January 2019 Newsletter

Hillcrest Elementary Newsletter

January 2019

Upcoming Important Dates

  • Friday, Jan. 25: Turnaround Day. NO SCHOOL for students
  • Wednesday, Feb. 6 – Half Day In-Service. Noon dismissal (11:30 a.m. PK)
  • Friday, Feb. 15 – 9 a.m., All School Meeting
  • Saturday, Feb. 16 – “Lego Movie 2” FOH fundraiser
  • Winter Vacation Feb. 18 – 22
  • Banking Day: EVERY Friday

From the Principal

Dear Hillcrest Families,

It was such a treat to see many of you here at Hillcrest on Friday night for our annual Cocoa, Cookies & Crafts event! I am so glad that so many families braved the cold to head back to school for cookie decorating and craft projects. We all had lots of fun drinking cocoa, adding all kinds of tasty toppings to sugar cookies, and creating lots of cute crafts. This event, sponsored by Friends of Hillcrest, is one of many family events at Hillcrest and it’s a great way to get to know your child’s classmates and their families. Looking ahead, we have several interesting events on the calendar. I hope you’ll plan to join us for at least one of these:

  • Saturday, February 16th -- The Lego Movie 2 at Greenfield Gardens Cinema at 9:00 a.m. Tickets are just $5 and the proceeds will benefit Friends of Hillcrest.
  • Friday, March 1st -- Read Across HIllcrest. This annual event celebrates reading at Hillcrest. We’ll enjoy a free pizza dinner, participate in Read Alouds & Craft Projects led by Hillcrest community members, and have a free book shopping spree.
  • Friday, April 12th -- Hillcrest Potluck & Game Night sponsored by Friends of Hillcrest. Come back to school from 5:00 to 6:30 for a potluck dinner and some fun board games with your Hillcrest friends.
  • Saturday, May 4th -- Hillcrest Story Walk along Avenue A. This event will feature a book from our new Diverse Books collection as well as artwork by Hillcrest students. More details to follow on this wonderful event sponsored by Hillcrest School Council.
  • Saturday, June 8th -- Warrior Dash adventure course sponsored by the Montague Recreation Department and Hillcrest’s Playground Committee. This active, energetic event is open to children ranging in age from 5 to 12 years old.
  • All School Meetings: Friday, February 15th, Friday, March 22nd, Friday, April 26th and Friday, May 24th. All School Meetings begin at 9:00 and end by 9:25. At the February All School Meeting, we’ll enjoy presentations from Ms. Welles’s preschoolers, Ms. Hirst’s kindergarten students and Ms. Smith’s first graders. Our theme for February is Friendship.

All of our after school and evening family events are powered by staff and family volunteers. If you are interested in lending a hand in planning an event or assisting at an event, please let me know via phone call (413-63-9526) or email (sarah.burstein@gmrsd.org). I look forward to seeing you soon!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend --

Sarah Burstein, Principal





Wow, we have been so busy! Our restaurant theme is getting underway. We are practicing our new roles. We might be the customer, the waiter, or the chef. These roles increase the interactions between children and build their budding language skills. Which restaurant does your child enjoy most? Along with our restaurant theme we have been looking at seasonal changes. We noticed many changes outside. We talked about how we stay warm in winter, and ways that animals take care of themselves in winter. We are still thinking and learning about letters, sounds and numbers.

We have waited patiently for the snow to fall. Now that we have some snow, it is important to bring outside gear every day. We want to be warm when we do get to go outside. We do monitor the “feels like” temperatures. If the wind chill makes it below 20 degrees, we will not be going outside to play.

With the colder weather, we have been using many boxes of tissues, so would greatly appreciate any donations of tissues that you would be able to share with our classes. We try to keep up with keeping our faces and hands clean to prevent the spread of germs. We all are trying to stay healthy!

Enjoy the snow,

The preschool team Sarah, Chanda and Teresa


Dear Families,

We are continuing with our Magic Tree House books and loving them! We have just finished up Pirates Past Noon. We learned all about pirates, how they lived, how they traveled, what they did, and some of the language they used. As we read, we think critically about the characters in the books and make inferences and predictions. We are continuing to write chapter summaries about the important parts of the chapters. We are working on orally segmenting the sounds we hear in words. This helps us to hear all the sounds in a word, which will allow us to add in more sounds to our writing.

In addition to working on teen numbers in math we are also working on decomposing numbers. We are still continuing to work on writing our numbers up to 20, counting many objects correctly, and counting to 100 by both 10’s and 1’s.

Some Kindergarten reminders:

  • Winter clothes need to be labeled with initials so if something is misplaced it can easily be given back to the correct child. We go outside in the winter if it is not too cold (20 degrees or above), so please remember to send in snow pants, boots, hats, coats, & mittens. If children do not have snow pants or boots they are not allowed to play in the snow. Please send in sneakers along with boots.


Mrs. Lesenski, Ms. Hirst & Mrs. Fox

First Grade


Happy New Year! Everyone is very happy to be back at school. We are looking forward to a new year filled with learning.

Our new year will begin with a new focus in reading. We will be learning about the “glued sounds” for –ang, -ing, -ong, -ung, -ank, -ink, -onk, and –unk. “Glued sounds” happen when you have the sounds for m or n after a vowel and the sounds are not easily separated or heard like in the words “ham” or “sing”. These can be tricky for kids to learn. You can help your children learn them by pointing these words out and reading them when you see them in the real world (bank) or in a book.

In several of the First Grade classrooms we have started a new science theme about Simple Machines. We will learn about how simple machines help us in our daily lives. We will learn about ramps, gears, levers, pulleys, wheels and axels, and screws. Look for the many things in your home that use these simple machines in your every day life. Simple machines can include scissors, bikes, knives, etc. We will use what we learn about simple machines to design and create a simple machine to solve a problem that involves moving a heavy load from one area to another area.

Our math focus is on learning about place value and teen numbers. We have started out by learning that the teen numbers are a two-digit number with one ten and a single number after it. We will learn about how to create, represent, and count larger two digit numbers. We will add and subtract 10s and ones from a two digit number as well.

We hope everyone has a great beginning to our new year.

Ms. Casey, Miss Matrishon, Mrs. Saylor, & Ms. Smith

Therapeutic Classroom

The students in the therapeutic classroom have been participating in the Zones of Regulation curriculum. As part of this curriculum, students are learning to identify how they are feeling (using the colors green, yellow, red, blue) and how to utilize strategies to get back into the green, or calm zone.

Each week we focus on practicing one or two new strategies that students can add to their “toolbox.” When they are having difficulty with self-regulation and/or are feeling angry, they may select a learned strategy to try. Our current favorite strategy is the Calming Sequence. To try it: Squeeze your hands together and tighten your facial muscles. Next, rub your head and then rub your legs. Repeat the sequence five times. It is impossible to do this sequence without dissolving into giggles!

Ms. Tirrell & Ms. Chagnon


English Learner News from Ms. Wulfkuhle

Kindergarten English Learners just completed a unit on positive character traits. After learning about the traits, we read stories and looked for evidence in the books to show how the characters exhibited those traits. As a final project, students chose a positive character trait that students could exhibit at school. They made a poster and included an example. Check out the bulletin board of student work in the All Purpose Room!

First grade English Learners showed their amazing presenting skills at All School Meeting in December when they shared the book they wrote together about family artifacts. We also had a celebration with our first round of preschool reading buddies from Ms. Chanda's class. We have started new reading buddies and the new partners are starting to get to know one another as the first graders plan books to read, questions for conversation, and games to foster connection. These first grade students are showing amazing leadership skills!

From the Health Office


Flu Facts: The flu is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract. Flu can affect anyone. Flu activity usually peaks from December through February and flu season can continue into May. Flu is different than a common cold. The list of signs and symptoms from the CDC will help you differentiate.



Signs and Symptoms



Symptom onset




Usual; lasts 3-4 days



Usual; often severe



Fairly common


Fatigue, weakness






Stuffy nose



Sore throat



Chest discomfort, cough

Common; can be severe

Mild to moderate; hacking cough





Reminders about illness: If your child has a contagious illness such as conjunctivitis, strep throat, or hand, foot, and mouth disease, please let me know so that I can monitor for a trend and let other parents know. If your child has an illness that requires antibiotics please keep your child home until antibiotics have been given for at least 24 hours.


HEAD LICE are small, wingless parasitic insects that can be found on the head. They cannot fly or jump. Head lice infestation is not an illness. Head lice is most commonly spread by close person-to-person contact. Teach your child not to share hats, scarves, or grooming items, and to avoid direct head-to-head contact. The main symptom of head lice is an itchy head. If you see frequent head scratching or you know your child was exposed to head lice please check your child’s head. If your child has head lice you may see live lice (although they move very fast) and you may see nits (eggs) which are grayish-white to brown in color and are glued to the strand of hair close to the scalp. Nits do not fall off or flick away easily. Shampoos and treatments alone will not control head lice. Nits have to be pulled off the entire strand of hair with a special nit-comb or with pinched fingers/fingernails. If your child has head lice please treat your child’s head with the medicine recommended by your healthcare provider or pharmacist and let me know so that your child’s head can be checked after treatment before returning to school. Additional information can be found on our district website and in the family handbook.

Well wishes,

Nurse Francis