Welcome to Birchwood Elementary PTO!

School Principal:    
Debra Berndt

PTO Co-Presidents: 
JoMarie Ethier 
Deb Foley
The role of the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) is to organize educational and social programs that bring the Birchwood community together. These activities and programs are supported by fundraising activities throughout the year. All parents,caregivers and staff are welcome to be part of the PTO!
Birchwood Bulletin: Birchwood events and programs are announced in the weekly Birchwood Bulletin, which is sent by email on Thursdays. If you are not getting the email bulletin, or need to change your email address, please email birchwood@niskypto.org.
Calendars: you can also check out Birchwood-specific events and meetings on the Birchwood PTO Events Calendar.  The Niskayuna School District is no longer printing the full district calendar for budget reasons, but it can be viewed or printed here.


Back-to-School BBQ
Fri., Sept 19, 5-7 PM
Order your tickets now! Orders and checks are due Fri., Sept 12th.
Lost your form? Print it again here.
Calling all Birchwood Grill Masters (both Dads and Moms)!
The Birchwood Back-to-School BBQ is just around the corner - 5-7 PM on Friday, September 19. This year we're doing the outdoor grilling ourselves, and we need YOUR help to make this a great event!
Think you can grill the meanest burger or dog in town? Join Birchwood parent and Board of Ed member David Apkarian at the grill and show us what you've got! 
ShopRite is generously donating the food and a few volunteers to help out. We'll provide the grill, appropriate grilling utensils...even a special Birchwood BBQ apron that you get to keep as a thank-you for volunteering! 
Grilling not your thing? We need lots more volunteers to help away from the grill too! Parent help is needed at the meal and ticket tables, along the serving line, at the kid's activities, and during set-up and clean-up. 
We can't pull off this event without you! Don't wait--please sign up online to volunteer hereor email BBQ co-chair Lori Lembo to let her know you can help. Thank you! 

Birchwood Nature Park Debuts STORYWALK® during the BBQ!
In between enjoying burgers and hot dogs at the Back To School Barbecue, be sure to take a moment to visit the Nature Park and enjoy our debut StoryWalk®! Discover Lois Ehlert's "Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf" as you stroll along the path and enjoy the beauty of our Park. 
The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library.

After School Enrichment Program (ASEP)
Fall program begins Sept. 29th!
Every fall and spring Birchwood offers fun and fantastic after school classes for all interested  Birchwood students. Most classes run one day a week from 2:15 – 3:15 pm for six consecutive weeks (skipping half days and holidays; see schedule for specifics). Pick-up is promptly at 3:15pm.
Offerings this fall include: Spanish, painting, gym classes, chemistry, cooking, and more! Classes cost between $16 - $40
The fall program was recently sent home and can also be viewed here. There will be a two-week registration period ending on FRI, Sept. 26th. FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED!
 PTO Parent Contacts: Pam Ober and Dawn Oppe 

Bike Riders for Missing Children of the Greater Capital District to visit Birchwood!
On Friday, Sept 19, own of our 4th grade teachers, Lisa Luyckx, is participating in the 7th Annual Ride for Missing Children of the Greater Capital District. This 100-mile ride honors the memory of missing children and raises funds to support poster distribution and other necessary services.
This year, the riders will include Birchwood School as one of their rest stops. The riders will arrive with a police escort, dismount their bikes, interact with the students, and enjoy breakfast prepared by PTO volunteers. During the week prior to the event, our children will attend an assembly and pep rally where they will be educated on keeping safe in an age-appropriate fashion. 
You can find out more about this event here. For more information about the Ride for Missing Children of the Greater Capital District, or to make a donation, please visit http://rideformissingchildrengcd.com.

Birchwood Library Media Minute
 
Birchwood's 22nd Annual Family Poster Contest has begun! This is an exciting Birchwood tradition that is loved by all!
Kids create a poster that has something to do with reading in general or a specific book or author. More details, including important instructions and contest rules, can be found here.
Posters may be submitted to Mrs. Kirkpatrick or Mrs. Newsome in the Media Center any time up to and including Friday, November 7th . All 3D Posters should be handed in November 7th ONLY!
The Media Center needs Kindergarten parent volunteers during the Kindergarten class time. KA meets in the library on Fridays from 9:00 to 9:30 AM and KB is there on Wednesdays from 9:00 to 9:30 AM. Please contact Francesca Hill or signup  online here,.

YOU OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES

A video starring Birchwood students and staff is featured on the NY State School Board Association's website.  A crew  from NYSSBA arrived on the first day of school to film and interview teachers, students and our principal, Mrs. Berndt to highlight the excitement of the start of a new school year.  Be sure to watch at least the first 2 1/2 minutes of the video, when the speaker begins you may be tempted to stop, but keep watching, our children continue to be the backdrop.


T
he Birchwood School Pledge
I pledge today to do my best,
In reading, math and all the rest.
I come prepared with all I need,
And make good choices to succeed. 

PTO Announces New PAALS Initiative
"Providing Assistance and Advocacy through Learning and Service," the new PAALS program will provide opportunities for student leadership development, community involvement, service learning, family participation, and so much more! 
The PTO needs the time and talents of Birchwood parents to help expand on the initial groundwork and fully develop and launch these programs. We hope you'll help us make PAALS a success for our students and school community! Interested? Volunteer here.


Birchwood Curriculum (Back-to-School) Night
Thurs., Sept 18th
K-2  6:00 pm (classrooms)
K-5   7:00 pm (cafeteria)            
3-5   7:30 pm (classrooms)
September Curriculum Nights provide a chance for parents and teachers to meet each other, discuss the curriculum, and visit the classrooms. Classroom presentations for grades K-2 and 3-5 are scheduled during separate time blocks, or on separate nights, to enable parents with multiple children at Birchwood to attend more easily.
Stop at the entryway tables on your way in to learn more about Friends of Music, Birchwood's Girl Scout troops, pay your PTO dues, and get access information for the PTO Directory.
Due to limited space in classrooms, this event is best suited for parents unaccompanied by their children.

Don't forget! NO SCHOOL on Thursday, Sept. 25th 
(in observance of Rosh Hashanah)!

Try the Website's Search Feature!
In a hurry, and only need to know one little thing--like, how to pay for school lunch? When Monster Mash is? How to get your directory? Use the "Search this site" box (above right) to find info FAST!

Welcome to our new Staff!
We are delighted to have the following staff members joining our Birchwood family: Mrs. Wendy Weir, Cook Manager; Mrs. Renae Semione, Secretary; Mrs. Jodi Hogsberg, Special Education Teacher; Mrs. Kate Kirkpatrick, Librarian; Mrs. Caroline Colwell,  Special Education Teacher; Mrs. Sandy Hovey, TA; Mrs. Rosa Cannavo, TA; Mrs. Carla Pakosz, ESL Teacher; Mrs. Nancy Collins, BOCES Teacher. We hope you'll 
stunt
soon feel right at home!

Chris Poulos Coming to Birchwood
Chris Poulous, a world champion athlete, will be presenting a Character Education assembly at Birchwood on Tuesday, September 23rd for grades K-5 at 9:00 AM. 
Chris combines amazing bike stunts with talks on bullying, self-discipline, respect and more. Find out more about Chris here!

Birchwood Yearbook News
The Yearbook Committee is seeking photos for the "First Day of School" yearbook page. This page was a great success last year! We need to make sure we have enough shots to do it again this year.
Parents can submit photos of their kids waiting for or getting on/off the bus on the first day of school. Either individual or group shots are fine. Please mail your digital photos to birchwoodyearbookpics@gmail.com. Parents and other Birchwood community members are also welcome to send in Birchwood-related photos for yearbook consideration all year round. 
There are still  limited number of last year's yearbooks available for sale. Please contact Millie Gnatek if interested!.
PTO Parent Contacts: Millie Gnatek & Sonya Ward

http://www.niskayunaschools.org/StudentServices/PDFs/lunchmenus/Menu-May-2014.pdf
(click the pic to see this month's school lunch menu!)

District-wide Rollout of PTO e-Directory! 
Signup open until Sept. 20th 
(so we can make our print deadline!!)
We are at 80% registration!
With support from the Niskayuna PTO Council and PTO Directory Chairpersons from each school, the Niskayuna PTO is announcing a district-wide roll out of an online parent-student directory service called the "PTO e-Directory." This is a secure online service that empowers parents to manage contact information shared with the Niskayuna PTO. 
The district Registrar does not share your data with the PTO for directory purposes. You will NOT be included in the 2014-15 PTO directory if you do not register online. 
If you haven't yet signed up for the PTO e-Directory yet, you can sign up right here. Please sign up before Sept. 20th. 
If you have already signed-up for a PTO e-Directory account, we thank you! You may still want to login and check your account to be sure that your settings say "opt-in" to the directory.
If you have questions about your family's contact data on file with the school district (not the PTO), please call District Registrar Joan Vertigan at (518) 377-4666.

PTO Volunteer Position Signups OPEN for 2014-15
Signup ONLINE here!
New Parents? Don't be shy! Come give it a try!
Birchwood's PTO recruits parent (and grandparent!) volunteers on a rolling basis and during an annual spring "Volunteer Drive" to be PTO committee chairs and members, and/or "day-of-event" helpers.  
You can signup online here, email us to volunteer, or find out more about a position. The current committee chairs will be happy to answer any questions about what's involved!
If you've never volunteered (especially if you're new to the school), it's a fantastic way to find out more about Birchwood and get to know other parents.  Experienced parent volunteers are great resources of information for everything you need to know. 
IMPORTANT NOTE TO LAST YEAR'S VOLUNTEERS: If you plan to continue in a role you held last year, that's great!  Please sign up 
here   to confirm that you're definitely still interested, and to help us keep the volunteer signup organized (it's a lot of people to keep track of).

Your Fundraising Dollars at Work
At the May 2014 Birchwood PTO meeting, those in attendance approved the purchase of several items for the school. Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Birchwood parents and friends, last year the school was able to install new sound system for the stage/cafetorium to replace unreliable or broken equipment. This purchase includes wired microphones (for hanging above the stage and handheld use), wireless microphones (both handheld and clip-on), speakers/amps, soundboard, and MP3 plug-in. Thanks go out to Brian Meservey and Mr. Garrison who installed the new equipment in time for our Drama & Poetry Week! 
Other items approved at the meeting were new wipe boards for kindergarten students, bean bags for the kindergarten reading ares, and a new world map for the hallway. 
Thanks again to all those who have supported our fundraising efforts throughout the year, making these purchases and other enrichment and academic opportunities throughout the school year possible!

We welcome your comments and suggestions!  
Please let us know what you think of the Birchwood PTO Webpage:

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