Confluence Connect 2022/2023
A Time to Reflect: Educators for Gun Safety
I often use this column to talk about exciting events in our schools or to celebrate our students and staff. Today, I’m writing about a more difficult subject. This spring, I was proud to join leaders from other St. Louis schools to take on one of the most urgent dangers facing our children: guns. Educators for Gun Safety is a long-term effort we founded to stop the many accidental, preventable gun-related killings that continue taking the lives of children and destroying families in our city.
One of the reasons we launched this effort was to make sure our parents and guardians have access to free gun locks and training on using them. So far, we have distributed more than 250 free gun locks at three events with our partners, SLPS and Women’s Voices Raised.
Starting this semester, we will bring gun safety education into our schools. Leveraging national resources from gun safety organizations and the expertise of our faculty and staff, we have developed an age-appropriate curriculum to educate our students about what they should do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation with a firearm. We will continue providing resources to families about gun safety in the home.
Educators for Gun Safety
This fall, Educators for Gun Safety is launching a classroom curriculum to teach students what to do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation with a firearm. Next spring, there will be a Gun Safety Day where schools will provide additional resources.
“Every adult in St. Louis, from educators to parents to neighbors, has a role to play in the epidemic of gun violence that’s killing our children,” said Dr. Candice Carter-Oliver, CEO of Confluence Academies. “As educators, we can help parents in our city know how to safely lock and store guns, and how to talk to their children about guns. Our kids’ lives are on the line and the timing is urgent.”
Educators for Gun Safety is a long-term effort to stop gun-related killings. Every adult in our community has a role to play. Read more about the program at confluenceacademy.org/gunsafety.
Noche de Herencia Hispana
To celebrate the community’s deep Latino roots and culture, South City Academy hosted its annual Hispanic
Heritage Festival with mariachi music, delicious food, cultural exhibits, and giveaways. This was the first time since the pandemic that families were invited inside and in-person.
Each grade level created an exhibit featuring famous Hispanic Americans and showcasing countries like Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Colombia, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Dominican Republic. As families visited each display, they received a stamp in their “passport.” Once completed, they could exchange it for a free coat and book.
Families made maracas, tried Tajin-spiced fruit, enjoyed the mariachi band, and sang and danced the whole evening!
GCAA Student Spotlight
This summer, competitive baton twirler, Colin Schuessler (12th) competed with Team USA’s twirling team in the Netherlands. He is undefeated in the state for solo baton twirling, eighth in the world for two batons, and ninth in the world for solo and rhythmic.
Congratulations to AP Scholar, Jacob Stern (12th), who earned recognition for perfect scores on three advanced placement exams.
South City Comets Serve up a New Season
The South City Comets’ volleyball club has kicked off its 2022 season with coaches Isabella Naccarato, Summer Turner, and Nia Smith leading more than 100 student-athletes! Games are Tuesdays (grades 6-8) and Thursdays (grades 3-5) from 4:30-5:15pm at the Meramec campus gym. As is tradition, the Comets will close out the season, which ends on October 25, with a much anticipated student-faculty face-off.
“I appreciate the opportunity to grow as a coach next to Coach Smith and Coach Turner. And I am grateful to play a role in keeping students engaged and active outside of the classroom.”
-- Summer Turner, Volleyball Coach
First Network-wide Back to School Bash
In August, Confluence Academies hosted its first network-wide Back to School Bash at Confluence Preparatory Academy. Before kicking off the school year, students picked up their fall schedules, took photos for their ID cards, met staff from each of the schools, and stopped by the Affinia Healthcare mobile health clinic.
While energetic kids hopped in the bounce house, wandered through the obstacle course, and filled up at the Chartwells food truck, CPA Assistant Principal Carl Bland was taking plunge after plunge in the dunk tank! Despite some friendly heckling by Principal Bland, students took their best shot at landing him at the bottom of the dunk tank!
“It was a fun part of the back to school bash that brought laughter from parents, students, and staff,” Principal Bland said. “I enjoyed inciting the students and parents, and they enjoyed when I hit the water.”
Family Day & Outerwear Giveaway
Before the weather cooled and before fall officially started, nearly 3,000 Confluence Academies students were gifted a brand new coat, jacket, or hoodie. Thank you to the generous and anonymous donor for recognizing the students’ remarkable achievements last year.
“My favorite moment of the day was when two of our Confluence scholars came up, who were sisters, and they were smiling from ear-to-ear after picking out their favorite winter coat, which happened to be the same one,” said Dr. Leslie Muhammad, Families in Transition & Parent Involvement Coordinator. “I told them that great minds think alike and that they will both look absolutely gorgeous in their coats!”
The giveaway took place on Confluence Family Day, which was hosted at Old North Academy. In addition to shopping for their outerwear, attendees had access to physicals, were entertainment by the GCAA dance squad, and enjoyed food from Chartwells. There will be future events for students who have yet to shop the wintertime collection.
“The highlight of everyone’s day was seeing families’ infectious smiles when they picked out just the right coat for themselves,” said Dr. Muhammad.
Confluence Academies’ Summer Journey program provided academic, social, and emotional learning all wrapped into an age-specific curriculum. This year’s four-week summer school was was offered to all grade levels. From art and science to sensory learning, Summer Journey’s lineup of enriching, educational, and engaging activities is essential to our students’ learning.
Second graders learned about the mechanics of flying. Using drones, they learned to use radio controls as well as vocabulary like pitch, yaw, and roll.
Second graders made sensory bottles using oil, water, glitter, and other materials. Sensory play teaches kids through interactive experiences.
Kindergarteners worked on literacy by spending time reading to older students.
GCAA Summer Arts Camp
Young artists spent two weeks learning new art styles and improving their technique in a fun, summer camp environment. Students in visual art classes explored the cubist style, learned the basics of impressionist color usage, and practiced expressionist abstraction. Hands-on, arts-based learning from industry professionals also included instructional and vocal music, theater, and dance. “Teaching dance this summer was such an honor,” said Candice Baker, dance instructor at Old North Academy. “The students were amazing, and I enjoyed nurturing the artist within.”
Urgent Care on Campus
Confluence Academies and Mercy Health-GoHealth Urgent Care have partnered to provide simple, convenient access to urgent care for Confluence students. With virtual visits, students won’t have to leave school to see a Mercy emergency care provider or be evaluated for common illnesses and injuries like cold and flu, COVID-19, allergies, rashes, sprains, strains, and more.
“Now, our school nurses can work with families and medical providers to address urgent medical needs while a student is still at school,” said Dr. Candice Carter-Oliver, CEO at Confluence Academies.
In addition to virtual visits, Confluence families have priority access at five Mercy-GoHealth Urgent Care centers (Maplewood, Clayton, Kirkwood, Oakville, and Fenton) and preferred access to virtual visits from the comfort of their own home. The convenient, on-demand care — both virtual and in-person — is offered at no additional cost.
News @ Aspire Academy
Aspire Students Earn PBIS Party
Aspire Academy rewards students who are respectful, responsible, and safe at school. In September, students were treated to popcorn, snow cones, and cotton candy at their first PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports) party of the year. In addition to the sweet and salty snacks, students burned off some energy with a bounce house and dance party. PBIS stands for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. Aspire uses the evidence-based model to foster an environment where all students can succeed. Reward parties like these promote positive behavior and improve school safety.
Home Works Program Comes to Aspire
Research shows that students do better academically and socially when parents and teachers work together. New to Aspire Academy this year, the Home Works program boosts student proficiencies in subjects like reading and math by developing relationships between teachers and parents. Home visits connect parents with resources to engage in their child’s education while connecting teachers with their students and families on a deeper level.
News @ Confluence Preparatory Academy
CPA Goes to College
Confluence Preparatory Academy’s college readiness program gives high school students a taste of campus life. During their summer break, CPA high schoolers took college courses at Saint Louis University, toured the engineering department, and studied subjects like African American studies. Students also toured Harris-Stowe State University and visited the Missouri History Museum.
Freshmen Gap Assessment
CPA has introduced a gap assessment to identify proficiencies of its incoming freshmen. “The assessments help teachers realign the curriculum to each student’s level, challenging students who are more advanced while providing support to students who are catching up,” said CPA principal Dayle Burgdorf.