Catholic Schools Celebrating

Posted: February 01, 1999

St. Agnes School in West Chester, along with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Catholic schools across the nation, is celebrating Catholic Schools Week starting today.

``This is a national recognition week that serves as a way to raise consciousness about Catholic education by reminding the community who we are and what we are about,'' said Sister Shaun Thomas, principal at St. Agnes.

Many elementary and high schools in the region will conduct open houses to showcase their programs and achievements.

St. Agnes, on West Gay Street, has adopted a yearlong theme of peace that has been integrated into the students' daily school work, Sister Thomas said.

The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary published a separate curriculum in which a different virtue is emphasized every month. Lessons in courage, for example, are reinforced with stories of people who have displayed that virtue, with quotations and scriptures, said Sister Thomas.

Last month, the school, which has about 600 students from kindergarten to grade eight, studied faith, using as an example Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, who was murdered in 1980 for trying to stop injustice in El Salvador. This month , students will study hope.

Children also are creating a ``peace'' paper chain, Sister Thomas said. Each student will record what his or her personal contribution to world peace can be on individual links of the chain, which will then be connected. The chain will be hung in the school's hallways.

Catholic Schools Week is an annual celebration that began 26 years ago.

Individual schools may be called for information about open-house schedules and other planned activities.

AVON GROVE * The annual math fair at Kemblesville Elementary takes place Thursday. According to district spokeswoman Carla Lucas, students will use the tiled halls of the school to play a math version of Scrabble, combine fraction concepts with geometry to design quilt blocks and use M&M candies to practice estimation skills, learn about statistics and get a consumer economics lesson.

Next Monday marks 100 days of school this year, and kindergarten and first graders have been counting. On this day, students throughout the district will bring in 100 of something - rubber bands, marshmallows, Barbie shoes - and share it with the class.

The Kemblesville PTA meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the school.

COATESVILLE * East Fallowfield Elementary is holding a science fair from 3 to 6 p.m. tomorrow. Forty children, from kindergarten through fifth grade, are scheduled to participate.

Six first-place winners will receive $50 savings bonds. Second-place winners will receive gift certificates to local stores. Other gift certificates will be raffled off at the fair.

Local businesses and residents that contributed to the fair include Environmental Resources Management in Exton; Brandywine Hospital; Peco Energy Co.; Brandywine OB-GYN; and co-chairs of the science fair, Derrick and Jane Ross, and Craig and Linda Fraser. Cherry Stone Graphics designed discount T-shirts for free, and Coca-Cola has donated free soda.

DOWNINGTOWN * Parents, students and faculty at Shamona Creek Elementary School are working to build a new playground.

The school will begin a fund-raising campaign at 9 a.m. today with a fitness demonstration. The school needs to raise $35,000 for the cost of the equipment and $15,000 for installation, landscaping and maintenance. The campaign will run through April, with construction anticipated in late June. Shamona Creek Home and School Association will give an initial donation of $9,000.

* A full slate of activities devoted to emphasizing good health is on tap at the Ninth Grade Center this week. An example: the Home and School Association will deliver a healthful breakfast to every homeroom today. Tomorrow will feature guest speakers from Chester County Departments of Human Services and Health.

GREAT VALLEY * General Wayne Middle School will host this year's Schuylkill Valley Orchestra Festival, in which top student musicians from area districts are conducted by several directors.

The participating middle schools, in addition to General Wayne, are Arcola, Bala Cynwyd, Colonial, Radnor, Tredyffrin/Easttown, Upper Merion, Valley Forge and Welsh Valley. The festival will end with a concert at 8 p.m. Friday in the middle school auditorium.

General Wayne orchestra director Adam Search will conduct the ``Armed Forces Salute,'' a medley of four military marches arranged by Bob Louden. General admission is $3.

KENNETT CONSOLIDATED * At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, parents are invited to the high school auditorium to hear a seminar on ``Raising Drug-Free Kids.''

Bob Esty will talk about effective parenting techniques for raising drug-free children and talking to them about drugs.

* Last Thursday, New Garden sixth graders celebrated the Chinese New Year by making crafts, playing games and tasting Asian food. The day was part of the sixth graders' year-long curriculum focusing on world cultures.

OCTORARA * High school students Elizabeth Addyman, Michael Addyman, Valerie Bitner, Rebecca McCormick, Erin McKee and Kurt Thompson have been selected to participate in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District Choral Festival running from Thursday through Saturday. The festival is being hosted by the district and features 170 students from 32 schools. A dress-rehearsal concert will be held at 7 p.m. Friday in the high school auditorium, The performance is open to the public and admission is $1. A second concert for participants' families will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday.

OWEN J. ROBERTS * Justin Fox, a senior, has been named a candidate for the 1999 Presidential Scholars Program. Fox is one of about 2,600 candidates chosen from more then 2.7 million seniors nationwide.

Among Fox's roles at the high school are president of the senior class, president of the National Honors Society, treasurer of the yearbook, and captain of the soccer team. He is also a member of the tennis team. Fox intends to study aerospace engineering at either the California or Massachusetts Institutes of Technology.

Candidates for the programare selected on the basis of SAT or ACT scores, essays, self-assessments, activities, school recommendations and transcripts.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars will select one male and one female student from each state, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and U.S. students living abroad. In addition, students will be recognized in the creative and performing arts and at-large categories. The U.S. Department of Education will announce the finalists in May.

OXFORD * A sleep-over Friday for girls kept 53 Oxford eighth graders overnight at Penn's Grove Middle School, talking about leadership, nutrition, peer pressure and self-esteem.

The girls participated in six sessions, including one from West Chester University professors and students on leadership, another from a Philadelphia group on self-defense, and a third on fitness.

``We focus on self-esteem,'' said Penn's Grove counselor Karen Greenberg, who started the program. ``[This age is] an exciting but frightening time.''

The program, in its first year, is called GOLD - Girls Only Listen and Discuss. Included were games such as karaoke, caricatures and cooking, Greenberg said.

PHOENIXVILLE * Ninth- and eleventh-grade students at the high school will take the PSSA test from next Monday through Feb. 11. The test will be administered during the first hour and 45 minutes each morning.

* The high school will host a breakfast banquet for students who made the honor roll this marking period. The event will be held at 8 a.m. on Feb. 18 in the cafeteria. Parents may attend.

UNIONVILLE-CHADDS FORD * High school students now have access to research material 24 hours a day, seven days a week, thanks to the purchase of two Internet databases.

They will be able to access books, periodicals and international papers from any computer connected to the district network.

``The use of technology in library information has revolutionized the way students do research,'' said Alicia Astorga, head librarian. ``We teach the students how to research for the way they live today and the way the world will be tomorrow.''

WEST CHESTER * Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School students spent last week collecting food, office supplies and other items for the Chester County SPCA.

The collection was sponsored by the school's Respect and Responsibility Committee, formed in the summer of 1997 to promote positive relationships and attitudes among staff and students.

The committee of staff members, chaired by fourth-grade teacher Pam Marone and music teacher Amy Brown, chose ``kindness'' for the theme of this marking period. The week of Jan. 18 was ``Be Kind to Animals Week,'' and on Thursday, students will make bird feeders that will be placed around the schools.

Education Notes is a weekly column that features news and items of interest pertaining to Chester County's public and private schools. The information should be received no later than Wednesday for consideration for the following Monday's column. All items must include a name and phone number for verification of information. Items should be mailed to the attention of Susan Weidener, the Philadelphia Inquirer, 120 N. High St., West Chester, Pa. 19380. Items can be faxed to 610-701-7630 or sent to sweidener@phillynews.com.

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