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November and early December have been very busy at Morris Area Schools. We celebrated parent-teacher conferences, a 3rd and 4th grade music concert, a book fair, and skating at the Lee Community Center, among other things. I use the word celebrate because your children and the staff of Morris Area Schools make a great team! Enjoy the upcoming holiday season and remember the greatest gift you can provide someone is the gift of time. Play some games, read together, get outside, and enjoy each other's company. Please feel free to contact me or stop in at your convenience; this is your school.

P.S. Don't forget Coffee with Ken held from 7-7:30 a.m. in the school cafeteria* the first Friday of each month. This is a time for fellowship, asking questions, and getting to know your school a little bit better! *Next month (Jan. 4) we will meet in room A209 (Pod B, second level) to once again share some of the unique functions of the Smart board.

1. Continue to check the school web site for pertinent information. Among other things, you can access the school lunch menu, assessment schedules, and published work from our monthly MAES Student Authors [First go to the district web site, then click on "Elementary," then on PRINCIPAL].

2. Orders for the MAES Memory Book are being accepted through Dec. 21. The cost is $12.00 and checks may be made out to Morris Area Elementary.

3. COLD Weather Dress reminder for parents: We go outside before school and for noon play when the temperature or wind-chill is minus five degrees below or warmer. Our basic outside rule is that anytime there is snow, students must wear boots. Please encourage your child to dress warmly (hats, mittens, coats, boots) as it is much more fun when students are comfortable.

4. Many families purchase gifts for staff during the holiday season. This is greatly appreciated and certainly not necessary. If you are considering this, we would like to offer an alternative. In lieu of purchasing a gift for that individual, consider mailing a financial gift directly to the school. You may designate an individual teacher account or the elementary field trip budget. Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the elementary office.

5. National Geography Bee: The National Geography Bee is open for students in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. Morris Area Elementary School will be conducting its preliminary rounds in the upcoming weeks; with the final round of competition being held on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 at 1:45 p.m. in the Concert Hall. Parents and community members are invited to attend the final round. If you have any questions, please contact Nancy Huot at 589-1250, ext. 2071.

6. District Spelling Bee: The District Spelling Bee Finals will be held on Jan. 16, 2013 at 1:45 p.m. in the Concert Hall. The Bee is open to all students in 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. The top spellers from those four grade levels will compete against each other for the honor of becoming the District Champion.  This person will then proceed to a Regional Spelling Bee at the Fergus Falls Middle School in February. That regional champion advances to a state bee, and finally on to Washington D.C. Our District Spelling Bee is free to the public and everyone is welcome. Please join us to cheer on our spellers! You may contact Nancy Huot at 589-1250, ext. 2071 for more information.

7. School Closing Due To Bad Weather: If school is late or canceled, parents will be notified through our Instant Alert communication system around 6:00 a.m. It will also be broadcast on the following stations: KMRS/KKOK, WCCO Radio/TV, KARE Channel 11, KMSP - FOX 9, KOOL 94.3 FM, RIVER 97.3, KSJS 1590, KIK 100.7 FM, Q102 FM, KWLM 1340 AM, KSCR/KBMO, KSTP Channel 5, and Real Country 100.1 FM.

8. In a continuing effort to recognize potential challenges and provide a safe bus riding experience the transportation department is collecting feedback through their annual survey. Hard copies of the survey are available upon request (320-589-3932) or you may take the survey now by clicking on the following link:

9. Fifth grade D.A.R.E. Graduation will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 19, starting at 1:30 p.m. in the concert hall. The public is invited to attend.

10. STATE TESTING IN APRIL/MAY: All 3rd-6th grade students should in attendance on these dates!

April 16 - MN Comprehensive Assessments - Grade 3 - Reading

April 17 - MN Comprehensive Assessments - Grade 4 - Reading

April 18 - MN Comprehensive Assessments - Grade 5 - Reading

April 23 - MN Comprehensive Assessments - Grade 6 - Reading

April 25 - MN Comprehensive Assessments - Grade 3 - Math

April 30 - MN Comprehensive Assessments - Grade 6 - Math

May 1 - MN Comprehensive Assessments - Grade 5 - Math

May 2 - MN Comprehensive Assessments - Grade 4 - Math

May 2 - MN Comprehensive Assessments - Grade 5 - Science

11. Lost and found items will be donated to the Salvation Army on the 15th of each month. Please check the table (located in the corridor leading to the MAES Cafeteria) often.

12. Math & Science Challenge: Itzel S., 3rd grade, was the winner of the 1st quarter Math & Science Challenge. All students in grades 3-6 are invited to participate in this quarterly challenge. This is not for a classroom grade but simply an opportunity to use and share your amazing skills. Posters can be found around the school and the challenge can also be accessed on my PRINCIPAL web page.

13. Due to our late start on Dec. 10, skating for grades 2-6 and the 6th grade Day of Compassion will both be held on Monday, Dec. 17.

Dates To Remember

Dec. 17 - 6th Grade Day of Compassion

Dec. 17 - Final day of skating for gr. 2-6

Dec. 19 - D.A.R.E. Graduation / gr. 5, 1:30 p.m. Concert Hall

Dec. 21 - Memory Book orders are due

Dec. 24 - Jan. 1 - Winter Break

Jan. 2 - Classes Resume

Jan. 3 & 9 - AIMS Testing

Jan. 4-16 - NWEA Testing

Jan. 9 - 2 Hr. Late Start - Staff Dev.

Jan. 9 - Geography Bee, 1:45 p.m., Concert Hall

Jan. 16 - Spelling Bee, 1:45 p.m., Concert Hall

Jan. 18 - End of 1st Semester, 2nd Quarter

Jan. 21 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day-NO SCHOOL

Jan. 22 - Teacher Work Day-NO SCHOOL

Jan. 23 - 2nd Semester Milk Money Due

Jan. 25 - 4th Grade Ski Trip

5th & 6th Grade Band & Choir Concert, Concert Hall, 7 p.m.

2nd Quarter Report Cards distributed