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Principal's Corner

May 2017
I hope this newsletter finds you well! The fun and learning continues to be a focus at Laurel. I wanted to make sure I highlight some of the upcoming events. For a more detailed list please see specific flyers coming home in your student’s Tuesday folders for the different events.

I want to extend a huge thank you to those of you who came to help in the Jog-a-Thon. We raised $5000 that will go toward your child’s outdoor school experience. A special thank you to our Laurel Parent Group for coordinating and running the event.

Laurel Music Performances, May 22-25: You are all invited to join all of Laurel’s students and our music specialist, Deborah Adams, in our special music performances that will take place at Junction City High School. Students have been hard at work, practicing for these performances for months. This is a heartwarming experience that is memorable and exciting. A separate schedule for the performances has gone out. See you all there.

Remember there is no school on May 26 and May 29.

May 30-June 2nd is going to be Safety Week. We will be re-teaching and practicing all the safety drills we have taught all year. Each drill will be preceded by a review of the procedures with staff and students.
5/30- Fire Drill
5/31- lockout/ lockdown drill
6/1- earthquake and evacuation drill
Fourth Grade Outdoor School, June 5-9
 
Swim Week, June 12-16
Fourth Grade Recognition, June 20
Field Day and 4th Grade Walk June 21


As you can see, the last few weeks of school will be full of fun while learning continues. Laurel teachers will be providing students with memorable opportunities and loads of fun, while keeping the learning in the forefront of their minds. It would be so appreciated if you remind your children of the importance of showing the Laurel Leopards’ spirit by keeping a focus on learning and growth while enjoying all the fun opportunities coming up the next few weeks.

Be well!!


May 2017
I can’t believe we are planning for the end of school already! This year has gone by so fast. There is a lot of fun coming up in the next few weeks at Laurel and I wanted to highlight some of the major activities that will take place. Joy has been identified by the Laurel community to be a core value and we are keeping this value in the forefront of our minds as we plan for a strong conclusion of this magnificent school year.

Kindergarten Round Up, May 10: (1:30pm day session and 5:00pm evening session): We are looking forward to hosting all of our incoming kindergarten families for a fun-filled, informational event. You will get to meet the Kinder Crew (staff) and receive information about our program and ideas on how to prepare your children for kindergarten. You and your children will also enjoy a school bus ride around the neighborhood. If you know a parent, friend or neighbor who has a kinder student, please spread the word.

Spirit Days: Every Friday in May is going to be a spirit day. Students voted on themes for those days and they are so excited to dress up for these events. For example, last Friday was hat day. Please refer to the flyer sent last week for the rest of the May month spirit day themes. Those are super fun days and kids enjoy every bit of it!

Spring Carnival May 19th: Please join us for this fun Spring celebration. Play fun activities and win fun prizes. The parent Group is in need of energetic, ready-to-have-fun parent volunteers. If you are available, please fill out the form that was sent home last week and send it with your child. We look forward to seeing all of you!

Fourth Grade Outdoor School, June 5-9:  Fourth graders will have a unique experience this whole week at Camp Lutherwood. This is a fun-filled, educational experience that is the highlight of the fourth grade year. The teachers can always use some help during this week, so if you are able to volunteer, please contact your teacher.

Swim Week, June 12-16: This week is probably the most favorite week of the year. Students in grades 1-3 will be going to the pool next to our school to swim with their class for 30 minutes each day. Each year, students look forward to having loads of fun during this week.

Fourth Grade Recognition, June 20: This event marks the culmination of our fourth graders’ achievement and accomplishments at Laurel. While it’s going to be hard to send them off to middle school, we are so proud of where they’ve come thus far and where their bright future might take them.

Field Day and 4th Grade Walk, June 21: This is an exciting day for all of us! The kids will engage in super fun outdoor activities and visit lots of exciting stations. At 12:15, the whole school will watch our 4th graders walk the halls for the very last time. They will cheer them on and wish them the best in the years to come. We invite all of you to join us in this marvelous celebration.

May 30-June 2nd is going to be safety week. We will be re-teaching and practicing all the safety drills we have taught all year. I will keep you up to date on this week’s scheduled drills as we come closer to it.

Enjoy the beautiful weather! Hope to see you in some or all of the upcoming fun activities!

Nadira Rizkallah, Principal


April 2017
The Math/Science Night that took place on April 20th was really fun. 300 people attended this event and engaged in science/math activities and enjoyed dinner with their families. The most popular station was the “Egg Drop” station where each classroom presented an engineered egg contraption, where the main goal was to “save the egg.” 6 classrooms were able to successfully build a contraption that achieved this goal. Students had a sense of pride in their work and were extremely excited to share their successes with their families and their peers the next day. I want to extend my many thanks to the dedicated staff at Laurel, especially Leigh Wilcox and Jen Gower, who have put hours into planning this event and other family events this year. Community engagement has been a focus at Laurel, and we are seeing the result of these efforts in student engagement, love for learning and their sense of belonging.

Please join us April 27 to fundraise for outdoor school through the Jog-a-Thon event. The students are super excited to run, enjoy music, snacks and the company of the many parents who will be there to help. The classroom teachers, our instructional assistants, and I will also run with the students and show support of outdoor school. Thanks to the Laurel community for contributing to making Laurel a very fun place to be. Joy has been identified, for three years in a row, by the Laurel staff, to be a core value, and they are living up to it. Thanks to our wonderful, actively engaged Parent Group, for organizing this awesome fundraising event.

Laurel celebrated Earth Day by decorating Safeway paper shopping bags with Earth Day themes. The next time you go shopping, look for the lovely artwork on your shopping bag! The idea for this event was led by our very talented kindergarten teacher, Heather Stafford, and supported by our amazing counselor, Miranda Linville. This is another example of showing distributed leadership at Laurel, where every staff member is invited to lead projects and show their passion and talent.

This month, I’d like to take some time to let you know what our staff and students continue to do to promote a positive learning climate, and to address the issues of bullying, harassment, and discrimination.  One of the primary reasons I decided to transition to being an administrator at the middle school level was due to my belief that this time frame is crucial toward connecting students to school, and helping them feel safe and supported during a challenging developmental period in their lives.  We continue to work with a local group called Ophelia's Place on a "Peers as Allies" classroom presentation for our 5th and 6th graders which addresses bullying, and more specifically teaching and modeling how to demonstrate kindness and empathy for our classmates.  We also have introduced a “Steps to Respect” anti-bullying program delivered by our school counselor, Angie Elstone, in 5th grade classrooms.  During our 2nd Step lessons, we focus on the power of the audience and how bystanders can intervene and communicate issues with parents and adults.  Our 7th & 8th graders take part in a “Healthy Relationships” course, and receive weekly lessons from Mrs. Elstone and our district nurse, Carol Puderbaugh, on Healthy Fridays.   The district Equity Team recently had students complete an Oaklea Climate Survey, and we will be working with that team to analyze the anonymous student feedback and make improvements accordingly.  One of the key components is trust and communication with both our parents and students.  We want every student in the building connected with at least one adult they would come to if they had an issue.  Additional parent resources can be found on the following website: http://www.pacer.org/bullying/resources/parents/.   Please talk with your student, and never hesitate to let us know if concerns arise.

Be on the lookout for information about a Spelling Bee that will take place in the coming weeks. All students in grades 1st-4th are invited to participate. We can’t wait to get students excited about learning new words and working hard to learn how to spell them. This is a good opportunity for you and your child to have fun with words. I encourage you all to participate! This effort is coordinated by our lovely Parent Group, and they will be sending communications in your student’s Tuesday folder.

Please continue to talk to your children about the Laurel Vision focus of the month “academic growth” and “individual excellence”. We kicked these themes off during our April assembly and teachers have been exploring these themes in their classrooms.

Hoping for some sunshine this week!

Nadira Rizkallah, Principal


March 2017
Thanks to all of you who came to our Literacy night (Dr. Seuss’s B-Day night)! Everyone looked great that day in their favorite book character costume. We appreciate your continued support of our Family Fun Nights. Your involvement and participation surely enriches our educational experience. Please help me thank the Laurel teachers and all the community members who volunteered their time to make this night a success. A special thank you goes out to Meghan Dodge, a second grade teacher, for coordinating the event.  Our next event is the magnificent Talent Show, this Friday, March 10th at 6:30! Our music specialist, Deborah Adams, has been hard at work auditioning and practicing with students. Thank you so much for supporting this effort at home as well, by helping your students practice for the show. We hope everyone can come out and enjoy our talented students!

 Please note that March 16th and 17th are now student days and March 23rd and 24th are non-student days. This change is due to the snow makeup days. Our teachers are going to be working on report cards on March 23rd and will plan to send report cards home after Spring Break in student’s Tuesday folders on April 4th.  March 24th is going to be used for Spring conferences. These conferences are on an as needed basis, so your teacher will contact you if he/she feels a conference is needed.  Please do not hesitate to contact your teacher with questions about conferences or report cards.

Our Laurel Vision focus of the month will continue to be “Responsible Citizens”. Please continue to have conversations about how to be a responsible citizen at school, in the community and at home. Our teachers have made a great effort to teach this in their classrooms and reinforce it with lots of praise and guidance during the day. We appreciate your support of our vision and thank you for being part of our Laurel community. 

Have a magnificent week!
Warm Regards,
Nadira Rizkallah, Principal


February 2017
I have great news to share with you. BINGO night was such a huge success! We raised $6000! Many thanks and appreciation to our Parent Group for working so hard on collecting donations from community members and putting baskets together for BINGO prizes and silent auction. Also a huge thank you for Laurel teachers for also contributing to the collection of basket items. Laurel is also very grateful for the community members who donated items to fill the BINGO baskets, and those who attended the event and contributed to the fundraising cause. We all can also agree that the fourth grade teachers who helped during the event did a knock-out job! Because of you and this collective effort, we are able to provide our fourth graders with a unique opportunity to participate in Outdoor School, where they will spend the week at Camp Lutherwood, engaging in hands on science and physical activities.

Our next Family fun night is March 2nd! It is going to be a “Dress Like Your Favorite Children’s Book Character Night.” Staff and students are invited to dress up like their favorite character the entire day on Thursday, February 2nd. During the evening event, we will have community members reading all-time favorite Dr. Seuss books, games, door prizes, crafts and much more. It is going to be a marvelous night filled with fun and love of reading. In addition, we are taking this opportunity to promote healthy eating and wellbeing through our CATCH program. We will have some informational materials and a YUMMY, healthy snack set up in the cafeteria for you to enjoy. Please be on the lookout for a flyer coming home soon in your children’s Tuesday folders for more information. Hope to see all of you there.

Our Laurel Vision focus of the month is “Responsible Citizens”. We kicked this theme off by honoring one of our most responsible citizens in town, the one and only, Officer Jackson! During our student assembly on February 8th, we welcomed a group of community members from American Legion who helped us celebrate Officer Jackson’s contributions to our community. You can support your children’s understanding of how to be responsible citizens by having conversations about ways you can be responsible at home, in the community and at school. Thank you so much for your support of our Vision.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Warm Regards,
Nadira Rizkallah, Principal


February 7, 2017:
Our all-time favorite, BINGO Night, is fast approaching. Get yourself ready to win some prizes and fun goodies on
February 10th. Please see the flyer that was sent home in your child’s Tuesday folder last week for more details. We are looking to raise $10,000 to support Outdoor School for our fourth graders, and this night is a huge contributor to this enrichment activity. Please try to attend this event and support our school while you have a lot of fun. If you are unable to attend, but would like to contribute by donating to this fundraiser, our Parent Group would love to accept your generous donations. The staff and children at Laurel thank you so much for all that you do to support our school!

Thanks to all of you who joined the fun during our Lego Family Fun Night where students engaged in thought provoking and creative games using Legos. Students and families were so excited to join the stations and seemed to be having a blast. We couldn’t have had this amazing night without the tireless work of our very own, Shelly Dickson, in collaboration with our Family Involvement Team, as well as other staff members who stayed to supervise the Lego stations. A special thank you goes out to our amazing Laurel Parent Group for supporting this event.

Our Vision focus for the month is responsible citizens. We will have an assembly next Wednesday to explore with our students ways we can be responsible in our school, at home, and in the community. You can support our efforts by having conversations with your child about being a responsible citizen.

We just got done with a round of EasyCBM benchmark assessments where we monitor the progress of all children on their grade level standard achievement. Teachers spent a significant amount of time examining the data and using it to inform their instruction. I am happy to report that we saw huge growth in each grade level, which is a testament to the phenomenal work our teachers do on daily basis. You will have a chance to learn all about your student’s growth during our Spring conferences just before Spring Break. If you are interested in meeting with your child’s teacher earlier, please let us know and we will be more than happy to meet.  School’s report card information has been uploaded on Laurel’s website, as well as the District website. If you have questions about the information presented in the report card, I would be more than happy to answer them.


January 2017:
January is School Board Appreciation Month and Laurel would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every Board member for their time, effort and unwavering support for the children of Junction City community. As we reflect on our practices, decision-making and passion we feel grateful to be supported by Board members who always put children first.

On January 11th, and during our Early Release assembly, we focused on a very important and relevant component of our school’s vision and that is “compassionate Citizens.” Students got to explore with one another, and with staff, ways we can show compassion and also reviewed activities they have all engaged in at Laurel that show caring, love, and kindness

We have worked diligently as a Laurel community to support all of our students who come from diverse socio-economic, political, racial and religious backgrounds. It remains our responsibility to assure that every child feels loved, accepted and important in our school. To that end, we launched a “compassionate Hearts” movement with the goal of catching EVERY child being compassionate. Any student who exemplify the essence of this movement will receive a paper heart to recognize their compassion and caring for others.

We recently have gone through another round of EasyCBM benchmark testing to measure students’ growth. Teachers will use this data to evaluate their effectiveness, tailor instruction to students’ needs, and make data-driven decisions for Walk to Read groups. In addition, we have been working to prepare for the Smarter Balanced testing, that will start mid-April, ensuring that our technology is up and running, our students are well prepared, and teachers have all that they need to administer the test.  If you have a student in 3rd or 4th grade, you will be receiving some information about the test, schedules, preparation and timeframe for testing in the near future. Please be on the lookout for this information in your child’s Tuesday folder in the upcoming weeks. For opt out information, please refer to the District’s website at: http://www.junctioncity.k12.or.us/.

On January 26th, 5:30-7:00, Laurel will host the all-time favorite Family Fun Night, Lego Night.  Students will engage in thought provoking and creative games using Legos. A special thank you goes out to Shelly Dickson who, in collaboration with our Family Involvement Team, as well as other staff members, has been working hard to plan this event. Our next Family Fun Night, BINGO NIGHT, is coming up on February 10th in the high school cafeteria starting at 5:30 pm.  This event is organized by our wonderful Parent Group to help fundraise for fourth grade Outdoor School. We invite you to join the fun and help support our fourth grade students fundraise for this unique opportunity.


November 2016:

You all did it again!! You helped us fundraise $1500 for our Turkey Drive. Because of your generous contributions, we are able to extend the gift of giving and share 35 Thanksgiving meals with some Laurel families. What a great way to teach our students about giving, compassion and gratitude, which are skills that we instill in our students through the Laurel vision.

We continue to work on enhancing our safety measures and keep a keen eye on our beloved students. We are noticing that many students are being dropped off in the middle of the street, or at times in the middle of the cross walk or the intersection. This poses a real safety issue and makes it hard for our staff and crossing guards to perform their job safely. I attached to this newsletter a quick safety guide to help you understand our drop-off and pick-up procedures. Your help and cooperation is crucial to the safety of our kids.

We will continue our focus on the “each student actively engaged” part of our Laurel Vision into the month of December. Every student is important, and every student deserves an equitable learning opportunity.

I want to make you aware of our upcoming Family Fun Nights that we would love to invite each and every one of you to attend. We will send specific information to you when we draw near to each date.
December:  Catch Dance Fever: A night full of healthy snack, movement, and dance
January:  Lego Night: A night of creation, creativity, and fun
February:  Bingo Night: an ALL-TIME favorite… Play and win lots of cool prizes
March:  Dr. Seuss Literacy Night: An event full of cool books and love for reading
April:  Math & Science Family Fun Night
May:  Carnival


Have a wonderful holiday season!!

With Gratitude,

Nadira Rizkallah, Principal


November 2016
Dear Parents and Guardians,
We had so much fun during our silly string assembly where students who sold 10+ boxes of cookie dough got to silly string the principal! Thanks to all of you who came to have fun with us. Because of our Laurel community support, we have approximately $10,000 in proceeds from this fundraising project. Wow!! What a great, supportive community we have!

For the month of November we continue to focus on our Laurel’s vision. This month we are focusing on the “each and every students actively engaged” component of our vision. It is especially important to our staff here at Laurel, to see each student achieving to his/her full potential no matter who they are or where they come from. Our job as a community is to support ALL of our students, and this is the commitment we make to this wonderful community. Please help us achieve this goal by talking to your children about respect, nurture and inclusion. Our children are our future and no one benefits from leaving anyone behind. So let’s put our hands together to lift this community and support its prosperity through raising a generation of caring, articulate, and inclusive learners.

Laurel has the privilege to be participating in a grant-funded opportunity focused on community health. The program is called Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH). Through this program, we will work as a community to teach our kids how to make healthy choices through healthy foods and exercise. The program requires a great deal of partnering with the community at large to help make healthy decisions a habit of mind. We are kicking off this program in December with a Family Fun Night titled CATCH Dance Fever! We will dance, exercise and eat healthy snacks together. Please stay tuned for more information coming home about this program and this fun activity.

If you have any questions or wish to get involved in any of the initiatives I mentioned in this letter, please do not hesitate to call us.


November 2016
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Laurel has great news to share with regards to the Focus School designation. Oregon Department of Education just recently released school report cards.  We can be very proud of the progress Laurel has made, and it's a tribute to the hard work of our students and staff. While schools were not rated this year, we received a Level 4 in Academic Achievement with Level 5 being the highest score. Given this score, Laurel met the criteria to exit Focus School status. This is cause for celebration for our students, staff, families and the community at large. In looking at other scores we received, we realize that there is still work to be done in the area of Academic Growth and Student Group Growth. All of the Focus and Priority Schools received a 5th year of funding, which provides us an extra layer of support for the 2016-17 school year. This means we still have access to professional development through the Regional Rural Schools Network and funds to support our Focus School priorities. The Laurel staff understands that it is important that we make the most of this 5th year! 

Speaking of good news, our students were able to raise $23,000 in our latest cookie dough fundraiser, making Laurel’s net profit total approximately $10,000! I wanted to thank each and every one who contributed to this fundraising activity, whether through purchasing cookie dough or helping our students sell them. It is because of your support that the Laurel Parent Group is able to provide funds for lots of extracurricular and fun activities such as field trips, swim week, inflatables, in addition to purchasing classroom technology. We invite you to join this incredible group of parents and help them with your passion, talents and great ideas. In addition to gift cards and prizes, and as an incentive to the students who sold 10 or more boxes of cookie dough, we are going to have a school assembly on Friday, November 4th between 1:00-2:15, where students will silly string the Principal. I am so excited and happy to provide the kids with this opportunity to have fun and celebrate their accomplishments. Please join us!!!

Thanks to all of you who came and met with your teacher during our parent/teacher conferences. I enjoyed visiting with many of you and was thrilled to hear the great news you had to share about your students’ progress. We are so proud of our students and their achievement, and our teachers encourage students every day to believe in their ability to attain high standards of learning. We are thankful for your partnership and support.


October 2016
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Now that we have a few weeks under our belt, the 2016-17 school year is off to a great start. I wanted to share a few items of great importance in hopes that you discuss them with your student.

We have started practicing our safety drills to highlight and put emphasis on safety procedures. Fostering a safe learning environment is in the core of the Laurel vision and we are focusing on teaching this concept throughout the month of October and in the months to come. In addition to fire, earthquake, lockdown/lockout, and evacuation drills, we teach students that social-emotional safety is also important. We talk about friendship, compassion, and care for one another. We explain that a safe learning environment is the right of each and every student and that we are all responsible to make sure we contribute to such environment.

Another systemic emphasis we have this year is our Positive Behavior Support System. We are making a great effort to identify and recognize positive behaviors on a daily basis. We also help students make better choices through teaching of expectations and recognizing when we see them. Please look in your child’s Tuesday folder for a communication sheet that explains our Positive Behavior Support System in details. It also includes our updated discipline policy and guides you through how to get help when you have questions. If you have further questions about this system, please do not hesitate to call us.

I am sure you all are aware of the clown phenomena that has spread nationwide. In order to reduce anxiety, and help students feel safe, especially around Halloween, we are asking that no “scary” costumes or props are brought or worn to school on our Harvest Dress Up Spirit Day on October 31st. Please remember that what may be a “cool” costume to a fourth grader could be “scary” to a kindergartner. Please help your kids be sensitive to the younger kids and those older kids who may experience anxiety. No masks or props will be allowed on school ground, and I am sure you agree, absolutely no clown related costumes, face-paint or accessories. Please allow your children to dress up in only school-appropriate costumes.

October 2016
Dear Parents and Guardians,

Our Back-to-School Night turned out to be an amazing event! Thanks to all of you who came to support your children, celebrate International Dot Day, learn about our program, view you children’s art gallery and visit with us. It was so wonderful to see all of you. I am sure that as you visited your classrooms you were able to learn all about the Growth Mindset and our Laurel vision. In the coming few months, we are going to dedicate each month to focus on one component of our vision. The month of October is going to be focused around what it means to create a safe learning environment. We would like to teach our students that physical safety is not the only aspect that we look for when thinking about this concept. Social-emotional, mental, communal and academic safety are also aspects that we commit to teaching our kids at Laurel. Please take some time to discuss with your children topics of safety in all of these areas and ask about what they have been learning at school in this regard.

Laurel Picture day is coming up October 6th! Please help your children wear their best smile to school that morning. It is always a pleasure to look through all the cuteness that comes with these picture days!

Please note that October 14th is a no school day and October 26 is our Early Release day at 1:00.

We cannot wait to see all of you at our upcoming October conferences. These conferences are your opportunity to meet with your teacher and ask all the questions you have about your child’s education, progress, and well-being at school. We hope for 100% participation from our families as we believe building a relationship with you is one of the most important aspects of our children’s success at school. In the coming days, your teacher will send communication home for you to sign up for a conference time slot. If you have siblings attending Laurel, our teachers make their best effort to put your conferences close to each other. For your convenience, we will be offering evening conferences on the night of October 26th from 4:00-8:00pm. October 27th will be an all day, 8:00-4:00, conferences and October 28th will be a half day, 8:00-12:00pm. We look forward to seeing you!

September 6, 2016
Dear Familes:

Welcome back!  The first two weeks of school have been so wonderful. It was amazing to see how eager our students were to start yet another year filled with fun and lots of learning.

The Laurel community is an exceptional place because of your support, warmth and compassion. Our staff members understand that their role is not to simply teach our children how to read and write, but to also help develop them emotionally and socially. That is the reason we constantly seek to build a partnership with you to achieve our school’s vision. Our staff’s commitment to you as parents and guardians, and to our students, is to work tirelessly to reach and develop each and every child to his/her fullest potential. To that end, Laurel is celebrating International Dot Day on Thursday, September 29th, which is also our Back-to-School Night. All staff and students are going to "make our mark" and #BeTheDifference! Everyone is invited to wear dots to commemorate this day!

International Dot Day, a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration, began when teacher Terry Shay introduced his classroom to Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot on September 15, 2009. The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe. We invite you as family members to wear dot-filled outfits and come join us on our Back-to-School Night to view an art gallery of your child’s “mark” or “Dot,” that will line all the halls of Laurel Elementary School. You will also get the chance to hear from teachers about their plan for the year to support our culture of growth and learning, including information on curriculum, field trips, programs and much more.

Can’t wait to see you all at our Back-to-School Night!

I cannot believe summer is almost over and our first day of school on September 6th is around the corner. I hope that you found some time to enjoy the sun, laugh, play, and spend time with your children. We sure missed our students and we can’t wait for them to be back.  I wanted to write and share a few things with you before the start of the year.

Our staff has engaged in the past two years, co-visioning and painting a bright picture for the future of our students, school and community. We are asking for your support to help us achieve the following vision:

Laurel is committed to creating a safe learning community where each and every student is actively engaged. We strive to be compassionate and responsible citizens with a focus on academic growth and individual excellence.

I am planning to designate a special section in my bi-weekly newsletters that goes out to all of our families to keep you informed of ways we are living this vision and continuing to strive to achieve it. I will also include ways you can be of support to this vision in hopes to work together as a community to provide our children with the best educational experience possible.

Please help us welcome the following new additions to the laurel staff:  Miranda Linville (Counselor), Alan Cook (fourth grade), Allison Jaimes (pronounced as Hymas) (fourth grade), Tristan Esch (IA), Melanie Paulson(IA), Jacque Cox (IA), Carrie Truesdell (secretary), and our OWN, Darcey Edwards as a full-time Behavior Specialist/Coordinator.

We are really excited to have Darcey Edwards work for us full time. She has 15 years+ of behavior management experience and presents a wealth of knowledge in assisting families navigate school-related challenges. Her role this year will focus mainly on student management and will act as a parent relations liaison. She will take care of all issues related to students’ behavior and any other issues/challenges that may arise. She will be involved in the Student Support Team, 504 plans, as needed, and any student-related parent communication and problem solving. In addition, she will continue to be the Positive Behavior Support system guru in terms of the big picture, trainings (in-house and district wide) and other consulting and coaching opportunities. I encourage you to use her expertise and seek her help as it might serve your needs. Let us know how else we can be of service to you.

This year is going to be a very exciting year. We keep thinking about the great opportunities and expertise our team members bring to the educational experience of all of our kids. We see hope, excitement, and lots of promise on the horizon, and we cannot wait to dive in. I wish you, and all our children, a fantastic 2016-17 school year and hope that our partnership continues to grow to better serve our kids and our Junction City community.

With Gratitude,

Nadira Rizkallah, Principal


June 2016
Dear Familes:

I can’t believe our 2015-2016 school year is coming to an end! This year has been one of the best years in my career. Working in the Junction City community has been such a fulfilling and rewarding experience. I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks and deep appreciation to all of you for sharing your kids with us this year. At Laurel, we work to nurture, love, educate and inspire near 520 students. Our staff members pour their hearts out day in and day out to serve our students and provide the best school experience possible. Thank you for letting us be a part of your child’s life. It has been a true honor.

The Laurel musicals were a huge success!  Thanks to all of you who came to cheer our students on as they freely expressed themselves through dance and singing. It was heartwarming and amazing to watch our kids perform. Please join me in thanking Deborah Adams, our music specialist, for providing our children with such a unique opportunity.

We have concluded our state testing and the students in 3rd and 4th grade did a wonderful job persevering through it. Thank you so much for supporting your students throughout the testing.

We continue to enjoy the end of year festivities and the students are having a blast. Thank you for helping your children finish this year strong by continuing to focus on our three school values: be safe, respectful and responsible. This is a special time of the year at Laurel where kids are making fond memories that last a lifetime.

Until my next newsletter, please have a magnificent summer, play in the sun, enjoy your children, and remember to laugh A LOT!!! We will miss all of our beloved students!


May 23, 2016
Dear Families,

I hope this newsletter finds you well! The fun and learning continues to be a focus at Laurel. I wanted to make sure I highlight some of the upcoming events. For a more detailed list please click on the 'Read More' at the bottom of this message.

I want to extend a huge thank you to those of you who came to help in the Garden Cleanup Party! The nature center looks way better, and we are grateful for all of our volunteers! Be on the lookout for information on a second cleanup day this year. Our wonderful garden party leader, Jackie Peterson, is preparing for another event. Thank you Jackie!!!

Laurel Music Performances, May 23-26: You are all invited to join all of Laurel’s students and our music specialist, Deborah Adams, in our special music performances that will take place at Junction City High School. Students have been hard at work, practicing for these performances for months. This is a heartwarming experience that is memorable and exciting. A separate schedule for the performances has gone out. See you all there. 

Remember there is no school on May 27 and May 30.

May 31-June 3rd is going to be Safety Week. We will be re-teaching and practicing all the safety drills we have taught all year. Each drill will be preceded by a review of the procedures with staff and students.
5/31 reteach safety drills
6/1- Fire Drill
6/2- lockout/ lockdown drill
6/3- earthquake and evacuation drill

June 10th is going to be a day full of fun with INFLATABLES!! Every classroom will be scheduled to enjoy huge inflatable structures. Thanks to our Laurel Parent Group that supports this event in collaboration with our Positive Behavior Support Team. We are so excited for this opportunity!
Swim Week, June 6-10
Fourth Grade Outdoor School, June 6-10 
Fourth Grade Recognition, June 16
Field Day and 4th Grade Walk June 17

As you can see, the last few weeks of school will be full of fun while learning continues. Laurel teachers will be providing students with memorable opportunities and loads of fun, while keeping the learning in the forefront of their minds. It would be so appreciated if you remind your children of the importance of showing the Laurel Leopards’ spirit by keeping a focus on learning and growth while enjoying all the fun opportunities coming up the next few weeks. 
Be well!!

Nadira Rizkallah, Principal


May 20, 2016
On May 18, 2016, Junction City High School received notice of a threat to the campus via the Junction City Police Department. The campus was placed in lockout status during that notification call. Building administrators at Oaklea Middle School, Laurel Elementary School, and Territorial Elementary School were advised to lockout those campus buildings as well.

Lockout status directs staff to secure all exterior doors to prevent entry into campus buildings. When the campus is in lockout, individuals are able to move within each building, but are not permitted to exit or travel between buildings. This is in contrast to a lockdown which requires staff to shelter students in place by locking interior doors including classrooms and offices. JCHS conducted a lockdown drill of the entire campus in cooperation with JCPD and other law enforcement agencies on May 13, 2016.

At the time of the lockout, students were present in four separate buildings on the campus, and a physical education (PE) class was outside. Staff responded quickly to bring students inside and secure the perimeter. Because the lockout extended into two additional class periods, and students typically move between buildings during passing times, staff sheltered students in place by holding them in class for the duration of the lockout. At no time, however, were interior doors placed in lockdown status.

Junction City Police and the school principal canvassed the campus classroom by classroom to search for signs of possible threats and to assess the well-being of students while other law enforcement agencies remained on stand-by status.

The decision to lift the lockout was made after determining that the threat was not imminent.

School attendance is consistent with normal attendance patterns.


May 10, 2016
I can’t believe we are planning for the end of school already! This year has gone by so fast. There is a lot of fun coming up in the next few weeks at Laurel and I wanted to highlight some of the major activities that will take place. Joy has been identified by the Laurel community to be a core value and we are keeping this value in the forefront of our minds as we plan for a strong conclusion of this magnificent school year.

Kindergarten Round Up, May 11: (1:30pm day session and 5:00pm evening session): We are looking forward to hosting all of our incoming kindergarten families for a fun-filled, informational event. You will get to meet the Kinder Crew (staff) and receive information about our program and ideas on how to prepare your children for kindergarten. You and your children will also enjoy a school bus ride around the neighborhood. See you all there!

Spirit Days: Every Friday in May is going to be a spirit day. Students voted on themes for those days and they are so excited to dress up for these events. For example, last Friday was crazy sock day. Be on the lookout in your student’s classroom news for the types of spirit day it will be each Friday. Those are super fun days and kids enjoy every bit of it!

Swim Week, June 6-10: This week is probably the most favorite week of the year. Students will be going to the pool next to our school to swim with their class for 30 minutes each day. Each year, students look forward to having loads of fun during this week.

Fourth Grade Outdoor School, June 6-10:  While the rest of the school will enjoy swim week, the fourth graders will have a unique experience this whole week at Camp Lutherwood. This is a fun-filled educational experience that is the highlight of the fourth grade experience. The teachers can always use some help during this week, so if you are able to volunteer, please contact your teacher.

Fourth Grade Recognition, June 16: This event marks the culmination of our fourth graders’ achievement and accomplishments at Laurel. While it’s going to be hard to send them off to middle school, we are so proud of where they’ve come thus far and where their bright future might take them

Field Day and 4th Grade Walk, June 17: This is an exciting day for all of us! The kids will engage in super fun outdoor activities and visit lots of exciting stations. At 12:15, the whole school will watch our 4th graders walk the halls for the very last time. They will cheer them on and wish them the best in the years to come. We invite all of you to join us in this marvelous celebration.

May 31-June 3rd is going to be safety week. We will be re-teaching and practicing all the safety drills we have taught all year. I will keep you up to date on this week’s scheduled drills as we come closer to it.

Enjoy the beautiful weather! Hope to see you in some or all of the upcoming fun activities!

May 2016
Thanks to all of you who came to our Math/Science Family Fun Night. It was surly a very fun night. I especially enjoyed the “Egg Drop” contest. I believe students and parents who attended, did too. Also the Earth Day celebration was amazing and the students were so creative with their All Species dress up. Many thanks to our talented instructional assistant, Karrie Nelson, for leading this effort. Coming up in the next couple of weeks are office professionals (4/25-29) and teacher appreciation weeks (5/2-6). I encourage you to help your kids make cards, notes or bring a flower from the garden for our outstanding office staff and endlessly, dedicated teachers. Also a phone call to express appreciation will make the day. Thank you all for helping me continue to foster and nurture a positive school culture.

The laurel staff have been engaging in visioning activities for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. This involved lots of time examining our core values, guiding principles and our vision for our community. This process included certified and classified staff members. Our next step is involving the community and the students to grow this vision. On March 8th the entire staff met and celebrated what they have accomplished thus far in this effort. We were able to build the following, ever-growing, vision and guiding principles for educating and nurturing our students. We are looking to our families and the community at large to help us support the growth of this vision by giving us feedback and ideas for achieving this vision. I wanted to include it in this newsletter and invite you to engage in conversations with us about what you think. Remember this is a growing vision, and not carved in stone. We understand that a vision needs to be alive, adaptable, and ever-growing. We value your feedback and involvement. Here it is:

Laurel is committed to creating a safe learning community where each and every student is actively engaged. We strive to be compassionate and responsible citizens with a focus on academic growth and individual excellence.

Our Core Beliefs:
We focus on kids by:
Nurturing each and every student to be their best
Supporting our students to meet high expectations
We include and excel together by:
Collaborating, committing to common agreements, maintaining high expectations, and celebrating our successes.
We are accountable to each other by:
Maintaining two way communication through shared leadership
Being reflective on the education practices and success of each and every student
Continuously supporting each other
We simplify by:
Collaborating as a team to achieve a common goal
Aligning what we do to our vision
We innovate by:
Being actively involved
Respecting all ideas
Solving problems creatively to meet all students’ needs

Warm Regards,
Nadira Rizkallah, Principal


April 2016
We had a beautiful transition back to school from Spring Break. Students and teachers were excited to get back to learning and had a blast sharing all the fun activities they engaged in over the break!

Our next family Fun Night is coming up on April 14. We are hosting a Math and Science fair where students are going to showcase the science projects they have been working so hard to put together.  We will also have many fun games and stations that everyone will be able to visit. We are so excited to be highlighting the great work our students are doing in science and math and can’t wait to see you all there. Be on the lookout for a flyer with details about this event.

Remember! April 13 is an early release day. Students will go home at 1:00 pm.

Please be on the lookout for some information about our upcoming Jog-a-Thon on April 21. The event will run on a rotating schedule from 8:30-2:00. We will send out a schedule with your classroom’s specific time to run. It would be so lovely to have you here cheering the children on, running with them, or volunteering in running the event. We are always excited to see our families at school enjoying all the fun activities. See you all out in the field!!!


The third and fourth grade students at laurel are getting ready to take the Smarter Balanced test. Currently, the teachers and proctors are administering the practice test to allow students to get a feel of what it’s like to take the test. The actual testing period is going to start the week of April 11. We hope to conclude testing in both reading and math by May 23. Our students are having a positive experience practicing for this test, and we are anticipating the process to be smooth.  To support your children being successful on this assessment, please remind them to:

  • Go to bed early every night and get a good night’s sleep.
  • Don’t stress about it. We will be there to support them and help them in every way possible.
  • Eat healthy, so they can work hard. Avoid sugary breakfast or snacks.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Play after school to get energized and be stress free.
  • Think positive and believe in yourself. The test may have items that you do not know how to answer. That is ok. Just do your best!

You can find more information about this assessment on the Junction City Schools website. As always, if you have questions for me, please call our main office.

Warm Regards,
Nadira Rizkallah, Principal


March 2016
Our Talent show was AMAZING!! The students’
talents were out of this world. Thanks to all of you
who attended the show to support our children and our school. As you come to visit Laurel in the next few days, please help me thank Deborah Adams, the music specialist, for her dedication to our children and her passion to support students’ talents. She spent countless hours preparing for the show and it all paid off! In addition to the amazing students’ performances, several members from the Laurel staff joined me in a surprise dance that was the opening act for the night. The students LOVED it! We are so grateful to have such a positive and energetic Laurel family that values fun and joy as part of the learning experience. Thank you all for cheering us on!

Please note that we have non-student days March 16-18. During those days, teachers will be preparing report cards for trimester two on March 16, and conducting parent-teacher conferences on March 17.  March 18 is a non-contract day. In addition, Spring Break is around the corner, starting March 21-25. I hope that you enjoy the break with your children, find time to play, laugh, and have lots of fun.

We plan to send report cards for Trimester two in students’ Tuesday folders on March 29. Please be on the lookout for these report cards as they give you a good look at your child’s progress this year. Please do not hesitate to contact your teacher if you have any questions in regards to these reports.
As always, we would love to see you around, so please stop by and say hello. Have a magnificent Spring Break!!!

Warm Regards,
Nadira Rizkallah, Principal


February 2016
I have great news to share with you. BINGO night was
such a huge success! We raised $6500! Many thanks and appreciation goes out to our Parent Group President, Wendi Latta, for working so hard on collecting donations from community members and putting baskets together for BINGO prizes and silent auction. Also a huge thank you goes to every member of the Parent Group Leadership Team, especially Wendi, Shelly Dickson and Melissa Tofell, for the countless hours they dedicated to present to us such a very well executed event.   A special shout out to Jessica Cook, for being such a great MC!  Laurel is also very grateful for the community members who donated items to fill the BINGO baskets, and those who attended the event and contributed to the fundraising cause. Because of you and this collective effort, we are able to provide our fourth graders with a unique opportunity to participate in Outdoor School, where they will spend the week at Camp Lutherwood, engaging in hands on science and physical activities.

Our next Family fun night is this Thursday! It is going to be a “Dress Like Your Favorite Children’s Book Character Night.” Staff and students are invited to dress up like their favorite character the entire day on Thursday, February 25th. During the evening event, we will have community members reading all-time favorite books, games, door prizes, book exchanges and crafts. It is going to be a marvelous night filled with fun and love of reading. Please find the flyer that went home in your children’s Tuesday folders for more information. Hope to see all of you there.

Smarter Balanced testing is around the corner. In the coming couple of weeks there will be some information coming home with third and fourth grade students about this test. For immediate information or for opt out questions please visit our Junction City Schools website.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Warm Regards!!
Nadira Rizkallah, Principal

 

LAUREL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
1401 LAUREL STREET
JUNCTION CITY, OR 97448
(541) 998-2386
www.jcles.org
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