Students ring in New Year with reading

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Students at Washington-Caldwell School kicked off the New Year with its annual Chill Out reading event held last week. During Chill Out, students read for 2,016 seconds while bundled up with with their pillows, blankets and favorite polar stuffed animal. Afterward, they were treated to hot chocolate.


Kindergartener Mason (from left) joins his fifth-grade reading pals Seth and Ashton during the school’s annual Chill Out event. 
Fifth grader Jordan (left) reads with kindergartener Alexis. 

Students help fulfill young burn victim’s Christmas wish

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Cards for Safyre

Washington-Caldwell students were among others in grade 4K-8 who recently created and mailed out Christmas cards to New York for Safyre Terry, a young burn victim who lost her entire family to an act of arson. The crime is still under investigation.

Students at Washington-Caldwell School joined thousands of others from across the country in making one young girl’s Christmas wish come true.
Eight-year old Safyre Terry, Schenectady, N.Y., who lost her entire family to arson on May 2, 2013 and was left severely burned herself, made a simple request this season to lift her spirits – to fill up her Christmas card tree with greetings.
Since the young girl’s aunt and legal guardian Liz Dolder has taken Terry’s request to Facebook, the response has been overwhelming, according to an article from the Washington Post.
At Washington-Caldwell School, more than 150 students got to work in creating holiday greetings for the young burn victim, that were mailed for a place on her tree.
“Sometimes the simplest gifts can have the biggest impact,” said Ms. Kelly Unrath, who led the local effort. “We educate and role model to our students not just the curriculum, but also the human side of life – moments of kindness and caring. This project just felt right.”
Seventh grader Zoie brought the idea to Unrath’s attention after hearing about “Cards for Safyre”
“She thought that it would be a wonderful way for the students to give back and brighten another child’s holidays. I agreed,” Unrath said.
Other teachers and students were eager to get involved, according to Unrath.
“One of the classes went so far as to make an activity book for her with pictures and letters on one page and an activity on the other, like mazes, word searches and crosswords,” she said.
Sixth grader Amber said she was glad to send well wishes from Wisconsin, noting the trauma that the child has been through– the loss of her father and three younger siblings to the May 2, 2013 fire and more than 65 surgeries including the amputation of her foot resulting from the arson.
“She is so spirited despite all of the surgeries and everything she has gone through,” Martin said.
For sixth grader Jennifer Weir, participating meant making Terry’s Christmas merrier.
“She has been through a lot of terrible things,” she said, adding that such an outpouring will make this Christmas better than the previous two years which she has spent recovering and without her immediate family.
Seventh grader Ashley said her card I told the young girl how sorry she is for her suffering.
“I hope this year will be the best and hope she gets the cards she liked,” she said. “This project was important because I like to make other people feel better after something so terrible happened. I want her to know that we are all here for her and we’re her friends.”
“My card was about just wishing her a happy holiday season and that she should stay strong because she is beautiful,” said Zoie. “This was an important project because when my mom introduced this to me she just wanted me to make a card, but I knew this could be a bigger thing. I thought that I could introduce it to the school. It was important because she was a symbol of how crazy our world can be, hurting innocent people. She needed all the support to show her that she is loved by so many people.”                                                                                                                                Unrath said getting students involved provided an outlet for them to reach out and change the world around them.
“I want them to have these experiences – and to change one person’s life, to make it happier, is a great place to begin,” she said. “The outpouring of kindness and simple gestures made me very proud of our students.”
Send a card to Safyre Terry at
P.O. Box 6126
Schenectady, NY 12306

Washington-Caldwell School students spread holiday cheer to local seniors

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Thompson with carolers

Washington-Caldwell School teacher Toby Thompson (far right) and students from several of the school’s civic clubs entertain residents of Elder Care Cottages in Waterford Dec. 10 with a variety of Christmas carols. A number of students, staff and parents came out to spread Christmas joy to local seniors through song. According to Ms. Kelli Vogt, who helped organize the event, “staff and residents were so happy to have us come!  We were invited back to do more activities!”

‘Tis the Season to give

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W-C Giving Tree

Washington Caldwell students and brothers Maddox (from left) Asher and Ryland hang gift tags on the school’s annual Giving Tree. Each tag has gift ideas for local children, seniors, veterans and animals at the Wisconsin Humane Society.

Washington-Caldwell School continues its holiday tradition of giving back through the annual Giving Tree. Coordinated by Ms. Kelli Vogt, the Giving Tree has provided gifts to local families Christmas morning that might have otherwise gone without. Due to the continued overwhelming generosity from those in the community, this year the Giving Tree program has expanded to include local seniors, veterans at Veterans Home of Union Grove and animals at Wisconsin Humane Society, Racine campus.
Now through Thursday, Dec. 17, donors can drop off unwrapped gifts at the school, 8937 Big Bend Road, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Gift ideas for local children include art and craft kits, books, movies, legos, board games, hats and mittens. Gifts for veterans and seniors can include large-print books, crosswords, slippers, cologne or perfume, costume jewelry, classic movies, TV show DVDs, fleece lap blankets and chocolate. The Humane Society is looking for soft dog and cat treats, pet toys, leashes, tennis balls, stainless metal dog and cat bowls, tennis balls and pet beds, among other donations. Gift cards to area retailers are also appreciated.
For more information, contact Vogt at or call (262) 662-3466.

Annual fall blood drive exceeds collection goal

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Ms. Kelly Unrath was one of 39 donors signed up to save lives during the NJHS annual fall blood drive.

Ms. Kelly Unrath was one of 39 donors signed up to save lives during the NJHS annual fall blood drive.

The National Junior Honor Society exceeded its goal for the American Red Cross blood drive it hosted Oct. 5, according to Toby Thompson, NJHS advisor.

“Our goal was to collect 31 units and the Red Cross collected 33 units with a total of 39 people attempting to donate,” he said.

Thompson thanked staff, parents, siblings and other Washington-Caldwell family members who helped the American Red Cross.

“I know we can always count on Washington-Caldwell families to help with such an important event like this,” Thompson said. “The American Red Cross needed our help and our staff, students, and parents came through.”

The NJHS advisor also gave special thanks Fred Vergenz, school custodian, for setting up and taking down all the chairs and tables for the event.

The eighth-grade class had the most donors and won the pizza party. The seventh-grade class came in second and will be awarded with ice cream sandwiches. Donor Denise Strasser won a $30 Target gift card.

The National Junior Honor Society will host another blood drive in the spring.

Time to talk about fire safety, rescue

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Jaws of Life

Tichigan Volunteer Company firefighter Colin O’Donoghue educates students at Washington-Caldwell School about Jaws of Life, a crucial life-saving device. He and Tichigan EMT Chris Visvardis (left) gave students a close look at one of the company’s fire engines Tuesday as part of National Fire Prevention Week.

Students present the great States

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Fourth graders in Mrs. Mary Rohner’s class have been busy studying select states across the nation – from the types of agriculture and production in each, to the celebrities who call them home. On May 8 the class held its annual States Fair when they presented what they learned to visitors.

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