Pioneer School Newsletter 2017 Banner

Pioneer Paw Prints Newsletter March

Pioneer School BillingsREEF Water Park Billings BannerUpcoming Events

  • March 2: PTA Meeting 6:00 pm
  • March 8 & 22: Hot Lunches
  • March 10: REEF Family Night 4-9PM
  • March 17: Jump Rope for Heart, End of 3rd Quarter
  • March 20: School Board Meeting
  • March 20: No School
  • March 23: Science Fair, Scholastic Book Fair, Dessert Social
  • April 7: School Carnival
  • April 11: Kindergarten Roundup 3:30PM
  • April 13-17: No School – Easter Break
  • April 24-28: Smarter Balance Testing for Grades 3-6


Positions Open:

  • One 1 year term open
  • One 2 year term open
  • One 3 year term open

You may pick up a nomination petition in the school office after December 8. You must reside and be registered to vote in Pioneer School District to run for the School Board. Nomination petitions must be turned in by March 23 by 5:00 pm. The election will be held in May. School Board meetings are held the 2nd Monday of each month at 6:00 pm – the public is always welcome.

Pioneer School CARNIVAL

Save the date, April 7! Pioneer School Carnival will be held Friday, April 7th. There will be food, games & lots of raffles. Each classroom will be putting together a basket that will be in the raffle. The themes of the baskets are:

  • Kindergarten – Family Fun
  • 1st Grade – Art
  • 2nd/3rd Grades – Gardening Basket
  • 4th/5th Grades – Baking/Cooking
  • 6th Grade – Movie Night

We are asking all families to help fill these baskets with great items! Thank you for your support!! Also if you know of a business that might donate, please contact the school.


If you are the parent of a 2017-2018 Kindergarten Student, please mark your calendar for April 11th! This is the day that we will be holding Kindergarten Roundup! Please plan to visit the classroom from 3:30 to 4:30 pm. If you know someone in our district that has a Kindergarten student for next year, please have them contact Mrs. Michael. As always, we will also accept out of district students if room is available. Out of district students must complete the application process.

Please call Mrs. Michael for more information.

Kindergarten – Mrs. Burns

Kindergarten Happenings:


Understanding the excitement they feel when they are big enough to try new things –

  • Verbs
  • Letters Bb and Nn
  • Compare and contrast

Understanding that an adventure doesn’t need to happen far away from home and can teach what is really important –

  • Letter Hh
  • Naming parts of sentences

Understanding that a lucky adventure may bring exciting experiences and introduce us to exciting new people –

  • Letter Ll
  • Action parts of sentences
  • Compare and contrast
  • Cause and effect

Understanding that animals are curious, like adventures, and try new things –

  • Consonants blends
  • Sequence


  • Stories about separating
  • Stories about take away
  • Stories about comparing
  • Using the minus sign
  • Finding differences


  • Ground hogs
  • Snow
  • Sink or float

Social Studies:

  • U.S symbols – Bald eagle and Statue of Liberty
  • Rosa Parks

A big thank you to Mrs. Russell, Kevin Maddox and Mr. Seavy and Pioneer PTA for holding the annual Pancake Breakfast!


First Grade – Miss Gordon

Hello everyone!

Groundhog’s Day, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and Black History Month projects have kept us very busy in first grade. Despite all the festivities, our kiddos have done a great job of working hard and being very respectful learners. We can’t wait to see what kind of mischief the leprechauns bring to our classroom this month!

March also brings the birthday of a well-known author and illustrator, Theodor Geisel. In honor of his work, the first graders made guesses as to who this famous person might be.

“I think Theodor Geisel is…”

  • Holden- someone who was in the war against the king, the one so we could have presidents.
  • Camdon- I think he was a good president. But I’m not sure what number he was.
  • Paxton- Dr. Seuss because Miss Gordon told us about Dr. Seuss.
  • Piper- an army guy who is still alive today.
  • Jared- Dr. Seuss because Miss Gordon told us about all those books, like the Lorax.
  • Carson- Miss Gordon’s dog because Theodor is a good dog name.
  • Elijah- Dr. Seuss because Miss Gordon asked us about his books this morning.
  • Chevelle- Dr. Seuss because he wrote a lot of books.
  • Colton – an illustrator.
  • Ayden- Dr. Seuss, the famous guy who writes books.
  • Jacob- someone who died in a battle.
  • Sarah- Dr. Seuss because Miss Gordon talked about The Lorax.

…apparently I shouldn’t have given such good hints! It IS Dr. Seuss!! His full name is Theodor Seuss Geisel. He adopted the pen name “Dr. Seuss” in college. Our class can’t wait to celebrate his birthday on the 2nd, learn more about his life, and read some of his books this month.

As a last reminder, please continue to send your fabulous first grader with their warm layers. The weather is getting nicer, but the wind can be fierce and make recess pretty chilly!

Have a great March!

Miss Gordon

10 Ways To Help Your Child Do Well In School

  1. Show you care. Your child needs hugs and words of support.  Ask your child about school each day.
  2. Read, read, read. Read with your child or have him or her read every day.  Make it fun – talk about what you’ve read.
  3. Make home a place for learning. Help your child practice reading, writing, math and science skills.  Stimulate your child’s creativity.
  4. Promote healthy habits. Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep and exercise and eats balanced meals.  Schedule regular checkups.
  5. Be a role model. Your child learns from you.  Be positive about education and show you enjoy learning.
  6. Encourage independence. Allow your child to make mistakes and learn to accept their consequences.  Give your child responsibilities, such as household chores.
  7. Create a study routine. Set a time and quiet place for your child to work every day.  Go over homework together.
  8. Get involved. Meet with your child’s teacher, attend school events and help out at school if you can.
  9. Build success. Help raise your child’s self-esteem by setting reachable goals and praising your child’s efforts, not just results.
  10. Make school important.

Mrs. Fanus – 2nd/3rd Grades

March 2nd is Read Across America and Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Our class will be celebrating Dr. Seuss and our love for reading. We are also working on opinion writing. To link both topics, each student would like to share their favorite book.

My favorite book that I have recently read is…

  • Carson-Calvin and Hobbes: Weirdos From Another Planet
  • Wesely- The Berenstain Bears
  • Kara-Judy Moody M.D. The Doctor Is In!
  • Kylan- Magic Treehouse: Afternoon of the Amazon
  • Jacoby- Calvin and Hobbes
  • Izak- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  • Jozie- Koala Hospital
  • Dylan- Baby Kangaroos
  • Rylee- The Book of Narnia
  • Tanner- Big Nate
  • Audie- Magic Treehouse: Dingoes at Dinnertime
  • Roni-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

This month’s focuses:

  • Math: (second grade) Starting a unit on place value to 1,000 where we will work on building, showing,  and writing numbers to 1,000 as well as skip counting by 5, 10, and 100 to 1,000.
  • Reading: Selecting different genre of stories as well as finding evidence to support reasoning when answering questions about the text.
  • Writing: Working on a variety of narrative, informative, and opinion writings.


Book It: March is the last month for the Book It Program. Please return your log sheet at the end of the month with the goal sheets to earn a Pizza Hut free pizza coupon.

Mrs. Fanus 🙂

Grades 4 & 5 – Ms. Ticknor


In math, the fourth grade has been busy working with fractions.  We are soaring through adding and subtracting fractions and will soon be learning to convert improper fractions to mixed numbers.  If you are assisting your child at home with math homework, please remind them to simplify.


We have just finished reading The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  Students have also finished their reading group books and have begun a new book, picked by their group.  Students are learning how to speak critically about the text in their small groups.


With the science fair just around the corner, our class is conducting an experiment.  Using the scientific method, we are answering the question: “Which soil will germinate the tallest sprout?”  Students in fourth and fifth grade will all complete a science fair project.  They are encouraged to enter the science fair, but it is not required.


Our class is wrapping up our unit on the Midwest states.  Students have explored the states, landforms, culture, and industries.  We also had a visit from the Yellowstone County Weed District to teach us about invasive species and noxious weeds.


After finishing The Chronicles of Narnia, students created shields.  Students enjoyed Turkish delight and tea and created their own coat of arms to protect themselves.  We have also been incorporating American Indian storytelling into our art.  Students created watercolor masterpieces depicting the story of “The Seven Brothers.”

Miss Ticknor

Perfect Attendance!

2nd Quarter Perfect Attendance

Kindergarten: Camden Kelly, Ryder Sott,
1st Grade: Carson Kelly, Camdon Olmstead, Chevelle Goddard
2nd/3rd Grades: Dylan Krieger
4th/5th Grades: Ryan Comstock, Brylinn Olstad, Jordan Berg

1st Semester Perfect Attendance

Kindergarten: Ryder Sott
1st Grade: Carson Kelly
4th/5th Grades: Brylinn Olstad

Congratulations to all these kids for avoiding all of the bugs that have been going around!!

Mrs. Russell – Library/Resource/Title I

March brings breezes loud and shrill,
 Stirs the dancing daffodil.
—Sara Coleridge (1802–1852),

March is here with whispered promises of spring soon to be followed by the glory days of summer!  Yay!  This year seems to be picking up speed as we race for the finish line in May.  Our days are full and our hearts are becoming lighter with the approach of spring!  I am anticipating more mountain road trips, the smell of campfires, and the cool mountain breezes this summer.

We’ve had two big events this past month, our spring Barnes & Noble Book Fair and the Annual Pancake Breakfast!  They were both very well attended and a great success!

We raffled off a Samsung Nook Tablet and 3 Ozobot kits at the Book Fair.  Madyson S won the Nook Tablet, while Ayden D, Elijah B, and Colton Z won the Ozobot kits.  What a great raffle!

Ms. Gordon, Ms. Ticknor and their classes presented cool Ozobot demonstrations, which had an entire herd, ‘the nerd herd’ in attendance; but then the Lego Creation Station kicked into gear and the herd shifted.  There were some absolutely fabulous creations from our students!  I loved seeing samples of their ingenuity and imagination!  Wonderful!

The Pioneer PTA provided Barnes & Noble gift cards and giant candy bars for prizes!  It was awesome!

The Pancake Breakfast was another standing room only event with the entire Pioneer community turning out to support this event.  The weather may have been cold and wet but inside was warm and cozy with smiles for miles!  Thank you Mr. Seavy and Mr. Maddox for your continued help in putting on this event.  They flipped hundreds of pancakes while Abby M and Kelcey F served orange juice, milk and smiles!  Thank you also, to Mrs. Wehrman for her help cleaning up afterwards.  This is our 15th year and it is truly a school favorite.  Thank you to the PTA for purchasing the necessary ingredients and supplies!

As always, read daily with your students, it is truly the ‘GIFT OF A LIFETIME’ that you will be sharing with your children!

Mrs. Russell


Hello!Greetings from the PTA.

Thank you to everyone who turned out at Taste of Pioneer back in January. It was wonderful to have continued strong attendance at this ever-evolving event rooted in Pioneer tradition. There were many decadent dishes on display and although we could only have a few winners in each category, everyone who made the drive out to Huntley on that frigid Friday was a winner with taste buds in mind. Congratulations to Darcy Ostermiller for bringing home the coveted Golden Ladle. Her Cowgirl Chili was a big hit. Other winners included Kevin Adkins in the Chili competition, Renee Berg in the Soup and Such category and Mary Barton in Desserts.

We also had the opportunity to honor students who submitted artwork and literary pieces for PTA’s Reflections Program. This program is designed to highlight student artwork across different mediums reflective of a yearly theme. This year’s theme asked students to tell their own story. We’re happy to say that we doubled entries from last year and will be sending some winning submissions to the state level. Congratulations to our Primary Visual Arts winners Rylee O and Jacoby B, Intermediate Visual Arts winners Brooklyn O and Carson A and our Intermediate Literature winner Brylinn O. Once again, thank you to everyone for coming out and for your continued support of Pioneer Elementary.

Besides our monthly meeting, taking place this Thursday, February 3rd at 6:30pm at the school, we don’t have many other events to highlight. Spring will be a busy time at Pioneer, but for now we’re enjoying a little downtime from the holiday season and hope you are as well. We highly encourage parents to attend our meetings and make your voice heard. If you are unable to attend physically, please contact Skelly Adkins ( to get set up to attend our meetings digitally from the comfort of your home. That’s all for now. Take care and Go Panthers!!!

—Ike Wallace (PTA VP)

Mr. Wallace – 3rd/6th Grade Math/PE/GT

Hello.  Here we are in March.  I know I say this every time, but I really can’t believe we’re into this month already.  Time sure does fly..  Especially when you have an end set in your sights.

I’m sure you’ve heard this from your children already, and I apologize for this news coming somewhat belated from my end.  I needed to let the other members of this learning community know accordingly.  The board found out first, then teachers, students were next in my book and last (certainly not least) are the parents.  Once again, I apologize that you’re the last to know.

I’ll be leaving Pioneer and Billings at the end of March, as I have accepted a position working for Ecology Project International, a non-profit organization based in Missoula that offers Adventure Education courses for Middle and High School students in various program locations around the world.  While I was originally asked to begin in January, fortunately, I was able to compromise and will be starting with this organization in April.  Working at Pioneer has been an incredible learning experience for me as an educator and I appreciate the opportunity to develop my skills and impact the lives of our amazing students, families, teachers and staff that encompass our learning community.  It has been a privilege working with these students in the capacity that I have and I hope that they have learned even a fraction from working with me of what I have learned from teaching them.  Thank you all for welcoming me into your community.

Speaking of teaching and learning, 6th grade wrapped up talking integers a couple weeks ago.  This worked out well as integers consist of negative and positive counting numbers, and the weather outside switched from negative to positive, sometimes in the same day.  It made for a math lesson that truly went beyond the walls of our classroom.  We’re currently learning about properties of two-dimensional figures.  3rd Grade has also been talking Geometry.  I’m a square, according to my math students.  But I think they’re only viewing me from one angle.

Alright, enough math jokes.  This weather is continuing to fool around from hot to cold to hot again.  Please send your students to school dressed accordingly.  P.E. classes will hopefully be outside more often than not.  We’re covering Baseball as a reintroduction to team sport skills.  Major leagues start again in less than a month.  If you’ve been following my posts in the newsletter, you might be able to sense my excitement.  Maybe this is our year.

Gifted and Talented is gearing up for the Science Fair, taking place in the third week of March.  We’re beginning to put together our projects, so be on the lookout for more information as we progress into the month.

One last thing, March 17th, coincidentally my last day at Pioneer is also the date of our Jump Rope for Heart event.  This wonderful tradition has been a special fundraiser at Pioneer for years and we look forward to raising more money for the American Heart Association this year and having a blast doing it.  Students should know everything they need to by now as far as fundraising is concerned.  If you have any questions, shoot them my way.  Parents are very welcome to come watch/participate in the activities.  The festivities will start at 1pm.

That’s it for now.  I’ll allow my successor Jennifer Painter to make her own introductions.  I ask that you welcome her with warmth, as you did for me, and I’m sure she’ll fall in love with Pioneer much as I did.  Thanks again for everything.

Yours Truly,

Mr. Wallace

Nurse Tips: 7 Kitchen Staples for Healthy Snacks and Meals

If you have children, you’ve heard it before: “There’s nothing to eat in this house!” Sure, you can do your part by buying lots of healthy foods. But your child can get involved too, by helping to prepare some of those foods. Why? “When kids learn cooking skills at home, they’ll be less likely to eat unhealthy fast food or unbalanced meals when they become responsible for their own food choices after they leave home,” says Academy spokesperson Sonya Angelone, MS, RDN, CLT.

To help your child get cooking, stock your kitchen with these easy-to-prepare staples.

Popcorn:  What child doesn’t crave crunchy snacks? Skip the chips and pretzels and invest in a popcorn popper. Popcorn is a whole grain, plus it’s loaded with fiber for a healthy digestive system. Three air-popped cups deliver nearly four grams of fiber.

Canned Beans:  “When it comes to making a quick meal, it doesn’t get much easier than canned beans,” says Angelone. “Just rinse, drain and heat!” They’re perfect for burritos, mashed on a tortilla, or added to canned soup for extra protein.

Nut Butters:  Even if teens have no clue how to cook, that doesn’t mean they can’t whip up a simple meal or snack. Nut and seed butters — such as peanut, almond or sunflower butter — all are perfect no-fuss foods for the novice cook. They’re a cinch to spread on French toast with sliced bananas or make a tasty dip for apples, celery or bell pepper strips.

Eggs:   Whether fried, scrambled or hard-boiled, eggs are an ideal food. With a prep and cook time of less than five minutes, eggs are an easy addition to any meal. They are a great source of protein, vitamin D, vitamin B 12, choline, and phosphorus – all essential nutrients.

Prepped Vegetables: It doesn’t matter whether they’re fresh, frozen or canned, the more pre-prepped vegetables you have on hand; the more likely your teen will eat them. Think pre-cut baby carrots and grape tomatoes for snacks, frozen edamame and peas to add to pasta and diced tomatoes for chili.

Grains:  Busy families don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean dinner has to be a sandwich. Quick-cooking whole grains such as quinoa, instant brown rice and whole-wheat couscous take less than 15 minutes from start to finish. For a speedy meal, kids can toss cooked whole grains with microwaved frozen vegetables and season them with reduced-sodium soy sauce.

Lean Protein: When you teach kids basic cooking techniques you’ll be amazed by how quickly they catch on. Start by showing them how to grill, bake or broil marinated chicken, fish or beef. Or, demonstrate how to sauté ground chicken or turkey to add to spaghetti sauce, chili or tacos.

Before you know it, your child will be telling you what’s for dinner.

Riley, MSU senior nursing student, will be assisting me with nutrition education in the classrooms in the month of March.

Karen Graf MSN, RN-BC, APHN, Pioneer School Nurse

Mrs. S’s Classroom News

5th Grade Math

The 5th graders have started exploring fractions! They are masters at finding equivalent fractions and reducing fractions to their most simple form. They’ve learned how to use the least common multiple to find a common denominator which will allow them to easily add and subtract fractions! We’re having so much fun!

6th Grade ELA

We are text detectives! As we move through our fourth unit we have begun learning how to annotate our text. We’re identifying claims, evidence and support to get a deeper understanding of what we are reading. In our expository writing unit, students have chosen their research topics. We have learned to identify credible sources as well as relevant facts. Our next step is gathering our research and drafting our outlines.

6th Grade Science

We are continuing to explore our Ecology Unit. We’re moving on from energy flow within ecosystems to the cycling of matter and then onto biotic and abiotic influences. Fascinating stuff!

6th Grade Social Studies

The sixth graders just completed their economics unit. From here, we will start to explore geography and then onto the middle ages and Mesoamerica!

Principal’s News

Pioneer Families,

It is difficult to believe that we are halfway through the school year! Since we’ve returned from Winter Break, students have been engaged in new learning, assessments and activities. One of our major goals is to foster independent learners. As educators, we demonstrate the expected behavior or skill; facilitating guided practice, followed by independent practice. To aid us in promoting your child’s independence, you can demonstrate, guide practice, and promote practice at home by allowing students to pack their own healthy lunches, chipping in on daily chores such as dishes, putting away clean laundry, and cleaning up after oneself. Panther parents and caregivers, you deserve praise for the fabulous job you are doing maintaining the positive growth that happens when strong relationships and expectations exist between home and school. Your support is greatly appreciated as we teach your kiddos to be independent citizens of Pioneer Elementary.

During February we have a few different areas of focus. We will explore special events such as Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year, and Valentine’s Day with a variety of fun activities that will teach us all about the history and customs of these special days. February is also Black history month and we remember all the men and women of various ethnicities and cultures who sacrificed themselves to secure equality for all.

Our annual Barnes & Noble Book Fair is fast approaching. This is such an important event and a Pioneer favorite. Not only does it promote reading across grade levels, but it plays a large part in helping our school library grow by supplying the latest, most sought after books for our avid readers in every grade level. It will be oodles of fun and we look forward to seeing our Pioneer families there!

Paw Print ImagePAWSitive Notes

Our PAWS program is a proactive approach in creating positive behavioral supports and social culture within our school community. Each month, we select a value that is taught and demonstrated by your students to their peers. They are then tasked with ‘catching’ other students and staff exhibiting these values. March’s Focus will be Thinking Positively. Positive Thinking is about CHOOSING to pay attention to the positive thoughts, DISMISSING the negative thoughts, and REACTING appropriately to bring about the most beneficial outcome for all. By changing our mindset we are in fact creating what happens in our daily lives!

Ways I Can Think Positively

Instead of….             Try thinking….

I’m not good at this.             What am I missing?
I give up.             I’ll use some of the strategies we’ve learned.
This is too hard.            This may take some time and effort.
I can’t make this any better.             I can always improve so I’ll keep trying.
I just can’t do math.             I’m going to train my brain in math.
I made a mistake.             Mistakes help me to learn better.
Plan A didn’t work.            Good think the alphabet has 25 more letters!
I can’t.            I CAN!!


School News from Pioneer School in Billings

REEF Family Night

PTA will be hosting a family night at the REEF water park on Friday, March 10th from 4:00 – 9:00 pm. Please plan to join us for a fun evening! The cost will be $10 for swimmers and $5 for non-swimmers to hang out. 40% of the proceeds will go to Pioneer’s PTA. The REEF is at the Bighorn Resort, 1801 Majestic Lane.

Science Fair/Dessert Social/Book Fair

Our Annual Science Fair will be held Thursday, March 23rd. Entry forms will be going home soon. All 6th Graders are required to enter. In conjunction with the Science Fair, PTA will hold a Scholastic Book Fair and refreshments will also be served.  Both of these will be held in the lunchroom.


Spring individual portraits were taken Thursday, February 9th.  These were sent home with students on February 27th.  Please look the pictures over and make your selection as soon as possible.  If you are not going purchase any of the pictures, please return them to the school right away.  Prices will be in the packets, you may purchase as many of the sheets in the packets as you would like.  Please make your choice and return the money and any pictures you are not purchasing as soon as possible. Please contact Mrs. Michael if you have any questions.

campbells-soup-labelsBOX TOPS & CAMPBELL’S SOUP LABELS!!

Please remember to collect Box Tops & Campbell’s Soup labels throughout the school year! We appreciate all of your help in turning these in to get extra money and supplies for our school!

Thank you!!


The Pioneer School 100th Anniversary Cookbooks are still available!! The price is $15.00. They are available in the school office, or send the money with your student and we will send your cookbook home with them. (For our out of town friends – please add $3.00 for shipping.)

You can also download the Newsletter PDF here