St. Brigid Second Grader Earns Spot on LEGOLAND Creative Crew

image003PORTLAND—St. Brigid School second grader Sam Poulin from Scarborough doesn’t have to wait until he’s older to be an engineer. At the age of seven, he already works for LEGO.
 
Sam is one of only twelve students, selected out of 123 applicants from Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, to be named as a member of the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston Creative Crew. He is the only student from Maine to have been chosen.
 
To apply, children, aged five to ten, had to answer the question, “How does LEGO inspire you?”
David Gilmore of the LEGOLAND Discovery Center told Mainely Media that “Sam’s imagination was evident in his submission video, which featured him showing a robot he built with LEGO bricks and a LEGO pizza shop/restaurant, complete with a working conveyor belt to cook the pies.”
Sam will assist Master Model Builder Megan Quigley in various tasks, including building and testing new models, attending special events, serving as a “junior ambassador” and being the first to test new rides and games. The Creative Crew will also serve as a “kid panel” to share tips about building models and how to get the top score on rides at the center.
“We looked for children who not only had great building skills, but used their imagination and showed creativity in their build,” said Quigley. “This is my first time choosing a Creative Crew so I’m really excited to work with this new team throughout the year.”
Sam will participate in an induction ceremony at the Discovery Center on Sunday, June 5.
– Dave Guthro, Communications Director, Diocese of Portland
Photo credit: Mainely Media

Saint Brigid School Students Excel at MATHCOUNTS Competition

On Saturday, January 30th, eight Saint Brigid School students competed in the Western Maine Chapter MATHCOUNTS competition held at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.  The MATHCOUNTS Competition Series is a national middle school coaching and competitive mathematics program that promotes mathematics achievement through a series of fun and engaging “bee” style contests.  

The students representing Saint Brigid were the top finishers in their school competition among 40 middle school students earlier this month.  MATHCOUNTS competitions consist of the individual Sprint and Target rounds, a Team round, and finally the head to head Countdown round.  Questions come from a broad range of topics including Algebra, Geometry, Probability, Statistics, and Number Theory.  Students earn points both individually and as a teams by correctly answering as many questions as they can.

At USM, the Saint Brigid team was matched up against other top middle school math students from around Western Maine. Their preparation and hard work paid off with a 4th place finish that qualifies them to compete in the state level competition in March with an opportunity to advance to nationals.  This is the second year in a row that Saint Brigid students have advanced to the state MATHCOUNTS competition.

Sisters of Mercy visit St. Brigid School

Two Sisters of Mercy visited St. Brigid School last Wednesday to speak about the history of their order, and their acts of mercy and charity over the last three centuries.

Sister Rosemary and Sister Mary Miller are both former teachers at our school.

IMG_0585The Sisters told students about some of the history of our building, including the 16 years it was used as a combination church and school prior to the construction of St. Joseph’s Church. They also spoke about Catherine McAuley, who founded the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland. The order arrived in Maine in 1860 to teach, visit the sick and poor, and work in hospitals. They also opened schools, homes for the elderly, and orphanages.

“How can you be open to helping other people?” asked Sister Mary Miller of one group. She encouraged students to think about how it feels to do things for others, and perhaps consider a religious vocation as one future possibility.

Today, the Sisters are present on every continent except Antarctica. Consistently focused on helping those in need, the Sisters of Mercy are always ready to serve both God and humankind. We are grateful that they are able to visit us and share their mission with the children.

St. Brigid Seventh Grader to Compete in National Skating Championships

Seventh grader Julia Curran will skate this Saturday in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. She and her partner, Franz-Peter Jerosch, placed second in the Eastern sectionals back in November. The pair was recently featured on the front page of the Portland Press Herald. You can read that article and learn more about the championships by clicking here. WGME’s website also has a video of the performers.

Good luck, Julia and Franz-Peter!

St. Brigid Students in Portland Walk to Wayside Food Programs with Donations for Many in Need

kindergarten service projectOn Thursday morning, December 17, an inspired group of 32 kindergarteners, carrying backpacks and bags full of food, walked from St. Brigid Catholic School on Stevens Avenue to Wayside Food Programs on Walton Street. A half-mile journey on a rainy morning was not a deterrent for this group of determined children, who probably don’t yet realize that they are serving as instruments of mercy for others.

“You are helping so many people today by bringing this food,” said Don Morrison, the operations manager at Wayside, upon their arrival. “Great job!”

One by one, the children brought their bags and backpacks to a wall of boxes, each labeled for different food items, and carefully placed their donations inside the appropriate box.

“That was my favorite part!” said kindergartener Addie O’Brien. “Sorting the food so people get help.”

After each food item had been delivered, Morrison brought the students, teachers, and parent chaperones on a tour of the facility, showing them how the massive operation works and even bringing them into the kitchen for a special cupcake treat. The students listened intently and asked questions about how the food gets to the people in need, developing an understanding for how caring people in the community can make a real difference in the lives of many.

“They don’t really understand when they donate the food where it is going. So this is really nice that they can come, sort the food, tour the building, and see people working. It makes it meaningful to them,” said Jennifer Culpovich, a kindergarten teacher at St. Brigid. “It helps them realize that the food they brought will be sent out to people who need it. Similarly, after sending cards to the residents of Park Danforth, we visit the elderly so that they see the people who they are helping.”

image029In the last year, Wayside Food Programs has served more than 28,000 community meals and distributed over a million pounds of food. In January, the entire student body at St. Brigid will participate in a service project to benefit Wayside’s “Healthy Snacks” program, which provides healthy snacks to hungry children at several Portland community policing centers.

St. Brigid’s efforts at Wayside come in the Holy Year of Mercy (December 8, 2015, to November 20, 2016), declared by Pope Francis. The Holy Year of Mercy is an invitation for all believers to live faith more fully by seeking ways to reflect God’s love and mercy, both received and given. Giving mercy is accomplished through living out the corporal works of mercy, including to feed the hungry.

By Dave Guthro, Communications Director, Diocese of Portland

Second graders celebrate All Saints’ Day

IMG_0232On the morning of Friday, October 16, the air was abuzz with excitement as St. Brigid School second graders prepared to give brief presentations about the saints to the school community during Mass. This annual tradition combines religion, visual arts, and literacy.

Organized by second grade teachers Nancy Ouellette and Stacy Webster, the pageant of saints is a popular event each year for students and parents alike. Each child, dressed in an often elaborate costume representing their saint, gave the listeners information about the person and what they did to attain sainthood. All of the kids did a great job, and we are very proud of them!

St. Brigid Students Learn About Firefighters and EMTs

IMG_0131On October 13, students in the lower grades at St. Brigid School had the unique opportunity to examine fire trucks and other emergency vehicles. Members of Portland Fire & Rescue parked ambulances and fire trucks in the back parking lot. The children got to climb in and around the vehicles, as well as speak to personnel and ask questions.

Even students in the upper grades couldn’t help but be impressed, crowding around the windows so they could see what was going on. No matter where you were standing on campus, the demonstration of the fire truck’s ladder was impossible to miss. It towered over the IMG_0150school building.

The event was a wonderful hands-on way for the kids to learn about safety. Seeing this equipment up close can demystify it for young children, and helps them to recognize the role firefighters and EMTs play in helping the community. Several children expressed a desire to work in these fields when they grow up, too!

An Interview With New Principal Bill Burke

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

I was born and raised in Portland. I attended local public schools from grades K-8 and completed my secondary education at Cheverus High School. In 1982 I enrolled at USM and earned a Bachelors degree in History. Twenty five years later I earned my Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from USM in 2008.

My first teaching job brought me to Lisbon High School in Lisbon Falls Maine for nine years. I accepted a job at Cheverus High School in 1996 and during my tenure there I taught History, served as College Advisor for two years, served as Academic Vice-Principal for seven years and as interim principal for one year.

What drew you to a career in education?

I was drawn to a career in education due to the fact that many of my family members were teachers and I saw an opportunity to serve others as I had been served. I distinctly remember meeting with my 8th grade guidance counselor and telling her that I wanted to be a teacher. I never wavered from the desire to work in a school. Little did I know that Catholic School would be such a large part of my life.

What kind of school culture or climate do you plan to promote?

The type of school culture and climate I plan to promote is one where all students have the opportunity to explore and to develop their God given talents in an environment centered on faith. Recognizing and celebrating that each student has a story and gifts to share with the entire school community is something that will make St. Brigid School a place where students can grow spiritually, academically ,and emotionally within a Catholic context.

How do you measure student success?

Student success is measured both socially and academically. The formation of each student is something in which we need to take a long view. It is so easy to fall into measuring success based on a grade report or the results of an exam. These measurements are important in terms of mastering content and skills but we must understand that students grow and reach social and academic milestones at different rates. A lot can happen from PreK through grade 8. This is why I am a proponent of the long view when it comes to measuring success.

What are your top priorities for your first year at St. Brigid?

My top priorities this school year are to get to know the school, its students, staff and families. The people are what makes St. Brigid’s a special place to learn and to grow as a faith community of learners. Other priorities include developing a timeline for a complete review of the school curriculum; engaging in a review of school procedures; supporting a culture of teacher professional development; and promoting the value of a St. Brigid education to the larger community.

You’re coming to us from Cheverus—can you tell us how St. Brigid students are perceived by the staff there? Are they prepared for high school?

Yes, St. Brigid students are prepared for high school. Cheverus High School is blessed with students from all over southern Maine who are well prepared for the high school experience. My experience as Academic Vice-Principal at Cheverus allowed me to see the St. Brigid advantage in terms of preparation for high school. Theology, a real academic course, is not foreign to them; St. Brigid students are accustomed to the serious amount of meaningful homework they receive as ninth graders; they are used to wearing a uniform; they understand what it means to diagram a sentence; and they are very respectful.

How would you describe your leadership style?

My leadership style can best be summed up in one word: Servant. The opportunity to support my students and their teachers is the greatest use of my time and energy. I tend to keep my eye on that prize.

What has been something about our school community that has impressed you?​

I have been most impressed with the positive energy which flows through the school community. The students and teachers love to celebrate what they do and the energy which comes from this celebration is contagious.

What has been something about our school community that has surprised you?

I have been directly involved with St. Brigid School for the past six years as a member of the school board so I am not totally new to the school community. The biggest surprise for me has been learning about the structure of the school day. Elementary and middle school students and their teachers work a very busy schedule.
What excites you the most about being here?

I am most excited to use the skills I have to support the students, teachers, and the mission of St. Brigid School. The opportunity that I have to witness a student grow from the age of three through the eighth grade is something that I am looking forward to watching.
What’s the most important thing we should know about you?

The most important thing that you should know about me is that I want what is best for the students of St. Brigid School. Sometimes deciding what is best involves difficult decisions,​ but at the end of the day it is about doing what is in the best interest of the students.

A Bountiful Harvest

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Grade 4 has harvested a garden full of cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. Students then helped Mrs. DiRocco prepare cole slaw, which was later made available both as free samples for everyone, and an item on the salad bar. Our potato crop was small, but we are pleased with our first effort. The students were amazed to see each potato emerge as they searched through the soil!

– Mary Ellen White, third grade teacher