April 28, 2023
Dear Families, Faculty, and Staff,
The generosity of RPS and the Ridgefield community were highlighted this past week. At the Board of Education meeting on Monday evening, members of the junior class presented their request for the approval of a courtyard memorial in honor of their fellow classmate, Nia Simpson who passed away last October. Nia’s classmates described how each aspect of the space will carry Nia’s legacy of living a life with purpose to current and future generations of RHS students.
On Tuesday evening, the community came together in support of Ann’s Place, an organization in Danbury whose mission is to “... Provide Comfort, Support, And Resources To People Living With Cancer And Their Loved Ones.” Dr. Greenwood, RHS’ Principal, stepped out of his comfort zone and walked the fashion show runway in support of this wonderful organization.
This coming Monday, the Board of Education, Board of Finance, and Board of Selectmen will join together for the Annual Town Meeting. The public meeting will take place at the Ridgefield Playhouse at 7:30 p.m.
Early Thursday morning, I briefly met with the RHS student council members (grades 9-12) in an open forum to listen to feedback on what we are doing well, and what they would like us to be thinking about. While I wish we had more time, the diversity of topics raised gave me plenty to think about.
Have a great weekend.
Dr. Susie Da Silva, Ed.D
A Shared Quote of the Week: “We are all flawed, complicated, wounded dreamers; we have more in common with one another than we don't. Sometimes making the world a better place just involves creating space for the people who are already in it.”― Jodi Picoult, Mad Honey
Photo Caption: Green for Nia Simpson! RHS student leaders with Nia's mother, Principal Dr. Jake Greenwood, student council teacher advisors, and friends at the BOE meeting.
Nia Simpson Dedication Game—SATURDAY
The Nia Simpson Dedication Game
Saturday, April 29 at 11:30 am on Tiger Hollow
RHS Girls Varsity Lacrosse
The public is invited to support the Simpson family and raise funds for the Nia Hailey Simpson Foundation Scholarship.
A link to RHS Athletics Page is here.
The Town Meeting is Monday, May 1 at the 7:30 pm at The Ridgefield Playhouse.
The Budget Vote is Tuesday, May 9.
RHS Art Show and Concert Choir Performance—THURSDAY!
Thursday, May 4 from 7-8:30 pm—Visual Art Show and Concert Choir Performance (Flyer below)
Tentative Last Day of School
The tentative last day of school for students is Monday, June 19.
It is an early dismissal day for students.
The tentative End-of-Year PD Day for Teachers is Tuesday, June 20.
The full district calendar can be found here.
District News and Reminders
Kindergarten Registration—YOUR HELP REQUESTED
NEW! Schools Celebrate Teachers of the Year!
Every year, each of the nine Ridgefield schools picks a Teacher of the Year (TOY). Ridgefield High School kicked off the announcements of each schools' TOY with the celebration of Andrew McCabe who has taught at RHS for 23 years! RHS staff donned firefighter hats and passed out candy fireballs in recognition of Mr. McCabe's other role as Assistant Fire Chief for the town of Weston. Old yearbook photos of Mr. McCabe and Principal Dr. Greenwood (above middle) testify to the length of their partnership. The celebration of educator excellence continued across the district. .
Congratulations to the following Teachers of the Year!
Ridgefield High School - Andrew McCabe
East Ridge Middle - Sara Dalton
Scotts Ridge Middle - Marc Perry (photo right)
Branchville Elementary - Jennifer Armas (photo below)
Barlow Mountain Elementary - Andrea Andrew
Farmingville Elementary - Steve Ethier
Ridgebury Elementary -Leah Loschiavo
Scotland Elementary -Melissa Reed
Veterans Park Elementary - Janine Guernsey
Committees at each school review staff and family nominations. We look forward to sharing more about these outstanding educators in future RPS communications. The RPS Teacher of the Year will be selected from the school TOYs and announced next month. Thank you to the school committee members and all our dedicated RPS teachers!!!!
Seniors Are National Merit Finalists: Carter Earns Scholarship
RHS Seniors Nathaniel (Nate) Carter and Michelle Kim are National Merit Finalists. In addition, National Merit Scholarship reports that Nate earned the National Paramount Scholarship. Please read the article in the Hamlet Hub here. Nate plays on the RHS football and baseball teams. He also was on the math team and participated in unified sports. He will be going to the University of Virginia next year.
Congratulations, Nate and Michelle!!
NEW! Award of Excellence to Maureen Tyra!
The 2023 CCSS (Connecticut Council for the Social Studies) for Excellence in Social Studies Education (K-8) award goes to...East Ridge Middle School sixth-grade teacher, Maureen Tyra!
The goal of the CCSSE Excellence Award is to recognize exceptional classroom social studies teachers who teach social studies in elementary, middle or junior high, and high school settings with the following criteria:
- Develop and/or use instructional materials creatively and effectively.
- Incorporate innovative and/or verified effective instructional strategies, techniques, and technologies.
- Utilize new scholarship from history, the social sciences, or other appropriate fields.
- Foster a spirit of inquiry and the development of skills related to acquiring, organizing, and using information to make decisions related to both domestic and international matters.
- Foster the development of democratic beliefs and values and the skills needed for citizen participation appropriate to students’ grade level in classroom, school, and community settings.
- Show professional involvement in activities such as workshops, curriculum development, committees other association or professional activities, etc.
May 18 marks the second anniversary of Ms. Tyra's donation of over half her liver to a stranger. Please read more in this archival edition of RPS News.
Please Check the e-Backpack Every Week!
NEW! Early Literacy Expert Visits Six Elementary Schools
ABC Is Not Always As Easy As 123
“Pat your brains,” says Literacy Specialist Mona Dougherty in response to a correct answer by Paula Dagaunta’s whip-smart Scotland kindergarten class. Ms. Dougherty visited RPS this week to work with the district’s earliest learners—kindergarten, first, and second graders—and their teachers on implementing the district’s new literacy resource Fundations. While Dougherty has trained RPS teachers virtually, this is her first in-person visit to Ridgefield, which she found “beautiful” and a lot warmer than her native state of Minnesota, where there is still snow.
Fundations utilizes a structured literacy approach grounded in the science of reading to make learning to read fun while laying the groundwork for lifelong literacy. The resource is very scripted,” says Dougherty, “but meant to be flexible for the district using it so teachers can make choices based on their students’ needs. Students in a town like Ridgefield might have different needs than another area.”
Elementary teachers and literacy coaches met with Dougherty by grade level prior to the lesson to ask questions. It’s clear that RPS teachers are fully engaged with their students’ success and struggles. Teachers asked Dougherty about assessments and different ways to reinforce concepts and skills that a student might only partially understand. So much goes into teaching early literacy and the resource, Fundations, provides ways to differentiate learning to meet the needs of the wide range of readers in a class.
After meeting with teachers, Dougherty went into classes to demonstrate Fundations lessons. Her rapport with the students was instant, and they went through age-appropriate reading lessons that focused on decoding and encoding words before the adults regrouped for a recap. “I was interested in how you approached a lesson because I did that very differently,” said one teacher. The teachers praise Fundations, “the unit resources are amazing.” Another teacher says, “I worked with the resource ten years ago and am so glad it’s back.”
One example of an interesting tip Ms. Dougherty offered was to have the students use straight arms to write words in the air, this is because large muscle memory is more powerful than the small tendons in hands and fingers.
In early literacy learning, so much has to come together at once; for example, letter recognition and letter-sound association. Despite the Jackson’s song’s assertion, “ABC is not always as easy as 123.” Fundations is one tool in RPS teachers’ toolkits to help make learning to read easier for all our students.
NEW! RPS Is Hiring; Diverse Applicants Encouraged to Apply
Members of the Committee
Olga Anaya-Salazar, Spanish Teacher RHS
Matthew Bearse, Mathematics Teacher RHS
Esther Bobowick, Director of Professional Development Services Cooperative Educational Services
Patricia Boutilier, English Teacher RHS
Nancy Caron, Principal FES
Kate Collins, Special Education Teacher RHS/AHS
Karen Dewing, Director of Personnel Central Office
Christine Hopkinson, Assistant Principal RHS
Yu-Wei Hsu, Mandarin Teacher RHS
Alaina Kakos, Literacy Teacher SES
Jill Katkocin, Principal SES
Laura Kent, Special Education Teacher RHS
Danny Martins, Social Studies Teacher RHS
Tim Salem, Principal SRMS
Lea Un, French Teacher RHS
Elizabeth Van Duyne, Math Specialist ERMS
In the Classroom
An Intercultural Celebration at RHS
Pulling together many of Ridgefield High School’s Core Values, students in Mandarin 4 Honors/UCONN and AP Spanish Language and Culture collaborated, shared knowledge, and communicated in an intercultural celebration on Thursday. Students in Spanish learned to play the Chinese game of Mahjong from their friends in Mandarin and then the students in Spanish shared how to dance merengue and how to play the game of dominoes. Both groups of students came together to share food, drink, and music. Together, they peacefully and constructively developed a sense of community and belonging. This celebration fostered respect and open-mindedness for other cultures which further united and educated all participants!
April Is Poetry Month
April is not, as poet T.S. Eliot asserts, "the cruelest month." In addition to the beautiful flowering trees and bulbs, we have poetry month! Scotts Ridge sixth grade English teacher and department chair, Jennifer Bray submitted the beautiful student poems below. Ms. Bray writes, "the assignment for "The Night" poem was to choose a painting and use imagery to write a poem about it. The task for the "Confidence" and "Imagination" was to choose and personify an abstract noun."
The HeARTS of RPS
The RHS Band Performance Rocked!
Bravo to the Band! Wednesday's concert was tremendous. Congratulations to our band seniors and RHS band teacher George Beratis.
Art Show and Concert Choir Performance—THURSDAY!
Thursday, May 4 from 7-8:30 pm—Visual Art Show and Concert Choir Performance (Flyer below)
Wednesday, May 10 at 5:30 pm—RHS Orchestra Spring Concert
Seen in the SES Hallways: Leo Lioni Inspired Animals
Scotland Elementary kindergarteners made Secondary (green, purple, orange) Color Animals inspired by illustrator Leo Lionni. Like the author's classic picture books, Swimmy, Frederick, etc., the kindergarteners' artwork is sweet. Art teacher Megan Kounnas's wall text describes the lesson, "Our artists painted secondary colors on their paper and dragged objects through to create fun textures, and then cut out shapes to turn into animals. They also used texture plates to do crayon rubbings to make a landscape background for their characters."
Beyond the Classroom
Read the Ridgefielder
The April issue of the RHS student magazine, The Ridgefielder is available! Please read all about the physical effects of eating three hot dogs a day, spring fashion trends, Student Center workers, entrepreneurs, and much more in another awesome issue of The Ridgefielder.
Let's Go, RHS Math Team!
The RHS Math Team placed 3rd in the Class L State Championships on Tuesday, April 4, which qualifies them to compete in the New England Championship Meet today, April 28!
State Team members are Kayleen Smith, Gabriel Uceda-Sosa, Sameer Premji, Sophie Browning, Michael Tsai, Carter Brown, Will Carter, and Sebastian Utomo. RHS Math teachers, Matthew Bearse and Mary Ellen Foley will accompany the team.
Carter Brown won an individual award from the Fairfield County Math League for his 3rd-place finish as the top-scoring sophomore in the county. Congratulations to Carter!
Let's go, Tigers!!!!
COLT Recognizes Five RHS Students in Recitation Contest
At the end of March, RHS students competed in the Connecticut Council of Language Teachers (COLT) online poetry recitation contest.
Five earned COLT awards for excellence.
Millie Altopp (Spanish)
Abigail Freeman (Italian)
Kiyeon Kim (Mandarin)
Ashley Libhart (French)
Dean Trevasani (Mandarin)
Science Research Student Qualifies for Nationals
Student Plans Blood Drive
Blood is thicker than water for the Langberg sisters. RHS student Juliette Langberg is picking up where her sister, Ariel, left off by hosting a blood drive, on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, from 2 pm - 7:00 pm at East Ridge Middle School. Here's a link to sign up: Click here to make an appointment
RPS RIFFs! Shorts, Sizzle, and Seniors @ Ridgefield Independent Film Festival
The first town-wide Ridgefield Independent Film Festival since 2019 will take place from May 18-21 at six different venues. RPS Update has learned of many RIFF/RPS connections. Students, RPS alum, and parents are getting in on the act. Read more below.
RPS Contributes Sizzle, Shorts, and Senior Muscle
RHS alumnus, Brett Anderson made this year’s awesome RIFF sizzle reel. Emily Breeze, whose short film Shallow Water is playing at Keeler Tavern Museum on Saturday, May 20 at 2:30 pm as part of RIFF's Provocative Shorts program, attended East Ridge Middle School. In 2022, RIFF gave its emerging filmmaker award to RHS alumnus Nicholas Burns. In 2021, they gave the award to Ellie Gravitte.
Chase Haitsch, Kimberly Talisse, and Brooklyn Showah will be RIFF Senior Interns.
RIFF to Showcase Young FES Filmmakers
Looking for a way to experience the creativity and innovation of young filmmakers? Look no further than the Ridgefield Independent Film Festival at the Ridgefield Library on May 18 at 5 pm.
RIFF is proud to present a special showcase of stop-motion films created by talented Farmingville Elementary School fifth graders. Each short film is a unique work of art that will transport you to new worlds and leave you in awe of the creative talents of these young artists. Don't miss this chance to witness the magic of stop-motion animation and support the next generation of filmmakers. Click here for FES Librarian Laura Kovsky's RIFF_FES Film Fest Trailer. Family-friendly!
Recycle Outside the Bin: HRRA Billboard Winners
RPS students cleaned up at the annual HRRA Recycling Billboard Contest. This year's theme was "Recycle Outside the Bin," which gives information about all the products that are recyclable beyond the single stream bin. Here is a link to all the winners and designs.
Giorgia Avallone, 3rd Grade, Barlow Mountain Elementary, 2nd Place.
Tommy Cockerille, 4th Grade, Ridgebury Elementary, 3rd Place.
Oliver Cockerille, 1st Grade, Ridgebury Elementary, 2nd Place.
Eleanor Idone, 7th Grade, Scotts Ridge Middle School, 1st Place (above).
Sherry Wu, 8th Grade, East Ridge Middle School, 1st Place (below).
RHS Student Commits to Continue to Run
Isaac Graber, RHS class of 2023, has signed a Letter of Institutional Commitment to run Cross Country and Track at the State University of New York at Albany. He will be joining the reigning America East Men’s Outdoor Track Champion, Great Danes. Isaac will attend Albany’s Honors College and plans to major in Political Science with a minor in Public Policy. Isaac is an honor roll student with a cumulative GPA of 4.02. He has been a member of the Boy’s Varsity Cross Country team for three years, has been on the Boy’s Varsity Track team for the past 2 years and the 2022/23 season was his first running Varsity Indoor Track. Isaac and his XC team were 2022 state open runners-ups and placed 3rd at New England Regionals. His 4x800 relay team earned All FCIAC honors and a 2nd place finish at the 2023 CIAC State indoor open. Graber’s Distance Mixed Relay team placed 3rd at the 2023 New Balance Indoor Nationals and earned All-American honors while setting a new school indoor record. Isaac was named the RHS Boys Cross Country Most Improved Athlete for the 2022 season.
Math Night at Branchville
Each spring, the Branchville PTA and Math Specialist Prajakta Oppel co-host Family Math Night, an evening when parents and students come together to enjoy math enrichment games in a fun, collaborative environment. Families enjoy a wide range of activities throughout the night, and of course, the estimation jar brings out some of the biggest smiles!
Pride in the Park Perk Cards Available
The RPS Gay Straight Alliance clubs are hosting the Fourth Annual Ridgefield Pride in the Park Celebration on June 3 from noon -3:00 pm at Ballard Park. As a fundraiser for the event, they are selling Pride Perks cards for $5. The card allows the holder to receive discounts from area merchants. New offers are being added all the time. A perk that many families enjoy is the Martin Park Beach pass discount. People can order them by going to the website ridgefieldctpride.com.
Photos from the Week
These Kids Are Fire
Not even a blaring fire alarm could scare these RHS student leaders and staff away from presenting at the Board of Education meeting. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules.
From the Hallway to the Runway, RPS Cares
Here are some more photos from the Ann's Place fundraiser. RPS students, staff, and community members worked overtime to make this fun event a big success. Read more about Ann's Place here.
This week, East Ridge Middle School met Freya, a therapy dog who will be visiting the school once a week. This sweet Pyrenees Saint Bernard mix was all smiles as she greeted students and staff.
Last week's RPS Update reported on the designs of Tiffany Antkies' eighth-grade East Ridge science students. Here are some photos of them with their earthquake-resistant structures.
The Joy of Reading!
Elementary Director Linda Johnson jumped in to read to Paula Douangta's class while the Scotland kindergarten team met with Fundations Literacy Specialist.