As I write this article, we are just finishing summer school. While I love being part of the staff and working with the children during the school year, summer school is a different kind of fun. Everyone is so much more relaxed, the days at school are shorter, and the weather is better, well most of the time. There are also tons of things happening in and around the building. The most exciting thing for the elementary students is the addition of new playground equipment. Last week, the company installed one large piece and three small pieces on the existing playground. To say the kids were excited the first day they could use the equipment, was an understatement. Their eyes were huge, and their screams of excitement were fantastic. Over and over kiddos exclaimed, “Thank you, this is the best day of my life.” The credit for all this joy really goes to the school board for approving this purchase. The kids and I both say THANK YOU! We love the new equipment.
I am also excited about the changes that are happening to the 4K program this year. After having a good response to our survey and an even better turn out for our spring open house, we are confident that our move to four full days will be beneficial for everyone. Both academic and social skills are important lessons taught in 4K. Having more days, means there is more time to introduce topics and reteach them as needed. Having this extra time should also help prepare these kiddos to be even more successful when they enter 5-year-old kindergarten. Being here four days, a week helps build a more consistent routine. Once students learn these, it is amazing how much educational material they can absorb. Having these students in the building more consistently also give them and their parents access to programming that is supported through the school system.
Expanding the 4K program offers benefits for the parents too. In some cases, this will decrease stress for families. Having all their school age children in the same building, following the same schedule, helps with transportation and meal planning. There is also a financial benefit for families that will now only need to have day care services one day a week rather than three.
This change also helps the District because we can build a program that fits the needs of our individual learners as well as a strong foundation for the students as they enter kindergarten. The 4K and kindergarten teachers have always worked well together but having more time with the learners will allow the teachers to try new techniques and share resources with one another. It will be exciting to watch the students in this program over the next year and track their successes.
Safety in our building is a topic that weighs heavily on my mind. We are fortunate that we live in a community where we watch out for one another. We tend to notice when things are different, and we have a good support system where we help keep each other informed. The world outside of Loyal, however, is not always so lucky, so I will remain vigilant about the safety of the students and staff. The procedures that we have been using over the past couple of years where parents and visitors check into the office and students or staff meet them there will remain in place. Parents who drop their kiddos off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon, will continue to use the same procedures too. Parents will not be allowed to walk their child to their classrooms. Limiting who is in the building and where they are, makes it much easier to account for people if we ever have an emergency that arises. This also allows staff to maintain their focus on the students as they come in and leave. Local law enforcement officials have been asked to be in the building more often so that the students and staff are aware of their presence which often prevents issues that could arise.
Having all students receive a free breakfast and lunch over the last couple of years has been a tremendous help for many people. This coming school year, however, this program will no longer be supported so parents will be required to pay for their children’s meals again. All parents should fill out the paperwork to see if your child qualifies for free or reduced meals. The program is very different than it was in the past. The only person who knows who receives these benefits, is the food service director, but if you qualify, both the student and the district benefit. There are government programs that use the total number of free and reduced lunches to offer other services and funds to districts, so the more people who fill out the applications, the better.
Because the school year is starting earlier this fall than it has in the past, all the important dates that parents need to be aware of are also earlier. Registration will be August 2nd and 3rd from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The elementary Open House will be on August 23rd. Parents will sign up for a time slot to visit with teachers when they come in for registration. The first full day of school will be August 24th for students in grades K-5. Parents who will have children in the 4K program this fall will have more options for Open House times. Those hours will be August 23rd – 25th with the first full day of school being on August 29th. When parents come for registration you will also be able to check your child’s important information, as well as, put money into their lunch accounts. Paul Tishim will also be here all day on August 23rd to take school pictures.
When you meet with your child’s teacher on that Open House day, I would encourage you to share any information that you feel is important to make your child more academically and socially successful. Please let the teacher know the best way to communicate with you whether that is with a phone call, email, or text message. The more communication we have between home and school, the more successful the students are.
Another way to maintain that communication is through parent/teacher conferences. Conferences will be held three times this year; once during each trimester. The dates are October 27th, January 19th, and April 21st. All days the conferences will run from 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. This schedule does limit how many people the teachers can see, however, most of the time teachers are open to meeting with parents at other times as the need arises throughout the school year.
Being part of the SOLES group is another way to stay connected with school activities. This committee meets on the fourth Monday of every month here at the school. This group of parents plans fundraisers and activities that benefit all the elementary students. Currently the group is small, but they welcome anyone who has elementary age students to join.
As I proofread the handbook again this summer, there are a few items that I would like to highlight as topics that we frequently address during the school year.
- We always need to have the correct emergency contact information. If this changes during the school year, PLEASE let us know. It is frustrating to call numbers that are disconnected and slows down our process when we need to help children in an emergency.
- There MUST be at least a 1 WEEK’S notice if there is a change in bussing.
- If you have concerns about situations that are happening on the school bus, please remind your child to inform the bus driver of the problem and it is okay for you to call the bus garage with concerns too.
- If you are picking your child up early or if they are going to leave with someone else, you MUST write them a note to this effect, and it needs to be turned into the office.
- We are operating under a normal schedule for the 2022-2023 school year, so excessive absences will result in truancy.
- If you will be taking your child out for an appointment or vacation, please contact your child’s teachers to set up a plan to complete the missed school work. When this is done before the absence it makes it much easier for the student to complete his or her work in a timely manner.
- In two parent households, information is always sent to both parents unless there is a court order that prevents it. We do need to see the order and then we make note of it in the office.
- To maintain security in the building, parents and visitors will not be allowed to classrooms, lunchrooms, etc. during the school day.
- If a student is leaving the district, we ask that you give us two days advanced notice. This way the teachers can make sure all district materials are returned before the student leaves. Also, the teacher will have a chance to compile an accurate grade, which is a necessary piece as we send records to a new school.
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer vacation, and I look forward to seeing you all back at the end of August.