Hi Parents,

This was a short week, but despite that the kids still got a lot done. They used their interview facts this afternoon to start writing a portion of their Legacy Project biography. Writing about each part of their relative’s life while it’s fresh in their mind is helpful. They can always go back and add to a particular part of the story as they discover more.

One of the things I asked the students to do was to think about one of the hardships their relative went through. They should think about what was happening in the world, nationally, or locally that led to that hardship and then explain the historical context. Once done with that, they can tell how their relative overcame the hardship and how they were changed by it. This is just an example of how they can elaborate and tell the complete story. Context is so very important to any story.

By now, the kids should have their family tree completed and checked off along with their interview questions and interview completion sheet. By next Friday they will need to have a completed family crest (they can design their own, if there isn’t an official one), and bring the notes they’ve taken so far to show what progress they’ve made. This is not a project that can be completed last minute, so please be sure they are putting time in at home on this.

Fr. Moore finished his lessons on morality and began his unit on the sacraments this week. He introduced the different types of sacraments (initiation, healing, and vocation) and let the kids ask preliminary questions about them. These questions were a great way to satisfy their initial curiosity. Fr. Moore will spend the remainder of the year covering the sacraments in depth.

In U.S. history, we learned about the War of 1812. We will have a discussion next week about whether the war was beneficial or harmful to us. This may lead to a more generalized discussion about wars and whether, in the end, they are helpful or harmful.

In language arts class we finished our adverbs unit and will test next Tuesday. We also began another Latin lesson. We should be on track to finish the Latin book by the end of the year – at least, that is my goal.

In literature we finished reading act 2 of “Romeo and Juliet” and discussed what was going on and how Romeo felt when he fell madly in love with Juliet “at first sight”. We ran out of time, but it would be interesting to see how many eighth graders believe in love at first sight. (The right answer is: they shouldn’t know anything about love yet because they are WAY too young!)

There is a possibility that we will walk to Bellingham High School next Thursday to see a preview of their musical “The Sound of Music”. I haven’t heard back from their director yet, but please note that I may be sending a walking field trip permission slip home on Monday with a quick turnaround time.

Have a great weekend!



Dear Parents,

We celebrated Valentine’s Day with treats provided by the kids. They decided what they wanted to do for this special day. The boys broke off into their own group and played poker, and the girls played a rousing game of charades (and never the twain shall meet). 

Speaking of valentines, we continue reading “Romeo and Juliet” and are learning about a variety of literary devices such as irony, puns, and foreshadowing. The language in this play is difficult to understand, so I told the kids that they are welcome to look up translations or summaries of each act online using such sites as Spark Notes or Lit Charts, but they are still expected to read the actual play. Please remind your child that two book reports are due on the last school day of the month (turning them in earlier is always appreciated), and a reading log is due (signed by a parent) each Monday.

In language arts, we began our adverbs unit and learned that adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. They tell howwhenwhere, and to what extent (how much). These last are called intensifiers (e.g. They spoke very quickly.) We learned how to form adverbs, where they should be placed in a sentence, and how to use them to compare two or more actions. We also finished a Latin lesson and tested today.

In religion we started learning about how the Roman Empire had two different centers: one in the west (Rome), and one in the east (Constantinople). Because these two centers were surrounded by different cultures, the Church started to develop different styles of liturgy. We will dive deeper into these differences next week. We took some time to learn how to speak up or start a movement when we see bullying. We had a frank discussion about why kids don’t speak up. I reminded them that we have a duty to stop others from getting hurt (physically or emotionally),if we can do it safely. Remember that what we don’t confront, we condone.

We have been learning about the early presidents and about the two-party system in our U.S. history class. The kids have been having debates in class and have been doing a variety of other activities such as “jigsaw” and “four corners” to break up the monotony of book learning. They seem to enjoy this movement and variation.

Your child should now be gathering information about their relative for the Legacy Project. As I have said before, they may keep their information in any format they choose. I recommended that they have a document started and divided into different life eras (birth, early life, marriage, etc.) so that they can add notes to those sections. Then they can use the notes that are right there to start writing up the narrative for each section. Next Friday they will need to bring in their Interview Completion Sheet so that I know they have completed at least one interview to gather facts. If they do multiple interviews (and many will), I do not need completion sheets for those. Next Friday I will also explain some helpful ways to keep notes. I will also look at some samples of family crests, since both those deadlines are coming soon (fact check-in and family crest both due Friday, March 1).

This is a reminder that your final payment for World Strides is due on Feb. 21st. At this point, we have 15 students going on the trip and two adults (me and Pete Lockhart). I’d love to have one more adult along with us, if possible, so that our ratio is 1:5, so if you are considering coming along, please make that decision soon. If you decide to come along after the 21st, you may have to be on the waiting list as World Strides will start making flight arrangements for us.

Have a great, long weekend!



Dear Parents,

I hope you had time to look at your child’s report card that came home in the Wednesday envelope yesterday. If you are concerned about performance in a particular class, the best person to ask first is your child. Kids at this age are aware of how they are doing and, most often, why. An honest talk with them and a home support plan can often make a huge difference. Of course, do ask me if you have questions your child can’t answer.

In language arts class we began a new Latin lesson and also a short unit on another type of modifier – the adverb. We will learn about the function of adverbs, what questions they answer, and how to use them effectively to improve our writing. The kids turned in their essays about Lord of the Flies and wrote about whether Golding was stating that humans are basically good or evil. We went over some of the challenges the kids had in their writing and how they might improve. Of course, like any writer, they may re-write to improve their essay (and their grade).

We began our Shakespeare unit by reading the prologue and first two scenes of “Romeo and Juliet”. We learned about Shakespearian language and about the characteristics of a sonnet. The kids were surprised that Shakespeare gave a summary of his play in his fourteen-line prologue, but I assured them that it was not too much of a spoiler. I told them that they may use online resources like “SparkNotes” or “Lit Charts” to help them understand the play, but they may not use those as a substitute for actually reading the play. Please remind your child that he/she is to read 250 pages each week and record the reading on a reading log, due Monday. They also continue to have two book reports per month, due the last school day of the month.

During religion time we learned about the environmental factors that lead to bullying. Some kids said that bullying “is just a part of life.” I was surprised by this, especially as we have spent so much time in history class learning that if you don’t like the state of things (especially injustices), you’ve got to call for a (hopefully peaceful) revolution. Bullying is something that should incense the kids and have them calling for a stop to it. We will continue our discussions about bullying. Any support you wish to give from home is always appreciated, even if simply a discussion around the dinner table about bullying and the peer pressure to engage in it.

We began our next history unit that focuses on early U.S. presidents and the challenges they faced in leading our young nation. We have been participating in debates in class, the most recent being a debate to defend either the Federalist Party or the Democratic Republican Party. The kids seem to enjoy this form of synthesis of their learning. We started to assign roles so that each person has something to be responsible for in preparing for the debate, and this has led to greater participation.

The kids turned in their Legacy Project interview questions today. They should now be using these questions to interview family members and relatives to find out as much as they can about their relative (the subject of their research). Do have them look at the next deadline – the interview completion – on their due dates list as some were caught off guard by the interview questions due today and had to scramble to write some good interview questions.

Have a great, sunny weekend!



February 2, 2024

Dear Parents,

We made it through the first semester! Your kids should feel proud of what they have accomplished. As we begin the second semester, the kids and you should notice that I have “taken off the training wheels” and will be giving fewer reminders about missing work. I want the kids to be responsible for checking their grades and keeping up with their work on their own. If their bike crashes and they skin their knees once or twice in the coming semester, this is the safest place it could happen – before they get to high school. I hope you support nurturing responsibility.

With only three days of school this week, and those punctuated with assemblies to celebrate Catholic Schools Week, we got through only a few key lessons. We finished reading Lord of the Flies last week and I introduced our essay topic: Based upon your reading of the novel, do you think the author is implying that humans are basically good or evil? To get our thoughts flowing, we started with a debate in class. The kids chose sides and took notes during the debate so that they might use any good ideas they heard in their essays. I provided a template (outline) so the kids could organize their ideas and be sure they had all the parts of a good essay. They then had four class periods to finish the essay. I will be grading these this weekend. The kids know that they can revise their essay based upon my feedback to improve their writing and grade. The only thing I will not allow them to correct for a better grade is their conventions (spelling, punctuation, capitals, and grammar), since I did the correcting for them.

Today we spent time talking about how to break up a large project like the Legacy Project into manageable sections. We talked about what stages of life/categories people would like to find out about and came up with: Birth, location (describe place, time period), Parents (brief history), siblings, Stories of childhood (What was life like where/when they were growing up?), Education/school life, Historical context during different periods of life, Interests/hobbies, Marriage/children/family life, Career, Extended family, coming to U.S. (how/why did that happen in history?), Your relationship with that person (if any), Celebrations/struggles, Inspirations/Dreams, Family traditions, Faith, Death

I had the kids make a Word document with these categories listed. As they find information about these different categories, they can write notes (bullet points are fine) in the section where they belong. Once they have enough information for a section, they can type it up into a narrative format. Having the categories already listed on the paper reminds them which areas of their relative’s life they still need to research. Of course, they may add categories, if they think of different ones.

I have checked the family trees for the Legacy Project and have noted who the kids are researching. If your child begins researching and then realizes there just isn’t enough information to put together an in-depth biography, please let me know right away so that they have time to change who they research.

The next due date is next Friday, February 9th, when they will need to turn in the Interview Questions sheet. This sheet asks them to come up with some helpful questions to ask about their relative, so that they can gather as much information as possible about them. Good luck and thank you for guiding your child and keeping him/her on track!

Have a great weekend,


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