Star Tracks Newsletter

Booth Free School - May 2021

A Note From the Principal:

Dear Parents/Guardians,
The sunny weather is finally here and students are enjoying their outdoor time. The school year is in its homestretch. We have a few things planned before we end our year on June 11th. Our fifth graders are planning their ALOHA, our students are getting our school garden planted, and Mr. Morgan is planning a special day for our students called, “A Day At The Races”, an alternative to Field Day. The school community looks forward to these events, and we enjoy ending the school year with a bang!

As a reminder, students in third, fourth, and fifth grade will take the Smarter Balanced Tests from May 3rd-May 14th. The students will be tested in the areas of English Language Arts and Mathematics. Students in fifth grade will also be tested in the area of science on May 26th and May 27th. Please keep the testing schedules in mind as you plan activities for your family. It is important to have all our students in school during this time.

National Teacher Appreciation Week will be held during the first full week in May. National Teacher Day will be held on May 4th. It is a wonderful way to recognize Burnham School’s staff. They make a difference in your child’s life every day. I feel fortunate to have such a caring and compassionate staff. They go beyond expectations in making personal connections, giving extra support when needed, and working to bring out the best in every child.

The staff and I will also be celebrating National School Nurse Day on Wednesday, May 12th. The day of recognition has been celebrated annually since 1972 to foster a better understanding of the role of the school nurse in the educational setting. The staff and I support and celebrate the contributions of our school nurse, Mrs. Sandi DiBella, who works diligently to improve the health and welfare of our students. She often serves as the first-line provider of health care for our students, addressing their physical and emotional health concerns. She promotes health and wellness by providing health education, direct treatment for acute and chronic conditions, emergency care for students and staff, and collaboration and support for our families.

This time of year, is also the time that the budget for next year is voted upon. I remind you that the Annual District Meeting will be held on May 3, 2021, and the Budget Referendum is scheduled to take place on May 4, 2021.

With a busy month ahead, please encourage your child(ren) to take time to relax with a good book. Sitting under a tree on a warm sunny day there is nothing like reading an adventure and sharing it with others!


Cathy Colella


Dates to remember for May

5/3 Board of Education Meeting, 7:00 PM

5/4 Teacher Appreciation Day

5/4 Region 12 School Budget Vote

5/4-14 Smarter Balanced Testing, Grades 3-5

5/12 National School Nurse’s Day

5/12 Early Dismissal for Students, 12:45 PM

5/17 Grade 5 Transition to Shepaug Tour, 7:00 PM

5/19 PTO Meeting, 6:30 PM

5/24 Board of Education Meeting, 7:00 PM

5/26-27 Grade 5 Science Assessment

5/26 Spelling Bee (Rain Date 5/27), 1:30 PM

5/31 Memorial Day, School Closed
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Kindergarten's Green Thumbs!

“Inch by inch, row by row…going to make this garden grow…” Nothing says spring quite like planting a seed! Inspired by the book “Bean and Plant,” the kindergarteners have been eager to watch the magic unfold with some pinto beans. Will they really sprout? Will twelve little green thumbs be able to coax these seeds from their slumber? Only time will tell! This much we know: given her trademark black thumb, Mrs. Gregory has left many of the gardening decisions to the kids. Our recent study of nonfiction texts will surely help. We’ve been reading the seed packets, too, so hopes are high!

Grade 2 - Reading Series Books

Second grade readers have been thinking deeply about series books. The students read multiple books from the same series. They noticed and shared how the characters did things that were predictable and also changed over time. They became familiar with the style of their series and how the books usually take predictable structures. They were able to predict characters' actions and share their thinking in book club groups. They also shared what they loved about their series with others in hopes of helping them love these books as well. Have a conversation with a second grader about book series you love!

Grade 4 Mathematical Geniuses and Passionate Writers!

The fourth graders have become mathematical geniuses, comparing, ordering, and writing decimals in a variety of ways. They are able to apply newly learned information into real-world situations by solving complex multi-step problems.These amazing fourth graders are also finding their “voice” in writing, choosing a topic of their choice, and drafting an opinion piece. From “no homework” to “more pets at home” the students are really working hard to support their claims with solid reasoning and evidence. They truly are passionate about their opinion thesis statements!

Student Council News!

Our Student Council and Booth Free School community are always looking for ways to help those around us. This aspiration led us to organize a Spring Food Drive to benefit the Roxbury Food Bank. The food drive will begin Monday, May 3rd and will run through Friday, May 21st. We are so excited to give back and will be tracking donations per class on the bulletin board in our foyer! Please see the flyer below for additional information.

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booth free school students...

enjoying beautiful spring weather...

during lunch and recess!

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 and take part in helping your child to grow academically. PTO meetings are held monthly at 6:30 p.m. Our next virtual meeting will be held on May 19th. Just a reminder, the PTO is looking for officers. Please consider volunteering and supporting your school.

Notes and News from the Nurse.....

CDC Protocols for Quarantining and Isolation:

As you know, per our weekly notifications from our superintendent, our school community has had some cases of COVID-19 along with close contact exposures causing quarantining and isolation. These measures continue to be effective in stopping the spread. Below is a review of the differences between the two and how to follow the protocols.

Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.

  • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.

  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

The following link will provide you with guidance on adhering to protocols specifically for COVID-19. COVID-19: Quarantine vs. Isolation

As always, your school nurse is vigilantly tracking all medical concerns, illnesses, and potential communicable disease spread. During these days of the COVID pandemic, it is more important than ever that you communicate directly with your school nurse for any symptoms of illness. During COVID, it’s also important to communicate with your nurse if your child or family members have an exposure or potential exposure to someone with COVID 19. Your school nurse can guide you through when to contact a doctor and/or get tested, and the length of quarantine/isolation as advised by the CDC and District 12.

*The school nurse can also advise you on what is required if you have upcoming travel plans.

Please contact your school nurse for any questions or concerns.

Let’s finish strong by following these protocols to keep our entire community safe.

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.

The Last Round of K-5 Art with Mrs. Manley

In this last rotation, all students focused on conveying action and expression by creating emphasis and mood in their artwork. They also honed their art appreciation abilities using Visual Thinking Skills and See, Think, Wonder during discussions about works of art. By taking turns as Art Buddies, students in 3, 4, and 5 used peer feedback to help plan for improvements in their works in progress.

K-1 made “zoomed-in” pictures of flowers, inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe. Her larger-than-life paintings grabbed our attention. Students noticed that many of her flowers were so big they bumped the edges of the picture and showed lots of detail. Still life paintings by Henri Matisse showed how overlapping objects in a picture can make some things look closer than others. They also noticed that he used many different colors to make his fruit, and tried doing just that by adding crayon to resist watercolor. To experience making abstract art, we first looked at Wassily Kandinsky’s circle paintings as inspiration to experiment with color combinations in our own oil pastel circle “paintings”. Playful cat faces were inspired by Paul Klee’s Cat and Bird painting. Students were surprised at how happy the cat and bird looked together, and incorporated similar symbols in their own cat pictures. They also considered color combinations that would make their pictures really pop. More color theory was used in the lucky four-leaf clover pictures, where students used complementary colors to create excitement (and more luck!).

2nd grade used Jim Dine’s signature heart paintings as inspiration to create eye catching contrast between the bright colors in oil pastel and intricate patterns and designs drawn in Sharpie. Looking at pictures of glassware helped us to notice the subtle differences in colors when transparent objects overlapped each other. Students drew their own fun glass objects and, using primary colors only, created secondary colors where the pieces overlapped in their pictures. Fabric folkart Molas made by the Kuna people of the San Blas Islands, Panama inspired our dramatic paper Molas - colorful stylized symbols of animals and plants surrounded by simple shapes were contrasted on a black background. Noticing how an artist can draw your attention to a particular place in their work by using angles, students used the same trick Gustav Klimt did in his “Baby” painting by creating their own colorful quilt paintings incorporating sleeping people and/or pets for a bit of fun. Students noticed that emphasis and expression can also be found in architecture, and used the famous “Painted Ladies” row houses of San Francisco to create their own street of colorfully designed row houses.

To kick off this session, students in 3rd grade discussed how symbols represent ideas, and played a version of Pictionary, challenging them to come up with new innovative symbols for various concepts. Each then designed their own personal symbol to incorporate into a work of art using circles. To be successful, students needed to create emphasis by using one “artist trick” like overlapping, changing size, and placement, to draw the viewer’s eye to their symbol within their picture. Animals of all kinds inspired the next project, where students created textures and/or patterns of fur, scales, or skin to enhance the silhouettes of animals represented. Drawing lines using a straight edge (aka a ruler) provided students with a fun way to create Op Art, optical art that fools your eye and your brain into thinking there is movement or depth in a two-dimensional picture. The results were definitely mindboggling! The dancing, cartoon-like figures of graffiti artist Keith Haring inspired students to create their own Pop Art dance parties on paper. Students were able to create a sense of movement and rhythm by drawing simple gesture lines around their colorful paper cutout dancers.

4th and 5th graders also started off with a personal symbol project, but had the added challenge of using at least 3 “artist tricks” in their work to catch the attention of the viewer. The Portal art project focused on creating a sense of mystery and interest with the use of contrast, either through light and dark value, color, or texture, or a contrast in subject matter. The other worldliness of these artworks resonated with all students, especially with those who enjoy the fantasy reading genre. Students learned how to use shading to “move light” in their Op Art “Blobs” drawings. While coloring, students changed the amount of pressure applied to either increase or decrease the value of the colors they used. This technique effectively created the optical illusion of volume on a flat surface. The last project focused on abstract art and color theory. Students disguised images, in this case, their favorite or lucky number, by drawing intersecting lines through them and coloring the resulting shapes with a combination of warm and cool colors. These techniques transformed the numbers into intriguing abstract works.

Some Words from the Library with Mrs. Gordon!

Can anyone believe that it is already May?! The year is certainly flying by! Before you know it summer will be upon us and kids will be busy at play and filling out their summer reading lists. Region 12 Librarians are already hard at work putting together this year's summer reading program (I can’t wait to share it with everyone next month)!

Even with a restful Spring Break, April was a very busy library month. K, 1st and 2nd grade students read a lot of fun books and even explored some poetry in celebration of National Poetry Month. Kindergartners made cat masks after reading the different perspective poem/book They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel. They colored Humpty Dumpty after reading After the Fall by Dan Santat, and showed off their wombat knowledge after reading Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French.

First graders also read After the Fall by Dan Santat and helped put the egg back together. They also read a wonderful book called This is Me by Jamie Lee Curtis and filled out an All About Me Worksheet.

The 2nd grade students read the award winning book Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall as well as the book Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes. Finally, Grade 5 students continued reading Refugee by Alan Gratz, Grade 4 students, The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart and Grade 3 students, finished The Potato Chip Puzzles, Winston Breen by Eric Berlin.

I hope everyone is enjoying the weather!!!

Travel and Parking Safety

Did you know that school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road. They are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries and in every state, stop-arm laws exist to protect children from other motorists.

If you are driving, remember these simple rules:

  • Yellow flashing lights on a school bus mean slow down because the bus is preparing to stop. There are likely students waiting to get on the bus or parents waiting nearby to pick up children.

  • Red flashing lights mean stop and wait at least 20 feet behind the bus because children are getting on or off the school bus. Stay stopped until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving.

  • Even when lights aren’t flashing, watch for children, particularly in the morning or afternoon, around school arrival and dismissal. Be alert as you back out of a driveway or drive through a neighborhood, school zone or bus stop.

Let’s all work together to keep our children safe!

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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.

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