Star Tracks Newsletter

Booth Free School, December 2020

A Note From the Principal:

Dear Parents/Guardians,

The holiday season is here once again! It is a time when teachers work hard keeping students focused on their classroom instruction as students are often preoccupied with family holiday traditions and festivities. However, as I visit the classrooms and observe the activities I am quite pleased with the performance of the professional staff and their receptiveness of our students. Your children are engaged in wonderful learning experiences and their successes are recognized. I encourage you to continue to promote the importance of school especially during this time of year.

There is nothing quite like a school spirit day to boost excitement and encourage unity among our students. On November 24th the Student Council sponsored their first spirit day of the year. Giving students the chance to show their school colors, spirit, is always a fun way to engage and involve all of our students. It was also a wonderful way to kick off the Thanksgiving holiday!

The staff and I wish to thank the PTO for their donations of Christmas trees and gift cards. This year, each class will decorate a tree and the trees will be given to one of our local senior citizens to brighten their holiday season. Our hope is that this small gesture will result in big smiles and much joy. Our school community knows that spreading that joy to others often comes with a bonus of bringing joy to one’s self in return.

This year’s Spelling Bee will take place in the Spring. Due to the pandemic the staff and I felt that moving it to later in the year might allow for an in-person event enjoyed by our entire school community. We very much look forward to the 45th Annual Spelling Bee.

Your child's report card will be available electronically on December 11th. This report card is an important part of Regional School District 12’s commitment to fostering effective communication between home and school. Grading is a tool for all to use in pinpointing strengths and weaknesses in your child’s understanding of the grade level standards. It can help to clarify expectations and will provide a shared language for discussing your child’s learning. Most importantly, it can help us improve student performance over time and provide for the ongoing conversation between teacher, student, and their family. This communication between home and school is essential in supporting the progress that students make toward demonstrating their academic ability with the curriculum taught in our district.

In closing, I wish the students and families of the Booth Free School community a wonderful holiday season. It is my hope that it is a safe, healthy, and joyous one shared with family and friends. As always, happiness and good health in the new year!


Cathy Colella


Dates to Remember for December

12/2 Early Dismissal for Students, 12:45 PM

12/4 School Picture Retake Day

12/11 Report Cards

12/7 Board of Education Meeting, 7:00 PM

12/16 PTO Meeting, 6:30 PM

12/18 Cultures Around the World, 1:15 PM (Snow Date 12/21)

12/23 Early Dismissal for Students, 12:45 PM

12/24-1/1 Winter Recess

1/2/2021 School Resumes

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Booth Free School Spirit Day!

We've Got the Spirit!

Grade 1 Detectives!

Detective work isn’t just for solving mysteries anymore. Our curious class has been investigating digraphs. You might say that we are “digraph detectives!” This month we did a bit of sleuthing around our classroom in search of digraph words to read and write. We learned that digraphs are two letters that make one sound. The combinations we are focusing on now are th, ch, sh, ck, and wh. You can add extra excitement into learning by being a detective whenever you read. Have fun!

Booth Free School PTO

Parents are our partners in the important job of educating all our children. I urge you to attend our Zoom meetings and support the PTO by becoming a member, volunteering, and take part in helping your child to grow academically. PTO meetings are held each month at 6:30 p.m. The December meeting will be held on December 16th at 6:30 p.m. We hope you will attend!

Grade 3 - Studying Figurative Language

During language arts, third grade students have been studying figurative language- similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia, personification, and especially idioms. Each week we post a new idiom for students to incorporate into their speaking and writing lives. We even have a contest to see who can create the best cartoon to illustrate the meaning of each phrase. After anonymously posting each cartoon, the class votes on the best representation of the idiom. Students have said it is a piece of cake to choose the winner!

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Visit Our Website!

Our web address is Once you are at the district’s home page you can visit Booth Free School’s website. The staff will be adding information regularly. Please use it as an additional resource for information gathering.

Grade 5 - The Web of Life

5th grade has been enjoying studying our science unit titled, “The Web of Life.” Throughout this unit, we have been observing and analyzing how our ecosystem supports itself and how interconnected all the elements of our environment are.

First, we studied consumers (animals) and we asked the question: “What do different animals eat?” By answering this question, we were able to identify other animals and plants in our ecosystem and construct food chains. We learned that plants are the foundation of all food chains.

Next we looked at plants and asked the same question, “What do plants eat?” We learned that plants don’t “eat” food the way consumers (animals) do, rather they make their own food and that is why they are known as the producers of the food chain/web. We looked at what happens when leaves fall to the ground and discovered that decomposers like bacteria and fungi work to transform dead plants and animals into useable nutrients that help plants grow. We also found that earthworms play a crucial role in transforming matter into useable nutrients for plants.

We were able to see how a pond ecosystem relies on producers, decomposers, and consumers to stay healthy, and that is why you never need to clean a pond the way you do a fish tank (because fish tanks usually lack decomposers and producers to balance carbon dioxide levels.)

And finally, we looked at food webs of dinosaurs and we were able to deduce why the dinosaurs went extinct (because producers were unable to grow due to lack of sunlight, therefore collapsing almost the entire food web.) Overall, we learned a lot about our environment and how everything in it has an important role.

Notes and News from the Nurse.....


Good vision is vital to a student’s success at school. Fall vision screening helps identify vision problems early, before they interfere with a child’s school performance. A child’s vision can also change at any point as they grow so annual screening is a wonderful tool. Our school community was happy to have the Washington’s Lions Club come in to screen our students with their PediaVision equipment. This equipment has been evaluated by the American Association of Pediatrics and is more sophisticated than the Snellen Charts of the past. The equipment operates like a camera and is very easy for the participating students. It takes only a couple minutes to screen each child for a whole list of eye concerns. We are very thankful to the Washington Lions Club for making our school a part of the Lions KidSight USA initiative and volunteering their time to offer this state of the art screening method to our students ensuring their vision health.


According to The American of Pediatrics, “the available research suggests that recess may play an important role in the learning, social, development, and health of children in elementary school”. The students at Burnham School go outside frequently throughout the day unless it is raining or there is some unusual circumstance. Please be sure to send your child with the appropriate outdoor clothing for the weather. A warm jacket is important with gloves or mittens in the pocket to use as needed. When the ground is snow covered children LOVE to play in the snow. They must have snow pants and snow boots to put on to play in the snow to prevent being wet for the remainder of the school day. Layers are recommended as we have fresh air ventilating in the classroom as well. Thank you for your attention to appropriate gear, especially during this pandemic when fresh air is so helpful in ensuring health.


So far this school year, we are so impressed with the vigilance of our families during this time of COVID 19. As we approach the winter months and being inside more, we must keep up this effort to reduce the spread of illnesses.

If your child has evidence of illness, such as runny nose, congestions, cough, sore throat, or fever it is important that you contact your pediatrician to discuss the situation and call the school nurse to notify her of the situation.

During the holidays, the CDC is recommending very small gatherings.

Booth Free School Student Council

During the month of November, our Booth Free School Student Council held their annual food drive. All donations were presented to the Roxbury Food Bank at the Christ Church. The generous contributions of our school’s students, families, and staff members amounted to nearly 450 items. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone for their participation and thoughtfulness!

In December, the Student Council will turn their attention to Ben’s Bells. The Ben’s Bells organization promotes the spread of kindness and compassion in our daily actions. We are very excited to launch our schoolwide kindness campaign and begin our yearly participation in the #BeKindChallenge.

Music with Mrs. Doiron

What a whirlwind! Four weeks really seems to fly by but we are finding ways to safely keep moving, singing, improvising, and playing whether we are at home or at school. We spent some time getting comfortable with our technology then we got down to making music!

We all sang some patriotic songs and learned a little about the story behind them. Grades K & 1 learned This Land, second graders learned the story behind America the Beautiful, third graders learned America, and the 4th and 5th graders learned the story of The Star Spangled Banner.

K sang unfamiliar and familiar songs like Going to the Zoo and Down by the Station. They moved to the beat and with flow in lots of different ways. They played with audiating and creating rhythms.

First graders sang Old Joe Clark and Hop Old Squirrel while differentiating macrobeat and microbeat and singing the resting tone. They even figured out how to add instruments to the story “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything” using only what they had in their desks!

Second graders worked on singing and labeling patterns. Music is made of patterns!! We worked on songs in major tonality (Sarasponda) and minor tonality (Dinosaur Diet) that are made of tonic patterns, dominant patterns, and an as yet unnamed third type of pattern! We also worked on rhythms in duple and triple meter.

Third graders worked on these patterns as well. They are the building blocks of almost every song! They learned about dynamics and incorporated them into a poem. Plus we learned a few new songs that will easily transfer onto the recorders like Major Duple and Peirrot (Au Clair de la Lune).

Fourth graders learned some American folk songs like Erie Canal and Sweet Betsy from Pike while learning some drumming warm ups. Right now we are just using our hands and pencils to tap on the desks but we are prepping for bucket drumming in trimester 2.

In fifth grade we really dug into music terminology to describe the music we listened to, and we listened to a lot! We heard music from different composers and different time periods. My favorite was seeing what the students wrote about their own choice of music. From Bob Dylan to Green Day, we have an eclectic group of musical tastes!

Welcome, Tracy Scarborough!

The Booth Free School Community is extending a very warm welcome to our new first grade teacher here at Booth Free School, Mrs. Tracy Scarborough!

Some Words from the Library with Mrs. Gordon!

Happy Holidays!

Kindergarteners enjoyed listening to The Good Egg by Jory John, The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee, Leave Me Alone by Vera Brosgl and Unicorn and Horse by David Miles. Meanwhile first graders read several wonderful stories including the charmingly illustrated book, This is a Good Story by Adam Lehrhaupt, The Dot by Peter Reynolds, and Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. Second graders spent the month adventuring with a rather impolite little girl named Lulu while listening to the book Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst . They then began reading about the fantastic adventures of the Grace children in the Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.

Third graders are fully entranced by The Puzzling World of Winston Breen and The Potato Chip Puzzles, both by Eric Berlin. This month they solved some pretty complicated puzzles including a word maze puzzle, an astronomy puzzle and a word find with a picture twist.

Fourth graders are settled into their own puzzling adventure, The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart and have been discussing their predictions and theories about where the story will go. And the fifth graders just finished the dystopian novel The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau and voted on and began reading the hauntingly charming book, Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

In closing, I would like to share our new bulletin board with everyone. As we move into the holiday season, I hope our board serves as a reminder that no matter the challenges we may face or the differences among us, we are always connected.

Notification Service:

The Regional School District #12 Schools have a Notification Service to enhance parental communications. This service will allow us to send a voice message to ALL of our students’ parents on ALL of their contact numbers within minutes, if an emergency occurs at a school. The notification service will also assist the schools in reducing the recourses needed to pass along key information regarding school events or reminders.

The district will be utilizing this service for :

  • Emergency Notification
  • Inclement weather - early dismissals due to inclement weather
  • Rumor Control
  • Early-Release Reminders

Your child’s school may be utilizing this service for:

  • Attendance
  • Report Card Reminders
  • Grade level information i.e. field trip reminders
  • Notification of Open House/Parent Teacher Conferences/Parent Visitation Day
  • Art Shows and Concerts

The ability to deliver a message is only as successful as the contact information we have for our families, so please make certain we have the most up-to-date direct dial numbers. If this information changes, please let your child’s school know immediately.


  1. The service will leave a message on your voicemail or answering machine.
  2. If you have such things as Telemarketer Zapper or Privacy Director on your telephone lines, you may not receive the call.
  3. The service does NOT call extensions. If you have a direct dial number at work, you should provide your child’s school with the direct dial number not a main number plus an extension.

Good Character Traits:

(Referenced in Board of Education Policy #0210.3)

Region 12 is dedicated to strengthening the character of our students by encouraging a consistent set of ethical values that direct and guide behavioral choices. These universal values, which transcend political, religious, cultural, and the Golden Rule encompasses economic differences, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Therefore, good Character Traits are essential to the learning process. We work throughout the year in developing the following:

  1. Trustworthiness
  2. Respect
  3. Responsibility
  4. Fairness
  5. Caring
  6. Citizenship

Good conduct is synonymous with good citizenship. Students are expected to exercise good citizenship at all times while in school, attending school-related activities and after school activities conducted at the school. This includes showing respect for the rights of others and regard for personal and school property. Students should strive to contribute to the climate of the school by being courteous and well mannered.

Booth Free School also utilizes The Second Step Program to promote social skills necessary to be a caring community. Additionally, grades three through five have access to a second program, Steps to Respect when needed.

It is our hope that the power and influence of the school-family partnership will provide consistent messages to our students regarding the development of positive student behaviors and thus, improve student learning.

Travel and Parking Safety

As the opening of school is upon us, I am asking you to help keep our students safe. Please remember that it is a state law for all vehicles to STOP whenever a school bus has its red SOS lights activated. When the SOS lights are flashing, cars cannot pass the school bus. This means when picking up or dropping off students at their residence and even in the school parking lot. Violators are subject to a fine for each bus that a car passes.

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