Students and parents attend the Cedar Mountain Kindergarten Orientation.
By VERA OLINSKI
VERNON — Principal Rosemary Gebhardt welcomed the class of 2031 at the annual Cedar Mountain Primary School kindergarten orientation. Students received bright gold Little Viking T-shirts, “I love books” bags with information for the upcoming year, and an alphabet book from Gebhardt. Gebhardt introduced the Kindergarten teachers and announced the Genesis Parent Portal opens August 20, with each child's assigned teacher and bus information. After being introduced, other school personnel explained their role and goals at the school. School Counselor Brendan Maurice discussed fostering educational growth through academic, social, and emotional means, including friendship and social skills. He added, he will be working very closely with the teachers. Reading Specialist Kristina Krops reviewed the reading and balanced literacy program. She explained, teachers engage students in reading, writing, speaking, and listening all throughout the day. Krops also reviewed the curricula they use: Fundations, Reader's/Writer's Workshop, and guided reading. In January, she continued, students are assessed; and teachers continue to meet students where they are and help them develop their skills. Math Supervisor Russell Rogers explained, they use a self-discovery model and help students make connections with numbers and concepts. He also reminded of the Family Math Night in the fall, encouraging parents to discuss with their children what they are learning and enjoy their endless energy. School Nurse Kimberly Forrest reminded, physicals and immunizations need to be completed and up- to-date before attending school. She encouraged, parents to pack a spare change of clothes, in case of accident, along with lotion, chap-stick, and hand sanitizer. In addition, Forrest said, children may not transport medication to school, including inhalers and cough drops. The parent or adult needs to bring all medication, she continued, with a doctor's order, even for over-the-counter medication, or the doctor may fax the order. She encouraged parents to keep children home with fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or other contagious diseases like pink eye or strep throat. Forrest added, a doctor's note is necessary in order for a child to return to school. Also, Forrest said, birthdays are food free — with other treats — and a section on hygiene is in their packets to be reviewed during the summer. School Community Association President Denise Clarke encouraged parents to attend SCA meetings the first Monday of every month at 9:30 a.m., in preparation of upcoming monthly events, fund raisers, and sign-ups for children's activities. She said, they are also planning to have evening meetings at 6:30 p.m. Gebhardt said there are links on the website for transportation — contacting Director Jamie VanGilst — and adding money to the lunch program accounts, because students should not bring money to school. Also, at the beginning of the school year, she continued, parents will receive a form to apply for a reduced lunch rate, if qualified. She continued, they never drop a kindergarten or first grade student off if the parent is not at the bus stop. Instead, Gebhardt said, they finish the route and return. If the parent is still not there, she said, they bring the child back to the school, where they are picked up by the parent, along with siblings in 2nd and 3rd grade. Gebhardt encouraged parents to have a back-up plan. In the beginning of the year, she explained, the bus will be late the first couple of weeks, as they verify everyone gets on the right bus; and School Messenger Alerts will be sent when necessary. Gebhardt reminded parents to reserve a one-on-one meeting with her and each child through the SignUp Genius link on the district website. She also informed, all calendar dates are on the website, including an open house and SCA Ice Cream Social, Aug. 28 and 30, and Back-to-School Night Sept. 5, where children may meet their new teacher. If a child is still a little worried about coming to school, she continued, she will personally take the child around the building in order to become more familiar. After the formal orientation, parents and students rode school buses around the neighborhood. Gebhardt later showed a packet of information parents received after initial student screening, including daily summer activity ideas. She explained, they try to make students more comfortable by providing at least four school visits before students arrive the first day of school, Sept. 7.