The Comet Chronicle

Challenger Elementary Parent Newsletter November, 2018

Message from the Principal

The fall is my favorite time of the year and I'm experiencing it again for the first time in 20 years. In Los Angeles, the leaves didn't change until February and there weren't too many trees that went through the beautiful transformation we are seeing right now. The temperature is cooling down now that summer is over and the holidays that are focused on family and gratitude and caring are upon us.

We have much to be grateful for here at Challenger. We have a wonderful, caring community from our custodians, our paraprofessionals, our office and support staff, to all of our teachers. I am grateful every day for the opportunity to work with all of them and I know your children are in good hands. We have supportive parents and community, with a giving and engaged PTA, to which we all say thank you for all you do to make Challenger the great school it is. And finally, we have incredible students, who challenge themselves every day to learn and be engaged as well as challenging us to become better people. They are why we are here every day!

We want to invite you to become more connected to Challenger. Please make sure your correct email address is recorded in Family Access. Click on this link to sign up for Challenger's ENews. This is our electronic newsletter which goes out each Wednesday. ENews is the main vehicle for communicating to families in ISD. Our website has contact information as well as calendar information you can use to help plan your year. We try to keep it up to date as well with our newsletters and important information throughout the year.

-Ms. Kessler

School Safety

With the events that have recently happened at school, I'm sure you are wondering about how prepared we are for emergency situations. These questions can cause us to worry even more about our most precious possessions—our children. I would like to take some time to reassure you that schools are among the safest places for students to be even during emergency situations.

Every school in the Issaquah School District has standard procedures for evacuation and lockdown. Each year, our staff reviews our Emergency Preparedness Plan which includes fire, earthquake, and lock-down drills. In addition, throughout the year, the students review procedures and participate in emergency drills in order to ensure their safety should an emergency situation occur while they are in school.

Each month, we practice a different type of emergency drill. In each situation, students, staff, and parents who were on site at the time, remained calm as they quickly implemented emergency procedures. Within minutes of each drill, students and staff were accounted for. We were in contact with our local fire department during these drills and received positive feedback on our response time and practices. In the event of an actual emergency, as we did last month, we would also remain in continual contact with both the district office and emergency personnel.

Challenger is prepared for both minor and major emergencies. We have an emergency storage container that has the necessary equipment and first aid supplies to sustain us in a major crisis until emergency help arrives and students are reunited with parents. Many staff members have current first aid and CPR certification.

There are three kinds of drills which we conduct at least once a month: fire drill, earthquake drill and lock-down drill. At this time we have practiced a fire drill and an earthquake drill. Our first lock-down drill practice will take place soon. A lock-down drill prepares us in the event of police activity or wild animals in the vicinity. Usually there is no immediate danger, and a lock-down is just a precaution. But, as always, we try to err on the side of caution. Essentially, in a practice “lock-down,” we quickly secure students in classrooms under the supervision of an adult. We follow a careful and swift process to account for everyone and anticipate communication strategies that might be necessary--contacts with emergency response agencies, parents, and district officials. While we hope we won’t be faced with any life-threatening emergency situations that would require us to implement lock-down procedures, we know that the best proactive measure to ensure safety is preparation.

Should you find yourself at school during an emergency or drill, you can help yourself and students remain as safe as possible in these situations by following Challenger's Emergency Procedures for Parents.

We encourage you to talk to your children about school safety practice as well as reviewing your home emergency preparedness plans.

Construction Updates

Safety Vestibule

After several delays, our new safety vestibule is finished. The system will go live on Monday, November 5. If you visit the school during the day, it will be a little different beginning Monday. The doors will be unlocked during arrival and dismissal times for students to enter the building. During the school day, the only doors that will be unlocked will be the two front right doors. Traditionally, the left doors have been open during the day. After you enter through the doors, you will be standing in our new secure, dry, and warm vestibule. In this area, you will press a button to alert the office you are here and would like to enter the building. The office staff will ask you for identification, verify your identity, and unlock the doors remotely for you to enter. You will then be able to proceed to the main office to sign in or get the assistance you need.

I appreciate your patience during the construction and while we get used to using this new system. This vestibule will make our school even more safe for our staff and students.

Student Bathrooms

After the recent fire, both student bathrooms near the front door of the school were in need of some remodeling. Construction has been going smoothly and it should be wrapped up in the next two weeks.

Have You Heard About Comet Coins?

Studies have shown that encouraging positive behavior improves school climate and while Comet Coins are not a legal form of tender, they sure are valuable to Challenger kids! Students are earning Comet Coins as a part of our new school wide positive behavior support program. Students are working as a class to be rewarded for showing they are following school rules which include being safe, respectful, responsible, and resourceful. Students have been reviewing expected behaviors in their classrooms for the shared spaces at school; the lunchroom, hallways, restrooms, and playground. When an individual, group, or whole class is 'caught' following the rules, they are given a Comet Coin. Each class has a jar to collect their coins. Once a class earns 25 coins, they earn a prize that they decide upon. The class then starts over to earn 50 and then 75 coins. Having pajama day has been a popular class prize so far. The coins get poured into a container on display in the trophy case and the whole school is working to earn 1000 coins before Thanksgiving break. When that happens, we will have a school wide celebration! It has been a big success and I am certain we will reach our goal.

Lost and Found

We have had beautiful fall weather. But this leads to students often taking of their coats or sweaters while they are playing outside during recess. Unfortunately, many items are forgotten on the playground and around school. After two months of school, our lost and found is already full. Please stop by to see if any of the items belong to you. We will be donating the items that are not collected on Friday, November 16th.

Important Dates:


  • 7 Veteran's Day Assembly for students
  • 9 Festival of Cultures
  • 12 Veteran's Day Observed; No School
  • 15 Site Council; 8:00 AM Library
  • 22-23 Thanksgiving Recess; No School


  • 3 Report Cards Go Home
  • 5-6 Parent Conferences; No School
  • 20 Winter Recess Begins
  • 21 Spelling Bee Registration Ends


  • 2 First Day Back to School
  • 17 Site Council; 8:00 AM Library
  • 21 Martin Luther King Jr. Day; No School
  • 28 Teacher Work Day; No School For Students