Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Winter is Finally Here at Barnard School!

As we approach the much-anticipated weeklong winter break, it’s the perfect time to bring you all up to speed on the many happenings and planned events here at Barnard School. I apologize to my loyal readers who have been disappointed by checking my unchanged page in the long period since my last posting, I have no excuse except a little laziness and a lot of procrastination, and I promise you that I will try not allow such a time to lapse in the future. Much of what I have to share also appears in my monthly Principal’s Reports that are a part of our School Board Meetings, but I’ll also try to add a little more in an attempt to inform and hopefully entertain.
As we began a new calendar year here at Barnard School the staff and students were back in their classrooms after a long (11day) Holiday Break.  Mrs. Pruett’s second graders reported that Weds. Jan. 2, the day we returned, was the 75th day of the school year, and we will continue to count the days to the 100th and eventually to the 182nd, which the weather has pushed into the third week of June and hopefully not much further. Before the break there was much going on, so here are a few samplings.
            I am proud to report that our Student Council was especially busy during the Holiday Season.   In partnership with Seacoast Community Action they sponsored a Giving Tree, bringing dozens of gifts to needy children.  Our students were able to buy gifts and great savings for loved ones through the Holiday Sale.  During our Pajama Day they sponsored a showing of Polar Express to a packed house of students from all grades.  What a great display of school spirit by students, Mrs. Orlando, and Mrs. Krolikoski who act as faculty advisers!
On Monday December 10 we had our Holiday Concert performances from all grade levels, with the exception of 8th graders who acted as ushers, lighting and sound technicians, camera operators, announcers, and backstage hands.  Students performed with band instruments, percussion, and voice.  I would like to extend many thanks to Mrs. Wooten who used this public opportunity to showcase her comprehensive music curriculum.  PTA provided sweets after the performance and we were all on our way before the Patriots kickoff! (A little anticlimactic since they didn’t make the Super Bowl).
Feedback has been very positive regarding the new format for Parent Conferences that allowed for set appointments with any or all of a child’s teachers in their own classrooms.  Every request for time was able to be accommodated with kudos to Mr. Asbell and Mr. Szeliga who stayed late into the evening of December 4 to get everybody in.  Some people would have liked a little more time but that is a challenge when the evening only allows for 18 10-minute appointments.  Any parent who needed more than the allotted time was offered to meet at a later date and this seemed to be a much-appreciated solution.  For future dates we will be looking at offering daytime appointments for kindergarten parents and tighter scheduling with combined teachers.  In the future there may be opportunities for Student-led Conferences in the Middle School, more to follow. 
The budget process continues with all of our staff requests being passed through for review by the Superintendent's Office, the School Board, the Budget Committee and eventually to the voters.  Many thanks to Mrs. Jones who helps gather and sort all the information, processes purchase orders, and receives and distributes materials throughout the year.  An additional shout-out to the SAU staff who helps to transfer all the budget information into materials for distribution.      
Eighth Graders has been fund-raising for their trip to DC with a raffle drawing at the annual PTA Santa Breakfast where several donated items were awarded to lucky winners.  The students are on track to fully fund with a Comedy Hypnosis Show, which was in the works for February but had to be rescheduled for March 23 due to Winter Storm Nemo. Please call the school if you want show tickets. They have also planned many other activities that have proven to be successful in the past, please stay tuned. 
In my February report I brought the Board up to speed on January happenings by first announcing that Mrs. Pruett’s Second Graders have confirmed that Friday January 25 marked the 81st day and therefore the halfway point in our 2012-2013 school year.   According to Mrs. Ryan’s Kindergarteners and First Graders, and  with the grace of good weather, we had Hundredth Day Celebrations in Grades K-2 on Thursday February 7.
The month of January ended with some incredible news in the South Hampton Community with the release of NECAP (New England Common Assessment Program) scores for Barnard Students in grades 3-8. The Faculty will be taking time in the next several weeks to examine results and responses to released items but a preliminary analysis shows consistent improvement in Reading, leveling in Math, and a dramatic increase in Writing scores.  Comparison with state scores show that our Barnard students score 12-20% better in all categories including the Science assessment that was administered last spring in Grades 4 and 8. It is truly a privilege to be associated with amazing students who produce quality work, a dedicated staff who is focused on results-oriented student learning, and supportive parents and community to provide the support, encouragement, and resources to make it all happen.
January was also the time to use another valuable tool to assess student progress with administration of the NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) testing. Students in Grades 2-8 took computerized tests in Reading, Language Usage, Mathematics, and Science. These assessments adapt during the testing session as students make correct or incorrect responses to provide the most accurate results of student achievement in these areas, newly aligned with the Common Core State Standards. We will analyze results to identify strengths in student achievement and areas that may need additional reinforcement.  The Staff will look at both individual and class scores to identify areas to add rigor to and differentiate whole-class and individual instruction.  We will take the tests again at the end of the school year to review the success of these adjustments and find areas that need improvement.
            PTA continues to be a major contributor with sponsorship of our upcoming performance of “The Princess and the Pea” scheduled for the last week in April.  Children’s Stage Adventures will be sending us two directors, costumes, and scenery for a performance with parts for every member of our student body.  Stay tuned for more details in future reports.  We are in need of a family or families to host the directors, so if you’re interested in having a gifted, child-centered performer or two in your home during that week, please let me know.  My wife, Helen and I hosted soccer coaches for years in Laconia and have many great memories from the experience (not to mention some great private soccer lessons).  This is the first year that we are participating in The PTA Reflections Program,” which “encourages students to explore the arts and express themselves by giving positive recognition for their artistic efforts.” We recognized our six participants who will be going on to the statewide level during lunch on Friday January 25.  Congratulations to participants and thank you PTA for your sponsorship. Our Tuesday Ski Program at Bradford Ski Area has completed our six weeks and participants have really improved in their skiing and snowboarding skills along with yours truly who has really enjoyed going along as chaperone. Please continue to Think Snow!
            In my latest report I also updated the activities of the Eighth Grade who have continued with fundraising efforts to support our trip to Washington D.C. scheduled for the first week in June (yes Helen and I are going as chaperones).  We got some major help from Mr. Asbell’s Seventh Graders who harvested garlic from the Learning Lab Garden, dried it out (great smell throughout the school), and produced 4 precious jars of garlic powder which was raffled off and resulted in a $225 gift to their upperclassmen.
            I guess you can see how easy it is to put off these updates.  I didn’t even say much about the Spelling and Geography Bee’s.  I’ll save that and much more for my next entry.  I am looking forward to the second half of my first year here as much as I have enjoyed the first.  Thank you to the entire South Hampton Community for your continued support and kind words of encouragement. 

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