Star Tracks Newsletter

Booth Free School - February 2021

A Note From the Principal:

During the month of February, we will be preparing to celebrate Read Across America and Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Read Across America is a nationwide reading celebration that takes place annually on March 2nd, Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American writer and illustrator best known for authoring popular children’s books under the pen name of Dr. Seuss. Did you know that Dr. Seuss would be 115 this year? While he is no longer with us, his legacy lives on in the pages of his books.

Dr. Seuss had written and illustrated over 60 books during his career. His first book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street was published in 1937. Other favorites include such books as Horton Hears a Who!, Happy Birthday to You!, The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Green Eggs and Ham, The Lorax, and one of my favorites and the last book published in 1990, Oh, the Places You’ll Go. Dr. Seuss’s books have been translated into more than fifteen languages and his works have provided the source for eleven children’s television specials, a Broadway musical, and a feature-length motion picture.

In preparation of March 2nd, the teachers are working on activities to promote reading during the month of February, with a culminating celebration in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday/NEA Read Across America. Please help us by encouraging your child to spend time reading at home. Try choosing your favorite Dr. Seuss book!

Reading as a family is always an enjoyable experience and reading aloud to your child is the number one suggestion from reading experts across the country. Reading aloud to your child, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes literacy and language development, improves reading ability, and perhaps most importantly, fosters the love of books and reading. Reading aloud to your child requires only a book and your willingness to spend a little quality time with your child. While the sacrifices are few, the benefits are many. Your child will learn to read better, think better, imagine more richly, and become a passionate and lifelong reader. So take time with your child and share the enjoyment of a good book.

Once again, I thank you for your continuous support in helping us to build a caring and supportive school community. Our partnership makes a world of difference!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~Dr. Seuss


Cathy Colella


Dates to remember for february

2/1 Board of Education Meeting, 7:00 PM

2/8 REACH Open House, 2:30 - 3:15 PM

2/10 Early Release Day, 12:45 Dismissal

2/15 President's Day - No School

2/16 Professional Development - No School for Students

2/17 PTO Meeting, 6:30 PM

2/22 Board of Education Meeting, 7:00 PM

2/24 Early Release Day, 12:45 Dismissal

3/3 Grades Close

Big picture

Grade 1 Readers at Work!

In first grade, our readers have big jobs to do! They have been working hard to solve hard words and trying multiple strategies. Although it is a little different this year, we also try to find safe ways to read with our partners. We have learned that together we can solve hard problems. We also learned that good readers don’t tell our partners the word, we show them a strategy that they can use! We even posted a sign outside our classroom to let everyone know that we are hard at work!

Grade 3 Engineers!

Mrs. Russell’s third grade engineers were tasked with designing a wind-proof home. First, students constructed their paper homes and added paper roofs. Next, they created windmakers. Then, they tested their structure’s ability to withstand high winds. We saw roofs blown away and houses moved off their foundations! Students observed that high wind is a powerful natural hazard. So, our engineers got to work designing safer, stronger structures. They reinforced walls, attached roofs to walls, and anchored structures to the ground. The next “wind storm” caused significantly less damage due to the structural reinforcements added to the homes. While the wind was fierce, our engineers met their design challenges. Background knowledge, creative thinking, and logic resulted in safer, better built homes.

Grade 5 - What Grade 5 is Reading...

Fifth grade has been reading the historic fiction novel Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. Esperanza is a girl who once lived a life of luxury on a large ranch in Mexico and is forced to flee her home and pursue a new life as a migrant laborer in the U.S.

One of the reasons why we really liked this book was because it allowed us to learn about some important historical events in the 1920’s and 1930’s like the Mexican Revolution and life in migrant worker camps in California during the era of the Great Depression. We also appreciated how the book gave us a perspective that allowed us to consider human rights, and we had many conversations centered around the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Another reason why we enjoyed this book was because of the rich use of metaphor throughout the novel. Additionally, we learned a little Spanish from reading the book, as Spanish words were sprinkled throughout the text. Overall, this book initiated deep and meaningful conversations within our classroom and we would recommend this book to upper elementary students as well as young adults.

Student Council News!

This month the Student Council welcomed members from Mrs. Russell’s class! We have focused our efforts on continuing to participate in the #BeKindChallenge. Not only did we talk about the importance of kindness, but we had the opportunity to to color some beautiful “Be Kind” pictures for the students to display in school or at home. We are proud to announce that our kindness chain continues to grow each day. It is prominently hung near the main entrance of our school. The BFS students and staff are enjoying the benefits of sharing and celebrating acts of kindness, big or small!

In addition to the #BeKindChallenge, the Student Council, and BFS school community as a whole, learned about the inspiring life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On January 15th Mrs. Curren and Mrs. Gordon co-hosted a whole-school meeting (via Zoom) in honor of Martin Luther King’s birthday. Each grade level shared quotations uttered by Dr. King and their dreams to make our world a better place. Throughout January, February and beyond we will continue to celebrate African American leaders, as well as influential figures from a diverse collection of cultures, races, and backgrounds.

Finally, the Student Council promoted Booth Free School pride with a spirit week January 19th - 22nd. Each day, our students and staff participated by dressing up in sportswear, mismatched outfits, hats, and BFS colors or gear. As always, spirit weeks are a fun and creative way to come together!

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 and take part in helping your child to grow academically. PTO meetings are held monthly at 6:30 p.m. Our next virtual meeting will be held on February 17th.

Butterfly kisses for Emma

Notes and News from the Nurse.....

Feeling stress and anxiety about coronavirus is a common experience right now for adults as well as children. COVID 19 has had ripple effects into almost every aspect of our lives. Anxiety is a natural and sometimes helpful emotion in everyday life, but when it becomes overwhelming, it can do more harm than good.

Here are a few tips to support your child with signs of anxiety:

  • Reassure your child about how the spread of germs works and that we are following the advice of experts to protect ourselves and each other from the virus.
  • Teach children to notice what they are feeling. To pause and notice their emotion and label it and accept it as something that is “okay” whether it’s a “good” emotion or a “bad” emotion.
  • Assist your children to keep perspective by noticing the good/positive in their days. Practice gratitude with them.
  • Teaching your child to pause to a deep breath in a difficult moment can give your child skills and confidence to accept their feelings without overwhelming anxiety/reactivity. If you practice breathing “exercises” with them regularly, this becomes a wonderful “tool” in their self-help “toolbox”.
  • If you have concerns about the level of your child’s anxiety, contact your pediatrician to discuss a plan for support.

Below are some fun printable exercises to do with children found on this website:

Or you can access the printables right here!

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.

Art, Round Two with Mrs. Manley!

Booth Free School had art for the during January. The focus during this rotation was on how visual art communicates Ideas by artists using color, shape, line, and space. Students also learned that there are many sources for inspiration for art ideas.

K-1 used their life experiences to create a series of landscapes - fun memories, pictures of where we live, the change of seasons, changes in weather, and colors at night. Special things and food also provided subject matter for still life pictures. They also learned about Vincent van Gogh, and used his style to create a personal version of one of his famous sunflower paintings.

Second graders extended these concepts to create relief self portraits, creating mood and showing movement in landscapes using van Gogh’s Starry Night for inspiration, as well as learning about how to use size and positioning to create pictures of groups of people that show a sense of space. Discussions about what makes a picture look realistic as opposed to imaginary helped to develop ideas for underwater scenes. They also explored how to create a sense of unity by repeating colors, lines, and shapes through a collage project.

Third graders used posed unmasked selfies as a reference for drawing self-portraits that evoked a specific emotion. They also learned about how using different types of lines and shapes can create a sense of calm or movement and action in landscapes. Futuristic cities allowed students to explore how to show nighttime or daytime settings.

In fourth and fifth grade, students explored using cartoons to communicate ideas after looking at examples from Rube Goldberg and Keith Haring. Creating an imaginary place through map-making helped students to consider settings in fantasy stories by including details for different landforms and locations. Flip books provided an opportunity to create animation through planning a starting point and an ending motion as well as the “tween” pictures in the middle. Focusing on an emotion to depict in art challenged students to think about how best to use color, line, and shape to convey their messages.

In 3-4-5, students learned some specific techniques and tricks through warm-up exercises with fun one-point perspective landscapes and other-wordly “worms in space” which sparked new confidence in drawing abilities. The Circle Project prompt, What are you learning about yourself, your family, your community, or the world right now? led students to create “circle projects” to depict messages relevant to their personal experiences and feelings during the COVID crisis.

Big picture

Some Words from the Library with Mrs. Gordon!

Happy New Year from the BFS library!

What We’ve Been Doing:

Utilizing the beautiful tribute to Dr. King during our all school meeting, together with Mrs. Curren, I shared the celebratory and moving poem, The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander with the school. Below is a small excerpt from the poem.

This is for the unforgettable.

The swift and sweet ones

who hurdled history

and opened a world

of possible

The ones who survived


by any means necessary.

And the ones who didn’t.

This is for the undeniable.

The ones who scored

with chains

on one hand

and faith

in the other.

This is for the unflappable.

The sophisticated ones

who box adversity

and tackle vision

who shine

their light for the world to see

and don’t stop

’til the break of dawn.

This is for the unafraid.

The audacious ones

who carried the red, white, and Weary Blues

on the battlefield

to save an imperfect Union.

The Undefeated is both a fitting tribute to MLK’s legacy and the perfect introduction to the month of February, Black History Month.

I encourage students to broaden their horizons and delve into the plethora of material the library has to offer dedicated to the magnificent historical accomplishments the black community.

What We’re Reading:

Grade 5 Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Grade 4 The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton lee Stewart

Grade 3 Winston Breen by Eric Berlin

Grade 2 The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

Grade 1 and Kindergarten What Would Danny Do, School Day by Ganit & Adir Levy There’s an Alligator Under my Bed by Mercer Mayer

Kindergarten Unicorn (and Horse) by David Miles The Little Red Cat by Patrick McDonnell

Remember, it’s always good to stay warm with a good book!

School Closing Reminders:

As the winter season continues to progress, our schools may be impacted by inclement weather. In the event of a delayed opening or a school closure, a district phone call will be made through School Messenger by 5:30 a.m. to families. Announcements will also be posted on our district website, and with local news outlets. Delayed Opening/Early Dismissal Schedule

A reminder of what is new this year is the following. The Connecticut State Department of Education is permitting schools to use the option of remote learning snow days when possible. The remote learning snow day will allow schools to hold virtual learning classes when the weather conditions are unsafe for travel. Remote learning snow days will be counted as a regular school day within the school calendar. These remote learning days will not need to be added to the end of the school year as make-up days. The only reason for a traditional snow day cancellation of school (in-person or remotely) would be due to power outages. True snow day cancellations will need to be made up in June. The district announcement will indicate whether a delayed opening, a school closure or a remote learning snow day will be used. For remote snow days the following schedules will be used: Remote Snow Day Schedule.

Travel and Parking Safety

Did you know that school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road. They are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries and in every state, stop-arm laws exist to protect children from other motorists.

If you are driving, remember these simple rules:

  • Yellow flashing lights on a school bus mean slow down because the bus is preparing to stop. There are likely students waiting to get on the bus or parents waiting nearby to pick up children.

  • Red flashing lights mean stop and wait at least 20 feet behind the bus because children are getting on or off the school bus. Stay stopped until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving.

  • Even when lights aren’t flashing, watch for children, particularly in the morning or afternoon, around school arrival and dismissal. Be alert as you back out of a driveway or drive through a neighborhood, school zone or bus stop.

Let’s all work together to keep our children safe!

Big picture

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.

Big picture