South Elementary Family Newsletter

Volume #5 January, 2023

Message from the Principals

Happy 2023, South Families!

We are excited to welcome back the students, teachers, and staff after a well deserved break! We hope you all had a chance to spend time with family and friends and enjoy some rest and relaxation.

The new year is always a time of fresh beginnings and positive change. It is a good time to reflect on what has happened in the last several months and the opportunities that lie ahead in 2023. Students and staff will be considering goals, hopes, and dreams for the next part of the year, too, in conjunction with the New Year and Middle of the Year (MOY) assessments happening during the last part of January.

During January, our school wide character focus is in weekly order and is as follows: staying on task; being an effective problem solver; expressing empathy/understanding others/being flexible; and, being a good friend. With the focus on these lessons, we will be emphasizing all of the Cricket PRIDE traits of Perseverance, Respect, Independence, Diversity/Equity/Inclusion, and Empathy.

Just a reminder that as the temperatures and snow start to fall here in Massachusetts, children need to be dressed accordingly in winter gear in order to play at recess time. Coats, hats, mittens/gloves, (if snow=boots and snow pants) are a must.

We received positive feedback on the parent email regarding cell phone/device guidelines. We appreciate your help in navigating technology with your elementary-age child. One parent gave another good site that is listed below in the Parent Resource section.

Thank you for your continued support and partnership with our school. Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and safe New Year! Aloha, Steph Brown and Rebecca Hurley

Big picture

Important Dates and Information

**Please remember that school starts at 8:45PM.

Monday, January 2, No School

Monday, January 16, No School-Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Wednesday, January 25, Early Release Day @ 12:30PM-lunches will be served

Tuesday, January 17, PTO Meeting @ 6PM at South Elementary Cafegymatorium

Big picture

From Mrs. H, Our School Adjustment Counselor

The Holidays can be a fun time of year, but also a high stress and oftentimes very lonely time for many. Remember everyone is going through something. Take care of yourself!

Tips to prevent holiday stress and depression

When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones for other reasons, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.

  2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events or communities. Many may have websites, online support groups, social media sites or virtual events. They can offer support and companionship.
    If you're feeling stress during the holidays, it also may help to talk to a friend or family member about your concerns. Try reaching out with a text, a call or a video chat.
    Volunteering your time or doing something to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships. For example, consider dropping off a meal and dessert at a friend's home during the holidays.

  3. Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children or other relatives can't come to your home, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos. Or meet virtually on a video call. Even though your holiday plans may look different this year, you can find ways to celebrate.

  4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

  5. Stick to a budget. Before you do your gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.
    Try these alternatives:

    • Donate to a charity in someone's name.

    • Give homemade gifts.

    • Start a family gift exchange.

  6. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, connecting with friends and other activities. Consider whether you can shop online for any of your items. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That'll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for meal prep and cleanup.

  7. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.

  8. Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
    Try these suggestions:

    • Have a healthy snack before holiday meals so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.

    • Eat healthy meals.

    • Get plenty of sleep.

    • Include regular physical activity in your daily routine.

    • Try deep-breathing exercises, meditation or yoga.

    • Avoid excessive tobacco, alcohol and drug use.

    • Be aware of how the information culture can produce undue stress, and adjust the time you spend reading news and social media as you see fit.

  9. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Find an activity you enjoy. Take a break by yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
    Some options may include:

    • Taking a walk at night and stargazing

    • Listening to soothing music

    • Reading a book

  10. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

Take control of the holidays

Don't let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.

As always please reach out for yourself or with questions on how to help anyone in need.

Warm Wishes,

Cecilia Huard, LMHC

School Adjustment Counselor

Big picture

From Ms. Bertrand, Our School Nurse

Is It a Cold or the Flu?

Your child has been sent home from school with a sore throat, cough, and high fever – could it be the flu? Or is it just the common cold? Typically, the flu (also known as influenza) has symptoms that make a child feel worse than symptoms associated with a common cold, but it’s not always that easy to tell the difference between the two.

Symptoms Guide

To help determine whether your child’s fighting the flu or combating a cold, review these questions below. The guidelines may be helpful, however will not cover every medical condition and does not take the place of seeking medical attention. Please consult your doctor for specific medical advice.

Flu vs. Colds: A Guide to Symptoms

Questions Flu Cold

Was your child’s onset of illness… sudden? slow?

Does your child have a… high fever? no (or mild) fever?

Is your child’s exhaustion level… severe? mild?

Is your child’s head… achy? headache-free?

Is your child’s appetite… decreased? normal?

Are your child’s muscles… achy? fine?

Does your child have… chills? no chills?

All children are different and symptoms can vary. Some bacterial diseases can look like the flu. If you suspect the flu, call your child’s doctor. Especially if your child seems to be getting worse, is having trouble breathing, has a high fever, has a bad headache, has a sore throat, or seems confused.

As always, please keep your child home from school until 24 hours fever-free without aid of medication!

Big picture

South PTO

HERE is a link to the January PTO Newsletter below that includes QR codes.
Big picture

Parent Resources

January Lunch Menu: please click HERE. Also, please click HERE to complete the 22-23 Free & Reduced School Meals Household Application.

Click HERE for January Read Aloud Books for Elementary Students

Our Elementary Student Handbook is HERE for your reference.

Click HERE for a 100s Chart to help count to 100, add, subtract, and notice number patterns.

Click HERE for an Alphabet Linking Chart to help your child match sounds and letters when writing/reading.

Click HERE for Multiplication Charts to practice math facts or use for a reference.

Somerset Public Schools, SY' 22-23 Calendar: please click HERE

Big picture


As this year comes to an end, we are so amazed at the amount of growth the students have made in just a few months. They are functioning more independently and working for longer periods of time. Students are fully engaged in using Kid Writing to stretch out words and write full sentences. Everyday students have a quiet time to look at books and tell about the story or even read the whole book themselves! We will build upon these beginning literacy skills in the new year to become stronger writers and readers in the area of nonfiction. In math, we have now covered the numbers 0-10 and will continue to compose, decompose, and compare these numbers to gain a solid foundation before we begin addition and subtraction. In social studies, we talked about things we need to survive (water, food, air, shelter) and things we want (things we like and enjoy). This is a great lesson as we prepare for the holidays and we are thankful to have all the things we need. We are looking forward to the vacation week to rest and reenergize and look forward to seeing everyone in 2023!
Big picture


This month, first grade learned about 3D shapes in math. They worked with doubles facts up to 20, and started fact families. In ELA, they worked on identifying and writing about the author’s main message in stories we read. In phonics, they are working on the short vowel e, and have added to their sight words knowledge. They are enjoying some fun year-end activities based on Gingerbread Man stories and loved attending the middle school concert!

Big picture


Over the past month in reading, we have looked closely at books written by author Tommie dePaola, and we are moving into another author study using Jan Brett books. We broke down the genres of fiction (fantasy, realistic fiction, folktales) and nonfiction (informational, biography, narrative). Next, we went into expressing our opinions about books. Our interactive read alouds have had us exploring beauty in the world around us and stories about the pleasure of giving. In phonics, we have finished up our discussion of inflected endings. Next, we will begin working on vowel teams starting with “igh” and “oa”. In writing, we have started to add details to the main event in our stories and have started to add elaborate endings to our narrative stories. In math, we concluded our chapter on 2-digit addition. Next, we will begin working on strategies for 2-digit subtraction. Our science mystery next month will have us exploring physical science starting with answering the mystery “Why do we wear clothes?” In social studies, we talked about our place on the map. After vacation, we will begin exploring mapping skills. Have a great holiday week. See you next year!

Big picture


Welcome January!

Wishing you all health and happiness in the New Year! Third graders are on a roll learning, growing and socializing-all in positive directions. In science, grade 3 is beginning a new unit in Physical Science. Students will be exploring force and motion as well as the wonderful world of magnets.

January will bring the start of Informational writing. Students will research, take notes, develop and write fact based essays. This is an exciting time for students to showcase their knowledge along with their writing skills.

In math, our third graders are learning how to represent and solve problems involving multiplication and division. Students are being encouraged to identify arithmetic patterns and explain them using the order of operations. Students are encouraged to practice multiplication facts daily. In reading, students continue their journey reading nonfiction texts. We have discovered the importance of text features and how they help the reader. We looked closely at sidebars and captions and how they give us extra information about the text and the photographs in the book. We are writing constructed responses to answer a question about the nonfiction text using text evidence and evidence based terms. In Social Studies, we are continuing to learn about the early settlers in Massachusetts.

Big picture


Welcome January!

Wishing you all health and happiness in the New Year! Fourth graders are on a roll learning, growing and socializing-all in positive directions. In science, grade 4 is completing our unit on Physical Science with a mini unit on waves and their impact on sound and light. We will then be transitioning into Earth science where our focus will be on different types of landforms.

January will bring the start of Informational writing. Students will research, develop and write fact based essays. This is an exciting time for students to showcase their knowledge along with their writing skills. In math, fourth graders are mastering dividing by 1-digit numbers. We will begin to develop our understanding of dividing to find quotients involving multi-digit dividends. New vocabulary this month will include multiple, remainder and compatible numbers. In Social Studies, we are continuing to study European Explorers. Students have been given an in school research project, and will be working with a partner to create a google slideshow over the next few weeks. In reading, students have continued their journey reading nonfiction texts. We are beginning to take a closer look at biographies and how they share important information about a person. We are determining the message the reader can glean from the text.

Big picture

Grade 5

The students have been working very hard and are excited for the holiday break. In math, we

have finished division of whole numbers and will start on division of decimals when we return

after vacation. 5P has been working on the water cycle in science and 5M has been working on

the Middle and Southern Colonies in Social Studies. In January, we will switch subjects....5M will be focusing on Science and 5P will change their focus to Social Studies. In writing, we have finished the unit on Narrative but that does not mean that writing is over. We still have the units on Opinion and Informative writing to complete. From the fifth grade teachers and paras that work with your children, we would like to wish all, a joyous holiday season and a restful time.