What's New At St. A's


“KNIGHTS OF THE BLUE RIBBON” ARE NATIONAL CHAMPS!

Our Rube Goldberg Machine Contest team traveled to the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio over the weekend of March 25-26 to compete in the RGMC National Finals. After wowing the judges with their machine introduction skit and having two consecutive successful runs of their Rube Goldberg machine, they took First Place in Division I (Middle School). They also won two other awards: the Creative Spark award and the Spirit of Rube Goldberg award. After their competition, the team and their incredible creation became a COSI exhibit as they demonstrated their machine for COSI visitors and other contest participants. They also had the opportunity to meet Rube Goldberg's granddaughter and students from many prestigious Ivy League colleges as well. Congratulations to the “Knights of the Blue Ribbon” and their coach, Mr. Kovacs, on this historic achievement!

NEVER TOO YOUNG TO GET A JOB DONE: A PRE-K STEAM PROJECT

The students in Pre-K4 learned about Civil Engineering during Engineers Week In February. They learned about how Engineers use blueprints to plan and design a structure. Then they completed the "Let's Build It" Sesame Street activity on the Computer, in which they are given a blueprint and have to click, drag and drop the correct shapes to complete the structure on the blueprint. For Makerspace Week, they completed two hands-on projects that involved blueprints to reinforce what they previously learned in their Engineering unit.

The students were broken up into two stations: The first station was "The Blocks and Blueprints Learning Center", in which they were given blueprints of various structures and levels of difficulty, in which they had to choose the correct shape and size of the wooden blocks in order to correctly complete their blueprints. The second station was the "If I Were an Engineer I would Build a ________" in which the students were provided with a blank blueprint in which they had to plan, design, and draw their structure. Then they used the plastic building shapes to recreate what they drew on their blueprint. We discussed that if their structure was not coming out they way that they drew it, that they could always revise their blueprint drawing and make the necessary improvements, thus teaching them the basics of the Engineering Process.

 
 
 

NATIONAL ENGINEERING WEEK: HANDS-ON ENGINEERING IN THE NEW MAKERSPACE

St. Augustine School's new makerspace took center stage as the venue for this year's celebration of National Engineering Week. Every class from Kindergarten to 8th Grade had the opportunity to do real hands-on engineering activities using everything from pipe cleaners and construction paper to LEDs and interlocking electronic circuit components.

Our K-2 students combined Engineering Week with Read Across America by completing a project about Horton Hatches the Egg. The project was to build a protective nest for their plastic egg so strong that it would not crack when Horton the Elephant (represented by a gallon jug filled with water) sat on it. All of the students worked very hard together to build their nest. We are happy to report that ALL of the nests built by our future Engineers were strong enough to keep the eggs safe!

Grades 3 and 4 became Civil Engineers and took on the challenge to build a bridge that fit the following criteria: able to withstand an earthquake (shaking of the table), cannot break when moved, and a Matchbox car must be able to travel across it. Each team worked together the first week to create a prototype and then improved their bridge design the following week.

The 5th and 6th Grade students played the role of Electrical Engineers and worked with Paper Circuits to light up a birthday candle on a birthday cake (5th grade project) and build a light-up paper helicopter (6th grade project). The students learned about electrical circuits by using only LED lights, conductive copper tape, and a 3-volt coin cell battery to complete their projects.

Electrical Engineering was also the focus for Grades 7 and 8, as students worked in teams to design, create, and build a working machine that can solve a real-world problem using the littleBits Pro Library magnetic circuits, as well as anything else found in the Makerspace Room. The teams followed the true engineering process, brainstorming and prototyping their project on the first day of the build. The following week, they refined their design, constructed their device, and presented it to the rest of the class.

RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE CONTEST TEAM TAKES FIRST PLACE IN COMPETITION DEBUT

CONGRATULATIONS to our first ever Rube Goldberg Machine Contest CHAMPIONS 2017!!! Our illustrious students not only won First Place in the Divison 1 Competition but also brought home three trophies as well; one for Best Construction. one for Best Teamwork, and one for Best Spirit of Rube Goldberg. We could not be more proud of this hard-working, innovative, and creative team of students. They are now preparing for the Finals to be held in Columbus, Ohio on March 26th. Stay tuned for a video of their winning Rube Goldberg Machine. WELL DONE KNIGHTS OF THE BLUE RIBBON!

ODYSSEY OF THE MIND TEAMS EXCEL AT LIGHTHOUSE REGIONAL TOURNAMENT

CONGRATULATIONS to all our Odyssey of the Mind Teams that competed in the Lighthouse Regional Tournament 2017. We are so very proud of all of our students and coaches that have been working so hard all year on their performances, and their props and costumes. We now have three teams that will compete in the State Finals on April 8th at Ewing High School. Stay tuned for more pictures of all the teams who participated in Saturday's competition.

  
  

NATIONAL JUNIOR HONOR SOCIETY INDUCTION

On February 28, 2017, we proudly inducted fifteen students into the National Junior Honor Society during a beautiful ceremony in our Church. Sister Mary Louise and Ms. Katie Bash, the NJHS Advisor, opened the ceremony and Ms. Lyndsay Rowe (Class of 2009) was our esteemed Keynote Speaker. The Lighting of the Candles was performed by the current Officers of the NJHS, as well as our Student Council President. Each inductee took the Pledge of the NJHS and pledged to "be loyal to our school, and maintain and encourage high standards of Scholarship, Service, Leadership, Citizenship, and Character" which are the pillars of the Honor Society. There was also a very special reunion this evening, as Lyndsay Rowe (Class of 2009) was reunited with her Kindergarten Buddy, Nicole S. (Class of 2017) and will always be a big part of both of their memories of this very memorable evening.

    

Congratulations to all of the 2017 National Junior Honor Society Inductees:  Grade 8 - Karson C., Ansgar D., Alexandra D., Kristina I., Nicole S., Grace X.  Grade 7 - Spencer A., Lily B., Angela C., Sophia D., Maegan H., Bence K., Madison Q., Madison R., Matthew S.

KTN ACHIEVES MILESTONE WITH FIRST LIVE BLUE SCREEN BROADCAST

Our 21st Century KTN Television crew learned how to use Blue Screen Technology (Chroma Key) to transport their announcers to locations around the world. On their first show using this new technology, they used different backdrops from Italy to enhance their broadcast and made all their viewers feel like they were indeed in another country. Bene! Ben fatto! Buon lavoro! Ciao, a domani! Grazie, Mr. De Bari for all your help in getting this up and running!

 
 

MEMORIES FROM THE FATHER-DAUGHTER DANCE

On Saturday, March 4th, 2017, our gym was transformed into a magical Masquerade Ball for our annual Father Daughter Dance. Please enjoy this video of all our handsome Dads and their beautiful daughters. Love was certainly in the air on this memorable evening!

SECOND GRADE SPIRITUAL RETREAT WITH "THE POTTER"

The Second Grade Students and their Parents spent a spiritual day at their Communion Retreat with Ray Boswell, better known as "The Potter". To remind our Second Graders of their First Reconciliation, Mr. Boswell used a video "The Lump" to explain how God's Love is infinite and how He is always forgiving us; no matter what we do. Then he began the process of making a Chalice out of an ordinary lump of clay, all the time reminding us of our strong connection to God.

  

The students then got the opportunity to decorate a Chalice of their own as a special memento of their First Holy Communion. The decorated chalices will be fired in a kiln and returned to the students later this year.

 

100 DAYS BRIGHTER: BUDDIES CELEBRATE 100 DAYS OF SCHOOL

Our Kindergarten and 8th Grade Buddies got together to celebrate 100 Days of School yesterday. Each Kindergarten student brought in 100 items and then counted them with their 8th grade Buddy. After they counted to 100, Mrs. Young then challenged the students and their buddies to create something with their 100 items. They certainly are all 100 days brighter and we are so very proud of our Kindergarten students and all they have accomplished in the first 100 days of school.

  

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK 2017 - DAY 5 HIGHLIGHTS

Friday was a very busy day indeed, as we closed out another fun-filled Catholic Schools Week. We began the day by celebrating the Academic Achievements of our Middle School students with the Blue Knights of Accomplishment Awards and Honor Roll Certificates.

 

After that, each grade paired up with a Buddy Class and completed a Blue Ribbon Fever Project together.

 
 

In celebration of our Faculty and Staff, our HSA provided a beautiful and delicious luncheon that was enjoyed by all.

 

Mrs. Borowick and some of our talented 8th Graders led the entire school in a Blue Suede Shoes dance, where we showed off our smooth dancing skills.

 
 

Sadly, like all good things, CSW2017 came to an end, as Sister Mary Louise led us in final prayers, blessings, and song, as we will always treasure the memories of our first Catholic Schools Week as a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School.

Many more photos from all of the Catholic Schools Week 2017 activites are posted to the school's Facebook page. Check it out here or click the "Like us on Facebook" button on the home page.

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK 2017 - DAY 4 HIGHLIGHTS

This was the day we were waiting for all week; when we got to participate in "The Brain Show" and show off our Academic Excellence by answering questions about all different subjects, including our Catholic Faith. However, the best part was learning and dancing to all the good songs when we won. We did not know that we had such talented dancers in our school, including our teachers!

 
   
 

We also had a wonderful visit with Mrs. Donna Kanowitz, the Assistant Superintendent of the Diocese of Metuchen. She toured our beautiful Blue Ribbon School and joined the Tech Team in the Makerspace room for a demonstration of all the STREAM projects we are currently working on.

 
 

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK 2017 - DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS

On Day Three of CSW 2017, Grades K-2 learned about people in need throughout the world, by watching videos from Catholic Relief Services, while the Middle School students learned what it was like to be a refugee and wrote about what they would feel like in that situation. Grades 3-5 took a guided spiritual journey through stations in the gym, where each teacher showed them a symbol and they prayed for those in need.

    

Later the gym was transformed into a noisy and fun-filled place, where each grade participated in the "Minute To Win Activities" provided by Ms. Hulnik. We even had teachers and parents joining in the fun too!

 
 

BAND CONCERT & AWARDS CEREMONY OPEN DAY 2 OF CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WEEK 2017

Students, teachers, and parents gathered in the gym on the morning of Tuesday, January 31 for the opening of Day 2 of Catholic Schools Week 2017. Mr. Mallinson led the St. Augustine School Band in a performance of their current repertoire of songs which they practice every week.

  

Following the concert, the Blue Knights of Accomplishment from Kindergarten thru Grade 5 were recognized for their academic achievements and excellence during the Second Quarter. Congratulations to all of the award recipients!

  

BLUE STREAM OF SUCCESS: BRIDGE BUILDING IN EIGHTH GRADE

The 8th graders are currently immersed in a multi-curricular STREAM project where they have all taken on the role of engineers.  They are blending science and math with the art of architecture and laws of engineering to build suspension bridges out of popsicle sticks.  It might seem odd, but all of this work is being done in a social studies class.  Social studies encompasses all the areas and aspects of learning, but most importantly, integrates the human purpose behind all the great accomplishments of civilization.  In our social studies curriculum, the eighth graders learned about the rise of big cities during the new industrial age of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the connection of many unconnected areas through bridge building.  We discussed the positive effects that urbanization had on society, but also highlighted the many negative effects that showed us the human casualties involved in that era.

  

As Catholics, no matter subject we study, we strive to incorporate the social teachings of the Catholic Church in whatever we do.  We strive to highlight the importance of the life and dignity of every person.  We also must recognize that the basic rights of workers must be respected and that the “economy must serve the people, not the other way around.”  During this historical time period, there was a large wave of immigration to the United States and many of these new immigrants were of the Catholic faith.  They struggled to find jobs and housing and were constantly discriminated against.  Many of these immigrants worked through horrible conditions and labored constantly to build the bridges and cities that we know today, while trying to support their families and serve God.  As a result of this study, the students were able to identify the hardships of religious minorities and increase their empathy for the men, women and children who labored so hard for this country.

  

When the students are done carefully engineering and building their bridges, they will all test them for weight capacity.  The students will start testing their bridges at ten pound increments up to fifty pounds.  They will then increase the weight at increments of five pounds.  They will discover which suspension bridge design works best and who was able to calculate the appropriate weight distribution.  The most important realization of this project however, is not in the mechanics of the building nor the art in the architecture.  It is the fact that we are a people of faith and with that faith comes great responsibility.  As a Catholic community, we are literal and figurative bridge builders.  We are here to fulfill God’s mission by breaking down the barriers that separate us and work to unite all mankind, no matter what structure we need to build to accomplish it.

  

MIDDLE SCHOOL STREAM PROJECT COMBINES MATH, LANGUAGE ARTS, AND RELIGION

6th and 7th Graders worked on a Deserted Island STREAM Challenge. Students read about a group of adventurous travelers who set sail on the open seas. Unfortunately a storm hit and only one survivor was left stranded on a deserted island. Mrs. Pucci’s Math students were challenged to construct a hut for the lone survivor. The materials provided were craft sticks, straws, paper, string, cardboard, glue and tape. The hut’s area had to be less than or equal to 36 square inches. The height had to be greater than or equal to 5 inches. The structure needed to have walls, a ceiling, and a door. In addition it had to withstand a windstorm (simulated by a hair dryer). The students worked collaboratively in planning in class and at home via Google Docs. After all construction was complete, the structures were put to the wind test. Students compared results and drew conclusions based on the outcomes. They summarized the process and reflected on what worked, what didn’t, and what they might do differently next time.

Taking their interdisciplinary STREAM activity into Language Arts students read Jack London’s “To Build a Fire.” They also read diary entries from people who traveled the Oregon Trail. After reading these two texts students were able to see the struggle to survive in the American wilderness during the Gold Rush. Each student was tasked with writing a “message in a bottle” that described an imaginary adventure that left them stranded on a deserted island. Their only chance to be rescued was to tell their story by writing a message and putting it in a bottle! Currently in Religion class we are studying the 40 year journey of the Israelites to the promised land. Students were able to make connections in reading to the struggles the Israelites experienced in the desert.

2016 CHRISTMAS PROGRAM: CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD

Students from Kindergarten to Grade 5 presented their annual Christmas Program on Tuesday, December 13. This year's program was titled "Christmas Around the World," and featured traditional holiday music, dances, and Christmas carols from various countries in Europe and the Americas. All of the children sang and danced their hearts out in the true spirit of Christmas. Thanks to everyone who made this wonderful night of music possible!

EIGHTH GRADE TRIP TO THE UN: A PARENT’S PERSPECTIVE

On Thursday, December 1, the Eighth Grade class had the opportunity to visit the United Nations Headquarters in New York City and meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.  What follows is an account of this extraordinary experience written by one of the school parents who volunteered to serve as a chaperone for the field trip:

“I was delighted to accompany the eighth grade students on their field trip to the UN December 1. I think they all had a good time and learned some new things. I know I did! Special thanks to Mr. M. and Sister Mary Louise for making the trip possible for our children as well as the other parent-chaperones and the wonderful St. A’s parishioner, Joan, who serves as the secretary to the UN Secretary General and was able to facilitate a private meet-and-greet opportunity with him. I think the trip will be a long-lasting memory.

What an honor and privilege it was for the students and administrators to actually meet and have a photo taken with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon! The secretary general appeared to be very relaxed and unhurried during his time with them.  He spoke to students about "the three pillars” of the UN – in the distinct areas of Human Rights, Peace and Security, and Development – and observed that the Church’s mission often runs parallel to the mission of the UN.  The secretary general mentioned that he’d met Pope Francis a number of times and he praised our Holy Father’s recent encyclical, ’Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home,’ written for all on the care of God’s creation.  And before he left the room, the UN dignitary took the time and shook every person's hand, which was most impressive.

The group enjoyed a 15-minute break and stop at the gift shop (always a hit!) before touring the UN building in the afternoon.  In addition to entering some of the large conference rooms where international meetings take place, they saw the statue of St. Agnes recovered from a cathedral in Nagasaki, Japan, following the atomic bombing there and the beautiful “Golden Rule” mosaic -- a gift to the UN from the United States, which is based on a work by American artist Norman Rockwell. My group’s tour guide, a Jordan native, was very knowledgeable and shared a lot of information. The kids were engaged and asked him some good questions, too.

Before you knew it, it was time to head home.  Some of wished we had a little more time to explore. What a wonderful experience for all!  

With gratitude and thanksgiving,
Erin Friedlander”

ST. AUGUSTINE SCHOOL HONORED BY THE NJ STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Saint Augustine of Canterbury School was honored by the New Jersey State Department of Education at a National Blue Ribbon Schools Recognition Ceremony in Trenton on Wednesday, December 7. Pastor Father Bob Lynam, Principal Sister Mary Louise Shulas, School Advisory Council President Claudette Klimczak, and Diocese of Metuchen Associate Superintendent of Schools Donna Kanowitz were presented with a plaque recognizing St. A's as one of the ten 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools located in the state of New Jersey.

FIFTH GRADERS CREATE LIVING PRESIDENTIAL “WAX MUSEUM”

Our creative Fifth Graders completed a Research Project Report about a President or a First Lady. Then they were challenged to compose a one-minute speech and design a costume for their historical figure. Their speech had to include facts about the person before they became President/First Lady, during their time in office, and what happened to them after they left the White House. However, the most impressive, was when these Fifth Graders transformed our gym into a Living Presidential Wax Museum and made the Presidents and First Ladies come alive. They stood as wax figures, frozen until their imaginary button was pressed and brought them to life and they became their historical figure. Sister Mary Louise, the faculty and parents who attended this event were amazed at the professionalism of our Fifth graders; from the speeches, to the costumes, as well as their poise, speaking and acting ability. We say BRAVO FIFTH GRADE! Your stars were shining brightly this day.

 
   
 

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