Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Letter to Our Kindergarten Friends

It’s time to say, “Good-bye.”
Our year has come to an end.
You’ve made more cherished memories,
And many more new friends.

We’ve watched you all learn and grow,
And change from day to day.
We hope that all the things we’ve done,
Have helped in some small way.

So it’s with happy memories,
We send you through the door.
With great hope and expectations,
For what 1st grade has in store.
Love, Mrs. Fortier and Mrs. Sawyer

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June Letter From the Principal

June 2017

Hello, Great Falls Parents,

It is hard to believe how quickly the school year has passed. As the school year comes to a close, our minds and hearts are filled to the brim. It’s been a great year! We would like to thank you for your trust and commitment to the vision of Great Falls Elementary School, “Succeeding today to be ready for tomorrow!” It is your belief in our values that help us to sustain our vision. We will continue to put your child first in everything we do!
This was a very busy year and you, as partners in education, played a great role in making it a success! Although it is a hectic time of year, it is the time when we most realize how blessed we all are to be part of this amazing school community. Parents and teachers commit their time and energy every day toward creating a nurturing environment in which children can thrive!

We accomplished a ton this school year!  Below are some highlights of the wonderful events from 2016-2017:

USM Mentors:  Approximately 30 USM student athletes acted as mentors for our students during the fall semester. Students offered academic support, activity breaks, and their friendship during their time together.
October Family STEAM Night:  Teachers and community volunteers offered over 20 interesting activities to nearly 300 students & family members who attended STEAM night. Activities such as catapults, paper airplanes, and tessellations were designed to build student excitement around science, technology, engineering, art, & math.
Socktober:  Staff, students, & families joined together to collect socks in support of homeless shelters and veterans homes.  We easily surpassed our initial goal and collected over 1000 pairs of new socks which were distributed to a variety of groups in need.
Kids’ Clubs:  Hundreds of students from grades 1-5 participated in our fall & spring enrichment clubs varying in category from physical movement activities, creative design & computers, as well as nature & expressive arts!  We were very fortunate to have 2 parent volunteers, 1 local business, Dance Studio of Maine, and many Great Falls teachers volunteer their personal time & talents to facilitate a club.  
Parent Teacher Student Conferences:  Twice each year we host conferences to provide a one-on-one setting for you and your children to meet with teachers, as well as an update on academic progress and “skills for life.” Great Falls had an impressive 97% attendance rate for parent participation at parent/teacher/student conferences.
December Family Movie Night and Empty Bowl Project:  The Empty Plate Project is an international grassroots effort to fight hunger. All K-5 students handcrafted a pottery bowl during art class with art teacher, Allie Rimkunas. Parents supported our act of kindness by making a donation to purchase their child's bowl, which were distributed at the Family Movie Night! Great Falls donated approximately $2,000 to the Gorham Food Pantry.
One School/One Book Project- Because of Winn Dixie:  Great Falls Elementary participated in our 2nd One School, One Book project!  All classrooms read the same book throughout January and into February. We decided to do this project at Great Falls 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!”
Grades 3-5 Chorus Concerts:  The Gorham 3-5 chorus performed for audiences of family & friends throughout the school year. The students did a great job and continued to impress with their talent & enthusiasm! Special kudos to Janelle Mosey!
Jump Rope for Heart Campaign:  Great Falls participated in the American Heart Association and Jump Rope for Heart student exercise event! GF students jumped to their heart’s content to raise heart health awareness & funds. Great Falls donated approximately $2,500 to the AHA.
School Spirit and Read Across America Week:  We celebrated literacy during the week of Dr. Seuss’ birthday including dressing up like book characters. We ended the week with the Art of Literacy Family Fun Night. Families were treated to arts and crafts connected to our favorite children’s books, face painting, and a reader’s theater presentation.
Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day:  Students & staff carried favorite poems in their pockets, which were shared between classmates and across grade levels. Our students were truly excited to participate in this day.
Great Falls Parent Connection Group:  This group of committed parent volunteers met monthly to collaborate on school-wide projects and appreciation activities for all school staff. The members are always developing new ideas to improve parent/family engagement in school.
6th Annual Career Fair:  Over 30 parent and community volunteers shared their passion about their career. Every Great Falls student attended this event, which generates excitement about the importance of school.

Phew! … and that was only a few of the many AMAZING things your children and our staff took part in during this school year! We truly appreciate your ongoing support and partnership in all that we do.  We look forward to continuing these and many other opportunities to build community and enhance the positive climate & culture at Great Falls next year!  We wish you all a very happy, safe, & enjoyable summer.  Please be sure to take time as a family to talk & play together.  We look forward to seeing you in August.

In closing, we want to take this opportunity to congratulate all families of Great Falls Elementary School for another successful year!  We wish our 5th-grade students all the best as they transition to Gorham Middle School this fall. On Thursday, June 15th, we will celebrate their achievements and reflect on their journey at Great Falls. It will be bittersweet as we have watched them grow and exemplify what it means to be a “Citizen of the Code!”  

As always, please feel free to reach out to us at any time with questions and feedback.
Kindly yours,
Becky Fortier and Stacey Sawyer