December 17, 2020

Dear Families,

Part of what makes St. John the Baptist School special is the events and activities that bring us closer together, grow in our faith, and reinforce cultures and faith based traditions. On Monday, the day after St. Lucia’s Day, we followed a tradition found in Scandinavia, the festival of lights. Each town in Scandinavian countries chooses its own St. Lucia. Dressed in a white gown with a red sash, Lucia Vang Nu, was our St. Lucia. The Scandinavian festival is meant to bring hope and light during the darkest time of the year. Lucia shared that light is brought into darkness as she used a candle (battery operated) and a wreath adorned with candles to light the way in a prerecorded message which can be found on our You tube Channel: https://youtu.be/NPdJQCkZHFo A baked good (an individually wrapped donut stick) was provided to everyone. Although done differently than in year’s past, our tradition lives on. Thank you to Mr. Chavez, our Tech Teacher, for recording Lucia and putting the presentation together for us. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. They lived in a land of shadows, but now light is shining on them.” Isaiah 9:2

Preparing the way and giving the gift of light, as we await the birth of Christ, our Eighth Grade Council prepared luminaries for tonight. Today, each SJB student placed a luminary outside to line our sidewalk and guide the way to our chapel for tonight’s confessions and Adoration of the Eucharist. Luminaries will be lit by 4:30 PM (sunset) if you would like to come back and see them. Our eighth graders also prepared luminaries for Christmas Eve. Luminaries will be lit at 3:15 PM and all should be aglow by 4:00 PM Mass.

Our students have also been busy elves bringing cheer and giving back to our community by making Christmas cards for veterans in VA hospitals, for healthcare heroes at Northwestern Medicine’s Central DuPage Hospital and patients hospitalized for COVID-19, and for our first responders.

Thank you for your support of our Secret Santa’s Shop last week! It was quite successful. While we don’t have final numbers, we only sent back one box of unsold items. It couldn’t have happened without our coordinator, Tanya Ayala, and her many hardworking elves. Thank you to Erica Cabrera, Amy Goddard, Gretchen LeMay, Jessica Owens, Kim Soppi, and Elizabeth Woodbury for your time wrapping, helping students with their selections, and finalizing the sales. A special shout out goes to our crafters for their creations and time spent making them: Tanya Ayala, Gretchen LeMay, Jessica Owens, and our very own, Mrs. Seay. Thank you, Edith Markiewicz, for the donation of the beautiful handmade ornaments from Poland. All of the handmade items were simply fantastic and are sure to be treasured! Thank you to our Sweet Shop contributors: Rita Garcia, Amy Goddard, Teri Momot, Tina Parkitny, Kim Soppi, Mary Starmach, and all the rest of Santa’s baking helpers which added an additional sweetness to the event. The tasty treats were a big hit with everyone! Our clean-up crew also included the following students: Kassie Carrera, Thomas Cabrera, Amy Goddard, Alexa Murray, and Faith Owens. Thanks go to them for their help and demonstrating the virtues of helpfulness and generosity of time. We are so thankful to everyone…we were able to provide this annual tradition for our kids even during a pandemic. Thank you, thank you as it brought so much joy to SJB!

As you know, our students have been recording their performances for the Christmas Gala this week under the direction of our music teacher, Ms. Bernardoni. The target date to send the link to the program is December 22. I know that you are in for a real treat! Everyone has worked so hard on this program and I thank Ms. Bernardoni for undertaking this project so that the gift of our students’ music and performances could be shared with all. Thank you to our teachers for their help in preparing for the recordings. Thank you for all of your support and help with props, attire, and at home practice.

Recently we received information about the Wellness House in Hinsdale. The Wellness House is a support center for individuals and families affected by cancer and services and programs are free. For more information, please see the attachment to this letter.

In order to keep everyone as healthy as possible, please remember to be vigilant in your mask wearing when you are out of your car and picking up your children at dismissal. I remind students after our closing prayers almost daily about proper mask wearing and that they should wear them all the way out of school and into their cars. Thank you for your help with this important safety measure.

This is the last Thursday letter for the year. It is incredible to think that we made it thus far! Thank you to all of you for all that you have done to ensure that SJB is safe and continues to remain open for in person learning. It goes without saying that following the three Ws of watching distance, wearing masks, and washing hands, has proven to be a key to our success. Let’s keep our friends, family, and school community safe and healthy during the holidays by following the health guidelines set by CDC, IDPH, and DuPage Health Department.

We end the calendar year tomorrow at SJB with a school Mass, culminating in a simple livestreamed presentation of the Nativity story by our first grade children. What a beautiful way to begin the celebration of Christmas and our break. To access the livestream, please click here , or find it on our You Tube Channel by searching for St. John the Baptist Catholic School, Winfield. Don’t forget that tomorrow is Ugly Christmas Sweater or Christmas attire day. This is just a reminder that we will dismiss at 11:30 AM and the extended day program will not be open afterschool. School will resume on Monday, January 4, 2021.

As we draw closer to Christmas, with the fourth Sunday of Advent upon us, I close with a quote from Pope Francis. “The Birth of Jesus brings us the good news that we are loved immensely and uniquely by God, and he not only enables us to know this love, he also gives it to us, he communicates it to us!” How precious it is to know that our Emmanuel, God, is with us. I pray that this Christmas you and yours are enveloped in our Lord’s love, blessed by time with family and  loved ones, and wish you a joyous, safe, and healthy New Year.

With thanksgiving and joy,

Joanne

December 3, 2020

Dear SJB families,

I pray that everyone had a Thanksgiving filled with the blessings of happiness, peace, and health. SJB is blessed to welcome three new wildcats to our family, which puts our enrollment at 156. Marcos joined our second grade on Monday and his brother Nicolas became part of our sixth grade class. We welcome the Olvera Family to St. John the Baptist. Alora Stratton joined our Kindergarten class on Monday as well. She is joining her cousins, Cassie in first grade and Dominic in fourth grade. We are glad that you are here, Alora, Marcos, and Nicolas!

With the onset of the Advent season on Sunday, there are a variety of activities and events that will be taking place as we prepare for the celebration of the birth of our Savior on Christmas. Advent devotions including the Advent Wreath remind us of the meaning of the season and are on each of our classroom prayer tables. Our classroom doors will be decorated for the season as our Eighth Grade Council is sponsoring a door decorating contest. A Christmas tree was donated to our school and each class is making ornaments to decorate it. At our School Mass yesterday, Fr. Chris shared that Advent is a time to turn to God and open our hearts as He will always give more than we need like in the story of the loaves and fish that we heard yesterday for the Gospel reading. He takes just a little bit and multiplies it into good. He encouraged us to pray and suggested that if we prayed just one minute a day that over the course of the year, we would have prayed for just over six hours. Fr. Chris also introduced seminarian Brian Geary to us at the beginning of Mass. Mr. Geary (pronounced Gary) will be staying at the rectory through the holidays and will be stopping by at the school during this time. We are fortunate to have him with us.

Congratulations to the following students on receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time:

Kassandra Carrera

Daniel Dawson

Jack Dawson

Sofia Farin

Maximus GarciaSara Guglielmi

Nixie Vargas

Katherine Weitz

They experienced God’s love and mercy as they received the Sacrament on Tuesday night in church. A parent for each child was able to be there to share in the beautiful service that surrounded the reception of the sacrament. Our third and fourth grade also went to Reconciliation this week and students in fifth and sixth grade will make it next Wednesday after our School Mass, and seventh and eighth grade will make it the following week.

Our students are working on a few service projects this Advent as well. Cards are being made for first responders and veterans in VA/Nursing homes. Over Thanksgiving break, our art teacher, Mrs. Orr, dropped off placemats made by our students to Belmont Village residents. Mrs. Orr told me that when she mentioned to our students that the residents needed some cheer, the SJB kids jumped into action with big smiles on their faces. They will continue these acts of goodwill with a weaving project. Additionally, our Eighth Grade Council will also be preparing luminaries and classes will be helping to set up for them. More information to come about this special project.

Tomorrow, the Knights of Columbus will be offering the first Drive by Fish Fry of Advent from 5:00 – 7:00 PM. Shrimp dinners, fish and shrimp combos, fish tacos, spaghetti dinners, and pizza are also on the menu. There are several ways to order. Be sure to check out the posting for more information. If you haven’t been to a KC Fish Fry, it will not disappoint!

Parent’s Club Update:

Our Parent Club elves are busy preparing for Santa’s Secret Shop which is next Thursday and Friday in our gym. Please check your child’s backpack for information about this annual, and one of our students’ favorite events, today.

Congratulations to the following Football Mania winners:

Week 9: Debbi Vermillion and Michelle Nasuta. They both won 25 dollars.

Week 10: Kate Buchbinder and Jim Yuhas. They also won $25 each.

Week 11: My brother, David Zielinski. He won $25, too.

Week 12: Urszula Urbankiewic – another $25 winner.

Save the date, Saturday, February 13 for the Saver Fundraiser. Savers accepts donations of gently used goods such as clothes, shoes, bedding, towels, accessories on behalf of non for profit organizations like SJB and will provide us with unrestricted funds to benefit our school.

Shop Amazon Smile & support the school! SJB receives 0.5% of most purchases you make through Amazon when you use Amazon Smile. It takes just three easy steps: 1. Go to smile.amazon.com. If you already have an Amazon account, sign in, and it will prompt you to select your charity (St Johns Parish) 2. Search for St Johns Parish 3. Confirm your selection -that’s it! Simply make purchases through smile.amazon.com, and St. Johns School will benefit every time you shop. DON’T FORGET TO TELL YOUR FAMILY & FRIENDS, TOO! As of May 2020, we have received $246. 07. Every bit helps! THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

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Have you heard about an easy way to earn money for our school? The Shop with Scrip program allows families to support our school by purchasing gift cards. Purchased gift cards through Scrip provides us with a percentage of the cost of the card as profit which translates to earning money for SJB with every gift card purchase. The app for the program is called Raise Right. Here is a short video which shows you how to download the app from the app store and shows you how to shop for gift cards, set up online payment, and have cards shipped right to your home. Our school enrolment code is 1D87C5A61L867 .

Thank you to all those who participated in the Caliendos fundraiser last month. The Athletics program received a check for $90.72.

As part of the Safe to Learn: Safety Drill Act we participated in our law enforcement lockdown/evacuation drill with the Winfield Police Department yesterday. For safety’s sake, this time, we practiced a lockdown drill while masked and socially distanced. As you may recall, all schools are required to conduct all drills within the first ninety days of school. This was the last of our drills and we have thereby completed our goal. In lieu of the Bus Evacuation Drill, permission was granted by the state to show a video in its place. If fieldtrips resume this year, we will be sure to contact the bus company and do a drill.

Don’t forget about the virtual parent workshops about navigating children’s use of technology. Liz Repking, author of CASE Curriculum which SJB uses for online safety, will offer virtual parent workshops at 7:00 pm via Zoom. Tonight is the first opportunity to participate in the workshop. It will also be offered on Thursday, January 7; and Wednesday, February 10. In the 90 minute session, Liz will address how parents can balance some of the great advantages and opportunities of technology with how to protect our children in a hyper digital age. She will also offer some helpful tips and strategies to manage screen time, implement successful eLearning strategies, address the isolation children feel while trying to stay connected to the outside world, and how parents can create healthy family tech time. Advanced registration is required. Please see the posting for registration information for the session that works best for you.

This is just a reminder that tomorrow is a spirit wear day. Let’s paint our classroom and halls with blue, yellow, and white!

May you have a wonderful weekend and your Advent be filled with hope, love, joy, and peace,

Joanne

November 18, 2020

Dear Parents,

SJB continues to grow! We welcomed our 153rd student and 98th family to SJB on Monday this week. Nora joined the four year old prekindergarten class. Welcome to the Loonam family. We are so delighted that you are a part of the SJB family.

Congratulations to St. John the Baptist’s first trimester honor roll students. All students in 6th-8th grade are eligible for the Honor Roll. We commend the following students for their hard work and encourage them to continue to endeavor in their scholastic efforts. We’d like to recognize the following students for their academic achievement:

2020-2021 First Trimester Honor Roll

Grade 6 Honors

Isabella Aschauer

Phillip Cabrera

Mia Grantz

Jack Kozlowski

Grade 6 High Honors

Brielle Borner

Augustine Cin

Anthony Emlen

Kim Nguyen

Faith Owens

Connor Parkitny

Aaliyah Silva

Sofia Soriano

Tyler Stith

Lucia Vang Nu

Joseph Zagotta

Grade 7 Honors

Sophia Resendez

Delaney Starmach

Thomas Weber

Roman Zolota

Grade 7 High Honors

Isabella Garcia

Abigail Goddard

Calise Matzke

Elizabeth Zitnik

Grade 8 Honors

Thomas Cabrera

Lauren Ludovice

Alyssa Zagotta

Grade 8 High Honors

JT Barrett

Makayla Grantz

Emily Hanania

Christopher Momot

Lisa Soppi

Elizabeth Weitz

Isabella Zagal

Honor Roll recipients will be recognized tomorrow during announcements and receive certificates to honor their accomplishment.

As you know, there has been a matching gift campaign for Illinois’ Tax Credit Scholarship Program for the past six weeks. Yesterday afternoon, Fr. Chris and I were notified of the success of the campaign at St. John the Baptist. My heart is indeed full with gratitude for the generous donors and the anonymous donor who made the matching opportunity possible. St. John the Baptist raised $22,700 during the past six weeks, which will be matched by $25,000. Noteworthy is that we had 5 new donors to our school’s Empower Illinois fund! Following the conclusion of the match deadline, the campaign had some surplus grant funds. The donor decided that the remaining funds should be split among the schools that reached their fundraising cap and successfully generated new donors. Because St. John the Baptist met those two benchmarks, SJB is receiving $19,560 in bonus funds. Our total matching funds will be $44,560. To date, fourteen scholarships have been awarded through Empower Illinois at St. John’s. In the next two weeks, about 9 more scholarships for students on our waiting list will be awarded. In total this year, nearly $95,000 has been donated to our EIS fund. I am ever so grateful for the generosity of the SJB family, the anonymous donor for initiating this wildly successful campaign, and all donors throughout the year. God indeed has blessed us!

This morning we tested our emergency notification program, School Messenger. You should have received a phone call and an email notifying you of the test. If you did not, please contact the office so that we can make the necessary adjustments.

Looking for a virtual parent workshop about navigating children’s use of technology? We have a wonderful opportunity available for you. Liz Repking, author of CASE Curriculum which SJB uses for online safety, will offer virtual parent workshops at 7:00 pm via Zoom on the following dates: Thursday, December 3; Thursday, January 7; and Wednesday, February 10. In the 90 minute session, Liz will address how parents can balance some of the great advantages and opportunities of technology with how to protect our children in a hyper digital age. She will also offer some helpful tips and strategies to manage screen time, implement successful eLearning strategies, address the isolation children feel while trying to stay connected to the outside world, and how parents can create healthy family tech time. Advanced registration is required. Please see the posting for registration information for the session that works best for you.

Thank you to the many parents who participated in parent teacher conferences on Tuesday. You should have received a Zoom invite from your teacher if you are scheduled for a conference tonight. If you did not, please reach out to your child’s teacher.

Besides finishing our virtual parent teacher conferences tonight, there are two notable events. Grab some pizza from Caliendo’s in Winfield between the hours of 4:00 and 9:00 PM and cozy up with a book afterwards to join in the state of Illinois’ Family Reading Night sponsored by Jesse White, Secretary of State; the Illinois State Library, and the Illinois Center for the Book. You can find some SJB teachers and Fr. Jim reading some picture books or sharing poetry and jokes on our school YouTube channel which can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4P7aFSRDImw-zBpCup2Smw . The videos should appear when you go to the school YouTube channel. You can also go to the Family Reading Night Playlist to access the stories. Bookmarks promoting the night were distributed to our students this week promoting Family Reading Night. Please see the posting for the Caliendo’s flier. 20% of the profit will be donated to the SJB Athletics program. Thanks to Chuck Zydek, our Athletic Director, for organizing the fundraiser.

This is just a reminder that tomorrow is an Eighth Grade Council sponsored Dress Down Day. Tomorrow is Business Casual Day.

As a reminder, there is no school next week, November 23 – 27 in celebration of Thanksgiving. School is scheduled to resume on Monday, November 30, 2020. In this time of Thanksgiving, I can’t but help think of a quote from St. Therese. Therese is my Confirmation name and she has been ab inspiration to me for many years throughout my life.

“What most attracts God’s grace is gratitude, because if we thank him for a gift, he is touched and hastens to give us ten more, and if we thank him again with the same enthusiasm, what an incalculable multiplication of graces! I have experienced this; try it yourself and you will see! My gratitude for everything he gives me is limitless, and I prove it to him in a thousand ways.” Therese of Lisieux , The Way of Trust and Love

The gifts and graces bestowed upon us at St. John’s is undeniable. Please know that as we approach Thanksgiving, my gratitude for you and yours is great. You are all true blessings to the entire SJB family. I also ask that you join me in praying for those in our community who are experiencing difficult times or have been affected by coronavirus. 2020 has been a very different year and many have experienced hardship and loss. Please lift them in prayer.

Wishing you the blessings of family, health and safety this Thanksgiving,


Joanne

November 12, 2020

Dear SJB Families,

Yesterday on the annual celebration of Veterans Day, we had the opportunity to pay tribute and honor some veterans within the SJB family for their patriotism, love of county, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for our Nation’s freedom through conversations both virtual, in person, and through pictures and video. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to the following family members and parishioners who met with our students: Enrique Arroyo, Air Force, father of Addison Arroyo (PK-4); Ryan Darin, Marine Corps, uncle of Aislyn King(K), Shaina East, Navy, and Sam East, Army, parents of Calise Matzke (7th) and Greg Matzke, Navy, Calise’s grandfather. Currently serving in Florida for the Coast Guard, Mrs. Seay’s nephew, Dan Bowen, was introduced through photographs and video. Tom Brown, Army, SJB parishioner, spoke to 6th grade and shared resources used in other classes including a video interview for K-5 students. Thank you to Mrs. Gudanick and our Kindergarten class for adorning our front windows with patriotic themed student colored pictures and Mrs. Seay for making the Thank you Veterans lawn display. Please join me in offering prayers of thanksgiving and appreciation to these brave men and women as well as all Veterans and those in active service who risked and are risking their lives to make our lives better and afford us the blessings of our country. “The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” – Psalm 29:11

SJB is 152 strong! On Monday, we welcomed another new student. Welcome, Luke Murray, to our eighth grade class. He joins his sisters, Alexa in sixth grade, and Audrey in Kindergarten. As we welcome new students to our school, we bid a fond farewell to Johnny Humes in fourth grade. The Humes family is moving and Johnny will be attending a school closer to his new home. We wish nothing but the best to the Humes family. They have been a longtime SJB family and we are grateful for the friendships and memories we have made with all of them. We so appreciate the many gifts of time, talents, and treasures that they have given to the SJB family. Best wishes to you all – Chip, Sara, Grace, Isabelle, and Johnny! You will be missed!

With the colder weather here, it is important that we are prepared to notify you in the event that there would be a snow day, or another type of “emergency” closing day. We will be sending a test message through School Messenger on the morning of Thursday, November 19, to ensure that the phone call and email settings are accurate and are functioning properly. If you don’t receive a message, please contact the office.

Additionally, it is also that time to make sure that your children are prepared for going outside for recess, PE, and walking over to Mass. Hats, gloves or mittens, snow pants, and boots are necessary for children to play in the snow on days that are 10 degrees or above and there is snow. Please note that on days when the temperature with the wind chill is below zero, our students will not go to Mass, and students will go to their classrooms after being dropped off.

It’s not too late to take advantage of a 75% Illinois Tax Credit on your 2020 Illinois State Taxes. Donations made by December 31 through Empower Illinois will receive a 75% credit on your state taxes and help fund scholarships for students who qualified. Thirteen scholarships were awarded so far this year as a result of generous donors. So far, over $42,000 in donations have been made. We still have nineteen students on our list and any donations made by November 30 will help fund a student for this school year. Please consider making a donation. For more information, questions can be directed to the donor Helpline (800-616-7606, or donors@empowerillinois.org ).

Thank you so much for your generosity with our Parent Club organized and sponsored Scholastic Book Fair. We will be earning Scholastic Dollars which translate to books and materials for our school. Thank you to Book Fair Coordinator, Erica Cabrera, and the following parents who helped set up, sell, or close the book fair: Tanya Ayala, Allie Borner, Andrea DeMola, Amy Goddard, Marcie Kozlowski, Gretchen LeMay, Teri Momot, Sunshine Silver, Lauren Weitz, Elizabeth and Jason Woodbury.

Congratulations to our Football Mania Week 8 and Week 9 winners: Natalie Burnette, Debbi Vermillion, Michelle Nasuta, and Christie Baldner. They all won $25.

Our second trimester began on Monday and first trimester report cards will be published and available through SchoolSpeak tomorrow at ~ 3:30 PM. Don’t forget that Parent Teacher Conferences are set for Tuesday, November 17 and Thursday, November 19 for Preschool through Eighth grade and will be conducted virtually through Zoom. A link will be sent to you closer to conferences and teachers will let you into the conference at your assigned time. It’s not too late to sign-up. To access the conference sign-up, go to SchoolSpeak and scroll below the school section to your child’s grade level. As a reminder JH teachers will be meeting as a team.

Two events are taking place next Thursday, November 19. There will be a Cook’s Night Out at Caliendo’s from 4:00 – 9:00 PM. 20% of the proceeds will benefit our Athletic Department. Please present the flyer found in the posting. The state is also sponsoring their annual Family Reading Night and the theme is Dig Deeper: Read, Investigate. Discover. Book marks will be sent home. So grab a book and join in on the reading fun. We will also be posting videos of a few familiar community and SJB faces on our school You Tube Channel – they will be reading books of their choosing.  The link will be sent in next week’s Thursday letter.

As we approach our Thanksgiving break, we have so much to be thankful for at SJB. First and foremost, I am thankful to you for choosing SJB for your children. I am beyond grateful that we have been together for in person learning since August 19. Everyone’s assistance in keeping us safe has really paid off! Please continue to contact me if your child had been exposed to COVID19. As we head into Thanksgiving, please be cautious with your travel and continue to wash your hands, wear a mask, and watch distance to keep your families, friends, and our school community safe and healthy. Your continued vigilance lends us to remaining together at school.

Until next week,

Joanne