a fun summer.
Seniors picked-up their senior t-shirts, ate SMH cookies, and bowled a few frames.
At the end of the first week of classes, the Class of 2020 celebrated their status as school leaders with the annual Blue Tie Parade around the Upper School Circle, followed by Convocation, and then capped off with the ever-anticipated Blue Tie Ceremony. After celebrating at school, these fantastic seniors boarded busses with their College Counselors and most of the administrative staff to enjoy a fabulous lunch at La Fonda on Main.
If you missed Convocation or Blue Tie or just want to watch again, you can view the event on our Livestream channel.
Latin Students Crush (Again) at Nationals
For a week at the end of July, a total of eight rising Form 9 students from the Middle School Latin program attended the 2019 National Junior Classical League (NJCL) Convention at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota. Once again, as we have for the past several years, SMH rose and shone among the approximately 1,100 Latin students from 29 states that participated in Academic Tests, Creative Arts contests (oral Latin and English essay), Graphic Arts contests, Ludi (competitive chess, volleyball, soccer), and Olympika (athletics). Click here for convention results along with explanations of the contests.
First Day of School Fun
Upper School Social Studies Teacher Hillary Relyea’s Global Studies III and IV students got to know one another and establish bonds of trust through a game of 20 Questions.
Upper School Math Teacher and Department Chair Jim Polito’s Precalculus Honors students made strong use of the Jamie Armstrong Bennett Courtyard to help axis and graphs come to life.
Upper School Social Sciences Teacher Adrian Viccellio’s Global Studies I and II students learned first-hand about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave through a live-action role play.
Top Summer Books for Parents of College Students
Read Top Summer Books for Parents of College Students, published on Texas A&M’s Aggie Parent & Family Connection web site.
Shield Society Lead Ambassador Training
Founded in 1979 with only nine members, the Saint Mary’s Hall Shield Society program has since grown by leaps and bounds. Currently, a total of 26 lead ambassadors preside over the program’s more than 50 members, consisting of sophomores, juniors, and seniors, who serve as tour guides to prospective families and participants in Admission events. All Shield Society members are exemplary members of the SMH community, and were chosen based on their strong character and commitment to school values. This past summer, lead ambassadors led two training sessions for new and returning members. Training included an overview of basic touring, general expectations, a Q&A session, and a mock tour of the entire campus. Shield Society members are all enthusiastic and essential to the success of the Office of Admission.
Parent Coffees to Start the School Year
In case you missed either of these parent coffees, please click below to access the slides showing what topics were discussed. If you have any questions, please contact Head of Upper School Brent Spicer at email@example.com.
The Week Ahead
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.
Middle School Parent Night
We hope all parents will join us for our Middle School Parent Night this Thursday, September 5.
This is an opportunity for you to meet your student’s teachers, see the classrooms, and learn about the curriculum for the year. You will meet your student’s advisor in the galleries of the Coates-Seeligson Theater/Chapel between 5:45pm-6pm to pick up your student’s special schedule for the evening and a map of the Middle School campus and classrooms. Some classes will be in different locations, such as dance, strings, speech, and band, so that you don’t have to go so far to the other end of campus. The evening will start in the Theater/Chapel at 6pm for some important announcements, and then you will go on a seven period class rotation to meet the faculty and visit the classrooms. This is a very special opportunity for you to get to know the teachers and experience their classes in person.
Middle School Health and Wellness Courses Debut This Fall
The new Middle School Health and Wellness classes have kicked off to a wildly successful start, with an unmatched energy and excitement for a new year. Taught by Health Educator Ami Teodosio, the first introductory lesson zeroed in on social health, and strengthened the connections within the class through “Family Agreements.” Form 6 discussed their mental, social, spiritual, and physical needs to survive Middle School, such as a hanging out with uplifting friends and catching a good night’s snooze. Form 7 talked about kindness, and its effects on the body and mind. Did you know kindness releases endorphins and is a natural painkiller? Form 8 students examined perspective and gratitude, seeing how their entire year could be shaped by their perception of it.
This pass/fail course is based on attendance, participation, and homework. All Form levels receive take-home exercises to up their social-health game, whether it is performing a random act of kindness or writing a letter of gratitude. Upon reflecting on the assignment, one student wrote, “They (my mom) seemed to be very grateful. The message spread positivity to both me and her in only a matter of 10 minutes.”
Parents, you can challenge yourself to do the same homework as your students! These quick and effective personal growth assignments are found on the Health and Wellness class portal. For example, what will happen when you take two minutes to write a letter of gratitude to your Middle School student? The results may surprise you!
Next week, the class will cover physical, emotional, and social changes Middle School students experience (ahem ... puberty!) and how they can best take care of their minds and bodies during those times of transition.
Speech and Debate Travel to Nationals
Congratulations to the Middle School Speech Team! This year the Speech and Debate Association’s Middle School National Tournament was held in Dallas, Texas, June 18-21. The team competed against 189 schools from across the United States, Canada, and Taiwan.
In the past, the team has received the prestigious School of Excellence Award in Speech. This honor means that the team was one of the top five speech teams in the nation. However, this year, the team was awarded the Speech and Debate School of Excellence. This is the highest award a school can receive, and is normally given only to schools with both speech and debate teams. However, the Speech Team earned enough points to not only surpass the Speech Schools of Excellence, but to also allow them to transcend all but two schools with both Speech and Debate Teams in order to take top honors. The Speech and Debate School of Excellence is awarded to only the top three teams in the nation.
The team had so much support during the tournament. A big thank you to Karen Lee Zachry for taking on the monumental task of food, water, and meal planning for the team. Thank you to judges, Christina Playton, Karla Phillips, Luz Elena Chapa, Amy Holder, James McGoon, Amita Beeram, and Murali Beeram and to Joanna Ganeshappa, A.B. Cruz, and Jill Cruz for all of the team support. Thank you to everyone on this list for running errands, helping the students, setting up with snacks and water, and so much more!
Finally, the team would like to say a huge thank you to Middle School Math Teacher Stephen Hudson for giving up his time during the summer to be there with the team. (Mr. Hudson is now a Final Round judge---a huge honor!)
To view the full results, click here.
National Junior Classical League Convention
For one week at the end of July, a total of eight Middle School Latin students attended the 2019 National Junior Classical League (NJCL) Convention at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota.
Approximately 1,100 Latin students from 29 states participated in Academic Tests, Creative Arts contests (oral Latin and English essay), Graphic Arts contests, Ludi (competitive chess, volleyball, soccer), and Olympika (athletics). Every afternoon 250 Texas students represented the state at the daily Spirit Contests.
After Spirit Contests each day, all attendees met in the Fargodome for a General Assembly led by the NJCL student officers. Over the course of the week, ambitious student candidates from all over the country campaigned for 2020 National Officer positions, and they were elected and sworn in at the end of the week.
Late each evening, the Texas delegation of approximately 250 students met at State Fellowship (the Texas State equivalent of the General Assembly). Led by the Texas State student officers, SMH students learned to follow parliamentary procedure according to Robert's Rules of Order.
Please thank the parent chaperone, Rachel Reyna, for all she did for students throughout the week. Mrs. Reyna stayed on campus in the girls’ dorm, ensuring that students felt secure and that their needs were met. Please also thank sponsor of the trip, Middle School Latin Teacher Raoul Nicoll, as well as Upper School Latin Teachers Randy Thompson and Ned Tuck. Gratias maximas!
To view the convention results, click here.
Bennetts & Baileys Sorting
While Upper School students attended Blue Tie after Convocation, Middle School students had their annual sorting of everyone new to Middle School, including all Form 6 students, new Form 7 and 8 students, and new faculty and staff. There is much excitement with cheering and intramural games for the first competitions of the year. Students will remain a Bennett or a Bailey for their entire Middle School years, and then they will be resorted as a to Capers or Elliot when they reach Form 9. The Bennetts and Baileys teams compete all year long in intramural competitions for the honor of winning the Bennetts and Baileys Cup and having their name engraved on the cup for posterity. Students may purchase a green Bennett or orange Bailey t-shirt from Middle School Social Studies Teacher Brian Fleming for $15, which they can wear on all intramural Out-of-Uniform Days.
Middle School Students Fly East for the Summer
This summer, a total of 60 rising Form 9 and Form 8 students were joined by Middle School faculty members Anne Allbritton, BJ Pyrc, Brian Fleming, Leslie Palmer, Bret Bigelow, Deb McInerney, Trevor Docwra, and Joe Karpman on an adventure to the east coast! Over the course of six days, they visited Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City and enjoyed a day hiking and rafting in Shenandoah National Park. Some highlights included visiting Arlington National Cemetery; touring the Capitol building climbing the Rocky steps and tasting Philly cheesesteaks; taking in Aladdin on Broadway in New York City; and adventuring through the Lower East Side!
The Middle School Math Department has Moved … Into The 21st Century, That Is!
After a very successful 14 years with the previous hard-bound curriculum, the Saint Mary’s Hall Middle School has adopted the Pearson Elayn Martin-Gay Mathematics series, which incorporates a rich toolbox of e-textbooks, author-produced videos, video organizers for notes, and a wide variety of study tools and personal enrichment opportunities that go well beyond what any paper-and-ink curriculum could offer. Knowing that there is a huge learning curve to implement a technology-based course, Middle School Math Teachers Missy Northington, Jennifer Cordova, and Steve Hudson, met for three days (and then some) over the summer in order to begin the process of setting up the courses, creating the web-based assignments and assessments, and generally just getting a sense of the structure of this amazing learning system.
In the first week of school, students worked with the Instructional Technology Department to gain access into their personalized classroom, tried their hand at watching a video lesson and taking notes, and began to learn how to complete web-based assignments. While much of what the students will do is through their device, math instruction will continue to emphasize the importance of showing work and following the organized process for solving math problems using old-fashioned paper and pencil.
The Math Department is growing as they move into this new method of delivering instruction, but Saint Mary’s Hall parents can be assured that the same high-value teacher-student relationship will drive learning as teachers work together to build these important foundational math concepts in the Middle School. Students will continue to think, process, discuss, question, and practice in the time-honored tradition of rigor and relevance here at Saint Mary’s Hall.
Visiting for Lunch (From the Middle School Handbook)
Parents are welcome to join their students for lunch in the Peggy Pitman Mays Dining Hall or on the patio outside of the dining hall. SMH encourages parents to eat in the dining hall for a meal with their students and not bring in food from outside restaurants. Parents and their students may cut the line to give them optimal time for a visit at lunch. Students are welcome to invite up to two friends to join them with their parents for lunch. SMH strongly requests that parents do not bring in large amounts of food for a large group of students, as some students will always feel left out if not invited to join in.
Lower School Parent Coffee
Join Head of Lower School, Khristi Bates and Lower School Library staff and facilitators for the first Lower School Parent Coffee on Thursday, September 12 at 8am in the Lower School Library.
The coffee titled, “Full STEAM Ahead: How Lower School is Evolving to Meet the Needs of Our Students,” will address the important topics of how the Lower School is emphasizing interdisciplinary learning and embracing educational methods and strategies that reflect best current educational practices. SMH realizes that education is no longer about simply “knowing” facts and figures, and that it is necessary for children to develop skills in communication, creative thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration. We will share with you some of the innovative ways we are engaging students and facilitating learning. As an added bonus, the Lower School is expanding the role of the Media Center to include a Collaboratory in the Lower School Library and excited to introduce you to this reimagined space.
Come join us to learn more about how the Lower School is evolving to meet the 21st century needs of children. We welcome you and will see you next Thursday. Please note the change of venue. The coffees have previously been in the Prichard Classroom.
Who Are My Classmates?
As school began, Kindergarten Teacher Karen Rosende's students learned the names of their fellow classmates by playing an interactive name a match game on the Clevertouch Board. The Instructional Technology team put together a match name game for the classes, and Mrs. Rosende said it was lots of fun.
LEGO Challenge and Team Work
Form 3 Science class had an exciting first day of school. The students were presented with a LEGO Challenge. During the challenge, each student was to build an item and then share what was built with a partner. Each partner group was asked to build something using all of the LEGOS given to each pair. The last challenge was for a group of four students to combine all their LEGOS into one group product and to see if they could use all of their LEGOS.
Form 3 Science Teacher Mary Scherrer said, “This was a great way for the students to get to know each other and to have fun building, and it was a great way to practice working with a partner and a small group. It also allowed me to see a lot of creative thinking going on. We are all looking forward to many more exciting days of learning in the Form 3 science classroom.” Enjoy watching this process with each Form 3 class by clicking the links below.
Children’s birthdays are important. In celebration, Lower School students may come out of uniform on their birthdays. Comfortable clothing is recommended and athletic shoes required for participation in recess, motor skills, and PE. If your child has a summer birthday or if it falls on a school holiday or the weekend, an alternate day may be substituted. Because Mondays are Chapel days for Forms 1-5 and dress uniform is required, students in Forms 1-5 may come out of uniform to celebrate their birthdays on a Monday only if it is their actual birth date.
Cooperative Teamwork Game in PE
On Friday of the first week of school, students in PE played a game called Build A Bridge. It involved cooperative teamwork. Students had to use the items they were given to build a bridge across the gym. They could not fall off the bridge or step out of the hoop as they passed objects to their classmates. Watch Form 2 students build a bridge here.
Watch a Glimpse into the First Week of School
Thank you to all the parents who came to the Lower School Parent Nights. If you would like to see the videos that were shown at the beginning of the presentations, click the links below.
Friendship Grows Each Year
Friendship was a universal topic during the first week of school in the Lower School. There were discussions of keeping friends, making new ones, and being sure to include everyone. In Kindergarten Teacher Kathy Hinder’s kindergarten class all the students worked together to make a “Friendship Snack” and met their classroom friend Q-Bear.
Conversation Starters About School
Have you ever asked your child what he/she did at school day and been told “nothing?" Here are two articles to help with those conversations:
Staying Safe in the Mornings
Parents, please remember that students may be dropped off in the Lower School Carpool Circle at 7:30am each morning. If you must drop your child off prior to 7:30 am, we have Extended Care services available for him or her. We do not have adult supervision in the drop-off area until 7:30am each morning, so any child who is unattended will be escorted to Extended Care and signed in until it is time to go to class. We appreciate your support in keeping your child safe.
Parents and Visitors
Please always sign in at the primary Lower School Office when you are on campus. It is important that we know you are here and that you have a name badge. Please also remember to sign your child in and out at the office if you must take them out of school during the day.
Tobin Fine Arts School
Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year!
The Fine Arts students and faculty have an exciting year in store for you with performances, exhibitions, festivals, a “Happening,” an Art Day, a senior exhibition at Blue Star, and more!
What is new this year? Fine Arts has some new real estate! The Montessori-Kindergarten Music Program got a huge upgrade with a beautiful new classroom just across from the Lower School Library. Montessori-Kindergarten Music Associate Instructional Facilitator Jennifer Lee and the little ones are enjoying making magic in there every day. The Upper School Debaters were in for a treat when they came back last week, with a new space beautifully designed by the SMH Facilities Department and Upper School Debate Teacher Colin Malinak. The Yearbook class is also in new quarters, with a facelift that better allows the team of nine students the space they need to create this year’s La Reata. Lastly, the Dance and Theater Programs received some new much-needed storage in the old IT Building.
The Visual Art Calendar for the year has been updated. We hope you will stop by the Coates-Seeligson Theater/Chapel Galleries and Middle/Upper School Library to see our current Upper School Art Show, featuring selected works from last school year.
The Saint Mary’s Hall Dance Program has been in the spotlight on social media, with exciting news including production announcements and Middle/Upper School Ballet Teacher Yosvani Cortellan’s promotion to head of dance. The Upper School Drama Production’s auditions were held last week. You will want to return to News From the Hall next week for all the casting information, as well as show dates and times.
Please be sure to check out our new Fine Arts Instagram Page at @smhall_finearts for daily photos of students participating in the arts every day at SMH, as well as faculty news and more. Be sure to also follow the Saint Mary’s Hall Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts for all the Fine Arts buzz.
You are invited to stop by the Fine Arts Office anytime, located between the Coates-Seeligson Theater/Chapel and the McCombs Athletic Complex just off Upper School Circle in Building #26. Assistant Director of Fine Arts/Yearbook Teacher Amanda White and I office there and are available to help you anytime with your fine arts questions. My contact information is below.
The Fine Arts faculty and I are truly inspired by your talented and engaged arts students every day. Thank you for sharing them with us. It is our goal to be part of helping each and every SMH student develop their creative thinking through artistic study, practice, and problem-solving.
We wish you and your family a wonderful start to the year! The SMH Fine Arts Department looks forward to being a special part of your families’ year.
Wanda Wiley Atkinson Director of Fine Arts
Tobin Fine Arts School at Saint Mary’s Hall
Fall Sports Off and Running
For Middle and Upper School athletes at Saint Mary’s Hall, the end of summer signifies the beginning of a new season.
August 19 marked the start of practice sessions for Middle School athletics, football, volleyball, field hockey, and cross country, as well as the continuation to the varsity and junior varsity field hockey, volleyball, and cross country teams.
A new era for Barons’ volleyball begins as Danielle Gonzalez steps in as head coach. She is joining the Barons family from Schertz-John Paul II, where she was able to build the program to a city staple for victory.
The field hockey program will look to build on their continued success this year after another visit to the State Tournament in the 2018 campaign. Coach Hilary Relyea looks to lead the team to the 2019 State Tournament, which will be hosted here at Saint Mary’s Hall.
Cross Country Coach Dave Thurchak seeks to build on the Cross Country District Championship from last year. Coach Thurchak is heading what is turning into one of the state’s premier cross country/track & field programs.
Middle School athletics have more sports offerings than any other fall sports program in the city. Football will look to rebound from their city semi-final loss, as cross country and field hockey look to continue their dominance of their districts.
With the start of the new school year, please stay tuned to SMH Athletics social media channels for game announcements and scores:
Who is Danielle Gonzalez?
We had the opportunity to sit down and speak with the very busy new Volleyball Head Coach Danielle Gonzalez. This tremendous coach is joining Saint Mary’s Hall from John Paul II in Schertz and looks to take the program to new heights in the up-coming years. It is extremely exciting to add such a well-qualified coach to an already top-notch coaching staff. Please take a moment to meet the coach and welcome her and her family to the Barons Athletics family.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself, i.e. background, interests, etc.?
“I am a graduate of Incarnate Word High School and Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU), where I played volleyball from 2007-2010. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in 2010. Since graduating, I have been an assistant volleyball coach at OLLU and at Holy Cross of San Antonio. I took on my first head coaching job at St. John Paul II Catholic High School in 2013, where I remained until 2019. In my free time, I enjoy watching my son take hockey/skating classes, running, and spending time with my family.”
Q: What made you want to become a coach?
“I have always enjoyed helping people and being in a position to help change lives. Being a coach gives me the opportunity to do that. I get to teach the game and help mold, motivate, and inspire young athletes to be the best version of themselves possible every day.”
Q: Why Volleyball?
“I love the game of volleyball. I spent my entire life around it since I was a young girl. It has given me many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
Q: What interested you about coaching at SMH?
“I have visited a few times for games and it is such a beautiful campus. Everyone was always very welcoming and pleasant to be around. It seemed like a great environment to be surrounded by daily.”
Q: What are you enjoying about coaching at SMH?
“I enjoy working with the kids the most. They never fail to make me laugh or smile, even on a long or rough day. I also love that my son has the opportunity to come to school where I work. It has been such a joy knowing he is down the sidewalk from me.”
Q: How would you describe your coaching style/philosophy?
“I would say my philosophy is that being a volleyball coach isn’t only about teaching the game of volleyball but about using it as a tool for my players to learn life lessons and valuable life skills that will better equip them for life after their school careers. Things are not always fair and we do not always find ourselves in situations or circumstances of our liking, but it is how we react to them that matters.”
Q: What have you learned from your players?
“In working with my players past and present, I have learned about patience and perspective. Things may not always be what they seem and sometimes athletes have other things going on that are affecting their practice or game or attitude that day. The same can happen in life with a coworker or family member. Communication is so key to building trusting relationships.”
Q: What’s your advice to someone considering joining your program?
“We work hard but we also have fun. If you are on the fence about joining, come try out some open gym sessions in the off season or summer or just come talk to me!”
Q: Any additional thoughts you wish to share?
“I am so blessed to have this opportunity at SMH and am very excited for this upcoming year!”
Need to Get in Touch with a Coach?
Here is contact information for our coaches:
SMH VARSITY HEAD COACHES
Basketball Men’s: Barry Chamberlin, (210) 483-9266, firstname.lastname@example.org
Basketball Women’s: Stephanie Takas-Mercer, (210) 483-9170, email@example.com
Baseball: Josh Baker, (210) 483-9163, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheerleading: Anna Rubio, (210) 483-9263, email@example.com
Cross Country: David Thurchak, (210) 445-2622, firstname.lastname@example.org
Field Hockey: Hillary Relyea, (210) 483-9165, email@example.com
Football: Lee Ortiz, (210) 483-9164, firstname.lastname@example.org
Golf, Men’s: TBD, (210) 483-9200, email@example.com
Golf, Women’s: TBD, (210) 483-9200, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lacrosse, Men’s: Christopher Rodriguez, (210) 483-9160, email@example.com
Soccer, Men’s: Edgar Ramos, (210) 483-9200, firstname.lastname@example.org
Soccer, Women’s: Brian Kaestner, (210) 483-9200, email@example.com
Softball: Tiffanie Barta, (210) 483-9166, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tennis, Men’s: Lisa Westergard, (210) 483-9116, email@example.com
Tennis, Women’s: Lisa Westergard, (210) 483-9116, firstname.lastname@example.org
Track & Field: David Thurchak, (210) 445-2622, email@example.com
Volleyball, Women’s: Danielle Gonzalez, (210) 483-9200, firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in College Athletics?
This year, SMH will have a dedicated section to important, entertaining, and informational articles about college athletics that the school feels is important to the SMH community. SMH will also use this space to keep you updated on the successes of Barons Athletes that have graduated and are playing at the next level.
This week, with the start of the school year, it is time to focus on the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA). The NCAA conducts 90 national championships in 24 sports across Divisions I, II, and III, with 45 championships administered for women and 42 for men. That means almost 54,000 student-athletes participate in NCAA championships each year. From signature events like the NCAA March Madness men’s and women’s basketball tournaments to rowing, rifle, softball, and skiing, the NCAA administers championships to ensure student-athletes have a first-class experience. However, the NCAA also is committed to quality events for everyone involved, from the coaches to the fans and broadcast audiences. It is important to the NCAA that the championships have a positive impact on the communities that host them. The NCAA hosts youth clinics and various fan events to complement the competition — creating what is hoped to be a championship experience for everyone involved.
If participating at the collegiate level is something your son or daughter may be interested in, please reach out to your head coach, and/or Athletic Director Barry Chamberlin, so they may assist you in your journey to competing in college.
Upper School families, please remember to fill out your RankOne and Magnus paperwork as soon as possible. Athletes are not eligible for varsity athletics until this documents have been completed. View the Parent Instuctions for RankOne.
Middle School Spotlight
Middle School Sports Kick Off!
Every week, this section will spotlight the goings on of Middle School athletics. Games began on August 29, with the football team competing against FEAST Homeschool. Be on the lookout for stories about all of our Middle School Sports in the near future.
Athletics Livestream Channel
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!
Follow @SMH_Barons on Twitter
A Letter from ChapSu
Hello and Welcome Back to School!
I am delighted to be serving as your interim Chaplain this semester. We started our Chapels off with great positive energy and much good discussion with students. Chapel provides a time for reflection on things that touch our heart and spirit, exposure to the good in the world, and a time for spiritual things, including prayer, scripture, and reflection on where we see God acting in our lives. Our goal is to support your efforts in raising a spiritual child, while respecting the diversity of our community. In this section of News From the Hall, you’ll see what we’ve been doing and what’s being planned. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or (210) 823-7020. I am on campus every Monday in All-School Chaplain Rev. Dr. Cameron Gunnin’s office, off the main Middle School breezeway, just past the main Middle School Office. Please stop by if you are on campus!
Chaplain Susan Douglas
Interim All-School Chaplain
Upper School Chapel
Introduction to Chapel
On August 20, Interim All-School Chaplain Susan Douglas introduced Upper School students to this year’s Chapel program, laying out three themes that guide the school's efforts - spiritual development, education, and tradition. Spiritual development is a key component of adolescent development, having a direct impact on a student’s ability to make good decisions and to be resilient in the face of life’s challenges. SMH encourages students to discover, develop, and strengthen the spiritual practices learned in their places of worship and in their homes. The education programs center around helping students understand the culture and viewpoint of their classmates by inviting students and community members in to discuss important holidays, celebrations, and events. Finally, SMH honors the school’s tradition and religious heritage as we continue to pray, read scripture, conduct worship services during Advent and Lent and reflect on God’s presence in our lives.
Chaplain Susan also reviewed the evolving Chapel plan, which you can see each week in the Looking Ahead section below. Some topics and speakers are already in place. For example, Chapel will have Rabbi Richards in to discuss major Jewish holidays. Chaplain Susan and the Bishops Chapel Society will conduct Lessons and Carols services during Advent. Chaplain Susan invited students and faculty to suggest topics for future Chapels, which led to a lively discussion with many good ideas to explore further.
Chaplain Susan’s closing prayer thanked God for another school year and for students, and asked for God’s protection, guidance, and blessings in the year ahead. Click here to view the opening Chapel, which does not include the student discussion portion for privacy reasons.
In Upper School Chapel on August 26, Form 12 student Molly Byrd, vice president of the Bishops Chapel Society, and Form 11 member Felicia Early told their classmates about the group’s purpose and invited them to join. The Bishops Chapel Society students participate in, and lead Chapel, suggest topics for discussion, and serve as the student body’s representatives on Chapel matters.
Chaplain Susan then showed a short TED talk to students called Lollipop Moments. This led to a discussion with students about the need for every individual to lead from where they are and to think about their impact on others. Do they encourage others? Chaplain Susan suggested that those who regularly encourage others do this as a spiritual gift. Alternatively, are they always negative, tearing others down rather than building them up? Chaplain Susan suggested that they have a choice about what kind of person they want to be and how they treat others. In addition, those choices create the world one lives in and the environment at Saint Mary’s Hall.
Bishops Chapel Society
Applications are now being taken for new members. Participation in the group is open to all Upper School students. Contact a Bishops Chapel Society member or Interim All-School Chaplain Susan Douglas (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details and an application form.
Middle School Chapel
Introduction to Chapel
On August 20, Interim All-School Chaplain Susan Douglas offered Middle School students some insight as to why SMH has Chapel, laying out three themes that guide the school’s efforts - spiritual development, education, and tradition. Spiritual development is a key component of adolescent development, having a direct impact on a student’s ability to make good decisions and to be resilient in the face of life’s challenges. SMH encourages students to discover, develop, and strengthen the spiritual practices learned in their places of worship and in their homes. SMH education programs center around helping students understand the culture and viewpoint of their classmates by inviting students and community members in to discuss important holidays, celebrations, and events. Finally, the school honors it’s tradition and religious heritage as we continue to pray, read scripture, conduct worship services during Advent and Lent, and reflect on God’s presence in our lives.
Chaplain Susan’s closing prayer thanked God for another school year and for students, and asked for God’s protection, guidance, and blessings in the year ahead.
Creating the World We Want to Live In
During the August 26 Chapel, students were invited to consider a piece of writing related to the Middle School’s focus on their role in creating the world we want to live in. Chaplain Susan explained to students that she selects texts from a variety of traditions, but always ones that speak to certain themes or aspects of common humanity. This week’s text was a piece by Thomas Merton. Middle School Speech and Drama Teacher Rachel Warnecke read the piece beautifully. Click here to view the slides from the Chapel presentation.
Chaplain Susan then took the students through each key point, inviting comments and discussion. Middle School Spanish Teacher Lourdes Saks shared that her all girls high school emphasized that one is called to contemplation, which leads to action taken with a conquering spirit. As Middle School Social Studies Teachers Joe Karpman and Brian Fleming took microphones around, students overcame their shyness and chimed in with some “spot on” observations relevant to the topic. One clear theme was concern for the environment and ensuring a healthy world for future generations. There was also a lot of discussion about working together as a team, working with those with whom you may not agree or get along with, and a strong sense of serving together as a community. In the end, we had more hands up than we had time to recognize. Parents would be very proud of the thoughtful and sincere comments offered by students in every form.
Lower School Chapel
Lower School started Chapel on August 26 as Interim All-School Chaplain Susan Douglas briefly spoke to students about why SMH has Chapel (View the slides from Chapel). She touched on the idea of spiritual development, the role of education in helping one to understand the viewpoints of classmates that are different from them and their connection to the school traditions, including prayer, scripture readings, and reflection on God’s presence in the world. Please see the Upper School section above for a deeper look at these topics.
Students also gave Chaplain Susan feedback on their participation in ChapSu’s Summer Challenge, which challenged students to learn two new things. Hands shot up all over the room as students reported learning how to do new things and, in some cases, learning what not to do. Answers ranged from shoe tying techniques to how to care for pets.
Chaplain Susan’s closing prayer thanked God for another school year and for our students, and asked for God’s protection, guidance, and blessings in the year ahead.
Rev. Dr. Cameron Gunnin Update
All-School Chaplain Rev. Dr. Cameron Gunnin is currently deployed with the United States Air Force Reserves overseas. He is leading a team of Chaplains supporting service members. He is in touch as much as time allows. While he’s away, students will be encouraging him and his team with handmade cards and notes. SMH will also be collecting small items that are in high demand but often hard to get, for care packages, which will be sent to Rev. Gunnin for distribution to those he supports. Watch for a list of needed items and the date for the collection drive in next week’s Chapel Corner.
Chapels are planned one-to-two weeks in advance unless there is an outside speaker. SMH will provide parents advance notice about speakers at least two weeks before the Chapel occurs under normal circumstances. Weekly Chapels are developed in consultation with division administrators, counselors, the wellness director, school nurse, and council/club sponsors, among others. The Chapels support the ongoing work of the school to prepare students for success in college and fulfillment in life.
September 9th Chapels
Lower Schooll will focus on light as a metaphor for how each individual can be a positive presence in their interactions with others. The scriptures for the day will be Psalm 118:24 and John 1:5 The song for the day will be “This Little Light of Mine.”
Middle School continues to support the division theme of how one can create the world in which one lives, stressing how our individual actions impact others and their environment. The scriptures for the day will be Psalm 118:24. The reflection for the day is taken from a sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. based upon the Good Samaritan story in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 10. It will focus on how one makes decisions about how to treat others and when to get involved in the lives of others.
Upper School will focus on service. Natalie Sheridan from the Southwest Texas Blood and Tissue Center will speak about how the school blood drives support the San Antonio community and the region. The next blood drive is scheduled for Monday, September 16. The reflection for the day will focus on the research supporting service as an activity that benefits all. It will also look at how people of faith view service as imperative. Scriptures will include passages from Psalm 118, Deuteronomy, Chapter 10, and Matthew, Chapter 25.
Healthy at the Hall
Healthy at the Hall
A Thank You from Director of Wellness Dr. Sandra Lopez-Morales
I am thrilled to be your new director of wellness!
As many of you know, I am a native Texan and proud alumna of The University of Texas at Austin (BA ’01, MA ’05, Ph.D. ’08). I just moved back to Texas from Massachusetts, where I completed my pre-doctoral internship as a psychology trainee at Harvard Medical School’s pediatric hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital. I followed that with post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School’s psychiatric facility, McLean Hospital. Then, I returned to schools and began as an Upper School counselor at Worcester Academy followed by Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Most recently, I served as director of psychological services at Phillips Academy. Much of my prior work has been on the intervention side of things and I am thrilled to be working at Saint Mary’s Hall in a preventative capacity, where I am helping this community be well! We decided to return to Texas to be closer to family and to be a part of the Saint Mary’s Hall family. Everyone has been so welcoming and kind and we could not be happier to be here. Thank you for the warm welcome!
Playing in the Sandbox
My faculty colleagues have encouraged me to take this year to learn. As a psychologist by training and by virtue of being the youngest child in my family, I am a natural observer of human behavior. There is so much to learn about and appreciate at Saint Mary’s Hall and I’m learning every day and will continue to all year! I plan to be a presence across divisions familiarizing myself with all aspects of the campus community. My husband and I call it “playing in the sandbox.” Playing in the sandbox also includes talking with parents, students, faculty, and staff. Please consider this an open invitation to communicate with me. I can’t wait to learn from your experiences, support you, and hear all of your wellness ideas!
Individual Wellness Plans
The wellness team at Saint Mary’s Hall is taking on a huge initiative reaching all SMH community members from age 5 through the adult population on this campus. The team seeks to help everyone identify a wellness plan for their lives. The plan reviews mental, physical, spiritual, and interpersonal health, helping the individual identify areas of strength and growth so that they may be better prepared to manage life’s challenges. Additional information will be reviewed in the coming weeks.
Gratitude and Mindfulness
I plan to incorporate two themes into my work this year: gratitude and mindfulness. Regarding gratitude, there is just so much for which to be thankful. This is a phenomenal school filled with phenomenal people! I am most grateful for Interim All-School Chaplain Susan Douglas, better known as ChapSu. She is the best predecessor and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to actually work together as she fills in for All-School Chaplain Rev. Dr. Cameron Gunnin while he is deployed. I am also grateful for our new health and wellness class in the Middle School (more information below). Mindfulness is a practice I will employ in all aspects of my work. It is about being fully engaged in the present moment. In the age of social media and technology, we can all benefit from additional mindfulness in our lives. I’ve been quoting Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood this week and encouraging folks to “enjoy the wow that’s happening now” to integrate the themes of gratitude and mindfulness (view a clip). Additionally, please save the date for our bi-annual blood drive to occur on Monday, September 16. Remind your Upper School students that they can earn community service hours for their donations! Details forthcoming.
New Name, New Look, New Year
To accurately reflect our school’s commitment to overall wellbeing, Middle and Upper School Health classes have undergone a name change to Health and Wellness courses. The new moniker showcases the emphasis on not only physical health, but mental, emotional and social health as well.
Health Educator Amelia Teodosio giddily describes the new classroom setup, “We’ve opted for flexible seating for active learning, relevant discussions, and dynamic teambuilding. Social emotional learning is an integral part of each lesson.” The Health and Wellness courses debut in Middle School during the Fall 2019 semester. Upper School will be taught in Spring 2020.
Feel free to mosey into MS5209 to check out the transformation!
Dr. Sandra Lopez-Morales
Director of Wellness