I welcome you to a new school year and pray that this year will be enlightening, encouraging, and confirm your decision to send your child to Immaculate Conception School.
Each morning, the Faculty, staff, students and I gather to begin our day with prayer, the pledge of the Allegiance, and to remember why we are here by reciting our school mission.
By making a choice to send your child to IC, you have joined in a partnership with us; a partnership which seeks to develop Catholic Christian values in your child as well as to promote quality academics. I am sure you are well aware of how crucial those values are today. Communicating these values is more urgent than ever in the context of recent global issues and the lack of compassion and empathy witnessed in the news. By modeling, as well as by instruction, we help our children learn to live at peace with their neighbor and how to respect themselves and others.
At IC we, you and I, are forming leaders for the future, leaders that will make Godly decisions and promote Godly laws – young men and woman who are poised, independent and strong in their convictions. The values that we profess to teach are not popular. They are counter-cultural. Competition and success at any cost, is valued far more than mercy, forgiveness, or understanding. We strive to be different here.
This year we welcome three new faculty members and a new administrative assistant, who is in charge of admissions and placement. Mrs. Bridget Lacefield joins us as a second grade teacher. Bridget was a former Director of Religious Education and has recently completed a Master’s Degree in Education. Ms. Erica Rivera, our new third grade teacher, is a recent Endicott College Graduate and comes very highly recommended. Mrs. Mary Beth Noe, also with a Master’s Degree, is a veteran of Methuen Public schools and has taught fourth grade for a number of years. Mrs. Kelley Pappalardo, our new administrative assistant, in charge of admissions and eighth grade placement, comes to us with twelve year experience in Catholic schools. All of our additions have made a smooth transition. We are delighted they are with us!
As I prepared to introduce the faculty at Open House, I planned to note a special quality for each faculty member as I introduced them – I realized that the qualities which I value, apply to most, if not all. Our faculty has a pioneer spirit, solves problems, cares for the good of all, nurtures the creative spirit of the student, is talented, has “with-it-ness,” is willing to help out, is collaborative, is encouraging, has heart, has a sense of humor, communicates effectively, is happy and is willing to face rain, wind and snow in the car line! Most importantly, this faculty loves our Lord and preaches the Gospel with words and with actions.
Besides hiring three wonderful new teachers and an administrative assistant over the summer you will notice we launched a new web site. Faculty members were engaged in professional development in writing and the Responsive Classroom Behavior Management Program. I read three great books The Hurried Child by David Elkind, The Blessings of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel and How Children Succeed by Paul Tough. Our consulting psychologist, Dr. Elizabeth Krafchuk, will offer a Parent Seminar on two of these books in October. Please keep an eye out for the announcement.
I am increasingly convinced that more than cognitive skills and knowledge the most important things we pass on to your children are perseverance, how to overcome obstacles, how to positively deal with failure, and how to develop grit. The authors I referred to speak to this.
The students and faculty at IC are a community of learners. It follows that in such a community there will be opportunity for learning, growth, making mistakes, asking forgiveness, and moving on. Conflict between students is a normal part of growing up and provides opportunities to learn. When those conflicts arise, your child will benefit from – having you step back-giving your advice, then – letting them handle it.
You ask –“When should a parent step in?” According to, Dr. Krafchuk –
- First, when there has been or is danger of bodily harm and
- Second, if something about the interchange strikes the parent’s morals or values radar.
With the former, one needs to jump in right away. With the second, issues could be discussed later, in the privacy of family, without pressure or need to act in front of other peers.
I will be speaking with students at our regular Morning Meeting about ways we promote positive social interaction here at IC. I will also meet with parents later in October to share this information. Officer Greg Whitney, from the Newburyport Police Department, will be joining me to offer advice regarding internet safety
We continue to have fire drills, lock down drills and to maintain security within and outside the building. We want our Faculty and children to feel safe and empowered to handle emergencies in our school.
Each year, in February, all grades will begin an Archdiocesan mandated program titled, “Keeping Children Safe.” This program is developmentally appropriate at each grade and deals with issues of personal safety, proper and improper touching, assertiveness and seeking support. Over the years of the program, healthy and harmful relationships, setting limits, developing skills and finding resources to prevent dangerous relationships are all examined.
At the seventh grade level, the students will be introduced to the program, “See I Make All Things New.” This program focuses on life, love, relationships, and sexuality. Through this curriculum, students are encouraged to grow in virtue and find happiness through discovering God’s plan for their lives.
Parent conferences will take place on Thursday, November 13 and Friday, November 14. Elementary and Primary Conference sign-ups should be done with the respective teachers, if not done so already. Junior High conferences are done with all four teachers present. We are setting up scheduled times for Junior High conferences during the November conference days for parents of our new fifth grade students and for parents of new students only. Parents of returning students who would like to schedule a conference should contact teachers for an appointment.
Our Parent Team Organization, PTO, provides us with a variety of engaging enrichment activities. PTO sponsors student field trips as well as events such as the Halloween Party and Field Day. This organization has one fundraiser, which takes place in the fall. You can see the display of the great wrapping paper in our lobby. We ask you to support this fundraiser. All are welcome to participate in our PTO.
Two very important events, the North Pole Express and the Spring Auction raise funds critical to the operating budget of our school and allow us to keep our tuition affordable as well as to offer tuition assistance. We are dependent upon each parent and faculty member to volunteer for these major fundraisers. There are many different positions in each fundraising event – your support and participation are critical. Working at these events is a great way to meet people and to become a part of the wonderful community. There is no better way to feel a part of this school! There is lots of work to do behind the scenes on the day of each event and before. There is a niche for every talent. Please support those who have given so generously of their time to lead these events – offer your services – offer to help – you are needed!
As the year moves forward, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns?