Hillcrest February Newsletter

Hillcrest Newsletter

February 2019

Upcoming Events

  • February 18 – 22, Winter Vacation!
  • Saturday, February 16 –The Lego Movie 2 at Greenfield Gardens Cinema
  • Friday, March 1 – Read Across Hillcrest
  • Thursday, March 21 – Kindergarten Open House
  • Thursday, March 28 – Kindergarten Registration


From the Principal

Dear Hillcrest Families,

At today’s All School Meeting, we focused on the theme of Friendship. Our preschoolers from Ms. Welles’ class, along with their first grade buddies from Ms. Wulfiuhle’s ELL classes, used drawing and writing to express their ideas about “ways to be a friend”. They told us “Friends help each other.”, “Friends teach each other.” and “Friends are nice.” Our kindergarten students from Ms. Hirst’s class, who have been learning about a new character trait each month, shared a poem that highlights compassion, titled True Friend. These kindergarten students have learned that compassion means “showing people you care.” Ms. Smith’s first grade class presented what they’ve learned about friendship during their cooperative learning math groups. During these math projects, they’ve learned that one part of being a good friend involves noticing and reflecting on your own actions. We hope these presentations might prompt some conversations at home about friendship and may inspire you to connect with some friends during the school vacation week.

A few important notes:

  • A great opportunity to connect with Hillcrest friends is the screening of The Lego Movie 2 at Greenfield Gardens Cinema on Saturday morning at 9:30. Tickets are only $5!
  • Another chance to enjoy time with Hillcrest friends is Read Across Hillcrest on Friday, March 1st. This free, family event will feature a pizza dinner, fun read-aloud activities and a free book shopping spree. Please join us!
  • Our Lockdown Drill on Monday went very smoothly. Our students moved through this drill very calmly and then jumped right back into their regular routines without missing a beat. We are all very grateful for the assistance of the Massachusetts State Police, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, and the Montague Police Department during these safety drills.
  • This week’s weather really impacted our regular school schedule. If you have not been receiving the automated calls about weather-related delays, early releases or cancellations, please call Mrs. Prokowich in the main office so that we can update your contact information. And, please keep in mind, when we have Two Hour Delay days, the school building opens at 10:15 and the school day begins at 10:30. It’s also important to remember that school breakfast is not served on these days, so please be sure that your child eats breakfast at home before heading off to school.


Wishing you a wonderful school vacation week --

Sarah Burstein

Sarah Burstein, Principal




In preschool we have finished up our Tools of the Mind “Restaurant” theme. The children enjoyed taking on various restaurant roles including wait staff, customers, and cooks. We will soon be moving on to our “Hospital” and “Pet/Vet” themes. In science, the children have been learning about living and non-living things and their characteristics. Looking forward, we are building a theme around maple sugaring in March to go along with our new science standards. Be looking for more about this, and for information coming home about March parent-teacher conferences! Have a wonderful February break!

Ms. Teresa, Ms. Chanda and Ms. Sarah



Kindergarten families,

We are cruising through our kindergarten year and have celebrated the 100 day milestone!

We are continuing to enjoy the adventures of Jack and Annie in the Magic Tree House books. Before our school vacation we focused on fact building around ninjas and Japan before we read the 5th book Night of the Ninjas. We are practicing many comprehension skills through our literacy centers.

In math we continue to focus on teen numbers and decomposing numbers. Decomposing numbers is a fancy way to look at the different ways you can make or represent numbers. For example, 5 can be decomposed into 0+5, 1+4, 2+3, 3+2, 4+1, and 5+0. This important skill helps the kids to build a strong number sense.

Enjoy a safe, happy February vacation!

The Kindergarten Team

Ms. Fox, Ms. Hirst, Mrs. Lesenski


First Grade


February will be a very short but busy month for the first grade learners! We had a blast celebrating our 100th day of school. The classes participated in various games and activities that gave needed exposure and practice with numbers and combinations up to 100.

Reading and writing continue to drive our learning. We have been working on reading and writing words with the glued sounds: ing, ang, ong, ung and ink, ank, onk, unk. We are also working in our reading groups on learning how to identify and read long vowel, silent e words. The “magic” e helps a vowel to “say its name”. We have also begun work in reading groups on learning about “vowel teams.” These are words that have two vowels together in a word and the first vowel “does the talking” – “says its name” (ex. team, road, etc.)

In math, we are practicing our number facts in addition and subtraction. By this time in the year, your child should know the six partners of ten, as we have practiced them in many ways. (0+10, 1+9, 2+8, 3+7, 4+6, and 5+5). Daily practice at home will keep these facts fresh in their minds. We are building on this knowledge and extending it to partners of 100 as well! (10+90, 20+80, etc.)

Our Simple Machines science unit has been a lot of fun. The kids have learned about how simple machines can help make our lives easier. We have used and written about pulleys, inclined planes (ramps), levers, wheels and axles, screws and gears. We have done a lot of great hands-on experiments with these machines. We are going to solve a real life problem using a simple machine of the student’s choosing. They will have a challenge to lift, move or carry a load across a distance and they will need to identify a simple machine, try it out and evaluate the results of their experiment.

Enjoy your well-deserved vacation with your learner! Be proud of their hard work and celebrate their learning with a daily read from a good book together! J


Ms Casey, Miss Matrishon, Mrs. Saylor, Ms. Smith


Therapeutic Classroom

The students in the therapeutic classroom have been practicing daily mindfulness using the Inner Explorer program (www.innerexplorer.org). Each practice is a 5-10 minute guided audio practice. The definition of mindfulness is to pay attention to the present moment without judgment. To remember to be mindful, one needs to practice! As a class we have practiced breathing & relaxation exercises and have learned to have an awareness of our senses. The program is also helping us as we work towards promoting social-emotional learning and developing compassion & connection with each other.

Research has shown that a daily mindfulness practice increases one’s ability to: focus, to have an awareness of physical tension in the body, to be resilient, have presence in the moment and be self-compassionate. It also decreases: stress and anxiety, sleep disturbance and behavior disruptions.

Ms. Tirrell & Mrs. Chagnon




English Learner News

Kindergarten English Learners have been focusing on the language of addition and subtraction. We have been using children's literature to explore math problems.

First grade English Learners are learning language of science through a unit on animals and habitats. We have been exploring what makes a good habitat and are forming questions about common habitats and the animals that live there. Now, we are starting to do basic research to answer these questions.

Ms. Wulfkuhle


Students have been making great progress learning how a mouse works along with being more familiar with letters on the keyboards. Pre-school has been working on their letters and sounds recognition on the website "Teach your Monster to Read". They are learning how to independently login to the program and are having great success. Kindergarten is working on logging into Lexia independently as well along with learning how to minimize and maximize a screen, adjust the volume, and using a bookmark. 1st Grade has been super excited with the addition of a Chromebook cart to Hillcrest. Each student has been able to login to one and has been practicing using the track pad along with learning how to use Google Chrome.


Katie Hopp, Technology Teacher


Health Office

February Greetings from the Health Office!

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Image result for tooth cartoon black and whiteImage result for tooth cartoon black and white

Help your child develop healthy dental habits by:

  • Establishing a regular daily dental routine in the morning and at bedtime
  • Encouraging teeth brushing twice a day and flossing every day
  • Scheduling dental cleanings every 6 months
  • Limiting sugary drinks and increasing water intake
  • Providing healthy snacks in all colors of the rainbow.

Make brushing time fun by providing a colorful or themed toothbrush, using flavored tooth paste, playing a song during brushing time, and by using a colorful 2-minute sand timer.

Community Health Center School Dental Program will be happening in the spring. A variety of dental services will be provided here at school to those who are interested. A letter was recently sent home. If you would like your child to participate in the program please complete and return the letter. If you indicate interest, a registration packet will be sent home.

Spare clothes…the health office could use some extras. Please feel free to send in donations of clean, gently used short and long-sleeved T-shirts, and leggings and jogging pants with elastic waist. If your child comes home with borrowed clothes, please launder and send back to the health office.

Reminder…if your child has a physical exam or an eye exam PLEASE send a copy of the exam to the school nurse. Also, if you know your child’s record is missing a lead test resul,t please send that in.

Wishing you all a fun, joyful, and relaxing February break!

Nurse Francis