Notes from the Principal's Desk: August 28, 2018

August 28, 2018

Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year! I hope this email finds you well rested and ready for the new school year to begin. The faculty and staff reported for In-Service yesterday and are excited to see the students next week. By this time, your family should have received the homeroom placement for your child. We hope you are as excited to meet your child's homeroom teacher as they are to meet your student!

We thank you for the trust you place in us every day to protect and educate your child. Sometimes though, children can be saddened to hear they have not been placed in a class with their best friend. At times, the social aspect plays a consideration in class placement. However, it is not the most important consideration. There are a number of factors that go into designing homerooms. The teachers who have spent the year with your child work with the following year's teacher to ensure every student is placed in the homeroom we believe will ensure their academic success. While we try to accommodate parent requests for homeroom placement, it is not always possible to accommodate parent requests. I believe our job as parents, when our child is not placed in their preferred homeroom, is to support our son or daughter and remind them that the purpose of school is learning and that there will be opportunities during the day to spend time with their most familiar friends. This is also a great opportunity to speak with your child about taking risks and making new friends.

After the final day of school last year, the school conducted lead water testing as required by the state of Maryland. After the first round of testing, four water sources were determined to contain levels of lead. These locations included the Principal’s office private restroom sink, cafeteria office restroom sink, music room sink, and the sink at the abandoned dishwashing station in the kitchen. After the second round of testing only the abandoned dishwashing station continued to test positive. 

Of the four sinks that failed the first test, only the music room sink is in an area accessible to students. The two sinks identified with the kitchen are in unused rooms/areas where water is not drawn for any purpose. I have listed the identified sinks below and the resolution. The water has tested acceptable at the two locations identified below with filters added.
  • Principal Office bathroom- Filter attached to sink
  • Cafeteria office bathroom – water source disabled
  • Music room sink – Filter attached to sink
  • Abandoned dishwashing station – water source disabled

In an effort to better have a safe and secure school, we are rolling out a new visitor protocol for all individuals entering the school who are not parish/school employees. We have added a receptionist who will sit at the desk in the lobby. All parents, visitors, and contractors should stop at that desk upon entering the building. This new reception location will provide better control over whom is allowed to enter the building. We have also installed a system called Raptor. Use of this system requires all visitors to submit their driver’s license to be scanned before receiving an identification sticker to enter school. Parents needing to only drop off lunch or something forgotten by a child will be able to leave items on a shelf next to the console in the Marian foyer. We thank you in advance for following this new procedure. The Raptor system is widely used in both public and private school throughout the country and was recommended by a consultant hired to assess our security systems. You will hear more about this assessment throughout this school year.

A few reminders before we begin the new school year:

  • Sneak-a-Peek at the classrooms and Popsicle Playdate is this Friday August 31st. Sneak-a-Peek begins at 8:30am and ends at 11:30am. Please feel free to visit your classroom and drop off school supplies. Popsicle Playdate for new students follows Sneak-a-Peek at 11:30am and will be held on the big playground. All new students and their families are invited to attend! No RSVP necessary. 
  • Back to School Day/Night is on Wednesday September 5th. We have a new format for Back to School Day/Night, based on feedback from parents last year. There will be two opportunities to learn back to school information. Both sessions will be identical, so please feel free to attend either session. The first session will be from 8:30am to 10:30am, beginning with a general session in the gym followed by a classroom session. The second session will be that evening from6pm to 8pm. Please remember that this is a half day, with dismissal at 11:45am. Faculty and staff will be in meetings for the remainder of the day until the second session.
  • Our Opening Liturgy is on September 6th at 8:15am. We invite all parents, grandparents, and guardians to join us for this Liturgy. On Friday, September 7th, our Middle School Prayer Service begins at 9am, followed by the Stars & Stripes brunch.

I want to take a moment to make everyone aware of some personnel changes for the 2018-2019 school year. We would like to say a thank you to Mrs. Freeman, who has accepted a position at St. Ursula in the business office. We are grateful for Mrs. Freeman’s service to the school and are happy that she has found a role within the Archdiocese where she can put her knowledge and skills to best use. I would like to thank Mrs. Seiler for stepping into the Office Manager role for the administrative offices.  Mrs. Seiler’s knowledge of the school, faculty and parents will be critical as we endeavor to best serve our community.

We have also made an offer to an individual for the full-time receptionist position. We are glad to say she has accepted the offer and, pending completion of the onboarding paperwork and reference check, we will share her name and background. 
We welcome a few new faculty members joining the Cathedral community. Ms. April-Ann Marshall has accepted the Art teacher position. We had tried to hire Ms. Marshall for a position previously, and we are so excited to have her as a teacher at Cathedral. Ms. Peyton Courtney is a new 5th grade homeroom teacher. Having graduated from Mt. St. Mary’s University, Ms. Courtney is a Baltimore native and was one of the most sought-after teachers following the Archdiocese Job Fair. Mrs. Angela Barton has joined the Cathedral full-time staff after serving as a substitute last year. Mrs. Barton will be a 6th grade homeroom teacher. We are excited to have her share her numerous years of experience teaching teenagers! Finally, you might notice a different name as Lower School Dean. Ms. Monachino, who completed her administrative internship at Cathedral while studying at Johns Hopkins last year, has accepted the Lower School Dean position. However, she will be using her married name, Mrs. Czarnecki, moving forward.

I look forward to seeing everyone next week! 

God Bless,

Michael Wright