September Newsletter

Remind:  If you have not linked with Highland using the Remind App, you still can! The Remind App allows you to receive helpful notices from Highland and provides an easy means of communicating with your child’s teacher and other Highland families.  The class names are youngerhfs, middlehfs, and olderhfs.

Parental Participation: In order to help the school run more efficiently and relieve pressure on the teaching staff, each parent is strongly encouraged to help out at least one hour per month as well as during two Spruce-Up-the- School-Days.  Parents can help out with some cleaning and maintenance of the school as well as be a helpful hand in the classrooms.  Please plan to set aside a one-hour block, or two 1/2 hour blocks, each month to help out. We also need help in whatever fundraising we have going (calendars, tax credit, etc.).  We hope that you take this responsibility seriously and with a good feeling.

Check Take-Home Slots: Don’t forget to check your child’s take-home slots each evening for homework and other home-bound materials.  Attention to their work can be extremely positive to your child’s self-esteem.

Fry’s Rewards:  If you have a Fry’s VIP Card, we encourage you to link it up to Highland.  Our School receives 1% of the sales linked with the card.

Book OrdersWhen you order from Scholastic we get a chance to earn free books and classroom materials for the school.  Scholastic Book Orders have been distributed to each family.  If you are interested in ordering, please bring in your order to Teresa by Friday, September 8th.  If you would like to order from more than one form, you need only write out one check for the total amount.  Checks should be made out to Scholastic Book Club.  Orders can also be made online using a credit card.  Our classroom code is GV8KX.

Extended Day:  In order to ensure that teachers get appropriate planning and preparation time, all non-extended day students must be picked up by 3:00pm.  If your child is at school past 3:00pm, your family may be charged the daily rate for the extended day program.  Students not enrolled in extended day can be dropped off no earlier than 8:15am.

Email: This newsletter will be emailed to our Highland community.   If you do not receive this newsletter in your email and would like to be included in future mailings, please give Teresa your email address. If you think that you should have received it, it is possible that your information was entered incorrectly, so please check with Teresa.  Also, don’t forget to look at our school and classroom websites from time to time for school notes, the school calendar, cool websites for the topics and more.  You will not be a surprised parent if you know what is happening at school.




Friday, September 8th

Book Orders Due


Saturday, September 9th

STEAM Science Saturday: Building- 10am-noon




2017-18 Unit Topics

August 21-September 1:  Body Systems & Geography

Sept. 5-15:  Archaeology / Ancient Mesopotamia

September 18-29: Ecosystems & Grasslands

October 2-9:  Economics

October 9-20:  Arizona Native Peoples

October 23-27: Geology & Earth Science

Oct. 30- Nov. 3: U.S. Government & Symbols

November 6-17:  Westward Expansion

Nov. 27- Dec. 1:  Celebrations / Eastern Religions

December 4-21: Theater & Winter Performance

January 8-12: School Olympics & Health

January 16-26: Biographies

Jan. 29 – Feb. 2: Careers and Workplace Skills

Feb. 5-21: Scientific Method and Energy & Magnets

February 26 – March 2: Ecology

March 5-16: Celebrating Diversity / Civil War & Reconstruction

March 19-23: Ocean & School Dance

April 3-20:  Movies, Media, and Technology

April 23- May 4: Asian Culture / Ancient India

May 7-11: Creepty Crawlies

May 14-25: Ancient Egypt

Highland Free School Community Meeting

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Introduction:   A general introduction of the philosophies of the school was given (including an explanation of our disciplinary policy- Natural and Logical Consequences)  If you would like to get more information about the school, we would love to talk with you about the school’s background and direction.


School Unit Topics:  We reviewed some of our topics that will be covered this year.  A complete list is included in the handbook as well as September’s newsletter. If you have any resources that can help supplement these topics or know of any dynamic speaker who can do a presentation on the topics, please speak with you child’s teacher.   It is helpful to use our unit topics as a starting point to find out how your child’s day went (e.g. What did you learn about archaeology today?).


Special Topics:  During previous parent surveys, concerns were noted about whether we cover music, art, science, physical education or geography.   Rest assured we do, so we reviewed how these topics are covered in the classrooms and have included a list of this in the student handbook.


This Year’s School Functions include:

Market Day

Glow Fest

Thanksgiving Pot-Luck

Winter Play

Gift Exchange


Valentine’s Card Exchange

School Dance- Luau

Science Fair

Talent Show

Movie Premiere

Passport Day


STEAM Saturdays (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Music)- We will be hosting a monthly family STEAM Saturday event where there will be bands-on STEAM based family activities.  The next one is Saturday, September 9th from 10am to noon.


Clothing Swap:  We are starting to collect clothing for our fall clothing swap.  So when you go through the closets to check for clothes that don’t fit anymore, feel free to toss the clothes into a bag and bring it to school!


Home Resources:  Don’t forget to check out the game cabinet and the Little Free Library.  Items can be used at home for some family fun!


Curriculum Standards and State Testing:  Highland follows the Arizona College and Career Readiness Standards.  As required by the state, our students also take the AZMerit in the spring.  Last year’s state scores, are still embargoed and not released for individual schools yet.  However, our 2017 test scores are well above state averages J


Move On When Reading:  As mandated by the state, all third graders who do not pass the AIMS reading test in the spring (by receiving a ‘Falls Far Below’ score) will be retained and will have to repeat 3rd grade in the fall.

Galileo and Stanford 10:  Highland also administers Galileo and Stanford 10 assessments to students to provide us with achievement and growth data for each student. 

AZ Learns Grade:  Arizona is still working on assigning AZLearns grades this year.  Our last grade on record is a B.

Progress Reports:  Although Highland follows the Arizona State Standards, we are a non-grading school.  More in-depth, skill based progress reports will be distributed three times a year.  These reports will be followed-up with an individual Parent/Teacher conference to discuss the child’s progress. Additional conferences can be scheduled throughout the year.  Teachers are also often available before and after school for short impromptu discussions.


Teacher-Parent Communication: Parents are welcome to ask the teachers about the day, they can also look at the classroom boards and their child’s work slots to keep updated as to what is going on in their child’s class.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to talk with us.

Attendance: •Studies have shown that excessive tardies and absences have a detrimental effect on a child’s ability to develop academically [Note: The federal government considers 15 or more absences for the year as excessive.]

  • Unfortunately, inconsistent attendance also interferes with the teacher’s ability to effectively teach.  Precious instruction and activity time must be used instead to re-teach missed topics and review missed directions.
  • If a child is absent or tardy a significant number of days, he/she might not be able to make enough academic progress to be promoted to the next grade level.


Title 1, Child Find and other NCLB Programs: Highland is a Title I targeted assistance school.  The determination is based on the financial information families provided on the Eligibility Guidelines form.  If enough families qualify, then we receive Title I assistance.  At Highland, Title I funds are used to provide tutoring for students.  Individual students qualify for tutoring via the Title I program based on academic need (not financial).  We use standardized test scores, reading inventories, and other scientifically based assessment in addition to teacher and parent recommendations to rank the students according to their need for extra assistance.  Tutoring and extra help is provided before school, after school, before lunch, and during class-time as necessary.  We are in the process of determining which students will be eligible for Title I assistance for this year.  Once eligibility is determined, it is required that parents provide signed permission allowing us to enroll their child into the program.


A Title I handbook has been distributed to all families in the enrollment package.

Please take time to review the Title I handbook, including the parent involvement policy, the rights for parents to be involved and the parent compact.  Any Title I parent who has questions or suggestions for revisions of our Title I policies and Parent Compact should talk with Teresa.  By law, Title I monies are to be used to supplement rather than supplant funds.  This means that if Highland was going to spend money on a specific item regardless of whether we received Title I funds, then Title I funds cannot be used for that item.


Other NCLB Notices

  • Child Find, FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and the homeless policy were discussed (see the Student Handbook for more information).
  • Parents have the right to know the background and Highly Qualified status of the teachers.  All of Highland’s teachers are highly qualified.
  • Parents also have the right to know their child’s standardized test scores.  If applicable, copies of your child’s state assessment scores were distributed to families over the summer.


Parental Involvement in Their Child’s Education: There are many ways you can support your child’s education at home such as…

  • Helping with the Homework Process
  • Use the educational websites that are bookmarked on Highland’s webpage
  • Take field trips, etc. that support curriculum
  • Volunteering in the classroom
  • Participating in School Events
  • Using the family game cabinet (that includes a lot of games and activities that you can do with your child).


Homework:  During the meeting we reviewed our homework program (including home-based projects that relate to our unit topics).  This program is designed to provide more flexibility for families and allow for more parent involvement.


Computer Subscriptions:  We reviewed the following available programs:

  • Headsprout and RazKids (a phonics and reading program for the younger students)
  • Dreambox (math- all classes)
  • Samson’s Classroom (spelling list practice for Teresa’s Class)
  • Scholastic News


Fund Raising: With Arizona ranking at or near the bottom in funding for education, fund raising is extremely important!

Arizona Tax Credit-.  Our major fund raising effort is the Arizona Tax Credit. Instead of letting the state decide where to use your taxes, you can allocate your tax dollars directly to the school (up to $400 for couples).

This is a simple thing that can help alleviate financial pressures the school faces.  Get the word out to friends, relatives and neighbors.  Anyone who has a state tax liability can participate.  Any amount helps.  If you have any questions, please talk to Nick.

  • Ford Explorer Raffle:Tickets are available for a raffle for a 2017 Ford Explorer.  The best part is that the school gets to keep all of the proceeds from the ticket.  The tickets are $25 each or 5 for $100.  We need your help to make this fundraising effort a success.
  • Calendars- Each year we create a general school calendar made up of an assortment of student artwork.   We print copies and use them as a “thank you” to those who have contributed via the tax credit program.  In the next couple months, each Highland student will receive three calendars (one of the general school calendars and two of their individual calendars).  We are asking families to get donations for two calendars (suggested donations range from $6 to $100).  They make an inexpensive gift for grandparents!  The third calendar is our gift to you!
  • ·    Book Orders- We also have an opportunity to get free books and teacher materials through Scholastic.  This month’s book orders are due this Friday.
  • Box Tops for Education– A collection box for the box tops is located in Teresa & Lucy’s class.  It’s not much, but anything helps.
  • Toner Cartridges: We also accept used ink and toner cartridges.  Office Max gives us $2 per cartridge.
  • Silent Auction: In the spring we will hold a silent auction.  We need help gathering items to be raffled and then purchasing items at the auction.
  • Donor’s Choose:This is a nifty website where teachers can list project item wish lists.  It helped us get a new color printer and some STEM equipment.  Often times anonymous donor’s match donations making it a great way to raise funds!
  • Fry’s Community Rewards Program- Link your chard to Highland and we get 1% of what you spend.


Volunteers: We need parent volunteers to help with some of the daily upkeep of the school. These jobs might seem small, but they are very helpful.  Please approach this volunteering not as an obligation but as a way to make your child’s school better.  A volunteer sign-up form will be passed out this week.  We would like to get volunteers for the following tasks:

Washing/Disinfecting classroom tables and door-knobs

De-spider webbing the classroom monthly

Dusting classroom monthly

Sweeping under ramada weekly

Wiping down student refrigerator and sink

Washing outside benches

Mowing lawn

General gardening

Inflating balls

Checking bathrooms for supplies

Vacuuming rugs


 Just let us know how you would like to help.


Classroom Help:  We would also love volunteers to help out in the classrooms. However, we do ask that parents give the students the first month of school to get used to the classroom rules and routines before helping out in class.

Paperwork: Normally we have to remind families to return paperwork, but this year our files are almost all complete!!!  Parents were applauded!

Snacks: Parents are encouraged to help bring in snacks for the kids.  Snacks must be finger foods, and you must provide enough for all 57 kids.  Suggestions: •Fruit: raisins, cut strawberries, watermelon, grapes   •Vegetables: baby carrots, cut celery  •Granola Bars  •Pretzels   •Tortilla chips   •Gogurt  •Cheese Sticks

Hearing and Vision Testing:  We have our yearly hearing and vision tests are scheduled for mid September.  If your child has a condition that may affect his/her testing (e.g. ear pain, tubes, hearing aids, etc.) please let his/her teacher know.  The recheck will be scheduled 30-45 days after the initial test.

Lice:  We ask that you check your child’s head every few days to look for any signs.  It is unusual to actually see the insects, but if you see any tan, oval, and dandruff-like specks that don’t easily move or come off, then your child might have lice.  Actually, they are really hard to see on your child’s head.  So be super vigilant.  If any eggs or critters are found, make sure that you follow the medication and lice removal process.   That means multiple treatments, cleaning jackets and bedding daily, vacuuming couches, carpets and car seats daily and much more…

These are critters are tricky to get rid of and they love to share themselves…


Extended Day:  Extended day runs from 7:30 to 8:15 in the morning and from 3:00 to 4:30 in the afternoon.  Please take this into consideration when you are dropping off and picking up your child.  The cost for the program is $70 a week or $15 per day.  Families can apply for a scholarship and pay as little as $45 a week or $10 a day. There is a $20 registration fee to help offset the $2000 licensing fee.  The program is available to all students on an as needed basis.


Facebook: We encourage you to like us on Facebook in order to keep up to date with the goings on at school.  Just search for Highland Free School and click the like button on the page that has our official icon.

Remind: Highland is going to try out the Remind App to help communicate with our families.  If you would like to use the app as an easy way to communicate with us and keep updated with events, click on your child’s class link below:

Website: The school website has general information about the school and a cool calendar listing all of the school events.  There is also a list of this year’s school topics on the Topic Links page, and under each topic there are links to corresponding child-appropriate websites.    In addition, we post current newsletters on our page. There is also a link to a spiffy PBS special about our school.

Email:  Also, if you would like to receive newsletters and other Highland notes via email, please let Teresa know.  We are respectful of your privacy and try to blind carbon copy all parent addresses in our emails.

Classroom Website:  Teresa’s class has a classroom website with great resources.  You might want to bookmark the site so you can have easy access to homework assignments, spelling lists and more.

Birthdays:  We often have school-wide birthday parties on Friday.  Snacks should be easy to serve, so please avoid anything that needs to be cut or scooped out individually.  Due to allergies and dietary restrictions, we ask that treats be wheat/gluten free and nut free.

Eggs:  When our hens begin to lay eggs, students will have an opportunity to take eggs home.  Check the list on the students’ refrigerator to see if your child has eggs.  The eggs are stored in the door of the students’ fridge.

Lunches:  If your child needs to refrigerate his/her lunch, please make sure it is packed in a small bag.  We need to have room for all of the students’ lunches.  Some of the lunch boxes in the fridge are so large they take up half a shelf, making the fridge packed and difficult to close.  This may cause the motor to burn out!  Don’t forget to label your child’s lunch box/container and bring it home daily (to avoid any unexpected science experiments).