Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer News & Notes


Here are a few bits of SMS summer news, some reminders about upcoming events and an invitation to follow our renovation project on our new SMS Renovation Blog.

We are excited to announce that Ms. Jennifer Molloy will be joining our faculty as the new second grade teacher.  She graduated from Central Connecticut State University with teacher certification for grades K-6.  She has worked in the Newington Public Schools with children at all grade levels.  She has experience working in a school with a 1:1 iPad initiative and interactive boards.  This experience will allow her to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum.   We are confident that the children entering second grade will have a productive, engaging and memorable year.  Ms. Molloy will be here working in her classroom during the month of August.  Second grade families will meet her at the meet and greet scheduled on August 27th at 10:30AM.

If you have questions, please call or email Mrs. Gannatti.   Ms. Molloy's school email address is The second grade blog and supply list will be available soon.   

Our 2013-2014 School Calendar may be viewed from the school blog using the St. Mary's School Calendar Tab in the upper left corner under the St. Mary's School News & Announcements Banner. This Google Calendar is synced with all student iPads and can be easily synced with many mobile devices. If you would like help adding the St. Mary's School Calendar to your mobile device, please contact Donna Hatch. Below is a summary of upcoming events for the month of August.

CHOICE Cards will be available on Friday, July 26th from 9-11am outside the school office. Additional CHOICE sale dates are Friday, August 9th and Friday, August 16th from 9-11am.
 The Art Truck will offer another summer drawing camp beginning on August 13th.  Click here for more information.

Mr. Cosham will host a meeting for parents of incoming Kindergarten students on Monday, August 26th at 6pm in the Kindergarten classroom.
Students entering Kindergarten through Grade 3 and a parent or caregiver are invited to a "Meet & Greet" on Tuesday, August 27th from 10:30-11:30 in the classrooms.  This is a great opportunity to bring in your school supplies!
Students entering grade 6 and new students entering our 7th and 8th grades are invited to a "Morning in Middle School" on Tuesday, August 27th from 9-11:30am.  Please meet in your homeroom.
Our first day of school is Wednesday, August 28th.  This will be a full day of school.  Prekindergarten Enrichment and Aftercare will be available.
The Middle School Academic Schedule and the "Specials" Schedules for all grades are now available on the Teacher Pages of the school's website.  Click here to visit the Teacher Pages.  The Middle School Supply List is also available.  Click here.
Mr. Catala, our new 6th grade homeroom and Middle School Social Studies and Religion teacher and Mrs. Moffat, our new 3rd grade teacher have posted their blogs.  Click here to visit Mr. Catala's blog.  Click here to visit Mrs. Moffat's blog.

Have you been curious about how our renovation is coming along?  We invite you to follow our progress by subscribing to our renovation blog.  Click here to access the blog and then enter the email(s) you would like to have receive posts in the subscription box.  You'll get regular updates about our progress as renovations continue.
 St. Mary’s– A place to… Belong, Believe, Become Are you ready for September?  Changes are coming to our Sunday mornings.  New opportunities to worship, to learn and to engage.  You won’t want to miss this. Look for more information in upcoming posts.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Announcement regarding SMS Building Renovations

July 17, 2013

To the members of the St. Mary’s School Family:

Re:  Ensuring the security of our students and facility changes taking place over the summer

We want to make you aware of changes that will be taking place over the summer as we prepare for the 2013/2014 school year.  Like school’s across the country, the tragedy in Newtown has had a profound impact on us and caused us to review the school’s physical plant and processes in order to further improve our safety profile. 

Earlier this year at the direction of Father Matera and with the full support of the School Board, St. Mary’s engaged a professional services group with a deep background in security assessment and solutions.  This firm, BlueLine Risk Mitigation Group, LLC., completed a comprehensive assessment of security at the School.  Our goal was to have an independent review of the school’s physical plant, systems and processes, and to identify ways of further ensuring the safety of our students. 

Upon reviewing the assessment from BlueLine, we have worked to identify and prioritize near term issues that need to be addressed.  The following changes will take place in advance of the new school year:

·     Moving the pre-school to the main school building – One of the main issues identified in the report was having all the children in the main building.  Effective with the new school year, we will be moving the pre-school students into the main school building.  They will occupy the space in the former computer lab and the physical education office.

·     Relocating the school office to the front of the building – the report also recommended moving the administrative offices from the rear to the front of the school building.  Over the summer, we will take the space currently occupied by the 4th grade class and create administrative space.  The new 4th grade classroom will be located in the current administrative office and library.

·     Other changes that will take place over time will include updated front door security, new visitor passes, new lighting, parking changes in the North parking lot, and movable barriers in cross walk where children line up for arrival and dismissal.

The physical plant of our 50+ year old school is very much on our minds as we look to the future.  Our first and most important goal is security, and with the changes noted, we will be taking action proactively to further enhance school safety.  However, it comes at a cost.  For example, given space constraints by bringing all students into the main building, we have not yet determined how to find adequate space for the library within the main school building.  For the coming school year only, the library will be temporarily housed in the lower church. We are looking at the possibility of acquiring modular classroom(s) but we are still gathering information to see if that would be feasible.  Additionally, there are financial considerations to be considered.  The costs of these near term measures are being addressed through a combination of parish generosity and with the existing resources available to the school through careful financial management, including the use of some resources in our contingency fund.  You can be proud that we are careful stewards of the school’s financial resources and are able to address these issues without taking any extraordinary steps.

Beyond these changes, it’s important that we assess the future needs of our students and school. Ensuring safety is our pre-eminent concern.  We also know that it is important to have an attractive and viable physical plant that allows us to best market the unique St. Mary’s experience.  To continue to be successful, we need to take a longer view of what a quality educational experience will require in the future.  The question of what to do about the physical plant of our school has been discussed and debated over many years.  The issue of space and physical plant is one of the things being discussed in a parish-wide effort that includes the St. Mary’s Parish Council and Finance Committee.  While in its very early stages, please know that the school community will be a part of this discussion.  Our intention is to keep the school community informed as the discussion unfolds.

Thank you for your continued support of St. Mary’s.

 Marie Gannatti                                                                        David W. Carter

School Principal                                                                      President, School Board       
NOTE REGARDING SMS SUMMER OFFICE HOURS & COMMUNICATION WITH SCHOOL OFFICE - The school office will be closed on Thursday, 7/18 and Friday, 7/19, to allow office staff to organize and pack material for the upcoming renovation.  Additionally, we do anticipate that the school's internet access will be UNAVAILABLE for an unspecified amount of time beginning on or around 7/18 and continuing until renovations allows for the network to be reconnected.  During this time, office staff will periodically check emails from remote locations BUT it is strongly advised that you contact the school by telephone if you have any questions or concerns.  If phone service has to be interrupted, you will be notified by email, blog post, or via a Remind 101 text.  Thank you for your patience during these renovations.  We are confident that these improvements to our facility will be a blessing to our community and look forward to sharing our updated building with all of you beginning on our first day of school, Wednesday, August 28th! 


Monday, July 8, 2013