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 .

COVID-19 Closure Update:
May 18, 2020
COVID-19 Closure Updates & Information
May 21-22 Catch-Up Days
  • The district has made the decision to offer teachers and students the opportunity to pause new instruction in order for teachers to update gradebooks, for students to catch up on assignments, and for everyone to use this time to reset and reinvigorate. On May 21 and May 22, teachers will not deliver new instruction on those days, but may use this time to assist students in identifying missing assignments, and to identify ways to reinvigorate themselves and students as we enter the final stretch of remote learning. We ask our students to use these “catch up” days to complete any assignments that you are currently working on or sessions you might have missed. We encourage students to reach out to their teachers to identify any missing assignments to use this time wisely. The weather is beginning to improve, so we are hopeful students can find some time to get outside and play (while practicing safe social distancing of course).

Memorial Day Holiday (Monday, May 25)
  • The federal Memorial Day holiday on Monday, May 25 will be observed as scheduled, and no instruction or remote learning will take place this day.

Parent/Family Youth Truth Survey
  • The Ken-Ton School district is continuing with it’s annual administration of the Youth Truth Survey to all staff, Grade 5-12 students, and all families. As you may recall from last year, the Youth Truth Survey is a strengths-based survey completed to help the District identify social emotional strengths and areas of need as indicated by staff, students, and parents. The survey is completely anonymous and results are organized by school, not by individual response. The results help the District in making programming, staffing, and policy decisions.
  • Given the changes to school programming due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the District has worked with YouthTruth to open the survey to all families from Monday, May 18 through Friday June 5. We strongly encourage all families to ensure their voices are heard by participating in this voluntary and anonymous survey. Because of the pandemic, we have also added several questions that you can answer indicating your personal experiences with how the District responded during the COVID-19 school closings engaged by the Governor.
  • Simply click the following link to be brought to the parent/family survey (staff and students will receive a different survey link):

Last Day of Instruction
  • The last day of instruction for students is expected to be Wednesday, June 10. This assumption is based on the Governor’s previous direction to work through all days of the COVID-19 closure irrespective of planned non-federal holidays (such as spring recess). Additionally, in order to provide flexibility, we are considering Friday, June 5 as the last day for new instruction, and Monday, June 8-Wednesday, June 10 as the student make-up and review window.

Summer Programs/Activities Cancelled
  • As communicated on Friday, the Ken-Ton School District regrets to announce that all summer programs and activities will need to be cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These cancellations have been necessitated by restrictions on non-essential activities which are expected to continue through the summer. This includes:
  • Summer Day Camp
  • Summer music program/summer music lessons
  • Summer sports camps/clinics/programs
  • Community Education summer session programs
  • Elementary/middle-level summer school programs
  • Please note that high school summer school will still be able to operate through online and remote learning.

Facilities to Remain Closed Until Phase 4 of Regional Reopening Plan
  • Under the four-phase reopening plan established by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the earliest that schools, educational programs, and recreation activities may resume in the Western New York region is mid-July. This date may be delayed further if key conditions and milestones are not met, which determine when the reopening process can begin. In accordance with the Governor's executive orders, Ken-Ton School District schools and facilities must remain closed until the beginning of Phase 4. Community use of school/district facilities including Crosby/Adams Field will not be able to resume until this time.

Graduation Information
  • School staff and student leadership teams are working very hard to develop and refine plans to honor the Class of 2020, and the high schools expect to have additional information communicated to families soon. Although the traditional ceremonies that would have taken place at Kleinhan’s are not able to be held like they normally would, each school is working collaboratively to develop a plan for a meaningful, memorable opportunity to honor the graduates of the Class of 2020. Schools are also exploring alternative options for prom. We appreciate the patience of our students and families, and we share your goal of ensuring that the Class of 2020 is properly celebrated and honored.

Proposed 2020-21 Budget & Board of Education Candidates Information
  • On Tuesday, May 12, the Board of Education adopted the proposed 2020-21 school district budget, which will now be presented to voters as part of the annual Budget Vote and Board of Education Election. In accordance with Executive Order 202.26, the Budget Vote and Board of Education Election will be delayed to Tuesday, June 9, 2020. All voting will be by absentee ballots (no in-person voting) which are to be provided to voters by mail. Ballots must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. More information on the proposed budget and propositions will be mailed to voters and can be found at Visit for information on the Board of Education candidates.
Gmail Users: If you see " [Message clipped] " under an ellipsis (" ... ") at the bottom of the email, it means the message is too long to properly display in Gmail and some of the content is hidden. Please click " View entire message " to see the message in its entirety!
Student, Staff & Family Updates
Kenmore East High School and Kenmore West High School faculty and staff surprised their graduating seniors with special lawn signs honoring the Class of 2020. The time and date of the deliveries were kept secret and the operations were carefully planned with every member of the Class of 2020 receiving a free lawn sign. The signs were delivered by a member of the faculty or staff while observing safe physical distancing procedures to ensure the safety of all involved. Support for this initiative was provided by the Kenmore East PTSA, Senior Class, and Booster Club, and the Kenmore West HSA, Alumni Association, Community Club, Join the Winners, Staff Senate, and Student Council, which were all recognized for their generous contributions that completely funded this special recognition.
Buffalo State College published a feature article on three of its students who are student-teaching at Lindbergh Elementary School (Cassidy Gillespie, Hannah Criscione and Tara Southard). The article focused on how they have continued their student-teaching during the COVID-19 closure and have come up with creative ways to connect with students. You can find the article here on the Buffalo State College website:
The Hoover Hoots, a leadership and community club at Hoover Elementary run by Ms. Ratka, Mrs. Sperrazza, Mrs. Feickert, and Miss Barrett, recently took part in a read-aloud Story Time for classes at Hoover. To prepare, the Hoots chose their books, practiced reading, and worked on their presentation. Books were shared with classes either through Zoom or by making a video shared with the class. Stories shared on Zoom allowed students to ask questions and interact which creates a sense of community in a time when they can’t be together. Pictured here is Hoover Hoot Avery Brach, a fourth grader at Hoover Elementary, sharing her book with the third graders in Mrs. Hawthorn’s class and second graders in Mrs. Wilson’s Class.
Sixth-grade students of Hoover Middle School teachers Tina Pilato and Sharon Roberts were very excited to receive special “care packages” with new books, educational props, and treats. The deliveries were carefully coordinated with families and the utmost care was taken to ensure the safety of all involved. The items included a new science book on motion and forces, a new math book, a new class reading book ("A Deadly Game of Magic"), a deck of playing cards to go with the reading, a metal slinky (which connects with their ongoing work on waves), a mini kaleidoscope and a hanging crystal (for their unit on light), and some candy for them to enjoy too.
Robert Bortz III, a proud 2009 graduate of Kenmore West High School and a former AP Biology student of Lisa Davidson (and the son of Bob Bortz from the Buildings and Grounds Department) was part of a team that developed and validated an antibody test for the Novel Coronavirus at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The tea, submitted the test to the NYS Department of Health on May 4 for approval. Robert is part of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) MD-PhD Program, which selects medical students and gives them an opportunity to pursue a training program designed to equip them for careers in academic investigative medicine. Every year, only eight students are offered a position in the Stanford MSTP. More information about the work of Robert and the team can be found here:
Kenmore East High School Band Director Phil Aguglia was the feature guest on Episode 71 of the national podcast "Podium Time." The podcast is for conductors and students and is hosted by Jeremy D. Cuebas from Colorado and Luke Lyons from Missouri. Discussions and interviews focus on training for student conductors, preparation, technique, philosophy, and more. The episode, which debuted on May 11, was entitled “The Best Tool for the Job” and focused on Aguglia’s work through his company, PaGu Batons, which creates special custom-made batons. A subsequent episode will focus on Aguglia's curriculum and work in the classroom. The podcast is available in multiple formats, and you can also find a special video version on YouTube at the following link:
Students in Roberta Merkling’s Kenmore West High School International Baccalaureate (IB) English class recently created “One-Pagers” for the play “Hamlet” for a distance learning assignment. One-Pagers ask students to make sense of a piece of literature for themselves. They combine quotations from the text, images from the text, and their own thoughts and explanations to pull the entire "collage" together under a central theme. If done well, a One-Pager should be the makings of an essay, but one that is done more artistically and creatively.
Lindbergh Elementary School first grader Anika DeMart in Laura Waggoner's class shared a video in which she proudly demonstrates what she has learned. You can find it here:
Mrs. Susan Zummo proudly announced the newest edition of Franklin Middle's “Ben's Pen,” the school newspaper. Journalists from all grade levels used to meet after school to create the newspaper and have been working hard from home in order to publish the spring edition. You can find it here:
Students in the Kenmore East High School National Honor Society shared video “thank you cards” they recorded for Teacher Appreciation Week. The videos were shared by NHS advisers Laura Jay and Peggy Lucero to show the entire faculty staff how much they are appreciated by the students. Click here to view the videos by the juniors and the seniors:
Students in Ms. Pariso's fifth- and sixth-grade health education classes at Franklin Middle School have been working in a virtual stress management room. Students opened a virtual classroom created in Google Slides. Once inside the virtual room, they can click on items to learn healthy ways to cope with stress. Each item in the class is linked to various playlists, activities, articles, and videos. Next week, students will try their hand at creating their own virtual stress management room. This activity will allow students to showcase and share their own healthy stress management coping skills.
Lindbergh Elementary School third-grade teacher Kristen Murdola created a video tribute to her students after many of them had expressed sadness that they are not together at school and will not be returning for the rest of this school year. She wanted them to know that they will always remain connected together during this time, and for years to come. They are currently staying connected through regular Zoom meetings and Google Classroom chats and assignments, but she felt they needed and deserved a little reassurance and "pick-me-up.” You can find the video here:
All of the members of the Hoover Elementary School food service and breakfast/lunch distribution team were grateful for two wonderful acts of kindness to demonstrate appreciation for everything they have done during the COVID-19 pandemic. Second grader Giulianna Kindred gave each member of the team a homemade mask, balloon, candy bar, and hand-written thank you card, while Sabrina Reese and Alexis Foluarak drove all the way from Hamburg just to deliver fresh fruit, a vegetable tray, and cookies for the team to enjoy.
Each week, the Lindbergh Elementary School staff has been sending an inspirational message to their students and families. This was the school’s fifth message:
With the guidance of Hoover Middle teachers Arlene Licata, Colleen Thome, Bill Hineman and Diane Hyzy, students made a video to say thank you to essential workers who are keeping the community safe. They had a Zoom meeting to discuss the roles of workers on the front lines , watch videos, and brainstorm. The students created signs to thank them for all they are doing for the community. You can find it here:
Students at both Franklin Middle and Hoover Middle, with the help of their school counselors, created Teacher Appreciation Week videos. Students were asked to secretly submit pictures and video clips that were compiled into a video montage by each school building. The videos were shared with staff and students to kick off Teacher Appreciation Week and to show the staff just how much they are missed and appreciated by the students. You can find the Franklin Middle and Hoover Middle videos at the following links:
Pictured here is Molly, a fourth-grade student at Hoover Elementary School, who was invited to be the special guest reader for Cathy Jones’ class during a Zoom meeting.
Mrs. Kirdani, the art teacher at Lindbergh Elementary School, has stayed connected with her students. Here are some beautiful samples of the work that children have completed at home and shared with Mrs. Kirdani.
Franklin Elementary School published a special Mother's Day tribute for all the mothers in the Franklin Elementary community. Find it here:
Hoover Elementary students in art teacher Mrs. Lynch's Google Classroom have been hard at work creating fantastic works of art. They are able to watch videos of Mrs. Lynch in action, and then try it themselves from home. Pictured here are students Declan Hayward, Landon Young, and Sawyer Nowocien.
Ms. Mancuso, a third-grade teacher at Lindbergh, has kept her student teacher from Buffalo State College, Briana Price, actively involved in virtual learning. Miss Price posted an experiment on Google Classroom. It was a “Mystery Science” experiment. The children performed the fun activity throughout the week. Through it, they were able to change the properties of an egg. Its shell slowly dissolved over a period of days in vinegar, and they could then bounce the egg without breaking it. Selina Rivera, Cameron Sears, Ellie Baker, Piper Greco, and Miles Rybski all did the experiment on Zoom with the class.
Hoover Elementary School Gr. 2-3 teacher Michelle Phillips read the book “Flat Stanley” on Class Dojo and then sent all of her students a laminated picture of her face on a Bitmoji that she called "Flat Ms. Phillips.” She also sent them a letter and BINGO board of different activities they can do with Flat Ms. Phillips. Then, every week, her students send her pictures of different things Flat Ms. Phillips did so she can compile them all into a video. Her teacher aides have joined in on the fun too. One of her students, Emily Needham, was extra excited that Flat Ms. Phillips was able to celebrate her ninth birthday with her at home.
With the spring art show cancelled, students in Mrs. Lynch's Google Classroom were encouraged to create an art show at home. Some created "mini art displays" while others shared the art they created both in and out of school for their families to enjoy. Mrs. Lynch is very proud of what her students have been accomplishing. Pictured here are Ari and Leart Rexhepi, and Nathan and Evan Rizzo.
Pictured here is the Holmes Elementary School counseling team (Mrs. Pieczonka and Mrs. Hubert) connecting with students using Google Meet.
Holmes Elementary School kindergarten teacher Elena Puccio features a weekly reading segment with her pup, Rosie. There is a different read-aloud each week. Rosie hopes to be a therapy dog one day so she can read with children and elderly at hospitals. The segment is shared every Thursday with her students.
Pictured here are students of Hoover Middle School teacher Tina Pilato taking part in a Zoom meeting on sound using homemade instruments to jumpstart a discussion on wavelength, pitch, amplitude, and resonance. This was something she and her colleagues had already discussed doing in the classroom, but they decided to continue it via remote learning and had students join her on Zoom (or just send her a photograph) so they could discuss the sound created by each instrument that was created. They will soon be wrapping up the unit using any instrument they choose, whether it’s one they have already played, their original homemade instrument or one they have altered and improved upon, or simply a recorder or kazoo. They will use these instruments to discuss mediums through which waves travel, echoes, and absorption of sound, as well as amplitude and resonance in relation to what they are playing using variables and comparisons such as instrument type, design, and material.
The kindergarten students in Mrs. Lefler's class have found time to have fun and socialize with their friends. Pictured here is Isla Baker and her sister getting some fresh air and posing by the Lindbergh Elementary sign, and Oliver Lesika and Jameson Kane enjoying lunch together over Zoom before they get back to learning.
Independent reading is one the best predictors of academic success. With the help of Miss Thomas and Mrs. Wilkinson, Mrs. DePasquale transformed her vehicle into a book mobile for students so they could take a break from screens and enjoy a good old-fashion printed book.
Lindbergh Elementary School student Joe Lapidus from Korri Hall's kindergarten class was proud to share his work which he made in response to a STEM video about construction. The video was posted for Science Lab by Mr. Vacarro.
Pictured here are compilations of sidewalk chalk drawings by students in Mrs. Roberts’ class at Lindbergh Elementary School.