Weekly Check-In with Mrs. Jenn


Dear Holy Angels Community:

Relaxation techniques are great ways to reduce stress on your mind and body. It is also something that can actually be fun to do as a family while also benefiting from a health perspective. Below are several different relaxation techniques that as young as toddlers, are capable of doing. If there are family members and/or friends that you would like to try these techniques with, you can totally do it on a google meet, a zoom meeting, video chat or during the old-fashioned phone call. Enjoy your time together as a family! Enjoy the fun! And enjoy the health benefits you will gain from it. 

Deep Breathing


Pretend you have a lemon in your hand. Squeeze it hard. Feel the tightness in your arm and hand as you squeeze. Count to yourself for 5 seconds.  Now, relax and let the lemon fall out of our hand. This is called Progressive Relaxation.





Pretend you are a cat and just woke up from a nap. Stretch your arms out in front of you. Now relax them way up high over your head, stretch as high as you can. Keep stretching (Hold for 10 seconds and then release).









Pretend you are a turtle. Pull your head into your shell, and you do this by pulling your shoulders up to your ears and push your head down into your shoulders. Hold it tight (hold it for 10 seconds), then release.




Love, care and air hugs to you all!






Mrs. Jenn



Weekly Check-In with Mrs. Jenn


Dear Holy Angels Community,

Hi Everyone, this is Mrs. Jenn. Hope everyone had an enjoyable 3-day weekend! According to the news reports we are seeing on tv and internet news, New York City is on the road to recovery. Hospitalizations are decreasing, non-essential construction is back and what life was like before the pandemic, is slowly being restored. We have a long road ahead of us as we continue to socially distance, wear masks and gloves, sanitize and wash our hands; which can stir up feelings that we might all be too familiar with at this point, STRESS. Stress is a feeling we experience that causes physical or emotional tension. It also can create a feeling of nervousness. It is important to know what situations and/or people cause stress for your so you can learn ways to cope or deal with stress.  I am going to share H.O.S.E. with you which can help narrow down where your stress might be coming from.








Stress can feel like the pressure of a fire hose to the face. Difficulty concentrating, the inability to think clearly, sweaty hands, blurred vision, headaches, belly aches, and heart thumping are all symptoms that can be experienced when a person experiences stress. If you noticed any of these symptoms or feel a dip in your mood, there are 4 questions to consider with H.O.S.E.:

  1. H: AM I HUNGRY?


H: Am I hungry?







Hunger affects mood. When we haven’t eaten for a while, our blood sugar dips, and this triggers the release of hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline — the same ones that are released during a stress response. Sometimes a snack is just what our kids need to improve their emotional regulation. At predictable times each day, try taking a healthy snack break with your child — a time to connect with them and with your own body.


O: Am I overstimulated?

Every parent knows about the meltdowns that happen after school, after a long outing, or at the end of a long day. There’s only so much our brains and bodies can take in, and we all need downtime to recharge. As a parent, if you feel yourself on “overload,” ask yourself if you can take ten minutes to step away. Turn off the news, take a walk around the block or a warm shower, meditate or pray, drink a cup of tea, snuggle up with your child to read a favorite book, or sit in nature. Tell your kids what you are doing. “I am listening to my body and it needs a little break.” Help them take similar breaks.


Play is also a great way to relieve stress and build connection. Give your kids unstructured play time, free from too much adult direction. But also find some time to play with them — to toss a ball, color together, tackle a puzzle or play a game. Laugh! Be silly! Research shows that just being in the presence of a compassionate, safe adult can help kids calm down. As families, we can be “that person” for each other.


S: Do I need to sleep?









As the child psychologist Dr. Lisa Damour said, “Sleep is the glue that holds human beings together.” When we are sleep-deprived, we are less emotionally resilient. In stressful times, it is even more important to preserve good sleep routines for ourselves and our children. Routines help cue our brain that it is time to settle down. For example, Daniel Tiger uses this strategy song to help kids follow a bedtime process.






E: Do I need to exercise?

Little bodies and big bodies need to move. Neuropsychologist Wendy Suzuki says that “exercise is the most transformational thing you can do for your brain” because exercise boosts mood and improves focus and cognition. It helps us be responsive instead of reactive. As Dr. Suzuki further stated “When [kids] run around, their brains are getting a bubble bath of good neurochemicals, neurotransmitters and endorphins… Adults need this, too… Even if it’s just a walk up and down the stairs or a walk around the block. That is a surefire way to make your work more productive. It’s how humans were built. We were not built to sit in front of a screen all day long. Our bodies and brains work better with regular movement. It’s better than coffee.” Movement time can also be a time to connect with our kids — from a family dance party to a family hike.

Love and care to you all!

Mrs. Jenn


Holy Angels students celebrate Essential Workers

Hello everyone ,
In honor of Memorial Day and to honor our local essential workers, students in Grades 3 to 8 have created images of Essential Workers in our Art at 2 program.

This is a small sample of the many works that were submitted. 



Honoring our Mothers in the Month of May

All students, from Little Angels to 8th grade, created artwork to honor our Mothers…Mary, our heavenly Mother, and our wonderful earthly Mothers, as we celebrate them during the month of May.


Check In With Mrs. Jenn 5/18/20


Dear Holy Angels Community,

Hi Everyone, this is Mrs. Jenn. Hope everyone is doing well! I am wondering WHAT is everyone feeling? That’s right, I asked “WHAT”, which might sound a bit strange, let me explain. Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t take things for granted”, or “You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone”? Now, think about your 5 senses: SIGHT, TOUCH, HEAR, SMELL AND TASTE. 

Are you aware that your sense play a role in everything you do? Chances are that you are not because we are constantly on the “go” and adapting to new circumstances.  Who has the time to truly be aware and focus on what you’re doing, what it looks like, what it feels like, what sounds it makes, what it smells like and even tastes like? This is a deeper connection than “I love the taste of strawberry ice cream” or “It feels so good to just take a drive”. Some questions we might want to think about are:

  • What does the ice cream look like?
  • Solid, mushy, pink, red hints of stringy strawberry pieces?
  • What does it feel like?
  • Wet, cold, sticky, clumpy from the strawberries, hard from the strawberry seeds?
  • What does it sound like?
  • Droplets falling on the floor from melting, soundless?
  • What does it smell like?
  • Strawberry, fresh, soft scented?
  • What does it taste like?
  • Light, creamy, cold at first then gets liquidy in the mouth, sweet but slightly tart?






Chances are when a person has ice cream, they are not as mindful or aware of the ways your senses impact the experience. Also, our senses have memories so how might that impact your experiences in life?

What was just described above is called GROUNDING. To be “grounded”, refers to a state of mental awareness, where you are fully present in the here and now. This can be a helpful tool to be mentally and emotionally present. It can also help manage tasks and stressors, giving yourself a moment to “get yourself together”. I, sometimes, would say to myself, “Let’s see how many tasks I can complete at once”. I was proud of my multi-tasking abilities because I completed the tasks at hand, but the only feelings that were experienced were chaos, stress, and worry about what needs to be done next. Grounding techniques give you the opportunity to feel more than “ok, what’s next”. It allows you to be a part of the experience you are having in every sense and remain within a peaceful state!



Give yourself the chance to be grounded with your 5 senses.

With love and Care,

Mrs. Jenn


National Prevention Week from Mrs. Jenn


Jennifer Distefano, PDHP

May 10-16, 2020 is National Prevention Week, which is hosted by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The focus is on increasing substance use prevention and promoting mental health. Each day this week, a topic is dedicated to helping increase substance use prevention and promoting mental health and wellness.







Today’s topic is preventing suicide

Suicide is a very sensitive topic and can touch anyone, anywhere and anytime, BUT there is hope and prevention is possible.

According to SAMHSA, “Suicide touches whole communities. Each person who dies by suicide leaves behind 135 people who knew that person -and the impact of suicide and the bereavement that follow”.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, here are some warning signs to be aware of:









HELP IS HERE FOR YOU: Talking with someone about your thoughts and feelings can save your life. Below is a list of resources that can help save a life:







  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255
  • Find a therapist and/or support group
  • Establish and utilize a support network
  • Make a safety plan for yourself
  • Text, TALK to 741741


  • CALL 911, if danger for self-harm seems imminent.
  • ASK THEM, if they are thinking of killing themselves. This WILL NOT put the idea into their head or make it more likely that they will attempt suicide.
  • LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGING, show you care.
  • STAY WITH THE PERSON, make sure the person is in a private, secure plan with another caring person until you can get further assistance.
  • REMOVE ANY OBJECTS, that could be used in a suicide attempt.








How to help someone who is suicidal | Choices Psychotherapy


Here is a practical guide to demonstrate the best ways to help someone who may be experiencing a suicidal crisis.


Help Prevent Suicide | SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration


Suicide can touch anyone, anywhere, and at any time. But it is not inevitable. There is hope.



Home | AFSP


Learn about suicide, how you can help prevent it, and resources for those affected, from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Our mission: save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide


National Prevention Week from Mrs. Jenn 5/14/20


Jennifer Distefano, PDHP

May 10-16, 2020 is National Prevention Week, which is hosted by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The focus is on increasing substance use prevention and promoting mental health. Each day this week, a topic is dedicated to helping increase substance use prevention and promoting mental health and wellness.

Today’s topic is on Preventing Youth Tobacco Use (E-Cigarettes and Vaping)

Many of us have heard over the past year on the news or have read in newspapers about young deaths or serious lung injuries due to vaping. Vaping and Electronic Cigarettes (E-cigarettes) were thought to be safer, but that is not necessarily the case. The good news is that emergency department visits due to e-cigarettes or vaping products have declined since September, 2019.

The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens, and young adults.






  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine.
  • Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.1
  • E-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine.
  • Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.

Key Facts about Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products

  • Electronic cigarettes—or e-cigarettes—are also called vapes, e-hookahs, vape pens, tank systems, mods, and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
  • Using an e-cigarette is commonly called vaping.
  • E-cigarettes work by heating a liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs.
  • The liquid can contain: nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinoid (CBD) oils, and other substances, flavorings, and additives. THC is the psychoactive mind-altering compound of marijuana that produces the “high.”
  • Vaping products can come in all different flavors to appeal to the youth. Some flavors are cotton candy, watermelon and strawberry.

Key Facts about Vitamin E Acetate

  • Vitamin E acetate is used as an additive, most notably in THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products.
  • Vitamin E is a vitamin found in many foods, including vegetable oils, cereals, meat, fruits, and vegetables. It is also available as a dietary supplement and in many cosmetic products, like skin creams.
  • Vitamin E acetate usually does not cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin. However, previous research suggests that when vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may interfere with normal lung functioning.

Why Is Nicotine Unsafe for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults?

  • As mentioned, most e-cigarettes contain nicotine—the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products.
  • A recent CDC study found that 99% of the e-cigarettes sold in assessed venues in the United States contained nicotine.
  • Some e-cigarette labels do not disclose that they contain nicotine, and some e-cigarettes marketed as containing 0% nicotine have been found to contain nicotine.
  • Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain.1
  • The brain keeps developing until about age 25.
  • Using nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.1
  • Each time a new memory is created or a new skill is learned, stronger connections – or synapses – are built between brain cells. Young people’s brains build synapses faster than adult brains. Nicotine changes the way these synapses are formed.
  • Using nicotine in adolescence may also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs

Let’s take a look at some real truths about E-Cigarettes; I have it listed in both English and Spanish







Please review the websites listed below for more information:





National Prevention Week


Jennifer Distefano, PDHP

May 10-16, 2020 is National Prevention Week, which is hosted by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The focus is on increasing substance use prevention and promoting mental health. Each day this week, a topic is dedicated to helping increase substance use prevention and promoting mental health and wellness.

Today’s topic is on Preventing Illicit Drug Use and Youth Marijuana Use

 Methamphetamine, also known as Meth is a heavily addicted drug, which means that a person can get “hooked” after their first use. Other illicit drugs are Cocaine, Heroin and LSD, just to name a few. Meth has become a major problem for this country, let’s

take a look:

The Rise of Meth Use 

in the United States

“The number of fatal overdoses involving meth has more than tripled (PDF | 336 KB) between 2011 and 2016, according to the CDC. Use is also on the rise between 2016-2018 for most age groups. In 2018, more than 106,000 adults aged 26 or older used meth—a 43 percent increase over the previous year” (SAMHSA).

Short-term Effects of Meth: Even taking small amounts of meth, or just trying it once, can cause harmful health effects, including:

  • Increased blood pressure and body temperature

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat, faster breathing

  • Loss of appetite, disturbed sleep patterns, or nausea

  • Bizarre, erratic, aggressive, irritable, or violent behavior

Long-term Health Risks of Meth:  Chronic meth use leads to many damaging, long-term health effects, even when users stop taking meth, including:

  • Permanent damage to the heart and brain, High blood pressure leading to heart attacks, strokes, and death.

  • Liver, kidney, and lung damage.

  • Anxiety, confusion, or insomnia, Paranoia, hallucinations, mood disturbances, delusions, or violent behavior (psychotic symptoms can sometimes last for months or years after quitting meth. 

  • Intense itching, causing skin sores from scratching, Severe dental problems (“meth mouth)


  • What is Marijuana: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Marijuana is the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. It contains a mind-altering or psychoactive chemical, Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. THC is the addictive compound in Marijuana. Marijuana is also known as weed, pot, dope or cannabis. There are other chemicals in the cannabis plant such as cannabidiol or CBD, which is not mind-altering or known to be addictive.

Here are some facts to consider about Marijuana use:

  • People who begin using Marijuana before age 18 are 4-7 times more likely than adults to develop problematic use.

  • 1-in-10 adults who use the drug can become addicted.

  • Marijuana use is on the rise between ages 18-25. Although THC remains illegal at the federal level, many states have legalized its use, selling it in retail stores, growing it at home and coffee shops.

  • Since the brain is still not mature, marijuana use causes impairments in the overall growth and brain development for the youthful brain since neurodevelopment continues well into the age of mid 20’s.

Marijuana Risks: Take a look at this useful information provided by SAMHSA:

Marijuana use can have negative and long-term effects:

Brain iconBrain health: Marijuana can cause permanent IQ loss of as much as 8 points when people start using it at a young age. These IQ points do not come back, even after quitting marijuana.

Gears iconMental health: Studies link marijuana use to depression, anxiety, suicide planning, and psychotic episodes. It is not known, however, if marijuana use is the cause of these conditions.

Bicycle iconAthletic Performance: Research shows that marijuana affects timing, movement, and coordination, which can harm athletic performance.

Driving signDriving: People who drive under the influence of marijuana can experience dangerous effects: slower reactions, lane weaving, decreased coordination, and difficulty reacting to signals and sounds on the road.

Baby carriage iconBaby’s health and development: Marijuana use during pregnancy may cause fetal growth restriction, premature birth, stillbirth, and problems with brain development, resulting in hyperactivity and poor cognitive function. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other chemicals from marijuana can also be passed from a mother to her baby through breast milk, further impacting a child’s healthy development.

Arrow iconDaily life: Using marijuana can affect performance and how well people do in life. Research shows that people who use marijuana are more likely to have relationship problems, worse educational outcomes, lower career achievement, and reduced life satisfaction.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please know that you are not alone and help is out there. Call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889, or use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to get help.

Also, 1800-NYC-WELL can provide assistance.






National Prevention Week Tips


May 10-16, 2020 is National Prevention Week, which is hosted by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The focus is on increasing substance use prevention and promoting mental health. Each day this week, a topic is dedicated to helping increase substance use prevention and promoting mental health and wellness.

Today’s topic is on Preventing Underage drinking and Alcohol Misuse 

Here are some questions to consider:

–           How do you discuss underage drinking with your children? 

–           What is alcohol misuse?

–           What is their understanding of drinking alcohol?

–           Why do people drink alcohol?

–           Is there a conversation on the dangers and risks in underage drinking?

These are just a few questions to ask yourself to get a better picture on the perception and understanding your children have when it comes to underage alcohol use and misuse.

Can you believe that each

Alcoholic beverage listed is

Considered to be ONE

Standard drink?


Here are a few consequences to consider:

  • School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.
  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
  • Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.
  • Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
  • Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
  • Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning.
  • Memory problems

Often times, when a teenager or adolescent is told “You can’t do that, because I said so”, “end of story”, “I’m older than you and know better”, “Never do it” etc, it is only natural to experience curiosity and confusion. Although the parent does have more life experience and is responsible for guiding and teaching their children, a child can perceive the above-mentioned responses as being dismissed or “shut out”, which can create a desire to defy or rebel. Also, teens can consider underage drinking as an “escape” from their reality or feelings. The best way to spread awareness and prevention around this matter is to          TALK ABOUT IT!

Allow an environment for your children to feel comfortable and emotionally safe to talk. Help them understand the effects alcohol has on the brain and their overall development. Eventually, you child is going to be influenced by music lyrics, advertising, peers and social media, so why not be a reliable source to them?

Hope this is helpful,

Wishing you all the best,

                                                                                  Jennifer Distefano






Weekly Check-In with Mrs. Jenn


Dear Holy Angels Community,


Hi Everyone, this is Mrs. Jenn. I want to wish all the Mom’s, Godmother’s, Aunt’s, and Grandma’s a very happy Mother’s Day. Although we are limited as to where we can go and what we can do, I am hoping you were with loved ones and able to have a special day yesterday. Last week was “Teachers appreciation week”.  I wanted to talk about our amazingly dedicated teachers who work so hard at teaching the minds of the future. I am sure many of you have to juggle being parents, being a homeschool teacher and are also working from home; NOT EASY! Our teachers are doing the same thing and I am encouraging everyone to recognize the efforts that not only the teachers are putting forth, but the entire school staff! 


We were all recently informed by our Governor that schools will remain closed this school year. That means, we will continue with our temporary “normal”, remote learning, for the next 6 weeks. Some people might feel like they have a solid routine established at home and are ready to conquer these next 6 weeks. Others might feel that something has got to change because their schedules and routines are no longer working or became obsolete. Here are some tips and resources for parents, teachers and kids that can be helpful in getting you all through the next 6 weeks. Remember, schooling at home is not the same as homeschooling. No one signed up for this and it happened without our permission. Being homeschooled, there is planning, preparation and a conscious choice is made for their children to receive their education at home. You are all doing great, give yourself a pat on the back and say 



Feel free to visit our PDHP’s parents page:


Here, you will find more information on various topics and resources that can be helpful and supportive to you.


With love and care,


Mrs. Jenn