Region In Review

February 8, 2019 | K-5 Focus

Unified Elementary Music Concert

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Elementary music in Region 12 is where students grow to become independent, creative, and confident musicians. This was evident on Thursday, January 17 when SVS hosted our first Unified Concert! The event featured the combined choruses and bands from all three elementary schools. As a special treat, the 7th/8th-grade band performed and then joined the elementary band for the finale.

The students worked hard to prepare for the performance with one brief pre-concert rehearsal. Combined, they made beautiful music! This was an incredible opportunity to prepare our students for a successful transition into middle school music. The elementary students were able to experience performing as a full ensemble, meet future classmates and Mr. Obolewicz, and get a better idea of what music ensembles at SVS are like. The elementary students were also inspired as they listened to the 7th and 8th graders perform knowing that someday they too would reach that skill level. Thank you to everyone who helped make the evening a success and bravo to all our students who participated!

Connecticut Association of Schools

Leadership Conference

Once again, Region 12 had an impressive group of elementary students attend the Connecticut Association of Schools Leadership Conference on January 8, 2019, held at Naugatuck Valley Community College. Quinn Hurley, Antonia Kearney, Wyl Abraham, Diandra Daly, Gabe Granata, and Jake McCauley represented the 4th and 5th-grade students from Booth Free School. Burnham School was represented by Lily Bialack, Lyric Collentine, Joseph Fontanilla, and Jacob Tendler. Washington Primary School was represented by Robbie Donaldson, Lexi Thomas, Jackie Goldberg, and Reese Evans.

The conference focused on developing such skills as productive thinking, decision making, creative problem solving, and communication. (CAS Elementary Student Leadership Conference Surpass Expectations! at Students participated in break-out sessions which were centered around 21st-century leadership skills. The day culminated with an interactive, large group presentation/discussion about bullying in schools. Students and presenters alike shared strategies for dealing with mean behavior, demonstrating direct and effective methods for improving our school environments. The conference left the students filled with enthusiasm and an eagerness to share their new learning with their school communities.


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Elementary Arts Program

Region 12 proudly recognized six students at the Connecticut Association of Schools Elementary Arts Festival on February 5th. Art teacher Jane Manley, and Music teachers, Jennifer Doiron and Jacob Bartfield, recommended students from the fifth grade who have excelled in the areas of visual or performing arts and who have exhibited high levels of citizenship and cooperative skills in their respective schools.

Kadence O’Keefe and Sheyenne Schultz from Washington Primary School, Wyatt Ongley and Quinn Hurley from Booth Free School, and Eva Lucchesi and Hudson Tenreiro from Burnham School were recognized. Students and their guests enjoyed a fun-filled evening with caricaturists, balloon sculptors and face painting as well as a special performance from the Ledyard High School Chamber Choir. The room filled with young artists and musicians who shared a common connection to the arts was inspiring to all.

Washington Environmental Council

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What is plastic made of? What impact do disposable plastic items have on our environment? Washington Primary School explored these essential questions during an informative presentation by Amanda Seitz from the Washington Environmental Council (WEC). Students identified single-use plastic items such as straws, utensils and food wrap and learned how animals mistake plastic debris as food. Plastic straws are one of the top ten items polluting the oceans. Straws are not biodegradable, are used for a few seconds and then thrown away. Plastic straws are used every day at restaurants and at schools. With the generosity of the Washington Environmental Council, each student received a reusable stainless steel straw and cleaner for their own personal use. Staff and students worked together to make personal cloth bags to hold the straws so that they will be easily transported from home to school each day in lunch boxes. WPS will now be preventing approximately 60 straws a day from reaching landfills. In addition to the straw donation, WEC also provided WPS with a Terracycle Box collecting prepackaged wrappers from many snack sized foods to be recycled. Students are very excited to be making a difference daily to help protect our environment. WPS is very fortunate to have a partnership with the Washington Environmental Council who offers its enthusiasm and expertise to our school and to the community.

Personalized Learning at Burnham School

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Teachers and staff at Burnham School have been working hard and having fun incorporating personalized learning along with the Habits of Mind in their Grade 3, 4, 5 classroom. To get an idea of what personalized learning is, try to picture a classroom where the teacher doesn’t lead all students through the same lessons. Instead, the teacher guides each student on an individualized journey. The what, when, where and how of learning is tailored by the teacher and the student to meet each student’s strengths, skills, and interests. Our staff hopes that by using more personalized learning opportunities, it will empower our students to pursue aspirations, chase curiosities, and become more confident, successful learners.

Burnham School started by introducing our students to the 16 Habits of Mind. By entering these habits slowly, accompanied by a game, activity, or exploration, the children were able to begin understanding and applying them throughout their school day. Like any new concept, our children need lots of consistent practice as they develop and fine-tune skills like persistence, accuracy, communicating with clarity, or listening with empathy. These “soft skills” are indeed of equal importance as traditional “academic” skills.

During introductory lessons on the Habits of Mind, students were asked to activate their sense of wonder and awe. Students and teachers spent time diving into, reading, listening, and watching. They shared what made them “wonder fiercely” or “lose their breath”. Some students learned why their new kitten purrs, and others learned why the sky is blue, or if animals had empathy. Students asked questions, extended their learning, and sought expert opinions. They filled a bulletin board with their thoughts and wondrous words.

As our teachers allowed students to immerse themselves in uncovering their chosen topics, they found that students could easily find and process the information they needed to answer their own wonders, when it was self-selected and sparked by curiosity.

Throughout their next reading unit involving natural disasters, teachers allowed students to choose a learning path. Teachers supported students by providing leveled texts, video links, note-taking strategies, graphic organizers and presentation ideas. They were able to work alongside students, setting goals and coaching in real time, as students demonstrated a variety of representations of their learning. Science standards naturally supported the work our students were doing, so teachers harnessed the excitement and turned science lessons into lively STEM and Earth Science investigations. Students created models of the layers of Earth, designed model homes on a base of jiggly jello, simulated a tsunami and watched the cause and effects of these natural disasters.

When students celebrated their work throughout the unit, it was clear to see the pride and ownership each had over their final products. Students participated in gallery walks and smaller share situations so they could give and receive feedback in a forum where they felt supported.

Personalized learning lets teachers create learning communities driven not only by standards but by curiosity and autonomous, passionate learning. As our region’s teachers continue to study and implement personalized learning and the Habits of Mind, our students will surely become more self-directed, thoughtful, and inspired to learn.

Roxbury Community Garden Sprouts New Learning Opportunities

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In the spring of 2018, a small but hearty group of Roxbury residents and Booth Free School families came together to clean up, turn over, and plant the unused Roxbury Community Garden across the street from Booth Free school. Lettuce, veggies, herbs, strawberries, and milkweed for butterflies flourished well into autumn — the garden was reborn! Minor Memorial Library also joined in the excitement by hosting garden-related programs for children.

With spring 2019 just around the corner, the BFS PTO is proud to announce plans for another exciting season of community growing and learning. Minor Memorial Library has already kicked off the new year with science, bird, and nature programs for children ages preschool through Grade 5. The BFS PTO is sponsoring a three-part, school-wide science and nature enrichment program in April that will utilize the garden as an outdoor classroom. The program will be led by the Audubon Center at Bent of the River and will focus on birds, healthy habitats (including our garden), and the Roxbury community's role in the Shepaug Forest Block Important Bird Area.

And thanks to a $450 grant from Audubon Connecticut, the BFS PTO will be able to further enhance the Roxbury Community Garden plantings with native plants and purchase outdoor education toolkits (containing items like pocket naturalist guides, hand lenses, and child-size hand trowels) for our students to use to enrich their curriculum-based lessons. The Roxbury-Bridgewater Garden Club will also be visiting BFS this spring to help teach the children about growing plants in the garden. This once unused space is truly evolving into a community garden and outdoor classroom, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that Booth Free School is a part of it!

Submitted by the Booth Free PTO Members, Cara Abraham and Jennifer Benner

Washington Primary School on the News!

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NBC Connecticut First Alert Weather

Meteorologist Josh Cingranelli from the NBC Connecticut First Alert Weather Team paid Washington Primary School a visit on Wednesday, January 23rd, to teach students about meteorology and give an exclusive tour of the Snow Monster, which is a new, cutting-edge weather vehicle.

The Snow Monster is a Jeep equipped with nine onboard cameras, as well as many custom modifications to make this 4x4 ideal to take on any weather condition. It's sensors and cameras are able to collect weather data that give viewers the most accurate information available.


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On Wednesday, February 6th, videographer Fred Mathis from FOX news came to Washington Primary School to give fourth and fifth-grade students a tutorial on movie making and image capture. He also brought his drone and showed the students how he captures aerial shots for the news. The clip he filmed of WPS was featured on FOX WTIC's 5 pm newscast.

Fliers & Upcoming Events

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Region 12 Calendar

Feb 9 - Soccer Training Clinic, SVS, 2-5pm

Feb 11 - REACH Open House, WPS, 2:30-3:30pm

Feb 11 - BS PTO Meeting, 6pm

Feb 12 - WPS PTO Meeting, 6:30pm

Feb 13 - BFS PTO Meeting, 6:30pm

Feb 14 - Valentine's Day

Feb 15 - Regional Elementary School Dance, WPS, 6pm

Feb 16 - Soccer Training Clinic, SVS, 2-5pm

Feb 18 - President's Day - No School

Feb 19 - Professional Development - No School for Students

Feb 22 - WPS Student Council Fundraiser, Crazy Sock Day

Feb 22 - SVS Spartan Night, 7pm

Follow Region 12 on our social media channels for updates and information!

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The Region 12 community educates, challenges, and inspires all learners to become compassionate, creative, and courageous individuals who are empowered by the knowledge, character, and perseverance to achieve their greatest potential within the global society.

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