Phoenix Family News

December 11, 2020

Big picture

Important Dates Ahead...

  • December 14-17 - Distance Learning and VLA Sessions
  • December 18 - Flex Friday for ALL (Flex Friday includes reading and math activities and small groups as arranged by homebase teachers)
  • December 18 - Materials Pickup 9:30-11:30 am (your child's teacher will let you know if you have items to pickup)

  • December 21-22 - Distance Learning and VLA Sessions
  • December 23-January 3 - Winter Break

A Note from the Principal - Week two of Distance Learning for ALL!

We have made it through our second week where all students are participating in distance learning. We are getting into a solid routine, and hopefully your children are as well! We are thrilled with our attendance at live sessions and the engagement of students. Thank you for all of your patience and support in helping your students get online. Please know that we are working hard as a district on the continued technology glitches.

Don't be surprised if teachers reach out to check in on students.... we know that students are doing their best to get work done on a daily basis, but some are catching up at night or on the weekend. That's OK! Please just keep in touch with your child's homebase teacher if your child is having troubles keeping up with any of the work. We have many staff members checking in on students to provide support, and we want to work with your family to make distance learning successful. For "4 Quick Ways to Improve Distance Learning," please click on the PDF attached below.

For those families needing extensions, please remember that you can check out the district website for more resources:

Progress Reports and MAP Test Reports

Progress reports for all students will be mailed the week of December 14th, and MAP Test Reports will be included for students in 2nd-5th grades, if they took and completed the test. Students who did not take the test or did not complete the test will not receive a score report. If you have any questions on any of the information you receive, please reach out to your child's teacher.

We know that many students are thriving in the hybrid/distance learning environment, but we also know that some are not feeling as successful. Please know that no matter where students are performing - whether it is at, above, or below grade level - we take every student where they're at and move them forward.

Attendance during Distance Learning

  • Attendance is expected for all students during distance learning.
  • If a child is absent, parents should call the health office like when we are in person.

  • If a family has a scheduling conflict, they should work with the specific teacher to make up any work. This could include a video recording of the lesson. It could also include completing the SeeSaw activity for the day (or other work).

  • If your child attends e-care at Middleton: Call absences to Middleton Attendance Line @ 651-425-4906
  • If your child attends all day Kids Club at Bailey: Call absences to Bailey Elementary Attendance line @ 651-425-4806
  • All other illnesses or absences should be reported to the Valley Crossing Attendance Line @ 651-425-7506

Hmong New Year Celebration

The Hmong American Club from ERHS, Hmong Club from WHS, and PAAC Park Asian American Pack Club from PHS held a District 833 Hmong New Year Celebration at WHS last year. The Hmong New Year Celebration is at the end of November and the beginning of December. Hmong New Year is such a huge and important celebration for the community that we couldn't let this year slip by without acknowledging and recognizing this Hmong cultural tradition. With your support this year, our Hmong/Asian American clubs are putting together a District 883 virtual Hmong New Year Web-Ex Activities on December 11th at 5:00 pm followed by a Live stream at 5:30 pm. To join, click here: Youtube Link to Live Stream for 833 Hmong New Year (click here)

District Ambassador Committee

South Washington County Schools (SoWashCo) is starting a new committee for solution-oriented parents and guardians of current SoWashCo students.

We are seeking one parent or guardian to represent each school in the district. Members of the District Ambassador Committee will provide feedback to district administrators, learn about the challenges in a large school district and will establish themselves as ambassadors to their school community.

The District Ambassador Committee replaces two other groups, the School Communicators group overseen by the director of communications and the Superintendent Advisory Committee overseen by the superintendent.

Please review the information below to determine if you are interested in applying for and committing to this collaborative opportunity. The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13.

Committee Co-Leaders

  • Julie Nielsen, Superintendent
  • Pepe Barton, Director of Communications

Goals of the District Ambassador Committee

  • To establish healthy and solution-oriented methods of two-way communication between families and the district.
  • To inform and gather feedback directly from members on district initiatives, school changes and ongoing or upcoming challenges.
  • To provide open communication and feedback between the superintendent, communications director and stakeholders on current and future issues.
  • To establish members as district ambassadors and additional sources of information to their school communities.


  • Members will commit to one school year (Sept. to June).
  • Members will be available to attend regularly scheduled meetings once a month. Meetings will be held at 5:30 p.m. and are typically held on Thursdays.
  • Members will participate in focus groups, parent panels or surveys.
  • Members will help publicize and support district initiatives and events.
  • Members will serve as ambassadors between the district and their school community through representation at events, social media or other venues.


  • Completion of the District Ambassador Committee application form.
  • Applicants must be a parent or guardian of a current South Washington County Schools student.
  • Applicants must not be a current member of an additional South Washington County Schools advisory committee.
  • Applicants must be collaborative and solution-oriented.
  • Applicants must be able to communicate with people from all different backgrounds.

Meeting Dates (5:30 p.m.)

  • Monday, Dec. 21, 2020
  • Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021
  • Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021
  • Thursday, March 18, 2021
  • Thursday, April 15, 2021
  • Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Applications will be reviewed and selections will be made based on creating a team that is representative of South Washington County Schools. Please apply by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13.

The first meeting will be held virtually at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 21 for introductions and a focus group activity around the 2021-22 district budget. Thank you for supporting South Washington County Schools.

Winter Picture Retakes

We were able to reschedule our picture retakes to January 25 and 26, 2021. No matter what learning model we are in at that time (In-person, Hybrid or Distance Learning) there will be an opportunity for every student to have their picture taken. VLA students will be able to come in January 26 during the evening to get their pictures taken. More information will be shared as the dates gets closer.

A Note from Dr. Gervais, School Social Worker

During distance learning, I am available to meet with you and/or your child(ren) to offer support and I will be hosting a weekly lunch bunch for students. You can access my online calendar to view these opportunities and schedule a time at:

I am available to meet with individual students for 15-minute time slots. This time can be to check-in, learn and implement social-emotional tools, and/or practice mindfulness/movement. Parents are welcome to schedule 30-minutes with me to consult on various issues to help support your learner at home.

I will be hosting a lunch group for each grade level once a week. In this group I will have games and activities for students to play. This provides an opportunity for students to see their peers and connect. This time is open to all Valley Crossing students. If you are interested, please sign your child up so I know how many students plan to attend. K/1 – Tuesday 12:00-12:20pm, 2/3 – Wednesday 12:00-12:20pm, 4/5 – Thursday 12:30-12:50pm and Gateway - Wednesday 11:30-11:50am.

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:

Curbside Book Checkout

We were again thrilled to see many families requesting and picking up books for curbside book checkout this week. You have one more opportunity this month to pick up some books from the VCES Media Center for your child to read at home! We also ask that you return any library books you may have at home, as we want to share those books with other readers! Books can be returned anytime during school hours. There is a black cart in the front entryway where they can be dropped off, or there will be a separate cart for returns on the Friday pick up dates.

  • Students will be allowed to request three books at a time.
  • Books requested by Thursday of any scheduled week will be available for Friday pick-up.
  • Books will be labeled with the student’s name on a cart outside the front entrance to the building.
  • Between the hours of 10:00am and 3:00pm, families can walk up, grab the books, and enjoy at home!
  • Books can then be returned at the next Friday pick-up, or dropped off on the black cart in the front entryway at any time.
  • Dates of Friday Curbside Book Checkout Pickups are:
    • December 11, 18
    • January 8, 15, 29
  • Instructions for all the steps in the book request process are below!

Destiny Discover Online Catalog

How To Request Books (Written Instructions)

How to Login to Destiny (Video)

How to Browse for Library Books (Video)

How to Hold & Favorite Books (Video)

How to Know your Books are ready for Pickup (Video)

  • Please contact Ms. Lanners, Media Specialist, via Seesaw or email ( if you have further questions.

VCES Information Links

  • Family Technology Support Line: Fall 2020 website / 651.425.HELP (4357) - M-F 7:30-4:00
  • VNN Channel Page - Tune in each morning at 9:15 am as your Morning Meeting starts!

PTA News

Thank You

Our fall fundraiser donations have been counted. Thanks to the generosity of the Valley community we raised a total of $17,391 with online and in school donations. Thank you to all who donated this year! We are excited to continue to provide opportunities for students and staff in the future.

Box Tops

Box Tops are another great way to earn money for our school. You can download the app and upload your receipts or cut out physical, non-expired Box Tops and send them in.

Though school is in Distance Learning, the PTA would still love to provide opportunities for our students, staff and families. If you have an idea that aligns with the VCES PTA mission, please contact us!

VCES Contact Information

Connha Classon, Principal: / 651.425.7503

Kristine McDonald, Assistant Principal: / 651.425.7523

Merita LaPlante, Office Coordinator: / 651.425.7501

Jen Gackstetter, Office Assistant: / 651.425.7507

Jen Gervais, Social Worker: / 651.425.7605