Buzzin' in the Hive

Graden Parent and Family Newsletter, August 2021

Dear Graden Families,

We are eager to welcome everyone back! We hope you had a wonderful summer. As always, we are looking forward to the start of this new academic year. Each new school year brings opportunities for academic growth and growth in all areas of development and our staff can't wait to have an amazing 2021-22 school year!

Our Hornet staff and community have done an outstanding job the past 86 years creating a sense of belonging, providing a safe, respectful and caring environment and most importantly helping students learn. We cannot wait to continue this tradition of excellence this year.

You likely saw the Board Highlights from the school board meeting on Thursday, July 29. If you missed it, please click here to review the announcement which includes information related to COVID-19.

For those of you returning to Graden, you already know that we take student and staff safety very seriously. We will continue to align our building practices with district guidelines, which are based upon local health department guidance. I will continue to share updates with the community as they become available.

I look forward to seeing our hornets on Thursday, August 19th at our IN-PERSON Back to School Night from 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm. This is an evening dedicated to meeting your teacher, asking questions, and dropping off school supplies. We are beyond excited to host this event in-person and will ask that all families work with us to ensure we create a safe and healthy environment for everyone that attends. Please continue reading this newsletter to sign-up for a time slot to join us for Back to School Night.

As we progress through the year, we will be prepared to make adjustments to our plans so we can prioritize safety while providing awesome learning and social experiences for our students.

Important Dates:

  • Monday August 16th: PTA Meeting - 6:30 pm Graden upper playground (All parents invited)
  • Thursday, August 19th: Back to School Night - 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm *sign-up below for a time slot.
  • Monday, August 23rd: First Day of School!
  • Wednesday September 1st: Fall Pictures (More info. to come)
  • Thursday, September 2nd: Parent Orientation - 5:30 pm- 7:00 pm (More info. to come)
  • Monday, September 6th: NO SCHOOL - Labor Day
  • Wednesday, September 8th: Early Release - Dismissal @ 2:00 pm

It's A Great Day to Be a Hornet!

Dr. Easley

Principal, Graden Elementary - Home of the Hornets


School Hours: 9:10 am - 4:00 pm

Doors open at 8:55 am for breakfast

Principal: Vanna Easley


Assistant Principal: Courtney Bishop


Executive Administrative Assistant: Nikki Suchanick


Graden Registrar: Meghan Wheeler



If your family has completed the annual residency verification process, you will receive class placement information on August 9.

All Park Hill families are required to complete the online residency verification process before student enrollment is finalized and class placement is made. We are unable to send classroom placement information to households who have not verified residency.

If you have questions about this process please call the school office at 816-359-4340. All Park Hill families must provide a copy of your lease or mortgage statement and one utility bill. Additionally, please ensure your child's immunizations are up to date with our school nurse. Students will not be permitted to begin the 2021-2022 school year without having this verification of residency and updated immunizations.

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The following staff members will join Graden in new positions and/or new name changes for the 2021-22 school year:

  • Hannah Huffaker will move from kindergarten to 2nd grade
  • Rachel Kahmann will join our 2nd grade team
  • Caitlin Teson will move from 1st grade to 3rd grade
  • Amy Schmidt will move from 5th grade to 4th grade
  • Matt Hamblin will join our 5th grade team
  • Jeni Shook will join our special education department as a resource teacher
  • Kate Guier will join our special education department as a specialized teacher
  • Julianne Ruwe will join our support services team as our school social worker
  • Amanda Steitz will rejoin Graden as our building teaching assistant
  • Chantel Jacobs will join our special education department as a teaching assistant
  • Michelle Garrison will join our special education department as a teaching assistant
  • Cheryl Hogan will join our special education department as a teaching assistant
  • Matt Elliott will join our special services staff as our ELD teaching assistant
  • Chris Banks will join our special education team as an instructional coach
  • Adrian Ortner will join be our building's visual impaired teacher
  • Libby Jordan will be our building's occupational therapist
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We are working diligently to place all students in classes. Class assignments will be emailed to families on Monday, August 9th. You will receive an email with your child’s teacher as long as you have proven residency. If you have questions, please call the Graden office, 359-4340. We are here to help!

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Thursday, August 19th

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm (sign-up below for your time slot)

Families, please join us for a much-anticipated evening with the opportunity to meet our Graden staff. There will be opportunities to sign-up for PTA, purchase shirts, take photographs, meet your teacher and drop-off school supplies.

*** As a way to ensure health and safety guidelines are maintained for our staff and students. Please sign-up below for a time slot to join us for Back to School Night.

Each family may bring two adults per student. This will provide optimal opportunities for social distancing and give each family time to meet with teachers and additional staff as well as sign-up for PTA, purchase shirts and take photographs.

School Supplies

If you did not pre-order school supplies, please use the 2021-22 Park Hill school supply list attached below to purchase the correct supplies for the school year.


It’s official – the program that allows us to provide free meals to our students and to children throughout our community is going to continue through the summer and the 2021-2022 school year. This is not just for families who are in need – everyone may feel welcome to access this resource for their children.

Free Meals During the 2021-2022 School Year:

  • For in-person students:
    Throughout the 2021-2022 school year, we will provide free breakfast and lunch to our in-person students each day.

For Park Hill Online Academy students and area children:
Students in our area who do not attend our schools in person will be able to order our five-day frozen bulk meal kits.


ALL students at Graden Elementary will receive a photo badge and lanyard which they will use each day to hold their face mask, access their lunch account, check out library books, access print jobs and to ride the bus. Students will be responsible for bringing their ID badge and lanyard to and from school each day. Students will wear badges all day. If a student loses their badge, there will be a $5.00 replacement fee. Your help with this process is very much appreciated.


Throughout the school year, the district or school might take a picture or video and release personal information about students. This could be to a local newspaper, Graden newsletter, or on Park Hill channel 18. The district or school might also post pictures on web pages. Additionally, Graden PTA publishes a school directory (BUZZ book) so that parents can reach each other. The school provides contact information for this directory, including but not limited to names, address and telephone numbers. If you DO NOT want your child’s image, or your family’s contact information released, please contact your child’s teacher or the office to fill out an Image/Contact Information OPT-OUT form.

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We are so excited to open our doors to all of our in-person students. The district has taken time to look at the data and listen to input from families to create a plan of action to support the CDC's health and safety guidelines as we return to school.

In-person learning is a priority and COVID-19 prevention strategies must remain in place to protect all individuals while in the school building. District guidelines state:

  • Masks:

In keeping with the latest CDC guidelines for schools, students and staff are required to wear masks indoors. All Hornets will receive a Graden mask to wear. Please send students to school each day with a clean face mask. Students will not be required to wear masks while outside or at recess.

  • Vaccinations:

The district encourages everyone who qualifies for the COVID-19 vaccine to get it. You can find information about vaccinations on the state of Missouri’s site here:

  • Quarantines:

The district is working with the health department to determine current rules about quarantines. Updates will be provided when we have them.

  • Monitoring Data:

The district will continue to monitor the data about COVID-19 cases and exposures, as well as community data. If there is a significant increase, they might increase our mitigation strategies.

  • Testing:

The district will still provide free, optional antigen testing for students and staff. Staff members who have symptoms should contact their supervisors and then call the testing site.

  • Stable Groups:

At Graden, we will continue to take precautions like keeping students in stable groups to limit their exposures to other people.

RECESS: Students do not have to stay in stable groups while outside. Students are free to play wherever they would like.

  • Handwashing:

Throughout the day, we will encourage hand washing, and we will also supply hand sanitizer in every classroom.

  • Visitors:

During the school day, the only visitors we will allow in Graden are people who are here to work, like substitute teachers and repair workers.

  • Buses:

Buses are considered public transportation, so students and drivers are federally required to wear masks. Please consider taking your child to school instead of sending them on the bus. We will not be able to provide physical distancing on the buses, but we will take as many precautions as possible.


  • Birthday Treats:

Families will need to purchase birthday treats through our nutrition services department.

  • Large Gatherings:

During the school day, we are not hosting assemblies or field trips, but we can host certain large events outside during the day including our Fun Run Fundraiser in October (more info. to come). We can also host night time parent and family events with health and safety guidelines in place (limiting the number of adults per student).

At Graden we have specific plans and procedures in place to ensure that our students and staff are safe every time they enter the building.

  1. ALL students and staff are required to wear a face mask INSIDE the building except for while at lunch.
  2. All students that ride the bus are REQUIRED to wear a face mask.
  3. Students and staff will wash hands frequently and desks and tables will be sanitized multiple times throughout the day.
  4. All teachers will take steps to promote physical distancing in the classroom and around the building.
  5. All classrooms will be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day.

To ensure the safety of your children and to comply with CDC guidelines, classroom visitors will not be allowed for the 2021-2022 school year or until safety precautions are lifted. The district will closely monitor the data and update guidelines as needed.

To access your child or to enter the school building, you will need to scan your state issued ID (driver’s license, military ID, government ID, state ID cards) If students arrive late to school, they WILL need to be signed in by an adult with their school ID number NOT by name. Therefore, it is imperative that an adult park and escort the child into the office and assists with the check in procedure should they arrive late.

If you are bringing a forgotten lunch or homework, please bring it to the office instead of walking to your child’s class. We will be happy to call your child to the office to pick up the items. Staff members have been instructed to stop visitors who do not have an ID badge.

We have phones in all classrooms so that you can call the classroom directly. Please note that during the instructional day the phones will be set to go directly to voicemail. You can leave the teacher a message and they will return your call during one of their break times.


To comply with health and safety guidelines, we cannot offer outside food to our students at this time. This means we will not have birthday treats from outside the school.

If you would like to purchase birthday treats through our Nutrition Services department, please click on the flyer below, fill it out completely and email to Ms. Elayne O'Connell @ If you have any questions please call the Park Hill Nutrition Services department at (816) 359-5726

*** Please give a week's notice if at all possible

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  • Supervision of the students begins at 8:55 am. Please do not drop off students prior to 8:55 am
  • Only students eating breakfast should report to the cafeteria at 8:55 am
  • Students are not allowed to roam the hallways before classes begin
  • Everyday car riders should be dropped off on the west side of the building
  • Car riders will form two lines for morning drop off
  • Students arriving after 9:10 am will be counted as tardy and will need to report to the office to receive an admit slip


All Graden students are provided with bus transportation at no cost. Students that ride the bus will be required to wear a face mask at ALL times. At times, students may need to ride a bus different than the one they are normally scheduled to ride or get off at a different stop from their regular bus. In that case, you must request an alternate bus transportation form and meet with Nikki or Meghan in the office prior to the change in transportation. These requests are not intended for students going over to play at a friend’s house. Bus changes are designed for changes in daycare or for the safety of the student.

Any time your child will be going home a different way than usual, please send a note or an email to the teacher or give us a call. We would appreciate a phone call no later than 3:00 pm for transportation changes.

Bus riders will be dropped off and dismissed through the doors at the center of the building. Bus riders will be loaded and unloaded one bus at a time to ensure students are able to social distance as the enter and exit the building.


Everyday car riders will be dismissed to the west parking lot at 3:50 pm. Car riders will form two lines in the west parking lot. Staff members will help the children into their cars. Parents will be given a placard that needs to be displayed in the front window of their vehicle so our staff can identify you. To increase fluency and safety in the car rider line, we are asking that ALL families have the placard on their dash daily. This ensures that we call the correct student names and ensures that all families are verified for pick up without needing to verify ID each day. if you do not have placard displayed in your car, you will be asked to provide ID and will be given a new placard.

In order to keep the flow of traffic moving, please pull up as far as you can before loading. Our goal is to release your children safely and as quickly as possible.

Early Release Days

Early release days will move to Wednesdays for the 2021-22 school year. Every early release day will be Interest Group Day at Graden. All students will engage in a cultural arts assembly and students will join interest groups to continue learning and working on Habit 8: Find Your Voice.

2021-22 Early Release Days:

Wednesday, September 8th

Wednesday, October 6th

Wednesday, November 10th

Wednesday, December 8th

Wednesday, January 5th

Wednesday, February 2

Wednesday, March 2

Wednesday, April 6

Wednesday, May 4th

Look for more information about interest group days in our monthly newsletters.

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The Park Hill School District will offer before and after school child care at Graden Elementary. Arrangements can be made by calling the Adventure Club office at 359-4064. Students who attend Adventure Club should drive around to the back of the building and enter through the cafeteria doors.

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As we move forward to the start of the school year at Graden Elementary, I want to communicate the ever-changing guidelines for the health and safety of our Hornets. Specifically, what does it look like to visit the school nurse during a pandemic?

  • If your child should need medical care, a staff member will assess if it can be handled within the classroom. First aid kits will be available to every teacher for simple things like a lost tooth, small cut, dry skin, or old injuries. This will help decrease traffic in the health room and continue to keep kids in stable groups.
  • If your child needs further care, a staff member will attempt to contact the nurse for direction and guidance on sending a student to the health room.
  • All students will wait outside the health room until a temperature check is completed and it is safe to enter.
  • All students and staff will wear face masks while inside the building.
  • As always, significant attention for injuries, asthma, bee stings, severe nose bleeds should be sent immediately.
  • When a student presents with a mild symptom(s) at home, please do not send them to school. This year all precautions to prevent the spread of illnesses will be taken extremely seriously and unfortunately, will result in the child needing to be sent home.
  • Please be proactive in having a “Sick Child Plan” in place. This could simply be a designated family member to care for a sick child, when a parent is working.
  • For acute or chronic conditions that require medication at school, please contact the nurse to drop off your child’s prescription or over the counter medications. Students should not carry medication to and from school, including cough drops.
  • If your child has a medical condition such as asthma, diabetes, seizures, or any other condition which may affect their day at school, please contact me.

For the most up-to-date detailed information on health and safety, please visit:

After seven years at Graden Elementary, I am ready more than ever to start the school year and be the school nurse. I am looking forward to caring for all your children. As always, I am here to answer any of your questions.

Wishing You A Healthy &

Successful School Year,

Nurse Kris

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Meet our Board Members:

Jamie Fender, President

Hayley Cooper, Vice President

Lindsay Ramon, Secretary

Maggie Wright, Treasurer

Jessica Freels, Parliamentarian

The PTA is so excited for the new school year! We will have a table at back to school night and hope you all stop by! We will be selling memberships and answering any questions you may have.

In the past the PTA has paid for all students to go on Field Trips, purchased art supplies for special projects that all students were able to use, bought new basketball goals, we have supported the teachers in special requests, provided meals for teachers after being at the school for long hours during conferences, purchased new broadcasting equipment, and had an ice cream social for the whole school and families, and so much more. We hope to continue to he tradition of supporting our students, teachers and school.

This year at Parent Orientation we will be holding a silent auction! We will be auctioning off items such as a grade level movie night, extra recess/gym time, being the principal for the day and much much more. We appreciate all of the support we have received in the past and are looking forward for the future.

2021-22 PTA Meeting Dates

August 16th - Graden Elementary School Library

September 13th

October 11th

November 8th

December 13th

January 10th

February 21st

March 21st

May 9th


School Office (816) 359-4340

School Fax (816) 359-4349

Attendance Line (816) 359-4341

First Student Bus Company (816) 359-4560

Adventure Club (816) 359-5015