School Enrichment Program

St. Joseph Parish School is proud of the enrichment activities that are held in our classrooms, our school and our local community.  The definition of enrichment is any program that supplements a regular school activity.  Its purpose is to enhance the academic curriculum with special projects or activities.  Our students benefit greatly from these programs that would not be possible without the support of our faculty, staff, St. Joseph PTO and our school and parish families.  Below is a list of these programs and their definitions.

In Classroom Enrichment

Faculty and staff consistently use materials and programs to enhance their curriculum.  Some examples of these are:  ActivBoards (associated accessories & software), iPads, laptops, DVDs, Science hands-on lab kits, rolling labs, the Accelerated Reader Program* (school-wide), Simple Solutions** and Vocabulary Workshop*** (from 6th-8th grade). 

The faculty continually implements green activities during the school year such as the weather station, recycling, and Earth Day. This supports units in Science that focus on our environment and its protection.  Students have the opportunity to participate in video presentations, PowerPoint creations, dramatizations and story writing, which diversifies how a subject is studied.  Some students learn from reading, others by watching a dramatization or a more hands on activity.  By offering a wide variety of activities, a student can take pride in excelling in one or more areas and strengthening others.


Accelerated Reader Program - School-wide program where students may select books from a large variety of titles based on their grade and reading levels.  All students are tested for their comprehension.  In 4th grade students are introduced to the Accelerated Reader Program by reading books assigned to a specific genre and completing a complimentary project.   Beginning in 5th grade, students are challenged to complete a set amount of “points” based on the difficulty of their reading material.  The students must write a short summary of the book and take a computerized test to measure their comprehension.

Simple Solutions – A Math Enrichment program designed to help students achieve real mastery and comfort with new concepts through good teaching, structured review and consistent practice. For students in the advanced math classes, it reinforces the skills they know, but introduces them to new skills, which are then part of the lesson plan later in the school year. For regular math students, the program reinforces the skills taught earlier in the school year. Students not only work on these workbooks during the school year, but during the summer months as well.

Vocabulary Workshop - Standardized tests include a focus on a student’s knowledge of vocabulary.  This program enables the 6th-8th graders to expand awareness by studying a list of new vocabulary words every week.  Students learn to utilize context clues and memorization to complete workbook activities and tests.

Theater Enrichment

This is an activity currently offered to grades 3-4 during class time.  A local theater professional provides theater education to the students.  The classes focus on strengthening skills such as creativity, public speaking, and spontaneity through improvisational games and acting exercises.  Teachers are then able to incorporate the activities into their lesson plans as they see fit in order to sustain what the students have learned.

Indoor Recess Enrichment

Several years ago, an effort led by PTO volunteers was launched to allow students to participate in a variety of activities during the cold, winter months to foster their interest in different hobbies.  Students may voluntarily sign up for different clubs that are held during indoor recess.  These activities are made available based upon the availability and participation of parent volunteers.
Activities have included: Play Doh Club: Gr. 1-2, Lego Club: Gr. 1-4, Iron-on Beads (Craft) Club: Gr. 1-4, Board Games: Gr. 1-3, Chess: Gr. 3-7, Basketball: Gr. 3-8, Dance: Gr. 1-8, Scrapbook Club: Gr. 4-8, Bracelet Making: Gr. 4-8

Outside Classroom/Multi Classroom Participation

St. Joseph Parish School and our PTO host various school-wide or multiple grade level assemblies.  These assemblies have included presentations on the importance of recycling, performances by drama troupes and musical groups, guest speakers who talk about missionary work or professional careers and visiting exhibits, such as the COSI (Center of Science and Industry), which has taught our students about everything from weather to energy.

In School/Outside Classroom
(Teacher led activities before and after school)

Art Fair – We are excited about the addition of our very own Art Fair!  This fair showcases the artistic talents of all of our students.  They work in different mediums and present the results in a more formal setting than the classroom.  The Art Fair is typically held in late Spring with the students work showcased in the Gallery Room at the Avon Lake Public Library.  A reception is held to honor those whose work is showcased.

Academic League – This program is very similar to the Academic Challenge TV show that features area high schools competing against each other in the academic arena.  St. Joseph Parish School 7th and 8th graders compete against other schools in the subjects of math, science, social studies, religion, the arts, literature and current events.  Practices are held in early October and competitions against other schools in the region begin after the holidays and go through mid-March.  2010-2011 was our first year of competition and we finished second among the seven other participating schools!

Service Projects – This program encompasses all the service projects our students perform throughout the year. Some of our service is done in the classroom, such as collections for the Missions, making placemats for Beachpark Tower at Easter, or creating greeting cards for the homebound in the parish.  An inter-grade level project is the close relationship developed between the kindergartners and eighth graders during the school year.  They prepare for school Masses, play at recess and work on art projects together.  School wide service projects include supporting local families in need through St. Vincent de Paul.  We also provide assistance throughout the school year to charities including The Kidney Foundation, Father Stalla’s El Salvador Mission, Mohican School in the Out of Doors (non-profit), West Side Catholic Center, St. Joseph Homeless Shelter, Community Resource Services, St. Mary’s Food Pantry,  Children’s Tumor Foundation, The Heart Association, Love for Lucas and more.

Activities outside the school that our 7th and 8th graders participate in are: serving refreshments during the Parish Ladies Guild’s Strawberry Card Party, being teachers’ aides during Vacation Bible School and helping with Soles for Souls sponsored by our St. Vincent de Paul Society.  Our junior high school students also visit inner city schools in Cleveland to read and do art projects with young students.  Our 8th graders participate in the Presidential Service Award by individually performing 100 hours of service during their final year at St. Joseph’s.  All of these activities not only prepare our students for the Sacrament of Confirmation, but it teaches and impassions them to live a life of stewardship.

Friday Morning Broadcast – This program is filmed and broadcasted to our school on Friday mornings, through the ActivBoards, and is an excellent introduction to video broadcasting and utilization of in school technology for our 8th grade students.  The broadcast features student selected themes and includes the Pledge of Allegiance, recitation of the Rosary, prayerful intentions, Saint of the Day and any other ideas the students wish to present under the direction of our faculty.

Jazz Band – An excellent supplement to our school’s music and band programs, the Jazz Band allows for our more interested musical students from 5th to 8th grade to deepen their talents and appreciation for Jazz.  This voluntary program meets weekly before school begins.  They perform at our Spring Band Concert and at one of our PTO meetings.

Math Club – This is an after school activity monitored by our middle school Math teachers.  It is open to any 5th and 6th grader who is interested in working on challenging Math problems and puzzles.  The groups meet weekly to work as individuals and teams to solve Math activities.  There is an Ohio Math League problem-solving contest held during a regular meeting in February.  The Math Clubs also participate in a team problem-solving tournament, sponsored by the Greater Cleveland Area Teachers of Mathematics in May.  Not all club members can compete in this tournament. St. Joseph’s can send two teams of four students based on our enrollment numbers.

Nature Club – This is an after school activity offered once a month to interested students in grades 2-4, based upon parent volunteers.  A Naturalist from the French Creek Nature Center has partnered with our school and leads each meeting.  Each meeting focuses on a specific topic related to nature, so the students learn about each topic in depth.  The club is also service oriented.  The students have a primary service project per year as a club.  The students take an idea that will help the environment, and see the idea through all the way to completion.  They do this via teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking and creativity exercises.

Power of the Pencil – This is an after school activity monitored by the 6th grade teacher, held 2x a month for any 6th graders who are interested in joining.  It fosters the ability and appreciation of creative writing and the use of vocabulary and literary terms.  It is a wonderful introduction to the Power of the Pen.

Power of the Pen – This is an after school activity monitored by the 7th and 8th grade Language Arts teachers.  It is first held weekly, then more frequently as competitions approach.  The Power of the Pen itself is a statewide creative writing competition available to all interested 7th and 8th graders, as is this St. Joseph’s program. The students learn to write a creative story in response to a prompt (an idea or topic) and have a forty-minute time limit.  A district competition takes place on a Saturday in January, and those who make it on to Regionals typically compete in March.  The State Tournament is the week before Memorial Day.  Students enjoy the extra time writing after school, the laughs and the snacks!

Robotics Club – Open to 7th and 8th grade girls and funded by the Girl Scouts of America. Girls meet twice a week to prepare for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego League Challenge.

FIRST was founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. From September to November the girls prepare for the challenge which has three components; design, build and program a robot to perform a series of tasks, research a given problem and invent a solution and then share the solution with someone outside their team. Girls then compete against other teams at Hathaway Brown School.

Science Fair –Although our 7th and 8th grade students have always had small group science projects that they have worked diligently on, we now have a more formal presentation.  Our Science teachers will host a Science Fair for our students, which will give their dedicated efforts an even wider audience including judges with a background in education and science.

Spanish Club – An after school activity open to any interested 8th graders.  This group meets every other week.  Its purpose is to introduce different facets of the Hispanic culture to the class.  This includes learning native dances, eating/cooking/baking traditional Hispanic foods, making crafts and planning games from Spanish-speaking countries, visiting Spanish restaurants and neighborhoods, watching movies in Spanish and celebrating Hispanic holidays.  Although these topics are briefly touched upon in the classroom, this club allows the students to go into more depth.

Spelling Bee – An after school activity that is open to all interested 7th & 8th graders.  The students meet once a week in January and February.  St. Joseph School enrolls in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.  The district tournament is held in Lorain County in the beginning of March.  The top 16 spellers advance to the regional bee also held in Lorain County.  Only one speller advances to the nationals held in Washington DC in June.  Our school’s entrants depend upon school enrollment.  We are eligible to send two spellers.  Mock spelling bees are held during recess and after school for anyone interested in participating.  The top two spellers are selected based on the results of these in-school spelling bees.

Student Council – Our student government is determined by an election held each fall.  There are two representatives elected from each class in grades 5-8, anyone may run for office out of those grades.  Our candidates for president and vice president prepare and present a campaign speech in front of the entire student body prior to that day’s election.  The campaigning is enthusiastic and creative!  The Student Council, upon election, meets once or twice a month before school.  Their activities include: sponsoring the school dances and Dress Down Days (fundraisers for charities), Candy Grams for Valentine’s Day (also for charity), the food drive for the St. Vincent De Paul Mass held before Thanksgiving break and planning activities and events for Catholic Schools Week. 

Modular Unit Enrichment – These school day sessions encompass a large variety of activities that support our students who are able to participate in more challenging work. 

Kindergarten and First Grade – Our Enrichment teacher goes into the classroom weekly and does various educational activities with the entire class.

First Grade – Three to six students are selected from each classroom based on First Grade Readiness Scores, DIBELS reading benchmarks, classroom performance and ability to complete class work efficiently.

Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Grades – Six students are selected from each classroom based on scores from IOWA’s, classroom performance and ability to complete class work efficiently. 

The students go out to the modular unit once per week.  Most sessions are 30 minutes, however, fourth graders have a set enrichment program and they meet for 60 minutes.  Beginning in Kindergarten and through fourth grade, students are working on logic, problem solving and language skills.   The fifth grade enrichment includes creative writing and Vocabulary Workshop (defined earlier in this document).  On occasion, for certain grade levels, an extra group is selected if enough students’ scores are a composite of 95 or higher on the IOWA’s.

Other auxiliary services are available in the modular unit.  This information is available in our St. Joseph School’s Handbook, found on Edline/Contents and communicated at the Open House and in communications sent to parents early in the school year.

Summer Enrichment

SJS Teacher Summer Programs – Teachers offer group and individual tutoring in the Mobile Unit one day a week. Great opportunity to get those Summer Simple Solution pages completed. Communication about these sessions come from those individual educators and is sent home with the students/posted on Edline before school ends for the year.

8th Grade Summer Science Camp – A weeklong summer camp for incoming 8th graders run by parent volunteers who have backgrounds/careers in science related fields.  St. Joseph School faculty also supports this program.  Its goals are to stimulate and engage students using inquiry based, student driven, and active learning to promote interest and reduce anxiety in science courses.  The parents/faculty review and introduce students to topics taught in standard 8th grade and high school science curricula; and attain learning gains as measured by pre and post test assessments. This camp promotes St. Joseph School as a leader in academic preparation and student achievement in the sciences and is offered in conjunction with parents who offer their time and commitment.

Outside of School

These programs are supported by St. Joseph Parish School and may take place during school or outside of school day hours and may vary.

Ski Club - The Friday night Ski Club offers students in grades 5-8 an opportunity to beat the winter doldrums!  In partnership with several other Lorain County Catholic elementary schools, Constellation Charter School and Elyria Catholic, our students are able to take their talents to the ski slopes.  This group of beginner and expert skiers will be advised by Virtus trained school employees, one of whom is a paramedic.

Field Trips – Mohican Outdoor School in 6th grade, which is a weeklong, overnight student trip chaperoned by SJS teachers (please see link on Edline), visits to Great Lakes Science Center, Natural History Museum, Cleveland Orchestra, theatrical plays, weather educational program at Indians’ games, etc.

SJS Student Participation – Avon Lake Community Schools Reflections Art Program, Scholastic Art Program for 8th grade students, inter Catholic School Band Festival, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts, Catholic Youth Organization (CYO Sports), St. Joseph Church children’s choir, St. Joseph Church liturgical participants and altar servers.