Sister Mary Sue Carwile, IHM

Principal, St. James Catholic School

Latest Updates

June 11, 2021

Friday June 11. 2021

Dear Parents,

Thank you again for all of your support and kindness during this extraordinary year! Before we close for the summer, I would like to introduce our new members to our Saint James School team! Mrs. Allina Young will teach ´╗┐grade 1, and Mrs. Maureen Norton, who has been our permanent substitute this year, will teach grade 3. I am pleased to announce that Sister Pat Healey is moving from the library to our resource department, specifically to work with our Middle School students. And Sister Karl Ann Homberg SSJ will be our new librarian. Sister Karl Ann has served the Diocese of Arlington for the past 30 years in the Office of Catholic Education and brings with her a wealth of experience and knowledge. Sister also lives with our IHM community here at Saint James. Finally, I am pleased to announce that Mrs. Ann Croft will be our school counselor. I am still looking for other candidates to fill positions.

Again, I hope your year at Saint James has been one of growth and happiness. As I make my annual retreat next week, I promise to remember you and your intentions in my prayers before the Blessed Sacrament. I hope the days ahead are full of joy and laughter, relaxation and time to enjoy your families. I ask you to take a few minutes to pray this prayer together as a family as you begin your summer.

End of the School Year Prayer 

O God of all beginnings and endings,

We praise and thank you for the gift of this school year.

It has been a time filled with grace and blessings,

With challenges and opportunities, joys and sorrows.

The days have passed quickly, O Lord.

The weeks, the months, the seasons, the holidays and holy days,

The tests, vacations, breaks, and assemblies,

All have come forth from your hand.

While we trust that your purposes have always been at work each day,

Sometimes it has seemed difficult to understand and appreciate

Just what you have been up to in our school.

Give us the rest and refreshment we need this summer.

Let our efforts of this past year bear fruit.

Bring all of our plans to a joyful conclusion,

And bless us, according to your will,

With the fulfillment of our summer hopes and dreams.

Watch over us in the weeks of rest ahead,

And guide each day as you have done this past year.

Help us return to school with a new spirit and a new energy.

May we continue to grow

In age, wisdom, knowledge and grace

All the days of our lives.


Blessings and peace,

Sister Mary Sue

June 4, 2021

Friday, June 4, 2021

Dear Parents,

Thank you so much for all you have done to make this year a success in every way possible. March 13, 2019 is a bookmark in my life for sure. Like you, I never imagined that the two week shut down announced by the governor would stretch beyond that time, and then Easter and then. . . .

In July, as our school team planned our new year and gathered around the library tables to discuss our options for reopening, it was both heartwarming and terrifying to hear the consensus that we needed to go back in person, knowing the challenges that would face us. Our entire school community, teachers, staff, parents and students met those challenges with great fortitude and positive energy. In my own heart, and I am sure that in many of yours, fear loomed high, yet together we forged ahead, trusting in God’s providence, in our efforts to do what seemed to be the impossible. 

And we did it! This was an exhausting year. There is no doubt about it. But it is a good exhaustion because, with God’s grace and the gifts He has given us, individually and collectively, we didn’t just make it or survive it. We LIVED it and we made memories for our students, and one another, that will last a lifetime. I cannot count the number of “thank you’s” received from you, our parents, students and total strangers I have met along the way for making a place for our kids. My response has always been in praise of all of our school community working together. YOU are the reason we can look back and smile with thankfulness and satisfaction. I salute you all with a great debt of gratitude and the sincerest wishes for a wonderful summer and look forward to our return to a more familiar routine (I will not venture to say normal!).

God bless you and your summer and the year ahead!


Sister Mary Sue

May 28, 2021

Friday, May 28, 2021

Dear Parents,

Here it is Memorial Day weekend! I am always amazed at how suddenly this weekend appears each year, and especially after this year, which loomed so large and long before us, it seemed to come with no warning at all! Yet here we are!

As you are aware, the restrictions that have kept us safe this year are being lifted as of today. Per the Governors’ Executive Order, this does not apply to the schools’ mitigation plans. All those on school grounds are required to continue to wear masks at all times. This includes outside activities. Although some of our middle school students have begun receiving the vaccine, none of the younger students have been vaccinated. We need to keep everyone safe so that the summer vacation can begin with everyone being healthy!

Last week, I announced the names of our teachers who will be saying goodbye to us. This week, Mr. Antuan Webb let me know that he also will be moving on from Saint James. We wish him the best as he moves to his new position. We thank him for the spirit he brought to our school this year!

In recognition of the tremendous efforts our students have made this year to follow the many new practices of safe distancing and masking and many other safety rules, we are going to allow them to wear their PE uniforms for the rest of the year, if they and you wish! This is an option (except on gym day).

Thank you for your prayers for Sister Helen, after a long week, she is on the positive side of her unfortunate fall as her surgery was successful and the healing process has begun. We are hoping she returns home today!

Have a great weekend!


Sister Mary Sue

May 21, 2021

Friday, May 21, 2021

Dear Parents,

As we draw closer to the end of the year, we have some departures among our faculty and staff that I would like to acknowledge. Some of our teachers have reached the decision to retire. I would like to offer our deepest thanks to them for the many years of service they have given, not only to Saint James School, but also to the ministry of Catholic education in many areas. We pray that Mrs. Connie Donnelly, Mrs. Deirdre Prahm and Mrs. Marian O’Brien will enjoy the days and years ahead as they step into their next journey! We thank Mrs. McNulty-Stephens for her service to Saint James and wish her every success in her next position.   Sister Melissa has received a new assignment from our IHM Congregation. She will be leaving us to serve as principal at Saint Monica School in Philadelphia. She will be missed greatly, but I know she will be a wonderful principal! Thank you to all of these outstanding educators for all they have so selflessly given to all of us.

As we plan for next year, we are hoping to bring back our extended day program. A brief survey was posted in last week’s notes to determine interest and need. You can find it in this week’s as well. We are extending the survey until next Friday, 5.28. Please take a few minutes to complete this so that we can make an informed decision. If you have already responded, please do not respond again.

I am writing this on Thursday this week, because tomorrow is our annual Spirit Day. This day, planned and prepared by our 8th grade, usually closes our Catholic Schools Week. Due to Covid we had to reschedule it and are celebrating it outside tomorrow. Unfortunately, parents cannot attend, but we know that your hearts are there!

Have a great weekend!


Sister Mary Sue

May 14, 2021

Friday, May 14, 2021

Dear Parents,

The most common comment I heard this week from our faculty and staff is “We have the BEST PTO there is!” I speak for all of the Saint James faculty and staff as I express our sincerest and deepest gratitude for the outpouring of support you shared with us, not only this week, but all through the year! Thank you for making us feel so special!

As the days are ticking down, the activities at school are increasing!

On Tuesday, we honored our Mother Mary by our annual May Crowning, asking her continued prayer and watchfulness for us, her dear children. We celebrated this in B Lot and it was so heart-warming to see the reverence and respect the students displayed while sitting on the blacktop. One preschooler, sitting next to Mrs. Toman, exclaimed with great awe, “This is so beautiful!”  May we all see such wonder through the eyes of a child!

Tomorrow night is our Virtual Auction and Gala!  Thank you so much to our Chairs, Liz Barry and Liz Tobin and all those committee chairs and members who worked so hard to make this a fun and successful event!


´╗┐Next Friday, May 21, will be our Annual Spirit Day. The eighth grade have been practicing enthusiastically for this event! It will be held in B Lot. Unfortunately, no parents may attend. We will have an early dismissal beginning at 11:00 with A-L families and bike riders. The second group will be called at 11:10. The faculty and staff will have CPR class in the afternoon and time to work in their classroom’s.

Thursday, May 27: PTO Final Meeting and Awards Night. More information will be coming. This is a virtual event.

Friday, May 28: 11:00 dismissal, following the same procedure as on May 21.

May the weekend provide time for some family relaxation and fun!

“See you” at the Gala!

Blessings and peace,

Sister Mary Sue

May 7, 2021

Friday, May 7, 2021

Dear Parents,

Yesterday, we celebrated National Nurses Day! We have been so blessed with the presence of Nurse Clare, especially during this year! She has been our support and guide through this challenging time! Her dedication and calm presence has been an ever present gift to us all! Happy Nurse’s Day, Nurse Clare!

Tomorrow, our second graders in room 2-6 will celebrate their First Holy Communion. This is indeed a very special grace for our entire parish. We join in prayer with them and for them, that the awe of this day will remain in their hearts each time they approach the altar to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Thank you to Sister Regina, Miss Guillen, Mrs. Woody, Mrs. Heid, Mrs. Wilson and the students’ parents for all their efforts in preparing our children for this day.

As we look to the end of the year, I would like to share the events that we are planning.

On Tuesday, May 11, we will have our annual May Crowning. This will take place in B Lot. Please pray for good weather! Our Annual Spirit Day will also take place in B Lot on May 21. This is an early dismissal day, with A through L families leaving at 11:00 AM. M though Z families will be dismissed at 11:10. Unfortunately, for both of these events, parents will be not be permitted to attend.

I am sure you are aware that this is National Teacher Appreciation Week. For many reasons the PTO is celebrating our Teachers the week of May 10.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Blessings and Prayers,

Sister Mary Sue

April 30, 2021

Friday, April 30, 2021

Dear Parents,

Yesterday our third grade ended their Cowboy Week with a rodeo! It was a great week for them and all of us as we are enjoying the return of many events as we open up more. As the month of May unfolds, we hope to roll out many more activities.

Tomorrow, our second graders in room 2-8 will celebrate their First Holy Communion. Next Saturday the students in room 2-6 will receive their First Holy Communion. This is indeed a very special grace for our entire parish. We join in prayer with them and for them that the awe of this day will remain in their hearts each time they approach the altar to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Thank you to Sister Regina, Miss Guillen, Miss Milligan, Mrs. Heid, Mrs. Wilson and their parents for all their efforts in preparing our children for this day.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Blessings and Prayers,

Sister Mary Sue

April 23, 2021

Friday, April 23, 2021

Dear Parents,

It does not seem possible that next week we will close out the month of April!  As usual, things are starting to build with excitement as the end of the year quickly approaches.

I am going to move right to the end of the school year. You may remember that Bishop Burbidge allowed us two holidays. We still have a half day left of that time, so we will close school on Thursday, June 10 at 11:00 AM (A – L first dismissal).

AND NOW…. The first day of school for next year will be August 23 with our kindergarten and grades 1 – 8 will join them the next day. More details will follow!

May will begin with First Holy Communion for our second graders. Practice for grade 2-6 will be on Monday evening and they will receive first Eucharist on Saturday, May 1.

We are also in the process of planning many modified activities that usually take place during this beautiful month. You will be updated as plans are fully determined.

I hope you have a great weekend!

May God bless you and your families,

Sister Mary Sue


April 16, 2021

Friday, April 16, 2021

Dear Parents,

It was great to be back in school this week! Everyone returned from Easter break full of energy and new life, ready to begin our final months of school. I was lucky enough to have a special helper this week. Adam Ray was Principal for the Day yesterday! He did a great job and gave the entire school a dress down day. We will have the day on next Friday, April 23. 

Today after school, Mr. Ghiselli held his Gala event with a kickball game and pizza. He will have his other game soon. We are all working to complete last year’s events as we prepare for this year’s virtual gala! It will be here before we know it!

Today we had our Golf Tournament! I would like to thank our Chairs, Bethany Scully and Andre Christian, for their leadership in this endeavor and all of those who helped to make this day a success!

Be sure to register for the Gala!


Sister Mary Sue

March 26, 2021

Friday, March 26, 2021

Dear Parents,

I want to get some important dates out to you. Our first day of school for the 2021-2022 year will be August 23. The teachers will report formally on August 16. As you know, most of them will be in school weeks before preparing! We continue to follow the CDC Guidelines as we prepare for next year, so it will be another busy summer!

On Sunday, we begin Holy Week, the most profound week in our liturgical year. Be assured of our prayers for you and your family during these sacred days.

I would like to share the following reflection from The Concord Pastor: 

Holy Week is just days ahead, Lord.

In some ways, it will be an ordinary week: 

I'll still have to go to work, to school, to the store.

I'll still need to care for my family and friends. 

I'll still have to do laundry and take out the trash.

I'll still have to deal with life's everyday problems:

my responsibilities won't diminish or take a break...

And I'll do all this in a world that largely ignores

the names we give this week's special days:

                 Palm Sunday,  

                 Holy Thursday

                  Good Friday

                  Holy Saturday

                   Easter Sunday

So I ask you to help me, Lord,

To make and keep this week holy...

hope and pray this week will be peaceful

in spite of all I have to do...

I hope and pray these days will be prayerful:

that I'll make some time to spend with you alone

and time to go to church on these holy days...

I hope and pray that in my mind and heart 

these days will be different from any others,

in how I see and experience the world around me,

in how I plan and spend my time...

Help me know and live these days as set apart, 

some solemn and some joyful:

a time to grow in faith, and hope and love,

a time to grow in my relationship with you...

Let this week not be like all the others, Lord -

but let this week and all its days 

be truly holy...



Sister Mary Sue


March 19, 2021

Friday, March 19, 2021

Dear Parents,

Today, we had a virtual Professional Development Day. The Diocese of Arlington Catholic Schools Office provided a full and varied program of online options for us to view. The day began with a brief faculty meeting and moved to an opening and welcome video from Bishop Burbidge. 

Throughout the day, the teachers joined together in grade clusters to view similar videos that will enhance their classrooms and our school. Since there were so many valuable options, and very difficult to choose only a few to watch, the Diocese is making these available for a year. The teachers loved that!

We are entering into the final weeks of Lent. For me, this is a good time to assess my journey to make sure I have not strayed too far from the road that will lead to Good Friday and Calvary. Sometimes I think Lent is six weeks, so that I do have the time to get back in line, recognizing that Easter can only be celebrated because Jesus accepted Good Friday. I pray that these last days of Lent provided time and space for prayer and reflection for each of you.

Today, on this feast of Saint Joseph, we pray that he will guide us, as a loving father, to welcoming arms of Jesus.


Sister Mary Sue  

March 12, 2021

Friday, March 12, 2021

Dear Parents,

We were blessed this week with beautiful weather and the students enjoyed being back on the convent and rectory lawns. They are very anxiously awaiting the spring uniform changeover. Normally, this begins on April 1. Because April 1 is an early dismissal, we will grant a grace period until after Easter Break for spring uniforms. The uniform exchange will be on March 27, as noted in previous Friday Notes.

Next Wednesday we will be rocking the green (FREE DRESS DOWN) as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! 

Next Saturday, March 20, our eighth grade students will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Father Scalia has been designated by Bishop Burbidge to confirm the students in three separate Confirmation Liturgies that will not include Mass. We congratulate these students and their families and thank Sister Regina, Mrs. St. Pierre, Mrs. Heid and Mrs. Wilson for all they did to prepare these students for such a special moment in their faith lives.

I hope you enjoy a Fish Fry meal tonight!

I pray you have a peaceful and blessed weekend!

Sister Mary Sue


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