Wednesday, February 25, 2009

March 2009 Newsletter

Principal's Message:

Welcome to Ashford School’s first newsletter. Not only will you find information that is pertinent to your child but also you will gain a better sense of all that goes on in school. We begin March with Connecticut Mastery Testing.

Connecticut Mastery Testing (CMT)

When educators, parents, and students now think of the month of March the first thing that comes to mind is March is the month when the State of Connecticut requires that all 3rd through 8th grade students be tested. This year students will be administered one test per day starting on Monday, March 2. Testing will end on Monday, March 16 providing “Old Man Winter” does not pay a visit. Included in this newsletter is the CMT schedule for all grades. All students in grades 3-8 take tests covering reading, writing, and mathematics. Grades 5 and 8 are also required to take science. Every year schools are asked to take supplemental tests. These are pilot tests giving information for future CMT’s. Note on the schedule that grades 3, 5, 7, and 8 will each do a supplemental test. Grades 4 and 6 are not assigned any. Talk to you child about how important the tests are as a means of seeing how much more they know this year over last year. Be positive, supportive, and encourage your child to do their very best. As usual, a good night’s sleep, a healthy breakfast and a high five on the way out helps.

Please Everyone Needs to Be on Time!

I cannot emphasize how hard it is on a student who comes in late and has to sit in the library during the testing and then 2 weeks later have to be taken out of class to make the test up. Everyone needs to be on time! Once testing begins students may not enter the classrooms.

Academics and Curriculum:

Writing is a requirement in every grade and in every subject. Teachers in all classrooms including teachers of art, music, physical education, world language, math, and science all require students to write throughout the year. Samples of student writing are submitted to me at different times during the year. After reading, I write comments and offer encouragement. It is one way in which we teach the value and importance of writing. Often the samples give a sense of what students think about a topic.

Sixth graders once again studied the Phantom of the Opera. This is a cross-curriculum project, where students study the time period in social studies and language arts, the masks and posters in art, the music of the period in music, and the dance and manners of the time in physical education. The Masquerade Ball held on Wednesday, February 11, was the culminating activity. Mrs. Hardisty chose as one of her writing assignments for the year a persuasive piece on “whether dance should be eliminated from PE.” Here are a few quotes taken from the writing samples. “It is fun to learn and would broaden the next year 6th graders. It makes you more mature.” “It is a good way not to be shy anymore. Studies show that most people who participate in dancing are more confident.” “Most boys are not dancing with girls because their friend might make fun of them if they do and if every boy gets to dance then no one will be made fun of.” “Dancing isn’t as important as learning school subjects and sports.” “I think it broadens a child’s horizon. It gives them a chance to try something new.”

Professional Development Day:

There is no school for students on Monday, March 23, as teachers participate in a Professional Development Day focusing on CMT achievement.

Awards and Recognitions:

• Superintendent/Student Recognition Award
In November, Andrea R. and Ryan D. were awarded the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents’ (CAPSS) Superintendent/Student Recognition Award for leadership service to the school, academic prowess, and service leadership to others in the community. Andrea and Ryan were presented the award by the Interim Superintendent, Len Lanza. Congratulations to both students.

• Tenth Annual Celebration of the Arts
On Monday, February 2, Patrick D. and Caitlin C. were recognized for outstanding citizenship, cooperative skills, and artistic ability in the performing and visual arts. Patrick and Caitlin along with their families, Ms. Dotson, Mrs. Dockendorff, and Mrs. Johndrow participated in the festival that was held at the Aqua Turf.

Clubs, Activities:

Ashford School MATHCOUNTS Team, coached by 8th grade math teacher Mrs. Backhaus,
traveled to the Coast Guard Academy in New London on Saturday, February 7 to compete in the 2009 MATHCOUNTS Competition. Team members Brent B., Kristina C., Paul F. and Zeke K. and individual competitors Emily G. and Ethan L. spent all day focused on solving math problems both individually and as a team. Special recognition goes to Paul F. who ranked 10th overall among a very competitive group. Congratulations to all for a job well done.

Baseball and softball tryouts will begin the last week in March.

Read Across America / Dr. Seuss Day
This day is celebrated nationally on March 2, and is a lot of fun. On the wall leading up the ramp to the Primary Wing you will see student drawings of their favorite Dr. Seuss story book characters. Certificates and bookmarks will be available in some classes. In addition, students in the upper grades will be reading to some of our younger grades. Opportunities like this are what make Pre-K through 8 schools special.

Invention Convention:
Carol Moran, Ashford School’s Enrichment Teacher, works with students throughout the entire school. Ellis Island and bringing younger students into the Science Fair are some of the activities she is involved in. In March, Mrs. Moran will once again encourage students to “be creative” and to invent something. An invention is something that solves a problem or makes life easier in some way. Ashford School’s Invention Convention will be held on Wednesday, April 15, in the cafeteria. Winners of the Ashford Invention Convention will join hundreds of student inventors from across the state at the Connecticut Invention Convention in Gampel Pavilion on May 2. Like many of you at past Invention Conventions I also wonder, “Why didn’t someone think of that before? “ Open viewing will be from 6:30 -7:30 on the 15th.

Technology News:

Tech Survey: In the fall a technology survey was sent home with report cards requesting information to help us in creating the new Ashford School Technology Plan Here are some of the findings. 186 surveys came back representing a return of 58%. 95.69% of our families have working computers at home and of those 86% are connected to high speed Internet. 51% would prefer to receive communications from school via online, 43% prefer paper and 6% had no response. During this transition time we see a need for us to use both online and paper. We are working hard on a new school website soon to be launched with a more informative front page and putting into place a better up-to date online calendar. I encourage you to log into to view the new look.

Google Sites Training: Our teachers spend a lot of time outside the school day learning new technology which translates into increased student learning. A group of teachers have been attending after school workshops presented by Marji Roy, Ashford School’s Computer Consultant. Teachers are learning to create their own websites and learning Google sites all with goal of sharing class activities with families.

February Institute: A group of teachers chose to spend part of their February vacation at school working on creating new technology lesson plans that combine technology with other curricular areas. Funding for this project came from the Enhancing Education Through Technology grant that was awarded to Ashford School for the purpose of creating “assured experiences in technology”. Marji Roy, Rick Rossi, Annie Perkins and Kelly Knotts were responsible for the crafting of this grant and all participated in the February Institute. Chris Busse, Michelle Bibeault and Carol Moran joined them.

Library Media Center:

The Media Center has a collection of periodicals (magazines) available for student and faculty use. These periodicals supplement course studies and provide articles that provide more timely information for students doing reports or class projects. Oftentimes reading a magazine provides the opportunity to learn something on one’s own. Periodicals are only available for use in the media center but articles are photocopied for student or faculty use. Listed below are periodicals in the lirbray.

Current Events;
  • Newsweek, Sports Illustrate For Kids
  • Geography/Social Studies:
  • National Geographic, National Geographic
  • For Kids, American History, Cobblestone,
  • Kids Discover
  • Ranger Rick
  • Current Science
  • Odyssey: Adventures in Science,
  • Cricket: The Realm of the
  • Imagination
  • Highlights
Professional Periodicals
  • NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) Reports
  • Instructor
  • Cable in the Classroom
  • Science and Children
  • Booklist


Parents who enjoy science activities with their children I suggest the book Bite-Sized Science: Activities for Children in 15 Minutes or Less. This book offers parents many opportunities to share science lessons with their preschool child. (Grades K-3).

Health and Safety:

Did you know that Mrs. Flynn, our school nurse, processed over 800 student visits in January?
We serve 30-40 breakfasts each morning during the Before School Breakfast Club.

Policies and Procedures:

At school we recognize the importance of keeping physically active: but we must also remain safe. Everyday we plan to go outside unless the temperature is less then 20 degree. The wind chill is always factored into this determination.

Kindergarten Registration for the School Year: 2009-2010

A child is eligible to enter kindergarten if he/she turns five on or before December 31, and is a resident of Ashford. Call Michelle Bibeault at 439-6419 to have registration information mailed to you. All registration information must be completed before your child may attend kindergarten classes this fall.

Ashford Youth and Family and Social Services:
Heating Assistance:
It is not too late to apply for help for heating assistance for any type of heating source. If you think you may qualify call Ashford Social Services at 487-4417.
Stay and Play:
This is an after school activity for 1st through 4th graders. Each grade level gets to stay after school three Wednesdays in a row where they participate in fun cooperative games in the school ---Fourth grade stay and play is completed for this year.
Third Graders – Feb. 25, March 4, 11
Second Graders - March 18, 25, Ap.1
First Graders - April 8, 15, 29
Look for flyers and permission slips in your child’s backpack.

Mom’s Club:
New offering: A weekly group for stay at home parents. (Dads are invited too).This new
group will meet each Thursday from 9:30 to 11:00 in the lower level meeting room of
the town office building. Children will have weekly activities and parents will have a chance to socialize.

Board of Education: March 5th and 19th, 7 p.m., school library.
PTO: March 2 , 7 p.m. school library