Christmas Frenzy

I was talking with some students the other day and we were discussing plans for Christmas, and gifts we still needed to buy.  We talked about how much we had to do.  We did mention our plans for church on Christmas or Christmas Eve, but we all were so focused on the other things.  Then, out of the blue, one of the students asked me what I do during Advent. Our conversation turned to silence.  A couple of us did talk about prayer, but how do you celebrate Advent? As a reminder to myself, that evening I did some reading and I came up with this message for this week.
Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child, but in the midst of the pre-Christmas frenzy, it's easy to lose sight of the profound spiritual importance of the Advent season. Your greatest temptation during Advent will be scrimping on your spiritual needs because there are so many other things going on!
There are presents to make or buy, cookies to bake, cards to mail, parties to plan, gifts to wrap and trees to decorate. Even your parish can put demands on your time with choir practices, pageant rehearsals, candy sales, food collections for the poor and Advent evenings of reflection.
There's nothing wrong with pre-Christmas preparations. But it's important to balance the sacred part of the Advent season with all of the other things you are doing. If you don't make time for quiet reflection, prayer and conversion of heart, you will find yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted by Christmas Day. Your Christmas celebration will look perfect on the surface, but will feel spiritually unsatisfying. You will have a hard time experiencing the joy and peace that the Babe in Bethlehem brings.
I want to say thank you to the students for reminding me that Advent is a time of preparation.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Celebrate Advent

First, I want to thank the 8th grade class for a wonderful breakfast on Sunday.  It was exceptional to see so many people supporting our school and our students.  It was a huge success.  On Monday, we received a call from the Kingman Chamber of Commerce that our float in the parade on Saturday won second place.  Outstanding!  I heard that the weather was wonderful and the parade was very nice.  Congratulations Crusaders, we are very proud of you.  You definitely are representing our school very well.
In our rush to celebrate Christmas, we seem to forget that there is another season that falls between Thanksgiving and Dec. 25; it is the season of Advent.

For the four Sundays between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, Catholics are encouraged to postpone their thoughts of Santa Claus, Christmas shopping and seasonal decorations, and think instead about the four themes of Advent: hope, love, joy and peace.  Being practical, we all need to do a great many things to prepare for Christmas, but let's not forget to observe what is most important.  

This message of faith is intended to appeal to everyone who is already bogged down in "observing" the season of Christmas, urging them to take some time to walk through the themes and messages of Advent.
One of those themes is love. Has there ever been a word that is as widely used but as badly understood? The problem with the word love is that we use it to describe our feelings about a great many things that really have nothing in common.

A true definition of this love can be observed every day in the faith of a child. This sort of unconditional love abounds in the hallways of our school.  We also have an opportunity to put this kind of love into action by participating in all that our church offers during this Advent season.  Our church and school offer many opportunities to experience not only love, but hope , joy and peace.

May these four themes register with each of us this advent season.

With you in Christ,

Mr. Lyall

Welcome To Winter

As November ends and December begins, Old Man Winter is starting to show up, and I just wanted to remind everyone to make sure your student is dressed appropriately for the weather before they leave from home.  We do try to go outside as much as possible, and it does get cold for them when they do not have the proper clothing.  Thanks for helping out with this.
Next, I would like to say congratulations to both our boys' and girls' basketball teams.  The season has officially started and both teams have won their first two games.  Our next home games are next week on December 5th and 6th when we square off against St. Joseph and then Partridge.  Come cheer on both teams.  Tip-off for the girls game is 4:00 P.M. and 5:00 P.M. for the boys.  We hope to see you there.  Keep-up the good work Crusaders.
Additionally, I would like to remind everyone that our Student Council is collecting slightly used clothing and toys for our “Christmas Store” on December 15th.  Mrs. Arensdorf is heading up this activity and it has been a huge success in the past.  We would like to get as many items as possible and show our support to our community.  Please send these items to school, not the church office.  Thank you for your support and your generosity.
Lastly, I would like to remind everyone of the Christmas Parade on Saturday and the 8th Grade breakfast on Sunday.  We hope to see you at both events!  I am certain that we will be well represented at both events.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

A Time of Thanksgiving

Throughout history, November was a relaxing month because the crops had been harvested and the cold had not yet set in strong. Today, though many may not harvest their own crops. November is a time of the year that provides you a few weeks of rest before the rush of the holiday season, which begins with Thanksgiving at the end of the month.  Before we all get caught in the hustle of the holidays, let's take a moment to reflect on what we all have to be thankful for this year.  We are so very blessed here a St. Patrick, we should take time to be thankful.  I am truly thankful for all of you, and look forward to working with each of you for years to come.  Thank you for all that you do to make St. Patrick Catholic School the best school in Kansas.
When the United States was in its infancy, the first presidents declared Thanksgiving as a day of relaxation and thoughful prayer.  Let us truly reflect on all our blessings.  Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.
This coming week on Monday and Tuesday our faculty and I will be at the Regan Catecetical Institute for religious instruction and formation.  Please pray for us as we study our faith so we can be better teachers for our youth.  After this, we can begin our vacation with our families.
I want to remind everyone that we will once again be hosting a Christmas store for the people of Kingman.  Your gently used clothing and toys for children and adults of all ages is greatly appreciated.  Now is the perfect time to clean out the closet or the basement, and we could use all of those unwanted items for our store.  This will be the third year for this event and it has been hugely successful.  Please remember the less fortunate in our community by making a donation to our store.  If you would like to help with this event, please contact the school office, as we are in need of some adults to assist with this event.  Thank you for your support.
May God continue to bless all us.  St. Patrick...pray for us.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Cold & Flu Season has Arrived

My article this week is going to focus on illness.  We have had a large amount of flu like symptoms, horrible coughs, and queasy stomachs this year.  Additionally, we have had students complaining about their eyes hurting, as well as horrible headaches.  All of these things are related. Please talk to your students about proper hand washing, wearing appropriate clothing for the weather, and the importance of eating healthy food and getting a good nights rest.  All of these simple practices can go a long way in staying away from the flu and promoting healthy habits at school and at home.  Disease can spread very easily, and I am asking you to do whatever you can to help prevent this from happening at our school.  There are many helpful websites out there that address very specific needs.  Take a look of them, as they all are helpful in preventing the spread of disease.  Thank you for your efforts with this endeavor.
Additionally, I would like to remind everyone that Friday November 16th is a 2:00 P.M. dismissal.  This is necessary for our faculty to receive some needed training.  Please make arrangements in advance for pick-up on this day.  The following week students have the entire week off for Thanksgiving.  The teachers and I will be at mandatory religious training on Monday and Tuesday of this week.  Pray for us as we study our faith.  Hopefully, we can impart this knowledge for the good of our entire community.
Have an excellent weekend, enjoy the weather while you can.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Balanced Perspective

It has been an awesome start and first quarter to this school year.  The students, staff, and families have done an outstanding job with all the extras this year, and to top it off the pep rally last week was exciting and a great way to end the quarter as well as Red Ribbon Week.  With all of that said, it is important to recognize the value of putting in everything we do in our lives, in school, and in our families into a balanced, positive perspective.
Every day we balance tasks and relationships.  A system of constant and open communication is a definite strength of our school and I thank each and every family and staff for doing such a great job of listening to and celebrating our students' accomplishments and challenges.
Another way of seeing the "balance" or appreciating the complexity of relationships at St. Pats is to examine the words urgrncy and intensity.  Urgency could be defined as the speed at which we work together to resolve a challenge or seize an opportunity.  Intensity could be defined as the strength of our response and the tools that we use to reach our goal(s).  Whatever the issue /opportunity at hand (discipline, attendance, programming, etc.) is, let's keep on working together, as we always have, to move at a speed that is quick yet careful and considerate.  Responding to people's needs in a time-sensitive manner and following through are hallmarks in building trust.
Second, when we respond, let's keep in mind that we are in the business of teaching and learning.  The goal is to learn and to change/adapt to new information while learning new behaviors.  Sometimes, we must examine what "tool" will do the best job of reinforcing the new information or behavior.  One of my favorite quotations by Abraham Maslow is, "If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."  Another quote by Hiam Ginott sums it up the best, " In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized."  Let's act on behalf of all the students.  Have a wonderful November!
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

MORE DETAILS ABOUT COMMON CORE

I want to thank all the parents who attended conferences this week.  This is an excellent communication tool to assist you and your children with success in the classroom and at school.  If you should need additional time with the teacher, please do not hesitate to ask for assistance.  This type of communication is truly positive, and the outcome reaps tremendous rewards.   
Last week we had a celebration with our entire school in recognition of all the hard work and outstanding results we received on our state assessments.  Mr. Arnold, Mrs. Meng, and the Student Council planned a very fun day with the theme of the Olympics. This day started with the opening ceremonies and the lighting of the torch.  Great Britain has nothing on our Student Council!  Numerous events like hurdles, relays, swimming, rowing, basketball...the list goes on and on, were enjoyed.  Students were tremendously excited to participate and have some fun.  It was a fantastic day that ended with all of us hearing and singing the National Anthem, as we are all winners.  Thank you Student Council.  We will continue to strive for excellence and see what you have in store for us in the future.
I would like to speak a little bit more about the Common Core State Standards.  Some people have asked me why we are changing, so I thought I would give a little more information to all of you.  Several factors have influenced the development of the Common Core State Standards initiative:
1. An equity imperative that seeks to provide all students with a high-quality education regardless of where they attend school.
2. Global competitiveness, which requires a workforce with different skills and education.     
3. A wide diversity of current curriculum standards and calculation of student achievement levels across the states.
Since 1983, education reform has focused on standards-based education as a means to remedy the mediocre performance of American schools.  Almost 30 years later, the nation is still grappling with the importance and impact of standards on educational outcomes.  More than ever, St. Patrick Catholic School is ready to tackle these issues for our students.
If you should have questions, please do not hesitate to call or visit with me.  I assure you, we are ready to tackle issues of the 21st Century at our school.
In Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Helping Children With Mass

Are you having difficulties with your children wanting to go Mass? We are facing more and more students who are coming late or having anxiety on days that their class attends Mass.  Maybe by working together with the children, we can help alleviate this issue.  
Help your children love the Mass. The celebration of the Eucharist is the heartbeat of our Catholic faith. As parents, we want our children to find true Communion with Christ, but getting them to attend Mass cheerfully, sit still, and pay attention can be hard. Yet, making Mass meaningful for children can make it more meaningful for us, too. Try these ideas:
Start with the basics. Aim for a Mass time soon after everyone wakes up and is rested. Make sure all have had enough to eat and used the bathroom.
Rehearse. Go through your Mass book and choose prayers and responses to practice as a family. When the time comes during Mass, the children will be proud that they know what to say.
Communicate your expectations. For example, you want everyone to pray the prayers and sing the songs, to kneel, stand, and sit when appropriate.
See and be seen. Sit where you have an unobstructed view of the altar. Watching the priest, the altar servers, friends and neighbors on the Communion line will keep children interested and aware that they can be seen, too.
Bring your own. It can be confusing to follow along with adult mass books. Look for age-appropriate materials youngsters can follow. Our Sunday Visitor (800-348-2440, www.oursundayvisitor.com) or Daughters of St. Paul (800-836-9723, www.pauline.org) have Mass resources for a variety of ages.
In Christ,
Mr. Lyall

SMOOTHING OUT THE MORNING ROUTINE

Getting ready for school in the morning can be frazzling for even the most practiced of families.  With the increasing number of tardies that we are experiencing this school year, maybe some tips for a smoother morning might help.
STICK TO A  REGULAR BEDTIME—Making sure children get a good night's sleep is key to ensuring a peaceful morning. When children go to bed at a reasonable and regular time, waking the next day is easier. Learning improves, too.
LIMIT BREAKFAST CHOICES—Offering two healthy choices instead of unlimited access to the pantry, for example, will reduce the amount of time spent deciding. Cold cereal, muffins, fresh fruit, etc., are all quick and healthy choices, Offering simple foods may enable children to help themselves.
DON'T ALLOW TOO MUCH TIME—Set wake-up times so that there is just enough time to wash, dress, eat and walk out the door. That may mean laying out clothes and packing backpacks the night before.
BE SURE TO SET ASIDE A FEW MINUTES FOR FAMILY PRAYER- There's no better way to start your day than with God's blessing.
Hopefully some of these tips will make your morning run more smoothly. We all have days when we are running behind but when it is a consistent  issue, small changes can be made can hopefully correct the issue. Please keep in communication with the office and your teachers.  We are happy to be of assistance in any way we can.
In Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Where Did September Go?

Mr. Lyall's Line
It is hard to believe that September is over and October is here.  With the end of September and the start of October I would like to remind everyone of many events and milestones. This week we have celebrated Respect Life Week.  Many fun activities including "Twin Day" and the 8th Grade vs Parents softball game helped us really focus on the importance of life and the celebration of family.  It was beautiful to see all of us celebrating as a family.
October promises to be a very busy.  The Softball tournament will be played, for both boys and girls, on October 4th in Haven.  As soon as brackets are made available, we will get them to you.  Next, our girls who play volleyball will have their tournament in Pratt on the 6th.  Our football players round out their excellent season at Chaparral on the 11th.  All of our junior high students have done very well this season, and we are proud of all their accomplishments.  Way to go Crusaders and Eagles.
October 12th is a 12:30 dismissal.  Please have arrangements made to have students picked-up after school.  The teachers have inservice.  Report cards for the first quarter go home on the 17th.  Parent teacher conferences are on the 17th and the 18th  from 4:00 to 7:00 P.M.  Please call the office to reserve a time slot for each of your students.  Conferences are very important, and can solve many communication problems and ease tensions.  Normally we have 100% participation in parent teacher conferences.  We look forward to seeing you.  Also on the 17th, all paperwork, including, immunization documentation, Form B documentation, and unfinished registration paperwork, is due.
The following week, October 21st through 27th,  ushers in Red Ribbon Week and many activities that help us say, "No!" to drugs and alcohol use.  More so, we like to celebrate how we respect our bodies and minds and learn that drugs and alcohol use get in the way of our healthy lifestyles.
As October finishes, we will be preparing for basketball season.  Students in 7th and 8th grade are invited to play for our school.  If a student has not played a fall sport, they must have a physical before participating.  If you should need a physical form, please contact the school office for this paperwork.
Halloween parties will be on the 31st starting at 2:30 P.M.  Please, no costumes.
Have a beautiful October, or should I say bootiful!  Either way, don't blink or you will miss it.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

HEALTHY HINTS

Mr. Lyall's Line

It seems that cold and flu season is already here. Last week and this week as well we have had numerous students missing school with flu-like symptoms.  We all can be proactive in stopping the spread of the flu. Here are a few tips and reminders. Adopting healthy habits for kids can have concrete benefits. Dodging just one or two of those day care cold viruses could save you a lot of misery.  Healthy habits can help protect your child from the flu this fall and winter. Even if the benefits aren't immediate, teaching healthy habits will pay off.

Healthy Habits for Kids: Getting in a Routine
When teaching healthy habits, focus on what's important. You probably don't need to lecture toddlers on the germ theory of disease. Concepts like contagion are probably too hard to grasp for little kids.
We really can't teach a preschooler to stay away from a friend who's coughing. So instead of explaining, the key is to practice and ritualize some good behaviors. If you make them systematic, the odds are much better that your kids will stick with them—and stay a little healthier as a result. If you make good habits part of a routine, it all becomes much easier. Your kids will do them without thinking.

Healthy Habits for Kids: Hand Washing
When it comes to healthy habits for kids, hand washing is the most important one. To make it work, it's got to be built into their daily routines. Parents should make hand washing a ritual, like brushing their teeth.  You don't have to do it so obsessively that their hands get chapped. But you should always have your kids wash their hands:
When they arrive at day, preschool or school.
Before they eat.
After changes or after using the potty or toilet.
After playing
As soon as they come in the house-whether it's from school or from playing in the yard.
The key is consistency. Get them to do it every time.  If you do, your kids might start hand washing automatically. They  might even start reminding you if you forget. It's also important to do hand washing well. Always use warm water and soap. The CDC recommends that people wash their hands for the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice-about 15 to 20 seconds. If soap and water aren't available, an alcohol-based gel will work too. Just make sure that your
kids really scrub their hands for about 20 seconds. They're done when the gel has completely evaporated.
Of course, some kids will resist hand washing. What can you do?
Make them do dishes. Lots of toddlers and preschool age kids love playing in the sink, so instead of getting into a struggle about hand washing, just stand them on a chair by the sink, give them the soap and a dish to wash. If they keep at it for a few minutes, they'll probably get their hands pretty clean.
Choose the right soap. A bar of white soap can seem pretty dull, but if you can find a soap that catches their attention-with a fruity smell, or maybe a cartoon character on the bottle-you might have better luck with hand washing. To add to the mystique, you could make the soap especially for you child's use. Keep it on a high shelf and take it down only when they need it.

Healthy habits for Kids: Other Tips
Hand washing is the most important, but there are other healthy
habits for kids than can reduce the spread of germs.
Cough in the arm. Many of us were told as kids to cover our mouths
with our hands when we coughed or sneezed. The problem with that
old advice is that it results in a handful of germs—which are then
spread on everything a kid touches.  Experts now recommend that
kids and adults cough and sneeze into the crook of their arms. That
way the germs are less likely to wind up coating every surface in the
room.
Use tissues. It won't always work, but you can try. Most school aged
kids are capable of blowing their noses. Whether the tissue can or on
the floor is another story, of course.
Teach by example. As any parent knows trying to get a toddler to
do something can be maddening. Asking, or demanding, or begging
your kid to adopt healthy habits might seem hopeless but one good
strategy to instill healthy habits in kids is to get your kids to mimic
you. If you are really conscientious about modeling healthy habits,
you could get an added bonus: you might get sick less too.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

HHS Clarified

At the request of the Bishop, Michael Jackels, and Superintendent, Bob Voboril, I am taking time to provide important information on the HHS mandate.   It is very disappointing that the supreme court upheld the constitutionality of the health care law, as it violates religious liberty and conscience protection, and threatens human life and dignity. Rather than summarize or misquote Bishop Jackels or Mr. Voboril, I am printing their responses here so you have accurate information. Below you will find the Bishop's response to the HHS mandate, as well as Mr. Voboril's points of clarification on the mandate.
Bishop Jackel's Response: Many of us are familiar with the story of the prophet Jonah being swallowed by a whale. That happened because Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh and preach. Maybe Jonah didn’t want to deliver God’s message because it threatened doom, or because he didn’t know how the people would react: repent, or attack? I feel a little like Jonah. I would rather not have to deliver this message, mostly because the message itself is sad and disturbing. You may have heard the news item from this past Friday: Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Director, decreed that a religious organization (like a Church) that offers health insurance to its employees will be forced to cover contraceptives (some of which can cause an abortion) and sterilizations, free of charge, even if it believes in conscience that these are morally objectionable.    Sebelius went so far as to say that she believes that this decree “strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.” But how can you speak of balance when the result is taking away religious liberty and conscience protection?   There are exceptions; for example, a religious organization will not be forced to go against its conscience if it qualifies as a religious organization according to the federal tax code, and if it hires and serves mainly people of the same faith, and if its sole purpose is to teach religious doctrine. I can’t think of what kind of religious organization might possibly qualify for this exemption.

The only other exception is for religious organizations that since 2010 have made no changes to their health insurance plans beyond those specifically allowed by the federal government.  The Diocese of Wichita and its employee health insurance program enjoys this second exemption, at least for now. But we may still be forced by the federal government to provide notice to employees about where contraceptives and sterilizations are available.

Even though the Diocese of Wichita as an employer presently enjoys an exemption, the Catholic faithful here should still be concerned …
… Concerned because the federal government could in the future still make new requirements that would force us to do something against our conscience. A lot depends on who is running the government, and whether or not that administration is friendly towards religious liberty and conscience protection.

… Concerned because it does affect many other religious organizations, Catholic and others, that are denied religious liberty and forced to act against their conscience.

… Concerned because this mandate does not respect the diversity that is so much a part of our national unity.

… Concerned also because religious liberty and conscience protection are being threatened in a very real and concrete way, right here and now: the government forcing a Church to do something that it judges to be morally objectionable.
Catholic social justice teaches that, in keeping with human dignity, people have a right to health care. But it also teaches that, again, in keeping with human dignity, people have a right to freedom of religion and of conscience; to have that taken away is too high a price to pay for health care.
I said earlier that I feel a little like Jonah, also because I am not sure how people will react to this message. I am not looking that we fast, put on sack cloth and sit in ashes. My hope is rather that we will contact our elected leaders and let them know that we do not want to be forced to act against our beliefs, we or anyone else, and that we want religious liberty and conscience protection restored. And pray, pray more, pray more harder.                                                             
Mr. Voboril's Points of Clarification:

1.        The Health and Human Services mandate is a serious threat to the religious liberty of the Catholic Church because it requires the Church to pay for insurance for things that we oppose morally.

2.       The Diocese of Wichita is self-insured, and because our insurance plan meets certain HHS requirements, it does not have to comply with the HHS mandate (it is ‘grandfathered’) at this time.       3.       The grandfather clause exists as long as the benefits in our plan meet the HHS requirements.  However, the grandfather clause is not a part of the law but an interpretation of HHS and therefore is subject to change.

4.       We do believe that the HHS mandate is an unconstitutional infringement on religious liberty.

5.       Other dioceses are suing HHS because their plans do not currently qualify for this grandfather clause.  They have until February 1 to comply with the HHS mandate.  However, as long as the grandfather clause is in force, we do not have to change our plan.

6.       We as a diocese cannot sue because we at this time are not injured by the law.

7.       It is important that schools, their councils, and PTOs educate parents about the serious harm that this mandate is causing and the threat it poses for religious liberty.  We need to educate our parents to evaluate candidates on their position regarding this mandate and we need to vote.  However, we may not, implicitly or explicitly, endorse candidates because to do so jeopardizes our non-profit status.

8.       If the grandfather clause would be withdrawn, the Diocese of Wichita could not comply with the mandate.  Our other options would be to withdraw our insurance benefit and pay a huge fine or engage in civil disobedience.

I hope this information clears any confusion on this issue and helps you understand the responsibility we have to vote in the next election and speak to our congressmen and women.  If you should have questions, or need further discussion or clarification please do not hesitate to contact me or visit the Catholic Diocese of Wichita web page and click on the Bishop's button.
With you in Christ and faith,

Mr. Lyall

September Already

Mr. Lyall's Line
I can hardly believe that September is already here.  Fall, my favorite season, will soon be here.  I love all the color changes and cool brisk air. It reminds me of home.
I have been trying to keep everyone informed about the educational changes we all are experiencing with the new state adoption of the Common Core Curriculum.  Here is some more helpful information.
The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are educational standards?  Educational standards help teachers ensure their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful by providing clear goals for student learning.
Why do we need educational standards?  We need standards to ensure that all students, no matter where they live, are prepared for success in postsecondary education and the workforce. Common standards will help ensure that students are receiving a high quality education consistently, from school to school and state to state. Common standards will provide a greater opportunity to share experiences and best practices within and across states that will improve our ability to best serve the needs of students.
Standards do not tell teachers how to teach, but they do help teachers figure out the knowledge and skills their students should have so that teachers can build the best lessons and environments for their classrooms. Standards also help students and parents by setting clear and realistic goals for success. Standards are a first step – a key building block – in providing our young people with a high-quality education that will prepare them for success in college and work. Of course, standards are not the only thing that is needed for our children’s success, but they provide an accessible road map for our teachers, parents, and students.
With this information, as well as the information we have provided through your child’s classroom, I believe we can partner successfully to make this transition and change seamlessly.  If you should have questions, please do not hesitate to ask your child’s teacher or myself.  We are happy to be of assistance.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

WELCOME BACK

Welcome back everyone.  I hope your summer was filled with much adventure and happiness.  I want to let everyone know how thankful I am for all the prayers and well wishes for my father.  His open heart surgery was a huge success and he is doing very well.  In fact, he has already returned to work.  This is largely due to the many thoughts and prayers from all of you.  On behalf of my entire family, we want to thank you and tell you that we appreciate everything.  When I left to come back to Kansas my dad said, "Make sure you tell all the kids in your school that I felt their prayers and that they are just what I needed to feel better."
I have more good news.  This summer at the first principals' meeting St. Patrick Catholic School was honored.  The diocese has started a new awards program and we were the recipient of the St. Robert Bellarmine Awards in Religion, Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies.  These awards are in recognition of academic excellence for scoring exemplary in each of the subjects listed above.  Additionally, since we were exemplary in every testing category, we received the St. Thomas Aquinas Award of academic excellence.  I was very honored to receive these awards on behalf of the school and parish and will have them proudly displayed as soon as we can get the items framed.  Way to go Crusaders!
Next, I would like everyone to please mark your calendar with a change.  Back-to-School Night had to be moved to Wednesday, August 29th.  We will start promptly in the gym at 6:30.  Father Ben and myself will be speaking briefly, then we will send you to the classrooms to visit with the teachers.  I hope to see all of you there next Wednesday.
I have fielded a couple of questions about the new federal polices that govern our lunch program.  Be assured that Mrs. Molitor and I are having continued conversations about these policies and we are examining every possible angle to provide the best possible lunch we can.  A note did go home explaining these new policies.  If you have not seen this note, please ask your student for it, or visit our web page to view it.  Mrs. Molitor would be happy to address your concerns, please e-mail or call her at school.  Be assured we will provide the best possible choices for our students.
I am very glad to see everyone back for this school year.  I pray that we continue to have this outstanding support and success.  Welcome back.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Awards for our Graduates

Congratulations to all our 8th grade students.  They were promoted on Thursday night, and we had many special awards to give to this class.  Academically they have truly performed well.  The first category is the Kansas High School Athletics Association Citizenship Award.    To receive this honor students must demonstrate true qualities of respect, reverence and good sportsmanship. The winners of the KSHSAA Citizenship Award this are Paige Kelly and Cole Walters.  Our next award is the National Citizenship Award.  To receive this honor students must participate in school or community service, show a positive attitude toward classmates, school, and community, and display an understanding and appreciation of civic responsibility.  The winners of the National Citizenship Award are Allison DeWeese and Jordan Thimesch.

Our next category is also a national award called the Presidential Academic awards.  These awards fall under two categories and recognize outstanding academic performance and achievement.

The President's Education Awards Program is an effort by the U.S. Department of Education to recognize outstanding educational achievement and effort. The program consists of two awards, the President's Award for Educational Excellence and the President's Award for Educational Achievement. To receive the Excellence Award, eighth grade students must earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.7 or above from the fourth grade through the eighth grade, and receive rankings in the 90th percentile or higher on state testing. To be eligible for the Achievement Award, students must show tremendous growth in achievement overall, maintain excellence in testing, and demonstrate unusual commitment to learning despite obstacles.   First, we have five Achievement Award recipients, they are: Sarah Bergkamp, Claire Theis, Kyle Roberts, Adam Leroux, and Cole Walters.  Next, we have six recipients of the President’s Award for Excellence. They are: Allison DeWeese, Luke Powell, Jacob Messenger, Paige Kelly, Rileigh Kaufman, and Jordan Thimesch.

Lastly we have five recipients for the Msgr. Leon McNeill Scholarship Award.  This is a diocesan award and the nominee must be an eighth-grader.  The nominee must also generally be an “A” student and have no grade below B as well as have good conduct.  He or she must receive an exemplary rating on the Grade School Recommendation from his or her teachers, and the Pastor must approve the student as an active parish member.  Additionally, the student must score exemplary on all assessments.  This is the highest academic honor an eighth grader can receive from the Diocese.  The recipients from this class are Allison DeWeese, Jordan Thimesch, Luke Powell, Rileigh Kaufman, and Jacob Messenger.  

Congratulations to everyone, you truly have put forth an effort that deserves this type of recognition.  We are proud of all of you!

Our last day of school will be a 12:30 dismissal, May 24th.  This is also awards day, field day, and picnic day  Events will begin promptly after mass on this day.  This has been another fantastic year, and all are welcome to come join us in all the recognition and fun.  At 12:30, students are dismissed for summer to their parents.  Thank you to everyone for making this year so tremendously successful.

I would like to thank everyone for their positive thoughts and prayers for my Father.  We all definitely can use all of them.  His heart valve transplant is scheduled for May 23rd.  Please keep him in your prayers.
May God bless all of you!
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Year-End Fun

Mr. Lyall's Line

This school year is quickly coming to an end and it has definitely been a busy one.  The next week and a half will be no exception. Testing is now completed and some of the year-end fun is about to begin.  

Next week will begin with the annual Faculty-vs-8th Grade volleyball game.  We hope to avenge our loss to last years 8th Grade class with a win this year.  The match will begin at 1:15 if you would like to come to cheer us on.  

Immediately following the volleyball match will be the “Slime Slide”.
The students have worked very hard to earn the points to vote for the faculty members that they would like to see “slimed”. The students read 805 books to earn the privilege of sliming 5 of us this year.  Ms. Weber, Ms. Fisher, Mrs. Fischer, Fr. Shockey and myself are all the lucky winners of the voting and will be taking our turns at the “Slime Slide”.

Fourth grade and Second grade have enjoyed beautiful weather on their trips to the Sedgwick County Zoo.  Third grade enjoyed a field trip to Kansas Fitness Day in Cheney.  Our First grade traveled back to the 1890's as they visited Cowtown.  The 8th grade has traveled to Wichita to tour Church of the Magdalen with Fr. Shockey, took a shopping trip to Cabela's, and finished with a late lunch at Chik-Filet.  Our Kindergarten class is heading to the Hutchinson Zoo, 5th grade to the Kansas Aviation Museum, 6th grade to the Salt Mines, and 7th grade to the Kingman Historical Museum to finish out a really busy time in May.  

We will be celebrating 8th grade Promotion next Thursday evening and congratulate all of our graduates on a job well done.

On May 24th, which is our last day of school, we will begin with Mass, followed by our awards assembly and we will conclude with field day and lunch.  Another fabulous year will come to an end.  Thank you so much for all of your support.  We couldn't have done it without your help.

Finally, I would like to ask for your prayers for myself and my family.
I will be traveling to Denver for my father's open-heart surgery.  He has several risk factors that make this valve replacement more dangerous so we would appreciate your prayers as we ready ourselves for his surgery.

In Christ,
Mr. Lyall

It's May!!

Mr. Lyall's Line

I hope you have had a chance to read the last two Post articles where I have explained the curriculum changes that will be occurring across the United States as well as in our school.  If you did not, and would like to, all of my Post articles can be found on our web page under my name.  This is a very important change and will effect every school in the country.  It is not a bad thing, but something that requires us to change our thinking and make necessary adjustments.  If you should have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

May is already here and before you know it we will be celebrating another successful year.  We truly have a lot to celebrate, but also still have many responsibilities to attend to before that celebration can begin.  Religion testing and Technology testing still need to be completed.  A focus on studies should be a priority at this time of year.  I know it gets difficult with the beautiful weather and vacation plan discussions, but the importance of this last month of school should be a priority.  Please discuss this importance with your student(s) and let's have the best end to our school year yet.

I still need a couple of pre-registration forms returned.  This is something that needs to be taken care of immediately.  This allows me to plan for the next year, and we certainly want to count every student.  The significance of this is enormous as I plan the budget and programs for next year. Our pre-school and kindergarten classes are very full, and we certainly want you have a spot in those rooms.  Additionally we need to count every student in the other classrooms so we can be prepared with all the curriculum changes.  Please make this a priority as well.

I am very proud of all that we have accomplished this year, and look forward to a very productive May.  Don't forget to mark your calendar for 8th grade promotion and the last day of school.  Promotion will be Thursday May 17th at 7:00 P.M. in the church.  Congratulations 8th graders.  Our last day of school, May 24th is a 12:30 dismissal and a picnic day.  After the awards assembly students, teachers, and parents will participate in a field day and have a hot dog lunch.

Lastly, I am requesting your prayers for my Father.  I recently found out that he will undergo heart valve replacement surgery on May 23rd.  My family could definitely use your good thoughts and prayers.  Thank you.

May God continue to abundantly bless all that we do.
With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

COMMON CORE STANDARDS

Mr. Lyall's Line
Last week I presented some information about the New Common Core initiative that 48 states, including Kansas, are participating in regarding curriculum changes for the future.  This will be something that looks quite different, but a very good adoption.  This week I would like to give you more information.
Establishing common education standards is one way we can work to address the disparity between standards to ensure that all children, regardless of geography, socioeconomic status, or life history, receive an education that values their potential.

Common standards are good for students because:
They help prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and careers.
They help make transitions smoother for students moving to different states or districts because the learning goals remain consistent.
Clearer standards help students understand what is expected of them and allow them to engage in more self-directed learning.

Common standards are good for parents because:
They help parents understand exactly what students need to know and be able to do at each step in their education.
They help facilitate conversation between parents and teachers about how to help their children reach those education goals.
They assure parents that their children have access to the same high-quality education other students receive in other parts of the country.

Common standards are good for teachers because:
They allow for more focused professional development and promote collaboration.
They can inform the development of a curriculum that promotes deep understanding for all children.
They can give educators more time to focus on depth of understanding and richer units of study rather than focusing on “fitting everything in.”

Currently, 48 states and three territories have voluntarily joined the Common Core State Standards Initiative to agree on a common set of standards for all students. Two organizations representing states, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, are facilitating the initiative. The standards will be research- and evidence-based and will clearly articulate expectations to parents, teachers, and the general public regarding what students should know and be able to do as they progress through school and at graduation from high school. National PTA has announced its support of the initiative.
Student success is the result of the collaborative work of educators, parents, policymakers, and the broader community to better understand what students need to build a promising future. For more information, please visit www.corestandards.org.

I hope you are finding time to take a look at the the standards through the websites I have provided the last two weeks.  Again, this is something that will be good for everyone, but most importantly for the kids.

May God continue to abundantly bless all that we do.
With you in Christ,

Mr. Lyall

COMMON CORE STANDARDS

Mr. Lyall's Line
Currently, each state has a separate set of education standards, lists of skills that students are expected to do by the time they graduate each grade. However, in response to concerns about American student achievement and just how prepared students are for college and careers, education leaders in 48 states, along with the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), have written a set of standards for student across the U.S. The common core state standards were released in 2010. Now, 44 states are working to implement them by 2013-2014. Here’s what you should know and how to help your child prepare for the common core:
The Common Core Standards are State-Driven
The common core state standards are a set of learning skills that all American students should achieve, not a federal curriculum. They set the benchmarks and guidelines for what each student should learn, not how or what teachers teach.
Parent Tip: To look at the common core standards, please visit KSDE web page.
The Standards are a Progression
In general, standards set a progression of skills that students learn as they move through school. Kindergartners work on phonics and letter sounds, while eighth graders work on building vocabulary and reading fluency.
Parent Tip: Look through the common core standards to get a feel for what your child will be learning as he moves through school. Read the English-language arts standards and the math standards at the common core web site.
Students will Delve Deeper into Core Concepts
One complaint about separate state standards was the concern from teachers that students were learning about too many topics in a year to fully understand them, says Carrie Phillip, CCSSO program director of common core standards implementation. The common core state standards, on the other hand, focus on the most important topics that students need to know. In math, that means that students focus on really understanding numbers in elementary school before they start to apply that understanding of numbers to data in middle school.
Parent Tip: As your child completes homework, help them hone in on the most important aspects and core concepts.
The Reading Standards will Get More Difficult
As the common core is implemented, students will be expected to read more difficult text sooner, and discuss what they read at a more complex level. For example, instead of pulling out individual text elements, such as characters, plot, and setting, students will be reading or listening to various stories, and will compare stories using their understanding of text elements.
Parent Tip: As you read with your child, ask them in-depth why and how questions that encourage them to analyze and synthesize texts. For example, read three different versions of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears and ask your child to compare and contrast them as you read. Also, as you build your child’s library, keep the common core initiative in mind so as to obtain books that build higher level thinking skills.

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Spring is Here

I can't believe that April is already about half over.  April showers do bring May flowers.  Before you know it, school will be completed for another year.  Testing is nearly complete, Religion and physical education are the only two tests still to complete.  Once again I see our students truly excelling on these tests, in fact, they are scoring well above average.  I am very proud of the efforts of the students, teachers, and staff.  Parents, you too, play a major role in this success.  Working together we can accomplish anything.

We have been very busy here at school.  Some of you may have heard that across the country, both public and private, curriculum is changing.  This is not something to fear, as we have been diligently looking at the new standards and matching curriculum to them.  In fact, our kindergarten, first and second grades have already begun to teach this new methodology.  If you are interested in viewing the new standards, you can see them in their entirety at ksde.org.  The standards are listed under the title common core.  I encourage you to look at these.  As always, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask.  Our transition to these standards should be very smooth as our teachers are very prepared to tackle this endeavor.  This change is a very good thing.

I would like to remind everyone to please complete the pre-registration process.  This is very important as we move forward to the next school year.  If you should need additional forms, please do not hesitate to contact the office so we can help.  Our preschool and kindergarten are full, and new families are contacting us frequently.  We certainly want to include everyone, so please return this paperwork as soon as possible.

Next, if you have not done so already, please mark your calendar with a change.  Monday, April 23rd, school will not be in session.  Our teachers must attend a mandatory Technology Inservice Day.  Again, there will be no school on April 23.

Track is underway and our students in the seventh and eighth grade are shining.  It is wonderful to see so many students taking advantage of extra-curricular athletics.  Our next track meet is April 17th in Clearwater.  Keep-up the good work Crusaders.

May the risen Christ continue to abundantly bless all that we do.

With you in Christ,
Mr. Lyall

Mr. Bob Lyall