Dear HRA Families and Friends,
Please consider signing up for the Charity Walk by this weekend. Miss Brittain sent an email with all the instructions on how you and your family can participate. Most of the faculty are going to attend. It should be a wonderful evening and such an effortless fundraiser. Won’t you think about bringing your family for delicious food, fine company, and tons of raffle prizes to potentially win? See you on the downtown streets of Anchorage, Friday May 9th!
Let me begin by saying that the warm weather and endlessly sunny days have breathed an animation into the children the likes of which I rarely see. There is truly never a dull moment in the halls of Holy Rosary Academy! I thought last week was amazingly busy as my long blog captured, but this week had many activities of its own.
The good news is there are smiling children everywhere joyfully singing, chattering, clapping their hands or just goofing off. The bad news is that the students are eagerly anticipating summer and harder to contain in the classroom. I will be reminding them this coming Assembly to keep their heads focused on the prize of finishing well in the midst of their irrepressible joy. Please note: I am not complaining about the sunny days! I love and cherish them.
Last Saturday, the graduating students, Justin Klump and Jacob Owens, put on a successful school prom for the upper school students grade 7-12. We call it a prom, but it really means a dress-up dance at a pretty place. The gentlemen chose O’Malley on the Greens again for the prom site this year. It fits us perfectly and has a glamorous view of downtown that all the students enjoy. Accompanied by the hard working and creative juniors, Justin and Jacob, advertised for, procured, raised funds, organized, and decorated for the dance. I love to encourage leadership in the students and Justin and Jacob (along with music master, Lee Cookson, and decorations committee, Jessica Smith, Anne-Marie Droege, and Anna Jemmings) stepped up and impressed me. The dance was well attended with 31 attendees and well chaperoned with most of the upper school faculty in attendance. As always, I had a wonderful time watching the students enjoy dress up and formal dancing and the general excitement of it all. I even ventured out on the dance floor for a few dances including the very fun, “Be Happy.” Congratulations to the Queen and King of the dance voted on by their peers: Miss Anne-Marie Droege and Mr. Lee Cookson.
Today, we had new locks put on the Kolbe building to continue to safeguard the campus and prohibit any intruders. The number of people who have access to the keys will be much more limited. This will demand that teachers make special arrangements to use the Kolbe facility outside of school hours, but seems a prudent addition to the other safety measures we are taking. As always, we appreciate your searching eyes and ears when you are visiting the campus in case you see anything or anyone who does not seem to belong. Remember that I am often in my office and keep my blinds open in case someone needs to enter after school hours and taps on my window.
A huge thank you goes to Mr. Jon Pope who came and fixed the library door that had quite collapsed under the wear and tear of frequent exits and entrances. He came late at night when I realized I could not close the door and secure the facility. God bless you for giving up some of your evening, Mr. Pope!
After School Care Has Moved
A huge thank you to Mrs. Smith for making After School Care so much fun and so enjoyable for the students. She has graciously moved the students to the Music Room in the Bernadette Building so that they are closer to the outside playground. Further, I wished to minimize the wear and tear on the library and especially the door for the remainder of the school year. Thank you to the families who have adjusted so quickly to the change! Thank you to Mrs. Duncan for allowing the students to invade her room at the end of the day.
A huge thank you also goes to Miss Syren who offers tutoring services to her math students in the afternoons after school. Out of the goodness of her heart, she spends these afternoons helping her students. I know they are grateful, Miss Syren, but I am especially grateful for your self-sacrifice for the students! Bless you.
Miss Michelle Tobia received Academic Honors for her 2013-14 school year. Bravo to you, Michelle. She is attending Benedictine College in Kansas (where our graduating senior, Justin Klump will also attend). She is a Political Science major and hopes to teach one day. In the meantime, HRA will be blessed with Michelle’s landscaping skills as she will be my official Maintenance Manager for the summer. The list of projects is growing, Michelle. Can’t wait to have you return.
Mr. Michael Tappel has graciously decided to return from his freshman year at Yale University to work as my “intern” this summer. Michael will be helpin me codify the K-12 curriculum in a formal way so that entering students and faculty know exactly what will be covered in each year of school and in each class. It is an exciting adventure and I look forward to pioneering with Michael. He and I hope to offer an intensive SAT class later in the summer as well. Details to be announced.
While I am still in the process of determing the faculty for next year, I wanted to share with you the new teachers I have hired thus far to join the HRA family:
Miss Alison Bilafer will teach in the elementary (grade to be determined): She is graduating this year from Ave Maria College in Naples, Florida with a major in music and liberal arts. She was born and raised in Palmer and homeschooled throughout high school. She knows children well and has taught her own siblings. She is an experienced swim coach and knows how to keep young children organized, learning, and alive! She will spend the last week of this school year observing classes and attend the faculty in-service days in order to aquaint herself with the school. She will spend the summer under the mentorship of my most experienced elementary teachers in order to be prepared for the upcoming school year. Parents and children will be charmed with her!
Dr. Laura Walters (PhD. Art History) will join the high school faculty. She graduated at the top of her class in Biological Sciences from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and then went on to receive her Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of St. Andrews. She has much experience teaching the undergraduate students at the U. of St. Andrews and has already taught a Medieval Seminar class and a Biology lab here at HRA. Her talents extend to fine arts, flute, music (voice) and drama. Oh, yes, and did I mention that she “loves” math? All math! She will be an excellent addition to the faculty next year. She, too, will join the faculty for the in-service this May!
Mr. Louis Bolin will be returning to the HRA faculty after a year sabbatical to explore the possibility of a priestly vocation at a monastery in Nursia, Italy. His superiors have encouraged him to explore a different vocation and we are the beneficiaries. Mr. Bolin, who graduated from Thomas Aquinas with top honors and then distinguished himself for studies and teaching at the International Theological Institute where he completed his licentiate in Sacred Theology, brings a wealth of knowledge and a calm, steady, and Socratic method of teaching back to HRA. The students, faculty, and I are all equally delighted to have him return.
Mr. Andy Coldiron will continue on at HRA teaching full-time this coming year. He comes to use with much teaching experience. He received his B.A. in English from Chapman College in California and then completed his Masters in English from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. Here in Alaska where he moved with his wife, a doctor at JBER, he went on to complete a teaching credential and Masters in Teaching from UAA. Some fun trivia is that he did his study abroad in Australia (wonder how much studying that was???). Mr. Coldiron has already become a well-liked and respected member of the faculty.
I look forward to sharing more announcements as our ever increasing enrollment dictates. I have given those teachers not returning the opportunity to tell their classes when they feel the time is right. As the teachers confide in their students, I will make more general announcements in the hopes that you will have a chance to wish the teachers well and let them know how much their work here this year is appreciated.
I am cautiously excited to say that our student numbers for next year are growing. The numbers are ever fluctuating as families make their decisions for next year, but it looks like the numbers are creeping up into the upper 120’s. My goal has been to begin with at least 130 students (we are currently at 113) next year. It looks hopeful that we may reach or surpass that goal. I thank you for all that you do to encourage interested families to join our thriving community!
Anyone who has not yet paid the re-enrollment fee and the Parent Association fee to secure a place for your child may want to do so quickly. Many of the grades are beginning to fill up and my goal is to keep most of the classes in the range of 15. The first grade is currently full and a waiting list begun. The eighth and ninth grades are also quickly filling up with only one or two spots remaining. Kindergarten is also close to being full. The only combined class we have currently will be the third and fourth grade. The rapidly changing numbers may force me to separate those class too.
Bless you all for your great support and love for your children and this school!
Festival of Poetry and Song
Many thanks to our fine music teacher, Mrs. Colleeen Carter-Duncan for providing us with an outstanding first annual Festival of Poetry and Song! It was held Thursday evening at St. Patrick’s Hall! Mrs. Duncan was accompanied at the piano by her talented husband, Gavin. Gavin also generously volunteered time during the school year to work with the upper school boys. (Boy, did those boys sound robust and full last night!) Thank you also to Dr. Laura Walters who joined in with the flute and student, Anna Jemmings who played the violin to accompany one of the upper school songs! We are blessed with great talent at HRA. Thank you all.
The evening begin with our annual May Crowning procession. Usually we do it at school, but since the concert fell on May 1st, we decided to share it with the parents. Tina Nguyen, Isabel Jones, and Stephen Hart (all First Communicants) dressed in their First Communion attire and crowned Our Lady while the fifth and sixth grade sang “Immaculate Mary.” The entire student body processed by Mary placing a flower in the vases set before her. We love you, our spiritual Mother and model!
The students sang superbly. The voices lifted in song and often in praise of their faith was a joy to hear. We were further edified with Shakespearean monologues by three seventh graders (Felicity Hart, Savio Le, Laura Stankewich) and Business Manager and Junior High Drama Teacher, Miss Danielle DiCiero! My Office Manager, Miss Jordan Brittain moves us to tears with her lilting rendition of “Danny Boy.” Mrs. Duncan’s appropriate song by poet, William Blake was sublime! Mrs. Schirda’s 9/10 Composition class gave homage to Gerard Manley Hopkins in “God’s Grandeur.” Some of her students gave recitations of their original poetry. Thank you to Sang Nguyen, Mary Tappel, Richard Maloy, Arianna Fouch and 8th grader, Casey Painter. I was so pleased and proud to see how generously you shared your talent. The kindergarten outdid themselves with an amazing display of voice and pictures singing the Alaska Flag Song (gee it has a lot of words!) The first and second graders moved me to tears as they called up their mothers in order to recite the poem “Angels Among Us” and present them with a single white rose. All the mothers in the audience were asked to stand up as the first and second graders included them in a “Happy Mother’s Day” wish.
I was quite amused by the mosquito song and quite touched by the lovely “Cuckoo” sung by K-6. The fact that these elementary students memorize their words and retain all the many lines is so very impressive but just what a classical school should expect.
I must simply say to the Upper School that you have entered a new realm as singers. In my three years as Principal, Mrs. Morrison, Mr. Michael Tappel, and Mrs. Colleen Carter-Duncan have created a truly fine choir. I thank you for singing with your whole heart and soul. The care you took, the projection, and the fervor in your voices made the appeal of your sound even richer. I encourage you to continue to grow in technique and style now that you have mastered the fundamentals so well. St. Cecilia must have enjoyed this gift. You sang with the Angels.
I could not end without saying that the Parent Association, led by Mrs. Lisa Cookson, are so very wonderful. Thank you to Karin Owens for shopping, Lisa Cookson and Rosa Sanchez for set up and clean-up, and parent volunteers, Suzanne Kelley and Gladys King for all your behind-the-scenes help. Thank you also to Mrs. Erin Furby and her husband, Will, who are parisioners of St. Patrick’s and helped me with set-up and clean-up and lock-up after we had all left. Finally, thank you to Mrs. Furby, Justin Klump, and Jacob Owens for the earlier run of risers, food, balloons, flowers and Our Lady statue! Bouncing along in the green bus just would not have been as much fun without you! Thank you also to John the sound man and the many, many, many helping hands who helped with setting out and picking up all the chairs. Many hands truly made light work. God bless each of you!
I just can’t wait to see what the HRA Choir will do for next year’s program. Thank you once again Mrs. Duncan!!!
HRA Student Writer Emerges
Congratulations to freshman, Miss Anna Berry, for submitting and winning First Place for her short story, “Falling Asleep.” We are so very proud of you. I encourage all those who receive the Anchorage Daily News (sponsors of the writing contest) to read Anna’s story which will be published in the paper on May 18th. Can someone please bring me a copy? Congratulations again, dear Anna. This is only the beginning of what I suspect will be a very healthy hobby and perhaps a profession one day!
Summer Camp at St. Therese’s Camp
I would encourage all parents to go to the website www.stthereseak.com in order to look into the many camp weeks offered throughout the summer at our newly acquired Catholic Camp, St. Therese’s. The camps are for children in grades 3-8. I know that camp helpers ages 14-17 are invited to spend the weeks available as well. Call 907-232-2066 with any questions you might have.
Trips to the Zoo, Fish Hatchery, and the Civil War
The week finished with grades 3/4 and grades 7-10 going to the Anchorage Zoo as an extension of their science classes. It was the perfect ending event for their squirrely excited behavior all week. Thank you to Miss Theis, Mr. Haggard, Mr. Coldiron, Mr. Welsh, Miss Brittain, Mrs. Furby (and husband, Will), and parent volunteers for making the trip such an enjoyable one. Thank you to the students for making the chaperoning so pleasant.
Miss Viens and Mr. Shaut took the 5th and 6th grade to the Fish Hatchery at JBER for a wonderful extension of their science class.
The 11th and 12th graders stayed behind with me to enjoy Gone With the Wind as we have been discussing the Civil War in American Seminar and this movie depicts it so well. Thank you, Robert Kemper, for bringing the pizza. Thank you Anne-Marie Droege for bringing the Southern style chicken. Thank you, Anna Jemmings for bringing the delicious pecan pie. Thank you Victoria Zipay for the Southern Sweet Tea. And, thanks Jessica Smith for bringing the movie. It was a four hour marathon but so worth it if even to hear the last few oft quoted lines!
All in all, it was a great week!
- Saturday (May 3) Tina Nguyen Earthen Le, Savio Le receive First Communion at SEAS Parish. Isabel Jones receives First Communion at Holy Family Cathedral. Stephen Hart receives First Communion at St. Patrick’s.
- Monday – Assembly
- SCANTRON testing Monday through Thursday – final testing for the year. Please be sure the elementary students rest well and eat a good breakfast!
- Monday – Teacher Appreciation Day (luncheon served by Mr. Yabyabin) ANY PARENT WHO CAN VOLUNTEER TO WATCH THE STUDENTS BETWEEN THE HOURS OF 11:0 AND 12:30 WOULD ENABLE THE TEACHERS TO RELAX AND ENJOY THEIR LUNCHEON. Please contact Miss Neumayr or email me on Sycamore if you can help. Share hours will, of course, be provided.
- Tuesday – Elementary Mass in the school chapel at 2:15.
- Tuesday – Karina Biegel and Jacob Owens are Confirmed at SEAS
- Thursday – upper school mass in the chapel at 10:15
- Friday – Mary Day (Periods 1,2,3) in the Upper School
- Friday – CHARITY WALK BEGINNING AT 5 p.m. DOWNTOWN
- Tuesday, May 13th All School Dominican Rite Mass in honor of Our Lady of Fatima
- Wednesday, May 14th – First Annual Sports Banquet honoring all the athletes of the year (looking for Dad’s willing to help us barbecue hotdogs and hamburgers the evening of the potluck banquet. Let Miss Neumayr know if you can help.) The event begins at 6 P.M. in St. Dominic’s Hall. All athletes and parents are encouraged to come and celebrate the great season! Contact me or Mrs. Klump with any questions.
Enjoy another wonderful week. The weather looks to be pretty good again! Let’s hope my animated students can contain their enthusiasm and channel it into the final days of school!
Miss Catherine Neumayr, Principal
P.S. Special eggs have arrived in the kindergarten classrooms. Wonder what will be peeping out in the next21 days. Come take a look if you dare!