Phoenix Family News

April 23, 2021

Big picture

Important Dates Ahead...

  • April 26: No School, K-5 Professional Development Day
  • April 27: Pajama Day! All students earned this reward from the PTA Kindness Challenge!
  • April 30: VLA Pickup, 9:30-11:30 am

MCA Dates:
  • April 27-30: Reading MCA for 3rd-5th grade
  • May 3-7: Math MCA for 3rd-5th grade
  • May 10-14: Science MCA for 5th grade


VLA MCA Dates:

  • April 30: Reading MCA 9:30-12:00
  • May 7: Math MCA 9:30-12:00
  • May 14: Science MCA 9:30-12:00


Calendar and Schedule Updates

The latest calendar updates are available at sowashco.org/calendar.

A Note from the Principal

This week, our staff have been working hard to create safe spaces for students to talk. I know that as a Valley staff, we are working hard to create those safe spaces for students to have discussions, and many teachers are prompting those conversations through the books they are reading to their class. We know that this is a continual discussion we want to have with our students, and we will continue to incorporate discussions about race, our differences, equity/equality, and more in our classes in the coming weeks. Because we are taking the lead from our students and what they need, conversations may look slightly different and have different timing in each classroom. With that said, we are making sure to ask students about what they are hearing at home and in the news, as well as how that is making them feel and any questions they may have. We may not have all of the answers, but we know that our youngest learners are the ones to help change our future.


If you have questions about what's happening in your child's classroom, I would strongly encourage you to reach out to your child's teacher directly as we navigate these discussions. Please know that we will continue to take action and continue to provide opportunities to have safe conversations within our classrooms.

PTA Kindness Challenge Fundraiser

After reaching $2500 in our KINDNESS CHALLENGE fundraiser, our school has earned a Pajama Day! The date for Pajama day will be Tuesday, April 27th.


  • We have one more week until the fundraiser ends on April 30th.
  • Click HERE for link to the Informational flyer.
  • Remember to turn in your Kindness Tickets by next Friday for a chance to win a prize drawing.
  • Login to GetMovinFundHub for online donations.


Thank you for supporting Valley Crossing!!!

VCES Spring Book Fair

It’s time to get excited about our in-person Buy One Get One (BOGO) free Book Fair to be held May 10-17! Due to current Covid restrictions, all shopping will be done by students during the school day by classroom appointment. VLA students will have the opportunity to order books from the fair via a Google form. More information on this will be sent to you from your classroom teacher.

Student Council Hygiene Drive

Hello from the Valley Crossing Student Council!


The student council members have been hard at work organizing a hygiene drive for their service learning project this year. The organization they chose to support is called Valley Outreach https://valleyoutreachmn.org/. They are located in Stillwater but service all of Washington County or anyone that needs their help. During the week of April 27th - April 30th, we will be collecting donations of various hygiene items at school. The student council designated each grade level to collect a particular item. Once the collection is over, the student council members will be assembling personal care kits to donate to Valley Outreach to give to those in need.


If you are a VLA family, there will be a place for you to drop off donations during supply pick-up on Friday April 30th. If you cannot drop off on the 30th you can drop items anytime during the week of April 27th-April 30th. There will be a collection box in the vestibule. Thanks so much!


Kindergarten: Toothpaste

1st Grade: Toothbrushes (2 packs minimum preferred)

Second Grade: Body Lotion

3rd Grade: Shampoo and Conditioner (Full Size)

4th Grade: Multi-Pack Soap

5th Grade: Deodorant

MCA Testing Starts Next Week

We want to remind families that students should get a good night's sleep and a good breakfast on our MCA testing days. Students must bring their own charged devices and headphones for MCA testing. Students will not be allowed to have digital watches, fitness trackers, cell phones, or other technology devices, so please leave these items at home. Due to health and safety related requirements, and to maintain focus on instructional time, additional testing times will not be scheduled outside of the dates & times shared by schools and/or classroom teachers. This may impact families that take vacations, students who are sick, or students who are in quarantine during the designated times for testing. Homebase teachers will be sharing their individual testing times with families soon, if they have not already done so. Thank you in advance for your understanding.


For our VLA students, here is information if your child is coming into the building to test:

  • Students need their charged device, wired headphones, and a book to read or a notebook to write in when they are done with the test
  • Students may bring in a wired mouse
  • Please leave smart watches and fitness trackers at home
  • Students may bring a water bottle
  • Students will wear masks for the entire testing time
  • Students should arrive between 9:20-9:30 am
  • Students will check-in with Jen Gackstetter in the front entryway
  • Students will be directed to Gym A for testing
  • Laura Larsen, School Achievement Specialist, will be monitoring the testing
  • We will call you when your child has completed the test if they finish before 11:30 am
  • Students will remain in the gym until parents arrive
  • Any remaining students must be picked up at 12:00 pm
  • There will be no makeups if students have not completed the test by 12:00 pm

Lost Items?

We have collected some lost items over the winter! We will have tables set up outside the office next week so students can look at the items that have been found. Please encourage your child to look at the tables to see if anything they've lost this year is there! Any unclaimed items will be donated at the end of the week.

A Note from Dr. Gervais, School Social Worker

    • VLA families and quarantined students are welcomed to book individual meetings with me. Please view my schedule and availability online at https://calendly.com/drgervais

    • Resources for Families - District 833 has a website that will link you to a variety of resources from food, mental health, and unemployment and so much more. Bookmark this page for future use: https://www.sowashco.org/about/learning_models/family_resources

    • Snacks - Thank you to those families that donated snacks for our students over the course of the year. It has been a tough year for families and the need was greater than normal. Your generosity has been greatly appreciated!

    Illnesses, Absences and Quarantines

    • Please be sure to call in to our attendance line to report absences or illness: 651-425-7506

    • Any sick student who is sent to school, or is determined to be sick during the school day, will immediately be sent home.

    • The 14-day quarantine period will remain in place. If staff or students had close contact with an infected person, the Minnesota Department of Health may direct us to keep them out of school for a minimum of 14 days.
    • If your student is in quarantine due to a school-related exposure and you received a district quarantine letter, you do not need to call attendance every day.
    • If a family member has symptoms, please keep your child home from school. You can call the office to report the absence and our school nurse will explain the next steps based on your situation.

    • If anyone in your household has a pending Covid test due to having symptoms, we ask that everyone stays home until the results come back.

    • Please do not enter the building if you or anyone in your household is ill or tested positive for Covid. We can provide contactless delivery of materials or walk students out to be picked up, if need be.

    • We ask that families be prepared for the possibility that their child’s class could move to distance learning at any time due to a potential COVID-19 exposure.

    • We acknowledge that families may be frustrated, but we ask that our staff be treated with respect. They cannot change a student’s quarantine period.

    • If you have questions, please call our Health Office at 651-425-7502.

    Vacations and Other Extended Absences

    When students return to in person learning, teachers will not be posting Seesaw activities or provide live streaming for students who are on vacation or other extended absences. Homework packets and/or assignments will be put together similar to years past (non-COVID school years). If you have any questions, please contact me at cclasson@sowashco.org or 651-425-7503.

    VCES Information Links

    VCES Contact Information

    Connha Classon, Principal: cclasson@sowashco.org / 651.425.7503

    Kristine McDonald, Assistant Principal: kmcdonal@sowashco.org / 651.425.7523

    Merita LaPlante, Office Coordinator: mlaplant@sowashco.org / 651.425.7501

    Jen Gackstetter, Office Assistant: jgackste@sowashco.org / 651.425.7507

    Jen Gervais, Social Worker: jgervais2@sowashco.org / 651.425.7542