Bel Ayr Elementary School

March 2023 Newsletter


Dear families,

This year we are thinking differently about the teaching of reading in our school. As part of our School Improvement Plan, we have strategies that see our teachers implementing word study blocks in their instruction every day. In the lower elementary, teachers are using new phonological awareness and phonics instruction resources to help students who struggle with the decoding of words. In the upper elementary, teachers are using a combination of phonics and word study to build vocabulary and understand word origins and English language rules. We also have a daily intervention for all P-2 classes with volunteers and staff who read to children and help them practise new strategies.

When you read with your children at home, please remind them to look at every letter in a word and to sound them out before using pictures or other cues to guess. Research in reading shows that word decoding using the knowledge of letter sounds and the parts of words is a superior strategy to using pictures or skipping over unknown words and looking for context. Give your children time to look through an unknown word before reading it to them. This processing time is critical for the brain's ability to store knowledge about letter sounds and other language rules.

We are excited by the progress of our students in this area and appreciate your support from home.

Shawn Marsh



      • March 13-17 - March Break - No Classes

      • March 20 - Assessment and Evaluation Day (no classes)

      • March 29 - Term 2 Report Cards Sent Home

      • March 30 - 1/2 Day Morning PD & Parent/Teacher Interviews (1-3 PM and 6-8 PM) - No Classes

      • April 7 - Good Friday (No School)

      • April 10 - Easter Monday (No School)

      • May 22 - Victoria Day (No School)

      • May 27 - Spring Fair

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Keonte Beals Concert and Story Telling

On the last day of African Heritage Month, our students filled the pompom cylinder for the third time in three months. After the last pompom fell, Keonte Beals made a surprise appearance and burst into our gymnasium to perform and tell us stories about his childhood, his books, and his home community of North Preston. We want to thank Keonte for sharing his message about the importance of family and trying our best to reach our life goals.

Keonte Beals won three of eight nominations at the Music Nova Scotia Awards for his album, King in 2020. In 2021, his song, King won R&B/Soul Recording of the Year at the ECMA awards. Since 2015, he has won many awards including Nova Scotia Artist of the Year (African Nova Scotian Music Awards) and African Nova Scotian Artist of the Year in 2019 (Nova Scotia Music Awards). He is the author of two children's Books, I am Perfectly Me (2021) and I am a King (2023). He read his new book to us and showed our students how he illustrated the pictures on each page with his nephew. We're sure this will inspire a lot of authors and artists in our school!

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Effective February 1, 2023, we will be accepting registrations for the 2023-2024 school year through our new online portal, PowerSchool Enrollment!

Tip: Before you begin, make sure you have the following documents in electronic form (image, PDF or Word document):

  • Proof of identity/age with one of the following: birth certificate, passport, immigration papers, or legal adoption papers) if you are new to the HRCE;
  • Proof of home address (a recently dated official government or utility document with your current address that includes your name and date, such as water bill, power bill, internet bill, home fuel bill, a tax receipt, property assessment or a mortgage contract); and
  • Nova Scotia Health Card or Canadian Province Health Card or, for non-citizens while in Canada, proof of Medical Insurance Information.

Visit the HRCE website for more information and to enrol your child today!

Don’t have a child to register? Maybe you know someone who does! Please help us spread the word and pass this information on to friends, neighbours or relatives who will be looking to register for the fall.

2023-24 Enrollment

Thus far, we have 12 new pre-primary students and 24 new primary students registered for the 2023-24 school year. This will see our enrollment decline from 193 students down to 179 students if numbers remain the same. If you know families in our catchment area who have not registered yet, please ask them to do so as soon as possible. Staffing numbers for the next school year will be allocated based on our spring enrollment.

Out of Area Update

PP-6 families from outside our catchment area can apply to register at our school for the 2023-24 school year beginning on April 3rd at 8am. Out of Area applications for pre-primary will now go to the principal of each school (new). Families should register in their home catchment areas before applying for an Out of Area spot. These applications are electronic and time- stamped to create waiting lists. Decisions about Out of Area applications will not be communicated to applicants until the third week in June when we will know more about available space for students who do live in our catchment area.

Class Trips

We are trying to rebuild our volunteer list which has declined since the pandemic. We currently do not have enough volunteers to consider schoolwide trips. The process of obtaining volunteer checks (below) can take anywhere from two weeks to three months depending on the waiting list for the Child Abuse Registry check. This makes it difficult for us to plan class trips in the future. To be able to approve a class trip, we need a ratio of five students for every one volunteer in the lower elementary and eight students for each volunteer in the upper elementary. Having one or two family volunteers from each homeroom with their completed volunteer checks would allow us to restart whole-school class outings at our school again. If you are interested in being a volunteer for your child's class or for our P-2 reading intervention, please contact the main office at 902-435-8353. We have a limited fund to help cover the costs associated with criminal records checks.

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!

Grade 6 Home Alone & Babysitter’s Course

Many of our grade 6s recently enrolled in a six-week Home Alone & Babysitter’s Course beign offered on Wednesdays by Safechoice. This program helps students build awareness and confidence that better enable them to make safe decisions when home alone and teaches them the necessary skills to care for infants, toddlers, and pre-school children. The program emphasizes safety, dealing with emergencies and first aid basics. We will soon have 31 students seeking employment as babysitters!

A Message from SchoolsPlus

Megan Tobin is our SchoolsPlus Facilitator. SchoolsPlus is a service offered to families to help improve the coordination and delivery of programs and services for children. They also help families who need extra support at home. Please click this link or paste the link below into your browser to read about important information regarding affordable access to recreation programs this summer.

You can also reach out to Megan using the contact information below:

Megan Tobin, BSW, RSWC (she/her)

SchoolsPlus Facilitator | Halifax Regional Centre for Education

Rocky Lake Junior High | Rocky Lake Elementary | Sunnyside Elementary | Bedford South Elementary

Covering: Woodlawn High | Eric Graves | Bel Ayr

Bingo Thanks

Thank you to our Home and School Committee for organizing a fun night of BINGO on February 9th. Thank you to all who attended and supported this family event.

Spring Fair - Save the Date

Our Home and School Committee members have begun work on the organization of a Spring Fair. Please reserve Saturday, May 27th in your calendars if this event interests you and your family.

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.


Winter Clothing

Please continue to monitor your child's outdoor gear each morning. The weather continues to throw surprises at us!

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:

Did you know? Halifax Regional Arts

Did you know that Halifax Regional Arts (HRA) gives opportunities to all HRCE students to have enhanced fine arts experiences?

Did you know that all programming, including all instruments, supplies, and materials are FREE?

HRA provides fine arts experiences, including music, drama, dance and visual arts. Each family of schools has at least one HRA Fine Arts Specialist (Visual Arts, Drama, Dance) that have reached nearly 53,000 students since September!

Curious to learn more? Visit

Joint Accessibility Plan

The Nova Scotia Accessibility Act recognizes accessibility as a human right and sets a goal of an accessible Nova Scotia by 2030. You can learn more about how the province will achieve this goal here.

Nova Scotia’s seven regional centres for education and the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial are responsible for developing a multi-year plan to ensure accessibility in public education. Together, we created a Draft Joint Accessibility Plan, outlining how we will provide accessible learning and teaching experiences for all, in every aspect of education. We’re now looking for feedback from Nova Scotian families and staff in our organizations.

This is a reminder that we are inviting you to review our draft plan and provide input through ThoughtExchange. Tell us what works, what needs improvement and what we might be missing. It’s quick, easy and anonymous. You can read and rate the thoughts of others – and contribute as often as you like.

How to get started

  • Click here to review the Draft Joint Accessibility Plan in English. Click here for French.
  • Click here to share your feedback using ThoughtExchange.
  • If you prefer to share your feedback by email, click here.

This consultation will run until March 8, 2023.

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.