Activities 2013/2014

The new scholastic year commenced on September 19th with two days of staff development. On the first day, we heard mass which was then followed by a talk by the school’s spiritual director, Rev. Fr. Joseph Gauci.

This year, Fr Gauci spoke to us about Pope Francis and his views about Catholic Education.  In fact, education played an important part in his formation and his first experiences as a minister of God. Teaching is a normal part of the Jesuit vocation, and Pope Francis started out teaching high school literature and psychology right after he got his degree in philosophy. Then, after getting his theology degree, he continued teaching, this time theology and philosophy, and served as a rector of a major seminary in Buenos Aires. The pope’s experience and insight inspired him to always encourage  educators and teachers. He sees education as “an act of hope” and how faith and the Christian vision of humanity fuel that hope.

Jesuits work on the education and evangelisation of others, especially the poor and those in need of social justice. From his passion for social justice and his missionary zeal to his focus on engaging the wider world and his preference for collaboration over peremptory action, Francis is a Jesuit through and through. The Pope believes that school is not only for gaining knowledge, but also for learning “habits and values.” He emphasizes that education in our times “is guided by a changing generation, and that, therefore, every educator is required to change, in the sense of knowing how to communicate with the young”. He encourages teachers to be leaders who are competent, conscientious and compassionate.

The fact that our Pope chose  to name himself after St Francis stems from his desire for the Catholic Church to be an institution “of the poor, for the poor.” When the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus  decided to open their first school, they wanted to be Catholic educators who  dedicated themselves to Christ’s “little ones”, especially the poor and the needy, entrusted in their care.

Chapter 3 of Pope Francis’ first encyclical, “Lumen Fidei”, focuses entirely on the importance of evangelization. He who has opened himself to God’s love cannot keep this gift for himself, writes the Pope. The light of Jesus shines on the face of Christians and is transmitted by contact like a flame that ignites from another, and passes from generation to generation, through the uninterrupted chain of witnesses to the faith. The contact that teachers have with their students, is an ideal means of transmitting this light of faith.  It is our duty to sow the seed of faith in those entrusted in our care and to ensure that the seed transforms into a large tree. This was the title of the powerpoint prepared by our Head, Sr Francesca, at the beginning of our staff meeting during which we were encouraged to follow Jesus as our teacher. This presentation showed us that there is in the mind of every dedicated teacher, the model of the teacher she would like to be. The ideal model is Jesus Christ the divine Teacher.  The four Gospels show Him in the role of teacher.  He is the Father’s Word. He taught decisively, appealingly, effectively, patiently. He was everything that a genuine teacher would like to be. We can therefore be consoled by the thought that we do not work alone «I am with you», said Jesus.  The Holy Spirit is the great unseen healing agent in all our classroom traumas.
At a time when technological teaching aids have become indispensable, perhaps we have become less aware of the importance of the teacher-pupil relationship, with the basis of communication a telling and listening situation.

We prayed together for the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, to have mercy on us as we try to present a joyful exposition of the Faith and to try to grip our pupils interest by the communication of our personality.  We asked Him to help us to open our mouths and teach enthusiastically and to win for  Him the hearts and minds of the children we teach. We then sang a beautiful hymn entitled ‘Draw near to God and He will draw near to you‘. This song represents God’s calling in our lives as Christians, as it is asking Him to help us and be our guide in life, whether in good times or bad.

We pray, Lord Jesus, for a sense of mission as we begin a new year. Help us to be concerned with the everyday life situations of our pupils. Help us Jesus to develop in their hearts a genuine and abiding spirit of faith in all that your Church teaches. Lord Jesus, make us women of prayer, genuine teachers of the Faith.

Following the power point presentation, we then watched a you-tube video of the song ‘The Prayer’  and sang it together.  Then we started discussing the new scholastic year that lay ahead of us. Our school actually opened its doors on the 23rd September for our Kinder 2 to Year 6 students.  The Kinder 1 pupils, on the other hand, commenced on the 7th October. October 1st was the day chosen for this year’s Blessing of Animals.  As usual, the students brought their much treasured pets to have them blessed by  Fr Joseph Gauci.The impeccably kept pets were shown off in decorated cages and the children looked extremely pleased. A Thanksgiving Mass was celebrated on the 3rd October, asking God to give each and every one of us a good scholastic year. Friday 4th was a school holiday as the Franciscan community celebrated the feast of St Francis.

The introductory meetings with parents were held on the 8th and 9th October.  Each teacher met the parents of her new students and together they discussed what neededto be done during the new scholastic year for the best interest of the children. On the 9th , Years 4, 5 and 6 students attended mass at St Francis Church on the feast of St Joseph of Copertino.  Representatives from the OASI foundation visited our school on the 16th and 21st October.  They had talks with our Years 4, 5and 6 students during which they spoke about the effects of drugs and alcohol abuse.  In November they revisited our school and talked to Years 1, 2 and 3 pupils. Revision tests for Years 2 and 3 were held  between the 11th and the 13th November.  These were followed by the tests for Years 4, 5 and 6 classes between the 18th and the 21st of November.  Results were handed out during the Parents’ Day held on the 26th. On November 11th, our Year 6 class attended a very informative session on ‘Hands on Farming’.  They received first hand knowledge about the sowing and  growing of plants in glasshouses as well as in open farmland, irrigation and the rearing of certain  farm animals. They also saw different species of birds. On November 12th, some of our students went to watch a musical about the life of Dun Gorg Preca, staged at the  Don Bosco Oratory by a cast made up mainly of Gozitan youths and children.

World  Children’s Day was celebrated on the 20th November and as usual, on this day our students were allowed to attend school without their uniform and their lunch could include the usually prohibited snacks and sweets. An extra quarter of an hour break was also allowed and for all this the students were asked to give a small donation towards the Community  Chest Fund.On the 22ndNovember,guidance teachers met the Year 6 students and their parents in preparation for their transition to Form 1.  They gave details about the subjects being offered at Secondary level  in order to help the students make a good decision when choosing their preferred subjects. A lesson in the German language kicked off a series of lessons in various languages for our Year 6 class.  This took place on the 25th November.    The aim of these lessons, and other similar lessons in Russian and French, was to introduce the students to different languages, thus helping them to decide which languages they wished to pursue at Secondary level.

During Advent, weekly Eucharistic Celebrations were held and these included a short play about special events leading to the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. These were ably performed by students from years 3 to 6. On the 5th of December, the school held its annual Christmas concert at the Aurora Theatre.  This year we opted to do excerpts from Musicals such as Annie, Mary Poppins, Oliver, Sound of Music, Cats and Joseph and his amazing technicolour dreamcoat, amongst others.  To add a touch of Christmas spirit, the programme finished with a song from Godspell, entitled ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord’, sung by all the students as Mary walked towards the stage holding baby Jesus in her arms. All the children enjoyed themselves a great deal as they sang, danced and acted in front of a very warm audience.

As Christmas was approaching, all the students gave a helping hand in decorating their classroom for this occasion.  Cribs prepared for a competition were also put on display before a panel of judges came over to our school to choose the winning entries which later competed with other cribs made by students from all over Malta. On the 9th of December, our Year 1 class was taken out on a trekking session organised by the peripatetic teachers.  The following day, Year 2 students were also offered this same enjoyable activity. On December 12th, our staff had an after-school Professional Development Programme.   Then, on the 16th, the Kindergarten pupils visited Betlehem in Ghajnsielem.  The Year 1 to Year 6 pupils had their turn on December 19th. On the 20th December, the last day prior to the commencement of the Christmas holidays, the school organised a Christmas party for all the children.  Once again, our Head, Sr Francesca,  brought in an Animation and Entertainment group which set up lots of fun games in the school’s gym and yards.  These included a huge bouncy castle, a miniature football pitch, animal ride-ons, a merry-go-round, balloon modelling, face painting as well as two cartoon characters who kept everyone entertained.

School re-opened on the 7th January.  Between the 13th and 15th, Yrs 1 to 3 students had their revision tests.  On the 16th the senior classes had a Treasure Hunt at the Villa Rundle.  Students were divided into groups and all of them did their best to win. Our Year 6 class had a Secondary School  orientation visit on the 17th January and then, on the 23rd, they had the same experience, this time at the Bishop’s Conservatory for the girls and at the Sacred Heart Seminary for the boys. On January 21st,  guidance teachers met up with the parents of year 6 students to give them details about the choice of subjects at Secondary level. On the same day the Year 5 pupils had a fieldwork session related to  the Social Studies project. January 22nd marked the 62nd anniversary of Mother Margherita’s passing away. We heardmass to commemorate this special occasion. The Half Yearly Exams for Yrs 4, 5 and 6 students were held between the 5thand the 14th of February. These were followed by a Parents’ Day on February 18th .

The much awaited visit by the President of Malta, Dr George Abela, took place on the 27th February.  Lots of preparations had been done in order to make this a special occasion for everyone.  Students from the Kinder Annexes joined our Kindergarten pupils as they welcomed the President at the school’s main entrance.  The President was then escorted to the school’s computer room where our students’science models were displayed. Members of our students’ council explained how some of the models worked.  The rest of the students and staff welcomed the President in the school’s gym where a nice display and some songs, on the theme of the colours of the rainbow, were performed.  Afterwards, all the staff had a chance to meet the President face to face and take a photo to mark this occasion.

This year’s Carnival festivities  commenced on the 28th February. On that day, we had a fancy dress party and all our students wore their carnival costumes.  Some of our staff  joined in the fun!  LSA’s in Year 1 did glittered tatoos to raise funds for the missions. Our Year 3 class had a climbing session, on the 10th March,  at the Sports Complex.  The next day it was the turn of our Year 4 students.

Once again, the four Church Primary Schools got together for a Sports Day activity on the 12th March. This event was aimed at giving the Gozo Church schools the opportunity to collaborate with one another in a fun-filled activity.  Rather than having the schools competing against one another, all the students were divided into four mixed groups.  There were various games including a scooter race, tunnel relay, sack race, obstacle relay, sit and reach and many others, all catering for the students of different age groups.  All those who took part were presented with a medal by the Bishop of Gozo, Mons Mario Grech. On the 12th March, the kinder classes had a Sports Fun Day, organized by the Kindergarten Assistants and LSA’s, while the rest of the school’s students were taking part in a Sports Day with other church schools. Our Year 6 students were invited to take part in a Health and Safety activity on the 24th March.  During this activity, children were given information about the food pyramid and the importance of a healthy diet.  The Health and Safety teachers encouraged the children to avoid food which contains a lot of fat and sugar and to do regular exercise.  After a brief brainstorming session, pupils were divided in groups and the session ended with a quiz about the food pyramid.  Kitchen and pool safety were the topics the children enjoyed the most.

On the 28th March, a prize giving ceremony related to this project was held at Ta’ Tina Farmhouse in Gharb.  During this ceremony, the Gozo College Principal, rewarded the schools for their models and charts related to Health and Safety.  A group of year 6 students were present together with the Assistant Head of School.  On the day, all projects were exhibited and appreciated.  The Principal presented a set of books to our school. On the 25th March, our Year 5 students had the opportunity of taking part in Hands-on Design and Technology workshops which the Design and Technology Learning Centre in Santa Venera, organized in collaboration with the Science Centre.  During these sessions the students had the opportunity to experience learning through doing and thus, to become more aware of how to intervene creatively so as to improve the world around them, in a rapidly changing technological society, through basic Design and Technology processes.

On that same day, our Year 6 students participated in ‘X’hemm il-Birgu’ – an activity organised by the local council of Vittoriosa with the aim of engaging students in hands on mathematical and scientific activities promoting problem-solving approach, outside the classroom , in different areas around Vittoriosa, namely the bastions, the Auberge de France, the Maritime and War Museums and the Inquisitor’s Palace amongst others. Meanwhile, our Year 1 and 2 classes went for an outing at Marsalforn where they went to see the saltpans. Our students participated in the NSTF Science Art contest, whereby they had to create an illustration/model on one of the chosen themes by using any form of artistic medium.  The themes included robots, rocks and fossils, the living seas as well as sun/wind power.

On Friday, 28th March, our Year 6 students, together with their teacher, attended the Science Days in Gozo at the Ministry for Gozo.  The program included the exhibition of projects, demonstrations by Prof. O’Kennedy, underwater documentaries filmed in Gozo and ICT and Robotics sessions. That same evening, NSTF invited Heads of School, teachers, participants and parents, to attend the Awards Night at the Ministry for Gozo.  Jerome Farrugia, a year 4 student, was among the winners.  His artwork was related to fossils.  All our participants from Years 4, 5 and 6 were presented with certificates of participation.  A reception followed this event. On the 4th of April, all four Church schools took part in a walk to Ta’ Pinu sanctuary as part of the Lent  activities.  Mass was celebrated by Fr Effie Masini.

Throughout Lent, children prepared themselves for Easter, through diverse spiritual activities. Once a week, an event from Christ’s Passion and Death was relived: Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, etc. To celebrate Palm Sunday, children brought olive branches and waved them throughout a short procession around the school. As part of our Eko skola project, the school organised a clean-up day at the Cittadella on the 8th April.  The Gozo Ministry provided the students with disposable gloves and rubbish bags.  Teachers and LSA’s divided the students into five groups – each group being assigned to collect specific waste such as plastic, metal, paper, glass etc.When the time allocated was over, all groups returned to their meeting point and weighed the bags of waste.  All bags were piled at a specific place so that they were later disposed of by workers.

A story telling session organised by the US Ambassdor to Malta, was held at our school on the 7th May.  Our Years 4 and 5 classes attended this very interesting session which kept all children engaged throughout. There was an Open Day for all newcomers’ and their parents on May 6th. The May Crowning ceremony was this year held on the 9th May. Two year 3 pupils dressed in their Holy Communion dresses, placed a garland of flowers on the head of the statue of Our Lady and a rosary bead in her hands. All the students presented flowers and candles which were placed near the niche of the statue.  Parents also attended the event.

The school celebrated upon Pope Francis’ signing of a decree proclaiming Madre Margherita Venerable. Together with the other three annexes, our school participated in three Masses which were organized during May in parishes related to the life of Madre Margherita, namely Kercem, Qala and St George’s church in Victoria.  During these Masses, the students, staff and parents who attended, were able to watch episodes from the life of this saintly nun through plays performed by the Years 4, 5 and 6 students.

The staff had an after school staff development session on the 14th May.  On that day, our Year 4 pupils had a session at the Sannat Special Unit.
On the 22nd May, a Sports’ Day for all St Francis kinder schools was also organized at the Victoria school.  All the children participated and they had a great time.  At the end of this activity, all participants were awarded a medal for their efforts and involvement. On the 23rd May, the Eko skola judges visited our school in order to interview our students’ council to check whether our school had qualified for the Green Flag. This year’s Benchmark Examinations for our year 6 pupils took place between the 28th of May and the 4th of June. These included written papers in English, Maths and Maltese, Orals and Listening Comprehensions.  Religion and Social Studies exams followed on the 10th and 11th June.  On the other hand, Year 4 and 5 students had their annual  written and oral exams between the 2nd and the 11th June. The presentation of Diplomas for our Kindergarten pupils, who will be initiating their Primary education next year, took place on June  12th. Many parents attended a short musical programme with the participation of students from Kinder 1 to Year 3. The Kinder 2 pupils did a march and looked really cute wearing their graduation hat!

In June, our school organised a Health and Safety and First Aid session for our Year 5 and 6 students.  External speakers were invited and they made the session very enjoyable by using various items and equipment and by involving the students in fun-filled hands-on activities.  At the end of the session the students were given a token to remind them about the dangers of speeding while driving.

The school leaving ceremony for our Year 6 pupils was held on the evening of that same day.  The programme started off with a  thanksgiving Mass celebrated by the school’s spiritual director, Fr Joseph Gauci, who asked the pupils to  hold on to the religious values they had received throughout their eight years at St Francis School and to keep God first and foremost in their lives. Mass was followed by a beautiful power-point presentation – a photo-story of their years at our school.  This was a surprise that Sr Francesca wanted to give to these students who laughed and commented as they were shown photos of their school experiences from their early years in kindergarten up to the present day. One of the girls also read out an essay she wrote about her years at St Francis School. Then Sr Francesca gave a short speech which was followed by the presentation of certificates and a token.   After taking a photo together as a memento of this special occasion, the students then gave a repertoire of songs and dance.

On the 23rd June, our Year 5 class visited the Ggantija temples in Xaghra.

In June, we celebrated Eucharistic Day.  The Blessed Sacrament was taken around the school by Fr. Joseph Gauci accompanied by the Year 6 students who sang various hymns.  Our spiritual director gave a short speech in each of the classes and the children spent some time in silent adoration. On Thursday, 26th June, our school held a Talent show for our students.  All classes participated with various singing and dancing performances.  After each performance, the students from each class  spoke about the activities that they did throughout the year in order to raise funds for the missions.  At the end of the activity a total of all the individual sums was announced.  The total amount neared the 10, 000 euro mark. June 27th, was the last day of school.  There was a small party and lots of games for all the students who were eager to start their holidays.  The day ended with a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for granting us the grace to end another scholastic year successfully.  Afterwards, we all wished one another happy holidays.

Now in its second year since being established, the school council has started to function really well and its members worked very hard and took responsibility in various initiatives throughout the scholastic year.  They gave their contribution in school decisions and came up with good ideas with regards to how everyone ought to work hand in hand in order to create a greater sense of belonging and of responsibility. As the end of the scholastic year was drawing near, the students voted for new members who were going to replace the outgoing Year 6 members.

This year our school embarked on the Eko-Skola project. Members of our students’ council each took a role in organizing and overseeing activities related to this initiative. Helping them were two Year 4 students, namely Victoria Camilleri and JoelynCutajar. Our Year 3 teacher, Ms Stephanie Mercieca, was chosen as the co-ordinating teacher. All classes focused on how we can save water and electricity and ways of how to re-use and recycle most of our everyday items in order to have a cleaner environment.  Our students did charts and models related to this subject.

Members of our council also met other students from the Għarb Primary School and they shared details and ideas of what each school was doing or intended to do in relation to this project.  During a particular activity, the Minister for Gozo, Dr Anton Refalo, the Mayor of Victoria, Dr Samuel Azzopardi and three mums, were invited to speak about the students involvement in this project.  During this activity they were able to see the students’ models exhibited in the school yard. Such was the enthusiasm of all our teachers and students, that we managed to be awarded the Green Flag in a short span of only one scholastic year!

Once a week, every class had a crafts lesson which enabled the students to show their creativity.  The items created during these craft lessons were displayed in the classrooms and created a very colourful ambience. Throughout the year all the classes had cookery sessions.  Some were done in class, others in the school yard.  The children had a ball during these sessions and felt extremely pleased with the end result.  This year the students tried their hands at making fruit/vegetable kebabs, healthy snacks and sandwiches.

Drama lessons were something that all children looked forward to.  They were extremely helpful, especially for the less able students, since it helped them to gain more confidence while acting in front of their classmates. In many of our classes, the teachers allocated time for the students to bring their own instrument and play a piece of music or to perform a short dance choreography in class.  The pupils felt very proud to show off their talent to their classmates. Maestro Michel Refalo was invited to speak to the students in order to instill in them an appreciation for different types of music and understand the value and merit of each style.  The class then discussed how music effects society and the value it holds in people’s lives.

This year, for the first time, the Kindergarten Assistants were able to use the interactive whiteboards that were recently installed in their classes and which facilitated teaching and learning.The Kindergarten Assistants used various interactive activities in order to enhance their lessons and make them more interesting for their pupils. They used various links to sites related to the teaching of numbers, letters and colours and the children took turns to play educational games.  Story sequencing was also taught through picture sorting interactive activities. The interactive whiteboard was also used to teach students letter sounds.  Later, phonological sounds were also introduced in order to prepare the pupils for the learning of phonics.

During the scholastic year, the early years classes had various story-telling sessions in both Maltese and English.   New words were explained while the story was being read.  The use of puppets and soft toys made storytelling more enjoyable and masks and costumes were used  for role play. The Kinder 2 pupils acted the story of Little Red Riding Hood in front of the Kinder 1 class in the amphitheatre of the Villa Rundle.  They used masks and costumes and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Throughout the year all classes had PE lessons twice a week. During the P.E. lessons, the children enjoyed lots of physical activities and made use of the various sports items found in the school’s gym.   Many outdoor activities made physical activities even more enjoyable. In all classes, from Year 1 up to Year 6, all our students made models related to water.  The majority of these models were of a very high standard.  The older students visited the younger classes to show and explain their projects. Many students participated in  science-related competitions, namely the NSTF and the Health and Safety competitions.

There were various competitions held throughout the scholastic year and our students were encouraged to take part.  In fact, we had a good number of students whose work was amongst the winning entries and many others, who were commended for their efforts. In a crib competition organized by the Community Chest Fund, our school  had four winning entries belonging to Sarah Camilleri (Year 5), Simona and Andre Refalo (Yr 5 and 6), Luke Cardona(Year 6) and Maria Portelli (Year 5) . In a competition entitled ‘Skopri t-Talent Tiegħek’, Clarice Zammit, from our Year 5 class, won second prize whereas five other students were among the finalists.

Miguel Grech, Rebecca Borg and Nesime Debattisita won prizes in the World Book Day competition.  Six other students won consolation prizes whereas Victoria Camilleri won the Mr Boffa  Award in this same  competition. The awards ceremony of the Cleaner and Greener Gozo Awareness Campaign took place at the Ministry for Gozo on Thursday 15th May.  Our school was presented a certificate for taking part in a clean-up at the Cittadella. Shirley Portelli, a Year 2 student, won the Eco code competition which our school organised in order to choose a slogan or design which would be our Ekoskola logo.