April 10, 2014

Dear St. Finn Barr Parents,

During the season of Lent, we mindfully enter into a period of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These exercises in discipline and self-denial are intended to help us raise our consciousness to the suffering that Christ experienced, which in turn helps us to connect to the suffering of other human beings. This sense of communion with God and recognition of our interconnectedness with others, when heightened through Lenten practices, can be a powerful spiritual experience for people (children included). Needless to say, this is a perfect time to dig into the meaning, practice, and outcomes of the first subset of our Student Learning Expectations, or SLEs.

Our Student Learning Expectations begin with  St. Finn Barr students are Compassionate Children of God who demonstrate respect, live Gospel values, and serve as builders of unity and instruments of reconciliation.” These expectations may very well be the reason that many of you chose St. Finn Barr for your child, regardless of your spiritual affiliation. All of our academic, social, physical goals for students are predicated on the notion that the richest version of “success” is only possible when a child sees him or herself in this light – connected, compassionate, and as an active builder of love. In the Catholic school setting, we are gifted with the opportunity to partner with parents in developing the understanding and practice necessary to help children grow in the regard. A wonderful effect of this intention is that in working to support children, we are able to develop further our own sense of compassion, respect, and reconciliation.

In the past two weeks, teachers in every grade have initiated conversations and activities with their students about our role as compassionate children of God in the school environment. While the language of this concept differs by age, the concepts are the same: when we witness bullying/cruelty/meanness, etc., St. Finn Barr students are expected to:

1)    Choose not to participate in bullying (Respect)

2)    Stand up to stop cruelty to others (Live the Gospel)

3)    Reach out to those who have been hurt; exercise forgiveness to those who make mistakes (Build unity, work towards reconciliation)

These conversations will serve as the building blocks for a focused endeavor in the new school year – Everyone Matters. I look very forward to engaging with all of you, along with our faculty, staff, and students, in further developing our school culture around explicit practice and habits that can support the notion that everyone matters – in our school, community, and world. We will formally begin the conversation with a presentation at our May General Parent meeting from Christopher Trailer, an experienced marriage and family therapist and clinical advisor for our own USF School-based counselor Bonnie Cardell. In the meanwhile, I am always open to your ideas, questions, and suggestions for how we can work together to realize our common goal of a community where compassion remains at the forefront so that the most meaningful learning is possible.  

Have a blessed week,

Mele Mortonson


April 10, 2014

3rd Quarter Honor Roll: Congratulations to all of our 3rd quarter Honor Roll recipients. Special accolades to Ms. Bruno’s 5th grade class, who distinguished themselves this year and in SFB history with 100% of the class achieving Honors!! What a terrific example of how the culture of collaboration and effort can translate into academic achievement. Way to go!!

Spellathon Results:

Congratulations to everyone who participated in our Spell-a-thon event. All together, we raised $6,881.59 for the school! The top prize earners were:


1st: $1,637.00  FIRST GRADE


2nd: $1,442.35 FOURTH GRADE


3rd: $1, 282.60 SECOND GRADE


4th: $535.00 KINDERGARTEN


Registration Packets for the 2014-2015 school year (including the calendar for the year and updated tuition rates) will be sent home after we return from Easter vacation. Thank you to everyone who has submitted their Intent to Return forms with their $500 registration fee. If you plan to return and have not submitted your forms, please notify Mrs. Richardson in the school office as soon as possible.

Alumni News: One of our very own St. Finn Barr Alumnae – Margaret Rosie Keehan – was selected as this year’s San Francisco Rose of Tralee. The Rose of Tralee International Festival is one of Ireland's largest and longest running festivals, celebrating 55 years in 2014. The heart of the festival is the selection of the Rose of Tralee, which brings young women of Irish descent from around the world to County Kerry, Ireland for a global celebration of Irish culture. The festival also includes street entertainment, carnival, live concerts, theatre, circus, markets, funfair, fireworks and our internationally renowned Rose Parade.

To read an excerpt from Margaret’s biography, including her educational path from St. Finn Barr to Convent of the Sacred Heart then USF, check out the News section of the website.

Science Fair News: 7th grader Martina Reyes moved on to the Bay Area Science Fair in Golden Gate Park, an honor bestowed upon the highest point earners amongst the many regional projects….her project, entitled “Performance of Shuttlecocks,” was created as a study of the physics behind badminton, a sport she has played competitively for several years.

PE News: While we were very sorry to have to say goodbye to our excellent CYO PE teacher– Mr. Joachim Perlas, we were blessed with an excellent new teacher in Mr. Octovio “JR” Pablo. Mr. Pablo will be leading our Jump Rope For Heart Event this year, details to come.   

Volunteer Opportunities: Please remember, 30 volunteer hours for all families paying the “participating” tuition rate are due by the end of May. If you have an idea for how you can help, please notify the school office. Otherwise, consider the following opportunities:

TALENT SHOW COORDINATOR: Leading a team of students and parent volunteers to arrange two rehearsals and a final talent show event in May. Contact to volunteer.

GARDEN SUPPORT: Ongoing help is needed to cover our weekly tree watering for our new Friends of the Urban Forest trees. Parents can earn two hours per week for this task, which can be done at any time outside of school hours. We will be needing this support throughout the summer months, so if you’d like to get a head start on 14-15 hours, please reach out to our Volunteer Coordinator ( or Parent Garden Leader Lucy Redmond (

CHOIR ASSISTANT: Seeking an adult volunteer (no choral skills needed) on Mondays, from 2:45 – 5:00 p.m. to help with the collecting the students after school, escorting them to the convent, taking roll, copying music, and contacting parents. Please contact Caryn Matter ( if you are available.  

MATERIAL DONATIONS: You can earn up to ten hours in material donations, from playground equipment to copy paper, art supplies, etc.

SFB Tuition Raffle: The final mandatory fundraising event is here, with the exciting possibility that a family or friend of St. Finn Barr can find the Pot o’ Gold at the end of the rainbow! While parents can expect a fundraising packet in the school mail soon, a few details worth noting are here:

Tickets are $5/each, with each participating family expected to sell a minimum of 20 tickets ($100).  If you would like the prize money to be applied towards tuition for one St. Finn Barr student during the 2014-2015 school year, please list the SFB student’s name on the ticket (if your student is a current 8th grader and would like to be eligible for the $5K cash scholarship, please list his or her name). If a non-SFB student’s name is listed on the ticket, the prize winner will receive a $2500 cash prize, subject to state and federal tax laws. Goooood luck to everyone!

CSJ Newsletter Attached: The CSJ Educational Network has taken a new approach to building their newsletter, so that each issue focuses on one region of CSJ schools. Check out our school’s feature in the latest San Francisco issue!

What is WASC? Many of you have asked for a refresher on the WASC process that I refer to so often. WASC, or the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, is responsible for the accreditation of schools like ours. This year is the self-study year, when we work to organize and analyze data, from enrollment patterns to parent survey results to IOWA test scores, to generate a list of significant accomplishments and significant goals. This self-study is organized into a document that is submitted to the Department of Catholic Schools and to a committee of educators who will visit our school in February of 2015 to evaluate our program. Because the visiting committee could never spend three days to learn everything there is to know about St. Finn Barr, their objective is to confirm that the findings we establish in the self-study document provides an accurate depiction of what is happening in our school. For this reason, the visit is the “easy” part. While we are committed to bringing our “best selves” to the table during those three days of our visit, we are moreso committed to taking advantage of this opportunity to think critically and collaboratively about the past, present, and future of our school.  

2014-2015 Financial Aid: Now is the final opportunity (April 15th Deadline) to complete your financial aid application through TADS to be eligible for the Archdiocese Family Grant for the upcoming school year. options for the upcoming school year. Please note that in order to be eligible for SFB tuition assistance grants, families must complete the TADS application online.