Principal's Monthly Update
Principal's Monthly Message
Posted on 10/28/2017
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Mary K. Ferreri, Principal



November Update

Good Afternoon Orchard School Families!


Happy (almost) Halloween!  I’m sure right now your home is a chaotic mess of costumes, pumpkins, and candy.  Somehow, it will all come together for Tuesday! We wish you a safe and memorable Halloween with your family.  This is truly the start of a busy holiday season for our school community and these months are so memorable, particularly for students of elementary age. It is a fun time to be a kid - and to be around a kid!

Quick!  Before you read below - please login to Village Fresh and place your November orders!  November 1st is Wednesday - and we’ll all be lagging after a full day of Halloween fun.  Please remember that we do not have a working kitchen - and there is not “extra food” if your child does not have lunch.  So please order lunch...and keep reading below!



Community Outreach Program:  Our first Community Outreach program was held in October, with a focus on “mindful parenting” for families.  Dr. Kristen Race presented, and you can learn more about the presentation and her work via her website.

If you could not attend Dr. Race’s presentation, here are some highlights for you below. Back by popular demand...the top 10 takeaways from the night...but be ready, I truly enjoyed this one, so it is packed with information!

  1. We are living in survival mode - and are stressed - a lot.  Our kids soak this in, it is part of their environment.  

  2. Stress has an adverse reaction on the brain.  It triggers our amygdala - our flight/fight response - before our prefrontal cortex can (logically) respond.  When overwhelmed, our prefrontal cortex cannot operate as it should, and our ability to learn is affected.

  3. Every time a spike in stress occurs, we use the same neural pathway.  This gets used and used again, until it is a baseline response.

    1. Signs that this is your baseline:

      1. Difficulty paying attention

      2. Temper

      3. Scattered

      4. Impulsive

      5. Difficulty sleeping

      6. Anxiety

      7. Depression

      8. Self Medication

    2. Signs that this is a child’s baseline:

      1. Anger

      2. Difficulty paying attention

      3. Impulsivity

      4. Temper tantrums that aren’t developmentally appropriate

      5. Sleep difficulties

  4. We are surviving - not thriving.

  5. Mindfulness activities are everyday practices that bring our brain back to optimal functioning.

  6. Practicing meditation activates the anterior cingulate cortex - a vital part of our brain that connects emotional functioning to decision making and cognitive areas of the brain.

  7. Integrate breathing practices into your day.  Practice it before opening email inboxes, while waiting in the carpool lane, before picking up the phone.  Integrate practices into your child’s day.  Give them a three breath hug (three deep breaths together while hugging).  Model deep (belly) breathing for them.  Help them to breathe prior to an event/drop off/etc.

  8. Engage with the human beings in your life.  Humans need connections to survive. Engaging with others that we care about increases oxytocin (the feel good hormone) - especially when used with touch and eye contact.

  9. It is not about quantity of time but quality of time that we spend with our kids.  Engage in daily rituals and be present in your time with them.

  10. Help kids (and yourself!) engrave the good.  Share three good things from your day.  Each night before bed, write or share three good things from your day.  Engaging in this practice for just 14 days has proven to show clinically positive impacts on mental states.  Engaging in this practice for 6 months or more?  Those results trend better than Prozac!

  11. BONUS family activity!  Try this around the dinner table, in the car, on the couch.  Each night, play “Rose, Bud, Thorn”, and have all family members model the following:

    1. Rose:  Good experience you had today

    2. Thorn:  A mistake you learned from today

    3. Bud:  An act of kindness that you witnessed or initiated.  

This night was informative, engaging, and well-attended.  I hope you enjoyed these take-aways!

In the month of November, we will be hosting two evenings:  

For more information, please visit the RPS website to view the complete lineup for the 2017-18 Well-Being series.  



Dealing with Social Exclusion: As the school year gets underway, new friendships are formed and at times can leave our students feeling left out.  Most of the time, these disappointments are a normal part of growing up, but it can often make us, as adults and parents, feel saddened or upset for our child. Situations like this can often make us, and ultimately, our children, feel powerless.  Here are two great resources that help us to realize, as parents and educators, that we can play a big role in how our child responds to these natural hurdles in life.  I hope you find them useful, as I did!



Cell Phones & Students:  As we continue to focus on the effects of media usage by our young students, this article from Time Magazine was of interest.  There are increasing reports of studies linking depression and cell phone/social media usage in young people, coupled with renewed interest in studies of the teenage and developing brain.  It is so important that we continue to stay educated on this topic and invite our children into the discussion so that they can begin to understand the reasons for moderation and tempering their use of apps or devices.  This article is worth reading - please take a look!



Long Range Planning Team Meeting:  This month, we will hold our first (of 3) Long Range Planning Team meetings. The LRPT meets annually to determine goals and next steps for Orchard School, beyond curricular initiatives. Past projects have included playground equipment purchases, landscaping/safety projects, STEM initiatives, and more.  Coinciding with our auction fundraiser this May (5/5/18), the LRPT will help to determine areas of interest for fundraising.  Any and all are welcome - as are all ideas!  Please consider attending our first meeting on Wednesday, 11/15, at 7 PM here at Orchard School.



As with every monthly update, we need reminders about our procedures and policies here at Orchard.  Please read below on two items of note:

  • Drop Off/Pick Up:  Please remember to pull all the way up if using the drop off lane in the morning.  Also, please wait in that line and do not pull out of the line once your child has exited.  Additionally, at pickup time, please do not double park and please remember that we do not have a pick up and go area. Thank you for your cooperation in keeping our students safe!

  • Link and follow our Google Calendar for HSA events!  Go to this link and click on the +Google Calendar in the right bottom corner.  

  • Lunch Ordering:  Another reminder for ordering lunch through Village Fresh.  All orders are placed online.  Orders must be in by 8:00 AM, otherwise, they will not be delivered on that day.  November lunches begin Wednesday!  Thank you!

Please review the list of dates below for upcoming events at our school.  I look forward to seeing you at the upcoming Long Range Planning Team meeting and other district events.



Mrs. Ferreri




Upcoming events:

11/1:  Community Outreach Program:  Life Beyond Your Eating Disorder, 7 PM GWMS

11/7:  Election Day

11/9 & 10:  No School ~ NJEA Convention

11/15:  Long Range Planning Team Meeting; 7 PM

11/16:  Spirit Day; CBA;  HSA Meeting 9:15 AM - Spotlight on Grade 4

11/22:  Minimum Day; K Feast ~ 11 AM

11/23 & 24:  No School ~ Thanksgiving Recess

11/27:  Pajama Day - Change Drive Kickoff

11/29:  Community Outreach Program:  Screenwise:  Helping Kids Survive in a Digital World , 7 PM GWMS