Star Tracks Newsletter

Booth Free School - January 2020

A Note From the Principal:

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Another holiday season has come and gone. The season is always magical and with the picturesque snowfall this time of year, it is a delight to us all and especially for the boys and girls. Playing in the snow, whether building a snowman, skiing, snowboarding, and making snow angels, is invigorating and brings a sense of joy to us all. It is my hope that the holiday season brought peace and joy to you all as we are certainly blessed to have such giving loved ones. I wish each family only good things – today, tomorrow, and always in this new year.

As with any new year, it brings much excitement and anticipation of what lies ahead in the academic programming in grades K-5. Teachers are looking closely at the curriculum and are planning accordingly. They will be using mid-year assessments as well as their students’ daily work performance to gage where students are in their academic skill development. We are in full swing and moving ahead!

In grades 3-5 students will be given the Smarter Balanced Assessments during the first two full weeks of May starting the week of May 4th. Students will be assessed in the areas of English Language Arts and Mathematics. This assessment will be provided through computer adaptive testing technologies to the greatest extent possible to provide meaningful feedback and actionable data that our teachers can use to help students succeed. Students in grade 5 will also be given an assessment in science. That assessment will take place on May 20th. Our students are well prepared to take these assessments as they have access to so much technology through computer and Chromebook use. They are ready to tackle their assessment tasks with much confidence.

Should you have any questions or concerns about the testing as we get closer to the testing period, please feel free to contact either your child’s teachers or me to discuss expectations. You may also visit the State of Connecticut Educational website for further information. The web address is The assessment link will lead you to information about the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium or you can visit the Smarter Balanced website directly at

In closing, learning is so important and experts say that any learning must be a joint venture between school, parents, and children. Research indicates that children do better in school if parents place a high value on educating and reinforcing on-going learning. I thank you for your continued support and commitment to your child’s education. Together we make the greatest impact!


Cathy Colella


Dates to Remember for January

1/2 Winter Recess Ends, School Resumes

1/6 Board of Education Meeting, 7:00 PM

1/8 Student Leadership Conference

1/15 PTO Meeting, 6:30 PM

1/16 Elementary Unified Concert at Shepaug, 7 PM

1/20 Martin Luther King Day-School Closed

1/23 Snow Date for Unified Concert

1/27 Board of Education Meeting, 7:00 PM

1/27-30 Kindergarten Registration Week

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The Antiques Roadshow Comes to Kindergarten

Winter holidays often bring special presents, but we’re turning these treasures into lessons about the past. Thanks to eager families, we had many interesting items to explore this December. Each gift invited us to look closely, reflect, and form questions. How old might this book be? Why were Magic 8 Balls made of plastic? Why do some items require batteries? We also started to notice that some gifts appeal to many generations, like toy animals, a pair of binoculars, and BINGO games to name a few. This also provides an excellent connection to our “Show & Tell” writing so that now we can teach others about these blasts from the past.

Grade 2 Gingerbread Man Stories

Second graders have listened and read many versions of the Gingerbread Man. They were able to choose whether their gingerbread character would be chased by three different characters or if their character would run to three different places. While some students used the same repetitive phrase, as the original story in their writing, others chose to make up their own repetitive phrase such as “Run, run as fast as you can. I’m the gingerbread girl”. Be on the lookout for these adventurous stories which will be hung in the downstairs hallway. Read to find out how these gingerbread stories end!

Grade 4 Happenings

The fourth graders have truly been expanding their knowledge these past few months. They can easily multiply four-digit numbers using the standard algorithm as well as partial products. They know many interesting facts about animal defense mechanisms. And they will soon begin writing a “choose your own adventure” piece about a specific animal and its defenses. This is an exciting time and we can’t wait for the new year to begin!!

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 January 15 at 6:30 pm. We hope you plan to attend!

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.

Notes and News from the Nurse.....

Welcome Back!

As winter approaches, illnesses increase and potential child to child transfer of viruses and bacteria rises. Here are some tips to keep your child healthy this winter:

The CDC recommends that each child receives a seasonal flu vaccine. It is not too late to do this.

  • It is also recommended that you teach and encourage your children to take everyday preventative actions against germs such as: cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol based rub, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and try to avoid contact with sick people.
  • Keep your child home when they are sick for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone (without fever reducing medicine).
  • Please call the school and notify the nurse of your child’s symptoms so that disease tracking can be monitored.
  • Avoid crowds when sick.
  • Your child needs good nutrition, plenty of fluids, and rest to keep a strong healthy immune system.
  • Exercise and activity are also important for a healthy immune system. As cold weather approaches, please send your child with appropriate clothing to continue to get a nice dose of fun and fresh air at recess during the school day. Inappropriate outdoor weather gear can put unnecessary stress on body systems.

    Please call your school’s Health Office @ 860-355-0428 if you have questions.

Cold Weather Fun:

Children spend a lot of time outside during the winter months. Whether your child is waiting for the bus or building a snowman, be careful when sending him/her outside. Cold temperatures can be especially harsh on children. Children should be dressed in several layers of clothing to keep them dry and warm. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends dressing young children in one more layer of clothing than you yourself would wear. Make sure you send your child out with a hat that covers the ears (50% of body heat is lost through the head), and wearing waterproof boots with enough room to wiggle the toes. Here at school unless it is too wet or less than 20 degrees, your child will go outside at recess time and will need snow pants and boots to enjoy the snowy outdoors.

Childhood Vaccines

Preventing a disease is always better than treating it after it has occurred. There are many diseases that used to be common in the United States that can now be prevented by vaccine. Some of these include: polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, rotavirus, and Haemophilus influenza type b (HIB). A healthy immune system immediately begins to protect the body when exposed to anything it recognizes as a “foreign invader” (antigen), like germs, bacteria and viruses. The first time the body is exposed to an antigen it begins to produce antibodies to fight against it and immunity to that antigen is then there to protect for next time, but usually some sign of sickness starts faster. Vaccines are a way to give children immunity to diseases without them actually getting sick. A vaccine contains antigen that is either weakened or killed so it does not cause disease but does cause immunity. By following a recommended vaccination schedule, countless cases of diseases are prevented and millions of lives saved. For more information, go to

Non-Food Celebrations and Events

As there are a growing number of students with obesity issues and life threatening food allergies in this country and our community, we would like to remind parents of our Region 12 food policy. As we continue to celebrate important events at school we will find ways to recognize these occasions through non-food ideas. You can find suggestions on the school nurse website( or contact your child’s teacher for assistance. Feel free to contact me, Sandi DiBella, school nurse at 860-355-0428, with any questions or concerns.

You may access the policy #6142.101 through the district website at, go to Board of Education, Board Policies, on the left side go to Instruction - Series 6000, go to 6142.101 Non-sold Foods and Beverages.


Registration for Kindergarten will take place the week of January 27th to January 31st. Children turning five years of age before January 1, 2021 are eligible. When you receive a registration packet, please fill out all forms and deliver them to the school office. Packets are also available in the office should you need one. A copy of your child’s Birth Certificate and proof of residency should be included. A Kindergarten Readiness Program will take place in the Spring. Should you need or desire further information please contact the school office at (860) 354-9391.

Booth Free School’s Cultures Around the World, Discovering Hanukkah!

On Monday, December 16th, Booth Free School celebrated Hanukkah at this year’s Cultures Around the World. This was a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn about Hanukkah while participating in multi-age groups. Students rotated through stations as they learned about various aspects of the celebration of Hanukkah. In one station they played the Dreidel game and in other stations they learned about “gelt”, the gifts of money, about the menorah, and also had an opportunity to dance. The day’s events culminated with a whole-school activity. It was a spectacular school event learning about the Jewish Festival of Lights.

Booth Free School’s Annual Santa’s Breakfast and Holly Jolly Boutique Shopping!

Booth Free School’s Annual Santa’s Breakfast and Holly Jolly Boutique Shopping was held Saturday, December 7th. It was a wonderful way for our community to kick-off the holiday season. Booth Free School thanks the PTO for their support and recognize the chairs, Cara Abraham, Santa’s Breakfast, and Donna Laskowski and Brenda McGuire, Holly Jolly Boutique and all their volunteers. With the many donations of food, syrup, and time this event was fantastic! A special thanks to our teachers for their beautiful classroom trees and to Santa and Mrs. Claus!

Art News from Mrs. Manley - Board of Education Artist of the Month

Each month the Board of Education and the Region #12 art staff recognizes one student from each school for their excellence in the visual arts. The student's artwork is put on display in the Board of Education office, is shown in the Region in Review, and is recognized at a Board of Education meeting. At Booth Free School, first grader Celeste Palumbo was nominated for November’s Artist of the Month.

What is the criteria for becoming Artist of the Month? At the elementary level, art teacher Jane Manley considers how students demonstrate the various Studio Habits of Mind (SHoM), of which there are 8 coequal behaviors: Develop Craft, Engage & Persist, Envision, Express, Observe, Reflect, Stretch & Explore, and Understand Art Worlds. Celeste demonstrated the SHoM of Envision and Develop Craft in her project. Envision is when an artist visualizes the steps needed to make the work of art. Celeste planned her work by breaking it down into steps - starting by thinking of different shapes to use, adjusting their size, and then combining them to create her bird first in pencil. Develop Craft is when an artist is learning how to use and care for tools and materials, practicing a technique, and/or organizing and caring for a workspace. Celeste used watercolors, which are tricky - there are lots of things to remember in order to be successful at it, like rinsing the brush well between colors, being gentle with the brush, and leaving the wet painting flat to dry. In her final step, Celeste used Sharpie marker to outline - a technique that requires control and focus - another example of how she demonstrated Develop Craft in her work. Congratulations, Celeste!

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Some Words from the Library with Mrs. Gordon!

Happy 2020! I hope everyone has a joyous and restful holiday break!

The kids will be coming home with a holiday break reading incentives. Remember, older siblings, parents, and grandparents can always read to younger students, and older students can read to parents, siblings and even pets… Be creative, read holiday cards together, take a crack at reading some directions from a new gizmo or try your hand at a new holiday recipe!

We have some exciting events in store for 2020! Specifically, Booth Free School students in grades 2-5 will begin monthly visits to the Minor Memorial Library! This is a wonderful opportunity for the children to learn about their community, take on a new responsibility and broaden their reading horizons. If you haven’t already I recommend stopping by the library or going online at to get library cards for everyone in the family. Maybe you will be able to make use of your cards over the school break!

As we begin a new year, I am checking our library inventory and I ask that families please take a moment to check their homes for any overdue library books. Just remember, any books with missing barcodes, spine labels and/or black marker on the front and back inside covers are books from the free cart and are yours to keep!

What we are Reading:

Grade 5 Indigo by Alice Hoffman

Grade 4 The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Grade 3 The Girl who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhille

Grade 2 Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

Grade 1 This is a Good Story by Adam Lehrhaupt

Stuck By Oliver Jeffers

Boris and Stella and the Perfect Gift by Dara Goldman

Kindergarten Twinkle by Katherine Holabird and Sarah Warburton

A Perfectly Messed up Story by Patrick McDonnell

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems

Until Next Month- Stay Warm!

School Closing Reminders:

Now that we have begun to experience a taste of cold weather, it is a good time to review school closing procedures. When snow or ice creates unsafe driving conditions, school may need to be closed early, school opening may need to be delayed, or school may need to be closed for the day.

School closing information is available on our web site ( or may be heard over one of several radio or television stations. The Region-12 Notification System will also be activated for delayed openings and closings, and also when the decision to dismiss school early is made, so please be sure we have your correct telephone numbers.

The following stations broadcast our closing and delays:

WTIC AM 1080/WTIC 96.5 FM, WINE 940 AM/WINE 95.1 FM, WLAD 800 AM/WLAD 98.3 FM, WHCN 105.9 FM, WREF 850 AM, WKSS 95.7 FM, WZBG 97.3 FM, WVIT -TV 30, WTNH - TV 8, and WFSB –TV 3.

Delayed Opening Times for a 2 Hour Delay:

Please see our district website for additional scheduling information. For a delay, please be aware of the following:

  • Students should wait at their bus stop 2 hours later than the normal pick-up time.
  • Students in K through grade 5 may arrive at school at 10:40 a.m.
  • School will begin at 11:00 a.m.

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.

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.

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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