Welcome to Birchwood Elementary PTO!

School Principal:    
Debra Berndt

PTO Co-Presidents: 
Deb Foley
Dave Apkarian
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, fill out this form.
Calendars: you can also check out events and meetings on the Birchwood PTO Events Calendar. Additional school-based, non-PTO events are posted here and on the Birchwood Elementary School  Programs page. The Niskayuna School District is no longer printing its calendar for budget reasons, but it can be viewed or printed here.
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!

Join us for a Birchwood Nature Club
Stream Exploration & Garden to Kitchen Event

Biology professor and Birchwood parent, the amazing Stephanie Vernooy, will lead students in discovering what kind of creatures might be living in our Nature Park stream! Many insects (mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, midges...) are aquatic in their larval form. We'll use nets to scoop out samples from the stream, and see if we can identify the insects that we find. Perhaps we'll also see worms, snails, or salamanders! If you have rain boots, bring them to school - you can wade into the stream and help stir up the water to make sure that we find anything that's hiding!
Lori Lembo, another lovely Birchwood parent will lead students in an activity that will help demonstrate what can be grown in a home garden and transformed into something yummy in the kitchen.  We’ll use veggies and herbs that can be grown at home and turn them into simple snacks and sides.  Students participating in this program will be able to take samples and recipe cards home with them.
The event will take place on the following days:
Grades K-2 on Wednesday, June 18
Grades 3-5 on Thursday, June 19

Both programs will be held from 2:15-3:30 PM
and will meet and dismiss in the Art Room.
Flyers and registration slips were sent home in backpacks.

Your Fundraising Dollars at Work

At the May 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, the school will be receiving a 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 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!

Ice Cream Social Was a Social Success!
The Birchwood community celebrated the approaching end of the school year on Friday, June 6, 2014 with bounce houses, ice cream, baked goods, face painting, and lots of outside fun.... all FREE!
Huge thanks to Pam Ober & JoMarie Ethier for organizing it all, as well as the many parents and staff who worked to make it possible. Also, kudos to the 4th and 5th grade families who provided baked goods this year!
Media Center Returns
are due Friday, June 6th. Students should round up everything they have checked out and return it to Mrs. Furey ASAP!  Please remember that you will not be allowed to check out any materials next year if everything has not been returned or replaced.

Birchwood Cares 
From May 19-30, Birchwood families brought in donations for Schoharie County families still recovering from a devastating hurricane 2 years ago. An entire carful of necessities was provided by our community (see it here on the Birchwood Pride Facebook page!).  If anyone still has any socks, underwear, or sneakers, those are still needed--please leave them at the office. Thank you for your open and generous hearts!
(click the pic to see this month's school lunch menu!)

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.
Box Top Fun! 
The last Box Top Drawing will be held on Friday, June 13. Thank you to all of the families who collected Box Tops for Birchwood all year long! It's a great fund raiser!


PTO Volunteer Position Signups OPEN for 2014-15!
Want to help with a PTO event or committee? See what's available and sign up online right here!
Volunteering is a great way to meet other parents and learn more about
Birchwood. We recruit volunteers on a rolling basis and during an annual spring "Volunteer Drive" to be PTO committee chairs and members, and/or "just-once" event helpers(print form coming soon).
You can also
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.
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). 

District-wide Rollout of PTO e-Directory!
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 enter your own information online. 
If you have already signed-up for a PTO e-Directory account, we thank you! If not, you can sign up right here. If you have questions, contact Shilpa Garde.
We also invite you to read the e-Directory FAQ 
here. If you have questions about your family's contact data on file with the school district, please call District Registrar Joan Vertigan at (518) 377-4666.

Birchwood Takes the Stage!
It's been a dramatic week for students, teachers, staff, and parents at Birchwood Elementary. Students took to the stage three days out of seven to perform for classmates and families. On Weds. 5/28/14, Mrs. Querbes and Mrs. VanAlstyne's 2nd Grade classes, as well as members of Mrs. Frament and Mrs. Denman's classes performed the musical "Goin' Buggy," delighting a student audience during the day and families at night. The very next evening on Thurs. 5/29/14, students, parents and staff read works of original and published poetry in front of a full house at Birchwood's 4th Annual Poetry Open Mic Night. The busy week concluded on Tues. 6/3/14 with the 4th/5th Grade Drama Club's fun-filled rendition of Tom Sawyer.
Congratulations to our talented students and a heartfelt thanks to the teachers, staff, and parents who made these memorable experiences possible!

This week's Volunteer Reception was amazing!
And what a nice tribute to all of Birchwood's dedicated volunteers! Thanks to all the staff who put together this thoughtful event.

Birchwood's Second Annual
 Relay for Life!

UPDATE (6/12/14): the Birchwood PAALS Team has grown to 19 people, and the team and the Birchwood community have achieved 45% of their $2000 fundraising goal!  Go Birchwood!
The Relay for Life Program involves several fundraising activities to benefit the American Cancer Society.  It's a great way to honor cancer survivors, support your community, and fund research for a cure.
From 5/12-6/15, students can record their daily physical activity on a Relay Recess sheet (and also contribute change to the Relay Recess School Coin Drive container in the school office).  Kids who turn in a completed sheet will earn a Relay Recess Certificate!
Families who are interested in joining this year's Birchwood PAALS Relay for Life Team to collect donations, walk in the Relay For Life event June 20-21st, or both, can register at the team page here. See this flyer for more information and registration rules. You can also go here
to donate to the team, purchase and dedicate a luminaria bag, or just see who's joined the team! 

  The District has created a Summer Enrichment Program
for K-12 students. Classes blend academic subjects with hands-on exploration and are taught by NCSD teachers and instructional staff. It is the hope that this revenue-generating program will provide further learning opportunities for Niskayuna students. For more information, go to the District Website.

School Budget Passed; New Board of Education Members Elected
On Tuesday, May 20th, 2014, the district's recommended school budget of $77.3 million was approved by the Niskayuna community in a 68% majority vote. Two new members were also elected to the Board of Education, Birchwood parent and 2013-14 PTO Co-President David Apkarian and Rosemarie Perez Jacquith. We look forward to working with both David and Rosemarie throughout their terms and thank them for their service to the community!
More details on the voting and election outcomes is available here. Budget Development information from this year's decision-making process is available here, while BOE general information can be found here.
Also, background on the search for a new superintendent and an introduction to Interim Superintendent John Yagielski are available here.

The 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. 

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

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