Student Initiative Sparks Schoolwide Engagement

May 10, 2021

St. Bartholomew student Thomas W. had no idea what he would set into motion when he proposed getting more school “swag” to wear with his uniform.  The seventh grader spoke with administrators, who gave him the green light to work with a vendor to design a hooded sweatshirt and figure out pricing so the new garment could be sold to the school community.


He proposed his design at a Student Government meeting, and others chimed in with ideas.  

Seventh grade Class Representative Cooper A. suggested using the sweatshirt sale as an opportunity to raise funds for a campus improvement project.  Specifically, Cooper wanted to spruce up the landscaping around the seventh-grade homeroom/science room.  The grounds were home to a statue of St. Francis of Assisi, but little else.  Soon after, it was determined that $5 from each sweatshirt sold would be used to develop the “St. Francis Garden.”  

St. Francis of Assisi is well-known as the patron saint of animals and ecology.  Each year, St. Bart’s students joyfully celebrate his feast day each October by gathering around his statue for a blessing of pets ceremony which, like most events, was canceled this year due to the pandemic.  

The seventh grade students sketched their vision for the garden, researched plants that would best thrive in the location, and secured a sponsor to provide low-cost or free plants for the garden (thank you Chris Kelley and Metro Grounds Management).  The Student Government announced a school-wide Earth Day campus clean up and seventh grade unveiled the new garden at an outdoor family picnic over Earth Day Weekend, complete with an outdoor zoo.  It was a blessing to come together and celebrate the success of this student-led initiative.

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St. Bart's Launches The Bobcat StoryWalk® for Covid-Safe Multisensory Learning

December 1, 2020

With social distancing and other Coronavirus precautions changing the face of in-class learning, we have found a creative way to engage readers with Bobcat StoryWalks®. StoryWalks® are a unique way to bring picture books to life. 


Across our 11-acre campus, students are guided from station to station. They find laminated pages of a storybook at each location along with engaging, multisensory projects that bring the tale to life. 


“This is part treasure hunt, part reading, and part exercise all in one!” says reading specialist Mrs. Digges.  


We will change the story each month, so new adventures always await. The first StoryWalk® features a book called Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. In the story, a Leaf Man is blown to many different settings and changes shape.   Our Bobcats engage with the story by collecting leaves along the way and gluing them on construction paper to make their very own leaf people. Older students benefit from journaling from the perspective of the main character or writing thoughts on the book’s deeper themes, such as how people can change in different situations and maintain resilience.


The outdoor activity is ideal for learning in the time of Covid.  “So many multisensory reading activities have had to be tweaked because we aren’t sharing materials and we’re trying to keep up social distancing,” says Mrs. Digges. “I saw a social media story about a parks and recreation worker who set up a book trail along a bike path.” Digges brought the idea to the whole St. Bartholomew staff, which was enthusiastic about launching the school’s very own StoryWalk®. Now it is being enjoyed by students, parishioners, and neighbors.


The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT, and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library. StoryWalks® are now found across the USA and in 13 countries. Here in Bethesda, all local families are invited to enjoy this new and exciting way of experiencing the magic of stories. Simply come to the campus during non-school hours -- and be sure to bring your imagination and curiosity! 

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Going Beyond Top Test Scores & High School Placement

Written by Frank English, Principal and published February 4, 2020

Fifty seven years ago the parishioners of our newly established parish recognized a need to provide a Catholic education for their children and those in the surrounding neighborhood.


Catholic schools in America began because parents and Church leaders wanted to ensure that children receive the best in human and religious formation. Since then, Catholic schools have educated millions of children and inspired what is best in our society. As we reflect on society today, one can readily see the need and relevance of Catholic education more than ever. It is a gift and an opportunity you have here and now.


Over the course of my 30 years as a Catholic school educator and more recently 3 years as principal of St. Bartholomew School, I have witnessed the impact Catholic education has on every child and family that attends our school. Catholic Education is more than religious formation with academics on the side. It is a unique way to teach children to be curious about the world around them, challenge them to grow and discover their gifts, and nurture their faith. At the most fundamental level, this is the idea of taking care of the whole child.


Here at St. Bartholomew School our teachers are true partners in education, and parents know that when they drop off their child in the morning, their child’s mind will be challenged, their spirit will be nourished, and that child will be loved as a child of God regardless of race, creed, color, or faith.


One day these children will grow up to be authors, bankers, doctors, police officers, lawyers, lobbyists, presidents, priests, mothers and fathers-- decision makers for the next generation. Let us help you build the foundation they need.


While the "look" of Catholic education has changed over time, with teachers holding masters degrees and doctorates replacing nuns, collaborative working environments with Smartboards replacing rows of desks and rote worksheets, and more program offerings such as STEM and Minecraft, instrumental music, and social-emotional learning, the mission remains the same. We encourage children to strive for their maximum academic potential and spiritual growth. That mission is alive and well at St. Bartholomew School and we are looking forward to serving this community for another 57 years. 

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