News Briefs for the Week of April 30, 2021

Appointment

After consultation with the Priest Personnel Board, Bishop Frank J. Dewane announces the following appointment: Father Daniel A. Flens, as Parochial Vicar of St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral, effective March 1, 2021.

Dispensation to attend Mass ends effective May 1, 2021

As Bishop Frank J. Dewane continues to listen to public health data and hear from Priests and Parishioners about their experiences at Diocesan Parishes, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass will be lifted in the Diocese of Venice beginning May 1, 2021. For a letter from Bishop Dewane and the revised guidelines updating Parish safety protocols which includes the need to continue to wear masks at Mass, as well as at all Diocesan and Parish activities, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/daily-resources/diocese-of-venice-responds-to-novel-coronavirus-covid19/ for English and for Spanish, please visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/hispanic-apostolate/.

Youth group raises money for Earth Day

The St. Columbkille Parish Youth Group lesson for the week was Catholic Social Justice, and Caring for God’s Creation, and in turn they hosted a lemonade stand after Masses on April 18, 2021 with all donations going to help the earth. The group raised more than $600 and opted to split the money and shared it with ECHO in North Fort Myers and the Calusa Nature Center in Fort Myers. ECHO teaches sustainable farming and combats world hunger, while the Calusa Nature Center connects people with nature educating them about our unique ecosystem and environmental issues concerning the region. The success was attributed to the hard work of the youth and the support of the parishioners.

 

Volunteer recognized nationally

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. Volunteer Tim Gunderman of Bonita Springs was recently named one of 6 finalists a finalist for the Catholic Charities USA Volunteer of the Year Award. Gunderman by virtue of his efforts to help people in the Bonita Springs and Naples areas during the past year first made the top 36 then the top 6. A video of each finalist was created as part of the selection process. Congratulations Tim for your time, knowledge and heart in helping to support Catholic Charities.

The St. Vincent de Paul Rummage Sale May 1

Please join the Sacred Heart Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in our continuing efforts to raise money to assist those in need in our community by taking part in a May 1, 2021 Rummage Sale from 9 a.m. to noon at 25200 Airport Road in Punta Gorda. There will be household items, furniture, linens, clothing, shoes, purses, jewelry, books and toys. The rain date is May 8.

Junior Class Retreat theme: “Have No Fear”

The peer ministry team at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples was on campus until late on April 22, 2021 and returned to school bright and early the next day to lead the Junior Class Retreat! The theme of the retreat was “Have No Fear” (Psalm 23) with the focus on letting go of our fears in order to trust more in God. The day included time for prayer and reflection as well as a variety of fun activities

Student places third in countywide Spelling Bee

Congratulations to Elizabeth Burke, a student at Donahue Academy of Ave Maria Parish, for taking third place in the 2021 Optimist Club of Naples Spelling Bee on March 24, 2021.

First graders learn about science

The first-grade class of Anne Boddison at St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers recently enjoyed reading stories on inventing and engineering things. The students then had fun working together and using different items from their S.T.R.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) bins to build many unique objects such as flying houses, robots, mazes, and much more. The students then recorded what they built by drawing and writing about what they created in their journals.

Online fundraiser to support Our Mother’s House

Honor your mother, daughter, sister, friend, or someone who has been like a mother to you with a gift that will help homeless mothers and their children. Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities provides a safe environment for residents to achieve self-sufficiency through education, vocational training, and personal growth. This year they are holding their annual Mother’s Day fundraiser so everyone can help a needy mother succeed. To support Our Mother’s House please visit www.dov.regfox.com/mothers-day-2021.

Porn: Seven Myths Exposed event May 4

The porn industry has taken our culture hostage! The Diocese of Venice Family Life Office is hosting an event at 6:30 p.m., May 4, 2021 at the Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall, 399 Sarasota St., Venice, to address and educate teens, parents and all others on the tyranny of pornography in our society. Matt Fradd is the speaker who has authored and coauthored several books, and creates and hosts the podcast, “Pints with Aquinas”. There is no cost to attend. For further information, please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Stepping into Marriage with Children

Did you know 60 percent of second marriages fail and the failure rate increases to 70 percent when there are children from a previous marriage in the home. The difficulties of parenting and stepparenting seemingly insurmountable are often the root cause of such failures. A free half day workshop, organized by the Diocese Office of Family Life, entitled “Stepping into Marriage with Children” is designed for those couples beginning or currently in a stepfamily situation, and will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, May 15, 2021 at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. This workshop takes a realistic look at blended families and offers strategies and tools to meet unique challenges. There is no cost to attend but registration is required at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/stepping-into-marriage-with-children. For further information please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Year of the Family

On March 19, 2021, the fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, on the joy and beauty of familial love, Pope Francis inaugurated the year “Amoris Laetitia Family” which will conclude on June 26, 2022 on the occasion of the next World Meeting of Families in Rome. When announced, the Dicastery said in a statement, “The Pandemic experience has highlighted the central role of the family as the domestic Church and has shown the importance of community ties between families”. To learn more about the effort and the initiatives occurring in the Diocese of Venice during this commemorative year visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/year-of-the-family/.

8th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference

All are invited to the 8th Annual Marian Eucharistic Conference at Ave Maria University from May 14 to May 16, 2021. Featured speakers will include Dr. Mark Miravalle, John Paul II Chair of Mariology, Franciscan University of Steubenville; Kathleen Beckman L.H.S., author and President of Foundation of Prayer for Priests; Dr. Edward Sri, theologian, author, and co-founding leader of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students); and Roy Shoeman, speaker and author of “Salvation is from the Jews” and “Honey from the Rock.” Please visit www.aveconferences.com to register for this event. Lodging and meals available. For more information call 239-348-4725 or email aveconferences@gmail.com

Prayer Vigils continue abortion centers

40 Days for Life continues year-round in Fort Myers and Sarasota! Please join in prayer outside of Planned Parenthood. Help is needed in Fort Myers on Wednesdays and Thursdays when abortions take place and in Sarasota Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays. Your presence makes a difference! When people are there on the sidewalk, the “no show rate” for abortion appointments can go up 75%. For more information about the Fort Myers vigils, please email monash127@aol.com and for Sarasota  40dflsarasota@gmail.com.

Foster Homes Needed in Florida

There are over 20,000 children requiring foster care in the State of Florida with only 5000 families certified to meet their needs. During May, National Foster Care Awareness Month, please consider providing a loving home where a child can heal and thrive. To learn more about foster parenting children in Florida who do not have relatives who are able to care for them, please call 1-83-FOSTERFL or visit MyFloridaMyFamily.com.

News Briefs for the week of April 16, 2021

2 Diocesan Seminarians to be ordained Transitional Deacons April 17

Diocese of Venice Seminarians José Grullón and David Portorreal are among a group of nine who will be ordained as Transitional Deacons at 11 a.m., April 17, 2021 at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. His Excellency, Bishop William A. Wack, CSC, Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, will ordain the men and the liturgy will be livestreamed at www.svdp.edu/live from St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boca Raton. As newly ordained Deacons, these men will be assigned to Parishes where they will exercise their ministry in preparation to become priests in the following year. Among many duties, they will preach, perform baptisms, witness marriages, as well as preside over wakes and funerals.

Cape Coral students at state competition

A team of seven St. Andrew Catholic School students from Cape Coral competed on March 13, 2021 in the Florida Odyssey of the Mind State Competition at the Orlando Convention Center. The team took the judges to a magical storybook land by building a life-sized magical beanstalk which appeared to grow using a combination of springs, magnets, and an intricate pulley system.  They proudly took 4th place in the State Finals and will be moving on to compete in The Odyssey of the Mind World Finals which will take place in Orlando in the upcoming months. These students began preparing their solution in September of 2020 and have worked hard throughout the course of the 2020-2021 school year. Team members were: Addison Baker, Kiley Lebid, Ryan Peterson, Ellianna Trunkett, Ana Cerna, Laura Cerna and Isabella Smith.

Evangelizing Catechesis: Survey of the new Directory for Catechesis

The Diocese Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation is offering an online course surveying the new how-to guide, the Directory for Catechesis, published by the Vatican in 2020. This new edition of the Directory emphasizes how to incorporate evangelization throughout the entire process of catechesis. This course is for Directors and Coordinators of Religious Education, catechists, schoolteachers, adult faith formators, RCIA teams, parents — anyone who teaches the Faith. Co-teachers of the course are Dr. John Gresham, Director of the Institute for Catholic Studies and Formation, Anne Chrzan, Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Venice, and Joshua Mazrin, Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Venice. The six-week course starts April 19, 2021. There is a $25 fee to take the course. Visit the Institute website for more information and to register at www.institute-dov.org or contact the director for more information: john.gresham@institute-dov.org.

Marriage Prep Retreat for Couples over 55 coming soon

The Office of Family Life is hosting a one-day sacramental marriage preparation retreat for those couples over 55 years of age who are preparing for marriage or convalidation, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 24, 2021 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1301 Center Road, Venice. Lunch is included. The program builds an appreciation for the joy of Sacramental Marriage while offering insight and tools to address the unique challenges and responsibilities. Registration is required at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/two-become-one.

Youth Mental Health First Aid Workshop

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, Directors of Religious Education, Youth Ministers, Principals and Teachers how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. The course will be held on April 29, 2021 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at St. Agnes Parish, 7775 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, and on May 1 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish, 833 Magellan Drive, Sarasota. Advanced registration is required, and the cost is $25. Visit www.dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/workshop-on-youth-mental-health-first-aid for registration. The cost includes the book, lunch and certificate of completion.

Porn: Seven Myths Exposed event May 4

The porn industry has taken our culture hostage! The Diocese of Venice Family Life Office is hosting an event at 6:30 p.m., May 4, 2021 at the Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall, 399 Sarasota St., Venice, to address and educate teens, parents and all others on the tyranny of pornography in our society. Matt Fradd is the speaker who has authored and coauthored several books, and creates and hosts the podcast, “Pints with Aquinas”. There is no cost to attend. For further information, please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Stepping into Marriage with Children

Did you know 60 percent of second marriages fail and the failure rate increases to 70 percent when there are children from a previous marriage in the home. The difficulties of parenting and stepparenting seemingly insurmountable are often the root cause of such failures. A free half day workshop, organized by the Diocese Office of Family Life, entitled “Stepping into Marriage with Children” is designed for those couples beginning or currently in a stepfamily situation, and will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, May 15, 2021 at Our Lady of Light Parish, 19680 Cypress View Drive, Fort Myers. This workshop takes a realistic look at blended families and offers strategies and tools to meet unique challenges. There is no cost to attend but registration is required at https://dioceseofvenice.regfox.com/stepping-into-marriage-with-children. For further information please contact Carrie Harkey at harkey@dioceseofvenice.org or 941-484-9543.

Year of the Family

On March 19, 2021, the fifth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, on the joy and beauty of familial love, Pope Francis inaugurated the year “Amoris Laetitia Family” which will conclude on June 26, 2022 on the occasion of the next World Meeting of Families in Rome. When announced, the Dicastery said in a statement, “The Pandemic experience has highlighted the central role of the family as the domestic Church and has shown the importance of community ties between families”. To learn more about the effort and the initiatives occurring in the Diocese of Venice during this commemorative year visit https://dioceseofvenice.org/year-of-the-family/.

Tele-Mental Health Counseling Services available

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc. is offering Mental Health Counseling for adults and children provided by licensed mental health therapists. If you or someone you know are feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, depressed or helpless, Catholic Charities can help. For more information, please call 239-455-2655.

Vaccines for Homebound Seniors

Seniors and/or their caregivers can sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in their home by sending their request by email to HomeboundVaccine@em.myflorida.com. Also, Senior Friendship Centers (Sarasota, Venice, Fort Myers and Arcadia) has organized a program to connect seniors with volunteers who can drive them to their scheduled vaccine appointment. Anyone needing a ride to their vaccination appointment should contact Lillian Cleveland, Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 941-556-3223 or lcleveland@friendshipcenters.org. The above is for information purposes only and are independent programs. Inquiries should be directed to the email/phone numbers for each program.

STREAM initiative has big roll out

The Diocese of Venice is uniformly strengthening STREAM education in 15 Diocesan Catholics Schools through investment in a partnership with FIRST®, a global robotics community, “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” placing students ahead of the curve in primary fields while continuing to promote core Catholic virtues.

This initiative came about under the direction of Bishop Frank J. Dewane who said the investment is a means to an end, an upping of the skills taught at each Diocesan Catholic school.

“It is all about investing in our students because they are our mission and we want them to succeed; to become the leaders, the professionals, the faith witnesses of tomorrow,” Bishop Dewane added. “This will develop our students into who they are becoming as men and women of God; and therefore, who they will become ethical scientists, ethical business people, ethical engineers and all of that has to be built upon a base of Faith.”

A gift of 500 robots and curricular resources were presented by Bishop Dewane to Diocesan Catholic Schools on March 10, 2021 in the Zazarino Center of St. Martha Catholic School and St. Mary Academy in Sarasota. Present in support of the announcement were Catholic school principals and numerous priests. Greg Harrell, a Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School alum, who is an engineer and designs bridges, praised the Diocesan initiative and said “You had me at robots!”

Bishop Dewane explained that he understands the students of today and tomorrow need to be rigorously challenged through STREAM – Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math. As an educational leader, the Bishop is making a long-term investment in student success through his pledge to provide all Diocesan Catholic schools with age-appropriate kits and robots to compete at the highest levels of competition through FIRST® while integrating Catholic values and virtues through the Diocesan curriculum called, “The Gifts of Christ: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Affability, Fortitude, Humility, and Prudence.”

These kits use LEGO products, such as Duplo blocks for the youngest students, and more traditional blocks for older students. Each progressive kit increases with difficulty and broadens the concepts learned in earlier years. By middle and high school levels, students will be building competition robots.

Students from PK-3 through Grade 12 will join others worldwide for age-appropriate learning, designing, and building robots of all sizes while offering young people a chance to proudly dream of working as true leaders in science and technology fields. Through teamwork and competition, students gain self-confidence and valuable, real-world skills that can open pathways for all types of career choices in STREAM.

The March 10 presentation included a press conference and demonstration of robots by students from St. Martha and St. Mary. The students showed Bishop Dewane how they use a computer to program a small robot through an obstacle course while doing various tasks. The younger students shared different projects they worked on in the days leading up to the event. Each student expressed to the Bishop how exciting it is to work with the robots and blocks all while learning many skills.

St. Martha and St. Mary joined St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte, St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Fort Myers and St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral in being part of the pilot introduction for the robotics program.

While robots are a major part of the FIRST® program, it is just a tool that expands upon the idea of project-based learning and cognitive thought processes, helping to develop skills such as leadership, communication, complex problem solving, teamwork and creativity. All of this is being done with an added dimension of our Catholic Faith which remains the first job of all Diocesan schools.

“Every student attending Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools from this point forward will have this curriculum and these activities on a daily basis,” said Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education. “We are the only Diocese in full partnership with FIRST, and the K-12 program combines to position our students to learn lessons and develop the skills necessary to be leaders of the future.”

Jennifer Falestiny, Diocesan Curriculum Specialist, who helped to facilitate the partnership between the Diocese and FIRST®, said schools will begin integrating the program for the final quarter of the 2021 academic year. The balance of schools and teachers will be introduced to the project in June for implementation in the 2021-2022 academic year.

St. Andrew students shine at science fairs

A group of middle schoolers from St. Andrew Catholic School in Cape Coral recently participated and excelled during the 64th Annual Thomas Alva Edison Regional Science and Engineering Fair and the Thomas A. Edison Festival of Lights Inventors Fair.

These are the largest science competitions in Southwest Florida where hundreds of students from Lee and Charlotte counties present their inventions and/or science research projects bringing together 1,000 competitors.

Held in February 2021, the St. Andrew students “demonstrated Christ’s gift of fortitude as they successfully overcame the many challenges posed by the pandemic to excel during the virtual competitions,” proclaimed Principal David Nelson.

“Congratulations to ALL of our 2021 Science & Inventor Fair’s Regional Finalists,” Nelson said. “Not only are you resilient, but you embody the passion and spirit of Thomas Edison, the namesake for the regional science and invention fair. Congratulations on your STREAM (Science Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) accomplishments!”

An impressive 13 St. Andrew were recognized for their exceptional science and invention projects at the virtual awards ceremonies on March 11, 2021. Several will be moving on to compete in national competitions. Winners and awards include:

Sarah Engel, 6th grade, was awarded 1st place for Environmental Engineering (Junior Division), for her project “Oil and Water Don’t Mix.” Sarah received multiple honors and is also a 2021 Grand Award Winner and will virtually present her project at the 66th Annual State Science & Engineering Fair of Florida this spring.

Christopher Carranza was awarded 2nd place for 8th grade Inventions for his invention “Fix-A-Flat with the Easy Screw.” Christopher was invited to present his invention at the National Invention Competition and received special recognition and special awards.

Sofia Mayus, 7th grade, was awarded 1st place for Animal Sciences (Junior Division) for her project “What Color are Insects Most Attracted To?” Sofia received special recognition with multiple awards.

Zachary Engel, 8th grade, was awarded 2nd place for Earth & Environmental Sciences (Junior Division), for his project “Monarchs vs the Length of Day.”  Zachary received special recognition and awards.

Sephora Esperance, 6th grade, was awarded 2nd place for Environmental Engineering (Junior Division), for her project “What is the Most Efficient Way to Position the Solar Panel?”  Sephora received special recognition with a cash award from AIM Engineering & Surveying, Inc.

Christopher Pino, 7th grade, was awarded 2nd place for Animal Sciences (Junior Division) for his project “The Affect of Different Photosynthetically Active Radiation Values on Coral Growth.” Christopher received special recognition with multiple awards including the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Sophia Smith, 8th grade, was awarded 2nd place for Chemistry (Junior Division) for her project “How Does Wax Type Affect Burn Rate and Soot Concentration of Candles?”  Sophia received special recognition.

Laura Cerna was awarded 3rd place for 6th grade Inventions for her invention “Solar Powered Dollhouse.” Laura was invited to present her invention at the National Invention Competition and received a cash award from Florida Power & Light’s Energy Wise Scholarship, as well as special recognition in the category of Practical & Precious Innovations for the Greater Good.

Ellianna Trunkett, 8th Grade, received special recognition for her project “Altitude Impact,” and multiple awards including from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA Earth System Science Award).

Others receiving awards were: Kyle Benson, 3rd place for 8th grade Inventions for his invention to help fishermen; Ana Cerna 8th grade, was awarded 3rd place for Physics & Astronomy (Junior Division); Sabrina Kosmala, 7th grade, Honorable Mention for Physics & Astronomy (Junior Division); Noah Rodriguez, 6th grade, 3rd place for Behavioral & Social Sciences (Junior Division).

Diocese partners to broaden STREAM curriculum

A major investment in the students at Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools today will have lasting benefits that go beyond the classroom.

This initiative to benefit Diocesan Catholic Schools came about through a unique partnership with FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), the leading robotics competition in the world. The Diocese is an official partner in the program that engage all students from kindergarten through high school in exciting, mentor-based, research and robotics programs, which encourage students to become science and technology leaders, and well-rounded contributors to society.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane has backed the effort to introduce this new, comprehensive STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and mathematics) initiative. The forward-thinking effort will enhance the existing STREAM curriculum of the 15 Diocesan schools, placing students ahead of the curve in primary fields while continuing to promote core Catholic virtues.

“This is an example of looking to the future and positioning our Diocesan schools, and more importantly, our students, for success,” Bishop Dewane said. “This program has a strong science, math and engineering component, but it enhances everything we are already doing that distinguishes Diocesan Catholic schools from others in the region.”

The commitment to the program is seen through the initial investment in equipment, fast-tracking the effort into all schools to ensure they are ready to start implementation for all students by the start of the 2021-2022 Academic Year.

“Every student going through Diocese of Venice Catholic schools from this point forward will have this curriculum and these activities as part of his/her regular experience,” Explained Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education. “This program will be integrated into all aspects of education, not just the existing STREAM efforts in the schools.”

The Diocese is one of only 25 nationwide partners and is unique nationally in that the Diocese program includes a strong religious component, something Bishop Dewane stressed.

“We are not only teaching science and technology but building into this the basic foundations of Catholic Faith in action,” Father Belmonte said.

While FIRST robotics core values are discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, teamwork and fun, the Diocese team created C.H.R.I.S.T. Gifts – Catholic Habits and Responses in School and Teams. These gifts are truth, beauty, goodness, humility, fortitude, prudence and affability.

“This is not as an add-on, but it enhances existing FIRST concepts to fit them into the Diocesan program,” Father Belmonte added. “We have aligned this program with the Florida Catholic Conference, creating a unique opportunity to teach children and teachers about Catholic virtues in education. Students will learn about these virtues both intellectually and in practice.”

Jennifer Falestiny, Diocesan Curriculum Specialist, who helped to facilitate the partnership between the Diocese and FIRST, said five pilot schools (which already have strong STREAM programs) will begin integrating the FIRST program for the final quarter of the 2021 Academic Year. The balance of all schools and teachers will be introduced to the project in June for implementation in the fall.

“This will be integrated in varying capacities into all schools by the fall, with full implementation within five years,” Falestiny said. “The FIRST program teaches students a new way of thinking that will be foundational when determining how to express their ideas. Students will develop their agility, knowledge and experience in the use of different technologies, preparing them for the future. This cultivates a group of innovative thinkers and problem solvers. This is a new way to learn in the context of Faith.”

In the classroom, students will be introduced to age-appropriate program kits which are the tools to teach the curriculum. These kits use LEGO products, such as Duplo blocks for the youngest students, and more traditional blocks for older students. Each progressive kit increases with difficulty and broadens the concepts learned in earlier years. By middle and high school levels, schools will be building competition robots.

The FIRST program is designed to be plugged into a school at any grade, Falestiny said. This means new participants, either in the first year of the initiative or new to Diocesan schools, will already have the foundational concepts that are appropriate for their grade level. “Once entered, they will catapult because they will have added enrichment and enhanced equipment, tools and activities.”

While robots are a major part of the FIRST program, it is just a tool that expands upon the idea of project-based learning and cognitive thought processes, helping to develop skills such as leadership, communication, complex problem solving, teamwork and creativity. All of this with an added dimension of Faith.

In the coming months, more information will be shared about the partnership between the Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools and FIRST.

Bradenton Catholic School hosted a STREAM program

St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton hosted a two-week virtual STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math) program in June 2020 for students of all ages.

Connected to their teachers via online Zoom sessions, students were empowered to follow the “Invention Process” as they collaborated, innovated, designed prototypes and learned from their failures. Program kits were sent directly to the students’ homes ahead of time so they could actively follow along and learn.

Students learned about flight with gliders, rockets, and robots. They constructed paper airplanes and measured their flight path and even built air traffic control towers. In addition, the students also investigated, took apart and customized a high-tech flight simulation robot.

They drew sketches, built prototypes, and designed logos for a new invention they created. Later the students created parachutes to air-drop different animals into different environments.

The inventors also designed and produced energy-efficient LED plant lights and even manufactured their own biodegradable pot and later planted seeds.

Participants discovered the unseen inventors behind their favorite sports and then designed and built their own ultimate sports complex. Students used simple machines to roll a ball during a table-top game.

Through these activities, students gained essential skills they can apply throughout their lives.

This STREAM program is just the latest in cutting-edge educational opportunities provided to students at St. Joseph Catholic School. To learn more about the school, please call 941-755-2611 or visit https://www.sjsfl.org/

St. Andrew scientists shine at regional fair

St. Andrew Catholic School was well represented at the 63rd Annual Thomas Alva Edison Kiwanis Regional Science and Engineering Fair and Inventors Fair which was held Jan. 18 at Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero.

The Cape Coral school sent 16 middle school students to the Science and Inventors Fair, and an amazing 11 students were recognized for their exceptional science and invention projects at the awards ceremonies. Three of those students took first place in their divisions. The event is the largest science and technology competition in Southwest Florida where more than 700 students from schools in Lee and Charlotte counties present their inventions and/or science projects.

The “STARS” of the evening were sixth grader Christopher Pino and eighth graders Naissa Esperance and Andrew Pino. Christopher was awarded First Place in the Jr. Division for Animal Sciences for his project “Cut the Frag: The Effect of Different Starting Coral Fragment’s Weights on Growth Rate.” Naissa received First Place in the Jr. Division for Environmental Engineering for her project “Comparing the Efficiency of Reverse Osmosis and Thermal Desalination for Decreasing the Salt Concentration of Water.” Andrew was awarded First Place in the Jr. Division for Chemistry for his project “The Power of Algae: The Effects of Different Concentrations of Magnesium Sulfate and Magnesium Chloride on Chlorella vulgaris Growth.”

Also recognized were: Zoe Malca (grade 6) Honorable Mention – Jr. Division for Behavioral and Social Sciences; Zachary Engle (grade 7) Third Place – Jr. Division for Physics and Astronomy; Kyle Benson (grade 7) Fourth Place – 7th Grade Inventions; Abigail Cudnik (grade 7) Honorable Mention – Jr. Division for Earth and Environmental Science; Savannah Chase (grade 8) Third Place – Jr. Division for Biomedical and Health Sciences; Declan Derba and Renato Pantoja (grade 8) Honorable Mention – Jr. Division for Engineering; and Marckovsky Ambroise (grade 8) Second Place – Special Transportation Invention.

All three First Place winners are also Grand Award Winners and will present their projects at the prestigious Broadcom MASTERS event and then this spring at the State Science and Engineering Fair in Lakeland.

St. Andrew Catholic School is a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Art, Math) certified school and holds the distinction of being the first pilot STREAM school in the Diocese of Venice.

Principal David Nelson congratulated the students on their accomplishments.

“The amount of St. Andrew students who were recognized at the regional science fair is a testament to Mr. James Less and the school’s STREAM program,” Nelson said. “Mr. Less, along with our faculty and staff connect student learning through a variety of activities which promotes all aspects of STREAM. I am so proud of how our students handled themselves throughout the entire process. Congratulations to all Saint Andrew students, faculty, and staff on a job well done.”

For more information about St. Andrew Catholic School, please call 239-772-3922 or visit www.standrewcs.org.

News briefs from around the Diocese mid January 2020

St. Mary Academy students win STREAM Challenge

Four students from St. Mary Academy were chosen as the winners of the Diocesan wide “First Annual Gingerbread House STREAM Challenge” that was held in December. Voting was online and we were judged on the following criteria: Adherence to the theme – “Keeping Christ in Christmas;” Innovative technology integration; and Clean, neat, and polished design. Representatives from the Diocese Education Department presented a trophy and gift card to the students and their teachers. The gift card will be used to purchase more STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts, and mathematics) related technology for the classroom.

Prayer walk held in Grove City

St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Grove City (Englewood) hosted a Walk for Life on Jan. 18. The faithful of all ages walked in solidarity with the upcoming National March for Life (Jan. 24) and to witness to the dignity of the human person. This annual walk was also a fundraiser to benefit the Pregnancy Careline Center of Port Charlotte, which supports women who are dealing with an unexpected pregnancy.

Principal’s Corner – St. Catherine Catholic School 

By Nicole Loseto, St. Catherine Catholic School, Sebring

St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring has enjoyed an AMAZING start to the new year. We worked tirelessly preparing the school for the upcoming year by continuing to improve both the facility and academic programs. Many students participated in a fun and interactive Vacation Bible School that explored our Catholic Faith through art, sports, music and literature. We also offered the first STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Education, Arts, Mathematics) camp which provided many hands-on activities for students to explore and research science and math concepts.

Nicole Loseto, Principal of St. Catherine Catholic School in Sebring.

Kick-off for the new school year was a Welcome Back BBQ. Guests were delighted by the new improvements we made to the main school building and the promise of a challenging and rewarding year ahead. The students were also excited to meet their teachers and looked forward to joining newly established clubs such as the Rosary Club, the National Junior Honor Society, and Student Council, which launched a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society called Pennies for Patients. We are so grateful for all the support received from our families and community to make it a great success.

The eighth graders were recently surprised with a Senior Sunrise Breakfast to begin their graduation year. It is an exciting year for them as this is the first graduating class from St. Catherine’s since the school’s inception in 2008, the first Catholic School located in the Eastern Deanery. Several of these students have been with the school since it opened when they were in preschool. This is also the first year of the VPK program.

For our efforts, the school was rewarded with the Gold Seal Accreditation as a Gold Seal Quality Care program. This Seal is awarded when a preschool demonstrates a high level of educational professionalism and commitment to quality standards and excellence. This year also saw the introduction of academic coaches who meet regularly with students for extra help with their coursework. The guidance and mentorship the coaches provide builds our students’ confidence and self-esteem.

The Fall Season was dedicated to the people who serve our country. In September, we conducted a Constitution Day where the children had a chance to meet a Constitutional Scholar. In October, we held a Red Mass to honor judges, lawyers, law school professor, and other members of the legal profession. On Veterans Day, we paid tribute to those who served in all branches of the military. Our students were honored and delighted to meet such amazing individuals who are role models in their community. Celebrating their service and sacrifice helps our young men and women aspire to greatness and a life of service.

In this 35th Anniversary year of the Diocese of Venice, we have been actively teaching about the history of the Diocese and the concept of how to be “A Disciple of Christ,” using resources provided by the Diocese of Venice. Everything we see, hear and do at St. Catherine shows our children how they can live as “A Disciple of Christ” and it is our mission to demonstrate how they can live in God’s image and serve others.

Learn more about what makes St. Catherine Catholic School such a special and rewarding place to help your child grow in their faith as a Disciple of Christ at www.stcatheschool.org.

You may reach Principal Nicole Loseto at loseto@stcatheschool.org.

Principals Corner – Incarnation

By Colleen Curlett – Principal of Incarnation Catholic School in Sarasota

Sarasota’s lively history radiates pride, love, and joy thanks in part to awe-inspiring attractions such as the Ringling Museum and College of Art and Design, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and Sailor Circus Academy. These creative havens have paved a community of collaboration, as does Incarnation Catholic School (ICS), a lesser known but much celebrated entity. ICS is small in stature but not in accomplishments, recognition and inspiration. In fact, Sarasota’s SRQ magazine voted Incarnation Catholic School the Best Private School in 2018.

Incarnation has retained a rich, caring history from the day it opened its doors in 1961.  Much has changed in nearly 60 years, and ICS has made great leaps forward thanks to the many faculty, alumni, parents, grandparents and volunteers who for decades have invested enormous sums of time, talent and resources into the school and parish community.

Former parents and students continue to forge their legacy across the county. Danny Strzempka, a father of an involved ICS family, is celebrated as the creator of the prosthetic tail for Winter, an injured dolphin. The best-selling book, “Dolphin Tale,” and its award-winning feature film that recall Winter’s miraculous recovery has inspired millions to use their God-given talent to benefit all of His creatures. Strzempka, who has a prosthetic himself, often returns to Incarnation as a motivational speaker to address faith, charity and ingenuity.

I attribute the success of Incarnation Catholic school to our stellar staff and faculty and their collaboration with our students, parents, and community. As an aspiring STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) school, we have seamlessly integrated technology within our traditional curriculum and our Catholic faith. Many creative activities are an off-shoot of our STREAM initiatives. Our middle school students pushed their technological and artistic talents to new heights when they hosted a dinner theater extravaganza that enticed guests to solve a family-friendly mystery with a variety of hands-on forensics labs.

The love shared among our ICS family members also extends throughout Sarasota county. Our quarterly service project, “Keeping Sarasota Beautiful,” helps us bond with the community as we work together to clean our adopted roads.

ICS students can choose from a variety of extracurricular clubs and activities. The Incarnation Cheer team won the division title during the 2018-2019 All Out competition in Orlando. Middle school students have the options to take digital photography and guitar lessons offered by Florida Virtual School.

The Pre K-3 class is in its first year and is already a huge success. We are blessed to have these young, bright children join our ever-expanding family. Each and every addition to the ICS community offers another, unique perspective that inspires us to enhance our knowledge, embrace our faith, and empower our community to teach, love, and lead our disciples of the 21st Century.

Learn more about how you and your child can strengthen our foundation of faith at  https://incarnationschool.edu/.

You can reach Principal Colleen Curlett at ccurlett@incarnationschool.edu.

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