Thursday, December 20, 2012

         Wishing you a wonderful winter break with your family and friends!

                        We look forward to seeing your family in the new year!
                               We will see your children on Monday, January 7, 2013.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Whenever a national tragedy occurs, such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters, children, like many people, may be confused or frightened. Most likely they will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react.  Parents and school personnel can help children cope first and foremost by establishing a sense of safety and security. As more information becomes available, adults can continue to help children work through their emotions and perhaps even use the process as a learning experience.

All Adults Should:

1.     Model calm and control.  Children take their emotional cues from the significant adults in their lives. Avoid appearing anxious or frightened.
2.     Reassure children that they are safe and (if true) so are the other important adults in their lives. Depending on the situation, point out factors that help insure their immediate safety and that of their community.
3.     Remind them that trustworthy people are in charge.  Explain that the government emergency workers, police, firefighters, doctors, and the military are helping people who are hurt and are working to ensure that no further tragedies occur.
4.     Let children know that it is okay to feel upset.  Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy like this occurs.  Let children talk about their feelings and help put them into perspective.  Even anger is okay, but children may need help and patience from adults to assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
5.     Observe children’s emotional state.  Depending on their age, children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can also indicate a child’s level of grief, anxiety or discomfort.  Children will express their emotions differently. There is no right or wrong way to feel or express grief. 
6.     Look for children at greater risk.  Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others.  Be particularly observant for those who may be at risk of suicide.  Seek the help of mental health professional if you are at all concerned.
7.     Tell children the truth. Don’t try to pretend the event has not occurred or that it is not serious.  Children are smart.  They will be more worried if they think you are too afraid to tell them what is happening.
8.     Stick to the facts.  Don’t embellish or speculate about what has happened and what might happen. Don’t dwell on the scale or scope of the tragedy, particularly with young children.
9.     Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate. Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that the daily structures of their lives will not change. Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school.  They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence and threats to safety in schools and society.  They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. They will be more committed to doing something to help the victims and affected community.  For all children, encourage them to verbalize their thoughts and feelings. Be a good listener!
10.  Monitor your own stress level.  Don’t ignore your own feelings of anxiety, grief, and anger. Talking to friends, family members, religious leaders, and mental health counselors can help. It is okay to let your children know that you are sad, but that you believe things will get better. You will be better able to support your children if you can express your own emotions in a productive manner. Get appropriate sleep, nutrition, and exercise.

What Parents Can Do:

1.     Focus on your children over the week following the tragedy.  Tell them you love them and everything will be okay. Try to help them understand what has happened, keeping in mind their developmental level.
2.     Make time to talk with your children.  Remember if you do not talk to your children about this incident someone else will. Take some time and determine what you wish to say.
3.     Stay close to your children. Your physical presence will reassure them and give you the opportunity to monitor their reaction. Many children will want actual physical contact.  Give plenty of hugs.  Let them sit close to you, and make sure to take extra time at bedtime to cuddle and to reassure them that they are loved and safe. 
4.     Limit your child’s television viewing of these events.  If they must watch, watch with them for a brief time; then turn the set off.  Don’t sit mesmerized re-watching the same events over and over again.
5.     Maintain a “normal” routine. To the extent possible stick to your family’s normal routine for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc., but don’t be inflexible.  Children may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork or falling asleep at night.
6.     Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games with your children before bed.  These activities are calming, foster a sense of closeness and security, and reinforce a sense of normalcy. Spend more time tucking them in.  Let them sleep with a light on if they ask for it.
7.     Safeguard your children’s physical health.  Stress can take a physical toll on children as well as adults.  Make sure your children get appropriate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
8.     Consider thinking hopeful thoughts for the victims and their families.  It may be a good time to take your children to your place of worship, write a poem, or draw a picture to help your child express their feelings and feel that they are somehow supporting the victims and their families.
9.     Access the school’s resources.  Most schools are likely to be open and often are a good place for children to regain a sense of normalcy.  Being with their friends and teachers can help.  Schools should also have a plan for making counseling available to children and adults who need it. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

School Safety is our Top Priority

Thousands of people in our community are hurting today after senseless violence struck Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the Sandy Hook Elementary School community, where a day of learning was so tragically interrupted.

Many of our schools are affected, as staff members, students and parents question how could this happen and is my child safe?

Safety is the top priority at Gold Rush Elementary School. We are always working to improve the security measures our schools to make them even safer. After the District learned of the shooting, they notified DCSD security officers and school leaders, encouraging us to remain vigilant.  Law enforcement agencies in Douglas County including the Sheriff’s Office, Castle Rock PD, Lone Tree PD and Parker PD have also increased patrols at our schools and in the surrounding neighborhoods as a precaution.

We also know that this tragedy will have an emotional impact on many of our students and staff members. Counselors at each school are working closely with those who need help coping with today's events. We recognize that the impact will be felt for a long time to come.

I trust that our school community will join me in offering our sincerest condolences and our support to Sandy Hook Elementary and the Newtown community.

Many counseling services are available and I urge anyone with a need to contact me.

Progress Reports – Live Next Thursday
We believe that sharing your child’s progress with you is essential and one way that we do this is through progress reports.  Next Thursday you will be able to access your child’s progress report via your parent portal.  As was true in the past, students will be rated on the Colorado Academic Standards using a numeric scale that uses the same language found on the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP), formally known as CSAP (1 = unsatisfactory, 2 = partially proficient, 3 = proficient and 4 = advanced).

Students are expected to obtain mastery on each of the standards by the end of the year.  The main difference with the scale is that your child’s score represents how he/she is performing on the academic or behavioral standard at this point in the school year.  Students who receive a “2” on this report have met some aspects of the learning targets, but are behind in meeting the expectations at the time of reporting.  Students who receive a “2” or less may need additional support to ensure these end-of-year expectations are met. Students who receive a 4 are advanced in meeting the end-of -year expectations and are working on targets beyond where they are suppose to be at this time. A student who receives a “3” would be demonstrating that they are on track to reach all of these expectations by year end.

A student who has an “*” next to the number on the report card has a learning plan that differentiates his/her instruction and learning targets.

It is important to view this report as only a mid-year summary of your child’s academic progress when comparing his/her performance to the Colorado Academic Standards.  There are many other tools and multiple data sources used to ensure that students are making adequate progress.

Top Dog
We also want to recognize students who display outstanding behavior on a daily basis by awarding them with a Top Dog certificate in next week’s Thursday folder.  Because the learner characteristics on the progress report have changed from past years we are currently using our school’s positive behavior matrix as our rubric to identify children (click here for our school behavior matrix).  Receiving the Top Dog acknowledgement is extremely difficult as we are identifying only those students who display what it looks like to Go For the Gold in every place in the school every single day.  Please remember that students who do not receive a Top Dog certificate can still be demonstrating positive behaviors for a majority of their time at school.

2013-2014 Calendar
The community survey regarding the school calendar for 2013-2014 school year closed today.  We thank you for the feedback. 82% of parents voted to have all schools in the feeder move to the split fall break modified calendar.  We are therefore moving to this calendar next school year.  Click here to view the calendar. Thank you again for your input.

Friendly Reminders
Drop off and Pick Up
Your cooperation is essential in ensuring the safety of each and every child during student drop off and pick up.  Please remember the following:
·                          Drive slowly. 
·                          Have your child exit your car on the curbside.
·                          Remain in your car.
·                          Look before pulling out of the car lane or backing up.
·                         Use the car loop and not the parking lanes to pick up your child.
·                         Do not talk on your cell phone while in the car loop.

·      Students are not in session on Friday, December 21st due to the winter holiday.
·      Teachers are not in session on Friday, December 21st,  as we met one additional day prior to the start o the school year.
·      Students will be off for winter vacation from Friday, December 21st,  through Sunday, January 6th

·      Dogs are not allowed on school grounds at any time during the school day or before or after school.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Highlight of the Week
We enjoyed meeting several of our future Gold Rush students and their families at Kindergarten Registration this week!  The children were so excited that we wished we could welcome them well before August!  If you were unable to make it to registration this week please contact the school office.  Please remember that you need to provide a copy of your child’s birth certificate, proof of residency and immunization record.

We are continually educating students about how they can help create a safe learning environment for all by reporting bullying.  Bullying is defined as a repeated pattern of behavior or a single significant act towards another.  We work with students on how they can help protect themselves and others by reporting bullying to an adult.  We talk about how bullying can take several forms, including verbal, social, physical or cyber bullying. Click here for additional resources to use when talking with your child about this topic at home.

Calendar for 2013-2014
In response to parental concerns regarding the difficulty of having students on multiple school calendars, the Legend Feeder Leaders explored moving to one calendar for the 2013-2014 school year.  After extensive conversations regarding the educational needs of students at all levels, the feeder principals determined that the split-modified calendar was a compromise among the three calendars approved by the District.  Once each of the schools received majority support for the split-modified calendar from both the staff and School Advisory Committees, they gathered additional input from the community in an open meeting on 12/4/12. 

You are being asked to provide input regarding whether all feeder schools move to one calendar next year (Option 2 the split-modified calendar) or whether the feeder schools remain on two different calendars (Option 1 – elementary schools remain on the modified calendar and the middle and high school remain on the traditional calendar).   

Please complete the calendar survey by December 11th.  The Legend Feeder leadership will share the outcome by winter break. As always your feedback is appreciated!