READ OUR STUDENT BLOG by Bianca Feix!
Bianca is a recent SSJ Graduate, Class of 2017, now attending Xavier College Prep. Bianca attended SS. Simon and Jude School since Kindergarten. She was born in Phoenix and is grateful to be the second generation of her family to have the privilege of attending SSJ.
Together, We Did Great Things
by Bianca Feix
For the past nine years, I have attended Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral School. It is all I’ve ever known. Now, my classmates and I are moving on to face a new challenge: high school.
Most kids leave their grade schools hoping that they can take on what’s to come in their future. But I know that my fellow classmates and I are as prepared as ever. We are ready to face whatever high school throws at us and are prepared for our future after that. We will be bringing what we have learned to our new schools, to represent what an alum of SSJ is and should be.
SSJ has an amazing education program, but my class has learned more than just book knowledge. We have learned how to be reflective, discerning, active Catholics throughout all our years at SSJ, whether we have attended since Kindergarten or 7th grade. We have learned to be good people and to live as children of God. Our Catholic education has allowed us to relate everything we learn to God. It allows us to speak freely of our own beliefs and opinions, and provides a safe space for all.
We leave knowing we have family to turn back to. A support system that will be there no matter happens. To Sr. Raphael and all of our amazing teachers and administrators – THANK YOU for everything that you did to help each of us grow. We wouldn’t be where we are now if it wasn’t for all of you.
Our job now is to represent what SSJ is. To show the types of people we have become. The Class of 2017 is now a part of something bigger. We are called to be the best version of ourselves. To pave the path for those that follow.
I spent nine great years at SSJ, and Together, We Did Great Things!
I am proud to now call myself an SSJ alum.
The Loreto Sisters of Ss. Simon and Jude
By: Bianca Feix
The Loreto Sisters are an important part of the SSJ community. Ss. Simon and Jude school was founded in 1954 by Father Paul Smith. He wanted to start a Catholic school, and was looking for a group of nuns to run it. He turned to the Loreto Sisters in Navan, Ireland. Five sisters bravely came to America to fulfill the school’s mission “to promote intellectual and spiritual growth by providing a quality Catholic education in a safe, compassionate environment, challenging all to live according to the Gospel in a constantly changing world”. I believe the Loreto Sisters have been doing a great job completing this mission.
Recently, one of our Loreto sisters at SSJ passed away. Sr. Teresita Ryan (born Sinead Ryan) passed away in March. She became a Loreto Sister in 1936, and came to SSJ in 1975. Sr. Teresita had many talents. She could sing very well and knew three languages: Latin, French, and Gaelic. Sr. Teresita taught music, directed plays, directed the parish choir, and taught Latin throughout her time at SSJ. Sr. Teresita was a great teacher.
I have many memories with Sr. Teresita, as do many students and alumni at SSJ. I remember seeing Sr. Teresita taking her daily walks. I talked to her every time I saw her, and left our conversations knowing a little more French. My mom always tells me stories of Sr. Teresita’s music classes. She said Sr. Teresita was the toughest teacher, but she really taught them how to sing. My mom loved singing in Sr. Teresita’s class. I also remember a time when Sr. Teresita came to our music class. Mr. Love asked her to sing for us, and she sang one of her favorite songs: “Danny Boy”. I remember how beautiful her voice was, and thinking, “That’s how I want to sound!”
Sr. Teresita has had an impact on many people’s lives. She lived a life close to God, and stayed true to herself and her virtues. She carried herself with elegance and grace, and was kind to all. I can only hope to have the amazing character and personality she had as I grow up.
By: Bianca Feix
A few weeks ago was SSJ’s annual Jets vs Bombers game. It takes place during Catholic Schools Week, which is a whole week celebrating Catholic education in the U.S. Each day is filled with special activities, like a special Mass for all the Catholic schools in Arizona (hosted at our very own Cathedral). The Jets and Bombers game is, in my opinion, the most fun part of the week.
The Jets and Bombers game is a T-ball game played between SSJ’s two Kindergarten classes: K-1 and K-2. K-1 students are the Bombers (blue) and K-2 students are the Jets (red). It is a lot like an actual baseball game. The entire school watches the game in the afternoon, and all students wear blue or red to cheer on their favorite team. There is even a race between a hot dog, ketchup, mustard, and pickle between the third and fourth innings!
This year, my brother took part in the infamous T-ball game. Many of my family members have participated in their own Jets and Bombers games, including my mother and her siblings, most of my cousins, both of my siblings, and myself. My mom told me that the game started sometime before she was at SSJ, when there was only one AM and one PM Kindergarten class. Because the Kindergarten classes did not see each other every day, the game became an annual tradition when both classes came together for a day to play each other (and the whole school cheered them on!).
I remember my Jets and Bombers game in Kindergarten. I was a Bomber, just like my mom and the rest of my family. So we were surprised when we found out my little brother was going to be in K-2 – and a Jet! My mom was crushed to have a Jet in the family. It was even hard for her to order Jet shirt for my brother. Of course, we all wore red this year to cheer him on, but I also wore a blue undershirt to show that I was cheering for my brother, the Jet, but also for “my” team, the Bombers :)
Visit the SSJ site to see more pictures from the day: http://www.simonjudeschool.org/archives/bombers-vs-jets-2017/
By: Bianca Feix
Next Monday, December 19, is the annual SSJ Christmas Pageant. The eighth graders have been working hard the past couple of weeks to put on this performance. It is something I have been looking forward to since I watched it in Kindergarten. It is such an honor to be able to tell the story of Christ’s birth.
I have been cast in the role of Mary. Being cast as Mary is an honor. This experience has allowed me to think deeply about Mary and to see how she must have felt when God called her. It has served as a time for me to gain a deeper understanding of what Mary really did.
Mary is inspiring to me because she was so faithful to God, even though she didn’t really know what was going to happen. She had a huge responsibility, and she carried it out. For Mary to say “Yes” to God was amazingly strong and brave. I can only hope to be as strong, courageous and faithful as Mary. Her faith brought the Savior to our world.
This has also served as a time for me to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and to really think about what an amazing moment the birth of Christ was. We think of Christmas as a time of receiving, but it is a time of giving, and a time to appreciate God’s ultimate gift to us: His Son. Without Mary, we would not have been able to receive this gift and be freed from sin.
I hope that you will join us for the annual SSJ Christmas Pageant, on Monday, December 19 at 7pm in Our Lady of Loreto Center, as we celebrate Mary and the birth of Christ.
2016 Marine Biology Trip
By: Bianca Feix
In September, my class went on the annual 8th Grade Marine Biology trip to the Channel Islands, which are off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Each year, the 8th graders at SSJ have the opportunity to participate in this four-day science field trip where we live on boats and explore the Channel Islands.
I have been looking forward to this trip since I was in Kindergarten! I had heard so many stories about the “super fun trip” and all the cool things you learn. I was looking forward to living on the boats, trying on a wetsuit (like a professional!), and going snorkeling for the first time. I was also looking forward to the food that everyone said was amazing – when my cousin went on the trip last year, he said it was like an angel was sent down from Heaven to cook for us.
We left on Wednesday morning and rode buses to Santa Barbara. We arrived in the afternoon and got to stretch our legs on the beach before boarding the boats. This is where we saw our first marine animal! We saw three harbor seals swimming up to the shore. They were so cute, and when we waded into water, one of them got really close to us. We could almost touch them!
Then we went on the boats to eat dinner and unpack our gear. We had two boats: The Vision (the girls’ boat) and The Conception (the boys’ boat). The crew on both boats were so friendly and helped us with all of our activities, not to mention driving the boats and cooking our food! We even learned that the captain of the boys’ boat actually grew up on one of the Channel Islands, Anacapa Island.
I wasn’t sure exactly how people cooked, showered, and even slept on boats, and I wasn’t sure how much I would like it. However, I surprised myself and loved the feeling of adventure! They even had a refrigerator, ovens, a stove, and several sinks in the kitchen of our boat, and I didn’t even know that was possible! I don’t know how they did it, but the kitchen staff was very organized and took each person’s individual order for each meal. We have vegetarians, vegans and food allergies in our class – but everyone got their orders right!
Each day, we hiked one of the Channel Islands, snorkeled, kayaked, and performed a lab. I had so much fun getting to see all the island creatures and marine life! We saw seals, sea lions, flying fish, and even dolphins, and we discovered colorful species of fish while snorkeling. We also explored sea caves and saw ocean sea life on our kayaks.
One day, we found a baby sea hare nest that we first thought was a sea sponge. It was on the ocean floor, and when we brought it up to look at it, it started to squirt purple fluid. We brought it back to our boat to ask the crew what it was and put it in our aquarium. Then one of crew members found the sea hare mom and brought it to the boat to put in the aquarium so we could observe it. That’s when we realized that the sea sponge was actually a baby sea hare nest! The see hare looked like a big, black slimy blob, and we each got to look at it and carry it. We returned the mom and babies to the ocean at the end of our trip.
We also performed three labs on our trip. We started preparing during 7th grade when we studied different species of marine life and natural earth cycles in the ocean, like tides and upwellings. During our labs, we dissected fish and squid, and we also identified plankton under a microscope.
I had so much fun learning and bonding with all of my classmates on this trip. The overall experience was so great, and we learned so much! This trip has inspired me to do more about keeping our oceans clean so that animals like the ones we saw on our trip can continue to survive. Even something as simple as reducing, reusing and recycling can make a huge difference in decreasing the amount of non-biodegradable items floating around in our oceans.
We were so blessed to be able to attend this trip with our peers and to have access to the beautiful Channel Islands. We owe a special thanks to Ms. Callaghan, our Junior High Science teacher, who organizes and leads this annual trip, and to our Principal, Sr. Raphael, for making this trip happen.
Please click HERE to see pictures from the 2016 Marine Biology Trip!
3, 2, 1 … SPACE CAMP!
by Bianca Feix
Six months ago, on February 27, 2016, my team won the Honeywell Fiesta Bowl Aerospace Challenge. Participating in this competition, which is the largest STEM program for junior high students in the state, is just one of the many opportunities that students attending SSJ have.
One of our prizes for winning the Aerospace Challenge was a week at Space Camp. Space Camp was one of the best experiences of my entire life, and I will never forget all the fun times and the things I learned. We learned about space history, constellations, exoplanets, and more. We built rockets, used simulators, and even went on three space missions.
When we won in February, I thought Space Camp would never come. At the time, we weren’t even done with school yet! Then suddenly school ended. June turned into July, and then it was July 17! I was sooo excited to wake up at 2 o’clock in the morning…NOT. But it was worth it!
On our flight from Houston to Huntsville, we noticed kids with Space Camp t-shirts and backpacks on our same flight. When we arrived in Huntsville, we saw even more campers and soon loaded the camp shuttle waiting for us. At Space Camp, we checked in, learned our group’s team name (Team Callisto), and got our dorm room assignment. Then we met our two counselors: Kataisha was our day trainer and Amanda was our night trainer. Our trainers gave each of us our own, personal Space Camp journal that contained fun space facts and worksheets and that we could use to take notes during presentations. We also received Space Camp t-shirts and pens.
That afternoon, we got to explore the Space and Rocket Center for the first time. It was really neat because there was an actual Saturn V rocket on display, and we had used that same rocket to transport our supplies to the lunar base that was our project for the Aerospace Challenge. We also saw a real capsule from the Gemini missions and the mobile home where they quarantined Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin after they visited the moon.
Then on Monday, we hit the ground running with missions, simulations and experiments. On my first mission, I was a Mission Specialist on Mars, so I got to perform an experiment on Mars and participated in an EVA (extravehicular activity) where I built a satellite in zero gravity! On another mission, I was a Flight Directions Officer (FDO) in Mission Control. My job was to make sure everything was okay with the boosters, the engine, landing and launching mechanisms, and fuel. I had to make sure there was enough fuel for takeoff and landing, make sure the engines were on, separate the boosters at the right time, and make sure launching and landing mechanisms were intact. On the last mission, I was a Station Scientist on the International Space Station. This was the most fun mission because I got to do lots of experiments on the ISS! I made polyurethane foam, which is the material used for the External Tank (the big orange tank that holds liquid hydrogen and oxygen for the main shuttle engines). We also made our own bouncy balls and “gloop,” which was a non-sticky goo that we made out of borax.
I was able to ride on six different simulators at camp. I had two favorite simulators: the Space Shot and the Multi Axis Trainer, or MAT. The Space Shot was my favorite because it was like a theme park ride! We were strapped into seats that were attached to a needle-type structure and were shot into the air to simulate leaving and entering Earth’s atmosphere. The ride went up so high that I could see all of the campgrounds! We went up and down very quickly and I felt like I was flying! It was very exciting. The MAT was my favorite because you got to spin without getting dizzy or sick. We were strapped into a seat in the center of three different sized rings (a large gyroscope). As we spun, the rings turned in different directions. This simulated a flat spin in space – something our trainer told us Neil Armstrong could have used to train on before he got stuck in a flat spin during reentry. Luckily, he was a pilot so he knew how to manually control his capsule during reentry.
One of my favorite team-building experiences was in the water tank. They scattered pipe cleaners and connectors in a big water tank, and we had to collect all of the supplies to build a satellite and lift it out of the water without breaking it. If the satellite broke, we had to start over from scratch. Our team had to start over three times, but finally got it done. We had to learn about teamwork and communication.
Another great memory was the food we ate. I always hear how camp food doesn’t taste very good, but the food at Space Camp was delicious! Each meal every day was from a different country. We got to eat food from countries like China, France, Italy, and Australia. My favorite day was Taco Tuesday where we ate food from Spain. We also got to eat meatballs from Sweden, an interesting mashed potato and onion dinner from Norway, pork chops from Germany, and fish and chips (which are more like french fries) from Great Britain.
We also met campers from all over the country and the world. There was a group of students from Gila Bend, Arizona at the camp. We also met kids from China, Thailand, Great Britain, and we even met a boy from Poland and a girl from Ireland!
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Before I knew it, it was Friday and time to pack up and go home. Graduation was a great experience because we received our certificates, mission patch, and pictures from an actual astronaut, Captain Robert “Hoot” Gibson! Captain Gibson led the first American crew to dock on a Russian Space Station and work together with the Russian crew. It was so cool to meet an astronaut!
Soon, it was time to go home. My team rode the shuttle to the airport and said our farewells to Space Camp and the city of Huntsville, Alabama.
Space Camp was such an amazing experience, and we are so grateful for this opportunity. We are thankful for our amazing science teacher, Ms. Callaghan, for pushing us to enter the competition and cheering us on. We couldn’t have done it without her!
(click on the picture for a larger view)