News From the Hall
September 20, 2021
- Message from the Interim Chaplain
- Upper School
- Middle School
- Lower School
- Fine Arts
A Message From the Interim Chaplain
Greetings, Team SMH!
Over the last five weeks, I have had a great time getting to know so many of you. Thank you so much for your warm reception of my family and me. One of the highlights of my last three weeks has been leading Chapel for our Baron community. So far, during our Chapel time, we covered both a personal introduction from me and a discussion on the 'why' of Chapel. In addition to leading Chapel for our Lower and Middle School Barons this upcoming week, I look forward to sharing with our Upper School scholars during their Honor Code Ceremony. So that is where I want to spend my time communicating with you today. These are some of my thoughts on 'honor' as a lived experience of doing the right thing.
In our academic careers, all of us have experienced what’s called ‘dynamic tension.’ Dynamic tension is what we feel when we must choose one thing over the other. To be clear, we have all had moments in our lives that challenged our definition of honor and thrust us into the throes of a dynamic tension as we grappled with making a difficult decision. For example, we have had to make academic choices between underhandedness and uprightness, between favoritism and equity, and between dishonesty and integrity. And I want to suggest that honor has little to do with you being presented with opportunities to compromise your integrity. Because, those times will come. Honor, that is, doing the right thing, has more to do with the choice you make at that time. It was our 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, who once said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing.”
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to meet a retired Air Force General. As a fighter pilot, he’d flown several combat missions during the Vietnam War. However, after his plane was shot down, he spent 63 months in a gruesome prisoner of war camp known as the Hanoi Hilton. What struck me was what he shared with me about honor … doing the right thing. He said, “Fighter pilots are known for being people who are trained to step into the cockpit of a million-dollar weapons system and pride themselves by winning fights in the air. However, strip a fighter pilot down to his boxers, and place him in the clutches of a POW camp, and then stripped of everything but his will to survive, then you will see the real fight in him.” Baron community, we will always have an internal war going on. The battle that we face is for the high ground of our integrity. When placed in the daily clutches of dynamic tension, when stripped of the accountability of watchful eyes, when circumstances invite us to compromise consciously, will we fight the good fight of honor, or will we lose our integrity? Be encouraged. We can do the right thing.
Rev. Dr. Fredricc Brock
Interim All-School Chaplain
Friday, October 8
Fiesta is our school’s fall carnival, filled with food, fun, and games. Be on the lookout for:
- Pre-order tickets
- Online Fiesta shirts sales
- Volunteer opportunities
- El Mercado Sweet Shop baking
Visit the Fiesta webpage for all the details at www.smhall.org/fiesta!
Contact Director of Enrichment and Special Events Laura Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No Parking Zones & Barricades/Traffic Cones
As we come back to campus, we want to provide a few friendly reminders regarding campus access and parking. Parking is prohibited in No Parking Zones and marked spaces. These areas are marked by signage or curbs painted red. Please also remember to refrain from moving barriers or parking cones in designated areas as they are placed to direct traffic and help to ensure the safety of our community. Please do not remove traffic cones from parking spaces as those spaces are temporarily restricted for operational use or due to a special event on campus. Observation of these rules ensure the safety of our students and the convenience and functionality of pick-up/drop-off. We also want to ensure emergency medical and fire personnel who might need to access the campus are able to do so in an emergency.
Campus Access Vehicle Permits
As a part of our on-going security initiatives, we update the school’s Campus Access Vehicle Permits (parking permits) at the beginning of each school year for each vehicle that is used to enter campus. If you have not obtained your new permit, please do so. Vehicle Permit Forms will also be available at the front gate and at the Facilities Office. As a reminder, anyone without a new-year permit will be addressed at the front gate to submit for a new permit. Failure to have a permit on your vehicle could result in delays or denial of campus access.
- Form 2 September 21 8:15am
- Form 9 September 22 8:15am
We love our SMH family pets! We would like to extend a gentle reminder that, for the health and safety of all our community, unauthorized animals are not permitted in any area on campus, including the parking lot and grounds. If they are in your vehicles during pick up or drop off, please make sure your pet is properly secured in the vehicle at all times and never left alone. If you have questions regarding pets on campus, please contact your respective division office.
On September 9, H-E-B held an On-Campus Flu and COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic. The clinic was successful with a total of 153 vaccines administered. Here’s the breakdown:
- 138 Flu
- 13 Pfizer
- 1 Tdap
- 1 Shingles
Greetings from the Upper School!
If I had one phrase to describe the last two weeks in the Upper School, it would be Student Leadership! With more than 100 students applying to serve on councils, it is clear our students are eager to share their perspectives, affect impactful change, and collaboratively craft meaningful programs for their peers. Elections can be a bitter-sweet process. For the elected students, it is an affirming exercise in their voice and influence. I know it is hard not to be elected in this process, and I want to commend everyone for their bravery in putting their name out there for consideration.
I celebrate all of our elected leaders. I have had the profound privilege of getting to work with many of them thus far as they prepare for Homecoming, Pep Rallies, Star Parties, and Issues Day. You have taken your appointments and hit the ground running. You're up to the challenge of leading our school, and I am grateful for your dedication to student focused initiatives rooted in fun, inquiry, and experience.
Leadership extends well beyond an election or title. It is a teachable, learnable skill that I believe every Saint Mary's Hall student can embody. Leadership is choosing to do what is right for the community both publicly and silently. I believe that all students, regardless of election status, possess the power, ability, and prowess to assert leadership in their academic and personal lives. Leadership lives not only in our grand gestures or Assembly speeches; it is picking up a piece of trash on campus, helping a visitor find the Remmert, supporting a peer making an announcement, and listening to others' ideas with interest and feedback. Leadership is behavior, and I see it on our campus every day.
Head of Upper School
Nicholas Campos ‘22, Kathleen Benson ‘22, Katherine Drawert ‘22, Lauren Strauch ’22, and Lance Berryman ’22 were selected as National Merit® Scholar Semifinalists.
The National Merit® Scholarship Program, led by the National Merit® Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships. Approximately 1.5 million high school students enter the program each year.
On September 15, AP English Literature and Composition (APELs) students joined more than 21 million children and adults around the globe in 196 countries to celebrate International Dot Day, a grass roots “creativity and courage” movement. APEL students celebrated Dot Day by sharing inspirational quotations and drawings on campus, listening to book readings by Form 5 students, and mailing inspirational “Dot” art across the school. Additionally, the Form 11 and Form 12 Advisory students of Upper School English Teachers Dr. Breanne Hicks and Amy Williams-Eddy participated in Dot Day by joining AP English Literature Guest Teacher Stacia Petersen in the creation of Cyanotype photo prints.
The Form 11 Health and Wellness class, Campus Crafts, delivered their dog toys to the San Antonio Human Society last week. Using old Saint Mary’s Hall t-shirts, the class created more than 70 woven tough toys for the dogs to enjoy. Many of the dogs were relocated from Louisiana in response to the recent weather events. San Antonio Human Society Educator Jenna Elizondo explained the partnership of the National Human Society organization. She also took the students on a tour of the facility, where they were able to share the toys with animals individually.
There is a new member of the College Counseling Office - Welcome Bearon! Follow along as he goes on his first college tours to the Pacific Northwest! Just check @smhall_sa on Instagram and the #smhbearontravels to see the adventures!
AP Biology engaged in Cell Speed Dating! Different parts of the cell learned about each other over festively decorated tables and shared their contributions over juice and candlelight.
I had the pleasure of attending the Parent Experience Coffee for all three Middle School Form levels.
Not only did I learn about the multitude of ways parents can connect with the school, but I had the opportunity to do something I was not able to do last year. I have always brought a grade level of parents together to talk about what can be expected from their child that year. Every child has a different experience. For some, the Middle School experience is a walk in the park, but for many others, it is a roller coaster. That roller coaster tends to be harder on parents than on students!
As a parent, we want our child to be happy. When a student enters Middle School, it can be harder to make that happen. There are things we cannot control as parents. For one, our children are looking for more independence (and are more capable of it) and wanting to handle things on their own. Their bodies are changing and the coming and going of friendships is another area that cannot often be controlled or helped by parents. The loss of control over making our children happy is hard, but just like the terrible twos, it is a phase that will eventually come to an end. As I said in all the coffees, what is most important is to affirm your child’s feelings, realize that what they are experiencing is most important to them, and to give them some space and allow them to see what they might need. Give them boundaries and stay firm. YOU are the parent, not their friend. They have many friends. Ultimately, you know what is best for them, but give them some space to feel as if they have some control of their lives.
There is such growth during the Middle School years and it is an exciting time in the development of your child. Visually, that too can show the growth and maturity of your child. And so, to end my note for News From The Hall, I share with you my 6th and 8th grade picture...
Head of Middle School
Middle School Art Teacher Benjamin Pyrc’s Form 7 Art students are working in the dark to further explore how light affects different objects. Based on their discoveries, students will complete a drawing using a busy mark-making technique known as cross-hatching.
The following people received nominations this week for the Middle School Dean’s List for Kindness and Respect:
- Rabani Bajaj ‘27
- Britton Berridge ‘27
- Tharun Cheruku ‘27
- Andrew Eisenhauer ‘27
- Mariana Esquinca-Moreno ‘28
- Miguel Madero ‘28
- Bernardo Medina ‘26
- Nicholas Morgan ‘26
- Mazreen Sanjana ‘26
- Jack Schwab ‘27
As a reminder, any Middle School student or parent may nominate a fellow classmate or faculty member by simply sending Assistant Head of Middle School and Dean of Students Mike Mayberry a brief email describing the act of kindness or respect. These names will be shared weekly in the Middle School section of News from the Hall as well as announced during Middle School Monday morning announcements. So, we encourage everyone at SMH to have an attitude of kindness and respect, one that brings out the best in you and those around you!
Robotics/Computer Science/STEM Teacher Hong Zhou’s Form 6 Intro Robotics class conducted their first Race Car competition last week. It is not as easy as one might think to keep these little robots driving straight. Watch the little EV3 cars correct themselves as they almost run outside their lanes (above). The secret is that it’s not self-correction but instead, careful programming. Their creators know when they need to make the correction and put those movements in the code.
After racing, the Form 6 engineers have modified their EV3 robots to fight for the control of a little cube. Watch the first battle here. The two teams started from two ends, each trying to get ahold of the little cube and pull it to its own side. Students will continue to modify the grabbing mechanism to make them more efficient. Please check back for more exciting battles.
One month into the school year, our Advanced Robotics class has completed building our first functional robot, the pushbot. Watch it in action here. This simple robot can drive around, pick up small items, and deliver them to another location. Our next step is to add a sliding arm on it to reach for items from distance. Please check back for more upgrades.
Learning is doing in Health and Wellness Educator Amelia Teodosio’s classes! Last week, we focused on Physical Health by getting physical ourselves.
- Watch as Form 6 draw the benefits of exercise while simultaneously hold planks, squats, and wall-sits (above).
- Form 7 learned about sleep and got to practice a snooze themselves.
- Form 8 experienced intuitive eating by slowly savoring sweets.
Students enjoyed being able to not only learn from the textbook, but to be able to truly engage physically in the material.
What a magical return to school this has been!
It is so good to see so many faces (albeit masked faces) back on campus. The familiar buzz of classrooms, laughter on the playground, and return to the Dining Hall are welcomed with great enthusiasm.
In all my years of education, I have not experienced a start to the school year where students have so overwhelmingly expressed a sense of joy, happiness, and contentment with school as compared to this one. While some might attribute this joy to a full return after the experience of hybrid school last year, I choose to believe it is due in larger part to the two years of intentional preparation preceding this year and the unwavering dedication of the Lower School faculty and staff in creating an unparalleled student experience for your children.
What began in the fall of 2019 with a question about the SMH honor code quickly turned into exploration of our approach to discipline and how our students develop life skills. At that time, a group of Lower School teachers and I began exploring social-emotional learning (SEL) and reaching out to experts in the field and other independent school colleagues who had considerable experience with SEL in their schools. We traveled hundreds of miles visiting schools in Austin, Houston, and New Orleans to see SEL in action. We spent hours poring over research and vetting SEL programs, speaking with SEL leaders, and having countless conversations about the needs of SMH Lower School students and how we could best serve them.
We invite you to join us on Thursday, September 23 at 8:15am in the Coates-Seeligson Theater/Chapel to learn about the results of our intensive research and how we will use the evidence-based approach, Responsive Classroom, to promote academic success as students learn social and emotional competencies.
During Science classes, Form 1 students spent some time observing shells. Lower School Science Teacher Bitsy Mayberry said, "I am always amazed at what my young scientists notice. They have such a natural sense of wonder, and they share so willingly."
Enjoy the video (above) of Form 1 Teacher Rachel Moczygemba’s students during their time of science exploration.
The traditional Lower School Morning Moments has become our Community Meeting. This week's Community Meeting features Head of Lower School Khristi Bates, as well as a "Form 1 Takeover" by Form 1 Teachers Katelyn Plucheck, Jennifer Lee, and Rachel Moczygemba and their classes.
Come cheer with the Saint Mary’s Hall cheerleaders as they host a cheer clinic Thursday, September 23. Lower school cheerleader participants will rotate between learning a dance, cheers, and basic stunting. Performance showoffs will be that evening at the varsity football game against The Texas School for the Deaf. For questions, please contact Cheer Coach Jenny Graf at email@example.com.
Our S.T.E.A.M. Collaboratory is open! We are thrilled to have our young students back into the Collaboratory where they are using their brains to use all kinds of hands-on materials to build and create masterpieces and creations. Form 2 Teacher Courtney Pierce’s classroom visited the Collaboratory to design shelters and other dog items for their mascot puppy Winn Dixie. View a video (above) of their work!
As junior and senior students are aware, the ISAS Arts Festival has been on hold for the last two years due to COVID-19.
We are excited to announce that there are plans underway for select SMH artists to attend a regional arts festival at St. Stephen’s in Austin Friday, April 8 and Saturday, April 9! Five to six hundred visual and performing arts students from independent schools in San Antonio, Austin, and Midland will be attending to showcase their work, attend arts workshops in a variety of disciplines, and have the opportunity to meet with reps from top-ranked colleges, universities, art, theater, music, dance, and film schools. Students who have gone in the past generally describe attending ISAS as one of the highlights of their Upper School years and we can’t wait to be back at the fest!
Upper School students enrolled in the following classes/programs are eligible to participate in this year’s festival:
- In-School Dance
- Digital Cinema (all sections)
- Painting & Drawing (all sections)
- Sculpture & Design (all sections)
- Photography (all sections)
- Jazz Band
- Vocal Ensemble (VIP)
- Advanced Theater Project (Spring Semester Theater Class)
- Theater Production and Theater Production Honors (Spring One-Act Play)
- Tech Theater
Sign-up information will be shared within the next month through your student’s Fine Arts teacher. For more information, contact your teacher or Wanda Wiley Atkinson Director of Fine Arts Bethany Bohall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anish Beeram ‘23 had great success at the recent Grapevine Tournament, which was held virtually September 10 and 11. Anish placed 3rd, received a Tournament of Champions bid, and earned six state points. Congratulations Anish!
Barons field hockey had a tremendous start to the year filled with energy, skills, and fun.
The team has grown incredibly during their first few weeks and are shrinking the gap in the scores. The team is led by three captains: Katherine Drawert ‘22, Valeria Ramos Prado ‘22, and Abbie Zeller ‘22. Additionally, each week there is a player of the week voted on by the team and that person becomes a captain for the week. Player of the week is a person who exemplifies what it means to be a Saint Mary’s Hall field hockey player and teammate. The team plays for themselves, their teammates, and their families. The passion and commitment to each other has led to growth as athletes and players.
Head Field Hockey Coach Valerie Lohr said, “The coaching staff is thrilled with the progress and excited for the future. The focus for the season is Effort, Urgency, and Communication; and the team brings that to the field each and every day.”
Well Done, Field Hockey!
The Baron football team is continuing to work hard as they begin preparing for district play.
This past week, due to a cancellation, the Barons traveled to Conroe and played an experienced and tough Covenant Christian squad. Although the outcome was not in the Barons’ favor, the team and coaches learned valuable lessons that have become part of district preparation.
After a bye week, the Barons open district play against the defending state champion Texas School for the Deaf on Thursday, September 23 at home. This will also be Lower School Night.
Head Football Coach Lee Ortiz said, “We thank everyone for their continued support and Go Barons!”
Barons volleyball went 1-2 the last 2 weeks, including a big district win over TMI Episcopal.
The Barons lost a tough match against a strong Lutheran team in 5 sets, but the practice helped the team turn around and take down cross-town rival, TMI, in straight sets. Remy White ‘22 led the dominating performance with eight kills. Senior Penny Luna had 14 assists, and three aces. Eleanor Jones ‘25 and Lauren Vegas ‘22 led the defense with 8 digs a piece.
The win against TMI moves the Barons to 1-1 in district play.
Congratulations to freshman Ava Myers ‘25 and her horse Chico P for their Top-10 finish (7th) at the North American Youth Championships (NAYC) in Traverse City!
With nearly 20 teams in the Varsity divisions and well over 100 runners lined up at the start for each race, it proved to be another hard-found performance by our Barons at the Bandera Bulldog Invitational. With nearly all the opposing teams being public schools larger than ours, it did not deter the athletes from striving for new personal records and even a Top 20 performer individual, placing with medals.
In the varsity women's race, Anna Vaquiax ’24 and Camila Navas-Hahn ‘23 set new personal bests as Anna ran her fastest 2-mile race so far this year in 15:14, which placed her 93rd and Camila set a personal best for the Bandera course at 15:26, which placed her 95th. Ally Gibbs ‘24 rounded out our Barons' varsity performance with a time of 25:04.
In the varsity men's race, with just five Barons in the race, our team managed to record an overall 14th place finish with personal records (PRs) across the entire team.
Christopher Chan ‘24 led the team with his new PR of 18:07 for the 5K race, good enough for 14th place overall at a 5:50-a-mile pace and Top 20 medal for his efforts. Jonathan Largoza ‘23 was the next finisher as he produced a new PR for the Bandera course with an 18:26, which is a 5:56-a-mile pace and 21st place overall, just missing a medal. The next Baron to cross the finish line was JC Yaeger ’25 who ran a 23:08. Wrapping up the Barons team was another pair of freshmen, Ian Garza '25 at 25:48 and Pablo Lambreton ‘25, at 27:57, both of which are new PRs for the 5K.
Please congratulate these hard-working Barons as they continue to prepare for the TAPPS XC post season with the Ingram Warrior Invitational this upcoming Saturday in Ingram, Texas.