Tuesday, December 22, 2015

One School, One Book at Great Falls!

Great Falls Elementary
One School, One Book

It is time for Great Falls Elementary’s 1st One School, One Book project! This means that all classrooms will be reading roughly the same book throughout the month of January and into February. The reason that we decided to do this project at Great Falls is because “the benefits of reading aloud are remarkable—studies have shown that reading to children helps them to listen better and longer, build bigger vocabularies, understand concepts better, feel positive about books, learning and more! When an entire school reads the same book, the buzz and excitement around the book being read increases these benefits and there is the added joy of building community in the school family.”
This is how One School, One Book works: The book that we have chosen to read is The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Grades K and 1 will be reading the nonfiction picture book version and grades 2-5 will read the chapter book. Teachers will start reading the book aloud to their classrooms when we return from the holiday break. It will take us until February vacation to finish the book. Throughout the read aloud there will be weekly trivia questions that can be answered and entered into a weekly raffle for other book related prizes. There will also be a One School, One Book blog set up for grades 3-5 to post to once we begin the read aloud in January (greatfallsosob.blogspot.com).  There will also be a chance for students to create their own artwork related to the book. Some of the students’ artwork will displayed in the showcase located between the cafeteria and the gym. I encourage parents and family members to talk to your child about the book, or better yet, get your own copy and read it with him/her (The Bookworm on Main Street will be offering the book at a discounted price!)!

Happy Reading!

Happy Holidays!

As we get ready to depart for the holiday break, 💙I can't help but reflect on the generous spirit of our staff, families, and students and thank you for your continuous acts of kindness you bestow on each other and the community. ❄

I wish you an abundance of joy and a happy New Year!🎄 Happy Holidays to you and your family! 🎉Enjoy your well deserved break and take the time you need to relax and recharge!💗 

⛄Kindly yours,

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Great Falls Parent Connection is AMAZING!

Thank you, Parent Connection, for your beautiful gesture of kindness! The Great Falls staff is very grateful and appreciative of our wonderful parents! The ornaments are gorgeous! Happy holidays to you and yours!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Happy Holidays to You and Yours!

Dear Parents/Guardians of Great Falls Students,

As we approach the Winter Break, I would like to first take this opportunity to wish each of you and your families a most happy, healthy holiday season! I hope that you will have a chance to relax and enjoy some special times with your children. As always, I am pleased with not only how hard they have been working each and every day, but that they are kind. They strive to be “Citizens of the Code” and I could not be prouder!

One of our school wide goals is to help our students understand the important characteristics that make up ethical, responsible, and involved citizens. Our staff model and teach our students not only how to take responsibility for his/her own behavior, but how to demonstrate responsible behavior that is consistent to our core values, The Code of Conduct.
Over the holiday break, continue to look for ways to connect your child’s actions and behavior to the Code of Conduct. With the holiday season, comes many opportunities that can bring the Code of Conduct alive!

Please remember to check our school website on a regular basis, for updates and information, including our monthly calendars and newsletters. The website may be accessed by logging onto http://greatfalls.gorhamschools.org/.

  • Tuesday, December 22nd is a full day of school.
  • December 23rd - January 1st is the Holiday Break
  • Students return to school on Monday, January 4th
  • Tuesday, January 12th - Grades 3-5 Winter Chorus Concert at 6pm
  • Wednesday, January 13th - Early Release Day
  • Wednesday, January 13th - Parent Connection Meeting 7-8pm
  • Monday, January 18th - No School - MLK Day
As always, please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions and feedback. I am available through email at becky.fortier@gorhamschools.org and by phone at 222-1050.  Please follow my Twitter page, which can be found at https://twitter.com/MrsBFortier .

Kindly yours,

Becky Fortier, Great Falls Principal

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Winter Weather Procedure

Dear Great Falls Families,

The daily temperature for Gorham will be checked at www.weather.com.

When the "feels like" temperature is below 10 degrees, students will be kept inside for indoor recess. School secretaries, Mrs. Perkins and Mrs. Murray, will check the temperature for the AM recess and make an announcement as soon as possible. If the AM duty staff feel as though it is too cold while on the playground, they can make a judgment call to contact the office and bring the students indoors.

Temperatures will be monitored throughout the day and notification about canceling lunch recess will come from the office.

Monitoring temperatures is for the safety of the students and the supervising adults. While many students run around and are dressed appropriately, others are not and extended time at freezing temperature can be a hardship for the adults and students.
However, even in the cold winter months, outdoor recess is an important part of the students' day. Students need movement breaks and perform best when they have an opportunity for vigorous play, so we will try to get them out whenever possible.

Please make sure your child comes to school with the appropriate winter gear. Warm jackets, hats, gloves, boots, and snowpants are highly encouraged every day.

Thank you!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Great Falls wins a $10,000 Technology Grant!

Congratulations to the Great Falls Librarian, Mrs. Oliver, who was presented a $10,000 check for hosting a school wide Hour of Code. She successfully applied for and received this amazing grant!

Great Falls will be able to purchase hardware needed to bring a larger computer science program to our school. 

Feel free to explore coding with your children at CODE.org!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Shine Bright!

Thanks to our amazing parent volunteer, Tiffaney Cupps, for creating bulletin boards that shine bright just like our students!

There are a few great discussion ideas here:


Great Falls Food Drive - Dec. 2nd - Dec. 11th

Great Falls Empty Bowl Project
and Food Drive

Join the Great Falls Community as we celebrate the gift of giving and collect non perishable food items for the Gorham Food Pantry. This event will run in conjunction with the Gorham School District Food Drive. 

Our food drive will begin Dec. 2 and continue through Dec 11th. Items can be dropped off in the Great Falls lobby. The collection will conclude on the evening of our Family Movie Night on Friday, Dec. 11th from 5:30-7:30pm. Admission to the movie, Inside Out, is a non-perishable food item for the Gorham Food Pantry.

We greatly appreciate your donations!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Dear Great Falls Families,
During this time of year, I cannot help but think about how grateful I am for the people and relationships that are a part of my life each and every day. Great Falls School is such a special place to be with staff and students who not only value the importance of kindness and compassion, but seek ways to keep these important virtues alive and well in our school community and beyond.
Whether it is a full school initiative such as Socktober, where we held a sock drive to collect over 1,000 new socks for local shelters, or the 4th and 5th grade King Arthur’s Flour campaign, where students made 200+ loaves of bread for the local food pantry, Great Falls students always go above and beyond with kindness!
Next up, thanks to art teacher, Allie Rimkunas, all kindergarten through fifth grade students will be taking part in the Empty Bowl Project. The Empty Bowl Project is an international grassroots effort to fight hunger. The basic premise is simple: students create handcrafted bowls which they are asked to keep as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The money raised is donated to an organization working to end hunger and food insecurity. Great Falls will be donating all proceeds to the Gorham Food Pantry. A form will be sent home soon asking you to support our act of kindness by making a donation in any amount to purchase your child’s bowl.
The bowl pick up date is Friday, December 11th from 5:30-7:30p.m. during our annual Great Falls Family Movie Night. The admission to the movie will be a non-perishable food item, which will also be donated to the Gorham Food Pantry. Thanks to you, this event is our largest community contribution as we typically donate a substantial sum of money and food to support the efforts of our local food pantry.
Kindness truly counts at Great Falls and I thank you for fostering a kindness habit with your children at home. The holidays serve a perfect way to help your children pay attention to those around them. Be watchful for everyday moments when a little kindness can make a big difference for someone!  
As always, please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions and feedback. I am available through email at becky.fortier@gorhamschools.org and by phone at 222-1050.  Plaese follow my Twitter page & blog, which can be found at https://twitter.com/MrsBFortier and  http://greatfallsprincipal.blogspot.com/ where I will be making frequent updates.
Kindly yours, Becky Fortier                                                                                                                                                                                           

Happy Ed Tech Appreciation!

There are some staff that go way above and beyond the call of duty!

You … put bandaids on booboos, hug crying kiddos, escort sick kids to the nurse, tie shoes, lend a helping hand, zipper jackets, monitor recess, referee soccer games, open milk cartons, manage lunch for 200 kids at a time, listen to problems, comfort kiddos that had a bad day, provide snacks to those in need, facilitate problem solving situations, wash hands, find missing gloves, cover classrooms last minute, create indoor recess activities, dismiss kiddos at the end of the day, confirm bus schedules, talk to teachers on a daily basis, develop lining up systems, hall walking systems, stairway walking systems, cover bus duty, run safety drills, step in to assist at any point… all while loving our students and supporting them with reading, writing, and math!

Thank you for ALL you do! Thank you for being such an important part of the Great Falls School community!

Happy Ed Tech Appreciation Day!

I am thankful for the Great Falls staff...

*willing to jump in and help out, especially when those are in need.

*dedicated to the education of the whole child.

*providing new insight and keeping our work current and relevant.

*building successful relationships with students, parents, and colleagues.

*willing to contribute to our mutual efforts.

*keeping the ‘Whatever it takes attitude’.

I am thankful! Thank you!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Geothermal Heating and Cooling at Great Falls

GORHAM, Maine —Geothermal heating and cooling systems are expensive to install, but in the long run are offering big savings for schools, businesses and homeowners who install them.
When the town of Gorham built the Great Falls Elementary School a few years ago, officials decided to install a geothermal system.
Under the school's lawn are more than 60 wells that are 400 to 500 feet deep.
"So that's taking water from the earth through a closed-loop and then it's distributed throughout the building and then we either gain heating or cooling from that loop through a heat pump," Gorham Facilities and Transportation director Norm Justice.
Justice said geothermal is 30 percent cheaper than heating with a conventional natural gas system, which saves the school district tens of thousands of dollars each year. He said there are added benefits to geothermal as well.
Check it out!


Thursday, October 29, 2015

King Arthur Flour Assembly

On Thursday, October 29th, our 4th and 5th graders learned to make bread from scratch. They discovered that math, science, reading, and baking know-how add up to delicious bread! 

Our students are excited to take ingredients and their new skills home to bake two loaves; one to keep and enjoy and one to donate to the Gorham Food Pantry.

Thank you, Mrs. Mullin, for organizing this great experience for our students!

PIE with the Principals - K Parent Night

I thought I would give you a summary of our PIE with the Principals for K parents event tonight. ☺We had about 10 parents attend with at least 1 parent from each class present. Scheduling the event near conference time was probably not ideal....but we had pie!  🍰 

The format was very informal and Mrs. Sawyer and I opened it up for questions and general comments. 💭Most of the time was spent discussing the transition into Kindergarten and the difficulties the students had initially adjusting to routines and the overall structure of the day. 💺

The theme of the night was that parents want to know that we LOVE 💓their children. Surprisingly, there were no questions about academics, standards, or assessments. EVERY comment, question, and thought was based around the social and emotional status of their child. The stuff that really matters ...establishing positive relationships and connections with kids! 😍 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting for the Nature Loop Trail at Hawkes Preserve and Great Falls School in Gorham

Ribbon cutting Hawkes 2015
From left to right: Becky Fortier Great Falls School Principal, Haley Caron student, Connor Donnolly student, Don Westcott Presumpscot Regional Land Trust Board Member, Linda Sanborn Gorham State Representative
October 22, 2015
Contact: Rachelle Curran Apse, Executive Director of PRLT, (207) 400-7154
The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust joined today with members of Gorham’s Great Falls School community to officially open a 1-mile nature loop trail on conserved property adjacent to the school. Though also accessible to the public, the school plans to use the trail throughout the year for outdoor learning opportunities.
The ribbon cutting is the culmination of a four-year collaboration that mobilized over 70 volunteers in donating hundreds of hours of time to build the trail.  The trail is on the Hawkes Preserve, which is 40 acres of conserved land owned by the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust that includes over 2000 feet of frontage on the Presumpscot River.  The loop trail has two trailheads that are both open to the public, the first is behind the school and can be accessed by parking in the school parking lot and the second is at the end of Tow Path Road off Route 202 in Gorham.
After the ribbon cutting nearly 100 students went on the inaugural hike with guides from the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust. Students were the first to get to experience the six educational stops along the trail where they learned more about the unique natural lands in their community.  Informational pamphlets for the new nature trail are available at both trailheads for the public to use and explore.
At the ribbon cutting, Presumpscot Regional Land Trust board member Don Wescott spoke about the volunteers who made the trail possible. “As a volunteer board member, I led the creation of this new nature trail, which would not have been possible without the the hundreds of hours of time volunteers committed including students from this school. Volunteers were involved in every aspect of building the trail from trimming to mulching but by far the most effort was spent building and updating more than ten bridges, the largest bridge alone took three full days of volunteer work crews.  My grandchildren are my motivation for devoting countless volunteer hours in order to see this trail completed, knowing this preserve and trail is permanent and future generations will be able to get out into the forest and explore is why I have been a leader with the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust for nearly a decade.  I look forward to being a part of creating more new trails in this region for the public to enjoy in the coming years.”
Principal Becky Fortier spoke about the importance of the new trail for the school. “Teachers are constantly searching for ways to bring the science and social studies curriculum alive for their students. What better way than to get outdoors and see it in action? We are so fortunate that Great Falls School is located on this amazing property that has allowed teachers to take advantage of many outdoor learning opportunities. Our school garden, outdoor classroom, and pond area have been utilized tremendously by all students in kindergarten through grade 5. To think that we now have a 1-mile nature loop trail adjacent to our school property is extremely exciting. The learning opportunities are endless. Thank you Presumpscot Regional Land Trust for creating this experience for our students and community.”​
State Representative for Gorham, Linda Sanborn, spoke of the importance of the trail for public health.  “As a retired family doctor and State Representative that has spent years focused on health care issues, I am especially conscious of the health benefits the nature loop trail provides for students and the public by increasing opportunities for exercise, preventing obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular risk factors. Disease prevention saves the state taxpayers money and saves lives.”
BACKGROUND: The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust is a non-profit that conserves lands and provides public access to families, and future generations, to have the room to play outside, to hike and bike through the forest and along the rivers, and to enjoy the fruits of local working farms in six towns connected by the Presumpscot River Watershed: Gorham, Gray, Sebago, Standish, Westbrook and Windham. The Presumpscot Regional Land Trust has conserved over 1000 acres of land and has 6 public access preserves with trails that are free and open to the public. Learn more at www.prlt.org.
Principal speakingDon Wescott PRLT speaker
Above on the left: Becky Fortier, Principal of Great Falls Elementary School
Above on the right: Don Wescott, Board Member of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust
Rep Linda Sanborn SpeakingStudent Haley Caron Speaking
Above on the left: Gorham State Representative Linda Sanborn
Above on the right: Eight Grade Student and Trail Volunteer Haley Caron
Student Connor Donnolly SpeakingStudents Hiking on new Hawkes Nature Loop Trail 2015
Above on the left: Eight Grade Student and Trail Volunteer Connor Donnolly
Above on the right: Fourth Graders on the Inaugural Nature Loop Trail Hike on Hawkes Preserve

Students hiking 2Hiking with Chelsea
Fourth Graders on the Inaugural Nature Loop Trail Hike on Hawkes Preserve

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Great Falls T-Shirts for Sale During Conferences - $10 Each

We have these super cool, super awesome Great Falls t-shirts that will be available for sale during Parent/Student/Teacher conferences. There will be a table set up in the lobby or you can stop by the main office to purchase one. The price is $10 and all proceeds will help to support our 5th year birthday celebration in the spring. Sizes range from youth s-xl and adult s-xl. Show your GF pride and purchase one today! 

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Nature Trail Loop at Great Falls

Teachers are constantly searching for ways to bring the science and social studies curriculum alive for their students. What better way than to get outdoors and see it in action? We are so fortunate that Great Falls is located on this amazing property that has allowed teachers to take advantage of many outdoor learning opportunities. 

Our school garden, outdoor classroom, and pond area have been utilized tremendously by all students in kindergarten through grade 5. To think that we now have a 1-mile nature trail adjacent to school property is extremely exciting! The learning opportunities are endless! 

Thank you, Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, for creating this experience for our students and community! ​More information to come!