Dear Sprague Community, As I was watching the year-end reviews on TV during the vacation, I came across a clip of Alicia Keys singing a song she had released in September. It doesn’t seem to be a hit song and I had not heard it before. It is simply titled, “We Are Here,” and begs the big questions, “Why ARE we here? What is our purpose?” The lyrics to the song are strong and send a message of peace and hope. On her website, Ms. Keys has posted some of beliefs about why she thinks we are here. They are hard to argue with. “WE ARE HERE to manifest an empowered world community built on the true meaning of equality. WE ARE HERE to ensure that every child born into this world receives a quality education – where their unique gifts are nurtured so that they may be a beneficial presence in this world. WE ARE HERE to stand for mutual respect and cooperation among all peoples and nations.  WE ARE HERE because we want to put an end to the poverty, oppression, and hopelessness that often breeds despair, terror, and violence. WE ARE HERE to choose Unity, Love, Forgiveness and Compassion and to acknowledge our individual and collective POWER to change the status quo – and to do so peacefully.” They also made me think of my answer to “I am here to…” I’d like to share it with you. I am here to make a difference in the lives of your children. I am here to live and teach with kindness and compassion. I am here to help children become strong, kind, empathetic, and intelligent youngsters who will grow up to be ‘good people’ who make a difference in the world. I am here to support the teachers and staff members who work so hard to make your children’s educational experience so engaging, safe, fun, and effective. I am here to work with everyone in the Sprague community to keep Sprague strong. I am here to keep your children safe. I am here to SMILE everyday! I am here to be the best principal I can be. Along this line of thinking, the Sprague faculty, School Council, and School Based Management Team recently reviewed their collective vision for the school. Through a process we called, “Grounded Visioning,” we reflected on what attracted us to this school, what we are most proud of here, and what are goals for us moving forward. We reviewed the school mission statement as well. As a result of this work, we have a revised mission statement and vision statement, and have named the school values separately. Sprague School Mission Statement: We will create outstanding academic and social learning experiences in a school where everyone belongs.  We aim to produce global citizens by providing opportunities for collaboration and problem solving in an environment that fosters the development of a committed, confident and caring students body. Sprague School Vision: We strive to inspire students to build on their strengths, discover their passions, develop a love of learning, and persevere in making positive contributions to the global community. Sprague School Values: Sprague students, parents, and teachers strive to live by our H.E.A.R.T. values everyday. H.E.A.R.T. Values: Helping Effort for Excellence Acceptance and Appreciation Respect and Responsibility Teamwork By updating these statements and making them more succinct, we can communicate a shared vision for our school that is in line with the district strategic plan and our values. Geography Bee: Each year Sprague 4th and 5th graders participate in a Geography Bee. Mrs. Henzel graciously organizes the event and it begins in each classroom. Congratulations to this year’s finalists: 5EB: Roxanne Glassenberg, Felipe Lopez 5KC: Charlie Foley, Tessa Rose Crowley 5BH: Tom Cahaly, Jonathan Marvan 4JH: Alex Dehn, Gary Martin 4TD: Evan Daigle, Katie Green 4JM: Sara-Kate Smith, Eric Ballmer 4MH: Nina Goujiamanis, Ishan Kundu The final school Geography Bee will be held on January 12th and will include place locations, historical geography, cultural geography, economic geography of U.S. and the world, current events as well as other areas of geography. Congratulations to all of the 4th and 5th graders who took part in the classroom level bees. There were some very close finishes in many classes. Students at Sprague know a lot about geography! As Mrs. Henzel says, “Without geography, you’re nowhere!” After School Offerings: The after school Drama Club will begin this Thursday, January 8th. It was originally open to 5th graders, but there are a few spots left for any interested 4th graders. Please email Ms. Snyder by Wednesday if you have an interested 4th grade student. Please include child’s name, teacher’s name, email address, and phone number. The original flyer is attached. Also attached to this note, is the Global Child flyer for second semester. If you registered for a full year, you do not need to sign up again. If your child did not participate in the fall, but is interested in second semester, GC will sell materials to ‘catch up’ and help new students join in. Read the flyer for more information. Registration for GC is done by either returning a hard copy of the flyer to school or by mailing it directly to GC. News We welcome two new teaching assistants to Sprague as Sarah Knight, who worked in one of the kindergarten classes has moved to South Carolina, and Mike Landry has accepted a position in the technology department at WPS. We wish them all the best and welcome Danielle Ewanouski as a learning center TA and Stephani Sampson as a TA in the ISS program. Our 5th grade Morning Greeters have started their work in car line. They are very excited and doing a great job! If you drop off in car line, please pull as far forward as you can. Please do not drop off students on the parking lot side of the cross walk. It impedes the flow of traffic and is much less safe than the sidewalk drop off area. Thank you! Please be sure your child has appropriate clothing for outdoor play in this cold weather. If it does snow, students should bring snow pants and boots. We will get outside as much as we can. We stayed indoors today because the temperature never got above the teens. Dates to remember: January 9: Walk to School Day January 9: PTO meeting at 9:30 a.m. January 9: Patriot’s Spirit Day—Wear your NE Patriots gear or red, white, and blue to cheer on the Pats in their playoff game! January 16: Winter Concert January 19: No School- Martin Luther King Day   From the Nurse: January 2015 is “Strive For Healthy Breakfast” Month We’ve all heard for years how breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it gets us off to a good start; but did you know that breakfast is even more essential for children? Their growing bodies need the fuel and nutrients, and eating a healthy breakfast is necessary for them to reach their full potential at school. In addition, the earlier we start encouraging our children to begin each day with breakfast, the more likely they will be to maintain this healthy eating habit as adults. Every day here at Sprague I am visited by children who came to school without eating breakfast. (I saw 22 students in December 2014 who had not eaten breakfast and were complaining of feeling sick.) These students are not feeling well as a result of their not eating breakfast before school. They have a less productive morning than their breakfast‐eating classmates. In the classroom they pay less attention to the task at hand as they think about how they don’t feel well. They complain of stomachache, nausea, headache, or nonspecific malaise. If I have a snack in my office to offer, the students invariably “feel better” and then return to the classroom ready to participate and learn. As a parent myself, I know how difficult the mornings can be as everyone is getting dressed and ready for the day. But I am also aware that these elementary school years are the time that we parents have the most control and authority, before the challenges and rebellions of adolescence. Now is the time to teach children healthy habits, such as eating breakfast each morning before going out to face the day. Parents need to make breakfast non-negotiable in the mornings because after ten to twelve hours without food your child’s body needs fuel. At times kids tell me they are too rushed to eat in the morning and I do understand that early mornings can be hectic at home. The fact is that parents have the responsibility to find enough time to make something quick or even set up the day before. If your child doesn’t want to eat the traditional breakfast of cereal and milk, there are plenty of nutritious alternatives that meet the requirements of providing fuel for his/her body that may seem “cool” such as leftover pizza or pasta, a toasted cheese sandwich, breakfast taco. It may be easier to fit in if you make breakfast the last thing you do before leaving for school rather than trying to get your child(ren) to eat first thing in the morning, or take portable food along in the car to eat on the way. According to the American Dietetic Association, children who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to have better concentration, problem-solving skills and eye-hand coordination. They are more alert and creative, and less likely to miss days of school. In addition, we know they will certainly feel better and be more ready to meet the challenges of the day while at school. Some parents believe that as long as the children bring a nutritious snack with them to school they are okay but the reality is that much schoolwork is done prior to morning snack. I’d like to share excerpts from an interesting article (source: NPR website) with you: “A Better Breakfast Can Boost a Child’s Brainpower” by Allison Aubrey “Attention, children: Do not skip breakfast—or your grades could pay a price. Evidence suggests that eating breakfast really does help kids learn. After fasting all night, a developing body (and brain) needs a fresh supply of glucose—or blood sugar. That’s the brain’s basic fuel. “Without glucose,” explains Terrill Bravender, professor of pediatrics at Duke University, “our brain simply doesn’t operate as well. People have difficulty understanding new information, [they have a] problem with visual and spatial understanding, and they don’t remember things as well.” Dozens of studies from as far back as the 1950’s have consistently shown that children who eat breakfast perform better academically than those who don’t. In a recent study of 4,000 elementary school students, researchers measured the effects of eating breakfast by administering a battery of attention tests. To measure short-term memory, researchers read a series of digits out loud—5, 4, 2 and so on— and asked the children to repeat them. The children were scored on how many digits they could remember correctly. To test verbal fluency, the kids were asked to name all the animals they could think of in 60 seconds. Across the board, the breakfast eaters performed better than those children who had skipped breakfast. Does it matter what kind of breakfast kids eat? Yes. Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly the carbohydrates in food are absorbed into our bodies and converted to fuel. When it comes to sustained brainpower, Bravender explains, food that is low on the scale— such as whole grains—are preferable. Even though a bowl of sugary cereal and a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal may have the same number of (grams of) carbohydrates, they have very different glycemic loads. Sugary cereals get into your body quickly and cause a peak in blood-sugar levels, but levels then fall dramatically after two hours or so. A dip in blood sugar can bring with it a release of hormones that affect mood. In some children, the hormones seem to affect concentration and memory. Oatmeal, in contrast, is absorbed slowly, so oatmeal eaters get a slow rise in blood sugar and enough energy to last through the morning. Scientists have recently begun to study this phenomenon. Tufts University psychologist Holly Taylor had one group of children eat sweetened oatmeal for breakfast while another ate Cap’n Crunch cereal. Then both groups were given academic tasks, like memorizing the names of countries on a map. The oatmeal eaters did 20 percent better than the Crunch consumers. And it wasn’t as if the oatmeal wasn’t sweet. Both cereals had the same sugar content. But Taylor says that the oatmeal had more protein and fiber, and therefore a lower glycemic index. These findings beg more research. But Duke’s Terrill Bravender believes there are some basic rules to follow. First and foremost, families should make sure kids eat something for breakfast. The goal is to find foods with a low glycemic index. That will improve the odds that your child’s blood sugar will hold steady until lunch.” I found this essay food for thought (I just couldn’t resist!) A number of parents have asked for advice because their children either don’t have the time for or the interest in eating breakfast. Here are my top 10 breakfast tips:

  • Make breakfast non-negotiable. (After 10 to 12 hours without a meal or snack, a child’s body needs fuel.)
  • Set out food on the table. (If the food is in front of them, children may at least take a nibble.)
  • If your child says he’s not hungry, give him a small glass of 100 % fruit juice as soon as he wakes up. This should stimulate his appetite so that by the time he’s dressed he will be ready to eat.
  • Keep quick-to-fix foods on hand or get breakfast foods ready the night before (if time is an issue).
  • Make breakfast the last thing you do in the morning versus trying to get your children to eat first thing in the morning.
  • Serve both carbohydrates and protein. (The protein takes longer to be digested and provides energy for a longer time.) Some good choices include cereal with milk, peanut butter or cheese on whole grain bread, scrambled eggs with whole grain toast, yogurt with fruit.
  • Serve nontraditional breakfast foods if your child likes them. Leftover pasta or pizza are nutritionally sound foods that children may be more eager to eat in the morning because of the added cool factor.
  • Try to join your child for breakfast. Children learn best by example.
  • Look for cereals that are high in whole grains. If sugar is one of the first ingredients, don’t buy it. (Or if your child insists on eating high-sugar low nutrition cereal, “dilute” the sugary food with an equal amount of more nutritious whole grain cereal.)
  • Remember, a small breakfast is better than none at all and helps your child to establish healthy lifestyle habits.

I believe that our responsibility as parents (and as providers of their health care and education) is to help the children grow into healthy, well-adjusted, and productive adults. Ensuring that each one starts the day with some type of a nutritious breakfast is one of the very best ways towards meeting that goal. To that means Margaret Flitsch and I are presenting our next healthy eating activity – January is “Strive For Healthy Breakfast” Month. Please read the handout with your child(ren) and participate in our special calendar activity for this month. It’s a great way to start a new year! Sharon       “I Mahatma Gandhi

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Weekly note from Ms. Snyder–January 6, 2015
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