Monday Memo November 2, 2015

Principal’s Corner

Teaching your children to read is a job we take very seriously at St. Ambrose. As adults, we can appreciate the love of a good book, the joy of curling up in a chair and getting lost in the story, and joining friends for a book discussion. Have you ever thought about what goes into learning to read? What are those basic components that we are teaching your children….so that they too can learn to enjoy a good book? Why has St. Ambrose chosen The Daily 5 as our format in kindergarten – fifth grade? The goal of reading is comprehension, but there are so many pieces to the puzzle that lead to comprehension.

In pre-kindergarten, we start with the basics! Believe it or not, kids have to be taught print awareness. They have to know which way to hold a book. Words go from left to right and we start at the top of the page and work down. Words consist of letters and sentences consist of spaces and words. This is where it all begins!

Primary grade students dive into speech sounds. Phonemic awareness is the idea that letters make sounds and those sounds work together to make words. Phonemes are individual speech sounds. Once they have mastered those auditory letter sounds, they can begin identifying patterns in print (phonics). Teaching phonics at an early age is important. Kids need to learn letter sounds and the patterns that can be made and read in words.

We all know that the English language is complicated. So many words do not follow the patterns that we have learned. Therefore, we teach kids sight words. Sight words are words that do not follow the patterns (some, were) and also certain words that are used so frequently in the English language that we need to memorize them by sight (and, is).

Fluency is reading accurately, at a good pace, and with expression. It is very important because it makes that connection between word reading and making meaning with the words.

To become good readers, kids must have a good oral vocabulary. Once they decipher the code to read a word, that word must have meaning. In order to understand text, kids must have an understanding of word meanings. It is very difficult to figure out a new word that is not in our speaking vocabulary.

Comprehension is the goal….and there are so many pieces to reading comprehension….

Be sure to watch future Monday Memos for more information on these basics of reading, comprehension skills, and tips to help your child. Also, if you ever have any concerns or questions about your child’s reading skills, progression, or progress, do not hesitate to reach out to Mrs. Grellner or Mrs. Horner.

Dates to Remember

Nov. 2-13   STUCO Food Drive

Nov. 3         8 am Mass and Awards

Nov. 5         8 am Mass

Nov. 5         PTO Board Meeting  7 pm in the Church Hall

Nov. 6         8 am Mass

Nov. 9         PTO Special Lunch

Nov. 10       8 am Mass

Nov. 13       8 am Mass

Nov. 25-29  Thanksgiving Break

Dec. 1         8 am Mass followed by All School Confessions

Dec. 6         Breakfast with Santa

Dec. 9         Christmas Concert

Dec. 16       2nd Grade First Reconciliation 6:30 pm

Dec. 21-Jan. 3 Christmas Break


First quarter awards will be presented after the 8 am Mass on Tuesday, November 3rd.

Remember to frequently check the planner page for your child(ren)’s teacher(s).  Also the Art Bulletin page is updated with pictures of some of the amazing art work the students have been creating.  Be sure to take a look!

Uniform Policy Update

The School Board has approved the Lands End apparel to be worn as part of the uniform.  This includes polos (long and short sleeve), sweaters, and fleeces.  All may be worn during the school day as long as they are hunter green and have the school logo on them.  A white turtleneck may be worn under a sweater or fleece.  To purchase items from Lands Ends, visit their website.  Under the Uniform tab you can select Find Your School.  Enter St. Ambrose School in St. Louis and you will be able to see all items available.  If you do not select the school you will not be able to have the logo added which is required for the items to be worn in school.

PTO News

Thank you to everyone for making Trunk or Treat such a fun and successful night!  We had the best turn out in years!  Congrats to the Moeser family for the “Best Trunk.” The first place costume contest winner is Jess Hamilton.  The second place winner is Cecilia Hines.  A big thank you to Kurtis Hall for donating his time and the photo booth.  It was a great addition to Trunk or Treat!

PTO Special Lunch is next Monday, November 9th.  The form is available on the planner page of Fast Direct under PTO.  You have the option of ordering for next Monday only or for all the lunches for remainder of the school year. Forms are due by this Thursday, November 5th.

Just a reminder, all PTO forms can be found on Fast Direct under the Planner tab under PTO.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact PTO through Fast Direct. Thanks!

In the Classroom

Pre-K Halloween STEM Project

The students learned the “5 Little Pumpkins” rhyme and then were presented a challenge. They were given “5 Little Pumpkins” (orange ping pong balls) that needed to balance on a gate. They were only allowed to use the blocks from our blocks center to build the gate. The students worked in groups to design and then build their gates. They all were successful in their builds!

IMG_2741      Pre-K 1 Pre-K 2 Pre-K 3

STEM Pumpkin Drop

St. Ambrose First, Second, and Third Grade students used STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills to create packages that would protect their pumpkins when dropped. Last Thursday before their Halloween parties they tested it out by dropping the packages from the gy m steps to the pavement below. The students then unwrapped the package to see how the pumpkins fared. They recorded the      results and celebrated their success.


Pumpkin Drop 2 Pumpkin Drop 1 Pumpkin Drop 4 Pumpkin Drop 3 Pumpkin Drop 5 IMG_0012

More photos of our students in action are on the website under the blog section Highlights from the Week.



The virtue selfies look fantastic!  Please continue to send in your virtue selfies and stop by the office to see the Virtue Wall.

Virtue Selfies

England Fischer Untitled (1) Untitled (2)

Breakfast with Santa

Breakfast with Santa

Alumni Updates

Recently, St. Mary’s High School junior Timothy O’Dekirk, a graduate and parishioner of St. Ambrose, was inducted into St.Mary’s High School’s chapter of the National Honor Society.  This student underwent a rigorous selection process in which he had to demonstrate the four characteristics of scholarship, character, leadership and service, as well as maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher.

Also, St. Mary’s High School senior Louis Sanguinette, also a parishioner and graduate, qualified for the Beta Chi Pi Science Honor Society this year.  To qualify for this honor, students must have accumulated a minimum of 300 points in honors science courses, have a 3.5 or higher cumulative GPA for all of his high school science courses and a 3.5 or higher cumulative GPA for all of his high school courses.

Louis Sanguinette and Aidan Crowe received the Renaissance Award for the second semester of 2014-2015 school year. This award recognizes students whose Grade Point Average is a 3.30 or above and students who have raised their GPA at least .25 of a point higher than their previous semester.


High School Information

Bishop DuBourg High School

It’s that time of year again when your 8th graders will be selecting a high school. We wanted to send you a few key points to remind you what Bishop DuBourg High School has to offer your students. We would love for you to share this information with your students.

Bishop DuBourg has an exceptional honors program – The Academy of Advanced Studies – that most high schools do not offer.  Students who score 85% or above on standardized tests and/or who have a B+ average will be considered as candidates for the Academy. The Academy offers students the opportunity to participate in special seminar courses, summer elective courses, enrichment trips, college visits, ACT & SAT test prep and career shadowing.  With increased graduation requirements, students in the Academy graduate with approximately 36 college credits – enough credits to be considered a college sophomore. We ask principals to complete a recommendation for their students who apply for the Academy of Advanced Studies.

We offer two great scholarship opportunities for our students. The first is the Presidential Scholarship. These merit-based scholarships are worth $6,000 a piece or $1,500 per year for 4 years. All first choice applicants will be considered for these scholarships. The recipients will be chosen based on the following criteria – Academics, Faith and Service, Leadership, Fine Arts,  and Legacy (parent is an Alum).  We also offerDB Family Scholarships. A second child enrolled simultaneously at DB will receive a $1,000 scholarship and a third child will be FREE.

To help make their decision, we encourage students to spend a day with us shadowing a current DB student. That’s the best way for students to know if a school is the right fit.  We recommend that the students shadow on a day that you do not have school or have parent teacher conferences.

As a reminder, our Open House is Sunday, November 8th from Noon- 4pm.

8 Tips for Teaching Kids to Be Thankful

Help your family learn the true meaning of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is so much more than the Macy’s parade, a meal and a football game. The true meaning behind Thanksgiving is gratitude and appreciation for your blessings in life. But how do you teach your children about the importance of being thankful?

Several parenting experts offer a few tips, involving creativity, hard work and sincerity, to teach children the true meaning behind Thanksgiving.

  1. Play the Gratitude Game Lennay Chapman, author of “Secrets to a Rockin’ Life” has created a game for the family to play together called “The Gratitude Game.” The game needs ideally three or more players and one person to serve as a timekeeper. Have everyone sit in a circle with one person starting off saying, “I am grateful for [fill in the blank]. That person has five seconds to come up with something for which they are thankful, whether it be their favorite stuffed animal, food or activity. As soon as the first person finishes, the person to the left goes. “The key is to say what you are grateful for without repeating, and without pausing for more than five seconds,” says Chapman.
  2. Get Creative With a Thankfulness Jar Robert Nickell, founder and author of, suggests putting a little creativity in incorporating thankfulness into the holiday. He recommends creating a “Thankfulness Jar” for the family.Have the children decorate a jar or basket, placing a notepad and pen next to it. Leave the jar out the week before Thanksgiving and have family members write down things for which they are thankful. They can be big things, or small little gestures. This gives people time to think about it and write heartfelt answers. During the Thanksgiving meal, have the children pull them out and read them during dinner.
  3. Be Thankful for Others’ Hard Work Teaching your children to be thankful for the hard work family members have put in making the family’s Thanksgiving dinner possible is also important, says Polly Campbell, author of “Imperfect Spirituality.” “In our household, we all have aspects of the meal to prepare. My mom, the gravy. Dad, the pie. My sister makes a cocktail. Everyone has a signature item and we always pause to notice that person and to appreciate their contribution,” shares Campbell.
  4. Create Thankful Turkeys Another creative idea Nickell shares are “Thankful Turkeys.” “Draw the old-fashioned hand turkey or be more elaborate, but have children write something they are thankful for on each of the turkey’s feathers,” he suggests. Use these turkeys as place cards or decorations on Thanksgiving Day.
  5. Be Thankful Every Day of the Month Have the children start early in recognizing the blessings in their life. Nickell suggests putting up a dry erase board somewhere prominently in the home. Starting on November 1st, have someone in the family write something down each day for which they are thankful. Make sure that each day is different, so there are no repeats.
  6. Reflect Through Writing Have each child write thank you notes to every family member who comes to share the meal with your family. In those thank you notes, have the children specifically focus on what it is about that family member that makes them so special..
  7. Incorporate Teamwork Encourage children to collaborate and put together a Thanksgiving show or write a Thanksgiving poem about thankfulness. Have them perform the show or read the poem during dessert.
  8. Think About Each Member of the Family Campbell also suggests utilizing creativity in showing gratitude for each person at the table. Her daughter decorates place cards for each person, and “When she does her artwork, it’s an opportunity then to think about the members of our family and to talk about each one and the funny and special things they do. It’s a time of appreciation.”

The ideas can be extravagant or simple as a thank you. No matter how you decide to do it, teaching your kids the real meaning behind Thanksgiving will make the holiday that much more meaningful for your children, as well as your family as a whole.

Alaina Sullivan, Contributor