Greetings all and welcome to The Wood Acres School

At the conclusion of each academic year, we graduate our stellar eighth graders in a special ceremony that honors hard work and a commitment to excellence. This is the speech I shared with our proud students this May.

Good morning graduates, parents, faculty, students, and special guests. It is my pleasure and honor to welcome you to the 8th Graduation of the Wood Acres School.

This spring, you may have heard that we traveled to Spain. Lucky me! I had the pleasure and privilege to accompany our graduates. And to be honest, I don’t know what took me so long to go!

But I do know I will be going again.

Seeing as I was the only non-Spanish speaker on the trip, I wanted to model what that looked like for our students. I wanted to show them to be brave in a new place and how exciting it is to immerse yourself in the language and culture when you travel.

Well, as soon as we landed in Madrid, I couldn’t wait to soak it all in. And, of course, it was easy with such wonderful fluent people to travel with in the most beautiful of countries…and when you enjoy traveling as I do!

During our time in Spain, I noticed though that some words were easy to latch onto. My ears kept perking up when I heard these words and before long I found myself asking about these words and eventually using these words.

Using these words made me feel part of the club and I loved it. I couldn’t get enough. I felt Spanish!

What is also interesting about these words, is that they all represent advice and teachings I would like you to take with you, graduates as you move onto high school and beyond.

And so I’d like to present some of these to you. Are you all ready to travel with me to Spain? Can you guess which of my favorite words are on the list?

This is by far my favorite. I know the students know it. Tranquillo.

Just say this word and you know the meaning. And I also love Sra. Thigpen’s accompanying hand gesture with this one. Tranquillo. Sometimes calma is used as a substitute. Tranquillo. Calma. Don’t you feel better after saying these?

Everything in Spain is tranquillo. How wonderful would it be if we applied this feeling and way of life to our hectic and crazy lives. It just means slow down. Tranquility. Be calm. Hakuna Matata. No worries.

You are late. tranquillo. Not feeling well, tranquillo. Having a tough day, tranquillo. And to our graduates, feeling anxious? Tranquillo.

All will be good, I promise. You have the tools you need and you are ready for this next step.


This one seems easily translated, right? It should mean clear. But what is great about this word is that it means more than that. During many conversations, I would hear someone reply, claro. And this prompted me to ask for clarification.

Claro means, I understand you. I understand your story. I understand your situation. I understand what you are going through.

Oh how I wish all of us could have someone say that in return to us. We all need to be understood. We also need to always seek to understand. Claro.


This is a break or a rest.

The image of this word just makes me happy. Each morning the students would take would take a descanso.

It is a ritual. It is a time to stop and savor a snack with friends. No to go cups. No paper products. No standing and gobbling. Just conversation and something to nibble on and sit on proper dishes. No rushing. Just enjoying.

We all need a moment sometimes to pause and rejuvenate.


These are seat belts! Every time we would get on a bus, the adults would cry out “cinturones” which would be immediately followed by followed by 11 clicks. Wearing seatbelts in Spain is mandatory.

Graduates, buckle up for safety. Buckle up for an adventure of a lifetime. Buckle up for all of the great moments headed your way. It’s going to be quite a ride.

El Mismo.

Mismo. The same.

As in I’ll have what she’s having. This was a great one to know when ordering in a restaurant.

But this word is so much greater than that. How about remembering that we are all more same than different. El mismo. There is a great song by Jennifer Lopez called El Mismo Sol. And yes, I learned about it from my bilingual daughter. We are all under the same sun. What a great thought.


This is a funny one. I first learned of this word in a text from Sr. Thigpen to me and Sen. Boyle. We were going over details of the trip the next before our flight and Sra. ended the text with vale.

I quickly turned to my daughter for help. What is vale?

It means ok. Ready to go…Vale! See you tomorrow….Vale! Ready for summer…..Vale!

I love this one.


This is one we all know! Say it with me. Gracias. Gracias means thank you. Graduates, remember to always give thanks and say thanks.

We heartily say thank you to our families and to our students for all of the memories and lessons you have given us.

And finally…..vamos!

As in Let’s go! Come on!

In the words of Dr Seuss from one of my favorite books “Oh The Places You’ll Go”. This copy was given to me from my high school English teacher upon my graduation.

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!


Graduates, I hope you will keep these words in your heart and place them in the vocabulary of your daily life. Thank you for teaching me that this is possible. Congratulations to all of you.

Summer is here! School is out! It must be June!

What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.”
Gertrude Jekyll

With today’s adult work being tied so closely to the technology in your pocket, the laptop in your bag, and the office in your home, summer is truly for the children! While they are “outta school” for these sunny months, their learning does not stop! Guarantee that for them by helping them leave anything with batteries, chargers, or screens behind and help them employ their senses to the wonders of the summer world around them. If they insist on being early risers, share a sunrise with them. If bed times are more flexible in the summer, sit outside and ponder a gorgeous sunset. Get down on the level of bugs and up as high as you can go to see the world from a bird’s vantage point. Get out the chalk, crayons, markers and paints for some summer masterpieces painted on the sidewalk, old pillowcases, and even on themselves. Paint like Michelangelo (on your back) or with your non-dominant hand, with the brush in your teeth or between your toes! Cook, clean, rearrange, and redo their rooms and play spaces. Give meaning to work in the home as summer “homework”.  And by all means- READ- every day in every way with all kinds of print- OK, so maybe technology can be helpful here! You get the idea!

With just one glance on Pinterest or the many blogs on line, you can find many more easy enjoyable “battery free” ideas to entice your children to see, hear, taste, feel, touch and experience their world anew in this month of “a perfectly young summer”… JUNE!

Wednesday May 30, 2018 Newsletter

Good Evening Families,

It’s hard to believe another school year has flown by and I do mean flown! Just think….your child has grown a little taller and a little wiser since that first day you dropped him/her off in car line some 9 months ago! I had a good time this school year and I know your child has too.

Our “End-of-the-Year Party” was a blast!! The party moms really knew how to put a carnival together. We had games, popcorn, cotton candy and the best of all was a bouncy house! For lunch, we feasted on hot dogs and ice cream sandwiches for dessert.

I would like to give a huge SHOUT OUT to the parents, grandparents and babysitter who helped with the carnival: Liz McCormick (who organized the helpers), Marissa Hornsby, Caroline Torbett, Tracy Cembor, Mrs. Miller, (Gabby’s grandmother), B.J. Long, Rick Leveille, Anika’s grandmother and babysitter and Sonal Kashyap for the very cute goody bags. Thanks to all of you, the party was a big success!

Since this is the last blog for our class, Leslie and I want to wish everyone a wonderful Summer! I know a lot of children will be coming to a magical Summer Camp here at the Woods!

ABRACADABRA! See you soon,

Wanda and Leslie

Ms. Porto’s 4’s newsletter

Hey all!

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Happy last week of a school!

We started off the week on Monday with practicing writing all of our numbers. We wrote one through ten! Then we had snack outside and went straight to recess! After recess we went to Spanish where we got to play musical instruments! That was so much fun! When we returned from Spanish, we worked on number one through ten again. Then we recognized, traced, wrote the word yes! Boy are these kiddos ready for kindergarten!

Tuesday was our fun pajama day! We got to come to school dressed in our pajamas! We read books all day with our friends! This was such a fun day!

Wednesday we had a fun picnic lunch in the classroom on the floor since it was yucky outside! We also went to our Art special where we learned about the works of Piet Mondrian! He made art using shapes like squares and rectangles!

Thursday we celebrated Ms. Nixon’s and my summer birthday! We had a fun emoji party with ice cream and cupcakes! We danced and played the day away 🙂

We finished off the school year on Friday with game day! Everyone dressed up in their favorite game gear and brought in their own games! The room was so silent all day as we played our games!

I hope everyone has a wonderful summer! I will miss seeing you everyday. Thank you for everything you have done for us throughout the school year!

Thank you,
Ms. Porto

Raspberry Pi Demonstration

The 4th and 5th grades were treated to a wonderful and very informative demonstration of how a Raspberry Pi works. This is not a yummy, gooey dessert. It is a very small computer that can be used to make an endless number of electronic equipment. It has a board the size of a credit card with all the connections you would find on a regular sized computer. This part gets a little boring and technical for some, but others will appreciate the specific information if they think taking on a project with this would be fun. There is a 40 pin GPIO for wiring, 4 usb ports, LAN ethernet port, audio jack, CSI camera connection, HDMI port for video monitor, micro usb for power connection, DSI display port, and a micro SD memory card slot. This Raspberry Pi will be used to light up our HiVE sign that the 5th graders made. We are using LED pixel string lights that have individually programmable bulbs along the string. This allows us to program lots of different patterns, colors, and movements with the lights. Mr. Ryan Neily, a Wood Acres dad, offered his time to come in and talk about the history and uses of the Raspberry Pi. He hooked up the lights and showed the students the code he had used to make the lights do the different movements and colors. He used a simple drag and drop program called “Scratch” so they could follow what he was doing. The students were amazed every time the lights came on and did something new! Their favorite thing to do was change the RGB color settings. This was a great demonstration and we would like to give Mr. Neily a big THANK YOU from all of us!! Look for one more post about the finished HiVE sign. It will be hooked up before the last day of school!

News Flash!

Good Morning –

Well, we have made it to the last week of school! It is always hard to believe how fast it seems to arrive. Somehow we always make it!

Of course just because it is the last week, that doesn’t mean that the learning has stopped!! Everyday we are working on assessing what they have learned, and encouraging them to continue to do their best. We are still working on number writing and recognition, position words, identifying left and right, rhyming, identifying letters and sounds. as well as proper formation. Whew! The last couple of weeks are important in wrapping up all of the details!

Last week we celebrated our summer birthdays with a fun snack an goodie bags. Thanks to the Leeper, Armstrong, Coffey, Dickerson, and Belknap families. The kids really enjoyed it. Thanks also for the gift of a new classroom snack leader bag in recognition of my own summer birthday! Very fun!!

Jake’s Nana, Beth Armstrong, has generously donated the materials, and her time, for our Book Buddy end-of-year gifts. We are decorating pots with fingerprint insects and planting marigolds tomorrow! Thank you Nana!!

Today we are heading over to Camp WAWA (Wood Acres) to eat lunch with our book buddies. The classroom is set up with tents and a “campfire.” It is always a big hit and a good way to say good bye to our friends.

Our End-of-Year party is on Wednesday of this week at 11:30. It looks to be a fun, fabulous time for all. Thanks in advance to everyone for signing up to bring food. We will end the day with a luncheon for all to share. If your plans change and you are suddenly free to come, please do. We always have plenty of food to share!!

Note: We are planning to have several water games during the party, so please send in a change of clothes and shoes, in case your child gets extra drippy!!

Thanks a ton.

Ms. Manning

May 20, 2018 Newsletter

Good Evening Families,

Where did the school year go? It seems like we just had Meet & Greet and here we are with just 5 days of school left!

This week will fly by…..our party is Tuesday and Friday we honor the 8th grade graduates as the school assembles on the quad.

We are happy to announce that we completed the alphabet last week! A certificate will be coming home soon if your child can identify every letter.

Last week, the class learned about the life stages of a frog. We made two projects that reflected these stages. I read a delightful book, “The Caterpillar and the Polliwog,” by Jack Kent. It tells the story of a friendship between a caterpillar and a polliwog. This one you have to check out of the library.

We celebrated Summer birthdays early for Ryan Leveille and Taela Long! Happy Birthday in July!!

Please let me know if your child will be absent this week.

Have a good week ahead.
Wanda and Leslie

The final week of fourth grade!

Dear Parents of Rising Fifth Graders,
Wow! I know that we still have an end of year math test, history quiz, and science quiz, but I am 100% certain that every one of my fourth graders will be transitioning to fifth grade! What a great year of learning, growing, and maturing this has been! Thank you for your support throughout the year, and thank you for entrusting your children’s minds to Mrs. Leagan and me. I will give you a subject by subject rundown on what to expect in science, history, and mathematics for the final week of fourth grade:
Science: Owl pellet dissections went beautifully! I was excited to see the enthusiasm that each scientist had throughout the entire laboratory procedure. They were engaged and careful about determining what the owl has eaten. Well done! There will be a science quiz on Tuesday on light and optics.
History: A quiz will be given on Tuesday over the first 7 lessons of Europe in the Middle Ages. We will complete our last project, Illuminations, and they will be sent home on Thursday.
Mathematics-for Mrs. Kuegeman’s class only: We will spend Monday and Tuesday reviewing and have the end of the year math test on Wednesday morning. Students have done a great job learning two digit divisor division. This skill will be on the end of the year test.
Thursday will be spent handing in books, cleaning lockers and desks, and cleaning up the classroom. Our End of the Year Party will begin at noon, lunchtime, and last until 3:00. Parents have been busy preparing for this final party adventure! Thank you!
Friday is the day of our Honors Assembly at 9:30. If you registered your child for the Duke TIP Program, your child will be recognized at this assembly along with other honor recipients and our eighth-grade graduates. The assembly will last about one and a half hours. If you attend the assembly, please feel free to take your student with you when you leave. School dismisses at 1:00, and there is no Tree House on this last day of school. Mrs. Leagan and I do not have any plans for students after the assembly.
Thank you again for a fabulous fourth-grade year. I am proud to send this group of students on to our fifth-grade team!

My best,
Cindy Kuegeman

This Matters At Wood Acres.

  • High Expectations For Teaching And Learning

  • Strong Instructional Leadership

  • Safe Learning Environment For Everyone

  • Positive And Welcoming School Climate

  • Valuing Time On Task For Mastery

  • Close Home School Partnerships