The SchoolGram is the newsletter of the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda  Union Free School District. Beginning with the 2015-16 school year, the SchoolGram will be published monthly and presented in e-newsletter format to make it more convenient for readers and easier to access on computers and mobile devices.  Find past editions on the web at The budget edition of the SchoolGram will still be delivered to households  by mail in late April or early May.

December 23, 2015
Happy holidays! There is always so much excitement this time of year as we prepare for and anticipate the joyful holiday season. We are also transitioning too, not only to a new year, but to a new phase of changes for our school community.

Some transitioning on the horizon includes the federally adopted Every Student Succeeds Act, the release of recommendations by the NYS Common Core Task Force, and the adoption of recommendations by the Board of Regents. The Ken-Ton School District will keep the community informed and up-to-date on how the changes will impact our students.

I am pleased to report that the District and Kenmore Teachers Association have finalized a new three-year collective bargaining agreement. In September, the District also finalized an agreement with the Kenmore-Tonawanda School Employees Association. The two represent the vast majority of school district employees - approximately 1,400 - and both agreements will not expire until the end of the 2017-18 school year. These agreements signify our transition to collaborated efforts between administration and our bargaining units!

Over the past few weeks, I have had the pleasure of meeting with many parents, teachers and other stakeholders at a variety of opportunities specifically for the purposes of receiving feedback on different topics and issues. Gatherings included a meeting with all parent group leaders, faculty meetings at each school, consolidation meetings at Roosevelt and Kenmore Middle, and a parent/stakeholder focus group forum on Dec. 15. I am grateful to all who participated and look forward to providing additional opportunities for all interested stakeholders!

At the forum on Dec. 15, there were great discussions on where we are as a District, the District vision of becoming the premier school district in New York State by 2020, what that means, and how we will get there. All comments are being compiled and will be shared as we continue to move our district forward.

Transitioning can be a scary process. Just like any growth/change, it is going to be uncomfortable. So we will go ahead and embrace the uncomfortable! T hings happen around us and things happen to us, but the only thing that truly matters is how we choose to react to it and what we make out of it. It is all about learning, adapting and converting all the struggles that we experience into something positive. Modeling this for our students and our children is important. Luckily, we are so fortunate to be a part of a supportive, positive community that works together to support the growth of our students! Peace, joy, good health and happiness are wished for you throughout the holidays and our seasons of transition!

Dawn F. Mirand, Superintendent of Schools
Earlier this month I had an opportunity to attend the Community Club party at Kenmore West High School. It is an event my family has attended since my oldest was born and the ninth year was just as fabulous as the first! This event brings together families in need and families of faculty for a fun-filled day of crafts, games and food. This year I had a chance to sit back and truly appreciate what makes this day so special.
First, families are getting to spend time doing things together. So often at home there is laundry to be done and dishes to wash that we don't get to sit and simply hang out with our kids. I saw parents sitting and talking with their children, looking them in their eyes, happy smiling eyes! In addition to the activities, they get a box of cookies with goodies to decorate with each other. The families in need also get to meet Santa and receive a bag of presents. For many families, these will be the only gifts the kids receive for the holidays.
So how does this all come together? It is our very own community! The students seek donations from our giving friends to fuel the program; they serve food, run the craft stations and game areas in the gym. This year because of one student's hard work, there were also free books to give out. If you look closely enough, you will also see the Club advisors running about to make sure things are going smoothly. This program is a well-oiled machine but most importantly it highlights the important things about this season: family, quality time, joy, fellowship, hope, generosity and love.  
This is just one program of many like this throughout our district. We are blessed to live in a place where ALL of our schools engage in such activities. Between holiday events, toy bins, coat drives, pajama collections, and food donations you will see our community coming together to celebrate the true spirit of the season!
Dr. Jill O'Malley, Board of Education President
Public meetings were held on November 30, December 3 and January 5 for families at Roosevelt Elementary, Kenmore Middle School and Hamilton Elementary to provide an update on the transition and an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. Click here to view an updated consolidated version of the three presentations. New questions and information have been added to the consolidation transition FAQ at Questions are marked as "New" or "Updated" to make it easier to find new information.
Teams From Kenmore East/Kenmore West Distinguished with Scholar Athlete Awards
A total of 22 teams competing during the fall season at Kenmore East High School and Kenmore West High School were distinguished with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Scholar Athlete Award. To be eligible, players on the team must maintain a combined grade point average of 90 or above. Click here to read the story.
Family Support Center PB&J Drive a Huge Success

In the fall, the Ken-Ton Closet hosted a Peanut Butter and Jelly Drive to collect jars for the Family Support Center's Food Cupboard. More than 100 jars were donated for the Food Cupboard, which is kept on hand for client families of the Family Support Center in case they find themselves in need of grocery items.
High Schools Host Roundtables for IB Educators

In the past two years, the Kenmore East and Kenmore West International Baccalaureate (IB) Programs have hosted seven Rountable events for schools as far away as Syracuse and St. Lawrence County. These events give IB educators the chance to collaborate on a variety of topics.  Click here to read the story .
Ken-Ton Hosts Professional Development Consortium

On December 4, Ken-Ton hosted the Buffalo State College Professional Development Schools Consortium meeting led by Principals Michael Huff, Michael Muscarella and Fran Paskowitz. The meeting focused on high leverage practices to increase student outcomes with a presentation by Barbara Battaglia, Director of Data and Research. PDS is a collaboration between Buffalo State College and partner schools and community centers dedicated to helping college faculty, school administrators, teachers and teacher candidates explore effective practices in education.
Universal Pre-K & Kindergarten Registration Information
Registration for Kindergarten and Universal Pre-Kindergarten will be by appointment only at the Central Registration Office beginning in January. Kindergarten registration will take place for Holmes and Hoover Elementary from January 11-15, for Franklin and Lindbergh Elementary from January 19-22, and for Edison Elementary from January 25-29. Universal Pre-K registration District-wide will take place February 1-5. Extended hours will be offered on Wednesdays from January 13 to February 3. Click here for more information on registering your child for UPK or kindergarten.
Three From Hoover Middle Win Lions Club Essay Contest
Sixth-grade students at Hoover Middle placed first, second and third in the Kenmore Lions Club Peace Essay Contest. Placing first was Tiffany Simpson, who was honored by the Board of Education on December 8 and whose essay will be submitted for the state competition.  Click here to read the story .
Students Write Letters to Santa for Make-A-Wish
With the help of cafeteria workers, Lindbergh Elementary School students in Wendy Cummins's fourth-grade class wrote 361 letters to Santa Claus in support of Macy's "Believe" campaign to support the Make-A-Wish foundation.  Click here to view the photo .
Franklin Middle Food Drive Collects 1,106 Items
Franklin Middle School students led by the Student Council collected a total of 1,106 items for the school's canned food drive to support the Blessed Sacrament Food Pantry. Donations were delivered by the Kenilworth Fire Department on Dec. 14.  Click here to view the photos .
Anne Frank Project Comes to Kenmore West
On December 9, Buffalo State College's Anne Frank Project performed their inspirational play "Mirror/Mirror" for Kenmore West ninth-graders and led them in an interactive discussion that encouraged them to love the stories of their lives.  Click here for more information on the Anne Frank Project .
Franklin & Hoover Middle Join for 'French Film Fest'
Students, staff, families and friends from Franklin Middle School and Hoover Middle School recently joined together for their sixth annual French Film Fest with a showing of "Une Vie de Chat" ("A Cat in Paris") and authentic, freshly made French treats.  Click here to read the story .
Fuel Up to Play 60 Brings Students to Bills Field House
After placing first in an NFL Fuel Up to Play 60 and Independent Health Foundation Fitness for Kids Challenge competition, students at Edison Elementary had the chance to visit the Buffalo Bills Field House for a variety of activities with Bills players.  Click here to read the story .
Kenmore East Street Law Classes Host FBI Agent 
More than 60 Kenmore East High School students had the opportunity to learn about the unique role the FBI plays in Western New York during a presentation by Special Agent Darin Schultz, who was hosted by the Kenmore East Street Law class.  Click here to read the story .
Holmes Pre-K Students Learn From 'Community Helpers'
Pre-kindergarten classes at Holmes Elementary recently enjoyed "Community Helper Week" with guest speakers including lead clerk typist Garett Brown, who presented information on his background knowledge of geography and shared special artifacts.  Click here to view the photo .
KMS Students Mark Lunch Monitor's 48th Year
During the December 9 holiday concert, Kenmore Middle School students honored lunch monitor Shirley Hernandez and celebrated her 48 years of service at Kenmore Middle. December 9 marked the 48th anniversary of Shirley's hiring in 1967.  Click here to read the story .
Hoover Elementary Celebrates Student Authors
A total of 47 second- and third-grade students at Hoover Elementary School were celebrated for writing and illustrating their own books at the annual "Make a Book" event. The students and their families were invited to a special Author's Tea to showcase their work.  Click here to read the story .
Edison Elementary Community Donates 316 Pairs of Pajamas
More than 316 sets of pajamas for families in need in the community were collected through a pajama drive at Edison Elementary led by art teacher Wendy Yiengst. Many students used birthday money and did chores to purchase additional sets and asked for early birthday presents in the form of new pajamas to donate. One family had been collecting pajamas all year, donating more than 20 pairs.
Left, a student at Hoover Elementary displays a winter cottage he created from recycled materials in art class. Right, Kenmore Middle students pose with the school's December Random Acts of Kindness calendar.
Left, students at Hamilton Elementary make gingerbread houses. Center, Hoover Elementary students write holiday cards to Safyre Terry, survivor of a tragic fire in Schenectady. Right, Santa gives out bags of presents to children at the Kenmore West Community Club Holiday Party with the help of students and faculty.
Left, students in Kristen Coley's class at Hoover Middle pose on the final day of their "147 Bakery," making candy-shaped coffee cakes to order for parents and staff. Right, students enjoy the Lindbergh Elementary Gingerbread Shop.
Left, Kenmore West students carol along Delaware Avenue for the Kenmore Merchants Association "Stop, Sip & Shop the Block" event. Center, Roosevelt Elementary students sing traditional holiday music around the tree. Right, Kenmore East Orchestra students play holiday music at Elderwood Nursing Home.

District strives for transparency in consolidation transition
Kenmore East senior takes part in prestigious theater program:
Kenmore West students reflect on true meaning of Christmas:
Opening of 1982 Washington Elementary time capsule:

  • Live performance of "Baby It's Cold Outside" by Kenmore West High School students, and percussion students performing "Carol of the Bells" on Boomwhackers
  • Exchange student from Bangladesh speaks to Board of Education on experience in Ken-Ton and Western New York
  • Kenmore Middle School students share enthusiasm of music review project
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Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District