Guide for New Parents

It's always a challenge to enter a new school system. Families are unaware of the traditions and customs of the school, the special events, and programs. You may be hesitant to call the school or ask other parents what the newsletters are talking about.

1st Grade Fiesta

1st Grade Fiesta

The purpose of this guide is to give you a general idea of what's going on at Fulton Elementary. It is not exhaustive, but it will give you information about the most frequently encountered activities. Please do not hesitate to ask other parents about events, classes, and activities. You will find the Fulton parent community to be a friendly group willing to share their experiences. They can provide much richer and more personal descriptions of a particular event. Also, please do not hesitate to contact the administration or your children's teachers if you have questions, concerns, and comments. Please do become involved with the PTA in whatever way you can, even if your volunteering time is limited. Everyone's goal is to ensure that the children have a positive experience at Fulton.    

The views and opinions expressed in this guide are not necessarily those of the Howard County Public School System, Fulton Elementary School, or the Fulton PTA. This guide was created by parents for parents and is intended to be a general guide that may be helpful to new families. While every attempt has been made to provide accurate information, changes can occur. Please understand that all events and activities, dates, times, and descriptions are subject to change. Activities may be added or deleted as curriculum and time constraints dictate.    

Each entry will indicate the "jurisdiction" of a particular event, that is, whether you should contact the PTA or the school about an event or program. Please contact the school for the most accurate information about   programs run by FES. If you contact the school about a PTA event, they may not be able to provide you with the information you need. The PTA will provide contact numbers (which may change year to year, and are not included in this guide) so that you can contact the appropriate person.  

 

Events by Season

Fall:  Back to School Night, Fall Festival, Halloween Parade, Student Pictures

Winter:  Holiday Program, Holiday Shoppe, International Night, Falcon Follies/Talent Show

Spring:  Class Pictures, MSA, SAT-10, Field Day, Spring Concerts, Fulton Finery, Spelling Bee, Simulated Congressional Hearing

Ongoing Events:  After-School Programs, Cultural Arts, Box Tops, passive fundraising programs

 

Definitions

After-School Programs:  Programs run by the PTA or other outside organizations. A number of activities are held at the school after school hours, and may include art, sports, theater, science programs, scouting, and others.

Arrival Time:  The earliest students may arrive at school is 9:10 a.m. Students are allowed in the school at 9:15 a.m. Any student arriving after 9:25 a.m. is considered late and must be escorted by a parent or guardian to the front office and the parent must sign the student into the school. 

First grade student displaying her book during Author's Tea.

First grade student displaying her book during Author's Tea.

Back to School Night:  FES event. In September, nights will be designated to visit your child's classroom and meet the teachers. The teachers will offer a presentation of the materials that will be covered during the year. Individual concerns should not be raised here; please schedule a separate appointment. In addition, a presentation is usually given to acquaint families with the Gifted and Talented (GT) program at Fulton.    

Band Instruments:  FES program. Beginning in fourth grade, students may receive musical instruction for band instruments. You will receive a memo to inform you which instruments are available. Concerts are given twice a year. Instruction for string instruments begins in third grade.

Black Saga:  FES event. The Black Saga Competition is a learning activity to help fourth and fifth grade students learn about the African American experience. 

Book Fair:  FES event. The book fair provides students and parents an opportunity to purchase books at reasonable prices. The book fair usually runs for one week. In addition, teachers leave their wish lists for their classrooms, and parents are invited to donate a book to their classroom.

Box Tops for Education:  PTA program. This is a passive fundraising program. See Volunteering and Fundraising for more information.

CEUs:  HCPSS/FES programs. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are extracurricular programs offered throughout the school year during the day. Students may elect to take these programs; they are always offered during recess or specials. Some of these are by invitation only and others are open to the entire class; see your child's teacher for more information. Some past examples are the Green Club, 50 States, and Bridges.

Chorus:  FES event. Students in fourth and fifth grade are given the opportunity to voluntarily participate in chorus.  Rehearsals are held before school once a week. The FES Chorus performs two concerts each year.

Cultural Arts:  This program is funded by the PTA. Throughout the year, a variety of artists, performers, authors, and other individuals or groups will come to the school to give presentations to the students.

Dine Out Nights/Spirit Nights:  PTAevent. Throughout the year, the PTA arranges a family fun night at a local restaurant.  This is a fundraising event where the PTA receives a portion of the sales.  In the past, restaurants have included: Chick-fil-A, Tutti Frutti, Looney's, and J&P’s Pizza.

Direct Donations:  PTA program. This is a fundraising program. Parents and boosters may donate directly to the FES PTA.

Emergency Forms:  All emergency contact forms must be completed online using the HCPSS Family Portal.

Falcon Feathers:  FES program. The Falcon Feathers Program rewards students for hard work and appropriate behavior. Students can be given Falcon Feathers in recognition for following school rules and putting forth their best effort.

Student Performing at the Annual Falcon Follies (Talent Show)

Student Performing at the Annual Falcon Follies (Talent Show)

Falcon Follies/Talent Show:  PTA event. The talent show occurs in the late winter/early spring. All students are welcomed. Group and individual acts may perform. Acts are previewed for appropriateness and length (typically there is a three-minute time limit). Typical acts are group dance acts, piano solos, vocal solos, and dance solos. Special skills such as karate and gymnastics may also be demonstrated. 

Fall Festival:  PTA event. This fun family event will be held on the school grounds in the fall. The PTA sponsors the carnival. There are moon bounces and special attractions, as well as games of chance and skill (in some activities, a prize is always awarded to each participant), face painting, clowns, and crafts. There is also a "cakewalk" where cakes (donated by the FES community) are awardedto a person standing on a certain number in a ring of numbers. It's a combination of musical chairs and a spinning number wheel. 

Field Day:  FES event. In the spring, a Field Day is held where students may participate in a variety of games and events. Parent volunteers are integral to the success of Field Day.    

Field Trips:  FES program. Every year each grade typically takes at least one field trip. Trips are taken outside of school and correspond to the curricular program. Some previous examples: Toby's Dinner Theater, Maryland Science Center, Howard County Library, Rose Hill Manor, and St. Mary's County.  Field trips may be changed or deleted depending upon curriculum, time constraints, or other factors.

Friday Folders:  FES practice. Each Friday a folder will be sent home with weekly communications from the school. This is a main source of information from the school so therefore parents should remove and review all the materials each week. Parents only need sign the folder if the teacher has written them an individual note.

Fulton Finery/STEAM Night:  FES program. Fulton Finery is a school-wide evening event where every single student has an exemplary product or project showcased for their families and friends to admire and appreciate.

Fulton’s Fit Falcons:  FES program. Fit Falcons is a walk/run program for students in grades 1 through 5.  Students are able to track their progress by completing the grade level progress card. When the progress card is complete, the student’s name is placed on the Fit Falcons posters outside of the gym to recognize their accomplishments. This program takes place when weather and field conditions are dry. Parents and guardians are invited to participate in this program with the students. Participants must sign in at the office. 

Fundraising:  PTA program. In addition to our annual wrapping paper fundraiser, there are other fundraising opportunities for FES. Target, Safeway, Food Lion, and Giant all offer programs in which using their card for purchases gains money for the school. You must sign up at your grocery store each year to designate your school and participate in the program. Another facet of fundraising is the collecting of General Mills BoxTops for Education. General Mills BoxTops are found on cereal, cake mixes, and other products. You will receive a list of eligible products early in the year. There are collection boxes for the labels and box tops in the hallway by the office. See Volunteering and Fundraising for more information.  

Gifted and Talented (GT) Testing:  FES program using standards developed and implemented at the county level. GT classes begin in fourth grade. Third grade students are tested for eligibility for the Gifted and Talented math program. Typically, upper-level math groups are tested, but any student may be tested for the program upon parent request.    

Fulton's Annual Halloween Parade

Fulton's Annual Halloween Parade

Halloween Parade:  FES event. On (or about) October 31, students are invited to participate in a school Halloween parade. No masks, makeup, or weapons are allowed. It's fun to see the staff and students in their costumes. Parents are welcome to see the parade around the blacktop near the elementary school playground. The time of the parade will be announced. 

Holiday Shoppe:  PTA program. Each year in December a shop is set up featuring inexpensive presents that students may purchase for their family members for the holidays. The shop is open during the school day at recess and one evening for purchases.

International Night:  PTA event. Each year a group of parents and staff organize the FES International Night which celebrates the many cultures at FES. The evening includes displays, performances, a Parade of Nations, etc.

International Student and Family Services:  HCPSS program. The Office of International Student and Family Services (OISFS) provides educational services to international students and to students and families who do not speak English proficiently. The program ensures that Limited English Proficient (LEP) communities have equal access to information and resources about school system services, policies and academic activities. Through this program, families have access to translators and publications that are translated into Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and more.

Kindergarten Orientation:  FES event. Kindergarten Orientation is usually held the Friday before the first day of school. During the orientation, families receive teacher assignments, an introduction to the school, and an opportunity to meet the student's kindergarten teacher. Students are encouraged to bring their school supplies to the orientation.

Lunch Bunch:  FES event. Students are invited to have lunch with their peers in a small group and talk about topics of interest. Lunch Bunch also creates an environment that encourages positive peer interactions through "getting to know you activities" and other social games. This is sometimes initiated by the school counselor to meet students; they are sometimes joined by teachers and administrators as a special reward.

Mascot:  The FES mascot is a bird named Freddy Falcon. 

Nut Free:  Many students at FES have life-threatening nut allergies. Please do not bring snacks or refreshments containing peanuts or tree nuts into the classroom. Tree nuts include, but are not limited to, walnut, almond, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio, and Brazil nuts. Read the labels carefully, if they say “may contain,” “processed in a facility that also processes,” or “made on equipment with” any nut ingredient, please do not bring them into the classroom. Children are allowed to have nut products for lunch in the cafeteria.

Parent Volunteering:  PTA program. There are many ways parents can help out at the school depending upon their schedules and availability. If your time is limited, help can be given at special annual events (some of them are held in the evening), or you can volunteer during the school day on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. Siblings are not allowed at the school during the day, so you will have to make babysitting arrangements for them. If you have a special skill that may be of use to the school, please make yourself known. Parents are also welcomed to present talks on topics pertinent to the curriculum. A special aspect of parent volunteering is the one-to-one reading program, where you work with the same student each week to reinforce readings skills.  All volunteers must receive annual volunteer training provided by FES.

PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports):  PBIS is a research-based behavior system that uses incentives and acknowledgments to motivate students to make positive choices. Each PBIS school identifies three to five, easy to remember behavioral expectations for students, which are communicated frequently and reinforced with student acknowledgements. Staff members make it a point to call attention to moments when a student demonstrates desired behaviors. This positive reinforcement is for all students and also provides an excellent model for students who need extra encouragement in making appropriate choices. PBIS programs are currently in place in 57 HCPSS schools, and in many other schools throughout the nation. The framework has been proven effective in fostering student engagement, academic achievement and a supportive, positive school climate.

PARCC:  The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a consortium of 18 states working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math. These new K-12 assessments will build a pathway to college and career readiness by the end of high school, mark students’ progress toward this goal from third grade up, and provide teachers with timely information to inform instruction and provide student support.

Pictures:  A program at FES provided by an outside organization. Individual student photographs are typically taken in the fall and spring. Class pictures are only taken in the spring, and at this time there will also be an opportunity to have individual photos taken if you missed them in the fall.   

Promotion:  FES program. Promotion is the ceremony where we promote 5th graders to the 6th grade.  The teachers recognize their class with a speech and call each student's name.

Related Arts:  FES program. The school refers to physical education, music, art, media, and technology classes as Related Arts.

SAT-10:  Second grade state mandated testing. These tests are administered in April or May.

Science Fair/Fulton Finery/STEAM Night:  FES Event. Each year the children are given the opportunity to perform a science experiment or study and present the results at the fair. This is an optional but encouraged activity. Even if your child does not do a science project, you should visit the school on Fulton Finery night, as other student projects are presented.

Shining Sneaker Award:  FES program. The Shining Sneaker Award is a Physical Education award given to one class at the end of each month based on the amount of stickers the class earns. Stickers are given to classes for positive behavior, good performance, good sportsmanship, and for following the top 5 rules. The class with the most stickers at the end of each month will receive the trophy to display in their classroom all month long!

Simulated Congressional Hearing:  This is part of a Howard County Public School System’s annual elementary school social studies program -- We The People Simulated Congressional Hearings. The   hearings are the capstone for the fifth grade social studies curriculum in which students study American historical, political, and constitutional issues. During the mock hearings, students testify, as expert witnesses, to demonstrate their understanding of the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. Students are judged by a panel comprised of public officials, community representatives, constitutional scholars, parents, and state and local curriculum experts who sit as a congressional committee holding public hearings within each participating school. This event is usually held in May.

Spelling Bee:  FES event. All fourth and fifth grade students may participate in the FES spelling bee after school. Finalists proceed to the county level.    

Spirit Wear:  PTA program. Some years (not necessarily every year), you will have an opportunity to order t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, shorts, caps and similar items emblazoned with the Fulton Elementary School name and/or mascot.  

Fulton Student Performing at the Annual Spring Concert.

Fulton Student Performing at the Annual Spring Concert.

String Instruments:  FES program. Beginning in the third grade students may receive musical instruction   during the school day for string instruments (violin, viola, cello, and bass). String students in these grades are pulled from their specials/related arts and will have a revolving schedule so as not to miss the same class every week. A separate ensemble time will be scheduled for each group You will need to rent an instrument and fees vary depending upon the instrument. Concerts are held twice a year. Band instrument instruction begins in fourth grade.  

Student/Parent Handbook:  The Student/Parent Handbook contains policies, telephone numbers, and other information pertaining to the Howard County Public School System. An online version of the Student/Parent Handbook is now available on the HCPSS website. The online version is the most current version of the handbook available and may include updates added since the latest print edition. 

Turkey Trot and Food Drive:  FES program. The Turkey Trot is a student run. The students compete for the Turkey Trot Award by completing the course and donating non-perishable food items to the food drive. Classes receive five points for each item donated. The food drive benefits Laurel Advocacy & Referral Services, Inc. (LARS).

Yearbook: FES Program. Every year FES distributes a yearbook to celebrate the year. All students have the option of purchasing a yearbook; yearbooks are sold in the Spring.