Welcome Back! School Opens Tomorrow - Wednesday, August 27th!

Our new school year starts tomorrow - Wednesday, August 27th.  It is a full day of school for all of our students.  Both PreKindergarten Enrichment & Aftercare will be available.  Students in grades K-8 should wear their relaxed uniforms unless their homeroom teacher has advised them that it is a Physical Education day.  The hot lunch program does not begin until Friday, September 19th.  Until then, all students must bring a brown bag lunch each day.  The milk program will begin the first day of school.

Mrs. Gannatti officially takes care of the "ribbon cutting"
Our New Playground is ready & waiting!  We were so pleased that so many of you could attend the grand opening of our new playground on August 19th.  Thanks to the generosity of all of you that supported our Home & School Association Auction and associated fund raisers like "Raise Some Dough" at Flatbread in Canton and dinner at Bertuccis and the tireless efforts of the Playground Committee under the direction of Linda Thompson, we have a fabulous new play space for our students.

Father Matera provides a blessing for our new playground.
We also thank our Parish Business Manager, Mr. Bill Heiden, for all his work obtaining the necessary diocesan and town permissions for the construction of this new playground and for coordinating the installation process.

We were so happy that Father Matera could join us at the grand opening to provide a blessing that will surely help assure our playground is always a safe and happy place.

It's a busy time of year! Our school's Google calendar has been updated with all of the upcoming school year's events.  The calendar is always available to you using the Calendar tab at the top of the blog. Here are a few key dates that are coming up soon:

*  Grade 8 Parent Meeting - Thursday, 8/28, 6:30pm in the Grade 8 classroom.  At least one parent from each grade 8 family should attend this important meeting.  The 8th grade year includes many special activities and involves several special fund raising projects that help defray the costs associated with these activities.  Your input is needed at this meeting to finalize plans.

*  Labor Day - Monday, 9/1, School is closed.

*  Parent Meeting for NEW Instrumental Music Students - Tuesday, 9/2, 6:30pm in the Grade 4 classroom.  Only parents of students that are beginning study of instrumental music for the first time at SMS need to attend this meeting.  See below Instrumental Music News for more information.

*  Home & School Association Meeting - Thursday, 9/4, 6:30pm in the Grade 8 classroom.  Did you know that just by sending your children to SMS, you are automatically a part of our Home & School Association.  Your active involvement helps assure that our community does all it can to directly benefit our students and to keep SMS a vibrant, family centered Christian community.

*  School Mass - Friday, 9/5, 9am in the church.  Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend our monthly school Masses.  Please remember that no physical education uniforms should be worn to Mass.

*  "Back to School Night" for Parents - Wednesday, 9/10, 6:30pm in the Parish Center.  Book your sitter and join us for your first opportunity to experience a condensed "Day in the Life" of your special SMS student(s).  This is your evening to get to know his/her teacher(s) a little better, visit the classroom(s) and leave a little note of encouragement.  This is also your first opportunity to sign up for your required Parent/Teacher Conference(s) in November.  Signing up for your conference at "Back to School" night helps assure you get the day and time most convenient for you!

2014-2015 St. Mary's Directory - Again this year, student and family directory information will be available to you via our Educonnect Parent Portal.  At this time, the portal is accessible but please be aware that the school office is still in the process of updating family information based on this year's Directory Verification sheets.  We will notify you via the blog when all updates are complete.  Until updates are complete, please regard the directory information as tentative and subject to change. The portal can be accessed directly from our blog by using the Educonnect Parent Portal tab.  Newly enrolled families will receive their Educonnect user id and password via kidmail during the week of 9/1.  Returning families retain their existing user id and password.  If you cannot remember your user id and password, please contact Donna Hatch at the school office.  We recommend that every family log into the portal to check the accuracy of the family information contained there.  If updates are needed, please contact the school office with the corrections at smsoffice@stmarysimsbury.eduk12.net.

School Communications - SMS has 3 primary methods for communicating information.  The first communication method is via our weekly school blog (and the teachers' blogs).  In general, the blog is published each week on Wednesdays. You can rely on staying up to date if you subscribe to the school blog and the blogs of all teachers that are part of your child(ren)'s day.  To subscribe, enter the desired email address into the subscription box and then follow the instructions you will receive in a confirming email. The second communication method is via email distribution.  Email is used primarily to distribute letters from Mrs. Gannatti or other time sensitive announcements.  SMS has created email distribution lists for all families and then for families by grade.  To create these lists, we use the "family email" you provide on your yearly Family Verification Form.  We can add additional email addresses to these lists if you would like to receive our emails in more than one email box.  Please email Donna Hatch at dhatch@stmarysimsbury.eduk12.net with the addresses you would like added.  Please note that subscribing to the blog does not add an email to our family email lists.  These are 2 entirely separate forms of communication.  The third communication method is via Remind Text.  This is a free confidential text service that allows us to send out a text message to all subscribers.  Remind text is used to communicate quick reminders about time sensitive events and to announce emergency closings. To subscribe to the school's Remind group, use your cell phone to send a text message that says "@smsfam" to 747-233-2970.  You will receive a response that says "Thanks XXX-XXX-XXXX! As a member of @smsfam, you will receive all Ms. Hatch's notifications.  Some teachers also use Remind to send texts about classroom events and activities.  You will receive subscription information about their Remind group at "Back to School" Night on 9/10.  Please keep in mind that our commitment to mobile device technology and 21st century learning means that we do not distribute paper flyers to publicize upcoming events.  Hard copy forms are used only by exception.

Student iPad Deployment - Students in grades K-5 will begin iPad use once each class has the majority of all iPad related forms returned to school.  Forms required for iPad use to begin include: The Electronic Use Agreement, the signed acknowledgement page for the Parent/Student Handbook and the signed acknowledgement page for the iPad Acceptable Use Agreement.  Please note that all 3 forms require both parent and student signatures. The iPad insurance must also be paid.  This was generally paid at time of enrollment. Based on past experience, we anticipate that most classes will have the required paperwork in within the first week of school beginning. This year, almost all of our middle school students have received their iPads prior to the start of school.  If your family's summer plans did not permit you and your Middle School student(s) to meet with Mrs. Hatch, please contact her ASAP to make arrangements for the brief iPad deployment meeting that needs to take place before your student(s) can begin use of the iPad this year.

Instrumental Music News - Again this year, Future Musicians, Inc (FMI) will provide instrumental music lessons to students in grades 4 -8 interested in this study.  Mrs. Debbie Morse will continue as our FMI instructor. Group lessons take place on a rotating schedule during the school day.  The Beginner (Cadet) students study on Thursdays.  The Advanced students study on Mondays.  All instrumental music students participate in our school bands.  Band rehearsals take place during recess periods on Mondays and Thursdays.  There will be a band demonstration for students in 4th grade on 8/28 to acquaint them with the FMI program and the instrumental options available.  Mrs. Morse will meet with parents that are interested in learning more about FMI and the school bands on Tuesday, 9/2, at 6:30pm in the grade 4 classroom.  This meeting is for parents NEW to band.  If your student(s) have already participated in band in past years, you do not need to attend.  Students that have completed a year or more of instrumental music study are eligible to audition for the FMI Eastern Regional Band.  Click here for more information about Regional Band.

Chess Club 2014-15 - Again this year, thanks to Mr. Omelan Markiw, a parent volunteer, St. Mary's School will be able to offer a chess club to students again this Fall. Thank you, Mr. Markiw, for sharing your love of this game with our St. Mary's family again this year! This program is limited to 12 students. Chess Club will be held on Fridays from 3:30-4:30 pm in the 2nd grade classroom beginning on October 2, 2014 and running through November 21, 2014. The club is open to children in grades 1 through 8. If you sign up for chess club, please make every attempt to be at each session as there are limited seats available.  If needed, children will be able to transition into aftercare at the end of chess club.  If your child is interested in learning to play chess with their St. Mary's friends, please click here.  Pick up after chess club is in the north parking lot. Please go to the north side of the building for pick up as there may not be someone in the office to open the main door. 

Piano Lessons - Again this year, our Kindergarten teacher, Mr. Cosham is offering piano lessons for students beginning their study of piano.  He still has a few time slots available.  If you are interested, please contact him at bcosham@stmarysimsbury.eduk12.net.