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

Principal’s Newsletter November 2014

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

Emerging research points to gratitude as a potential bridge between a student’s academic and social well-being.  Studies show that grateful youth have higher Grade Point Averages, experience more positive emotions, and ultimately lead more meaningful adult lives.  Practicing gratitude at a young age promotes the development of self-control, so important to lifelong success (Education Update, ASCD).

Here at St. Peter’s, gratitude is imbedded in the curriculum and culture.  Helping students to be aware of the blessings in their lives and teaching them to be aware of the needs of others begins in the K4 class. This is evident as our 4-year-olds collect canned goods for Harvest Hope Food Bank.  Last month the school shared our gratitude for two very special groups, our grandparents and our many wonderful donors and volunteers.

Our school-wide service project this month will support the Palmetto Health Foundation’s Festival of Trees. We are asking each family to donate an angel-themed ornament which will decorate St. Peter’s Angels in the Vista tree. This tree and many others will be auctioned off the weekend of November 22-23 at the Columbia Convention Center.  All proceeds from this popular event go to enhancing programs at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital.

Our Capella Pueri is honored to have been asked, once again, to participate in two community events. On Thursday, November 20, the Capella will be singing at Vista Lights, the official kick-off to Columbia’s Christmas season. On November 26, 28, and 30, the Capella is the guest chorus for The Nutcracker, performed by Ann Brodie’s Carolina Ballet, at the Township Auditorium.  Our auditioned children’s choir, under the direction of Mr. Mark Husey, is an impressive group, performing at a very high level with a well-earned reputation for excellence, not simply for their music, but for their exemplary behavior as well.

Our students will also be in attendance at the Veterans Day Parade on November 11. This is an important opportunity to show our gratitude for the sacrifices made by the men and women who serve in our military.

Finally, all of our students in grades K4-6 contributed to this year’s Christmas cards, which will be available in the office before Thanksgiving break.  Special thanks to our Art teacher, Mrs. Wyrick, for her work with this project.

It is my hope that each of you have much to be grateful for–your faith, family, friends, health, and happiness.  Let us all tap into the power of gratitude during this month of “Thanksgiving!”

Many blessings,

Mrs. Kathy Preston, Principal

Principal’s Newsletter October 2014

Dear Parents,

ELMO and OSMO are two new additions to St.Peter’s School!  While this sounds like children’s cartoon characters, they are actually two new forms of Instructional Technology our students will use in the classrooms. Special thanks to Jocelyn Gnirrep (Harrison, 3rd grade) for the OSMO device which is a tool used with an ipad to promote creative and social thinking, visual discrimination and processing.  The OSMOs  will rotate through all of the classrooms.

The ELMO is a document camera, donated by Dr. Norris (Case, 4th grade). This classroom technology can be used to actively engage students in the learning process. Visual learners will benefit from the use of a classroom document camera by seeing small items, text,  and demonstrations in a much bigger way. Hands-on learners will benefit from the use of the ELMO by allowing them to be the ones placing objects or items under the document camera and explaining what they are showing.

These generous donations are just another example of the amazing support we have at St. Peter’s School. On October 9th, we have planned a Donor and Volunteer Appreciation Reception which will allow us, in a small way, to show our gratitude for the many benefactors of our school. This special evening will begin at 6:00pm with the blessing of our beautiful mosaic of our new logo in the school hallway.

Speaking of blessings, this month we continue the tradition of the feast of St. Francis with the blessing of our furry friends.  Fr.Linsky has invited our students to have their pets blessed on Friday, October 3rd at 2:30 on the soccer field. If it is not convenient for a parent to bring the pet to the school, the student may bring a picture.

Another special event taking place this month is Grandparent’s Day.  On Friday, October 10th we invite grandparents and those special friends who are like grandparents to join us in the school from 7:30-11:30am. We will have refreshments, opportunities to visit classrooms, a professional picture taken of grandchildren and their grandparents, a  visit to the Scholastic Book fair, and a prayer service in the church. This is an enjoyable morning, which has become a well-attended event. Our children love sharing their school with their grandparents, and we love having the grandparents here!

I look forward to being in the classrooms throughout the month of October for formal observations but, as I walk through the halls, check Tuesday folders, and review progress reports, it is evident to me that learning in a variety of modalities is taking place.  Instruction is being individualized and differentiated. Our teachers take seriously their responsibilities as professional educators, and they care deeply for their students, your children.

Our first quarter ends on the 23rd of this month and report cards will be distributed at Parent/Teacher Conferences on Friday, October 31st.

Finally, we look forward to another popular event on the 30th of this month, the PTO Family Halloween Party. Parents and children are invited to a pizza dinner, fun games, prizes, and dancing.  All are invited to come in creative costume.  Maybe we will see an ELMO and an OSMO!!

Wishing you all the blessings of fall,

Mrs. Kathy Preston, Principal

Principal’s Newsletter September 2014

Watching the school come to life after the quiet summer months is immensely gratifying. Textbooks are counted, supplies sorted, names placed on desks, classrooms decorated, and lesson plans developed all in preparation for the return of students. We are thrilled to welcome 32 new families to St.Peter’s as we begin the 2014-15 school year.

We are also happy to welcome three new faculty members. Mrs. Monica Wyrick, our new Art teacher, has 11 years of teaching experience and has illustrated children’s books. Mrs. Therese Carr brings a wealth of experience to St.Peter’s as our new Spanish teacher. She has a B.A. in Spanish and an M.A. in English, with a concentration in teaching English as a second language. Our new Technology teacher, Ms. Jenny Priester graduates this December from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Computer Science. Each of these talented individuals will enhance the strong academic program offered to our students.

It was wonderful seeing so many parents at the “Back to School Night.” We discussed the importance of fellowship and fundraising provided by our PTO. The kick-off to our first fundraiser, World’s Finest Chocolate, has been quite successful. Each family is asked to sell at least one box. Prizes will be awarded to our top-selling students at the end of September. Innisbrook wrapping paper will be our second fundraiser in the fall and our biggest fundraising event is still to be determined! Get those creative juices flowing and share your ideas with our PTO President, Tonya Roper! Please be sure to put our 1st of three PTO meetings on your calendar, Thursday, September 25, 5:30 p.m. in Neglia Hall.

As the new school year begins, we continue our collaboration with the Columbia Conservatory of Dance. Our students in grades 1-6 will be participating in this unique PE program from September 4th through December 5th. On September 26th, all our students will attend a very special presentation by Porkchop Productions. Their fanciful adaption of The Boy Who Cried Wolf will teach important lessons about honesty. Both of these programs are made possible through the generosity of the Sullivan family (Liam, 5th grade and Ava 3rd grade).

Another creative form of learning will be available to all throughout the year. I invite you to visit the “gallery” at the end of the 1st floor.  Mrs.Phillips, our third grade teacher, has created an interactive display which incorporates religion, history, and technology.

The teachers use this time at the beginning of the school year to assess what their students have retained, what type of learner each student is, and areas of strengths and weakness. Another tool used to help teachers direct instruction is the ITBS test, which will be given to students in grades 1-6 the week of September 22nd.

In closing, I would like to share a simple prayer taken from Franciscan Father Mychal Judge, a chaplain for the New York Fire Department who died helping victims in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 9/11: “Lord, take me where you want me to go.  Let me meet who you want me to meet. Tell me what you want me to say.  And keep me out of your way.”

Thank you for entrusting your children to us. I look forward to working with you.

Many blessings,

Mrs. Kathy Preston, Principal



Principal’s Newsletter August 2014

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

As evidenced by the wonderful pictures sent to the school by our students, summer fun has been taking place at the beach, in the mountains, at state parks and amusement parks near and far. It is a pleasure to see the children enjoying themselves, proudly wearing their St.Peter’s t-shirts!

These quiet days before school begins allow us the time to prepare for the upcoming school. We are especially pleased to welcome 27 new families to the St.Peter’s School community! Our current enrollment shows a 25% increase from where we were last year at this time.

In June, we were sad to have to say good- by to Art teacher, Mrs. Molly Chance. She and her husband have moved to Tennessee, where we wish them much happiness. Upon her departure, Mrs. Chance wrote the following:

“From the very first class I taught, I knew there was something special about this school, its faculty, and its students. I know it is said a lot, but it is true…St.Peter’s is like a family! I will deeply miss St.Peter’s.”

We look forward to continuing our strong art program with our new art teacher, Monica Wyrick. Ms.Wyrick has over 11 years’ experience as an art instructor in North and South Carolina. She has her own fine arts business and has illustrated 7 children’s books. I am confident Ms.Wyrick will be an asset to St.Peter’s School!

The summer months also provide opportunities for Professional Development. This past July our pastor, Fr.Linsky, attended the Alliance for Catholic Education at Notre Dame University. His support and enthusiasm for the school is evident in his participation at this conference.

Faculty members, Mrs. Hawkins and Mrs.Bumgardner, spent a week working on the Diocesan Curriculum Committee with Notre Dame’s Ace Collaborative. The current focus is on the Math and Social Studies curriculum.

For the first time the faculty will begin the new school year by participating in a Retreat. The faculty will be traveling to The Oratory Center for Spirituality in Rock Hill to spend a day in prayer and reflection.

Our strength as Catholic school educators comes from our faith, professional knowledge and, as the gift of summer reminds us, time to replenish!  However, it is now time to have the students back in the school, for it is entirely too quiet!

We look forward to welcoming all of our students back to school August 20th!

Many blessings,

Mrs. Kathy Preston, Principal

Principal’s Newsletter June 2014

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

It seems hard to believe that we have come to the end of the 2013-2014 school year, a year filled with significant achievements.  In this the second year of our new logo, a beautiful mosaic made by all of the students now hangs in the first floor hallway.  It symbolizes our commitment to nurture and challenge our students, so that they achieve their fullest God-given potential.  Please drop by to see our logo in mosaic, which truly brightens the hallway and inspires all who see it.

Our new website is now live, thanks to our Development Director, Mrs. Hero.   It  is just the beginning of improved communications with our current and prospective parents.  Special thanks to our Advisory Board President, Dr. Dan Norris, not only for help with the website, but for all the ways he has aided the school in the area of technology. We are very grateful to Dr. Norris.

A new Physical and Emotional Health Program (PEHP) was initiated this year and was very well received by  students and parents.

Our biggest fundraiser for the school, the Angels in the Vista Auction, under the direction of Co-Chairs, Melanie McGehee and Katie Spann, raised a record-setting $40,000.  Mrs. McGehee and Mrs. Spann truly understand, “It is better to give than to receive.”  All in our school are in awe of their efforts that resulted in such success!

St.Peter’s School was one of 12 recipients nationally to receive   “Today’s Catholic Teacher” Innovations in Education Award.

Yet, this is just the tip of the iceberg, when I think of all of the amazing work taking place at St.Peter’s School to make it a place of academic and spiritual development.  We are blessed by many volunteers who work with our teachers to support our students as well as  parents and parishioners who give their time, talent and treasure to support the school.  Our new pastor this year, Fr.Gary Linsky, has brought new energy to the stewardship of our school, and we are grateful to have his excellent leadership.

Ultimately it is the words and actions of our students that give proof to our progress.  When asked how religious instruction impacted their development, our graduating 6th grade students responded,

“It makes a difference having religion every day of school.”  “I am more comfortable with my faith.” “I want to go to church now.” “I can apply Bible stories to decisions or obstacles in my life.” “I find strength in sharing my faith.” “I have been inspired by our religion classes, going to Mass and Morning Prayer, and I am more aware of the needs of others.”

I am very proud of all our students. Please encourage them  to read, practice math, and most importantly, go to church and continue praying this summer. I have also invited the students to send in pictures of themselves in their St.Peter’s t-shirts from a vacation destination, near or far.  Prizes will be given when they return in August!

Wishing all our St.Peter’s families a restful and rejuvenating summer break,

Mrs. Kathy Preston, Principal

Principal’s Newsletter May 2014

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

The rosary I keep close at hand was given to me by my aunt.  She had a similar one, however, each bead on her rosary had been rubbed smooth from years of prayer. My aunt was the mother of 16 children and when my mother died at 51 years old, Aunt Ann continued to mother my five siblings and myself.  I think of my aunt frequently during the month of May as we focus on many special women throughout this month at St. Peter’s School.

Our traditional May Procession and International Rosary is a beautiful way to honor our Blessed Mother, Mary.  For over 30 years our students have been participating in this solemn procession and prayer with parents, teachers, and parishioners.  This year the rosary was said in different languages including Konkani, French, Arabic, Filipino, Spanish, Japanese, and German.

Teachers are celebrated throughout the first week of May during Teacher Appreciation Week.  We are truly blessed at St. Peter’s School to have committed teachers who work hard and take great joy in developing the whole child.

There is no more challenging or gratifying job than that of being a parent.  On Sunday, May 11 we pause to thank all our deserving mothers!  I am amazed and impressed by the many talents and generous spirits of out students’ mothers at St. Peter’s.  Please know that you are remembered in prayer throughout this month.  This final full month of the school year is very busy with special activities and end-of-the-year celebrations.  Please be sure to check the events calendar on this website  for important dates.

With gratitude for our wonderful teachers and mothers and the blessings of our Holy Mother, Mary, I am humbly yours,

Mrs. Kathy Preston







Principal’s Newsletter April 2014

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

Our students are currently focused on a most important spiritual journey during the Lenten Season, that of growing stronger in faith and closer to God.  On April  16, our students will participate in a school-wide retreat.  Starting with the 8:30 Mass, grades K4 and 5 will spend the day involved in activities that will help them understand the Triduum, which runs from Holy Thursday through the Easter Vigil.  They learn about the symbols of Easter, and they come to know the sacrificial love of Jesus.  Please pray for all our students during this holy season.

This month our 6th grade class is looking forward to another kind of journey—an exciting class trip to  Washington, D.C.  They  will visit the Smithsonian, Mt.Vernon, Ford’s Theater, the U.S.Capitol, the Library of Congress, the Holocaust Museum, St. Matthew’s Cathedral, and the Lincoln and Washington memorials. This year we will also visit the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and celebrate Mass  there.  Miss Geene and I are looking forward to traveling with our 6th grade students and are very grateful to Mrs. Potash and Mrs. Bradley for traveling with us.

Learning should be experiential and multi-sensory.  Students remember things that they experience. Our K4 students had much to share about all they experienced at the circus, including the animals and the clowns.  Special thanks to Mrs. Drafts and TD Bank for providing the tickets to this special event. The Congaree Swamp was a great place for the 3rd grade to experience different habitats and our 2nd grade will experience music, movement and the fine arts at the Cirque de la Symphonie  at the Koger Center this week.

Our students in grades3-6  didn’t travel far last week to experience an array of careers!  Thanks to our Guidance Counselor Ms.Carlson and parent Mrs.Sullivan,  our students were able to hear from a variety of professionals  in Neglia Hall who came to talk about their careers and the importance of education in their success.   It was a terrific afternoon of learning! Earlier in the week our students in grades K4-2 were able to learn from emergency personnel who visited St.Peter’s School with their fire truck, segues and four runners. It is wonderful to watch adults share their expertise with enthusiasm and children engaged and excited about what they are hearing…and hopefully dreaming about what they will be when they grow up!

As we begin this 4th quarter, let us keep each other in our prayers as we continue this journey together.

Wishing you and your family a joyful and blessed Easter season,

Mrs. Kathy Preston, Principal