Ward Elementary School

Spring 2020

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Principal's Message

Dear Ward School Families,

Every day I am grateful for the Ward school community. Your partnership in this wild journey of adjusting to everything (work, school, extracurricular activities, family, etc.) at home is so very appreciated. Please remember, above all, to take good care of yourselves so that you can care fully for your children and one another. While we yearn for "normalcy" at this time, not much in our lives is normal as we become accustomed to waves from afar rather than hugs, the feeling of a mask on our faces any time we leave our homes, and work extra hard to read social nuances through screens. As I recently read from a Ward graduate who is now a clinical counselor, school counselor, author, and journalist, Phyllis Fagell, “Kids won’t retain much of what they learn during the 2020 pandemic, but they’ll remember who helped them get through it.” As school and teachers are in your homes and parents/guardians have become primary teachers, her article written for educators is relevant to all of us.

We continue to work hard to develop thoughtful, meaningful and worthwhile learning and connection opportunities for all of our K-5 students .As we continue on the remote learning journey, we ask for your continued partnership for the next few weeks leading up to the end of the academic year. As the leading force at home, we truly appreciate everything you are doing. Parenting has certainly presented us all with many new layers and you are doing an amazing job-- each doing what is best for our children and families. As always if you have questions or concerns or you need anything, please do not hesitate to reach out.

In addition to daily learning, class meetings, small groups, etc, we also have fun and engaging activities ahead to ensure connection and closure. Please see below for details regarding our 5th grade student council's community service project-- we need your help!

We are also planning for a distanced/contactless distribution of student materials (student workbooks, folders, personal belongings, etc.) during the week of June 1. I will outline details for a safe and efficient process in a separate email next week. Please take note of the dates and times listed below.

Sending you all my best wishes for good health, compassion, and wellbeing,



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On the Calendar... Planning Ahead

  • Monday, May 25: Memorial Day- No School

  • Monday, June 1: 3rd Grade Material Pick Up; 11:00am-1:00pm

  • Tuesday, June 2: 4th Grade Material Pick Up; 12:30pm-2:30pm

  • Wednesday, June 3: 5th Grade Material Pick Up; 11:30am-1:30pm

  • Thursday; June 4: 2nd Grade Material Pick Up; 11:00am-1:00pm

  • Friday, June 5: 1st Grade and Kindergarten Material Pick Up; 11:00am-1:00pm

  • Tuesday, June 16: Virtual Color Day

  • Wednesday, June 17: Kemp Harris Virtual Classroom Enrichment Assemblies by Grade

  • Thursday, June 18: Final Day of School

  • Wednesday, June 19: Happy Summer!

  • Tuesday, September 8: First Day of 2020/21 School Year!

Nurse's Notes:

Hi Ward families!

I miss seeing you all every day in the hallways, in specials, in classes, and helping you all in my office. Your bright faces made my days better every day. I hope you are all finding your way at home and doing your best to stay healthy and help others stay healthy. Continue to wash your hands before touching others, after touching something dirty, and throughout the day, and try not to touch your face! As the days get warmer and sunnier, getting outside is important; make sure you are wearing sunscreen and drinking plenty of water. As tick season approaches, any playtime in grassy or wooded areas should be followed by a tick check. I am still holding office hours Tuesday & Thursdays from 9-11am if any student or parent would like to connect. Just send me an email to set up a call.

Be well,

Nurse Gretchen Egan

Assistance for Families & Ways to Help

The Newton COVID-19 Care Fund is designed to provide financial assistance to Newton residents, people who work in Newton, and families with children receiving childcare services in Newton or enrolled in Newton Public Schools who have been financially burdened by the pandemic. City of Newton First Responders who incur new childcare expenses or other expenses as a result of the crisis are also eligible.


For those of us who need help – ranging from unemployment insurance and SNAP benefits to mental health resources and emergency intervention – please also see the list of resources here and here. The Mayor’s office will update this list of resources as they learn of them.

If you are experiencing any financial insecurities due to the pandemic, please contact Ms. Kennedy or Ms. Leggio for assistance in accessing resources. We are here to help!

Ward High Five: Be Safe-- Be Kind-- Be Respectful-- Persevere-- Love Learning

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Over the past two months the kindergarten students have been busy sharing their opinions on Flipgrid and meeting with classmates on Zoom. Once a week, both classes join together for teacher read-alouds. In literacy/writing the students are learning how to write poems, state their opinions, study various types of genres all while finding the best, quiet and cozy reading spots! Recently in math, kindergartners have been exploring 3D shapes, learning basic arithmetic facts, working on ways to solve multi-step word problems and teaching their families familiar math games. For science, the children have been observing stages of the ladybug life cycle. They have also been taking many spring walks and tracking weather patterns!

First Grade

Each first grade class has been meeting twice a week for on-line story times and sharing sessions. We’ve also been getting together for small group chats on Zoom to talk about what we’ve been doing and to play games together. This week we had our first book club meetings, with children sharing books they’ve read recently and getting new reading ideas from each other. The first graders have also been enjoying seeing each other on flipgrid. Through flipgrid, they have had fun answering “would you rather” questions, talking about poems they enjoy, sharing their opinions, and explaining their math thinking. They have all been hard at work in different ways, creating art and Lego projects, problem-solving with addition and subtraction strategies, discovering new books, writing poetry, thinking about how plants grow, and helping their families.

~Mrs. Colarusso & Ms. Steele

Second Grade

The primary focus in second grade has been connection and engagement. Beginning in late March activities were designed with attention to learning online and to providing a loose structure to the day. April introduced mystery readers and continued engagement through Newton’s themes of Community & Poetry. With student and family well being at the core, a developmentally appropriate curriculum was infused into established learning. May has brought greater opportunities for virtual meet-ups with classmates, teachers and staff. Second graders shared math & upstanders assignments through multiple digital avenues. Reallocating fieldtrip funds has brought enrichment through storytelling and has increased student, teacher and presenter joy. Best of all is our time together and the sharing of this ‘new normal.’ We are so proud of all the learning taking place.

~Mrs. Fabrizio & Ms. Ring


Ms. Decatur (art), Mr. Leavitt (music), Ms. Packard (library), and Ms. Pargoli (P.E.H.W.) have been busy creating weekly asynchronous learning activities for students to enrich their academic lives since the beginning of our Distance Learning period. Reaching out with video messages, joining class Zoom meetings and hosting office hours have been strange but fun new ways to connect with students from afar. Most recently they are beginning synchronous live class activities, where students will interact with each other and their specialist teachers. Additionally, students are contributing to a 5th grade virtual art show, submitting videos for a virtual music ensemble, enjoying countless read alouds, and getting physically active with self-created obstacle courses.
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Virtual Instrument Ensemble Opportunity for 4th and 5th Graders

We are excited to invite your 4th or 5th grader to partake in this awesome opportunity to play in a virtual instrument ensemble with students from across all 15 elementary schools in Newton. We hope that you will join as we spread the joy of music through our community!

Here is what we will need from you:

  1. Read carefully, fill out and submit this release form by 5/29/20. Only the parent/guardian can fill out this sheet, not students.

    1. Video Release Form

  2. Record a video while playing your instrument to the play-along tracks provided below.

    1. Play Along Tracks / Student Directions / Sheet Music

  3. Submit your video to Mr. Leavitt

    1. All videos must be submitted by Friday May 29, 2020

    2. Upload your final video submission to this Google Drive folder

Specials Class Zoom Times

Class Day/Time

KCM Tues- 11:00am

KCH Tues- 11:30am

1C Thurs. 12:00pm

1H Thurs- 12:30pm

2F Thurs- 12:00pm

2R Thurs- 12:30pm

3G Tues- 1:00pm

3K Tues- 1:30pm

3MBJ Tues- 2:00pm

4G Tues- 11:00am

4R Tues- 11:30am

5L Tues- 1:00pm

5P Tues- 1:30pm

5S Tues- 2:00pm

Third Grade

Third graders have been writing poems and making posters as a part of their historical fiction book projects. In addition, they wrote letters to thank first responders and essential employees.

~Ms. Beaulieu Jones, Ms. Graziano & Mrs. Kaplan

Poetry and Gratitude to First Resonders

Book Projects

Fourth Grade

Fourth graders have been staying connected with each other and their teachers through whole class and small group Zoom meetings, read alouds, and office hours. Thursday Theme Day has brought joy and engagement to our weekly routine. Students have been working hard and playing hard during this time of distance learning. Fourth graders have written and shared poetry, including Where I’m From poems, special place poems, and object poems. They have researched and presented about upstanders around the globe, and they have studied animal communication and signals. They have also created puppets to showcase their Biography Book Project. When their schoolwork is done, fourth graders have been busy stretching their minds and bodies through creating artwork, practicing their instruments, building LEGOs, going for bike rides, and caring for siblings and pets.

~Ms. Goldman & Mrs. Ritchie

Fifth Grade

Gratitude and Supporting Those in Need: Fifth Grade Sponsors Ward School Community Service Drive for Center Street Food Pantry

The fifth grade student council is organizing a food drive for the Centre Street Food Pantry in Newton. The food drive will run from May 25th- June 8th. We will be collecting brown paper bags filled with food items for kids. See this flyer for the specific items. Bags can be dropped off at 111 Kirkstall Road in Newtonville, and they will be picked up and delivered to the Centre Street Food Pantry. Thank you for your help!

Ward PTO

The Ward PTO supports the school in innumerable ways. In addition to many fun family events, the PTO provides financial support for student activities, improves our playground equipment, supports our technology needs, and brings in phenomenal enrichment programs. The PTO is hard at work and is always seeking more involvement and new ideas. If you are interested in becoming more involved and/or can contribute any level of financial donation to the Ward Annual Fund, you are supporting student learning at Ward. If you are interested in becoming more involved and/or want to receive the PTO's email announcements, go to:


Kemp Harris Virtual Grade Level Assemblies- June 17

Kemp Harris has been involved in the lives of children as a teacher and a storyteller for many years. He taught Kindergarten in Newton, MA for 38 years before semi-retiring. Mr. Harris’ teaching skills as well as his background in music and theater are every present in his performances. His repertoire includes African folktales, original stories and families stories in literature.

Thanks to the support of Ward’s PTO, all grade levels will have a special enrichment learning opportunity with storyteller, Kemp Harris, on Wednesday, June 17th. Mr. Harris will tailor his activities for each grade level zoom session (approx. 45 minutes). Teachers will communicate details in advance.

We are looking forward to our upcoming guest presentation!

Ward School Garden-- Planting Seeds for the Future

Many thanks to Elizabeth Apgar and her helpers, Maggie and Charlotte, for tending our school garden while we are apart. They have been hard at work planting seeds for our future so that students and families alike can enjoy our garden and the learning opportunities it provides. They planted the first "sister" in the three sister's garden for the 3rd grade bed. Once the corn grows about 6 inches, they will return to plant the beans and squash. We are hopeful that the current 3rd graders will be able to continue the (recent) tradition of a 4th grade popcorn harvest, or at least get to see the 3 sister's garden in action. Squash and beans are other fall harvests we can look forward to enjoying. We are hopeful that our school community will be able to benefit from these plantings in the future.