This Week's Newsletter


Dear St. Finn Barr Parents,                                                                   January 27, 2017


This week, as we kick off another eventful celebration of Catholic Schools Week, our community continues to be blessed. Last month, another anonymous donor stepped forward with a donation of $21,000 to fund our science program’s upgrade to the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards: The FOSS kits for all grade levels will be updated to reflect the most cutting edge science learning, and we could not be more excited for what this will mean for the students of St. Finn Barr.     


For those of you unfamiliar with our science program: the FOSS (Full Option Science System) is an inquiry-based, active learning science program developed out of the Lawrence Hall of Science that we adopted beginning in 2011. We integrated the program into our school in phases, beginning in the middle school and moving into the intermediate (3-5) and primary (K-2) program over the course of three years. Since then, the leadership of our Science Director Christine Bertko (who founded the program at our school), the commitment by our faculty & instructional aides to professional development & instruction, and the enthusiasm to dig deeply into science amongst our diverse learners have come together to build a science program that we are so proud of -- students in all grades are engaged deeply in science through hands on, experiential learning. Here is a snapshot from last week in science:


6th grade:  Students began a new Life Sciences Unit (Human Systems Interactions) and answered the focus questions “What is a human body made of?” and “How do human organ systems interact?”  The sixth graders became medical students as they began to solve a disease mystery with the guidance of Ms. Heller.  In the process, they examined the structural levels in the human body and investigated three possible diagnoses for their hypothetical patient:  Lupus, Hantavirus and Lyme Disease.  Students observed, examined evidence and engaged in scientific argumentation as they shared and discussed the data. 

5th grade:  5th graders were studying chemistry in their Mixtures and Solutions kit.  On Friday, they examined three mystery solutions and answered the focus question, “Do the three mystery solutions have different concentrations?”  In groups, students created a plan to determine the relative concentrations of three salt solutions and used lab materials to collaboratively carry out the steps of their investigation.  Results were shared and discussed with the whole class. Discrepancies were analyzed. Ms. Bruno facilitated the investigation and guided the discussion.

2nd grade:  Mrs. Bertko collaborated with Ms. Blanch on the second graders Physics unit: Balance and Motion.  In this investigation, the students continued to examine motion as they explored the forces that make a twirler spin.  Friday's focus question was, “What causes twirlers to rotate?”  Students built three different twirler designs and investigated the variables that contributed to their spin.  Ms. Blanch continued the lesson outside as the students tested actual maple seed twirlers and compared them to their hand made spinners. 

What will this investment in the Next Generation of FOSS mean? The upgrades that we have purchased -- FOSS Next Generation – will put the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into practice by integrating all three dimensions of the new standards into our current FOSS kids: the Disciplinary Core Ideas, the Science and Engineering Practices, and the Crosscutting Concepts.[1]


We are thrilled to be blessed with such incredibly generosity in support of our efforts to prepare young, diverse minds for the future.



Go Shamrocks!


Mele Mortonson



Quarter 2 Honor Roll & Science Fair Awards will be distributed on Wednesday, February 1st at morning assembly. Please join us as we celebrate our academic standouts!


St. Finn Barr in the News! We are so proud that our own first grade teacher -- Mr. Ben Poland -- along with several of our kindergarten students -- captured the front page of the Catholic San Francisco publication in circulation throughout San Mateo County, San Francisco, and Marin County. A special moment captured at recess has been accepted into national Catholic newspaper publication so it will be circulated amongst readers all over the country! 


We are so proud to represent the mission of Catholic Schools during this very special week -- Go Shamrocks! 


Kindergarten Enrollment: On January 7th, we hosted an incredible group of new and current families for our Kindergarten Assessment Day. I was so touched to welcome so many siblings who I’ve known since they were born….time really does fly! The new families brought an awesome energy to campus, and our returning families shared some very touching insights onto what enrollment for their second, third, fourth, and fifth (!) child means to them. Mrs. O’Reilly even encountered a former kindergarten student amongst the applying families! We are moving through the registration process now and will be welcoming the final group in May for Kindergarten Welcome Day.


Shakespeare Program: Have you heard? Our 3rd through 6th graders are officially thespians! We are so excited to have begun the first round of work with our visiting art teachers from Shakesperience. Look out for details regarding the first culminating performance on March 9th. After that date, all remaining classes besides Kindergarten (who will begin music classes with Music in Schools Today) will begin their session with a culminating performance in May.


Mardi Gras/Zydeco Dinner Dance: Our Mardi Gras/Zydeco Dinner Dance is this Saturday, January 28th from 8pm-midnight. The cost of a ticket is $25 at the door. This is a parish event….please support by attending, volunteering, or donating! If you are available to help, please contact Alice Guidry (415) 585-4524 or Juliet Samonte in the parish office (415) 333-3627.


More Scrip Information: Have you wondered how the returns on purchases vary amongst our Scrip providers? Below are a few notes:


  1. eScrip (including Mollie Stone’s, Lucky/SaveMart, Fresh & Easy) – % varies by retailer (Mollie Stone’s up to 5%, Lucky 3%)
  2. Scrip Gift Cards (including Rainbow Grocery) - % varies by retailer
  3. Children’s Empowerment Inc. (CEI Hot Lunch Program) - $0.25/lunch = 5%/lunch
  4. Office Depot/Office Max – 5%
  5. Shoparoo – 1%
  6. Sports Basement – 10%




Jan 29           Catholic School’s Week Kickoff: 10am Mass & Open House (11am-12pm)


Jan 30           Character Day


Jan 31            Science Fair (1pm and 6pm)


Feb 1              8am: Quarter 2 Awards & Science Fair Awards

                        930am: Grandparents Day Prayer Service & Reception


Feb 2              Peace Parade Day (1:30pm)


Feb 3              NO SCHOOL: Archdiocese of San Francisco Educator’s Conference