As we near the end of the year, and all so busy with end of the year obligations, I want to remind you of some of the upcoming activities here at Pocantico Hills for the month of May.
Thursday, May 9 – 8th Grade Autobiography Night (6:30 p.m.)
Tuesday, May 14 – Photography Club Exhibit (7:00 p.m.)
Tuesday, May 21 – School Budget Vote and School Board Election (7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.)
Thursday, May 23 – Sundae Serenade (7:00 p.m.)
Friday, May 24 – Hawk Walk
Monday, May 27 – Memorial Day (District Closed) / Memorial Day Parade (8:30 a.m.)
Thursday, May 30 – Sports Awards Dinner (6:30 p.m.)
In my May newsletter I wrote to you about our participation in a grant with BOCES and BrightBytes to audit our technology. Part of the survey is focused on parent responses. To date we have only three (3) parents that have taken the survey. I ask that you take a moment and go onto the District's web site and click the “BrightBytes District Technology Survey for Parents” on the Bulletin Board and take this quick survey.
I would also like to introduce our new security guard Mr. Orson Burton, Mr. Burton will be taking the place of Mr. Troy Miller. Mr. Burton will be with us from 7:45 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. daily. He will monitor the morning arrivals, lunch/recess and end of day departures.
As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly.
Valencia F. Douglas
Happy May! I begin the May newsletter with some special congratulations:
CAST OF LITTLE MERMAID
To the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders on the wonderful play; this year’s presentation of The Little Mermaid was beyond excellent - it was as good a play as a high school production. The scenery, costumes, and direction were exceptional. The costume that stands out for me is, of course, Ursula the octopus - it was so imaginative and creative. The singing was superb and the casting was just perfect, whether it was Sebastian, the Little Mermaid, her suitor, or the wonderful voice of King Neptune. Each of these students really played their part with gusto and joy. The character of Scuttle represented the special actors that helped to make the play so wonderful. Our singers and dancers, like the sisters of the Little Mermaid or the kitchen helpers, all contributed to the ambience and success of the play. Our behind-the-scenes students, who ran the lights, the sound, and the scenery, all contributed so much; without them we would not have had a play. Congratulations to them all and I cannot wait for next year’s play!
2012-2013 STATE TESTING
I also want to congratulate our administration, faculty, students and parents for working so well together during the recent high stakes testing and through the accompanying stress. Everyone really came together to ensure that stress was reduced. For example, Mr. Steele and Mr. Brown planned and implemented a very effective management system to comply with the over ten pages of rules that accompanied this year’s testing. Teachers and students worked hard all year to learn curricula while not “teaching to the test.” And our parents and families ensured that our students came to school well rested and prepared for the new more complex and lengthy tests. I look forward to seeing our results; I anticipate we will be able to learn much about how our teachers are implementing the new Standards in their teaching and how well our students are able to learn using the new teaching strategies. We will use the results to celebrate our successes, and to help us further refine our plans to overcome our challenges to improve learning for all of our students.
STRATEGIC PLAN UPDATE
I wish to thank the Principles Vision Committee members for the hard work they put into developing the District’s “Guiding Principles” and “Essential Skills”, which will guide our work in the coming years. These principles and skills listed are the result of many hours of discussions and revisions to ensure that the words below capture the purpose and spirit of the work we all do in our District to help our students develop into adults, empowered to excel in their chosen life pursuits and to become positive members of their communities. I want to thank the members of the committee for giving of their time and energy to this very important work. The members of the committee are:
- Administration: Valencia Douglas, Chair; Stan Steele, Chair; Adam Brown, Chair
- Community: Jennifer Vizcaino, Charlie Minton, Pat White, Ted Sabety
- Faculty: Sheila DePaola, Amie Doane, Mario Suarez, Lisa Levy
- Students: DJ Owen, Jack Starkey
One of the most critical outgrowths of the Guiding Principals and the Essential Skills will be the “Implications” for staff, students and parents. In the coming months, we will work together to identify these Implications and how they affect us. This is an exciting time of change in our District and in education in general, but it is also a confusing time of change.
Lewis Carroll once wrote, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” These Guiding Principles, Essential Skills, and Implications will act as a roadmap for us to follow.
District Vision Statement
The Pocantico Hills Central School District aspires to become the pride of the community where all students are empowered to excel to the highest academic standards guided by highly qualified professionals and dedicated citizens.
- The Common Core Standards are only the first step toward academic achievement and student growth.
- Technology should be a tool that supports the growth of reasoning skills and critical thinking.
- Joyful and passionate teaching and learning should set the tone for our school environment.
- Collaborative teams must promote personal accountability, broad skill exposure, and cohort understanding and acceptance.
- Perseverance and determination are essential characteristics of student growth and should be fostered thoughtfully and with support.
- Community partnerships provide opportunities to promote communication and global awareness.
- A strong sense of ethics must ultimately come from within, and we must develop and nurture that growth.
Supporting each Guiding Principle are five Essential Skills
The Pocantico Hills Central School District envisions a community of students, teachers and parents who partner to develop and support the skills necessary to be successful in the 21st century, including:
- Self-Advocacy and Self-Direction
- Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving
- Communication, Relationships, and Socialization
- Global and Community Awareness
- Ethical Learning and Decision-Making
ART IS THE POETRY OF LIFE
This is the month of the Annual 8th Grade Art Show at the Landmark at Eastview, where their wonderful paintings will be on display. This year’s theme is Architecture. Unfortunately, I will not be at the art show with you this year, but Mr. Steele will be in attendance.
This year, Mrs. Morotti has also added a Gallery Walk Art Show to showcase the art work of our students in kindergarten through seventh grade here at school. The official opening of the art gallery was May 1st, although the gallery is open to everyone through the month of May.
MUSIC IS THE RHYTHM OF LIFE
May is also the month during which we enjoy our wonderful spring concerts, and both Mrs. DePaola and Mr. Lucadamo have been busily preparing our students. This past Wednesday, we had our first concert with our primary students. Next Wednesday, May 8th, we will enjoy the music and singing of our upper grade students.
BRING YOUR CHILD AND LEAVE WITH A PLANT (TOO)
At each of our concerts, we are also holding our annual plant sale to help support the elementary garden program. We are selling over two dozen varieties of vegetable and herb plants. The sale will take place in the lower lobby by the parent pick up circle.
The Pocantico Hills School District will again host the annual Hawk Walk to help find a cure for breast cancer. The walk will occur on Friday, May 24th, at Swan Lake, from 12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. for grades 5 - 8 and Pre-K – 4th graders will walk around our school fields beginning at 10:00 a.m. If students want to participate, they need to contribute at least $10.00 by May 14th; at which point they will receive a Hawk Walk tee shirt. Students can still participate after May 14th if they contribute $10.00, but they may not receive a tee shirt. I want to thank Kayla Owen and Maya Ponzini, for their leadership in developing and maintaining this event.
SPORTS AWARDS DINNER
The annual sports awards dinner will be held on May 30th in the school cafeteria from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. We will honor students in seven athletic areas:
- Boys and girls soccer
- Boys and Girls basketball
- Girls volleyball
- Girls softball
- Boys baseball
Please plan to come and share in this enjoyable evening. It is as important to prepare our students to access athletic opportunities in the high schools of their choice as it is to prepare them academically. Additionally, while not all students will choose to participate in athletics at the high school level, all students need to learn how to live healthy lives. Developing and nurturing our students’ athletic skills is one of the ways we do that.
The District’s Annual Report of the school’s academic achievement/challenges from 2011-2012 is now online you may click here to go directly to the report. In April we made a presentation to the Board about the Annual Report and that too is online - click here to view the PowerPoint presentation. As I said in my letter, we are proud of our progress and will continue to work to overcome our challenges. To that end we will continue to implement such programs as 8th grade Integrated Algebra for all, our reading program, and our new science program, as well as the STEM program. We will continue to review the effectiveness of our teaching strategies, especially in light of the new Common Core Standards and our own Guiding Principles. The first Principle is:
- The Common Core Standards are only the first step toward academic achievement and student growth.
Our staff and administration are committed to making changes to our teaching practices and continuing to align our curricula to our partner schools to ensure that our students are learning at high levels of rigor and are competitive with their peers at the high schools they choose to attend.
Our school was recently chosen to participate in a pilot program so that we can learn more about our school’s technology use for student learning. Through BOCES, we have partnered with BrightBytes, an educational software company, to gather data on technology access and skills, and on our school’s technology environment, in order to better understand the connection between technology use and student achievement.
To gain these insights, we must provide BrightBytes with data about our technology use at school and at home. Within the next two weeks (May 6-17) we will be asking students, parents and teachers to participate in the project to help us gather this data.
Your participation is important to us and will make the difference between having a complete versus a limited understanding of our District’s technology use.
Please click here to take the survey
As you can see, May is an action-packed month for us all. Please see below for all of the other May activities. I hope to see you at some of them.