Star Tracks Newsletter

Booth Free School, October 2020

A Note From the Principal:

Dear Parents/Guardians,

The students have settled in and I am pleased to let everyone know that our school community is a happy and joyful one! In an effort to continue to strengthen our school community, our school continues to use the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching and learning to foster safe, challenging, and joyful classrooms and school. Morning Meeting, one of the practices of Responsive Classroom, takes place each morning in every classroom. Teachers and students crave a certain amount of predictability and routine in the school day, especially at the start. The format of Morning Meeting is predictable, but there is plenty of room for variation and change. Meetings reflect the style of individual teachers and groups, sets the tone for respectful learning and establishes a climate of trust. It also motivates students by addressing two human needs: the need to feel a sense of significance and belonging and the need to have fun. It merges social, emotional, and intellectual learning.

Morning Meeting is made up of four, sequential components that intentionally provide opportunities for children to practice the skills of greeting, listening and responding, group problem solving, and noticing and anticipating. The daily practice of these four components are developed through the following activities: a greeting such as an air high five, student or teacher sharing of some news of interest or ideas, group activity through active participation and lastly a a daily message. Morning Meeting is so powerful in such a productive way.

In addition to the classroom morning ritual, students and teachers have developed their classroom rules and identified students’ hopes and dreams for the year. These two important exercises help to build an understanding of expectations and to set a tone for the classroom and the year.

Now that we have completed the first month of school, teachers have had the opportunity to get to know their students on a personal level as well as on an academic level. Teachers have begun to assess their students’ performance level to ensure instruction meets their need. Our beginning year assessments in the areas of language arts and mathematics should all be completed by the first two weeks of October. In addition to the assessments given, teachers have been working with the students closely and are using observation to further gain understanding of how each child performs. This information is valuable.

Our Virtual Open House was recently held and it was a success. The staff and I thank the families that attended. If you were unable to attend, please contact your child’s teacher for a recording of the event. I applaud my staff for their efforts in showcasing their classrooms and sharing of important information.

Lastly, I thank all parents and guardians for your compliance with all procedures. Your cooperation and support are greatly appreciated and recognized. I also thank our PTO for their support with playground supplies for our students. Each child has his/her own bag filled with individual play items. They are loving their recess time!


Cathy Colella


Dates to Remember for October

10/5 PTO Lyman Pie Orders Due

10/9 Professional Development-School Closed

10/12 Columbus Day-School Closed

10/15 School Photos

10/21 PTO Meeting, 6:30 PM

10/21-23 Virtual Parent-Teacher Conferences/12:45 Dismissal for Students

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School Arrival Reminder!

In person drop off: A parent who wishes to drop off their student in person is asked to park across the street at the Senior Center and walk the student to the front door and a staff member will greet and receive them. The parent is asked to remain until the temperature check is completed. The student is then directed to the classroom.

Car drop off: A parent who wishes to drop off only without walking their student to the door can do so no earlier than 8:50 a.m. following the bus drop off. The student must exit the passenger side of the car at the front door and will be greeted by a staff member. Parents are asked to remain in the vehicle and not to leave until the student is visually assessed for health and a temperature check has been completed. The student will be directed to their classroom.

Please allow adequate time in your morning routine to accommodate for these necessary safety measures.

Visit Our Website!

Our Region 12 District web address is Once you are at the district’s home page you can visit Booth Free School’s website or you can go there directly at this address: The staff will be adding information regularly. Please use it as an additional resource for information gathering.

What school looks like during a pandemic....

Grade 1 Writing Stories

Our First Grade class is starting the year by writing small moment stories. We are doing a beautiful job of picking a favorite memory, planning out how our story will go and letting our pencils fly down the page! One of our favorite things to do after we write is share our story with the class. At the end of our writing lessons, we go outside and get the chance to show off our creative illustrations and stories. There may be some future famous authors in this bunch!

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Grade 3 Superheroes!

Mrs. Russell has welcomed six superheroes to her class this year. While they are a small group, they have been reminded that dynamite comes in small packages. They plan to use their superhero talents to conquer the unusual challenges in our world and be super learners this year. Students created a list of Class Rules, which include “Be Safe” and “Be Kind”. They are off to an amazing start!

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Grade 5 and the Great Road Trip Project!

5th grade has been working hard to complete our Great Road Trip project. The Great Road Trip project is an interdisciplinary assignment in which students imagined they were going on a great road trip with their buddies. Students were required to plan a visit to a destination in five different regions of the U.S. Students were required to calculate the mileage from destination to destination, as well as a lodging, attraction, and souvenir budget at each stop. Also, students researched their different destinations to create a slideshow to present and inform other students of the region’s culture, landmarks, ecosystem, as well as other fun facts. We all had a great time learning more about our country and all that it takes to plan a great trip.

Notes and News from the Nurse.....

Happy Autumn! We are delighted to see our students back together again! The children are doing an awesome job with wearing their masks, washing their hands, and social distancing. The adjustment to these things throughout the school day has been smooth. Here are some pointers to assist in discussions and plans with mask wearing and care:

  • The mask should fit snugly over their nose and mouth so they don’t have to keep adjusting it throughout the day.

  • If your child needs to change the mask for any reason, we do have an emergency supply at school.

  • Your child must keep their mask on throughout their bus ride to and from school.

  • Remember to wash the mask daily as they do get soiled after a full day of wearing. If you are choosing to use disposable masks, they can be stored in a brown paper bag for 24 hours and re-used up to four weeks.

  • There are many choices and styles of masks available on the internet and patterns for those that enjoy sewing. Have fun with your child choosing fabrics that inspire them.

  • A test for mask efficiency is whether a candle can be blown out through the mask.

Please let us know if you need any help with any of these new adjustments with your child. Also, here is a video from The National Association of School Nurses on masks: Wearing a Cloth Face Covering.

Booth Free School PTO

Parents are our partners in the important job of educating all our children. I urge you to attend and support the PTO, become a member, volunteer, and take part in helping your child to grow academically. PTO meetings will be held virtually the third Wednesday each month at 6:30 p.m. The 2020-2021 scheduled PTO meetings are as follows: October 21, November 18, December 16, January 20, February 17, March 17, April 21, and May 19.. We hope you plan to attend!

See you at our next meeting, ZOOM PTO Meeting on October 21 at 6:30 p.m.

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distance learning families

Thank you to all our Distance Learning Families for supporting our students at home. Your commitment to daily lessons and practice work is helping your child learn and progress through a virtual platform.

The Parent Guide to Distance Learning is a publication developed by the Center for Public Research and Leadership in conjunction with Columbia University to serve as a helpful tool for families engaging in the distance learning option. The guide is rich with information and resources such as tips for setting routines and work stations, communicating with your child's teacher, and links to learn more about Google Classroom and other learning platforms.

Your careful attention to distance learning and the day to day learning experiences is very much appreciated. Please reach out to your child's teacher with any questions or concerns.

the new school lunch program

As you all know, the elementary schools have become sponsor sites of the National School Lunch Program. Students started receiving bagged lunches on September 21, 2020. Students are enjoying them and it seems to be a big hit! Lunch menus are published the week prior and can be found at The orders must be in by Thursday of each week for the following week. For families that only want milk can order it using Nutrislice on the “milk only” section of the daily menu. Payment for milk should be made online at Just a reminder, Region 12 has obtained government waivers made available during COVID-19 Pandemic that allows us to provide lunch for all students free of charge. These waivers will remain in place until December 31, 2020. Until the expiration of the waiver, the only task that families must complete is to order lunch for your child.

The New "Normal" at Booth Free School....

Virtual Parent Conferences, October 21, 22 and 23!

You will soon be invited to one of the most important occasions of the school year – a parent-teacher conference. This conference gives you an opportunity to meet with your child’s teacher virtually to discuss your child’s progress and to bring up any concerns or issues you may have. More importantly, you can talk about ways to work together to make this year as rewarding as it can be for your child.

You will receive a note from your child’s teacher regarding the scheduling of the conference. If for any reason you have difficulty making the scheduled appointment, we will try our best to make arrangements for a conference convenient to your schedule.

Here are some helpful tips for a successful conference with your child’s teacher:

Before the conference, talk with your child about school: likes, dislikes, and feelings. Write down your concerns: academic progress, problems at home, behavior, peer relations, and questions about the teacher’s discipline plan and/or homework policy.

During the conference discuss the concerns you have written down. Listen carefully to everything the teacher says and take notes for future reference. If you do not understand something, ask to have it explained. Ask for suggestions for things you can do at home to help your child. Assure the teacher of your continued support.

After the conference, talk with your child about the conference. Share any positive comments the teacher made about him or her and let your child know you are proud. Follow up with any suggestions you and the teacher agreed upon. Be sure to call the teacher any time you have a question or concern.

This year, make the parent-teacher conference time a worthwhile event for you as well as for your child. Together we can help your child to be a confident and successful student.


Library Happenings with Ms. Gordon!

Welcome Back everyone! I am delighted to be back working in Booth Free School’s magnificent library and even happier to be able to deliver books to all Booth Free Star Students!

Despite some challenges, changes and precautions, students still have access to their mighty tiny library. By now, all families should have received instructions from me on how to explore and reserve books from the school library. For a refresher or if you haven’t received instructions click on the following link:

I have been hard at work delivering books to in person students every morning and gathering books and materials for our distance learners to pick up each week. As always I am dedicated to ensuring that every student continues to have access to reading material that will help them nourish a life-long love of reading. I encourage all students and parents to reach out with requests, questions and suggestions.

In addition to navigating our new socially distanced book borrowing system, I have the privilege of visiting each class at least once a week. And since the students are now free to reserve books to borrow anytime they are free to access the online library catalogue, we have had the chance to explore more library topics, delve deeper into our reading and even play games relevant to what we are reading.

In Kindly Kindergarten we have read several wonderful books such as the The Book About Nothing by Mike Bender, The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, Mr. Wiggles Book by Paula Craig and Carol Thompson, This Book is Rwd by Beck and Matt Stanton and Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins. Also, a huge shoutout to our newest Booth Free Stars for 100% return of their practice library book! Way to Go! Next Month we will continue to explore some halloween/fall themed silly books and in anticipation of Election day, some books about what it means to be a good citizen.

Sadly, due to the holiday I only had the privilege of visiting fantastic First grade 3 times but nevertheless that super bright class blew me away by remembering everything I had taught them about books, authors and illustrators! We read three delightful books last month, What did you Do Today by Toby Forward, Hot Hot Hot by Neal Layton and My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook. Next month we will explore books about elections and friendship.

Sensational Second grade spent their first month of library flexing their big kid computer skills, learning how to independently navigate the library site, learning about genres, exploring the power of search words and learning to recognize just right books to read based on the information they are given in OPAC. I am proud to announce that all the second graders have been able to independently search for and reserve books! Next month we will read 2 more picture books before we transition into our first chapter book!

Terrific Third graders began exploring different types of puzzles such as crosswords, cryptograms, rebuses, jumbles and searches while reading the great mystery book, The Potato Chip Puzzles by Eric Berlin. I am so impressed by third graders' ability to think out of the box! I can’t wait to see their puzzle solving skills evolve as we delve further into the book next month!

Fabulous Fourth graders figured out the reserve system in record time and have been borrowing (and returning) books like pros! We have begun a brand new book, The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. In this wonderful mystery students are challenged to solve puzzles and think critically.

And last but not least, the flourishing Fifth graders, have set the bar, reserving new books, exploring different genres and ferociously reading a plethora of books. In just one month we doubled the amount of progress we made in our library read aloud, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. The students and I look forward to reading the exciting conclusion over the next several weeks.

Finally, if you haven’t already, please fill out the summer reading form. We are aiming for another year of 100% participation!

Best Wishes & Happy Reading,

Ms. Patricia Gordon

Library/Media Clerk (because for some reason Library Wizard is not a recognized position)

Travel and Parking Safety

As the opening of school is upon us, I am asking you to help keep our students safe. Please remember that it is a state law for all vehicles to STOP whenever a school bus has its red SOS lights activated. When the SOS lights are flashing, cars cannot pass the school bus. This means when picking up or dropping off students at their residence and even in the school parking lot. Violators are subject to a fine for each bus that a car passes.

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Notification Service:

The Regional School District #12 Schools have a Notification Service to enhance parental communications. This service will allow us to send a voice message to ALL of our students’ parents on ALL of their contact numbers within minutes, if an emergency occurs at a school. The notification service will also assist the schools in reducing the recourses needed to pass along key information regarding school events or reminders.

The district will be utilizing this service for :

  • Emergency Notification
  • Inclement weather - early dismissals due to inclement weather
  • Rumor Control
  • Early-Release Reminders

Your child’s school may be utilizing this service for:

  • Attendance
  • Report Card Reminders
  • Grade level information i.e. field trip reminders
  • Notification of Open House/Parent Teacher Conferences/Parent Visitation Day
  • Art Shows and Concerts

The ability to deliver a message is only as successful as the contact information we have for our families, so please make certain we have the most up-to-date direct dial numbers. If this information changes, please let your child’s school know immediately.


  1. The service will leave a message on your voicemail or answering machine.
  2. If you have such things as Telemarketer Zapper or Privacy Director on your telephone lines, you may not receive the call.
  3. The service does NOT call extensions. If you have a direct dial number at work, you should provide your child’s school with the direct dial number not a main number plus an extension.

Good Character Traits:

(Referenced in Board of Education Policy #0210.3)

Region 12 is dedicated to strengthening the character of our students by encouraging a consistent set of ethical values that direct and guide behavioral choices. These universal values, which transcend political, religious, cultural, and the Golden Rule encompasses economic differences, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Therefore, good Character Traits are essential to the learning process. We work throughout the year in developing the following:

  1. Trustworthiness
  2. Respect
  3. Responsibility
  4. Fairness
  5. Caring
  6. Citizenship

Good conduct is synonymous with good citizenship. Students are expected to exercise good citizenship at all times while in school, attending school-related activities and after school activities conducted at the school. This includes showing respect for the rights of others and regard for personal and school property. Students should strive to contribute to the climate of the school by being courteous and well mannered.

Booth Free School also utilizes The Second Step Program to promote social skills necessary to be a caring community. Additionally, grades three through five have access to a second program, Steps to Respect when needed.

It is our hope that the power and influence of the school-family partnership will provide consistent messages to our students regarding the development of positive student behaviors and thus, improve student learning.

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