December 16, 2022
Dear Families, Faculty, and Staff,
This was a week filled with music….your ears must have been buzzing! Across all levels, our students came together with the sounds of music. There is no better time of the year, truly impressive! RHS performers had a full house at their Winter Concert on Wednesday evening.
Our students from Family Consumer Science kicked off the Board of Education meeting on Monday night by sharing their RHS experience while also sharing some delicious treats with the BOE and audience members; it pays to come in person! I then had the opportunity to experience the same students in their class at RHS in their class during International Foods Month the following Tuesday morning. The students were amazing! While listening to “Fado” music and warming my heart with a Portuguese traditional soup, “caldo verde”, they showed me how independent and skilled they are in the kitchen.
Next Thursday will be my last update until January 6th.
May you have a peaceful weekend.
Susie Da Silva Ed.D.
Quotes of the Week—Sophomores on Culinary Class
The class has taught me to stay organized, plan ahead, and manage my time more efficiently in the kitchen. Each week, I'm challenged to learn something new which has made me more confident and given me recipes I can make at home.
The class has helped me develop my problem-solving skills and overcome problems within my group. To find solutions to challenges, I have to think flexibly and critically...[the class] has introduced me to a wide range of global cuisines which has encouraged me to be more adventurous and innovative in my cooking.
Kemp Is All-American and an Exemplary Student-Athlete!
RHS senior Charlotte Kemp is a United Soccer Coaches All-American! She is the first RHS Girls Soccer player to be named All-American since 2010. Charlotte was a four-year starter and the only captain for the team this year. During her career, Charlotte led the defense, recording 47 career shutouts, and earning All-FCIAC, All-State, and All-New England honors. On top of her soccer career, she is an outstanding student, earning the FCIAC Exemplary Scholar-Athlete Award this fall. She plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania next fall. Congratulations!!
Hanukkah Starts This Sunday! Happy Hanukkah!
VPES Grade 5 Carols on Main Street—December 21
Take a break from the holiday hustle on December 21 to enjoy Veterans Park Elementary fifth graders caroling in front of Town Hall at approximately 1:15 pm. Sleigh bells and Santa hats are welcome!
RHS Prom Dates
Junior Prom - Portuguese Club, Danbury CT
Saturday, May 13, 2023
Senior Prom - The Loading Dock, Stamford, CT
Friday, June 2, 2023
Summer Bridge: Save the Date
Plans for Summer Bridge 2023 are in the works with plans to open registration in January. Here are the tentative (due to possible weather-related closures) dates.
Elementary Summer Bridge - Current Grades PK-4 Week of July 10 and Week of July 17
(Students attend one week only)
Jump Start Middle School: Current Grade 5—June 28 and 29
Jump Start High School: Current Grade 8—June 28 and 29
Middle School Intensives: Current Grade 5-7—July 5-14
High School Intensives: Current Grade 8-11—June 28 to July 14
This year we are including a College Application Boot Camp for Current Juniors!
Course Recovery: Current Grade 9-12—July 5-28
Free Meals for All Is Ending Soon: Apply for Assistance
In the State of Connecticut, the School Meals Assistance Revenue for Transition (SMART) funds was enacted to allow all elementary and middle school students to temporarily receive free breakfast and lunch meals regardless of family income.The District announced last week that Ridgefield’s allocation to provide free meals for K-8 students will go through January 13, 2023. On Tuesday, January 17, 2023, following the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the district will revert back to charging for meals. Find information about applying for free and reduced lunch, the cost of meals, how to add funds to your account, and more here.
Cold and flu season has arrived in Ridgefield. In addition to COVID-19 we have seen a rise in respiratory illnesses like Influenza and RSV, and other viruses. If your child tests positive for Influenza or RSV please alert your school nurse.
We ask the community to take the following precautions to prevent the spread of these respiratory illnesses:
Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or upper shirtsleeve, not your hands.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
Stay home when sick and alert your school nurse.
Consider wearing a close-fitting mask around other people while respiratory symptoms are present.
Stay up to date with your vaccinations such as flu and COVID. Many of the local pharmacies have both flu and COVID vaccines available.
Photo: Barlow Mountain Elementary students and teacher practicing good hygiene during recent health class.
A New RPS K-8 Tutoring Program
The RPS K-8 Tutoring Program, funded by ESSR funds, launched last week. The program's purpose is to support students identified as needing additional support outside of the school day in the areas of reading and mathematics. The program will be implemented across several sessions with different academic focus areas and grade levels. Parents of students who meet the criteria for the upcoming session have been and will continue to be notified. This program does not replace the valuable extra help, differentiated instruction and MTSS instruction students already receive from RPS teachers as needed during the school day. This program will look different than homework help as it is meant to offer targeted academic support for invited students in specific need areas in a small group setting.
RULER Inspires and Informs Ridgebury Students and Staff
Ridgebury Elementary principal Mary Scalise shared this photo of the faculty and staff RULER charter, which pictures the RES mascot Rex under a tree that identifies how members of the school want to feel while at work. Principal Scalise writes, "The Charter, brought to life by Kerry Williams and Kara Shepard, is designed to build and sustain a positive climate. It represents agreed-upon norms for how all staff members want to feel, as well as what needs to happen or change for those feelings to be consistently present. At RES, we want to feel optimistic, secure, valued, supported and inspired."
Principal Scalise reports that this week's faculty meeting included an interactive RULER activity that went beyond the colors of the mood meter (photo) to help students (and staff) identify their emotions. RULER stands for Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating emotions, and is part of many tools RPS teachers use to help teach students (and themselves) to understand and regulate their social and emotional behavior.
R: Where are you on the Mood Meter?
U: What is causing you to feel this way?
L: What word best describes your feeling?
E: How are you expressing this feeling?
R: How do you want to feel? What strategy will you use to stay or shift?
Teachers enjoyed a seasonal hot chocolate bar and baked treats that hopefully boosted their moods.
In the Classroom
RHS Wins FinTron Stock Market Grand Prize Challenge
Invest in RHS! Ridgefield High School business teacher Jesse Peterkin reports that his business students competed in the FinTron Stock Market Challenge at the University of Bridgeport on December 1. The challenge is an interactive, simulated stock market trading game, occurring in real-time and synched with the actual stock market where students are granted $100,000 in simulated cash to invest in stocks. Hundreds of students competed in the challenge from across the state. Ridgefield had 13 teams with a total of 46 students participating. A team from Ridgefield (photo above) won first place and took home a $4,000 grand prize! The grand prize winners were Caroline DelGuidice, Hudson Podielsky, Jack Johnstone, and Jay Caterina. Podielsky said, “It was such a great learning opportunity for students who want to learn more about the stock market, business, and investing.” To see a video about FinTron including interviews with RHS champions (4-minute mark), click here.
SRMS Math Builds Thinking Classroom
Scotts Ridge Middle School has been putting the ideas from the book Building Thinking Classrooms into practice, say SRMS math teachers Amanda Johnson and Merryl Polak. "There's a lot to it," explains Dr. Polack, "but one of the key components is encouraging group dynamics where students complete work at the vertical whiteboards grappling through problem-solving (large and small)."
Ms. Johnson explains that Building the Thinking Classroom comes from the work of Peter Liljedahl who aims to get students to think more deeply. "Students use vertical non-permanent surfaces to work through low-floor, high-ceiling type problems in randomly-selected groups of three," writes Johnson. The randomness of the grouping is important, according to Liljedahl, because it means that each member enters the lesson knowing they need to contribute. His website elaborates, "the use of frequent and visibly random groupings was shown to break down social barriers within the room, increase knowledge mobility, reduce stress, and increase enthusiasm for mathematics."
Computer Science Lesson Requires No Electricity
At first look, the Hour of Code Initiative at East Ridge Middle School doesn’t seem to have much to do with computers. Last Friday, Marit Sullivan’s eighth-grade math classes worked in pairs at tables in the Library Learning Commons with Turing Tumble kits that have no screens, plugs, or keyboards. ERMS Media Specialist Tanya Anderson explains that the Turing Tumble kits use marbles, levers, ramps, and gears to teach algorithms, which are sets of rules for computation that is at the heart of coding. Named for Alan Turing, the great British computer scientist and cryptographer, Turing Tumbles teach the principles of Computer Science. All ERMS students will “program” boards to complete a series of challenges that increase in difficulty. The challenges require marbles to follow a very specific route on the board consistently (an algorithm). Many students have taken Anderson up on her invitation to return during learning lab or recess to complete challenges. Individuals or teams that complete 30 challenges will win a prize. Scotts Ridge students will use the Turing Tumbles next month!
The HeARTS of RPS—Bravo for the Winter Concerts!
Across the district, RPS musicians have delighted audiences with holiday sounds. From fourth graders plucking out their first notes on the violin to the virtuoso level of the RHS Orchestra, it's music to our ears. RHS's Wednesday concert marked the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook stragedy. Students voted to commemorate the S.H.E.S. shooting with three tunes around the theme of hope. What better way to respond to violence than to participate in collaborative work that bonds us together, encourages empathy, and helps us better understand each other? Please note that many schools do their winter concerts in January.
Photo: Scotland Elementary fourth-grade strings.
RHS Musician of the Month—Matthew Uy
The Ridgefield High School Music Department is proud to announce that senior violinist Matthew Uy is the December Student of the Month. Matt has become known as a dedicated musician and a natural leader at RHS. Please read the full press release written by student Jadyn Castagna about Matt's contributions and commitment to the RHS Music Department and beyond. Congratulations, Matt, and thank you for all your help with RPS Communications!
Beyond the Classroom
Edson Is Fall FCIAC Scholar-Athlete
Senior Liam Edson earned FCIAC Exemplary Scholar-Athlete recognition. The FCIAC website writes, "This member of the Ridgefield chapter of the National Honor Society with the cumulative weighted GPA of 4.84 has been a member of Ridgefield’s varsity cross country and track teams since his freshman year. Liam placed fifth at the 2022 FCIAC Cross Country Championships to earn his selection to the All-FCIAC Boys Cross Country First Team and he has been a key cog toward helping lead previous Ridgefield teams to one state championship, one FCIAC title, and a third place at the New England Championships. Last year he made the All-FCIAC Second Team as a junior. Liam was awarded the Cornell Club Book Award and the AP Scholar with Distinction award. He also volunteers to tutor peers."
Hergenrother Runs the Show to Be "Player" of the Year
Boys Cross-Country super-star Steven Hergenrother caps off his phenomenal fall season by earning CT Gametime Player of the Year! Congrats, Steven.
Goalie's Clutch Save Goes Viral
ESPN Sports reached out to RHS girls ice hockey goalie Ashley Collins this week to see if they could repost the video of her clutch save. Ashley had just started singing the National Anthem at last Wednesday's Nia Simpson Memorial Game when the mic cut out. Unfazed Ashley continued to sing unplugged, her beautiful voice rising to the Winter Garden Ice Arena rafters. Here is a clip of the video that caught the attention of ESPN and had over 660,000 views on TikTok just an hour after the goalie posted it. Grace under pressure, Ashley!
Student Wins Top Speaker at Debate Tournament
During Saturday’s Connecticut Debate Association (CDA) Online Tournament, RHS students competed in four (1-hour, 15-minute) rounds of debate against teams from other Connecticut schools as they argued whether or not the college admissions process should be based on objectively measured student performance. Debate team advisor Adam Horvath reports that RHS won four rounds of debate and the team of James Cox-Donovan & Gabriel Uceda-Sosa earned fifth place in the varsity division. Gabriel earned a trophy for being the tournament's top speaker out of 94 participating varsity debaters. The Novice team of Sebastien Bernard & Arnav Bose had one win. Congrats to all!
RHS Gift Card Drive—Deadline Extended to 12/20
The deadline for the RHS Annual Gift Card Drive is extended to December 20! Last week, RHS student advisories received the task of creating an advertisement for the Annual Gift Card Drive as part of a school-wide competition. Last year's RHS Gift Card Drive raised over $3500 for local families and the hope is to do the same this year. RHS Student Life Office coordinator Eileen Stewart reports that it was a hard decision but ultimately chose Dr. Krystina Palladino's 12th grade advisory who came up with the image above that echoes the theme of Ridgefield Imagines.
Sock It to 'Em, ERMS!
The East Ridge Student Council's Sock Drive was an unmitigated success! The group collected almost 1000 pairs of new socks for the Dorothy Day Hospitality House in Danbury, which is the intake hub for the regional homeless center. ERMS Student Council advisor Maureen Tyra reports Dorothy Day was "thrilled to have them." Thank you!
This Week in Photos
GOGH Big Or Go Home?!
Farmingville Elementary art teacher Rachael Penney took the FES door contest to the next level with her entry "Let it snow, let it snow, let it GOGH!" Ms. Penney, we see your matching "Starry Night" tights and dress. Way to Gogh big!
RPS Middle Schools Are No Place for Hate
There is brightness around every RPS corner...a recent visitor to East Ridge stumbled on this vibrant mural made by students with teacher Meghan Mulvehill during a summer bridge program session.
Scotts Ridge is at work on their own No Place for Hate board, created by the talented eighth-grader Mary Green. The SRMS community is answering the question, "How do I want to feel in a No Place for Hate school?" by writing their answers on gingerbread men. Many express wanting to feel valued, safe, happy, respected, included, inspired, accomplished, and fearless.
The Scotts Ridge LLC top 5 Books and Readers of December are:
Some Veterans Park Elementary cuties and beauties....
Barlow Mountain Elementary angels!
Branchville Elementary kindergarteners practice writing true stories!