Raising Awareness One Student at a Time

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

The topic of mental health has become very prominent in today’s society. People of all ages, races, and backgrounds are becoming more and more vocal about their mental health conditions and the everyday battles they are facing. The question is, how can we help those struggling around us continue to find their voice and feel comfortable to do so? How can we foster suicide prevention starting at a young age? 

A stigma has developed over the years towards mental health, causing people to feel shame towards their conditions and in return not wanting to share their challenges with others. When those challenges are not or cannot be communicated, that’s when suicidal thoughts start to creep their way in to someone’s life.

At St. John’s we believe in supporting the whole child, and that includes their social and emotional well-being. We understand that suicide prevention comes in all different forms, especially when working with such a broad age range of students. Educating students on how to express, understand, and control their own feelings is one of the main ways we do this. Instilling problem-solving skills, communication strategies, and fostering resiliency are also crucial life skills that we understand play major roles in student success. And finally, having a Christ-centered environment where unconditional love is practiced, and where students feel safe and confident to turn to the trusted adults around them. 

St. John’s families, we love our students and only want the best for them. We are taking the appropriate steps for each grade level to make sure their social-emotional well-being continues to flourish. If at any time you need a referral for outside resources or additional support, please feel free to email me at sdoyle@stjohnsorange.orgor call the school office and ask for Sara Doyle. 

Blessings, 

Miss Sara Doyle

School Counselor 

Question of the Day

2nd grade is now deep into the curriculum and the “honeymoon stage” of the first couple of weeks has worn off.  Things are starting to get busy and the pressures mount to get everything done and pack learning into the day.  While this stress may have good intentions behind it, it is important for teachers and parents alike to remember to slow down and take time for what is actually important, not just what we think is important.  For Mrs. Morner’s class, this includes spending positive moments together as a class.

Mrs. Morner has created “Question of the Day.”  It is a simple presentation filled with simple questions, but the result has been wonderful.

In addition to beginning our morning with the pledges, a devotion, and prayer, we now also open with the “Question of the Day,” which ranges from questions as common as “What is your favorite food?” and as creative as “If you were given 1,000 acres of land, what would you do with it?”  None of the questions are academic (on purpose) and it has so far allowed everyone to start the day in a relaxed way that also allows knowing each other better as a class.  It’s a period of five minutes where students can talk about their interests and use their imagination a bit.  It opens us up on a positive note and reminds us that, while the day may get busy and our work is incredibly important, spending some time together as a class is just as important and we can still make some time for the fun stuff too!

Mrs. Morner, 2nd grade

Five Bags

QOTD

COUNSELOR’S CORNER – September 2019 Edition: A Message From Miss Doyle

Teaching organizational skills from a young age

Have you ever thought about your own organizational style in comparison to your student’s? Are you more of a list person, while your child tends to have a photographic memory (at least they think they do)? Or maybe you’re more of a go-with-the-flow type of personality, while your child is more concrete with their routines? Whatever your style may be, organizational skills play a large role in our everyday lives, so starting to develop those abilities at a young age is important. 

Below you will find some helpful tips on how to foster your student’s organizational dexterities:

  1. Routines are key – Morning routines, nighttime routines, after school routines, and the list goes on. Children thrive off of routines because it allows them to feel safe and unwavering. Even though at times they may push back and want to adjust their routine, they more than likely will resort back to what they’ve been originally taught. 
  2. Sorting/Categorizing – Something so simple, but incredibly beneficial. Sorting can include anything from their toys or clothes at home, to their school papers and supplies. Sorting gives students the chance to arrange the things they use most often and take ownership of those items. A lot of the time this skill comes in the form of completing chores or organizing their school binder or locker. 
  3. Checklists – Introduce checklists early on. Keep it basic and start with a checklist that focuses on things like their nightly routine before bed or what to pack for a family vacation. And eventually when students get older, checklists can be used to help them prioritize their time with school, sports, social outings, etc. Checklists may even start to take the shape of a planner. 
  4. Letting them clean-up after themselves – This may be easier said than done sometimes, especially if you are like my mom who liked her household in a specific order.  However, something as simple as putting their clothes in a hamper, their shoes by the front door, washing their plate after dinner, or putting their toys away in their room is teaching them how to be responsible. That responsibility leads to independence and eventually the drive to complete tasks on their own without being asked.  
  5. Cook together! 🙂 Adventures in the kitchen are memories children never forget. Learning techniques like measuring ingredients, kitchen safety, making a grocery list, and healthy eating habits are essential. Organizational skills are needed in the kitchen, and what better way to teach those techniques than to have a little fun baking or meal prepping with your student 🙂

Of course, there are many more tips than just those listed above. Each household is different from the next, so find the strategies that work for you and your family. In fact, comment below about some of the organizational techniques that work for your family or even those that you have tried and didn’t work. 

The 29th Annual St. John’s Student Leadership Retreat

Every summer, two weeks before the upcoming school year begins,  twenty-four 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students from the St. John’s Lutheran School Student Leadership Team attend an on-campus “retreat.”  The morning sessions of August 5th, 2019 provided this year’s team the opportunity to plan, prepare and strategize for the major events it will host for the upcoming school year, including:

      • Spring Spirit Week planning
      • Packaging 75 Open House “Survival Kits” for the incoming 6th graders
      • Habit of Mind presentation training with Mr. Mercier

 

  • Habitudes (Images that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes) training with Mr. Mercier

 

    • Peer Counseling training with Miss Doyle
    • Life Group Leader training with Mrs. VB
    • Shepherding instructions with Mr. Stuewe

After eating lunch with Dr. Hollatz,  Mrs. VB was gracious enough to host a team building pool party at her house.  This gave our Student Leaders an opportunity to get to know each other in a fun, safe, encouraging environment.

The St. John’s Student Leadership Team is excited to serve our schools student body, our congregation and community.  What a blessing it is to have such a dedicated group of students and teachers who want to make a positive difference in the lives of so many people during the 2019-2020 school year.

By: Mr. Nathan Mercier, 6th grade, Student Leadership

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Peru Project – Part II

In part 1 I outlined this project which St. John’s students have been supporting for the past 9 years.
Once my wife, Patty, and I have a list of projects our work begins. One of the major projects we wanted to take on was quickly started:  the awning to cover the space between the two classrooms.
The biggest consideration was where the awning would be of most benefit. The next was timing:  how to get the structure built and the awning made so that both would be done before we leave in July.  Two different people are needed, a carpenter and an awning maker.  The last consideration was that the entire structure needed to be done in such a way that it can be unassembled and moved when the government comes through with the funds to remodel the school. This could be as early as this September or up to several years.
Lola wanted the space between the two largest classrooms covered. (See the first picture.)  This decided we then began to work on how to best coordinate structure with awning.  The carpenter gave us a time frame for completion just before we were to leave Perú. That meant the awning person would have to work from dimensions given by the carpenter rather than taken from the actual structure. This is risky at best. In the end we decided to have the carpenter build a structure the same size as the structure covering the play structure. (See picture #2)  to our amazement these dimensions fit almost perfectly into the desired space. And even better: because the two structures will be identical it will allow  Lola to design the space in the new school around the shade structures, placing  them end-to-end. It will add continuity in the long-run.
This decision also allowed the awning person to take more accurate measurements from the existent awning for the new awning. We took bids from several awning makers and chose the one who offered quality and the best price. It would cost about $850 for a high quality, water/weather proof material made to special order and installed.  About a week later we returned from a short trip to Cajamarca to find the rolled up cover (photo #3) hand delivered and ready to installed when the carpenter finished his work.  It weighs about 300 lbs.
The carpenter was called and came to the school to get the measurements for the awning structure. We agreed on a price (about $1500 equivalent in national money: Soles) and we went to Trujillo to exchange dollars. (Picture 4 shows the structure being put in place.) While there we went to a local store called Sodimac to see if they had prefabricated shelves the size we wanted. Sodimac is a Homedepot-like store which recently has come to Trujillo. While convenient it doesn’t offer a lot in terms of shelving. Nothing we could find fit the dimensions needed.  We wanted to steer clear of donating something which would just be makeshift. The units we did see were expensive and low quality.
So we began looking for plan B.  A family member recommended a young man in the town who had recently built some cabinets for a local restaurant. The young man’s name is Meikel and he works with a material he calls melamine, a kind of particle board covered in formica-like material. He could build sturdy shelves to the dimensions we wanted at less cost than the prefabricated odd-sized units we had looked at.  It did mean more footwork for us, but assured something which will endure the hard use they will receive, while adding uniformity to the classrooms.
The photos 5 and 6 show Meikel, the handy man, constructing the five shelves in our living room. It took he and his wife two days to put them together and they looked great.
Part three:  going shopping for things on the wish list.

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Peru Project Update!

The Perú project is well under way. For those who dont know, the students at St. John’s have been supporting a small preschool in the coastal town of Las Delicias, Peru for the past 9 years. The school provides education to the poorest children in the small town.   The significant impact these donations have had over the years can be viewed here:
http://perunuevaesperanza.weebly.com/donacion-2017.html
This year we arrived at the school on June 14th, 2019 to determine how we could best help the school.  The fund had over $7,000 which was raised over the past several years by SJLS students. We hoped to do something with technology for the students, and as well to replace the awning structure donated by St. John’s 8 years ago. This original structure was only to be temporary and outlasted our expectations considerably.  Being made of metal the ocean breeze has eaten away at the structure and awning. We planned to replace it with a wooden structure. The first picture shows the original awning and it’s poor state of condition.
The present principal is a real go-getter.  Since the beginning of her time at the school she has recognized the importance of St. John’s donations and has done her part to meet expectations.  All of this can be seen in the video link given above.  The principal, Lola Kong, let us know that the best technological support we could give would be large screen televisions with USB ports. They have free access to educational videos. This seemed a very viable way we could help. As seen in the second photo, far left, the television for the 5 year olds is small and ineffective.
As well, Lola expressed the desire to have a series of shelves,  all of the same size and color to replace the makeshift shelves used around the classrooms. (see the third photo) These makeshift shelves have served a purpose but not being made for storing things, they were second best.
And finally Lola gave us a “wish” list of items they could really use:  dolls for the children to play with (see video link mentioned above—at the very end), as well as puzzles, musical instruments, costumes (firefighter, police, nurse/doctor, carpenter), hand puppets, a First Aid box, megaphone (for emergency drills), basketballs, volleyball, soccer balls, cones for PE, curtains for the 5 year old classroom, play kitchen sets, magnifying glasses, rulers, plastic chairs for adults (12 for parent meetings) and PE/emergency whistles to name a few.
Patty, my wife, and I had our work cut out for us. In my next installment I will show the progress being made.
Doug Stone, Spanish Teacher grades 7-8
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Tide Pool Fun and Learning!

The 5th grade students and teachers wrapped up their school year by exploring the tide pools at Little Corona Beach.  Before going to explore the 5th graders studied what the tide pools are made of and the different types of animals that can be found in the tide pools.  After visiting the tide pools, the students had to use the information they learned from the field trip to create an animal that they thought would be perfectly adapted to live in the tide pools. The students also wrote a haiku to describe what they experienced on their trip and to summarize their learning.

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