The Belle Ringer

Belle River Elementary School Newsletter, February 2017

Important Dates

Wednesday, February 1

  • Popcorn Day

Thursday, February 2

  • PTO Meeting at 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 4
  • Port Huron Jail & Bail: Free Mr. Westerhof!

Tuesday, February 7

  • Dance-A-Thon

Wednesday, February 8

  • Popcorn Day
  • Pupil Count Day

Wednesday, February 15

  • Popcorn Day
  • Conga Line

Thursday, February 16

  • Half Day, Dismissal at 12:04 p.m.

Friday, February 17

  • No School, Mid-Winter Break
  • Movie Fundraiser at Riverview Cinema: The Batman Movie, 7:00 p.m.

Monday, February 20

  • No School, Mid-Winter Break

Tuesday, February 21

  • Young Authors' Day

Wednesday, February 22

  • Popcorn Day
  • Third Grade Trip to Dr. Brieden's Office
  • Book Fair Browsing

Friday, February 24

  • Book Fair
  • Daddy Daughter Dance, 6:00-8:00

Empowering Children with Encouragement

Twenty-five years ago, as a new educator fresh out of college, I began reading about the dangers of praise. I was completely shocked by what I was learning. Praise, the feel-good strategy of choice, was not good for our kids? How could that be? So, through the years, I spent time reading about the effects of praise, talking with other educators, and observing how my own students and children responded to encouragement (instead of praise) and was soon convinced to stop praising and focus on using encouragement to empower kids.

Even today, with all the research available to parents, I still hear—”What is wrong with praise? How can saying, ‘Good job’ or ‘I’m proud of you’ be bad? It makes my child happy, it makes me feel good, and it’s easy!” I understand. It can be a difficult habit to break—and the fact that it feels good only increases our resistance to giving it up.

The Problems with Praise
Praise focuses on:

  • perfection rather than progress and improvement
  • a right or wrong outcome rather than a meaningful experience
  • good or bad decisions rather than the decision-making process
  • pride or disappointment rather than acceptance and support

Praise trains children to depend on constant feedback regarding what a “great job” they are doing. This dependency shatters rather than builds a child’s self-esteem.
Praise trains children to inquire, “Do you like it?” “Did I do a good job?” “Are you proud of me?” “Did I do it right?” Children begin to believe that what others think is more important than what they think about their choices, actions, accomplishments and mistakes. Praise jeopardizes children's abilities to develop their own internal compasses to guide their decision-making processes.

Praise fractures the relationship between parent and child. Without even realizing it, parents may be using praise as a tool to direct and manipulate the child’s behavior. The message is clear—I approve of you when you … and I do not approve of you when you. … Living with this kind of constant judgement can damage not only the child’s confidence but also the relationship.

So If Not Praise, What?
The remedy to the problem of praise is encouragement. Encouragement can be given at any time, to anyone, in any situation. It is an observation, an acknowledgment, a statement that focuses on effort, improvement or choice, and it helps to promote self-esteem and a sense of well-being, confidence, insight and resilience.

Encouragement is often confused with praise. Here are two scenarios to illustrate the difference:

A child comes home from school with a 95% on her math test.
Parent says, “Good job, you are so smart, let’s put it on the fridge!”

A few weeks later, the same child comes home with a 65% on her science test.
How would the parent respond to this child? “We have a problem. We have to fix this. Maybe we should hire a tutor. What were you thinking? I know you can do better.”

In this light, it’s easy to see the limitations of praise. In the second scenario involving the science test, how do you praise? You don’t. As parents, we inadvertently send the message that we are disappointed and bring the learning process to a halt.

Using encouragement, the same scenarios might look something like these:

Parent observes and asks questions. “You got a 95% on your math test. Tell me about that. Was it easy? Did you do anything differently? What do you know now that you did not before? How is your relationship with the teacher? What does she do that works well for you? What have you done to overcome any challenges you met? Is math interesting to you?”

Or something like, “Wow, you got a 65%. Tell me about that. What do you think happened? Did you study? Is this the grade you deserved? What would you do differently? Do you know anything new that can help you in the future?"

If you as a parent are preoccupied by feeling proud or disappointed, you miss the opportunity to be curious and help the child learn more about himself/herself, his/her learning style, the situation, and what he/she might do differently the next time. After all, it is more important that the child know himself/herself than it is for you to pass judgment on his/her experience.

Use encouragement on a regular basis and teach your children to:

  • Create an internal framework for themselves in which to self-assess their lives, their choices, attitudes, actions and behaviors, as well as their preferences and their progress.
  • Figure out what is important to them, which will make it possible for them to create a satisfying and meaningful adult life.
  • Spend less time asking the outside world to measure their worth as people.

If parents develop and master the art of encouragement, they will experience dramatic and lasting changes in both their children’s behavior and the quality of the relationship between parent and child.

Can you think of a situation when your child would have experienced the benefit of encouragement instead of praise?

Your Principal,

Mrs. Rachel Card

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East China School District Strategic Planning Process

The Board of Education and the Administration are launching a new initiative to guide the East China School district through a 3-5 year Strategic Plan. The purpose of this initiative is to help us develop new goals and strategies for continuing to offer an excellent education for our students, while using scarce public education resources in the most effective and efficient way.

The benefits of the strategic planning process are many. Most notable are:

  • It provides integrated, important input from community and staff
  • It presents a succinct and graphic picture of the district’s current status
  • It sets focused strategic goals that identify target areas to improve student achievement
  • It clearly delineates the role of the Board of Education and the superintendent/staff in strategic planning
  • It uses data to set goals and make important decisions
  • It helps identify areas to allocate increasingly scarce resources
  • It aligns Board priorities with school improvement processes

Stakeholder feedback is an important part of the planning process. Community members, parents, students, teachers and all district staff members will have the opportunity to give input on the strengths of the district, opportunities for improvement, barriers for implementation, and their vision for the district.

Stakeholder input, along with essential district data, provides the basis for the district to choose approximately five priority goals to be implemented over the next three to five years.

The community is invited to participate in the process by providing their feedback at a meeting to be held Wednesday, February 1st at 6:00 pm in the Board Room of the East China Administration Building, 1585 Meisner Rd or by clicking on the "Strategic Planning Survey" linked below.

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January Students of the Month

All of our students strive to be be motivated learners as well as model citizens, and each month we will honor two students from each class who exemplify the following qualities:


  • Student prepares for classroom activities.
  • Student goes above and beyond his/her role as a student.
  • Student has made significant progress in the classroom.
  • Student has been working to his/her potential.
  • Student completes all assignments and homework.
  • Student has a good work ethic and is diligent.

Leadership/ Citizenship/ Character

  • Student demonstrates respect of self and others.
  • Student assists others in need.
  • Student shows acts of kindness.
  • Student demonstrates a positive attitude.
  • Student displays good conduct.
  • Student is a positive role model by example.
  • Student participates and puts forth full effort in all areas.
  • Student follows school rules.


Mrs. Jones Class: Beau Biland, Haley Fortuna

Mrs. Rymar’s Class: Ryan Edwards, Sophie Mackey

Mrs. Trout’s Class: Danielle Farner, Jaden Ickes

First Grade

Mrs. Talaski’s Class: Madeline Burgett, Wesley Panzer

Mrs. White’s Class: Gavin Remier, Nateleigh Everitt

First/Second Grade

Mrs. Gunderson’s/Cobean’s Class: Kaylyn Fregetto, Tayshawn Long

Second Grade

Mrs. Greib’s Class: Sabrena Spencer, Madalynn Vayko

Mrs. Moses’ Class: Juliette Desrosiers, Tristen Recchia

Third Grade

Mrs. Charron’s Class: Gracie Kaminski, Ava Waelens

Mrs. Drumb’s Class: Kianna Amy, Earl Beattie

Mrs. Weatherly’s Class: Nicole Drouillard, EJ Fregetto

Fourth Grade

Mrs. Penzien’s Class: Brianna Hilferink, David Whitehead

Mrs. Robbins’ Class: Linwood Fackler, Kate DeVries

Mrs. Westerhof’s Class: Jaycie Mast, Nathan Wright

Fifth Grade

Mrs. Dunn’s Class: Harmony Huff, Lilliana McVicker

Mrs. Carnahan’s Class: Gracie Dupree, Jacob MacEwan

Mrs. Tyler’s Class: Kamryn Farenger, Nicholas May

Mr. Westerhof’s P.E. Class: Nicholas Ruffino, Calleigh Webster

March of Dimes "Jail and Bail"

Jail and Bail originated in Port Huron, Michigan back in 1957, and has received national recognition for being the largest March of Dimes Jail and Bail fundraising event in the nation. For the thirteenth year, our favorite gym teacher, Mr. Bill Westerhof, will once again be a prisoner. You can make a donation on his personal pledge page or call 810-982-0177 on the day of the event, February 4th.

March of Dimes raises funds that stay locally to benefit all pregnancies. The March of Dimes has touched your life if:

*You or your baby received the polio vaccine

*Your baby received newborn screening tests in the hospital

*Your baby was born too soon and spent time in the NICU

*You took folic acid (b12) before and during pregnancy to prevent brain and spinal cord defects

*You had a HEALTHY baby due to good prenatal care.

Four million babies were born last year and the March of Dimes helped each and every one through research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.

If you would like to donate, please check out Mr. Westerhof's personal fundraising page at You can watch the event live on Comcast Channel 12, or you can listen live on WPHM 13.80AM and

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Scholastic Book Fair

The spring book fair is right around the corner! It will be open during the week that we return from mid-winter break: Tuesday, February 21- Friday, February 24. Students will browse and create a wish list on Tuesday and then will be able to shop Wednesday-Friday during the school day. The book fair will be open for parents to shop directly after school during the week, as well as during the Daddy Daughter Dance, Friday evening. We are in need of volunteers! If you are able to volunteer for the book fair, please contact Jamey Westrick at (810) 335-3221.

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Student Drop-Off Safety

Below is a list of suggestions that will improve the safety of students, parents, and staff during the morning drop-off of students.

1. Clean off vehicle windows during winter weather. We recently had an accident involving two vehicles while a parent was backing into a parking spot with most of the windows covered with frost.

2. Do not back into parking spots while in the drop off line. If you choose to back into your spot, arrive early enough to do so before the drop-off line is gathering. This not only holds up the line but also causes a greater risk of accidents with so many vehicles and people in the area. You also have the choice to park in the area of the exit drive if spots are available and the east side of the exit drive if not wet. There is also parking in the south end of the parking lot closer to the gym.

3. If you choose to walk your children up to the building, please allow the drop off line to clear before merging back into line to exit. Many students have been at risk and some have received tardy slips for being late, but were only late because the drop off line was interrupted by exiting vehicles. It is understandable that everyone has a place to be in the morning, but the students being on time is very important. It not only disrupts their day but also their classmates' day when arriving late. Many parents have arrived in the drop off line on time but their children enter the building late due to merging traffic from parking spots holding up the line.

4. Never enter the bus loop to drop off a student unless the bus loop is completely clear of all buses. No vehicles are allowed in the bus loop until after school begins and/or the loop is clear of buses. Look for instructions from Mr. Fessenden or the safeties at the drop off to drive into the loop after all buses have left for the morning. Also, there should not be any vehicles In the bus loop after 3:00 p.m. to allow buses to enter loop in preparation of dismissal.

5.Never park in bus loop while attending classroom parties or school assemblies.
The loop is reserved for emergencies and buses can arrive at the school at anytime for a number of reasons.

6. When entering the parking lot, immediately turn towards the right when dropping students off or when parking. There is a one way sign to direct you. The only time you would not do this is if choosing to park in the spots in the exit drive. Never enter the parking lot and head straight when dropping students off. This could not only cause a collision but will force your vehicle to enter against drop off traffic or into the bus loop).

Please take a moment to thank the members of our Fifth Grade Safety Squad and Mr. Russell Fessenden, who volunteers his time every morning at the drop-off area, for helping our students arrive to school on time and in a safe manner!

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Kindergarten Round-Up 2017

It is that time of year again! Kindergarten Round-Up will be held on Wednesday, March 8, and Thursday, March 9, at the East China School District Administrative Office building at 1585 Meisner Road. Registration will be from noon to 5:30 p.m. for children who will be five years old on or before September 1, 2017. Please park in the lot and enter the doors by the parked school bus. Enrollment is on a walk-in basis. The busiest times tend to be from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. and from 3:30 - 4:15, so please plan accordingly. Your Kindergarten student is invited and encouraged to attend Round-Up with you. District staff will be present to answer questions about bus transportation, before and after-school childcare services, food services and other topics.

Kindergarten Registration Forms

Kindergarten registration packets are available in our office, at the Administrative Offices, and can be downloaded through this link. Parents are encouraged to pick up and complete a packet before coming to Round-up.

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Getting Students to School on Time

Making sure your student gets to school on time is important. The arrival of late students to class causes disruptions that take away from the valuable learning time all of all. In addition, our students need time to visit with friends and the teacher, as well as time to settle into the classroom routine. Being late does not make that transition from home to school easy for students, and they may often feel anxious or rushed.

Tips for Arriving on Time

Be conscious of time: Set all your clocks and watches to the same time. If you’re one of those people who is normally late, set them up a little so that you have some “wiggle room”.

Organize yourself: Pick out clothing and pack backpacks the night before. Plan lunches and put together what you can the night before. If you need to take something with you to school, put it next to your keys or purse.

Happy, organized parents = happy children= improved success at school!

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Persuasive Writing

Students in grades 3-5 just finished writing persuasive essays. Below are some writing pieces that were especially original, well-organized, and detailed. These young literary leaders sure know how to communicate their opinions and ideas effectively!

Exercise, by Third Grader Chelsea Montroy

I think it is important that kids get more exercise because kids are always sitting on the couch eating potato chips and watching TV. What about if kids got up put the bag down and in commercials run in place or walk in place or run up and down the stairs?

I think that kids should get more exercise because kids don't get a lot of exercise. That is a really big problem. kids should have at least 40% of exercise in one day and just 40% is not a lot. You can still have more.

Another reason I think kids should get more exercise is because kids normally sit on their couch watching TV and eating potato chips. I think that during your commercials get some push ups and do some jumping jacks and touch your toes for 10 seconds just exercise.

The last reason I think that kids should get out more is because they are just staying inside but it is so nice outside and you could do way more things. So just stay outside play ball or swing on your swing set or in winter go sledding! anything to exercise!

In conclusion, I think that kids should get more exercise because we all need more movement in our bodies so we don't have to struggle in gym, or doing things because we will be practicing at our house or wherever you are doing exercise. Also because it is so helpful and healthy for you. I urge kids to get more exercise!

World Peace, by Fourth Grader Lyla Barkovitch

What if you lived in a war zone? Would you want world peace? The people of Iraq, Siberia and also many other states and countries do. I think there should be world peace. Lives could be saved and not put in danger. People could have better lives. People could walk out of their homes safely.

Less and less people would die each year. People could live out their life at the fullest. Who knows, maybe they could become famous. There wouldn't be any wars. Army soldiers could live out their life. Also they could spend more time with their family.

People could have better lives. They could get good jobs to support their family. They could get out of the house more and live their lives instead of being trapped in their house. They could get out of their house and go to school. If they went to school, they could get better jobs so that's like a two in one.

People could walk out of their homes safely. They could go to the store safely. Also they could get food and toys for their family. They could go outside. The importance of that is every one needs to go outside every day.

So in conclusion, I think there should be world peace. As I stated before, lives could be saved and not put in danger. Just think about it. Kids and grown ups die every year. What if you were in that situation? What would you do?

Smoking Should Be Banned, by Fifth Grader Alyssa Menkel

Do you know someone who smokes? Maybe you live with someone who smokes. Either way, I think that smoking should be illegal for these three reasons: it is bad for your health, it affects other people, and it’s bad for the environment.

First of all, I think that smoking should be illegal, because of all of the health hazards, such as, cancer, loss of teeth, loss of vision,etc. I strongly disagree with people who say that say that smoking can not be harmful. “Did you know you can get 14 different types of cancer from smoking?” says article, Please Take Away Smoking To Save A Life on website, I strongly agree with this statement because it proves just how harmful smoking can really be.

Also, smoking should be illegal, because of second-hand-smoking. Second-hand-smoking is when you are near someone who is smoking and you are inhaling the smoke with them,it can give you all of the horrible side effects that smoking can do to you. Article, Harms Not Only The Smoker But Others on, says, “ Smokers could smoke all they want if it was just affecting them. But that is not true.”

Finally, it hurts the environment, you may think that smoking only hurts the smoker and the people around them, but it hurts the earth, and the animals too, this is not okay, knowing that we already have way way too much pollution in this world. many smokers throw their cigarette butts on the ground with no shame at all, but this is actually a act of littering and it is a serious crime and causing pollution.

Even though I strongly believe that smoking SHOULD be illegal, some people think otherwise, there are people on the internet talking about how smoking should not be illegal. These people say that it is their right to smoke, but I think that it is actually extremely selfish, as I said earlier, if the smoker was only harming themselves, this would be fine, because that would be their own choice,but they are also harming other people, and the environment.

In conclusion, I think smoking should be illegal for the reasons I stated above, they cause health problems, they harm other people too, and it is horrible for the environment. So what I urge you to do after reading this essay is, go out there, take a poll, start a website about this topic, either way, go out there, make a difference, and MAKE SMOKING ILLEGAL!!!!!!

Dangers of Drinking for People Under 21, by Fifth Grader Molly Beaker

Today, I am going to prove to you the dangers of underage drinking. According to, nearly 10 million young people ages 12-20, report they have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. This is so concerning, because of the increased risks that youth face when they drink alcohol. If you start drinking before you are 21, there's a higher chance of you getting addicted as an adult. These people will have many more problems and difficulties throughout their lives.

It is very important that parents be careful with accessibility to alcohol in their house, to prevent under age drinking. In 2015 among 12-14 year olds who reported they drank alcohol in the past month 95.1% said they had access from parents or they found it at home, according to Another concern is, alcohol can kill you from alcohol poisoning. According to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 245 children under the age of 21 die because of binge drinking or alcohol poisoning. As a kid I know that drinking isn't ok but some kids don’t know that,most teens and pre teens get offered alcohol and they think one time won't hurt them, but it is very dangerous.

Another concern is that when a person starts using alcohol as a teen, they have a higher chance of becoming addicted as an adult. Youth who start to drink before the age of 15 are 6 times more likely to develop alcohol addiction than those who begin drinking on or after age 21 (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). According to in 2014, 8.7 million young people ages 12-20 reported that they had alcohol beyond just a few sips in the past month. That means the more people drink the ,higher risk of ongoing use throughout their lives.

My last reason that I am against underage drinking is that it can cause a lot problems in your life. Sometimes kids drink from peer pressure because their friends might make fun of them if they don’t. They don’t understand the problems it can cause. People lose good judgment when they drink. Annually about 5,000 people under the age of 21 die from accidents and injuries involving underage drinking. About 38% of those accidents involve cars (John Hopkins. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, regular alcohol use can lead to trouble with school and the law. It also associates to other drug use. Youth's brains are still developing and if you use alcohol it affects this growth, causing learning disabilities.

I understand that some people feel that teen drinking isn’t that big of a deal, and that it is safer if parents let their kids drink at home so they don’t drive. Actually drinking impairs judgment whether or not you’re getting behind the wheel. Only 38 percent of teen drinking deaths are related to driving; 62 percent are related solely to other causes, such as alcohol poisoning (Phoenix House). Another argument is that parents can't control everything, and that their teens are going to inevitably use alcohol no matter what they say. This has been found to be false. Parents have a lot of influence over this. According to a new study from SAMHSA, one in five parents believe that he or she has little say in his/her child’s drug or alcohol use. Yet the study showed that children who believed their parents would disapprove of their behavior were less likely to use drugs or alcohol.

As you can see, alcohol is very dangerous for people under the age of 21. Adolescent alcohol use can lead to really serious problems in a person’s life. Please take action, to stop this epidemic in our country. If you know someone who drinks tell them how dangerous it is and the multiple issues it can cause in your life.

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Our Mission: Working Collaboratively to Ensure All Students Learn

Our Vision: Belle River is an inviting, caring school community that meets the needs of every 21st century learner, by using Best Practices to facilitate positive behavior support

and high expectations for lifelong learners.

Student Code of Conduct

Be Responsible

Be Respectful

Be Safe &

Be a Friend