K-5 Board Report

TO: RSU #74 Board of Directors

FROM: Jean Butler

DATE: November 29, 2023


Another busy holiday season is upon us, and students and staff are getting into the Christmas spirit. My schools have put up Christmas trees to decorate with ornaments made by students and staff in our annual ornament exchange, in which everyone draws a name of someone in the school for whom to make an ornament. We have a guessing content in which one can win a Christmas stocking filled with gifts and a Guess the First Snow Day Contest. Teachers integrate the holiday theme into their reading and math lessons. It’s a festive and special time in the elementary schools and truly the most wonderful time of the year!

During November it was my pleasure to present math and reading awards as part of our District Awards Program to students in grades 3-6 at the three elementary schools. Each winner of the 2022-23 awards received the highest score in math or reading in the district on their NWEA tests in the spring of 2023. Each winner received a certificate, his or her name on a plaque hanging in the hall at CCS, and a check for $50. Funds for these awards come from Mr. Chet Hickox and our three PTO’s. Congratulations go to math winners Jon Bouvier and Alexia Bartlett of Garret Schenck and Keegan Caparotta of CCS and to reading winners Seth Buker and Lily Taylor of Garret Schenck and Kabella Chretien of Solon. We are very proud of the high achievement of these students!

Mr. Campbell visited Mrs. Jen LaChance’s kindergarten class at Solon on November 16th to interact with the students, help them do a turkey craft, play a math dice game, and join them and the first graders for our traditional turkey dinner prepared by school cook Cindy Lawrence. We always enjoy Mr. Campbell’s visits to our schools!

To teach students the spirit of giving, both schools ran Thanksgiving Food Drives during the month of November. The Garret Schenck PTFO ran one to benefit the Center Point Community Church’s food cupboard, while the Solon School ran theirs for the Solon Food Cupboard. Garret Schenck students collected 170 items, while Solon students brought in 330 items. Those donations will help many families facing food insecurity at this time of year.

On November 15th and 16th, we held workshops for the K-5 teachers with a coach from the publishing company of our new K-5 Into Reading program. Devan Fountain from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt spent two days with us, meeting for a two-hour block with the three teachers from each grade level group as well as our literacy coach Andrea Ferrari. Devan did some model lessons in classrooms at CCS and helped teachers learn more about the print and digital resources available in the program and helped them plan lessons. The feedback was very positive, and teachers felt this was time well spent. Devan will return for two days in March to work with the K-5 teachers again.

A special activity of the Christmas season will be the Band and Chorus Holiday Concert. Band and chorus director Lindsay Burke-Cinsov has been working with band students in grades 5-8 and chorus students in grades 4-8 to prepare for this special event, which will take place on December 14th at 6:30 PM at Carrabec Community School. We hope you can join us for an evening of holiday music!

Garret Schenck Elementary School will hold a “Holiday Songs and STEAM” Night on December 5th at 6:00 PM. The students will perform three holiday songs in the gym, and then families will be invited to enjoy some hot cocoa and cookies while they stroll through the school looking at the holiday-themed STEAM projects students have on display in each classroom and shopping at the PTFO Scholastic Book Fair.. School Board members are welcome to join us.

Solon first grade teacher Rachel Layman has organized a pajama and book drive at Solon Elementary School for the holiday season. Staff and families are donating sets of pajamas and books to be given to needy children in places such as the Maine Children’s Home in Waterville as well as to the Skowhegan Federated Church’s Pajama & Book Drive for children in our area.

Our PTO’s are taking an active role in the schools during the holiday season. Besides sponsoring a Book Fair the week of December 4-8, the Garret Schenck PTFO will also sponsor a Holiday Gift Shop on December 20th as part of the school’s Holiday Stroll. Students can purchase gifts for their parents and siblings from this shop, which will have new and gently used items donated by staff and families. They will also sponsor a Holiday Spirit Week during the week of December 18-22. The Solon PTO will hold a Holiday Gift Shop on December 14th. They also gave teachers a chance to submit a wish list for their classrooms, and the PTO will shop for and provide items from those wish lists for each class.

Solon Elementary School is planning a Holiday Stroll in the morning on December 22nd for students and families. Each classroom will have a theme, and students and families can visit the rooms to do crafts, play games, enjoy snacks, watch videos, and get into the Christmas spirit. We hope Santa Claus will visit us, and everyone will join in singing some Christmas carols.

Staff from all four schools once again got together to coordinate our Giving Tree activities for the season. The purpose was to be sure that we included all PreK-12 students whose families needed some help purchasing gifts for their Christmas celebrations. Since we have families with children in multiple schools, this coordination helped us make sure no one was left out. The point person for each school made sure families were called to find out each child’s clothing sizes and favorite things so that gift tags could be made to give out to staff and community groups. Gifts will be brought to the schools by December 18th so that families can be contacted to pick up the gifts for their children. We appreciate the help of the Carrabec High School JMG students and community groups such as the Center Point Community Church in Anson, the Calvary Pentecostal Church in Madison, the Solon Congregational Church, and the New Hope Church in Solon in this effort.

If you have questions about anything in my schools, please contact me.

Have a wonderful holiday season and a Merry Christmas!