Aiken Update

April 1, 2022

Message from the Principal

Dear Aiken Families,

I'm happy to see the sun trying to poke through the clouds. Hopefully it's a sign that some prolonged spring weather might finally be on its way. Before we head into the break, there are a lot of events to look forward to next week. On Monday, it is our third and final night of Pizza Bingo. I am so thankful we were able to come together for this long standing and enjoyable event. There has been a lot of enthusiasm for the Staff "Celebrity" Bingo Callers and the fun prizes that students have won.

The Science Fair is on Wednesday. Congratulations to our 4th and 5th grade students that have been working hard on their projects. We look forward to seeing the culmination of your efforts at King Philip Middle School on April 6th from 6:00-7:30. On Thursday, from 6:30-7:30 we will be hosting our Parent Orientation Night for families of children that will be entering kindergarten in the fall. I look forward to welcoming some new families into our school community and also seeing some familiar faces. My sons Owen and Eric will be entering kindergarten next year, so I know first hand the mix of excitement and nervousness our new families are feeling.

National Paraeducator day is on Wednesday. We are fortunate to have 20 amazing paras and teaching assistants on our staff. They work incredibly hard each and every day to provide support to our students and teachers. We will be hosting a special lunch in their honor to thank them for all that they do.

To close out the week, we will be hosting a school wide pajama day on Friday. The event is being organized by a group of third grade students in an effort to raise money for the children of Ukraine. The money collected on Friday will be donated to an organization called Voices of Children. They are an organization that provides free psychological support to children that are affected by the current crisis. Their services include art therapy, traveling psychologists who specialize in trauma and assistance programs for individual families. I am so proud of their efforts to put this event together and appreciate your support.

Have a great weekend,


Parent Input for 2022-2023 Placement Process

As parents, you know your child best and are always the important first step in the placement process. Although not required, we value your input and welcome any information that you would like to share regarding the following areas:

  • Describe your child as a learner. What are his/her strengths and areas of growth?
  • Describe your child as a person. What are his/her personality traits? In what type of environment does he/she learn best?
  • Inform us of any special circumstances involving your child and his/her peers.
  • Please do not request a specific teacher. The number of sections and classroom assignments are always subject to change.

If you have information that you would like to share, you may print and return the form to school (Click Here ) or send your comments to me via email ( To be considered, letters need to be submitted by Friday, April 15th. I will spend the following week reviewing your input before I give them to the teachers to use during placement.

Listed below are the additional steps in the placement process:

· Parent input forms are shared with team members and considered as placement decisions are made.

· Classroom teachers work to create classes that are balanced by student learning styles, instructional levels, number of students and social considerations.

· All special area teachers and support staff provide input on the class groupings.

· Over the summer, once the number of class sections and teacher assignments have been finalized, the Amy Schmelder, our Curriculum Specialist and I will assign a teacher to each class.

· Placement letters will be mailed home in August.

Thank you for your assistance with this important process.

Crisis in Ukraine

Leaders in the West Hartford Public Schools developed this Resource Guide for Families to support your conversations with children about the recent events in Ukraine and in other times when our country and nations across the world are faced with a crisis.

District teams have been collaborating with community organizations to gather and coordinate resources based on identified needs of our schools, and those of our WHPS Ukrainian community. If your child or family is being affected by the Ukrainian crisis and you need support, please reach out to our School Psychologist Karin Mrotek at, or our social worker, Tangel McFadden at They are available to meet with your child and can also help to connect you with additional community resources and supports that your family may need.

Please keep all of our Aiken families that are directly affected, along with the people of Ukraine in your thoughts and prayers during this incredibly difficult time.

Fundraiser for Ukraine

Friday, April 8th, will be a school wide pajama day to raise money to support the children of Ukraine. The fundraiser is being organized by Simone F., Leilani F., Violet F., Hadley G., and Emily T., who are in third grade. The girls have decided to donate the money they raise to "The Voices of Children," which is an organization that provides therapy services and support to children that are living in Ukraine. Please wear your pajamas on Friday and bring in a dollar or more donation to support this cause.
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Ramadan Mubarak to all who are celebrating!

Here are some resources to learn more about Ramadan.

Celebrating Ramadan

Video - Nadia's Ramadan

Owl and Cat: Ramadan Is...

Aiken Flag Update

Please take a moment to click on the Survey Link and type in the country or countries that represent the heritage of your child. This summer, we will purchase new flags and hang them to welcome our students when they return in the fall.

Spring Testing

Dear Aiken School Families,

During April and May, the West Hartford Public Schools will be administering the annual state assessments in English/Language Arts (ELA) and Math to all students in grades 3-5. In March, we will also administer the state Science assessment to students in grade 5. The state assessment results are one of many indicators of student performance and growth. The results of these assessments assist us in our continuous work to enhance the West Hartford curriculum and improve instruction.

You have the opportunity to see the types of test questions or even take the practice test online at the following website. Click on the link, look under the heading “Quick Access” and you’ll see “Practice and Training Tests” and sign in as a guest.

I encourage you to give it a try!

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns regarding the state assessments.

Amy Schmelder

Aiken 2022 Assessment Schedule

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PTO Update

Thank you to our amazing PTO for planning so many great upcoming events. We hope to see you there!

PIZZA BINGO - Dates are filled! We look forward to seeing you there.

Dates: 4/4


Calling all 3rd, 4th & 5th graders!! Do you have a cool talent you want to show off? Sing? Dance? Juggle fire?? Try out for the Aiken’s Got Talent show and impress your teachers and friends!

Audition - March 25th, after school in the auditorium.

All tryout permission slips must be submitted by March 24th.

Tryouts do not have to showcase the entire act, a short segment works just fine. However, please keep in mind that all final acts must be no longer than 2 minutes long.

Email Abiah with any questions,

The talent show is scheduled for Tuesday, April 26th at 6:00 p.m.

Your child must also attend a mandatory dress rehearsal after school on Monday, April 25th


Aiken's Parents Night Out will be on Thursday, May 12, from 6:30-9:30 PM. The event will be held at The Pond House, and participants will be able to enjoy a BBQ dinner, silent auction, games and socializing. Please see attached flier for more information.

Link to rsvp.


Calling all volunteers for Aiken’s Multicultural night!

This is one of our favorite Aiken nights of the year and we are excited to bring it back after a year of hiatus due to the pandemic. To help make this night successful and fun we welcome and request your participation.

Some of the ways you can participate are joining our multicultural night committee, helping decorate prior to event, help set up or clean up, hosting a booth-representing a country, and more!

Please contact Tina @ for more information.

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This week, Adrienne Billings-Smith, who is an Aiken parent and the PTO Co-President, was recognized as the state's 'Remarkable Women of the Year for 2022.' There is no one more deserving of this honor. Adrienne is tireless worker who is always looking for ways to support and improve both our school community and the town.

Here is a link to the article that was published in Remarkable Woman of the Year

Next Chapter Bookstore

The Next Chapter Bookstore located at 13 South Main St., West Hartford would like to invite the students and their families to shop for the week of March 29 - April 1 for a buy one get one free offer. Simply tell the cashier at the time of purchase that you attend Aiken School to get the discount. The book store was developed to address the ongoing education, vocational, social and communication needs of West Hartford students who are ages 18-22 and in the Post - Secondary Program. We hope to see you at the store! Thank you for your support.
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Updated Health Protcols and Covid Testing Kits

The district has updated their health protocols based on the new masking guidelines. You can click on the link for additional information.

We have received an additional shipment of Covid testing kits. Your child does not have to be showing possible symptoms in order to get a test. We have plenty of kits for any family that would like one. If you would like an additional kit or two to have on hand at home, please just email our nurse Felicia Brunetti and we will send one home with your child. They can also be picked up at school during arrival or dismissal.

Thank you for continuing to review and follow our district Health Protocols in order to keep everyone healthy and safe.

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Announcements and Updates from the Office of Equity Advancement

Please click on the link for the March update: Updates and Events from the Office of Equity Advancement

Parents of Kindergarten Class 2022-2023

Dear Parents and Caregivers of the Kindergarten Class of 2022-2023,

Good morning and thank you to all who were able to join us last night for the 2022 Off to Kindergarten program. Please see important links below that were shared last night. These will help you navigate the transition to kindergarten. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to reach out to your building principal as they will be able to provide guidance and information specific to your neighborhood school.

The Kindergarten Virtual Enrollment Packet is your main resource. You will find important information and documents (several for you to complete). Please use this resource to access information regarding school registration, health forms, parent/caregiver orientation evenings, parent/caregiver questionnaires and much more!

If you were unable to attend last evening I am including the information that was shared during the presentation:

To learn more about Kindergarten in West Hartford, please view the Off to Kindergarten presentation.

A recording of the Q & A portion of the Off to Kindergarten program can be found here.

Additional information and links can be found on the Transition to Kindergarten page on the district website.

We look forward to meeting you this spring and welcoming your child to kindergarten in the Fall of 2022!

Warm regards,


Irene D. Garneau

Department Supervisor for Early Childhood Education

West Hartford Public Schools



"Childhood is a journey, not a race." -unknown

From the Community of Concern....

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Spotlight on Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

Through the implementation of the Second Step program, students are receiving weekly lessons that focus on Social Emotional Learning skills and strategies such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationships skills and responsible decision-making.

The featured book this week is Chocolate Milk, Por Favor by Maria Dismondy


While the other kids happily bound into the classroom, Gabe stands with his mother outside the door, timid and unsure about walking into school. That’s because Gabe is the new kid at school and he doesn’t speak English. Gabe is from another country. With English as a second language, starting school felt scary and intimidating. How would he know what to do? What would the other kids think? The teacher goes out of her way to make Gabe feel welcome and encourages the other kids to celebrate diversity with empathy.

Possible Discussion Questions:

  • What is empathy?
  • How does Johnny change from the beginning to the end of the story?
  • Why was it going to be a great day?
  • Think about your best friend. What makes you similar? What makes you different? How can differences between people help us learn and grow?

Link to the Read Aloud:

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