Newsletter - March 2017 Newsletter

  • What we're up to!


    March is a very busy month at St. Mark’s.  Please review the “Dates to Remember” sheet that was sent home in a school wide email.  There are a number of school, HSA and Holy Name activities taking place.

    Father Joe will be at school on Ash Wednesday, March 1st, for the Imposition of Ashes to all students and staff as we begin the Lenten Season.  Due to the continued renovations taking place in the church, the School Mass scheduled for that day had to be postponed.

    The 25th week of the school year concludes on Thursday, March 9th.  The 25th Week Progress Report will be distributed to students the following week.  Please make sure you review this report carefully as it indicates your child’s progress in school from weeks 20 through 25.  As always, if your child is doing well, please continue to reinforce the practices that are ensuring success.  If your child is not where you want him or her to be, stress the importance of studying, completing homework and finishing class assignments.  

    St. Patrick’s Day is this month and our Holy Name will be involved in the parade and other activities at school.  Please be on the lookout for their Lent Fish fry calendar, which was emailed and is posted on the Website.

    The New York State ELA Assessments will begin the last week of the month for students in grades 3 through 8.  Our staff and students have worked hard to be ready for assessments and we go into the assessment season confident that our students are well prepared.

    It will be nice to have longer days of sunlight coming this month with end of winter and the return of Daylight Savings Time!

    Home School Association

     We are so excited to announce that this year our Easter Candy Fundraiser will be from Watson's Chocolates. Be on the lookout for information coming home this week. This is a great way to work off your Family Commitment, continue to help fund HSA Events for your children, and get your Easter candy. Thank you to the Watson family for your continued support of SMK and providing the best chocolate in Buffalo!


    On March 9th, HSA will be hosting a Skating Night for Grades 6 - 8 at the Rainbow Roller Rink. Spots are limited, so please RSVP soon. More information is available on the SMK School Website.  

    HSA is hosting a movie day on March 10th at 11:00 a.m. at North Park Theater to view E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Flyers will be coming home, and more information is available on the SMK School Website. You don't want to miss this fun-filled family event!

    I would like to thank all of our volunteers who have continued to support our events at the school. These special events could not be possible without parent volunteers. We are always looking for parents to get involved, so please consider coming to the next HSA meeting on March 16th at 6:30 p.m. in the school cafeteria. We are always looking for new ideas and more parents to get involved. We hope to see you there.


    Happy March! The Kindergarten students had a fantastic Valentine’s Day and 100th Day of School celebration.  We engaged in various activities such as presenting our posters and collections of 100 items, and sharing special cards and treats.

    Wednesday, March 1st is Ash Wednesday, and the start of Lent. During this church season, we are focusing on fasting, praying, and giving alms. Each day, we discuss good deeds we can perform and ways that we can grow in God’s love.  As we continue to pray together and carry out those good deeds, our hearts will be full of love when Easter arrives!

    On Thursday, March 30th the Kindergarten classes will be participating in a Sight Word-a-Thon to raise money for Catholic Charities.  More information is forthcoming on this fundraiser.  Keep up the great work practicing your rainbow words!

    We are looking forward to a fun and successful third quarter.  Have a great month!

    Grade 1

    We are hopeful that all our students had a wonderful week off with their families.  We are back to work in 1st grade and doing lots of wonderful things. In Math, we are continuing to use addition and subtraction to solve 2 digit problems.  We will learn and use multiple strategies to solve the problems.  We will encourage our students to solve the problems using whichever strategy is best for them. In Reading, we will focus on using the comprehension strategies we have been learning to think more deeply about a text or passage. We will encourage our students to try and use the reading strategies more independently as well. Our students will also be asked to respond to what they read as well. In Religion, we are going to focus our attention on the blessed religious season of Lent. We look forward to participating in our Ash Wednesday mass and to discussing this beautiful religious season as a class. May God bless our students and their families during this time.

    Grade 2

    We hope everyone had a wonderful winter break! It is hard to believe we are over halfway through our school year together! Congratulations to all who celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Monday, February 27th. It was a wonderful ceremony!  The March book report was handed out before break and will be due on Wednesday, March 1st. In Science we have concluded our unit on dinosaurs. We enjoyed hearing one another’s dinosaur presentations. In Social Studies, we have completed our study on Black History. Our next unit of study will be on economics.  Each class will be raising money for Catholic Charities. The second grade classes will be “jumping for joy.” The students will be asking for sponsors to donate money based on how many times they can jump rope in one minute.  Watch for the donation sheet to come home soon! Mrs. O’Neill’s students please send in the basic box of eight Crayola crayons for your child. Mrs. Klinck’s class is in need of pencils and tissues. Any donations would be appreciated! 

    Grade 3

    It is a very busy time in both 3rd grade classes! We are all working hard, and having fun while we do it! We are now in the 3rd quarter and students are working hard to maintain their awesome grades, or are making goals to boost their grades a bit more. 

    In math, we are finishing Module 4 which is all about finding the area of figures. Students are continuing to work on mastering their basic facts. Please remember to get on and to continue practicing what we are learning in class. Next up.... FRACTIONS! :)

    In reading and ELA, we are continuing to analyze different genres, literature, and non-fiction texts. We are acting like detectives to find clues in the passages to include details and evidence from the text to support our answers. We are also working on writing longer extended repose essays that demonstrate what we have learned about passages to answer questions with evidence in neat, organized paragraphs. 

    In Social Studies, students are learning about how to be good citizens. In Science, students are learning about earth and weather. 

    In religion, we are learning about passages from the Bible, and how God is holy and always with us. We are also going to be preparing to make our First Holy Communion in the spring. 

    Keep up the hard work, 3rd grade! We are so proud of you!

    Grade 4

    We hope everyone had an enjoyable February break! We were able to take a field trip this month to the Buffalo Philharmonic to sit and listen to music throughout the centuries. The students really enjoyed it!

    Students are continuing to work to their best of the academic abilities and many are seeing the results of their hard work pay off! During Science, students were learning about simple and complex machines. In Social Studies, students finished talking about early colonial life in New York and are looking forward to finally getting to discuss the American Revolution. During Math, students have been becoming familiar with fractions, not only adding and subtracting, but also multiplying fractions by a whole number and mixed numbers. 

    Both fourth grade classes have also completed a fun project during our enrichment time we called, "Text Surgery." Students were able to dress up as a surgeon and dissect pieces of a story about the real life Hindenburg Disaster. They then explained how the text and graphic features they cut out of the story helped them to "diagnose" or understand the story better. It was a hit in both rooms! 

    Grade 5

    Fifth graders shared their knowledge of the human body systems by completing hands on projects (which look AWESOME!) and writing five paragraph essays.  They even got a visit from Dr. DeJac, a St. Mark Alum who practices at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.  Overall, it was a successful learning experience!  We also had a visit from UB Dental so we could learn about ways to keep our teeth healthy.

    5M is proud of John Judge and Alexandra Buchholtz for being Students of the Month for January and Lucy Fortner for being an Art Star!  5B is proud of Amanda Gioia for being Student of the Month and Jack Kane for being an Art Star!  Everyone's hard work has really paid off and we look forward to this continued effort in the third quarter.

    Math has been full of fractions.  We've been adding and subtracting and will soon be multiplying and dividing them.  Games that can be played at home include Common Denominator War and Equivalent Fraction Action. ( Directions were sent home. )  Your students can teach you many other review games, too! 

    The field trip to the Buffalo Philharmonic allowed fifth graders to be excellent role models for the third and fourth grades, along with showing their responsibility outside of school.  We had a great time and learned about different periods of music and art while listening to the BPO's beautiful music.

    Grade 6

    Can it be... Spring is almost here?? Wow! The 6th graders are flying high into the 3rd Quarter!

    For many weeks now we have been working hard on many interesting topics. In Literature, we learned and read about many amazing and courageous people in honor of Black History Month. The students also viewed two educational videos, Ruby Bridges and Finding Buck McHenry. We are so very impressed with their compassion and interest in such an important topic.


    In Social Studies, the 6th graders concluded a wonderful unit on Ancient Greece by competing in the Indoor Classroom Olympics. The boys and girls participated in three events: the High Jump, Discus Throw, and Balloon Relay Race.  Each class brought a lot of energy and demonstrated amazing Olympic spirit! Well done, Olympians! 

    In Math class, the students are learning all about the Order of Operations. Do you recall what P-E-M-D-A-S stands for? The 6th graders sure do! We are looking forward to many more exciting lessons this month, as well as focusing on preparing for the New York State Assessments.

    Save the DateFriday, March 17th is the official date of our Dance-a-thon which will raise money for Catholic Charities.

    7th Grade - Life Science

    Our seventh grade class has been exploring the cell cycle and why cells divide. Students have learned to identify the different stages of mitosis at the microscopic level. We have also discussed when the cell cycle breaks down there is uncontrolled cell division that results in cancer.  The perfect segue to honor Henrietta Lacks during Black History month. Decades ago, Mrs. Lacks's cervical cancer cells were grown in a lab and shared in the scientific community around the world and are still in cancer research today. As much as this sounds like a noble gesture it opens the topic of bioethics in science.

    Our next topic will explore Genetics.  We are looking forward to extracting DNA from strawberries. 

    8th Grade - Physical Science

    Our 8th grade class has worked hard to master all things chemistry related. We have just finished ionic and covalent bonding.  The students have become experts at using the periodic table.  We will begin to experiment with chemical equations, the pH scale and solubility tables.

    As always, we will continue to explore our critical thinking and problem solving skills by completing STREAM challenges. 

    Grades 7 & 8 Social Studies

    The Eighth Grade students have been busy working their way through the Jazz Era. They will be studying the Great Depression, and onto WWII, where there will be an emphasis on how the dictators acquired and expanded their power in Europe. We are discussing how people at home helped with the war effort. The sad truths about the Holocaust and the Japanese internment camps will be discussed in length.

    Seventh Grade Social Studies is learning about the Growth and Expansion of the United States during the early 1800’s. We will be talking about our nation building issues and the concept of state sovereignty. We are working our way to the Civil War.

    Grades 7 & 8 Religion

    Religion 7 - We continue the study of the early ministry of Jesus.  The students have used Chrome Books to do research on the Twelve Apostles and then present the information they found on each.  As we conclude Unit One, our last chapter will review the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation as the Sacraments that call and strengthen us as Disciples of Jesus in our world today.  Included in this chapter will be an in-depth investigation into the steps involved in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (R.C.I.A.), by which adults are initiated into the Catholic Faith.

    Religion 8 - The students have just completed a study of what the Apostles Creed means and have moved into examining what is meant by the four Marks of the Church; that we are One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.  Our study of Unity and Holiness will culminate in viewing and writing an essay on the movie, "The Scarlet and the Black."  This is a true story of a priest, Msgr. Hugh O'Flaherty who was a model of holiness and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit as he aided in the rescue, protection and escape of over 6,500 people during the Nazi occupation of Rome in World War II.  

    Grades 7 & 8 Math

    Both 7th and 8th grade math students have begun their study of geometry.

    7th graders are revisiting their knowledge of proportional relationships learned in Chapter 1 to understand enlarging and reducing objects or drawings to make scale models and drawings. Students are using actual measurements of a room and furniture to create their own scale drawing of a room. Coming up, 7th grade students will be learning how to find the area and circumference of a circle as well as area of other geometric figures including composite figures.

     8th graders spent the past few weeks working on learning the angle relationships formed when two or more parallel lines are cut by a transversal. They are using this information to find missing angle measures by writing and solving equations. They also learned how to find missing interior and exterior angles of a triangle. We are now working on transformations on the coordinate plane including translations, reflections, rotations and dilations. Coming up, they will be learning how to identify what series of transformations occurred, as well as the concepts of similarity and congruence.  


    As of this writing, the Algebra students are half way through a Chapter examining quadratic expressions and equations.  We have mastered how quadratics are formed by multiplying monomials and polynomials using the distributive property and F.O.I.L. method.  The second half of the Chapter will now investigate the reverse process as the students will be given a quadratic expression and asked to restate it as a product of its factors.  The Chapter will culminate in solving and checking quadratic equations by factoring.  Truly, the President's Week Recess will be a well-deserved break for these very hardworking and conscientious students!

    Grades 7 & 8 English/Drama

    Seventh and eighth grade English students spent the week of Martin Luther King Day listening to, reading, and discussing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have A Dream" speech. They then used words from the poem to create their own found poems about civil rights, which they made into collages using meaningful images and pieces of text. They created some truly beautiful work and engaged in meaningful dialogue about civil rights in the United States.

    The seventh graders have recently started reading S.E. Hinton's classic The Outsiders and exploring the concept of identity - who and what shapes and impacts our identities? What are the differences and relationships between internally assigned identities (who we think we are) and externally assigned identities (who others tell us we are)? Students are creating portfolios of writing assignments related to the book, including journal entries, personal reflections, and textual analysis. Students are also spending time doing activities such as acting out scenes from the book and creating character posters.

    The eighth graders just finished up Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, and they did a fantastic job with such a complex text. In addition to a final test, students made creative final projects that included models of places in the book, symbolic artwork, and news programs covering Tom Robinson's trial. 

    After break, both seventh and eighth grade classes will focus on honing their text-based response skills (something we have been practicing all year) to ensure the success I know they can achieve on the ELA state assessments in March. I encourage students to take these, as they promote the same skills of analysis and inference that we stress in class and can only serve as meaningful practice to enhance their skills!

    P.S. - I'm going to email you some pictures too! One will be of 7th graders performing scenes from The Outsiders and another will be of Molly Schultz's To Kill A Mockingbird creative project 


    Mr. Myers would like to thank all the students in grades K-7 for their hard work decorating the school for Open House. Each homeroom has their very own artwork hanging in the halls of the school.

    Kindergarten and first graders learned how rainbows were made and each homeroom created their own giant rainbows as a collaboration. 

    The Second Grade made Henri Matisse style 'Cut-Outs' of the four seasons. Third grade learned about Vincent van Gogh and used radial symmetry to create their own impressionist style flower pots. 

    Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh graders learned about contemporary artist Jen Stark. We used pattern and sequence to create colorful paper sculptures. Each students' work was hung to create an installation that spanned the entire length of the main stairwell! The Fifth graders also learned about Andy Warhol and made four giant Campbell's soup cans.

    Sixth and Seventh grade 'got surreal' and used juxtaposition to create interesting and bizarre art. The sixth graders mimicked Rene Magritte's famous work, False Mirror.  The seventh graders 'got weird' Salvador Dali style with their collage work.  Although some projects must come down, many of them will be hanging up for the rest of the school year. Great Job guys! 

    This month, second and third graders are finishing their Charles Burchfield watercolor units. Fourth graders are learning about Op Art and making optical illusions. Fifth and sixth grades are learning about Street Artist, Keith Haring. Eighth graders, being new to the art room this semester, are training with graphite pencil and value scales.  


    Hello St. Mark families! In music we are continuing to use the keyboard, learning basic keyboarding technique through song performance. Also, our middle school students have made the switch, I had a wonderful final year with the 8th graders and hope they continue to explore and experience music education in their high school careers. Seventh graders are beginning their rhythmic ear training which will then be applied to performance on Solo cups, followed by African hand drums.

    Third grade in now working in minor tonalities on their recorders. We have had a lot of fun in class shifting typically major, bright and sunny sounding songs into minor, dark and rainy sounding songs.

    Our younger students have been using the xylophone to experiment with recreating music from both the traditional and popular genres.


    Hola Padres,

    We learned a variety of new español- and language-related things this febrero! After completing the next unit in their Spanish textbooks, our fourth and fifth graders deviated from the norm with creative and cultural lessons. Our fourth graders have begun to memorize whole paragraphs in Spanish with rhymes, and we practiced our accents with theatrical competitions. Our fifth graders learned about all the different flags in the Spanish-speaking world, and made valentines for one another in español for el día de San Valentín. Our sixth graders have been running experiments about the importance and luxury of language by having their verbal languages taken away with games like gestos, and have learned a little more about the history of European languages by analyzing cognates in the Spanish and English versions of the St. Mark prayer.

    Our seventh graders have been diving deeper into grammar and recently finished a unit on verb conjugation, the differences between verbs like estar, ser, and tener, and rules for adjective-noun agreement. Finally, our eighth graders have been taking a closer look at one of the Spanish-speaking world's most iconic figures, Frida Kahlo, with creative and theatrical projects based on her life and work. 

    ¡Feliz marzo!


    From the SMK library..

    The library has been an exciting place so far in this new year!! We have received many new books, and have many more coming! 

    The kindergartners have started a literacy centers rotation; revolving around reading and writing, also using laptops and the smart board.  First grade has been exploring dialogue and speech bubbles enjoying books by Mo Willems; in addition writing some of their own. Second grade just finished animal research projects during our library sessions.  They have been using print encyclopedias, as well as online resources and nonfiction books. In third grade we have been having literature clubs.  As well as learning dictionary skills using guide words. Fourth grade has been reinforcing ELA skills by reading various types of documents: timelines, tables, charts and passages to learn information by finding key details. Fifth grade has been working on identifying various types of text structures by paying close attention to 'signal' or keywords. Sixth grade spent a month long study on Ruby Bridges, watching a video documenting her first grade year. Many of them gained a deeper understanding of segregation and showed great empathy for her and what she endured. 
    Lastly, many 7th & 8th graders have visited library to exchange books!! Even though they do not have a dedicated session, they are always welcome to come down and borrow from our SMK shelves!!

    Computers and Technology

    First and Foremost, the technology department would like to acknowledge the generous donation from Rheumatology Wellness Care of WNY. Dr. Mary O’Neil has provided our school with its first 3D printer.  Now students are able to transform their digital creations into physical objects.

    Dr. O’Neil joins a long list of parents who donate their time and resources to our program.  We honestly could not provide so many educational options without their help.

    I’d also like to thank Cara Clary from the Department of Homeland Security in Buffalo.  Her office donated 20 desktop computers that will be used to update the computer lab.

    Sixth graders are currently designing a car of the future.  The future designers are using Tinkercad, a free computer aided design program provided by Autodesk.  Students use the 3D modeling program to design a vehicle for our future needs.  I hope to print many of these into models for display. Anyone can check out the tools at for free.

    During March, many students will be competing in the Ninja Math challenge.  The contest runs from the 13th to the 24th.  Students will be challenged by a variety of exciting tasks and problems. Look for details to come home soon.

    Physical Education

    We just finished up playing badminton with grades 3 through 8. We were able to successfully play actual games with all of the grades. Badminton is a very challenging game and i was extremely proud of the students on how great of a job they did. The younger grades started with the basics of holding a (badminton racket) NOT a tennis racket! . We were able to serve over the net on a fairly consistent basis and learned how to hit under and over hand. We also learned how to keep score and our games were very fun and entertaining to watch. The upper grades learned how to do drop shots, lobs, and everyone's favorite , the SMASH!! I feel like this may have been one of my favorite sports to watch the students play this year as it seemed like every student had a great time! With kindergarten and the 1st graders we did have a chance to hold and swing the rackets and focused on just trying to hit the birdies up into the air, it was very basic but fun. We also did a lot of station work this past month which teaches them a lot of different skills. Some of the games or skills we work on are bowling, hula hoop cooperation games, building with objects, high jumping, long jumping, kicking, and balancing, just to name a few.

    We are about halfway through the school year and now hitting our spring sports session. We have started learning about and playing soccer. Kindergarten all the way up to the 8th graders are playing soccer. The primary grades are really working on the fundamentals.  We are learning the correct way to pass, how to dribble the soccer ball, how to shoot, spacing, goalie skills, foundation, throw ins, and passing to a specific spot. We are also learning about the rules of soccer, especially that a handball includes your WHOLE arm, not just your hand. The upper grades are doing the same but there is more focus on advancing our skills quickly. I am really enjoying this year so far and am looking forward to the 2nd half of the year.

    Reading with Mrs. Betzig

    Students are working on using decoding, fluency, and comprehension strategies to promote engagement and comprehension of what they read. During our time together, we read articles, books, and short passages while I model and guide them through practicing these strategies. My goal is to prepare them for independent use of these strategies during their daily reading. Reading just twenty minutes a day gives your child such an advantage! It builds their vocabulary, provides time for them to practice their inferring, visualizing, and summarizing AND allows them to read for enjoyment.  If your child’s reading endurance is not ready for 20 minutes, then read to them for part of the time or read every other page. If your child struggles with wanting to read, maybe they need help finding something they enjoy reading.  If your child needs books at a more appropriate reading level than what you may have at home, email me I would be happy to send a few books home each week or help your child choose a book they would enjoy.  As you can see, 20 minutes can make all the difference! HAPPY READING!




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