Merry Christmas!

Perhaps like many of you, setting up the Nativity is a treasured part of our family Christmas tradition, equal in many ways to decorating the tree. Serving at Fransciscan sponsored Cardinal Stritch University advanced my own understanding and appreciation for the Nativity.  You see, the Nativity scene was the creative idea of St. Francis of Assisi.  Preparing for Christmas in 1223, St. Francis was given permission from Pope Honorius III to set up a manger scene, with an ox and donkey and plenty of hay.  He invited the villagers of Grecio, Italy to join him in front of the scene as he preached about the “babe of Bethlehem.”  As the story goes, when Francis was preaching during this first ever live nativity commemoration, he was overcome by the imagery of Jesus present at the scene.  The idea that God became man, emptying Himself for love of humanity, moved the heart of Francis. 


Kenosis, which means “letting go” or “self-emptying,” is clearly the way of Jesus.  St Francis of Assisi lived kenosis passionately, and Franciscans worldwide still believe that spirituality is about letting go. Francis of Assisi (1182–1226) let go of his life in the social upper class and joyfully lived in solidarity with the sick and the poor.  He let go of his status and all material trappings to live freely in the radical Gospel choice of voluntary poverty. He wanted to imitate the example of God in a manger. 


Of course, most of us have grown up within a society that does not promote emptying oneself, or letting go.  People in our day and age learn that “more for me” is naturally better.  Western culture admires and promotes the self-made, self-sufficient, autonomous individual who often makes these values their goal of life.  Some will sacrifice anything to achieve these ideals. People tell one another to “get a life for yourself.”  Individualism permeates almost everything we do. It has become a basic assumption.  In our individualistic consumer culture, even religion and spirituality have very often become a matter of addition: earning points with God, attaining enlightenment, producing moral behavior.  Yet, according to Catholic tradition, authentic spirituality is not about getting, attaining, achieving, performing, or succeeding—all of which tend to pander to the ego. It is much more about letting go—letting go of what we don’t need anyway, although we don’t always know that ahead of time.


True spiritual wisdom reveals that less is more. Jesus taught this, and the holy ones always discover it in one way or another. Think of the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Dorothy Day, and the generations of nuns, friars, and monks who intentionally took a “vow of poverty.” The great Dominican mystic Meister Eckhart (1260‒1328) said, “God is not found in the soul by adding anything, but by a process of subtraction.”  


Like St. Francis and so many others have discovered, when we “let go” of unnecessary things and worldly distractions, we can find Jesus in the most humble of places.  So this Christmas, I wish all in our Springs community, sacred moments of kenosis.  May you be moved by the beautiful truth of our faith – that God is alive, and lives among us.  What more do we need? Alleluia!


Our Lady of the Ledge, pray for us!


Be well, God bless. 


Upcoming Dates

Tuesday, December 22 – Final day of classes before Christmas vacation

Monday, January 4 – Classes resume

Friday, January 8 – Last day of classes for semester I 

Monday – Thursday, January 11-14 EXAM WEEK – January 2021 

January 11-14, 2021 marks the end of Semester I and is designated as Exam Week for all high school students. Parents are encouraged to please click here for the Exam Week schedule and for the published SMSA expectations for students and faculty. 


News and Information

Exam Week Expectations: EXAM WEEK – January 2021 

Category A: Students who have elected to be a virtual learner for all of Semester I or Quarter 2 will naturally be permitted to engage with Exam Week in the virtual model.  These students will be receiving directions about their final semester virtual assessments from each teacher. 


Category B: Students who have elected to learn in-person for Semester I are expected to be in-person for Exam Week.  The exceptions to this expectation include: a) any student who cannot physically report to campus due to being temporarily isolated as a positive COVID case; b) any student who has been temporarily quarantined as a close contact to a positive COVID case; c) any student who is otherwise unwell and called-in excused/ill by a parent. 


Important: The option to switch into a virtual format on an intermittent basis is suspended during Exam Week for students who are physically well and without other valid exceptions (identified in Category B above).  Intermittently choosing the virtual option during Exam Week is too disruptive to students, teachers, educational goals and process of exams. Therefore, all students who do not fall into Category A and who are physically well are expected to be in-person during Exam Week.  


NHS Induction 

Congratulations to all of our new inductees to the National Honor Society! In all, thirty new students waited nearly seven months for their well deserved induction ceremony, which took place virtually on Tuesday, December 15th.  For the video recording of the induction ceremony New Member Induction – New Member Link (2020-12-15 at 16:26 GMT-8)  For a copy of the script of Mr. O’Keeffe’s remarks from the event, please click  NHS Induction Speech – Eamonn O’Keeffe, Principal


SMSA Virtual Learning Guides and Information: 

With more students electing to learn virtually at this time of the year, I suggest parents of virtual learners review the links provided here. These are resources for better understanding virtual learning at SMSA. 

    1. SMSA Ledger Learning Guides Home Page
    2. HS Expectations for Virtual Learners DOC 2020-21 
    3. Expectations for Virtual Learners Slide Deck 

Upcoming Dates

HS Music Dept Winter Concert Livestream - January 6th

The High School Music Department will do a livestream Winter Concert on Wednesday, January 6th at 7:00 p.m. This concert will feature Christmas selections from the Vocal Jazz, Jazz Band, Concert Band, and Concert Choir.


Please click here to watch the live stream.

Big Money Raffle Tickets on Sale Now - Drawing January 22nd

Have you returned your Big Money Raffle tickets yet? Make sure to sell/purchase all 5 of your BMR tickets and return them to school before the drawing on Friday, January 22, 2021 for your chance to win the grand prize of $20,000, with an additional $10,000 in cash prizes! Help support SMSA and have a chance at winning Big Money!


Additional tickets can be purchased at the North, South or Scrip Offices! For questions please contact Kristin Zitlow at or 920-322-8006.


Thank you for supporting St. Mary’s Springs Academy!

Ledgerfest Class Auction Baskets - Items Needed by February 26th

Planning has begun for our annual Ledgerfest fundraising auction and we are in need of your help! Last year we collected money from each grade level and put together some amazing auction baskets, which went over very well during our auction held this past summer. This year, we are asking each grade level to contribute again to putting together a basket around a specific theme. This will then be a part of the silent auction which will run in April.


If you would like to contribute towards your child(ren) class basket, please send your cash contribution in a sealed envelope with your child’s name, grade level and Ledgerfest Donation written on it. Your student can then give it to their homeroom teacher or drop off in the North or South office. If you send in a check, please make it payable to Andrea Nuss. Please note that if you have more than one child attending SMSA, you can send in one envelope but please note each child and the amount you are donating for them, along with their grade level on the envelope.


If you are interested in helping by being a point person for your child’s grade, please contact Andrea Nuss at Each point person will be responsible for putting together the class basket once the money is all collected. If you have a theme or package idea or would like to donate an item please contact us ahead of sending items to school with your child. This is SMSA’s largest auction and the money raised makes a direct impact towards the greatest needs of the school.


Please have all contributions in by Friday, February 26, 2021.

If you have any questions, please contact Andrea Nuss at


Thank you so much for your willingness to help make this year’s Ledgerfest a success!


Andrea Nuss and the Ledgerfest Committee

News and Information

Crazy Christmas and Jeans/Sweats Day - December 22nd

Please click here for more information.  Jeans or sweats must not have holes or rips.

High School Counseling

News and Information

Learn While you Earn College Credit – Marian University

Marian University is offering 100% online pre-college courses to help high school students get ahead!  Click here for more information.

Juniors and Parents of Juniors

Thank you to those who completed the interest survey for the ACT Organization’s Pilot Project. Our school has been accepted by the ACT organization to participate. This will be a great opportunity to see what it is like to take the ACT online and gain valuable experience with no pressure.


Please watch for an email to juniors and their parents regarding how to sign up for this one time opportunity for juniors to take the ACT online, and off the record practice test.

Upcoming Dates

Youth Apprenticeship Virtual Parent Presentations

Mrs. McArthur from the Youth Apprenticeship program will be hosting virtual Zoom presentations for parents to help educate them and their students about Youth Apprenticeship and what opportunities are on the horizon. 


Dates that they have targeted are: 

Tuesday, January 12th – 6:00 p.m.

Wednesday, January 13th – 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, January 14th – 6:30 p.m. 


Zoom links/invites will be coming shortly.

Career Exploration

No news at this time.

Job Opportunities

Festival Foods Hosting Open Interview – December 29th

The Fond du Lac store will be hosting an open interview on Tuesday, December 29th from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.


Please click here to view their flyer.


Additional Notes: We’re proud to offer flexible hours, as well as a Tuition Assistance program, called Dollars for Students, to help with saving for college.

Scholarship Opportunities

Fond du Lac Area Insurance Association

The Counseling Office has received the updated scholarship from FDL Area Insurance Association, or FAIA. The amount is $500. It will be offered to a senior pursuing a college or technical degree and has demonstrated a core value of community service and complete an essay based on the benefits of insurance. It can be found on Naviance.

Elks Legacy Awards – Deadline February 5th

The Legacy Awards provide $4,000 scholarships for children and grandchildren of dues-paying Elk members. Please click here for more details and the application link. Deadline is Friday, February 5, 2021.

College/University SMSA visits

No updates at this time.

College/University Virtual Visits

None at this time.