Elementary School (1st – 5th)
St. Michael Elementary School (Grades 1st – 5th)
St. Michael School is a very special place where our students feel safe and welcome to share their thoughts and feelings and to fully engage in their learning. Our elementary faculty are truly an amazing group of educators whose calling to this special vocation is abundantly clear in the relationships they build and the expertise they share with their students each day. Our strong academic curriculum has been well honed over many years. Our first through fifth grade teachers together have well over 100 years of teaching experience, and beyond that, they are five of the most caring, faithful individuals you could ever meet.
The early elementary school years focus on literacy as a primary goal, while the later elementary years facilitate the transition from “learning to read” into “reading to learn”. Cooperative learning groups and small group instruction are essential. Our small class sizes allow for one-on-one instruction for all students. Creative book reports and projects emphasize a love for reading which will continue to be cultivated throughout the elementary years. Our Resource Teacher conducts weekly “Writers Workshop” classes, focusing on writing skills for each grade level. SMART Boards and Chromebooks are a constant in our classrooms but are also balanced with “paper and pencil” learning to reinforce skills. Hands-on learning is utilized wherever possible, particularly through our STEM program with activities such as science labs, math projects and tending our school garden and butterfly garden.
Our first grade students focus on literacy throughout their studies. They also enjoy special events throughout the year including a Thanksgiving Feast, Polar Express Day, and celebrating the 100th Day of School. They build a special relationship with our 8th grade class as “Mass buddies” when they walk from school to church together each week. Collaboration activities with other grade levels are common throughout the year, and help to foster the family atmosphere evident at SMS.
Our second grade students complete several special projects throughout the year, including the endangered animal research project (a favorite tradition of many students, complete with sometimes life-sized models). Other favorites include an Earth Day project of building a recyclable creature, reenacting the Nativity story at Christmas, and the ABC 7 News Weather Sketchers project. In their religion studies, 2nd graders learn about God’s bountiful mercy and forgiveness and ultimately receive the sacrament of Reconciliation in the second semester.
Third grade at St. Michael School is a very special year for several reasons. Most important in their faith journey, the students spend the year preparing to receive their First Holy Communion in the spring. Also, at the end of third grade, the students take the state I-READ evaluation of their reading comprehension skills. Development of vocabulary and reading comprehension skills is a major focus of the year. Cursive handwriting is taught throughout third grade, and the students also work to ascend “Multiplication Mountain” by mastering their math facts. Learning the US states and their capitals is an important part of third grade, as well as learning to work in groups and with partners to complete assignments together.
Students in fourth grade begin learning to combine skills that were previously used independently (i.e. math as a part of science, spelling and reading comprehension as a part of social studies). Technology takes on a larger role as part of their learning, especially as a tool for differentiated learning – meeting students where they are, and allowing students to catch up on any deficiencies while at the same time allowing more advanced students the opportunity to challenge themselves. The fourth graders build a special relationship with our kindergarten class as they take responsibility for helping to walk the kindergarteners from school to Mass and back each week. Anticipated activities this year include state projects, mystery science, bottle buddies, and the class play, presented in the spring. Another traditional highlight of the fourth grade year is the annual day trip to Indianapolis, where students tour the State Capitol building and the Indiana Motor Speedway. This caps off their year-long study of Indiana state history.
Fifth grade at St. Michael School is an important transitional year. The students move UPSTAIRS (this is a big deal at SMS), which is where our middle school is also located, but they are still in a self-contained classroom for their core subjects. Fostering independence is a big focus of this year, as well as learning time management skills. The annual DARE program, run through the Schererville Police Department, is a key component of this, teaching self-esteem and assertiveness while resisting bullying and substance abuse. Group projects become more important, and oral presentations in class help students with confidence and leadership. Students incorporate independent note-taking skills, and use of Chromebooks in all subjects and for homework increases. Coursework includes U.S. History (including units on Black history and Native American history), and hands-on experimentation in earth science, life science and technology. In 5th grade students become responsible for completing service hours during the year, instilling in them a heart for helping others without anticipation of reward.
As the students grow, their opportunities for extracurricular activities also widen. First graders may be a part of Girl Scout or Cub Scout troops/packs, Bricks 4 Kidz (a STEM learning program), and Drama Kids. In second grade, Children’s Choir becomes an additional option. Art Club and Spell Club begin in 3rd grade. Fourth grade brings the opportunity to learn an instrument in the school band. Our Catholic Youth Organization offers sports beginning in fifth grade: soccer, cross country, basketball, cheerleading, volleyball and track. Our first and second graders enjoy our traditional Western Night social event in the fall, complete with dancing and pony rides, and our third through fifth grade classes are treated to an annual Bowling Party.
Students in all grades have the opportunity to serve as liturgy leaders at our weekly school Masses, which helps them feel more engaged in the liturgy while also building social skills and confidence in public speaking. St. Michael School has a strong belief in collaboration between and among grade levels, and students participate in group projects and/or events with other “partner” classes multiple times throughout the year. This helps to foster our family atmosphere.