News From Fort Zeller Elementary

November 2022

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Principal's Message

Hello to our Fort Zeller Families,

It's hard to believe we are already into November! It has been such a wonderful first quarter of school. I would like to say THANK YOU to all of our Fort Zeller families. I appreciate your partnership as we work as a team to create the best learning experience for your students. Your work in providing a caring environment at home that nurtures and respects education provides a solid platform for us to build on. Our work together creates a team of support for your child that allows great learning to happen academically, socially, and emotionally.

November is a perfect time of year to reflect and practice gratitude. Do you have a moment to send a quick thank you note or email to a staff member at Fort Zeller Elementary? A simple note of appreciation can change a staff member's day. Positive connections between home and school foster mutual respect, which in turn creates a stronger learning environment for all. I encourage you to share a quick thank you with someone having a positive impact on your child.

We have many exciting things coming up in the next few months. Keep an eye out for communication about what's happening at Fort Zeller. Please always feel free to contact the school with any questions you may have.

All the Best,

Jodi Houck

Important Information

1. Trip Forms - If you are planning on going on a trip, please make sure to fill out a trip request form and turn it into the office. Planned trips require the principal's approval in order to be excused. For all other absences, you can complete the excuse on Power School, or turn in an excuse to the office through email ( or paper copy.

2. Power School Forms - We are still looking for a number of families to complete the required forms on Power School. These forms provide us with up-to-date important information. Please see below for more information. If you need help, please make sure to contact our office.

3. Book Fair - Fort Zeller's Book Fair will be held from November 17-22. Your child will be able to shop on 11/17 & 11/18 and then it will be open during parent conferences on 11/21-11/22. Please see below for more information. There is a schedule of when each class will be previewing and buying at the book fair below.

4. Break - We will not have school for students from November 21-28. November 21-22 will be when our parent/teacher conferences will be taking place. This is the time you will be receiving your child's report cards. The rest of that week, along with the following Monday, students and staff will be off school.

5. ELCO's Annual Holiday Program - ELCO's annual holiday program to support our families is back! Please see below for more information.


Nov. 1: (Day 4)

  • Picture Retake Day
  • End of 1st Marking Period
  • PTO Meeting @ 6:30 pm

Nov. 4: (Act 80 Day)

  • No School for Students

Nov. 7: (Day 3)

  • Board Meeting @ 6:00 pm

Nov. 8: (Day 4)

  • Election Day

Nov. 11: (Day 2)

  • Veteran's Day
  • Veteran's Day Breakfast - 7:45 - 8:20 am

Nov. 14: (Day 3)

  • Author, Lisa Papp Visit

Nov. 17: (Day 2)

  • Book Fair (Preview)

Nov. 18: (Day 3)

  • Book Fair (Buy)

Nov. 21-22: (Conferences)

  • No School for Students
  • Book Fair Open

Nov. 23-28: (Thanksgiving Break)

  • No School for Students

Nov. 29: (Day 4)

  • Back to School


ELCO's annual holiday program to support our families is back! Families who express the need for support will be provided with gift cards and stuffed stockings for each child rather than individualized gifts. This will allow parents to shop for their children, purchasing the correct colors/sizes of clothing, specific toys desired, etc. They will also receive a gift card for food (as has been done in the past). Individuals, businesses, and families who wish to donate will have the opportunity to do so via a few avenues: donation of a stocking and items to stuff the stockings with, donation of money, donation of gift cards.

Details pertaining to the Holiday Program are available on the ELCO website. Please click on the link below!

ELCO's Annual Holiday Give

Please click on this button for more information.

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Fort Zeller Book Fair

Our book fair will take place from Thursday November 17th through Tuesday November 22nd in the main lobby next to the office.

If you would like to sign-up to help out at the book fair, please use this link.

Visit our Book Fair homepage to learn more and get started with eWallet and online shopping:

If you would like to make a donation to help ensure that every child at Fort Zeller is able to get a book from our book fair, please use the web address below to donate to Fort Zeller’s schoolwide eWallet account.

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Students and Class of the Month

Congratulations to our October students of the month and class of the month!

Kindergarten - Mae S. (Zurick am), Mason S. (Yocum pm) & Axel G. (Wentzel)

First Grade - Hudson H. (Hartman) & Lydia A. (McDonnell),

Second Grade - Leo C. (Jackson) & Madelyn A. (Frederick)

Class of the Month - Mrs. Zurick's pm Class

During the month of October, we were focused on self-control. Throughout the month of November, we are focusing on citizenship. Citizenship is showing loyalty to your school, community and country. It includes making good, positive choices that can help others.

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News from Fort Zeller's PTO

Upcoming November Events -

Scholastic Book Fair is returning to Fort Zeller Elementary.

Thursday, November 17 & Friday, November 18 for students.

Monday, November 21 & Tuesday, November 22 for Parent Teacher Conferences

More info will be provided closer to the date.

The PTO Hospitality Committee is busy planning a Fall Meal for the teachers during conferences. More info will be released in November.

There will be a sign up genius provided for meal contributions.

Volunteer Clearances

We will need volunteers for upcoming events! (more info will be coming in November)

If you are interested in volunteering at the book fair or gingerbread shop…start obtaining your volunteer clearances today!

If you have any questions about the process, please let us know!

Amazon Smile / Box Tops -

Shopping Amazon?

Don’t forget to sign up for Amazon Smile and choose “Fort Zeller Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization Inc” as the organization to support!

Please download the BoxTops App and start scanning your grocery receipts. Here is all of the products that can earn money for the PTO.

Rising Raiders Family Workshops

This year, Fort Zeller Elementary and Jackson Elementary are teaming up to provide family workshops for next year's incoming kindergarten families. We had our first event on October 12 at Jackson Elementary. It went very well and was enjoyed by the families and future students who attended. We are hoping to have more families join in for our next workshop, which will be held on January 10 at Fort Zeller. Please help spread the word to any families who have a child who would be entering kindergarten next year. Thank you!
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The Scarecrow Read Aloud

Mrs. Houck (Fort Zeller Principal) and Pastor Paradise (Millcreek Lutheran Church) joined together to record the reading of the book, "The Scarecrow" by Beth Ferry. Please click on the button below to watch the video. Enjoy.
Read Aloud of "The Scarecrow"

Watch and listen to Mrs. Houck and Pastor Paradise read "The Scarecrow" by Beth Ferry.

First Grade Field Trip to Corn Cobb Acres

On October 21, our first graders went on their field trip to Corn Cob Acres in Mountville, PA. It was a perfect day to be outside and have fun. They learned about pumpkins, took a hayride, played in some of their attractions and got bring home their very own pumpkin. They had a wonderful time and did an amazing job.
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ELCO Food Pantry & Caring Closet

The ELCO Raider Food Pantry is Open!

The ELCO Raider Food Pantry is now open and available for the ELCO families. With the support of our ELCO staff, local businesses and churches, we are able to provide our ELCO families with an additional resource.

If you are in need of immediate assistance or you'd like to donate to the ELCO Raider Pantry, please reach out to Kelly Smith, ELCO Social Worker, at 717-306-3242 or Jenelle Himmelreich, Director of Food and Nutrition, at 717-306-3270 for a confidential appointment to the pantry.

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Link to Power School

We have several families that still need to do their yearly update on Power School. Please click this link to get started.

Camp Invention - Mr. Wright

ELCO Intermediate School is proud to partner with Camp Invention again for another fun filled STEM camp. The week of camp this school year will be June 19-22, 2023. I wanted to get this out early because if you sign up this month, Camp Invention is giving its largest discount ever of $50 off the price of registration. I am attaching a link and a flyer to this message for your convenience. If you have any questions please email me at Thanks and enjoy the school year!

Link to register:

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Counselor's Corner With Mrs. Brosius

R.E.A.C.H. Lessons

This month we've been working on "spotting" our feelings! I introduced students to the Little Spots! In Kindergarten, we met Little Scribble Spot who was all tangled up with emotions. We met all the other Little Spots and figured out how to untangle him so he could become a beautiful Rainbow Spot!

In first grade, Scribble Spot helped us learn how to become Emotion Detectives by using clues such as facial expressions and body language to "spot" how people are feeling. We used mirrors to look for clues on our own faces when we acted out different feelings!

Second graders focused on our character trait: self-control. We talked about how having good self-control is more difficult when we are angry or frustrated. We made frustration flip tokens to help remind us of the things we can and cannot control!


Small groups have started! The topic is Self-Regulation. Self-Regulation groups will meet for 5 weeks. If you requested a different group topic for your student, I will be meeting with them later in the year!

Students are doing a great job filling their Bee Cards! I will count October Bee cards at the end of the month! But our totals for the year so far are:

Fort Zeller: 648

Keep up the great work!

Library News

All students read books about the PBIS monthly character trait of self-control. We began our study of digital citizenship in all grades to support students in acquiring the skills needed to use electronic devices safely, ethically, and effectively. Kindergarten students read nursery rhymes where we focused on rhyming words. They used the Bee-bots to practice rhyming words. First grade students created their own electronic page in the Pages app about why animals should not borrow library books to add to a shared media album in Schoology. All first graders across both buildings will join in this collaborative experience. Second grade students finished their Library Explorers passport and began comparing fiction and non-fiction books.

What's New in Music Class?

All students are singing and dancing in the unit of Rhythm in Music!

- Kindergarten is exploring their first two rhythms ta and ti-ti while playing them on instruments.

- First Grade is practicing already learned music notation from last year and creating songs on the bells.

- Second Grade has started playing the ukulele. They have experimented with both the C and the A minor chords.

A Note From ART - Mrs. Panza

October Art Recap: in Mrs. Panza’s art classroom, ELCO artists were focused on learning about and creating art! In Kindergarten, artists learned about lines, listened to the story Lines that Wiggle by Candace Whitman, and practiced drawing lines. They used a paint scraper tool to “draw lines into paint” to create their work at teacher time. First grade artists worked with printmaking tools & tempera paints to create a blend of fall foliage after being inspired by the book Fall Leaves Fall by Shari Halpern. We also discussed how to create depth in our abstract fall forest artwork. Second grade artists were challenged to create a unique version of sky color after listening to Peter H. Reynold’s Sky Color. Artists used mark-making, and the watercolor technique of wet-on-wet to create their artwork.

Information about artwork:

  • Many finished artwork pieces stay at school and are on display
  • Several practice drawings stay at school for a portion of time so artists can add on to these drawings
  • Mrs. Panza is also starting to collect and save artwork for ELCO’s district-wide art show (date TBD, more information forthcoming).

Get Moving in Phys. Ed. - Mr. Babiarz

Physical Education classes in October were all about teamwork and fun. Students worked together to play games and conquer challenges using the giant parachute. Parachute activities were as active as they were exciting, as students got their hearts pumping and their muscles working!

As we move to the month of November, all classes will begin a manipulatives unit. This unit will challenge students to manipulate objects such as scarves, beanbags, balls and hula hoops. Everyone will become experts at tossing, catching, balancing, sliding and rolling lots of fun objects in a variety of games and activities!

What's Happening in Kindergarten

Kindergarten has been working hard on letters, sounds, and their new words. Students are excited to be able to “read” some words in their special books. They are also working on numbers and number writing. Kindergarten students have been using their five senses to become aware of their surroundings and to write about their observations. The students had a wonderful STEM lesson with Mr. Wright on Pumpkin Chucking and working together to create catapults. They also enjoyed learning about fire safety. We talked about the big word “Respect,” and how we can show respect to all of our friends and the community. We are very good at practicing Self Control, which was the character trait for last month!

What's Going on in 1st Grade

October: First graders practiced reading and printing words using short e, and short u word families. Currently, we are reviewing all the short vowel sounds and high frequency words that have been introduced.

During math time, students used counters to model subtraction stories and practiced printing subtraction number sentences.

Science and social studies activities included planting seeds to see the growth process and scholastic news reviews.

Students had the opportunity during Fire Prevention Week to view several safety vehicles

The first graders enjoyed participating in the Race for Education and going on their field trip to Corn Cob Acres in Mountville, PA. A special shout out to the Fort Zeller PTO for their support in both of those activities.

2nd Grade Updates

Our second graders are excited to be back at Fort Zeller and are working hard to exemplify our “Bee” rules. They are showing responsibility, are being respectful, and are showing that they are ready to learn this year! So far this year in phonics we have reviewed the short vowels, discussed CVC syllable patterns, and learned about subjects and predicates. We wrote a friendly letter to a family member and have been working on addition and subtraction concepts in math. In science, we discussed solids, liquids and gas and even did a STEM project with Mr. Wright! We are having so much fun in 2nd grade!

Picture: Mrs. Lucky's class was our September Classroom of the Month! Congratulations to Mrs. Lucky's class and thank you for doing such an amazing job in school.

Fun with STEM!

Kindergarten had a ton of fun making candy pumpkin catapults with Mr. Wright. Before they started experimenting with various materials to make a catapult, they had the opportunity to go outside and watch Mr. Wright launch a potato way up into the air. Then they went inside and worked together in partners to come up with a plan for a catapult, experiment with materials, and then test them out. They did an amazing job and LOVED this activity!

Reading Corner

In last month’s S’more, strategies to help your child decode unfamiliar words were described. This month, we want to provide a framework that you can use when helping your child practice their weekly spelling words. Just like reading, we want students to hear and say the individual sounds (phonemes) and connect the sounds to letters (grapheme). Decades of research has shown that children master spelling patterns when there is a “bridge” formed between phonemes and graphemes. The following strategy, which is called Simultaneous Oral Spelling (SOS), can be followed when helping your child learn how to spell words:

1. Say a word.

Tip: Make sure your child is watching your mouth, so they can see how the sounds are being produced.

2. Ask your child to repeat the word.

Tip: Have them look at their mouth in a mirror so they can again visually see how the sounds are being produced.

3. Have your child “tap” and say the sounds.

Tip: Use small objects, like pennies, and ask them to “slide” and say each sound. Pop It fidget toys are another great “learning tool” to help your child say each individual sound. If your child needs movement to learn, have them jump on one foot or do jumping jacks as they say each sound.

4. Now have your child write the word.

Tip: Before they spell the word, you can also draw line segments for each sound to help them “map” each individual sound. For example, the word cat has three sounds, so you would draw three line segments.

5. Finally, have your child read the word back to you.

Most importantly, do not throw away weekly spelling lists. Reviewing past spelling words is very crucial for our young learners. The more our students practice previously learned patterns, the more likely they will continue to spell words correctly, especially when writing.

Race for Education

On Friday, October 7, Fort Zeller students and staff participated in our Race for Education event organized by our amazing PTO. Everyone had fun racing around the track and then cooling off with water and apple slices while listening to a story being read by the Richland librarians. It was the perfect day. The event raised over $6,000 to help our PTO fund all the wonderful programs and field trips for our students. Thank you to everyone who donated and came out to support and cheer on our students!
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Glow PARTY!!

Mrs. Zurick's class had a BLAST with their ice cream treat and glow party that they won for being the top fundraising class for our Race for Education event. Thank you to everyone for donating and making the event so successful and fun!
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Fort Zeller's 50th Anniversary Celebration

On October 14, Fort Zeller Elementary celebrated it’s 50th anniversary with a tailgate celebration that took place before the home football game against Lampeter Strasburg. The night included yard games, the bookmobile, building tours, basket raffles, face painting, balloon creations, food, and a lot of fun had by all who attended. There were many Fort Zeller families along with members of the community who came out to the event. Thank you to everyone who helped make the night such a success.
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Fire Prevention

Thank you to the Newmanstown Fire Company for coming to Fort Zeller and teaching our students about fire safety. The morning started with a whole school assembly where the firemen explained what to do if anyone is ever faced with a fire and also they showed the students a firemen's protective gear. Then each classroom went out to the fire trucks throughout the day to learn about them and take a truck tour.
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Social Media #ELCOexcellence

ELCO School District is growing our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels. Click on the icons and follow along!

Facebook - @ELCOSD

Twitter - @elcosd

Instagram - @elcosd


  1. Celebrate our students.

  2. Keep parents, students, alumni, and the community in the loop of what is happening in our district.

  3. Promote the great things happening such as athletics, activities, and other events.

  4. Build an ongoing conversation about the positive impact our district is making in the lives of our students!

What do I need to do?

  • If you are on these social media channels – follow us!

  • Help promote these accounts to your family and friends.

  • If you aren’t on these platforms – that’s OK. The district will continue to provide communication through traditional channels.

Nurse's News

1. The nurse's office needs donations.

- girls and boys pants size 4-5 and 6-7 (size small)

- shoes sizes 11 through 2

2. Just a friendly reminder about the school exclusion policy:

- Students must be fever free for 24 hours (without fever reducing medication) before they may return

- Must be vomit/diarrhea free for 24 hours before they may return.

Thank You! ☺️


1. On Tuesday, November 1, 2022, at 6:30, our PTO will host its next meeting in our library at Fort Zeller. Most meetings will be held on the first Tuesday of every month. We hope that you will consider joining our meetings and provide your valuable input to support our students and staff at Fort Zeller.

2. Volunteering: If you have an interest in being a volunteer in your child's classroom or in our school, please use this link,, to complete the necessary paperwork on clearances. Don't hesitate to call our office at (610) 589-2575 if you need additional assistance.

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2 - Evelyn Arndt

3 - Jon Moyer & Dakota Scholtes

6 - Felicity Grove

7 - Greyson Auker & Kale Llitera

11 - Madison Spangler

12 - Ja'cory Brandon

19 - Reid Thomas

21 - Richard Moyer

23 - Emmett Fullerton & William Huttsell

26 - Cooper Martin & Jonah Yeakley Gladden

27 - Leeland Bucher & Makenna Weiler

28 - Natilee Strasz, Lumen Wolf & Bentely Yeagley

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Contact us

Fort Zeller Elementary School

243 North Sheridan Road

Richland, PA 17087

Phone: (610) 589-2575

Fax: 610-589-5815

Twitter: @ElcoFort