Ms. Cathy Ornburn » About Me

About Me

Welcome to Saint Olaf Middle School! I am Ms. Ornburn; I teach 7 Geography, 8 US History, 6 Science and 6-8 Religion. I've been teaching for 6 years in the Catholic School system and 2018-19 is my second year at Saint Olaf. 
I grew up in the San Francisco (CA) Bay area and attended Catholic school through 8th grade. I graduated from Gonzaga University (a Catholic university), in Spokane Washington, with my Bachelors and Masters. I am an Air Force veteran with 25 years of service.
This summer I read "The Game of Queens" (16th century European queens) and "Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist".
Mission Statement:

As the classroom leader, I, with the Saint Olaf community, will create a caring and effective learning environment where students can become lifelong learners. Intellectual, social, and emotional challenges, along with increased responsibilities, prepare students to expect the best from themselves and develop college and career-ready skills. Each student can become a faith-centered, independent, civic-minded individual, capable of lifelong success. I will treat students as individuals and try to meet their intellectual, social, and emotional needs.


Vision Statement

To love and assist every student to grow, through challenging opportunities, into their best image of Christ Jesus.



Recent Posts

Middle School Q2 W7

Geography (7th) focus: world religions. Research, create Cornell notes (digital) on a world religion (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, or Buddhism). Then create a brochure (digital - Google Slide) which explain the basic facts (founder, beliefs and customs, sacred writings and places, etc.) Due: Tues Dec 11
US History (8th) focus: Shays' Rebellion - event indicating the weakness of the Articles of Confederation; Northwest Ordinance - establishment of statehood rules (only success from Articles of Confederation)
Science (6th) focus: weathering, erosion, and deposition; link to landforms; forces of nature which driven weathering and erosion
Service Journal focus: Women's Council Stocking Stuffers
6th - Focus: Advent; Liturgical Calendar - seasons (Ordinary Time, Lent)
7th - Focus: Advent; Introductory Rites and Liturgy of the Word; Warm Fuzzies: write positive notes of encouragement to classmates each week of Advent.
8th - Focus: Advent (purpose; personal growth); First three Commandments - how do they encourage a positive relationship with God.

Middle School - Q2 W6

Geography (7th) focus: economics. connecting academic knowledge to real-world situation. Students read a Junior Scholastic article on the economic crisis in Venezuela and did comprehension activities. Students began writing a five paragraph (1-1 1/2 page) essay on the crisis. The final essay in due at the end-of-class on Monday Dec 3rd.
US History (8th) focus: Review American Revolution. Students are looking at the Articles of Confederation (AofC) - 1st plan for national government. They have identified the basics and the weakness of the plan. They've reviewed the one success from the AofC - Northwest Ordinance (establishes the process for creating new states).
Science (6th) focus: student took a test on how tectonic movement creates the landforms found on Earth - volcanoes, mountains, mid-ocean ridges, volcanic islands, etc. Next week we'll study erosion, weathering, and deposition (by wind, water, glaciers, etc.)
Service Journal focus: Identify twelve items (things or people) for which you are grateful. Pick one item - How can you demonstrate your gratitude for that item (words and actions)
NEXT WEEK - service project - bring in items for the St. Olaf Women's Council Stocking Stuffers project. Please encourage your student to pay for/earn these items. Also student are NOT mandated to bring in items. Please give what you can.
6th - Focus: test on the Saints (Communion of Saints, canonization process, and the Twelve Apostles); learning about the Liturgical Calendar (seasons, colors, Bible readings); examining each season and how Jesus' story is connected to that season
7th - Focus: test on Liturgical Calendar; Liturgical Calendar connection to Mass; next - deeper examination of the Mass - focus first on the Introductory Rites and the Liturgy of the Word.
8th - Focus: Twelve Apostles - what do we know about them? Why is so little known about their time with Jesus and their ministry? Doctors of the Church - saints who have, through their writings and lives, contributed to the growth of Catholic Catechism. Also how to be Christian on Social Media.

Middle School Q2 W4/5

Yes, next week is Thanksgiving Week! Second quarter flies by!
Mid-term grades are due by Monday, Nov 19th. If your student has any missing assignments, needs to complete test corrections or redo an assignment, please remind them these items are due by Friday, Nov 16th to positively impact their grade.
Geography (7th) focus: economics. Fundamentals of economy - market economy, producers, consumers, profit, market, etc. Create an infographic (a visual teaching tool) for one economic concept (term); present to class on Monday Nov 19th
US History (8th) focus: American Revolution. Overview of the motivations for the Americans and the British, other nations involvement (France, Spain, etc.), advantages and disadvantages for both sides. Challenges facing the new government "Continental Congress". Problems with unity - state vs. nation.
Science (6th) focus: how plate tectonics form the surface of the Earth - mountains, volcanoes, mid-ocean ridges, earthquakes, etc.
Service Journal focus: What is your biggest error? What action or attitude contributes negatively to your relationship with God? How can you begin to "fix" that error?
6th - Focus: finish story of the Twelve Apostles; difference between disciple and apostle; study information - Communion of Saints, Canonization process, and Twelve Apostles stories. Learn about one saint - create a poster, present to class. Creating Thanksgiving placemats
7th - Focus: Liturgical Calendar - purpose behind, seasons, colors, basis for calendar, connection to the Mass. Thanksgiving placemats
8th - Focus: Saint presentations; Liturgical Calendar - impact on personal journey of faith; Thanksgiving placemats

Middle School Q2 W3

Geography (7th) focus: types of government (e.g. monarchy, republic, etc.); sovereignty - elements of a state (nation), roles of government,
US History (8th) focus: finish Road to Revolution - taxes, protest, Continental Congress leading to Declaration. Next week - in depth study of the Declaration of Independence.
Science (6th) focus: finished plate tectonics and continental drift theories. Next week - earthquakes, volcano, weathering, erosion, etc.
Service Journal focus: be more saint like - pick the action that is the hardest for you to follow (e.g. being polite to sibling, doing chores w/o complaining, etc.)
6th - Focus: Communion of Saints (3 churches), Canonization process, worship vs. venerate, truth about Halloween (ask to see the booklet!). Next week - saint posters
7th - Focus: Saint presentations and Hall of Saints (for elementary)
8th - Focus: Saint research

Middle School Q2 W1

 Yes, we made through a week of a full moon, first week of the quarter, and Halloween Carnival!
Geography (7th) focus: Human Geography. This week students were introduced to philosophy - Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
US History (8th) focus: Road to Revolution. This week students examined the impact of the First Continental Congress, the battles at Lexington and Concord and the Second Continental Congress. They are looking at how the colonists grievances and the British actions moved both closer to armed conflict. They learned about Thomas Paine and "Common Sense". Next week they finish examining the road to the American Revolution. There will be an assessment on Wednesday.
Science (6th) focus: Students finished learning about plate tectonics and Continental Drift theories. Ask them about their Snack Tectonics lab (yum, graham crackers and frosting). Students will test on Wednesday so they should review the material this weekend - 10-15 minutes.
Service Journal focus: doing for others without expecting reward
6th - Focus: Students finished the Rosary Mysteries and prayers. They tested on Wednesday - results are posted in RenWeb and Google Classroom.
7th - Focus: Students are working on saint projects. Each selected a saint and complete guided research notes. This week they were give a template to create a "resume" which demonstrates the facts about the saint (canonization, patron saint, etc.) and how they lived the life of a saint. They also began creating their oral presentations (Google Slides). They will make two presentations - a 5-8 minutes oral presentation to the class & a "hall of saints" demonstration for the elementary. Elementary is invited to come to the classroom and visit with each student and learn about saints. The "hall of saints" will occur on November 1st (All Saints Day) at 2:15 - you are welcome to come see their presentations.
8th - Focus: Students are examining the journey to determine who was Jesus. Four ecumenical council which led to the Nicene Prayer as we know it today. Students should notice that the Church struggles with these concepts - what Jesus human and divine? Partly human? - and it took time and effort to discern the truth.
School Mass will be on Thursday, Nov 1st since this is a holy day of obligation. 
Have a great week. 

Middle School Q1 Week 9

   Yes, next week is the end of the 1st Quarter! All makeup work and test corrections must be turned in by Wednesday, Oct 17!
Reminder: Uniform change! Thursday, October 18th is the last day for shorts and T-shirts!
Geography (7th) focus: Human Geography. This week students finished the unit on immigration. We began with the vocabulary associated with immigration. Next students participated in a refugee simulation. Then we read a Junior Scholastic article "The Great Immigration Debate". We explored the history of immigration in the U.S. and the current situation and debate (President Trump's policies, Dreamers, and reasons behind calls for immigration reform). 
US History (8th) focus: Road to Revolution. This week students explored the first few attempts by Britain to tax colonists. They compared what a British citizen in England paid and what a colonist paid. They explored colonists objections to British taxation policy - no representation. Then the cycle of taxation and protest which will lead to the Declaration of Independence.
Science (6th) focus: Continents, Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics. Students identified the seven continents and five oceans. They read information and examined information graphics (visual information) on the Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics. Their final project this week is to take the "continents" of Pangaea and create a current continent map.
Service Journal focus: honor your mother and father
6th - Focus: Students began examining the Rosary mysteries. They are using the "chunking' method to study. First up is the Joyful Mysteries.
7th - Focus: Saints - canonization process, Communion of saints. Next week students will start saint projects.
8th - Focus: examination of the Mass; personal reflection: How does Mass help your faith grow?
Have a great week. 
Ms. Ornburn
6-8 Religion
7-8 Social Studies
6 Science

Middle School Q1 Week 7

Sorry I am late posting for Week 7 (Sep 24-28). My apologies, I forget with the SEPs. Oh my it's October!
Thank you again for your time and effort with the SEP conferences and sharing your concerns and their achievements. Students will truly RISE with all the support.
Students writing continues to improve. There are fewer simple errors (CUPS) and an improvement in providing an response with a beginning, middle (with details/evidence) and an end!
Friday is the first Friday - Early Dismissal - 12:30!
Geography (7th) focus: Human Geography.  Student began exploring human geography - how human adapt, impact, and create culture. The began with looking at population - growth, impact, density and distribution - and the causes and effects of each
US History (8th) focus: French and Indian War. With a strong grasp on the organization, culture, and economic basis of the colonial regions, we move toward the Revolutionary War. The French and Indian War is the first challenge to the colonists relationship with Great Britain.  Colonist see themselves as British citizens. So don't they deserve the same rights - mainly representation in government. The lose of life and the apparent disregard from Great Britain begin the path to Revolution. Students also understand how the rivalry and peace settlement will lead to the future U.S. first boundaries after the Revolutionary War.
Science (6th) focus: Students explore maps and globes. Advantages and disadvantage of each. The proper elements (scale, key, compass rose, title) of a map. Students created a map of their bedroom using a 1 inch = 1 foot scale.
Service Journal focus: Competition - pick a project where competition is about celebrating victory BUT without making other achievements unimportant.
6th - Focus: Old Testament stories - Abraham, Isaac - trust in God and others.
7th - Focus: Assessment on core Catholic beliefs; Introduction to the Mass
8th - Focus: Prep for next Friday's 8th Grade Cathedral Mass. St Joseph's will pick up. What is grace? How does grace help us live a more peaceful life?
Have a great week. Again apologies for the delay in this post.
Ms. Ornburn
6-8 Religion
7-8 Social Studies
6 Science

MIddle School Q1 Week 6

Geography (7th) focus: Physical Geography.  Finished overview of physical systems on the Earth and their impact on life. Assessment completed on Friday.
US History (8th) focus: Colonial America. Finished overview of colonial regions - economies and mercantilism, Triangle Trade and the beginning of British tightening control of the colonies. Assessment completed on Friday.
Science (6th) focus: Case Study: Otzi. Students learned about the oldest human mummy found in the Italian Alps. They watched a PBS Nova: The Iceman Reborn - how scientist create hypotheses and through discovery and errors piece together who was Otzi. New technologies - DNA, 3D printing, modeling. Next week - maps and globes.
Service Journal focus: Sunday's letter from James asked us to compare our faith with our actions.
6th - Focus: New Testament - Gospels (Jesus' mission & message), Acts of Apostles (journey to spread Good News), Letters (answering questions of early Christian communities), and Revelations (battle between good & evil). Student completed an assessment on Thursday.
7th - Focus: Core Catholic beliefs - Blessed Trinity, Jesus is God's promise fulfilled, Jesus reveals God to us, saying yes to God. Assessment next Weds.
8th - Focus: Early Church - sharing Jesus' message. Martyrs and other witnesses to the faith, and early catechumenate.

MIddle School Q1 Week 5

WOW! How time flies we've finished our first five weeks of school. Time for mid-term progress reports next week! 
Please help your student remember to have you sign their SACS (behavior) cards and Service Journals! Start a conversation about their school week.  A SACS card free of signatures indicates they are doing well with organizational skills and behavior. This includes being respectful to classmates and others in the hallways and classroom and recess (social time). Offer feedback or explore they impression of their service project and how it made their community (school, family, etc.) a more pleasant place - for the student and/or others.
Geography (7th) focus: Physical Geography is the current focus. Student identified various geographic features, reviewing forces which shape Earth (tectonic), water cycle and importance of water to life. Next week students will explore wind and ocean currents and the impact of these forces on weather and climate along with latitude and altitude. Ultimate their impact on humans and other life (Theme: Human-Environment Interaction)
US History (8th) focus: Student continue to examine life during colonial period. The uniqueness of each colonial region, the impact of the Triangle Trade (on colonies and Africa), and events such as Anne Hutchinson's banishment, failure at Jamestown, Roger Williams establishment of Rhode Island and Baptist Church (in America).
Science (6th) focus: This week students completed their first lab focused on using the steps of the scientific method. They explore a bag of M & M's. As a class we observed and recorded current information, and developed two hypotheses (average # and color distribution). Next four groups tested our hypotheses - (counting and verifying), recording data, then sharing their data. Finally we analyzed the class' data and then we wrote a conclusion. Next week we look at how to properly use tools such as a ruler, scale, and lab safety.
Service Journal focus: Who in your local community (neighborhood,parish is vulnerable? How would you recognize them and what could you do to help?
6th - Focus: Old Testament books - Wisdom, Prophets, and why we should study/read the Old Testament. Students are exploring how the stories help us understand who God is and what is humans' relationship with Him. Student began looking at the New Testament books.
7th - Focus: Jesus as fulfillment of God's promise to Adam & Eve and part of his plan for Salvation; John the Baptist as the last prophet before Jesus' reveals his mission and begins his ministry.
8th - Focus: Communion of Saints. Students explored the structure of the Communion of Saints (Church Militant...Suffering...Triumphant) and how the living and the dead are connected; Apostle's Creed "I believe in the Holy Spirit...the communion of saints...". Also reviewed canonization process.
Thank you for all your support!
Ms. Ornburn
7th Homeroom
Saint Olaf Catholic School

Attention: 7th First Dance

Sorry we haven't received a flyer from Cosgriff about their dance. So the following is the best information I have (nope nothing on their website) :-(
Basic information: 
Cell phones are not allowed on the dance floor. Student will have a place to store their phones/coats/purses/etc. 
Once a student is admitted to the dance they must remain in the gym until 9:00 PM. Teachers will monitor to ensure students are pickup. Note it is very crowded and chaotic at pick up time - be carefully in the parking lot!
Cost: $5-6 (traditionally) Exact change is helpful!
Dress code: Modest dress - no sleeveless or spaghetti-strap tops (unless you have a cover (sweater/short jacket, etc.). Student will be turned away if not properly dressed.
Time: 6:30 - 9:00 (Please be promoted about picking up!)
Thank you!
Ms. Ornburn

6th Grade - learning about the Catholic Social Teachings (CST) Create a superhero with powers to promote the CST.

Middle School Q1 Week 3

Have a great three day weekend. Labor Day dedicated to the labor movement and the economic achievements of workers. 
Friday is formal uniform - ties & tabs (girls). The 6th Grade is hosting the Mass - readings, gifts, ushering. Ask your student about their part at Mass.  
Friday - your student will ask you to sign their SACS (behavior) cards and Service Journals! Offer feedback or explore they impression of their service project and how it made their community (school, family, etc.) a more pleasant place - for the student and/or others. Ask they to think about their behavior during lunch and recess - is everyone included, are games played fairly and honestly?
Geography (7th) focus: Maps - elements of maps, types of maps, latitude and longitude. Quiz next Wednesday
US History (8th) focus: comparing Europe and America. What factors drove European exploration and conquest of the New World. Also looking at First Amendment and freedom of the press. Students will be working on a essay in Language Arts looking at the need for a free press.
Science (6th) focus: Exploring the scientific method - steps of, why the steps are necessary. Test on information in their Interactive Notebooks on Wednesday.
PLEASE sign the Service Journals!
6th - Focus: explore the Bible - the parts and general themes - salvation, following God's Will, etc. Next week we'll explore the Old Testament.
7th - Focus: looking at the four gospels - why do we include four different gospels? What is the purpose and theme of each gospel? What is the audience for each gospel?
8th - Focus: early challenges to spreading the Gospels. Should Gentile be allowed to join? St Paul and Peter - defending Gentile inclusion at the Council of Jerusalem.
Thank you for all your support!
Ms. Ornburn
7th Homeroom
Saint Olaf Catholic School

Middle School Week 2

Hi everyone
Thank you for a wonderful Back to School night!
Tomorrow is formal uniform - ties & tabs (girls). The 7th Grade is hosting the Mass - readings, gifts, ushering. Ask your student about their part at Mass. We've practiced the readings in class, but another read through tonight would help reduce nervousness. 
Friday - your student will ask you to sign their SACS (behavior) cards and Service Journals! Offer feedback or explore they impression of their service project and how it made their community (school, family, etc.) a more pleasant place - for the student and/or others.
Geography (7th) focus: Elements and Themes of Geography and time. We'll use this content to explore world cultures and develop a respect and appreciation for how others live.
US History (8th) focus: exploring the Native American cultures in North America - before Columbus - and what drove Europeans to explore the New World. Assessment - US Geographic Features (mtns., rivers, etc.) and states.
Science (6th) focus: What is science? Ask students how observation, inference, and predictions are used in science.
6th - Focus: explore the Bible - Old Testament; how these stories - Adam & Eve, Moses, David, Ruth, etc. - help us understand who God is. Introduction to Catholic Social Teachings (CST) - ask students about their superhero of justice.
7th - Focus: structure of the Bible - New & Old; following Jesus' example means understanding how our behavior reflects Jesus' sacrifice and God's love. Reviewed Catholic Social Teachings (CST) and how they apply to our daily choices.
8th - Focus: Catholic Social Teachings (CST) - origins, why did the Church issue, how do actions that reflect CST bring us closer to the Kingdom of God?
Thank you for all your support!
Ms. Ornburn
7th Homeroom
Saint Olaf Catholic School

First Week of School!

Thank you Middle School students!
The first week of school was awesome! You came ready to learn and willing to explore new content and skills! You followed Jesus' example and acted with kindness!
I am excited to work with you to learn about history, science, and religion.
Parents, thank you for sharing your children with Saint Olaf. They bring curiosity, joy, and excitement to this community. 
Have a great weekend! See you on Monday!
Ms. Ornburn
6-8 Religion
7-8 Social Studies
6 Science
7 Homeroom