St. John's Episcopal School

Lower School Shared Experiences

Programs | Schoolwide | Kindergarten | 1st Grade | 2nd Grade | 3rd Grade | 4th Grade

Shared Experiences are student and family activities which are deemed to be integral to the mission of the school. These are activities that are regularly undertaken (daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly) that relate directly to themes in our Mission Statement:

  • A challenging academic experience
  • A community of inspired students, teachers, and parents
  • An everyday commitment to Christian values and the development of moral character

Programs: Shared Experience Chart

P= Primary Focus      S= Secondary Focus

Shared Experience Grades Mission: A Challenging Academic Experience Mission: A Community of Inspired Students, Teachers, Parents Mission: An Everyday Commitment to Christian Values
Programs:
Success Traits K-8 P P P
Shaking Hands K-8 P S
Assembly K-8 P S
Chapel K-8 P P
Community Service K-8 P P
Buddy Program K-8 P P

Success Traits – Success Traits are a core component of the St. John’s community. Research has shown that success in life is determined by character and commitment as much as intellect and ability. We teach our students organization, attentiveness, courage, faith, persistence, positive attitude, flexibility, generosity, and responsibility through assemblies, chapel services, community activities, and direct class instruction. By the end of a student’s career at St. John’s, they are well versed in the character, the challenge, and the values of St. John’s Success Traits.

Shaking Hands – Students and staff are greeted with a welcoming handshake each morning at the school entrance by the Head of School or another designated person. The school handshake is an important recognition of the personal connections we all share every day in our community.

Assemblies – Students attend school assemblies, generally on Tuesdays at the end of the school day. Assemblies are shared experiences intended to establish community wide mission themes of a challenging academic program, inspired students, teachers, and parents, and an everyday commitment to Christian values.

Chapel – Students attend chapel each Friday where they share in common experiences of spiritual growth and development. Chapel services follow an Episcopal worship model, but are designed to be welcoming to students of all faiths. Through chapel, students learn a common vocabulary for our commitment to the Christian values of kindness, honesty, respect and compassion.

Community Service – All students participate in community service projects. Serving others is a consistent Mission Statement theme of challenge, commitment, and inspiration.

Buddy Program – Each student in the school is matched up to an older or younger buddy in another grade. Buddy activities, during Community Building Week and throughout the school year,, are designed to connect older students to the ways that they serve as positive models for our younger students.


Schoolwide Events: Shared Experience Chart

P= Primary Focus      S= Secondary Focus

Shared Experience Grades Mission: Challenging Academic Experience Mission: Community of Inspired Students, Teachers, Parents Mission: Everyday Commitment to Christian Values
Community Building Week K-8 P S
Back to School Night K-4, 5-8 P S
Fall Festival/Picnic K-8 P
Christmas Celebration K-8 P P
Caroling K-8 P S
International Festival K-8 S P
International Immersion Week K-8 P P S
Festival of the Arts K-8 P S
Field Day K-8 S P S
Baccalaureate Service K-8 P S

Community Building Week: (September) Older students learn to be positive role models for their younger buddies.

Back to School Night (September): Parents attend an evening devoted to learning about the expectations and character in their children’s classrooms.

Fall Festival/Picnic: (October) Students, parents, and teachers share an afternoon of community building fun, food and camaraderie.

Christmas Celebration (December): Students, parents, teachers and extended families share an evening of Christmas joy and celebration.

Caroling (December): Students, parents and teachers share in a family-like gathering to spread holiday cheer.

International Festival (January): Students study cultures from around the world. Each class presents a folk dance in which students demonstrate an understanding of teamwork, community respect, and cultural pride.

International Immersion Week (January): The week preceding the International Festival, students are involved in an in-depth study of the grade level’s international festival country and participate in related activities.

Festival of the Arts (May): Students demonstrate skills in music, art, writing, and other forms of artistic expression. Students, parents, and faculty share in the inspiration and pride inherent to artistic expression.

Field Day (May): Students participate in athletic challenges that foster team work, school spirit and individual challenge.

Baccalaureate Service (June): Graduation service for our students in grades K through 8. An opportunity for our younger students to say heartfelt goodbyes to our graduating eighth graders

Graduation Service (June): Eighth Grade graduation service for eighth graders, seventh graders, and eighth grade families. A day of celebration.


Kindergarten Activities and Events: Shared Experience Chart

P= Primary Focus      S= Secondary Focus

Shared Experience Mission: Challenging Academic Experience Mission: Community of Inspired Students, Teachers, Parents Mission: Everyday Commitment to Christian Values
Grade Level Activities\Events:
Oh What a Miracle P S
Home\School Literature Program P P S
Monthly Prayer S S P
Winter Research Reports S S
End of Year Luncheon P

1. Oh What a Miracle – In October, Kindergarten students create full size self portraits by tracing, cutting out and painting bodies and discussing individual gifts and challenges. Students add bones and organs to their bodies as the skeleton and basic body systems are taught. The unit culminates in the children displaying their ‘selves’ for Lower School assembly while singing the songs, “O, What A Miracle Am I”, “Dem Bones” and “Amazing Senses”. This is their initial experience of getting in front of a large group to share what they are learning.

2. Home/School Literature Program – In January/February, kindergartners and their families are required to read aloud a chapter book from classic children’s literature. All classroom and homework activities revolve around the themes in the book. This experience serves as an extension of the school’s read aloud program for students, teachers, and families.

3. Monthly Prayers – Children memorize a new prayer each month for snack time. These prayers are shared with parents to use at home as well. Prayers are selected from a variety of cultures and beliefs in order to support the St. John’s initiatives in diversity.

4. Winter Research Reports – in January, Kindergarten students conduct their first “official” research project for the school year. The reports are a collaborative effort between children and parents and children present reports orally to their class using props and visuals. Kindergartners explore animals in winter habitats.

5. End of Year Luncheon – Parents will be invited to have lunch at school with their Kindergarten child to celebrate the end of the school year and all the ways in which the children have grown and learned! Kindergarten students will present an autobiography which they will read with their parents one-on-one. The classes will sing songs and recite poems and prayers they have learned throughout the year.


1st Grade Activities and Events: Shared Experience Chart

P= Primary Focus      S= Secondary Focus

Shared Experience Mission: Challenging Academic Experience Mission: Community of Inspired Students, Teachers, Parents Mission: Everyday Commitment to Christian Values
Author Share P S S
First Grade Bazaar P P P
Wampanoag Day P S P
Poetry Tea P S P
D.Y.O.H. P P

1st Grade Bazaar (May) – Students demonstrate their creativity and money skills in a fundraiser to support the Ronald McDonald House. Each student creates a unique product to sell to their classmates and practices using coins and making change at the event.

Wampanoag Day (November) – Students celebrate the Wampanoag tribe through a series of projects, snacks and games. The event culminates in a Thanksgiving Feast with their Colonial American counterparts in second grade.

Author Share (Periodically) – Students share their weekly writing assignments to an audience of classmates, parents and faculty.

Poetry Tea (April)- The poetry unit culminates in a joint class reading of the students’ final poetry projects to an audience of classmates, parents and faculty. Light refreshments are served after the reading.

D.Y.O.H. (3-4 times per year) – Students research and present their findings on a topic of their own choice under a general theme selected by the classroom teachers.


2nd Grade Activities and Events: Shared Experience Chart

P= Primary Focus      S= Secondary Focus

Shared Experience Mission: A Challenging Academic Experience Mission: A Community of Inspired Students, Teachers, Parents Mission: An Everyday Commitment to Christian Values
Scarecrows S P
Colonial America P P S
Shared Prayers S P
VIP P S S
Thanksgiving Feast P P P

Scarecrow Making (October) – Second graders and their parents create and build their own scarecrows. This activity is primarily community building in nature, but also correlates with the classroom themes of autumn and cinquain poetry.

Colonial America (November) – Second graders participate in a half-day of “living history” activities designed to introduce them to life as it was in colonial times.

Shared Prayers – Each week, the designated “prayer person” leads the classroom in a daily prayer chosen from our classroom poetry book. The prayers are predominantly compiled by the teacher, but also include favorite family prayers that are contributed by the students during our year-long V.I.P. program. The prayer is chorally read before eating snack and helps to promote Christian values while strengthening public presentation skills, reading decoding and reading fluency abilities.

V.I.P. – This program gives each second grader the opportunity to “shine” for one week during the year. During this week, the chosen V.I.P. participates in one activity daily. The activities are academically oriented, designed to strengthen mathematical ability, language skills, and public presentation ability. The V.I.P. program’s goals also include building a sense of belonging and cohesiveness as a classroom community, while highlighting the unique qualities of each individual.

Thanksgiving Feast (November) – The Thanksgiving Feast for second grade is the culmination of our November colonial unit and is a combined first and second-grade reenactment of the first Thanksgiving. Although primarily academic in focus, the feast itself promotes a sense of community as students from both grade levels share classroom-prepared dishes, prayer and camaraderie at the lunchtime feast.


3rd Grade Activities and Events: Shared Experience Chart

P= Primary Focus      S= Secondary Focus

Shared Experience Mission: A Challenging Academic Experience Mission: A Community of Inspired Students, Teachers, Parents Mission: An Everyday Commitment to Christian Values
Declamation Day P S
Flat People P S
Mini Beast Report P S
Solar System Report P S
Mount Vernon P P S
Christmas Pageant S P P

Declamation Day – Each student selects and memorizes a poem once a month and presents it to the entire class. A handful of students are chosen each month to present their poem to the entire Lower School at Wednesday Assembly. Over the course of the year, all students in the class will be asked to “declaim” poetry at Wednesday assembly.

Flat People – Third graders study the 50 states by mailing “flat people” to friends and family around the United States. People take photos of the flat people in famous spots and send literature and information that students use to prepare a report. The project ends in a travel fair presented to the entire student body in which third graders report on their flat people’s adventures in their chosen state.

Solar System Project – Third grade students study the solar system. Each student is assigned a planet to research. The student prepares a report including a model of the planet and a PowerPoint presentation. The models are hung in both classes and the PowerPoint presentations are shown to the parents in the technology lab during school hours.

Mt. Vernon Trip – In March, the third graders take a trip to Mt. Vernon in Virginia. The trip is connected to colonial days activities in which the children to get a sense of what life was like in George Washington’s time.

Mini Beast Report – Third graders design and create a mini beast creature using principles studied in science. They write a report on the characteristics of their mini beast, paying close attention to its habitat, behaviors and adaptations. Students present these reports orally to the class.


4th Grade Activities and Events: Shared Experience Chart

P= Primary Focus      S= Secondary Focus

Shared Experience Mission: Challenging Academic Experience Mission: Community of Inspired Students, Teachers, Parents Mission: Everyday Commitment to Christian Values
Steps to Respect S P
Declamation Day P S
St. Mary’s City P S
Musical Instruments P S
Positive Attitude Assembly S S
Endangered Species Power Point P S
Shiloh Trial S P
Book of Virtues S P
Squeak P S
Ice Cream Social P S
Celebrations P P
MAESA Fair P P S
Hands on Equations P S

Steps to Respect Program – Interactive program where students are first shown proper ways of handling social situations, then have time to discuss with their peers their ideas, and lastly dramatic role play.

Declamation Day – Each student selects and memorizes a poem once a month and presents it to the entire class. A handful of students are chosen each month to present their poem to the entire Lower School at Wednesday Assembly. Over the course of the year, al students in the class will be asked to “declaim” poetry at Wednesday assembly.

St. Mary’s City – This fieldtrip is an interactive exploration of Maryland’s first settlement. It teaches about the history of the state of Maryland as well as introduces colonial life to Fourth Grade students.

Positive Attitude Assembly – The Fourth Grade puts on an assembly revolving around our Trait of Success- Positive Attitude. They share poems, sing songs, and share a Power Point presentation about someone who exemplifies this trait.

Endangered Species – After learning how to use Power Point in technology, the students put to practice their new skills by creating a Power Point presentation on an endangered species. In this presentation they must research and present why the animal is near extinction and come up with solutions to help the animal survive and flourish. Then the students present their Power Points to the 4th grade parents.

Shiloh Trial – Students research laws against animal abuse and act out a court trial determining the rightful owner of the dog Shiloh that was studied in the novel Shiloh. The trial will involve issues of moral behavior vs. state laws.

Book of Virtues – Each week stories are read from The Book of Virtues that focus on the character trait of the month. After the story is read the students participate in a lengthy in depth conversation about the morals presented. They then discuss how they can conscientiously incorporate these Traits for Success into their everyday life.

Celebrations – An organized, fun way to celebrate learning. Weekly activities are planned that give students creative outlets to enhance curricular themes presented in class.

Musical Instruments – Based on science studies each student makes their own musical instrument using everyday materials. They use the instrument to play a song or short tune for the class. Several students will be selected to play at lower school assembly.

Ice Cream Social – An end of the year celebration when the students eat ice cream sundaes out of a huge trough.

MAESA Fair – Students have the opportunity to compete among the Episcopal Schools in a spelling bee, technology-based activities, and art initiatives.

Hands on Equation – This is an interactive math program that teaches children algebra using a hands-on approach. With the use of manipulative, students are able to solve and explain complicated algebraic equations.