Chugach Optional Elementary Newsletter - September 2023
Message from Joel
I would like to start by welcoming all of our new families to Chugach Optional and welcoming back all of our returning families. We are off to a great start for this school year, and I am looking forward to seeing everyone when you are in the building.
As you know there have been changes in the Anchorage School District with the late start Mondays for neighborhood elementary and middle schools. Please note that Chugach Optional was given a waiver to not participate in the late start Mondays for teacher Professional Learning Communities (PLC). The reason for this is that Chugach Optional has already had our early release Fridays for PLCs in place for a number of years. Our start time will still be 8:10 a.m. Monday through Friday, and our early release Fridays will still be at 11:15 a.m. Chugach Optional has 14 early release Fridays, which works out to approximately 2 Fridays per month. Please check our school calendar found on our webpage to see the specific Fridays. Our first early release Friday will be this upcoming Friday (Sept. 1st).
I would also like to thank everyone for the patience you have shown for our ongoing secure vestibule construction. If you have ever done a remodel project, you will know that they often take longer than expected due to parts and equipment availability and unforeseen problems that come up during construction. We are hoping to have the front doors to the building working properly sometime in September which will make access to the school in the mornings smoother.
I know we’re going to have a great school year!
Septembers's Important Dates
Friday, September 1 - EARLY RELEASE DAY- pick up @ 11:15am; Upper Open House 11:20am-12:20pm; Primary Open House 12:30pm-1:30pm
Monday, September 4 - LABOR DAY - No School!
Wednesday, September 6 - Middle Open House 3:15pm-4:15pm, Garden Club 3:00pm-4:30pm
Monday, September 11 - Running Club 3:00pm-4:00pm
Wednesday, September 13 - Running Club 3:00pm-4:00pm, Garden Club 3:00pm-4:30pm. CAM Meeting 5:30pm-7:00pm in the Library
Friday, September 15 - EARLY RELEASE DAY - pick up @11:15am
Monday, September 18 - SCHOOL PICTURE DAY; Running Club 3:00pm-4:00pm
Wednesday, September 20 - Running Club 3:00pm-4:00pm, Garden Club 3:00pm-4:30pm
September 20 - September 22 - !!!!UPPER OUTDOOR SCHOOL!!!!
Thursday, September 21 - Community Assembly Meeting 5:30pm-7:30pm in Library
Monday, September 25 - Running Club 3:00pm-4:00pm
Tuesday, September 26 - Running Jamboree @ Bartlett (Time TBD)
Wednesday, September 27 - Running Club 3:00pm-4:00pm, Garden Club 3:00pm-4:30pm
Friday, September 29 - EARLY RELEASE DAY - pick up @ 11:15am
Parent Coordinator Communication
We want to ensure families have the opportunity to opt in to Parent Coordinator (PC) communication and provide up-to-date contact information. Each family group has two PCs who assist teachers in organizing classroom volunteer needs and send regular emails about events, activities, and information. Please fill out this survey to help us capture your contact information. Thank you!
School Picture Day - September 18
Welcome from the CEC President and Board
Welcome to the 2023-24 school year! As we welcome back our existing families, we also want to give a warm welcome to all of our new Chugach families. We are glad you are here! Chugach Optional brings our families a unique alternative learning environment. Parents and family participation are a huge part of the success of this learning. It is my pleasure to lead the Chugach Educational Corporation (CEC) as the elected president for this school year along with all of our elected officers. CEC members are the elected officers of the Community Assembly (CAM). The CAM is made up of our entire Chugach Community. The CAM is Chugach Optional version of a PTA. Every year the CAM works with the school, families, teachers, staff, and principal to supplement our community’s needs by leading extracurricular school activities and events, fundraising for the school which provides funding for our classrooms learning and experiences while cultivating our school philosophy. This is a group effort. We look forward to working with all of you.
Please join us for our first CAM meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 13 from 5:30-7 p.m. in the library, where we will launch the plan for this year’s activities and events and engage in our learning practices while sharing the Chugach Philosophy. We will also launch our Big Simple Fundraiser and our Chugach Auction. These events are our two biggest fundraisers at Chugach and support our children’s curriculum here at Chugach. For more information, e-mail email@example.com
Another Warm Welcome!
2023 CEC Board
President – Joey Caterinichio
Vice President – Joe Blaeuer
Secretary – Juliana Shields
Treasurer – Erika Green
Community Parent Coordinator – Leslie Boyd
Member at Large – Elizabeth Serrano
Teacher (appointed) – Celeste Long
CAM/CEC meetings are open to all. Meetings happen monthly and are posted on the school calendar.
Parking Options for Chugach Optional Elementary
Parking spots at Chugach Optional Elementary are very limited. Luckily, we have two wonderful neighbors that allow us to use their parking spots for morning arrival and afternoon dismissal. Families are welcome to park across E Street at the New Hope Compassionate Ministries and also at the Municipal Emergency Management Building just to the south of the school.
The Emergency Management Building staff have asked us to remind parents of the following to help them continue to maintain their readiness posture while also continuing to share the parking:
- ALL SIGNED SPOTS MUST REMAIN AVAILABLE TO STAFF IN THIS BUILDING. They are clearly marked for who they belong to, and constitute all of the parking in the middle of the lot
- All parking along the north fence line (between our parking lots), and the east facing fence line shared with the playground are the spaces available to share
- Speed in our parking lot MUST stay at a reasonable speed, for the sake of the families and children as well as for the sake of our personnel
RUNNING CLUB GRADES K-6
Cross Country running will begin Monday, September 11! Links to the permission slips can be found below or you can pick up a hard copy of the permission slips in the front office. Please complete both permission forms and return to Polly. We will meet from 3-4 each practice day. We need a lot (20-30) of Group Leaders, so we can have several small groups of runners about the same speed. Please see Polly if you are interested in being a Group Leader and please make sure you fill out the Volunteer Application online.
KINDERGARTEN RUNNERS MUST COME WITH AN ADULT.
Dates for Running Club:
Monday September 11 practice 3-4 Meet in Gym
Wednesday September 13 practice 3-4
Monday September 18 practice 3-4
Wednesday September 20 practice 3-4
Monday September 25 practice 3-4
TUESDAY September 26 Running Club Jamboree at Bartlett High School Times of event in packet
Wednesday September 27 End of Season Party 3-4
Upper Outdoor School - September 20th-22nd
Thanks to the CEC, we have a budgeted line item that covers part of Outdoor School. Upper (5th & 6th grade) students will also need to do some fundraising in addition to upper family payments. We request $100 payment per child from upper parents for this 3-day, 2-night experience at Birchwood Camp. This is half the actual cost per child. If this is a hardship for your family at this time, please contact your upper teacher.
Payments can be made via check or credit card. If paying by check please make out to Chugach Optional Educational Corporation with Outdoor School and Student’s Name noted; checks can be handed into your classroom Parent Coordinator. Please use this link to make your payment via credit card. All payments are requested by September 13th.
Mauni - Our sister school in Malawi, Africa
We are celebrating 20 years of supporting our sister school in Malawi. In September 2004, after Chugach’s nurse, Madelyn, volunteered in Mauni and shared with her experience, Chugach students chose to support the students of Mauni. Since then, our community has raised funds to support Mauni from building latrines to purchasing pencils and soccer balls to school uniforms and desks. These funds are raised through our Art Night and our Kindy Bread Sale. More information and dates to come…
Thoughts from a former Chugach student…
Chugach has supported Mauni students through the small things like creating a piece of art for Art Night, buying a piece of Kindy Bread or a book during our used book sale. Just those three events have gotten Mauni students so much help. We have added classrooms for the school, bathrooms so girls could start going to school, and we’ve paid for older students to go to secondary school. When I think of our choice to support Mauni students and teachers, I feel that we are changing lives. I feel that not only are we affecting lives in Malawi, we are affecting our own lives. When helping others, we are helping to make the world a better place.
For more in depth history, please read Mauni/Chugach History
For pictures and more information, please visit our Mauni website (also found on our Chugach website):.www.chugachsisterschool.org
For more information about Malawi Children’s Village, please visit their website.
Chugach Cafe & Lunch Options
Unfortunately, Chugach Optional is once again without a Cafe Manager. The district is currently trying to fill 12 Cafe Manager positions around the district. If you or anyone you know is interested in working for Student Nutrition please click here. You can request to be placed at Chugach Optional as the Cafe Manager.
Lunch Options - currently our school is limited to offering shelf-stable snackable meals along with shelf-stable milk. These lunches are free of charge but students do need to indicate to their teacher that they want a school lunch in the mornings.
IGNITE at Chugach Optional
IGNITE stands for "Including Gifted Needs in Today's Education." It has been around in a pull-out form for over 40 years! Our IGNITE teacher is Ilana Kerschbaum and this is her 2nd year as the IGNITE teacher at Chugach Optional.
IGNITE students in grades 2-6 will be pulled out of their regular class for 2 hours each week for IGNITE. Ilana will also work collaboratively with family group teachers to support the gifted learners and families at Chugach Optional.
How do students qualify for IGNITE at Chugach Optional?
- All ASD 2nd graders are universally screened on a shorter ability test for IGNITE each year. 2nd grade math and reading achievement data is also used to determine their eligibility.
- Most students in 3rd-6th qualify on MAP testing scores. The testing team and Ilana will look at these scores throughout the year for those who qualify and those who are close go on a "Watch List".
- Sometimes students do not demonstrate consistent high achievement tests or classroom performance, then an ability test may be recommended.
- Some students qualify on ability, achievement, or a combination of the 2 and a cumulation of achievement points on multiple MAP tests within a calendar year.
This year IGNITE teachers are part of the ASD testing team for mClass reading testing 3 times a year for 2 weeks. There will be no IGNITE during those 2 weeks three times a year. IGNITE classes will begin at Chugach Optional on Monday, September 18 after the first testing window.
Nurse's Notes from Maya
When to Keep Your Child Home from School - please refer to this page if your child is not feeling well.
ASD does not require COVID testing when your child is sick, however, if you choose to test and get a positive result the following policy must be followed:
day 0: 1st day of illness or test date
day 1-5: stay home
day 6-10: can return to school if fever free, must wear a mask
Medications at School
If your child needs to take medication during the school day (prescription or over-the-counter) please notify Nurse Maya. More details and medication forms can be found with this link: https://www.asdk12.org/Page/7810
No nuts/peanuts policy in our classrooms
We ask that families pack a snack that does not contain peanuts or tree nuts for snack time. Peanuts and tree nuts are allowed to be consumed in the lunchroom. There is a specific table that is peanut and tree nut free for students with allergies.
Birthday Snacks or Shared Treats in the Classroom
Most of our classrooms have at least one student with food allergies, ranging from mild to severe Anaphylaxis. Before bringing food to share in your child’s classroom please check with their classroom teacher to see if there are any allergies or dietary restrictions so all children can enjoy the treat safely.
Student Health Screenings
During the course of the school year, Nurse Maya will be checking height, weight, vision, and hearing. The extent of the routine screening depends on the grade. If your child has abnormal results in hearing or vision you will be contacted. However, any time a teacher or parent has a concern they can reach out to Nurse Maya.
Keep us informed
Please get in touch with Nurse Maya if your child starts a new medication, has a new diagnosis that teachers or staff should be aware of, or has an injury that we should be aware of for recess and/or gym class. Having up to date health information on our students helps us support student needs and ensure their safety.
Welcome to our library!!!
For 50 years, our library has been the heart of Chugach.
I am honored to be a part of our Chugach philosophy and history.
When I say ‘our library’, that is exactly what I mean.
If you would like to open a library account for you or a younger sibling,
please come and see me!
My ‘Checking Out Books’ Philosophy
I feel strongly about having books in students’ hands. When students ask how many books they can check out, I ask them what they think is appropriate for them and their family plan. Each family is different so each student has a different plan. Please talk with your child(ren) about your family library plan – how many library books can be checked out at a time, how library books travel to and from school (in a bag is really important with all of this rain!), where the books are kept at home and if a book is lost or ruined, how it will be replaced. I honor your family decisions. Please feel free to share these plans with me. Thank you for talking about this responsibility with your child(ren).
Any questions or thoughts, please feel free to connect with me in the library or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s September and it’s time to kick off our Chugach Community Fundraiser, Big Simple!
Big Simple is Chugach Optional’s fundraiser to directly support our curriculum and classrooms. This fundraiser pays for the projects and enrichment that make Chugach Optional our school of choice!
Contributions are divided equally among our family groups to pay for theme studies, field trips, special projects, subscriptions, and classroom enhancement. Big Simple funds are directly tied to curriculum-based projects and classroom materials needed to support a flexible and multi-age learning environment.
The Chugach Educational Corporation (CEC) and Chugach Assembly approved this year’s budget in spring 2023 with a goal of raising $27,000 for the Big Simple, which makes our suggested donation $125 per student. We know that not all families are in a position to contribute this amount, so please donate what you can. If you are not able to donate at this time, we understand that too.
The CEC is organized under IRS code section 501(c)3 as a tax-exempt public charity. Your donation to the Big Simple is tax deductible: Chugach Educational Corporation Tax ID Number 92-0156985
Don’t forget to ask your employer if they will match your donation!
Chugach Optional Fall Carnival
The Fall Carnival is only 6 weeks away! It's our first big gathering and our opportunity to get to know our kid's classmates, their families and the Chugach community as a whole. It's a special evening where kids come in their best costumes, the school is full of fun booth activities, the Haunted House is meticulously put together by our six graders and delicious homemade soups, salads and breads are prepared and shared... Did I forget our most famous DJ Cake Walk?
Interested in bringing your creativity to the table? Please join us on our first committee meeting on Thursday, September 7th at 2:55pm (lunch area); we hope you can join us to make this event an unforgettable time for our children and why not, for us too!
The Chugach Auction needs you!
Chugach Auction planning has started! This is a key fundraiser in maintaining our school’s annual operating budget and also doubles as a fun parent’s night out.
Right now, the auction committee is looking for people to help with procurement of our silent and live auction items. If you want to help, please email Becky Hills at email@example.com.
Be on the lookout soon for more details about the event and how you can participate in this fun night!
Chugach Optional is turning 50!!
907-742-3730 Option 1
Parents/Guardians must call the Attendance Line by 9:30 a.m. when their child will not be at school for the day. Please provide the following information on the attendance line:
Reason for Absence
If your child’s absence is not called in by 9:30am or a reason for the absence is not provided, parents/guardians will receive an automated ASD phone call regarding their unexcused absence.
Excused Absences: Absences may be excused for health reasons (including medical appointments), family emergencies, participation in religious activities, or other reasons as approved by the principal. Travel/Vacation is generally considered a Pre-arranged Unexcused Absence unless otherwise determined by the principal.
Late arrivals: Students are considered Tardy if arrival at school is between 8:15am -9:10am. Arrival after 9:10am is considered a morning absence. Please be sure to check in with the office when arriving after 8:15am to let them know you are here and to have your school lunch counted.
If your child will be out for longer than a few days please fill out a Pre-Arranged Absence Form, available in the Front Office.
New Waterbottle Filling Station
This year we had a new water fountain/water bottle filling station installed just outside the gym in the MPR. As of August 29th we had already saved 100 plastic bottles by using our re-usable water bottles at the filling station!
- Please refrain from parking in any of the "RESERVED" parking spots, the fire lane or the loading dock area. We know parking is tight but for safety and courtesy reasons these areas/spots must be respected.
- Chugach Optional students go outside for morning and lunch time recess in almost all weather. The only exception is when the outdoor temperature falls below -10F. Please make sure your student(s) come to school with the appropriate outdoor gear.
Please encourage your student(s) to be prepared.
- All parents, visitors, and volunteers who are going to be in the school after 8:30 am need to sign in at the office.
- We are in need of Noon Duty attendants and a Cafeteria Manager at the school. Please go to the ASD website to apply if interested in these positions.