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Pioneer Paw Prints Newsletter May

Pioneer School Billings

  • May 1 No School
  • May 5 Track Meet – Grade 6
  • May 10 Hot Lunch
  • May 11 Volunteer Lunch 11:30 – 1:00 (Students need a non-microwavable lunch today!!)
  • May 18 Grades 4 – 6 to Big Horn County Museum
  • May 19 AR Store
  • May 23 PAWS Party – Bowling at Sunset Lanes & Field Day activities at school in the afternoon.
  • May 24 6th Grade Skip Day
  • May 25 Last Day of School


Please remember there is a lot going on this last month of school.  Watch your child’s backpack daily for reminders, permission slips and other important information! Please call the school if you have any questions.


Pioneer School PTA does so much for our school!!  PTA is in need of new officers for the 2017-2018 school year.  Please plan to attend the May 4th meeting (6:00 pm) and get involved!

**Pioneer School Board Vacancy!**

Pioneer School is in need of a school board member.  This is a 3 year term.  If you are interested, please call the school office 373-5357.  You must reside and be registered to vote in Pioneer School District to be on the school board.

Kindergarten – Mrs. Burns

Kindergarten Happenings:


Understanding that trucks   –

  • Are an important form of transportation
  • Help move goods from one place to another

Understanding that trains –

  • Are important in moving people and things from one place to another
  • Sometimes need help to get where they are going

Understanding that transportation –

  • Is important to people all over the world
  • Exists everywhere in many different forms


  • Identifying rectangles, squares, circles, triangles, and hexagons
  • Solid figures and their flat surfaces – cone, cube, and sphere, and a cylinder
  • Positions and locations – inside, outside, above, below, on, in front of, behind, left and right
  • Comparing and composing shapes


  • Plants
  • Caterpillars to butterflies
  • Farms
  • Life cycle of a chick
  • Insects

Thank you to the Pioneer PTA, parents, and staff for all the hard work to make the carnival a success!


First Grade – Miss Gordon

Happy Spring!

Our fabulous first graders are continuing to work hard and learn lots as we near the end of the school year.

In Reading, we are comparing stories from different genres. As we work our way through Unit 4, we will get more practice with realistic fiction and fairy tales, as well as identifying facts and details.

Math has us finishing our place value lessons and moving into measuring, and comparing objects of different lengths. This works perfectly with our newest additions to the classroom: a pair of Hornworms that grow 400x their size within the first 2 weeks… holy guacamole! We will be measuring, observing, and learning with these guys from now until the end of school.

Last but not least, a huge Thank You to the PTA and all you wonderful families for your support of the school carnival this year. It was such a blast!

I’ll leave you with what our first graders are most looking forward to in the month of May:


  • Ayden: April showers bring May’s good weather and sunshine.
  • Paxton: April showers bring May’s sunshine.
  • Holden: April showers bring May’s coach-pitch practice.
  • Elijah: April showers bring May’s school endings.
  • Camdon: April showers bring May’s football.
  • Carson: April showers bring May’s playing games and a wrestling tournament.
  • Jared: April showers bring May’s football.
  • Piper: April showers bring May’s dance recitals.
  • Jacob: April showers bring May’s baseball.
  • Chevelle: April showers bring May’s no school.
  • Colton: April showers bring May’s I get to go camping.
  • Sarah: April showers bring May’s mint cookies.
  • Miss G: April showers bring May’s spring fever and silliness!

—Miss Gordon

Grades 4 & 5 – Ms. Ticknor

April has been a busy month in the 4th and 5th grade.  We completed Smarter Balanced testing and want to thank parents for their donations for breakfast and snack!


In math, we have moved into a unit about measurement and conversions.  We are learning to use measurements of length, capacity, weight and time. Our next unit will cover real-world applications of measurement problems.


All of our small reading groups have finished their books and are currently working on book celebrations.  For our last month of school, their group will select a new book and end the year with some great literature.


This month, students followed the writing process to write biographies. To celebrate their expert knowledge, students dressed as their icon and presented a 1 minute speech at the 4th and 5th grade wax museum.


This month we have learned about small machines.  Students designed and built levers, pulleys, and inclined planes.


We had a fantastic visit from the art mobile.  The students created ledger art, turning old homework into new masterpieces.

—Miss Ticknor

Mrs. Fanus – 2nd/3rd Grades

Our class celebrated Earth Day and each student shared what they would like to do to help keep our community clean.

  • Jacoby- I would recycle.
  • Dylan- I would pick up trash and recycle.
  • Jozie- I would waste less water, plant trees, and recycle.
  • Rylee- I would go to the park and pick up trash.
  • Izak- I would go to places around my communities to pick up trash.
  • Audie- I would pick up trash.
  • Kara-I would pick up trash and recycle.
  • Renae-I would save water and not waste it.
  • Kylan- I would pick up trash.
  • Carson-I would clean up around the school.
  • Wesely- I would pick up trash and recycle.
  • Kara-I would pick up trash, so it doesn’t harm the animals.
  • Roni-I would have my family recycle.

This month’s focuses:

  • Math: (second grade) Starting a unit on money and measurement. We are working hard on fluently knowing our addition and subtraction facts to 20.
  • Reading: Exploring 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 with a topic and concluding sentence.
  • Science: Working together in teams to construct and design different STEM projects.

—Mrs. Fanus 🙂

Mrs. Russell – Library/Resource/Title I

Yes!  May is here, Smarter Balance testing is complete, spring has sprung, and the earth is born anew again!

I love the greening of the earth; the tulips and first flowers of spring popping up as the myriad of color begin to cover our part of the world.  You can feel the excitement of the season in the giggles, energy, laughter, and enthusiasm of our students!

Soon the 6th grade will have completed the practice, editing, and production of their movie:  A MOUSE IN THE MILK from the book A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO by Richard Peck.  They have been working very hard on this production.  Mrs. Palmieri has provided them with a fantastic backdrop and Mrs. Ballensky was generous enough to provide the large cardboard sheets for our backdrop.  This was truly a labor of love…and laughter!

The last AR store will be Friday, May 19th!  I have some avid readers who have been working so very hard to amass points!  Keep up the good work!

Although we are anticipating summer and all the wonderful activities planned, I hope we all maintain our drive and determination for this last month.

Summer library dates:

  • June 5th
  • June 19th
  • July 3rd
  • July 17th
  • July 31st
  • August 14th
  • The time for summer library will be from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Any parents interested in using the Scoot-Pad online summer program to maintain or improve your student’s academic progress please contact me.  There is a slight charge for the summer program but it is a great program and motivates students better than the summer workbooks we used to promote.  Give me a call and we can go over this opportunity.  Flyers and further details will be coming within the next week from Scoot Pad; however you can access this link for a preview of the details.

—Mrs. Russell

Ms. Painter – 3rd/6th Grade Math/PE/GT

I have enjoyed this past month being here at Pioneer school, and look forward to the next couple of weeks with the wonderful staff and students. I enjoyed the Carnival and all the golfers that came to my golf game. The last weeks of school are always an exciting time. Students are finishing up the years learning and looking forward to moving up a grade level.

3rd Grade math – Student have been working on perimeter and area of objects. Our last 2 topics will be Liquid Volume/ Mass and Data /Graphing.  I truly enjoy seeing these students learning daily as the topics get more and more challenging. I started a math minute which is a 1 minute timed math sheet as I felt it was important to ensure students are proficient with multiplication facts.

6th Grade math – After finishing up a unit on solving proportions we moved on to understanding and applying percentages. Next, we will work on Equations/Graphs and Measurement/Perimeter/Area. These student work hard for me every day. I started a math minute with 6th as well to ensure proficiency with multiplication facts.

P.E. – I do believe spring is truly here with all of this much-needed rain. That being said, PE does get challenging, but we have a fun game or two to play inside when Mother Nature decides to do her garden watering. With the end of school nearing and warmer weather on the way we get outside most days. We finished up a Basketball unit expanding on the skills students already have. We practiced dribbling and shooting skills. We are having some fun with Frisbees over the last 2 weeks, (when the wind isn’t carrying them away). I will be working on track with the 6th graders as they will have a track meet May 5th. I hope to acquire a set of golf clubs to do a final PE unit on the basics of golf. So if anyone has an old set of clubs they wish to donate, please contact me and I’ll be glad to get those off your hands.

Gifted and talented – We just finished up our unit of natural disasters and due to a shortage of time we will only have time for our Greek mythology unit. We will discuss how and where myths came from. Students will be doing an independent study and reporting on a particular myth of interest.

I will be setting up a fun Field day one afternoon during the last week of school for the kids to play outside with some fun activities (weather permitting).

—Ms. Painter

From the School Nurse

Dear Parent/Guardian:

In April students learned about sun safety.

Most children enjoy spending time outdoors, whether it is before or after school, during recess, gym class, or on weekends. We encourage children to enjoy physical activity in fresh air year-round. Just like children need mittens and warm hats to be safe from the cold they need sunscreen and hats to be safe from the harmful rays of the Sun.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, but it is also the most preventable. Protecting skin and eyes during the first 18 years of life to reduce the risk of some types of skin cancer up to 78%. Melanoma is a cancer that can affect younger people and can start as early as adolescence. Here are some helpful hints:

  • Limit sun exposure, especially during the sun’s peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every day. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours during outdoor activity.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to protect the face neck and ears.
  • Wear protective clothing such as long pants and a long-sleeve shirt and UV protective sunglasses to help protect skin and eyes. Encourage play in the shade.
  • Be aware that water sand snow and concrete can all reflect the Sun’s UV rays.
  • Avoid and discourage tanning salon use.

Students also participated in National High Five Day. This day was started in 2002 at the University of Virginia to encourage others through giving out high fives and lemonade. Each student wrote on a paper hand to encourage someone and we also drank lemonade! Encourage someone else today!

—School Nurse, Karen Graf RN


5th Grade Math

As we’re nearing the end of the school year, we’re moving into measurement, data, and geometry! The 5th graders have worked INCREDIBLY hard! Way to go, 5th graders! We LOVE math!!

6th Grade ELA

The 6th graders have begun to publish their final writing piece, their informational research report. We continue to master reading and understanding informational text. We’re focusing on our language and writing skills as we near the end of the school year.

6th Grade Science/Social Studies

As we continue through our Ecology unit we’re shifting our focus from the way that energy moves throughout an ecosystem to populations and communities. We continue to explore Latin America and it’s ancient cultures: Aztec, Mayan and the Inca!

It’s May!

Can you believe it’s May?!? This year has literally flown by and we’ve had an absolute wonderful time on our learning adventure. May is always such a bittersweet month. We look forward to the nicer weather and summer, but for some of us it means saying “goodbye”. As we make our way through this last month, we will take extra time to stop, reflect, and remember what it means to be a ‘team’. We’ll laugh a little more, play a little more, and enjoy the time we have left together – making wonderful memories. Thank you to my incredible students for working so hard this year. Each of you are truly remarkable and I am so very proud of you!

—Mrs. S

Principal’s News

As I sit back and reflect on the 2016-2017 year, I see a wealth of  successes achieved by our students, teachers, staff, and Panther community alike! We celebrate the hard work of our students as they finished up the Montana Smarter Balanced Assessments the last week in April. They worked incredibly hard to show what they know! I am beyond proud of our teachers for meticulously preparing each of their students; providing the very best high caliber of teaching methods and strategies throughout the entire school year!

On April 20th, I was privileged enough to be able to escort not one, but TWO of your sixth graders to the YMCA Principal’s Leadership Luncheon. Kelcey and Abby were recognized for their outstanding contributions to our school. Their dedication, persistence, and ability to think positively in the most difficult of situations inspire those around them to do and be better themselves. They meet challenges head on and do what’s right regardless of who is watching. I couldn’t be more proud of these two and I was very honored to get the chance to celebrate them both!

We are very excited to say that we have the opportunity to partner with Subaru and the National Wildlife Federation to install a wonderful school garden! We will keep our panther community posted as we begin figuring out the logistics and begin construction. We look forward to all of the wonderful things our new partnership will bring to our young panthers! As we continue building our home-to-school connections, our parents are reaching out more and more to be active participants within our goal setting and restructure. We could not do what we do without you! Thank you!

—Melissa Schnitzmeier – Principal, Pioneer Elementary

PAWSitive 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.

May’s Focus – Be Safe

  • Be Safe: 1 free from harm or risk: unhurt
  • Be Safe: 2 secure from threat of danger, harm, or loss

Ways I can Be Safe

  • Follow the expectations at home and at school – they are there to keep me safe!
  • Use the playground and school equipment properly.
  • Keep my hands and feet to myself.
  • I do not have to let what other people say control how I feel.
  • Anything that bothers me should not have to be a secret.
  • If I have a problem, I need to tell an adult I trust and keep on telling until I get help.

Pioneer’s Switch to Departmentalization

What Parents Need to Know

What is ‘Departmentalization’

Students grades 2-6 will have a different teacher for the core content areas of ELA, Math, Social Studies & Science. Moving to departmentalization will allow us to move away from the traditional ‘combination classroom’ allowing us to integrate ELA/Social Studies and Math/Science.

Why the Change?

Unfortunately, our student count is down resulting in a reduction in funding. This development made our team step back and evaluate what education would look like at Pioneer next year. The vision was larger, combined classrooms which would not benefit our students or their teachers. Looking to our mission for guidance, we began to evaluate ways that we could better serve our students and foster a more purposeful learning environment where every student will be successful. Departmentalization and its benefits jumped out at our teachers and won their hearts! It allows for a more practical in-depth teaching and learning experience while providing the individualized instruction each student needs for optimal success.

What Will it Offer My Student?

Rather than our teachers spreading themselves thin, planning and instructing 6 subject areas in a self-contained classroom, they will now specialize in and instruct 2 core subject areas.

  1. Specialization – Students receive instruction from teachers specialized in particular subjects.
  2. Depth of Instruction – Teachers are able to complete more in-depth lessons in specific

Who Will be Instructing?

  • Mrs. Fanus: 2-3 Homeroom, ELA/Social Studies
  • Ms. Painter: Math/Science
  • Mrs. S: ELA, Social Studies
  • Ms. Ticknor: 4-6 Homeroom, Math/Science

Download the Information Sheet PDF Here


The Spring Carnival was a lot of fun!  Thank you for again for all the donations, volunteers and participating in this great tradition.

Come to the next PTA meeting, Thursday May 4th at 6pm at the school!  Contact SKelly Adkins if you’d like to attend the meeting via your computer, (  We will be planning teacher appreciation day & the end of the year school bbq activities.

We are looking for PTA officers for next school year, specifically a Secretary, Treasurer & Vice President!  You do not have to live in Pioneer School District to be a PTA Officer.

Please consider helping out – we need you!

Jump Rope for Heart at Pioneer School BillingsSchool News


Pioneer School would like to thank everyone for their generous donations to the American Heart Association.  Our Jump Rope for Heart was a huge success again this year.  The students spent the hour jumping rope at several different stations and had a lot of fun.

  • Our top fund raiser was Jozie Jones!  She raised a total of $503. Jozie got to “pie” Mr. Wallace for raising the most money!
  • Kara Johnson raised $283 and Audie Wiome raised $100.  Way to go girls!!
  • Our school raised a total of $1661!!

This is awesome and greatly appreciated by the American Heart Association.

We would also like to thank all of the parents that came to help twirl jump ropes.  We couldn’t do it without your help!!

Thanks again!!




  • TIME:  11:30 – 1:00

Please remember the students will need a NON-microwavable lunch on this day as they will be eating out side and microwaves will not be available.


Our last day of school is May 25th. We will once again be having our Kindergarten & 6th Grade graduations along with other awards beginning at 10:00 am. We will also be having our annual barbecue sponsored by our wonderful PTA. As always, families are invited to the barbecue.  Be watching for order forms in your students’ backpacks!! Our students will eat free as always thanks to our PTA.

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