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We Make Learning Happen!


April, 2016


We are intentional in teaching our students to be humble, modest, and good winners.  But as their proud principal, I love to brag about the achievements, the courage, the talent, and the poise that our students have, especially when the spotlight is the brightest. 


Over the past couple months, Wrightwood Elementary students have put their skills on display in a wonderful Talent Show, the school and district Spelling Bees, the Young Authors and Young Artist contests, a district soccer tournament, and the Honor Chorus and Honor Band concerts.


Fifth grader Ryan Cade outlasted third grader Naomi Park to be crowned the Wrightwood School Spelling Champion, and at the district Spelling Bee, third grader Jack McKenzie was the last Raccoon standing, and he finished in 6th place in the entire district.  Our other class champions were Jaden Mueller, Tess McKenzie, Elias Cabrera, Areyna Mitchell, Kathryn Hoglin, and Logan Canright.  They were the top spellers in their classes, and they represented us well in the 1st Snowline Spelling Bee.


Paola Maust, Travis Geary, and Genna Brown were named winners of the Snowline Young Artist Contest.  They will be recognized at a School Board Meeting in April, and their artwork will hang in the Board Room for the next year.  The 15 winners of the Young Authors Contest were listed in last month’s Tracks newsletter.

The annual Talent Show was a huge success, with incredible singers, dancers, musicians, and comedians, as well as some special performances by a couple of our alumni.  Thank you to Novell Carter and Renee Olson, and especially to all of the performers for making such a fun night possible.


We know that our foremost responsibility is to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, but it makes us happy that we can offer a comprehensive program that includes the visual and performing arts, academic and athletic competitions, and opportunities to shine in and out of the classroom.  And shine, we do!  Way to go, Wrightwood Raccoons!


John Garner


Wrightwood Elementary School



The annual state testing – California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) – is coming up between April 18–May 6.   All 3rd-5th graders take the tests on computers in their classrooms or the computer lab, and 5th graders also take the science test in paper-and-pencil format.  We look forward to these tests as an opportunity for our students to demonstrate their knowledge of the skills expected by their grade level standards.

Success on these assessments requires great focus and effort, perseverance, creativity, and patience.  Please help your child do their best by ensuring that they are well-rested, fed, and in a good frame of mind to shine in this way, too.



The Mother-Son Night – “Come Fly with Us” – is this Friday, April 15, from 6:00-8:00 in the Tom Thorne Auditorium.  This is always a special night for boys and their special lady.  The entry cost is $5 per student, and in-flight snacks and entertainment are provided.   Photos will be available for $5 at the event.  Because the PTG is purchasing materials for every child, please RSVP by Wednesday, April 13.



Wrightwood’s first Color-a-Thon is on Thursday, May 19.  This is a new event for our school, and it’s always a better fundraiser when we’re having fun at the same time!  Every student will participate in the Color Run, but in order to get a free shirt and the color packs, students must raise a minimum of $30. Students who collect even more can win some great additional prizes, including cool toys, crazy wigs and socks, and an opportunity to cover Mr. Garner in color!  There are two big prizes – five winners will go to lunch with Mr. Garner at John’s Incredible Pizza and one lucky student will win the Grand Prize, a $100 gift card to Toys R Us!

Our PTG negotiated with the Color Run coordinators to extend the collection deadline through the end of April.  So, your student can continue to collect on-line donations and earn all the prizes offered.  And, the PTG will take donations all the way through May 16 for the prizes they’re giving away, like the lunch at John’s Incredible Pizza, coloring Mr. Garner, and the Grand Prize at Toys R Us!



We’ll open our classrooms for our Open House on Thursday April 28 from 6:00-8:00.  This is a great opportunity for your kids to show off some of the work they’ve done this year.  Kids are always excited to show their parents around, and it’s fun for parents and teachers to celebrate the great work of the students.



The middle school counselors will visit with our fifth graders on April 22, and there will be a Parent Orientation night at Pinon Mesa Middle School on May 3 at 6:00.  Sixth grade registration packets are due May 19.



Our PTG has partnered with the Macias family to host a family movie night on Friday, May 13.  Mark your calendar for this fun FREE event!  We hope this will be a big success and becomes something that we can offer more frequently to our school families.  The Macias family is setting up an outdoor movie venue on the upper field, and they’ll be selling their famous kettle corn!  Bring a blanket and a lawn chair and join the fun.



Things get busy as we near the end of the school year.  Please make note of the following dates, and refer to the calendar on the back of this newsletter for all the events that will take place.  There’s literally something for everyone on the calendar!


Wed., April 20                   3rd, 4th, and 5th grades Field Trip to Lewis Family Playhouse

Mon. April 25                     Book Fair begins

Thur., April 28                   Open House  6:00-7:00

Tue., May 10                      3rd and 4th grades to Devil’s Punchbowl

Thur., May 12                     Spring Concerts at 8:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Fri., May 13                         Snowline Young Authors Conference 5:00-7:00

Fri., May 20                         Snow Make-Up Day – Student and Teachers report

Fri., May 20                         5th Grade Miracle Mile at Serrano at 9:00

Tue., May 24                      1st Grade to Grassy Hollow  8:30-1:00

Wed., May 25                    4th & 5th grades to Wrightwood Country Club

Fri., May 27                         Snow Make-Up Day – Teachers report, not students

Mon., May 30                     No School – Memorial Day (students perform at ceremony at Veterans Park)

Tue., May 31                      5th Grade vs. Staff Softball Game

Wed., June 1                      1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades to Wrightwood Country Club

Thur., June 2                      Last Day of School

                                                Kindergarten Farewell Handshake at 8:30

                                                5th Grade Promotion at 9:30 (5th graders may be checked out after the ceremony)

March, 2016


I believe the most important gift we can give children is the ability to read.  I want our students to leave our school able to confidently and critically read for pleasure, for learning, and for personal and professional business.  With that goal in mind, we structure our school day to provide students multiple opportunities to practice and improve their reading, beginning with letter recognition and phonics through reading fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and analysis.


Our teachers have been working hard to redesign our reading intervention and enrichment approach, called WIN – What I Need.  Every day, students receive the core instruction for their grade level, and we also provide remediation and acceleration activities, based on the student’s need.  Those needs are determined by analyzing the students’ performance on formative and summative assessments, oral reading, and comprehension tests. 


Our WIN time is being strengthened in multiple ways.  First, we are using improved assessments that identify specific holes in a child’s reading skills, and that will allow us to target those skills daily.  Second, our teachers and specialists – the people with the greatest training and experience in reading instruction – will be providing interventions to our most at-risk students.  Our teachers are committed to making every child a reader, and therefore, they want to be the ones responsible for ensuring that the students receive the most effective, research-based instruction.  Finally, we are exploring literally hundreds – maybe thousands! – of reading intervention activities that teach skills to children in a way that works for them.  We’re not just teaching louder and slower. 


I hope you appreciate as much as I do how committed and personally-invested our teachers are in giving your children the skills they need to be successful in school and life.  Likewise, we are grateful to have such supportive parents who work with their children at home to accelerate their learning.  Don’t hesitate to ask your child’s teacher what their reading strengths and weaknesses are, and then ask how you can help them practice at home.  Let’s turn every child into a confident reader!


John Garner




November, 2015


Each year, I like to remind parents about the great effort our staff and students engage in to ensure a positive and safe learning environment for all children.  As a school, we subscribe to the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) model that consists of several steps to teach and model expectations, to recognize positive behavior, to track student behavior data, to hold each other accountable, and to regularly reinforce our 3B’s - Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Safe.


If a child doesn’t know how to swim, we teach him.  If he doesn’t know how to ride a bike, we teach him.  If he doesn’t know how to read, we teach him.  But when a child misbehaves, we frequently resort to punishment, rather than teaching.  PBIS begins with instruction, as we teach students what respectful and responsible behavior looks like in all the settings at school, including the classroom, the hallways, the playground, the cafeteria, and the bathrooms. 

The instruction continues in a more structured form, as our counselor, Mrs. Burns, visits classes every week and delivers lessons on character development, friendships, conflict resolution, anger management, and communication. 


The data around our student behavior indicates what we’ve known all along:  we have wonderful students at Wrightwood Elementary!  Obviously, kids will test the boundaries, and they will act impulsively sometimes, but they respond quickly and return to expected behavior, and they are quick to apologize, learn from their mistakes, and move on.  We are averaging less than one disciplinary referral per day this school year.  Only seven students (2%) have three or more referrals.  That means 98% of our kids have excellent behavior and self-control during their school day.  That makes me very proud!


Even when a child misbehaves, we respond instructionally, with the belief that we can teach better behavior.  We revisit the expectations, we walk the student through their series of decisions, and we hope they emerge from that experience a little smarter than they were. 


We also go out of our way to reinforce positive behavior.  When students behave appropriately, when they follow those 3B’s and treat others with respect and kindness, they will be recognized by our staff members.  Every month, Mrs. Burns and I host a Raccoon Pride assembly, when we single out a few students for their extraordinary responsibility, politeness, and empathy.  I also host a Mountain Money Party every month that children can buy their way into with $20 of Mountain Money.  Each month, I collect over 2,000 Mountain Money dollars, evidence that students are being caught doing the right thing thousands of times over the course of the year.


I recommend that parents incorporate the 3B’s in their households to build on the success we’ve had in the school setting.  What do the 3B’s look like at the dinner table?  At your grandparents’ house?  When friends are visiting?


It is our hope that we hold students to behavior expectations that are consistent with the way parents would want their children to behave.  I always say that I treat the kids as if they were my own.  That may be a good thing or not, but I hope that you trust that I will treat them with fairness and respect, while still maintaining the authority and standards that children must learn to live with.


John Garner



October, 2015



When I think of all the things that make Wrightwood Elementary School so unique and successful, I begin with the commitment and partnership of our staff, students, parents, and community.  This month, the fruits of those relationships are visible in the form of several extracurricular activities, including the Walking School Bus, the Chinese and Spanish Clubs, the Running Club, Student Council, and the Strings Club.  The influence of Wrightwood Elementary School spans far beyond our school campus, into the community and even “down the hill.”


On Oct. 7, over 90 students participated in the first day of the Walking School Bus.  This is a great partnership between our students, parent volunteers, and a community that supports our school with their time (several route leaders are not parents, but are involved community members), as well as their financial support.  The local non-profit organization One Town has committed their support to purchase t-shirts and safety vests for every child, and they’ve ensured leaders have background checks and fingerprints, ensuring parents that their children will be in safe hands.


Further, One Town has created a scholarship fund for all Wrightwood Elementary students, paying them $1 for every day a child participates in the Walking School Bus.  With 180 school days during the year, our students have the opportunity to earn hundreds of dollars upon graduation that they can use toward a college savings plan.


It is not too late for anyone to join the Walking School Bus.  We’ll take new students and new volunteers at any time.  Information is available in the school office.  Get on the Bus!


Also, big thanks to Mrs. Quinn and Mrs. Mendez for volunteering their time for our Chinese and Spanish Clubs every Thursday afternoon.  The clubs were so popular with the students that I had sadly had to limit them to just fourth and fifth graders.  But that’s a good problem to have, and I hope our younger students will look forward to their opportunity to learn a new language when their time comes.


Our Running Club has about 100 students participating, and on Oct. 16, 42 of our most committed runners competed in the Mount SAC Cross Country Invitational, the largest cross country race in the world.  Everyone ran with a lot of heart and pride, and our 4th grade girls came in 1st place against all the other schools competing!


Mrs. Ward, our music teacher, has started a new after school Strings Club, for students in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades who would like to learn to play the violin or cello.  All of our students have the opportunity to shine at the microphone when Mrs. Ward takes students to perform patriotic songs at the Veterans Day ceremony at the Wrightwood Veterans Memorial Park on Nov. 11.


I am extremely proud of the well-rounded academic and social experience our students get at Wrightwood Elementary School.  I hope your children take advantage of all of these opportunities, and any parents would like to create an extracurricular club of interest, we’d love to hear from you!


John Garner