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!
  Calling Birchwood gardeners and nature-lovers! The Birchwood Nature Park is coming out of hibernation! Thanks to the 70+ budding gardeners who requested and received a Birchwood PTO custom-made planting kit. Hopefully you've planted your pots and are waiting to see some green.  
Take good care of your seedlings--there will be a planting event in May where you can come plant them in our great new vegetable beds at Birchwood!
Questions? Contact
Deb Foley.  
Friends of Music would like to share upcoming dates for our musically talented students.
Congratulations to all our Birchwood musicians and vocalists on your hard work!!

Elementary District Orchestra, 5th Grade
Thursday, April 10th
Niskayuna High School, 7:00 PM

Elementary District Band, 5th Grade
Thursday, April 24th
Niskayuna High School, 7:00 PM

Birchwood Chorus & Birchwood 4th Grade Strings
Tuesday, May 13th
Niskayuna High School, 7:00 PM

Reminder--Report Cards Can Earn Money!

Kids earn $10 for each report card with the CapCOM Great Grades program! Students enrolled in the CapCOM school banking program can either email their March report card to greatgrades@capcomfcu.org or give a copy to School Banking reps by the end of April. 
Students can earn $30 per year for report card submissions and even more by participating in the CapCom Reading program. If your student isn't enrolled in School Banking, or you'd like more information, go here to find out more!

Birchwood’s 4th Annual Poetry “Open Mic” Night will be held on Thursday, May 29th, 2014 in the Birchwood cafetorium from 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM.
Students: It’s time to start thinking about what poem you may want to read, or maybe you will write a poem for all of us to enjoy!
Parents, teachers and staff: we want to hear your favorite poems as well.
Watch in the coming weeks for sign-up sheets and more information.

Congrats to April's Boxtops Winners! They are: Emma Brooksby in Mrs. Querbe's 2nd grade class, Elaina Hallenbeck in Mrs. Santandrea's 3rd grade class, Christian Ciannamea in Mrs. Castren's 4th grade class. All have won prizes from Sweet Frog!
Sad to See You Go! Our long-time school Secretary, Barbara San Angelo, has announced she will be retiring at the end of April, in order to spend more time with her family. We will all miss her very much, but we are grateful for her eight-plus years of service to Birchwood!
Please welcome interim Secretary Carole Hourigan, who will be helping us finish out the school year through June. Mrs. Hourigan is a retired building secretary from one of Niskayuna's elementary schools.

(click the pic to see this month's school lunch menu!)
Let's Grow Together AND earn money for Birchwood! Do you shop at the local kids consignment sales? Then plan to shop the Let's Grow Together Sale May 2-4 at Afrim's Sports (636 Albany Shaker Road) and support Birchwood PTO at the same time!
The Birchwood PTO will earn 5% of your total purchase when you present this flyer at checkout (flyer is required).
It's a great opportunity to save a little money when outfitting your growing kids .  . . all while helping Birchwood!
Looking for a Webpage Guru!

Are you webpage guru (or just play one on TV?).  If not, do you want to be one?
We're looking for someone to work on the Birchwood PTO website in partnership with current Webmaster Kim McClive-Reed during the 2014-15 school year, and to take over as Webmaster in 2015-16.
Training is provided and no experience is required, though if you have experience in Google Sites or another do-it-yourself website program, you'll have a headstart! 
Working on the website is a great way to keep up with everything going on in the school and sharpen your tech and designer skills at the same time.  It doesn't look too shabby on your resume, either.
If you're interested in finding out more about the position, contact Kim McClive-Reed. She's really fun to work with.  You'll see. :)

Birchwood Community Members Make the News!
Click here to read about recent achievements and triumphs of Birchwood community members and alumnus. Find out, for example, about our Birchwood 5th graders' amazing, totally kid-driven effort to befriend and support Marine Troops in Afghanistan!
You can also find out more about community organizations and events (such as N-CAP's Niska-Game and Niska-Day) that support Niskayuna students and families here.  

Superintendent of Schools Susan Salvaggio has an
nounced her resignation, which will be effective on April 15th.  The full announcement is available here.

A serious flaw in a widely used internet security program could cause your financial and other data to be exposed.  Read more about HeartBleed and what you can do to safeguard your online data here.    

2014-15 School District Budget Development
The Niskayuna Board of Education will meet on Tuesday, April 8th to adopt a 2014-15 budget to present for a public vote in May. The full budget announcement can be viewed here.
The schedule and information for all of this year's budget development meetings is available here.  This information includes the recently published 2014-15 proposed budget summary.
The schedule and materials for regular BOE meetings (which are also currently budget-focused) is here.
At the previous board meeting on March 10th, district administration gave an update on the budget gap and on a recent request by the State Dept. of Education for partial repayment of building state aid. More information is available in District News.
Parents and community members are also strongly encouraged to contact Assemblyman Phil Steck, Senator Farley and Senator Breslin (represents Colonie). These representatives have worked tirelessly to support increases in state aid funding for the Niskayuna School District as part of the final FY 2014-15 State Budget. Our representatives continue to advocate for us,  and are enabled to do so with documented support (letters and emails) from you to present to the governor as proof of what the public wants!
The District has also posted contact information for the governor and our federal representatives, a sample letter, and other helpful information on a new "Budget Advocacy" webpage  here.
Oh, the DRAMA!
ASEP Drama Club Weds & Fri
April 9, (no 11), 23, 25, 30; May 2, 7, 9, 14, 16, 21, 28, 30
The 4th and 5th graders of the Drama Club (a new ASEP class) had their first meeting (including auditions) for the play "Tom Sawyer" on April 9th. Mrs. Luyckx and Mrs. Albanese are leading this talented troupe through several weeks of rehearsal, costuming and set-building.  We're expecting a fantastic performance on Tues., June 3rd (one during the school day and another at 7:00 PM for families and friends.)
Questions? Contact
Mrs. Luyckx for Drama Club information and Pam Ober for help with registration.

Calling All Tailors/Seamstresses--Help Make the Birchwood Banner Better
It's Almost Niska Day (May 17th) and Birchwood needs help with the beautiful Birchwood banner in time for the big parade! It's getting more and more difficult to carry the banner (it's heavy and the kids keep stepping on it) We need some alterations, including constructing a new, longer rod and shortening the length of the fabric. Anyone even semi-experienced in these matters should contact Amy Jasiewicz.

PTO Volunteer Position Signups OPEN for 2014-15!
Want to help with a PTO event or committee? 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 helpersSignup for the 2014-15 school year is open! See what's available and sign up online (print form coming soon). You can also email us to volunteer and with any questions you have!

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 tha
t this revenue-generating program will provide further learning opportunities for Niskayuna students. For more information, go to the District Website.
It's not too late to get a yearbook! There are a few left, and the cost is $23.00.  Contact Millie Gnatek to purchase.
 Birchwsood Spirit Wear order forms will be coming home with your children the Monday after vacation. We need to have all orders in by that Friday so that we can be sure to receive everything by Niska Day!

Did you know that Birchwood has a new 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. 

Nisky District News & Info are constantly being updated on the district website.  Highlights of district news impacting the Birchwood Community are also periodically updated here.  Check it out to find out more about district art and music, organizations like Nisky FOM, and the NCSD's upcoming 60th Birthday!

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

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