News Archive

2020

  • June

    Spring Writing Competition Awards (By Stephanie Stewart, English Instructor)

    Thank you to everyone who participated in our first annual SMCA Spring Writing Competition. We were so impressed by the thought and creativity that poured into the entries, which made it a very difficult decision!

    Our heartiest congratulations go to:
    1. First place: KG Morton's poem "Earthly Pleasures"
    2. Second Place: Eli Arguello's "Collection of Haikus"
    3. Third Place: Jillian Getman's reflective essay "A Mandatory Pause"
    4. Fourth Place: Mia Pileggi's untitled short story
    Read More
  • May

    Spanish 3, Honors Spanish 3, Spanish 4 Art Projects (By Dr. Daniela Radpay, Spanish Instructor)

    Students in Spanish classes were given the task to create an original piece of art or re-create a painting by an artist from a Spanish-speaking country, then write a reflection of their work. The art could include songs, paintings, short stories, etc. The slides with only one piece of art are the students’ original creations. At the end of the presentation is a beautiful flamenco guitar video!

    I am blown away by how talented our students are! This is always my favorite project of the year because it gives students creative freedom to express themselves while still applying the vocabulary and grammar they have learned throughout the semester. Please click this link to view the collection.
    Read More
  • Reflective Journaling in US Government Class (By Tim McCollough, Social Sciences Economic & Government Instructor)

    The coronavirus pandemic has offered a silver lining for US Government classes: never before in our students' lifetimes has the response of governments been so impactful on their lives. Elected government officials are determining whether students see each other at school; when and where they can go out; and whether their college classes will begin on time. Particularly for seniors, this has been a difficult time.

    One of our class projects was to document the reactions of governments-- national, state, and local-- via daily journaling. Students were tasked with a daily reflective writing piece in which they reported and opined on major government actions. In doing so, the senior students were practicing reflective writing and research, but also practicing how to be an active and engaged citizen.
    Read More
  • April

    SMCA Spring Writing Competition Deadline May 11 (By Stephanie Stewart, English Instructor)

    Spring is in the air! And with that, change and inspiration often follow. So, pick up your pens and pencils, and help us kick off St. Michael's inaugural Spring Writing Competition - hosted by the English department. 

    This year’s theme, as you might guess, is “Quarantine.” From closing school to cancelling sporting events to family bonding to missing friends to inventing new ways to spend our time, we have all been significantly impacted by the shutdown. We welcome a variety of writing genres and will divide the entries into two categories: Creative Writing and Expository. 
    Read More
  • Academic Awards Congratulations (By Dr. Dawn Nichols)

    With great pride and enthusiasm, I extend my congratulations for these outstanding accomplishments! St. Michael’s Catholic Academy has a wonderful tradition of academic achievement, leadership, and a commitment to service. I salute your hard work and dedication. The program document is included here so that you may download and keep.

    Whether you have received the Father Konzen or Father Lopez Award, one of the prestigious college book or service awards, a special St. Michael’s Award, a leadership award or are being recognized for maintaining a stellar GPA, you symbolize the spirit that makes St. Michael’s Catholic Academy 
    an exceptional school.

    I know I speak for all of your teachers, the administration, and the entire staff of St. Michael’s, when I say how proud we are of your accomplishments. We are pleased to take this opportunity to recognize stellar students like you, and to honor how valuable you are to our community. You have worked hard to reach this point, and I wish you the best as you continue to aim for, and accomplish great things.

    Yours sincerely,

    Dr. Dawn Nichols
    Read More
  • AP Exams May 11-22 from Home (By Sasha Spear, College and Academic Counselor)

    AP exams will be administered online from home May 11-22 (see the schedule here).  
    There are three AP exams each day of the testing period.
    • Exams are at 11:00, 1:00, and 3:00 and it is possible to have more than one exam in a single day. 
    • On test day you will receive an exam link to your email address
      • You will be expected to login to the exam 30 minutes prior to its start in order to be sure everything is working.
      • You will also be provided a form to report any technical issues should they arise (which then will allow you to test during the June 1-5 make up dates).
    If you decide that you want to cancel any of your AP exams, it is not too late to do so; just send Ms. Spear (aspear@smca.com) an email (you will not receive a refund until exams start on May 11). 

    Later this month, CollegeBoard will deliver to you via email an electronic at-home testing guide that will include video demonstrations. 
    Read More
  • Architecture Design Class Fits Distance Learning Method (By David Meagher, Social Science and Technology Instructor)

    Working remotely, students in Architecture class have continued to develop their designs, and they just finished up their most recent project, the creation of an Urban Park. This project follows the principles of New Urbanism, a design concept based on human-friendly spaces with a community feel.

    Students were tasked with the design of this public space with certain criteria: openness, mixed materials and the use of a tensile structure at the center. Tensile structures offer an elegant, flowing element to man-made spaces The students created some beautiful designs, and are now moving on to a historical reconstruction project.
    Read More
  • Stanford University Student Survey Participation

    Students are invited to participate in the Stanford Challenge Success Pulse on Connections Survey that will be used to gather data on student connections during Distance Learning. The survey will be sent directly to students.

    This is 
    a research study on students’ social, emotional, and physical well-being, as well as on students’ connections to their schools during remote learning. Participation is voluntary and will take approximately 10-15 minutes. A letter explaining the study is attached here.,

    Questions may be directed to Heidi Sloan, Director of Academics.
    Read More
  • Distance Learning Not All About High Tech (By Dr. Andrew Straw, Social Science Instructor)

    One different thing that I have my classes doing is something actually very low-tech: creating a diary/journal of their time during distance learning and their thoughts on what is happening.  My goal is to have the students create their own primary source documents that we can archive for future students and historians. So far I have really enjoyed reading the entries.
     
    Below is a short description. 
    Read More
  • Distance Learning Parent Survey

    Thank you for sharing your feedback on the initial implementation of our Distance Learning Program, and for your patience and flexibility as we make adjustments to our continued program. 

    To participate, please click this link.
    Read More
  • Isabella Oballo Blogs About Senior Year During COVID-19

    It’s been hard making everything in life digital in a short amount of time. Though I feel as if my school community has made a great effort to make this transition as easy as possible for students and staff. My aforementioned music meeting helped me understand how classes would look for the time being and given me confidence in the way our teachers are going to help students. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I am thankful to live in a society where online and distance learning is readily available to many students, though it has also made me more appreciative of my ability to go to school every day and interact with the students and staff around me.

    Read the full blog here.
    Read More
  • Third Quarter Grades Available Online

    Student report cards and transcripts will be available from midnight, Saturday, April 4 online from mySMCA. To view these documents, log in and select student's "Progress" tab. Links to the report card and/or transcript will appear directly beneath the “Performance” heading. See screenshot here.
     
    Should you have any questions about accessing reports, please contact Rae Harrison, Registrar.
    Read More
  • Virtual English Language & Literature Classes (By Ramsay Wall, English Instructor)

    Our studies in English language and literature continue unabated in our new virtual classrooms! Since we’ve returned from spring break, students have stayed busy. In English I, freshmen have finished reading the graphic novel Persepolis and are now using the knowledge they’ve gained from this book about the Iranian Revolution of 1979 as a springboard to research another important historical revolution.
    Read More
  • March

    Latin Classes Take to Online Learning (By James Inman, Latin Instructor)

    Students of Latin at all levels are showing a remarkable resilience as we use these most un-ancient of pedagogical media! Latin 2 has begun daily journals on Google Docs, focusing on participles for the moment: there is a peculiar fascination with “porcus ardens” in their writing (and “porcus” in general) which makes for a fun read. At the same time they and the other Latin classes are offering valuable feedback to DuoLingo’s Beta Latin class, which itself is strangely obsessed with “psittacus”).
    Read More
  • Mandarin Class First Semester Highlights (By Meishing Chen, Mandarin Instructor)

    To boost morale and keep us together as a class, I made a video of good times students shared during the first semester. We will definitely do all sorts of class interactive activities again. I continue to be on Zoom for meetings from 8:30 to 10:05 for my students.
    Video link: https://youtu.be/fFqGIWjLnig.
    Read More
  • Sophomores Undaunted by Dante (By Paula Priour, English Instructor)

    Sophomores descend and return from Hell

    Students in the Honors World Literature class just finished reading Dante’s Inferno. They were each assigned a canto (chapter) on which to create a class presentation, which included a PowerPoint lecture and an original art project.

    The subject of each of the cantos is a particular class of sinner found in Hell in descending circles, where they are awarded unique punishments, depending upon the severity of their particular sin. This hierarchy of sin was not based on Biblical concepst; it was devised by Dante, with a nod to Aristotle. Students were surprised to learn how much our modern concepts of Hell (including movie representations and ideas that made their way into church teachings) actually came from Dante, and not directly from the Bible.

    Art projects produced for this assignment were dioramas, painted canvas scenes of various places in hell, doll representations of simoniacs, sinners frozen in rings of cake, and a knitted cap representing the three heads of Lucifer, complete with sinners protruding heads and feet. Much to their classmates’ delight, there were even baked eyeball cupcakes, beautifully decorated cupcakes of scenes of the city of Dis, and decorated cookies of hypocrites.

    Hopefully, this experience will prepare students for next year’s Winter Term trip to study Dante in Italy.
    Read More
  • Students Participate in STEAM-SPACE 'Cities in Space' 5th Annual Competition (By Russell Glenn, Environmental Sciences & Honors Inquiry Program Instructor)

    On Friday, February 28, two freshman and five sophomores headed to the campus of Huston-Tillotson University to compete in the fifth annual “Cities in Space” competition. This competition is put on each year by STEAM-SPACE, a local non-profit dedicated to space science education.
    The students, Kalen Jaroszewski, Pierce McNiven, Jake Cameron, Bennet Eichorst, Neil Flores, Carson Cashatt, and Daniel Pinzon spent Winter Term designing a 1,000 person colony that could survive the harsh environment of the Moon. They represented their teams admirably, bringing home two awards for their hard work.
    Read More
  • February

    Honors Anatomy and Physiology Brain Dissection Lab (By Neilia Bliss, R.N., Honors Anatomy and Physiology Instructor)

    Last week the Honors Anatomy and Physiology class dissected sheep brains. This dissection gave students the opportunity to explore brain anatomy and make connections to the functional significance of the structures we have learned about in class.  Students also examined why brain injuries in certain areas of the brain might cause functional and behavioral changes.  In addition, the class made clinical connections regarding impact trauma to the brain and types of hematomas that can result above or below the different layers of the meninges, the protective layers of the brain and spinal cord. 

    This week, the study of the nervous system continues as the class uses the block day to explore how addiction works to change the chemistry of the brain. Students are collecting information about types of neurotransmitters in a healthy brain and comparing them with how certain drugs affect synaptic neurotransmission.
    Read More
  • SMCA Pairs with Lumion to Bring Architecture to Life (By David Meagher, Social Science and Technology Instructor)

    Students in Architectural Design class are now using Lumion 10 software, the premier rendering software for architects. Starting this semester, St. Michael's now integrates Lumion software into the design process. Lumion is a speciality 3D rendering software made for architects and designers, noted for its ease of use and speed. Lumion is used by architects in over 100 countries and 72 of the top 100 architecture firms in the world.

    Students will be able to show off their Sketchup-based designs faster, and in a more fluid manner. Lumion’s artist-friendly approach allows our students to quickly breath life into their designs, apply animations and create stunning renders of their work. Lumion allows our students creative freedom, it turns a once slow process into a fast, user-friendly experience that showcases the students' designs to their fullest.
    Read More
  • Engineer Your World: Programming! (By Roxanne Thurman, Physics & Engineering Instructor)

    The Engineering class, through the University of Texas Engineer Your World curriculum, is exploring computer programming skills in two different development environments as students work to build and program an electronic instrument to play a song of their choice.

    St
    udents learned about electronic component diagrams by building a circuit using a piezoelectric speaker.  They then utilized an integrated development environment (IDE) by implementing an IDE, including coding functions, comments, variables, and loops, to program the speaker to play a selected song.  Students used Arduino circuit boards and microcontrollers to build their systems before writing the code in mini-bloq and Arduino open source software.  All in one unit, students were introduced to microcontrollers, circuit boards, programming, logical processing, and music theory to create something unique.

    The engineering class is open to all students and explores all disciplines in engineering.  If you are interested in the course, go by and chat with Mrs. Thurman.
    Read More
  • French Cuisine in the Classroom (By Maggie Conyngham, French Instructor)

    This semester, students in Honors French III and AP French are learning about contemporary culture through various forms of music, film, literature, and even cooking! 

    AP French has been examining different aspects of contemporary life in the francophone world, including the cultural impact of regional cuisines. Last week, students had the opportunity to cook traditional French crêpes sucrées (with some help from our resident French cook, Ms. Amblard.)

    After watching a video tutorial, students followed a French recipe step-by-step, making the batter from scratch and cooking on skillets in the classroom. 

    In this activity students gained a new appreciation for French cuisine (& Nutella), learned some new food-related vocabulary, and had to adapt to the metric measuring system used throughout the world to ensure the recipe turned out correctly. A special trick for the perfect crêpe was making sure the cast iron skillet was at an even temperature, and that the batter was fluid enough to spread very thinly. After several test runs, we got it down. The results were délicieux!
    Read More
  • St. Michael's 'Lightsaders' Robotics Team A Force at League Championship Competition (By Gil Garcia, Computer Science & Robotics Instructor)

    The St. Michael's robotics team, the Lightsaders, competed in this past weekend's Austin Metro League championship competition at Vandegrift High School. The team did exceptionally well and ended up anchoring the finalist alliance during the tournament finale. 
     
    The team struggled early on in the season, but really performed well at the championship event, distinguishing themselves as one of the elite teams of the Austin Metro League.
     
    Team members are:
    • Rylan Peterson
    • Grant Lawler 
    • Michael Gallinghouse
    • Neil Flores
    • Ethan Avuncan
    • Peter Williams
    • Kalen Jaroszewski
    Read More
  • January

    HALO-Inspired Winter Term Courses

    While all of Winter Term is comprised of opportunities for experiential learning, ten mini-courses this Winter Term were especially designated as HALO-inspired. From "Medical Mysteries" to "How to Fly a Spacecraft" "Alternative Media" and the "US Legal System," advisors to HALO helped design classes that exposed students to a variety of disciplines, including law, medicine, economics, media, etc. What did that mean for students and how does it all tie into the HALO project itself?
     
    The goal of HALO is to allow and encourage students to become stakeholders in their own education and distinguish themselves in the eyes of college admission and internship directors. This is accomplished by delivering as much exposure and choice of study as possible that will appeal in some way to each and every student. HALO will do just that by allowing us to expand our curriculum and bring to campus the best and brightest Austin has to offer to mentor and engage with our students. From university and corporate partnerships to local artists and medical specialists, HALO will provide the experiential space and curriculum to give St. Michael’s a significant advantage. HALO is Coming!
    Read More
  • Honors World Literature Students Delve into Dante (By Paula Priour, English Instructor)

    The Sophomore Honors World Literature class is embarking on a journey through hell, though this is not intended as a commentary on any potential unpleasantness happening in Semester II.  In our annual visit to the world of the Italian Renaissance, students will be immersed in the vision of hell from Dante Alighieri's Inferno, the first of three sections of his epic poem Commedia, where he also envisions Purgatorio and Paradiso.    

    Our reading includes extensive cultural study in preparation for the actual reading, individually-researched projects and presentations, and culminates in a field trip to the UT Austin collections in the Harry Ransom center (HRC), where students will be introduced to an actual 1363 manuscript of the Inferno. Staff at the HRC will also school students on the ancient processes of generating manuscripts, and how modern scholars find, authenticate, use and preserve them.  

    Students will also create their own artistic representations to present to the class.
    Read More
  • "Projecting" Students into the Future (By Russ Glenn, Environmental Sciences & Honors Inquiry Program Instructor)

    As a part of the HALO initiative, St. Michael’s has purchased and is implementing a Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR and AR) system for Winter Term. This VR/ AR “Pop-Up” is available to all classes during Winter Term and has already provided virtual field trips and experiences to places across the world.
    Read More
  • Conservation in Action (By Todd Council, Biology Instructor)

    Students have been busy learning firsthand what conservation looks like. They visited the Shield Ranch, the Nature Conservancy's Barton Creek Preserve, Hamilton Pool, and Milton Reimer's Ranch Park. Today biologists from the City of Austin's Balcones Canyonlands Preserve visited our classroom and talked about the city's efforts to manage and conserve land for endangered species. Next, we have a private tour of the Westcave Preserve and if the weather holds, we will visit the prairie restoration project at Common's Ford Park on Friday.
    Read More
  • Reflections on Supreme Court Visit (U.S. Legal System Mini-Course)

    "The judges were approachable and friendly and not as stern or even “judicial” as they may seem. It was noticeable that all of the judges had obviously worked very diligently to obtain their positions and that they were all clearly men and women of virtue. Justice Boyd was insightful and extremely knowledgeable about the history of the Texas Supreme Court and was passionate about the work. Overall I enjoyed this opportunity and I am looking forward to the future trips we will be taking. (Kate Brady, 22) 
     
    "I really appreciate Justice Boyd taking us on the tour and speaking to us; if given the chance, I hope to either work next to him or learn about law from him someday." (Grant Fahrlander, 22)

    "While talking to Justice Boyd he explained to us that in court there are two arguments that are fought during trial, factual issues and legal issues. These issues help the court determine which cases will be accepted or rejected into the Supreme Court for trial and the cases that are chosen should provide a clearer understanding of an existing law and aid other cases similar to it." (Isabella Oballo, '20)
     
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st. michael's catholic academy

3000 Barton Creek Boulevard   |   Austin, Texas 78735   |   (512) 328-2323   |   admissions@smca.com
St. Michael's Catholic Academy is mindful of its mission to prepare the student holistically for leadership, service, and decision making consistent with Catholic values; and admit students of any race, color, or national and/or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to the school. St. Michael's Catholic Academy does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and/or ethnic origin, age, or gender in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs. St. Michael's Catholic Academy does not discriminate against students with special needs; a full range of services might not be available.