Falcon Flier

Vol 51, Issue 5 - September 8, 2023

Phelps Luck Elementary School

Edward Cosentino, Principal

Sandra McGraw, Assistant Principal

Jennifer Stairs, Assistant Principal

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From School Administration

We are excited to welcome parents and guardians to our annual Back-to-School Nights next week. What is Back to School Night? What should you expect?

Back to School Night is an event held at the beginning of the school year at each school. Its primary purpose is to provide an opportunity for parents or guardians to meet with their child's teachers and get acquainted with the school's staff and policies.

Here's a more detailed explanation:

  1. Introduction to Teachers: During Back to School Night, parents have the chance to meet their child's teachers face-to-face. This is an essential part of building a strong parent-teacher partnership. Teachers usually provide an overview of their background, teaching methods, and what to expect in their class throughout the school year.

  2. Curriculum Overview: Teachers will discuss the curriculum, learning standards, and the subjects that will be covered during the academic year. This information helps parents understand what their child will be learning and how they can support their education at home.

  3. Classroom Environment: Parents will get to visit their child's classroom. This allows them to see the physical environment and any resources that will be available to their child. They can also get a sense of how the classroom is structured.

  4. Expectations and Policies: We (administrators) will share important information about school policies, procedures, and expectations. This includes details about grading systems (PK-2 has new grading and reporting procedures), attendance, communication channels, and discipline policies.

  5. Q&A Session: Back to School Night typically includes a question-and-answer session where parents can ask specific questions about the class or school policies. It's a valuable opportunity for parents to clarify any doubts they may have.

  6. Meet Other Parents: Parents often have the chance to meet and interact with other parents whose children are in the same class or grade. This can help foster a sense of community and provide a support network for parents.

  7. Parent-Teacher Communication: Teachers will provide information about how parents can contact them, whether through email, phone, or in-person appointments. Establishing open lines of communication is crucial for addressing any concerns or questions throughout the school year.

Our Back-to-School Nights will start promptly at 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria. School administrators and our PTA will share important information with everyone. After that presentation, parents/guardians will visit their child's classroom for classroom-specific information. We look forward to seeing you next week.

Important Upcoming Dates and Events

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


  • 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.
  • 14 - Eataliano Fundraiser during the Back-to-School Picnic!
  • 15 - Rosh Hashanah - Schools and Offices Closed
  • 15 - National National Hispanic Heritage Month begins
  • 20 - Standards Based Instruction and Reporting Information Session, 6:00 p.m. (Virtual)
  • 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


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New Information

The Importance of Attendance

September is Attendance Awareness Month! Attendance in school is extremely important for student success. To stay on track in school, students need to be present every day. Missing 18 or more days of school in a year puts a child’s high school graduation at risk, according to BoostUp.org, a national dropout prevention campaign. Being absent for just two days every month of the school year can put a child behind academically.

Students with regular attendance are more likely to read well by third grade and score higher on tests. They also tend to be more engaged in school and feel better about themselves.

Make school a priority. Every absence (excused or not) can impact a child’s academic achievement. Talk to your child about how important their education is. Make daily routines for homework and waking up on time for school. Maintain communication with teachers and keep an eye on your child’s academic progress.

Schedule wisely. Know your school’s calendar, and arrange doctor and dentist appointments after school, on weekends, or during holiday breaks, if possible. Resist the urge to schedule vacations when students will miss school. This gives students the impression that school is not a priority.

Important Reminders about Absences

Reporting Absences

To report a student's absence please email the following group email address: PLESAbsence@hcpss.org. In your message please include the student's first and last name, grade, teacher, why they were absent and the days absent.

The school must receive a note, handwritten or emailed, from the parent or physician explaining the absence/tardiness of a student within two school days of the student’s return or the absence/tardiness will be unlawful/unexcused. When a doctor’s certification for chronic illness has been required and not provided within two school days of the student’s return, the absence/tardiness will be recorded as unlawful/unexcused until a doctor’s certificate is provided.

For absences of up to 3 days per year, the principal may determine whether the absences will be lawful/excused or unlawful/unexcused. Completed the Discretionary Absence Form (found on PLES website under School Resources). Submit the form to PLESAbsence@hcpss.org for the principal’s approval.

For absences in excess of three days, the principal in consultation with the administrative directors will determine if the absences will be lawful/excused or unlawful/unexcused. If the request is for 15 consecutive days or more, the written request should be submitted 2 weeks in advance.

Students with unlawful absences of 10 consecutive school days or more will be withdrawn from school and may be allowed to re-enroll, provided they meet enrollment requirements, upon their return. Students returning from lawful absences have an equal number of days to complete make-up work.

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National PTA School of Excellence

The Phelps Luck PTA knows that a strong partnership among our families, school leaders, and community members is important to the success of our students and school. As a school, we feel that families should feel welcomed and empowered to support student success, and the PTA is a key partner for continuous school improvement. We feel Phelps Luck Elementary School and the Phelps Luck PTA can achieve that together—and the result will be national, state, and community-wide visibility for the positive impact we are making together at Phelps Luck Elementary School.

We need your help! As part of the process, the National PTA requests feedback from families, administrators, and teachers at two points in the school year—the beginning and the end. Your feedback will help us improve our family-school partnership and achieve excellence.

Please take 5-10 minutes to reflect on your experience at this school and complete the survey below. Choose from the drop-down menu for each question. The survey will be open through Thursday, September 21.

Does this sound like a PTA program you’d really like to help with? Join us! Contact either of us to learn more.


Karen Mattingly, PTA President &
Ed Cosentino, Principal


Phelps Luck will administer the Measured Academic Progress (MAP) assessment to all students in 1st through 5th grades in Reading and Math between September 18 and October 15. The data from the MAP assessment will help schools and teachers measure your student’s academic progress. The MAP test does not affect a student's grades. The test is a computer-adaptive test, which means the test automatically adjusts the difficulty level depending on how your child responds to test questions. It is normal for students only to answer about half the questions correctly. Please check with students to see if they need headphones to use at school. The HCPSS website contains detailed information about MAP testing here. If you have questions about MAP testing, please contact Ms. McGraw at sandra_mcgraw@hcpss.org.

Measurements of Academic Progress Assessments (MAP)

News From 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


Our fun events like Bingo Night, Trunk or Treat, Staff Appreciation Week, and more can’t be successful without the help of our amazing PLES families!! Looking to get involved at PLES? Any amount of time you can contribute is greatly appreciated! Sign up here: https://forms.gle/WWCaYgyZyYdAs49g9

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.

Dine out at Eataliano

Before the Back to School Picnic, stop in and get dinner from Eataliano! From 10 am-10:30 pm on September 14, mention this fundraiser when ordering to support our school.

Join the PLES PTA in the Howard High School Homecoming Parade

This year's parade will be on Saturday, October 7th, from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm. Families from PLES can join the PLES PTA group and walk the route. Email president@phelpsluckpta.org for more information.

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”.

Follow the PTA on Facebook

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

DIBELS Universal Screener

In accordance with Maryland’s Ready to Read Act (2019), COMAR (2021) and the direction from the Howard County Board of Education, all Howard County Public School System students in kindergarten to grade 5 will participate in the 2023 - 2024 administration of the Amplify mClass with DIBELS 8th Edition universal screener to identify potential reading difficulties during the following windows:

  • Beginning of the year September 11, 2023- September 26, 2023
  • Middle of the year January 8, 2024 - January 24, 2024
  • End of the year May 20, 2024 - June 3, 2024

Please see below for screening areas measured in each grade. Students will complete the screener in four to twelve minutes and will be screened three times this year during the windows indicated above in the chart.

How will the results be used? Performance is an indicator of overall reading status and is not intended to be an in-depth or comprehensive measure of reading. Just like using a thermometer to take a temperature, which provides a quick indicator of general health, these quick assessments provide information about reading health on particular early reading skills.

A student’s scores on the screener give school staff information about whether or not a student is on track for grade-level reading success. School staff can quickly identify students who may require extra help. Parents and guardians will receive a home report with their child’s scores.

Some information on this parent notification is taken directly from the Ready to Read Act and COMAR, while other content was summarized to reflect HCPSS procedures.


COMAR - Students at Risk for Reading Difficulties

Ready to Read Act

Information Worth Repeating

From the Music Department

It’s time to sign up for band and orchestra!

Students in 3rd and 4th grade will be attending assemblies about the band and orchestra instruments that they can learn to play this year. Students in 3rd grade may participate in orchestra, and students in 4th and 5th grade may participate in band or orchestra. Enrollment forms are going home this week, but if your child would like to play an instrument, you can also sign them up online at https://sites.google.com/site/msstrawleysmusicsite/enrollment-form-2012-2013. Please make sure to read the informational letter before enrolling in these classes! The deadline to sign up is September 13. Please contact Ms. Strawley if you have any questions, (karissa_bryant@hcpss.org).

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Lobbyguard Visitor Management System

If you are visiting PLES, please be ready to show your picture ID. All visitors will sign in using our Lobbyguard Visitor Management check-in system. The Lobbyguard system will print a visitor's badge. That badge/sticker must be worn and visible during your visit. When leaving, you must use the sticker's barcode to sign out. At that time the sticker


We value our volunteers and their contributions to our students and schools. Parents who wish to volunteer or visit PLES must complete a brief training course online and submit a certificate of completion to their school. This also includes anyone who chaperones a field trip. Volunteer opportunities may be offered by grade level teams or individual teachers. When you arrive, be ready to sign-in with Lobbyguard. You will need your drivers license and the printed volunteer training certificate.

Details are available on our website.

Volunteer Training

Print certificate and bring to school.

Girls on the Run

Registration for Girls on the Run's Fall 2023 Season is now open! Girls on the Run® inspires participants in grades 3-5 to be joyful, healthy, and confident by using running to teach valuable life skills. The PLES team will have 20 girls and meet twice weekly after school for 10 weeks. Each season concludes with the girls and their 5K Buddy Runners participating in a 5K run. The Fall season begins September 19 and will meet at PLES Tuesdays and Thursdays after school until 4:45. Our celebratory, in-person 5K event is scheduled for December 2, 2023. The registration fee is $185 with financial aid available! Program fees include approximately 20 lessons, all program materials, 5K and program shirts, water bottle, and more.

Visit www.gotrcentralmd.org to register. Questions? Call 443-583-7740.

RELEASE OF A STUDENT - Early Release, Change in Dismissal

In order to minimize disruptions to the classroom, the early release of students should be limited to emergency situations and unavoidable circumstances. Parents are asked to avoid scheduling non-school related activities that conflict or interfere with PLES’s regular dismissal times.

Students may not be released from the office after 2:55 p.m.

Once dismissal starts, your child will depart as scheduled by either taking their assigned bus home or exiting the building as a walker or car rider.

In order for your child to be released to anyone other than the parent/guardian, that person MUST be listed on the emergency card and present photo identification to the Front Office staff. Please make sure to indicate on your Family File Emergency Form who you are allowing the school to release your child to by checking the box "☑ release to".

Parents of student bus riders must provide WRITTEN NOTIFICATION to have their children dismissed with the walkers or car riders.

Everyone’s cooperation in this regard is important to ensure safe and smooth school operations.

PLES is a School-Based Wellness Center

The Howard County Health Department, in partnership with the Howard County Public School System, has selected Phelps Luck ES to be one of the eleven schools to have a school-based wellness center. Phelps Luck ES has had the telemedicine program in addition to a nurse practitioner on-site a few days a week. The nurse practitioner provides school entry physicals, the co-management of chronic health problems along with your child’s pediatric provider, health education, and treatment of acute illnesses and injuries. The wellness center hopes to offer routine childhood vaccinations in the near future. When the nurse practitioner is not at the school, telemedicine services will still be offered for illnesses and injuries. The Health Department will only bill Medical Assistance or your child’s MCO. The family is never billed or charged a co-pay or any fee. Children must be enrolled by their parent or guardian to receive services. The enrollment forms are below. Please call our Health Room with any questions!


Parents have a right to expect a certain level of protection and privacy for their children while they are in the care of HCPSS. As a protective measure, parents and others who are not school employees who intend to photograph, videotape or audiotape students in school or on school grounds during the regular instructional day using smart phones, cell phones or other devices must have prior approval from the building administrator. This does not apply to photographing, videotaping or audiotaping during extracurricular activities, such as public concerts and athletic events.

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.

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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

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!

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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.