News from The Atonement Academy --- Vol. 2020-2021 No.20, December 10, 2020
"Love is never wasted, for its value does not rest upon reciprocity." ~ C.S. Lewis

Advent is a penitential season in the Catholic Church, and as such, we are called to be mindful in our preparations for the commemoration of Christ's birth: happy that He was sent to redeem us but aware of our unworthiness as well. The love we show others at this time can help us prepare "in joyful hope, for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ" (from the conclusion of The Lord's Prayer in Catholic liturgy).

Opportunities to show love for others abound at The Atonement Academy and are included in this newsletter. Our National Honor Society collected food for the Food Bank and now they are conducting a toy drive for the children at St.Peter-St. Joseph Children's Home. Our youngest scholars in the Lower School are participating in the annual "Chores for Charity" event to benefit the parish's St. Vincent de Paul Society. And the Angel Tree in the library as well as the laying of wreaths at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery are other ways to share Christ's love with others.

Dear Academy Families,

Thank you to all who remembered me in their prayers last week. My precautionary quarantine was punctuated by an unambiguous “negative” on Sunday. It has been good to be back.

There are signs all around us of Advent excitement for the coming of our Savior (and for coming of the two-week holiday scheduled in honor of his birth!). Last week, Saint Nicholas visited the Lower School; this week, students from all levels will help prepare our hearts for Christmas through music; finally, next week, Middle and Upper scholars will enjoy an Advent ritual that is somewhat less-celebrated, despite its proven ability to provoke anticipation—semester exams!

Looking ahead to January and the spring semester, Father Lewis and Father Jenkins will be available for only one school Mass per day. We will continue to hold Mass at 9:00 a.m., but there will no longer be a 12:50 p.m. school Mass. This will prompt the following adjustments:

1) For the first week of the spring semester (January 4th-8th), only PreK-5th scholars will attend the 9:00 a.m. Mass. They will sit in their normal seats. Though it is optional, parents of 6th-12th graders are encouraged to bring their older scholars early in order to join parishioners for the 7:00 a.m. Mass for this week.

2) If we do not see any signs of a possible outbreak during our first week back, we will plan to transition to an all-school Mass the second week of the semester, beginning Monday, January 11th. We will accomplish this safely by a) maintaining a “buffer” pew between each grade-level cohort, b) utilizing the narthex, both cry rooms, and the choir loft for student seating.

3) This will mean that during the first week of the semester (January 4th-8th), Middle and Upper scholars should bring their rosary, bible, journal (optional), and a volume of spiritual reading for use in their classrooms during their normal Mass period. (This might be a nice excuse to buy your teenager The Imitation of ChristThe Seven Storey Mountain, or The Way for Christmas…)

4) As you might have anticipated, the change of Mass time will have an effect on the Lower School academic schedule. We are working this out and plan to publish an update prior to the break.

Even in more normal times, we take seriously the trust you place in us to educate your children and keep them safe. In times like these we are humbled by it. If you have any questions or concerns about this adjustment to our Safe Return Plan, please do not hesitate to contact me or Dr. Tovar (

Keep moving. Let us continue to pray for one another. 

Our Lady of The Atonement—pray for us!

Your servant,

Matthew David Watson
Head of School

Safe Return Plan. 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.

December 10
Christmas Concerts
-Middle School, 7:00 p.m. in the Church
-Upper School, 8:00 p.m. in the Church

December 13
Nine Lessons and Carols, 6:30 p.m.

December 15
Last day for Second Quarter Accelerated Reader Testing

December 15-18
Half Days and Mid-Term Exams (See box below)

December 16
Please note that After-School Care will be held in the Common Room. Please enter through the front doors.

December 18
The school office will close at 1:30 p.m.

January 1
Re-enrollment Begins

January 4
Second Semester Begins

Always check our school website for updates and details.

-1st semester exams will take place over four days, Tuesday, December 15th through Friday, December 18th.
-Students need only be on campus to sit for their exams. However, students must arrive by the beginning of the designated exam period and may not leave until the end of that period. Parents of students who do not have a second exam may pick them up from a special exam-day car-line at 9:50 a.m. 

- If students do not have an exam during one of the designated exam periods but need to be on campus, St. Anthony Hall will be available for independent silent study. 

-Remote students will also need to take their exams on campus. The Common Room has been reserved as the designated space where remote students will take all of their exams.
-Parents of students who are able to sign themselves out must provide written or email permission to Mrs. Johnston prior to 8:00 a.m. the day the student is leaving. 

-Due to the half-day exam schedule, the usual 9:00 a.m. Mass will be reserved for the Lower School. Middle and Upper Scholars are encouraged to go to the church’s daily 7:00 a.m. Mass. 
-After-school care will be available but only until 3:30 p.m. Therefore, if you intend to use after-school care on these half-days please arrange to have your child picked up from St. Anthony Hall no later than 3:30 p.m.


-December 15th – 18th are half days to accommodate Middle and Upper School exams. Despite being half days, classes for Lower school will otherwise continue, so please be sure your child attends school on these days. As the semester does not end until Friday, December 18th, teachers will still be taking grades and advancing your child's education as they put the finishing touches on your child's hard work this semester.
-Additionally, our accrediting body requires students to be in attendance 90% of all school days (all but 18 days). Because the half days next week count as a full-day attendance under our accreditation guidelines, a student absent on next week's half days will be counted absent for a full day.
-Lunches for Lower School will occur as usual. Please send your child with a lunch or place a lunch order through our catering service.
-Lower School Mass will be at 9:00 a.m. instead of 12:50 p.m.  
-Pickup for the Lower School on these days will be at 12:15 p.m., separate from Upper School pickup which will occur at 12:30 p.m. Unless you have an Upper Scholar, please be prepared to pick up your child in the regular Lower School carline at 12:15 p.m.
-After-school care will be available, but only until 3:30 p.m. Therefore, if you intend to use after-school care on these half days please arrange to have your child picked up from St. Anthony Hall no later than 3:30 p.m.

Electing Remote Learning for the Third Quarter 
We have asked families to renew their choice to continue (or elect to participate in) Remote Learning on a quarterly basis. Please email Mrs. Powell ( by Friday, December 11th if you wish to continue Remote Learning for the third quarter.

Please consult Remote Learning FAQs here if you have any questions about the process.

Sacred Music has been a hallmark of an education at The Atonement Academy since its beginnings over 25 years ago. Although concert preparation and execution can be daunting during these times of COVID-19, our music faculty has risen to the challenges presented!

Our first concerts of the Our Lower School concerts Wednesday were a great success, and we appreciate blessing of good weather that allowed our events to take place in the piazza. (See more photos later in this newsletter.)

This evening we will have our final two school concerts featuring our Middle School and our Upper School choirs. The links below will allow you to access both of tonight’s concert livestreams. Please share with friends and family members who cannot attend.
7th - 8th Grade Christmas Concert 7:00 p.m., 
9th - 12th Grade Christmas Concert, 8:00 p.m.,

Please note that our parish is sponsoring a lovely afternoon of music this coming Sunday, our traditional "Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols," in the Church at 6:30 p.m. Please join us!

As a way to celebrate the advent season, we place an "Angel Tree" so that our families may consider a donation of an inspiring reading resource to our students. This Advent season, the tree has been placed in our school library.

If your child arrives home with an angel, be assured you are under no obligation to purchase a book. The angels are a suggestion only. If you would like to donate a book that pertains to our Catholic faith, moral virtues, saint biographies, and do on, please take a suggestion angel or drop off a donation you think may benefit our scholars (with content appropriate for Catholic young people). Please ensure all donations are in new or "like new" condition. 

The donations may be placed in our curbside drop box located at the front entrance of the school. We ask that all book donations are made by January 29, 2021.
Thank you from the students and faculty of The Atonement Academy.

On December 19th at 12:00 p.m., Wreaths Across America and AHG TX0814 along with many other volunteers will be at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery to remember and honor our veterans through the laying of remembrance wreaths on the graves of our country's fallen heroes and the act of saying aloud the name of each and every veteran.
If you purchased a wreath to lay on your own, please stop by the representative station located at the front of the cemetery (at Harry Wurzbach) to collect your wreath.

Last Friday the drawing for tuition credits was held at 4:15 p.m. Five winning numbers were drawn from the envelopes purchased from our King's Fair "Wall of Money."

The following five entries were drawn:
Jean Clute
Chelsea Sanchez
Chelsea Sanchez
Miguel Arizmendi
Amelia Nieto

Each winning number represented a $1,000 tuition credit for next year, and winners without children enrolled at the school may donate the credit to a specific scholar or contribute it to the scholarship fund. Congratulations, and thank you for your loyal support of our school.

There's one more week left in the annual "Chores for Charity" in the Lower School. The Lower School Advent service project is a tangible way for our younger scholars to perform acts of sacrifice and show love for others.

Students take on additional chores as a way to earn money to help those in need. Pictured here is second grader Parker Fisher raking leaves and the Zilli children, Giulia and Philip, preparing food.

We hope you will take advantage once again of this wonderful service project and guide your child to make the sacrifice of doing chores to earn money for children who really need our help. Families directly served by this parish's St. Vincent de Paul Society will benefit from your child’s sacrifice and love.


As the Admissions Director and Registrar for The Atonement Academy, I enjoy meeting new families and sharing information about our amazing school. I began working here part-time, then quickly wound up as a full-time member of the staff.

For the past four years, I have been the registrar while fulfilling other campus responsibilities as needed. I began assisting with tours of our school, and in doing so, I found my niche! For two years now, I have also been the admissions director.

I look forward in assisting our current and new families through the enrollment process. It is so rewarding to tell others about our school, and share this amazing place with all who come in and inquire about us. I also love that I can attend daily Mass.

I was raised in Ciudad Juarez, in Chihuahua, Mexico. When I was 23, I moved to El Paso, Texas. I have worked for Catholic schools for over 20 years--I started as a volunteer mom, then took a few classes and was hired as a paraprofessional for first and second grades. My husband Michael and I have been married for 31 years, and we have a son who is 30 and a daughter who is 24. We moved to San Antonio a little over four years ago, and we love discovering all that the city has to offer.
Photos include Mrs. Joiner with her husband Michael and their children, Mike and Megan.

Please don't forget to make your contributions to the Faculty and Staff Christmas effort by Friday, December 11th.
Katherine Cerda Named to TAPPS All-Tournament Team

Congratulations to Crusader Junior Katie Cerda! She earned a coveted spot on the district's All-Tournament Team. Congratulations, Katie! We are very proud of you!
Second graders Evelyn and Matthew write creative Advent sentences using a given format, and second graders also are pictured enjoying lunch in the courtyard. Kindergarteners enjoyed cookies baked by Mrs. Fitzgerald, and Cami with her lamb's ears waits to join the concert. First grade remote learner Michael as well as a trio of second graders participated in St. Nicholas Day activities. Mr. Mataya's Latin II students were very creative with their assignment for funerary inscriptions. With the assignment, the upper scholars learned the importance of remembering the dead in both Ancient Roman and modern Christian contexts. Third grader Annabelle Le caught a barracuda that is longer than she is tall! In other photos, Lower School Christmas concerts on Wednesday enjoyed terrific weather and provided wonderful music for the Advent season. Our Atonement community welcomes Lyla Jo Elizabeth Vidal--and celebrates her arrival with parents Julia and Dakotah Vidal. Lastly, Chessmaster Mr. Mataya is depicted with our House Chess Tournament winner, Matthew Petroff of House #4.
Coach Hallmark will be hosting a winter camp over the break to get kids moving over the break and geared up for the spring season. The camp is open to the public and will be held December 28th -30th from 9:00 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. at The Atonement Academy.

Boys and girls will work on all aspects of the game with UTSA Roadrunner coaches and players to prepare them for the upcoming season. They will also have a great time competing each day in game situations!

Crusaders participating in the camp will receive a $25 discount.

-TUTOR AVAILABLE. Faith Weems, 11th grade. Mathematics through Algebra I, Latin I, and all MS Science. Contact via email at to set up.

-TUTOR AVAILABLE. Hannah John, 9th grade. Can do all subjects in all grades. Contact via text at 210-831-7277. Tutor through Zoom only.

-SCHOOL PHOTOS NEEDED. The Yearbook Club is in need of your photos. Please send photos to Mrs. Powell at, and thank you in advance.

-NEED TUTORS. Are your MS or US scholars interested in tutoring other Crusaders? If so, you may submit the following information to the newsletter to be included on a listing: tutor name, subjects, and contact details. Please note that all arrangements must be made parent-to-parent and no on-campus facilities are available. NOTE: Contact information will be omitted from newsletters published

Submit your school-related notices to Mrs. Havel at mhavel@atonementonline by Wednesday noon before anticipated publication.
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.