Suffield Public Schools

McAlister Intermediate School

March 2016

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

Upcoming Events:

Thursday, March 3

Grade 3 Fitness Night
6:00 p.m.
MIS Gymnasium
(Snow Date March 7th)

Read Across America Day!
Wear Pajamas!

Saturday, March 5

SHS Safe Party Bottle Drive
8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
SMS Cafeteria Parking Lot

Monday, March 7

Suffield BOE Meeting
6:30 p.m.
SMS Library Media Center

Tuesday, March 8

Early Release
Professional Development
1:00 p.m.

PTO Parent Meeting - Kids Space
5:30 p.m.
AWS Gym and Auditorium

PTO Board Meeting
7:30 p.m.
MIS Library Media Center

Wednesday, March 9

9:20 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.
SHS Room 610

Expanding Horizons After School Program Starts

Friday, March 11

Grade 5 Traditions
Nomad's Adventure Quest

Wednesday, March 16

Early Release - Conferences
1:00 p.m.

Thursday, March 17

Early Release - Conferences
1:00 p.m.

Friday, March 18

Early Release - Conferences
1:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 19

Grade 4 Traditions
6:00 PM to 8:30 p.m.
Healthtrax Enfield, CT

Monday, March 21

Suffield BOE Meeting
6:30 p.m.
SMS Library Media Center

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Suffield Idol Rehearsal
5:00 p.m.
SMS Auditorium

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Suffield Idol Variety Show
5:00 p.m.
SMS Auditorium

Friday, March 25

No School & All Offices Closed - Good Friday

Tuesday, March 29

Benefit Concert ~ Jordyn Engler
Blue Jupiter and SHS Choir
5:30 p.m.
SHS Auditorium

Virtual Backpack:

2015 - 2016 District Calendar

McAlister Menus

McAlister Family Handbook


A Message From The Principal

Dear McAlister Families,

We are all very excited about the turn toward warmer, more spring-like weather, as we even heard the trill of a red winged blackbird officially welcoming spring. Throughout this entire year, we have been busy working on many initiatives to positively impact student learning.  Each week our teachers continue to build their instructional capacity by collaborating as grade level teams and working with our curriculum leaders.  All teachers will have a professional development opportunity on Tuesday, March 8, when our students have an early release.  During the afternoon of March 8 our K-5 teachers will be learning more about instructional strategies for implementing Reading Workshop in their classrooms including close reading strategies.

Our teachers have also been working on our school climate.  They analyzed data from our recent parent and student climate survey, chose areas on which to focus, and are now working on strategies to address their focus.  Our teachers are just like our students--they never stop learning and growing and are always working to meet the needs of all students!

In addition to curriculum and school climate, we have been continuing to focus on improving our daily attendance rates and working with those families whose children are chronically absent. (Remember, students are considered chronically absent when they are absent 10% or more of our school year.)  We are so very appreciative of our families’ efforts to get students to school each day.  Our students cannot learn if they are not in school, and nothing can replicate classroom learning!  Again, thank you for all of your efforts!

Finally, we have also been working to schedule our upcoming standardized tests for our students.  We are in the process of scheduling our Smarter Balanced Assessments and will be communicating to our families relative to all the specifics in a separate letter.  Smarter Balanced assessments will take place in late spring.  In addition to the Smarter Balanced Assessments, we will administer Science CMT to our fifth grade students.  This assessment is a one day assessment and will take place on Tuesday, March 15.  Again, similar to the Smarter Balanced Assessment, we will communicate the specifics in a separate letter in the upcoming days.

As always, the work we do is focused on improving the school experience for all our students.  Whether it be curriculum, climate, or student attendance--we are always working together to create meaningful and successful days for each of our students!  We look forward to our work ahead.

Warm regards,

Karen Carpenter-Snow

Fourth Grade Family Fun Night by Mrs. Raymond

On Thursday, February 3rd, the halls of McAlister were filled with smiles, giggles and encouragement as 56 fourth grade students and their families attended the third annual 4th Grade Family Fun Night. Twenty different challenges were set up throughout the first floor of the school. Some challenges involved some physical abilities and strength such as climbing a rope, walking across a balance beam or shooting 5 baskets within a 1 minute time frame. Others involved more strategy based thinking and teamwork such as transporting a marble from one bucket to another using pre-cut pipes, helping a blindfolded team member cross the cafeteria without any physical assistance, or transporting a “meteorite” with a specially designed transportation system. However, all the challenges were designed to ensure everyone could participate and be successful.  Any family that completed at least 10 of the challenges, were entered in a raffle for one of 3 themed basket prizes. It was wonderful to see all the families come out and support each other as they worked together to complete as many challenges as they could within the 1 hour time frame. It was our most successful 4th Grade Family Fun Night so far!


Third Grade Curriculum Highlights by Mrs. Halzack


Third grade readers are now “reading like detectives” as they delve into the world of mysteries during reading workshop. Students are focused on reading closely for clues that may lead them to possible suspects and eventually to solving the mystery! The children are learning to use new mystery vocabulary words such as sleuth, alibi, motive and “red herring.” As they read books from the same series, they are learning to notice common patterns in mysteries and to compare and contrast themes, settings, and plots. In writing workshop, third graders will wrap up a unit of study on narrative writing in mid-March and will then move on to informational writing in conjunction with an exciting and challenging research unit in reading.  In math, students will soon be focused on measurement, using both U.S. Standard Measure and the Metric System of measurement. This unit also includes an interesting, hands-on exploration of the topics of perimeter and area. Third graders will also be revisiting the topics of multiplication and division in math. In science, students will continue to study matter as they
engage in hands-on experiments on such topics as heat conduction, dissolving solids in liquids, and why solid objects sink or float. Many third graders are involved in lunch time Book Chats, thanks to the many PTO volunteers who are leading wonderful discussions on the book, I Was a 3rd Grade Science Project by Mary Jane Auch. Students are also looking forward to a fun evening on March 3rd when Third Grade Fitness Night will be held in the McAlister gym at 6:00 P.M. March is shaping up to be an exciting month for third graders!


Fourth Grade Curriculum Highlights by Mr. Kaulins


As we prepare to bid farewell to another winter season, our fourth graders are poised to "spring" into several exciting new units of study.  In Reader's Workshop, our readers are feverishly preparing for our upcoming Author Study Book Club unit.  Throughout this unit, readers will examine multiple texts by the same author discovering how an author's unique use of craft moves and techniques help to convey information to an audience.  In Writer's Workshop, our writers will be selecting a topic that they're curious about, conducting research alongside their teacher and Mrs. Pakula, and synthesizing that new learning to write an informational text.  In Math Workshop, our Mathematicians will continue to grow and defend strategies that will assist them in adding and subtracting through the use of games and real world problems.  As we head into a busy spring season, our fourth graders have lots of exciting new learning to be "buzzing" about!  


Fifth Grade Curriculum Highlights by Mr. Rapuano


During March, fifth graders will be immersed in a continuation of current learning and new units of study.  In Social Studies, we are studying the Boston Tea Party and the events leading to the American Revolution.  In Science, we continue our unit on light, specifically focusing on how color is created, comparing/contrasting the colors of light with colors of pigments, and the electromagnetic spectrum. Then we will turn our attention to Earth’s movements and the seasons. We are also gearing up for the Science CMT in early March!  In writing, students are working on creating effective opinion/persuasive essays that include reasons supported by specific facts and examples, providing counter claims and concluding with convincing arguments and a call to action for the reader. While in reading, we will be continuing the favorite Author Study Unit by determining how particular parts evoke a strong reader response then consider the structural patterns that exist across texts by an author.  Finally, in Math, classes are focused  on comparing fractions by ordering and justifying their order through use of visual representations that can be models using math manipulatives and/or illustrations/pictures.  Also, students will be finding and comparing fractional parts of a whole or a group.  As you can see, our fifth graders are  part of the entire school community are continually receiving reinforcement and support in our positive school climate initiative.  We look forward to some Saint Patrick’s Day enjoyment in the coming month as well as school spirit days being planned by the Fifth Grade Student Council members.


A Visit By Leslie Johnson by Mrs. Cronin


Throughout the month of February, the entire third grade worked with Ms. Leslie Johnson.  Ms. Johnson is well known in the state of Connecticut. She is a creative writer who offers residency workshops in poetry, fiction, and memoir writing for students across the grade levels. Ms. Johnson works with teachers to design a program that fits the Common Core curriculum and standards that the grade level is teaching. During her tenure at McAlister, she worked with students on character development and coached our students as they wrote a realistic fiction piece.  Their piece began with each student creating a fictional character that could be someone they knew. The children used their imaginations to draw that character, being careful to add all of the important features needed, from facial features, to attire, to articles in his/her hand that would give away what kind of things they enjoyed doing. Once their characters were brought to life, the students were guided, section by section how to create a realistic fiction piece based on their fictional character. When their pieces were finished, the students were offered time to share them with others, as that is what true authors do. We are, as always, very grateful to the PTO for funding this project year after year. The students are engaged throughout their time with Ms. Johnson and she leaves them feeling as if each and every one of them could someday be a published author!


Read Across America Day


On Wednesday, March 2nd, McAlister will be celebrating Read Across America Day.  To give a brief background, in 1997 the National Education Association (NEA) was looking for a special way to celebrate reading throughout the United States.  Soon after, the very first Read Across America Day was celebrated on March 2, 1998.  This nationwide observance coincides with the birthday of Dr. Seuss, an author who spent his entire life trying to make reading an engaging experience for all children.  Each year, 30 million children take part in this reading extravaganza!  On Wednesday, March 2 McAlister will celebrate this day with the following activities:

  • Schoolwide Drop Everything and Read
  • Schoolwide Read Aloud –Dr. Seuss Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!
  • Schoolwide Pajama Day—everyone wears pajamas!

Expanding Horizons

  Expanding Horizons Spring Session is up on the Virtual Backpack and registration deadline is Wednesday, March 9!  This session we have classes on Legomania, Yoga, Bat Club, Chess and Checkers, Create Your Own Video Game and more!  Come and join the fun!  

Jump Rope For Heart


We are excited that our school is once again participating in the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart program from now til mid-March.  Students in grades three through five will learn about the importance of exercise and the effect it has on the heart.  Students will also have the opportunity to raise money to support children with heart disease. Each year we look forward to this program and we appreciate everyone’s enthusiastic support!


Spirit Week At McAlister by Mrs. Pakula


The first group of Fifth Grade Student Council members has wrapped up their session by organizing a McAlister School Spirit Week! We celebrated Spirit Week with the following activities:

  • Trivia questions announced each morning with the answer given at the end of each day.
  • Having McAlister T-Shirt and/or Crazy Hair Day.
  • Sports Day when students are encouraged to wear sports related attire.
  • "Summer in Winter Day" where students dress in bright summer colors and designs.

All in all, it was joyful week of school spirit! Thank you Fifth Grade Student Council!


Grade 3 Traditions

  McAlister Intermediate School's Grade 3 Traditions event was held on Sunday, February 21, at Interskate 91 in Wilbraham, MA. Thanks to the coordinating efforts of our fantastic PTO, 56 grade three students, their parents and a few brothers and sisters enjoyed a fun-filled
afternoon of roller skating, games, and even a photo op with one of the Minions! Some students chose to skate with roller blades, while others preferred the added stability of traditional roller skates. All students also enjoyed a popcorn snack and soft drink from the concession stand. All in all, it was a wonderful and healthy way to spend a winter afternoon!

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 Four Traditions will be held at Health Trax (Enfield, CT) on Saturday, March 19.
  2. Grade Five Traditions will be held at Nomad’s Adventure Quest (South Windsor, CT) on March 11.

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.


Nurses Corner by Mrs. Fall


Hello parents and families!March is the month that I will be conducting postural screening for the 5th grade girls only. This screening program is designed to detect a possible curvature of the spine.  Postural screenings have been changed by the State of CT be done for female students in grades 5 and 7 and for male students in grade 8 or 9.  Past practice has been to screen all students from grades 5-9 inclusive. While only 4% of young people 10-14 years of age have some sign of scoliosis, it is advisable to screen during the rapid growth years for early identification.  Early treatment is essential to prevent a severe deformity.  Students may be excused from this screening only if there is documentation by the pediatrician that it was done at the doctor’s office.

A written referral will be made to those students who have a positive finding.


Benefit Concert ~ Jordyn Engler ~ Tue. March. 29


Benefit concert in loving memory of Jordyn Engler featuring Blue Jupiter and Suffield High School Choir.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016
6:00 p.m. - Doors open at 5:30 PM at Suffield High School
Tickets: $20 each (Checks made payable to SMS PTAC)
Limited Seating Available!

Flyer - PDF


Internet Safety Workshop for Parents


INTERNET SAFETY ~ Workshop for parents by Scott Driscoll of Internet Safety Concepts

  • Apps and programs children are using
  • Cyberbullying, Sexting and Social Networking
  • Creating a "digital footprint" (positives and negatives)
  • Current on-line trends and potential dangers
  • Tips on how to use technology in the safest way
  • Strategies on keeping families safe

Where : Suffield Middle School 350 Mountain Road Suffield, CT
When : April 5, 2016 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

This presentation is for parents only.

Flyer - PDF


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


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