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  • Writer's pictureSarah Schoolcraft

Brookside Blast 12/22/22

Updated: Dec 23, 2022

This third full week of December is finally starting to feel like winter in Vermont! With that, students have enjoyed winter activities including outdoor learning, cooking smores, delivering goodies to the Waterbury Senior Center, XC skiing, welcoming the Winter Solstice and snowboarding in PE!

Keep thinking's working! We are so grateful to be a part of this vibrant and caring community. We look forward to continued adventures in 2023 and wish you all a peaceful break that is everything you need it to be.

Cheers to the New Year!

Sarah & Chris

SEL and Allyship

Part of our overarching HUUSD focus this year is on relationships - student, family, staff and community. Positive and supportive relationships and a sense of belonging is critical to students' social and emotional safety and security. While we work to celebrate differences in our school community and beyond, sometimes what is needed more than celebration is allyship. An ally is someone who is not a member of an underrepresented group, who is active and purposeful in supporting, promoting, and advancing real change to a marginalized group through a focus on inclusion, equity, and diversity. As third and fourth graders learn more about their own identities and become interested in topics of social justice, Ms. Schoolcraft and Ms. Mosher have decided to offer a safe space for 3rd and 4th grade students to get information, share concerns, and work to support all students in having a sense of belonging at school. The group will begin in January, and will meet once a week during 3/4 recess. Please complete this form if you/your child are interested.

Submitting the school meal application might stretch your budget this holiday season!

With the rising cost of food, many of us are struggling to feed kids at home. By completing the School Meal Application, your family might become eligible for funds that will stretch your budget! You could get a monthly discount on your Internet bill,

your learners can have their college application fees and testing fees waived

for their SAT and ACT exams and reduced for their AP exams, and you can receive fuel assistance and pandemic emergency benefits. To access these additional benefits, you will need the approval letter you receive after submitting your school meal application. Even if you have not been eligible in the past, due to program expansions you may be eligible now! Follow this link to print an application: and read more information specific to meals at HUUSD here.

Brookside School Counseling Update Preparing your child for school safety drills at home: It is not uncommon for me to hear from students, families, and staff that there are children in our classrooms who have worries or anxiety around school safety drills. There are state and federal laws that schools must follow to help prepare our students and staff in case of an emergency. Though the unknown can bring up anxiety for some of our students, having priming, validating, and reassuring conversations at home with your student(s) can help them feel more calm, prepared, and comfortable when a drill may occur. Do not hesitate to reach out to myself, Chris, or Sarah with any questions or concerns. Make sure to check out the comfortship website for additional resources. Here are some helpful tips below from and Helpful guidelines for talking with children about school safety:

For some children, even participating in a drill may cause some emotional distress. This is especially true if it reminds them of a prior crisis event, or if they otherwise are feeling vulnerable or anxious.

As a caregiver, you are in the best position to help your child cope with trauma they experience during an emergency or safety drill at school. Any conversation with a child must be appropriate for their age and developmental stage.

  • Young children need brief simple information that should be balanced with reassurance. This includes informing children that their school and home are generally safe and that adults are available to protect them. Young children often gauge how threatening or serious an event is by adult reactions. This is why, for example, parents are encouraged not to get overly emotional when saying goodbye on the first day of school. Young children respond well to simple examples of school safety, like reminding them the exterior doors are locked, just as you lock your doors at home at night.

  • Upper elementary and early middle school children may be more vocal in asking questions about whether they are truly safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Parents can share the information they have about the school's safety plan and any other relevant communication to ease their child's mind.

  • It is important to have conversations with your child, explaining that safety drills occur and why it is important to take them seriously. Be careful not to interject any of your own anxieties or feelings into the conversations, your child will pick up on that and may mirror those feelings. Instead, create and maintain an atmosphere of openness and support, encouraging your child to share with you all aspects of their day, both positive and negative. You’re in this together! Let them know whatever they are feeling; fear, dread, confusion, indifference, is normal and be supportive.

  • Make sure your child understands the importance of paying attention during the drill and carefully following the directions they are given. Please encourage them to use mindfulness to help them get through it. The same simple strategies they use to calm themselves down before a big test or important game can work here. Tell them to be aware of their body and surroundings, listen to what is around them, be present in the moment. One exercise they can do before, during, or after) is the S.T.O.P. meditation; Stop what they are doing, Take a breath, Observe their surroundings, body, mind, and feelings, and Proceed with a clear mind. They can do this quickly, in the moment, as a way to calm down and focus during the drill.

  • Caregiving experts have long espoused the importance of having dinner together as a family when possible, being present in the moments you have with your child. Make sure you take some time every day to really talk with your child, ask them powerful questions about their day that encourage more than one-word answers. Ask them how they felt physically, emotionally, and mentally after the drill. Discover, notice, build, and reward their strengths of bravery, judgment, perseverance, social intelligence, perspective, and hope. These strengths, along with mindfulness activities, can help your children build resiliency.


Families play a key role in supporting children, teaching them the tools and skills necessary to build their resiliency, helping children learn to cope with distressing feelings, rather than pretend they don't or shouldn't exist.

I hope everyone has a rejuvenating and restful winter break. The holiday season can bring so much joy and love for many, it can also be an incredibly stressful time and bring up unwanted feelings. Here are some tips to take care of yourself this season from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Acknowledge your feelings

  • Reach out

  • Be realistic

  • Set aside differences

  • Stick to a budget

  • Plan ahead

  • Learn to say no (it’s okay)

  • Don’t abandon healthy habits

  • Take a breather

  • Seek help if you need it

  • Make time to get outside

Wishing you all a happy holiday season!



Updates from Madame

In French, fourth graders learned what people in France call the different grades (K-4). They drew a good memory (un bon souvenir) from a specific grade. They came up with so many good memories such as, Mme. Burns dropping a basket of markers, going to the Flynn Theater and Little River, Mme. Menz's turtle, studying micro:bits, and so many more.

On another note, a new session of third and fourth grade yoga will begin the week after we get back from break, on January 9th (3rd grade) and January 10th (4th grade). If your child hasn't handed in a permission slip, and is interested in trying it out, please send me an email at Students who have been consistently coming can still come, as long as there is space available.

From the HUUSD Social Emotional Learning Task Force:

This December we are focusing on the theme of Social Awareness. Understanding the emotions of others and connecting in an empathic way can have life-long impacts on who we are and how we interact with the world around us. Being able to understand the perspective of others is extremely important in our social interactions, and truly understanding each other as humans. Social Awareness includes:

  • Recognizing and managing one’s own emotions and recognizing the emotions of others

  • Respecting and valuing diversity and differences in others

  • Respecting differing cultural norms

  • Being aware of the impact of one’s actions on others

  • Beginning to read body language

There are many things that you can do to support your child in continuing to develop a strong sense of social awareness. In the car or over a shared meal, ask and share:

  • What inspires you?

  • What is something you are really proud of today?

  • Who is someone you look up to? Why?

  • Who is a character (from a book, movie or play) you connect with?

If you watch a movie or as you are reading a book together, you might ask - what do you think is going on for that person? How are they feeling? How would you feel if you were in that situation? How might you react differently (or similarly)?

A great way to help younger students develop social awareness is through the use of picture books. Here is a great link to picture books that have characters and situations that lend themselves to great conversation starters!

We hope that some of these may be helpful and assist you in supporting your child in developing their Social Awareness. For more in-depth information, check out this link. We appreciate all that you do to support this work!




-Dolly Parton


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