May 2013

posted May 13, 2013, 2:10 PM by Anna Saunders   [ updated May 13, 2013, 2:10 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Happy May, Walnut Acres Parents!

School Site Council Members Sought

Are there 3 parents who are interested in joining the School Site Council (SSC) for 2013-14? Our group of 5 staff members and 5 parents meets every first Thursday of the month from 3-4:00 p.m. to discuss the activities, challenges and successes at our school. SSC members also work with me to budget School Library Instruction Block Grant (SLIBG) funds for the year. If you are interested in applying to be part of the SSC, please write a brief paragraph indicating why you would like to join the council and pass it to me along with your name and contact information.  If there are more than 3 volunteers, we will vote next month to elect SSC members and I will include your paragraph in the ballot. 

Noon Supervisors Needed

If you would like to be a paid noon supervisor for the 2013-14 school year, please contact Denise in the office.  Supervisors work self-selected days from 11:30-1:00 p.m. If you like children and want to help them have a relaxing, calm, eating/play environment, come join us!

Odyssey of the Mind Leader Wanted

Is there a parent(s) who would like to lead an Odyssey of the Mind group for students? Odyssey of the Mind supports out-of-box thinking and innovative collaboration among our students by teaching them to think divergently with open-ended problems to solve. Call me and I can put you in touch with a past Odyssey of the Mind leader so you can discuss the volunteer position or check out the website (click here).

Healthy Treat Choices

We want to support the Board of Education wellness policy which includes healthy eating at school. School lunches are being designed with this in mind in order to promote student health. In fact, our salad bar will begin on May 28th and be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

I ask you to support the Board’s effort by packing healthy snacks, lunches, and nutritious or nonfood treats for parties and celebrations. You can check out suggestions from the Food and Nutrition department on the district website (click here) for some creative ideas on providing healthy foods that children might like. Go to Action for Healthy Kids (, an organization working on ways to reduce and prevent childhood obesity and undernourishment, for further information. 

A parent has passed along websites for vegetarian recipes, as well. If you’re interested, check out or

One more note regarding nutrition, we have one last barbecue lunch (veggie option available) coming to our site. Mark your calendars for 5/23. 


STAR testing has arrived

Each spring, Walnut Acres participates in a series of state assessments designed to evaluate student progress towards mastery of the California State Content Standards. The results of these assessments serve as the basis of the California education accountability system. These tests are part of the California Standardized Testing and Assessment Reporting (STAR) system. The California Standards test (CST) is a series of multiple-choice tests administered in English Language Arts and Math. 5th grade is also tested in Science. Modified assessments (CMA) and alternate performance assessments are available for students with disabilities who qualify.


FYI, STAR testing will be with us for one more year. For the 2014-15 school year, the second generation assessment of Smarter Balance should be in place. Smarter Balance will be computer-adapted and will include non-multiple choice response items.


Please talk to your students about the annual testing and remind them of our motto, “Do your best, and forget the rest.” We want students to give their best effort to the assessment, but no one is to get nervous about the process. If you have a student who is tense about testing, please let me know and I will work with you to reduce your child’s anxiety. The best state of mind for learning and for assessment is “relaxed alertness” – not stressed, not too casual- awake, but not alarmed or anxious.


For information on the details of the test, parents can look on line at:


For testing day-to-day routines, here are a few tips for students...

·         Be at school every day.  Please. Make up tests are difficult for everyone.

·         Be on time. Testing sessions are usually in the morning and often shortly after school gets underway.  Time to get settled into the classroom before testing begins each day will help students relax.

·         Be rested and fed. Make sure that students have a good night's sleep and enough of a breakfast to sustain them. This is always important.  Do not, however, think that your child should load up on a big breakfast for testing when a lighter meal is their usual routine.

Thank you. Don't hesitate to contact your child's teacher or myself if you have any questions.


Upgrade to playground

I am excited to inform you that our playground will be slurried when summer vacation begins. That means that the blacktop will receive a new coat of asphalt. When we repaint our games on it, we should have a pretty spiffy looking play area! This work is being funded by Maintenance and Operations and I thank them for their Walnut Acres focus on behalf of our kids! Note that the playground will be unavailable for 5 days starting June 14th. Thanks!

May Fun

Don’t forget our wonderful Open House Festival on Thursday, May 23rd! It will be fun and educational. One request…please do not park in the teachers’ parking lot when you arrive for the Festival. Some of our teachers like to go home and freshen up (particularly those without air conditioning) before the big event and may return with ‘stuff’ to lug. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. 

I hope you will join us at our Volunteer Appreciation event at noon on May 29th in the MUR! All volunteers are invited, including parents, grandparents and friends of Walnut Acres. If you help in any way to keep our kids happily and safely learning, WE WANT TO HONOR YOU!

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms and grandmoms in our community! You are a hero because, as Erich Fromm so wisely commented, “Mother's love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved.” Happy special day to all mothers who love unconditionally!


Colleen Dowd