4. Student Enrichment Clubs & Activities

Extracurricular enrichment clubs and programs are valuable in developing a child's interests and potential talents.  All SFA students are invited to participate in or join activities available to them that align with their interests and talents.  

To help guide students to suitable clubs, resources and programs, students in grades 3-8 complete an interest survey.  The Enrichment Program teacher will also be conferring with teachers and looking at test scores in individual subject areas (such as science or social studies) to identify students who would benefit from some small group workshops or outside enrichment activities in those specific talent areas. 

Parent volunteers are an important component to many of the programs offered.  The offering of some programs is limited by availability of parent leaders.  Please contact the Enrichment Program teacher if you would be interested in helping with any of the programs.

Student Enrichment Clubs and Activities

 Activity or ClubGrade LevelsDescription 
 Art Club

6 - 8 

In Art Club, students learn art-making techniques and how to work with new materials. Instead of aiming at a specific end product, students focus on their own exploration of that material and/or technique.  Art Club is a chance for students to try out different materials and to put creativity to use, so there are not specific requirements in the art making.  Art Club meets from 3:30-4:30, once every other week.  While attendance is not mandatory, members are asked to make Art Club a priority and attend regularly.  

Please contact Mrs. Valerie Heath, SFA Art Teacher at vheath@saintfrancisschool.org for more information.

 Chess Club

K - 8Chess Club provides a way for students at all levels of mastery to learn and play chess--no knowledge or specific level is required.  It is open to any students, grades kindergarten through 8th.  Chess Club meets every Friday morning in the school gym from 7:15 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.  Parents are welcome to come and stay to help with supervision.  

For more information or to sign up for Chess Club, please contact the school office or come to a Chess Club session.  Chess Club is organized by parents Mr. Sergio Bravo and Mr. John Schumacher.

 FIRST Lego League

4 - 8An international program, created by FIRST and LEGO, designed to get children interested in and excited about science, technology and engineering.  Students must be at least 9 years old and preferably in 4th grade or higher.  Interested students can apply to work on a team in January to begin the training portion of the program and if selected for the team compete in December.  Students program robotic vehicles to complete tasks in a competitive setting. Student participation is very limited based on the program regulations and the nature of this activity.  

If you would like more information or would be interested in helping to coach, please contact the Enrichment Program teacher.

Battle of the Books
3 - 5Elementary Battle of the Books is organized by enrichment teachers and librarians in the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines.  Interested students form teams of 5-6 students and read from a specific book list which contains award winning titles.  Teams are led by parent volunteer coaches.  Teams come together and "battle" in the spring at their respective school.  High scoring teams go on to the Diocesan competition to determine the champion, usually in early April.  Sign ups begin in September.  

All students will be notified at school when registration opens and interested students can sign up with their classroom teachers. 

 Middle School
Battle of the Books
6 - 8 Middle School Battle of the Books involves students forming groups of 4 and reading from a specific book list which contains award winning titles.  Teams are led by parent volunteer coaches.  The competition has a "quiz show" format and takes place in Winterset, Iowa in April.  

All students will be notified at school when registration opens and interested students can sign up with their Reading/Language Arts teacher or the Enrichment Program teacher.

 Mock Trial

6 - 8Mock Trial is an activity in which students learn the principles of trial advocacy and then
apply those principles as they try a fictitious case.  Involvement in Mock Trial fosters increased self-confidence, improved analytical and speaking skills and the ability to work well with others – not to mention it’s a lot of fun.  
Students participating in Mock Trial learn how to conduct a trial from start to finish. They are trained in how to plan, draft and present opening statements, direct examinations, cross examinations and closing arguments. Mock Trial also teaches students how to argue objections intelligently, as well as how to handle various courtroom procedures like entering an exhibit into evidence and impeaching a witness. Aside from the technical aspects of trial advocacy, students learn how to think creatively when dealing with matters of trial strategy.  Mock Trial is coached by volunteer parents, usually but not always attorneys.  

Information about Mock Trial will be distributed as soon as school begins via e-mail.

 Patriot's Pen

 3 - 8Patriot's Pen is an annual essay contest with changing themes that emphasize American Patriotism.  The contest is sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary #738 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.  Students write essays around the theme in varying lengths based on their grade level (from 100-300 words) and can win cash prizes.  

Information about the contest comes out in the fall.  

 Thinking Cap Quiz Bowl

 5Students get together and take a 100 question "quiz" via the computer to test their knowledge on many subjects.

Information about this contest comes out in the fall.
 National History Day

 6 - 8NHD is a contest where students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at local, state and national levels where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators. The program culminates in the Kenneth E. Behring National Contest each June held at the University of Maryland at College Park.  

Students will learn about National History Day during social studies class in the fall.

 Odyssey of the MIndK - 8 Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college.  Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics.  OM is coached by parent volunteers.  See the Enrichment Program teacher for more information or if you would like to start a team! 

 National Geographic Bee

 4 - 8The National Geographic Bee is a geography contest sponsored by The National Geographic Society.  Students in grades 4-8 participate in early December within their classrooms to advance to a school contest held with 10 finalists, usually after Christmas break.  The winner of this contest advances to the state level.  The winner of the state contest is qualified to participate in the national contest held in Washington, D.C.

 K of C Spelling Bee

 4 - 7The Knights of Columbus Spelling Bee is coordinated and run by members of our parish Knights.  The spelling list is released sometime in the fall and the bee is held at St. Francis School in late winter/early spring.  The winner at each grade level of the school bee can advance. Students can request lists from their Language Arts teacher as soon as they become available.

 Catholic Math League

 3-7Catholic Math League provides an opportunity for students who enjoy math to compete in math problem solving contests with students from hundreds of schools across the United States.  CML is offered to students in 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th grade math.  There are four contests for each level, each thirty minutes long.  After the fourth and final contest, the top three students for each school will receive a certificate for each subject.  The top student for each division will receive a trophy and the top school for each division will receive a plaque. The second, third, and fourth highest student in each division and subject will receive another certificate. National awards will also be given for the top student and school for each subject that contains at least three divisions. Test dates are early November, early December, early February and early March--specific dates are set each fall.  

Students will be provided an opportunity to sign up for CML within their math class sometime in early fall.