The Pine Bough

Pine River School Newsletter, September 2022

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It Takes a Community

It takes a whole community to educate a child! Neighbors, coaches, church leaders, teachers, and other influential adults all make an impact on children and their futures.They also provide a network of support for parents. Years of research show that families and schools working together as a learning community contributes to children’s academic and social success.

Our focus this school year will be on renewing and re-engaging our vibrant Pine River school community to support students' growth and achievement. Together, we will:

  • support students’ learning and development

  • encourage a positive self image and “can do” spirit in our students

  • monitor students’ time, behavior, boundaries, and resources to promote growth and success

  • model lifelong learning and enthusiasm for education

  • advocate for improved learning opportunities

  • collaborate with all members of our school community to support students and improve teaching and learning

Through our collective efforts and partnerships, our students will learn and grow to their greatest potentials!

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Welcome Back!

Hello Pine River Families,

Welcome to an exciting new school year! We are anxious to have our students back in our classrooms and hallways, filling the building with energy and enthusiasm for learning. It is our mission to help every child feel welcomed, connected, and a part of the Pine River family. Additionally, we strive to challenge each student to grow to his or her greatest potential in both academics and those soft skills necessary for success in the world.

We have several new staff members at Pine River this year.

  • Second Grade - Kathryn Gorski

  • Fourth Grade - Amber Jakiel

  • C.I. Classroom Teacher - Lindsay Kierszykowski

  • Resource Room - Michael Walsh

  • Academic Interventionist - Kristina Kaltz

  • Building Substitute - Courtney Chamberlin

  • Speech Pathologist - Claudia Packan

  • C.I. Teacher Consultant - Michelle Davis

Welcoming back to Pine River but in different roles:

  • Art/STEAM/Tech - Lesley Struyk
  • Teacher Consultant - Amy Langmesser

We are fortunate that these outstanding individuals are joining our team!

Our team is ready to motivate our Pioneers to take advantage of the learning opportunities that will be presented each day by helping them set personal goals, ask questions, learn from mistakes, and put their best effort into all that they do. As a Pine River staff, we want families to know we are here to support them through their child's educational journey. We appreciate your help at home in establishing a bedtime and morning routine, helping your children get to school on time each day, supporting homework, and staying informed through our district website, Skyward, The Pine Bough, and teachers' communications. As a team of students, families, and staff, we will ensure success for each student.

Please contact me at any time if you have questions, comments, or ideas for ways we can continue to make Pine River a great school for everyone!

Best wishes for the 2022-23 school year!


Rachel Card


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When our school was opened in 1979, almost all students rode the bus to and from school. Needless to say, our parking lot was not designed to handle the volume of traffic that increases each year as more and more families are driving their children.

We have created a morning traffic flow that is depicted in the graphic shown below. Please drop off students only at the designated drop-off spot. It is marked with a yellow star. To keep the flow of traffic steady, please make sure your student is ready to exit your vehicle prior to stopping. We are very fortunate to have drop-off volunteers who are donating their time to help direct traffic and assist students in the morning.

For those who would like to walk students to their classroom doors, we have created a pedestrian crosswalk that extends from the church parking lot next door. The church parking lot provides a faster entrance and exit for those who are in a hurry.

Thank you for not using the bus loop during arrival and dismissal. There should be no cars in the bus loop between 8:15 a.m. and 8:50 a.m. and between 3:15 p.m. and 3:50 p.m. Our bus drivers are grateful for your support to help make sure they can safely drop off and pick up our students.

As a reminder, the first bell rings at 8:40 a.m. for students to enter classrooms. Students arriving after 8:45 a.m. are marked tardy.

We are grateful for the collective of our whole school community to keep our students safe!

Drop-off and Pick-up Traffic Routes

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Fourth Grade Leadership Opportunities

We love to develop leadership skills in our fourth graders! Applications for service jobs (Safety Patrol, Post Office and others) will be given to students by the end of the first week of school.

General Information for the 2022-2023 School Year

Principal: Dr. Rachel Card

Office Staff: Administrative Secretary – Mrs. Lori Williamson

Office Paraprofessional – Mrs. Athena Modrich

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL –Tuesday, September 6 (Half Day of School, Dismissal at 12:08 p.m.)

SCHOOL HOURS - The school day begins at 8:45 a.m. and ends at 3:39 p.m.

HALF DAYS FOR STUDENTS - Dismissal at 12:08 p.m.

PLC EARLY RELEASE WEDNESDAYS – Dismissal at 1:39 p.m. Please refer to the school calendar for dates.

PARENT TEACHER CONFERENCES - Monday and Tuesday, November 21, 2022 and November 22, 2022


  • Students are asked not to arrive at the building prior to 8:35 a.m., as supervision is unavailable.

  • Latchkey is available for students who need to arrive before 8:35 a.m.

  • Students line up at and enter the building through outside classroom doors at 8:40 a.m.

  • Classes begin at 8:45 a.m. when the second bell rings.

If you drive your child to school, the designated “Student Drop-Off Area” location must be used when dropping off your student. Please follow the directional arrows. For safety reasons, do not drop your child off at the crosswalk. The circle drive is for busses only. Students enter the building through classroom doors.


  • All students are dismissed out of their classroom outside doors.

  • If someone other than a parent is picking up a child and is not on the emergency card, a signed note must be provided by the parent authorizing this release.

  • Students will not be released to persons on the emergency card before dismissal time, unless prior arrangements have been made with the parent/guardian.


Breakfast and lunch will only be free or reduced for students who qualify. To receive free and reduced lunch if your family is eligible, please complete the application that will come home with your child on the first day of school.

Prices for 2022-23

Breakfast $1.25

Elementary Lunch $2.40

Super $1.35​

Staff Lunch $5.25

Milk $0.60


Skyward is our student database. You can access your child’s information through Skyward Family Access. If you do not know your Skyward username and password, please contact East China School District Administration Office at (810) 676-1000.


Our school newsletter, The Pine Bough, is a valuable home-school publication that contains important information about programs, special events, schedules, dates for holidays, classroom highlights, and more. At the beginning of each month it will be sent via Skyward messenger, posted to our school Facebook page and to the Pine River district webpage.


If your child is absent from school due to illness or other reasons, you must notify our attendance line at (810) 676-1066 (24-hour hotline) by 9:30 a.m. All absences must be called in with the reason for the absence. Absences are verified by the office each morning.


Parents will be notified in advance if an early dismissal is scheduled. If early dismissal is required due to weather conditions or emergency situations, every effort will be made to notify parents. Please keep emergency phone numbers on your child’s emergency card current.


A latchkey program is available at Pine River Elementary for parents who require supervision for their children before and after school. Latchkey hours are 6:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. and 3:39 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Latchkey is also available on half days. For additional information and to make latchkey arrangements, please go to the Latchkey information page on the ECSD website.


All students will be supplied with basic classroom supplies. A suggested list of additional classroom supplies was sent to families with classroom placement letters. For safety reasons, gym shoes are required to participate in physical education class.

IMPORTANT: A large white envelope labeled “Important Information Enclosed” was given to you at Open House or will be sent home with your child on the first day of school. It is important that the Emergency Card be updated for each child and returned by Thursday, September 8, 2022.

Friendly Reminder ~ Friday, September 16th, is Picture Day!

(Thursday, November 3rd, is Picture Retake Day.)

Thank you for your cooperation in creating a safe, organized school for our students.

Welcome Class of 2035!

Positivity Project at Pine River

What is The Positivity Project?

We are a Positivity Project school, and our staff instructs and reinforces character traits through this high-quality program.

The Positivity Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children build stronger relationships by recognizing the character strengths in themselves and others. Their vision is to create citizens and leaders who will enhance our communities and country by internalizing the belief that “Other People Matter.” Positive psychology’s scientifically validated 24 character strengths serve as its foundation. Positive psychology teaches that people have all 24 strengths within them – and that character is not just skills or behaviors, but rather an intrinsic part of each of us.

The Positivity Project is not a program with strict guidelines. Instead, it educates teachers on the character strengths and relies on them to teach in a way that best meets their students’ needs. It is a school-wide endeavor, grounded in the consistency of daily classroom instruction. Their model is holistic; it incorporates students, teachers, and parents through regular interactions with the character strength vocabulary and concepts.

The project helps teachers instill vocabulary and the meaning of the strengths through the explicit teaching of each strength for about 10 minutes per day. We will dedicate about one week to each strength to help students understand it through definition, examples, discussions, and exercises. Our teachers will tailor the materials for their own best use, as they know their students and curriculum better than anyone else.

What are the benefits of implementing The Positivity Project?

The Positivity Project ideals evolve throughout a student’s whole school career, with students continuing with the program in both of our middle schools in East China. The 24 character strengths develop and gain more meaning for students as they grow. Once students learn the meaning of each strength and what it looks like, the trait can then be embedded into the curriculum in every subject area. The character strengths become a part of a common language and our Pioneers will see them in everything that they do.

The Positivity Project teaches children by acknowledging that the 24 character strengths are already a part of who they are as people. It helps them to realize that each and every one of them have these strengths. Through acknowledging these strengths in the classroom, students will gain richer understandings of what the character strengths look like in their peer groups. These understanding will help students improve relationships, resolve conflicts, and support one another.

How can you help?

We would love for you to take an active role in your child’s character strength education. By using the character strengths vocabulary and having discussions about the concepts, you will help your child understand the character strengths in themselves and others in a different light.

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Pine River PTO

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Link to Medication Form

The school district requires this form be completed at the beginning of each school year for each medication prescribed, including over the counter medications.

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Using Skyward to Access Your Student's Information

Using a secure Login ID and password, you can log into Skyward Family Access and view your students’ data, such as progress reports, attendance records, report cards, transcripts, lunch information and more. Your one login to Family Access allows you to view data on all your enrolled students in the district, even if there are multiple school sites.

How to log into to Skyward Family Access:

  1. Go to the district home web page at
  2. Click on the Parents link, then Family Access link.
  3. Enter your Login ID and Password on the Skyward Family Access login screen.
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Attendance Reminders

Your child's attendance and on-time arrival at school is important to us. Parents/guardians must report their child's absence on the school attendance line before 9:00 a.m. each day their child is absent from school. The attendance line is 810-676-1066. Records are kept of all absences and tardies. Parents will receive written notifications when their child is absent 5, 10, and 15 days or if the child has excessive tardies. The St. Clair County Truancy Officer may be contacted when a student has excessive absences or a pattern of poor attendance. Parents/guardians should save physician appointment receipts and other documentation should a student's attendance be questioned.
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Link to Free and Reduced Lunch Information

Your child may qualify for free meals or reduced price meals. Please complete the Free and Reduced Lunch application and return it to school. The district web site also has a link to the application and detailed information about its completion.

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Positive Behavior Expectations

A significant part of our students’ academic success correlates directly to the exemplary behavior that they exhibit. To ensure a safe and orderly educational environment conducive to student learning, our staff is working collaboratively to teach, model, and recognize appropriate behavior. To create this environment, we have adopted a set of positive behavior expectations.

The matrix of behaviors related to each expectation in the various settings is shown below. Please help us to reinforce the positive behaviors listed both at home and at school. Our goal is for all students to know what positive Pioneer behavior looks like.

During the first few weeks of school, students will receive instruction concerning these valuable behavior traits and how to earn positive behavior tickets for exhibiting appropriate behaviors. Students who receive tickets will place their names in a special container for weekly drawings for special prizes.

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Pioneer Code of Conduct

Pine River Pioneers are...





and always Safe!

Pioneers of the Month

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


  • Student prepares for classroom activities.
  • Student approaches learning with enthusiasm.
  • Student has made steady 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.

Students who are honored as Pioneers of the Month will receive a certificate, a window cling, and can borrow a Pioneer of the Month sign to proudly display in their front yards for one month.

Mission: The mission of the Pine River school community is to work collaboratively, providing an enriched curriculum that allows for intellectual, social, emotional, physical, and creative growth in a positive and safe environment, empowering all children to become productive lifelong learners.

Vision: Pine River Elementary is dedicated to the belief that all students can learn and achieve through the combined efforts of the staff, parents, students, and community.
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