December Issue

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Principal's Message

December represents the most festive time of year. As we embrace the approaching Holiday Season, we join all our loved ones in sharing century-old traditions and remember the many people who touch and bless our lives. I enjoy the month of December because of the many additional opportunities to share with others how much the staff and I care about the community that makes Westowne a warm and special school.

During this holiday season, I would like to bring to light how our parents, grandparents, family members, children, and school staff contribute to the unique sense of community found at Westowne. Our teachers and staff members, on a daily basis, share their humanity, kindness, understanding, and knowledge so that our children can grow socially, emotionally, and academically to become successful and caring adults. We appreciate our parents, grandparents, family members, community volunteers, and business partners who are supportive and considerate through the giving of their time, talents, kind words, and donations that make Westowne a fruitful place for creating warm memories. We love all our children, who bring us joy and happiness through their laughter, inquisitiveness, hugs, and sharing. It is a true pleasure to see them each school day as they enter the school with their joyful smiles.

On behalf of the entire staff of Westowne Elementary School, I would like to extend our most heartfelt wishes to each family as you celebrate traditions that make this season so meaningful. Happy holidays and best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

A special thank you to the 304 parents, grandparents, and family members that visited Westowne during American Education Week. It was quite a turnout! We thank you for your patience and for your assistance and participation while in the classrooms. A very big thanks to the PTA for providing snacks and beverages each morning and for their assistance with signing in and directing visitors to the correct rooms! We also thank our PTA for the set-up and staffing of the wonderful Holiday Shoppe. What a great opportunity for our students!

A few Important Reminders

Please take a look at the following reminders as they will ensure that our students are safe, secure and in school on time.

  • Please remember that students are not to be dropped off before 9:00 a.m. as there is no supervision to ensure their safety. Moreover, the weather is getting colder and any students dropped off early will need to remain outside until the 9:00 a.m. bell.
  • Please remember to pull all the way forward when dropping off or picking up in the car rider line. Moreover, students should be ready to exit the car (preferably on the passenger side) as soon as the car comes to a stop. This is not the time to pack book bags, put coats on, etc. We want to keep this line moving as quickly as possible to get students into the building and their homeroom as soon as possible.
  • As all students are expected to wear their ID throughout the day (except for physical education and recess) the lanyard attached to the ID must be a break- away lanyard. The school has purchased each student a Westowne lanyard and we have replacement BCPS lanyards if lost. If you choose to purchase a lanyard for your son/daughter (perfectly fine) please purchase the breakaway style.

Greetings, Westowne Families

Thank you for your continued support of our program and activities! We are thankful to be partnering with you! Only two weeks remain before Winter Break. We hope you enjoy the time with your family and look forward to seeing you in the new year!

With warm regards,

Ms. McBride


Winter MAP for all grades K-5 1/19-3/1

WIDA ACCESS for all ESOL students 1/6-2/16

Congrats to the following classes on having great Cafe' behavior

Congrats to Westowne for winning the SECU FB conest!

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Nurses Nook

Cold and flu season are upon us. If your child has a fever, please do not send them to school until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Advil, or any other fever-reducing medication. For the safety of your child and other students, please do not send medication to school with your child. Cough drops are considered a medication. If you’d like your child to have his/her own cough drops at school, please send them in a bag or envelope, labeled with your child’s name and teacher’s name, and, tell them to take them to the nurse’s office. I will store them in the medication cabinet in the health suite and they will only be dispensed to your child. Please continue to send your child to school with a water bottle every day. Proper hydration is so important for the body. As always, please feel free to contact me with any health concerns or questions. 410-869-0023 or jmartin13@bcps.org.

Be Green

Let’s Win a $2,000 Grant by Participating in Clean Green 15’s Anti-Littering Challenge!

Help us make Catonsville a healthier habitat for wildlife and humans by picking up litter. All you need is a bag and 15 minutes of your time.

Anyone can do it! If you pick up, log your efforts online: http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/environment/cleangreen/cleangreen15.html

Consider organizing a cleanup or just pick up trash in your yard, neighborhood, or the local park. Every bit counts! Pick some up today! The school who picks up the most trash from now until the end of March, wins a $2,000 grant. We wish to use this money to help us Greenify our new schoolyard after the construction is complete. This is the perfect time to raise money for gardens, native tree plantings, and outdoor learning spaces.

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Counselor's Corner

Westowne is working with Santa’s Helpers Anonymous who assist families in need for the holiday season. They provide food and toys for identified families and deliver these items on December 24th. If you would like to volunteer, participate in any fundraisers (to include a Breakfast with Santa) or donate anything to this organization, click on the link below. We are so happy that such caring individuals will assist our families in having an extra joyous holiday this year!


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Can Holiday Anxiety, Stress, and Depression Be Prevented?

The holiday season is filled with joyful moments but it is also a time, for some, who battle with anxiety, stress, and depression. The following tips can help prevent stress, anxiety, and mild depression associated with the holiday season:

  • Make realistic expectations for the holiday season

  • Pace yourself. Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle

  • Make a list and prioritize the important activities. This can help make holiday tasks more manageable

  • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do

  • Do not put all your energy into just one day (for example, Thanksgiving Day, New Year's Eve). The holiday cheer can be spread from one holiday event to the next

  • Live “in the moment” and enjoy the present

  • Look to the future with optimism

  • Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and sadness by comparing today with the “good old days” of the past

  • If you are lonely, try volunteering some of your time to help others

  • Find holiday activities that are free, such as looking at holiday decorations, going window shopping without buying, and watching the winter weather, whether it’s a snowflake or a raindrop

  • Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way

  • Spend time with supportive and caring people

  • Reach out and make new friends

  • Make time to contact a long lost friend or relative and spread some holiday cheer

  • Make time for yourself!

  • Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks

  • Keep track of your holiday spending. Over spending can lead to depression when the bills arrive after the holidays are over. Extra bills with little budget to pay them can lead to further stress and depression.

Holiday depression and stress, fortunately, can be managed well by following the tips listed above and by seeking out social support. Counseling and support groups can be beneficial if the symptoms are too much to bear alone.

Seasonal affective disorder generally responds well to bright light therapy (phototherapy). For some patients, medications may be used to help relieve symptoms.

Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD

How do I recognize signs of holiday depression?

Irritability, changes in sleep patterns, and becoming more isolated are just a few signs that your holiday stress could be a little more serious. Loneliness, loss of family, and financial stress are all triggers that hurt just a little more this time of year.

December’s Character Education Topic: Self Discipline / Self Control

“With self-discipline, most anything is possible” -- Theodore Roosevelt

What is self-discipline?

  • Self-discipline is self-control and self-restraint

  • Self-discipline is self-reliance and independence

Students who exercise self-discipline:

  • Complete their assignments

  • Stay on task

  • Wait to be called on

  • Work toward personal and community goals

  • Try again and again

  • Ignore peer pressure

  • Choose productive rather than destructive activities

  • Control you temper

Eight ways to strengthen your self-discipline:

  1. Decide that you really want to be someone who’s self-disciplined. Your desire will motivate you to make good choices

  2. Make a personal commitment to develop and strengthen these traits. Write down specific things to do

  3. Learn the rules that determine what you can and cannot do

  4. Be accountable. Accept responsibility for your own behavior. Don’t blame others for your actions and decisions

  5. Practice. Self-discipline is something you can teach yourself. For example, set aside time to read more or to clean up

  6. Do activities that enhance your self-discipline like yoga, walking, rock-climbing, practicing a musical instrument

  7. Eliminate harmful habits. For example, if you spend several hours each week watching violent videos or TV programs, make a conscious decision to spend your time in healthier, more productive ways

  8. Start a self-discipline group to plan and carry out activities



A person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.

Does this sound like you? Or the you that you would like to be? Then please consider joining us on the Citizens Advisory Committee for Gifted and Talented Education!

We are looking for individuals who are passionate about issues related to gifted and talented education in Baltimore County Public Schools to become active with our group, the GT CAC.

· Supporters work hard to disseminate information and share resources about GT education across all grades- elementary, middle and high school levels.

· Supporters provide a forum and a support system for parents and GT advocates.

· Supporters communicate and collaborate with BCPS about the needs of GT students.

· Supporters advocate for the identification of students’ advanced academic needs and for instruction that is responsive to these students’ learning styles, behaviors, and methods of communication and that enable these students to develop to their full potential.

We would love to increase the size and diversity of our active group members so if presenting at Board of Education meetings, creating communication materials, organizing and attending formal and informal meetings on topics of interest, maintaining a social media and web presence, talking with parents, and, above all, advocating for our GT kids sounds interesting to you, please send us an email at bcpsgtcac@gmail.com. Just let us know your name, the school(s) your child(ren) attend, if you have any special areas of interest, and the best way(s) to contact you!

Julie Miller-Breetz, GT CAC chair

Construction Updates

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Lost & Found

Please encourage your student to stop by the lost & found if they are missing items. When you return from the Winter Break any unclaimed items will be donated to Goodwill.


Please remember that if you need to change your students transportation to please send a note if you are emailing please email the office as teachers may not see it in time. We can be reached at:

cmccollugh@bcps.org or mmassie@bcps.org


It is not too late please support our PTA by joining now!

You make our school great. Become a PTA member today.

What is the PTA?

We are a group of parents, teachers, grandparents and community members who support the school.

What does the PTA do?

  • Purchases academic and behavior awards for the students.

  • Subsidizes field trips.

  • Funds assemblies.

  • Hosts fun after-school events, like Fall Festival, Literature Night and Movie Night.

  • Buys technology for the school.

  • Organizes educational enrichment programs, like Lego Robotics and chess.

  • Advocates for the school so that our kids get an owl-standing education.

Why should you join the PTA?

We depend on volunteers’ time, ideas and donations. The more members, the more we can help the school.

How can you be involved with the PTA?

  • Join the PTA.

  • Attend our monthly meetings on the 2nd Tuesday of the month.

  • Volunteer for our events and get to know other parents.

  • Support fundraisers and direct-donation campaigns.

  • Lend your professional expertise to our efforts.

How can you support the PTA’s fundraising efforts?

  • Donate directly to the PTA during Pajama Days, through Paypal, or when you join.

  • Encourage your employer to become a corporate sponsor.

  • Clip Box Tops.

  • Support our Silent Auction & Raffle, Holiday Shoppe and other fundraisers.

  • Sign up for a Target REDcard and designate Westowne as your recipient school.

  • Shop online at eScrip.com to earn money for Westowne PTA.

  • Register your Giant club card online at A+ School Rewards.

Westowne Elementary PTA, 401 Harlem Lane, Catonsville, MD 21228


PTA Membership Form

We encourage all adult members of the household to join the PTA. Membership costs $6 per person. Membership dues go to the county, state and national PTA as well as paying for insurance and required training. Please make checks payable to Westowne Elementary PTA.

_______ Membership ($6/person)

_______ Donation to the PTA; it is tax deductible and it is 100% profit to the PTA.

_______ TOTAL

Name/s: _______________________________________________________________________

Address (include zip code):_______________________________________________________



Homeroom Teacher/s:____________________________________________________________

Child/ren’s Names (optional):______________________________________________________


Tell us more about yourself. Would you like to volunteer? Do you have professional skills that could help our fundraising, advocacy or educational enrichment efforts? Do you have a local business? Does your employer match charitable donations? If the answer is yes, then tell us more.

Volunteering availability (circle one): DAY AM DAY PM EVENING

I can help with

☐ events and after-school programs ☐ advocacy ☐ fundraising/grantwriting

Additional comments


Team BCPS Day and a wave of blue pride will return on Thursday, January 14, 2016. All members of Team BCPS (current, former and future students, families, staff, volunteers, partners, and supporters of the school system) are encouraged to wear blue and share messages about what Team BCPS means to them.

Although Team BCPS Day is a month away, schools and offices are asked to begin planning and contributing now. Team BCPS members are asked to send photos of themselves holding the attached Team BCPS logo anywhere they go over the winter break. The photos should be sent to communications@bcps.org throughout the break.

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