December 9, 2022
Dear Families, Faculty, and Staff,
It is hard to believe that we are in the last month of the year! The month of December is filled with celebration and a spirit of joy that exceeds every other month of the year. While we do not highlight the national or local headlines in our update week to week, we are mindful that the month of December can be challenging for many families for a variety of reasons. I know that we recognize our daily gifts of health, safety, a warm home, nourishment, family, and friends. Let the generosity of the Ridgefield spirit spread to our neighbors, near and far.
The last Board of Education meeting of the calendar year is scheduled for Monday, December 12. You can expect a busy start to 2023 with the Superintendent's Proposed Budget being presented on January 9. As our more seasoned families know, the budget process begins in October and ends in May. We will be communicating a more detailed description of the budget process in the coming weeks.
Enjoy your weekend,
Susie Da Silva, Ed.D.
Quote of the Week
“Clear is kind.”
Photo above right: RHS Counselor Lori Bran created this tree out of college pennants. Best of luck to our RHS seniors as they send in their applications and receive news.
Board of Education Meeting This Monday
Save the Date: RHS Winter Concert—December 14, 7 PM
Mark your calendar for a wonderful night of music, featuring Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Concert Choir, Concert Orchestra, and Symphonic Orchestra. December 14 at 7 pm in the RHS Auditorium.
Do Not Fear Technology! Video on RPS Policies, Resources, and Lessons
RPS Director of Educational Technology Dr. Wes DeSantis and Technology Integrator Kim Moran got together this week to present a video about technology. They covered frequently asked questions including district Chromebook policy, helpful tips on how students can remember to charge devices, approved ways to customize a Chromebook, and keeping students responsible for devices. With concrete examples from classes, the duo discussed K-12 Digital Citizenship lessons, including password safety, social media protocols, digital citizenship, think before you post, identifying fake information, and other issues families can discuss at home. Dr. DeSantis shared powerful resources high school students will be able to access to build their digital resume and computer literacy. Please stream the video here.
Tiger Talk Ventures Beyond RPS to Talk About the Prospector Theater
In this week’s show, Dr. Wes DeSantis welcomes Melissa Ettere-Showah from the Prospector Theater here in Ridgefield. They discuss the amazing mission of the theater, how it impacts the local/broad community, and the opportunities that are offered to those who are differently-abled. Thanks for listening! Also, here is the link to the video discussed in the podcast.
Photo above: Melissa Ettere-Showah with her family and Prospector Theater founder Valerie Jensen at the theater's Sparkle Awards. The Showah family earned 'The Val Jensen Visionary Award'. This award recognizes those whose work has helped to advance the mission and vision of the Prospector."
Elementary Student Support: SES PD Focuses on MTSS
In November, the curriculum department sent home a letter to elementary families titled, Supports for Students at RPS. The letter, found here, details the levels of support available to students and outlines the RPS MTSS (Multi-Tiered Support System) Process. It closes with recommendations for parents and the importance of communication with teachers and building administrators. In Thursday's Professional Development, Scotland Elementary administrators, teachers, and interventionists met to discuss MTSS and the special education process at SES. Principal Jill Katkocin and her team reviewed PPT protocols to ensure that families with students who have IEPs or 504 plans received data-based information about their students in advance of the meetings. They discussed systems of support for all students, and the way in which the MTSS process provides instructional strategies and progress monitoring data to support the referral to PPT when necessary, the new state-mandated IEP form, early intervention for younger students, students with social and emotional needs, and district resources available. They talked openly about tapping into those resources during a busy school day, assessments, and ways to make the most of a PPT meeting. Both the letter and the PD workshop stressed the importance of communication. RPS is committed to providing highly engaging, relevant, and personalized learning for all members of the community. We look forward to sharing more Professional Development throughout the year.
In the Classroom
Momentum, Impulse, and Heights at RHS Egg Drop
Ridgefield High School physics teacher Kara Mia Colon went to great heights for this lesson on physics and engineering. Colon reports: "physics students at RHS had to build a device that kept a fragile (egg) object intact. This project demonstrated the concepts of momentum and impulse. The Ridgefield Fire Department helped us test the engineering practice of students' devices by dropping them from an optimal maximum height. Several students' projects [and Ms. Colon:)] survived the max height of 100 ft! We are all extremely proud of our students and are super grateful for the RFD for supporting our students at RHS."
Humanities Supervisor Teaches Lesson on Africa
East Ridge principal Jennifer Phostole reports that Grade 6-12 Humanities Supervisor Dr. Annie Tucci was the guest teacher for seventh-grade social studies on Wednesday. Ms. Phostole sent this photo of Dr. Tucci flanked by Mike Settanni and Will Boylan. They combined both grade-seven teams for an informational text lesson on Africa. "It was great to observe and awesome to see our 6-12 Humanities Supervisor in action!" writes Ms. Phostole.
The HeARTS of RPS—Spotlight on ERMS Art
East Ridge Art Teacher Hillary Lewis recently shared the processes students are using to expand their technique and stretch their creativity. East Ridge sixth graders mixed acrylic paints to create custom colors. For watercolor seascapes, grade seven artists experimented with watercolors. Eighth graders worked on a Pop Art-inspired printmaking project. Follow ridgefieldpublicshoolsk12art to see art from every grade.
Quincy Coleman challenged ERMS sixth-grade students to design a three-dimensional mask using cut paper. Inspired by the art of Michael Velliquette and tribal masks from other cultures, students added layers of texture to make feathers, fringe, scales, and other creative elements. An array of these fun masks can be seen in the Nick Barberi Gallery at East Ridge.
Beyond the Classroom
Girls Hockey Game Honors #23 Nia Simpson
The RHS Girls Hockey team opened its season with a decisive victory at the Nia Simpson Memorial Game. The girls wore green laces in honor of their friend and teammate Nia Simpson, #23. Sophomore Rose Idone led a moment of silence for Nia and goalie Ashley Collins sang the national anthem before jumping into the net. Attendees enjoyed visiting with Nia's family, a bake sale, and a win. See more photos from this inspiring day below.
ERMS Student Selected to Be Nutmeg Prize Reader
How many books will you read next year? East Ridge eighth-grader William Knispel will read at least 80. The Nutmeg Book Award Selection Committee recently announced that they had chosen Will to join the 2025 Selection Committee as a student reader. Will knew what he was getting into when he applied for this "page-turning" honor because his brother Andrew (a freshman at Georgetown) was a committee member.
In a letter to East Ridge Principal Jennifer Phostole, the 2025 Middle School Nutmeg Selection Committee Co-Chairpersons wrote, "The Middle School Nutmeg Award encourages students in grades seven to eight to read quality literature. It is jointly sponsored by the Connecticut Library Association and the Connecticut Association of School Librarians. Each year the Nutmeg Selection Committee invites 8th and 9th graders to apply to be one of three student readers from around the state, and we chose William. The Selection Committee will read about 80 books in nine months and choose the top ten nominees that will be announced on March 15, 2024. William’s dedication and scholarship are truly remarkable and we wanted to make sure you were aware of this honor."
Way to go, Will!
Nutcracker Season! "Tiny" VPES Dancer in New York Times
From the windows of the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance at the Holiday Stroll to the stages across Fairfield County to the New York City Ballet, RPS dancers across the district create magic dancing to Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. The New York Times featured Veterans Park Elementary student Stella Thompkins in a recent article, "The Tiny Dancers That Make 'The Nutcracker' Sparkle".
Photo below: Stella Thompkins with dance partner during NYC Ballet photoshoot
Photo below: Abigail Freeman during the Holiday Stroll.
Mario Cart and Merchandise for The Logan Project
RES Holiday Hustle Raised Funds for Scottlet Storehouse
On Sunday, Ridgebury families took time out of the holiday bustle for their RES Holiday Hustle. They raised funds for the RES PTA and the Scottlet Storehouse. Learn about this local charity and ways you can make the holidays special for children in foster and kinship care in this flyer. See fun photos from the event below!
This Week In Photos
We can't help but share more photos from the Nia Simpson Memorial Game on Wednesday. Friends, family, staff, and the RHS hockey community turned out for a special game to honor Nia.
Rex, Ridgebury Elementary's mascot, joined elves and santas, students, staff, and families for the Holiday Hustle “Fun Run” fundraiser. The Ridgebury PTA will be donating a portion of their proceeds to Scottlet Storehouse which partners with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families to help families in need. The RES link to donate is here. More info about the Scottlet Storehouse is available above.
Scotland first graders read!
The district halls are decked! RHS Student Council used yesterday's early dismissal to decorate doors (top and bottom left). Farmingville PE teacher Steve Eithier made a snowman that won't melt...anything but hearts (bottom right).
BMES makes mountains out of marshmallows, toothpicks, and partnership in this team building exercise.