Suffield Public Schools

McAlister Intermediate School

February 2016

260 Mountain Road | Suffield, CT 06078 | 860-668-3830 |

Upcoming Events:

Monday, Feb. 1

Suffield BOE Meeting
6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 4

Grade 4 Family Fun Night
6:00 p.m.
(Feb. 11 - Snow Date)

Tuesday, Feb. 9

NCCC Support Groups
5:30 p.m.
SHS Room 221, Pampered Palace, LMC

PTO Board Meeting
7:30 p.m.
McAlister Intermediate School LMC

Wednesday, Feb. 10

7:00 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 15

No School & All Offices Closed - Feb. Vacation

Tuesday, Feb. 16

No School [All Offices Open] - Feb. Vacation

Wednesday, Feb. 17

Suffield BOE Meeting
6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 21

Grade 3 Traditions
Interskate 91

Wednesday, Feb. 24

Suffield Idol Auditions
3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
AWS Auditorium

Budget Information Sessions for Parents/Community
6:30 p.m.
(Snow date - 2/25)

Thursday, Feb. 25

Suffield Idol Auditions
3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
MIS School

Kindergarten Information Night
6:00 p.m.
AWS Auditorium and Classrooms

Virtual Backpack:

2015 - 2016 District Calendar

McAlister Menus

McAlister Family Handbook


A Message From The Principal

Dear McAlister Families,

We hope this newsletter finds you well and enjoying the new year!  Our entire staff has been hard at work participating in professional development, creating meaningful instruction, and planning engaging activities for our students.  Thier work positively shapes our school and the school experience for all students. Whether it is fine tuning their implementation of Reading Workshop, growing students’ abilities to solve complex mathematical problems, or planning for the next family night, we are all working to help each student reach their fullest potential.

A couple of weeks ago, our superintendent communicated with all families of the Suffield Public Schools relative to school attendance and truancy.  I wanted to take this opportunity to reiterate and share the importance of regular school attendance in grades three, four, and five (and indeed throughout students’ entire school career!).  When students are absent, important classroom time cannot be replicated. Students who are chronically absent (missing 10% or more of the school year) they actually miss a month or more of school by the end of the year.  You can imagine how being chronically absent negatively impacts our students over the course of their school career.  As reports, “Poor attendance is among our first and best warning signs that a student has missed the on-ramp to school success and is headed off track for graduation…”  Please partner with us by making sure our students maintain regular attendance and have every opportunity to be successful in school!

In the upcoming weeks our teachers have created many opportunities for our students to shine in both before and after school programs. Our Winter Intermurals Program has been up and running and we are thrilled with the students’ response to these early morning activities.  These  courses filled up fast and  students happily come to school early and to start their day with Mrs. Raymond and Mr. Desrosiers.   Additional evening events are planned for both our third and fourth grade students (our fifth grade event just concluded--see the Ping Pong Tournament article in this newsletter).  We look forward to our Grade Four Family Fun Night on February 4 and Grade Three Fitness Night on March 3 .  Be sure to look out for important information on these nights in the virtual backpack at, as both of these events are fun ways to spend a chilly winter’s night!

In addition to all of our offerings by our PE staff, we also have students spending time after school working to solve complex and involved math problems in our Math Olympiads program. Math Olympiads is run by Mrs. Meyer, and is a celebration of fun and collaborative mathematical problem solving.  This group meets weekly from late fall to late spring each year, and culminates in breakfast celebration for both our Math Olympians and their families.

As always, we count on and are grateful for the partnerships with our families--whether it is ensuring regular attendance, joining the fun and challenge of Math Olympiads, or participating in physical activity programming--to make each student’s school experience successful!  Our work together makes a difference. Have a wonderful month!


Karen Carpenter-Snow

Winter Reminders

Now that winter is in full swing, we wanted to remind all our families that during outdoor recess, students will only be allowed to play in the snow (It will arrive!) if they have proper boots and snow pants, as we want to make sure that our students stay warm and dry during their recess fun!

The Winter Session of the Expanding Horizons After School Program will be announced soon--be sure to keep an eye out for the upcoming brochure.  These fun courses--run by both our staff and community members--offer our students yet another way to make fun connections with their classmates, explore new areas of interest, and learn new skills. 


Curriculum Highlights--Grade Three by Mr. Sullivan


In reading workshop, third graders are beginning to wrap up a very engaging unit on character studies.  Next, third graders will enter the genre of “mysteries” which is very exciting.  Students will read to identify the mystery itself and read for clues while “stepping into the shoes” of the main detective.  In writing workshop, third graders are completing a unit on non-fiction writing and will then transition to writing realistic fiction.  Students will collect ideas for these stories by imagining ordinary moments and issues in their lives.  Next, students will learn strategies for drafting, revising, editing, and finally publishing these realistic fiction stories!  Third graders continue to work on place value in mathematics.  Benchmarks in this Investigations unit include:  reading, writing and sequencing numbers up to 1,000, identifying the value of each digit in 2 and 3 digit numbers, identifying how many groups of 10 there are in 2 and 3-digit numbers, and solving addition and subtraction problems in context.  We are thrilled to announce that third graders will begin a new science unit on “matter”!  Students will learn the properties of the different states of matter and how matter changes from one state to another.  Students will be engaged in hands-on experiments where students will ask questions, make predictions, record observations and data prior to reporting out their findings.  Finally, we are pleased to announce that Leslie Johnson, our “Writer in Residence” will continue her work with our third graders.  This residency instruction is aligned to our current reading and writing workshop topic on realistic fiction.  February is a short month but is certain to be full of great successes in learning!


Curriculum Highlights--Grade Four by Ms. Lira


The fourth grade is ready to travel back in time during our historical fiction reading and writing units! Students will immerse themselves in book clubs to study character, theme, and author’s craft through the lens of a specific time period.  This ties in wonderfully with the conclusion of our Number the Stars program, which exposed students to a historical fiction text presented by Hartford Stage performers.  Students are excited to get into their own historical fiction reading after this enriching program! In writing, students will research and develop their own historical fiction narratives. Students will need to create life-like characters, descriptive settings, and vivid plots…all within a historical time period. We believe they are up to the challenge!

In math, every fourth grade class is now implementing the Investigations program. Both students and teachers are excited to use this program which is incredibly student centered and inquiry based. While some classes are focusing on shape and measurement and some on multiplication and division, all groups are becoming stronger mathematicians every day! Students can continue to practice their math concepts through great websites such as,, and

Fourth graders have also been working hard to follow the McAlister Way each and every day! Students have been seen including others at recess, holding doors open for adults, and using kind words in cooperative groups. Our students are truly kind, respectful, responsible, and safe! 


Curriculum Highlights--Grade Five by Mrs. Larson


In reading, we are beginning a fun unit in which we study a favorite author or authors. We will work in book clubs to share some favorite techniques we observe! In writing, we are learning more about strategies researchers use when researching a topic. We look forward to sharing our learning later this month! In social studies, we are wrapping up the studies of the 13 original colonies, and starting to analyze the causes of the Revolutionary War. We are studying light in science. Students will be learning how mirrors and lenses help reflect light and how the eye works like a camera!


Ping Pong Tournament by Mrs. Raymond


On January 5th, the physical education department hosted its third annual Fifth Grade Parent/Child Ping Pong Tournament. Before the winter break students worked on their hand eye coordination, striking skills and offensive and defensive strategies during  a 3 week ping pong unit. Now was their time to shine and show off their skills to their family and friends.  35 fifth grade students and their parents participated in the tournament. There was a 45 minute warm-up followed by a single elimination tournament. Teamwork and sportsmanship was apparent as students and parents worked together to keep the ball in play and high fives and congratulatory hand shakes were noticeable after every game. Mackenzie Chevrier and her father took third place, Nick Sattan and his dad took second place and the first place finish went to Justin Ho and his father. All three teams received medals and everyone who participated received a certificate of participation for their hard work.


Fifth Grade Memory Book


Our PTO is hard at work creating a memory book for our fifth grade students.  This memory book will be for sale towards the end of the school year and promises to be an important memory of the students’ elementary and intermediate school years!  In order to create this memory book, the PTO is asking families to submit a baby picture as well as other candid school photos of their our current fifth grade students.  We are somewhat limited in space, but the PTO is working to create a memory that represents each student.  Please email your photos to and  As always, thank you for your help in creating this wonderful memento for our fifth graders.


Upcoming Grade Level Traditions


We are grateful to the PTO for creating grade level "Traditions" at each grade level.  Traditions are fun, grade level, evening/weekend events that we encourage all our students to attend, as they are a great opportunity to grow friendships, meet students in other classes, and have fun!

  1. Grade Three Traditions will be held at Interskate 91 on February 21st
  2. Grade Four Traditions will be held at Health Trax (Enfield, CT) on March 19th
  3. Grade Five Traditions will be held at Nomad’s Adventure Quest (South Windsor, CT) on March 11th

Complete information for each Tradition can be found in the virtual backpack at and is sent home with students a couple of weeks before the event.


Toys For Tots by Mrs. Pakula and Ms. Herbert


The 5th grade Student Council had a very successful start to this school year with their recent Toys For Tots drive.  The Toys for Tots program is run by the Marine Corps and is a non-profit organization that provides toys for children in need.  Students agreed that it would be a good project to support and council members got to work planning and promoting their project.  The Student Council members raised awareness by visiting classrooms, making posters, and decorating bins in each hallway to hold the toys.  Each morning an announcement was made with the most updated toy counts.  The results: over 300 toys were collected in just a few weeks!


Nurses Corner by Mrs. Fall


Outdoor recess! We will be having outdoor recess when the temperature is 20 degrees or higher.  Temps in the 20’s are pretty cold, so please remember to send your children to school with warm coats, mittens, hats and scarves. The cold weather also brings dry, chapped skin. Please consider sending your child with Chapstick or lip balm if they have red, sore lips. Remind your children that personal items or clothing are not to be shared so as to prevent the spread of germs and other annoying bugs.

And while we’re on the topic of bugs, I encourage all parents to be vigilant in checking for head lice. The telltale symptom is an itchy scalp. If you’re unsure of what to look for, please contact me so that I may check. When we have 3 or more active cases in a classroom, I will do a classroom screen and send a letter home. It’s important to communicate when you’ve treated so we can keep track of all incidences. Know that all cases will be handled in a confidential and respectful manner. Don’t hesitate to call (860-668-3822) or stop in with your questions or concerns. Thank you!  Mrs. Fall 


"Number the Stars" with Hartford Stage by Ms. Mitchell


In preparation for the 4th grade reading unit on Historical Fiction, the PTO invited the Hartford Stage to teach the students about the Holocaust using Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.  This wonderful program provided one actor per classroom for one hour each day, teaching the students about tableau´s, the history of the Holocaust, and how to be empathetic towards the characters in the story.  Students were motivated and engaged to learn more about this powerful topic.  At the end of the week, students were gifted their own copy of Number the Stars.  Students are now prepared to tackle this novel as a part of our next unit!


Suffield Public Schools
350 Mountain Road, Suffield, CT 06078
Phone: 860-668-3800 (Central Office)


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