This Week's Newsletter

                                                                                                                      February 23, 2018

Dear St. Finn Barr Families:


This week we move into the second week of the Lenten season, a period of calm after the whirlwind of the new calendar year. This season always carries special meaning to me as a time of reflection and gratitude on the many gifts in my life and in our community. This year, we have so much to be grateful for. A few highlights that I am excited to share with you:


  • Roof Project: Our Christmas card call for support to complete our new roof was met immediately by our dear friend Dr. Richard Mani (the same Friend who almost doubled our endowment last year and created the beautiful mosaic crucifix art in the classrooms), who pledged $40,000 -- the entire amount needed to complete the project!! We are exceptionally grateful and look forward to executing this important endeavor on our building this summer.


  • Parent Leadership: Our parent leaders have come together in such an awesome way to bring our annual favorite Off to the Races to life this Saturday – the Luau promises to be a ton of festive, Hawaiian-style fun, with incredible donations to benefit the school, including the opportunity to win VIP Warriors tickets!!


  • Enrollment is well under way for the 2018-2019 academic year….we are very close to a full Kindergarten class full of wonderful returning and new families – this is an early and a terrific sign of the health, vibrancy, and sustainability of our school program. Kudos to every member of our community who so enthusiastically shares the good news of our school with others.


  • MakerSpace Learning has kicked off with incredible projects initiated by the faculty using the first round of materials we purchased in December….it has been a joy to watch our teachers facilitate learning experiences already with such a spirit of openness and experimentation in supporting students through collaboration, design-thinking, and creative problem-solving. This week and next each of our teachers will have met with Mr. Louis Kolenda (of YouthSF) for 1:1 MakersSpace meetings so that we can prepare for the meaningful integration of Makers learning into every grade level. I cannot wait to share more!


  • Middle School Spanish is officially back on the docket for the next school year! After evaluating our restructuring of the middle school program with our team, we have determined that Spanish (in a new, more immersive format) in the middle school is ready for a comeback!


  • Sacramental Preparation has been highlighted this year through the support of our parish and second grade families as we’ve introduced parent Faith Formation into the sacramental preparation program for families. Last night I was privileged to break bread with several families and our leaders in faith Father McCain, Juliet Samonte, and Stephanie Longa. I am never surprised to watch our parents in the learning setting – you so clearly shape your childrens’ interest in learning and it is a pleasure to witness!


  • Band: Our long-awaited Band program is finally on the horizon for the new school year! We have found an excellent match for a band leader for the upcoming school year, and will be surveying parents in the next few weeks to gauge interest in participation for rising 4th-8th I cannot wait to hear the sweet(ishJ) sounds of music learning in our halls!


God Bless,


Mele Mortonson





Black History Month is celebrated with joy and learning on our campus this month and always. A few glimpses into the classrooms:

  • Kindergarteners are learning about the lives of women such as Rosa Parks and Dr. Mae Jemison -- the first African American woman to travel to outer space.
  • The second graders are in an extended unit connecting Martin Luther King’s work and leadership principles to those of Jesus, along with a deep study of the connection between the enslavement of the Israelites to enslaved American heroes.
  • In fourth grade, students are researching African-Americans in the context of California history.

For a few great resources regarding Black Catholic History in our country, check out a few of the following links:


Science Fair Judges & Winners: Congratulations to all of the 6th and 7th grade scientist who participated in our SFB Science Fair. The critical thinking and effort that went into the projects came alive with each student presenting the project to our visiting guests and their fellow students.


The top-scoring projects were:


6th Grade:

1st- Caleb Ramos "Soaked Soap"

2nd- Andrew Nay "Hull or High Water"

3rd- Sean Walker "Chocolate Land"

HM- Lucca Chemla "Plant Aspirin"

HM- Xochitl Churchill and Johanna Gormley "Spinach Science"


7th Grade:

1st- Daniel Baran "Caffeine: Fertilizer or Killer"

2nd- Alexandra Diaz "Radish Seed Radiation"

3rd- Kiana Parades "Paper Decomposition"

HM- Alexandra Nepomuceno "Water Wars"

HM- Gina Cardenas "How to prevent an avocado from browning"

HM- Lucas Lopez "The 5 Second Rule"


Moving on to the San Francisco Science Fair (Overall Top Scores):

  1. Caleb Ramos
  2. Daniel Baran
  3. Alexandra Diaz
  4. Kiana Parades
  5. Ally Nepomuceno
  6. Andrew Nay


Special thank you to our team of judges for joining us on last Saturday in January to evaluate our projects:


Penny Rix- 37 years in Education

Carter Reiff - Professional Project Engineer

Juanita Tamayo Lott - Retired Federal Demographer/Statistician

Sam Patenotte - Software Engineer

Brian Soo - Senior Physical Therapist

Angi Deng - High School Chemistry Teacher

Dolores Morrision - Retired Director of Contracting at NASA Ames Research

Chris Jaskot - Chief Technology Officer

Zack Yun - Mechanical Eng. and Berkeley Graduate Student

Eric Thacher - Mechanical Eng. and Berkeley PhD Student

Emily Lindberg - Orthopedic Biomechanics Grad Student @ Berkeley

Chala Emir - Fulbright Scholar studying Environmental Eng. Masters @ Berkeley

Paige Balcom - Fulbright Scholar studying Aquaponics/ Mechanical Eng. Masters @Berkeley


Grandparents Day Thank You’s: Another beautiful community experience honoring our grandparents! Thank you to Tricia Gregory (Mia ’19), who lead the coordination of the prayer service & reception, and the entire team of volunteers who helped set up and execute the event: Vania Oliveira (Murillo ’18), Ray & Elizabeth Ristaino (Alex ’20), Mercedes Acosta, Kay Rodrigues (Alex ‘21), Amanda Danaher (Madeline ’18, Evan ’21, and Jay 2nd), Christina Sarracino (Julian 1st), Maria Easly, Chrisoula and Dustin Novo (Maria ’18 and Alex ’20), and Karla Carrasquilla (Sophia ’18 and Brianna ’21).


SFB Summer School Updates: Thank you for your patience as we’ve worked out the details of our first ever summer school program. We have decided to launch the inaugural year of the program as a two-week camp for rising 1st-6th graders. Families are welcome to sign up for one session or both weeks (June 25-July 6th). Details are available on the website now!


Our campus will also host Art/Spanish Camp (June 11-22nd) and Shakesperience Camp (June 11-22nd), along with Linda’s Musical Productions Summer Program.


Pot O’Gold Raffle: We’ve officially reached the end of the rainbow and were able to pull the name out of the Pot O’Gold several weeks ago:


Congratulations to the Halladay family (Austin ’19 & Amara ’20)

for the highest level of participation in the raffle ($500 in tickets sold!!!) and to the Anderson family (Anastasia, 4th and Richard 1st) for winning the Grand Prize of free tuition for one child for the 2018-2019 school year!!!


Many thanks to all of the families for their enthusiastic participation in the raffle and to our parent board and room parent leaders for keeping the momentum going and getting this event underway.


We are now finished with two of four mandatory fundraisers for the school year – eyes are set on Off to the Races this Saturday, February 24th in Goode Hall. Don’t forget our ongoing fundraiser Scrip is now past the halfway point so please continue to reach out make sure you are in a good place to avoid accruing charges for fundraisers.


Off to the Races Teacher Prizes….be on the lookout Saturday night!

  1. Hiking Adventure with Ms. Heller and Ms. Kimble.Hiking & Snacks for 4 middle school students with snacks provided. 


  1. VIP Math Instruction: Ten hours of 1:1 Math tutoring with Mrs. Patriarca during the 2018-2019 school year. 


  1. Glen Park Outdoor Adventure: Hiking and Ice Cream in Glen Park Canyon with Mrs. Richardson, Mrs. Herzstein, and Mrs. Longa. 


  1. Today's Lesson: Wine. Join Ms. Bouvet, Ms. Kimle, and Ms. Bruno with five friends for an evening of wine, cheese, and laughter. 


  1. Art Adventure: Enjoy a basket of beautiful art supplies (value $75) donated by Mrs. O'Reilly. 


  1. Principal for a Day! One student will take over as Principal of the school for a day, with professional dress, leading morning assembly, a VIP lunch in Mrs. Mortonson's office (invite a friend), and a visit to each classroom. In between time will be spent as a student:)


5th Grade Guest Artist: Holly Mead came to work with the 5th grade on an art history and portrait drawing project last month. Mrs. Mead has a background in Fashion Design, graduating from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco in 1999.  She has worked in the fashion industry for 18+ years as a Senior Technical Designer for men's and women's apparel and most recently has been freelancing in Design for Athleta, a women's activewear company owned by Gap Inc. here in the city.  She is also an artist with a passion for painting people and portraits, all with a fashion influence.  She is a mixed media artist and works mostly with watercolor, acrylic, charcoal, collage and digital art.  She lives in Sonoma County, with her husband and three cats.


Archdiocese Annual Appeal (AAA Fund) is being collected now. These funds go to parish ministry & schools, Social Ministry (hospital chaplains i.e. Father Francis, prison ministry, ethnic ministry, etc.), Clergy Support (Council of Priests, Priests Elder Care, etc.), and Universal Church & Communications (US Conference Catholic Bishops, etc.).


Mindfulness notice from our USF Counseling Intern:

Dear Parents: As the USF counselor trainee here at St. Finn Barr, I am passionate about supporting your child’s social and emotional development. With that in mind, I have offered to host some mindfulness classroom trainings over the coming weeks and months.


What is mindfulness? Many definitions and preconceived notions are out there. My perspective is that mindfulness can help us, through awareness, connect our mind, body and emotions so we can feel our best, increase our focus, make the best decisions, and have empathy and kindness for ourselves and others. When hearing the word “mindfulness,” many may think of meditation. While meditation is certainly a part of mindfulness, there are various other practices that can be taught, including mindful breathing, awareness of surroundings, mindfulness of tasks, and journaling.


My goal is to help the children build additional emotional and environmental awareness skills so they can maximize their effectiveness in the learning environment. As a side benefit, one of the characteristics of mindfulness is that it can be brought to any activity or experience. Mindfulness can help with emotion regulation, increasing attention, and kindness and gratitude toward others.


How can you help? I would ask that you support your child in learning the

concepts and techniques of mindfulness. Over the next few weeks I will be working with teachers on designing and implementing a program specific to each class, and developing tools to help sustain the learning. My immediate ask is to approach the concept with an open mind and open heart, and more specifics will be forthcoming.

In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions at 805-941-0553, or at Many thanks for your support! Nadia Evans

USF Counselor Trainee, Supervised by Laura Nusbaum, PsyD License #PSY24639




Saturday 2.24          Off to the Races (Parent Mandatory Fundraiser)


Saturday 2.26          12:30pm Minimum Day – Faculty Faith Formation


Fri 3.2-Sun 3.4        8th Grade Retreat


Thurs 3.8                  Friends of St. Finn Barr Day