The Morris Minute

December 2019

Welcome to The Morris Minute!

This is the place to find updates for staff, parents, and families of Morris Elementary. Thank you for checking it out!

A Note from Mr. Anderson

Hello Morris Families!

Happy Thanksgiving to you! This is going to brief and not as informative as some messages in the past. I want to THANK YOU. ALL OF YOU.

We don't often get the chance to sit back and think about all the good things that happen on a regular basis at Morris. Throughout every day, there are hundreds of GREAT things happening that we just can't notify everyone about. Thank you for understanding that. We often get caught up in what needs to be fixed, this issue came up, they did what at recess?, etc. It can really be a head scratcher at times. But I do know this: our staff and students are awesome and have forged solid relationships built on trust, caring, and understanding. That doesn't mean we are perfect. We do make mistakes. But we learn from them and move in a positive direction after.

I am thankful that I get to work in a great district surrounded by great people. We have excellent staff members in every position. We have great parents who are awesome partners in their child's education experience. As far as the state of education, we are in a really good spot. We can ALL agree that we all care about our kids.

I encourage you to consider what you are thankful for. We were reminded here at school by a kind family that dropped off some breakfast for staff. (Not because they brought us food - which was awesome - but rather the kind words that came with the gesture.) All of your kind words and "little things" go a LONG WAY with all of us, especially our little ones.

I am sorry if you were looking for information on any certain topic. I just wanted all of you to know that I am thankful for the opportunity to be the principal at this wonderful place. It isn't always easy and there certainly are tough days. From my perspective, there may not be a better place to work than here. I am grateful.

I hope your Holiday Season gets off to a tremendous start. Keep up your kindness and have a Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the break!



Important Dates to Remember

November 27-29 - NO SCHOOL - Thanksgiving Break

December 2 - 2pm Dismissal

December 3 - Preschool Lions Club Vision Screening

December 5 - 2nd Grade Vocal Music Concerts - 6 & 7pm at the High School Auditorium

December 9 - 2pm Dismissal

December 10, 11, & 12 - Heartland AEA Hearing Screening

December 16 - 2pm Dismissal

December 20 - Winter Class Parties

December 23-January 1 - Winter Break

January 2 - Classes Resume

January 6 - 2pm Dismissal

Want to see the entire year? Click HERE!


Tuesday, December 3, Members of our local Lions Club will be at Morris performing some vision screening for our preschool students. If you would be interested in helping them, we have two shifts available - 9am-11:30am or 1pm-3pm - please email Jen Keeler at to let her know if you would like to volunteer for a shift.
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Please click the following link to place your yearbook order.


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Our first Vocal Music Concert of the 2019-2020 school year will be held Thursday, December 5 at the High School Auditorium.

Second Grade students will go up to the high school to rehearse during the school day and then the concerts will be held in the evening, with students from Hansen, Johnson, Peterson, & Stewart's classes performing at 6pm, and students from Hilbert, Kirkpatrick, Rempe, & Tisdale's classes performing at 7pm. Please remember the following points when attending concerts at the high school:

  • NO food or drinks (including water) are allowed in the auditorium.
  • Students need to stay with their families until Mrs. Anderson calls them to the warm up room.
  • Students are invited to wear nice clothing.
  • Please stay off the stage area, there will be instruments and props for students to use.
  • After the concert, Mrs. Anderson will announce where your child will be picked up. It will either be in the band hallway or in the auditorium. The locations will also be in the programs.

If you have students in First Grade, their concert is scheduled for March 26, 2020, and our Kindergarten friends will have their chance on the stage on April 23. Grade levels are split into two sections, the first group performing at 6pm and the second at 7pm - Mrs. Anderson will send out more details when the dates are closer for our First and Kindergarten students.

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Once again, we are excited to partner with the Food Bank of Iowa to provide nutritious weekend snacks to low-income families with elementary-aged students. If you are in need or know of a family who may benefit from this program, please call Sam Kluesner at 515-967-7494 or email her at For more information regarding The BackPack Program, please click here.

Talented and Gifted Program Testing

The Bondurant-Farrar K-12 TAG Department seeks to identify approximately 5% of our students who have needs for enrichment and advancement for services through the talented and gifted program. Our goal is to have a screening process that recognizes that students' needs change, and that is inclusive of twice-exceptional students (those who may be gifted while also having other learning needs) and English language learners, as well as our general education population. In order to qualify for TAG services at Bondurant-Farrar, a student needs to score at or above the 96th percentile on subtests of the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) or on a-Reading/a-Math or early reading/early math tests when compared to norms for students at their grade-level. A student also must score at or above the 96th percentile (9th stanine) on two of the three subtests of the Cognitive Abilities Tests (CogAT) or have a complete composite score at or above the 96th percentile when compared to norms for students their chronological age. The CogAT tests include verbal, quantitative and non-verbal subtests.

All second graders, fifth graders and eighth graders will be taking an abbreviated Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) screener the first week of April. Those who score in the desired range will be invited to take the full CogAT test and continue through the screening process to see if they are in need of services through the Talented and Gifted (TAG) program. These grade-levels were selected because they are at points where building transitions occur. Students who are new to our district and students who are exhibiting a possible need for services will be screened and tested on a case-by-case basis regardless of their current grade level. All students (including those already identified and receiving TAG services) will need to qualify / requalify to begin or continue receiving TAG services when they transition to the next building.

Hearing Screening

Heartland AEA will conduct its annual Hearing Conservation program during the upcoming school year. Students in Kindergarten - 5th grades will receive a hearing screening. Morris kindergarten, first, and second grade students will be screened December 10, 11, or 12.

Students who do NOT pass this screening will receive a repeat screening and may receive individual hearing tests by a Heartland AEA audiologist and consultation with school personnel. You will be notified about the results of the hearing test if your child does NOT pass the test. This is a screening process only and does not identify all hearing or ear problems. If your child has had hearing or ear problems recently, feel free to send this information to the school nurse for the audiologist.

If you do not want your child to participate in the screening program and follow-up assessments by an audiologist, please notify the school nurse. If there are any questions about the hearing testing program in your school, please contact your school nurse.

Busy Times for Bluejay Beginnings

The preschool team would like to extend a huge thank you to all of the moms, grandmas, aunts, and friends that joined us Friday, November 15th for Muffins with Mom. It meant so much to our preschool students to have someone join them at school and share a special day. Thank you!

We rounded out the month of November by finishing our Pet Study. The best part about a pet study is all of the fun pet visitors we had over the month! Ms. Laura brought in a 5 week old labradoodle puppy, Ms. Maggie brought in a guinea pig, Mrs. Barnett shared her hedgehog, and Mr. Kirkpatrick let us borrow his rabbit. The students enjoyed some meaningful, and fun hands on learning through this rich study! Students and teachers are looking forward to a busy December that will start with a Jan Brett author study.

Lunch Menus

Current lunch menus are always available on the website - if you hover over the little milk carton on the right side of the main page, you can find the breakfast and lunch menus for the month.

Reminder: You can apply for Free/Reduced Price Meals anytime during the school year, even if you have been turned down before & your circumstances have changed. You can find the 2018-2019 Iowa Application for Free & Reduced Price School Meals on the school website under Departments and Food Services. You can also pick up a hard copy in any building office or contact Karen Miller at and request to have one mailed to you.

Lunch Times

Be sure to check with your child's teacher for their exact lunch time. Each grade has two overlapping shifts. While the rest of the schedule adjusts slightly on our Monday early out schedule, the lunch schedule remains the same.

2nd: 10:55-11:20 & 11:10-11:35

1st: 11:30-12 & 11:45-12:15

Kindergarten: 12:10-12:35 & 12:25-12:50


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Box Tops For Education

Box Tops made the switch to the app over the summer! A few products still have the actual Box Top on them, and if you have some of those, they are still accepting them until their expiration date, so keep clipping and sending them in! However, most new products now will just have the Box Tops logo and you'll need to have the Box Tops for Education app to give our library credit. It's a quick, simple process--I just did it myself to see! When you download the app, it'll ask what school you're collecting for. You'll need to type Anderson Elementary, whether your child attends Morris or Anderson, because our school account was set up before Morris existed. Anderson and Morris libraries split the proceeds equally each year. There are LOTS of Anderson Elementary Schools around the country, so be sure to find ours. When you've downloaded the app, you'll just need to scan your receipts each time you shop. It keeps a running tally of the money we've collected so far. Box Tops have made a huge impact on the number of books we get for our libraries each year, so your time and effort in getting the app and scanning receipts does make a difference. Thanks so much!

Mrs. Barnett, Elementary Librarian


America's Best in West Des Moines is on a mission to give away 10,000 pairs of glasses this holiday season to any child under the age of 18.

Please contact Bridgett Griffin for more information (515) 225-3700

Wish List

We have had several requests for a list of what teachers and staff might like. Click HERE to see a compiled list.
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Traffic Patterns

Please be sure to familiarize yourself with the drop off and pick up map so you are aware which lot you will need to use. If you need a Color coded sign, please let Jen or your teacher know and we can send a sign home for you with your student.

A few notes from Ms. Jen

December already? I'm in a bit of denial about it really. But when the students return to Morris on Monday, December 2 - they will be greeted by a festive hallway full of gingerbread houses and fun holiday celebrations throughout the last three weeks of the calendar year. Staff will participate in some fun dress up days the last two weeks too, so if you hear stories of elves, reindeer, and grinches in the halls - they aren't making them up. Our students love learning about holiday traditions from around the world - and I love how our teachers incorporate fun ideas to help them learn - a STEM activity of 'How many presents can Santa balance on his surfboard in Australia?' :)

Of course, it wouldn't be December if I weren't reminding you to please dress your children for the feels like temperature, so let's get that out of the way. It really is important, and our students do SO much better if they get the chance to get outdoors and PLAY.

I will echo what Mr. Anderson said at the beginning of this Morris Minute - we really do work with an amazing staff of wonderfully caring and compassionate individuals who work together to put our students first every day. Add in those volunteer school board members and administrators who work behind the scenes to make sure our students have what they need to succeed, sprinkle in parents who are truly involved in their child's education, and it is the BEST place to be. We are truly lucky to have so many wonderful people on our side as our kids learn. And yes, if you have gotten this far in the newsletter - that means you too. I am especially grateful to those of you who actually read my emails and pay attention to those details in your children's lives. The details make the difference. Thank you again and have a safe a happy holiday season.


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