Welcome Piñon Families!
Principal's Back to School Newsletter July 31, 2023
Dear Pinon Families,
Jennifer Kieltyka, Assistant Principal
Ivanna Austell, Principal
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If you haven’t already completed registration for the 2023-2024 school year, please go to https://www.laschools.net/registration and complete this process as soon as possible. Middle and high school students who completed course selection are also required to complete registration, as this is a different process than course selection. We cannot issue a schedule or assign a student to a teacher unless you have completed registration.
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Please remember to notify the Attendance Clerk at your school site when your student is going to be late, absent or leave early. You may email a copy of doctor/dentist notes. Please include child’s first and last name, reason for late, absent, leaving early and date.
We are happy to work with each family individually regarding absences but we strongly urge you to avoid taking vacations or extended weekends during school days. We have three long breaks during the year and these are the best times to travel in order to avoid missing school and instruction.
Pinon Elementary: 505-663-2681 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a link to the 2023-24 School Calendar so you can plan the year ahead.
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Meet Our Staff
Ivanna Austell - Principal
Jennifer Kieltyka - Asst. Principal & Contact
Tina Herman, Secretary and Kim Carr, Office Clerk
Darel Madrid - Site Technologist
Yvette Byers - Guidance Counselor
Nanci Mon & Grace Lopez - Social Behavior Support Specialist
Teri Kerstiens - Nurse
Preschool - Kirstie Ahern - 3Y, Donica Fortin - 4Y, RaeAnn Harp - 4Y
Kindergarten - Amanda Ferran, Alexis Rodriguez
First Grade - Alene Bennett, Naomi Sanchez, Melissa Youssef
Second Grade - Laura Herman, Valerie Waterbury
Third Grade - Britton Donharl, Kristen Martines
Fourth Grade - David Krell, Jennifer Naes
Fifth Grade - Tera Deines, Bonnie James
Sixth Grade - Lana Martin, Jigyasa Shukla
AMPLE (Specials) Teachers
Stephanie Rittner - Art
Nicholas Montoya-Valdez - Music
Haley Gayner - P.E.
Janine Zambo - Math Lab
Tia Rhodehouse - Library
Zane Meek - Band
Jeremy Bleich - Orchestra
Special Education & Related Services
Michelle Jensen & Katie Graham - SLP
Adeline Louis - Special Education
Hayley Schake - Special Education
Jenae Schultz - Special Education ILP
Jodi Hughes - Reading Intervention Specialist
Courtney Smith & Cristin Haake - GATE
Ellen Middleditch - EL
Betsy Stauffer - OT
Beth Ackermann - PT Services
Schedule for Week 1
Monday August 7th
Monday, August 7 (and Tuesday, August 8) are days that are set aside for activities including things like:
- providing time for students to meet teachers, and pick up schedules and supplies;
- for preschool teachers to meet with families;
- for new parents to the district to attend orientation;
- for schools to post class lists, etc.
Unless you hear specifically from the school, our first Piñon event is Meet the Teacher Day on Tuesday August 8th.
LAPS New Family Orientation
If you are new to the district and would like to meet the upper administration and hear an overview of Los Alamos Public Schools, please attend this meeting:
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Meet the Teacher (for students) and New Pinon Family Orientation (for parents) will follow immediately after class lists are posted, approximately 2:45. Meet the Teacher is an opportunity for students to drop off supplies and meet their teacher for the school year. New Family Orientation is an informal meeting for all families new to Pinon to meet the Principal, Assistant Principal, Guidance Counselor, and office personnel. This will be held in the gym.
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Wednesday August 9th
No Early Bird Club
No preschool today
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Thursday August 10th
Thursday is a full day of school, 8:30-3:30 with free breakfast and lunch provided.
Prekindergarten classes for 4-year olds start today.
Preschool for 3-year olds start today for the MORNING class: 8:30-11:30
No PM preschool today.
No Early Bird Club
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Friday August 11th
Friday is a full day of school, 8:30-3:30 with free breakfast and lunch provided.
Prekindergarten classes for 4-year olds meets today.
Preschool for 3-year olds start today for the AFTERNOON class (but in the morning): 8:30-11:30
No AM preschool today.
No Early Bird Club
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Piñon Daily Schedule
OFFICE: 7:45 AM - 3:45 PM 663-2680
24 HOUR Piñon ABSENCE LINE 663-2681
7:30am-8:15am --- Before School Activities - Early Bird Club (Breakfast offered to Early Birds)
8:15am-8:30am --- Breakfast Pick-Up
8:25am 1st bell --- All students report to classrooms for Move-It Time
8:30am 2nd Bell --- School begins
10:15-10:30 --- Morning Recess
11:45 to 12:30 --- PK-Kinder Lunch
12:00 to 12:45 --- 1st-6th Lunch (Sack lunch on Wednesday)
2:15-2:25 --- Afternoon Recess
3:30 pm --- Dismissal PK-6th grade (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday)
(12:00 pm Dismissal K-6th grade on Wednesdays)
Chartwells Meal Service
Free Breakfast and Lunch
NM Senate Bill 4 established the Healthy Hunger-Free Students Bill of Rights Act which ensures that all K-12 students have free-of-cost breakfasts and lunches beginning in the 2023-2024 school year.
Breakfast will be quick grab and go items such as granola bar, fruit, and milk. Breakfast will be available from 8:00-8:30. Lunch will be a hot lunch with full service in the cafeteria between 11:45-12:45.
Los Alamos Public Schools is pleased to partner with Chartwells Food Services to provide lunch at all school sites. We will be receiving more specific information soon.
Lunch Menus will post here:
Director of Dining Services
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LAPS provides bus service for all Los Alamos County elementary students who live at least 1 mile from the school, for middle school students who live 1.5 miles from the school, and for high school students who live 2 miles from the school. Please complete the 2023-2024 Student Bus Card.
When you have submitted the bus card(s) you will not receive a confirmation email. If you have any further questions or concerns, please email Keith Rosenbaum at email@example.com.
We are NOT able to provide transportation for students who live outside of Los Alamos County.
Parents of 3Y PRE K students should contact the Student Services Department at (505) 663-2208. Please complete the Special Ed Bus Card if your student's IEP team has determined that your student is eligible for transportation as a related service.
Early Bird Club
Starting Monday August 14th
School begins promptly at 8:30 a.m. While district policy allows for children to be on campus 15 minutes prior to the start of the school day (8:15 a.m.), we know the 8:30 a.m. start time creates logistical issues for some families. Piñon offers a Before School Activity program for students from 7:30AM - 8:15AM. This is a free service. If your student needs to participate in the Piñon Early Bird Club, please download the permission slip and turn it in to the office.
Your student may not attend the program without the permission slip.
Arriving and Dismissing from School
Student Drop Off/Pick Up Procedures
Enter the parking lot only from the east side near the kindergarten rooms. The first section along the curb is for bus parking only. Do not drop off or pick up students from behind the bus parking area.
Walking/Drop Off: Parents and families who walk to school (and/or pick up from school) should plan to say goodbye to students at the bicycle racks on either side of the parking lot. We do not allow parents to walk students to their classrooms.
Car Line: Continue to the front of the school, following the direction signs and cones, and move into the car lane near the curb, pulling forward as far as possible and parallel to the curb. Stay in your vehicle while your student exits on the right side of your car. To exit, continue forward up the lane, as each car pulls through, curving left to the exit on the west side of the parking lot and exit to the right only. Do not use the drop off lane if you are in a hurry
Green Zone: If you need to assist your child to exit the vehicle and/or unload items from the trunk, use the west side of the parking lot where you see the green curb. You may stop there temporarily but do not park for an extended time.
Parking Lot: You may also park your vehicle and carefully walk them to the orange-coned waiting area in front of the crosswalk. Say goodbye there and duty staff will cross your children onto campus.
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Parents of preschoolers will be contacted by the classroom teacher prior to the first week of school to schedule an introductory meeting.
3Y Students in the morning program will begin Aug. 10th 8:30-11:30
3Y Students in the afternoon program will begin Aug. 11th 8:30-11:30
4Y Students will begin Aug. 10th 8:30-3:30; Breakfast snacks, & lunch provided
Though our program is not part of the compulsory education action, we strongly encourage regular attendance during the school year. Three and four years need consistency and we do have structured curriculums, specific goals and objectives, and assessments for these age groups.
Our four-year old classes are specifically Prekindergarten, meaning they are preparing students for the greater demands they will experience the following year. Kindergarten is no longer what we think of from our own youth. Regular attendance and academic challenge are integral parts of the kindergarten program and preschool students are practicing for those expectations.
School Safety Plan
Should an emergency or disaster situation ever arise in our area while school is in session, we want you to be aware that the schools have made preparations to respond effectively to such situations. In fact, public schools in New Mexico are built to meet stringent construction standards, and they may be safer than your own home in the event of a disaster.
Should we have a major disaster during school hours, your student(s) will be cared for at this school. Los Alamos Public Schools have detailed emergency response plans, which have been formulated to respond to a major catastrophe. While the specific details of these plans cannot be made public, we will provide any information necessary for your emergency planning needs and peace of mind, in case of an emergency.
After you have thoughtfully reviewed this process, please sit with your child(ren) and help them to understand that it is necessary for them to follow the directions of any school personnel in times of an emergency drill or actual emergency situation. The safety of all depends on all personnel and students treating drills and emergency directions with serious respect.
In the case of a county-wide evacuation, which would include the schools, that evacuation would proceed in accordance with the protocols established in the Los Alamos County Emergency Operations Plan. Please access the County’s website for this county-wide evacuation plan.
Your cooperation is necessary in any emergency:
Do not telephone the school. You can receive updated information through an emergency communication system, provided by the school district and Los Alamos County. Telephone lines may be needed for emergency communication.
In the event of a serious emergency, students will be kept at their schools until they can be picked up by an identified, responsible adult who has been listed as such on a LAPS emergency card, which is required to be completed by parents/guardians at the beginning of each school year. Please be sure you consider the following criteria when you authorize another person to pick up your child at school:
S/He is 18 years of age or older.
S/He is usually home during the day.
S/He could walk to school, if necessary.
S/He is known to your child.
S/He is both aware and able to assume this responsibility.
During an extreme emergency, students will be released at designated reunion sites, to be identified by the Incident Commander . Please instruct your student to remain at the school until you or your designee arrives.
If electrical service is not affected, information will be relayed via LAPS to the radio and television broadcast media. In addition, information regarding day-to-day school operations will be available by accessing our website, or subscribing to our SchoolMessenger system. Please sign up.
In the event that any emergency takes place during the time that students expect to be transported to or from school:
If students are on the bus at the time, they will be kept on the bus, and the driver will ask for assistance through radio contact with the school and district personnel.
Any child who is home waiting for the bus will not be picked up and remains the responsibility of the parent or guardian.
In any situation, if the student’s bus does not arrive at the stop within fifteen (15) minutes, the student should return home.
In the event that an emergency occurs in the afternoon, the driver will make every attempt to continue delivering the students to their homes. Should road conditions prevent the driver from delivering students to their home or to school in the morning, the students will be delivered to the nearest district site, and that site’s personnel will communicate with home school personnel to inform them of the students’ whereabouts.
In case of a hazardous release event (i.e. chemical spill) near the school area, Shelter procedures will be implemented to provide “in place” protection. All students and staff will clear the fields, report to their rooms, and all efforts will be made to prevent outside air from entering the classrooms during the emergency. “Shelter-In-Place” signs will be placed in classroom windows or hung outside classroom doors during a drill or emergency. Students arriving at school during a Shelter drill or event should report to the school office or to a previously designated area at the school because classrooms will be inaccessible. When the dangerous incident has subsided, an “all clear” signal will be given.
An emergency drill will be conducted at least eight times during the school year. Pinon incorporates the Standard Response Protocol (SRP) in the Safe School Plan. The SRP is based on these five actions. Lockout, Lockdown, Evacuate, Shelter and Hold. In the event of an emergency, the action and appropriate direction will be called on the PA. The public address is repeated twice each time the public address is performed.
- SECURE - “Secure the Perimeter”
- LOCKDOWN - “Locks, Lights, Out of Sight”
- EVACUATE - “To the Announced Location”
- SHELTER - “For a Hazard Using a Safety Strategy
- HOLD - “In your classroom, Clear the halls.”
Piñon PTO Needs You!
Our PTO is in desperate need of new membership. Not only do we need new members and volunteers, we need board officers. Without an official PTO Board we cannot operate and our students will lose out on the many benefits which the PTO provides: classroom materials, special events, field trip funding, to name a few.
The current PTO board members have all served for the maximum 2 years in their positions. If we do not get new members, there will no longer be a Piñon PTO!! Our previous president, Jennifer McNeel, is willing to discuss the options and expectations of holding a position on the board. Please consider serving, even in a shared capacity.
Contact me if you have any questions about the Piñon PTO: firstname.lastname@example.org
Construction at Pinon
Construction has begun on the new school building, which we hope to move into around December 2024. I will be sending updates and photos home during the entire process.Today we had our groundbreaking ceremony and you will shortly see the news in the local media and Facebook.
Here is a RECENT ARTICLE regarding this amazing project!
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Here is a short list of upcoming events in August
Piñon's Guiding Principles
Piñon’s Vision Statement
All Piñon students will be Kind and Learn.
Piñon’s Mission Statement
Piñon Elementary provides the skills and values for student success now and in their future.
Piñon’s Core Values:
- Character: Piñon Elementary School teaches, models, and practices kindness, integrity, and resiliency.
- Community: Piñon Elementary School fosters a mindset of safety and respect in school and home communities.
- Commitment to Learning: Piñon Elementary School utilizes learning strategies that promote academic rigor and students' passion to learn.