Yo ho ho! Last week, campers enjoyed pirate week at Camp STJ! Our little sailors participated in pirate fun with crafts, games, and STEM activities. Luckily, none had to walk the plank!
Camp STJ this summer has been full of fun and learning. Our campers, grades K4 through fifth, have been enjoying all of the activities and programming, especially the Thursday tradition of Water Day! What better way to beat this Alabama heat?
This week, second graders worked with prisms to learn how white light is refracted to produce a rainbow. On a bright day, students were able to “make” their own rainbows using rectangular prisms in our outdoor science lab.
When light passes through a prism, the light bends. As a result, the different colors that make up white light become separated. This happens because each color has a particular wavelength and each wavelength bends at a different angle. The colors that appear are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (the colors of the rainbow- “Roy G. Biv”)!
Happy National School Counseling Week! Saint James School is privileged to have an incredible counseling staff across all levels, Pre-K3 through 12th grade. Our fantastic counselors are an integral part of our school culture and community.
Ms. Clare Simon has been a counselor for 35 years and at Saint James School for 25. She has a masters in counseling and is a certified LPC, Licensed Professional Counselor.
Ms. Cherie Meadows, middle school counselor, is current serving in her fourth year. She became a school counselor through training as a clergy person. Ms. Meadows holds a masters degree is in Religious Education and is ordained minister.
Ms. June Garzon and Mrs. Jamie Payne make up our high school counseling team. Students have the privilege of getting to know his or her counselor all four years of high school. Ms. Garzon and Mrs. Payne learn the talents and individual strengths of their students and assist them with everything from building class schedules, coordinating college tours, and scholarship applications. Ms. Garzon has been high school counselor for four years and hold a masters in Educational Administration with a focus on Private School Education from Teachers College of Columbia University, New York, NY. Ms. Payne is in her second year as high school counselor at STJ and holds both MBA and M.Ed in School Counseling. She is also a Nationally Certified Counselor.
Many of our administrators have also served in counseling roles at Saint James. Our current middle school principal, Ms. Laura Spivey, served as a counselor for fourteen years (eight in middle school and four in high school). She brings her years as counselor into her everyday role as principal. The unique experiences in the counseling office translate in many ways and provide Ms. Spivey with a special perspective as she serves the middle school. Mrs. Susan Atkins, Academic Dean, also served as counselor for the high school for many years. Likewise, our own Ms. Cathy Pearson, Dean of Admission, served as middle school counselor for 20 years and has a masters degree in counseling and human development.
Each of our counselors is dedicated to student success; strengthening our students’ physical, emotional, and mental health is paramount to Saint James School’s mission.
This week, 3rd grade studied the movement of our planet. The students spent time investigating how the Earth rotates. Students learned that the Earth rotates on its axis and although it may look like the sun is moving across our sky, this is actually an illusion created by the Earth’s rotation.
On a sunny day, students ventured outside three different times to trace their shadows and see how they move and change. They measured the movements and recorded their findings to compare how much the shadows rotated during the day. Hands-on activities like this allow students to not only grasp science concepts, but apply them to everyday life.
Ms. Browning’s PreK3 class had a blast with Señora Jackson’s Spanish lesson this week. Students learned how to say “snowman” in Spanish along with body parts and some of his articles of clothing. The children sang songs to reinforce vocabulary and practiced saying the words as they decorated their very own "Muñeco De Nieve.” The boys and girls really enjoyed eating his "cuerpo” aka “body!"
All elementary students, PreK3-5th grade, visit Spanish enrichment once a week as part of their weekly enrichment rotations. Global languages like Spanish are incorporated into our school-wide curriculum throughout all grades.
Today, we celebrate our 100th day of school! Our PreK3, PreK4, and Kindergarten classes have been participating in fun actives to commemorate the occasion. Students made self-portraits of their 100-year-old selves, counted to 100, decorated shirts with 100 objects, read stories about the number zero, and celebrated “Zero the Hero” on his big day. Our PreK4 classes dressed up as 100-year-olds! Our teachers even joined in on the fun.
We are thankful to be 100 days smarter!
The digital dice were rolling in Mrs. Greene’s class, as fifth grade students worked hard to get a noun Tic-Tac-Toe. Plural nouns were the object of the game and for every roll, student’s got a chance to cross off a square on the board.
Incorporating play into learning is a wonderful way to promote creativity and imagination. Hands on works builds cognitive, social, and emotional development.
Tic-Tac-Toe...three in a row WINS!
A fishy smell filled the science lab as Ms. Taylor, elementary science lab teacher, prepared squid for dissection. Fourth graders were eager to “dive in” and learn more about the squid’s anatomy as well as document their study in an app called Book Creator.
Students took pictures of each step and drew on paper with the squid’s ink. Ben Hooks, STJ 4th grader, said, “It was really interesting to see what was inside the squid and feel how squishy it was.” The science lab gives students hands-on experiences that enhance their classroom learning.
Last week, fifth grade performed a lab where they witnessed the circulatory system in action. Students placed live goldfish in Petri dishes and looked at their tails under the microscope. They were able to see blood circulating through the fish’s tail in real time. After the lab, the goldfish were released to the pond in our outdoor laboratory space. All elementary students, Pre-K3 through 5th grade, visit the science lab weekly for hands-on application of what is being taught in the classroom. Disclaimer: no fish are harmed during this experiment.
The girls are on the run! GOTR is a physical activity-based development program that inspires 3rd-5th grade girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident. The program uses a fun and experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running with serving the community. The Saint James School GOTR team meets twice a week for 10 weeks. Our runners complete a Community Impact Project and run a Celebratory 5K at the end of the season.
Our K-5 classes recently read the Norwegian fairy tale, “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” They learned all about the three billy goats that tried to cross the troll’s bridge. The story tells of overcoming obstacles and problem solving. Our kindergartners got creative with a S.T.E.M. challenge of building bridges with Legos in the science lab. All elementary students, grades K3-5, visit the science lab each week during enrichments. The lab is a perfect setting for hands-on application of what is taught in our classrooms at all elementary levels.
Mrs. Taylor’s Science elementary Lab was all abuzz, as fourth grade experienced a special presentation by STJ alum Joe Barnett, a local beekeeper. He spoke about pollination, bees, and honey production.
Mr. Barnett even brought an empty, but complete, bee hive and explained the fundamentals of what goes on in the hive. Even Dr. McLemore stopped by and helped with the presentation!
This week, third graders dissected owl pellets in the elementary Science Lab to accompany their study of food chains. Finding bones and feathers of the animals the owls had eaten helped students see what prey was in the owl’s food chain. Students especially loved finding the skulls of small birds and mice, then matching them to bone diagrams.
Choo! Choo! ... All Aboard the K3 Train! Mrs. Browning and Mrs. Dickens’ Pre-K3 classes made edible trains in the Imagination Station while studying the letter “T.” They learned about all types of locomotives and transportation. This fun activity and tasty treat also reinforced recognizing shapes. STJ’s elementary Imagination Station is a fully-stocked design lab, offering a space outside the classroom to build, discover, and practice S.T.E.A.M. skills (science, technology, engineering, art, and math).
Elementary 5th grade students put their their teamwork skills to the test in Mrs. Simon’s classroom while participating in The Great Marshmallow Challenge.
Given only 20 dry spaghetti noodles, one yard of tape, and one yard of string, the students were challenged to build the tallest tower. Their creations would be tested to stand up, unattended, when a single marshmallow was placed on top. The timer started and groups worked quickly to devise a plan and put it into action.
Groups that used triangles and unique wide bases were successful, some with heights as tall as 21 inches! Even though a few towers fell, groups didn’t give up hope. By working together and regrouping, many pulled through and their spaghetti towers stood.
“I enjoyed this challenge because it gave us a chance to interact with each other and experience what it’s like to engineer and design a structure.”- Benjamin Green, 5th grade
This Ted Talk video was shown, which explains the challenge and dives deeper into teamwork. Mrs. Simon explained, “in Middle School there are even more team projects, so this gives elementary students some experience, all while enforcing strategy and teamwork.”
These students surely could be our future architects and engineers! Ms. Simon engages all elementary students, Pre-K3 through fifth grade, in character building lessons and core value teachings of Saint James.
Emergencies and natural disasters can hit any time, and in some cases without warning. Having a disaster preparedness home kit is essential for any family. As we commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, upper elementary students welcomed HandsOn River Region to experience an interactive assembly about disaster preparedness. Experts spoke to the students about safety skills and how to be better prepared in the event of an emergency. Students decorated and assembled disaster kits out of pillowcases brought from home.
The Pillowcase Project is a preparedness education program that teaches children about personal and family emergency preparedness. Students become better equipped to handle hazardous situations and ready to build their own personal emergency supplies kit. This initiative grew from stories of Loyola University students who packed their emergency belongings into a pillowcase during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Firefighters from the Bell Road fire station also attended the assembly and received a giant round of applause when introduced. It was a wonderful chance to give thanks to our area’s first responders all while keeping up the initiative to build communities of character at STJ!
The lovely ladies and dapper gentlemen of Kindergarten put their manners unit to the test this week at the annual K5 tea party. Dressed in their formal party attire, the students processed into their classrooms two by two. As the ladies were escorted to their seats, our young men tucked their chairs in and joined their companions at a beautifully decorated table fully equipped with imaginary place settings. The honorable guests enjoyed fancy bites and practiced their table etiquette by passing items, sharing, and using their nicest manners. Hudson Selbee, a student in Ms. Ali King’s class, explains to “always say please and thank you.”
Our three Kindergarten classes learned all about using polite manners and will continue to practice their skills throughout the year. As Saint James builds communities of character focusing on the education of the whole child, we start these practices early. A strong foundation of integrity, courtesy, and generosity begin with our littlest learners.