February 10, 2023
Photo Caption: RPS kindergarteners celebrated the 100th day of school!
Dear Families, Faculty, and Staff,
We ended the week with a Board of Education Special Meeting where our elementary principals presented a comprehensive overview of the elementary program which highlighted arts at the elementary school. Listening to all six of our principals and the Director of Elementary Education communicate their priorities for their students, while sharing their knowledge of instructional leadership, is true evidence that RPS hires the best! I encourage those who want to learn more to view the meeting or reach out to their principal directly with any questions.
We also had the pleasure of appointing Dr. Sheri Prendergast as the permanent Principal of Veterans Park Elementary School. Dr. Prendergast leaves her “interim hat” behind on March 1st. Congratulations Sheri!!
This afternoon, I had the pleasure of joining the VPES grade 2 team meeting. The grade-level team, led by their principal and literacy staff, reviewed fall and winter student data. As they celebrated students' success, they also identified focus areas. The best part of the meeting was the team discussion of strategies to improve fluency that were fun, engaging, and joyful- while also focused on a specific area of literacy. Here was another moment where I wish everyone could have a lens into the work of our educators as they discuss the children they care so much about. Well done, VPES!
If you enjoy football- have a great weekend (hope your team wins!)
Susie Da Silva, Ed.D.
We Choose Kind, BES
On Monday, February 13, the Board of Education will meet at 7 pm in the BOE Conference Room at 90 East Ridge Road. The agenda, which will include a vote on the proposed Superintendent's FY '23-24 budget, will be posted here. The RPS Budget Informational Site is one of the ways the community can learn about the proposed budget and the budget process. The Superintendent's proposed budget, presentations from each cost center, answers to the questions submitted by the board and public, and future dates can be found here. BOE meetings can be live-streamed or watched later here.
Important District News and Reminders
RPS Names VPES Principal
RPS announced today that Dr. Sheri Prendergast will be the new Veterans Park Elementary School Principal. Dr. Prendergast has been the Interim VPES Principal since the start of the school year. In the press release linked here, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susie Da Silva writes, “What I think is most telling about Dr. Prendergast’s leadership is that most of us forgot that she was an interim. She took on this role as if she was a permanent principal, and devoted herself to the community, students, and teachers every single day. It has been a gift to be a part of her growing leadership this year.”
Today was a special BOE meeting so all the Elementary principals were assembled and joined in a spontaneous group hug upon the announcement. The RPS elementary leadership (photo below) is truly a dream team of caring, thoughtful, hard-working, collaborative, and innovative educators.
Please read Dr. Prendergast and the VPES PTA Co-Chairs' comments plus more here.
Don't Miss Last Week's Tiger Talk Podcasts
There are no new Tiger Talk podcasts this week so this weekend might be the perfect time to listen to the two shows from last week. Last Monday, Dr. DeSantis welcomed Rick Sadlon the Executive Director of the Connecticut Arts Administrators Association to talk about Ridgefield Public School’s Visual and Performing Arts program. Also joining is Linda Johnson, Director of Elementary Education, and Michael McNamara 6-12 VPA Department Chair. They discuss the current state of our VPA curriculum, how that curriculum is rapidly evolving, and the future of VPA in our district. Linked here: Tiger Talk In Thursday's episode of Tiger Talk, Dr. Susie Da Silva, Superintendent of Schools, and Jill Browne, Director of Finance answer the frequently asked questions (FAQ) that RPS has been hearing from the community. Click here for the budget informational site mentioned in the show. Thanks for listening!
Route 36 Is Retired In Memory of Bus Driver, Rob Doerr
RPS Transportation Manager Billy Gramajo wrote an email to families this week after the passing of bus driver, Rob Doerr. "I have received an overwhelming outpouring of love and respect for Mr. Rob who drove Bus 36," writes Gramajo. "In School Transportation, there is a tradition of retiring bus numbers when a tragic loss such as this takes place. To continue that tradition we are retiring Route 36. Your bus will now be serviced by BUS37 going forward and you should see that information reflected in PowerSchool soon. We will continue to service your bus route with little to no interruption until we have a permanent driver. Thank you again for all of your communication and show of appreciation as we mourn Mr. Rob." Deepest condolences to all those who knew Mr. Rob.
Poetry Out Loud Winners
Ridgefield High School English teacher Julie Henderson announced the 2022-2023 RHS Poetry Out Loud winners this week! First place is Dean Trevisani, a sophomore, who recited "Entirely" by Louis MacNeice. Second place is Frankie Belden, a junior, who recited "Cow Song" by Elena Karina Byrne. Dean will submit two videos to the Regional Finals. If he wins that, he will advance to the CT State Finals. He will be responsible for reciting 3 poems from memory. Congratulations! Go, Dean! Please enjoy Dean's recitation on YouTube below and Frankie's here.
Thank You, Counselors
This week is National School Counseling Week which aims to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within U.S. school systems. National School Counseling Week highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.
RHS School Counselors are busy assisting students with course selection for 2023-24 but took time out for a quick group photo (above). The RHS school counselors work with students during their four years of high school in three areas: academics (course selection and balancing workloads), social/emotional development, and post-secondary pursuits (college and careers).
Photo Caption: L to R in back: Sue Harris, admin asst; Jenna Barbino, school counselor; Joy Squitieri, school counselor; Dana McGroarty, school counselor; Lori Bran, school counselor; Diane Schirizzo, school counselor
L to R in front: Irma Gallagher, paraprofessional; Ashley Lowney, school counselor; Terence Houlihan, counseling supervisor
Missing from photo: Scott Robert, school counselor and Katelyn Foran, school counselor
The East Ridge Middle School student council speaks for the entire RPS community with its outpouring of love and appreciation for the ERMS counseling team. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you to all our RPS Counselors!
Please remind your neighbors, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances to register their children for kindergarten ASAP so they can take full advantage of all the orientation programs and so RPS can plan to welcome all our youngest students. View all the information about dates and eligibility in the 2023 Kindergarten Press Release.
Elementary and Middle School Math Placement
This Wednesday, the Curriculum Department presented on math placement for rising sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students. This presentation and past presentations, including January's related Math Pathways Presentation, are available on the Parent Curriculum website. Families can expect to receive math placements in mid-May.
With new variants of COVID circulating and the cold and flu season upon us, we wanted to share a few reminders with you. RPS continues to monitor and collect information about positive cases of COVID across the district. This information is updated daily, by school, on the RPS website and can be found by clicking on this link: RPS COVID-19 Data. Please note: we no longer contact trace COVID cases or send notices regarding exposure to, or level of, illness-specific by classroom. All students and staff are encouraged to observe illness prevention measures as deemed necessary due to individual and family needs. Hand washing (or sanitizing when soap and water is not available), observing proper respiratory etiquette, masking, remaining home when experiencing symptoms of illness, and updating vaccines as advised by your individual healthcare provider remain the cornerstones of illness prevention. Our current COVID practices can be found here. Please reach out to your school nurse if you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s health at school.
iHealth COVID Test Kit Expiration Extension
The State of Connecticut distributed millions of at-home COVID-19 antigen rapid test kits in 2022 to municipalities, schools, faith-based organizations, non-profits, and healthcare facilities to allow for convenient, rapid self-testing during multiple surges. On January 11, 2023, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted another three-month shelf-life extension for iHealth COVID-19 antigen rapid tests, bringing the current extension to 15 months from the date of manufacture and nine months from the date printed on the kit. iHealth test kit instructions are available from the DPH in multiple languages including Albanian, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Khmer, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. If you have any questions about the iHealth test kits or to obtain alternative language instructions for the iHealth test kits, please submit an email to PHAD.email@example.com.
Please visit the links below to view the FDA-authorized antigen rapid test kits
products, extensions, and to look up the new expiration dates.
FDA iHealth Extension:
The RHS PTSA and Ridgefield Council of PTAs present, "Do You Have the Tools to Talk?," a workshop for parents about how to talk about differences in race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and ability in our modern world on February 28 at 7 pm. More information about the speakers and registration information here.
The RPS Preschool Program is currently accepting Peer Model applications for the 2023-24 school year. Please go to the website for more information and click on the Peer Model Application to apply. Applications are due by March 1, 2023.
In the Classroom
Oooo La La, Emily in ERMS?
The HeARTS of RPS
Art Instagram Is Feast for the Eyes
Please don't miss the daily gallery of RPS creations posted by the k-12 visual art teachers on the district's instagram account @ridgefieldpublicschoolsk12art!
Elementary and Middle School Orchestra Festival
The two-day Elementary and Middle School Orchestra Festival ends tonight, Friday, February 10. Tune in to next week's RPS Update for the full story of multi-school, multi-grade collaborations.
Caught in the "Act"
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Cory Gillette caught these budding Farmingville thespians in the act of rehearsing their play, Musicville.
Winter Play Sold Out; Stay Tuned for Spring Musical, Into the Woods!
Congratulations to the cast and crew of Winter Briefs for completely selling out their two-night run last weekend. Theater-goers braved the arctic temps and were rewarded with laughs and live theater. Get ready for the RHS Spring Musical, Into the Woods, opening in March.
Beyond the Classroom
Abbott Tech Visits RHS to Talk Post-Secondary Pathways
On Thursday, Andrew Ipkovich, science teacher and recruiter from Abbott Tech, spoke to RHS seniors and juniors in the College Conference Center. Abbott Tech offers adult apprenticeship and extension courses in Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC (Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning). They provide a post-secondary learning environment that prepares students for immediate employment in various trades. Depending on the trade, it takes two to four years to complete the course work for license requirements. Classes are offered Monday and Wednesday evenings and run for 12 weeks in the fall and spring semester. More information can be found on the Abbott Tech web site.
Names Day at RHS
On Wednesday, Ridgefield High School hosted a presentation by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) entitled “Names Can Really Hurt Us." The program focused on building and maintaining a positive school climate for all students. Guided by teachers, trained student volunteers, and ADL facilitators, this highly interactive “Names Day” assembly allowed students to openly discuss a wide range of important issues at RHS. A huge thank you to all of the eleventh and twelfth grade student and staff volunteers (photo above) who participated in additional training after school to be part of the Names Day team.
RPC Anti-Vaping Poster Contest Winners
The results of the Ridgefield Prevention Council Anti-Vaping Poster Council are in and the winner of the $500 grand prize is Scotts Ridge Middle School seventh-grader, Amra Kornusova. Runners up include Aishani Ray (ERMS) and Catherine Kelly (SRMS). Kelly Fitzgerald (ERMS), Skye Barker (SRMS), and Malina Patel (SRMS) all earned RPC distinction.
The following students received Honorable Mention and a $5 gift certificate to Planet Pizza:
Grace W ERMS, Lexington S ERMS, Richard Z ERMS, Sophie K SRMS, Alexis G SRMS, Edward M SRMS, Simon D SRMS, Aaron R SRMS, Aislynn P SRMS, Alex R SRMS, Alia D SRMS, Anahit A SRMS, Aubrey S SRMS, Audrey E SRMS, Audrey W SRMS, Bella S SRMS, Ben D SRMS, Brodie B SRMS, Charlie P SRMS, Charlotte F SRMS, Chris M SRMS, Claire Y SRMS, Connor C SRMS, Connor S SRMS, Diana S SRMS, Eleanor I SRMS, Gabriella K SRMS, Greyson W SRMS, Hadley H SRMS, Haresh K SRMS, Hunter S SRMS, Julian F SRMS, Kaiyen D SRMS, Kevin Y SRMS
See our award-winning posters below to learn more about how to "escape the vape."
Bad Puns for Good Causes
Are You Cereal-ous, FES?
The Farmingville Elementary Student Council led a drive to collect cereal boxes for Daily Bread Food Pantry. The classes that win the "Ce-Real Change in Our Community" challenges will receive a yummy treat. FES will live stream the school-wide cereal box domino train at the end of the day today, Friday. Hopefully, that will make everyone Cheer-io:)
Will the VPES Soup-er Bowl Can Drive Pick This Year's Winner?
You can bet the Veterans Park Elementary's "Soup-er Bowl" can drive is going to win hearts with its pre-Super Bowl push. The VPES community "voted" by putting donated cans of soup by the team they predict will win on Sunday. At last count, Kansas City Chiefs was ahead by a hair, (an angel hair that is) despite the VPES "Eagle" mascot. They will donate the soup cans to Hillside Food Rescue today.
More Photos from the Week
We Made It to 100!
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