Office 587-1540 Volume 5 No. 3 November 2017
A Message from Mr. Canata
Next week, the classrooms and hallways of Leeds Elementary School will be quiet as students, faculty and staff vacate the building to be with their families and loved ones in celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving is meant as a day that we can recognize, acknowledge and hopefully be able to take some time and reflect on the many things in our lives that matter . The things that not only are we thankful for but also make us happy. I won’t bore you with my own list but I am willing to bet that many of the things on my list just might be on yours. There are many but I’ll share a few. I am thankful for: my wife and children, my family, my friends, my health, working with kids, a job which excites and challenges me daily, great coworkers and colleagues, laughter, the servicemen and women who protect our country, and of course being part of the wonderful Leeds community! I hope all enjoy their holiday and are able to spend time with those you all care about.
Coming And Dismissing To And From School
As construction continues and presents challenges to many facets of our daily operations, I’ve been asked to re-provide our procedures. Students arrive and are dismissed to and from school many ways; they walk, ride bikes, arrive in buses, vans, and cars. For safety’s sake, we ask that if you or your child is on a bike, that you and he/she dismount or get off and walk with them when you come onto school property. This is so nobody who is walking will be accidentally hit! PLEASE help us to make this happen every day! And PLEASE make sure they’re wearing HELMETS – it’s the law and it makes them safer!! Also, if you are leaving bikes at our bike racks, please make sure that they are LOCKED!
Bus students are dropped off and picked up in the lower loop daily. For safety reasons, the loop is reserved for buses and nobody should be parked on the exterior side of the bus loop between the hours of 8:30 and 9:00 and 2:45 and 3:15.
We have a driving/parking/pick-up/drop-off system in place at our school. The pick up line on Florence Street begins and extends down the street; please do not leave your car, please wait and proceed as the line moves forward. The staff keeps the students safe, informed and loads them as cars pull up. It is busy in the afternoon but the entire pick up process is usually done in under 15 minutes.
Our parking lot is crowded so during both drop off and pick up times, the parking lot is used for families of Kindergarteners only. Kindergarten parents and guardians are asked to park, drop off their child at the rear entrance to the playground. Those who park are asked to pick up their child at the rear door, return to your cars and exit the parking lot as soon as they can.
**If the weather doesn’t allow for outside play in the morning, students in grades 1-5 will gather in the cafeteria. Kindergarten students will go directly to their classrooms. Those who take a bus can enter at the entrance through the loop and those who are dropped off can enter through the rear.
Students are taught that Leeds Elementary School is a safe place for them and we reinforce the message about being safe as often as we can. Ensuring safety procedures are understood, we are also obligated to complete several different drills a year. We practice evacuations (fire drills) four times a year that are scheduled. There are usually several alarms per year for a variety of reasons which allow for plenty of practice. We hold two bus evacuation drills per year, one in the fall and one in the spring. Not all students take a bus to school but field trips happen in which students do ride on a bus. We hold one formalized lockdown drill a year but we reinforce and re-teach lockdown procedures often. A lockdown drill is announced and planned as sometimes young students get anxious during this drill. So our families understand the regulations and obligations, and it was recently suggested to describe how we prepare students for lock down drills.
As stated above, students are taught that Leeds Elementary School is a safe place. However, there might be an instance in which somebody or something from outside our community might cause some damage or harm to our community. With this in mind, students are taught that a lockdown drill is a serious exercise in which everyone’s cooperation is needed to ensure we can have a safe school. They are told that the most important aspect of a lockdown drill is sustained silence in a predetermined safe area of a room as they await directions and their release from the silence and the position from an adult they can trust; their teacher, their principal or a public safety officer. In preparation for a drill, teachers go over what the expectations are at Leeds, the principal, or another familiar voice will come over the intercom, does a brief mock drill in which all are guided through the necessary steps of a lock down. Is the door locked? Are the lights off? Is the window covered? Are the blinds drawn? Are you in a safe space? Are you being quiet? They are then directed that they are to remain silent until a public safety official unlocks the door. During the actual event, we announce that it is a drill. Students, who have practiced, know that they need to sit tight until they are told it is safe to resume regular activities. After the conclusion of the drill, an announcement is made, everyone is thanked for their cooperation and then public safety and school personnel evaluate the drill for effectiveness.
The roof project continues but there are indications that the construction is moving along. The scaffolding has been removed from the exterior gym wall. The snow dams on the new roof have been completed and the majority of the sheet metal work has been completed. The crew has moved on to the older wing of the building where the majority of the roof is made of slate. There is some work being completed on an entryway near the 3rd grade canopy and there are large plans to work on the slate located above the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classes. Without any promises it looks like the work will continue through November.
The Holidays Are Approaching
Over the past several years, we have reached out to our families during the holiday season to ask for assistance for the many Leeds families for whom the holidays are not an easy time. The response has always been heartwarming in the form of various donated gift cards. It is not uncommon to receive cards for local places like Walmart, Target, Big Y, and Stop & Shop. These have been welcomed and then distributed to families so they can help to provide something for their children.
The Jack Dunphy Toy Drive
...is a local event sponsored by the Northampton St. Patrick’s Association. There is a page dedicated to this drive in this newsletter. If there are Leeds families who might benefit from this Toy Drive, please call the office and let us know and we will be sure to let them know.
Leeds has recently become a Title I targeted assistance school. What this means for the 17-18 school year is focusing on family engagement. This shouldn’t be too hard as so many of our families are present, visible and active in our community. Also, being a part of Title I requires us to send out and collect a FAMILY, STUDENT AND TEACHER COMPACT. The compact has been written in such a way that the pledges presented are common sensical, in all likelihood and happening consistently but it is nice to see them in writing. As a reminder of what everyone’s responsibilities are. Please fill out the sheets and return them to your child’s teacher.
The new district website is up and running, check it as often as possible for updates. There is also a link to the PTO page.
Winter is Coming
Make sure children are dressed appropriately for the season. Several students do not like to wear coats or jackets while playing outside but we maintain a practice in which they do when it is above 32 degrees. To support us in this practice we point out how parents and guardians had them dressed for school. If there is snow on the ground and students want to play in it, snow pants, gloves, hats and boots are required.