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Holton-Arms: ePouch

ePouch: The weekly eNewsletter for the Holton-Arms Lower School

Important Dates

Reading Celebration | US Musical Auditions | Library Volunteers
Parent Coffee with Mr. Bane | Back-to-School Night | Lit Zone
After-school Care | Medications on Campus

From the Division Director

Dear Lower School Parents, 


Head of School Susanna A. Jones at Wednesday's LS Gathering

This week, I had a chance to talk to the girls at Gathering about our start to the new school year. I told them truthfully that in my four Septembers at Holton, this had been the best start we have ever had. As I told parents at our Head's Reception for New Parents on Tuesday night, this great start is due in large part to great teachers who are fully prepared to embrace new and returning children, and new and returning children who are ready to be embraced.  

What makes this year special, however, is that we have begun to practice a classroom management model called Responsive Classroom (Watch for a Parent Coffee on this topic sometime soon!). In essence, Responsive Classroom emphasizes the academic and social benefits of establishing a classroom culture of collaboration, support, and respect. In this model, teachers provide their students with practical skills for working together. More than anything else, Responsive Classroom gives each child an equal voice in the classroom, and for children (and adults, probably), being heard is often the key to being understood and supported. 

One recommendation from Responsive Classroom—which has had a profoundly positive impact on the way we have begun the year—is assigned seating at lunch. This was the primary focus of my talk to the girls at Gathering. Lunch time can be a difficult challenge for some students as they navigate the “who, what, where, when, and why” of any particular dining table. This one particular change has transformed our dining hall; teachers are sitting with students, new friendships are blossoming, and the decibel level has dropped significantly. We asked the girls why they thought we were assigning seats this year, and they provided us with every reason we could ever need. They can all remember the challenges they faced as new girls and they all enjoy making new friends. I told the girls how proud we are of the way they have embraced this new way of doing things. We will continue to tweak assigned seating to keep it interesting for the girls by rotating the assignments, mixing grades, and introducing occasional free seating days. I know the girls will continue to reap the benefits of this new direction throughout the entire year. 

Tomorrow, we have a special schedule to celebrate our Lower School summer reading book, “Phileas’s Fortune” by Angès de Lestrade. The girls will be divided into cross-grade groups of eight, and together they will explore and share the ways in which the book spoke to them through games and fun activities. This day also serves the twin purposes of community building and celebrating the importance of reading.

One of my favorite days in the Holton calendar is Picture Day, which we had on Wednesday in Lower School. The pretty hair reminds me clearly that I am working in a girls' school, and the myriad of smiles and poses, varying from the natural to the self-consciously awkward, remind me of how much I enjoy working with our youngest students. They are a joy.

Have a fantastic weekend,

Patrick Bane
Lower School Director 

P.S. All fifth and sixth grade parents, please see the note below about auditions for "Once On This Island." Only a couple of girls will be chosen, but the audition process alone will be good for the girls.


NOTE: Flyers in ePouch are posted in PDF format and can be read using Acrobat Reader. A free copy of Acrobat Reader can be downloaded at the Adobe website. For further assistance, e-mail

Third Annual Community Reading Celebration, Sept. 16 

Tomorrow, Friday, September 16, we will celebrate our Lower School summer reading book, “Phileas’s Fortune” by Angès de Lestrade. In small cross-grade groups, students will explore the themes of communication, privilege, and self-expression through a variety of activities, from discussions and word sleuthing to dramatizations and word games. We will work to build our awareness of the varied ways we communicate with each other, encourage sensitivity to subtleties and nuances of words in their variety of uses, and highlight reflection and self-awareness as essential elements in interactions with others. The day will conclude with an all-Lower School reading time to celebrate the strong culture of reading here at Holton. Please contact Ms. Van Ells if you have any questions.

“Once on This Island” Auditions, Sept. 19-20 

This fall, the Upper School is performing the musical “Once on This Island.” The play has a significant role for a young girl and Director of Drama Elizabeth Andrews is looking to cast two students from either fifth or sixth grade in the role. Auditions will be held Monday, September 19 and Tuesday, September 20, from 3:30-5 p.m. For more information, please read the attached letter from Ms. Andrews.

Library Volunteer Information Session, Sept. 21 

Calling all Lower School Library volunteers! Get involved with your daughter’s school and support our wonderful Lower School librarians by volunteering for one or two hours per month in the Lower School Library. No experience is necessary and grandparents are welcome. If you want to volunteer, or would like more information, please contact parent volunteer Carrie Halpert. We hope to see you at the information session on Wednesday, September 21, at 8 a.m., in the Lower School Library.

LS Parent Coffee with Patrick Bane, Sept. 22 

Come for coffee, a muffin, and a back-to-school conversation with Lower School Director Patrick Bane on Thursday, September 22, at 8:15 a.m., in the Simms Reception Room. This is a great time to ask any logistical questions about Lower School that you may have and an opportunity to sit down in a casual setting with Mr. Bane before Back-to-School Night on Tuesday, September 27.

LS Back-to-School Night, Sept. 27 

Join us on Tuesday, September 27 to learn about your daughter’s class and her days in Lower School! Please park in the Main Lot in front of the School. The night begins in the Dining Room with a light supper at 6 p.m. We strongly encourage parents to find childcare privately, but, as a last resort, there will be a limited number of spaces for childcare on-site. No children under the age of three, please. These spaces are available by pre-registration only and for a $10 fee, which includes pizza. Please contact Mrs. Poon by Wednesday, September 21.

Upcoming October Lit Zone Book Clubs 

All Lower School students are invited to participate in the Lit Zone Book Club. We are going to start the year off with a bang with Brian Selznick’s award-winning illustrated novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.” Sign up for a meeting on Monday, October 10, or Thursday, October 13, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Space is limited. Please return a signed permission slip to Ms. Van Ells in the LS Library.

Sixth graders are invited to participate in a special sixth grade only Lit Zone Book Club meeting for “Beauty Queens,” by Libba Bray. This hysterical spin on the classic survival tale follows 50 teen beauty queens stranded on a deserted island. Sign up for the meeting on Monday, October 24, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Space is limited. Please return a signed permission slip to Ms. Van Ells in the LS Library.

Homework Zone 

Open to all Holton Lower School students, Homework Zone offers students the opportunity to work on homework in a structured environment before they leave school. This after-school study hall runs from 3:30-4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Please note that no snack is provided, but parents are welcomed to pack a snack for their daughter to eat during this time.

There is no charge for this service. Students not picked up by 4:30 will be sent to Extended Day, which is billed on an hourly basis.

Extended Day 

This program is designed for all Holton Lower School students remaining on campus after the school day has ended. Extended Day runs from 4:30-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 3:30-6 p.m. on Fridays. A snack, outdoor recreation, and computer access are all part of this after-school program.

There is no pre-registration required. This drop-in only service will be billed to your Holton-Arms account by the Business Office at a rate of $6.50 per hour.

Medications on Campus 

Just a reminder that students may not carry or possess any medication—prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal/alternative—while at school. If it is a prescription, a Maryland State Medication Administration form must be completed by the prescribing physician and accompany the medication.

Holton-Arms School | 7303 River Road | Bethesda, MD | 20817
Phone: 301.365.5300
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