Star Tracks Newsletter

Booth Free School, December 2019

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.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the many family members that visited during Parent Visitation Day held on November 20th. It certainly was a wonderful opportunity for all visitors to see the Booth Free School community in action.

The third graders wish to recognize and thank the Bridgewater Grange for their donations of dictionaries. Each student was given a dictionary of their own, a very useful tool to be used in the classroom. These dictionaries will be given to the students to take home at the end of the school year. The Grange is so generous and their yearly donation of dictionaries to the district’s students is much appreciated.

You will receive your child’s report card on December 13th. 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 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

12/2-3 Roxbury Senior Citizens Holiday Craft

12/7 Santa’s Breakfast & Holly Jolly Boutique

12/9-10 In-School Holly Jolly Boutique

12/9 Board of Education Meeting, 7:00 PM

12/13 Report Cards go home with Students

12/16 Culture’s Around the World, 1:15 (Snow Date 12/19)

12/18 PTO Meeting, 6:30

12/20 Student Holiday Sing Along, 2:15

12/23-1/1 Winter Recess

1/2/2020 School Resumes

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Grade 1 Happenings

Over the last month First Grade has started to explore non-fiction topics in reading and writing. In reading, we are practicing strategies we can use to learn from a text. These strategies include previewing, stopping to studying a page (including the pictures,) and discussing what they have learned to grow new ideas. As a class we have been learning all about monkeys, fire safety, and Thanksgiving!

In writing, the First Graders are learning to teach their readers about a non-fiction topic they know a lot about. Writers can rehearse what they would like to say out loud before writing it down, sketch a plan for how their book will go, and think about questions their readers might have. We are proud to have experts on all different subjects; like whales, the holidays, farm animals, video games, and much more.

Booth Free School PTO

Parents are our partners in the important job of educating all our children. I urge you to attend and support the PTO, become a member, volunteer, and take part in helping your child to grow academically. PTO meetings will be held each month at 6:30 p.m. The next meeting will be on December 18 at 6:30 pm. We hope you plan to attend!

Grade 3 "Hallow-Reads" with Kindergarten

Sharing the joy of reading is an invaluable gift. Our third grade students joined their kindergarten buddies for some Hallow-reading! The adventure started with a group read-aloud of Room on the Broom—a great lesson in kindness. Next, our third graders joined their kindergarten friend. While the third graders had planned to read to their kindergarten friends, the kindergarteners surprised our class by reading their books to us! It was a fantastic way to celebrate Halloween.

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.

Roxbury Celebrates Halloween

Residents started their evening off at the Booth Free School gym enjoying pizza before leaving with a glow stick and enjoying an evening of trick-or-treating along South Street. The ghosts and ghouls surely enjoyed the fun!

Notes and News from the Nurse.....


This is a reminder that lice are ever present among children. It is a good idea to check your child once a week for any signs of lice. There is no need to panic if you discover lice. There is helpful information on this website from the CDC: Please call the school nurse office with any questions or concerns at 860-355-0482.


According to The American Academy 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 out for recess every 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. Thank you for your attention to appropriate outdoor gear, they truly love being outside in free play and they need to be prepared to do that.


The holidays are all about sharing, but germs are not for sharing. People can be contagious before they know they are sick so avoid sharing forks, spoons and drinking utensils. Family gatherings, airports and travel stops, shopping malls, are all places germs like to mingle. To protect yourself make sure to wash your hands often and get a flu vaccine.

Eat healthy and be merry. Holiday foods can be high in calories and low in nutrition. You need to battle germs and boost energy. Eat a rainbow…eat five or more fruits and vegetables a day and choose whole fruit instead of juice to feel full longer and avoid added sugar. Don’t give your exercise routine a holiday! Exercise gives you energy and burns calories.

Get some ZZZs…getting 8 1/2 to 9 hours of sleep a night can help strengthen your immune system and give you more energy.

Have a healthy, safe, and wonderful holiday season!!!

Booth Free School Parent Visitation Day!

To honor American Education Week, parents from Booth Free School were invited to visit their child’s classroom on Parent Visitation Day, November 21st. Parents were welcomed with smiles as they participated in a variety of activities throughout the day learning first hand about their child’s school program. Parents became scientists, mathematicians, writers, makers and artists. This opportunity provides a lens into the classroom environment and also strengthens the home/school partnership.

Booth Free School Student Council

The members of Booth Free School’s Student Council have been dedicated to spreading kindness throughout the school and community. As part of an initiative launched at the start of the year we have continued to recognize acts of kindness. There is a display celebrating these acts near the front of the building!

In addition, the Student Council created and delivered Autumn cards to the Roxbury Senior Center. The students had so much fun sharing their excitement for the season with local residents!

Over the course of November, Student Council collected food donations for families in need. Thank you to all who participated. Your generous contributions are sure to brighten the holiday season.

On December 13th, we will partake in the PJ Day for The Kids fundraiser to raise money to benefit the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Connecticut Children’s Hospital. Students and staff members are invited to wear the pajamas for a $1.00 donation to the cause.

Finally, in December, Student Council will sponsor another Booth Free School Spirit Day! The date will be announced shortly. One student from each class will be selected for exemplifying great school spirit and awarded a coupon to the school store.

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Music with Mrs. Oppel

The fourth and fifth grade band students at Booth Free School are preparing their music for the upcoming Unified Band and Chorus Concert, Thursday, January 16, 2020, at 7:00 pm

Governor’s Reading Challenge Recognition

Booth Free School was among the top eighteen schools from across the state who were honored on November 21st at the Connecticut State Library for the 2018 and 2019 Summer Reading Challenges. Schools with the highest percentage of participation and highest number of books read were celebrated.

Several students and staff represented each school. Special remarks from the State Librarian, Kendall Wiggin, and Governor Ned Lamont were made followed by a presentation of awards. Congratulations to all our students for their accomplishments and special thanks to all our families and local libraries for making reading a priority.

Members of the Spartan Club visited Booth Free School!

Members of Shepaug Valley School’s Spartan Club visited Booth Free School recently. This was an especially exciting experience for these particular Spartan Club members as they were once Booth Free students. Returning to their elementary school to each lunch and to participate in recess activities was fun for all. Spartan Club members shared their experiences with Booth Free students and answered many questions about Shepaug.

The Tradition Continues, Booth Free School’s 44th Annual Spelling Bee and Pie Feast

The 44th Annual Booth Free Spelling Bee and Pie Feast was held on Tuesday afternoon, November 26th. It was a fantastic event! A huge thanks to PTO Chair, Millie Johnson and to the volunteers for orchestrating such a grand event. The students, staff, and parents enjoyed the delicious pies, cider donuts, and apple cider following the Spelling Bee. I wish to extend a thank you to our judges, First Selectman, Barbara Henry, Director of Minor Memorial Library, Teresa Roxburgh, and Shepaug Spartans, Jayden Cornwall and Gabriel Taranto.

I wish to thank our first and second grade teachers and students for the beautiful festive table centerpieces. Lastly, I wish to recognize our K-2 students for their wonderful musical presentations. Their songs delighted the crowd!

Grade 2 students participated in a preliminary Spelling Bee. This was held on November 25th. All second graders participated allowing student to practice for the following year. The grade 2 winner was Jorge Barreto. Congratulations!

The following students are recognized for their participation in this year’s formal Spelling Bee, grades 3-5. They were selected to represent their grade level and were identified as top spellers.

The 44th Annual Spelling Bee Participants:

Grade 3: William Hodge, Shannon McVay, Gabriel Tammaro

Alternate: Darya Abraham

Grade 4: Ryan Bonomo, Frank Mariano, Colin Perrin

Alternate: Jade Santos

Grade 5: Diandra Daly, Liam McGuire, Anders Somoroff


Special Recognition: Jacob McCauley was a grade 5 finalist however was unable to attend.

Winner: Shannon McVay


Some Words from the Library with Mrs. Gordon!

Happy Holidays!

It has been a very busy month in the Booth Free School Library. Back to School and autumn book displays morphed into a spooktacular display of books featuring monsters, witches and jack o lanterns. And just like October disappeared quicker than our children’s Halloween candy.

Stop by the library and say hello to our googly eyed Turkey who beseeches you to gobble up one of the many Thanksgiving books on display instead of him! Check out our newest genre spotlight featuring interactive choose your own adventure books. That’s right, choose your own adventure books are back in style and what’s more they now feature titles suitable for all reader levels. While you are taking a look around make sure to check out spotlight featuring the author of the award winning Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, William Steig who was born on November 14, 1907. And as always be sure to take a crack at Dewey’s Decimal of the Week and peruse the wonderful book reviews the students are steadily submitting.

We read so many wonderful pages of stories, tales and adventure. Highlights include: Surprise reader, superintendent, Megan Bennett who read to enraptured Kindergartners I See Sea Food by Jenna Grodzicki and The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland.

1st Graders read several wonderful stories including the charmingly illustrated book Lenny the Lobster Can’t Stay for Dinner by Finn Buckley and What Should Danny Do? By Ganit and Adir Levy which introduced them to the delightfully interactive genre of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.

2nd Graders have fully immersed themselves into Sara Pennypacker’s book, Clementine.

3rd graders are becoming entranced by The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, the story of baby left in the woods and rescued by a witch who unwittingly bestows her with magical powers.

Fourth graders are settled into the exciting dystopian tale, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau and have become discussing their predictions and theories about where the story will go.

And the 5th graders have just finished the emotional charged and beautifully written book Out of My Mind by Sharon M. DraperWe will spend one more class discussing the book before starting another.

Finally, as we say goodbye to November and take a moment to reflect on what makes us thankful, I want to thank the entire Booth Free School family. You are a community parents, guardians, students (current, past and future), staff and administration who make my job seem almost easy.

Booth Free School is clearly a supportive community of readers as demonstrated by our consistent 100% participation in the Governor’s Reading Challenge. Such an accomplishment is truly a group effort that could not be possible without the entire community working together to ensure that our students become voracious readers!I had the distinct honor of representing our community last week in Hartford at the Governor’s Summer Reading awards ceremony for both 2018 and 2019. Though the awards ceremony was limited to myself and 2 student representatives, the awards clearly belong to ALL of the BFS family! And for that I am truly grateful and to you all I say, congratulations!

Until next month…

Keep reading!

Mrs. Gordon

Fire Prevention Week - “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!”

Fire is everyone’s fight! It is a national effort led by the U.S. Fire Administration to lower the number of home fires and home injuries in America. Along with USFA, each fire community is speaking out with a unified message of fire prevention and safety to the public. A great way to assist in accomplishing this goal is to teach our youngsters how to stay safe and prevent fires happening in their homes.

Across the country firefighters conduct fire prevention programs for elementary school children. Region 12 is no different. Our school recently participated in a fire prevention program sponsored by our local fire department. This year’s theme, “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” provided our students with a powerful message that is designed to make children safer at home and at school.

This year’s theme also focused on what a home escape plan entails and the value of practicing it. The students learned that a home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place that is a safe distance from the home. Home escape plans should be practiced twice a year by all members of the household.

This message is more important than ever, particularly because today’s homes burn faster than ever. Synthetic fibers used in home furnishings, along with the fact that newer homes tend to be built with more open spaces and unprotected lightweight construction, are contributing factors to the increased burn rate.

Through this program our local fire fighters hope that our students will carry the fire safety message home and that parents discuss fire safety with their children and create appropriate actions in the case of fire. “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” reminds us all that fires can happen anywhere and that there are important steps we can all take to remain safe.

PTO Sponsored World Peace Flag Ceremony and Peace Pole

Our students and staff thank the PTO for bringing the World Peace Flag Ceremony to our school. The program was fantastic! It was emotional, energetic and enlightening and the students can’t stop talking about it. The flags were amazing and it was impressive to hear some of students making connections to specific countries. Our presenter, Jimmy Dugan, was engaging and inspirational. He inspired the students to open their minds to the world around them and beyond in spreading the message of world peace.

As a school community, we wish peace to all and hope that our little school will continue to send this special message to all we encounter. Laying the foundation of a peaceful world is one of our greatest challenges. Peace always starts in the home, but if we can spread it through our school community and into our lives of others than we can help make a difference.

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.

Cold Weather Reminders

As the cold weather is upon us, the staff and I wish to remind everyone about the need for jackets, mittens, and hats. Unless it is too wet, the students will go out at recess. When the snow arrives, students will also need snow pants and boots so that they can enjoy the snowy outdoors.

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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