Dear Parents,

“Fresh as the morning, sure as the sunrise,

God always faithful, God does not change.”

These words help us to recall the unconditional love our God has for each of us! Gifted by God’s grace, the one thing we know for certain, this amazing God does not change!  Our God is always with us, a constant companion who surrounds each of us in an unconditional loving embrace!  We, in turn, can reflect that same love to one another!  Just think … a vibrant community of people who choose to herald God’s Mercy and Love  … what hope the Saint Helena School Community will be … to one another; our Parish; our World!  With these words of hope, together, as one Family, one Heart and one Faith, we will begin the 2016 – 2017 school year!

I am happy to present our faculty for the 2016 – 2017 academic year:

Pre K 3 – Mrs. Heidi Krebs

Pre K 3 Aid  – Mrs. Helen Davidson

Pre K 4F – Mrs. Barbara FitzPatrick

Pre K 4 Aid – Mrs. Susan Hughes

Pre K 4 S – Steve Smith

Pre K 4 S Aid – Mrs. Becky Bushner

Kindergarten – Mrs. Janet Gallo

KG Aid – Mrs. Katie Williams

Kindergarten – Mrs. Edie Woods

KW Aid – Mrs. Janet Esposito

Grade 1 – Miss Denise Britt

Grade 1 – Miss Maura Gifford

Grade 2 – Mrs. Sharon Halferty

Grade 2 – Mrs. Maria McLaughlin

Grade 3 – Mrs. Joanne Owsiany

Grade 3 – Mrs. Paula Purcell

Grade 4 – Mrs. Lori Venezia

Grade 4 – Mrs. Leslie Calabro

Grade 5 – Miss Megan Gifford

Grade 5 – Mrs. Janet Smith

Grade 6 – Mrs. Candace Praetzel (Math: 6, 7, 8; ELA: 6; Science 6) Grade 6 – Mrs. Becky Wagner (ELA: 6, 7; Religion: 6. 8)
Grade 7 – Mrs. Denise R. Britt ( Social Studies7, 8; Science 7) Grade 7 – Mrs. Kerri Sepich (Religion: 7; Social Studies: 6; ELA:7)
Grade 8 – Mrs. Colette Dougherty (Math: 6, 7, 8; ELA: 8; Religion: 6) Grade 8 – Mrs. Rene Ryan (Science:  6, 8; ELA 8)
Mrs. Karen Holder- (Honors Math 4-8; Study Skills 6-8;) Mrs. Jackie Hoy – Voice and Piano Lessons
Mrs. Robin Melvin – Computer (K-8); Current

      Events (7, 8)

Mrs. Jennifer Carr- Spanish (5-8)
Mr. Alex Pachella – Physical Education Mrs. Nancy Manno – Library
Mrs. Jennifer Lau – General Music, Chorus,


Mrs. Dana Leeds – Dance


Mr. Pat O’Shea – Percussion Lessons

Mr. Andrew Hoy – Strings Lessons

Mr. Ed Stimson – Instrumental Music Lessons:   Brass, Woodwinds
Mrs. Phyllis Cissone – Secretary

Mrs. Jen Gesek – MSP Coordinator


Sister Cathe Shoulberg, RSM – Principal


This year our academic priority will be STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  While we have begun this process during the last two years, this year, we will work together to implement STEM into each grade level with enthusiasm and rigor.  To help us with this process at our August Faculty In-service, to be held on Monday, August 22, 2016, we are fortunate to have as our presenter, Ms. Stephanie Schwab, who works with Montgomery County IU.  Her topic is “STEM – All Teachers are STEM Teachers:  Integrating the 4C’s of 21st Century Learning:  Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking.”  This will indeed be an exciting introduction for our new school year!  We have $4350.00 from our May Fair to spend on STEM equipment – I know the teachers will have many ideas on how to make the most of these funds to directly benefit our students this new school year.  The May Fair is sponsored and executed through our Home and School Association.   Our Home and School is active, generous and ever so viable!  They create events to fulfill our dreams to make SHS the leading educational institution that it is.  To our Home and School Board, we offer our profound thanks!

It gives me great pleasure to formally welcome several of our faculty members to their new positions:   Mrs. Jennifer Carr – Spanish; Mrs. Candace Praetzel – Math: 6, 7, 8; ELA: 6; Science 6, Miss Megan Gifford – Fifth Grade.  Jennifer is a graduate of Duquesne University.  She has taught Spanish on a variety of levels for thirteen years has.  Her vast range of experience will indeed be gift to us!  Candace, a graduate of Temple University, has taught ELA, Math and Science for twenty-nine years at Saint Agnes- Sacred Heart School in Hilltown.  Her recommendations from School’s Pastor, Administration, Parents and Students alike has been glowing.  Megan comes to us as a recent graduate of Gwynedd Mercy University.  Having completed her student teaching experiences, her references, from her professors, cooperating teachers from Saint Jude School and North Penn School District are impeccable.  Jen Gesek will join our staff this year as our MSP Coordinator.  Jen worked as an office volunteer last year.  She is professional and will do a wonderful job keeping our MSP program in good working order.  Katie Williams, needs no introduction.  She has been an SHS parent and school volunteer for eight years.  Her gentle, loving manner will be an asset in our Kindergarten program.   All in all, we at SHS are blessed to have such well respected and professionally qualified additions to our already outstanding Faculty.

Your prayers will be greatly appreciated as we work together to be the best we can be for our most important gift, your children!

As we go into year three of My Student’s Progress, a web based software service that allows parents online access to their student’s grades from any computer with a connection to the internet; our hope is that the glitches we incurred have been worked through, enabling report cards, attendance, scheduling of parent conferences to be approached in a smooth and comfortable fashion.   We will begin to put this in full use no later than October 1, 2016.  It is important that once you are notified that the system upload is completed, parents must access and implement your “log in” immediately.  This will insure smooth entry into school information.  Please, don’t wait until “report card time” to begin to use the system!




Opening School Information

On their first day of school, children in Grades 1 through 8 will meet in the school-yard at 8:15 AM with last year’s teacher.  They will then proceed with that teacher to their former classroom.  Once assembled in the classroom, they will be directed to their new teacher.

 New children to our school (Grades 1 – 8) need to come inside to the office and will be directed to their respective homerooms.

The following is our opening schedule:

Wednesday – September 7

Students in Grades 5 – 8 Report:  Full day regular 3:00 P.M. Dismissal

In-service for Teachers of Grades Pre K – 4; CARES begins

The CARES Program, (our extended day program), will begin this afternoon, September 7, from 3:00 – 6:00.  For those families who have registered for CARES, a letter will follow with more information.  If anyone needs to register for CARES, please do so by calling Sister Cathe at the school office.


Thursday – September 8

Students in Grades 1 – 4 Report:   Full day regular 3:00 P.M. Dismissal

In-service for Teachers of Grades 5 – 8

Friday—September 9

Grades 1 – 8 Report to School:  Full day regular 3:00 PM Dismissal


Monday—September 12

Grades 1 – 8 Report:  Full day regular 3:00 PM Dismissal

Pre K and Kindergarten students come for orientation – Parents and Students attend these sessions.  As there are more than one session for each grade, you will be given your time to arrive via email by August 21, 2016 from your child’s teacher. 


Children in Pre K, Kindergarten and First Grade need to wear a name tag with their means of transportation for the first two weeks of school.  This is a huge help for everyone.

Monday, September 19, 6:30 PM

Our “Back to School Night” will be held this evening.   We ask that everyone arrive as promptly as possible at 6:30 PM.  This is a very full evening, it is important for everyone to be on time.    Please mark your calendar now so each child will be represented at this important meeting.  There will be three sessions for each classroom meeting to allow parents with multiple children to attend a session for each child.

Wednesday, September 21, 6:30 PM

Workshop:  Protecting God’s Children at 6:30 – in the Social and Recreation Center (This is a required workshop for anyone who would like to volunteer in ANY school or CYO capacity)

Monday, September 26, 7:00 PM

**Meeting for all school volunteers:    7:00 PM in the School Library

Tuesday , September 27, 9:15 AM

**Meeting for all school volunteers:    9:15 AM in the School Library

** Due to the importance of this meeting, this year we are having two sessions with the expectation that you can choose, according to your schedules, to attend a session.

Thursday, September 29, 9:00 AM

9:00 – Opening liturgy and celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Mercy

This is our annual “Blessing of the School Bags Liturgy” for K through 8th and their families and friends.  We will also celebrate “Mercy Day” at this Liturgy.  It will also be an opportunity for our school children to have a special birthday celebration for Msgr. Nicolo.  Please plan to join us for this liturgy as we will place our dreams and desires before God and ask God’s favor on our school year and parish community. 

Wednesday, September 28, 7:00 PM  Library

Eighth Grade Parents’ meeting at 7:00 PM to review the High School process.  Each child needs to be represented.

Miscellaneous Reminders

In order to avoid children who repeatedly are late for school, we ask that you work diligently to have your children at school on time.  That means that Children in Grades K through 8 are expected in the front schoolyard each day no later than 8:15 A.M when we gather for the Pledge of Allegiance.  Pre K children need to be here at 9:00 AM drop-off may begin at 8:45!  For K to 8 children, if you are bringing your child to school by private car, please take into consideration the amount of morning traffic when making plans.  If a child, K-8 is not with their class when we say the Pledge of Allegiance at 8:15 he/she will be marked late for school.  We certainly understand unavoidable emergencies surface, however, when the same children are late each day it doesn’t seem to be due to emergency circumstances.  Just a thought, when it is time for High School, we do in fact receive calls from each school questioning why there may be repeated lateness and absences!

Our yearly calendar is on the web-site:  It is important that you review the calendar frequently so you are aware of any updates, bussing information for early dismissal days, and school happenings. Continuing our commitment to “go green” we will communicate via email throughout the year.  Individual teachers will also communicate via email as well.

It is important that each family check email regularly so everyone is aware of school happenings.  This is the responsibility of each family.   The weekly “E-mail Blast” will be sent every Wednesday morning.   If you do not receive a “Wednesday Blast” let the school office know ASAP so that we can remedy that situation.  This email will be used to communicate pertinent school/parish information.  We are unable to send information that does not involve our school and parish.

At “Back to School Night” a hard copy of the Parent Handbook will be distributed.  This is combined with the school directory.  The Handbook is also available on line. Policies in the Handbook need to be thoroughly reviewed by each family, as the expectations of the school are clearly voiced in this instrument.  In October, you will be asked to sign a form indicating that you have read and will uphold school policies as described in the Parent Handbook.

For each child’s protection and safety, STUDENT CELL PHONES are not permitted in school.   We ask everyone to comply with this regulation.  May I ask for your support in making sure your child/children follow all school directives?

Pre-school children will wear play clothes to school each day.  All children (grades K-8) may wear summer school uniforms on their first day of school.  Summer uniform may be worn until Oct. 10; then from April 18 to the end of school.  Please make sure that all items of clothing are clearly marked with the child’s name.

If you have any questions, or if I can assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me at the School Office, (610-279-3345) or the Convent, (610-272-1383).

As members of the St. Helena Community who believe and live the Gospel mandate to be followers of Jesus, we each have a serious obligation to do all in our power to be People of Peace.  We will strive to actively work to provide justice, equality and mercy, not only to one another here in Blue Bell, but to our world.  Remembering that we are indeed human and not perfect, we will do our utmost to merge our efforts on God’s behalf to give our children the tools to make the dream of a compassionate, caring planet a reality for all Humankind.

Enjoy these remaining summer days.  Be assured that every day I ask God, our Creator; Jesus, our Redeemer; and the Holy Spirit, who energizes and empowers us with love; to bless and protect you and your family.  God’s abundant blessings!

Sister Cathe Shoulberg, RSM