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


August 2016

A Note From Mrs. Preston

Dear Parents and Friends,

The bright binders, clean notebooks, and fresh backpacks displayed in the stores throughout the city remind us that a new school year is about to begin!

I look forward to welcoming the teachers back in the school on August 10th and our students on August 17th. We are excited to welcome two new faculty members to St.Peter’s School. Mrs. Lisa Hart will be joining Mrs. Pam Robinson in the K4 class as the lead teacher. Mrs. Hart has an MA in Early Childhood Education, over 4 years of teaching experience and two lovely children, Caleb and Peyton.

Our new second grade teacher, Mrs. Shelli Horabik, has a BA in Elementary Education from the University of South Carolina.  Mrs.Horabik has worked for the Lexington School District and she, too, has two lovely children, Mark and Mackenzi.

We are also pleased to welcome Dr. Andrew Kotylo, the new Director of Music and Liturgy for St.Peter’s Church. Dr.Kotylo looks forward to continuing the outstanding work done by our students in our choir, Capella Pueri, and leading all of our students in the church music ministry.

I have noted on numerous occasions how fortunate we are to have the support of our parish family. A wonderful example of this support is the happy, generous spirit of parishioners Andrea and Ken Headley. You will see this lovely couple the morning of the first day of school. Mr.Headley is our ‘parish photographer’ and he and Andrea make a point to be here every year on the first day of school to capture the moment, and welcome the students. I have come to look forward to this tradition, as much as I enjoy seeing the students walk back into the school.  Mr. and Mrs. Headley’s gifts of time and joy are truly appreciated.

While it is nice having the summer months to get caught up, a school is a very different place without the students. I am confident I join our faculty and staff in expressing our excitement in starting up the 2016-17 school year!

Many blessings,

Mrs. Kathy Preston, Principal




June & July 2016

A Note From Mrs. Preston

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

Closing out a school year is a jumble of activities, celebrations and emotions. On the faces of students, teachers, and parents you see expressions of excitement, anxiety, happiness, and exhaustion.

Tears were shed as we said good bye to those not returning to St.Peter’s, families that are moving and our graduates who are moving on. It was very hard to let this 6th grade class go. They are a delightful group of young men and women whom we have watched grow over the years.  As they came to the end of their time at St.Peter’s, they wrote eloquently about their memories and the impact that St.Peter’s School has had on their young lives.

Coming to the day of Graduation is not easy. I have mixed feelings of sadness and happiness. I am sad because I have to say good bye to all the teachers, students and the staff that I deeply love. I am happy that I am going to use what St.Peter’s School has taught me to meet my future challenges and goals.”

Now, as the school has emptied for the summer months, we focus our attention on preparations for the 2016-17 academic year.  Classroom supplies are ordered,  a fresh coat of paint goes on the walls of some classrooms, and all carpets and floors are cleaned. Meetings are held addressing curricular developments, campus security, instructional technology, and facility upgrades.

Our Auction Committee has met to organize acquisitions for the Angels in the Vista Auction, already scheduled for Friday, November 11th.  Be sure to get this on your calendar! Also, as you are out and about this summer, if you should come across a fun auction item, or destination, please be sure to contact our Auction Chairs, Mrs. Stephanie Hall (theHalls@sc.rr.com) or Mrs. Jennifer Penso (jenpenso@yahoo.com).  St.Peter’s Angels in the Vista Auction is known for its terrific and varied auction items…and for being a lot of fun!

I am especially proud of our teachers who are using these summer months to further enrich their teaching skills. Four of our teachers attended a week long program that completed a yearlong Nature-Based Inquiry Professional Development Initiative through the University of South Carolina. Our Technology teacher attended Googlefest in Charleston;  three of our teachers are attending Diocesan Curriculum Committee meetings.  Also in Charleston, two of our teachers attended a seminar on special needs modifications and accommodations in the classroom and two teachers will be attending an Educator’s Workshop presented by Richland County Storm Water Management Division. This time spent on professional development is a testament to our faculty’s dedication to excellence.

However, I believe that these warm,  summer days serve a higher purpose. This past spring, while at the Diocesan Principal’s retreat, I learned of a very special virtue, Eutrapelia. This virtue spoken about by Aristotle and St.Thomas Aquinas teaches us the importance of relaxation and  “re-creation.”

This rest from  work reminds us that it is God’s world,  not ours. The progress of the world depends on Him before it depends on us. Human life is a gift and a grace to be received and lived with joy.  The human being needs time to relax and to rest,  time for enjoyment and games, for  witty and warm conversation with friends. If we are to be useful to our friends, family and co-workers,  we need to respect the limitations of our energies. We need to  know  when to stop and relax.

Eutrapelia is the virtue that enables us to give ourselves fully to the very serious business of enjoying the delights of friendship and love, family and friends, books and games, music and laughter.

Wishing all of the St.Peter’s faith community slow, peaceful summer days and joyful moments with family and friends,

Mrs. Kathy Preston