***Special Note on Enrichment Opportunity***

Dear Families,

The Summer Regional Governor’s School at the MathScience Innovation Center offers a summer program for gifted students currently enrolled in grades 6-8. It is supported by the state of Virginia and the school boards of the MathScience Innovation Center’s consortium school divisions and therefore free to all students chosen for the program. Please see the below link for more information.

Thank you,

Sheila Olesen

Saint Mary’s Enrichment Teacher



Language and Literature- Mr. Schaefer



6th Grade Literature and Vocab–  Lois Lowry is fascinating the sixth grade with the world she has created in her novel The Giver.   This novel will challenge the students to examine what freedoms they think are necessary to our existence.  I love the discussion that occurs during our novel study.

 7th Grade Literature and Vocab–  The seventh grade has been taken back to Amsterdam in the 1940s .  We will be witnessing how Anne Frank copes with having to hide away from Nazis while trying to come to grips with many of the problems that face teens.  We will be reading Anne Frank:  Diary of a Young Girl for the next month and a half.

 8th Grade Grammar and Vocab–  Our unit in grammar takes on the wide topic of punctuation.  We are hopefully closing out some questions on when to use quotation marks, apostrophes, commas, etc.  The next unit we will cover will be on pronouns.

Language and Literature- Mr. Maddock

6th grade Grammar and Writing– The kids have finished the unit on Adjectives and Adverbs.  For the next few weeks we’ll be looking at some mechanics of writing, including capitalization and punctuation.  Many will need to get a good night’s sleep and then eat something nutritious for breakfast (steel-cut oatmeal, kale smoothie, chia pudding and fruit, etc.) before attempting to use semi-colons for the first time!  They will also begin working on another dumb ol’ paper, as they eloquently put it.

7th grade Grammar and Writing

The 7th grade is moving on from their Persuasive speeches and will start reviewing (at least for those who have been paying attention over the past several years of school) proper punctuation.  The kids will take a stab at writing a profile of someone or something, complete with close observation and direct quotations.  You might try being particularly colorful and interesting, at least when they’re around.

8th grade Literature and Language

We’re about to board the Hispaniola and make for Treasure Island so if your 8th grader starts talking like a pirate it only means he or she is paying attention. We will be paying close attention to character development in this novel, and also noting the vast number of the book’s gestures that have been adopted and extended within the popular culture. Aaarrrgghh!

Science- Mr. Short


6th grade:

6th grade is working on the science fair which is due in a little over a month. They are also working on a “wanted” poster of an extinct animal. In class they will be learning about major organ systems in complex animals.

7th grade:

7th grade has begun working on Chemistry. They will be learning about Chemistry for the rest of the year.

8th grade:

8th grade is learning about plate tectonics and will be leaning about changes in the earth throughout its history. They are also working on the science fair or the teaching assignment alternative. This is due in a little over a month.


Language Acquisition- Madame Rooks


French 6:  We enjoyed a wonderful mardi gras king cake last week, courtesy of the Harenchars.  We even watched Emeril Lagasse prepare a traditional king cake.  It was tremendous fun and ties in perfectly to our unit on professions and foods.  We are studying vocabulary and culture for these themes right now, with special consideration to how our food gets “from the farm to the table” and how “everything is connected.”  This is the IB Global Context called, “Globalization and Sustainability”.   The students have been inspired to try all sorts of new foods and are planning to… surprise… well, you’ll have to wait and see how this turns out.  It’s a surprise, after all! After we conclude this unit, we will begin to talk about health and body parts in French.

French 7:  Oh là là!  Just look at what we’ve been up to!  We are studying “a day in the life of” a French student as compared to an American student.  We are learning how to conjugate new verbs and say so many interesting things.  We are considering what connects us to the rest of the world, what makes us part of the global community.  That’s the IB Global Context, “Globalization and Sustainability”.  We plan to celebrate mardi gras on Tuesday!

7th grade beret

8th Grade:  Voyager!  To travel is a wonderful thing.  Even if it is virtually.  We are learning to make our way around the airport in French and everything we need to know about air and train travel.  We are studying the cultures of French speaking countries.  We are paying special attention to the IB Global Context, “Globalization and Sustainability” to consider the similarities and differences between the United States of America and many different French speaking countries.  We plan to celebrate mardi gras on Tuesday!  Your students are doing a great job of speaking mostly French in class.

8th grade french

Mme Rooks

Language Acquisition- Senora Thompson


6th grade– We have started to work in our Spanish I High School credit unit.  The students will be learning vocabulary that will be able to use the vocabulary make sentences and even write paragraph.  6th grade will also be introduced to conjugating verbs in Spanish.  The students should have fun with this unit since they will be able to talk about themselves.

7th grade– We are into our food unit and we are ready to do some tasting.  This unit is packed with vocabulary so make sure they are reviewing vocabulary daily.  They are now learning verb conjugating for “er” & “ir” verbs.  Some of the 7th grade students need to stay focused and talk in Spanish, it’s very important for their participation grade.  They will lose points for talking in English.

8th grade–  We have started Unit 9 where we get to talk about Summer and Winter activities.  We are also learning to conjugate verbs in the preterite tense.  The level of work they are in now is High School level II work.  They need to stay focused and talk in Spanish as much as possible.  Next year they will be entering classes where very little English (if any at all) will be spoken.

For 7th and 8th grade classes–  We need to start preparing for the National Spanish Exam which will take place in March.  I will be staying after school some Wednesdays and Thursdays in February and March from 3-4 for extra practice.  Please check the school calendar for those dates and I will also post the dates in my classroom.

¡Hasta luego!



The middle school students are very fortunate to have a valuable resource available to them.  The Math Lab is open on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons in the Math classroom from dismissal until 4:00 pm.  Mrs. Dyer is encouraging all students to take advantage of this opportunity.  Parish volunteers have agreed to work with any middle school student who would like extra help with Math.  Please encourage your child to stop in whenever they feel the need!  Get help with homework, prepare for an upcoming quiz or test, catch up on work from an absence, conquer a concept that is a challenge, or make up an assignment to earn back homework points.  A St. Mary’s graduate, a former St. Mary’s mom and a St. Mary’s granddad are here to help

Math- Mrs. Schiavo


Ratio, Proportion and Percents are the topics that we are currently exploring.  I think this has been the most challenging unit so far this year.  We have dealt with proportions, scale drawings, indirect measurement, predictions and money.  Note in this unit most of the assigned homework problems involved computational skills.  To help with the students’ critical thinking skills, we have been working on the word problems as a group in class.  After a practice test, the students will be tested on this chapter the early part of next week.

Algebra 1

We have been working on extending our study of exponents and graphing all sorts of functions.  Most recently, we were introduced to exponential functions.  There is a big difference in these functions as the variable is now in the power rather than the base.  Exponential functions were fun and there were plenty of exciting applications.  One of my students commented on why she likes exponential functions – “my vocabulary is now increased to include the word exponential.”  We are wrapping up this unit on exponents and exponential functions.   There will be a test next week on Chapter 7.

 Math-  Mrs. Dyer

Middle school math classes have survived the Blizzard 2016 and continue to move along.  Our most exciting news is that all middle school math classes taught by Mrs. Dyer and Mrs. Schaivo will participate in a Math League Contest on Tuesday, February 23rd.  Each student will take their grade’s contest with the other students in their grade.  The contests will be proctored by Mrs. Dyer and Mrs. Schaivo and will consist of a 30-minute multiple-choice test.   The questions may involve any topic appropriate to the grade level of the contest.

A certificate of merit will be awarded to the highest scoring student on each contest for grades 6, 7 and 8 in our school.  Additional awards may be awarded to individual students and the school.  All middle school students will participate in the contest, so everyone has a chance to shine!  More details to come!!!


6th Grade:

The students have spent time researching the delegates of the Constitutional Convention and will begin work on a play about this pivotal event in our nation’s history. They will perform this play to the fourth grade classes within the next week or two. Then the students will do an in-depth study of the Constitution before exploring the administration of George Washington.

7th Grade:

After taking a test on the Great Depression and the New Deal early next week, the 7th grade students will begin a detailed study of World War II. I am working on a field trip to the Virginia War Memorial and the Virginia Holocaust Museum in the March timeframe. Once the details are finalized, the information will be sent home with the students.

8th Grade:

The students get the chance to show off their knowledge of ancient Rome on a test late next week before they begin a look at the World of Islam from 600-1500 AD. From there it is time to explore early African civilizations.

Religion- Mrs. Slifka

13136991231259024590Mary Mother of Jesus.svg.med


  • All grades:  I have found a lot of links for prayer journals that I think many of our kids would like. Kinda like the Jesus Journal that we do—you can also get ideas of stuff to do in our  Jesus Journal if your child doesn’t know what to add to it.


Rice Bowls- We are in a competition with other Schools in Richmond in raising Rice Bowl money.  These are going home soon/now.  We are also asking kids to continue to give at mass to the Sisters of the Poor.  Here is a website for recipes and ideas in helping your children understand why we practice almsgiving.  Please donate through Saint Mary’s rather than on the site so that our children can participate in a more hands on way.  I will be showing some of the videos from their webpage- see the stories of hope tab at the top and the reflections, if interested.  (using in class- but it cannot hurt to see it again at home). http://www.crsricebowl.org/stories-of-hope/week-3


  • We are studying the Prophets in class.  Each student has been assigned to a small group to study one book in the Old Testament- and to then create a poster.  We are creating visual presentations like poster.



  • We are studying the bible and focused on how God helps us see with Love in class.  Each student has been assigned to a small group to create an infomercial or presentation on how they can take this scripture and put our God Goggles on


8th: Vocabulary review and exploring the councils and the early church.  We have also been getting silent in adoration and guided meditations.  We also have explored the year of Mercy through excerpts from Matthew Kelly’s Beautiful Mercy-  starting off with an article from Cardinal Donald Wuerl on the Sisters of the Poor.

Please take a look at our 6th graders working on the Prophets:


and a few 7th graders working on using “God Goggles” so that we can see with God’s perspective rather than our own:  https://www.facebook.com/jeanne.slifka/videos/10209025635427452/?l=7082854266617167388

Design- Ms. Oliver


6th grade – Students are learning  how to be  responsible digital citizens. Students are learning about internet safety, netiquette, secure passwords, cyberbullying, copyright laws, digital identity.

7th grade– Students are leaning that creative computing is about creativity. Many young people with access to computers participate as consumers, rather than designers or creators. Creative computing supports the development of personal connections to computing, by drawing upon creativity, imagination, and interests. Students are creating a PC game at school using Scratch.

8th grade– Students will be working on their community projects during technology class.

PE- Coach Spicer


The 6th-8th grade students have recently completed their soccer unit.

The 6th grade students just finished their soccer unit test, and will be starting their floor hockey unit this week.

The 7th grade students have just begun working on their skills in floor hockey, including stick/puck handling and passing, and receiving passes.

The 8th grade students have worked on their skills in a game-like setting.  Rules have been reviewed, so they understand the nature of the sport.

Art- Mrs. Dunham

artist brush

6th Grade Religious Art

Sixth grade students have been working on visually expressing a Bible verse of their choice on a pennant shaped large paper.  These will be strung together and hung in the school.

7th Grade Art

Seventh graders are getting back into the swing of weekly art homework and remembering to bring their hardbound process journals to art each week.  They are working on thumbnail drawings of bicycles for their upcoming silhouette painting.