Falcon Flier

Vol 51, Issue 2 Back-to-School Information - August 2023

Phelps Luck Elementary School

Edward Cosentino, Principal

Sandra McGraw, Assistant Principal

Jennifer Stairs, Assistant Principal

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دوسری زبانوں کے لئے ، نیوزلیٹر کا ترجمہ کریں پر کلک کریں اور اپنی پسند کی زبان کا انتخاب کریں۔

Welcome from School Administration

August is finally here, and we cannot wait to see our students back at school on August 28! This week, our teachers and staff started their pre-service week to prepare for a new school year. Our incredible custodial team has been working hard to prepare the building for the arrival of our students and staff. We are ready for a fantastic school year! A lot of planning and preparation goes into a successful start!

This week's newsletter is packed full of a lot of information. Please pay particular attention to the arrival and dismissal procedures so we can set up safe routines on the first day of school. Please expect lengthy arrivals and dismissals for the first few days. If everyone follows the procedures, we can have a safe, efficient, and speedy arrival and dismissal time. Please be patient with us during the first few days of school.

On that note, we highly recommend sending your child to school on the first day in the same way as will be their regular daily routine. Save the goodbyes for home, and make sure kids are in the school building by 8:38 a.m. and in their classroom seats at 8:40 a.m.

I want to thank those who completed the Family File. At the start of this week, we had 26% of our Family Files complete. Family File is critical to have up-to-date and accurate. We had an unscheduled early dismissal two years ago on the second day of school. We use the information in Family File to make sure children get home safely on an unscheduled early closing.

We want to remind you that Open Houses are Friday at the following times:

  • Kindergarten - 1:30 p.m.
  • First through Fifth grades - 2:00 p.m.

Open House is a time for students to meet their teachers, classmates and to drop off school supplies.

If you have any questions or need help, please contact us. We look forward to a great partnership this year!

Mr. Cosentino, Principal

Ms. McGraw, Assistant Principal

Ms. Stairs, Assistant Principal

Important Upcoming Dates and Events

For a complete list of dates and events visit ples.hcpss.org/calendar.


  • 21 - PK Orientation, 6:00 p.m.
  • 23 - Class Assignments open in Family File
  • 24 - Kindergarten Back-to-School Night, 6:00 p.m.
  • 25 - Open House - Kindergarten, 1:30 p..m
  • 25 - Open House - 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, & 5th grades, 2:00 p.m.
  • 28 - First Day of School
  • 31 - First Day of School for Pre-Kindergarten


  • 4 - Labor Day - Schools and Offices closed
  • 6 - PTA Meeting, Media Center or Online (hybrid format), 7:00 p.m.
  • 11 - Back-to-School Night for 1st & 2nd grades, 6:30 p.m.
  • 12 - Back-to-School Night for 3rd & 4th grades, 6:30 p.m.
  • 13 - Gifted & Talented Information Session, 6:00 p.m.
  • 13 - Back-to-School Night for 5th grade, 6:30 p.m.
  • 14 - Back-to-School PTA Picnic on the playground, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
  • 15 - Rosh Hashanah - Schools and Offices Closed
  • 15 - National Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month begins
  • 25 - Yom Kippur - Schools and Offices closed

To subscribe to the PLES calendar on your smartphone, electronic device, or email system, click the plus sign + at the bottom right-hand corner of the Google Calendar or click this link.

HCPSS Calendars

There will be no printed 2023-2024 calendars. Staff, students, and families may add our online calendar to their own mobile/online calendar by

  1. Going to https://www.hcpss.org/calendar/
  2. Scrolling down to Subscribing to a Calendar
  3. Right-clicking on the calendar you wish to subscribe to
  4. Selecting Copy Link Location/Address/Shortcut
  5. Adding to your calendar of choice (See your calendar for specifics on adding a new calendar)

You also may view and/or download printable PDFs of the full calendar and/or important dates only. Updates to the PDFs will be noted on the HCPSS calendar page.

PLEASE NOTE! The calendar is subject to change. The online calendar reflects the most recent version.

Calendars in Spanish, Chinese, and Korean

Calendario en español


스페인어로 된 달력

Bus Routes

We highly encourage you to send your child to school by bus if you are in the transportation zone. Utilizing the bus helps reduce the number of cars in our car loop. Bus routes are available using the following link https://www.hcpss.org/schools/transportation/.

Once you click the link above, click the Bus Stop Locator link, and then enter your child/children’s grade, and your home address. The bus number, bus stop location, and pick-up/drop-off time will be listed.

Students who receive specialized transportation through their IEPs will be contacted by their bus driver with bus numbers and pick-up/drop-off times.

For all bus riders, please plan to arrive at the bus stop 10-15 minutes early during the first two weeks of school, to allow the bus the flexibility needed to pick up and drop off all students.

Transportation Updates

The transportation department notified PLES that the following streets have been added to the transportation zone, and students will be provided a school bus to and from school.

The following streets will now be eligible for transportation service.

  • Bellwart Way – now includes all addresses.
  • Long Sky Court – now includes all addresses.
  • Catch Fly Court – now includes all addresses.
  • Candy Root Court – now includes all addresses.
  • Pine Bark Court – now includes all addresses.
  • Bright Dawn Court – now includes all addresses.
  • Five Fingers Way – now includes 5254-5320.

Bus Luggage Tags

As stated above, we highly recommend sending your child to school on the bus if that is his/her normal routine. This is particularly important on the first day because that is when we assign luggage tags to backpacks when they get off the bus. The luggage tags will be color-coded with their bus number written on them.

Luggage tags will be available during the Open House on Friday, August 25.

Arrival and Dismissal Procedures


With 750 students at Phelps Luck Elementary, it is important to be patient during arrival and dismissal. The carefully planned logistics of arrival and dismissal help us keep our students, staff, parents, and visitors safe. If you are in a non-transportation zone (walker or car rider), it is extremely important to familiarize yourself with our routines for arrival and dismissal.

As adults, we must follow predictable patterns and routines because children can be unpredictable. Parking in the wrong or illegal place creates unforeseen situations, and those types of cases can put students at risk during arrival and dismissal. Please do not park along Oldstone Court. This ties-up incoming and exiting cars and buses.

Arrival and dismissal safety is everyone's responsibility. Please review the map below and listen to our staff members outside to assist your children when they enter and leave school daily.

Arrival & Dismissal Procedures

Arrival and Dismissal Procedures on the PLES Website

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Non-Transportation Zone (Walkers)

Non-transportation areas (walk areas) have been expanded for most HCPSS schools for the 2023-2024 school year. Board of Education Policy 5200 Student Transportation increased the allowable distance students may walk to school based on the distance between a student’s home and school. As a result, some students who previously received bus service may not receive it in 2023-2024.

At PLES, our non-transportation zone increased slightly compared to last school year. We are anticipating nine buses this year. The transportation zone will include the areas between Lambskin Lane, near the Locust Park Pool, along Tamar Drive to Spiral Cut.

Phelps Luck Neighborhood Pathways

- A Guide to walk and bike to and from school.

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All students at Phelps Luck Elementary receive breakfast in the morning when they arrive in their classroom. The menu will be located on the LINQ Connect website or app. Please see the information below about LINQ Connect.


If your child receives Free and Reduced Meals of if they purchase lunch at school, the menu is now located on the LINQ Connect website or app. Please see the information below about LINQ Connect.

Free and Reduced Meals Application

HCPSS participates in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, which provide families with significant benefits to help save money. Qualification is based on family size and income, and enrollment is confidential. All children in households receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can get free meals regardless of income, and students from households that meet federal income guidelines are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals.

Free and Reduced Meals eligibility provides discounts for summer programs, SAT, recreation programs, Maryland Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and internet programs. Other discounts are listed below. FARMs eligibility also may provide your school with much-needed Federal funding. Visit the HCPSS Food & Nutrition Site for more information.

LINQ Connect is the NEW Food & Nutrition New Menu and Payment Program

HCPSS no longer will use Nutrislice for school menus or MySchoolBucks* for meal payments and instead is offering a new parent site for all things food and nutrition. LINQ Connect is a secure, online portal that allows families to:

  • View breakfast and lunch menus
  • Make online payments to their child’s meal account
  • Monitor their child’s accounts
  • Schedule recurring payments and/or low balance alerts
  • Submit an online application for the Free and Reduced Meals program

*While MySchoolBucks is no longer used for meal payments, HCPSS continues to utilize it for a variety of payment needs.

LINQ Connect can easily be accessed online or via mobile app.

Parents/guardians can create an account to make online payments to their child’s meal account, monitor their child’s account, schedule automatic recurring payments, set up low balance alerts, submit a Free and Reduced Meals program application, and more.


When creating a new account, you do not need to use the same email/credentials as MySchoolBucks or other HCPSS applications. To add a student, parents/guardians will need your child’s student ID, which can be found by logging into HCPSS Connect Synergy.

NOTE: MySchoolBucks meal balances were automatically transferred to LINQ Connect. If your child had a balance at the end of the 2022-2023 school year, when you add your child to your profile, that meal balance will be displayed.To request a refund of meal balances at any time, complete this brief online form. Parents/guardians will need to provide your child’s cafeteria PIN, which can be located by logging in to HCPSS Connect Synergy and selecting the Student Info button.

Parent View App. & A Tool to Help Pronounce Names

Access Family File Contents

Did you know that our student management system, Synergy, has a parent app? You can access Family File, Report Cards, School Directory, Conference Schedules, and Test Scores all through the app. Simply go to the Apple Store or Google Store to download Synergy ParentVue to install it on your smartphone.

Tool to Help Pronounce Names

In addition to those functions listed above, the app has a special function that can only be found on the app. When you log in to the app and access your child's information, there is a place where you can record the correct pronunciation of your child's name. Simply click on the megaphone/volume icon in each student's profile and record your child's name.

We value pronouncing student and family names correctly. We believe this is essential in welcoming students and their families to our school and classrooms. This is so important to us as a school to get it right. Help us by recording your child's name using the ParentVUE App. Having this tool helps us clearly and accurately pronounce names.

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Water Bottles & Filling Station

Students are permitted to bring a water bottle or refillable containers to school.

No other beverage is permitted in the classroom. *No glass containers allowed.

This summer, we installed a new water bottle filling station in the main hallway. Students are welcome to refill their water bottle there.

Please be sure you write your child's name on the water bottle or container.

Membership in PTA

Support PLES by joining the PTA! Our memberships help sustain PTA programming from fun events like the “Trunk or Treat” to staff appreciation efforts. Join here: https://phelpsluckpta.memberhub.com/store?limit=21&live=true

Save the Date

The first PTA meeting of the year will take place Wednesday, September 6 from 7:00-8:00 pm in the media center and online through Zoom. Join us to help shape the PTA this year!

PTA Kickoff Meeting and Dinner

Wednesday, Sep. 6th, 7pm

5370 Old Stone Court

Columbia, MD

Phelps Luck Elementary School Media Center.

Please come and share your knowledge and ideas!

Back to School Picnic

Catch up with old friends and make new ones at a fun-filled back-to-school picnic on Thursday, September 14, from 5:30-7:00 pm on the PLES blacktop. We will have music and entertainment with a DJ, and families can purchase treats at a snowball trailer.

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Raise Right E-Gift Card Fundraising Program

Support the PTA when shopping at your favorite stores! You can earn fundraising dollars for Phelps Luck PTA by participating in our RaiseRight (formerly Scrip) program! This easy-to-use program means you earn fundraising dollars by purchasing electronic gift cards to an extensive list of large businesses (Target, Amazon, Giant, Old Navy, Lowes, etc.) and a percentage of that sale is returned to the PTA as fundraising dollars. This program will be ongoing throughout the year. Visit https://www.raiseright.com/enroll and look for “Join an existing program”. Enter our Enrollment Code: BRWAATM9HK7P and click “Join a Program”.

Clothing Bin Fundraiser

In July we collected 1,090 lbs of clothing and raised $109 for our PTA programs! Please donate any cloth items to the clothing bin in our school parking lot. This is an easy way to support our PTA! Please place all items in a closed trash bag before placing the bag in the bin. Thank you!

Follow the PTA on Facebook

Stay up-to-date on events and news: https://www.facebook.com/phelpsluckpta

Come learn about Cub Scouts with Pack 678

Is your child interested in outdoor activities, learning new skills, and going on adventures with friends? If so, come learn about Cub Scout Pack 678 during PLES Back to School nights, and then join us for our big recruiting event at 7pm on September 27 at Phelps Luck Elementary School. Pack 678 meets most Wednesdays at the PLES cafeteria and accepts boys and girls from kindergarten through 5th grade. We have a fun year ahead of us filled with hiking, camping, and the always popular Pinewood Derby. We can’t wait to meet you! Email scoutpack678@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

PT or Full-Time Student Helper (TE) Position Available

Phelps Luck has a part-time or a full-time Student Helper (TE) position available at Phelps Luck Elementary School. If you are looking to work with a special needs student one-on-one, please email Sandra McGraw, or call her at 410-313-6886. Hiring will take place through Social Service Consultants, all applications for this position must come through them.

Clothing Giveaway

Clothing Giveaway

The Getting Ahead Program

Free Clothing Giveaway

(Men, Women and Children)

Everyone is Welcome!

Saturday, August 26

10 am to noon

Department of Community Resources and Services

9830 Patuxent Woods Drive, Columbia, MD

To Register: email –mleblanc@howardcountymd.gov

Supplies available until last

Related Arts

Related Arts and the Color Calendar Schedule

Students participate in related arts daily for one hour. There are five related arts classes: Art, Media, Music, Physical Education, and Technology. During the pandemic year, we moved from a set or fixed daily related arts schedule to a rotating related arts schedule. The rotating schedule is called the Related Arts Color Calendar. We rotate days using the color calendar because there are a disproportional number of days off on Mondays and Fridays. This used to mean students would have up to 6 fewer Monday or Friday related arts versus the other classes and days of the week. Your child's teacher will share their specific related arts color day assignments with you. It is very important to make sure your child dresses appropriately for the classes he/she has for related arts, especially for physical education.

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Staffing Updates

Welcome new staff to PLES

Sorsha Molroe -

PLES Teachers

Please find a list of all homeroom teachers by grade level.


  • Helen Harlin, Christine Hipp, Jessica Tegges


  • Danielle Baker, Karma Barfield, Erin Harback, Brianna McKenney, Carly Norris, Cheryl vom Saal

First Grade

  • Amy Adams, Sarah Bae, Tanya Brogan, Lindee Eads, Shannon Dugan, Anne Johnson,

Second Grade

  • Leanna Brech, Wendy Crockett, Meghan Kline, Nikki Croba, Jeanette Smith, Chris VanderVat

Third Grade

  • Sekwana Horge, Allison Goldman, Madison Lee, Ashley Winde

Fourth Grade

  • Jessica Kempner, Kendra Thomas, Kristina-Maria Perona, Gwyn Pettit

Fifth Grade

  • TaWanda Eason-Evans, Laine Farrell, Abigail Fratantuono, Elisa Hoffman, Rachel Skinner

Family Guide - The ABCs of PLES

The Family Guide - The ABCs of PLES is a lengthy document that provides information about our school. Click below to download the PLES Family Guide. The guide is also located on the main page of the PLES website.

Job Opportunities at PLES

Temporary Employee Positions

We are looking for caring and compassionate individuals to assist students with disabilities who require direct adult supervision throughout the school day. The position works under the daily supervision of the school administration and the direction of a special education teacher and/or a classroom teacher. Some experience working with children or individuals with disabilities preferred. Below, please are details regarding the position.

  • Temporary Employee (TE) positions are with Social Service Consultants, Ltd.

  • Compensation is $13.00 per hour

  • The hours are 8:40 AM – 3:10 PM Monday-Friday.

To apply, please email Robert Tencher at Rtencher@gmail.com to request an application packet. Please specify the school you are interested in. You can also apply using this link. Please contact Sandra McGraw at sandra_mcgraw@hcpss.org or at 410-313-6886 when you have completed all parts of the application.

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Family File Emergency Form is Open in HCPSS Connect

It is time to update your child's emergency contact information in HCPSS Connect! This is the most important step as we prepare for the start of the 2023-2024 school year. Your Family file needs to be updated every school year. This must be done for new and returning families.

Families that update and complete their Family File will be able to view teacher assignments for the upcoming school year beginning August 23, 2023. In addition, having this information is critical to us as soon as the first day of school.

HCPSS Connect is open to update your Family File. This information is very important! Please take the time to do this now. It is very important to have your Family File information complete prior to the first day of school.

You will be asked to update or provide the following information:

  • Parent/guardian contact information. Please provide the most current contact information.
  • Emergency contacts: Who do you want to pick up your child in case you cannot?
  • Medical information: Your child's health information.
  • Arrival and dismissal procedures. How will your child arrive to school and be dismissed on a daily basis? Additionally, provide what procedure your child should follow in case of an unscheduled early closing of schools.
  • Media coverage. This includes students being photographed.
  • Data confidentiality. Permission to release your child’s information to various organizations.
  • PTA directory. What information do you want to be included in our PLES PTA Directory?

You can access HCPSS Connect here http://www.hcpss.org/connect/

Changes of address may not be made through Family File. If you have recently moved, please contact our PLES office at 410-313-6886 as soon as possible.

Parents who have forgotten their login credentials for Family File may click the “Forgot Password” link on the sign-in page. If you need additional assistance, please fill out this Connect Help Form.

Synergy - Connect Video Orientation

Information and Application for Free and Reduced Meals (FARMs)

Over the past two years, all students were able to access meals through the school. Federal Funding for free meals for all students ended on June 30. Therefore, to qualify for Free and Reduced Meals, families will need to apply for that benefit.

HCPSS participates in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, which provide families with significant benefits to help save money. Qualification is based on family size and income, and enrollment is confidential. All children in households receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can get free meals regardless of income, and students from households that meet federal income guidelines are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals. Those eligible for reduced-price lunch pay $0.10 and breakfast is free.

Free and Reduced Meals eligibility provides discounts for summer programs, SAT, recreation programs, Maryland Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and internet programs

Calling for Watch D.OG.S. Leaders!

Watch DOGS University is one of the nation’s largest and most respected school-based, family, and community engagement organizations in the country. Since the program’s creation in 1998, more than 6,450 schools across the country have launched a WATCH D.O.G.S. program of their own. Each school year, hundreds of thousands of fathers and father figures make a positive impact on millions of children by volunteering millions of hours in their local schools through this amazing one-of-a-kind program. Who are Watch D.O.G.S.? Fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers, uncles, and other father figures who volunteer to serve at least one day a year in a variety of school activities as assigned by the school's administrators.

In partnership with the PLES PTA, we are excited to move into our sixth year! As we plan for the upcoming year, we are putting together our Watch D.O.G.S. Leadership Team of volunteers to plan for our Kickoffs. If you are interested, please email Sandra McGraw by Friday, August 18, 2023. Please either click on the name to email or call the school at 410-313-6886. Once we establish our team, we will contact you for the date and time of our first Watch D.O.G.S. Leadership meeting. Thank you!

Who is my child's teacher?

Teacher notifications will be through Family File this year. You will be able to see your child's teacher on August 24. In order to access your child's teacher, you must complete Family File. You will need to do this prior to Open House on August 26.

Supply List for 2023-24

The supply list for the 2023-24 school year can be found on the main page of our school's website.

We encourage you to drop off your school supplies during Open House on August 25. Please be sure to clearly label your child's supplies with his/her name.

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Our Weekly Newsletter, The Falcon Flier

The Falcon Flier school newsletter will be published weekly throughout the school year through email and social media. Be sure to look for this newsletter on Friday mornings at 7:00 a.m. in your email inbox starting in September. Please don't mark emails from PLES or HCPSS as junk or spam. We found out that several people get blocked from all PLES and HCPSS communication when you mark the email as spam or junk. In addition to important school information, our PTA has a section in the weekly newsletter. They do not publish their own newsletter, so please look for PTA information in each newsletter. If you ever miss an issue of the newsletter or need to review a previous issue, all Falcon Fliers will be available on the main page of the PLES website. We hope you find the information helpful. Additionally, be sure to follow PLES on Facebook and Twitter. We often post information and reminders on social media in addition to fun posts sharing what's going on in our school.

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Connect with PLES and Stay Informed

Listed below are the many ways to stay informed at Phelps Luck Elementary School.

X (formerly Twitter)

  • Follow us on X at https://twitter.com/hcpss_ples
  • We use X to inform, celebrate, and engage our community.
  • X is used to share what is going on in our school, our community, and throughout the Howard County Public School System.
  • Turn on notifications to get information the second it is posted on X.


  • Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PhelpsLuckElementary
  • We have found that Facebook is the social media most used by our parents so we are now on Facebook, too!
  • Our Facebook page is updated automatically from our Twitter feed.
  • Please use Facebook to share the good news from PLES with your friends and families.


  • Our website, ples.hcpss.org, is updated regularly.
  • Important news and information is located on the main page of the site, including an archive of our weekly newsletter, Falcon Flier.
  • Staff information and email are located under the "Our Staff" tab.
  • Subscribe to the Google calendar located on the "Calendar" tab.

Class Dojo

  • Class Dojo is a communication tool used in classrooms throughout Phelps Luck. Your homeroom teacher will share more information about how to connect and communicate through Class Dojo.


  • Email is our main form of communication.
  • You will receive news and information automatically to the email address you provide in your Family File. We will not inundate your inbox with email. Look for the weekly Falcon Flier on Friday mornings.
  • If you would like email sent to a different email address, update your email in Family File with the email address you prefer.
  • You can subscribe additional email addresses by visiting the HCPSS News site here. http://www.hcpss.org/hcpss-news/
  • Weekly announcements, important information and updates, and more will primarily be sent through email.
  • You also have the opportunity to opt-in for text messaging
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Help Beautify PLES

PTA is collecting money to help fund a special beautification project. Please consider donating money to help purchase banners for the front of the school.

In alignment w/ Policy 10010, the following announcements have been approved by the Public Information Office for distribution. The below community notices are neither sponsored nor endorsed by the HCPSS.