January 1, 2018

Quarter Ends Next Week

The end of the second quarter is January 11th.  There is also a special 1:00 early dismissal that day.  There are no afternoon PS classes on the 11th.

Screen Time vs. Book Time?

How much did your students engage in “screen time” over Christmas break?  How much time was spent reading?  Which one is associated with better reading skills and future success in life?  I skimmed through three books and read two cover to cover over break.  One was so simple but bad that I had to finish it!

Let’s push this line of questioning even more.  What math types of activities were done over break?  I did some pricing estimates for shopping and home projects, and my daughter Caitlin and I played a version of multiplication integer War on New Year’s Eve.

Evening School Custodian/Janitor

Please join me in wishing Alan Holland well as he returns to a position at the Arsenal.  He has been a great asset to JFK in his brief time with us.  He and former full-time evening custodian Jeff Edens are helping us out with a few hours each evening, but we are in need of a permanent evening employee.  Primary duties are cleaning and interacting with others accessing the building during evening hours.  2:30-11:00 p.m. school days, and day shift hours when school is not in session, including summer and school breaks.  Abilities to work swiftly and efficiently on one’s feet all shift, lift at least 50 lbs, and operate cleaning equipment are required.  A letter, resume and references can be sent to me at chad.steimle@olvjfkmail.com or an application can be picked up at the school office.

Campus Safety/Security

The campus safety/security committee has had some great discussions, and we have begun to get some cost estimates for several campus improvements.  Below are some highlights of our discussions:

  • Troublesome door that sometimes doesn’t close tight by itself in the heat:  Two new donated doors will be installed beginning on Tuesday.
  • Music room doors are the only doors that don’t lock from the inside:  We ended up even talking to the fire marshal’s office regarding this one as the size/capacity of the room restricts what we can do to the locks and what we could add to the doors/frames.  We think we have a $600 solution, however.
  • Substitute teachers need faster access to the most current information that could be necessary.
  • Cameras:  Quite a bit of time was spent discussing the purpose of cameras.  Can they be a deterrent?  Would they provide an  early warning method?  Can they be used by first responders if there were an event in progress?  How can they be used after something happens?  We determined that exterior cameras would be a first priority over interior, if we had to choose.  We also received our first updated quote for a nine exterior and nine interior system at a cost of about $21,000 plus $2200 per year of licensing.

Most of our conversation at our last meeting kept circling back around to the parking lot, playground, and fencing and how could we better separate play areas from parking areas.  The top idea that we are exploring is how we might create an asphalt play area “out back,” particularly to the south of the existing playground equipment.  Having a play area here would allow us to not use the parking lot for any recesses, move students to an area tucked away behind the building from the apartments, and allow us to fence in all play areas and the entire field much more easily.  With a new asphalt play area in the right place, the ball field and main soccer field would likely be untouched.

Looking at drop off and pick up, the risk from something happening due to someone’s actions near the apartments seems minimal.  In the morning, those who might create trouble have just gone to bed, and the traffic and number of potential witnesses for anything also make the risk low at both drop off and pick up as well.  The biggest danger is, again, kids and cars mixing in the parking lot.  We are exploring different/better barriers instead of cones.  It seems often enough that someone hits a traffic cone because it’s not seen, or someone, usually a grandparent or other person unfamiliar with our routines, does not know what the cones mean.  As I was walking across the parking lot the other day to attend Fr. Meyer’s funeral, for example, an elderly woman didn’t know what to do when she neared a cone so she paused and then drove around it.  We are also looking at ways to supervise things differently, increase the visibility of staff, and other procedures for both drop off and pick up.

The biggest danger we have is a student being hit by a car.  Please be careful when moving about the parking lot.  Patience can also help.  It takes us about seven minutes to clear the parking lot at dismissal time.  Our policies state that parents should escort students in PS-5th grade to and from the “safety area.”

Drop Off Reminder

That reminds me — only buses should be dropping students off on 42nd Street in the morning.  Cars should pull into the parking lot.  Please also allow ample time in the morning.  As the weather deteriorates, more and more families use the drop through lane, and traffic backs up.

Catholic Schools Week Video Contest

John F. Kennedy Catholic School and the other Catholic schools are sponsoring student video contests for Catholic Schools Week.  Prizes include Victory Vouchers (gift cards) and the possibility of the video being on our website and Facebook page.


  • Less than 1 minute in length
  • Supports this year’s CSW theme: “Catholic Schools:  Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.”
  • A video to be used on our website or Facebook page must only include students whose parents have given permission for such posting. (Done at the beginning of each school year.)
  • Multiple videos may be submitted by the same student(s).
  • Video should be on a USB flash drive.

Due Date:  January 11, 2018

Catholic Schools Week

Catholic Schools Week will begin with the 4:30 all school weekend Mass on January 27th.  Mass attendance is expected.  Following Mass, Home & School is sponsoring a spaghetti supper and open house.  More details for all of Catholic Schools Week will be available after January 12th.

Trivia Night for JFK Band

Have you RSVP’d to Mr. Connors yet?  Our band boosters are hosting a trivia night on January 12th at 7:00 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m.  Eight people per table (adults only), $100 per table entry fee.  Feel free to bring your own snacks.  Beverages are available for purchase from the Knights of Columbus.

Christmas Break with Family

I would like to thank all of you who wished my family and me a Merry Christmas.  It was nice to have our four children home for Christmas.  I don’t know if Lynn and I look more forward to having everyone together or our kids do!  Colleen surprised us by arriving a day early.  Of course, the house wasn’t ready yet for company, but she’s family so it was OK!  Then, the next evening, we were together for the induction of Caitlin into the Wall of Fame for academics/athletics at AHS.  (Who would have thought that two of my children would be on the wall for athletics?!)  Tom arrived early, for him, on Christmas Eve.  He made it to our house before we left for Mass; usually he ends up meeting us at church.  Then, it was Christmas Eve at my in-laws.  There’s over 50 of us now gathered there.  Christmas morning had a special breakfast at our house with just immediate family, and several relatives were at our house for Christmas dinner.  I don’t know how I can eat so much, but I always do!  It’s always sad to see Tom leave on Christmas night, but he has his stores to open early on the 26th.  He did make it back on the 28th for an early celebration of my birthday.  Colleen left to return to North Carolina on the 29th and took a pick up truck full of boxes and furniture with her, but I swear it hardly made a dent to everything we have stored at our house.  Kirsten left on the 31st on her way to spend some time in Burlington and Omaha over break.  Caitlin will return to the University of Kansas in about a week, and then it will be all quiet at our house again.