Words To The Wise

May/June Issue

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Principals Message

As the 2015-2016 school year comes to a close, preparations for the 2016-2017 school year have begun. Enrollment at Westowne Elementary is projected to be 579 students for the 2016-2017 school year, twenty students lower than the current enrollment. Westowne will lose one kindergarten classroom, dropping from six to five rooms, based on BCPS projections. Staffing allocations will remain the same. Therefore, Westowne will have five kindergarten classrooms, four first grade classrooms, and four second grade classrooms. There will be three third grade classrooms, four fourth grade classrooms, and three fifth grade classrooms. Westowne special area staff allocations will increase slightly in instrumental music by an additional half day and we will replace the character education special lead by Ms. Stine with a second full-time physical education teacher, to be hired. All pre-kindergarten and pre-school classrooms will remain the same.

The end of the school year is always bittersweet as we say goodbye to those teachers that choose to retire and/or move on to new positions and/or endeavors. With that said, we say congratulations to Ms. Brigid Claffy on her retirement. Furthermore, we wish Ms. Kathy Mannion, Ms. Abby Buecker, Ms. Victoria Myers, and Ms. Jennifer Stine the best of luck in their future endeavors. They have been an important part of the Westowne school community and will be missed.

The 2016-2017 school year looks bright as we move into a new school, but that will not be the only changes noticed around the building. We will also see some new faces on the faculty and some changes among grade level teachers. We will welcome Ms. Katherine Kessinger, reading specialist and Ms. Kathleen Breeden, special education teacher, to the WES community. We will also be hiring a second full-time physical education teacher, CLSK teacher, and grade 5 teacher. As soon as these positions are filled, we will let everyone know. Please help us out and make our new staff members feel welcome in their new positions.

In addition to our new staff members, you will also notice some changes among grade level teams. Ms. Randi Singer will join the grade one team and Ms. Abby Murphy and Ms. Liz Getsinger will join the grade two team. Mr. Mark McCusker and MS. Erin Oster will join the grade four team. Any additional moves will be announced as they occur.

It will be very important to take a close look at the fourth quarter report card as their 2016-2017 teacher placement will be noted. Fourth quarter report cards will come home on the last full day of school for Westowne students, June 13th. Students will participate in a “Flying Up” day on June 13th to meet their new teacher. It is important to remember though, that classroom placement may change over the summer, based on new enrollments. Students and parents will also have a second opportunity to meet teachers during “Sneak a Peek at your Seat” evening in August. This short classroom visit will be held prior to an open house and will allow for students to bring in school supplies, see their classroom, and meet their teacher. More information will follow about the “Sneak a Peek at your Seat” evening, open house, and classroom placement in the Westowne Elementary summer mailing.

Thanks a bunch to the PTA and all of our families who made Teacher Appreciation Week such a special occasion for the faculty and staff. Moreover, an early thanks to all parent volunteers who will assist with Field Day and grade level picnics. We have a great school community!

Have an enjoyable and safe summer vacation!

Construction Updates

Construction continues to move forward and on time with the new building. The roof should be completed by the end of May. Preparations for sidewalks has begun. Ceiling tiles and electrical fixtures are in process. Final painting is almost finished and the installation of floor tiles is about to begin. Flooring in all bathrooms and kitchen are complete. All windows have been placed and the installation of outside doors has begun. Ordering materials/supplies and furniture for the new WES is ongoing. Demolition plans for the current building are set and will begin June 20th. It is certainly an exciting and busy time at Westowne.

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Nurse's Nook

We are coming down the home stretch with the 2015-2016 school year!! Now is the time!!! If you’re child has come home wearing some of the nurse’s clothing, please, wash and return the clothing to the nurse ASAP. If your child is in PS, PK, or, K, please send in a weather appropriate change of clothes for accidents, spills, etc. to be kept in his/her classroom until the end of the school year. The clothes will be sent home with your child on the last day of school.

Please, send your child to school with a water bottle every day. Proper hydration is so important every day. Proper hydration helps keep those headaches and stomachaches away. A good breakfast is a “smart start” to the day!

If your child did not pass the vision/hearing screening, two letters and screening reports have been sent home… one on 3/18/16, and, the other on 5/3/16. If you received a failure notice, please schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist or audiologist ASAP for a full vision or hearing examination. Take the failure letter with you to the appointment so that the practitioner can complete the form at the visit. Please return all completed hearing/vision screening forms to the school nurse ASAP.

Parents of 5th graders: In the next few weeks, you will be receiving an envelope in the mail from the school nurse. The envelope will have a letter, a health inventory (physical form), a dental form, and an envelope addressed to the middle school that your child will be attending next school year. Please schedule a physical for your child over the Summer if he/she hasn’t had one this calendar year. Your child will need additional immunizations for middle school; please discuss this with your child’s pediatrician. All completed paperwork can be mailed directly to the middle school in the enclosed envelope. If you have any questions, please call me, 410-869-0023 or email me,


Kids Helping Hopkins

Last year, our “Pillowcases for Patients” initiative was a huge success. We were able to donate over 200 pillowcases to brighten the day of many pediatric patients at The Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. During the month of May, we will again be collecting new, colorful, child-friendly pillowcases as well as child friendly band aids for the pediatric patients at Hopkins. These items are not in the hospital’s budget, but are little ways that we can help spread a little Westowne love to children who are sick or undergoing surgery or treatment of some type.

If you would like to participate, please bring in your new pillowcases or boxes of band aids and drop them in the box in the lobby labeled "Kids Helping Hopkins." Please contact Mrs. Ritzes with questions.

The Kids Helping Hopkins program gives students “ the opportunity to help others without personal gain and to develop life-long values” which include but are not limited to “compassion, respect for others and good citizenship”. Please visit the Kids Helping Hopkins website:


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Counseling Corner

Spring has sprung and the sunshine feels so nice. Encourage your family to get outside and embrace the warmer weather. Go for walks, play games; get some good exercise! Our kids love video games and TV programs but now let’s get them out using their imagination and interacting with friends and neighbors. Let their minds take them on an adventure that no video game can. This falls in line with our May Character trait: Cooperation/ Sportsmanship

Students are learning that you can accomplish more by working together than working alone. All classrooms use cooperative group seating arrangements so that students are able to collaborate on daily assignments and projects. Not only does this type of collaboration help students academically, but it also helps them socially. Students learn how to work with people from different backgrounds and they develop respect for each other’s individual differences. And when it comes to learning or playing with others, our students need to show good sportsmanship, give praise to others when deserved and let others praise you on your accomplishments.

PARCC Testing Season

May is PARCC season and with that said we wanted to provide this video that speaks to how our bodies can control/speak to our minds. These very simplistic body positions (power posing), that are evidence based, can help our students increase their confidence and reduce their stress levels. We encourage you to introduce these postures to your children and have them do these positions before starting the PARCC tests. The video runs about 20 minutes but it is full of great information, studies and techniques that can help not only our students entering testing season but for us all when entering stressful situations.


Enjoy and we hope you all have your students get in these poses before test time!!

Is Your Child on Facebook or Other Social Media Outlets?

In talking to students recently, we have been surprised by the number of students, especially in the upper grades, who mention having a Facebook account or other social media profiles. We are constantly amazed at how computer savvy these kids are, especially when we think back on my own pre-computer elementary school days!

While Facebook and other social media outlets are a neat program to use and a great way to keep up with friends in town and around the world, it also comes with its own set of problems. Anything that kids can say in person can also be said online, but when communication is typed, the words lose tone of voice and context. This can lead to some major miscommunication.

Bullying is also a big problem on Social Media. Kids can say some very mean-spirited things to each other online! If you decide that your child is mature enough to handle having a Facebook account or other social media accounts, here are some things to keep in mind:

· Social networking sites like Facebook typically require users to be 13 years old. If your child is younger than 13 and you allow him or her to join Facebook, keep in mind that he may be interacting with some much older kids!

· Sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snap Chat offer an opportunity to put a lot of personal information on the Internet for the world to see. If your child has a Facebook account, make sure you have helped her to set privacy settings that keep strangers from viewing personal information. You should also talk to your child about only being “friends” with people she actually knows.

· Talk to your child about what you think is appropriate for him to say online. Make sure he understands there could be legal consequences if he chooses to use a social networking site to be mean to another child.

· Make sure your child understands that passwords are private. You would not want your child to get in trouble for something one of his friends said when he was logged into Facebook under your child’s account.

· If you decide you do not want your child joining Facebook or other social media sites, keep in mind that her friends might have accounts. Make sure she knows what your expectations are if she is at someone else’s house and people are using Facebook. Would you be ok with her looking at that website under her friend’s account?

Resources for Parents

Students continue to learn in our counseling lessons about bullying and mistreatment of others. We continue to work with our students teaching them to use their ‘I Messages’ and ignore or walk away from classmates that are treating them poorly. We have been impressed with not only the students using these tools themselves but also seeing how classmates help their friends to walk away and using breathing techniques to calm down. Here are a few recommended websites for parents to get more information about helping kids with bullying:






Clean Green 15 WES Victory!

Thank you to everyone for helping us win first place for Clean Green 15 at the elementary school level! Miss Getsinger’s fourth grade class publicized the event by making posters that they hung around the school building. They also made a “Bag Center” where teachers and students could find used plastic bags to gather trash. Every grade level picked up refuse in our schoolyard for their assigned week. They also cleaned up a special area for Earth Day. Special thanks to Mrs. Jang for coordinating that. Sarah Fondelier and Matthew Riesner coordinated a huge steam clean up in the Herbert Run Area with Pataspco Heritage where we pulled over 3,000 pounds of trash out of the watershed. China Williams and Crystal Shelley also organized a local clean up in Catonsville where trash from an apartment complex was piling up. Parents and teachers used social media to get everyone in our community involved and it worked! Everyone pulled together to help us clean up our neighborhood and win a $2,000 grant to further our mission to help all students at Westowne Elementary become stewards of the Earth.
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Two BCPS elementary schools take $3,000 grand prizes in county’s 2016 Clean Green 15 program

TOWSON, MD – That old saying – the one about “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” – was never more appropriate than at Reisterstown Elementary School at the third Team BCPS Clean Green 15 Litter Challenge award ceremony on May 11.

Reisterstown and Grange elementary schools walked away with dual $3,000 grand prize grants in this year’s Clean Green awards event, the result of both schools excelling in the countywide anti-litter program.

Led by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools Executive Director Debbie Phelps, the ceremony honored Reisterstown for marshalling the most volunteers to help clean up the school and community during the year – 1,350 – while Grange was cited for collecting the most trash – 23,174 pounds since last fall.

“We’re delighted to see the enthusiasm for the Clean Green 15 Litter Challenge growing,” Kamenetz said, “with 25 percent more clean-ups logged this year than last and 67 percent more volunteers recorded.”

Countywide, 28 schools or their community partners conducted 406 clean-ups of 15 minutes or more with 5,602 volunteer helpers.

During this week’s awards ceremony, Reisterstown’s students cheered as their winning clean-up activities were celebrated by County Executive Kamenetz, BCPS Assistant Superintendents Dr. Monique Wheatley-Phillip and Heidi Miller, County Council Chair Vicki Almond, and a variety of dignitaries and sponsors.

First and second places in the challenge took home grants of $2,000 and $1,500 respectively, while another six “honorable mention” schools received iPads. On the elementary school level, Westowne Elementary took first place followed by last year’s grand prize winner, Bear Creek Elementary, in second place. For middle schools, Holabird and Dundalk middle schools took first and second, respectively. And among high schools, Western School of Technology was the first place award winner, followed by Sparrows Point High School.

Schools winning iPads were Colgate, Chapel Hill, Vincent Farm, and Stoneleigh elementary schools, Stemmers Run Middle, and Catonsville High School.

All of the cash grants from the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools will go toward funding school-based instructional projects emphasizing the theme of environmental literacy.

In addition, county officials also pledged to donate a tree for future planting to each school that participated in this year’s Clean Green campaign.

The collaborative program by the Office of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools, the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability, and BCPS was sponsored by BGE, Maryland Environmental Service, and Tradepoint Atlantic.

The 2017 Team BCPS Clean Green 15 Litter Challenge began May 1, 2016, and will run through April 30, 2017. For more information or to record a clean-up activity, go to


To see photographs from the awards ceremony, visit the BCPS Flickr website:


2016 Clean Green 15 Litter Challenge


Congratulations to Ms. Kim's Kindergarten class and Ms. Getsinger's 4th grade class for having excellent cafeteria behavior! Keep up the good work
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We had a great turn out for Walk & Bike to School Day. Participating students entered to win a gift bag donated by The HUB/C'ville Bikes. Thanks to the HUB/C'Ville Bikes for supporting Westowne. And congratulations to Joshua from Ms. Witz's class!

STEM fair

Westowne students stole the show at the Annual Baltimore County STEM Fair! Fifth Grader Reeve Nyland won first place and the Technology Award for her project, “How strong is your WiFi?”. Fourth Grader Olivia Heredia won second place for her project, “How does the amount of beet juice in a brine solution affect how much ice melts?” Both students used inventive ways to solve real world problems and were recognized for their diligence and effectiveness in using the scientific method to conduct their investigations. Great job owlets! Mr. Willig and Mrs. Bill supported their students by attending and judging at the county fair. Miss Getsinger assisted in the process as the STEM Fair coordinator.

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If your child will NOT be attending Westowne Elementary next year 2016-17 please notify Ms. Massie in the office at 410-8870854/6

as soon as possible.


Fifth grade parents please send in your residency information to the front office as soon as possible so we can forward it to the middle school. Please contact the office immediately if:

*Your child is going to attend a private or parochial school.

*You plan to move this summer, thus your child’s zoned middle school will change.

Stay Tuned

Starting June 20 the office will be relocating to Westchester Elementary, 2300 Old Frederick Rd., Baltimore 21228. We can be reached at 410-887-0854 until August 15 at which time the number will be changed to 443-809-0854. Summer office hours at Westchester are as follows:

Summer Hours: 8:00-3:30

Registration Hours: 9:00-2:00

Due to the new construction things will be changing throughout the summer please continue to check our FB, Twitter, IG and the newsletter for updates. Thank you for your patience throughout this process.


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