Bel Ayr Elementary School

January 2023 Newsletter


Dear families,

Happy New Year! As we settle in for the winter months at Bel Ayr Elementary, we are looking forward to seeing our students continue their educational and social journey. January and February offer us a steady and consistent stretch of instructional time to help your children explore new things and to consolidate prior learning. Thank you for your support at home!


Shawn Marsh



      • January 4 - New Pizza Ordering Window Opens in School Cash Online

      • January 4 - 3-6 Chess Club

      • January 11 - 3-6 Chess Club

      • January 16 - Martin Luther King Jr. Day

      • January 18 - JOHSC Meeting (8:15)

      • January 18 - 3-6 Chess Club

      • January 18 - SAC and H&S meetings (6pm and 7 pm)

      • January 19 - Last Pizza Thursday for Families who Ordered in the fall

      • January 25 - 3-6 Chess Club

      • January 26 - First Pizza Thursday for New Order Window

      • January 26 - African Heritage Month Celebration and Kick -off (Halifax Public Libraries)

      • January 27 - Family Literacy Day

      • February 1 - African Heritage Month

      • February 9 - Family Bingo Night

Lunch Monitors

We are looking to hire new lunch monitors. If this interests you, or if you know someone who would be interested, please phone Mr. Marsh at the main office.


Water Bottles

Please remind your child to pack a water bottle in their backpack. We have refilling stations in our school but have recently noticed a greater number of students choosing not to use their water bottles in favour of our emergency paper cups. The cost of disposable paper cups is increasing so we would like to encourage students to bring their own water bottles so we can save money and the environment at the same time.

Outdoor Gear

With temperatures and conditions fluctuating please make sure your child has winter boots, a snow suit (if they want to play in the snow), a warm jacket, mitts, and a hat. These items are expensive and times are tough! If you require financial assistance, please reach out to Mr. Marsh. Our school system has supports for families in need.

Chess Club

Mr. Balcom, a retired teacher, has graciously offered his time to host a chess club for interested grades 3-6 students each Wednesday in the winter months. Thank you Mr. Balcom!

Reading Intervention

We recently created a schedule that will combine our staff with volunteer readers. These amazing people will add a new layer of support for our readers in the lower elementary. Thank you to Gilda Greenough, Lydia Landry, Jennifer Jenkins, and Danielle Rowlings for volunteering their time to our school. One of our new school improvement strategies involves focussing our attention on phonemic awareness and phonics. You can help us at home by using the following prompts when you read with your children:

Look Before You Leap!

LOOK: Start with The Print

DECODE before using other strategies - "Start with the letters." and "Look at the letters first."

LOOK carefully at each part of the word - "Make every sound." and "Look at every letter."

STAY focused on the print - "keep your eyes on the letters" and "Stick with it."

BLEND all the sounds together - Put the sounds together" and "Smooth it Out"

LEAP: Add Context

LEAP from the phonetic approximation of the word - "What word does that sound like?"

CHECK the word to move - "Does that make sense?" or "Does that sound right?"

REBUILD meaning after problem-solving - "Reread the sentence"

(from Shifting the Balance by Burkins and Yates)

Winter is Here: Guidelines for Inclement Weather

Making the decision to alter the regular operations of school and/or school buses due to inclement weather is never an easy task. To learn more about how the Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) makes this call, visit

When is the decision made?

HRCE’s goal is to make the decision as close to 6 a.m. as possible.

A 6 a.m. announcement could be:

  • All schools are delayed in opening by two hours and all bus pickups are delayed by two hours; or
  • All schools are open, but some or all buses are not operating for the day; or
  • Some schools (either individually or by family) are closed for the day; or
  • All schools are closed for the day.

If the weather deteriorates through the school day, the HRCE can decide to dismiss early. In the event of an early dismissal, the decision will be communicated as close to 11 a.m. as possible.

An 11 a.m. dismissal means:

  • Bused students will be picked up two hours earlier than their regular dismissal time; and
  • Walking students will be dismissed at their regularly-scheduled lunch hour.

Please Note: students in Grades Primary to 6 will not be released from school until parents/guardians or designates have been notified by the school.

How will families be notified?

  • Families will receive an email and text message (opt-in is required: text Y to 978338)*
  • Check our website at
  • Follow us on Twitter at @HRCE_NS
  • Call the HRCE information line at 902-464-INFO (4636)
  • All local radio stations are informed

Click here for a printable PDF of our guidelines.

*If you know someone who is NOT a parent/guardian who would like to receive an email and/or text message, let them know they can sign up here:

Social Media

- Follow our school on Twitter @belayrschool

- Stay up to date with the HRCE on Twitter and Instagram @HRCE_NS.

Volunteer Checks

Are you interested in volunteering for future events or class trips? In order to volunteer with children at an HRCE school, you must submit a current Criminal Record/Vulnerable Sector ($30-$50) check and a Child Abuse Register Search (free). Please request a volunteer letter from our main office before applying for a Criminal Record/Vulnerable Sector check. This will also reduce the cost if you have it done in person at an RCMP detachment. We have some funding available upon request for reimbursements with original receipts.

After submitting both of these documents to our main office, you will be cleared for volunteering in our school for three full years from the date of issue indicated on your paperwork. Thank you for your interest and your time!

Family Literacy Day

Did you know? January 27 is Family Literacy Day

Family Literacy Day takes place each year on January 27 to raise awareness about the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family.

This year’s theme is Celebrate Your Heritage! Canada is a great diverse country full of different cultures. Use reading as a way to explore and learn about your heritage and the dynamic cultures that make up our communities.

New Pizza Ordering Window

We recently opened a new School Cash Online ordering window for the next round of Pizza Thursdays. If you are connected with School Cash Online (see below) you will find an invitiation for this ordering window in your inbox. If you signed up for pizza the fall, your child(ren) will still receive pizzas on Thursday, January 12th and Thursday, January 19th. The new orders will take effect on Thursday, January 26th. Pizzas for this new order will be delivered each Thursday until April 13th inclusive.

Please note that your order must be placed again if you would like your child(ren) to continue recieving pizzas. Thank you to Mr. Denine, Ms. Rowlings, Ms. Landry, Ms. Jenkins, Ms. MacSween, and Ms. MacLeod for helping us to make this happen!

Mark February 9th off on your Calendars

Our Home and Shcool Committee is working on plans for a Family Bingo Night at the school during the evening of February 9th. We will have more to share about this in the coming weeks.

School Cash

Our school will post items for purchase and assign school fees relevant to your child (eg. pizza orders). You can make all purchases and payments from your phone, tablet or computer.

We would like families to register as soon as possible.

To get started, please register for SchoolCash Online. It’s free and takes less than two minutes. You will receive an email once items are posted for purchase.

Visit and click Register to get started.

Need support? Connect with the SchoolCash Online help desk at

We hope that SchoolCash Online makes paying school-related fees more convenient!

Allergy Alert

Please be reminded that we have students who have life threatening allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, and eggs (ingestion only). We would ask that you do not send food items in lunch bags containing peanuts, tree nuts and sesame seeds as these can contaminate surfaces.

We're Hiring!

New year, new job? HRCE is hiring!

Did you know that there are multiple teaching and non-teaching roles across HRCE - all of which are vital to our students' success? Looking for a new opportunity? Know someone who would be a great fit?

We’re currently in immediate need of substitutes to replace teachers, Pre-Primary staff, EPAs (Educational Program Assistants), custodians and administrative assistants. If you’re interested, please contact

Visit to view current job openings and sign up to apply today. Postings are updated every Wednesday at noon.

Community Events

Sports and Recreation Fair @ Crichton Park! The Crichton Park Home and School Association invites Dartmouth-area families to our first ever FREE Sports & Recreation Fair on Thurs Jan 19th, 6:30pm at Crichton Park Elementary (storm date Thurs Jan 26th). Bring the kids and check out over 20 local children and youth programs like KidSing Performance Schools, Banook Canoe Club, Senobe, North Woodside Community Center programs, Danielle's Kindermusik Music Studio, Diamond Dawgs Minor Baseball, Electric Wheels Junior Roller Derby, MacLeod's Martial Arts Academy, Wild Child Forest School, Dartmouth Little League, Marielle Lesperance School of Dance, Dartmouth She Devils Girls Softball Association, United DFC soccer club, Dartmouth Whalers Minor Hockey Association, Metro East Inferno, Girls Guides, Zatzman Sportsplex, and others. There will be DOOR PRIZES!!