June/July, 2017

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A Note from Mrs. Preston

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

“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them; a time to embrace and a time to be far from embraces.”

This passage from Ecclesiastes 3 seemed especially appropriate as we came to the end of the 2016-17 school year. Not only did we say good bye to our 6th grade graduating class, but we also wished many important, wonderful women, who have given so much of their incredible talents to St. Peter’s School, a happy retirement.

Before graduating, the 6th grade students shared with me that they had felt safe and cared for while at St. Peter’s; challenges had included cursive writing, staying organized, and some tests; and when asked what difference the faith formation at St.Peter’s had made on their development, their answers were affirming:

“I have a better understanding of the Catholic faith.” “I like to pray now.”

“I’ve grown closer to God.” “I am proud to have become a member of the Catholic community.”

Our mission at St. Peter’s is to nurture and challenge our students so that they will achieve their God-given potential. These graduates are well on their way to doing just that!

Often words cannot begin to express the gratitude we have for the many wonderful volunteers and employees of St. Peter’s School. Those individuals who are retiring have given in so many ways in support of our mission. Most often it has been done in a quiet and unassuming manner, all for the greater glory of God through this ministry of education. We wish our retirees much joy and peace in the days ahead.

While change is often difficult, it is also exciting. During these warm summer months we work diligently to prepare for the 2017-18 academic year. The upper grade classrooms are getting a fresh coat of paint and new carpets; technology upgrades and safety measures are being investigated; curriculum standards are being reviewed and we look forward to welcoming new members to the faculty and staff.

Finally, during this season of summer, I encourage you to take time to relax with family and friends, unplug and read from an actual book, and find peaceful, rejuvenating moments in prayer.


Kathy Preston


May, 2017

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A Note from Mrs. Preston

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

We call them “Specials”, those areas of the curriculum that are in addition to the core subject areas-Art, Music, PE, Library, Technology, Spanish, and Guidance. The weekly allotted instructional time for these special areas cannot be underestimated.

The systems they nourish, which include our integrated sensory, attentional, cognitive, emotional, and motor capacities are in fact the driving forces behind all other learning.” (Jensen, 2001)

We are blessed at St.Peter’s to have skilled and creative teachers in these areas. Our collaboration with USC School of Music provides student instruction that is exceptionally comprehensive: vocabulary,writing skills,auditory and visual processing are evident in every lesson. Our Art program provides our students with a myriad of creative modalities which incorporates Math, Science, History and Religion. Our PE program not only addresses physical health, but emotional and spiritual health, as well. An example of a PEHP lesson plan includes yoga (strength, flexibility, balance) then a discussion of the importance of a happy mood and relaxation on our bodies.

Our ‘Specials” are indeed vital to the development of the whole child. Each of these subjects affects overall academic performance, motor skills, confidence, decision making, focus, perseverance, collaboration, and accountability.

This month, some of these Special areas are showcased; the Spring Music Recital at the USC Copenhaver Band Hall, May 12th, Feed Your Mind Cafe in the school library May 15th – 17th, the school-wide Art Show at Springhill Suites on May 9th and the PEHP Parent Presentation at 1:00 on May 12th. Please make an effort to attend these special events.

May is also a busy ‘maternal’ month as we honor our Blessed Mother, Mary, most especially with our May Procession and Rosary on May 15th. We celebrate Mother’s Day on May 14th and recognize all of our terrific teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week, May 1st – 5th.

Most of us can remember our favorite teacher. Mine encouraged discovery and creativity, nurtured a love of learning, and shared the gift of faith. When we have people like this helping us grow, it is indeed very SPECIAL!


Kathy Preston

April 2017

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A Note from Mrs. Preston

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

There are so many opportunities throughout the Lenten season when we are able to teach important lessons that support character and moral development. Our students in St. Peter’s Catholic School learn about sacrificial love, putting the needs of others before themselves, and the gift of prayer. Our4th grade students have given up their recess on Fridays to attend Mass. When I asked a few of the students their thoughts about this sacrifice (after assuring them, there was no wrong answer!) their responses were heartfelt:

“We all like going to recess, but going to mass on Fridays makes me feel calmer.”

“It is a good reminder that Jesus died on the cross for us and I like seeing Fr. Bernard.”

Wednesday during Holy Week, April 12, the entire school will participate in a Lenten Retreat. Activities prepared by the teachers will enable our students to better understand the beautiful message of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

School will be closed for the Easter break from April 13- 21.

Other important events taking place this month include St. Peter’s Day at the Columbia’s Fireflies baseball game, Sunday, April 9th at 2:30. Our PTO President, Mrs. Nicole Storey has arranged this fun afternoon for us. Tickets are only $9.00 and a percentage of the sales will come back to the school. Please contact the office, 252-8285 or ddavis@stpeterscatholicschool.org with any questions.

Our final PTO meeting of the 2016-17 school year will take place Thursday, April 27, 5:30pm in Neglia Hall. Please plan on attending to hear from our 6th grade about their trip to Washington, DC, plans for next year, and a review of the current academic year.

On Ash Wednesday, at the beginning of our Lenten journey, students wrote Lenten promises that included:

“I will help my Mom and Dad with chores.” “I will pray every day.”

“I am going to try to not argue with my sister and each time I do, I will give a dollar to the Rice Bowl.”

Our on-going faith formation and personal development, supported through the liturgical seasons, are the ultimate gifts of a Catholic education.

Wishing you and your family the peace and joy of Easter.

Kathy Preston, Principal

May 2, please go to MidlandsGives.org/stpeterscatholicschool. Thank you for your donation to the school.

March, 2017

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A Note from Mrs. Preston

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

Daffodils are blooming; buds on the trees are blossoming…the month of March ushers in spring!

There are special opportunities for growth for all of our St. Peter’s community this month. Our faculty will experience cognitive growth at the biannual Diocesan Teacher Education Conference. They will hear from a number of speakers, attend informative sessions and Bishop Robert Guglielmone will celebrate Mass.

Experience has shown me that the trip to Washington, DC results in considerable emotional and intellectual growth with our 6th grade students. As we get closer to the departure date, the students exhibit nervousness and excitement. After 3 whirlwind days, they return home exhausted, but with a heightened sense of confidence and accomplishment. I look forward to joining Ms. Geene,6 parents and the students on this trip, March 27-29.

We begin our Lenten journey on Ash Wednesday, March 1st, where through abstinence, alms giving, and prayer we hope to grow in our relationship with God. This is a special time of spiritual growth for our students, faculty, and families.

Of course the month of March would not be complete without a celebration of St. Patrick! Be sure to join the St. Peter’s community in the parade that travels down Devine Street and through Five Points on Saturday, March 18. St. Peter’s Church and School owe a debt of gratitude to those who came from Ireland and built the church in 1824 and started the school over 160 years ago. I believe that our founders would be very pleased with the continued growth of this special parish and school, still thriving in downtown Columbia!

I encourage you to take advantage of the penitential season of the next 40 days to focus on your own intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth. Making room for God in your life through prayer will foster positive growth in all areas of your life.


Kathy Preston


February, 2017

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A Note from Mrs. Preston

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

Last week, throughout our country, Catholic schools celebrated the history, value, and success of Catholic education. As noted by the National Catholic Education Association, these successes are evident in a 99% Catholic high school graduation rate. Of those, 86% attend a 4year college. Studies prove overwhelmingly that the Catholic school climate, mission, and purpose positively impact student achievement, attendance and personal development. This is done in an impressive, cost effective manner; again, according to the NCEA, the mean per pupil cost at Catholic schools is $5,847; the national per pupil average is $12, 054. Catholic schools provide over 24 billion dollars a year in savings for the nation.

St. Peter’s Catholic School has a rich, beautiful history dating back to 1852. For over 160 years this educational ministry has been sustained by dedicated pastors, the Ursuline sisters, committed parishioners, faculty, Advisory Boards, and parents. It has survived the Civil War, economic downturns, hurricanes, even a collapsed roof. Yet through it all, St. Peter’s School has remained a vital part of the Catholic community in Columbia and a very important part of downtown Columbia. This was brought to mind as I read, “Lost Classroom, Lost Community-Catholic Schools Importance in Urban America” by Brinig and Garnett. Regarding Catholic schools in an urban setting, they state:

“A Catholic school stands out as a model of success in the midst of failure, of order in the midst of chaos-and therefore of the possibility that demographics need not dictate destiny. Catholic schools have long exhibited faith in the ability of all children to learn regardless of circumstance. In doing so, Catholic schools may serve, to borrow from legal theory, an expressive function: the very fact that urban Catholic schools have weathered the storms of economic and social decay in a community-and have continued to succeed in spite of these circumstances-sends a symbolic message that success and order are possible; thereby strengthening the entire downtown community.”

St. Peter’s Catholic School goes beyond just being a presence in downtown Columbia, by building collaborations with downtown businesses such as USC, Columbia Conservatory of Dance, and incorporating resources such as the Art Museum, Koger Center, Richland County Public Library, and the Historical Society into our curricular instruction. Our presence on this block, I believe has had a positive impact on the vibrant revitalization of our downtown.

Ultimately, it comes down to the day-to-day interactions with the many people who are committed to Catholic education, and more specifically St. Peter’s School. During Catholic Schools Week, we honored Mrs. Pam Robinson who has shared her energies, talents, and beautiful spirit with the Kindergarten and all of us at St. Peter’s for over 20 years.

We are blessed to have so many caring, supportive patrons of St.Peter’s School!

This month we have two new activities taking place at St. Peter’s. On Thursday, February 23, our 6th grade is hosting a Talent Show to benefit their trip to Washington, DC. I was very proud of the many students from grades 2-6 who auditioned for this Talent Show. There will be a variety of creative acts. Please come out to support our students and enjoy the entertainment in Neglia Hall. If you have any questions you can contact Mrs. Diane Rager,dianerager@msn.com.

Also, the weekend of February 25-26, the school is supporting the Deckle Edge Literary Festival. The Children’s Pavilion for this event will be held in Neglia Hall. More information on this terrific event will be coming home in your child’s Tuesday folder.

Finally, the cold and flu season has hit the school hard. In order to keep contagious illnesses out of the school I remind you that students must stay home if they have a fever (99 degrees or above), have been nauseous, or are coughing excessively. The student must be symptom free for 24 hours before returning to school. The teachers have been doing their best to keep the classrooms disinfected and we continue to instruct the students to wash their hands thoroughly. Please help us by keeping your child home if he/she could possibly be sick.

As always, your continued support and care are truly appreciated.


Kathy Preston


January, 2017

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A Note from Mrs. Preston

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

We begin this New Year refreshed after the Christmas holiday and ready to jump back into all things related to learning.

Our Director for Catholic Education for the Diocese of Charleston, Mrs. Sandra Leatherwood, will make her annual visit to St.Peter’s School on Tuesday, January 10. Mrs. Leatherwood will spend the day visiting the classrooms, meeting with teachers and the principal, reviewing the School Improvement and Safety Plans, and Teacher Evaluations and Professional Growth Plans. The goal of this school visit is to continue to carry out the responsibility of the Catholic Schools Office SACS Accreditation Quality Assurance mandate. This mandate requires the CSO to monitor the school’s compliance with the Accreditation Standards as well as our efforts toward Continuous Improvement.

The week of January 17-20, our 5th grade class will participate in the STARBASE Program at McEntire Joint National Guard Base. This is the 8th year our students have been invited to attend this program which focuses on curricular areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. This excellent program, funded by the Department of Defense, also offers leadership opportunities and lessons on character development. Our students are consistently praised for their comportment and intellect.

Once again it was a pleasure to host St.Peter’s at STARBASE. I have had a number of folks in the building say what a well-behaved group they were!” John M. “Coach” Motley, Jr. Brigadier General (ret), SC Air National Guard, Director, STARBASE

Our PTO meeting, January 26, 5:30pm in Neglia Hall will include a school-wide focus on STEM related activities. Teachers and students will present examples of lessons incorporating science, math, and engineering and we will highlight a new piece of instructional technology that we would like to purchase for classroom instruction. Be sure to attend this important meeting.

We begin Catholic Schools Week Sunday, January 29 with a School Showcase in Neglia Hall from 9:30-12:30. This is an opportunity to share with our parishioners, parents and friends all of the wonderful learning that is taking place in St.Peter’s School. A schedule of special events that will take place throughout Catholic Schools Week, Jan.29-February 3, 2017 will be sent home in the Tuesday folder and posted on the school’s website, www.stpeterscatholicschool.org.

Finally, let us remember that the Christmas season is not officially over until the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6. Just as the Wise Men brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ Child, we reflect upon the gifts that we have received from our God and how we are using those gifts in the service of others. In the adoration of the Magi we find the beginnings of our Christian faith as they took the ‘Good News’ to the different parts of the world. ‘Epiphany’ means manifestation, to make known. It is my hope that our greatest gift at St. Peter’s School is helping our students come to understand the importance of God in their lives and that by living our faith we continue what was started thousands of years ago by the Magi.

Wishing you many blessings in the New Year.

Kathy Preston

December, 2016

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A Note from Mrs. Preston

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

It was a rather presumptuous Christmas gift, but at the time I thought it was brilliant. I was in college and had purchased 4 tickets to the Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, despite the fact that we lived in Washington, DC. Upon opening the cleverly wrapped gift on Christmas morning, my mother and sister were thrilled. My father, however, was a bit bewildered. He was anticipating that these gifts of mine were going to cost him a bit more from an already stretched Christmas budget! After all, someone was going to have to pay for the train ride to New York and a hotel room. My father was a dear, patient man who would never make someone else feel bad (or crazy) for a decision made with the best intentions. So while one of my 4 brothers grumbled, “Man, next year I’m getting Dad tickets to a Miami Dolphins game!” Dad simply smiled as my mother exclaimed that she thought it was a wonderful idea.

I share this story because I still consider this as one of my best Christmas gifts ever received. I cherish the memory of this trip to New York with my parents and sister. It taught me that experiences, whether brief and simple or unexpected and extravagant, are truly the very best gifts when done with love.

I encourage you to keep this in mind during this season of Advent as we prepare for the arrival of the Christ child. Visiting a friend or loved one in a Nursing Home, making cookies for a neighbor, reading the story of Jesus’ birth as a family, these are experiences that are far more valuable than anything purchased in a store. And I can assure you that this time with your child will be remembered.

As it turns out, that was my mother’s last ‘healthy’ Christmas, as she battled lung cancer. The following Christmas she spent in the hospital and within two years she had died at the age of 51.

There is no greater gift bestowed on us by God than the gift of life. That is the beautiful message of Christmas. God gave us His only son, so that we can have eternal life. At St.Peter’s we will keep God’s love at the forefront of the Christmas preparations.

Wishing you and your family a season filled with peaceful moments and cherished memories.

Kathy Preston

November, 2016

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A Note from Mrs. Preston

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

Words matter. We teach our younger students to use words to express their needs, frustrations, thoughts. Our older students learn how to formulate their words into well-constructed sentences, paragraphs or essays.

In a Catholic school the word of God is incorporated across the curriculum. The Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and the Holy Scripture teach us and direct our conscience, values, and behaviors.

This month we come to the end of an especially vitriolic Presidential campaign season, where words spoken by adults have been bombastic, dishonest, unkind and not even close to reflecting our Catholic values. Yet, faithful citizenship is a moral and civic obligation. It is imperative that our children understand the privileges we enjoy as citizens of the United States and the responsibility this citizenship entails.

On November 11th, the entire school, grades K4 through 6, will attend the Veterans’ Day Parade. This is a long-standing tradition where our students can celebrate and show respect for the men and women in the Armed Forces.

Our Third grade has the great honor of meeting the Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, and touring the Statehouse on November 10th. I am confident our students will be a wonderful representation of St. Peter’s School and Church.

Of course we end the month of November celebrating Thanksgiving; a holiday where we are reminded of the beginning of this remarkable country and the blessings we have come to enjoy because of the leadership and sacrifices of so many.

Over 200 years ago the forefathers of our great country wrote prescient and inspiring words formulating our Constitution and Bill of Rights, delineating our responsibilities and freedoms. Our First Amendment identified our Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. We can never take our freedom for granted.

The important words on the Great Seal of the United States and on most of our currency are “E Pluribus Unum”, out of many, one. This month let our prayer be that our words will bring people together in thanksgiving for the many blessings we experience. And may our words always be a reflection of God’s presence within us.

Wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving,

Kathy Preston


October, 2016

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A Note from Mrs. Preston

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

“Learning is hard work. People learn better when they feel valued and supported. To value and support learners we must know them. We honor learners by caring for them as they are and simultaneously expecting more of them. People learn differently. Teaching is more efficient and effective when it matches learner need. To teach academically diverse learners well, teachers must teach flexibly. Virtually all learners benefit when they learn in places with high instructional ceilings and lots of ways to climb to the top.”

The above quote is taken from an article given to our faculty at the start of this school year. It speaks to what is important at St.Peter’s Catholic School. As we begin the second month of the 2016-17 academic year, I am impressed by the efficiency at which the faculty has come to know their student’s learning styles and respond to student needs by collaborating with parents, Guidance Counselor, and support services. Goals have been established and high standards are understood. At the end of this month, Parent-Teacher Conferences will be another important opportunity to monitor student progress and work collaboratively to support student success.

Speaking of success, our first fundraiser, World’s Finest Chocolate, was a resounding success, raising over $5,000. Thank you to all who participated so willingly, to our PTO President, Nichole Storey for acquiring the prizes, and to our Chairman, Mr. Michael Schrenker for leading this effort. The prize winners are:

First: Dale Robinson – Fire Tablet

Second: Carter Schrenker – FujiFilm Instax Camera

Third: Carmen Hudson: – $25 Frankie’s Giftcard

Grand prize:Daryl Ellerby, tickets to a Spring Firefly game, with box seats and spending money

Top selling class: Second grade-Dress- Down Day, Friday, Oct.14

Now, we set our sights on the fun, fellowship fundraiser, The Angels in the Vista Auction! Stay current on exciting auction items shown on the school’s web site and Facebook page. The Auction Committee is still accepting acquisitions and please add an item to your child’s theme classroom basket.

Please be mindful that the success of these fundraisers in the past has enabled us to keep our tuition at the same rate for the last five years. Your participation does make a difference!

The month of October is filled with many special events-Grandparents Day, Scholastic Book Fair, Pet Blessing, and the ever-popular PTO Halloween Party. These events are the perfect complement to the hard work of learning.

Peace and blessings,

Kathy Preston

September, 2016

A Note from Mrs.Preston

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

It has been a busy and successful start to the 2016-17 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!

I also appreciate everyone’s patience and consideration with the afternoon carpool procedures. Please be sure to use the cross walk along the Hampton Street side of the parking lot when walking with your child.

Our first fundraiser, World’s Finest Chocolate, is progressing exceptionally well. There are a few boxes remaining which need to be sold before the end date of September 13.

The first of three PTO meetings will be held on Thursday, September 22, 5:30-7:00pm in Neglia Hall. Our PTO President, Mrs. Nicole Storey 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 26-30, 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 30, all of our students will be treated to a performance of “The Tortoise and the Hare” by Porkchop Productions. We are grateful to Mrs. Genevieve Sullivan ( Ava, 4th grade) who has arranged this assembly for our 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