State of the School 2018

Kennedy Family-

If you were unable to attend the State of the School Address at the end of August, I wanted to make the information available to you. While much of our curriculum is dictated by either the State of Ohio Learning Standards or the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Catholic Schools, we also have the luxury of creating innovative and effective electives that grow our students in mind and soul. I hope you find the additions intriguing and beneficial in preparing students for life after Kennedy. What follows is my portion of the State of the School address.

Good Evening Kennedy Family-

I am thrilled to be starting my second year at John F. Kennedy Catholic Schools as Upper Campus Principal. To the parents out there, your children are a complete joy. They are the best part of my day, every day. When I left the classroom and the gym as a teacher and coach, I didn’t realize how much I would miss being around students. I am so happy to have the opportunity to be here now.

Tonight I would like to highlight our curriculum offerings, programs, and our exceptional staff at Upper Campus.

New courses this year have been thoughtfully designed to strengthen our students’ college and career readiness as they prepare to leave JFK.

In the Junior High:

  • Computer Science is a quarterly class that teaches coding. The apps on your smartphone, the scripts that run websites, and the much-debated self-checkout machines are all results of a programmer that has an idea to improve something and can code. Coding teaches problem-solving and critical thinking and helps students follow directions (which jr high student doesn’t need help with that?)
  • Digital Skills is a semester course using a Google-created curriculum that moves from computer skills like keyboarding to document formatting, spreadsheet formula creation, purposeful search engine skills, and safe internet usage.
  • Modern Communications is a semester course in its second year designed to give students tools for effective presentations including video making, podcasting, effective multimedia slideshows, and news articles. 
  • In addition to an English Language Arts course, we have put a focus on writing with a semester of Composition and a semester of Text Dependent Writing for 6th graders. 7th graders have an ELA course plus Lit Workshop- a class where we foster a love of reading and interesting ways to write about it. 8th graders are eligible for a period of World Language in addition to English Language Arts, which strengthens their grammar in both languages and allows them to learn about cultures outside of their own, as well as a semester of Composition writing.
  • 3D Printing has been expanded to both 6th and 8th graders as a semester class. We continue working with NASA Glenn astronauts on the design and creation of wheels for the Mars Rovers and other projects through InventorCloud out of the Youngstown Incubator.
  • Genius Hour continues into its second year as well. Genius Hour is a class where students pursue their own passions and interests while refining their oral and written communication skills and learning to effectively access information. Students research a topic and create a presentation for their peers using our state of the art equipment including green screen technology, video editing and broadcasting, stop-motion animation, and graphic design.

In the High School grades:

  • We have added Introduction to Computer Science as well, in the hopes that advanced classes will be added as our students gain more experience through their junior high years.
  • Our commitment to the Arts continues to be strong as we have expanded our band program into two sections: 6-8 and 9-12. We have also added a vocal music class.
  • Our AP classes this year include AP English, Biology, and Chemistry and we continue to have students participate in College Credit Plus. Both programs allow students to earn college credit during their high school years.
  • Mr. Kenneally briefly mentioned The Kennedy Experience. This class helps freshmen and new-to-Kennedy students organize their study habits, learn about our traditions, and have one more set of eyes on students to ensure they are turning in assignments and staying on top of their academic commitments. Replacing a traditional study hall, this hands-on approach is designed to increase the success of our students by providing foundational guidance in their first year at Kennedy.
  • Saving what I think is the best for last, I would like to highlight another class in its second year, Entrepreneurship. This course is entirely student-driven, employs real-world application where students can take risks in a safe, ok-to-fail environment before entering college or career. Some of the projects from last year include graduate yard signs, concession stand signs, personalized Kennedy static clings, stickers for local start-up businesses, golf outing sponsorship signs, and window skins for classroom doors. We have been utilizing a 54” HP Latex Vinyl Printer as an anchor to projects, but we are already expanding this year. Students are organizing a Babysitting Directory for Kennedy Families, looking into how we can print and press vinyl transfers for school spirit shirts, and networking with local businesses on what it means to have an entrepreneurial skill set. Students set weekly goals, check off their tasks as they complete them, and learn other soft skills like interviewing clients, taking meeting notes, and pitching ideas. This class was just a tiny wish 2 years ago, and I have such joy watching students thrive in this class. It has exceeded my expectations and we are just in the second week of school. Special thanks to Mr. Joe Carrabbia for being forced to follow my dreams, although he is just as passionate about this program now.
Another High School program I would like to expand on is our newly established “Birds of a Feather”. Our students 9-12 are organized into Houses instead of Homerooms. Students stay in their Houses throughout their time in high school, and compete yearly through events like Trunk or Treat, food drives, fundraisers, spirit game nights for athletics, and the culminating event in May, Olympic Day. This year, through the vision of Student Government advisor Jeanine Bofenkamp, each House is connecting with one Lower Campus homeroom. The homerooms will be a part of the House activities throughout the year either virtually or by HS students visiting Lower Campus. They will sit together during all-school events like mass and our pep-rally. Our hope is that building this connection will help welcome lower campus students and families into the 55-year tradition of John F. Kennedy Catholic Schools and provide peer mentorship on a school-wide scale.

Don’t forget to follow JFK on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, read our weekly email newsletter and check out my blog if you haven’t had a chance. I am so glad we had this opportunity to share the good news about Kennedy with you tonight, but so much happens throughout the year that you may be missing out on if you are not utilizing our social media and digital communications. Have a wonderful evening meeting our teachers and continue to pray for me and our entire Kennedy staff as we work every day to provide the best educational experience for your children. Thank you.

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