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VOL. 3 • SPRING 2014

CARDINAL An Historic Year

by Dr. Michael Pratt, Head of School children from Pio Pico Elementary School in the Adopt-aSchool Program offered through the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point.


ith little more than a month left in this school year, I find myself reflecting with great pride and gratitude on all that has been accomplished. At the same time, I look forward with great anticipation to the many new opportunities our students will experience next year.

Our parents stepped forward throughout the year to organize events that built community and raised much needed funds for the School. From Fall Family Festival, to the Golf Tournament, to the St. John’s Socials, parents had the opportunity to enjoy being a part of our vibrant community. In unprecedented numbers, we came together at the 2014 Gala to celebrate our 25 years and Mr. Lusby’s long and successful tenure. And while we celebrated we set a school record by raising over $350,000. I am truly grateful for the support that will help to make St. John’s an even better school.

This has been a year of celebration and discernment and planning. In September, we celebrated opening our doors twenty-five years ago. Sharing in our celebration of all that the School has accomplished, were dignitaries from the city and county, as well as Bishop Mary Glasspool. To thank the community that has supported us throughout our history, we engaged in 25 Acts of Gratitude. Every project was meaningful and worthwhile, but I was especially struck by three: through Operation Christmas Spirit, our school community provided Christmas gifts to families of Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton; through Soles 4 Souls, a student-generated project, we collected shoes to be sent to Haiti; and our 3rd graders collaborated with

The administration and faculty spent a great deal of time considering the feedback that our parents gave us about ways to enrich our program. With your ideas and philanthropy, next year our students will be able to experience fresh technology, robotics, instrumental music, dance, and Mandarin Chinese, among other engaging activities. We have embarked on our STEAM initiative, and many of you were able to witness our students’ excitement as they built their projects on our inaugural STEAM Day. And those of you who have been to the School lately have had a chance to see our beautiful new Garden Lab, which will provide an outdoor classroom.

This has been an historic year. We have celebrated 25 years of achievement and laid the foundation for another quarter century of excellence. I look forward to continuing the journey with you. n

ACADEMICS/STEAM Inaugural STEAM Day is a Success


t. John’s officially kicked off the new “I thought it was cool that STEAM (Science, Technology, EngineerI could take a cardboard ing, Art, and Mathematics) initiative with box and spark an idea our inaugural STEAM Day on April 28. that could save the Earth” STEAM is a project-based learning approach – Caden Heppy to education that integrates Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics and has been hailed by leading thinkers as the most effective preparation for success in higher education and the workplace. Together, the elements of STEAM enable students to experience “Working together makes cross-curricular learning for a deeper learning more fun. We all understanding of subject matter and alhelped each other and now low students to develop essential skills I know that I can build a for the 21st Century. house.” – Ella Walkey

“We worked a long time on our project and it all paid off. It was fun to see how the other teams tried different things.” – Riley Walters

Throughout STEAM Day, students from the ECC to 8th grade participated in STEAMoriented group projects where they collaborated to construct creative designs to address challenges ranging from rocketry and solar energy to water sustainability. Parents were invited to attend and witnessed the students in action. Engineers also observed the students’ work and challenged them with questions. St. John’s would like to extend a special thank you to engineers Tim Grogan, Karla Houlihan, Hector Ruiz, Nathan Shuy, Rob Sjostedt, and Greg Henk, and corporate sponsors, Applied Medical and Sullivan Solar Power, for their support. n



ongratulations to Katie Cyr, Jared Schafer, and Kayla Zandi whose art was featured in the Southern Area Youth Art Month Exhibition, “The Power of Art,” at the Orange County Department of Education. Katie and Kayla were awarded Certificates of Recognition, and Jared’s self-portrait won first place in the Southern Area! Each year, St. John’s participates in the Chapman University Annual Holocaust Art and Writing Competition. This year, special applause goes out to both Amber Henmi and Nikki Merritt. Amber’s piece was chosen as a finalist in the competition, placing among the top 7 out of hundreds of entries. Nikki won 2nd place in the Middle School Poetry Division with a prize of $250!

Congratulations to all of our students who participated in the Orange County Fair Imaginology - Full STEAM Ahead competition. Our students had an impressive showing, receiving 23 blue ribbons, 47 red ribbons, and 27 white ribbons for a total

of 97 awards. A special congratulations to Alex Lansing and Olivia Guida for winning First Place in the Digital Media and Poetry categories, respectively. n



h, the Places You’ll Go! The prophetic words of Dr. Suess are certainly true for St. John’s students across the grade levels as each school year brings myriad opportunities for adventure and to learn both away from campus and right here are home. Kindergarten students visited La Mirada Theatre, our 1st Grade experienced world cultures at Globe Trekker Day and participated in a solar power assembly hosted by Sullivan Solar Power. Our 2nd Grade has been busy traveling to both the Applied Medical facility to examine medical product development and robotic manufacturing in action, and the LA Natural History Mu-

seum as a follow up to their ever popular dinosaur unit.

Upper Elementary students in 3rd Grade were “employed” at our local Wendy’s restaurant, while our 4th Graders travelled to our State Capitol, and 5th grade students spent the day at the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum for an exceptional guided tour through all the exhibit galleries. St. John’s 6th and 7th grade students attended a solar power assembly presented by Sullivan Solar Power where they learned about solar energy and

St. John’s Literary Giants


ach year, St. John’s 3rd grade students embark on a writing journey to become authors. Much time and effort is given to learning the components of a well-organized story and the writing elements necessary for a successful composition. This spring, imaginations ran wild and words poured out resulting in dozens of unique and charming works of literature all celebrated at an Author’s Tea where parents enjoyed student readings and applauded the young authors who were brimming with pride.

It is not only our students, who experience literary success. St. John’s own third grade teacher Susan Cervantes is a published author, working under the name S.P. Cervantes, of two highly rated book series. Her first novel Always and Forever, a young adult fantasy romance, was written while on bed rest, pregnant with her girls. At her sister’s urging she entered a writer’s competition, and the publishers came calling. The Secrets of Shadow Hill series includes Always and Forever, The Prophecy and the upcoming third book War of Wizards due to be released this May, and her contemporary romance series Broken Fairy Tale-Dust to Dust was released March 4, 2014. St. John’s Headmaster, Dr. Michael Pratt, is the author of Crash Course. His book describes the painful struggle of his son David’s addiction, its impact on their family, and the numerous setbacks his son experienced on the road to recovery. In sharing his and David’s story he hopes to help other schools and parents mitigate adolescent alcohol and drug use and support those students who run off the rails. Earlier this year St. John’s parents were fortunate enough to gather for a presentation, book signing and thoughtful conversation with the author. Our School proudly boasts the accomplishments of our very own impressive educan tors and published authors.

the importance of conservation, information which helped inform their STEAM Day solar house and solar oven construction projects. The varied Field Studies Program at St. John’s certainly has set students up for dynamic learning in all the places they’ve gone. n



onstruction of the St. John’s Garden lot is underway and students are already getting their hands dirty while learning in our outdoor classroom. Octothorpes students Nikki Mer­ritt and Jack Barrera assisted the garden team in determining the most symmetrical design for the raised beds and planters. Armed with only a rough sketch of the desired layout, the students used their knowledge of math and an­gles to survey the space and mark the arch design using string and grass paint. Fifteen trees have made their new home at St. John’s thanks to the generosity of the Park and Teitelman families. Look for more from the outdoor classroom this fall! n

Project Lead the Way


oth our Elementary and Middle School classes will be introducing Project Lead the Way (PLTW). PLTW is the leading provider of science, technology, engineering, and math programs. It uses an innovative, projectbased approach that fosters collaboration and builds critical think­ing skills. The program includes both a relevant curriculum




Physical Education


School Play



Dramatic Arts



& Field


Mandarin Chinese


Skills for Success

Guided Study Hall

Video Production Garden


Jazz Band

We also strive to help students find their passion to bring out their personal best. To this end, much of our attention has been on diversifying the enrichment classes. Students will have the oppor­ tunity to choose from a selection of offer­ings including instrumental music, Mandarin, Dance, Garden Club, and many more. Our program continues its mission to educate the hearts and minds of our young people for a lifetime of learning. View the course descriptions at n

Music and Choir


he 2014-15 Middle School schedule builds on our current curriculum, with the core classes of English/Writing Workshop, Math, Science, and History held four times per week, with an extended, one-hour block twice a week. P.E. will meet two days a week during last period to allow our athletics teams an opportunity to practice during school hours, and min-imize class time missed when leaving early for away games.

Robotics Engineering


Library/Media Center Yoga

Creative Writing

Schedule and Offerings

Instrumental Music Dance


Visual Arts Journalism

Beyond Road to High School Technology Computer Coding

Model United Nations Music

Student Council Together

and teacher pro­fessional development. Mrs. Kolk will be integrating PLTW in her Elementary science curriculum including the intro­duction of the VEX Robotics platform in the 5th Grade. All Middle School students will take Robotics Engineering, which will also use the VEX platform to design, build, and program real-world objects such as traffic lights, toll booths, and robotic arms. Our teachers will attend training classes to further enhance the delivery of the program. n


ǐ hǎo St. John’s! Beginning in 5th Grade, students will have a half year each of Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. As the students enter Middle School, they will be able to elect to take either Spanish or Mandarin Chinese. n

Beyond Technology


t. John’s is excited to expand our partnership with Beyond Technology Education in the coming school year. Working with each of our Pre-K through 8th grade teachers, Beyond Technology will provide training and develop custom integration lessons, specifically tailored to the classroom curriculum, many tied to our STEAM concepts. Beyond Technology will also provide enhanced Elementary and brand new Middle School technology curricula to equip our students with 21st century skills.

In 6th Grade, Creating Change, Developing SolutionS will chal lenge students to identify, research, and campaign for a pressing social issue. Students will blog about their cause, create animations and videos to raise awareness, and present their own solutions to create change in the world. In so doing, students will develop online research skills, learn basic coding skills, practice video production and editing, and learn to present their original content in a dynamic, digitally focused context.

In 7th and 8th Grade, CEO Challenge will focus on developing basic business and computing principles for the real business world. Our students will use the com­puter as a tool to start and develop a fictitious company and will have the opportunity to develop business plans and budgets, create marketing materials, and research competition and target markets. n

Music Makeover


s a result of donations through the Gala Parent Gift, exciting changes are already in progress for the St. John’s music program next year! In ECC we are implement­ing a stimulating program called Music Together, an internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program. Music Together classes are based on the recognition that all children are musical; they can learn to sing in tune, keep a beat and participate with confidence in themselves and their abilities. In Elementary, we will be adding Orff Schulwerk, which is an approach to building mu­sicianship in every learner through the integration of music, movement, speech, and drama.

In addition to the general music curriculum, 3rd graders will have a year-long recorder unit, while 4th graders will have a year-long ukulele unit. Starting in 5th grade, the stu­dents will be exposed to a diverse array of instruments and activities before they choose an elective in Middle School. Emphasis will be placed on music symbols and termi­nology as students develop musical literacy. Students will learn proper vocal technique and they will gain valuable insight about the instruments of a band through a hands-on, exploratory unit. Thank you to all of the generous par­ents who helped make this amazing enhancement possible through the Gala Parent Gift. n

ST. JOHN’S COMMUNITY Acts of Gratitude


n celebration of St. John’s 25th anniversary, students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni are working together to complete 25 Acts of Gratitude. This unique service campaign is a way for St. John’s to show appreciation and give back to the local community for supporting the school throughout its 25 year history. During the months of February, March, and April, our Cardinals have been very busy making a difference: Teens for Jeans Valentines for CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital n Fight2Breathe n Soles for Souls n Never Ever Give Up Foundation (NEGU) n Orangewood Children’s Foundation Birthday Boxes n Catholic Worker n Operation Rack Pack n n

See more photos and learn how to get involved in upcoming Acts of Gratitude at n



ever Ever Give Up or NEGU are the profound words of young Jesse Joy Rees who lost her fight to brain cancer, but live on through the legacy of the Jesse Joy Rees Foundation. This spring as part of the Acts of Gratitude campaign, 7th and 8th grade PALS students and student coordinator Sarah Ward visited the NEGU Joy Jar factory in Irvine to give back and learn about this tremendous organization. Armed with Mattel Matchbox toy cars donated by the St. John’s community, the students went to work assembling Joy Jars, plastic jars filled with new toys and activities, to be delivered free of charge to patients and hospitals around the world. Students left uplifted after a day of giving back to an organization that seeks to spread hope, joy, and love to children fighting life altering medin cal illness. A day of undeniable gratitude indeed.

The 2014 Gala - St. John’s on the Silver Screen Roared


n Saturday, April 5, over 250 St. John’s parents, alumni, and faculty and staff gathered at the stunning Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa for the 2014 Gala – St. John’s on the Silver Screen. The evening dazzled with glitz and glamour as guests donned their finest 1920’s apparel and enjoyed a night of fundraising and fellowship. A portion of the evening paid tribute to St. John’s 25th Anniversary and the retirement of our beloved, Jim Lusby.

All told, the evening was a great success and raised over $350,000, which will be used to expand the St. John’s music program and improve technology in the Science and Robotics classrooms. Thank you to everyone who attended and supported the Gala and to the Mayer family, Erika Clemons, and the entire Gala Committee for the tremendous commitment to make this event a success! n


UPCOMING EVENTS w May 19: Admissions Program Preview

8:30 a.m. Do you know someone looking for a new school? Refer a friend to St. John’s and earn your New Family Referral tuition discount! w May 20: Parent Coffee, “Middle School Matters for College” 8:15 a.m. in MPR Jan Kerchner, CEO of the College Blueprint, will be on campus to speak with the 8th Grade Road to High School classes and will also present to parents in the MPR to share her valuable insights. w May 22: Cardinal Field Day

Join us for a day of school spirit, friendly rivalries, and exciting track and field action. See the schedule for the day at

Catch the Bus!


t. John’s is excited to announce a busing program for the 2014-15 school year! Our new busing program will be available for students in Kindergarten through 8th Grade. Routes will be available, based on level of interest, with stops in the following areas:

n n n n n n n n n n

Aliso Viejo Coto de Caza Covenant Hills Dana Point Foothill Ranch Irvine Ladera Ranch Mission Viejo Newport Coast San Clemente

Routes will be decided based on the number of pre-registrations. If you preregister and submit your initial deposit by May 15, your first month is FREE! Get more information and pre-register n at

w May 24: SJEC Men’s Breakfast, Speaker Steve Physioc 8 a.m. in MPR The men of St. John’s Church extend a cordial invitation to a special appearance by Steve Physioc, former Angels TV broadcaster and St. John’s Church member. Now the TV announcer for the Kansas City Royals, Phiz will talk about baseball and his own fascinating life journey. A full breakfast will be provided. Attendance is free of charge. If you’d like to attend, or want to learn more, please email Gene Giordano at w May 29: Open House/Spring Sing 6:00 p.m.-Classrooms, 7:00-Gym

w June 11: 8th Grade Commencement 5:30 p.m. in the Church w June 12: Last Day of School – Happy Summer!

Octothorpes Win Big at Sage Hill


ongratulations to the St. John’s Octothorpes for their excellent performance in the Sage Hill School Fourth Annual Mathematics Invitational! The Sage Hill Math Invitational is a team-based competition designed for middle school math students throughout Orange County. The event promotes and celebrates mathematics by providing a fun environment for middle school students to collaborate and share their interests in math. Collectively, our 7th and 8th Grade teams won 1st place in five events, 2nd n place in six events, and 3rd place in two events! Way to go Cardinals!

Athletics Update


he track team shined at the St. Mary’s Invitational Track Meet in April! Our athletes took home numerous awards, including 23 1st place, 18 2nd place, and 18 3rd place finishes. The Cardinals proved they excel at working as a team, taking 1st place in the 4x400 Relay Boys 3rd Grade, and 4x100 Relay in the Girls 2nd Grade, Boys 3rd Grade, Girls 6th Grade, and Girls 8th Grade events.

Congratulations to our girls’ and boys’ basketball teams on very successful seasons! Our girls placed 3rd in the PAL division and our boys are the 2014 PAL Champions, securing 1st place with a 47-41 victory over Serra Catholic. Go Cardinals! n



e are so proud of our students’ accomplishments both in and out of the classroom!

Congratulations to 7th grade student Grace Dennis for being selected as a 2014 Carson Scholar in recognition of her high academic achievement and demonstration of humanitarianism through her commitment to volunteerism. With this honor, Grace received a $1,000 college scholarship award and the experience of an inspirational key note address by Dr. Benjamin Carson, Sr., M.D. at the West Coast Awards Banquet. First grade student Jack Jones won the Nevada and California state taekwondo sparring championships. At only 7 years old, he competes in the 8 and 9 year-old sparring division. This summer, Jack will travel to compete in the national championship. Way to go Jack!

Third grade student Colin Queen knows how to live life in the fast lane. Already an accomplished racer, Colin has received news that he will be one of three cadet mini rok pilots representing the United States in the Rok Cup International finals in Lonato, Italy in October 2014. He will be racing with an all-expense paid factory ride with

Vortex Race Engines. At 9 years old he will likely be the youngest pilot on the track racing against 1113 year olds from across the globe. Follow Colin’s journey on Facebook at Colin Queen Racing.

Fifth grade student and aspiring artist Mark Mohtar had the experience of a lifetime when he met with world renowned marine life artist and conservationist Wyland for an afternoon of artistic camaraderie. During the afternoon, Wyland reviewed a sampling of Mark’s artwork, even giving one an “A+,” and remarking that his interpretation of a bald eagle was “better than mine.” We look forward to watching Mark’s talent grow.

Congratulations to Austin Tinsley, Class of 2010, who is currently 3rd in the country and 2nd in California for the 300IH hurdles! Austin began his athletic career at St. John’s and continues to thrive at Santa Margarita Catholic High School. Keep up the great work, Austin! n

Do you have a St. John’s superstar? Let us know at

Peter Pan


ongratulations to our fabulous Peter Pan cast and crew for putting on such an extraordinary production of Peter Pan in March!

A huge thank you to Doralee Ashby,  Jeff Ashby, Michelle Ashby,  Monica Barnum, Joy Boyd, Madyson Boyd, Russell Boyd, Melissa Bonhall,  Casandra Buser,  Todd Buser, Denny Burke, Scott Burke, Cindy Campbell, Melissa Christian, Jay Cook, Danya El-Kurd,  Jeff Granito,  Jesse Greenhalgh, Parker Griffin, Suzy Hardy, Dan Haydt, Monica Haydt, Sergio Hirales, Julie Johnson, Richard Kim, Alex Lopez, Fernando Pedraza, Joel Ramathulla, Katie Scott, Michelle Voce, Megan Weaver, Greg Williams, and all of our parent volunteers who went above and beyond, spending countless hours to bring this play to life. n

Refer a Friend to St. John’s


e are excited to announce that we are implementing a New Student Referral Program for current St. John’s families! For every student you refer who enrolls at St. John’s, you will receive a $500 tuition discount. Remember, the new family must mention your name in their initial tour of the School. Stay tuned for additional information, including upcoming exciting events for potential families. Questions? Contact Beth Anderson at ext. 212 or n

My St. John’s Story

By Jenny Grumet – Mother of Carly and Aiden


joined the St. John’s family in September of 1988 as a 6th grade student. The school was small, classrooms were in portables, and the field was, well, a field. Despite these humble beginnings, our family knew that Fr. Sillers was a man who started great schools. We knew that St. John’s would be such a place.

Years later, in 2006, I returned to St. John’s when my husband, Rob, and I enrolled our daughter, Carly, as one of the “founders” of the Cardinal Nest. She was 6 weeks old, we were nervous new parents, and we wanted a place where she would thrive in the care of people who would love her. She and her “classmate” were immediate celebrities; kids and adults alike enjoyed waving at the new babies on campus through the windows and greeting them while they were out for a stroll.

Summer at Summer School and Day Camp Programs throughout the summer months (June - August) for infants through 8th Grade. Come experience the St. John’s difference!


end of first grade, she was reading at a mid-fourth grade level. The “just right,” individualized reading level, identified through the Fountas & Pinnell system, is administered by knowledgeable and motivated teachers. It really works, and we couldn’t be happier!

Now, Carly is in second grade, and our son, Aidan, is a happy preschool student yearning to be a “grader.” It is a pleasure to look back and realize that our kids have gotten exactly what we had hoped for: a school in which they are thriving. Carly loves to try new things: after-school art, the Peter Pan play, Challenge Island, and the track team, to name a few. That curiosity and eagerness to learn has been fostered from the start. Beyond the standard math and reading, St. John’s students become well-rounded learners, benefitting from unparalleled enrichment offerings taught by subject specialists. When Aidan started school at age 2, he quickly learned that Mrs. Sjostedt was “the book lady,” and whenever he saw her, he would ask, “You bring books?”

Differentiated curriculum has been very important to us. Kids are met where they are academically and challenged at a “just right” level. The small classes have allowed their teachers to really know them, understanding what motivates them, and how they learn best. When our daughter started kindergarten, she was reading at a first grade level. That skill was recognized and fostered by her teachers, and at the

Beyond academics, St. John’s is a family that has embraced our children. The kids are comfortable there, knowing that they are cared for. The grownups in their school lives help them when they lose teeth, skin knees, need stitches, have fevers, feel sad, don’t understand, feel proud, etc. Kids don’t “fly under the radar” at St. John’s, and they learn by example that we should care for one another. 23 years ago, I graduated from St. John’s, continuing on to Santa Margarita and then USC for my undergraduate degree and medical school. It has been so wonderful to come back to St. John’s, this time as a parent. The campus has grown up since then, and many students have passed through those doors. Our kids are developing a love for learning, curiosity about what’s new, appreciation for “just right” academic challenges, and understanding that character counts. They know that they are surrounded by thoughtful, skilled, and caring teachers in an environment where individual needs are recognized and met. Indeed, Fr. Sillers started something great, and the future n is very bright.

WHAT IS YOUR ST. JOHN’S STORY? Do you have a unique experience that your child or family would like to share in the next newsletter? Send your story to


The Cardinal - Spring 2014  

The quarterly newsletter of St. John's Episcopal School.

The Cardinal - Spring 2014  

The quarterly newsletter of St. John's Episcopal School.