Words To The Wise

April Issue

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Principal's Message

Spring is truly here! At the writing of this message, the Orioles are 2and 0, trees are budding, flowers are blooming, and students are wearing shorts to school! Can you believe the third marking period ended on Friday, April 8, 2016 and report cards will be going home on Thursday, April 21, 2016? The end of the third marking period is a good time to measure your child’s success with their academic goals. As you review the report card with your child, please help to identify areas of strength and provide plenty of praise. Areas identified as needing improvement should be discussed and must be the focus during the fourth marking period. Please remember that encouragement will go a long way with your child’s effort and self esteem.

Keep Reading

Families who read together provide the strongest model for future reading. Research has established that children who read nightly show an increase in their love of reading, their vocabulary development, and comprehension skills. We encourage family participation in this activity which offers students opportunities to expand their horizons and broaden their knowledge. Please keep the use of the Baltimore County Public Libraries (BCPL) in mind to select interesting books for your student(s) to read each day. We also look forward the BCPL summer reading program, to ensure a comprehensive reading selection during the summer months.

“Few children learn to read books by themselves. Someone has to lure them into the wonderful world of the written word: someone has to show them the way.”

-Author Anonymous

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AP's Message

Greetings, Westowne Families ~

It is hard to believe that we are entering into the final quarter of the school year! Teachers and staff continue to work hard designing challenging and engaging lessons for their students each and every day. Students are commended for their continued “Owl-Standing” behavior, making positive choices each day to be respectful, responsible, safe and ready to learn. We also appreciate the continued support from parents and community members as this school year comes to a close.

Autism Awareness Month

We are celebrating Autism Awareness at Westowne Elementary throughout the month of April by providing Autism Awareness lessons/activities taught by our School Consolers Mrs. Brumfield and Mrs. Stine. Additionally, Westowne will Go Blue on Friday, April 29th to show our Autism Awareness as a school and community!

PARCC Testing

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers

Having new academic standards (Maryland College and Career Ready Standards) requires new assessment tools to measure student progress. PARCC, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, was created by a partnership of 22 states, including Maryland, to develop these assessments. Please reference the testing schedule below to see when your child will be participating in the PARCC assessment.

PARCC Testing Dates

*Please note that testing is not all day, but rather the first few hour(s) of each testing day. Arriving to school on time is most important each and every day, even testing days.*

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You may remember our February attendance challenge. The calculations are in the winning grade level was 5th! They will have an all expense paid trip to Philadelphia. Way to go 5th grade.
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Library Land

  • On Tuesday, April 19, Westowne will welcome Maryland’s Green author Jennifer Keats Curtis. She will talk to students in kindergarten to grade 5 about how she researches and writes her books, about the animals she has met and studied, and more. Thank you to the PTA for bringing Ms. Curtis to Westowne! (If you placed an order, in March, for her books, they will be given to the students on April 19th.)

  • Twelve Westowne 4th and 5th graders have worked hard for over 6 months to prepare for this year’s BCPL Battle of the Books. They’ve read and re-read ten chapter books from this year’s list of Black-Eyed Susan nominated Chapter books for grades 4 to 6. On Friday, April 22, at 6:30 p.m., these students will compete against students from Westchester Elementary at the Catonsville Branch of BCPL. Special thanks to Ms. Robey, Ms. Kim, Ms. Sevidal and Ms. Lund for their help and support as the students prepare for this “Battle.” Good luck to Haley, Ivana, Kelly, Lilah, Natasha, Olivia, Andrea, Evan, Josiah, Lauren, Madison, and Sierra.

  • As we approach the end of the school year, especially with the preparations to prepare the library books for the move to the new building, it is very important that students return (or renew) their books every week. Please help your child(ren) remember to bring their school library book(s) each week. If your child has an outstanding damaged or lost book fine, please help him/her clear this obligation to BCPS from his/her library account so we can finish the year with clean accounts.

  • Wednesday, May 25th will be the final Screen Free Day. There will be two Screen Free events families can join.

    • The Green Club will host a grounds cleaning from 4 until 5 p.m. Bring gloves and any gardening tools you have. Students will only be allowed to stay if a parent/guardian is with them.

    • Peace A Pizza Discount Night will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. (A coupon for 20% off your eat-in or carry-out order will be sent home that day.)

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Counseling Corner

With the warm weather finally here (at least we hope so), we thought we’d start out by talking a little about personal hygiene for kids.

What is Personal Hygiene for Kids? By Barb Nefer

Personal hygiene is important in every stage of life, but good cleanliness habits start in childhood. Kids who learn what it is and how to follow proper hygiene practices will usually carry that into adulthood. Hygiene education starts with the family, and eventually youngsters can learn what to do and follow cleanliness rules on their own.

Personal hygiene is generally defined as cleanliness of the body and proper maintenance of personal appearance. This generally includes all body areas and clothing. Kids do not naturally understand the importance of personal hygiene and how to maintain it. They learn about it from their family and usually need assistance until they get older and are able to do it on their own.

There are several basic types of hygiene for kids. First is cleanliness of the body, which alleviates dirt and odor. A child should be taught to bathe or shower every day and to wash her hands frequently. Dr. Lynn Smitherman, a pediatrics professor at Wayne State University, cites hand washing as one of the most important cleanliness habits children can learn. At the very least, a kid should learn to wash her hands before meals and after using the restroom.

Second is oral hygiene, which means brushing the teeth regularly. It should be done at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Ideally the child should learn to brush after every meal too. The Journey to Caring website states that teaching your child to brush correctly is just as important as frequency.

Third is wearing clean clothing. Children should learn to choose a clean outfit, including underwear, each day and to change out of play clothes if they become excessively soiled.

Personal hygiene expectations for children must be age appropriate. Youngsters can start to learn hygiene basics as toddlers. For example, they can learn to wash their hands and brush their teeth with parental modeling, although they will still require assistance with bathing, showering and dressing. Kids can gradually do these activities independently as they reach school age, and this will lead to bathing, showering and dressing on their own.

Bad personal hygiene can harm a child's health in several ways. Unclean kids are more prone to illness, either from the dirt itself or from exposure to cold and flu germs and other illnesses carried by others. Cavities and gum disease are caused by neglected oral hygiene and can lead to premature loss of teeth.

Character Education: Positive Attitude/ Optimism

During counseling this past month our students have been learning about the parts of their brain that controls their emotional state (amygdala), helps with good decision making (prefrontal cortex) and stores memories (hippocampus) during our mindfulness lessons. I found this article, which highlights the character education topic of the month, positive attitude/optimism, and how it works within the brain. ENJOY.

Cultivating Practical Optimism: A Key to Getting the Best from Your Brain

By Donna Wilson, PhD

Neuroscientists recently discovered that optimism is associated with brain pathways connecting the left prefrontal region to the amygdala. Further research has demonstrated that optimism, traditionally considered to be an unchangeable trait, is a way of thinking that can be learned and enhanced. People with a positive viewpoint have less stress, better creative problem-solving skills, and better health outcomes than less optimistic people. In addition, optimistic learners are more likely to persist in the sometimes-hard work of learning, motivated by the belief that they can accomplish their learning goals.

Many teachers realize that as students become more optimistic, they are motivated to progress through learning difficulties and to attain higher levels of achievement. More optimistic students also have greater resistance to depression and the negative effects of stress.

We use the term practical optimism to describe an attitude about life that relies on taking realistic, positive action to increase the likelihood of successful results. Emphasizing positive emotions helps students become more resilient and more likely to persevere with learning tasks. Their persistence is fueled by the belief that they will triumph over difficulty, learn from their mistakes, overcome plateaus in their performance, and progress. The mantra "I think I can! I think I can!" from an all-time favorite story, The Little Engine That Could, illustrates practical optimistic thinking.

Trash or Treasure?

One of our strategies that can be used to develop a positive environment features six steps for easy implementation, including a read-aloud story (Wilson & Conyers, 2011, p. 243). This strategy has been used by teachers, counselors, and school psychologists to promote practical optimism in schools:

1. Introduce practical optimism and its benefits. Ask your children if they would like to learn a way to more consistently sustain practical optimism.

2. Read aloud the following story:

Treasure Hunters and Trash Collectors

It seems that in life there are two types of people. The first are treasure hunters. Every day they seek out what is useful and positive. They focus on it, talk about it, and think about it. Each of these moments is treasured like a bright, shining jewel that they store in their treasure chest forever.

And then there are trash collectors who spend their lives looking for what is wrong, unfair, and not working. They focus their energy, time, and thoughts on the trash, and every day they put that trash into a big trashcan.

The treasure hunters proudly carry their treasure into the future, while the trash collectors drag their heavy, smelly trashcan from one day to the next. The question is: When they get to the end of the year, what does each person have -- a treasure chest filled with useful, positive memories, or a trash can full of things they didn't like?

The choice is yours. You get to decide.

3. Ask your child/children to think of five things they like or can feel good about.

4. Ask your child/children to write, draw, or create a concept map of these five things.

5. Tell your child/children to approach five people and share with them their five things.

6. Continue to use this process once a week or once a month, encouraging your child/children to find and add more things to their practical optimism list.

Once learners understand that they have the capacity to increase their levels of practical optimism by the choices they make, many are highly motivated to do so. They become more likely to think of setbacks as temporary. They recognize that by using more effective learning strategies or investing more study time, they can overcome obstacles and turn setbacks into triumphs. This progress in turn can lead to more academic success and enhance optimism even further. Practical optimism is a means for getting the best from your brain and your life.


Wilson, D. L., & Conyers, M. A. (2011). BrainSMART: 60 strategies for Increasing Student Learning. Orlando, FL: BrainSMART.

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Nurses Nook

Happy Spring!

When I think of Spring, I think of seasonal allergies. Headaches, sore throats, post-nasal drip, runny noses, stuffy noses, itchy and watery eyes, and, generally just not feeling well. If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, please discuss the symptoms with your child’s pediatrician. If your child has already been diagnosed with seasonal allergies, please give all once a day allergy medicine at home. I do have Benadryl at school to give for emergencies, for example, allergic reactions to bee stings, bug bites, food allergies. Benadryl is not really to be given at school for seasonal allergies. Also, if your child uses allergy eye drops, please administer the drops in the morning, before school.

If your child has come home from school wearing borrowed clothing from the nurse, please return the washed clothes to the nurse as soon as possible.

Please do not send medication to school with your child. All medication to be taken at school should be brought to school by an adult and it should be accompanied by a medication order from the doctor.

As the weather gets warmer, please remember to send your child to school in closed-toe shoes for safety on the playground. Also, speaking of warmer weather, students are encouraged to bring a reusable bottle of water to school each day. Proper hydration is important for healthy minds and healthy bodies.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call me at 410-869-0023, or, email me at jmartin13@bcps.org.

Thank you!

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Field Trip Information

5th Grade Eco-Trekkers Field Trip

The 5th graders will become an Eco-Trekker for the day when they visit Marshy Point Nature Center and Miami Beach Park! We will focus on the relationship between living things and their environment which make up the Chesapeake Bay meadow, forest, and shoreline ecosystems. We will visit these sites to examine them and note non-living factors such as temperatures and salinity as well as living factors. Students should expect to see plants, sea-life, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and birds. This is a great excuse to get dirty and try new things you’ve never tried before. You’re guaranteed to learn exciting new things about the water system you live near in the process!

Date of Trip: April 25th, 2016

Cost: $FREE!

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Middle School Information

Catonsville Middle School

A Maryland Blue Ribbon School of Excellence

“Where Good Leaders Become Great Leaders”

2301 Edmondson Avenue § Catonsville, Maryland 21228

(410) 887-0803 § Fax (410) 887-1036


April 11, 2016

Dear Parents/Guardians:

The staff at Catonsville Middle School has been working closely with the staff of our three feeder elementary school to register students for the 2016-2017 school year. Although August may seem a long way off, we are very excited about welcoming your family to Catonsville Middle School, and we have already begun planning for the new school year. We realize that you may have many questions about middle school, so we are contacting parents to invite them to explore our campus and to learn more about the transition from elementary school to Catonsville Middle School.

On Wednesday, May 11, 2016, Catonsville Middle School will host a Parent Information Night. Please keep in mind that this program is for parents/guardians only. (Students from our feeder elementary schools will be invited to tour our school in June, and all new incoming students will be invited to our annual ice cream social in August, so they can visit their classrooms and meet their teachers prior to the first day of school.) The May 11 Parent Information Night will begin with informal building tours at 6:30 PM. Tours will run every few minutes until about 6:50 PM. The formal presentation will begin in the gymnasium at 7:00 PM. The program will provide you with brief information about school courses, programs, and student expectations and will give you the opportunity to meet some of our sixth grade teachers and other staff members who will help facilitate your child’s transition from elementary school to the middle school. Traditionally, parents have taken this opportunity to preview the school and to ask questions about the transition to middle school. Following is our program schedule for the Grade 5 Parent Information Night:

6:30-6:50 Informal Building Tours

7:00-7:05 Welcome and General Overview of CMS in Gymnasium

7:05–7:15 Catonsville Middle School Choir performance

7:15-8:15 Mini Information Sessions (in the Gymnasium)

Brief Overview of Courses Offered

Grade 6 Overview and Expectations

A Few Words about the Advanced Academics Program

Student Resources/Counseling

Student Medical Information

Student Service Learning

The NorthBay Experience

The CMS PTSA: How to Get Involved

8:15 Question and Answer Session

We are looking forward to meeting you on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, so we can welcome you to the CMS community!


Michael G. Thorne


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Safe Routes to School

Safe Routes to School is a federal grant program that funds capital improvements that promote walkability and bike-ability to schools.

Westowne PTA will be applying for a Safe Routes grant in 2017. The first phase of the application process involves data collection, pedestrian and traffic safety education, and walking and biking promotion. Help us make Westowne a safe place to walk and bike.


Walk together

· Younger children should always walk with an adult.

· When you are near the street, don’t push, shove, or chase each other.

· Listen for instructions from your parents, especially when approaching a crosswalk or intersection.

Cross the street safely

Cars do not always see young children so make sure you see the cars.

· Cross only at crosswalks not in the middle of the street.

· Stop at the curb or edge of the street.

· Look left, right, left and behind you and in front of you for traffic.

· Wait until no traffic is coming and begin crossing.

· Keep looking for traffic until you have finished crossing.

· Walk, don’t run across the street.

Obey traffic signs, signals and school crossing guards.

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April 1-25 Parent Survey

Participate in the parent survey to help us collect the data needed to apply for the federal Safe Routes to School grant. Fliers will be sent home with more information.

April 22 Walk & Bike to School

Celebrate Earth Day by walking or biking to school. Walkers and bikers can enter for a chance to win a prize.

April 23 Stream Clean up


Clean up the storm water management area behind Westowne to keep our waterways clean. Thanks to Patapsco Heritage Greenway and the Ingleside Neighborhood Association for organizing the event.

More details coming soon about registration and parking!

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Construction Updates