The Grand Rapids Elementary School Diocesan curriculum for St. Paul the Apostle School, both elementary and junior high, is challenging academically in core subjects. Our experienced and creative teachers consistently enhance the learning development of our students by adding events and activities that make each grade special and memorable. Here are some of the highlights we offer:
- God Made Me and God Made the World religion programs frame the themes and units of the preschool curriculum. With faith and love of God as the central focus of our days, the preschoolers enjoy many activities and learning opportunities occurring in the world around them.
- A variety of activities outside the classroom provides growth in many learning domains: P.E, music, computer, field trips.
- Handwriting Without Tears and VoWac phonics establish a solid foundation as emergent readers. An introduction to the Spanish language and American Sign Language are also incorporated.
- The social and emotional growth and needs of the students are valued and nurtured as the foundation of happy and productive relationships and learning.
- Play is the medium of choice and design utilized by preschoolers to learn about and solve problems in their world.
- The Kindergartners learn Bible stories from the Old Testament, New Testament and Acts of the Apostles.
- Kindergartners attend weekly school liturgies.
- The Kindergartners hold a “Kindergarten Candy Cane Sale” each year as a service project to raise money to help others in need.
- The VoWac Kindergarten program is used to formally introduce the letter/sound relationship and many more pre-reading skills.
- Spanish, Library, Computer Lab, Gym, and Music classes are held weekly.
- Various Field trips.
- Mother’s Day Tea
- Hundredth Day of School (activities and posters for the hallway in February)
- Holy Week Adventures (Centers)
- Jesse Tree in Advent (kids read readings and color their own symbol)
- Living Stations (I take pictures of the kids portraying the Stations of the Cross)
- Superstar Student/Readers
- Mad Scientists (kids pick and experiment at home to bring to school to demonstrate to the class)
- Writing Stories (Second Semester)
- March is Reading Month: Parent/Principal/Teacher guest readers
- Animal Habitat project for Education Fair in April
- Variety of Field Trips
- Classroom Themed Activities (each year is a different theme developed through the school year)
- First Reconciliation
- First Holy Communion
- Fish Day (a whole day devoted to fish and an opportunity to bring one home to keep)
- Poetry Day (students memorize and recite poems to parents)
- Pioneer Day
- Christmas Eve Pageant
- Second Grade Business Hot Lunches (based on the classroom theme, students design and market a lunch the school can buy once a month. All proceeds go to a charity chosen by the class.)
- Easter Baskets for God’s Kitchen (students collect and create Easter Baskets that are donated and delivered to God’s Kitchen)
- May Crowning
- Variety of field trips
- Education Fair plays – Students write reports based on theme which are then used by the teacher to create a play that the children perform
- Living Rosary participation
- Mass participation and preparation
- Students learn to knit hats that are given to premature infants at Spectrum Hospital
- Meal Worm Experiments
- Service projects
- Story Presentation (Based on a book they have read, third graders dress up as a book character and tell about their characters to their parents.)
- Write sequel books and share with younger classes
- Junior Choir
- Field trips to Camp Roger, Lansing Capitol and Paws for a Cause
- Daily Prayer in the classroom; special liturgical events (Advent, Lent) celebrated in the classroom; participation in school liturgies and prayer services.
- Study of the Ten Commandments, Beatitudes, Great Commandment
- Participation in the Diocese Fourth Grade Songfest held in the spring
- Special projects that include a state project and participating in a Spanish play
- Collaboration and sharing with other grades
- Participation in service projects; helping with Kid’s Food Basket is an annual project
- Creative Writing
- Students are read aloud interesting chapter books
- All students learn to play the recorder
- Junior Choir
- Library/Research Skills explored during class time in Library
- Participation in school Geography Bee
- Field trips to P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, and Camp Roger
- Overnight Camping and Team Building Experience
- Rosary Making
- Band -Students have an opportunity to learn to play an instrument
- Junior Choir
- Students can now participate in SPA School Athletic Teams
- Spelling Bee Competition
- Geography Bee Competition
- Participation in Service projects such as Breast Cancer Awareness
- End of the Year Picnic at a local park
- Various Field trips
Junior High- Sixth, Seventh and Eighth
- Safety Patrol opportunity
- Altar Server opportunity
- Service Projects
- Math Counts Club
- Science Olympiad
- Euchre Tournament
- Jr. High Choir
- Student Council (grades 1-7 officers are selected by each class) Student Council service activities include Haiti clothing collection and Soups on for God’s Kitchen
- Eighth Grade Student Council ( eighth grade candidates run a campaign and grades 1-8 vote for and elect officers )
- Student Ambassadors of visitors
- Catholic Schools Week- Parent vs. Students Basketball game
- Shrove Tuesday Breakfast (served to the whole school)
- May Crowning of Mary, Queen of Heaven
- Graduation Trip
Spanish (Elementary) Highlights
The elementary students at St. Paul the Apostle School are learning the Spanish language and culture of the Hispanic people. All Spanish K-4 classes open with a prayer and culture trivia before the lesson of the day. The lessons stress listening, speaking skills, reading, writing and culture. Grammar is taught throughout the thematic units of each grade level.
In Kindergarten, lessons include numbers, colors, body parts, feelings, weather expressions, clothing animals, adjectives and commands. Along with Spanish vocabulary, students also do patterning, comparing sequencing counting and memorizing.
First graders learn Spanish vocabulary phrases and grammar points associated with their family, their feelings, their house, the five senses, shapes colors numbers and the calendar. Students learn individual vocabulary units and how to combine them as phrases instead of isolated words.
Second graders visit the community. They visit places such as the supermarket, restaurant, hospital, school, farm, zoo, park and bank in the classroom. They learn to set a table, shop for food, express an injury if they become ill, draw a school map, and compare animals. Professions to these locations are introduced as they learn vocabulary, verbs and grammar.
Third graders examine the classroom around them and learn the names of many objects and some verbs that are used in their daily lives at school. They learn from many visuals, games and even a scavenger hunt. Prepositions, time expressions and adjectives are taught within the year. Students are expected to write their own booklet describing the members in their family.
Fourth graders learn the alphabet and how to write on their own in the Spanish language, as well as read short paragraphs and answer comprehension questions. They work on map skills, the seasons, the weather, means of transportation, and clothing. Students learn the pronoun chart in Spanish and how to conjugate verbs. Each student participates in a play performance in Spanish in front of a small audience.
Spanish (Junior High) Highlights
“Cancion de Direcciones” (direction Song) – All 5th through 8th grade students learn a song with accompanying gestures that quickly teaches them all words needed to give simple directions (left, right, in front of, behind, close to/near, far, below, on top of, inside, outside)
House Project: 8th grade students create and label in Spanish the floor plan of a two story house according to a three paragraph description in Spanish.
Listening and conversation: All students practice guided Spanish conversation with one another using textbook activities and perfect pronunciation via “listen and repeat” exercises.
TPRS: (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Story-telling)- Using this recently developed theory in learning foreign languages, students not only learn to read children’s books in Spanish, but also participate in the story by playing various characters. Some of these books include, “Llaman a la puerta” by Pat Hutchins, El Canguro Tiene Mama? By Eric Carle, and “Abuelo y los tres Osos” by Jerry Tello. This is the most natural way for students to acquire the grammar structure (sentence formation) of a second language. The “TPR” method is also used in learning new vocabulary of “Paso a Paso” via interactive power point presentations.