Archive for November, 2011

Dear St. Francis families,

I hope that you enjoyed a joyous Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends.  As we begin our Advent journey may we always remember that Jesus is the reason for this blessed season.  May we prepare well for His rebirth in our hearts.

Family life can be hectic any time of year so I am grateful to the parents who were able to carve out time in their busy schedules to attend our recent parent meeting.  The purpose of the November 17 parent meeting was to provide an overview of St. Francis’ financial position.  Here’s a recap of the main points from my presentation:

  • St. Francis’ financial position is sound.  Because of excellent planning and fiscal management St. Francis has a strong financial base and the school is blessed to have no property or facility debt.
  • St. Francis is self-funded.  The school receives no financial support from the Diocese or from the parishes.
  • The schools operational budget affords an exceptional educational experience for our students, providing:

◦                      Strong academic, spiritual, and extra-curricular programs.

◦                      Experienced, dedicated and talented teachers.

◦                      Small class sizes (average class size = 20).

◦                      Significant opportunities for parent participation.

◦                      Supportive and nurturing faith based community.

◦                      Exceptional facilities.

  • The Statement of Financial Position reflects a deficit due to not hitting enrollment target.
  • The Statement of Operations through October 31 shows monthly operating expenses and revenues running according to plan.
  • St. Francis tuition is just above the Diocesan average (+1%) and compares very favorably to local private school tuition rates.
  • After years of exceptional growth, the school has experienced a five-year period of declining enrollment.
  • The tri-parish communities account for 93.5% of this year’s enrollment.
  • The St. Francis student population is 98.3% Catholic.
  • 80% of St. Francis students live in Yorba Linda and Anaheim.  Corona zip codes represent the next largest group of SFA families.
  • 13% of St. Francis families are currently receiving financial assistance.  This number has grown significantly over the last five years.
  • The tri-parish communities contribute the large majority of funds used for tuition assistance.
  • As we prepare to assure St. Francis continued success, I hope you agree that together we can:

◦                      Expand enrollment.  Parent recommendations are powerful

◦                      Elevate fund raising revenues. Support fund raising activities

◦                      Encourage parent participation. Support school activities

◦                      Raise our profile at the tri-parishes. Show your SFA pride at weekly mass and at parish activities.

◦                      Build our brand. St. Francis provides an exceptional academic and extra-curricular faith based education.

◦                      Take pride in our school community. Our students display amazing talent and personality. SFA graduates excel at the finest Catholic high schools in Orange County.

◦                      Empower our school community. Take action.

As I reflect on my 1st trimester with the SFA community, I hope that I’ve had the opportunity to positively connect with each of you. I encourage and challenge all members of the SFA community (parents, faculty, and staff) to focus on growing enrollment and enriching the SFA experience. This is not accomplished by a small group of parents or staff, or by a committee. This must be a school-wide initiative. If I may be so bold, I ask that we allow our minds to believe what our hearts already know about the possibilities for St. Francis of Assisi School.

Christmas blessings to you and your family.

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My time at St. Francis has been great but last week was an especially good week. Here’s why. First, I had the privilege of formally visiting seven classrooms. In addition to great planning and lesion delivery I saw great passion for teaching.  Included in the lessons were elements of creative and critical thinking, role-playing and demonstrations, individual and group activities, inquiry based questions and hands on direct experience. High tech SMART boards were utilized and good old-fashioned low-tech tools such as plastic chips, paper number lines, student white boards, and dice were incorporated into well-designed lessons that were both educational and fun.  Students were actively engaged and excited about learning. We are blessed with a great staff that cares deeply about the growth and development of your children.

I also had the opportunity to visit with 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students who participated in outdoor education activities. Last week the 8th grade students attended a three-day, two night science camp, the 7th grade students visited the Ocean Institute in Dana Point for an overnight field trip, and the 6th grade students spent the day learning about marine life at Crystal Cove. These hands-on experiential field trips complement their classroom course work and stimulate interest in subject matter that may impact a college major and future career path.  Thank you to the teachers who planned and lead the fieldtrips – Mrs. Painter, Mrs. Cooper, Mrs. Watanabe, and Mr. Fernando, and thank you to the parent chaperones who attended the fieldtrips to ensure a safe and fun time for all – Mr. Kenney, Mr. Orin, Mr. Vallejos, Mr. Weber, Mrs. Flati, Mr. Hester, Mr. Toomey, Mr. Jarvis, Mrs. Asciak, and Mr. Millspaugh. 

Lastly, the St. Francis Faith Formation Ministry hosted a gathering to honor St. Francis parents for the sacrifices they make to provide their children with a Catholic education. The evening’s guest speaker, Lynn Campbell, a St. Francis alumni parent, spoke convincingly about the impact of Catholic education on the lives of our children. The parent of a St. Francis and Rosary alumnus, Lynn’s perspective is based on her daughter’s 12-year experience attending Catholic schools. As a Catholic school educator, I felt very proud of our work and reassured about the value of a Catholic education. Considering the many challenges parents face in order to send their children to St. Francis, the choice to educate our kids at a Catholic school was validated. Thank you Lynn, Susan Holbrook, Debra Orrin, Patty Weller, and Judy Moallem for an inspiring evening.

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On November 1, All Saints Day, third grade students shared their knowledge of a favorite saint with parents, grandparents and one another. Dressed as the saint, each student told a favorite story or recalled something important about a saint they love or a new saint they have learned about this school year. The morning was festive, joyful and a great reminder to all in attendance of the communion of saints who guide us each day. Thank you to the parents of 3A and 3B for providing treats and drinks for the fellowship after the saint reports were given. This activity culminated in the students’ participation in the all school Mass at Santa Clara de Asis Church. The students demonstrated their understanding of the teachings of the Catholic faith by their participation in this wonderful day.

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Each month, St. Francis teachers recognize one student in their classroom who embodies the behavior of our school’s namesake, St. Francis.  Congratulations to October’s winners of this prestigious award.

KA – Sarah Q

KB – Lorena S 

1A – Maya D

1B – Thomas P

2A – Paul G

2B – Rachel H

3A – Dominic L

3B – Alexis L

4A – Emma G

4B – Lucas K 

5A – Grace M

5B – Brian A

6A – Mikayla C

6B – Cristin C

7A – Michael V

7B – Gene F

8A – Alexander H

8B  – Haley G

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In addition to planning, grading and delivering curriculum, classroom teachers also spend quality time attending to administrative tasks and participating in professional growth activities. Teaching is a dynamic profession.  Therefore, good teachers are always looking for opportunities to become more effective educators. As individual teachers and as a school St. Francis has been conducting an internal audit of school programs and processes. This audit, known as the WCEA/WASC accreditation review, is exhaustive and time consuming but extremely worthwhile. St. Francis teachers and administrators have been busy this fall preparing the WCEA/WASC report. The report is scheduled to be completed in January in advance of the team visit in late March.

Last Friday, November 4, St. Francis teachers joined hundreds of Catholic school educators at Serra Catholic School for the annual Diocesan in-service. The keynote speaker addressed the audience on an educational initiative designed to improve instruction and promote achievement. In addition to work on the WCEA/WASC report and growing professionally, St. Francis teachers regularly attend in-school meetings, before and after school and at lunch, to address the specific educational needs of individual students. Our teachers work hard to be effective educators for every student. As principal I appreciate the great effort by our teachers to provide an excellent educational experience for our students. I also appreciate parent support for our educational mission. Your countless contributions of time, energy, and resources are greatly appreciated. Together, we form the village that nurtures and educates our children.

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Ghosts and goblins, super heroes and villains, princesses and cowboys descended on the St. Francis campus on October 27 as students, parents and staff gathered to celebrate the third annual Tricks, Treats and Tacos.  There were treats for students dressed in Halloween costumes; plenty of good food, and tables filled with bake sale goodies.  This was truly not the place to be if you were counting calories but it was a great place for wonderful picture opportunities and memorable moments that will last a lifetime.  There were also a number of St. Francis alumni in attendance sharing ‘scary’ stories about high school.

Thanks and congratulations go to the 8th grade students and their teachers Ann Cooper and M’Liss Painter for hosting the event. The 8th grade parents provided the creative talent and muscle needed to transform the St. Clare Center and the courtyard into a Halloween themed playground.  The 8th grade fundraiser was a huge success on all fronts – the kids had a great time, parents enjoyed a fun evening with the family and the 8th grade raised money for their year-end activities.  Thank you to everyone who contributed to this entertaining St. Francis tradition.

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The 2012 SFA Auction Co-Chairs, Rosana Medina and Jennifer Bush, are pleased to announce that this years 14th Annual Auction Gala will be held at Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim on Saturday, February 4, 2012. Tickets to this auction dinner dance will include:

  • A welcoming reception
  • Silent Auction Tables
  • A delicious sit-down dinner (appetizers, salad, entrée, wine, a delectable dessert and coffee)
  • A live auction of valuable items including priceless front row seats at Graduation, SFA Street sign, Club 33 access, weekend getaways, tickets to premier sporting events, etc.
  • Dancing Amidst the clouds and stars

Tickets are $75 per person. Tables seat 10. All current Parents of SFA students, SFA faculty and staff, board members and prior attendees are invited. Alums, friends of SFA, former parents, grandparents and anyone else who would like to attend this year’s Auction are welcomed as well. Please email Tawna Khamo, Reservations Chair at for more information.

The Following Sponsorship/Naming Opportunities are Available

·  Promotion/Publicity $1,000

·  Printed Brochure $1,000

·  Cigar Bar Sponsor $1,000

·  Table Sponsor $1,000

·  Auctioneer Sponsor $1000

·  Faculty/Priest Table Sponsor $750

·  Entertainment Sponsor $750


·  Dinner Wine Sponsor $500·  Invitations Sponsor $500·  Decorations Sponsor $500·  Reception Music Sponsor $500

·  Linen Sponsor $250

·  Hors d`oeuvre Tray Sponsors $150

*All sponsors will be recognized

We are also always looking for new and creative donations such as the use of condos, timeshares, vacation homes, sporting event tickets, themed dinner parties, and restaurant gift certificates, a wine tasting or brunch, gift baskets, etc. We also would love items such as an iPod, a kindle, GPS system, a digital camera with a printer and/or a blackberry. If you would like to donate, please fill out a Donation Form or Sponsorship Form and return to the school office.  Please use the Donation Letter to request donations from businesses you frequent.

For more information regarding tickets, donations or sponsorship opportunities, go to SFA website or contact Jennifer Bush at or Rosanna Medina at

Thank you in advance for your help. We look forward to seeing you at the auction on February 4.

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