September 19, 2014

Dear Parents,


At St. Finn Barr Catholic School, emergency response planning reinforces our Student Learning Expectations to be critical thinkers, lifelong learners, and compassionate children of God. The sooner children learn how to follow instructions, remain calm, and make decisions under pressure, the better. As a community, we practice evacuation drills monthly with the San Francisco Fire Department, and we practice lockdown and earthquake drills four times per school year.


This week, Lt. Ed Coda, a retired SFPD member, joined the Archdiocese principals’ meeting to present the Standard Response Protocol (SRP) developed by the I love you guys Foundation out of Bailey, Colorado. The foundation was created by the parents of Emily Keyes, a high school student killed by a school intruder in 2006. It was developed to utilize shared vocabulary and expectations for first responders, students, and staff in case of an emergency. San Francisco Unified School District and the Archdiocese of San Francisco have committed to implementing this protocol.


The four directives of the protocol are:


Lockout: Threat outside of the school Secure the perimeter

Lockdown: Interior school threat Locks, lights, out of sight

Evacuate: Follow Directions

Shelter: Follow Directions


This year, teachers will be reviewing the Standard Response Protocol with students as part of our emergency preparedness exercises. Our goal is prepare and practice with the children so that they are familiar with and well-rehearsed in responding to a variety of potential emergency situations. The value of the SRP is in its simplicity – it provides clear, manageable directives for adults and children of all ages to follow.


We know that children respond best to training/practice, and that “closing the learning loop” by reinforcing new ideas at home is essential. Please take a few moments to review and discuss the Standard Response Protocol with your child. Your calm, reassuring, and age-appropriate perspective on SRP reinforces for the children that preparing for emergencies and practicing protocols is an essential part of life.


Have a blessed week,


Mele Mortonson


Link for details about the Standard Response Protocol:




September 19, 2014


Enrichment Updates: Please notify the office for a printed copy of any of the following enrichment program flyers. Digital copies are also available in the news section of the school website.


Free! Journalism Club (6-8th): The journalism class meets every other Wednesday (beginning October 1st) to develop one issue of The Shamrock Gazette per semester. Students get to work together in a real-life setting to develop their interviewing, writing, research, editing, and computer skills, all while producing an journalistic work to share with the community.


Engineering (3rd-6th): Great news! Engineering for Kids has opened up our Monday classes to students in the 6th grade.


Dance (All Grades): The focus of Dance at SFB is to create a fun environment where children are encouraged to express themselves through movement, while teaching self-confidence, responsibility, and teamwork. The style of dance will be a mix of fast-moving jazz and hip hop, based in formal technique and inspired by freestyle. Boys and girls welcome.


Our K-2 Dance class has now formed, and we are still seeking students to complete a 3-5 grade and 6-8 dance class. $130 for ten sessions. Contact Lindsey Pothast at


Free! Young Leaders Club (3rd-6th): Beginning Friday, September 19th The Young Leaders Club will begin as an option for your student every other Friday from 3:00-4:30pm in the 5th grade classroom. During this time, students will focus on developing skills in conflict resolution, compromise, organization, and team building. This is a great opportunity to gain experience for those students wanting to someday be in student council. This club is open to any student in 3rd-6th grade interested in learning leadership development skills. The advisor for this club is Jordan Heller ( or 530-383-3464) an AmeriCorps volunteer who is working with grades 3-5 this school year.


Free! International Club (6-8th): With such an expansive student body of different backgrounds, languages and experiences, we are excited to introduce the International Club to the St. Finn Barr Middle School Enrichment Program.  Beginning Friday, September 19th the International Club will begin as an option for students to attend every other Friday from 3:00 to 4:30PM.  There is no cost to attend the club other than a positive attitude and willingness to understand and be cooperative.  Any student interested in sharing about themselves, enhancing their cultural awareness, practicing their Spanish or teaching the group a little of another language they know is welcome!


Free! Outdoor Club (4th-8th): The objective of the St. Finn Barr Outdoor Club is to provide the St. Finn Barr community an outdoor experience as we explore the hills of San Francisco on monthly Saturday hikes.   Students will have an opportunity to teach each other about the natural and human history of our community as we hike the many trails in our city. 2014 dates: October 25, November 22, December 13.


IOWA Testing Week is begins this Monday, September 22nd. Test taking is a great opportunity for children to exercise mental fitness and to practice test-taking strategies they can use throughout life. Our teachers schedule tests in the morning to avoid fatigue, and include plenty of opportunities for movement to stimulate students’ brains between tests. Please support your child in arriving to school on time, with adequate rest and a healthy breakfast throughout next week.


The Feast of St. Finn Barr is just a weekend away! Please mark your calendar for a day of fun on Sunday, September 28th. The day will begin with a 10am Mass celebration followed by a full day of games, activities, live music, and delicious food. Bring your friends and family and enjoy the dayJ


October 8th Walk and Roll to School Day: St. Finn Barr families will join children all over San Francisco on Wednesday, October 8th for “Walk and Roll to School Day.” This event, sponsored by Safe Routes to School San Francisco (, gives all of us an opportunity to make our community safer and more pleasant for walking. Last year, over 8,500 students in 55 schools across San Francisco participated in this fun and healthy event.


On October 8th, all SFB students will receive a free Safe Routes pencil. Students who walk or roll to school will receive a reflective backpack belt wrap and an “I Walked to School Today!” sticker.


8th Grade Volleyball Philanthropy: This year, the 8th grade girls will continue a tradition at St. Finn Barr of raising funds and awareness for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation ( Their goal is to raise $1,000 for the foundation.  They will wearing a gold ribbon on their jerseys throughout the season.  When a family donates to the foundation, the girls will send a thank you note along with a gold ribbon.


IMPORTANT Calendar Update: Our WCEA accreditation visit has been confirmed. We will be hosting the WCEA Committee from Wednesday, February 25 through Friday, February 27th. On the following Monday, March 2nd, the school will be closed for a Pastor’s Holiday.


Sibling Kindergarten Applicants for the 2014-2015 school year: If your son or daughter will be enrolling in Kindergarten next year, please notify the school office (via phone or email) as soon as possible, so that we may reserve a seat for him or her in the St. Finn Barr Class of 2024. Siblings will be assessed in January with the other applicants, and will receive first placement priority.


AM Traffic Drop off Procedures: Thank you so much for minding the cones on Hearst Avenue during morning drop off – this area is reserved for parents to pull in and drop their children off, and parking there should be avoided. As you are driving down Hearst and/or Edna street, please remember to come to a complete stop behind the crossing line – rolling stops present a very real danger to our crossing guard and the pedestrians they are working to protect. If your children walk to and from school, please remind them to always use the crosswalk and wait for clearance to cross.


Powerschool student access codes were sent home on September 10th for parents of students in grades 3-8. Please contact Mrs. LaChon Richardson ( if you are unable to access your student’s grades. Parents are encouraged to log in and check Powerschool reports weekly to ensure an accurate picture of student progress. We will no longer send home printed progress reports, but will have grades up-to-date by the progress report dates established in the annual calendar.


CYO Cooking Camps? Chef Matt at CYO has approached us about the possibility of offering cooking day camps for students age 11+ during the upcoming vacations (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter). If you would be interested in signing up your child for a 2-5 day cooking camp, please email me at


New Merchandise Coordinator: After the Parent Board’s successful roll out of the new SFB spirit wear last year, we’ve recognized a need for a position dedicated to the ordering and sales of SFB Spirit wear -- thank you to Vicky Ortiz (Mariela, 2nd) for stepping into the role of SFB Merchandise Coordinator. She can be reached at


Enrichment Volunteers Needed: Our SFB school Choir is seeking a volunteer parent to help with administrative tasks for choir practices (Tues & Friday, 4pm-530pm). If you are available to help (no choral experience needed!)


Also, we are recruiting parent volunteers to work with our Journalism Club. The journalism club meets every other Wednesday after school to build our wonderful school newspaper – The Shamrock Gazette.


Service: Our first service opportunity is here: the School Supply Drive to benefit La Casa de las Madres, supporting local families. Look for bins in the school lobby to drop off school supplies for children and families in need.


Parenting and Faith: Are you interested in learning more about Catholic spiritual life? Did you (or your child) miss the opportunity to receive one of the Catholic initiation Sacraments (baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist) or marriage and would like to now? It is not uncommon for parents to feel the “pull” to deepen their spiritual life once their children are enrolled in Catholic School, or to learn more about the Catholic faith on behalf of their student. If so, please contact Mele Mortonson ( or Juliet Samonte at St. Finn Barr Parish ( and we can provide resources to support you on this path.


Save the Date! Executive Functioning Workshop on THURSDAY OCTOBER 2nd 6:30pm. Please visit St. Gabriel School for their first support group of the 2014-2015 school year. All are welcome.


EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING will be presented by Shayla Hulgan.


Executive functioning refers to a set of mental processes that allow us to be efficient learners, thinkers, and actors.  Our brains and bodies are capable of many things such as movement, language, emotions, and thoughts.  Executive functioning allows us to use all of those skills in appropriate and efficient ways.  These skills include planning, memory, organization, attention, problem solving, inhibition, and emotional regulation.   Strong executive functioning allows us to organize our behavior, manage our emotions, and monitor our thoughts in order to work more effectively.  


These skills are complex and, as such, are some of the latest skills to develop in the brain, not being fully developed until well into young adulthood.  Children often struggle with these skills at some point and require support, modeling, strategies, and opportunities for practice in order to effectively build strong executive functioning skills.   This talk will focus on further defining executive functioning, discussing why it matters for all students, and explain basic principles for supporting executive functioning development.  


About the speaker:  Shayla Hulgan is a learning specialist and the Manger of Educational Services at Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto.  She has worked as a teacher at Sand Hill School for students with learning challenges and in private practice as a learning specialist.  Shayla has her master's in Learning Disabilities from Northwestern University, as well as bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Human Development.  She currently provides assessments and individual coaching around learning disabilities and executive functioning.


Please RSVP to Milena Tapia by 9/24 at




9.13                Sunnyside Neighborhood Rummage Sale


9.18                Magic Dan assembly 9am


9.19                Cooking Class Day


9.20                Campus Volunteer Work Day


9.22                IOWA Testing Week begins (Grades 2-8)


9.28                St. Finn Barr Festival (10am-5pm) 


10.8                Walk and Roll to School Day


3.2.15             WASC Holiday – No School