News From Fort Zeller Elementary

January 2023

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Principal's Message

As we close the door on 2022 and excitedly begin 2023, it is important to recognize the opportunities ahead of us, while acknowledging the great accomplishments behind us. As a school community, we have worked hard during the first half of the school year; focusing on our three PBIS goals to support our students in reaching their fullest academic and social-emotional potential.

  • Be Responsible
  • Be Respectful
  • Be Ready to Learn

Evidence of our building goals were seen throughout our classrooms. This focus was also evident during conversations with staff working collaboratively to support our students academically and social-emotionally.

The first half of the school year established our solid foundation, preparing our students for the rigor, perseverance, and application necessary to push their academic and social-emotional learning to new heights. Similarly, our winter break provided time for reflection and rejuvenation, resulting in new strength and new thoughts to end our year strong. I look forward to watching student strengths and thoughts come alive in the classroom during the second half of the year. This looks different within each classroom and for individual learners, but can be observed in class discussions focused on students making connections to the instructional activities, posing high level questions, and exploring their thinking and the thinking of others. Let the 2023 learning adventure begin...HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Take care,

Jodi Houck

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Important Information

1. Robocall for Attendance: In December, we started calling families of students who are absent each day. This will help to keep the lines of communication 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 - Our students are LOVING Spring Math and our teachers have done a fabulous job of implementing this program. 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.

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.


Jan. 3: (Day 2)

  • Welcome Back to School! Happy New Year!

Jan. 4: (Day 3)

  • School Board Meeting @ 6:00 pm

Jan. 10: (Day 3)

  • Rising Raiders Workshop - 5:00-6:30 pm

Jan.11: (Day 4)

  • Two-Hour Delay
  • PTO Meeting @ 6:30 pm

Jan. 16: (MLK Day)

  • No School

Jan. 17: (Day 3)

  • Board Meeting @ 6:00 pm

Jan. 20: (Day 2)

  • End of the 2nd Marking Period

Jan. 23: (Inservice Day)

  • No School for Students

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Spring Math

Our students are doing an AMAZING job working through the Spring Math program. If you would like to know more about the program, 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

Thank you to everyone who donated to our Fort Zeller drive to benefit the Lebanon Rescue Mission. Your generosity helped to fill our tree with warm mittens, hats, scarves and socks for children.

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 December students of the month and class of the month!

Kindergarten - Dexter S. (Kolovani) & Kaylyn B. (Yocum pm)

First Grade - Leland D. (Ogurcak) & Joslyn T. (Hartman)

Second Grade - Aiden S. (Kane), Addison G. (Jackson) & Charlie M. (Wentzel)

Class of the Month - Mrs. McDonnell's Class

During the month of December, we were focused on compassion. Throughout the month of January, we are focusing on tolerance. Tolerance means that we accept that others are different and unique, and we celebrate that we are all important.

**There are a few students missing from the pictures below due to absence.**

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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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Holiday Sing Along

We all had a blast singing holiday songs together. What a great way to start our nice, long break. Thank you to Mr. Whitman and Ms. Frederick for organizing this for us.
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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
December has been an exciting month! In Kindergarten, we met A Little Spot of Anger who showed us how to calm down when it gets too big! Remember: "Count your spots from one to four, then tap, tap, tap, and tap once more. Now fill your lungs with peaceful air and coat your spots wit love and care!"
In first and second grades, we focused on our character trait of Compassion. First graders used kind and unkind words and saw how it affected two apples. Ask your 1st graders what happens to a person (and our apple) when someone is mean to them! Second graders met A Little Spot of Kindness and did an experiement with milk to show how easily kindness can spread!

Small Groups
Small groups have been going great. We are finishing up some self-regulation groups. After break, I will have some new groups starting. These groups will be focusing on "stress-busters" and building self-esteem!

So far this year, students have filled SO MANY Bee Cards! See our school year totals below:
Jackson: 1,762
Fort Zeller: 1,700
Keep up the great work students! I am so proud of you for being Respectful, Responsible, and Ready to Learn!

I hope everyone has a wonderful winter break and I can't wait to see you back in the New Year!

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What's New in Music Class?

In Kindergarten we are working on a new note called the rest. It looks like a “Z.” We are using tubano drums to hear how rests make no sound.

In First Grade we are listening through the musical, Sound of Music, as we learn Solfege syllables (Do, Re, Mi). Students are also using note values to make musical sentences by incorporating simple math!

Second Grade students are learning their 5th chord (G major) on the ukulele! Students will now be able to play some of their favorite new pop song on ukulele.

A Note From ART - Mrs. Panza

In the month of December in Mrs. Panza’s art classroom, ELCO artists used our creativity, imagination and artistic skills to create winter/seasonal artwork! Artists used collage materials of paper and glue to create their penguin. We practiced holding and cutting with scissors to create the shapes out of paper and using glue to attach and assemble everything together. We broke down many of these tasks into small chunks and focused on one piece of the collage each class. Students mounted their finished work and signed it along with the year. 1st grade artists used the elements of art and collage methods to create their winter artwork. Cardinals were the focal point (principle of emphasis) of the artwork that also featured a winter background and cutting of complex shapes. Second grade artists created collage artwork this month focusing on organic and geometric shapes with a winter landscape setting. Artists also used the color wheel as a resource when selecting a color group/family/scheme for their winter landscape.

Get Moving in Physical Education - Mr. Babiarz

December was a very active and fun month in physical education classes. Students completed a physical fitness unit, during which they learned how their bodies become stronger from exercise while playing fitness games like Rock-Paper-Scissors-Fitness, Spin the Pin and Dice Race. All of the activities within the fitness unit had hearts pumping, muscles working and students smiling. There were even active games that incorporated the use of a projector to turn the gym into a theater so that students could play “video” games like Balloon Pop and Level Up.

What's Happening in Kindergarten

Kindergarten was very busy with holiday activities this past month of December. Students enjoyed gingerbread shopping, reindeer day and some other holiday fun. Students enjoyed giving to the Operation Warm a Child Tree. As a class, students read many holiday books. And as always, students continued learning about letters, sounds, making words, and adding more high frequency words to their list. In math, students worked on recognizing and comparing numbers to twenty and showing representations of those numbers using tens and ones. We enjoyed starting our Spring Math and are making nice progress. We just started a new unit on Shapes.

What's Going on in 1st Grade

During the month of December first graders have been working on the “h brother” digraphs, th, and ch. The students also explored different strategies to help solve subtraction problems to 20. We also began Spring Math this month, a daily math intervention. First graders also learned about holiday traditions in other countries around the world. Plus they were able to shop at the PTO’s Gingerbread Shop, Thank you PTO!

2nd Grade Updates

December was amazing! We learned about place value in math. We also implemented our new Spring math intervention. It’s amazing to see the confidence and fluency growing in each of our students. In language arts we focused on writing opinion pieces. It was funny pretending to be an elf or a reindeer. We also reviewed vowel patterns (ai and ay) and learned about idioms!

December was short, but FUN!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Reading Corner

Reading to or with your child is such an essential and beneficial activity that ALL students should experience, regardless of their age. So many valuable literacy skills (vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension) can be developed when children read at home with an adult. The following comprehension activity, from Florida Center for Reading Research, can be used when you are reading a narrative (fiction) story to or with your child:

Retelling Ring:

  1. Either during or after reading, ask your child one of the comprehension questions.
  2. Helpful Tip #1: If they are unable to answer the question, ask them to go back in the text and find the answer.
  3. Suggestion: Have your child answer the question in a complete thought. For example, if you asked your child where and when does the story take place, they should say, “The story takes place in winter and the setting is on a farm.” By having them respond in complete sentences, this will help them develop the ability to respond in complete sentences when writing.
  4. Continue until all cards have been discussed.
  5. Helpful tip #2: Sometimes, the author does not explicitly give certain information in the story. Your child may have to use the pictures, words, and what they know to help them answer the question. This reading skill is called inferencing.
  6. Extension: Have your child write their answer.

Link to activity:

If you would like a copy of cards, please email Mrs. Faust,

Happy reading and discussing!! 😀📚

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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

Hello families! Hope everyone is staying healthy this holiday season. Just a quick reminder regarding flu and cold season. If your child is experiencing any symptoms, such as a temperature of 100 degrees or higher, vomiting, or diarrhea, please keep your child home. They must be free of fever (without fever reducing medication) vomiting, and diarrhea for 24 hours before they may return. We have this policy in place to keep our staff and students healthy and reduce the spread of any contagious illness. If your child requires a medication, please have their doctor fill out the attached paperwork for the nurse to be able to administer it to them. The medication must be brought in its original container received from the pharmacy. Please do not send any medication in without this information, it will not be administered to your child.

ELCO Medication Form

The nurse’s office is looking for donations! Boys and girls pants sizes 6/7 and 8/10. If your child has borrowed school clothing, please remember to wash and return, we are running low due to clothing not being returned. A huge THANK YOU to the families who donated items already, we greatly appreciate you!

Have a wonderful holiday season!!

Thank You! ☺️


1. On Tuesday, January 3, 2023, at 6:30, our PTO will host its next meeting at Fort Zeller in the library. 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!!!

🎁🎁 Gingerbread Shop🎁🎁

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming out and help our little shoppers find those special gifts!

📚📚📚 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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4 - Lillian Clements & Ezekiel Baer

5 - Oliver Mohn

9 - Colton Millinder, Hunter Boltz, Adam El Gamal & Joslyn Thome

10 - Hadley Klopp & Emily Lane

11 - Andrew Mellon & Ellen Walmer

13 - Mason Morrell

17 - Piper West, Presley Lutz & Corbin Sclesky

18 - Austin Gingrich

22 - Declan O'Neil

25 - Josephina Polukhin

26 - Rylan Groft & Madison Lane

27 - Mason Price, Le'Lani Cherry & Parker Martin

28 - Wyatt Schaffer

29 - Eliza Frederick

31 - Carson Sauter & Eleanora Brosey

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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