News from The Atonement Academy --- Vol. 2020-2021 No.7, September 3, 2020
"Creator of all things, true source of light and wisdom, origin of all being, graciously let a ray of your brilliance penetrate the darkness of my understanding. Take from me the double darkness in which I have been born—an obscurity of sin and ignorance. Give me a keen understanding, a retentive memory, and the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally. Grant me the talent of being exact in my explanations and the ability to express myself with thoroughness and charm. Point out the beginning, direct the progress, and help in the completion. I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen."
~St. Thomas Aquinas, Prayer for Students
The Catholic faith is integrated into many aspects at The Atonement Academy, and daily Mass is our cornerstone. Through the Mass as well as our prayers throughout the day, we strive to strengthen each scholar's relationship with God. That relationship is an important tool to keep in our arsenal during challenging times.
A LETTER FROM MR. WATSON
Dear Academy Families,

Last week, one of my children caught a cold. Not a big deal, but in the pandemic era that meant staying home and getting tested. Fortunately, all is well. But this episode gave us the opportunity to take advantage of the Academy’s remote learning capabilities. My child kept up with classes in real time and returned to campus in a couple of days with very little work to make up. My wife remarked to me that it really seemed like Atonement “had it together” with remote learning compared to what she had heard was going on at other schools. 

Our experience as parents was a refreshing reminder that at Atonement, excellence is a way of life, not just an ideal we urge on our young charges.

Developing the capability to daily serve nearly a third of our student body remotely and also be able to seamlessly integrate those in temporary quarantine has been a labor of love on the part of many. First and foremost, our teachers trained over the summer to simultaneously instruct on-campus and remote audiences, have overhauled their familiar way of creating lesson plans, and hold remote as well as in-person office hours. From the beginning, Mr. Patrick has fielded technical questions, Mrs. Powell has coordinated remote enrollment, and Mr. Creech’s day-to-day leadership has held the whole project together. If you see any of these folks be sure to say “thank you" for a job well done.

Let us continue to pray for one another.

Our Lady of The Atonement—pray for us!

Your servant,

Matthew David Watson
Head of School
NOTA BENE: NOTE WELL

Thank you for partnering with us to carry forward the mission of Catholic classical education in these challenging times. Please remember that our comprehensive Safe Return Plan and all updates and revisions will always be sent first to your email inbox and then will be posted on our website at this link.

September 4
Coffee with Mr. Watson (8:00 a.m. in St. Anthony Hall, RSVP required and numbers limited)

September 7
Labor Day (and Fr. Lewis's Birthday)

September 10
Holy Name of Mary Commemoration

September 11
Parent Teacher Conferences (Student Holiday – No Classes)

Always check our school website for updates and details.

In addition, Atonement Sports are kept current on their social media page (Atonement Sports) and the Athletics tab on the school website.
PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCES SEPTEMBER 11th

Our annual first-quarter parent-teacher conferences are scheduled to occur on Friday, September 11th. There is no school on that date in order to accommodate conferences throughout the day. 

If you would like to schedule a conference (conferences are optional), please use your child’s teacher’s Doodle link listed below. The link will allow you to schedule an appointment online with your child’s teacher. Scheduling is on a first come, first serve basis, so schedule early if you need to secure a certain time. Contact your child’s teacher if you need to arrange an alternative time to those available.

Please note that this year conferences will be held remotely via Zoom. In the days prior to conferences, teachers will email parents their Zoom link. If you anticipate being unable to use Zoom to conference with your child’s teacher, please let the teacher know so you may arrange a conference by phone.  

Lower School



Kinder A - Tina Fitzgerald: https://doodle.com/poll/7ea2mk3wft4fycvm

Kinder B - Alaric Chaney: https://doodle.com/poll/wgw534hf3zbhbaug








Middle and Upper School

 










FACTS-SIS PARENT ALERT COMMUNICATION SYSTEM
 
Through FACTS-SIS, Atonement has acquired a new notification and rapid alert system to help improve and facilitate communication with our families. Parent Alert will allow the school to send out communications via text, email, and voice messages for all types of events. These alerts can be used for many reasons but will also provide a fast, efficient way to communicate with our families in cases of time-sensitive information and emergencies.
 
To ensure you are able to receive our alerts please text the keyword “START” to 22-383 from your mobile device. Any text alerts from the school will begin with “TAA ALERT” and calls will show from “210-695-2240.” 
REMOTE LEARNING
 
Electing Remote Learning for the 2nd Quarter 
 
While we are glad to be offering Remote Students the academic excellence an Atonement education affords, we certainly look forward to seeing them on campus again soon. As we have asked families to renew their choice to continue Remote Learning on a quarterly basis, please note that the first quarter ends on October 9th.  Families who wish to continue Remote Learning for the second quarter should email Mrs. Powell (apowell@atonementonline.com) their intention to do so by September 25th.  
 
Remote Learning FAQs
 
Although there are no updates this week to the Remote Learning FAQs, families should be familiar with them whether or not they have chosen Remote Learning. Even Traditional Students may need to transition to Remote Learning if, for example, they are required to quarantine at any point. The latest version of the Remote Learning FAQs may be found here.
 
Office Hours for Remote Students
 
Zoom office hours provide an opportunity for Remote Students and parents to check in with teachers and ask questions about work assigned for the week. Teachers will post a link exclusively for their Remote Student office hours on the LMS. Student attendance at these meetings is entirely optional. The teachers’ office hours are listed here.
ATHLETICS UPDATE FROM COACH VIDAL

Fall Sports
Fall sports activities are beginning on Labor Day with practices. Our first game of the season is an away game on September 13th against UC First Baptist for Lady Crusader Volleyball, as they begin their run to the 2020 TAPPS Volleyball playoffs. The first Cross Country meets for the Middle and Upper School teams will be on September 19th in Haltom City, Texas. Middle School Football has their first scrimmage of the season on September 17th at Home against Bracken under the lights at 7:00 p.m., then Varsity will open their season with a scrimmage on the 18th at home against St. Gerard.

Please refer to Safe Return Plan on our school website for information regarding how we will operate our home athletic events for spectators and what the protocols will be. We are all looking forward to a great fall sports season!
 
We are currently working on a streaming option for the spectators who will not get the chance to see the games in person. Also for admissions ticketing, we are looking at a couple of cashless options including the use of credit card or pre-sale options. We will send out a letter with more information on this matter.

Booster Club
The Booster Club is looking for new members and officers. You can review their information sheet and click here to become a member. For membership information as well as officer positions, contact Coach Vidal at dvidal@atonementonline.com or Brian Schott at btschott1@gmail.com. Watch the next issue of the newsletter for a schedule of upcoming events.
KING'S FAIR IS COMING!
YARD SIGN SALE -- AND DRAWING

You have through the weekend to send in photos of your child(ren) with your Crusader Family yard sign! To enter the drawing, send in your yard sign photos to Ms. Nieto at anieto@atonementonline.com. You may of course use a sign you purchased last year, but please do use a current photo for your entry. We will have a drawing for a $50 gift card as well as a "swag bag": a gym bag with two coffee cups, a water bottle, a Christmas ornament, and a few other Atonement Academy branded items.
SAVE THE DATE: THE BIG GIVE IS SEPTEMBER 10

The Atonement Academy will once again participate in the Big Give on September 10, 2020. COVID-19 impacted our campus security fundraising efforts in the spring, and this year, our Big Give donations will be designated for campus security equipment. We have had a generous donor launch our efforts in advance of The Big Give with a $1,000 challenge gift toward our $15,000 goal!
FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: MARIA KENNEDY

What do you currently teach, and what do you enjoy about it?
This is my 14th year teaching at The Atonement Academy. Can it really be? My first six years here were spent in second grade. I absolutely loved teaching cursive handwriting and preparing my students for the reception of the sacraments. In 2013, I was asked to join the administrative team as the middle school administrator. Some of my fondest memories come from the time I spent with our high-spirited middle scholars. I enjoyed capturing their day-to-day life on campus, including after school clubs, gym nights, assemblies, Crusader Week activities, and preparing them for academic competitions! In 2017, I made my way back to second grade and, alas, Ancient Egypt! Last year I took on a new adventure as our first grade teacher.  As I moved into this new position, I couldn’t help but remember that over 30 years ago I started my teaching career in first grade! Even with the challenges of traditional and remote learning happening this year, the joys of teaching children to read and write are without a doubt most rewarding to me.

What do you most appreciate about teaching at The Atonement Academy?
I will never forget the first time I stepped on campus. It was August 2004 and I was desperately searching for the perfect Catholic school for my children. We had just moved up from Guadalajara, Mexico. After a few leads, I arrived at the front of the school (at that time, the entrance near the playground) to meet the Headmaster, Dr. Hollingshead. To my surprise he handed me the Scope and Sequence, with a curriculum I had always dreamed of. And with his convincing words of a classical education and the offering of daily Mass, who could ask for more? That was just the beginning! All four of my children graduated from The Atonement Academy and all four attended the University of Dallas. Other things that I greatly appreciate about The Atonement Academy are the deep rooted traditions and the beauty and order that surrounds us. I am blessed knowing that I am in a place where I can best serve the Lord!

What would you like to share about yourself? 
I am truly a tomboy at heart. As a child I compared myself to Caddie in the story Caddie Woodlawn. Caddie loved the outdoors. She was a real adventurer and would rather hunt than bake. Growing up, I loved hunting and fishing with my brothers and my father. I loved being outside and only came in to eat. I was also very athletic and my favorite sport was baseball. I was, in fact, the first girl to play on my hometown Little League team.  
Photo above: Mrs. Kennedy with her youngest daughter, Maire and her grandchildren, Colleen and Patrick.

Also pictured are her children and grandchildren (L-R): Maire, Sean, Anne (with Patrick), and Bridget (holding Colleen).
ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: JUSTIN GARDNER

I graduated from The Atonement Academy in 2013. I spent a year at the University of Texas in Austin, then I transferred to Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) where I earned Associate of Science in Computer Science degree and graduated with Honors. Currently I am a senior at the United States Coast Guard Academy. My major is Management. 

When I consider my accomplishments since The Atonement, I suppose graduating from Coast Guard bootcamp counts! My career path post-Atonement is as follows: one year at UT Austin, two years at NVCC, nine months enlisted in the United States Coast Guard, and almost three and a half years at the United States Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. While I was enlisted, I served on the Fast Response Cutter CGC ISAAC MAYO (WPC 1112) in Key West, Florida.

My special Atonement memories would probably be good times chilling on the back patio during lunch with my classmates, choir competitions with the Chorale (junior year) and Honors Choir (senior year) in which we earned 1st place at TSMEA... and Allyssa Logsdon's birthday party and barbecue by a river out in the country! 

My leisure activities include bowling, reading, billiards, gaming, PC building, and going out to eat and have fun with friends.
ACCELERATED READING AND STAR TESTING

According to Renaissance, the company that creates The Accelerated Reader System and our reading and math assessments, more than one-third of U.S. schools use their programs to accelerate learning for millions of students. (Note: the assessments, Star Reading and Star Math, should in no way be confused with public education's annual high-stakes STAAR testing.)

The Star Reading assessment we use provides all the insights needed to guide literacy growth for emergent readers, struggling readers, English learners, and high achievers. From skills data for day-to-day instruction to year-over-year growth, Star Reading helps educators accelerate learning for all. 

With Star Math, one test provides essential insights to help all students get on track for math success: which students are struggling, the specific skills and sub skills they’re struggling with, and resources and practice activities to remedy those skill gaps. Plus, Star Math tracks progress over time--throughout the school year and from grade to grade--as students respond to instructions and intervention. 

Our librarian, Mrs. Wendtland, adds insight to the use of The Accelerated Reading Program:

"Atonement Academy scholars participate in the Renaissance Accelerated Reader(AR)Tracking Monitoring System. AR is a progress monitoring system that helps a teacher track and manage student’s independent reading practice. Students will have an opportunity to pick a book at their own level and read it. When the student has finished, they will take a short quiz on the computer on campus or at home. AR gives students, teachers, and parents feedback based on the quiz results, which the teacher then uses to help students set goals and direct ongoing reading practice.

Students’ individual point goals will be assigned based on STAR test results during the first quarter. The assigned AR  points equate to “practice”. Although practice is valued and will still be a percentage of the reading grade, comprehension is also a focal point, along with monitoring the level of books the students are reading. Note: parents may discuss increasing of the point goal with the teacher. The point goal may not be decreased.

The AR program is closely linked with the STAR Reading assessments the students will take every quarter during the school year. The STAR Reading assessments help the teacher to monitor annual reading progress along with the daily records kept in the students’ reading logs for younger students. Please view the link below to monitor your child’s reading and comprehension levels. Teachers will monitor “which” books the students will be allowed to check out based on their ZPD. Students spend time in class and at home reading their AR books. (According to research, 20 minutes a day show the greatest gains.) Reading at home with your child is a very important component to the AR program.

There are many things you can do at home to help your child become a better reader. Read with your child. Start a home library. Ask questions about the books your child has read. When you make learning a family affair, there is no limit to the success your child can achieve."

2020 PLATINUM SEAL OF TRANSPARENCY EARNED

The Atonement Academy has earned a Platinum Seal of Transparency from Guidestar, a nationally recognized database of information about nonprofit organizations. The seal is a tangible way to demonstrate The Atonement Academy’s commitment to transparency and build confidence among potential supporters. Why is this important? The Platinum Seal of Transparency now appears on The Atonement Academy’s Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar because we have publicly shared important information about what we do. The Seal helps us tell our complete story, which in turn gives donors a meaningful way to understand the work and mission of The Atonement Academy. Recent research indicates that transparency has a tangible benefit: as a group, organizations that earned a Guidestar Seal received 53 percent more in contributions than nonprofits that had not earned Seals.
SCENES ON CAMPUS

Our big event this past week was the annual Upper School Tea. Since 2004, upper scholars are welcomed to The Atonement Academy Upper School with this event. This year, our seniors joined Mrs. Trevino to serve the new upper scholars their hot tea, pastries, and a wide array of other treats. Available faculty and administrators as well as our pastor, Fr. Mark Lewis, joined in the afternoon gathering in the St. John Paul II Library.

In other scenes, our youngest Crusaders participate in Holy Mass. In addition, Mrs. Lenahan shared a couple of photos and this description: "My Drama students have been learning about good vocal technique, including using pitch and tone to create different character voices. To demonstrate their work, one of my classes was able to visit Mrs. Kennedy's first grade and read stories to the younger students."
VIRTUAL OLA CHOIRS

Today, on the feast of St. Gregory the Great, members of the parish choirs of Our Lady of The Atonement released a special performance of the motet Ubi Caritas by 21st-century Norwegian composer, Ola Gjeilo. Singers recorded their individual part at home, then the parts were combined together to produce OLA’s first-ever virtual choir recording. Directed by parish music director Dr. Jennifer Seighman, most of the choristers in this performance are Atonement Academy alumni, faculty, and students You may click here to listen to their remarkable performance.
SOCIAL MEDIA INFORMATION

Join us on social media! Even if you are not one to post your personal activity, it IS a vehicle for information and engagement with our school!

FACEBOOK is an online social media and networking platform that uses the written word, photos, and videos to communicate with the world.

The Atonement Academy page is our public page. Anyone with an account can see the information here, so it is great for getting information out to the public and advertising our school to interested families. "Like" us on Facebook and ask your friends to do so as well! It can be a great venue for us to share all the good news about our school community! The page is managed by school representatives.

Atonement Exchange is a private group. Participation is limited to currently enrolled families and graduates of our upper school. A series of qualifying questions must be answered before a person is allowed to join the group, and at the beginning of each school year, the group is updated with our current families. It is a great private forum for our Atonement community to exchange information, books, uniforms, photos of school sports and events, and parent formation ideas. Posts to the Exchange are managed by school personnel.NOTE: There is still time to advertise and trade or sell your gently used textbooks and uniforms on the Exchange!

Atonement Sports is a public page that is managed by our department of athletics. School sporting events and photos are promoted on this page. "Like" the page on Facebook to follow sports-related information and activities.

INSTAGRAM is an online, worldwide photo/visuals platform.
Our account is found under theatonementacademy and is managed by school personnel. It provides visual content similar to what is found on The Atonement's Facebook public page.
The Atonement Academy, founded in 1994, is a PreK through 12th grade Catholic, classical school. It is the parish school of Our Lady of The Atonement Catholic Church, one of the founding parishes of the Personal Ordinariate of The Chair of St. Peter, established by Pope Benedict XVI and located in Houston TX.