Congratulations to our Students of the Month!
Dear Parent(s) or Guardian(s):
It is with great pride and excitement that I begin my fourth year as Principal of St. Mary’s School. I am honored to continue my role as school leader and to work with you as a partner in education to ensure that your child(ren) are successful. I anticipate a very productive year as my team and I support the academic, spiritual and emotional growth of every student here at St. Mary’s School. Along with faculty and staff, I will continue my dedication to expand on our great legacy within Prince George’s County and the Archdiocese of Washington. As always, we will need your support and the guidance of St. Mary and the Holy Spirit.
In July, we hosted our third year of summer school for students needing additional support in math and reading. We are currently finishing our final week and I am grateful for all the hard work of the teachers and students this summer. I am confident these students will benefit from their hard work and dedication. All of our efforts and strategies have been developed and implemented with one goal in mind. We continuously utilize our data and team observations to make improvements in being as effective as possible with improving student outcomes. We are inching our way closer to becoming a “Blue Ribbon School,” and I believe, with some slight modifications and an amazing staff, we can achieve that great accomplishment. With guidance from the Archdiocese of Washington, our faculty and staff have worked hard to design math/reading levels for students in grades fourth through eighth. These students will be grouped according to level as opposed to age. This change will aid our teachers in truly meeting students where they are based on skill and ability and will have a profound effect on student engagement and success.
As always, the new school year will bring some changes to our staff. Ms. Hawkins (Kindergarten), Ms. Zuniga (First Grade), Ms. Whissel (Second Grade), Ms. Fenstermaker (Third Grade), Ms. Dhanagom (Technology) and Mr. Tate (P.E.) will be moving on to other schools. We wish them the very best with their future endeavors! I am extremely excited about our 2017-2018 squad. Mrs. Quandra Gaskins will be the new Kindergarten teacher. She has ten years of teaching experience and is joining us from St. Mary’s of the Mills. Mrs. Gaskins has a Masters of Art from the Academy of Art University and is currently working on a Masters of Education from the Notre Dame of Maryland University. Ms. Emily Kogut will be teaching First Grade this year. Ms. Kogut has five year of experience in teaching in Catholic schools and is joining us from St. Augustine Catholic School in D.C. She has a Bachelor of Arts from The Catholic University of America. Dr. Liesel Lashley will become our new Second Grade teacher. Dr. Lashley worked as a Para-educator this past year and did an amazing job. Dr. Lashley has a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from Howard University. Ms. Nicole Wright will teach Physical Education. Ms. Wright has a Masters of Arts in Interdisciplinary Art Infusion from Towson University. We are in the process of hiring a new Third Grade teacher and Technology teacher. We are very excited about our new team members. Please be sure to give them each a great St. Mary’s welcome when school begins this fall!
In preparation for the upcoming school year, we are making several improvements to the facility. We can thank Fr. Evelio for his encouragement to dispose of the carpets in the classrooms and have new floors installed. We have just started this process and the floors look amazing. We will also add a tile floor to the lobby and try some new colors on the main floor hallway. If you have driven past the school/church, you will notice the new parking lot. I would like to thank Deacon Robinson for all of his hard work to make this happen. We had our main waterline (from the road to the building) replaced and we’re still working through some minor issues; but, this major repair should prevent us from having ruptures in the water line. Once all the work is completed, I am confident that our old building will shine once again!
I want to encourage all new families, as well as our current families, to attend our Open House on Thursday, August 24, beginning at 9:00 a.m. in the gym and followed by visits to the classroom and ending at 10:00 a.m. You will have an opportunity to meet the faculty and staff and have any last minute questions answered.
It promises to be another busy year with many new challenges. Enjoy the remaining days of summer. If you have any questions please call, email, or stop by. I look forward to seeing you soon! Stay cool and God Bless!
Congratulations to our March 2018 Students of the Month
Dear Parents and Guardians,
I hope all of you are preparing for a special Easter break with your families. We are at the end of our Lenten journey; on Holy Thursday we enter into the Triduum. The Easter Triduum recalls the passion, death, burial and the resurrection of Jesus, as portrayed in the Gospels. As we go through this journey with Jesus, we feel the pain and sadness of Good Friday and we also experience the wonderful celebration of His resurrection on Easter Sunday! I wish you all a meaningful and joyous Easter holiday.
Our school is extremely busy with so many activities. We have Title I tutoring for math and reading four days per week, choir practices, band practices, Science Club, play practices, our basketball clinic, soccer, and track practices. I would like to expand our offerings to the younger grades. Please let me know if you have an interest in moderating an after-school club or coaching a team. Perhaps you have a hobby you could share or a special talent that could benefit our children (this could count toward volunteer hours).
Many of our parents are interested in learning more about the BOOST scholarship offered by the state of Maryland. This scholarship helps Maryland students (who have a financial need) pay for tuition (K-12) to attend private schools. Thankfully it looks as though the Maryland BOOST scholarships will be funded again this year! The budget conference committee finalized the negotiations between the two chambers and BOOST was renewed and funded to include nearly $6 million in program funds for the upcoming 2017-18 school year. While the budget language stipulates that last year’s BOOST scholarship recipients should continue to receive scholarships so long as they’re income-eligible, there will be a significant amount of new money to allocate for new scholarship awards. To apply or reapply for the BOOST scholarship, please visit www.educationmaryland.org/BOOST. We encourage anyone who is struggling to pay our tuition to apply for the BOOST scholarship.
Twelve of our 8th-grade students received the Sacrament of Confirmation with Bishop Knestout this past Friday. Our students did a wonderful job representing our school and parish; they were brave souls and answered some challenging questions from the Bishop. Many of our second graders will receive First Holy Communion on May 14th: the English speakers at the 11:00 am Mass and the Spanish speakers at the 1:00 pm Mass. If possible, please come and join us for these wonderful celebrations. It is amazing to see our students grow in their faith. As always, please stop by or call me if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you all for your continued support of our amazing school!
Chris Buchleitner Principal
Dear Parents and Guardians,
We are really moving right along with the school year; mid-quarter reports go home at the end of next week. The weather will be warming up in just a few weeks. What happened to our snow storms this year? Did Mother Nature forget about us? Bring on the snow!
We have completed our mid-year Scantron testing. There have been some positive gains as most children are on track to hit their annual academic growth goals. Some students are in need of additional support and parents have been contacted. This Friday (2/17/17) we will have conferences in the afternoon for parents whose students are struggling academically. If you received an invite, but have not set an appointment time, please do so ASAP. If you’re unable to meet on Friday, February 17, 2017, please inform your teacher right away so alternative plans can be made.
We have been making progress on the repairs to the heat system. Our boiler is very old and in need of repair; our building engineer has been making steady progress. The system needed some old parts replaced. This process takes time as the heat needs to be shut down and the entire system needs to cool before work can begin. The work has been taking place over weekends. By spring, the boiler should be running like a top!
There has been progress in the science lab. The new floor was installed on 2/13/17. We believe we will be holding science classes in the lab at some point in March. A special thanks to Ms. Maier, Mrs. Ferguson, and Mr. and Mrs. Nichols for their volunteer work in planning and overseeing the work in the lab. Speaking of science, we had an outstanding assembly on Friday for students in second through fifth. The assembly was to introduce the science club, which was led by Ms. Ricks. The students and teachers thoroughly enjoyed it, especially Ms. Keller who was chosen as a volunteer. Students rubbed her hair with a balloon to learn about static electricity. The display was truly hair-raising!
I would like to personally thank the St. Mary’s community for the support and love given to the Planta family over the past few weeks. The mass and repast were a beautiful celebration of Angelina’s life. The love and support for the family was profound. Please continue to keep Bo, Abigail, Conrad, and Ethan in your prayers. On Wednesday, March 1st, students will attend the Ash Wednesday Mass at 9:00 am, which officially begins the season of Lent. Please feel free to join us at mass as we begin our forty days of Lent to prepare for Easter. As always, please stop by or call me if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you all for your continued support of our amazing little school!
Chris Buchleitner, Principal
Dear Parents and Guardians,
As you preparing for the coming of our Lord? We began Advent on November 27th; it’s the beginning of the Liturgical Calendar. Advent is observed in many Christian churches as a time of waiting and preparing for the celebration of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The word is a Latin word meaning "coming." I know it’s easy to lose focus of the real meaning of Christmas. At this time of year, I begin cringing at the thought of shopping, traffic, and additional expenses. Then I remind myself that Jesus wouldn’t want us stressing out over his birthday. I pray that students, teachers and parents will experience peace and joy through Advent and Christmas. Let’s give all of our stresses to God so we can spend more time enjoying the blessings that He has provided to all of us! We had a General HSA meeting on November 17th. We had a guest speaker from the ADW who spoke about internet safety and gave parents many helpful tips on what to be aware of and how to monitor their children’s use of the internet. Please be diligent in monitoring your children. Unfortunately, we have seen a pattern of middle school children making poor decisions with the content that they post and share with friends. We have an assembly planned in January for our students (4th-8th grades) to further educate and discuss this topic. During the HSA meeting, we broke into groups to discuss topics of interest and we collected your feedback on various topics. In early December, the HSA met and discussed the feedback from the groups. We are busy making improvements and will provide an update during the next HSA General meeting. School improvement is a never ending quest; together we will continue to strive to make our school the best little school in PG County. Together, we can make it happen. In November, a handful of volunteers began the first steps in upgrading the science lab. Our first goal was to throw away the old, broken, and outdated material that has accumulated in there for over 30+ years. The room has been stripped to the bare walls and floor. A new floor, ceiling, lights, and a fresh coat of paint is our next step. We will update the website with pictures very soon; stay tuned.
As I walk past the music room, I could hear the children rehearsing for our Christmas Pageant. I’m looking forward to another wonderful production! Please mark your calendar for this special event on December 14, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. in the church. I guarantee it will help you prepare your mind and spirit for the Christmas season. I want to thank you for your generous donations of coats, the contents of the homeless bags, and the many toys that were donated by our families. St. Mary’s School has a wonderful history of service and generosity, thanks to all of you! On behalf of the faculty and staff I would like to wish Fr. Rick the best of luck with his new assignment as Pastor of St. Martin of Tours in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Fr. Rick has had a wonderful impact on our school; he will be missed by all. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please stop by, call, or email anytime. Peace and joy be with you and your families and Merry Christmas to all! In Peace,