ForWard - October 24th, 2014

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The John Ward Elementary School PTO Newsletter

October 24, 2014 

Dear Ward Parents,

Welcome to the latest edition of the Ward Elementary School Newsletter ForWARD. 


* To stop receiving this newsletter, or update your email information please use the links at the end of the newsletter.

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Mark Your Calendars  

  • October 28th, PTO meeting, 8.45am
  • October 30th, early release and 5th Grade pizza sale
  • October 31st, Halloween Hoot, 9am
  • November 7th, All School Concert: Journey into Jazz
  • November 11th, Veterans Day, no school
  • November 20th, 5th Grade Circus, 9am
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From the Principal's Desk

Show your school spirit

We are excited about our monthly Community Meetings and want to encourage students and staff to wear blue and white or any Ward School t-shirt/sweatshirt to show their school spirit on meeting days. The next meeting is on Monday, November 10.  At that time, the second grade students will be presenting a program to remind us to be polite.

Remaining meeting dates are as follows:

December 2; January 8; February 6; March 2; April 7; May 7; June- last day of school

Kindergarten Assessment

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, together with the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, are requiring kindergarten teachers to implement an assessment tool to measure growth and learning. All kindergarten teachers were recently trained to use the Teaching Strategies GOLD. This is part of a statewide initiative called the Massachusetts Kindergarten Entry Assessment (MKEA). This year, teachers will implement two domains, social-emotional and cognitive. In both the fall and spring teachers will complete a rubric based on their observations of behaviors such as participating cooperatively and constructively in groups and using classification skills. This is intended to assist teachers in getting to know each child's strengths, interests and needs so that lessons can be planned to support student growth.

Food Policy

I want to clarify the policy pertaining to bringing food to school. Since we have a number of children and adults with food allergies, guidelines were developed by the Newton Public Schools to minimize the risk of exposure to food allergens that may pose a threat. We also want parents to have the ability to control food choices for their child. The district guidelines include the following:

* There is no sharing/trading of food

* We avoid the use of food for classroom and school-wide functions during the school day

* If the teacher feels it is appropriate to use food as part of the curriculum, the teacher will check with the school nurse and notify parents in advance of the project or activity

Please do not send in any candy or other food treats to be distributed to children in the class. We do not send food home with students since it has the potential to cause a threat to a younger allergic sibling. We appreciate avoiding or limiting food containing nuts, especially in classes in which children have life threatening food allergies. In our café we have separate tables labeled for children who bring food containing nuts or hummus since these foods pose a high risk to some of our students. The arrangement is in place during snack time in classrooms where children have these life threatening allergies. Students are asked to wash their hands, especially after eating these foods. Thank you for your support in helping to keep our children safe.  

Ward School Circus

Each year, one of the Ward School traditions is the Fifth Grade Circus. Our fifth graders are actively engaged in developing their own acts for this event. We are all looking forward to the entertaining jugglers, clowns, and acrobats that will be performing for the entire school. You are welcome to join us in the Ward gym on November 20 at 9:00. (Please note this change of date.)

I look forward to seeing you at the Halloween Hoot next Friday at 9:00.



Safety Outside Schools by Officer Dawn Fleming

Officer Dawn Fleming is the safety officer for the Newton Police Department. Although she only recently took up the post of safety officer, she is already receiving calls on a daily basis from all Elementary Schools in Newton regarding the unsafe behavior of some parents driving their children to school. Please read the article that she wrote for the Newton Tab concerning this issue by clicking here or inserting the following link into your browser:


Mystery Dinner Success

A big 'thank you' to all the attendees of the mystery dinner. It was a great night and we exceeded our fundraising goal. Thanks to Lisa Schwarzberg for coordinating this event for the PTO. And, the biggest thanks to all of our host families for generously opening their homes to the Ward Community!

Debbie & Dave O'Rourke - Appetizers

Nini & Patrick Donovan - Persian Treats

Allison & Balaji Gandhi/Dave & Linda Gillespie - Big Green Egg

Rachel & Ron Blankstein - Mediterranean Mystery

Beth & Bill Hicks/ Sheryl Kalis & Adam Steinberg - Italian Mystery

Valerie & Jeff Pontiff / Heidi Gardner & Ivan Matviak - Wine Tasting with Autumn Pairings

Dan & Lynda Cotter / Lydia Davis & James Braithwaite - Oktoberfest

Jessica & Geoff Gilmartin / Jennifer Weber & Laurence Bailen - Madmen

Michal Kimeldorfer & Guy Rabinowitz - New Israel Cuisine

Eric & Elizabeth Bosco - Notte Italiana

Suzanne & Larry Glazer / Rachel & Jonathan Laurence - Vegetarian Delights

Ozlem Ergun & Mete Habip - Blue Voyage

Eduard Casajuana & Anna Olivella / John & Choonting Dzialo - From Barcelona to Kuala Lumpur

Toli & Diana Shabashov - Middle Eastern/Mediterranean

Roberta & Marc Laredo / Debbie & Todd Vogel - Taste of the French Countryside

Venki Murthy /Meredith Frank-Molnia - Flavors of India

Shana & Dan Smythe - Dessert


Ward School Directories

Ward School directories have gone home! If you did not receive one, please contact Linda Gillespie at Thanks to Ward's own John Reiner aPakCom for printing the directories for us at a significantly discounted price.


Playground Update

A huge thank you to Joe Lamacchia of Joe Lamacchia Landscaping ((781) 893 4516, for donating playground wood chips for use near the funnel ball area. The city could not accommodate our request, but Joe stepped up and donated five yards of woodchips! And more thanks to Dave O'Rourke for his manpower in spreading the chips. The last piece of the 2014 playground enhancement is complete as the new trolleys were installed last week.


Help Needed 

Understanding Our Differences Coordinator, 3rd Grade

This does not need to be a 3rd grade parent; the program starts in December so we need someone quickly. If you are interested, please contact Cindy Henry by emailing and we can pass you more information on the role.


2015 Ward Auction

Our auction planning starts early! If you, or anyone you know, owns a business, has a vacation home, sports/theater tickets or may have access to items for our silent auction, please contact Mary Jo Sisk -


Next PTO Meeting - October 28th, 8:45am

Let's keep the PTO momentum going. Please join us for the next PTO meeting on 28th October at 8:45am in the after-school room. We will be having an in-depth conversation about the PTO budget.


5th Grade Pizza Sale - Thursday 30th October

The 5th Grade will be hosting a pizza sale next Thursday, October 30th, at dismissal in front of the school (it's an Early Release Day!). A slice of pizza, a bottle of water and a cookie will be just $5.00! Please support our 5th graders in their effort to raise money for all of their upcoming 5th grade graduation activities. We all hope to see you and your children there! Thank you in advance, Magda Duchnowska  (5th grade parent)

Pot Luck Dinners - Save the date!

Save the date and call the babysitters! Grade-wide Potluck Dinners are coming. Here's the schedule:
Kindergarten, hosted by Mary Jo Sisk and David Grossman - November 15
1st grade, hosted by Elizabeth and Coleman Benedict on November 1
2nd gradehosted by Laurie and Jon Ufland, Megan Flynn and Bill Chura on Nov 22
3rd grade, hosted by Joan and Michael Gallant on January 31, 2015 
4th grade, hosted by Ellen Waldorf on January 10, 2015
5th grade, hosted by Heidi Gardner and Ivan Matviak on January 23, 2015  
These nights will be a great way to meet and socialize with other parents in your child's grade. The evening is for adults only and it is not a sit down meal but rather more of an informal gathering. Closer to each evening you will be receiving an email by grade with more details on your specific event, but plan on a fun night out! The Evite for the first grade and second grade dinners have gone out. If you haven't received your invitation, please contact Elizabeth Benedict at (for first grade) and Laurie Ufland at (for second grade).
Thanks, Kathy

Halloween Scavenger Hunt/Walk to School Friday

Friday, 31st October! 

Wear a costume, pick up litter, and search for spooky objects as you walk to school. Watch for a handout that will come home with a map and clues for each major walking route to school. All participants will collect a small prize and be eligible for a raffle for Ward School gear.