News From Fort Zeller Elementary

December 2022

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Principal's Message

What a great time of the year! It is exciting to see the joy in the faces of our students during the holiday season. Due to the busy nature of the season, sometimes schedules and added responsibilities can cause stress. Concerts, parties, family visits and so many other events seem to be packed into a limited amount of time. Scheduling becomes an issue and we always seem to be looking for ways to complete our to-do list.

As the holiday season approaches, please give your child the gift of extra time. Put an I.O.U. for a special event or activity in his/her stocking. When students are asked to write about a memorable event in their lives, it isn't a special gift they usually choose to write about, but a particular experience they have had with someone special.

During this season of the year we would like to say thanks to:

  • Parents and guardians who spend quality time with their child.
  • All the volunteers who give countless hours to Fort Zeller Elementary for students and staff.
  • Community members and parents who organize fund raisers, make phone calls, and bring food to classes and the staff lounge on special days.
  • All the people in our district who are committed to giving their best to your children every day. For example: custodians, food service staff, bus drivers, school nurses, paraprofessionals, secretaries, teachers, and members of the school board.
  • All of you who are doing your very best to send your child ready to learn every day. I am proud of how much our community gives during this time of the year. We have many programs that reflect the caring community culture that is growing through our population.

We always welcome and appreciate your support in all the endeavors we take on. On behalf of the staff of Fort Zeller Elementary, have a joyous holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

Take care,

Jodi Houck

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Important Information

1. Robocall for Attendance: Starting in the next few days, we will be calling families of students who are absent each day. This will help to keep the communication line open between home and school, which will benefit our students' learning and assure their safety.

2. Drop Off - With the weather getting cooler and for student safety, please remember that parents SHOULD NOT drop students off prior to 8:30 unless you see a staff member outside greeting students and the doors are opened. Students dropped off prior to staff being available are out in cold weather and unsupervised which is not safe.

3. Spring Math - The ELCO elementary schools will be starting a new math program called Spring Math in December. Please see below for more details.

4. Power School Forms - We are still looking for a number of families to complete the required forms on Power School. These forms provide us with up-to-date important information. Please see below for more information. If you need help, please make sure to contact our office.

5. Break - We will not have school for students from December 23-January 2. We hope everyone has a wonderful break and a Happy Holiday!

6. ELCO's Annual Holiday Program - ELCO's annual holiday program to support our families is back! Please see below for more information.


Dec. 1: (Day 3)

  • Gingerbread Shop

Dec. 2: (Day 4)

  • Gingerbread Shop

Dec. 5: (Day 1)

  • Board Meeting @ 6:00 pm

Dec. 7: (Day 3)

  • PTO Meeting @ 6:30 pm at the Franklin House (please RSVP to if you are planning on attending)

Dec. 23-Jan.2: (Winter Break)

  • No School for Students

Jan. 3: (Day 3)

  • Back to School

Holiday Dress Days

If your child would like to participate in our holiday dress days, they are listed below. Let's have some fun in the days leading up to our break.
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Spring Math

Starting in December, ELCO elementary schools will be starting a program called SpringMath to help supplement our math curriculum! SpringMath is an evidence-based tool designed to promote growth in math for ALL students. Our goal is to accelerate the growth in our students’ mastery of fundamental math skills and to help them grow in their math proficiency!

We are confident that this program is going to give our students the foundation needed to be successful as they advance in math, but also to be confident in math as they continue to grow. More information about SpringMath can be found at We would love for you to see for yourself the amazing data that has been collected from districts across the entire country!

Please call or email your child’s teacher if you have questions about this or anything else related to your child’s academic progress.

Operation Warm-A-Child

As we enter into December, we will kick off our annual Operation Warm-A-Child drive to benefit the Lebanon Rescue Mission.

Operation Warm-A-Child: (December 1 - December 23) Operation Warm-A-Child will ask our community to donate children's socks (they need socks!!), hats, gloves, coats, scarves, etc., all of which can be placed under our Giving Tree in the lobby. These articles of clothing will benefit the Lebanon Rescue Mission

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Students and Class of the Month

Congratulations to our November students of the month and class of the month!

Kindergarten - Clayton L. (Yocum am) & Hailey A. (Zurick pm)

First Grade - Lucas S. (Booth) & Rayna S. (Crandall)

Second Grade - Abraham G.E. (Lucky), Willow M. (Eshleman) & Emily S. (Gettle)

Class of the Month - Ms. Frederick's Class

During the month of November, we were focused on citizenship. Throughout the month of December, we are focusing on compassion. Compassion means we care about others, treat them with kindness, and feel a strong desire to help people in need. Compassion is empathy in action.

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Author Visit - Lisa Papp

On November 14, Fort Zeller had the honor of hosting children's author, Lisa Papp and her husband Rob. Lisa Papp grew up telling stories. With a notebook full of sketches, her early tales featured her cat, stuffed animals, and other nature-y things. Today, Lisa is still making up stories and painting pictures, only now, they fill the pages of children's books. She has received awards for both her writing and illustration, including a 2011 NAPPA Honor Award, 2012 Storytelling Award, and the 2013 PA Keystone to Reading Award. Lisa lives in Pennsylvania, with her husband, Robert, also an artist, and three wildly creative cats.

Our students had to opportunity to hear what authors and illustrators go through when working on a new book. The artists shared drawings from when they were young and shared the inspirations for their books.

Thank you to our PTO and our reading specialists for organizing this wonderful experience for our students.

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Veterans Day Breakfast

Fort Zeller Elementary had a wonderful morning celebrating our Veterans at our annual Veterans Day breakfast. We are so thankful for our Veterans for their service and for spending part of their special day with us at Fort Zeller.
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Raiders Read

Our high school friends read the story Gibberish, written by Young Vo. IT IS A VERY POWERFUL & GORGEOUS PICTUREBOOK!! Compassion, character trait for December, is very evident in this story.

For the follow-up activity, the class drew and/or wrote about how Julie (supporting character) shows compassion. The author doesn’t explicitly say how she demonstrates compassion. Inferencing and looking at the images helped our students to answer the question.

Our students love having the high school students read with them. We appreciate the high schoolers spending some of their time with us!

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Rising Raiders Family Workshops

This year, Fort Zeller Elementary and Jackson Elementary are teaming up to provide family workshops for next year's incoming kindergarten families. We had our first event on October 12 at Jackson Elementary. It went very well and was enjoyed by the families and future students who attended. We are hoping to have more families join in for our next workshop, which will be held on January 10 at Fort Zeller. Please help spread the word to any families who have a child who would be entering kindergarten next year. Thank you!
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ELCO Food Pantry & Caring Closet

The ELCO Raider Food Pantry is Open!

The ELCO Raider Food Pantry is now open and available for the ELCO families. With the support of our ELCO staff, local businesses and churches, we are able to provide our ELCO families with an additional resource.

If you are in need of immediate assistance or you'd like to donate to the ELCO Raider Pantry, please reach out to Kelly Smith, ELCO Social Worker, at 717-306-3242 or Jenelle Himmelreich, Director of Food and Nutrition, at 717-306-3270 for a confidential appointment to the pantry.

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Link to Power School

We have several families that still need to do their yearly update on Power School. Please click this link to get started.

Camp Invention - Mr. Wright

ELCO Intermediate School is proud to partner with Camp Invention again for another fun filled STEM camp. The week of camp this school year will be June 19-22, 2023. I wanted to get this out early because if you sign up this month, Camp Invention is giving its largest discount ever of $50 off the price of registration. I am attaching a link and a flyer to this message for your convenience. If you have any questions please email me at Thanks and enjoy the school year!

Link to register:

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Counselor's Corner With Mrs. Brosius

R.E.A.C.H. Lessons

In November, Kindergarteners and First grade students learned all about relaxing! In Kindergarten, we learned more about Peaceful Spot, how to feel calm and focused when BIG EMOTIONS show up, and students drew pictures of something that makes them feel peaceful!

In First grade, students were introduced to Calm Spot. We discussed how calm is a feeling that comes from the Peaceful emotion. Students shared things, places, and people that make them feel calm. Then, we practiced our slow, quiet breathing while we did some yoga poses to calm our minds and bodies!

Our second graders focused on our PBIS Character Trait of the month: Citizenship. We talked about what citizenship means, things good citizens do, and what would happen if we didn’t have any rules! We read the story What If Everybody Did That by Ellen Javernick. In the story, a little boy makes choices that don’t seem like a big deal…until everybody does it! Second grade students each made their own “What If Everybody Did That…” page that I’m going to put together into a big book to share with everyone!

Next month, we will be focusing on Compassion and meeting more little spots!

Small Groups

I currently have a few small groups running and they all focus on self-regulation. When we return from winter break in January, more groups focusing on other topics, will be starting!


Student continue to do a great job filling their Bee Cards! We love that our students are always so Respectful, Responsible, and Ready to Learn!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a relaxing long break!

Library News

November 2022

Students learned about the character trait of

citizenship. Kindergarten students finished our

nursery rhyme unit with hands-on activities.

First grade students wrapped up the creation of

their electronic book and will be sharing them

with their peers. Second grade

students focused on non-fiction

text features and used the OSMO

Word kits to reinforce their learning.

What's New in Music Class?

Kindergarten students are finding the heartbeat of music through songs like Johnny Works With One Hammer and Alligator Pie. Students are writing quarter notes and eighth notes. (Ta’s and Ti-ti’s)

First grade students are learning note names and values. They are practicing to draw the quarter, half and whole notes.They also started their first musical listening story!

Second grade students are working on the three new chords, F, A, and G. They are learning proper holding techniques and posture.

A Note From ART - Mrs. Panza

November Recap: This month in Mrs. Panza’s art classroom, ELCO artists were focused on learning about and creating artwork! Kindergarten artists finished their line artwork from last month and mounted the artwork so it is ready for display. Kindergarten artists started creating collages and made choices about how abstract they want their artwork to look (with some inspiration from Henri Matisse’s The Snail). First grade artists created mixed media artwork with a bear as the focal point. We began with a practice drawing before creating a ”good copy.” Artists used tools such as texture plates, crayons, watercolor paints, designs and their imaginations to create their one-of-a-kind work. Second grade artists practiced using lines and designs to fill in shapes and spaces instead of “coloring in a shape or space.” They worked in a fall color palette and many chose to create a pattern with these colors. In addition, second grade artists finished their non-objective artwork from last month and prepared it for display at school. Thanks for a great month in art class!

Get Moving in Physical Education - Mr. Babiarz

In November, Physical Education classes included lots of exciting and fun manipulative activities. Students manipulated objects such as scarves, beanbags, balls and hula hoops. Students practiced their skills and played games involving throwing, catching, balancing, spinning and sliding. People walking past the gym would have seen students balancing objects on different parts of their body, sliding beanbags to knock down bowling pins, and hula hooping to the music.

What's Happening in Kindergarten

Kindergarten did a great job with the Character Trait of Citizenship in November. On top of that, our boys and girls are all doing a great job with following the Bee Rules! In reading, students continue learning about letters, sounds, making words, and adding more high frequency words to their list. In math, they have been working on recognizing numbers to twenty and showing representations of those numbers using tens and ones.

What's Going on in 1st Grade

November: During the month of November, first grade students focused on finishing up short vowel sound reviews. Plus listened for the “ck” and double final consonants at the end of words and the “R”, “L” and “S” blends at the beginning of words. In math, the students explored the use of different strategies to help solve addition problems to 20. Several different thankful activities and projects were also completed. First graders also enjoyed a visit from Author Lisa Papp.

2nd Grade Updates

From the eyes of second graders….

We had an incredible November. As winter is approaching, we took advantage of lots of learning opportunities. We learned how to add and subtract double digit numbers. The songs to remember the steps were silly! We wrote about the things we are thankful for and shared them with our families. In language arts we learned about collective nouns, proper nouns and even learned a silly song about verbs! We love school and are glad we are in 2nd grade!

Reading Corner

In last month’s building newsletter, the strategy Simultaneous Oral Spelling (S.O.S.) was highlighted. This month, we share a video that demonstrates the steps for this highly effective strategy.

In case you missed the description of this strategy, the following explains each step:

1. Say a word.

a. Tip: Make sure your child is watching your mouth, so they can see how the sounds are being produced.

2. Ask your child to repeat the word.

a. Tip: Have them look at their mouth in a mirror so they can again visually see how the sounds are being produced.

3. Have your child “tap” and say the sounds.

a. Tip: Use small objects, like pennies, and ask them to “slide” and say each sound. Pop It fidget toys are another great “learning tool” to help your child say each individual sound. If your child needs movement to learn, have them jump on one foot or do jumping jacks as they say each sound.

4. Now have your child write the word.

a. Tip: Before they spell the word, you can also draw line segments for each sound to help them “map” each individual sound. For example, the word cat has three sounds, so you would draw three line segments.

5. Finally, have your child read the word back to you.

For step 4, the student in the video uses a phoneme grapheme map, or sound boxes. This is also shared below. If you would like printed copies, please send an email to You can also access these resources on my Schoology page, Mrs. Faust’s Reading Intervention course. The access code is 25V8-N2DR-R289P.

Final thoughts: When we teach our students to understand the relationship between sounds (phonemes) and print (graphemes), they are more likely to decode (read) and encode (spell) accurately and quickly. Simultaneous Oral Spelling assists with creating a pathway in the brain and helps our students break the alphabetic code.

Demonstration Video - Phoneme Grapheme Mapping

Click this button for a demonstration.

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Social Media #ELCOexcellence

ELCO School District is growing our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels. Click on the icons and follow along!

Facebook - @ELCOSD

Twitter - @elcosd

Instagram - @elcosd


  1. Celebrate our students.

  2. Keep parents, students, alumni, and the community in the loop of what is happening in our district.

  3. Promote the great things happening such as athletics, activities, and other events.

  4. Build an ongoing conversation about the positive impact our district is making in the lives of our students!

What do I need to do?

  • If you are on these social media channels – follow us!

  • Help promote these accounts to your family and friends.

  • If you aren’t on these platforms – that’s OK. The district will continue to provide communication through traditional channels.

Nurse's News

1. The nurse's office needs donations.

- girls and boys pants size 4-5 and 6-7 (size small)

- shoes sizes 11 through 2

2. Just a friendly reminder about the school exclusion policy:

- Students must be fever free for 24 hours (without fever reducing medication) before they may return

- Must be vomit/diarrhea free for 24 hours before they may return.

3. If medications need to be administered during school hours, weather over the counter or prescribed, they must be sent to nurse with a note or doctor's note, not placed in a baggie with the child.

Thank You! ☺️


1. On Wednesday, December 7, 2022, at 6:30, our PTO will host its next meeting at the Franklin House in Schaeffertown. Please RSVP to if you are planning on attending. Most meetings will be held on the first Tuesday of every month. We hope that you will consider joining our meetings and provide your valuable input to support our students and staff at Fort Zeller.

2. Volunteering: If you have an interest in being a volunteer in your child's classroom or in our school, please use this link,, to complete the necessary paperwork on clearances. Don't hesitate to call our office at (610) 589-2575 if you need additional assistance.

News from Fort Zeller's PTO

Hello Fort Zeller Families!!!

ELCO - Spirit Wear Sale

ELCO has a new logo, update your ELCO wardrobe!

Items will be delivered before the holidays so they will make great gifts for family and friends.

Shop Now -

🎁🎁Save the Date - Gingerbread Shop🎁🎁

Thursday, December 1 & Friday, December 2

Information packets were sent home in students’ book bags.

Please complete the budget form and return to school on shopping days.

The Gingerbread Shop Committee is looking for volunteers for this event -

Christmas wrapping paper

Do you have extra Christmas wrapping paper laying around? The PTO would gladly accept donations 🎁 Wrapping paper would be used to wrap the books the PTO purchases for each student to be handed out before winter break; and also gingerbread shop.

📚📚📚 Scholastic Book Fair 📚📚📚

HUGE thank you to our volunteers that made this Book Fair a success for the Fort Zeller students.

Volunteer Clearances

We will need volunteers for upcoming events!

If you are interested in volunteering, start obtaining your volunteer clearances today!

If you have any questions about the process, please let us know!

Amazon Smile / Box Tops -

Shopping Amazon?

Don’t forget to sign up for Amazon Smile and choose “Fort Zeller Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization Inc” as the organization to support!

Please download the BoxTops App and start scanning your grocery receipts. Here is all of the products that can earn money for the PTO.

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2 - Jayce Fetterhoff & Ruger Hunter

3 - Matthew Weiser

4 - Anthony Hurley

5 - Jasper Kent & Knox Sowers

6 - Christopher Rojas-Zimmerman

9 - Samuel Randler

10 - Avacyn Krause & Lukas Sipe

11 - Suzann Steinmetz

12 - Cora Shirk

15 - Jaron Bollinger

16 - Riley Fidler, Aviea Frandsen & Lydia Anspach

17 - Finnley Thomas

18 - Aiden Seachrist

20 - Olivia Horst & Levi Brandt

21 - Sophia Wells

25 - Chase Pacine

27 - Hudson Horning

28 - Jaxson Warluft

29 - Dustin Taucci

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Contact us

Fort Zeller Elementary School

243 North Sheridan Road

Richland, PA 17087

Phone: (610) 589-2575

Fax: 610-589-5815

Twitter: @ElcoFort