Weekly Parents Page

June 25, 2020





Summer Office Hours

Though we recently opened our school for parents to pick up students’ personal belongings, and we have a number of construction staff and administrative staff who will be working regularly throughout the summer to prepare for the fall, as an educational institution, we are not allowed to officially open to the public until New York City has reached Phase IV.  With this in mind, we will offer our summer office hours primarily through virtual means.


Parents can reach someone at our main office phone most Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and can expect that most general inquiry emails will be answered on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays from administrative and office staff throughout the summer.  Emails may be answered sooner, but generally will be answered during office hours. Teaching staff will be available to answer emails surrounding grades, etc., for the next couple of days, but will then be unavailable to respond to emails until closer to the opening of the 2020-2021 school year.


To maintain safety precautions, we will continue as many functions as possible over the summer through telephone, email and zoom calls.  The school building is not open to on-site visitors at this time, and we are being especially cautious because of the amount of construction that is currently taking place.


We thank you for your understanding, as we work towards renovating our space to make it safer for our students, faculty and staff in the fall.


Student Items Left in School

Teachers and staff have bagged up student items that remained in their lockers/desks/classrooms since departing school on March13th.  At this time, we are not holding “open” office hours and cannot allow visitors to drop by the school.  If you can wait until the end of the summer or the beginning of the school year to retrieve your child’s belongings, we would ask you to do so. We are more than happy to hold on to your child’s belongings until that time.  If it is very necessary for you to retrieve your child’s belongings sooner, you may reach out by email to Ms. Rodriguez, who may be able to arrange an appointment for you to meet at the school.  


Summer Student Work Assignments

Our teachers are finalizing the summer work assignments for our students and these assignments will be posted for all grade levels (rising PK3 to rising 8th grade) on our school website on June 29th.  We will email a link to our parents on June 29th, as well.

We are aware that many of our students have signed up for the Archdiocesan Summer Virtual Program, and we have many upper grade students who have also signed up for high school application test prep courses and special middle school summer programs, as well.  We do not want to overwhelm our students - so if your child is participating in an academic summer program that meets regularly throughout the summer, they are exempt from the assignments that are posted.  That being said, some of the assignments are in preparation for further activities in the fall (that is posted in the assignment, such as a particular book to be read), so we ask that you please read through the assignments and identify those that you will still want your child to complete, even if they are involved in another program.  


We understand that parents will need to use their own discretion to balance what we have asked and other programs that their child may be attending.  Given the unusual learning circumstances of the last four months, we want to be sure that our students do not fully withdraw from academic activities, which would further contribute to academic slide or skill loss. Take a break (you and your child need it!), do some fun activities, and include some learning activities throughout the summer! 


Student School Supplies for the Fall

By this time of the year, we have usually sent out a school supply list for the fall - but then, we usually know what our return to school in the fall will “look like”, and this year, it is still somewhat uncertain.


After much discussion with our faculty, here is what we do know:  Much of what students bring to school in the fall in the way of school supplies is gathered and stored by the faculty so they can distribute the supplies to students as the supplies are needed.  Because we have not been in the school building since March 13th, our teachers report that they still have a good amount of regular school supplies on hand that can be used when we return to school.  There is probably not enough to last a full year, but there is certainly enough to last a while and we don’t want to ask parents to unnecessarily duplicate supply purchases.


While we are all very hopeful that we will return to the school building in the fall, we are also realistic and understand that we have to be prepared for some amount of virtual learning, as there may be times when students are ill or classes need to be quarantined, etc.  Quite understandably, parents were caught unprepared for home learning in March, but we now have time to prepare and teachers would like for parents to consider school supply purchases that would assist their child at school, but more importantly, would set their child up for success at home, if the need for virtual instruction arises.  There are some simple purchases (a small whiteboard, a few manipulatives, etc.) that parents can make in lieu of the usual crayons, etc., that our teachers would like their students to have for use during virtual Zoom sessions, and that also be used for their regular homework sessions.


Additionally - and this is very important to understand - how students use supplies in the classroom will change.  Gone are the days when there is one pencil sharpener or one stapler or one container of crayons on the table that everyone uses - it will be very important that students have separate items that remain separate, handled only by them.  Our teachers are planning for how these supplies will be used, separated, and stored for student use, which may require that we alter our supply list.


It’s a lot to think about!  Our goal is to make sure that your child has the supplies they need - at school and at home - to support their learning in a safe and healthy way, while being mindful of being economical and keeping parent costs affordable.  Our teachers have only recently returned to their classrooms to assess their supplies on hand and supply needs, and we are putting this information together now.


We may or may not be utilizing the Edukit program, as we want to ensure the most economical means of procuring supplies and the safest way of having them delivered.  We will have our school supply lists prepared and available to you by July 10th and will post this information on our school website.  We will email a link to you when the information is posted.  Thank you for your patience!


2020-2021 School Calendar

Though some of our dates have not yet been established, we received Archdiocesan dates today and would like to pass them on.  They are as follows:


Wednesday, September 9 - First day of school for grades 1 - 8

Friday, September 11 - Archdiocesan Conference Day (No School)

Friday, October 9 - Manhattan Regional Data Day (Half Day of School for Students)

Monday, October 12 - Columbus Day (No School)

Wednesday, November 11 - Veterans Day (No School)

Wednesday, November 25 - 27 - Thanksgiving (No School)

Wednesday, December 23 - Friday, January 1, 2021 - Christmas Holidays (No School)

Monday, January 4, 2021 - School Begins

Monday, January 18 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (No School)

Friday, February 12 & Monday, February 15 - Presidents Day Holidays (No School)

Wednesday, March 17th - St. Patrick’s Day (No School - May be used as snow makeup day)

April 1 - Holy Thursday (No School)

April 2 - Good Friday (No School)

April 5 - 9 - Spring Break (No School)

Friday, May 28 - Holiday (May be used as snow makeup day)

Monday, May 31 - Memorial Day (No School)

*Two more Regional Conference Days (no school) to be determined..


Class of 2020 Graduation

It was uncertain - right up until the last minute - but with the move of NYC to Phase II and permission from the Archdiocese of New York to begin services in our churches, we were able to schedule a Graduation Ceremony for our very deserving Class of 2020!  It will be held on Friday, June 26th at 6:00 p.m. at St. Monica’s Church.  


Due to strict social distancing requirements, the Graduation is by invitation only, as each student can invite a very limited number of family members, but we want our greater St. Stephen of Hungary School family to know about this event, so that you can celebrate “in spirit” with a very proud, accomplished and happy group of graduating 8th graders!  Their joy is our entire community’s joy, and it is joy that is well deserved!






Annual Auction at Guastavino’s

The Auction Committee is working hard to figure out the best way to have a virtual Auction - we will keep you posted!



Golf Outing

As we all are learning, in these COVID-19 times, nothing is certain.  But we are moving ahead with the plans for the Saint Stephen of Hungary School Golf Outing on September 29, 2020, in the hopes that we will be able to be together that day.  We will keep you posted on any updates as we get closer.



An Easter Message from Fr. Donald Baker

An important Easter Message from Fr. Baker for our students, families, faculty and staff. Happy Easter, everyone!

A Message from our Pastor Fr. Donald Baker

Good afternoon, St. Stephen of Hungary School Parents, I am pleased to send to you a video message that Fr. Baker has prepared for you to send you greetings and to address some of the upcoming events that we will be missing due to our lockdown conditions.  Fr. Baker speaks specifically to First Communion and Confirmation events, but I think you will appreciate hearing from him on these and other questions. If you have not subscribed to this page, please do so, and you will automatically receive an email when there is a new posting. I hope that you are enjoying having some sunshine today, though we cannot get out and enjoy it as much as we would like.   Take special care, Kelly Burke

Morning Prayers - March 25, 2020

Join Ms. Burke and Lily for morning prayers on the Solemnity of the Annunciation

Morning Prayer for Monday, March 23, 2020

Join Ms. Burke and Moe for morning prayer for our first day of "Home Learning" School.

A special message for our St. Stephen of Hungary School Students from Fr. Baker

Fr. Baker has a special message for our students as they get ready to "go back to school" tomorrow. Parents, please subscribe to this page so that you and your families will receive regular messages from Ms. Burke and Fr. Baker in the upcoming weeks.

Corona Virus Mike Deegan Letter - 03-06-20

Dear St. Stephen of Hungary Parents,
As mentioned in our March 5th Parents Page, our faculty and staff are seeing some anxiety among our students around the coronavirus, along with misinformation.  Rumors are rampant - and sometimes the students themselves are the ones spreading them - but all the same, it can be tremendously frightening for our students to hear such misinformation.
Today, we received a letter from our Superintendent, Mr. Michael Deegan, with updates on Archdiocesan policies and with a valuable and important resource about how to speak with your children about the coronavirus.  Please read the attached letter, and then scroll down through the letter to reach the resource for parents.  I think you will find it helpful.
We spoke about this at our faculty meeting today, and we are providing some additional resources to our teachers, so they can be prepared to speak with students about their fears, answer their questions, and help them determine fact from fiction.  Anything that we can do to give our children some sense of control over this situation will help them cope and will alleviate their anxiety.
Our faculty also spent time working out how they will continue their instruction on a web-based platform should we have to close school for any length of time. There is no immediate need to close school; however, we want to be prepared.
We continue to maintain our daily schedule, and will do so until we have reason to do otherwise.  Please encourage your children to wash their hands frequently, please keep your children home if they have a fever or are ill, and please respond promptly if we call you to retrieve your child from school due to a fever or illness.  These are good habits, regardless of the coronavirus, but they are especially important now.
Have a good weekend and enjoy your time with your families,
Kelly Burke 


Dear St. Stephen of Hungary Parents,
I have had many inquiries in recent days about how the school will handle a potential Coronavirus outbreak, the options we will have for instruction, and how we are treating students who have recently travelled to a contagious zone. Parents are concerned - understandably - and as a principal, these types of issues receive a great deal of consideration and planning long before the event happens, as someone who has lived most of her life in a "hurricane zone", can attest to.
St. Stephen of Hungary School is one of the largest school systems in New York, and we have the added advantage of the expertise of our Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Office.  They are in communication with civil authorities and healthcare experts to monitor the situation, make preparations and guide decisions for our schools.  
Attached to this post is a communication from our Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Michael Deegan to our faculty and families.  This letter not only contains information about monitoring the situation, but also contains specific guidelines for children who have recently travelled internationally, effective March 2, 2020. Mr. Deegan's letter also contains valuable information for families made available to us by the Department of Health.  Please read this carefully.
As the situation evolves and new information becomes available, we will communicate with you quickly.  If you do not receive communication, you can rest assured that we are monitoring the situation, but have no new news to pass on to you.  This does not mean that we are not making plans.
It is important with young children that we remain vigilante and err on the side of caution, without letting our own fears escalate the natural anxiety that children feel when they are around worried parents.  Children pick up on everything, so please be careful about what you communicate to them, even inadvertently.
There are many things about this virus that we cannot control.  Let's concentrate on the parts that we can control and on supporting our children and their classmates.
Kelly Burke

End of second quarter letter

Dear Parents,

It’s that time of year again!

We have ended the second quarter of school - our school year is half over - and it is time for report cards to be distributed.  Second quarter report cards are always an important assessment period, as students usually hit their “learning stride” around the middle to end of 2nd quarter and we can really see them at their best.

For students who are learning, growing and reaching their potential, the mid-year goal becomes helping them to sustain their efforts through the balance of the school year.  

And for students who are experiencing difficulties with their learning, this is a prime time for parents, teachers and students to work together on a plan to address those difficulties - while there is still plenty of time left in the school year to see improvement.

Most parents have a pretty firm grasp of how to interpret a traditional report card, as we all experienced receiving report cards in our youth; however, the addition of reporting student progress on subject area standards is relatively new for most of today’s parents, and they can be a bit confusing.

One of the most common questions that teachers and principals receive at report card time is, “How can my child make a 94 in Math (or any other subject area), and make a “2” on the majority of their Math standards?”  This is a fair question and the answer lies in understanding that grades (numerical or letter) reflect a child’s progress within a specific period of time (quarter), while standards are assessed over a period of the entire school year.  

A standard reflects a specific skill in a subject area that is introduced and taught at some point in the school year - and often, throughout the school year.  Standards are specific to each grade level, and serve as a foundation for the next grade level, so it is important that students attain a degree of mastery of the skills contained in the standard in order to be “on grade level”.  Standards are ranked from 1 - 4, and the goal is for a student to achieve a level 3 or higher, which is the “proficient” level or higher by the end of the school year.

Common sense tells us that not every skill can be learned - or even introduced - in the first quarter of the school year, and for that reason, standards that have not been introduced by report card time either don’t appear on the report card or the assessment is left blank.  It would not be fair to a student to assess them for a skill that has not been introduced! Rest assured that teachers have an instructional plan that will introduce the standard at the appropriate time, and then you will see an assessment score for that standard.

Other standards are introduced earlier in the year, and more instruction to further develop that skill takes place throughout the school year.  Depending upon the complexity of the standard (skill), the student may receive a “2” in the first quarter on a skill, which means the skill is new and the student is developing the skill.  This may be exactly where the student should be at report card time, and in this case, a “2” is not a meant to be a negative assessment.  As the standard continues to be taught throughout the school year, and the student continues to achieve mastery, you will see their score improve to a “3”, or even a “4”.

So how exactly does a student score a 94 in Math and still score a “2” on a Math standard?

If your child’s teacher has introduced a new standard and your child has successfully completed what they have been asked to do during the quarter - good grades on classwork, homework, quizzes and tests - they could receive a 94, which reflects their mastery of what they have been taught within that quarter.  Your child did well that quarter and received a 94 for their efforts - good job!

But standards are not “quarter based”, they are “school-year based”, and there is more work to be done - more instruction to carry out - before your child can be expected to reach proficiency or higher score (3 or 4) on that Math standard.  Your child’s teacher has a plan for how this standard will be further developed and as long as your child continues to keep up their efforts, we can expect that they will reach the proficiency level by the end of the school year.

Do teachers ever give a score of 4 (the highest level) for a standard early in the school year?  

Absolutely, they do.  If a student demonstrates the highest level of mastery on a standard right from the moment it is introduced, then the teacher will reflect that in their assessment score.  Scoring on standards reflects exactly where a student falls in relation to mastery of the score at any given point. It is not something they “earn”, it is something they “demonstrate”.  

So how is a parent to know when to be concerned about standards assessment scores?  In general, a score of 2, 3 or 4 is no cause for alarm, unless you hear directly from the teacher otherwise.  A score of 1 generally means that the skill has been introduced and your child may be struggling with this skill (though that is not always the case).  If your child has several scores of “1”, you may want to reach out to your child’s teacher to get more information about where the teacher expects your child to score at this time.  If there is a problem, you can discuss ways to address the problem, and if there isn’t a problem, it will put your mind at ease.

In the field of education, assessment measures are in a bit of a state of flux, and the Archdiocese of New York is no exception.  Having quarterly grades and standards assessment is a bit of a hybrid and can be confusing, but the goal is provide you with information about your child so that we can keep your child on track towards reaching their full potential and achieving mastery.  It may be a “too much information”, but it is all generated to help your child succeed.

And that is what we all want, indeed.


Kelly Burke