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Friday, June 25, 2021


Westshire Hike

A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

wse1015-1October 15, 2013

Although there was a morning chill in the air, Thursday turned out to be a fantastic day for our all school hike. With two full busses carrying more than 100 staff, students and chaperones, we drove the short ride to Vershire. We began our trek at the Parker Road entrance of the Cross Rivendell Trail, and after walking more than 1.5 miles, we took a break near the Patterson Mountain trail head. We had a quick snack and then the real work began: the 1/2 mile hike to the top of Patterson Mountain. When we finally reached the summit, we saw amazing views of the beautiful New Hampshire peaks.wse1015-2

Congratulations to Elisia Sonsalla who received recognition from Mr. Boyce for completing the summer hiking challenge. Not only did Elisia collect six CRT stamps, but she also hiked 7 other trails including Platteville Mound in Wisconsin. Great job Elisia!

My favorite part of the hike was watching the relationships that form and flourish on a trip like this. I was extremely proud of our older students for the support they gave their younger buddies, especially when the trail became more difficult. I heard many words of encouragement from them. Words like "you can do it," "let me help you," and "we'll make it together."

A huge thanks to all of our brave chaperones,and to Andy  Boyce for making this year's hike so successful. 

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 October 15, Newsletter

A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

October 7, 2013

Since the beginning of Rivendell, the Cross Rivendell Trail has been used as an outdoor classroom and a place of learning. This Thursday, our entire school will once again hike a section of the trail, heading west this year, to Vershire. The hike measures about 3 miles in total with the majority of the walking happening at the beginning of the trip. We should have plenty of time to explore the great outdoors. Along the way, we'll take time to stop for snacks, and when we reach the view on top of Patterson Mountain, we'll break for lunch. There'll be games and fun activities too!

Last week, each of our younger children were matched with a buddy, some students were even given two. The 3rd and 4th graders are looking forward to this trip so they can help their younger buddies on the trail. We'd love parents/guardians to join us on the hike.

Tentative schedule


Students must dress appropriately for the weather. They should wear comfortable shoes, broken in hiking boots or sneakers with heavy socks. The trail can be slippery when wet. Also, each student should bring a water bottle and a backpack that he/she can carry. Fruit will be provided for snack and bag lunches are available through the lunch program. Permission slips went home on Monday. Please return them by Wednesday afternoon.


A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

September 30, 2013

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love when the cool mornings arrive and the leaves on the trees begin to change into beautiful shades of red, yellow and orange. October is near and hopefully that means we have fallen into our daily routines: waking up, getting to school, and participating in after school and evening activities. Returning to a new school year can create extra stress, especially when homework begins.

The word homework alone brings an assortment of feelings, including anxiety. We hope we have created a homework policy that helps balance school work and family time. The homework we assign aims to reinforce skills and help students learn better study habits. In the early primary grades, almost all children need their parents' help to complete their work. In the middle and upper elementary grades students are encouraged to do more work independently.

Fourth graders should expect up to 40 minutes of homework per night, 30 minutes for 3rd grade students. What kind of homework should you be seeing? We expect all our children to be reading at night—students in the upper grades may also have literacy, math and/or social studies assignments. Third and Fourth grade students now have planners and are expected to write down their daily homework. If you are not sure about the work, please ask to see the planner. You can also help your child by watching the time he/she spends on homework. Be aware of daily assignments and make sure to check your child's folder/assignment book each night. Some children work faster than others and some assignments can be longer and more difficult. An occasional feeling of overload is normal, but if you have concerns about the amount of time your child is spending on his or her homework, please don't hesitate to contact us. Homework should never be painful or defeating. Encourage your children to always attempt the work and to try their best.

You can also help your child by watching the time he/she spends on homework. Be aware of daily assignments and make sure to check your child's folder/assignment book each night. Some children work faster than others and some assignments can be longer and more difficult. An occasional feeling of overload is normal, but if you have concerns about the amount of time your child is spending on his or her homework, please don't hesitate to contact us. Homework should never be painful or defeating. Encourage your children to always attempt the work and to try their best.

A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

September 23, 2013

At today's community meeting, students shared their classroom rules. These expectations were created by them and outlined what they believe needs to be done to create a safe and respectful learning environment for all. Many of the words and phrases I heard from the different classes were the same—work hard, be kind, give your best effort, do quality work, be safe and have fun. Rules of the class and school need to be followed in order to maintain an atmosphere conducive to learning for all. When rules not followed, the teacher handles the problem. However, at times, the teacher will refer the child to me. The best way to handle when a classroom or school rule is broken is to respond with reasonable, logical consequences. Helping a child create a plan that requires him/her to fix the problem or issue may be necessary. Sometimes loss of recess or other school activity is appropriate. Other times, when the problem is a more serious behavior or a reoccurring issue that doesn't seem to be improving, I will call you directly. Coming to my office shouldn't always be seen as "getting in trouble". I can act as a mediator to help students work out problems or to listen to their concerns.

Please know that my door is always open to students and I encourage them to come see me with "good news" or to share something special. Knowing who I am and feeling safe visiting my office is important to building quality relationships. I want students to always feel comfortable talking to me or visiting the office.

A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

September 9, 2013

An overcast sky and muddy fields could not damper the spirits of our school when we arrived at the Tunbridge Fair. I was proud of the way our staff and students handled the inclement weather. The morning began with a visit to Antique Hill where students met with several reenactors. They spoke to soldiers, saw school "marms" at the school house and listened to the older folks tell stories about times past. Buddy the clown was also a big hit as he made more than 100 balloon hats and swords for our kids. At the barns, we visited with many of our students' animals. More than 10 of our children brought their ducks and cows and earned blue and red ribbons. We also had students show craft projects and art work. Congratulations to all of our winners!

A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

September 9, 2013

It's been a wonderful two weeks of school. I have seen many smiles from our students. They seem comfortable, happy and engaged in learning. In addition to academics, they have had some fun too! We paraded around the school on our first day, celebrated on Friday at Dance Party, and we sang the Westshire Spirit Song at today's Community Meeting. It's been a great start to the school year!

In my August letter to families, I wrote about the importance of summer reading and our expectations for all students to complete the summer reading challenge. This week we recognized the 11 awesome readers in grades 1-4 who accomplished this task. Congratulations to all of them for completing their summer Bingo card assignments. These students were entered into a drawing for a $20 gift card to a local bookstore. Hooray to Christian Ditcheos who won the prize! We also welcomed our kindergarteners at Community Meeting today by "crowning" them as official WES students!

We are fortunate to have a wonderful healthy snack program funded by a federal grant. I feel so lucky for our students when I see beautiful baskets of delicious apples being delivered to their classrooms for morning snack. You can support our efforts by talking to your children about making healthy snack choices, and by packing foods like yogurt, cheese, vegetable sticks, and of course, fruit. Students are not allowed to have soda or candy at school.

Thursday we have an exciting day planned as we venture to the World's Fair in Tunbridge for
their Agricultural Education Day. We'll be leaving school at 8:15 and arriving back to the building by 1:30 p.m. for a 1:45 dismissal. If you have the chance to attend, please stop by the DodgeGilman Building to see our own 1st/2nd graders' display of vegetables from their Three Sister's Garden.

A Summer Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

July 30, 2013

Dear Westshire Families,

The floors are waxed and the bulletin boards are clean and covered with fresh paper which means it's almost time to return to school. The summer flew by and it's hard to believe that August is already here. I hope you had a relaxing and fun-filled time off—enjoy the next few weeks with your family and friends because soon the new school year will begin.

The classrooms at the Academy were filled with excited students this July. Forty-five first through third graders enjoyed 2 weeks of camp that included making their own inventions. Our students are so smart and creative. They crafted many practical devices like underwater goggles made with bottle tops, string and a straw, and an automatic cat feeder using cardboard, tubes and duct tape. With the help of the 4-6th graders, our littlest campers performed scenes from "The Life and Legend of Samuel Morey," written by Lance Mills, a local writer. Anna Alden, high school drama teacher, worked with the students running lines and teaching them songs about the famous inventor. All of the scenery and costumes were hand made by the students as well. They did an amazing job portraying characters of the late 1700's and teaching the more than 120 audience members about this innovative inventor.

Our older students attended four weeks of camp where they learned a great deal about inventors like Ben Franklin, Charles Darwin and Leonardo DaVinci. They researched using books and the internet, and created Powerpoint presentations to share at our 2013 Invention Convention. They made their own prototypes as well. The Academy students took the challenge of making inventions very seriously and created amazing projects. One group built a 3D projector, another student constructed a rotating cupcake decorator, and a third student made a sneaker that holds a mouth guard in its sole. Pretty incredible! The summer ended with a great trip to the Museum of Science in Boston where we saw a lightning show, played with hands-on displays, and watched "The Rocky Mountain Express" in the IMAX Theater. It was a fabulous July!

The start of the school year will bring a change in our class configurations. In June, we said goodbye to our 5th and 6th grade students and staff making Westshire a Pre-K through 4th grade building. We will open our second pre-school and we are thrilled to have 10-12 students registered in each classroom. Instead of having a large first grade and a very small second grade, we will combine the two grades and create two 1-2 multiage classrooms. Students will stay in grade levels for math and Fundations with all other subject areas combined. Paula Driscoll and Alyssa Reiser will be working together to create a similar experience for both classrooms. In grades 3 and 4 we'll be moving to a specialist model. The third graders will have Steve Crimmin for homeroom and both 3rd and 4th graders will see him for math and science. Laura Erickson will teach 3rd and 4th grade language arts and social studies and see the fourth graders for homeroom. We are very excited about these two new models.

The special traditions of Westshire will continue this year. We'll visit the Tunbridge Fair in September (grades 1-4), walk on the Cross Rivendell Trail on our all school hike in October, prepare and serve a Thanksgiving dinner for our Harvest Meal, and of course, move and groove on Friday afternoons at Dance Party Friday.

We are fortunate to have several new staff members join our school team. Please help me in welcoming them to our wonderful community.

  • Laura Erickson will be teaching 3rd /4th grade language arts and social studies. Laura joins us from Nebraska where she taught 4th grade in a small rural school, similar to Westshire. Laura was a team leader, after-school club monitor, and the assistant Jr. High volleyball coach. We look forward to the talents Laura brings to our school.
  • Heidi Weider Nichols from Lyme will be our second pre-school teacher. Heidi has more than 20 years of experience in education that includes teaching students from preschool to fourth grade. Heidi also has a Masters in behavior management and special education. We are very fortunate to have Heidi on our team.
  • Matthew Acquilano is our new physical education teacher. Matthew graduated from St. Bonaventure in New York where he was awarded student teacher of the year. This will be his first year as a full time PE teacher.
  • Pauline Prior takes over as Westshire's Food Service Manager. Pauline has worked in a store/restaurant for several years and is very excited about working with our children. Pauline lives in Groton, Vermont with her family and she loves to cook.
  • Kimberly Smith will work as an assistant in the second preschool classroom. Kimberly comes to us from Samuel Morey where she was an aide in kindergarten.

I hope summer reading was on your child's "to do" list this summer. It is an expectation that all students partake in reading during the summer months. This year's goal is for 100% participation. You can help by taking your children to the library and reading with them in the evening before bedtime. Reading just six books over the summer can prevent the "summer slide" in your child's reading progress and this can make a huge academic impact. Students in kindergarten through fourth grade had reading bingo cards. These cards should be brought to school on the first day and given to the classroom teacher.

Our staff has been working hard to prepare for your child's arrival. On Wednesday, August 23rd, the teachers will be working in their classrooms from 2:30-3:30 p.m. During that time, families are invited to stop by and meet their teachers. On your way past the office, don't forget to come by and say hello.

A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

June 10, 2013


It's pretty incredible that we only have one more week left of school. It's been an amazing year, and I have seen huge changes in our students. Kindergarten students at the beginning of the year were so shy and timid, and now they walk around school comfortable and at ease. Last August, the fifth and sixth graders were tentative about how their year would unfold, and now they talk about how much they have learned and gained from their teachers. It feels good to know that we have been a part of this growth.

Next year WES will see even more change. Friday we will say goodbye to our sixth graders who will continue their educational journey at Rivendell Academy. Our 4th and 5th graders will also be leaving us and heading to Samuel Morey. All of these children will be missed tremendously.

We also have to say goodbye to a few very special staff members. Although they are not leaving Rivendell, we will be sending two friends and colleagues to our sister school. Both Mrs. Larocque and Mr. Christie-Maples will be teaching fifth and sixth grade at Samuel Morey next year.


Sadly, Mr. Kunecki, our wonderful and energetic PE teacher will be leaving us as well. He will be moving back home to New York to be closer to his family. Although he has only been with us for one year, he has made an impact on us and we will truly miss him.


June 3, 2013

wse-news06-2Besides the sweltering heat, Friday was a perfect day for our annual Jobs on the Move program. This year's theme, farming, brought local experts to our school to talk about the work they do and how it benefits our community. Students rotated through six stations. At each table, they learned about a different aspect of farming. From Hicks Equipment in Corinth, VT, Debbie Hicks spoke to the children about the kinds of farming equipment currently being used in the Upper Valley. Jen Shatney and Jamie Masterson, of the West Fairlee Paws and Hooves 4H Animal Club talked about their experiences with 4H, and brought special friends with them; baby ducklings and two pigs. Vanessa Waxman and Fabienne Stearns represented the Farm to School program. They had lots of fun dressing our students like flowers, and teaching the children about planting and growing through songs. Cat Buxton from Cedar Circle Farm in Thetford spoke about how plants and flowers grow and how pollination helps the process.

If you have ever stopped at the greenhouses in Post Mills, you have probably met Mark Lansburg, owner of Talking Well Farm. Mark brought some of his beautiful Casablanca lilies and shared them with staff and students. He spoke about the web of life and explained how important nature is to quality living.wse-news06-3

The Blake Family brought two oxen, Red and Rebel who were very popular, especially with the younger students.
A huge thanks to all of our presenters, and to Mrs. O'Hearn, guidance counselor and community member, for coordinating the programs at both elementary schools.



April 1, 2013

Welcome spring! This is one of my favorite times of the year—the weather is getting warmer and the sun shines longer during the day.

March was a great month for WES students. This week's newsletter is dedicated to them and their many achievements.

Congratulations to 4th grader Logan Garr, who represented our school at the Vermont State Scripps Spelling Bee. Logan did an amazing job competing against 5-8th grade students. He made it through the second round where a third of the students misspelled words. Logan was well supported by 11 of his Westshire peers who cheered him on throughout the competition. We are happy for Logan and his accomplishments.

The fifth grade was extremely busy last month. The March 27th issue of the Journal Opinion contained Editorial letters written by them. Our students shared their opinions about first responders and their responsibilities to people during mandatory evacuations. The letters were well written and documented their learning. In addition to their written achievements, they continue to do an amazing job sorting box tops and labels. So far this year, they have collected enough labels to earn $859.30 in cash and more than 3,000 product points.

At the end of last week they were ecstatic when the UPS man arrived and delivered four large boxes. The students will reveal the surprise contents of the boxes with the entire school at our next Community Meeting.

 Kudos to Lexus Austin, grade 2 and Ailyn Langley, Kindergarten for this week's Quality Work! After sharing their work with me, both girls will receive a Quality Work certificate and choose a pin or a magnet to take home.

I am proud of all the hard work put forth by Westshire students and I thank them for caring so deeply about their school and their education.


A Monday Hello from Mrs. MacQueen

March 25, 2013

Time is flying by and soon the end of the school year will be upon us. We have scheduled many events for the next few months and I have listed them below. Please mark your calendars.

Upcoming Events:

March 27th – District Mtg. at RA at 6:30 p.m.
April 2nd - School Board Mtg. @ WES
April 8-10th - Artist in Residence
April 10th - Student Residency Performance
April 23rd - Spring Picture Day
April 24th – Principal's Tea at 6:00 p.m.
April 27th - Bike Rodeo
April 30th - Montshire Family Night
May 10th - Family Bridge Building event @SME
May 15th thru 17th - 6th Grade Hulbert Trip
May 18th - Raptor Run
May 22nd - EXPO at Rivendell Academy
May 24th - 4th and 5th grades to Hulbert
June 5th - Spring Concert (grades 5 & 6)
June 6th – Visions Family Picnic at Pastures
June 14th - 6th Grade Graduation

More detailed information will come home as we get closer to the events.