Oct. 21 – 27, 2004
It’s a Kick
By St. Peter’s School Staff/ SUN contributing writers
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Unique Programs Make St. Peter’s Special
What Happened to “Gym?”
The sounds of grunts and groans coming from a gym are not unusual as students push themselves to physical greatness. But what is happening in St. Peter’s gym is not the usual Phys. Ed. class or for that matter a practice for a sports team. It is the weekly Tae Kwon Do class that is offered as part of the physical education curriculum.
Each week master instructor Yousife (Joe) George guides the students through the moves and techniques of this form of Korean martial arts. The program has been at St. Peter’s for nine years. Master George has seen the progress of the students who have been in the program since they were in Pre-K. Some students have progressed as far as the red belt.
The children enter the gym with some feelings of anxiety as they enter the program for the first time. New student Ben Schrantz, who had no experience in Tae Kwon Do as a sixth grader, feels that the program is “fun” and he “loves to do the kicks.” This anxiety is quickly relieved as Master George gets each student to understand the tenets of Tae Kwon Do. They include courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. Each year the students present a demonstration to their parents during Catholic Schools Week. The highlight of the program comes as each sixth grade student kicks confetti-filled pie tins out of the hands of their opponent. The audience cheers as the rainbow colored papers float down to the floor. Yet there is still one more surprise. There are those students who have progressed so far that they can break boards with either their hands or feet or both.
But it is not the demonstration that makes Tae Kwon Do such a desirable program at St. Peter’s. It is the respect, non-violence, peace and reconciliation that it teaches. It fits in well with the Catholic School philosophy that is so important in our school.
Students Identify Parallelograms in Grade One
Preparation for the fourth grade New York State Math test can become overwhelming for both teachers and students. But the stress of the test has been relieved by the knowledge that St. Peter’s students have been prepared by the best: the best program and the best teachers. St. Peter’s School adopted the Saxon Math program in the fall of 2002. Its unique format prepares the student to think independently which is not only needed for the fourth grade assessment but also needed in order to be life-long learners. The children receive two math lessons daily in kindergarten through grade three. The first lesson is called “Math meeting.” The students learn how numbers are used in their daily lives such as on the calendar and in temperature readings. Also during “Math meeting” the children review patterns, shapes, number sentences, and word problems.
The second lesson occurs later in the day. During that lesson the children learn a small bit of new information that can be added to previously learned information. The student assignment both for class and for home integrate the new information with the old. With repetition the children as early as first grade understand the concept of parallelograms and can use the term as part of their vocabulary.
As the program continues in the intermediate grades, those students with the talent for math and the desire to move ahead are invited to be a part of the advanced math program. Using the Saxon method, the students are self-paced and may move ahead rapidly. The teacher checks the work in the advanced group and makes recommendations for continuance in the program. The outcome is that some children graduating from sixth grade have completed seventh grade math and have begun eighth grade math. The proof is in the pudding as they say. Since the incorporation of this program into the curriculum at St. Peter’s, the fourth grade students have a 100% and 96% passing rate for the two years it has been in place. Is it successful? The answer is unequivocally, yes!
The Sound of Music
Recent studies have shown that students who receive music education actually increase their IQs by six to seven points. With that in mind, music has been an integral part of the curriculum at St. Peter’s. Budgetary cuts usually hit the arts programs very hard. At St. Peter’s the students receive choral music instruction twice a week. The outcome is the production of two concerts, a Christmas and a spring concert. These productions include the smallest pre-k students all the way up to the graduating sixth graders. The show is professionally taped which is then mastered and put on DVD or VHS for purchase by the children’s families.
St. Peter’s also boasts a select choir. For the past two years this choir has been a part of the Festival in the Parks at Darien Lake, an adjudicated competition. The first year the choir took first place in its class, a significant accomplishment. This past June they returned to defend their title. At that time they took first place in their division again, but also took the title of overall best choir in the competition. This was such an accomplishment because they competed against high school choirs.
Instrumental music does not lag at St. Peter’s. The piano lab will be upgraded this fall with the purchase of a new controller. This device allows the music teacher and students to listen via headsets. The teacher can listen to them all or individually. The students listen to only themselves. At the end of the year the students put on a recital for parents and friends. The Band Bus is another music program utilized by St. Peter’s. This program brings in a private instructor for wind and percussion instrument lessons. These students pay an additional fee to the company and also showcase their talents in the spring concert. Music is everywhere at St. Peter’s. It is not unusual to hear humming in the halls or tapping of feet in the classroom. If it helps educate the children and broadens their horizon, let the music begin.
Feast of St. Francis Celebrated
Dogs bark and strain at their leashes as they sniff at each other and the cats held by their owners. The scene is organized chaos. God’s creatures have been invited to school to be blessed in recognition of the feast of St. Francis.
St. Francis invited his followers to see God in all creation. The children at St. Peter’s have learned that all creatures great and small are part of God’s loving world. So they come: Great Danes and miniature poodles, German shepherds and dachshunds. One begins barking and the rest join in. The cats become skittish and parakeets in their cages begin to flap their wings. The children eagerly hold out their beloved pets. They push forward so that the tiny droplets of holy water will land on their pets. They know God loves them and their animals, but this special ceremony seals that idea in their minds. They know that their pet is not only special to them but also to their Creator.