The kindergarten classes are really getting in the spirit of Christmas. On Friday, Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Hume’s classes made ornaments and participated in a gingerbread exchange with a class in Minnesota! This gave our classes an opportunity to learn about what kindergarten was like in the northern part of the country and to share a little bit of our southern culture. The students from Minnesota wrote our classes letters and sent us gingerbread girls or boys telling a little about themselves. Their gingerbread men were decorated with certain colors and symbols, letting us know a little bit about each of the students. Our students learned that their peers are having recess in the snow and that they have snowstorms instead of hurricanes!
In return, our kindergarteners decorated gingerbread boys and girls and wrote notes to go with them. Our students began by cutting out their gingerbread then following careful directions on how to decorate them. The gingerbread girls received bows while the gingerbread boys received bowties. Eye color was determined by the child’s favorite dessert: ice cream, cookies, or cupcakes. The gingerbread also received noses depending on whether or not the child had seen snow (Good thing it has snowed in Baton Rouge in the past five years!). The gingerbread’s mouth color was determined by whether or not the child had ever eaten a gingerbread cookie. Students were then able to use their favorite color to make squiggles and LSU colors for the buttons.
Our students concluded the activity by writing a short letter introducing themselves and telling about one of their favorite things. The grade also included a longer letter describing our weather in Louisiana, updates on our favorite football team, and a little bit about St. James Episcopal Day School. Our kindergarteners are looking forward to writing more letters with our new Northern pen pals and maybe even a video call in the future!
- Shelby Miller and Hannah Hume, Kindergarten teachers
While our 3rd-5th students are preparing for the Christmas program next week, our K-2nd classes have been making use of new Orff instruments in music class. Through a generous donation, St. James was able to purchase 2 sets of instruments for the music classroom. Developed by German composer Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman, the Orff Approach and instruments allow the students to explore how music is created and have a role in its creation. Orff instruments include xylophones, glokenspiels, marimbas, and metallophones. Students began learning with them recently by playing an ostinato, or a repeated musical pattern, on their new xylophones and metallophones. They also “layered” rhythm instruments over the ostinato. All of our students at St. James are so excited to experiment more with their new instruments!
Right before the start of the holiday travel season, our second grade finished up a study on Westward Expansion and Pioneers. They began their journey by packing bags for a mystery trip in wagons. They soon realized the year was 1849 and most of the possessions they packed had not even been invented yet (fancy neck pillow, iPad, phone, Easy Mac). Most pioneers only packed one set of clothes, tools, weapons, and pots and pans, so they made revisions on what they would want to take given the choices available at the time.
Day to day activities for pioneers were exciting for our students to learn about as well. They were shocked to hear that kids worked and did chores most all of the day! Students spent their weeks in class cooking Johnny cakes and sampling snacks like dried fruit, beef jerky, and cider. They also shared stories of the “Little House in the Big Woods” and were even assigned real pioneer names during this unit. They wrote journal entries from the pioneers’ perspectives, refining their writing skills while also learning about pioneer life. The study concluded at Magnolia Mound where the students toured the antebellum home and outdoor kitchen, learned how to weave on a loom, played with wooden toys from the olden days, and performed a square dance and song! Overall, it was an enriching educational experience that will remain a highlight of the year.
Third Grade has had an amazing quarter! It all began with a comment on Conference Day that parents would enjoy sharing their knowledge and expertise with the class. We created an online signup dedicated solely to this, in essence a partnership between teachers and parents to work together to build a learning community for our students. Friends and family volunteer for various presentations and visit the classroom when their area of expertise is taught. We call these visits Master Chats.
Patrick Banks, Haleigh’s father and a marine biologist, brought the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to the classroom. Students learned about Louisiana marshlands and that Louisiana is the number one producer of shrimp, oysters, and boiled crab. What they found most fascinating was learning to count the rings that circle the ear bones of a fish, just like counting the rings on a tree, to determine its age. They also learned about the dangers of the marshes sinking and endangered animals native to Louisiana.
Caroline Graham, Conor’s mom, brought the Supreme Court of the United States to the classroom, immediately engaging all of Third Grade in a court battle involving the definition of court shoes that traveled from District Court to the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, with a side trip to the Second Circuit, and finally all the way to SCOTUS. The children participated as jurors, defendant, plaintiff, clerks, judges, and justices. Students loved hearing about Mrs. Graham’s experience at the Supreme Court and a special highlight, her visit to the basketball court on the top floor of the building, aptly named The Highest Court in the Land. The day ended in a 5 to 4 vote from the Third Grade justices.
Andrés Harris, Mariela’s father, taught the students the basics of recycling on National Recycling Day. Students learned what materials can be recycled, the four major categories of recyclables and the importance recycling plays to preserve natural resources. The class was treated to a Virtual Field Trip to a Recycling Center where they watched material being sorted and packed. Students then sorted the class recycling bin to demonstrate what they learned. The class learned the importance of everyone working together to protect our planet.
The Master Chats our parents have shared with us have been invaluable as they bring first-hand experiences to students who are engaged and challenged. Upcoming visits include Daniel Simonson to talk about Veterans’ Day and Tara Madison to share her experience with the judicial branch. These chats have strengthened and enriched our learning community.
- Kathlee Shahla and Jennifer Lim, Third Grade Teachers
Each Friday, the school gathers in the church for a weekly eucharist, also referred to as Holy Communion, Mass, or the Lord’s Supper in many other Christian denominations. The term “eucharist” comes to us from the Greek word “eucharistia” which simply means “giving thanks”. This service is a time for the people of God to give thanks for the great gift of Christ to this world. As fourth grader Julia Troegel put it during her day as acting Head of School, “We use this word [eucharist] because when we go to the front of the church to receive the bread and the wine, we are giving thanks to the Lord and thanking Jesus for giving up himself to our service.”
Thanksgiving is a fitting word for this time of the year. Traditionally, harvests were gathered in and people gave thanks to God for food to sustain their lives. We often reserve this word for one day in which the people of our nation give thanks for this land, the people we hold dear, and the blessings of our lives. And we usually speak of these blessings in the context of a meal together, overindulging on tryptophan and football games, a walk outside, and good conversations.
As we reflect on the Thanksgiving holiday, perhaps we might consider stretching this holiday out over several times during the year. Just as the Church recognizes the call to weekly giving of thanks at the eucharist, each of us might celebrate times during the year to offer thanks for people we love, lives that are meaningful and joyful, the warmth of homes and good meals with friends, and a God who loves us and desires the best for us. For myself, I give thanks for the opportunity to be a part of the St. James community this year. I have met some amazing teachers, strong and able administrators, loving and learning students, and a number of committed and supportive parents in a relatively short time. Thanksgiving is not just reserved for that one day each year; giving thanks is a way of responding to all that is shared with us by a loving God. Safe travels, great food, and loving hearts be with you and those you love this Thanksgiving holiday.
- Father Michael Kuhn, Interim Head of School
Schools are typically asked to speak to the reasoning behind the scope of grade levels included in their school. Parents and educators alike talk about Prek-8 or K-12 schools; sometimes they wish that we spanned more grade levels. Yet St. James Episcopal Day School is clearly an elementary school. We end our program in fifth grade, just as students approach Middle School age.
The scope of the grade levels in a school is not simply one that involves figuring out how many classrooms one has available. Determining the grade levels in a particular school can affect the way we teach and the way we learn; this decision shapes the tone of the school community, the use of its resources, and the involvement of parents as well.
I will admit to having a bias in this matter. I have spent most of my 32 years in schools at PreK-8 schools. I have worked several years in PreK-12 , and three of the four schools in which I’ve worked had early childhood programs as well. I am currently working in St. James Episcopal Day School, a PreK-5 school, which also has an early childhood program.
One observation I have made holds true for each of these schools: each school typically derives its identity through focusing on its highest grade level - the graduating class. Now, I do not mean that the Fifth Grade, Eighth Grade or Twelfth Grade get all the attention and/or resources. But I would suggest that schools often describe the “portrait of a graduate” in order to best determine how to design their program looking back from this point. In other words, the exit point in a school helps to shape each prior grade level in that school.
That St. James has a young and happy feel is not coincidental. This speaks to our program, certainly. But this campus “feel” also comes from the fact that our oldest students are about 11 years old. Our youngest students are looking up to these fifth graders; they are not observing the wonderful AND trying attitudes of 7th graders. Nor are they caught up in the 17-18 year old experimental lives of high schoolers. These Middle and High School students are not “bad” or “wrong”, but the broad span may push younger student to aspire to and mimic the lives of older students far too quickly than they are developmentally prepared to experience.
When our kindergarteners look up, they are seeing fifth graders who still wave to them and play with them. Our first grade students see fourth graders speaking with respect to their teachers and being kind to one another in and out of class (for the most part). The tone of St. James Episcopal Day School is young, but not immature - students' minds are being challenged at levels appropriate for their development. But playfulness, joy, curiosity, and academic confidence are borne out of the youthful quality here.
Sometimes, there is a tug on families to jump into a bigger school, to get their fourth grade child into a middle school before the “rush” of sixth grade, or to move their second grader when an older sibling moves to a middle school from St. James; the temptation is to get everything settled smoothly and quickly. But those families who can step back and see the bigger picture are often able to pause and recall the power of this school that culminates in fifth grade. St. James offers a program tailored to developing young minds, young bodies, and young souls. We may not be a child’s final educational experience, but we are committed to being a child’s finest educational, social, and spiritual foundation. What they learn here at St. James Episcopal Day School will carry them far in life.
If you were lost in the woods, what would you need to survive? A fifth grade student would tell you to call upon an early Native American tribe, whose members were experts in using natural resources to meet their needs.
What better way to start the season of Thanksgiving than with a unit on Native Americans. Fifth grade students dug deep to learn just how important the land and environment were to these First Americans. First students chose a tribe to research and through multiple sources learned how physical geography influenced the Indians’ way of life. Students took notes on tribes’ food, clothing, shelter, and major beliefs. Through their research students were required to make their own connections and inferences that eventually culminated into a five paragraph essay. Students not only enhanced their knowledge of our American history, but gained respect for these early people as connections can sometimes only be made by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
With reading integration in mind, students also perfected their ability to organize an informational text, create an introduction that “hooks” the reader, and use appropriate transition words and domain-specific vocabulary throughout their writing. Not sure what pemmican or a chickee stilt house is? Ask our fifth graders—they can tell you!
To end the unit students then participated in a “twitter” project.” Working in small groups, they were yet again required to make inferences. They were given a group of images and had to decide what Cultural Region was represented. Then, they had to discuss how that particular group was able to meet their basic needs with the natural resources around them. They used accountable talking methods, practiced active listening, and then got to write their own “tweets” on the board. As groups moved to each board they were also asked to respond to other classmates “tweets.”
This activity not only served as an engaging way to review, but also provided a true demonstrations of the students’ learning. Most importantly, the students were given the opportunity to perfect the art of hash-tagging.
#lifeofafifthgrader #teacherwasproud #NativeAmericans #criticalthinking
- Terri Struthers, Fifth Grade Teacher
The beginning of the 2019-20 school year has been an exciting and engaging time for students in the STEM Lab, in the St. James’ garden, and at the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum. Students have studied chemistry through hands-on investigations while learning about matter and its properties and physical and chemical changes. “Bubbles,” “Mystery Substances and Solids,” and “Liquids and Gases” have been a few of the lessons studied to further students’ basic understanding of chemistry. Students also have followed best safety practices in their STEM chemistry classes while wearing their new splash proof safety goggles!
Thanks to the St. James Cub Scouts Pack 5, we will be studying pollinators soon! Cub Master Mike Rabalais, Cub Scouts and their parents planted multiple pollinating plants in the garden that have inspired students to create art and poetry in celebration of this beautiful addition to the St. James campus. Curriculum developed by the Boston Museum of Science Engineering is Elementary Program (EiE) will be used to teach students about pollination using the garden as our living lab!
All K-5th graders recently visited the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum (LASM) to view two special exhibitions including “Astral Visions: Photographs by Conner Matherne,” which exposed students to the world of astrophotography, and “Frameworks of Absence: Brandon Ballengee,” which gave students the opportunity to view the work of an artist and biologist advocating for the stewardship of our environment. Students used their newly created Science See and Sketch notebooks to record their observations of endangered and extinct animals while touring the exhibit.
Numerous parents have volunteered to assist in the STEM lab, and this volunteer program is proving to be invaluable! A 4th and 5th grade STEM Club will be established for those students interested in assisting in multiple projects throughout the year. More information will be forthcoming.
Robotic Units are also being planned for the spring for all K-5th grade students using the Photon Robot and a Family Science Night will take place during the second semester. Our St. James STEM Lab’s goals for the year are to foster students’ curiosity, promote critical and creative thinking, instill a love for learning, and to inspire students to become lifelong learners through rich and dynamic experiences! Please view the photos included to see the evidence of wonder and awe that takes place each day through the St. James STEM LAB!
- Tammy Wood, STEM Enrichment Teacher
During the first quarter, our second and third graders learned about emotions and feelings in Spanish class, and they used their new vocabulary to recite poems or tell jokes in Spanish.
To learn the different sentimientos, the students first used iPads to take photos of their classmates making faces with their assigned emotions, which they uploaded into Keynote presentations with identifying labels such as “yo estoy nervioso” and “yo estoy feliz.” Students also drew facial features on a chart showing a variety of feelings. After learning the vocabulary, Ms. Benton role-played talking with a student who was experiencing a certain sentimiento and then had the rest of the class identify the correct one. During these lessons, students also had to practice using different pronouns in Spanish.
Not only did students learn new vocabulary, but they engaged in discussions about having empathy for others by understanding a wide range of feelings. When watching the award-winning short film El Regalo, or The Present, students were prompted to identify different emotions the characters were experiencing and then explain why each character was having them. El Regalo tells a surprising story about of puppy with three legs, who is given as a gift to a young boy.
When she asked students to take pictures with posters showing different feelings, Ms. Benton was pleasantly surprised at their comprehension: “What I really liked is that I didn’t tell them how to make the expressions in these, but they did them anyways!” Enjoy seeing a wide range of faces in the photos below.
Originally from Guatemala, Claudia Escobar Benton is enjoying her new role as a Spanish teacher at St. James after teaching as an assistant in our preschool. She has previously taught in a bilingual preschool and as a college-level design instructor, and she also has career experience in Graphic Design as well as post-graduate studies in Strategic Design and Innovation.
When I was young, I loved “dress-up” time. In my childhood, students in my classes loved to dress up as astronauts, cowboys, ballerinas, bakers, and heroes. The possibilities seemed endless, but what this playtime did was to help us to imagine ourselves as someone else, to see ourselves as capable of doing things other than we may have thought possible. I get a great deal of joy walking into some of our younger grades here at St. James and seeing students don the outfits of doctors or grocers, taking turns running a clinic or a store, letting their imaginations open up and explore some possibilities that might otherwise have been overlooked. These outfits can help us to live into the best that these costumes represent.
This is even why schools like St. James have uniforms. Aesthetics aside, a uniform helps to set a particular tone - we are here to be St. James students. We dress up to play and we dress up to work, as expressions not only of who we are, but what we aspire to be. I often hear students ask,”Why do you wear that black shirt and white collar?” Several students even believe I wear the same shirt every day (I assure you I do not.) The clerical shirt and collar not only helps people to identify me as a priest; it also helps me to remember the immense responsibility of this vocation - this costume helps me to aspire to being better at my work, and to remember that God walks with me.
The Soirée is an opportunity for folks in our school community to dress up a bit and imagine what we, as “Great Gatsbys” and “Daisies,” might do for this school - all in a spirit of fun and good company. When serious fun happens, dress-up is often a part of it! What a great topic to think about as we approach the big dress-up holiday of Halloween. While some in our world fear the evil themes and satanic imagery of the holiday, most of us recognize Halloween as a time to practice our resistance to forces of evil. We manage to be good people even when we dress as monsters!
On Friday, October 18th, the fifth grade dressed up in uniforms with their blazers. They were pinned with the shield of the school to remind them of their changing relationship with St. James Episcopal Day School. This dressing up reminds the fifth grade class of our expectations of them and our hopes for them. They now prepare to take all that they have learned in this place and carry it forward into new experiences. These clothes (the uniforms) help to indicate something about who they are and how they are called to live. They can be the best of what St. James has given them. Dressing up is serious play for all of us.
Fr. Michael Kuhn, Head of School
St. James Art Teacher Catherine Russell worked with St. Joseph's Academy sewing teacher, Amy Neck, to design and create a costume for the BUST Breast Cancer Fashion Show last month. Both teachers worked together to honor teacher and cancer survivor Joy Lonibos from St. Alphonsus Catholic School with their design.
Catherine explained, "After meeting Joy, it was clear to me that her costume should mirror her experience with cancer, so it was entitled 'Battle with Grace,' which she embodies. It was a great experience to meet such wonderful people while raising money for a great cause, and also having a ball!" The money raised in the fundraiser was used to help provide cancer services to those in need.
Please join us in congratulating James McCrary, our Director of Technology and Innovation, for winning a Google Innovator Award! James joins only 41 other educators who were given the honor for this school year. James traveled to New York City recently to participate in a three day Innovation Academy with the program.
Google Innovators are made up of about 1,700 educators in more than 50 countries worldwide who foster innovation and growth within the academic community. Candidates for the Google for Education Certified Innovator Program are selected based on their professional experience, their passion for teaching and learning, their innovative use of technology in school settings and their potential impact on other educators.
Our Art classes are off to a busy start this year, and our walls are proof! All students PreK-3 through 5th started the year with the element of line and created different types of art showing their mastery in producing line variety with many different tools. Next they moved to shape with St. James Selfies. Students explored using shapes to create their self-portraits, working with collage, to studies of value and even to tape! What fun they have had in the studio.
In the month of September, kindergarten math is all about getting familiar with vocabulary! During the month of September, kindergarteners in Mrs. Hume’s and Mrs. Miller’s classes are studying math by learning new vocabulary. For their spatial awareness unit, students used positional words to define the relationships of objects to each other such as “below,” “above,” “beside,” “between,” “inside,” “in front of,” and “behind.”
In the lesson extension, the students took turns drawing cards and positioning their bear correctly in relation to the “bear’s house.” Some students took it a step further and imagined what the bear might be doing on top of his house--for example, enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate while watching shooting stars! They concluded the lesson by singing and motioning along to the song “We’re Going On a Bear Hunt.” Students were excited to show off their understanding of spatial concepts by acting out motions such as “climbing over the bridge” and “tip-toeing into the cave!”
The Dads Club is excited to host the St. James Family Tailgate on Saturday October 5th for the LSU vs. Utah State game! We hope you and your family will be able to join us. There will be great food and fun for all!
A few important details:
Team Automotive Group, BIG, C.Silva Architect, LAMAR, Momentum Commercial Real Estate, Element Construction
Last week, St. James’ Pre-Kindergarten students shared their school spirit and their classrooms as they celebrated their mascots - Clifford the Big Red Dog, Pete the Cat, and the Very Hungry Caterpillar. Children and their parents began in their own classrooms and rotated until they created a caterpillar painting with Ms. Daigre, played Pin the Button on Pete with Ms. Modica, and iced cupcakes for Clifford’s birthday with Ms. Harper. The event culminated on the playground as all three classes were met with our school mascot, Pal the Pelican!
Hey, Hey, Goodbye! Mrs. Daigre’s PreKindergarten students released the monarch last week that they observed growing and changing from a caterpillar to a chrysalis and finally to a beautiful butterfly. The children suggested singing their daily goodbye song as the butterfly made its first flight from St. James!
In Pre-K 3, we focus on an author a month. This month we are reading Laura Numeroff books. After reading “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” the children participated in an extension activity which focused on counting, numeral recognition, one-to-one correspondence, and eye-hand coordination. For this activity, the children choose a numbered cookie card and identified that number. They then had to find the ten frame that corresponded with the cookie card and counted out the appropriate number of cookie cereal to place on the ten frame. Once the children completed the activity, they were able to enjoy their cookie cereal.
Our first annual Spirit Week is coming up soon- September 9th-13th. We will have a different theme for each day.
More information coming this week. Go Pelicans!
These students chose to participate in the Cane’s Chicken Finger Challenge. Each child read over 100 pages and logged their reading into Biblionasium! They were awarded a bookmark and free kid’s meal from Cane’s. Keep up the great reading and look for more challenges to come!
2nd grade: Alston McConell, James Hollis Holliday, Thomas Delahaye, Wills Miley and Amelia Vasquez
3rd grade: Benjamin Easterly, Benjamin Kees, Callie Ghere, Cannon Jack Duncan, Carolena Duncan, Sydney Turner, Yvie Hunt, Christian Tucker, Connor Graham, Curry Vinci, Dannie Gray, Dylan Finan, Sydney Easterly, Hayden Simonson, Hal Maddison, Haleigh Banks, Harrison Strome, Keiser Jones, Louise Passes, Tre Virdure, Maggie Rodrigue, Mariela Harris, Mary Middleton Staley, Rhett Ghere, Sophie Maltbie and William Ragland
4th Grade: Anna Grace Boudreaux, Barrett Klar, Brooke Ourso, Caroline Netterville, Charlie Thompson, William Pennington, Davis Kelley, John Roders Lambert, Josh Kantrow, Julia Troegel, Landry Boyce, Margaret Trimble, Leo Abraham, Mason Harris, Matthew Piazza, Pace Rabalais, Remie Wimberley, Stella Silva, Temple Ray, Townes Couvillon, Vivian Mullins, Will Gattis
5th Grade: Aiden Bradford, Bennett Weinstein, Brantley Carney, Elle Jumonville, Corinne Boydstun, Anna Kurtz, Aubrey Ghere, Audrey Buller, Bennett Graham, Braden Hunt, Cage Walsh, Chelsea Pupera, Harper Inzer, Harrison Banks, Henry Kucharchuk, James Marceaux, Morgan Schuber, Mya Broyles, Olivia Graham, Sara Beth Cagley, Shelby Roux, Thomas Petersen, William Mullins, Zach Lofton
School has started and it’s time to start running! Come join the Pelican Pacers, a running/walking club designed to promote self-esteem, self confidence, and improve health. The goal for every student is to run 26.2 miles— the distance of a marathon. Students keep track of their mileage with a personal barcode that they scan every 1/10th of a mile. Students earn special team rewards after 5, 10, 15, 20 and 26.2 milestones. All students receive a long sleeve team running shirt and an invitation to the end-of-the-season celebration. Email Coach Chandler to join. firstname.lastname@example.org
Run. Sweat. Get stronger. Get smarter. Be confident. Have fun!
When: Thursday mornings from 7:30 - 8:10am
Cost: $100 (pays for the entire season, September through January)
Grades: 1st through 5th grade
St. James is excited to welcome Father Michael as the Interim Head of School for 2019. Father Michael has been a strong, positive presence and is determined to continue this year's amazing start. With a focus on the students, his goal is to make sure they have an excellent experience filled with love and care in a welcoming academic environment.
Dear Parents - We are looking forward to starting Scouts this fall! Scouting has a long history at St. James and we hope you will join us. There are a few changes this year! See below.
Is Scouts only for boys? No! Our Scout pack is open to boys and girls. This is a welcome change for a small school such as ours.
What if I didn't participate last year? No worries! All students are welcome if you didn't participate in the past.
When are the meetings? In an effort to make scouting more accessible to all families, we will be moving our monthly meetings to the weekend, most likely once a month on a Sunday afternoon.
Why should my student participate? Character development, spiritual growth, good citizenship, sportsmanship, etc. Eleven of the twelve US astronauts who walked on the moon were scouts!
We are interested! What do we do? We will have an introductory meeting Saturday August 24 from 09:00 - 10:00 in the St. James gymnasium.
Please contact me if you have any questions (email@example.com). Thanks! Mike