December, 2017

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A Note from Mrs. Preston

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

The beautiful season of Advent is upon us! During this time of preparation, we focus on the many gifts given to us by God -most especially, the Christ Child humbly taking on our humanity to free us from sin.

The hectic nature of this time of year seems ironic as the greatest gift we have to give and receive is the gift of peace. Know that it is the desire of the faculty and staff to provide a peaceful environment for the children at St.Peter’s throughout these weeks that are filled with special seasonal activities – rehearsals, decorations, parties, and shopping.

Speaking of shopping…I would like to suggest some gift ideas for your children that may seem counter-cultural to the electronic gifts that I am certain will be the big attraction. Please consider toys and games that will encourage active participation, socialization, cooperation, imagination and creativity.

Games: family board games such as Scrabble, Boggle, Life, Pictionary, checkers and chess and outside games that include balls, hula-hoops, bean bags, and jump ropes.

Building materials: blocks, Legos, magnets, crafts, and tools.

Books, magazine subscription, journals, scrapbooks – anything that encourages writing and reading.

Yet, it is my ardent wish that the true gifts of Christmas are simple and focused on the faith filled messages of Advent and Christmas. As a family, take time to attend church each Sunday in Advent, light the candles on the Advent wreath, read the many spiritual and beautiful versions of the Christmas story, and listen to the words as you sing Christmas hymns.

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, loves pure light

Radiant beams from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus, Lord at thy birth, Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

 

Wishing you and your family the many blessings of the Christmas season.

Kathy Preston

Principal

 

November, 2017

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A Note from Mrs. Preston

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

I vividly remember the large cornucopia table decoration that was displayed on my grandparent’s dining room table around this time, every year. The colorful, artificial fruits and vegetables spilling out of the large cone-shaped basket was always an indication that Thanksgiving was right around the corner.

The cornucopia is a symbol of abundance, nourishment, and gratitude. During the month of November we will focus on all that we have in our lives for which we are grateful. As I reflect upon the blessings of the St. Peter’s School community, I am so grateful for the following:

  • A hardworking and loving faculty and staff, dedicated to nurturing each students academic, social, emotional and spiritual growth.
  • Parents and grandparents who are committed to the mission of the school
  • Volunteers who give of their time so generously
  • Our Pastor, Fr. Linsky, and parishioners who understand, support, and care for the school unconditionally.
  • Beautiful students who make me smile every day

This month we will be mindful of the needs of those less fortunate by supporting the Harvest Hope Food Bank. Collection receptacles will be in the school for non-perishable food items and toiletries.

Throughout the month of October we celebrated the lives of the Saints, culminating in the Holy Day of Obligation, All Saints Day, which included our Second Graders dressed as their special saint at our school Mass. The community of saints provides for us examples of those individuals who have lived virtuous lives for God. It was brought to my attention that November is National Black Catholic History Month and as such we will focus this month on St. Josephine, St. Monica, and St. Augustine, African saints who have had a huge impact on the history and traditions of Christianity.

The virtues of justice, fortitude, faith, hope and love are exemplified through the lives of the saints, as we strive to teach and model them at St. Peter’s Catholic School.

This Thanksgiving may you be nourished by the abundant blessings of family, friends, and faith and be filled with a grateful heart.

Kathy Preston

Principal

 

October, 2017

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A Note from Mrs. Preston

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

Traditions are important events and activities, repeated year after year, that ground a community with shared experiences, memories and beliefs. The month of October we look forward to continuing a number of important traditions at St. Peter’s Catholic School.

The first Friday we welcome Grandparents and special friends of our students for Grandparents’ Day. Our guests are invited to visit the classrooms, enjoy refreshments and drop into the Scholastic Book Fair. This year we are especially excited that our students and guests will be able to attend a performance by Porkchop Productions. Our students really look forward to this special event. Many thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan (Ava, 5th grade) for sponsoring Porkchop Productions once again.

Another sweet tradition that our pastor, Fr. Linsky, began is the Pet Blessing which will take place on our soccer field, Wednesday, October 11th. Parents are invited to bring the family pet (on a leash or in a cage) or the students can bring a picture of their pet to this ceremony where our own Capella Pueri will sing. The feast of St. Francis of Assisi reminds us of the beauty of all God’s creations.

The month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary. This year we are initiating the Living Rosary, which the entire school will participate in on Friday, October 13th. The Rosary has been officially used since 1569, when Pope Pius V approved the devotion. It has been used by Catholics to pray for peace and intervention during turbulent times throughout history. It is my hope that the Living Rosary will become a new tradition at St. Peter’s School.

Finally, we end the month with the ever-popular tradition of the Halloween Party. Families are invited to dinner, games and dancing on Thursday, October 26th; fun costumes are always appreciated!

Traditions fortify a community. These shared experiences remind us of the importance of being in communion with one another-helping, caring and praying together.

I look forward to sharing these traditions with you.

Wishing you and your family the many blessings of a loving community.

Kathy Preston

Principal

September, 2017

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A Note from Mrs. Preston

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

Labor Day truly signals the end of summer, and for students, time to get back to work. It is always a joy to have the students return to school. The younger children enter with some trepidation and boundless energy, the older grades looking taller, older, so self-assured!

It was wonderful seeing so many parents at the Back to School Night. I appreciate you making the time to hear about St. Peter’s rules, procedures and plans for the 2017-18 academic year.

We begin this month with a new Diocesan initiative, MAP (“Measures of Academic Progress”) testing in grades 1-6. This will take the place of the previously given ITBS standardized test. A Parent Information sheet has gone home in the Tuesday folder which I hope you have time to review. I am especially excited about this new form of testing because it is adaptive and results will be given in a more expeditious manner. Teachers will be able to use the information from the MAP test to individualize instruction and differentiate lesson plans.

We will provide a brief overview of the MAP test at the first PTO meeting, Thursday, September 21st in Neglia Hall. Dinner will be served at 5:30pm and the meeting should be done by 7:00pm. At this same PTO meeting our Art Teacher, Mrs. Wyrick, will share student work inspired by her trip to Poland this past summer. There are only three PTO meetings a year. Please make every effort to attend.

We can certainly empathize with the residents of the Texas communities devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Two years ago when Columbia was affected by destructive flooding, the city received support from all over the country. I remember receiving calls from other Catholic schools, reaching out to offer help and prayers. Our school-wide service project this month offers us an opportunity to reciprocate. Working with the National Catholic Education Association, “Student to Student, A Catholic School Response to Hurricane Harvey” we are asking each student to donate one dollar with the goal of $165.00, correlating to our 165th year. I am confident we can meet and possibly surpass this goal. This is a wonderful way to engage students in living the Gospel message of compassionate service and generosity to others.

Throughout this month may you find your work to be safe, satisfying and faith-filled.

Blessings,

Kathy Preston

August, 2017

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A Note from Mrs. Preston

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

Happy New Year!!

We are accustomed to hearing this greeting at the start of a new calendar year, but it seems especially appropriate as we start this new school year.

So much has been going on in the school throughout the summer months- new carpeting, fresh paint, technology upgrades, updated heating and air system, and security measures installed. It honestly feels like a brand new building!

Most exciting, are the new faculty and staff joining our St. Peter’s family. I am thrilled with the talent, energy and expertise that they are adding to our already incredible staff. Each have shown their enthusiasm and dedication by spending time this summer working in their classrooms, attending meetings, reviewing curriculum, preparing for their new position. I cannot wait for you to get to know them!

Of course, the best part of a new school year is welcoming the students back. We have approximately 30 new families joining us this year. Our New Parent Orientation on Wednesday, August 9th is a great opportunity for us to answer questions and get acquainted. We look forward to having the students back in school on Tuesday, August 22, the day after the special event, the solar eclipse. Tuesday and Wednesday is an 11:30 dismissal, and Thursday and Friday, Aug.24 and 25th are full days, with the After School Program available from 3:30-5:30pm.

As we begin this New Year, we are also beginning the 165th year as the educational ministry of St. Peter’s Church. This is a remarkable accomplishment. Like the parable of the mustard seed, our sweet school is flourishing on fertile soil. In the parable of the small seed, our Lord emphasizes the mysterious, unseen growth of the kingdom according to the good pleasure of God and the patient expectation of faithful servants who plant as He has ordained.

“[Jesus] said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’ ”- Mark 4:30—32

May our mission of preparing our students for a life of faith, virtue, and excellence continue to be blessed for many more years to come!

Kathy Preston

Principal

 

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.

Blessings,

Kathy Preston

Principal

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!

Blessings,

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.

Blessings,

Kathy Preston

Principal

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.

Blessings,

Kathy Preston