September 2, 2022
Dear Families and Faculty,
What a week! We are thrilled to have our students back, and it looks like our students feel the same. A quote shared by one of our Veterans Park Elementary students on the first day of school as he hopped off of the bus, “Let’s go! It's time to get back to school.” We agree! For those that follow social media, I am certain you noticed all the amazing pictures of our students- they are beyond special.
My colleagues at Central Office and I have been spending time in our schools, and enjoying greeting students and hearing about their day. Please help us in reminding students that if they see someone sitting alone, playing alone, or new to the school, to welcome them and perhaps join them. The gesture is small, yet the impact is great.
Spending time in schools allows us to see the work of our educators in action; in addition to best assessing the needs of our schools. We have spent time checking in on lunch, recess, and security protocols.
On the topic of security, we have made some shifts in our practices and need your help. More specifically, scheduled visitors are added to a list each morning by our staff and shared with the office and guard. When visitors arrive at the school, please use the intercom to state the reason for your visit. Our school staff will answer your call as soon as possible to assist you or provide access to the building. It is very important that when individuals enter the building for a visit, that they do not let others in behind them. While we are in the process of adjusting our facilities to help with this issue, we ask for your support in the meantime. We recognize that this doesn’t feel kind or polite, which of course is not in the intention but is absolutely necessary at this time.
Schools will be closed on Monday, in honor of Labor Day. We hope you are able to relax, and enjoy the holiday in the company of family and friends.
Susie Da Silva, Ed.D.
RPS Loves Our Bus Drivers; Please Use Form to Request Changes!
Some of us had the privilege of riding the bus this past week. It has been so much fun. On one bus, we had a movement going where the entire bus was trying to convince the driver to go through the car wash!! No kids, no car wash today. While riding the bus, we learned that our drivers have authentic connections with our students and their families. Drivers know students' names, sibling names, and even pet names-wow! Our drivers often receive requests to stop at individual houses rather than bus stops, and while this may appear to be a simple request, it is quite complicated. Modification of routes (even if the driver agrees) will likely delay a bus for arrival, not only for one school but for each subsequent school thereafter. An added stop takes between 35-40 seconds (at minimum). While the timing may appear small, if you add six or seven of these requests for each route beginning at the start of the tiers, it is quite significant and can delay school for many, many students. We ask that you request changes directly through the use of the Google sheet here, and not with the driver. We will notify you if the change is approved.
Prioritize Security: Grounds Closed During School Hours
News From Food Service: Gluten-Friendly Menus and Timeline for Nutrislice
Food Services Manager Eric Nickelson reports that his department is working diligently to convert the Nutrislice platform so that families will be able to see menus, gluten-friendly options, and nutrition information. He expects the conversion to be done by October. In the meantime, menus are available here.
Caption: Gluten and calorie-free doughnut by BES 4th-Grader, Lauren S. (Spring 2022)
National Champion! RES Fourth Grader Wins Invention Convention
Evelyn (Evie) Klimowicz, a fourth grader at Ridgebury Elementary School, won first prize at the National Invention Convention in Dearborn, Michigan. Her invention, The Handy Hound Handle, sounds like a must-have for all dog owners. According to the press release, the device "allows you to mark your dog's good behavior with a clicker, keeps your dog under control with the leash, and dispenses treats to reward and motivate your dog." Evie started her path to success by winning the RES competition, then the Connecticut State Convention, and onto Nationals. Although she didn't win the International Invention Convention prize, she held her head high against students from across the world. Congratulations, Evie!
Board of Education: September Dates
Board meetings resume in person on Monday, September 12 at 7 pm. The meeting after will take place on Tuesday, September 27, because of the Monday holiday. The meeting location is Central Office at 90 East Ridge Road. Meetings are also streamed live and available recorded. Public comments must be made in person. More information, including links to meetings and agendas, can be found here.
Putting the “T” Back Into the PTA: Sitting Down With ERMS PTA Prez Kelly Debald
Last week, RPS Update caught up with East Ridge Middle School PTA President Kelly Debald at a PTA-sponsored Teachers Lunch from the Crazy Taco Mex food truck. Judging by the delicious smells in the air and teacher smiles, the truck was a hit.
Debald (second from the left in photo with ERMS staff above) didn’t sign up to be PTA President but learned that she was next in line when the President resigned unexpectedly last summer. “I thought I was going to be the Fundraising Chair,” Debald laughs. “I have three kids, work part-time, and my husband travels frequently for work.” Nevertheless, she jumped in, found time and energy, and put her twenty years working in education—first as a preschool teacher and then as school director—into her new leadership role.
Debald’s PTA committee has big plans for the year. “We surveyed parents last spring and they said that the events they were most interested in were back to school and a carnival so we combined it into one.” On September 14, students can enjoy the ERMS Back to School Bash; Carnival Style. A dunk tank, inflatables, games, prizes, and concessions are all part of the fun.
Debald is eager to have parents and teachers join the PTA. “For a school to run smoothly, it definitely has to be a collaboration between school and parents,” says ERMS Principal Jennifer Phostole. “After that amazing lunch, I’m going to remind teachers to sign up.”
Whether it’s events, signs of encouragement, grants to support innovation, pencils during testing, advocacy, or this taco truck, the PTA is an integral part of the school climate. “Thank you,” comments eighth-grade teacher Marit Sullivan cleaning up the remains of her Tex-Mex feast. “It’s so nice to feel appreciated.”
Please click here to join your school's PTA to support all the wonderful ways the PTA supports the schools.
The Story Behind the Story: Marie Delio, Rock of East Ridge
When interviewed for the story above, both ERMS Principal Jennifer Phostole and PTA President Kelly Debald gave a shout out to ERMS Secretary, Marie Delio. She is the rock of East Ridge Middle School. Marie started in the district in February 2006 as an office para at Farmingville. She moved to ERMS in January 2013 as a secretary in the main office then Administrative Secretary to the Principal in January 2016 and has been at ERMS ever since. She enjoys spending time with family and friends and can be frequently found strolling Main Street or at Starbucks. We couldn't do it without you, Marie!
The HeARTs of RPS
O-Clay! RPS Art Teacher Exhibits on Main Street
Alison Anderson, an art teacher at Barlow Mountain and Veterans Park Elementary Schools, participated in the Ridgefield Guild of Artists Art Walk 2022. Anderson's beautiful ceramics are on view at Jewelry & Metal Arts Studio & School at 458 Main Street until September 11. Check it out, RPS.
FES Mural Offers Cheerful Reminder
Be Kind, Do Your Homework, Take Care of Each Other, & Other Lessons from Freshmen Orientation
The enthusiasm of the RHS student leaders on Monday was infectious. These eighty or so students volunteered to forego their last day of summer vacation to welcome and orient RHS ninth-graders on their first day. Counseling Supervisor Terence Houlihan asked RHS's youngest students to look left and right and to remember to check in with each other. Principal Dr. Jacob Greenwood implored them to do their homework and get involved with clubs, athletics, and the arts to find their passions. Student Life Coordinator Eileen Stewart announced a ninth-grade dance on September 9. A Club Fair on October 12 will introduce dozens of extracurricular opportunities available. Welcome to RHS, Class of 2026!
This Week In Photos
Our Tigers Grow Up......
...Megan Osimanti's RHS Advisory now. Seniors!...
...Ms. Osimanti's Advisory four years ago. Freshmen!