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This Week's Newsletter


                                                                                                            August 15, 2016

Dear St. Finn Barr Parents,


Ten years ago this week, I finished my post-graduate school year at home and in Spain, packed up two suitcases and my one-year old puppy – Hans – and moved to the Bay Area to start my first job as an 8th grade teacher at St. Elizabeth Elementary School in Oakland. I remember the excitement of so much newness…a new city, new housemates, a new community, and of course, a new job. The butterflies of excitement I felt then are still so distinct… they were not much different than the ones I remembered from my first day of school, twenty years earlier, or the ones I’ve felt every year since!


That week I experienced for the first time one of the most important rituals of teaching – the preparation of the classroom for the year ahead. Besides the necessity of creating a physical environment in which teaching and learning will happen, the act of setting up the physical space by the teacher is an exercise in mindful preparedness for the year ahead. As a principal, the scope of the learning environment I help to prepare has expanded, and the changes to the built environment each August are often the result of years of planning instead of one summer, but the concept is the same. As always, I ask myself: how does this space reflect our values as a school?


This year more than ever before, I am proud of way our campus is coming together. First off, the improvements will translate into a more comfortable, safe, and learning-friendly environment for our students. Secondly, and not unimportantly, these projects reflect a vibrant, healthy, and evolving institution, where long-term planning and execution is possible because of the collaboration of its stakeholders.


Here are some of the changes you can expect to see when school begins:


  • The church building is receiving a 90th birthday coat of paint!
  • The second phase of our new security system is complete – the wrought iron gates that were installed last summer are now controlled by video access, so that our entire campus will be secured throughout the school day.
  • Our original (1962) boiler has been replaced, and all of our radiators have been serviced to resolve the lack of strong circulation–the new boiler is more energy efficient (and all areas of our building are toasty warm!).
  • The first phase of our seismic retrofit began with the application of window film to all windows surrounding exits
  • New window shades for every classroom have been ordered for September delivery
  • The beautiful crucifix art created by our friend, Dr. Richard Mani, is on display in each classroom
  • The baseboards and shelves of each classroom have been freshened up with new paint
  • New basketball backboards have been purchased and installed by the Men’s Club
  • The “St. Finn Barr Catholic School” lettering on Hearst Avenue has been painted to distinguish our school from our neighbors and to highlight our entry
  • We received the first architectural drafts of our new bathrooms, set for renovation in June of 2017. Besides bringing a much- needed facelift to our “vintage” facilities, the designs will make the spaces ADA compliant, more eco-friendly, sanitary, and safe.
  • We received notification of a $1000 grant from the Glen Park Festival to develop the garden of the Juliet Samonte Parish Center (formerly the SFB convent).


All of these changes represent the planning and resource management that is only possible after years of strong enrollment, tuition obligations met, and relationships built within our community to recruit funds for our building. Whether you are new to the school or have been with us throughout the evolution of the space, I hope that whenever you take your first steps on campus for the new year, you experience the sense of security, joy and Christ-centeredness that we are aspiring to build for your children.


God Bless,


Mele Mortonson




Wed 8.24                  Opening Day – 12:30pm Dismissal

7:55am Morning Assembly/8th Grade Class Sweatshirt Ceremony

8am: Parent Welcome Reception in Goode Hall


Thur 8.25                 12:30pm Dismissal


Fri 8.26                     12:30pm Dismissal


Mon 8.29                  2pm Monday Dismissal


Thurs 9.1                  BACK TO SCHOOL NIGHT* 6:30pm-815pm

                                    *This is a mandatory attendance event for parents


Mon 9.5                     Labor Day – School holiday


Tues 9.6                    SFB Lunch Program (Tues/Thurs) Begins


Sat 9.17                     St. Finn Barr Parish 90th Anniversary Gala


Sun 9.25                    FEAST OF ST. FINN BARR FESTIVAL

10am Mass

11:30am -5:30pm Festival