Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Wise Owl: March 10, 2015

March 10, 2015

"Have You Seen the Owl Today?"
Some important news and fun celebrations to share as we finally approach spring. Enjoy the warmer and longer days!

THANK YOU! Town Meeting Day was a day for the MPS community to give thanks, and not just because of the overwhelming way in which our community supported our school budget (by a 2 to 1 margin!). I'd like to lead off this Wise Owl by offering a heartfelt thank you to both Charlie Phillips (12 years of service) and Jen Cahill Bean (3 years) for giving so much of themselves to our community while serving on the Montpelier School Board. Serving and volunteering on a school board requires a calm, visionary, and patient approach while being able to listen to all sides of some often controversial issues. Charlie and Jen served us with honor. Thanks to you both!

WELCOME NEW SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS!  Best wishes and a sincere welcome to new school members Tina Muncy and UES Dad Steve Hingtgen!

WINTER CARNIVAL 2015! Our first Union Elementary Winter Carnival was a smashing success! It was one of the great joys of my career to walk out in front of our school that Wednesday evening and see well over a thousand children, parents, and staff getting ready to walk through town with their lanterns. What a beautiful way to bring our community together and celebrate our school!

I saw dozens (hundreds?) of amazing photos of the parade shared on both social media and email, but you should know that we also had a successful "Dress As 1939 Day." The participation was widespread and very creative! Check out some of these highlights:

In 1939, you didn't mess around with a tough crew like this!
Mrs. Wrigley's very serious 1st graders.  Who are the glum tall guys?
The Spirit of 1939!
Authenticity from 1st grader Kaya and 4th grader Cale!

 2015 Faculty at the 1939 Dedication Plaque

Very serious, very sharply dressed.
I think it's safe to say that the Winter Carnival needs to be an annual event. Plan ahead and mark your calendars early for the Montpelier Lantern Parade of 2016!

COFFEE WITH MR. HENNESSEY! Come join me and school counselor Suzanne Francke this Thursday, March 12 for our first "Coffee with the Principal" gathering! This month's topic will be Internet Safety for Families with Young Children, and we will have three separate 30 minute presentation/Q & A sessions at the following times: 8:30, 12:30, and 5:30. All three sessions will take place in the library, and a recorded version will be made available in a future Wise Owl. I'd like to get an idea this first time through on what times work best for you and your family, so please let me know what works for you; no crowd is too small!

PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCES and a REPORT CARD UPDATE Remember to schedule your Parent/Teacher conferences as soon as you can! If you haven't heard from your child's teacher yet, you will soon! The conferences are officially scheduled for the day of Friday, March 20. There will be no school that day.

On a related note, I mentioned in an earlier Wise Owl that we are in the process of revamping our UES report card and were aiming to unveil the new version in time for next week's parent/teacher conferences. Despite months of hard work and discussion, it is clear that the new report card will not be ready to go this month. As a result, we have decided to put out an end of the year report card the last week of school. This much needed time will allow us to get it right the first time and give families (and us) an authentic and meaningful way to assess their child's progress. We're almost there! In the meantime, the conferences next week will provide a window into how your child is progressing, and you can check in with any of your child's teachers at anytime between now and the end of the year if you have questions or concerns. If you have any questions about the report card, please contact me at any time.

CELEBRATING SPRING! Our own Pat Collier has suggested that Union Elementary celebrate the coming spring a day early! Wear your brightest colors and warm weather gear on Thursday, March 19 to celebrate the much needed change of seasons!

2014-15 UES SCRIPPS SPELLING BEE CHAMPIONS! The first annual UES Scripps Spelling Bee was a huge success!! What sportsmanship! What excitement! What excellence!

The fun began last Wednesday morning when sixteen of our 4th graders took the stage and competed for eleven full rounds of increasingly challenging spelling words. Finally, Nora Holmes of Mrs. Kelley's class emerged as the 4th grade champion by spelling "celestial" correct in the championship round. Congratulations Nora!

Nora the "Celestial" Champ!

The UES 4th grade Spelling Team

Avery, taking care of business.
The next day, it was the 5th grade's turn!  This time, the stakes were even higher, as the champ would get to represent UES at the Vermont State Bee at St. Michael's college on March 19!  After a few very tough early rounds, the crowd was treated to an epic battle between Ben Collier and Sam Watson, who went toe to toe against each other for eleven nerve wracking rounds without a mistake!  I consider myself a pretty good speller, and I started faltering during these rounds; both of these boys could have competed favorably at the middle school competition based on the skills they demonstrated in this bee! Tensions and drama were building in the crowd until Sam finally emerged as the champ by correctly spelling "persevered," which put him over the top.  Showing the sportsmanship that was evident throughout both contests, Ben shook Sam's hand to congratulate him, and the audience cheered all of the contestants.  Here are some highlights:

The 5th Grade Spelling Team checking out the Middle School Bee before vacation.
What pressure?
Dr. Ricca joined me and Sam for his big moment.  St. Mike's is next!
HENNESSEY'S HOOTS!  A Hennessey Hoot goes to:

* from Instructional Assistant Kelly Grey, who knows a thing or two about CARES:

"I want to nominate Bus 22, yup, all of these amazing students (as well as Ariel Pascoe who has been working hard to reinforce CARES and their driver).

The bus had been without a bus monitor (Ariel) since returning to school from vacation.  Thursday morning the bus driver relayed to me (and asked me to tell Mr. Hennessey) that the students were awesomely behaved this morning, he didn't have to speak with anyone and they all followed the rules. 

Cooperation - check, they followed the rules and expectations and that helped the bus driver do his job.
Responsibility - check, they were following the safety rules.
Self Control - check, they were in control of their bodies on the bus!

Nice job Bus 22!"

*  Scripps Spelling Bee team members Sylvia Fagin, Cathy Clements, and Jeffrey Jarrad for their excellent judging skills.  But the biggest hoot goes to pronouncer-extraordinaire Marita Frey, who read dozens and dozens of difficult words to our students in a fun but high-stakes environment!  She and the judges handled the pressure cooker beautifully!

*  Charlie Phillips, who gets a special Hoot for showing this uncertain principal how to raise two daughters in our community while serving as a school leader at the same time.  Thank you for the inspiration, Mr. Phillips!

*  well, I don't think this one needs any explanation...

Really, what would we have done without her?