Aiken Update

January 7, 2022

Message from the Principal

Dear Aiken Families,


Happy New Year! Between Omicron, ice and a snow day, the first week of 2022 has certainly kept us on our toes. I know that this latest surge of Covid affected many of your holiday and vacation plans and has caused additional stress and anxiety as we return to school. My own family experienced this first hand, when I tested positive for Covid on Christmas Eve. After developing mild cold symptoms the night before, I wanted to get tested "just in case" before we traveled to see family. Thankfully, my symptoms were no more than a mild cold that lasted 3-4 days. Needless to say, it was not the holiday and vacation we envisioned, but it did force us all to slow down and I read several books and watched way too much Netflix.


Even being fully vaccinated, Omicron is a very contagious variant and symptoms can often be as mild as a headache, sore throat or stuffy nose. Thank you for keeping your child home if they show any signs of illness and for continuing to follow our health and safety protocols. I know that it can be difficult to keep up with changing guidelines and we appreciate your continual communication my myself and our nurse Felicia Brunetti. Getting your child tested can be an extremely long and frustrating process. I saw this with my own children, when we got them tested multiple times over break. We waited hours for the test and then days to get it back. I also empathize with the amount of school time missed waiting for PCR tests and when your child is in quarantine. My 4 year old sons were only back to preschool for two days this week before the class was in quarantine again. However, I keep reminding myself that this too shall pass and that within the next month things should be looking significantly brighter. Thank you for your continued support and patience.


The weather on Wednesday morning threw another curveball and I want to thank you for your efforts in getting your children to school and express my deep gratitude to our AMAZING staff. I left my house in Wethersfield at 7:10 and at 8:30 I was still sitting in gridlock on North Main Street. As staff were frantically calling to let me know they were going to be late, I was frantically trying to reach anyone that may be in the building. By the time that I arrived at almost 9:00, I could not have been more proud of what I saw. As my heart was still thumping from the harrowing drive, every classroom was covered and every child was working quietly and I was greeted with happy smiles. One a day when it would have been totally understandable to turn around and stay home, not one staff member called out due to the weather. This speaks to their unwavering commitment to your children and our school community. It is yet another reason why I am so incredibly grateful to be part of the Aiken community.


This week also brought some fun with a good old fashioned snow day! I have attached some photos (click on them to enlarge) of how the Aiken staff spent their day and would love to see some of yours as well. Please feel free to fill my inbox with some snow day pictures. My kids were outside for hours and I am hoping for an early and easy bedtime!


Have a great weekend,

Shannon

Snow Day Fun!

Health Protcols

Thank you for continuing to review and follow our district Health Protocols in order to keep everyone healthy and safe.


https://www.whps.org/return-to-school/health-protocols-2021

Proof of Vaccination

Students are considered fully vaccinated, two weeks after their second Covid-19 shot. If your child is fully vaccinated, and you have not already done so, please email a picture of their vaccination card to Felicia_Brunetti@whps.org so it can be uploaded in our system.

Announcements and Updates from the Office of Equity Advancement

Please click on the link for the January update: Updates and Events from the Office of Equity Advancement

Social Emotional Learning/Social Justice Curriculum

West Hartford has developed a comprehensive curriculum that integrates social-emotional learning (SEL) and civics throughout grades PK-5. Students participate in weekly lessons during Morning Meeting using our SEL and Second Step curriculum. These lessons support the development of classroom and school community, safety and belonging, kindness and respect. They are delivered through interactive read-aloud discussions and problem-solving activities.


Our district website provides more information on our SEL/Civics curriculum. The website includes the list of updated mentor texts - picture books, chapter books or other texts that teachers use for lessons on identity, diversity, justice and action and to support Second Step lessons.


Please visit https://www.smore.com/9chm0 for more information or visit the whps website curriculum page (www.whps.org/curriculum) and navigate to the K-5 curriculum. This information is available online in multiple languages.

Library News

The Aiken Library page is a great resource to find out which programs your child may be using during their time at Aiken. It can also help if you find your child home from school and are looking for links to various websites they use. I encourage you to take a look. I have also included a link to our Aiken Digital Subscriptions. Please keep in mind that some of the sites on the website are classroom and grade level dependent, and your child may not have access to it. If you are unsure of your child’s login information for their google account (grades 2-5) or Seesaw account (grades Prek-1), please reach out to your child’s teacher.



Happy Reading,

Jessica Tamaccio

jessica_tamaccio@whps.org

Aiken Library Media Specialist

Parents of Kindergarten Class 2022-2023

The West Hartford Public Schools invite parents/guardians of the Kindergarten class of 2022-2023 to attend an informational meeting on Monday, January 24, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. Please join us to learn more about the registration process, what to expect in the day in the life of a Kindergarten student and tips on how to prepare for this transition.


We encourage you to please Register Here.



Children residing in West Hartford turning age 5 on or before January 1, 2023 are eligible to register for Kindergarten.



Irene D. Garneau

Department Supervisor for Early Childhood Education

West Hartford Public Schools

860-929-5552

Winter Weather Gear

Please make sure your children are dressed properly with a winter coat, hat and gloves. If your child would like to play in the snow during recess, they will need to have boots and snow pants. If you are in need of snow clothes, please send an email to Shannon_Mlodzinski@whps.org and we will be happy to assist. We will continue to go outside for recess on days that are above 20 degrees.

Music Ensembles

Due to the recent surge of Covid, we have delayed the start of before school ensemble rehearsals for 4th and 5th grade band and orchestra. We are excited to begin, but the health and safety of our students remain our top priority. Ms. DiPaola and Ms. Senczikowska will contact students and families once we have a new start date.

Families Participating in Covid DeteCT

This weekly screening is a state and federally funded program only for unvaccinated students. If your child is fully vaccinated (14 days after their second shot) please email a copy of their vaccination card to our nurse Felicia_Brunetti@whps.org. Once we receive proof of vaccination, your child will be removed from the weekly testing list.

Thank you to the PTO

After a harrowing drive to work on Wednesday and a very busy week, the PTO surprised the staff with donuts and coffee on Friday morning. It was greatly appreciated and enjoyed by all!

Spotlight on Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

Through the implementation of the Second Step program, students are receiving weekly lessons that focus on Social Emotional Learning skills and strategies such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationships skills and responsible decision-making.



The featured book this week is Her Fearless Run by Kim Chaffee


Summary

Kathrine Switzer changed the world of running. This narrative biography follows Kathrine from running laps as a girl in her backyard to becoming the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with official race numbers in 1967. Her inspirational true story is for anyone willing to challenge the rules


Possible Discussion Questions:

  • How did the other runners react when they saw Katherine on the marathon course?
  • Why do you think some women cheered for Katherine? Why do you think some women didn’t cheer? Would you cheer if you were on the sidelines? Why or why not?
  • Does prejudice still happen in sports today? Think of current and continued biases in sports.


Link to the Read Aloud:

Her Fearless Run

Bristow Middle School Lottery Process

Dear Grade 5 families:


Bristow Middle School is pleased to announce our selection process for the 2022-2023 school year! For those families that may be new to West Hartford, Bristow is a small, close-knit, middle school learning community within the West Hartford Public Schools. Our students come from every neighborhood in town and our population is reflective of the richness and diversity of our whole community. We limit entry to 105 students each year and those students are selected by a lottery process.

All fifth-grade students currently enrolled in the West Hartford Public Schools are automatically entered into the Bristow lottery. During the month of December, all fifth grade families will receive an email message about the lottery process and how to inform us about whether or not you would accept your seat if you receive a favorable lottery number.

For West Hartford residents with fifth-grade students currently enrolled in private or parochial schools, there is an application that must be submitted in order to be included in the Bristow lottery. That link will be active December 1 and will be available through the district and Bristow websites.

Lottery results letters will be sent out by email January 22, 2022. We will host two information sessions, one on Thursday March 3, 2022 and another on Monday March 7, 2022. The format is still to be determined, but we are hopeful we will be able to host them in-person.

For a comprehensive explanation of the lottery and selection process, please see our Student Selection Process linked here. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at Bristow at (860) 231-2100.


Warm regards,

Chad D. Ellis, Ph.D.

Principal, Bristow Middle School

Meet the Middle School Principals

Big picture
Big picture

Pre-K and Magnet Lottery is opening on January 10, 2022!

Families interested in applying to one of the district magnet schools, Charter Oak International Academy or Smith STEM School for grades K-5 may do so starting on January 10, 2022 through March 4, 2022 at 4:00 p.m.


Families interested in applying for Pre-K at Charter Oak International Academy, Smith STEM School or Webster Hill School may do so starting on January 10, 2022 through March 4, 2022 at 4:00 p.m.

All three schools will be accepting applications for three and four-year-olds.

Any family residing in West Hartford may apply to either Charter Oak or Smith. Families that reside in the Webster Hill, Whiting Lane, Wolcott, Smith or Hillcrest neighborhoods may apply to Webster Hill. Pre-K does not accept applications for students who are kindergarten age eligible.


For more information about the Pre-K lottery click here. The lottery page will open on www.whps.org on January 10, 2022.

West Hartford Public Schools Mentor Program

Want to help a child succeed? Consider becoming a Mentor.

West Hartford Public Schools Mentor Program is looking for mentors to be a positive adult in a child's life. Adult mentors are needed to provide guidance and support to students throughout the West Hartford schools (K through 12). It doesn't require a lot, just up to one hour a week during the school year. This small commitment will greatly help a child and be a rewarding experience for you as well. Please consider helping out or pass the information on to someone you know. Every person makes difference.


January is National Mentor Month and the goal is recruit as many adult mentors as possible. Anyone can help make a difference to brighten the future of our young people.


For more information or to attend the "virtual" training session on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., please contact Carol Wilkas, West Hartford Public Schools, Mentor Program Coordinator at (860) 251-9331, email carol-wilkas@whps.org or ask to speak to the school's site coordinator.

Big picture

A Thank You From the Office

Thank you to all the families that wished Carol and I Happy Holidays. We so appreciated the

goodies and treats that rained down on us! You are what makes this such a special place to

work. Carol and Marci

Chess Program Updates

Big picture

Employment Oportunities

Big picture
Big picture
Big picture