Region In Review

December 23, 2020

Elementary Schools Celebrate Cultures Around the World

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During the month of December, Region 12’s elementary schools celebrated Cultures Around the World. This was a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about new cultures and to share virtually with other grade levels.

Burnham students grabbed their suitcases, passports, and plane tickets and were off to learn about other holidays around the world. The students visited the Netherlands, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Germany, England, Australia, Sweden, India, Canada, and America. At each stop, they learned about the country and its holiday customs through stories and videos. Students played games and made crafts to represent each country. They decorated wooden shoes and hoped to receive treats in the Netherlands. They played the dreidel game in Israel, made a broomstick in Italy, made shaving cream poinsettias in Mexico, and decorated a gingerbread man in Germany. Following these activities, the boys and girls decorated a stocking in England, made a koala in Australia, wore a crown in Sweden, made a red, black, and green Kwanzaa bracelet in America, constructed a lantern in India, and last but not least made a reindeer in Canada.

After visiting each country, they colored the country’s flag represented in their passports. For the boys and girls, this was an impactful event. Learning about how the world celebrates special occasions gives students the opportunity to reach out and understand the world they live in a little better.

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Booth Free students took a virtual “journey” around the globe on their Cultures Around the World Celebration! From Australia to Germany, Israel to the Philippines, and France to Iceland, they learned how different countries celebrate holidays. Crafts were made, stories were read, and videos were shared. Kindergarteners learned to play the dreidel game, first graders made advent wreaths, second graders made paper lanterns, third graders created French postcards to give to their families, fourth graders listened to an Australian read-aloud, Christmas Wombat, and fifth graders learned about the 13 Yule Lads, Iceland’s own mischievous Santa Clauses. To culminate their journey, the whole school “zoomed” in, with each class sharing interesting facts learned about their country. Everyone even had a “stamped passport” and suitcase! It was a fabulous experience, exploring and learning about fascinating places.

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Washington Primary School “journeyed” to Norway and Russia. Students explored the cultures and traditions of the two countries as they rotated through engaging learning activities. In Norway, the students learned about special facts, foods, and holidays celebrated. The game, Basse, was played and The Three Billy Goats Gruff, a traditional Norwegian story, was read. The students also enjoyed creating Nisse, a character from Nordic folklore, using tubes, paper, and yarn. The next stop was to Russia. Students listened to the story Babushka’s Doll, learned the Trepak dance from a virtual guest dance instructor, and explored the interesting architecture of domes and curved roofs. Students explored fun facts around foods, sports, and animals learning that the most popular sport is football and the national dish is Pelmeni. To show their creativity, students designed their own Russian nesting dolls and paper building sculptures.

Through these many experiences, students broaden their understanding and appreciation of the rich diversity that our world offers to all of us. Special thanks to all the staff whose creativity and support made learning about new cultures possible for our elementary students.

Horses Love Snow

Gulliver and Morgan, the newest additions to the agriscience program at Shepaug, enjoy the first snow, rolling in the fresh powder in the outdoor riding rink.

Gulliver and Morgan in the snow

PJ Day for the Kids

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PJ Day for the Kids was a great success this year, as students joined together to help raise money for the fight against cancer. Since 2011, thousands of children in Connecticut have worn their pajamas to school to honor the brave children and frontline workers in the program started by the Connecticut Children’s Foundation.

Celebration of Young Photographers

Shepaug students had five works selected to be exhibited at ASAP!’s 10th Annual Young Photographers Celebration. ASAP!’s annual event provides students in grades 6-12 the opportunity to participate in a large scale professional art exhibition and juried show.

A panel of professional photographers selected 60 photos to be included in a LiveStream event that took place on December 6, 2020, 4 pm. The top four photographers were recognized for their outstanding work and received the Dylan’s Wings Photography Award and a special prize.

Shepaug 7th grader, Lexi Thomas, won the Top Middle School Photograph


Shepaug junior, Ryan Sarbello, earned a spot in the Photography Collective program


Congratulations on representing Shepaug so well!

A Smart Batch

Food science students baked holiday-themed gingerbread and sugar cookies to bring a festive close to the remaining school hours of 2020.

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Senior Project Spotlight

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Claire Buckley

Claire has chosen to take a journey through her ancestry to tie a new found love of cooking with recipes tied to her heritage. A first in the history of the senior project program, no one has used DNA testing to identify heritage in order to choose cultural foods to prepare.

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Claire has already attempted two recipes and had success in the kitchen, which will serve her well after high school! Her senior project class is excited to be part of the taste testing portion of her project.

Healthy Holiday Food Alternatives

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The Covid-19 pandemic will affect the holidays this year, increasing stress in a time that many find stressful already! In order to take care of ourselves during difficult times, it is important to be active and to consume foods that promote good health. Keeping our minds and bodies healthy and as stress-free as possible will help us to enjoy the holidays and welcome the New Year.

Here are some tasty and healthy food swap options to consider:


  • Pumpkin (has fewer calories and less fat) pie vs. pecan pie
  • Mashed sweet potatoes (contain Vitamin A) or mashed cauliflower vs. mashed potatoes (made with loads of butter)
  • Walnuts/almonds (contains fiber, protein, Vitamin E) vs. honey roasted nuts
  • Hummus (fewer calories, less fat) or Greek yogurt (contains protein, calcium, and probiotics vs. cream cheese/heavy cream
  • Antipasto vegetable platter (olives, artichokes, tomatoes, carrots, beets, cucumbers) vs. meat platter
  • Dark chocolate (contains antioxidants that help control weight and is also an anti-inflammatory food) vs. milk chocolate or white chocolate.
  • Zucchini noodles (contains vitamins and fiber) vs. pasta (empty carbohydrates)
  • 100% Concord grape juice (no added sugar and contains plant nutrients and heart health benefits to help to prevent blood vessel damage), or drinking water to help suppress the appetite vs. sugary drinks
  • Frozen grapes (source of antioxidant) or sliced apples (contains pectin which helps stomach upset) vs. holiday candy/cookies (empty calories)
  • Spices and herbs vs. sugar and salt (empty calories)

These are just some positive choices to make during the holidays to keep the body healthy and hopefully decrease the stress during this busy time. I hope everyone enjoys the break.


Take time to relax, and refresh with your family and friends!


Edith M. Poidomani, RN

Shepaug School Nurse

Fliers & Upcoming Events

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Region 12 Calendar

December 23 - Early Dismissal for Students Only

December 24 through January 3 - Holiday Recess

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The Region 12 community educates, challenges, and inspires all learners to become compassionate, creative, and courageous individuals who are empowered by the knowledge, character, and perseverance to achieve their greatest potential within the global society.

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