Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Principal Johndrow's Message

Thank you for entrusting your children to us this past year. With the arrival of the end of the school year, it is so heartwarming to see how much progress our children have made. Whether it is to be more socially responsible, kinder to others or feeling good because they can now read, write or solve that algebraic problem everyone has grown in some area. How lucky we are to live in a country where everyone has the opportunity to attend school.

To the Dad’s, Mom’s, Uncle, Aunts, Brothers and Sisters and all others who serve in the military or some other service to our country, thank you.

On Thursday evening, May 20, I presented the final copies of the Math Summer Packets and Language Arts Summer Packets to the Board of Education. The Science Packet is in its final stages. The board members devoured the packets. They complimented and were visibly impressed with look of the packets. They recognized the appropriateness of the requirements aligned to each grade and the enormous commitment that teachers at every grade level made to provide summer activities which will keep our students at their current level of learning.

Much of the success and how students view the packets will be contingent on parental support. Each family can decide how best to approach the packets. We have some guidelines that you may choose to use. In the Math Packets you will notice that the week number is at the top the page. (summer is 10 weeks long). A few problems done every week and you will easily complete the work. If you are going to be on vacation you can do a b it more of the work the week before, or a bit more the week after. It is not a bad idea to carry a book with for that rainy day or long drive. A few rainy days and a large part of any math packet or writing requirement can be completed. Every student may approach the completion of any packet at his or her own pace. I hope that parents do a periodic check to make sure that the work is being done.

This completion of the summer packets is required. The work will be handed in on the first day of school. Every grade has planned rewards and ways to acknowledge the great work that our students will do. Students, you will love what is planned.

Have a wonderful and safe summer!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Principal Johndrow's Message

Happy Spring! Happy Memorial Day!

Spring is a busy time of year for students both in school and out of school. I ask all of you to keep school as the primary focus in your children’s lives. Homework still needs to be completed and bedtimes and routines, now more than ever, need to be maintained. There is still a lot of active learning occurring in our classrooms.

Some students are beginning to look forward to moving into a new grade next year; while for others just thinking about the change can be stressful. Listen to what your child is saying and give them an outlet to talk about how they feel. For some the classroom and the teacher are sources of comfort and any change may be hard to contemplate.

New for summer!

This summer we will be rolling out the first ever Math and Language Arts Summer Packets. These materials were created by teachers over the course of the year and will allow students through a minimum of review and practice to maintain their current academic level. Students will bring the packets home on the last day of school and will be required to return them completed on their return to school in the fall. The work in the Math Packets is CMT practice and review of basic math skills. The language arts packets have suggested readings with assignments practicing basic skills.. All of the materials in the packets have been assessed in terms of amount of time to complete.

The Summer Packets are one way in which we support the Ashford Board of Education’s Goals which is “promoting instructional practices rooted in individual skills, talents needs and performance”. Your support in encouraging your children to complete the packets is very important.

HIghlights from the Art Room

By K. Dockendorff

All the art classes have been working over this last marking period on their clay projects. Can you imagine over 500 clay projects in various stages of making, drying, glazing, firing and painting?

The kindergarteners made wall pockets and roses using pinch technique and textures, then painted with watercolors. The 1st graders made classic pinch pots that they glazed and are now using for their cereal, ice cream, juice or M & M's. They also made simulated medals like the winter Olympians, using textures from their shoes and special metallic paint.

The 2nd graders sculpted wonderful birds of all kinds, some for votive candles, all with bright bold coloring. What a beautiful flock!

The 3rd graders finished a very challenging project creating a Native American storyteller, paying homage to the family tradition of passing on history through storytelling. This included many techniques of pinch, slab, coil, and score and slip. They followed up by writing a story using Native American picture symbols.

The 4th graders had fun integrating their unit studying the Iditarod with their clay project of designing their own part of a class totem pole. Each student researched totem poles, studied the meaning of the animal spirit as well as the color meaning for their clay piece. They learned that Totem poles come from the Northwest coast, not the mid- west states. The students used the Internet for research, viewed a PowerPoint about the history and meaning of totem poles, and used slab, pinch, relief design, and carving for the clay portion of their work.

The 5th grades just finished delightful gargoyle sculptures.

One exciting note on pottery, Mrs. Dockendorff just had 2 of her pottery pieces accepted into a juried art show sponsored by the Department of Culture and Tourism. A juried show is one where you apply by sending an artist statement along with photographs of your work then they are judged and accepted or rejected based on merit. This show will be open from June 11 into August sometime. The title of the show is Change, Artwork of people with Disabilities. Mrs. Dockendorff's work will include a Raku fired bowl and a traditionally fired tall lidded vase. I hope some of you will visit the Department of Culture and Tourism gallery in Hartford to see the amazing abilities of the disabled artists.

Babysitters Training Course

Wednesday June 16th 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Students ages 11 to 15 are welcome
Cost: $50 per student

Look for registration to go home in your child’s backpack

First Camp

June 21st through June 25th 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
This camp is for children entering and exiting First Grade.
Cost: $40 includes a camp T-shirt

Third Camp

June 28th through July 2nd 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
This camp is for children entering and exiting Third Grade.
Cost: $40 includes a camp T-shirt
Children in both camps will play games, make crafts, explore nature and have fun with friends!
Camp registration forms will be sent home with your child in May.

Care 4 Kids

Care 4 Kids helps low to moderate-income families in Connecticut pay for childcare costs including some summer day camp programs. A family of 4 for instance making up to $73, 281 is eligible to apply for assistance. If you would like assistance applying for Care 4 Kids or have questions about eligibility please call Ashford Social Services at 487-4417 on Mondays or Tuesdays.

Permission to Stay For Games

Written permission to stay after school for baseball games must be brought to the office before school on game days.

Thank You From the Ashford Easter Bunny

Ashford School, you can be extremely proud of the seventh and eighth grade students that volunteered to help with the 40th Annual Ashford Easter Egg Hunt! The students volunteering were hard-working, good listeners, and a complete joy. The very best part was the way the different generations -- from tiny tots to eighty year olds -- worked together to make this year’s hunt a success. A new respect for each generation was established by all. We could not have completed all that needed to be done as quickly, competently, and efficiently without the generous help of the seventh and eighth grade students.

The following students are to be commended for their help:
Colin B., Tyler H., Gavin M., Michelle R., Jennie R., Sarah B., MariElle P., Erick B., Justin G., Brandon B., Kelly P., Chris P., and Kaitlyn L.

Thank you.

Camp Connri

Ashford Youth Services once again has applications for Camp Connri in Ashford. Camp Connri is located on Route 44 and offers a weeklong sleep over camp for children 7 to 12 and a teen camp for children 12 to 15. The cost for the entire week is only $35!! Call Ashford Youth Services for your application.
Session 1- Wed July 7th to Mon July 12th- Applications are due back to school by May 24th
Session 2- Fri July 23rd to Wed July 28th – Applications are due back to school by June 1st
Session 3- Teen Camp Wed August 18th to Mon August 23rd – Applications due by June 11th
Acceptance to camp is first come first enrolled so get your applications in as soon as possible!

PTO Meeting

Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Meetings are held in the library at 7 p.m.

Book Fair May 10-13

Board of Education Meetings

May 6 and May 20, 2010
Meetings are held in the library at 7 p.m.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Principal Johndrow's Message

March and CMT’s have flown away! We are so appreciative of all the encouragement, the consistent bedtimes, the special breakfasts that so many of you provided for your children. In addition to yearlong CMT practice, one of the areas of focus was ways of motivating kids to do their individual best. It is universally accepted that one third of CMT scores are impacted in a positive way by the motivation a student has to do well.

We worked hard at motivational strategies this year and have evidence of initial success in this wonderful letter from a parent.

Dear Teacher,
“Poor David! He is very unhappy about missing school today because he did not want to miss the CMT’s. He managed to get dressed, said he would try to eat a little something at breakfast club, made it ¼ of the way to the bus stop and then stopped. He said that if he did the CMT’s this morning he would get all the questions wrong.
I think one reason David tried so hard to make it to school is those stars you have been giving the children. David is very, very proud of his and has them displayed on our new refrigerator. He tell us about the CMT’s each day and has enjoyed all of the (except the writing prompt.) Thanks for helping make them seem fun instead of something to worry about.” A Parent

Dress Code

As we get into warmer weather it is time to review the Dress Code with you child on pages 6 and 7 in the Student Parent Handbook.

Junior High Chorus Festival

By: Amy Porri

Our Junior High Chorus will be participating in the annual "Fly Up" Choral Festival held at EO Smith HS on Wed. March 24th. The festival provides the District 19 middle school students an opportunity to become acquainted with the high school choral program and director. The festival runs from approximately 9:30am-1: 30pm, during which the entire high school chorus combines with choral groups from Mansfield, Willington and Ashford. We rehearse a song with the choral director from each school. After lunch, each chorus performs a mini concert for the group. The finale of the day combines all 400 singers to "perform" the four festival songs.

This Festival has been going on under the leadership of Ms. Cathy Rowe for the last ten years. It provides our students with a great day of singing, listening and performing great choral music; which we hope will inspire them to continue their musical involvement when they reach the high school level.

Middle School Jazz Festival

By: Amy Dotson

On April 29th, 2010 the Ashford School Jazz Band will be participating in a new middle school jazz festival sponsored by the University of Connecticut's Community School of the Arts (CSA). Coventry, Woodstock and Mansfield will join Ashford School in this afternoon long event to be held at E.O. Smith High School. Each group will perform 20 minutes of music and spend 45 minutes with an adjudicator. After the adjudication session, students from all schools will be broken up by instrument and attend an instrument specific master class to be taught by a CSA faculty member. All students will then take part in an improvisation masterclass led by Topher Logan and finish the day with a concert by Connecticut big band, The Screamin' Eagles. The Screamin' Eagles concert will be open to the public and held in the E.O. Smith auditorium at 6:30; tickets are free for festival participants and $5.00 for the public. Any questions may be directed to Amy Dotson at

CMT Trivia

By S. Cunningham, CMT Coordinator

312 students in grades 3-8 were tested.

Connecticut Mastery Tests are given in the areas of Reading, Writing and Math. Students in grades 5 & 8 take a Science CMT as well.

New this year: State mandated online modified assessments for some special education students.

CMT testing was conducted from March 1 – 12.
Ashford students completed close to 1100 individual tests. School wide testing was completed on March 12. 120 individual makeup tests were completed by March 26.

CMT results will be available in September.


Ashford School Students Piloting Online CBAS Assessments

You may have heard your students mentioning a new online assessment system being used here at Ashford School. Students in grades 3-8 have been taking part in the inaugural year of Connecticut Benchmark Assessment System (CBAS), a new tool being provided by the Connecticut State Department of Education. It involves two tests given three times a year that are aligned to benchmarks in reading and math. The benchmarks are aligned to the Grade Level Expectations (GLE's) that "define the concepts and skills that every student should know and be able to do by the end of the specific grade level". This series of tests is different in that they are taken at a computer online allowing for them to be scored instantly providing the teacher with a printout of each student's attainment of GLE's the same day. This feedback provides teachers with real time information to help them in identifying both
problems and successes, allowing them to inform instruction immediately to better meet the individual needs of their class.

To date both the fall and winter assessments have been administered and teachers are using the data to fine-tune their teaching. The spring assessment is scheduled for May.

Going forward it is expected that these tests can be individualized to better meet the scope and sequence of lessons in our curriculum.

Science Bowl Teams

By Mrs. Perkins

The Ashford School Science Bowl teams represented our community with great respect, responsibility, and pride on Saturday, February 27th at the New England Regional Science Bowl Competition at UConn. Twenty-four teams from around the region came together despite snowy conditions to compete in the Academic Quiz Bowl and the solar car race. The Quiz Bowl Team, led by Captain, Erica M., was three and one after the morning rounds, qualifying the team for the championship bracket in the afternoon. Eighth grader Adam C. and seventh graders Erick B, Ron L, and James P. joined Erica as the team tackled three tough matches in this double-elimination round. The team won one against Teacher’s Memorial of Norwich, and faced Boston College High School’s middle school team twice, losing both rounds. The best part came at the end of the day, when, for the third year in a row, Ashford School’s Quiz Bowl Team won the “Spirit Award” for best sportsmanship and positive enthusiasm.

Our Solar Car Team, Captain Joe C. and sixth graders Aidden A. and Ashton L., were in first place going into the championship round. The team had a fast car throughout the day, but in the end, developed a tendency to veer right, taking the guide wire with it. Congratulations to the solar car team who showed great persistence, focus, and a positive attitude throughout a very intense competition, taking fourth place overall.

Congratulations to both teams for doing a great job!

Preschool Screening

April 28th and April 29th

The Board of Education, through the Ashford Preschool Program, is offering a free screening for three and four year old children. This screening includes hearing, vision, motor skills, speech, language and cognitive development. The screening will last approximately one hour. An appointment is required for this screening. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the development of your child. We urge you to take advantage of this service.

Children who will be entering Kindergarten this fall should not be brought to this screening.

WHERE: Ashford School Library
440 Westford Road

WHEN: Wednesday, April 28 - 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 29 - 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

To make an appointment for your child, please call 429-6419. If you have any questions about the development of a child below the age of three, please call the Preschool Teacher at 429-6419.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Principal Johndrow's March Message

Since November, I have had the pleasure of working with your Board of Education and its new members. One of the topics board members were interested in was just how does Ashford School communicate with parents? After surveying the staff it became abundantly clear that depending on the grade level, the subject, the audience one wants to reach, Ashford School has a multitude of ways in which we foster positive school to home communication.

We begin the school year with school-wide summer mailings, followed in September with two nights of Open House. Report cards go out quarterly. Midterms are required in grades 6-8. In November there are two days of parent conferences.

There are many ways in which teachers deliver individual student information. The list varies according to grade level. The following are examples: phone call to parents, notes home, daily check sheets individual parent conferences by appointment, daily journals, student of the week letters, Student-parent shared-weekly challenges, team meetings with parents (grades 6-8), progress reports. With technology email is fast becoming a very effective and common form of communication.

News about classes may take on a different look. In the technology world we have Online Websites and weekly Email Blasts. Parent informational letters at the beginning of the year, daily newsletters, weekly or bi-weekly newsletters quarterly newsletters, and reminder notes on specific events are the many ways you can keep informed about what is going on in your child’s class.

A student knowing what their homework is, as well as parents knowing what student’s have for homework, has in many cases moved into technology too. There are online homework assignments, daily blogs, and weekly web pages as well as the more conventional forms such as daily, weekly homework forms, Homework planners provided to all students in grades 4-8 and homework folders.

More topic specific areas for communication include the Round Table Discussion with High School students held in the fall, Night at the Museum (8th grade), Write Night. Science Night, Math Night and Invention Convention all are venues to let you become involved with your child’s education.

And of course our 12-Kk Alert for school closings and other important information.

Is it Fact or Opinion?

Reality shows, afternoon talk shows, websites, magazines, commercials, and even the television evening news shows seem to focus more on other people’s opinions instead of the facts about or details leading to an event or a person.

Some media give their “view” or “take” or “sense of what’s going on” rather than focus on the facts. Sometimes TV stations cleverly use glitz and graphics to disguise opinions as actual facts, and kids are sometimes not sophisticated enough in their development to realize the difference. Although an opinion format can be entertaining, you might consider discussing with your kids the differences between fact and opinion.

The best approach to making your child aware of whether something is a fact or opinion is with “on the spot” casual conversations of the issue. Discuss the actual facts, and then share your opinion using-- “I think...I feel…in my opinion…or I could argue that…” These are effective examples of how to do it. Your job is to encourage your children to discover the facts embedded in issues and to develop their own viewpoints.

Dealing with facts and opinions will be a challenge for your kids as productive citizens and as consumers in their future. However, for now, an awareness of fact/opinion will help lay the

foundation for persuasive speaking/writing at school. As part of this process, students think about the facts of an issue, and categorize them into a pro (for) or con (against) list. Students form their own opinions about an issue and support them by using facts as actual evidence. This teaches them how to use and practice effective methods to persuade an audience (for example, students, parents, or friends) to their way of thinking.

Forming opinions, beliefs and values with others is an important aspect of being in a family, a school and/or a community. Knowing the difference between fact and opinion can be a steppingstone to making good, independent decisions for your child on a daily basis.

Try out this fact/opinion process whenever you can. Have fun with it; and don’t be surprised if your child takes to it quickly if you approach it as if it were a game. Let me know how you make out doing some part of this with your child. I’d love to hear from you.

Ashford Youth Services

Ashford Youth Services has some very exciting activities this month. If you have any questions please call the Youth Service office at 429-6410.

Play Group

Youth Services will host a playgroup for children birth to age 5 on Wednesday mornings in the lower level conference room of the town Office Building from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. The group will include songs, finger plays, crafts, free play, and snack. Parents are welcome to participate in the activities or sit and chat with other moms. Please come and check out the group! Registration is required. Please call 429-6419.

Stay & Play

Grades 1 through 4 are invited to spend three Thursdays after school participating in cooperative games, crafts, and fun. The activities will run until 4:30 p.m. and parents will need to pick their children up in the lower lobby. Fourth graders met on January 7th, 14th, and 21st . Third graders will meet January 28th, February 4th and February 25th. The second graders will meet March 4th, March 11th, and March 18th. The final session is for first graders and they will meet on March 25th, April 1st, and April 8th. Look for permission slips to go home in your child’s backpack.

Ashford School Participates in the Geography Bee

The Puget Sound Lowlands are a densely populated region in which U.S. state? Devin P.'s knowledge of the Pacific Northwest helped him clinch the 2010 Geographic Bee championship at Ashford School when he responded. “Washington.” Devin faced tough competition from runner-up Brian B., a fifth grader. Eighth grader Josie B. placed third.

Both veterans of previous Bees, Devin and Brian knew that Nepal is home to eight of the ten highest mountain peaks in the world, resulting in a tie at the end of the championship round. In an exciting contest, it took seven tiebreaker questions for Devin to be declared the winner.

Other young geographers participating in the Bee included fourth grader Lyn R., sixth graders Kolby C. and Emma P., seventh graders Austin G., Ron L. and Kyle St., and eighth grader Kelly P.

The Bee is a program of the National Geographic Society for students in grades four through eight. Google is the sponsor of this year’s events. Bee questions address the physical and cultural aspects of both United States and world geography. Eighth grader Devin P. has completed a challenging written exam, aiming to qualify for the state Bee in April. Good Luck, Devin!

All winners are eligible to compete for the national championship in Washington, D.C., where the first-place prize is a $25,000 college scholarship and a trip to the Galapagos Islands. “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek will moderate the finals in May. Check local listing for televised dates. You can also test your geography knowledge with the GeoBee Challenge, an online geography quiz at The game poses ten new questions a day

5th Grade Mashantucket Pequot Field Trip

Children were involved in their daily lessons. One youngster studied how each part of the deer is useful to his people. Another youth practiced using a bow and arrow. Yet another learned how to make a corn soup called succotash. If you think that these lessons are not found in a typical classroom in the 21st century, you are probably right. These "children”, statues actually, were part of a Mashantucket Pequot village exhibit and a guided tour called “Through the Eyes of a Pequot Child.” This exhibit gave students from the 21st century an idea of what life was like for the Mashantucket Pequot child in the 16th century.

In October 2009, the Ashford School fifth grade, which has been studying Native Americans as a part of their social studies curriculum, journeyed to the Mashantucket Pequot and Research Center in Connecticut to explore the Mashantucket Pequot culture. In addition to the guided tour of the village mentioned above, students took part in an interactive workshop entitled “Life Without a Super Market.” What if you were living in the 16th Century and there wasn’t a Stop and Shop or a West Farms Mall? How did the Pequot’s get the materials they needed? This workshop focused on answering these questions. Students broke into four groups. Each group was given a box of artifacts, which centered on different aspects of Pequot life; constructing canoes, building houses, enhancing personal appearance, and preparing food. Students examined the materials in the box using museum displays as guide, determined a possible use for each item. After completing the task, students reported their findings to the rest of the group with guidance from the museum leader.

Science Bowl Team

The Ashford Science Bowl team is still going strong and has even expanded its horizons this year to include members who will be working on challenges set forth by the Connecticut Science Olympiad. Some Science Bowl members will still be competing in the Regional Science Bowl competition scheduled for February 27th at UConn. As in past years, Ashford will be sending two teams: one to answer rapid-fire questions in the Quiz Bowl competition and the other group will design a car that will enter the Solar Car Race. For the Connecticut Science Olympiad competition to be held at UConn on April 10th at New Britain High School, Ashford will hopefully send three teams. Science Olympiad members have chosen to work on the "Junkyard Challenge", the "Science Crime Busters", and the "Road Warrior" events. Mrs. Perkins and Mrs. Moran are this year's coaches.

7th Grade Science

The seventh grade has been very busy in science class with many projects going on right now. First of all, we have just finished our science research. Each student chooses a topic of interest and spent the last few months doing a detailed search for facts and information. This work is now going to be used to create displays for our Science Research Night on February 11th. We are also finishing up our study of life science with a dynamic experiment, Feel the Beat. It involves an investigation into pulse rate and the body's response to outside stimuli. Lastly, we are beginning a new unit on ecology with the arrival of our salmon eggs. Over the next few months, we will raise these eggs into fry that will be released into the Salmon River in Colchester.