The Knightly News

Newtown Elementary School PTO Newsletter

Greetings, Newtown Elementary Families, Students, Teachers and Staff! We are thrilled to bring you the latest edition of our newsletter, The Knightly News. Check out our newest feature "Ask Dribble," find out the story behind "Big Blue," and don't miss our call for "Kid Investigators" below. Also, read on for an update from art teacher, Mrs. Farrell, as well as an article by school guidance counselor Mrs. Cook, offering useful tips on Friendship. Mr. King leads off with a discussion of Newtown Elementary's core beliefs--and how teachers and staff will be reviewing these guiding lights with today's students in mind. There's certainly a lot to celebrate at NES--thanks for taking a closer look with us!

What's Happening at NES:

10/3-10/4: No School

10/7: CR District Wide Glow Dance (4, 5, 6)

10/8: Big Brothers, Big Sisters Clothing Drive

10/7-10/9: Redemption weekend for Party Fair Voucher

10/12: No school

10/13: PTO Meeting (7 PM NES Library)

10/17: Picture Day

10/19: Early dismissal

10/21: Box Top Class Contest: Submission Deadline

10/21: Trunk or Treat

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King of the Castle

Dear Parents,

Above you will find a list of Newtown Elementary School Beliefs compiled by the NES staff many years ago. Although these beliefs have been reviewed over the years, our school Climate Committee (consisting of about 11-12 staff members) will review them closely with our entire staff this year to ensure that we share, model and instill these ideas together. We will ensure that they still reflect the best of what we hope for and value most as we interact with our students. If we feel some statements need to be revised or we need to add statements (resilience?), we will do so. In short, these core beliefs will be much more a part of our discussions, focus and celebrations!

It is key that you recognize why the timing of this is so important and appropriate. First, public education has been under great scrutiny over the last several years. Council Rock and many other public school districts, working with parents, continue to produce confident, independent problem solvers. Secondly, “high stakes testing” seems to be consuming a great deal of our time and energy. Although important, a single assessment has limited value and meaning. Thirdly, the Council Rock School District is experiencing a transition in leadership so it is important to revisit what we value most in our schools and in our approach. Finally, students learn best when these beliefs remain the root of our shared mission.

I will highlight various belief statements in each monthly installment of this newsletter. I hope you find this information helpful and evident in your Newtown Elementary experience.

Best wishes,

Mr. King


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Dear Dribble

This month we are happy to announce a new column written by a special member of the fourth grade…Dribble, the class Box Turtle! Dribble currently resides in Ms. Hough’s classroom in A9. A wise old sage who enjoys eating giant earthworms, goldfish crackers and shrimp, Dribble is “in the know” and ready to help. Every issue, Dribble will answer your most pressing questions about life at NES, giving his slow and steady turtle perspective. Please submit your questions via e-mail to Dribble here.

Dear Dribble,

I am confused about clearances for parents and NES volunteers. I am not planning on being at school much and it seems like a hassle. Seriously, do I really need them? Can you please clarify?

Signed, Confused in Newtown

Dear Confused in Newtown,

Thank you for your question. I pondered this for a while during morning recess. In order to get the most up-to-date information, I went to see Mr. King himself for an answer. It took me three weeks to walk down the hall, but I made it. At this time if you are planning to visit the school only once, you do not need clearances. (An example of a one-time visit would be a birthday “mystery reader” in your child’s classroom. Incidentally, "The Tortoise and the Hare" is always a good one, am I right?) However, if you are planning to visit NES more than once, you need clearances. That includes volunteering in the classroom on a regular basis (like in kindergarten centers), or if you are a Homeroom Coordinator, or if you volunteer with the PTO. Also, if you plan to chaperone a field trip, you are absolutely required to have all clearances. In short, it’s best to get your clearances. Get started now and you’ll be covered for the next five years (it was originally three years but is now valid for five). Obtaining your clearances is actually an easy and quick online process. The district webpage has in-depth information on its website here.

Signed, Dribble the Turtle

Do you have a question for Dribble? Send a letter to his tank c/o NES PTO, or else email him here.

NES Back to School Social

The NES Back-to-school Social, held on September 8th, was a HUGE success! Approximately 500 people were on hand to celebrate the beginning of the school year. Our NES families, Mr. King and terrific teachers toughed out the heat to enjoy the Roaming Gourmet Tot Truck, pretzels and soft serve “Shekerata” ice cream. Parents caught up with each other, kids played on the playground and friends danced the night away while DJ Tommy provided music and Emceed the event. The PTO board was pleased to present the Dongre Family with the “Key to the Castle” in our annual raffle. As winners of the golden key, the Dongre Family will enjoy free admission to several upcoming PTO events for the 2016-2017 school year! The highlight of the steamy evening was the arrival of the Newtown Fire Association and the traditional “dousing” of the kids (and some brave adults) with a fire hose hoisted 50 feet in the air! Thank you to all NES families for making this year's event such a great success! Proceeds from this evening funded classroom subscriptions to Time Magazine for Kids and Schrolastic News--we appreciate your support!

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NES + Newtown Grant + Big Brothers, Big Sisters = Awesomeness!

Special thanks to Kari Lazaro for a brilliant moment of fundraising synchronicity: organizing a NES PTO pickup of donations from the Newton Grant Yard Sale on Saturday, 9/17. The NES PTO earned over $500, and two truckloads of clothing and household goods were donated to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America. We are hugely grateful to the NES and Newtown Grant families who donated to our collection, to Brandon and Jennifer Wind for organizing the sale and for working with our PTO to support the NES collection, and to Ms. Hughes and the Zietsman, Perry, Lazaro, and Schaffer families, and to rockstars Sarah and Steven Bates. Thanks for the helping hands! Our next Big Brothers, Big Sisters collection will take place in the NES parking lot, on 10/8, from 8:00 AM-2:00 PM. Click here for details!
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Have you seen "Big Blue?"

Perhaps you've noticed a bright blue addition soaring over the NES blacktop: our new wall ball court, which was donated to Newtown Elementary by one of our own NES families. We caught up with this very generous dad over the summer, and here's what he had to say:

What made you want to build "Big Blue" at Newtown Elementary?

My son, Brayden--as well as many students who were part of the transfer from Wrightstown Elementary--would play many different games with the wall at WES after school and during recess. One common statement Brayden and his friends made was that they wished they had a wall at NES so they could play those same games. Those comments gave me the idea of donating a ball wall to the school for their playground.

So, your family came to NES from Wrightstown Elementary last year. Welcome! How has your transition been to NES? Any advice for other incoming WES/NES families?

As with any change that involves your child, I had apprehensions concerning the transition. Once school started, any apprehension I had went away so quickly. The school is run so well and the involvement of the staff and PTO is incredible. My son was fortunate last year to end up having Ms. Quinn and she was the most amazing teacher. I could not have been more pleased with how the school year went, and I’m sure this year will be great as well! The way the transition team worked to make it a success, truly showed. It has been a blessing.

On behalf of the NES community, thank you for donating the wall to our school!

I hope the kids enjoy the gift. It’s money well spent. It is constructed with quality and will be there for years to come. It was a pleasure donating it to the school.

For information on how to play Wall Ball, click here!


by Mrs. Farrell, NES Art Teacher

The latest mural installation by the 6th grade class of 2016 has been completed! It is entitled “Sing, Say, Dance and Play,” and it celebrates the art of music. As you enter the music room, look up and you can’t help but smile; all around the door is the beautiful artwork that our former 6th graders created to portray the wonderful things we do in the music room. What an inspiration!

Each year, our 6th graders have the unique opportunity to work with Artist in Residence, Katia McGuirk. Every student creates a clay tile that relates to a yearly theme. The student's tile is then incorporated into a large scale tile mosaic, which becomes a lasting legacy for all to view and enjoy as they pass through the halls of Newtown Elementary. Check them out! Newtown's murals are amazing!

A special “Thank You” to our PTO for funding this endeavor and for their continued support of the Arts and our students.

Mrs. Cook's Corner: On Friendship

Dear Parents,

I am devoting this year’s newsletters to helping you provide guidance to your child about friendship concerns. At NES, all of our students in Grades 3-6 are taught conflict resolution skills. Our goal is to provide them with skills to be resilient and able to resolve conflict independently. This series of articles in The Knightly News will provide you with tools and suggestions to reinforce what they are learning at school. Have a great day!

Topic 1 - Stuck in the Middle

Students often mention concerns about being stuck in the middle of friendship conflicts. They might have two friends who are arguing and who want them to take sides.

Please encourage your child to do the following.

1. Plan a meeting with both friends either at home or at school. Privacy is important.

2. Keep the meeting light by including snacks or treats.

3. Share your feelings about how their fighting is making you feel. Tell them that you would like to work toward a goal of everyone in the group being friends again.

4. Tell them the rules of the meeting. Each person shares why she is angry and what she would like to have happen to make things better. Use “I Statements” such as, “I feel angry because _________ and I would like __________.” Make sure no one interrupts when someone else is talking.

5. Once each person shares her perspective, you will need to help them decide on the things they will want to do to make things better. Each person should make a statement such as, “I will ___________.”

6. Now, you have a plan to move forward. Hopefully, this will help friends realize how they are making each other feel and they will want to work on the plan to make things better.

If things do not improve, it will be best to spend time with each friend separately and remember the following tips:

Don’t take sides: let your conflicting friends know that you like them both in different ways, this is their conflict and you hope that they are able to resolve it.

Be a good listener: it’s okay to listen and be empathetic to how they feel. “I’m sorry you feel this way. I hope you guys can work it out.”

Don’t get mixed up in the drama: don’t let yourself become emotionally involved. If you start taking it personally, you will automatically take sides.

Don’t be a messenger: they can speak directly to the other person, messages should not be delivered by you.

Shed a positive light: help them see the good in each other, and how much they care about each other.

Be Real: if you feel one friend has done something that is wrong, let her know and ask how she would feel if someone did that to her?

Communicate your feelings: let them know how it makes you feel and that you want them to resolve it. If they cannot resolve it and will not respect your feelings, it might be time to hang around with other friends.

PTO Announcements

October 8: Big Brother, Big Sister's Clothing Drive, Saturday, 8-2 PM.

The change of the season is a great time to clean out your closets! The PTO will be holding our bi-annual clothing drive on October 8th. Bring your used clothes, household items, linens, shoes and outerwear for pick-up in the NES parking lot. Trucks will be on hand between 8AM and 2 PM. Please click here for a full list of acceptable items. (Please no baby furniture/strollers, large appliances or large yard toys!)

October 21: Trunk-or-Treat, Friday, 6:30-8:00 PM (car setup 5:30 PM).

There is no better way to celebrate Halloween than to participate in the NES Trunk-or-Treat! Decorate your trunk and give out treats to our NES community, or simply go “Trunk-to-Trunk” collecting Halloween goodies! There will be a DJ to provide the music but your Halloween spirit will provide the fun! Click here for information and registration.

Join us for our next PTO meeting on 10/13, 7 PM in the NES Library. Catch up on last month's meeting here! Also, be sure to keep up to date by subscribing to the PTO ListServe. "Get on the List" by sending a blank email to

Call for "Kid Investigators!"

The Knightly News is recruiting Kid Investigators to cover events and conduct interviews. If your child is interested in joining the hard-hitting editorial staff, please contact us! We'll set each child up with an age-appropriate topic and will provide guidance to make this a fun, rewarding and easy experience!

Call for Submissions!

Teachers, staff, students and NES families, do you have something that you'd like to share with the NES community? Classroom updates, special achievements, artwork and photos are all welcome. Please contact us!

Thanks to our contributors!

Mr. King, Mrs. Cook, Mrs. Farrell, Alissa Lumma and Robin Duchnowski.

Newtown Elementary School

The Knightly News is a publication of the NES PTO