Aiken Update

January 29, 2021

Message from the Principal

Honoring Black History Month in the West Hartford Public Schools

Black History Month is a time when the achievements by African Americans are recognized and the role of the black identities in U.S. history is acknowledged. In schools across the country, Black History Month is honored in many different ways, and sometimes, overlooked. WHPS collaborates with community partners to strengthen how we honor Black History Month in our schools in February, and moreover, how we teach about black and African American experiences all year long.

Each year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) establishes a Black History Month theme. The theme for Black History Month 2021 is The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity. In February, all WHPS students will be assured of opportunities to learn about notable black figures and events that have shaped U.S. history. Students in our elementary schools will have a common experience in which they will actively engage in and co-facilitate learning about the origin of Black History Month, as well as acts of agency, resilience and contributions of black Americans to art, science, government, activism and athletics. Honoring Black History Month in Our Elementary Schools outlines interactive student-centered learning opportunities that will be provided to all WHPS elementary students. At the secondary level, students will also engage in learning and activities that recognize black cultural identities and the African American experience beyond slavery and the Civil Rights era. Learning experiences will take place in many settings and modalities including teacher-led content area studies, cross-curricular activities, interactive student-led platforms and curated visual representations of the richness of black culture.

How Families Can Honor Black History Month Together offers ways that all pk-12 and postsecondary program families can honor Black History Month together at home and in the community*.

*Some in-person community activities may be impacted or modified due to the COVID-19 environment.

Click on the virtual classroom image below for links to more resources

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Snow Day Reminder

With the possibility of snow in the coming days, please know that the next snow day will be a "traditional snow day" with no school. Any snow day after that will be a remote learning day. The remote learning day will follow a Wednesday schedule with a 2:00 dismissal. In the event of no school on Monday and a remote learning day on Tuesday, teachers will send an email at some point Monday evening regarding the online schedule. Stay warm this weekend and we will see what Mother Nature brings our way next week!

Valentine's Day

As we near the month of February, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. This is a day to celebrate friendship and kindness and always a special day for our elementary school-aged children. Given the current circumstances, Valentine’s Day will look a bit different this year. This year students will not be exchanging cards from home. We ask that you please refrain from sending in any items for classmates, as we will be unable to distribute them. Instead, teachers are planning special in-class activities to honor the day and promote kindness on Friday, February 12th.

Read-a-thon to Support the Tyler Family

The PTO is excited to run a Read-a-thon supporting the Tyler Family during the Month of February. 50% of proceeds will go directly to the Tyler Family and the other 50% will go to the PTO. Please support our innovative approach to fundraising by combining our love of reading while embracing the importance of giving back to our community. Our hope is that each child will read at least 20 minutes per school night. The class with the most minutes read per student will win a class movie party! You can use this link to register for the read-a-thon. Go ahead and get your student set up, but don't forget that we are not entering minutes read until February 1st! To learn more about the read-a-thon, please see the attached parent letter.


Super Bowl Food Drive

Help make is a "Souper" Super Bowl by helping neighbors in need. Between Monday, February 1st and Friday, February 5th, donations of food can be placed in the box in front of the office marked with the team you are rooting for. Who will get the most votes? Who will win the Super Bowl? Thank you for supporting this "Souper" Super Bowl Drive.


Wear any one of your favorite sports team’s jersey or t-shirt on the Monday after the Super Bowl to show your Aiken Spirit! Email with any questions.

EDI Mixed Media Discussion Club

AIKEN EDI M2 CLUB (Mixed Media Club)

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committees of Aiken, Charter Oak, and Norfeldt invite you to a book discussion of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi on Tuesday, February 23rd from 6:30-7:30pm by Zoom. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (A Remix Of Stamped from the Beginning) is a book about the history of race and racist ideas in America. Best-selling young adult author Jason Reynolds took Ibram X Kendi's Stamped and made it accessible for younger people (and adults) while maintaining its focus on the complexities of racist ideas and their pervasiveness in our culture. This book is not written like a typical history book; instead it provides an overview of how racial constructs and attitudes were developed for the purposes of power. During our meeting, we will discuss ways parents can stamp out racism in our own lives and communities.

For an overview of the book and its intended audience, check out this 6 minute interview of the authors on The Daily Show. A few limited number of book copies will be available upon request. A free audiobook version is available through the West Hartford Public Library.

Please register by February 12th here.

Parent Resources

The Office of Equity and Advancement in collaboration with the office of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment has compiled a list of resources to help support families in discussing recent events. This includes resources from Common Sense Media, NPR, and digital read alouds. They can be accessed by clicking on the following link:

2021 Winter Online Chess Club

Like athletics are exercise for the body, chess is exercise for the mind. Engaging in chess activity provides school students a substantial advantage in education; essentially development of the mind and patterns of thinking not otherwise offered or encountered. Luckily, it is also a fun and engaging game for kids!

Club meetings will be online via Zoom on:

Tuesdays 5-6 PM (January 19, 26, February 2, 9, 16, 23, March 2 and 9) or

Wednesdays 6-7 PM (January 20, 27, February 3, 10, 17, 24, March 3 and 10) or

Thursdays 5-6 PM (January 21, 28, February 4, 11, 18, 25, March 4 and 11).

The program is for students grades K through 5, no prior experience necessary. Please see the flyer for more information.

Ready for Kindergarten?

Children residing in West Hartford who are 5 on or before January 1, 2022 are eligible for enrollment in kindergarten. Please call the Aiken office at 860-233-6994 to begin the registration process for the fall 2021 kindergarten enrollment. Our virtual Parent Orientation Meeting date is April 6,2021 at 6:30 pm. A separate Google Meet invitation will be sent to you via email. The registration process is online and Aiken's registration dates are Monday May 10th and Tuesday, May 11th. Please call the office if you have questions.

King Philip Middle School Orientation

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Bristow Middle School

Bristow Lottery Update for 5th Grade Families

Happy New Year! This is a reminder about the timeline for the Bristow Middle School lottery process. All current fifth grade families enrolled in West Hartford Public Schools are automatically enrolled and do not need to take any action at this time.

The lottery will be run January 15 and notification letters about family lottery numbers will be mailed January 22. You should expect to receive your letter some time during the week of January 25, 2021.

Bristow will be holding two virtual information sessions on the evenings of Thursday March 4 and Monday March 8. Both sessions are scheduled to start at 6:00PM.

The deadline for parents to inform Bristow of your intentions of whether or not to accept an opening is March 19. The lottery notification letters will have directions and a web address for families to record their intentions.

For additional information, a detailed explanation of the lottery process can be found at this link:

Applications for '21-'22 Pre-K Programs

The lottery application for West Hartford Public Schools Pre-Kindergarten programs 2021-22 school year located at Charter Oak International Academy, Florence E. Smith STEM School and Webster Hill School will be available online beginning January 7, 2021. Applicants must reside in West Hartford and be four years old on or before January 1, 2022 for programs at Charter Oak, Smith and Webster Hill. Charter Oak is also accepting three year olds who must be three on or before January 1, 2022. Enrollment will be granted based on a lottery system. Online applications will be available at For more information and dates for the Pre-Kindergarten Open Houses, go to or call Irene Garneau, Dept. Supervisor for Early Childhood Education, at (860) 929-5552.

FREE Breakfast and Lunch Extended Until June

FREE breakfast and lunch has been approved for ALL students of the West Hartford Public Schools through June 2021. You may be thinking about what WHPS children will do for meals during the school year as a student participating in the hybrid model or in the Remote Learning Experience. The good news is that due to a change in the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulation ALL students are now eligible for FREE breakfast and lunch. There are no income requirements, and any student of the West Hartford Public Schools (WHPS) may enjoy a bagged breakfast and/or lunch. The following outlines information about In-Person/In-School meal service and “Grab and Go” pick-up meal service and other community food programs. please click here for more information.

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Recess Reminder

If the weather is above 20 degrees students will be going outside for recess. Also, whenever possible students will be having snack and lunch outside. Please remember to send your child with appropriate winter gear including a heavy coat, hat and gloves.