The SchoolGram is the  award-winning  newsletter of the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Union Free School District. The SchoolGram is presented in e-newsletter format for the convenience of readers and easy access on computers and mobile devices. Sign up to receive the SchoolGram in your inbox or view past editions on the web at  www.ktufsd.org/SchoolGram .

COVID-19 Closure Update:
April 13, 2020
Message from the Superintendent
It is hard to believe that we are now entering our fifth week of the school building closure. I don’t think anyone in our community or across the nation could have imagined how the COVID-19 public health crisis would impact educational communities. Schools today provide so many critical services for communities, and the Ken-Ton School District community is working hard to address the needs of our students including nutrition, childcare for essential workers, and remote learning.

As was previously communicated, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended the closure of all public school buildings in New York State through and including Wednesday, April 29. No one knows how long the closure will last, and we must plan for the eventuality that it will extend beyond April 29 into the month of May.

Even though our school buildings are closed, the district and its schools are entrusted with the education of our students. It is our responsibility to ensure that all students continue their learning and academic progress, no matter the circumstances. This is also a requirement of the New York State Education Department. The greatest challenge of the closure has been fulfilling this responsibility despite the fact that our buildings are closed and all learning must be done remotely at home. Our teachers and administrators have done an exceptional job supporting our families and providing opportunities for continued learning and instruction. Our plans and procedures have evolved as staff have adapted and worked through the challenges of the closure.

Because we do not know how long the closure will last, it is important that we transition to a longer-term, more sustainable plan for continued learning and instruction. Our schools are in the process of communicating new guidance and goals for the foreseeable future so that our students can continue their academic progress no matter how long the closure lasts. Please take a few minutes to review the information that has been sent. If you have any trouble locating it, you can find these communications on our website at ktufsd.org/COVID19 .

These are extraordinary circumstances, and we understand the need for flexibility and truly want to work with each family to find a home learning option that best meets everyone's needs . As always, the teachers, building principals, and school district staff are all here to support you. We are all in this together. If you have questions or need assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out. If you do not know who to contact, you can use the closure questions page and we will connect you with someone who can assist.

Steve Bovino,
Superintendent of Schools
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COVID-19 Closure Updates & Information
Long-Term Planning for Continued Learning & Instruction
  • New instruction/materials will be introduced at all grade levels by April 20. Many teachers have started to introduce new material already.
  • To the extent possible, and varying by grade levels/course/subject area, instruction will emphasize technology platforms with which our teachers and students are familiar. There will be a need for regular, consistent online collaboration with the teachers. Continuous feedback will be a critical component of the success of this learning experience. 
  • Differences are to be expected. Per the New York State Department of Education, each District is required to submit a Continuity of Learning Plan which ensures continued learning is provided to all students. 
  • Students are expected to participate in remote learning, and participation in learning is being monitored by teachers daily. We encourage families to reach out to the teachers to discuss any modifications to assignments or remote learning tasks that are necessary to optimize student engagement. 
  • Assignments and activities should be completed and/or submitted. Families should work directly with the classroom teacher should a student be unable to complete for any reason and/or to request modifications or alternatives.
  • Schools are in the process of communicating new guidance and goals. You can also find this information on the Home Learning Information Page, and additional guidance will be provided by your children’s teachers.

Gr. 5-12 Report Cards:
  • Middle school and high school third-quarter report cards are now available for viewing on the Parent Portal. If you need any assistance with Parent Portal, please email icportal@ktufsd.org.

Online Registration:
  • The Ken-Ton School District is very excited to welcome new families to the district. To facilitate registration for incoming kindergarten students, Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) students, and other new registrants during the extended COVID-19 closure, the Central Registration Office has launched a new express online registration process. The Central Registration team will process online registrations and communicate via email. To access the online registration process, click here: 2019-2020 Express Online Registration

Changes to Graduation/Course Requirements

April 7, 2020 Board of Education Meeting
  • The April 7, 2020 Board of Education meeting took place via videoconferencing. A recording of the meeting can be found here: https://youtu.be/iSI3OcKqpcE

Breakfast/Lunch Services
  • Breakfast/lunch services will continue to operate as scheduled on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the five locations (Franklin, Holmes, Hoover, Boys & Girls Club, and Sheridan Parkside) for the duration of the COVID-19 closure. Click here for additional breakfast/lunch information.

Health, Physical Education & Athletics
  • The NYS Public High School Athletics Association (NYSPHSAA) has suspended all practices, scrimmages, and games until further notice. If you have questions related to athletics, please contact Brett Banker at bbanker@ktufsd.org.
  • Both Mr. Banker and Mr. Badgley have been constantly brainstorming methods to keep coaches and student-athletes connected and engaged during a very difficult and emotional time. Some initiatives have included: informing coaches of webinars and digital coaching clinics, sending digital greeting cards to each senior spring athlete, asking our Hall of Fame Booster Club to purchase lawn signs for each senior spring athlete (should be delivered later this week), using social media (Twitter and Instagram) to run contests, trivia games, asking students and alums to post pictures from their playing days, etc.
  • Planning is underway in an attempt to still have some form of our Spring Athletic Awards.
  • The Health and Physical Education staff continues to monitor student learning and consider different forms of instruction.
  • Kenmore East’s Maddie Fox and Kenmore West’s Zac Boyes appeared on separate WNYAthletics podcasts (can be found on Facebook) to discuss the spring season.
  • Director Banker was interviewed for a similar podcast with WNYAthletics and the New York State Athletic Administrator’s Association (NYSAAA) podcast as well.
  • Director Banker is very proud of Nurse Practitioner/Medical Director Deb Carey and our nursing staff for all of their volunteerism and examples of otherwise assisting the community.

Other Updates:
  • School nurses will remain in contact with families regarding specific needs. The Ken-Ton School District nursing staff will stay informed and contribute to any health updates regarding COVID-19.
  • School counselors and school social workers are continuing to communicate with students directly, as needed, and with teachers. They will continue to support students and families in course and transition planning at the high school. Remote support may consist of written communication, telephone calls, or videoconferences.
  • CSE and 504 meetings will be held via videoconferencing. Invitations will be sent to parents via email. If you have concerns about the CSE process during closure, please contact your CSE Chairperson. If you have questions or concerns about the 504 process, please contact your child’s school.
Student, Staff & Family Updates
Staff Distribute Nearly 1,500 Devices to Support Student Learning

In the weeks following the COVID-19 closure, a multitude of staff came together to distribute nearly 1,500 Chromebooks and iPads to Ken-Ton School District students in order to support their learning at home.

Outdoor distribution took place on multiple days over a three-week period despite persistent cold weather, windy conditions, and rain. In order to distribute the devices in the most efficient manner possible while minimizing person-to-person contact, drive-through pick-up was arranged at the three locations where breakfast/lunch meals are currently being served (Franklin, Hoover, and Holmes), and staff were able to distribute hundreds of devices quickly over a two-hour period each distribution day without families ever having to leave their cars.

The effort was undertaken so that students who do not have regular access to a device at home would still be able to engage in remote learning activities while schools are closed. It was coordinated by Technology Director Iann Miller with Director of Secondary Education Lisa Cross , instructional innovation support specialists and technology integrators/coaches Joi Chimera, Phil Jarosz, and Judy Anthony , and the Technology staff: Bill Steffen, Brandon Chiarmonte, Bruce Zeller, Scott Guagliano, Mike Shovlin, Chris Galik, Jared Santas, Colleen McGroder, and Lynn Taylor .

Also coordinating and providing support were teachers Nate Bourke, Brittany Lis, Denise Grandits, Julie Moore, Tiffany Van Dewater, Amy Beth Grosofsky, and Tina Cavese ; instructional support specialist for science Lisa Davidson ; Hoover Middle School head custodian Rob Warren ; assistant principals Marco Galante and Mike Haggerty ; and principals Patrick Heyden, Dean Johnson, Matt Raines, and Chris Ginestre .

Students in elementary schools received iPads, and students in middle and high schools received Chromebooks. Each device came equipped with a variety of instructional apps and programs.

The Technology Department continues to provide invaluable technology support for students, families, and staff to help them stay connected during the closure. If you need any technology assistance, please visit the Technology Support page here: www.ktufsd.org/Page/18951
Another wonderful WBKW Channel 7 story from last week showcasing the two seniors at Kenmore West, Gerald (Jerry) Rott and Krish Patel, who have launched a tutoring, test prep, and academic support website to help fellow high school students across WNY. You can see the website it here:
Last week, WKBW Channel 7's Eileen Buckley featured Kenmore East High School senior Maddie Fox, a member of the Kenmore East Band and track team, about what the school closure has been like from the perspective of a graduating senior. You can find the story here:
Franklin Middle School teacher Mr. Gillette is engaging his 7th grade science students at Franklin Middle School with two Zoom meetings two days each week. The thematic Zoom classes feature different aspects of science. For example, students showcased a variety of pets in a recent class. One Zoom meeting is dedicated to specific content while the other highlights and demonstrates cool science websites and learning opportunities. Students continue to work on science assignments in Google Classroom.
Music teacher Amanda Regan coordinated a “Masked Singer” challenge at Franklin Elementary School. Videos of different members of the Franklin Elementary staff singing were posted to FlipGrid with their faces hidden, and everyone was invited to guess who each singer was using a Google Form. You can se the videos at https://flipgrid.com/+bfesmaskedsinger and make your guesses here: https://forms.gle/MkSEamtnynjtBaJ39
Athletic Director Brett Banker sent each spring athlete a personal e-card wishing them and their families well during the closure.
Lindbergh Elementary School shared a fun and creative video which featured a multitude of staff dancing and lip syncing "Come Together" by the Beatles:
Pictured here is Bella McNett, a third-grade student at Hoover Elementary School, helping her younger sister Lilly learn her letters at home during the closure. Special thanks to their mom Jamie for sharing with Bella's teacher, Mrs. Benfanti .
Lindbergh Elementary School first-grade student Leyna Sullivan and her sister, third-grader Kaiyae, are working hard at home.
Student work from kindergarten Teacher Elizabeth "Tizzy" Schechter at Hoover Elementary School.
This wonderful video, created by Hoover Elementary School teacher-leader Crista Maghrak , with contributions by so many members of the Hoover Elementary staff, was shared to the Hoover Elementary Facebook page. “Hoover is All in this Together 2020” was viewed by hundreds of people and received hundreds of positive reactions on social media.
Two important announcements from Mr. Critelli : Mr. Critelli’s 2020 Field Trip has been canceled. Everyone will be refunded all deposits and final payments that they have made. Also, registrations are still being accepted for the 2020 Kenmore Schools Day Camp Program.
Team 5-1 at Franklin Middle School is meeting daily on Google Hangouts with homerooms and then breaking into small groups to address needs and allow for more focused attention. Ms. Brown, Mrs. Arroyo, and Ms. Scott have shared fun ideas of spreading positivity, shared quotes and explained how they apply to us, had a dance party to increase mood and movement, read short stories and analyzed them, reviewed workload on Google classroom, and are now looking forward to a team spirit week coming up. They are also starting a book club soon. Mrs. Jetter saw a 5th-grade family during one of her walks and was happy to hear that their daily 10 a.m. Zoom meetings, hosted by Ms. Shiesley and Mrs. Jetter , are helping students stay connected. Mrs. Jetter and Ms. Shiesley recognize that, although some Zoom meetings can be chaotic, they are so happy that students are enjoying staying in touch while getting a chance to work on school work together.
Maeve Hashey in Ms. Kates’s kindergarten class at Lindbergh Elementary School has enjoyed working on her handwriting book.
Fourth-grader Samantha Hashey in Mrs. Morath's class at Lindbergh Elementary, whose mother Jaime Hashey is a Speech Language Pathologist at Lindbergh, was enjoying the sunny weather.
Photos of chalk art by C.J., a third-grade student at Franklin Elementary School.
At the end of the first week of the closure, Mrs. Mical assigned students a journal entry about how the closure was going. She wrote a sample entry, telling about how it was not at all like she had imagined it. She spoke of the technology frustrations and how she missed her friends. When she received students' journal entries, the overwhelming theme was that the kids were lonely. They missed their classmates. So, in response to their entries, she decided that they would preserve their "Fun Friday" tradition to do something fun during class. Every Friday, she sets up a Google Meet, and they meet up to just chat and laugh. They've shared virtual tours of their homes, shown their pets, introduced their siblings, and shared things about their lives. Everyone is now loving the new social distancing Fun Fridays. Mrs. Mical admits that "hearing their laughter and seeing their smiles is good for my soul."
An original song was written, performed, and shared by Lindbergh Elementary School student-teacher Tara Southard , who has been working in teacher Kristina Marzec’s classroom. Tara wrote it and dedicated it to the students at Lindbergh Elementary. You can see it here:
Special thanks to the Peterson family at Hoover Elementary School and first-grade teacher Mrs. Achenbach for sharing this wonderful sidewalk chalk message.
Teacher Samantha Page led a tutorial with her kindergarten students on how to write a friendly letter and then they wrote letters to her and a few of their favorite characters. She is now in the process of writing them all back. She has also been sharing a daily read-aloud and students are submitting their written responses to their portfolios on Class Dojo.
In Susan Sommers ’ kindergarten class at Holmes Elementary School, student Tauriel made a shaker using recyclable items for her home.
Students in Mrs. Wilson's kindergarten class at Franklin Elementary are practicing sight words in fun ways while at home.
Kindergarten students joined Franklin Elementary School librarian Mrs. Thompson with a Virtual Library Day last Wednesday. This student watched the read-aloud “Wait, Rest, Pause: Dormancy in Nature.” Then she went outside to try the same thing and found a nest!
Second-grade students in Mrs. Roberts ’ class at Lindbergh Elementary School.
An art project created by Ayda Kirsch, a second-grade student in Michele Sprada’s class at Lindbergh Elementary School.
Lindbergh Elementary School first-grader Michael Ruckdaschel, a student of first-grade teacher Laura Waggoner and math teacher Jen Besancon, working on his math.
This week, Samantha Rajski at Franklin Elementary School led a science experiment over Zoom. They used Peeps and predicted whether they would sink or float and how quickly they would dissolve in different liquids.
Dino, a first-grade student of teacher Tracy Candino and math teacher Jen Besancon, was Mrs. Besancon’s No. 1 student on IXL this past week with 1,000 questions answered.
David Velez in Ms. Kates's kindergarten class at Lindbergh Elementary School wrote a letter to Pete the Cat.
April is National Poetry Month, and Hoover Middle School shared a wonderful COVID-themed Acrostic Poem written by Hoover Middle School 6 th -grader Jack Lipowski, a student in Mrs. Freda's ELA class.