Principal’s Newsletter, November 2015

Dear parents and friends of St. Peter’s School,

This time of year, the end of our first quarter, our teachers and parents meet to review report cards and discuss how the academic year has begun. I also meet with each of the classroom teachers to review my observations and evaluations of their instruction.

November 10th is our school visit from the Director of Education, Mrs. Sandra Leatherwood, from the Diocesan Catholic Schools Office.

All of these evaluative processes can be nerve-wracking and stress inducing. I know as a parent, there were many parent/teacher conferences I nervously sat through with my child; as a teacher being observed by my principal, I was suddenly more aware of my frailties, and as I prepare for our visit with Sandra Leatherwood, I hope she will be able to see in one day all the wonderful things going on at St.Peter’s School every day!

In each of these situations our Catholic faith guides us. It teaches us not to judge, but to serve. When parents and teachers meet to discuss a child’s progress, it is an opportunity to share information that will better serve the child’s academic and emotional development. When a principal meets with a teacher, it is an opportunity to determine if teaching methods are serving our students and the principal is supporting the teacher in these efforts. When our Director of Education makes her school visit, the pastor, principal, teachers and Advisory Board pause to review with Mrs. Leatherwood the effectiveness of the school in fulfilling its mission and serving as a ministry of the church.

Evaluations are necessary for continuous improvement. Whether this is a program evaluation or a self-evaluation, I truly believe that as stewards of God’s gifts we have a moral imperative to diligently look for ways to improve. It is how we show thanks to God for all that we have been given.

Thanksgiving blessings to you and your family,

Mrs. Kathy Preston, Principal

Principal’s Newsletter, October 2015

Dear parents and friends of St. Peter’s School,

Flooding of historic proportions has a way of putting life’s small matters into perspective.

I began formulating this letter last week, focusing on all the special events we had planned for the month of October. Celebrating the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi with our Pet Blessing, Grandparent’s Day, our 3rd grade class visit to the Statehouse and meeting with our Governor, Nikki Haley, and the PTO Halloween Party filled the calendar.

Now, as we wait to see what the ramifications of the water damage will be to our city and state, we pause to say a prayer of gratitude for the safety of family and loved ones. We look beyond our own preoccupations to the needs of others.

I am grateful that our school appears to have incurred no major damage, but know of many whose homes have been destroyed. We watch as first responders, our mayor, city manager, and numerous volunteers work tirelessly for the good of all in our wounded, but not defeated, community.

When the water recedes and the sun returns, let us not forget those deeply affected by this devastating flood.  Let us be grateful for routine and for God’s many graces in our lives. Our state is strong, and we will move forward with faith, love, and great hope for the future.

Many blessings to you and your families,

Mrs. Kathy Preston, Principal

Principal’s Newsletter, September 2015

It has been a busy and successful start to the 2015-16 school year. Thank you to all who attended our Back to School Night and to those who have taken the time to read the school’s handbook. Having done this, you are well informed of the rules, procedures, and expectations of St.Peter’s Catholic School, which will make the school year productive and pleasant for everyone!
We have begun our first fundraiser, World’s Finest Chocolate. This has proven to be an easy fundraiser, which many seem to enjoy. There are a few boxes remaining in my office which need to be sold before the end date of September 11. Come and get it!
The first of three PTO meetings will be held on Thursday, September 17, 5:30-7:00pm in Neglia Hall. Our PTO President, Ms. Tonya Roper reminded us that the PTO is for fundraising and fellowship! Please be sure to join us for dinner and to hear about upcoming school events and plans for the academic year.
The week of September 21-25, our students in grades 2-6 will take the standardized ITBS test and students in grades 1 and 4 will take the CoGat. Our teachers use the results of these tests to help direct instruction for the year. Please support your child’s success by making sure he/she gets a good night’s rest and a healthy breakfast.
At the end of this testing week, on Friday, September 25, all of our students will be treated to a performance by “Porkchop Productions”. This program, arranged by Mrs. Genevieve Sullivan (Liam, 6th grade and Ava, 3rd grade) is creative, funny and imparts a positive message. This assembly is truly enjoyed by the students.
It is such a joy to have the students back in the school after the summer months. On behalf of the faculty and staff, know that we look forward to working with each child and supporting you in the mission of developing each child’s God-given potential.
Many blessings,
Kathy Preston

Principal’s Newsletter, August 2015

Dear Parents and Friends of St. Peter’s School,

From the outside, it appears as if nothing is going on at St.Peter’s Catholic School during June and July. The halls are quiet, the parking lot empty; the school bells ring, but seem irrelevant. Yet appearances can be deceiving.   This summer renovation and renewal has filled our days.

A new sign hangs at the school entrance, the first floor halls painted and new carpet installed.  I am very grateful for the 2015 Angels in the Vista Auction Fund-a-Project, and all those who contributed to it.  Our update couldn’t have happened without these funds.

We are also pleased to welcome two new faculty members to St. Peter’s School.  Ms. Tera Stanford will be joining Ms. Slifko in the K5 class as the lead teacher.  Ms. Stanford has a BA in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s of Education in Divergent Learning from Columbia College.  Our new 5th grade teacher, Ms. Allison Gurn, has a BA in Elementary Education from University of South Carolina. I am confident Ms. Stanford and Ms.Gurn will be assets to our terrific faculty!

We also welcome a new Parochial Vicar to St.Peter’s Church.  Fr. Renaud West looks forward to meeting the faculty, staff, our students and their families.

I am especially happy to report that enrollment for the 2015-16 school year continues to rise.  Currently, we have over 40 new families joining us at St.Peter’s School, with many inquiries still pouring in.

As we begin a new academic year, our 164th year as the educational ministry of St.Peter’s Catholic Church, appearances would never indicate that we are the oldest, continuously running Catholic school in South Carolina.  We are  proud to continue our mission–to nurture and challenge our students so that each one can achieve his or her full, God-given potential.  We look forward to August 19th at 7:30 in the morning, when our students arrive and bring the school back to life!

Many blessings,

Mrs. Kathy Preston, Principal



Principal’s Newsletter, May/June 2015

Recitals, Graduations, family celebrations…it is such a busy time of year!

I was gratified to see so many of our parents and children take the time to gather at the PTO Family Picnic, where everyone seemed to visibly slow down, enjoy the hamburgers, hot dogs, Rita’s Ice, and most importantly, each other!!
Inside the school during these last few weeks, teachers work diligently to keep their students focused on important learning which will take place up until the last day. However, I sense that for the teachers it is difficult to ‘let go’. They work hard over the course of nine months to get to know their students, identify their capabilities and challenges and ‘encourage’ the students to give their very best. It is hard to bring that care and dedication to a stop!
Of course we do not want learning to stop over the summer months. Students will be given a summer reading list, math concepts should be practiced daily and the students are expected to complete the Summer Bridge Workbook for their grade level. I have also spoken to our students about working on their own summer service project. This could include writing letters to the home bound, giving a percentage of profits from a lemonade sale to a favorite charity, or reading to a sibling. The idea is to give of themselves in the service of others.
Many thanks to all of you who took the time during this busy month to complete the parent survey. Know that the information provided will be used toward our focus on continuous improvement of the school program. I was pleased by the many positive comments, including the following:
St.Peter’s excels at providing a safe and happy environment, and at helping its students grow into kind, thoughtful and moral people. There is a palpable sense of family that sets St.Peter’s apart from other schools.
As with any family, it is difficult to say ‘good bye’ which we must do to our graduating class of 6th graders. Some of them have been together since kindergarten, some have joined the class more recently; all are loved and will be missed.

It is my hope that the upcoming weeks of summer will afford you an opportunity to slow down, enjoy a relaxing pastime, and peaceful moments with your family.

Kathy Preston

Principal’s Newsletter, April 2015

Midlands Gives FB Cover_native file 2015

For the cutest video ever, please click here to see our pastor Father Linsky, his pup Bailey, and our talented students “lacing up” for the big race to 10K on May 5th! Please share the video with family and friends so they can support our school May 5th. Thank you and God bless! Please see below and click here for more details.

Dear parents and friends of St. Peter’s Catholic School,

It had been a long, wet, dreary week. I was ready to call it a day when one of our 4-year-old students burst into the office proclaiming loudly, “MRS.PRESTON, I LOVE MY LIFE, I LOVE THIS SCHOOL, AND I LOVE YOU, TOO!!!”  I smile even now as I realize that R.J.’s exuberant declaration is the personification of the Easter promise of new life. I know that day he lifted my spirit and reminded me of the many blessings of God’s love.

Our students in grades 1 through 6 also inspired me with their reverence and respect as they participated in their Lenten Retreat on April 1st. Our teachers took great care in preparing lessons and activities that would teach God’s message of sacrifice and love.

Outside our windows, flowers are blooming and temperatures warming.  Inside the school, our students, too, exhibit new growth, competence and achievement. This month 4 students will attend the Diocesan Spelling Bee, Saturday, April 18th at Bishop England High School in Charleston.  Please keep Angelia Meagher, 6th grade, Steven Sy, 5th grade, Raymond Cao, 4th grade, and Allie Davis, 3rd grade, in your prayers as they prepare for this special event.

Our 6th grade students are excited about their upcoming trip to Washington, D.C.  They will present oral reports, based on their Washington, D.C. research projects, to parents and me April 13 and 14.  The 6th grade students will share highlights of their trip at the final PTO meeting on May 7th.

Please join us for our annual student art show.  Every student will have a piece of art exhibited at the St.Peter’s Art Show held at Springhill Suites on Thursday, April 30th from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Mrs. Wyrick has diligently collected and organized the numerous pieces the students have created throughout the year. We look forward to continued collaboration with Mrs. Maria Giomi-Rodillo, Director of Sales at the SpringHill Suites in the Vista. The students are happy to know that she has promised hors d’oeuvres will include the ever popular meatballs!

Midlands Gives FB Cover_native file 2015 We are especially excited about the 24-hour online fundraising event that St.Peter’s School will be participating in on May 5th.  This event, Midlands Gives, brings the region together as one community, raising money and awareness for Midlands non-profits during one 24-hour period. In 2014, over $704,000 was raised for 150 non-profits. And we have an alumnus who has agreed to match the donations to St.Peter’s School up to $10,000!  Our goal is to raise $10,000, so the school gets $10,000 more from our donor.  Funds raised will go to 1)kick-start a fund for a new school-wide reading curriculum and 2)provide financial aid.  Please be sure to go to and see the many great non-profits participating on May 5. For more details, please click here.

Such amazing, wonderful growth taking place this spring at St.Peter’s Catholic School!!

Wishing you and your families many blessings,
Mrs. Kathy Preston, Principal

Principal’s Newsletter, March 2015

At St.Peter’s, the month of March reminds us of our connection with the Irish. The Irish immigrants who came to Columbia to build the canal needed a place to worship, which is why St.Peter’s Church was built in 1821. We look forward to celebrating this history as a school by marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade with the Knights of Columbus on Saturday, March 14. Our “Lucky Leprechauns” who won special seating on the parade float at our Angels in the Vista Auction are Conner and Sarah Hillen. Congratulations!
Speaking of the Angels in the Angels in the Vista Auction, sincere gratitude goes out to our Auction Co-chairs, Colleen and Richard Fennessy and their Auction Committee for the remarkable job that they did with this event. A capacity crowd appeared to be having a wonderful time, enjoying the food, music, winning bids, and each others company. All proceeds from this fundraiser directly support the school and we could not be more appreciative to all involved!
Teachers from throughout the state will be gathering this month in Columbia for the biennial Diocesan Teacher Education Conference. The Most Reverend Robert E. Guglielmone, Bishop of Charleston, will be celebrating Mass. The key note speaker, Father Ron Nuzzi, PhD., is a nationally known speaker and author. He has written extensively about the multiple intelligence theory in Catholic education, the spirituality of leadership, and inclusion in Catholic schools. Over 150 sessions on a variety of academic topics will be offered to the teachers. I am especially proud of two of our teachers whose presentations were accepted for this conference. Mrs. Therese Carr is presenting “The Interactive Foreign Language Classroom: Integrating Music, Art, and Literature” and Mrs. Phillips is presenting “Legos Across the Curriculum”. This is a wonderful opportunity for the entire St.Peter’s faculty.
Our students continue their Lenten journey throughout the month of March. Their relationship with God is strengthened during this solemn season through prayer, participating in the Stations of the Cross, and sacrifice. It is my hope that as a family you are able to spend time together in prayer with a focus on your faith formation.

May the roads rise to meet you,
May the wind be at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Wishing you many Irish blessings,
Kathy Preston

Principal’s Newsletter, February 2015

I am always thrilled when a student comes to me excited to share a newly mastered skill, something that he/she wrote, or a piece made in art class. Recently Jolie came to me with a letter she had written to Ruby Bridges, which was inspired by an art project. As many of you know, Ruby Bridges integrated a 1st grade classroom in New Orleans in 1960. Her story has been made into a movie, depicted by the artist, Norman Rockwell, and told on the Oprah Show. Jolie’s artwork and her letter to Ruby Bridges was the perfect way to start Black History month in Morning Prayer. This month we look forward to recognizing accomplished African Americans who have sacrificed in the past and those who are currently contributing to our city and state.
Monday, Feb.9, at 8:30am Ms.Teresa Wilson, City Manager for Columbia and mother to Teresa, 6th grade, will be speaking to all of our students. She brings a wealth of experience in government, administration, education and a respect for family and faith.
The continent of Africa will be explored in a unique and interactive way on Thursday, Feb 5th when USC Dept. of Geography in conjunction with National Geographic installs a 25’x35’ map of Africa in Neglia Hall. Students will participate in age appropriate lessons throughout the morning.
We are privileged to have a local artist, Mr. Ernest Lee, meet our students in grades 1-6 on Feb. 18th. He will share his story as well as his artwork with the students. Parents are invited to all of these very special events.
A most important and very big event which I hope all of our parents will attend is the Angels in the Vista Oyster Roast and Auction at Stone River, Friday, February 20th. Our Auction Co-Chairs, Richard and Colleen Fennessy, and their committee have worked tirelessly since September to ensure the success of this event. Sponsors, volunteers, parishioners, and friends have stepped forward, giving so much of themselves, in support of St.Peter’s School. Please make every effort to attend this special event which is all about fellowship and fundraising !
I am immensely pleased to announce that our Pastor, Fr.Linsky, has stated that there will not be an increase in tuition for the 2015-16 school year. This is a reflection of his commitment to keeping Catholic education affordable and accessible to all. However, please be mindful that fundraising efforts facilitate keeping our school program strong while maintaining the costs. Registration packets for the 2015-16 school year will be going home Tuesday, Feb.17th.
Finally, Feb. 18th we begin the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
Let us continue to keep each other in prayer.

Kathy Preston

Principal’s Newsletter, January 2015

One of the many gifts of the Christmas holiday is time spent with family and friends. I am truly blessed to be in contact with many friends from my Catholic elementary school, Blessed Sacrament, and Immaculata High School in Washington, D.C. Recently a group of us gathered to catch up, and one of the ladies asked what family memory we had from high school. Because high school is a time of life when peers become more important than family, we all hesitated to respond. Then one after the other replied that it was really eating together with one’s family that we all remembered best.
Research shows that eating together as a family has profound benefits to the health of a child, offering security and structure. Depending on those gathered around the table, hopefully, the child comes to know the peace of being surrounded by love. Yet hearing this insight offered from kind, successful women, who recalled family meals as the best memory in a time of life when peers were supposed to have precedence, was impressive.
I thought of our School families and the many demands placed upon them and wondered, is eating together as a family still possible? There are so many intrusions and demands in our lives, checking emails, phone and text messages, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and on and on!
We all know that seemingly insignificant actions can have great impact. I frequently tell our students that they will never be alone if they can read and pray. My addition to this adage is, and eat together as a family.
As we begin 2015, we come together refreshed and ready to focus our efforts on developing students of faith, virtue and excellence. Our resolutions include real “face time” with our students, your children.
The end of the month we celebrate Catholic Schools Week. Special events throughout the week will include the School Showcase, carpool treats, Open House, Alumni Reception and a Student Spirit Assembly. It’s a time to recognize the value of a Catholic education.
As I said good bye to my friends from Blessed Sacrament and Immaculata, I gave thanks to God and my parents for my Catholic education, with its many benefits, of faith and of friendship and so much more.
Wishing you many blessings in the New Year,
Kathy Preston

Principal’s Newsletter December 2014

Dear parents and friends of St. Peter’s School,

The students looked perplexed as I pulled out the cleaning supplies at Morning Prayer this week in church. What did the bucket, sponge, broom and spray bottle have to do with the season of Advent?

Advent is a time of preparation, I told them, giving the example of how we prepare our homes for special occasions. Other examples are how the teachers prepared their classrooms back in August for the students’ return, and how we often have St.Peter’s families who are preparing for a new baby’s arrival. We prepare for Christmas by decorating our homes and buying presents for family and friends. Yet during this holy season we must also prepare spiritually.

How are we preparing for the Christ Child in words, actions and prayer? Much preparation comes in the form of traditions. Here at St.Peter’s we have many lovely traditions, such as lighting the Advent Candle and singing “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel” as students process from church to school after Morning Prayer. Our annual Christmas music program is another opportunity to open our hearts and feel God’s presence during the Advent season. And recently our first grade students performed for our seniors in the parish.  While this time of year can become hectic with social engagements, shopping lists, and special events, let us take the time to prepare for welcoming the greatest gift, the Birth of Jesus Christ.

I would like to thank everyone who participated in our November/December service project, The Festival of Trees, which raises funds for Palmetto Children’s Hospital. Our Angels in the Vista tree was beautifully decorated with many donated angel ornaments. Over $200 was raised to benefit the Children’s Hospital.

Congratulations to our Capella Pueri for their hard work over the last few weeks. They sang beautifully in The Nutcracker at the Township during the Thanksgiving holiday.  I hope you also saw Capella Pueri on TV performing at Vista Lights.

Please note the following special events that will be taking place during the month of December:
• Monday, December 8 – Feast of the Immaculate Conception, students in grades 1-6 attend noon Mass
• Friday, December 12 –Santa Claus is Coming to Town, students in grades K4-6 will attend this performance at the Koger Center
• Monday, December 15 – Strength and Movement Parent Presentation, 1:30-2:30 in Neglia Hall
• Thursday, December 18- Christmas Music Program, St.Peter’s Church,7:00pm

This year 3 new stockings will be hung in the Preston home, two new sons-in-law and one new granddaughter. Needless to say, my Advent prayers are full of gratitude! Wishing all of you the blessings of this holy season,

Mrs. Kathy Preston, Principal