Suffield Public Schools

McAlister Intermediate School

April 2016

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

Upcoming Events:

Monday, April 4

Arbor Day
For All Fourth Grade Students
2:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
McAlister Gym

Tuesday, April 5

NCCC Support Groups
5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
SMS C137 and C140

Internet Safety Workshop for Parents
6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
SMS Auditorium

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

Friday, April 8

PTO Family Game Night
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
MIS Gymnasium

Tuesday, April 12

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

Wednesday, April 13

7:00 p.m.
Suffield High School LMC

Thursday, April 14

Parent Literacy & Numeracy Night
6:00 p.m.
AWS Auditorium

Monday, April 18 -
Friday, April 22

No School [All Offices Open] - Spring Vacation

Wednesday, April 27

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

Public Hearing on Budget
6:30 p.m.
SMS Auditorium

Friday, April 29

Arbor Day
Grade 4

Virtual Backpack:

2015 - 2016 District Calendar

2016 - 2017 District Calendar

McAlister Menus

McAlister Family Handbook


A Message From The Principal

Dear McAlister Friends and Families,

We hope this letter finds you well and that you are enjoying the warmer weather as much as our students are! As we embark upon the last three months of the school year, we seem to be busier than ever.  Last month brought us many events--Suffield Idol, Fifth Grade Traditions at Nomads, Fourth Grade Traditions at Healthtrax, Third Grade Fitness Night, professional development for our teachers on Close Reading Strategies, Parent Teacher Conferences, the start of Expanding Horizons (our afterschool enrichment classes) -- to name a few!  Keep reading to find out about all the special events and activities coming up for our students this month!

A couple of weeks ago, we sent letters to all our families regarding the opportunity for parents to submit information for the 2016-2017 class placement process.  The class placement process is one of the most thoughtful processes that we embark upon, and letters from our families are truly valuable pieces of input. These letters provide additional perspectives regarding our students’ learning needs.   Please be sure to submit your letters to the main office by Friday, April 1, 2016.

In addition to embarking on the class placement process, we are also planning a fourth grade Arbor Day celebration that’s a little earlier than usual.  This is the 51st year that we are celebrating Arbor Day with the gracious help of the Suffield Garden Club, and we couldn’t be luckier.  This year’s celebration will be on Monday, April 4 at 2:00 P.M. and we invite all our fourth grade parents to attend.

On Friday, April 8 the PTO will host our enduringly popular Family Game Night Brain Challenge.  This night is a game show reminiscent of Jeopardy, Beat the Clock, and College Bowl.  Be sure to join us on April 8th at 6:00 P.M. in our gym.  The night is fun for the entire family and we hope to see you there! 

We will work with our colleagues at Spaulding on Thursday, April 14 from 6:00 to 7:00 P.M. to hold a special evening for parents of students in grades PreK-5.  This evening is entitled “Supporting the Home-School Connection in Literacy and Numeracy” and will be an opportunity to hear from our curriculum leaders and specialists on how our families can help support their child’s learning at home and at school.  We are hoping for a record turnout for this first-ever event of its kind.  Look forward to a flyer coming home within the next week with all the details.

And finally, we want to both congratulate and recognize the McAlister nominees for the 2016 Teacher of the Year.  Alicia Pitocco (fourth grade teacher), Denise Raymond (PE teacher), and Michael Kaulins (fourth grade teacher) were all nominated by their peers and recognized for their hard work, excellence in teaching, and their dedication to our students and school.  We wish them luck through the Teacher of the Year process and for the remainder of the year!

As always, we look forward to the months ahead and to the strong home school partnership that makes learning meaningful for all our students!


Karen Carpenter-Snow

Civil War Day Request from Mrs. Forrest

Community of McAlister! We are calling upon you to donate clean white sheets to use for bandages in our annual Civil War Day. Students will spend the day in the life of a soldier; and as part of the hospital, get to experience rustic treatment. We need bandages! Please consider donating!


Benefit Concert with Blue Jupiter


On Tuesday, March 29th, hundreds of people joined us in a night of joyous music and celebration of the arts. The Middle School Choir and High School Choir sang, there was a video performance by our fifth grade McAlister students, and the pop/funk a capella group "Blue Jupiter" performed as well. This performance raised over $6,000 for the Jordyn Marie Engler Scholarship Fund. Thank you to the SMS PTAC for organizing the event, and to all those who came to share the evening with us--it was truly a night to remember!


SPED PAC Save the Date


SPED PAC Agenda for April 13th at 7:00 p.m. at SHS LMC will include a presentation by Nancy Taylor on “A Model for Specialized Instruction - The Strategic Instruction Model”.

The date for May has changed from May 11th to May 12th - location TBD.

SPED PAC Agenda for May will include an opportunity to meet and hear from Dr. Mark Palmieri from the Center for Children with Special Needs.  Dr. Palmieri’s team will be conducting a program review and redesign of the service delivery model at A Ward Spaulding School next year.


Third Grade Curriculum Updates by Mrs. Halzack


Third graders have just concluded a unit of study on reading mysteries. We will now shift our focus to a challenging research unit. During this unit, students will be revisiting important reading skills such as identifying the main idea and the supporting details of nonfiction text, using text features and structures to support their comprehension, as well as learning how to compare and contrast information they gather as they read. Students will not only learn about the animals they research. They will also learn about the process of reading informational texts to develop expertise on a topic. In addition to doing research during reading workshop, students will also be doing lessons on Close Reading during which they will learn the importance of doing careful and purposeful rereading in order to glean a deeper understanding of text. During writing workshop, students will be focusing on opinion writing. They will be learning how to state their opinion on a topic and to support their opinions with clear reasons and supporting details. In math, third graders will be concluding an investigation of multiplication and division and moving on to a unit of study on addition and subtraction problem solving strategies. This unit also includes studying place value to the thousands place and rounding and estimation. Later in the month, we will also begin to explore fractions. In social studies we will launch an exciting unit on immigration. Students will be exploring the reasons many immigrants flocked to America from Europe during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In late April, the PTO will present a wonderful enrichment program called “Themselves” to all third graders. Through music, song, and dance, this group presents the many challenges immigrants faced during that time as they traveled to America and adjusted to life in a new land. Third graders will be engaged in a lot of exciting learning in the month ahead!


Fourth Grade Curriculum Updates by Mr. Fontaine


With such a mild winter, our fourth graders are eager for what spring will bring. Thus far, we have had some fun and interesting activities that have kept us hooked on reading as well as continuing the McAlister Way. We started the month with Read Across America activities to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday and ended the month with Fourth grade Traditions. Each class has done a poetry unit to coincide with Dr. Seuss’ whimsical writing style and to grow our love of writing. In the coming weeks during Writer's Workshop, our writers will be choosing a topic of interest to them, conducting research with their teacher and Mrs. Pakula, analyze the new information and write an informational piece.  In Science, we are currently completing our units on Ecosystems which will culminate with the ever popular Owl Pellet Activity. In Readers Workshop, our readers will be involved in an Author Study Book Club unit. Our readers will browse multiple texts by the same author learning how the author uses craft technique and structure to deliver a message and information to the reader. In Math Workshop, our students will continue to explain their reasoning and strategies that aided them in solving real world problems. Our Mathematicians will expand their minds as we head into our unit on Fractions. Our fourth graders have a lot to proud of this year. They have made wonderful growth in all areas and continue to grow on a daily basis.


Fifth Grade Curriculum Updates by Mrs. Forrest


Fifth graders certainly are busy right now! New opportunities, new strategies, and new concepts are coming our way in Spring 2016!

In ELA, we are starting an Argumentive Unit. Students will select from a range of debatable topics, gather evidence, build reasons, debate, and defend their findings. We will have to reserve an impartial eye as we perform our research with no judgments. Flash debates will create strong opportunities to share our findings! As this is mainly a nonfiction unit, we teachers strongly encourage our fifth graders to read fictional books at home!

In Math, we continue our fraction work! We will work on adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators, as well as incorporating mixed numbers. We will also begin multiplying and dividing fractions! We have been using a variety of manipulatives to help us
hone our strategies; as well as play games such as "Fraction War" and" In Between."

Science students are discovering the phases of the moon! How exciting as we also study the seasons.

In Social Studies, we are wrapping up the Constitution and Government. We will soon explore with Lewis and Clark's Expedition as we learn about the Louisiana Purchase. Students will also discuss and immerse themselves in trail life as part of Westward Expansion.


April is Autism Awareness Month


National Autism Awareness Month represents an excellent opportunity to promote autism awareness, autism acceptance and to draw attention to the tens of thousands facing an autism diagnosis each year.  This year we want to go beyond simply promoting autism awareness to encouraging friends and collaborators to become partners in movement toward acceptance and appreciation.

Let’s embrace a new perspective. For over 50 years we have worked in communities (both large and small) to ensure our actions, through our services and programming, supported all individuals living with autism. Let’s expand this work to focus on the rest of us – ensuring acceptance and inclusion in schools and communities that results in true appreciation of the unique aspects of all people. We want to get one step closer to a society where those with ASDs are truly valued for their unique talents and gifts.

Our schools will have blue ribbons displayed for the month of April to show our support as well as April 6th has been designated as a day to wear blue in Suffield. The school communities are also developing other ways to raise awareness and support.


Read Across America Day by Mrs. Grasso


On Wednesday, March 2nd, McAlister School celebrated 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!

McAlister teachers and students celebrated this special day with a variety of experiences that highlighted the joy of reading.  First, it was pajama day across the school!  What could be better than cozying up with a good book in your jammies?  All teachers were also wearing Dr. Seuss stovepipe hats to keep with our red and white theme.

Every student and staff member participated in Drop Everything and Read!  This was a whole school Independent Reading time where reading for pleasure was our number one priority.  During the day, all students also listened to Hooray for Diffendoofer Day.  The students of Diffendoofer School celebrate their unusual teachers and curriculum, including Miss Fribble who teaches laughing, Miss Bonkers who teaches frogs to dance, and Mr. Katz who builds robotic rats.  This story celebrates learning in creative ways and the individuality of children.  It reminds us that we are all something special because we are our own person.  

Visit to learn more about Read Across America Day.  This site is the official home of Dr. Seuss on the Web.  It is an engaging site for children of all ages to play and learn with Dr. Seuss’s wonderfully whimsical books and classic characters.


3rd Grade Fitness Night by Mrs. Raymond


The Connecticut State Physical Fitness Test is given to all students in the 4th, 6th, 8th and 10 grades. It consists of 4 individual tests measuring cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance and flexibility. Third grade students will be given a practice test in the spring so parents can see what scores their child is achieving at this time and make appropriate goals to help their child improve or maintain their current physical fitness.

As physical education teachers we understand children need to stay active and get bored with just practicing running, pushups, curl-ups, and stretching so we introduce our students to a variety of games and activities that will help them prepare for the test in a fun way. On March 3rd, we had 38 third grade students and their families join us for an evening of learning and fun. As we introduced each test including the Pushups, Curl-ups, Sit and Reach, and PACER test, we also incorporated a few fun games to go along with each one.  Pushup Hockey, over/under, curl-up ball pass, and the partner stretch were amongst the crowd favorites. The final challenge of the night was running through level 3 on the PACER test which is 30 laps across a 15 meter course. Of course everyone was cheering the different groups on encouraging them to keep going or finish.

The night was filled with laughter and smiles as students and their families discovered that fitness training can be fun. All you need is a friends to play with, possibly a ball or a deck of cards and you can make great improvements in all areas of physical fitness.


Grade Level Traditions


A huge thank you to our PTO for all of their work creating Grade Level Traditions for our students.  In February we had our Third Grade Traditions at Interskate 91, and in March we had both our Fourth Grade Traditions at HealthTrax and our Fifth Grade Traditions at Nomad’s Adventure Quest.  These events are wonderful opportunities for our students to socialize, have fun, and possibly learn a new skill with their peers.  We are so very grateful for all our students who attended and for the PTO for organizing these events.


Nurses Corner by Mrs. Fall


Spring is here!  It’s always an exciting time of year, with longer days and lots of outdoor activities, but for those who experience seasonal allergies, it can also be an uncomfortable time of year.  This is the time when outdoor molds release their spore and trees, grasses and weeds release tiny pollen into the air. Those who are allergic to pollen and mold will experience a histamine release that causes the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Symptoms include sneezing, itchy nose and/or throat, nasal congestion, runny nose and coughing. Sometimes children can develop allergic conjunctivitis which causes itchy, watery, red eyes.  Those with asthma can have problems with wheezing or shortness of breath.

Seasonal allergy symptoms can be relieved by decreasing the exposure…keeping windows closed, air conditioning when possible and staying inside when pollen counts are especially high. Washing hands or showering and changing clothes after being outside can also help.  Medications are also effective such as antihistamines and decongestants as well as nasal spray steroids or eye drops.  It’s always good to check with your pediatrician as to what therapy would be the best for your child.  Please remember that any medication, prescription or non-prescription, must have a doctor’s authorization in order to be administered in school.


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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