Sister Mary Sue Carwile, IHM

Principal, St. James Catholic School

Latest Updates

May 19, 2023

Friday, May 19, 2023

Dear Parents,

This is a long letter, but one you want to cut out and put on your refrigerator!

Our highlight of this week was celebrating Mary our Mother on Tuesday with a lovely May Crowning. Because of the church restoration, the ceremony took place in B Lot. Thank you to our second graders who helped to make this day so special.

We also had a very busy week! Our seventh grade traveled to Gettysburg and our sixth grade visited the Air and Space Museum on Wednesday. On Wednesday night, our Saint James Drama Club performed The Wizard of Oz. They were fantastic and it was a delightful play. Special thanks to Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Terwilliger, our directors!

On Thursday, Sister Kathryn and I enjoyed a break as Noah Buckman assumed the role of Principal for the Day! He did a great job and has gifted the school with a free Dress Down on next Wednesday, May 24!

Friday brought Colonial Day! Thank you to Mrs. Nicole De Spirito, who worked with the teachers to organize this day, and to all of our parents who were able to come in for the day and assist!

The next weeks are also busy ones. Next week, we welcome Speaker, Peter Ryan, who will present

"Faith, Screens, and our Families" on Monday, May 22nd at 7pm in Heller Hall. On Wednesday at 7 PM, we have PTO Elections and Awards Night. Thursday is Preschool Graduation and Friday is Field Day! There will be an 11 AM dismissal on Field Day and we will have Extended Day.

The week of May 28 is just as busy: After our holiday on Memorial Day, our band will perform the Spring Concert on Tuesday, May 30 at 7 PM in Heller Hall.  Grade 1 will travel to Green Springs Garden for their field trip on Wednesday, June 1, and Kindergarten Graduation will be Friday June 2.

The 8th grade Dance is Saturday, June 3, their breakfast is Wednesday, June 7, and Graduation that night is at 7 PM. The last day of school in on Thursday, June 8, with dismissal 11 AM. There will be NO extended day. 

That just exhausted me! I need a NAP!

I hope you have a great weekend!

Sister Mary Sue

May 12, 2023

Friday May 12, 2023

Dear Saint James Families, 


What a week! Our All Star Teachers and Staff were spoiled with all kinds of treats this week from delicious food, raffle prizes, cool t-shirts, and the staff favorite - massages. Thank you to our “head coach”, Alicia Carmody, our school masseuse, Caroline Roscoe, the PTO and everyone who helped make this week special for our hardworking teachers and staff. 


Today was Spirit Day, a day to show our school spirit and enjoy some friendly competition. Classroom doors were decorated with messages like “Are you Red-y?” “White has the might!” “We are Red-ioactive!” and “White - let your light shine bright!” And the students' outfits were a sight to behold! They really went all out and the halls were saturated with red and white. I could feel the excitement as students entered the building, and I enjoyed hearing the competitive banter back and forth as the assembly grew closer.   


The eighth graders began Spirit Day by dancing their hearts out and the student body cheered and swayed along. Then came the basketball game. Eighth graders and teachers hustled down the court hoping for a victory. While everyone left their blood, sweat, and tears on the court, only one team could win. The White team claimed victory. Congratulations! 


At the end of the day, the most spirited class had to be decided. It was a tough decision because there was so much SJS spirit. After much deliberation from our teacher judges, the Spirit Stick was awarded to Kindergarten and Third Grade. 


Thank you to Mrs. Keffelas, Mrs. Shumate, and Coach Rogers for all of the love, time, and planning they put into this year’s Spirit Day.  After all of this school spirit, my heart was full of joy, inspiration, and gratitude for our amazing students, teachers, and school. I think it’s given us all a burst of energy to finish the year strong! 


Tomorrow, our second graders in Miss Guillen’s room will receive First Holy Communion. We pray for them and for all those who helped prepare them for this wonderful day, especially Sister Regina, Miss Milligan, Mrs. Woody, Mrs. Heid, Mrs. Wilson and their parents.  We thank God for the blessings He bestows on us as we take part in this celebration!


We have only a few weeks of school left. While there are many exciting events coming up, learning is still happening. Please encourage your children to embrace all of the fun and embrace whatever learning opportunities come their way. 

In a special way, I want to recognize and thank our teachers who will be leaving us at the end of this year. Mrs. Debra Kilgallin is retiring after many years of loving service. Mrs. Maureen St. Pierre is moving into full time graduate studies. Miss Maura Pacheco will also be leaving to continue her studies. Lastly, Mr. Richard Ludwig will be moving on to a new chapter in his life. We are grateful for their years of service and wish them the best in their future endeavors. They will be missed, and they leave big shoes to fill! 

Peace and Blessings,
Sister Kathryn Clemmer, IHM 
Assistant Principal 

May 5, 2023

Friday, May 5, 2023

Dear Parents,

Yesterday, our 8th grade students enjoyed the game at Nationals Park and our 5th grade students had a wonderful time at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Air and Space Museum! Today our Band students traveled to Hershey Park for competition and a lot of fun!   More field trips are coming soon!

Tomorrow, our second graders in Miss Milligan’s room will receive First Holy Communion. We pray for them and for all those who helped prepare them for this wonderful day, especially Sister Regina, Miss Milligan, Mrs. Woody, Mrs. Heid, Mrs. Wilson and their parents.  We thank God for the blessings he bestows on us as we take part in this celebration!


Next week the company working on the new HVAC system in the Middle School will begin preparations for this massive project. Actual work needs to begin on June 12 in order to have the school ready for our opening day. As is in all constructions, there are some inconveniences along the way. The 8 parking places along the Rocket Playground will be fenced off and unavailable. The teachers will have spaces reserved for them in A Lot. Please do not park in the teacher lot for any reason. I ask you to please park on Spring street if you need to pick up your child for any reason before dismissal. Please do not park in the teacher lot, then walk to the A or B lot and walk your child to the teacher lot for an easy exit.

Thank you and have a great weekend!

Sister Mary Sue

April 28, 2023

Friday, April 28, 2023

Dear Saint James Families, 

The Gala has finally arrived and we are ready to head Back to the 80’s! Sister Mary Sue and I would like to extend a big thank you to Taylor Draim, the Gala chair. She and her team have worked tirelessly to make the Gala radical this year. Thank you also to the many volunteers and donors who have offered their time, talent, and treasure to make this year’s gala a success. I cannot wait to see everyone in their 80’s outfits - it is sure to be a blast from the past! 

Next week, NWEA testing begins and will continue through May 19th. Teachers will let you know when your child/children are testing. Make sure students are well rested during these test days. This testing focuses on student growth and potential and is not about getting 100 percent. Rather, students should do their best and show what they know. This gives teachers valuable information to help them plan to meet the needs of every student. 

As the school year winds down (only 28 days to go!) I would like to remind everyone about a few things. 

Please do not request teachers for next year. Teachers have the students' best interest at heart and student placements are thoughtfully determined. 

Field day is coming up on May 26th. Parent volunteers are needed. The signup link is in the notes below. 

The last day of school is June 8th with an 11am dismissal. 

Peace and Blessings, 

Sister Kathryn

April 21, 2023

Friday April 21, 2023

Dear Saint James Families, 

Easter Blessings to all! It is so wonderful to see all of our students' faces in the halls as we enter into the last weeks of school.  I cannot believe April is almost over! I also cannot believe the Gala is just a week away. While preparations have been underway for quite some time, this week our students got in on the action. It was time for the Bucket Drop! All week the front hall was busy with excited boys and girls placing their lucky Bucket Bucks into jars. They are hoping to win some awesome prizes like an elephant Squishmallow, a Star Wars Lego set, AirPods, and much more.

When I see a class coming down the hall with their Bucket Bucks in hand, I come out to witness the joy of this tradition. I love watching their hopeful faces as they drop their bucks in and leave with the exciting possibility of winning a cherished prize. While not everyone is going to be a winner, everyone can feel good about supporting our school and joining in the fun of the Gala experience. 

In this Easter season, we are praying the Queen of Heaven prayer in the morning and after lunch. This prayer brings the joy of the resurrection front and center as we journey through the Easter season. I invite you to join us and pray this prayer in your homes.

Queen of Heaven

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, Alleluia!
The Song whom it was your privilege to bear, Alleluia!  
Has risen as He said, Alleluia! 
Pray God for us, Alleluia! 

Rejoice and be glad, Virgin Mary, Alleluia!
For the Lord has truly risen, Alleluia!

Let us pray, O God, You were pleased to give joy to the world through the resurrection of Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Grant, we beseech You, that through the mediation of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may come to possess the joys of life everlasting. Through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Peace and Blessings,

Sister Kathryn

March 31, 2023

Friday, March 31, 2023

Dear Saint James Families, 

On Tuesday, I went to the Vocations Mass with our 8th grade students, and it was a moving experience. I know what you are thinking, “With all this talk of field trips, Sister Kathryn is hardly ever in school!” While I love my work in school, there is something special about going on a field trip. I get to see a different side of the students, a more relaxed side, and I get to know them a little better. 

The Vocations event began with a joyful and engaging speaker who used stories to talk about discernment. While the vocations of marriage, single life, priesthood, and religious life were emphasized, the speaker got to the heart of discernment. What is God calling you to right now? At this very moment? He observed that many young people say to themselves, “I’ll get serious about my faith when I’m older, right now I have other things to do.” The thing is God doesn’t want to wait until they are older, He wants to enter their lives today.

The day ended with a beautiful celebration of the Mass with Bishop Burbidge. I was so proud of our Saint James 8th graders because they displayed such reverence and full participation in the Mass. In a Church of over one thousand 8th graders, there was a stillness and attentiveness that was impressive. I witnessed hearts being changed and doors being opened. These young people were letting God in!

Parents, the Church and the world need the gifts of your children - their passion, their caring, and their love for God. I encourage you to discuss discernment and vocation in your homes. God has a great plan for all of us. He is always waiting for us to open the doors of our hearts. Even if all we can manage is to open it a crack, He can still enter. 

I leave you with a Vocation Prayer for young people:

 Dear Jesus, please teach me what you 
 want me to do with my life and give me
the grace to do it with all my heart. Amen

Be assured of the prayers of the faculty and staff for a very blessed Easter.

God bless,
Sister Kathryn Clemmer, IHM

March 24, 2023

Friday March 24, 2023

Dear Parents,

On Monday, the Church celebrated the Solemnity of Saint Joseph. Next to our Mother Mary, Saint Joseph may just be my favorite saint.  His quiet presence and strength, compassion and constant protection are some of the many attributes that draw me to him. This week, I was speaking with a friend of mine who is a priest. We were talking about Saint Joseph and he told me that he calls him the patron saint of crisis. Indeed, Saint Joseph frequently found himself facing a crisis. By all accounts, he remained calm and grounded in his great trust in God and the promise of a future full of hope.

As an elementary school principal, crises lurk around every corner. Anything from five teachers waking up with the same stomach bug, to a kindergartener losing her hair ribbon in the recess yard, these crises can rattle the calmest spirit! Saint Joseph stands by in silence and trust, and invites us to stand with him, drawing on the unending flow of graces that our good God sends to each of us. May Saint Joseph lead us to Jesus and Mary each day!

I am having a hard time accepting that today is the last Friday in March! Be sure to order your Gala tickets if you have not done this yet!

Have a great weekend everyone.

We have a Professional Development Day on Monday, so the students have a nice long weekend!


Sister Mary Sue

March 17, 2023

Friday March 17, 2023

Dear Saint James Families, 

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! The halls of Saint James were filled with all shades of green today. It was a sight to behold!

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to go on the third grade field trip to Colvin Run Mill, and we had such a good time! The students learned about the simple machines that made up the mechanics of a grain mill. As the presenter explained and demonstrated the various tools, the students were caught up in wonder and fascination with it all. Their faces lit up with excitement and curiosity about how things were done hundreds of years ago. Since everything was carefully preserved, it felt like we had traveled back in time and were walking through history. 

When we visited the general store, students were given objects to examine and determine their use. Their responses were quite comical - when handed an old fashioned hair curler, washboard or chamber pot, students couldn’t quite figure it out. Once the objects were revealed, there were plenty of giggles and questions to go around. Yet, it got them thinking, talking, and wondering. That childlike wonder and awe filled the air and inspired me to see the world through their eyes - a world full of mystery and amazement. In a world full of technology, it was so refreshing to have a tech-free day to get in touch with the hands-on ways of doing things. As spring-like weather arrives, there are many opportunities in our area to explore, learn, and get inspired. 

I leave you with the the Breastplate Prayer of Saint Patrick: 

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

~ St. Patrick´╗┐

Peace and Blessings, 

Sister Kathryn Clemmer, IHM

March 10, 2023

Friday, March 10, 2023

Dear Parents,

I am in school waiting for the teachers to arrive for our Professional Development Day. Some members of the faculty and staff are heading to Bishop Ireton High School for specialized meetings. The primary teachers are heading to St. Agnes School to meet with other primary teachers for a presentation on the science of reading. The other teachers will remain here for various topics. The grades that use NWEA testing will have a presentation of delving into the scores and what they mean. The teachers are very happy to receive these tools as they work to use the test for the growth of our students. The specials teachers will be working on the many activities that make us unique!

Yesterday, the kids were leaving the cafeteria, one child asked me why we are off today. I said that the teachers need days to learn also and that is what we will be doing.  As the line continued to move, a student, two or three behind him, turned around and proclaimed, “And that is why we have a great school!” I know we are a work in progress, but it sure warmed my heart to hear his enthusiasm!

This week, we are in the final days of preparation for our eighth graders to receive the sacrament of Confirmation on Saturday. Please keep these students, families and teachers in your prayers. 

On Friday, we celebrate the feast of St. Patrick. We will have a green and white dress down. The $1.00 donation will go to the eighth class to help cover graduation activities costs.

As we begin the third week of Lent, I share this prayer with you, as we recall all that Jesus has done for us and His invitation to continue His work with all we meet.

Christ has no body but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,

Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

-         Teresa of Avila



Sister Mary Sue

March 3, 2023

March 3, 2023

Dear Saint James Families,

Today, we supported the Bishop O’Connell SuperDance, a dance marathon that raises money for Cystic Fibrosis research and treatment. The theme for this year’s dance is Toy Story, so we joined in the spirit! Students and faculty alike dressed up as their favorite characters from Toy Story. We had Woody, Jesse, Rex, Forky, and so many more. For those not in costume, there was plenty of Saint James Spirit to go around. As always, we received overwhelming generosity in free will donations!

In the midst of our fun, we practiced the Lenten pillar of almsgiving. In the act of giving, we recognize that everything is a gift from God, who loves us beyond measure. As we receive, we give in return so that the gifts and the love can be multiplied.

The more we give, the easier it becomes to part with our earthly treasures. We begin to see that the material things of this world don’t last and someday all of it will fade away. The lasting things are those that we’ve shared with others: the gifts of our time, talent, and treasure. These gifts bring life to others so that they can thrive and give glory to God.

Let us continue to pray with and for one another during this Lenten journey. I pray that God showers each of you with his love and abundant gifts!

If you’d like to learn more about the SuperDance, click below:

Peace and Blessings,

Sister Kathryn

February 24, 2023

Friday, February 24, 2023

Dear Saint James Families, 

Today’s reflection in my Lenten book focused on intentionality, and it got me thinking. Each of us makes a Lenten sacrifice like giving up sweets, spending less time on technology, or buying less stuff. The question is, “Why do we do it?” It is so easy to make Lenten sacrifices for their own sake or because that’s what we’ve always done. However, in order for the sacrifice to really mean something, we must be intentional about it. 

The season of Lent is an opportunity for us to grow in our relationship with the Lord. Intentionality allows us to bear the fruits of our sacrifices. When we give things up, we make more room in our hearts, minds, and lives for Jesus. While the sacrifice leaves us feeling deprived, bored, or empty, it also invites us to fill that space with prayer and service. 

I know that my sacrifice is going to be hard, and it should be! But, I also know that it will give me countless opportunities to allow Jesus into my life. The question is: "Will I let Him in?” or “Will I fall back into old habits that keep me distracted and distant from the Lord?”

This Lent, I challenge myself and I challenge each of you to be intentional about our sacrifices. In doing so, we enter more fully into Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. 

Let us pray that Christ transforms us and brings us closer to Him and to each other. 

Peace and Blessings,

Sister Kathryn 

February 17, 2023

Friday, February 17, 2023

Dear Parents,

This week we celebrated Valentine’s Day!  It was nice to see everyone in red, pink, and white! Thank you for the many treats sent in. Most especially, thank you for the donations sent in for the people of Turkey and Syria during this time of tremendous suffering. We are able to send almost $1,000.00 through your generosity.

This morning as I crossed from the convent to school, I was moved back in time to my childhood treks to school. I went to Saint Thomas More. We lived on the far side of Columbia Gardens Cemetery and our daily route was through the cemetery. On rainy days it was at least 2 miles! On dark and raining mornings, as I walked up the hill to cross Glebe Road for the final leg of the journey, I was greeted with the warm lights of the classroom waiting for me. This sight truly filled my heart with a sense of comfort, so much so that whenever I cross the street on these similar rainy mornings, and I see some classroom lights on, ready to welcome students, my heart is stilled moved with that sense of comfort.  I pray for our school community that we can welcome one another in the same way.

We all have our favorite “Love” quotes. Here is one of my favorites:

´╗┐ "Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything."

                                                                                                                  - Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

Monday is Presidents’ Day and a holiday. Let us pray for our leaders, that they will make wise decisions that will bring peace to all people!

Have a great weekend!


Sister Mary Sue 

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