Saint Francis International School Celebrates First Week of Classes

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Hundreds of students, families and staff began the school year at Saint Francis International School in Silver Spring, Maryland this week. After months of renovation, the 56-year old building is now fully equipped for the school year, and teachers and students can enjoy a unique, multi-cultural learning environment.

St. Francis International School

After a spring and summer renovation, Saint Francis International School enthusiastically opened its doors for the 2010-2011 school year.

Students in grades 1-8, joined with families, parents and teachers, met at the Silver Spring location, where the school day began at 7:45 a.m. with a uniting prayer that featured the entire student body holding hands and praying the “Our Father” together. Students spent the rest of the day meeting their teachers, classmates and getting acclimated with the campus. Throughout the day, parents of two, three and four year old children as well as the parents of kindergarten students had orientation meetings with their teachers.

The school day ended each day this week with another prayer and with many students staying for the Saint Francis Extended School Program.

Those in attendance included former students and teachers from Saint Mark the Evangelist and Saint Camillus.

Saint Francis was conceptualized by two local principals, Toby Harkleroad and Matt Russell, of Saint Camillus School in Silver Spring and Saint Mark School in Hyattsville. Both schools, only three miles apart, hosted about 250 students. The principals jumped at the idea of combining the two schools and creating a single campus that would combine resources and talent. With support from the Archdiocese of Washington, this year the joint effort became a reality.

The new community will be adopting two symbols: a red tau cross as the logo, taken from Saint Camillus and the lion as the mascot, taken from Saint Mark. Saint Francis’ school colors will be red and blue, also be taken from Saint Camillus and Saint Mark. Additionally, a new school uniform was chosen, after extensive in-person and online consultation with parents.

The Saint Francis teachers spent the summer preparing for the school’s opening year, dedicating 15 days to professional development. Teachers worked closely with consultants to establish a schoolwide positive behavior intervention system and participated in workshops, detailing methods of effective communication in a multi-cultural environment. These workshops included the Understanding by Design curriculum planning, Step up to Writing composition and Handwriting without Tears methods.

As a multi-cultural Catholic school, Saint Francis is committed to enriching students in a global atmosphere, reinforced by the teachings of the Catholic Church.

The Archdiocese of Washington serves over 28,000 students in 98 schools in the District of Columbia and Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties in Maryland.

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Tobias Harkleroad

Matt Russell
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