St. Rita Catholic School

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Mrs. Patty Donovan » From Room 234

From Room 234

Aug. 25, 2018


We’ve Met; We’ve Begun Learning



Dear Students and Parents,


Congratulations on the start of eighth-grade! These early days of our English and Reading classes were filled with many opportunities to show flexibility and to begin to appreciate the demands and challenges of this special year.


Students, you’ve done an excellent job of remembering to line up in the hallway before classes so that we can greet each other individually with a handshake, with eye contact, and with a smile as we exchange pleasantries. Additionally, we had surprisingly few glitches in arriving at the correct space for the right class at the scheduled period – no small task as a different bell schedule accompanied each day.


What those two specifics – the before-class greeting and the schedule-following – demonstrate is more than you might suppose. Parents, in class discussions your eighth-graders could point to significant benefits (both short-term and long-term) of the at-the-door handshake, and – regardless of how awkward they may have felt during the first couple of classes – they’re already completing each of the steps confidently and maturely. As to the scheduling, I’m guessing you’ve seen the changes: No longer is a specific time period in the day filled by the same class for a student. And no longer is, say, English 8-B made up of the same group of students as Reading 8-B. One of us is definitely going to require more time than her students in keeping up with each day’s schedule. Again, I appreciate the students’ flexibility in making sense of and adjusting to this large-scale change.


As to classroom learning, that also happened. In just two weeks of listening, processing, and jotting notes, students have shown a budding ability to make both observations and associations from the same source, whether a photograph or a story. From those lists, which we’re calling L-1 (observations) and L-2 (associations), students have also learned how to discern a story’s theme and to express that universal message in a clearly written sentence that follows a handful of requirements. They’re taking the risk to share their work and to make any needed changes, from word choice to organization of thought.


An early-in-the-year highlight will, I'm confident, prove to be a lasting positive for all who attended Mass on Friday, Aug. 24. At the end of this third school-wide Mass, the eighth-graders were instructed to stand in the pews, along with their Prayer Buddies, to repeat the mission statement for the Class of 2019. How powerful it was to see this affirmation of goals -- from being people of integrity to serving as leaders. That beautiful image of the young second-graders beside their eighth-grade friends represents for me the best of a Catholic-school's many benefits.


I'm looking forward to a wonderful year and will continue to post wrap-ups and reminders.



Mrs. Donovan