December 2nd, 2016

"Hope is the power behind love... When hope fails so does love."
John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent
  • Our children get only one chance at a great education. With each day and each new challenge, we are working to create a strong family and great school at Our Lady of Fatima. With this thought, I would like to talk to you about a challenge that is a new challenge for all of us. Our School Finance Committee met with Bishop Caggiano on Tuesday, November 22, to discuss the school's 16-17 budget. We, like many schools in the diocese, needed help from the diocese last year to meet our financial budget obligations. The Bishop stressed the need for our school to balance the budget this year. Until our enrollment gets back to where it was, we will need to do additional fundraising and reach out to our alumni and community to make this happen. Brent Shaffer has spearheaded this work and our Fatima Faith Fund letter will be mailed to OLF alumni this week. This is a critical issue as Bishop Caggiano stressed during the meeting that the diocese can no longer support all the Catholic schools in the diocese operating in the "red." Besides, needing to increase our enrollment, our budget shortfall is basic on at least two other important changes at the diocese level.
  •  One, in the past, the diocese would give each of the thirty-one Catholic schools one hundred thousand dollars to support education each year. Last year, the diocese contributed sixty-six thousand to our school; this year they are giving no money directly to our school, but instead, are giving the money to families through the Bishop Scholarship Fund.
  •  Two, also in the past, the registration fees collected in the spring had been allocated to summer salaries which forced us to start the year off in the red. The new policy does not allow us to do this and thus we have to cover a $55,000 shortfall from this year and anticipate a $55,000 summer salary package. In short, we need to raise over $110,000 to cover the current shortfall to stay current. We can do this together!
  •  At our school, and across the diocese, tuition and fees account for 80% of the school operating budget - which the lion's share goes to already low salaries and benefits.  The remaining 20% is achieved through fund raising.  We are running a very lean operation here.  We will be meeting again with Bishop Caggiano in January to give him an update on our progress. Any additional financial help you can provide to the Fatima Faith Fund is tremendously appreciated!!  Also, if you know the names and addresses of any alumni or philanthropist who may be able to help us cut this deficit and start fresh, I would love to hear from you. Please note that your donations are tax exempt and will serve as a great end of year write off. Once we tackle this hurdle we can continue to focus on what matters the most: "A quality education in a safe and moral guided environment. We know that our children grow up quickly, allow them to grow with an experience that empowers them to make good decisions". This is an important time for our school and for Catholic education in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Thanks for all your help!
  • Enough financial news, in other school news the Chess Club is up and meeting every Monday and is a great hit with our students. Thanks to Lara Paschalidis for arranging!
  • If you are looking for Christmas gift ideas please consider a gift from Fatima Wear. There is a range of different types of beautiful clothes with the Our Lady of Fatima logo. Just go to the Fatima Wear link on the Parent tab of our website. Thanks to Kerry Greeff for organizing.
  • Please make sure you have returned the Technology Acceptable Use Policy to your child's homeroom teacher.
  • Again this year, Our Lady of Fatima is participating in the Toys for Tots Campaign. Just bring in new, unwrapped toys to the collection box in the main lobby. The Student Government will be taking the toy donations to the Fire Department on December 14th.
  • To celebrate the holidays, since 1979, fifth graders and their parents have been creating Ginger Bread Houses here at our school.  This week, fifth grade parents baked, and students decorated Ginger Bread Houses. The result: they are both delicious and beautiful! The raffle and sale of the Ginger Bread Houses will continue through next Friday.
  • Thanks to Mrs. Gammardella and Mrs. K, the Pre-K students now have a cardboard club house size ginger bread house in their classroom. Bravo and looks like fun!
  • On Monday, I had the privilege of touring Gustavo and Annika who are the directors of an orphanage in Romania through our school. They were very impressed and are working to see if they can place one of their students with a family in New Canaan and have the student attend our school. What an experience that would be for both the student from that background and our students? In the meantime, our Student Government is going to collect clothes and shoes to support this orphanage. More information will follow.
  • On Wednesday, November 23rd the HSA gave checks, each of $825, to the Wilton Social Services Food Pantry and to the Open Door Shelter in Norwalk. This money donated to local Food Banks was due to the success of  this year's Walkathon that raised over $16,000. Thanks to the outreach of Courtney Paige, Channel 12 covered the event!
  • The Wilton Fire Department was here on November 22 and spoke to all our classes about fire safety. It was good to be reminded of this important information.
  • Wanted: a new family is looking for a taxi service to bring their Pre-K age children to school and home every day at noon. Wilton Public School provides transportation starting in Kindergarten. Would anyone recommend a specific taxi service? Please just let me know.
  • I have been visiting classrooms to talk about kindness and empathy with students. These are social skills that everyone needs in their "tool box" for getting along with others. I would like to ask if you have any website/book/workshop suggestions to send them in to share in our newsletter. One of my favorites is the "Harvard Making Common Project". I have included here one of their family strategy papers for empathy. 
I hope that you will enjoy it.  Here's the link:
  •  I am excited that Joe Santaniello will be back this year to direct The Snow Queen as our school Spring Musical. This story is a big musical set in the Arctic Circle- you've been enthralled by Disney's "Frozen"-now your child can be a part of the original story! This classic, award-winning musical by Cheryl Kemeny is based on the famous Hans Christian Anderson story about an evil Sorcerer, a mysterious Snow Queen, and a young girl, Gerda's, journey to save her best friend, Kai. Gerda sets out on her quest and meets many friends and foes along the way. Where is Kai? Will Gerda survive her daunting task and will good or evil win in the end? This play will be open to all 3rd through 8th graders for try outs and will be presented on May 20th and May 21st. Don't miss the excitement and please encourage your child to participate. More details to follow.
  • Our 8th Grade got to enjoy the fantastic play, Wicked, on Thursday. It was both a great theatre experience and delivered powerful messages on being different and being accepted.
  • Our 4th grade got to go to the Knights of Columbus Museum for Christmas      tree trimming also on Thursday. Thank you to Ms. Zmeck for arranging and our parents for helping!
  • Thank you to Carol Weimer for arranging the Book Fair this past week. I hope you had a chance to visit and purchase some new books for your family. Since this past summer, John Doyle and I have been discussing books we have been reading. We have discussed books from "Unbroken" to "The Boys in the Boat" to "Bruce Springsteen's Autobiography." John recently forwarded me an article from the Wall Street Journal by Will Schwalbe entitled, "The Need to Read." The article begins, "We all ask each other a lot of questions. But we should all ask one question a lot more often: "What are you reading?" This is a great question that we should be asking each other and here is the web address for the rest of this fascinating article:
Carol Weimer. Carol Weimer taught for 35 years at the Greenwich Catholic School before coming to OLF. Besides her duties as the school librarian, Ms. Weimer is the driving force behind the school book fair. It was wonderful this week watching the excitement of the students in selecting books. Great job, Ms. Weimer.
Mrs. Roos, Mrs Patrick, and Mrs. Edouard for being such great help and working long hours helping make the Book Fair a success.
December 2nd - First Friday Mass hosted by Grade 7
December 4th - Meeting for Second-grade parents and their children on       Sacrament of Reconciliation.
December 6th - H.S.A. meeting beginning at 7:00 p.m.
December 8th - No school for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
December 9th - 4th/5th/7th grade to see "The Nutcracker." Students will eat lunch in school at 10:30 a.m.
December 11th - School Christmas Party
December 14th - 6th-grade French Play: The Birth of Christ
                                 HSA-sponsored teachers' Christmas luncheon 
December 15th - 8th -grade French Play: The Birth of Christ
December 16th - 7th-grade French Play: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
December 21st - Christmas Pageant at 1:00 p.m.
4th Grade Mass and Breakfast with Bishop Caggiano at the Catholic Center
December 23rd - Noon dismissal for Christmas recess - No After-School
December 26 through January 2 - No school for Christmas recess
January 3rd - School Resumes
                        HSA meeting at 7:00 p.m.
January 6th - First Friday Mass hosted by Grade 8
January 16th - Martin Luther King Day - No School
January 19th to February 3 - 10th Annual Tyler Ugolyn Memorial Basketball Tournament
January 20th - Marks close for the second quarter
January 29th - HSA breakfast to kick-off Catholic Schools Week
January 30th through February 3 - Catholic Schools Week
February 3rd - Grandparent/Special Friend Day
                          First Friday Mass hosted by Grade 6
February 7th - HSA meeting at 7:00 p.m.
February 17th - No School - Winter Break
February 20th - No School - President's Day
February 26th - First Eucharist meeting for second-grade parents
I have been at other schools that sponsored a Scholastic Book Fair. Two things were very surprising for me this week at the Fatima Scholastic Book Fair: One, we did not need to lock-up the book fair every day because we were afraid of items being stolen. Two, watching how excited our students were in choosing new books to read.

These are two really great and important things!


See what's happening on our social sites