Wood End Wildcat News

August 1, 2020

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Dear Wood End Families,

Welcome to August! Did you know the "dog days of summer" actually take place between July 22 and August 22? They are historically the hottest days of the year, often brought on by heat and drought. Although this is not the best time for plants and gardens, it is one of my most favorite times of the year with sunny days and beautiful night time skies. This is also the time when Sirius, also known as the dog star, is most visible from Earth. So, take a look on the next clear night and try to find it!

We are continuing to plan for the 2020-21 school year, and wrapping up the summer cleaning projects at Wood End. It certainly has been a busy time for our custodians, Ken Hughes and Jeff Beaulieu, who have done a fabulous job getting our school ready for students and teachers!

I am sad to say that after 15 years of dedicated service to the students, staff and families of Wood End, Mr. Hughes will be retiring this fall. After serving in both the United States Army and Marines, Mr. Hughes began a long career working in facilities in the private sector before coming to Wood End. He has been with us since we opened our doors, and has taken great pride in his work every day. He connects with students, knows everyone by name, has a tremendous working relationship with his "second family" at Wood End, and never slows down! I cannot imagine anyone more dedicated to his job, nor can I imagine anyone filling his shoes! We are really going to miss him! However, we are excited for Mr. Hughes to spend more time with his family including his beautiful wife Mary, puttering around the house and traveling a bit more once he is able. I'm certain he has another trip to Las Vegas planned soon! Please join me in wishing Mr. Hughes all the best in his well-deserved retirement!

Over the past week, Dr. Doherty released his plan for re-opening schools for the 2020-21 school year. You can find the DESE Preliminary Re-Opening Plan for Reading Public Schools HERE. In addition, Dr. Doherty held several staff and community forums for folks to ask questions and find out more information. As I learn more, I will continue to update our community with new information.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has reduced the required number of days in school so that school districts can use additional days to prepare for their school models. This means that Reading Public Schools may start as late as September 16, 2020. There is no final decision on the actual start date, though the School Committee will decide our official start date in August.

I have received several inquiries about the start of school, particularly related to class assignments and cohorts within the hybrid model. Prior to making any decisions about re-organizing class groupings in the upcoming year, we will be gathering the following information:

  • Family choice for remote (distance) or hybrid learning
  • Family preferences for hybrid learning cohorts (Week A, Week B)
  • Staffing information related to teachers who cannot be in school due to family or personal health reasons

Using the hybrid model, some families are considering creating tutoring/learning groups for out-of-school weeks. Within these small groups, families are planning to share childcare and educational needs with friends and neighbors. If you are thinking of developing a learning group, please email me the names of students who would be participating together during the weeks of distance learning. I will gather this information and do my best to accommodate the scheduling. For logistical purposes, please keep your groups to 3 or 4 students, as I am not sure I can accommodate groups larger than that.

Over the next two weeks, I am continuing to meet with Wood End staff to plan for the next school year. Our focus will be on keeping students and staff safe, maintaining social distancing, following our core values, and continuing to make Wood End a positive and welcoming learning community. Our school website will continue to be updated with information from the state, district and school as it becomes available. Follow this LINK to our webpage for more information.

As always, please reach out to me with any questions or concerns.

Stay safe & healthy,

Joanne King

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Wildcat Gets a Face Lift!

Special thanks to the PTO for helping us refinish our Wildcat logo on the gymnasium floor. After 9 years, it was due for a touch up. Ann DiCicco, the artist who painted our wildcat originally, was able to come back to give it a fresh coat of paint and some TLC before the gymnasium floor is refinished next week. We are so excited to keep our school's logo looking new! We're sure our students will be very impressed with the final results!

Go Wildcats!

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Keep Kids Active at Home with BOKS!

The BOKS team has compiled some favorite activities that can be used at-home, with just one or a few kids, and minimal equipment. These resources are completely FREE and are available to families. Click HERE for the activities and lots of additional resources to keep your kids active during the summer including summer bootcamp, mindfulness, yoga, and a physical fitness calendar to help you plan out your activities. Have fun!

Are You Interested in School Council?

School Council is in need of a family member and teacher representative to join this important committee. The group meets regularly during the school year, and assists the building principal in reviewing the school budget, school improvement plan, and identifying the educational needs of the students attending our school.

If you’d like to learn more about the role you could play on School Council, please speak with one of our representatives. You can also learn more about our School Council and view our meeting minutes on our website. If you are interested in joining this group, please email joanne.king@reading.k12.ma.us before August 31, 2020.

Welcome to Kindergarten!

We are very excited to welcome our new kindergartners to the Wood End family. I will be hosting a family forum for Kindergarten parents/guardians on Tuesday, August 25th, at 8:00 p.m. This is an adult meeting for families to ask questions about the upcoming school year and Wood End. I will also be providing information about kindergarten screening and class assignments. Incoming kindergarten families will receive an invitation for this event via email, so stay tuned!

Update on Summer Food Programs

The Reading Public Schools Food Services is offering Grab&Go meal kits containing a week of lunch and breakfast foods. Distribution of the meals happens every Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Meals are provided for anyone 21 years old or younger. No ID or proof of residency is required.

Additionally the Reading Public Schools is participating in the Farm to Table Fresh Program. Anyone can get a weekly, 20 pound box of fresh produce through this program. Pick up is at the same time as the Grab&Go Meals.

For information, you can email Danielle Collins at danielle.collins@reading.k12.ma.us. There is no registration required for this program, although if you send in your email you will get weekly reminders.

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Resources for Addressing Race & Equity

As we all try to navigate this difficult time racial injustice, we hope to provide resources to help begin more open communication and dialogue. It is important to educate ourselves and our families on the meaning of these calls to action, and to take steps to make our communities better. Please find links to resources for families HERE that may help you shift your thinking, create dialogues with your children, and take steps to building a more supportive, equitable, and inclusive community for everyone.

Library Catalog Resources, Summer Reading and Specialists' Enrichment

The library catalog page has been updated to include some great resources for summer! From the Wood End homepage scroll to the bottom. You will see a tab for “Students.” The library catalog link is also there. We have added summer reading program links from both Barnes & Noble and Scholastic. There are also resource booklists for Black Lives Matter, Diversity and People of Color recommended titles.

We've also included links to all the teacher interviews hosted by Student Council and to the videos Wood End shared this fall for various all school events. Lastly, we know this has been a school year with a lot to manage and you may not have completed everything, so we included a link on the catalog to enrichment folders full of activities from your school specialists - Art, Music, Library and PE. These will be accessible all summer long, so feel free to check them out!

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RPL Summer Reading Program

Reading is… Reading Together! June 19 – August 22

We’re inviting the entire community to read together this summer! When we join together, we can make a big difference. Register online starting June 19 to be part of the fun! You will work as a team with other participants and log how much you’re reading. Then, thanks to the generous support of the Friends of the Reading Public Library, your reading time will turn into dollars that will be donated to a local charity. You can give back by reading! There is no age limit on this year’s program. We are all working together!

Every person, of all ages and abilities, can help make a difference by reading, listening, and completing special challenges. And…Reado is back. As you travel around Reading, keep your eyes open for Reado, the Reading Public Library children’s room parrot. He’s in on the fun this summer too! Find our more at www.readingpl.org or check out this video.

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Summer Reading for 5th Graders

The middle school librarians have created two resources for Middle School Summer Reading that may be helpful for our 5th grade students. The first is a website with all of the information about summer reading, how to access the titles electronic copies from the Reading Public Library, and some other reading resources. The second is a short video tutorial explaining how to use the website and it's resources. Check it out and get started on your summer reading!

Shop Amazon Smile & Support Our School

Right now, many of us are relying on Amazon to get groceries, everyday household items, and everything in between! Did you know that by shopping through Amazon Smile you can earn money for our school while doing your shopping? Amazon donates 0.5% of eligible purchases to our school. With our registered families and friends, we have earned over $250 this year. It's so easy to sign up and start shopping!

Ongoing Support for Students & Families

Social, Emotional and Behavioral Resources: In an effort to streamline locations that you can access for support, we've included all the information in one centralized location. On the Behavioral Health page of the Reading Public School's District website, you will now find all Covid-19 related resources, broken down by categories (upper right hand corner of the page). We are fortunate to have access to an incredible array of resources and we hope this helps you navigate this unprecedented time. Each page is set up in the same format, and hyperlinks are included to help get you quickly to the information you need.

Options to Help Put Food on the Table

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and DESE have waived restrictions, so all children and teens in need of food during the COVID-19 health crisis are eligible to receive support.

Reading Food Pantry

The Reading Food Pantry is open and ready to help families in need. If you need food, please contact St. Vincent de Paul at 781-258-8767 and leave a voice mail message. They will return your call to set up services.

Project Bread

If you or someone you know is struggling to provide nutritious meals for the family, Project Bread can help. This is the only comprehensive statewide information and referral service in Massachusetts for people facing hunger. They can connect you to SNAP benefits and food resources in your local community, and help you navigate the application process. They also provide referrals to other programs such as WIC, school meals, housing, and utility assistance. For more information, call 1-800-645-8333 Monday through Friday, 8AM-7PM, and Saturday, 10AM-2PM.

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About These Services...

The Town of Reading contracts with William James College to offer a special service for our residents. The William James INTERFACE Referral Service maintains a mental health and wellness referral help line Monday through Friday, 9 am-5 pm, at 888-244-6843 (toll free). This is a free, confidential referral service for individuals across the lifespan living in Reading. Callers are matched with licensed mental health providers from our extensive database. Each referral meets the location, insurance, and specialty needs of the caller. Click here to learn more!

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