Pioneer School Newsletter Banner Billings MT

Pioneer Paw Prints Newsletter December



Upcoming Events

December 7 & 8

Santa’s Secret Shop

December 14


December 21

Pioneer School Christmas Program – 7:00 pm at The Lincoln Center 415 N 30th St in Billings

December 22

Christmas to Remember Sectionals – last day before Christmas break!

December 23 – January 1

No School

January 2, 2017

School Resumes

January 5, 2017

PTA Meeting 6:00 pm AND PTA Reflections Deadline


Pioneer Elementary School Winter Break Christmas Break

Please remember as the weather turns colder, coats are required at recess.  Please do not send your child to school without a coat.  We go outside everyday unless it is below 0. Remember!!  Even when the forecast for the day is 60°, it is not 60° at our first recess in the morning at 10:00. It is a good idea to send gloves and a hat, also, as our weather can change very quickly this time of year. ** Snowpants and Snowboots are required when we have snow!!


The annual Pioneer School Christmas Program will be held on Wednesday, December 21st at 7:00 pm at the Lincoln Center which is located at 415 N. 30th St.  We would like all students to be at the auditorium by 6:45 pm, where they will sit with their teacher and class. We ask all families to bring one dozen cookies on a disposable plate to share after the program.  The punch and cookies are not allowed in the auditorium, so please remember to keep them in the lobby only. The balcony is off limits; please keep all students out of the balcony.


  • Our last day before Christmas break is Thursday, December 22nd
  • Christmas break begins Friday, December 23rd
  • School resumes Monday, January 2nd

Kindergarten Happenings – Mrs. Burns

The holiday season is upon us — it’s hard to believe it is going so fast!!!  We have covered many things in that time and have seen the children grow so much in this short time. Over the Christmas season please continue to read with your child for 10 minutes every day! Encourage them to sound out words! Please read books from home or if you have time, visit the library! For math practice at home, have your children practice writing and identifying their numbers properly up to 100! Also, continue to test your child by asking them what sound each lowercase letter makes. Thank you for taking the time to practice these skills with your child! Thank you so much for your continuing support and cooperation. I hope everyone has a safe and happy month, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!


Learning that in the winter a bear sleeps in a cave or den and keeps warm and quiet

  • winter-denUnderstanding that some animals look for a winter home that’s warm and safe
  • Understanding that no matter where or how they grow, all plants need the same things and are amazing in their own way
  • Initial sound for c and p
  • Initial and medial sound for i
  • Adjectives
  • Opposites
  • Writing captions


  • Counting, reading, and writing numbers 1-100
  • Use logical reasoning


  • Mammals
  • Bears
  • Hibernation
  • Habitats
  • Thanksgiving

Social Studies:

  • Maps and globes
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Seasons


First Grade – Miss Gordon

Happy holidays to you and your families! As the end of 2016 fast approaches, we know this season gets crazy for everyone. In order to help ease some of the stress, our class has created some tried and true holiday recipes:

  • Sarah: “Mashed Potatoes- First, get a potato. Next, all you need is one. Last, mash it up.”
  • pumpkin-pie-sliceCamdon: “Pie- First, you get a pie. Next, you squish it. Last, you put it in the oven.”
  • Jacob: “Turkey- First, get a turkey. Next, you bring it to your home. Last, eat it.”
  • Chevelle: “Pumpkin Pie- First, you buy the pumpkin. Next, you get the pie. Last, you bake it. You eat the pie.”
  • Jared: “Turkey- First, you put fruit in it. Next, put it in the oven. Last, baste it.”
  • Colton: “Turkey- First, grab a turkey and cook it. Next, you cut it up. Last, you eat it.”
  • Paxton: “Turkey- First, kill a turkey. Next, bring it home. Last, bake it and eat it.”
  • Holden: “Turkey- First, put fruit in the turkey. Next, you flatten it. Last, you put it in the microwave.”
  • Ayden: “Sweet Potatoes- First, put the nuts in the potatoes. Next, put the sugar in the potatoes. Last, bake it.”
  • Kaden: “Ice Cream- First, get the ice. Next, get the cream. Last, freeze it.”
  • Elijah: “Buns- First, you buy the buns. Next, you put the honey on the buns. Last, you serve it.”
  • Carson: “Pumpkin Cake Cherry Ice Cream- First, get the ice cream. Then, get the pumpkin cake. Last, eat it.”

There you have it! Please don’t forget our upcoming Holiday Program on December 21st. From our first grade class to your family, happy holidays everyone!

Miss Gordon

Mrs. Fanus – 2nd/3rd Grades

Second and Third Grade are thankful for many things.

  • turkeyJacoby- I am thankful for my family and good friends.
  • Tanner- I am thankful for pickles.
  • Dylan- I am thankful for celebrating Thanksgiving.
  • Izak- I am thankful for school and my teacher.
  • Audie- I am thankful for shelter and food.
  • Jozie- I am thankful for my family.
  • Kara- I am thankful for my life.
  • Rylee – I am thankful for my family and my friends
  • Kylan- I am thankful for turkeys.
  • Carson- I am thankful for food and water.
  • Roni – I am thankful for my family and my friends

My favorite food to eat on Thanksgiving is…

  • Rylee – Pumpkin pie
  • Jacoby- caramel apple
  • Tanner- popcorn
  • Dylan- turkey tenders
  • Izak- my grandma’s pumpkin pie
  • Audie- turkey
  • Jozie- turkey
  • Kara- mashed potatoes and birthday cake
  • Kylan- turkey
  • Roni – pie
  • Carson- pumpkin pie


Book It: Our class is participating in the Book It program. Please return your log sheet at the end of each month with the goal sheets to earn a Pizza Hut free pizza coupon.

This month’s focuses:

  • Math: (second grade) Starting to work with adding two digit numbers.  We will continue math centers that practice addition and subtraction fact fluency.
  • Reading: Comparing and contrasting different genres and types of text.
  • Writing: Continuing to explore informative texts about a specific topic by using facts and providing a concluding statement.

**We are also starting to practice cursive writing when writing our names and during handwriting activities.

—Mrs. Fanus 🙂

Grades 4 & 5 – Ms. Ticknor

We have been practicing a growth mindset in fourth and fifth grade.  Here are some examples of things we have tried the first time and didn’t succeed, but when we tried again, we were successful.

  • author-at-work-writing – I kept falling on my bike.  I was about to give up but I did it one more time. Then I did it, and I was so proud of myself for not giving up.
  • Brylinn – A time I had a growth mindset was when I was learning how to write.  When I was little it was hard, but then I learned.
  • Brooklyn – I have a growth mindset when I do puzzles.  It can be so hard, but if I look closer I can figure it out.
  • Jordan B – I gave up when I rode a bike for the first time. I felt angry.  Then in a few years of stealing my brother’s bike, I rode a bike!  Now I’m very good at riding a bike.  That is when I gave up but did it.
  • Laci – A time when I had a growth mindset was when I was riding a bike.  When I first tried, I didn’t do very well, so I quit.  Then I tried again the next day!
  • Olivia W – When I play a game, I have to try and try again.  I have a growth mindset and finally get it right.
  • Jace – I had trouble when I was thinking of ideas for my persuasive writing.  Mrs. Russell helped me think of some ideas.  Once she got my brain started, it was easy for me to write.
  • Jordan H – One time I’ve had a growth mindset was when I first learned how to swim.  I didn’t get it and I gave up. But one day I tried and tried and then I got it.  That’s when I had a growth mindset.
  • Olivia K – An example of having a growth mindset was when I had a Mozart ensemble piece and I had to practice and practice to get it.  Finally, at my performance I played it.  I messed up, but I did a good job.
  • Ryan – I said that doing two-digit by one-digit multiplication was hard, but now I’m doing four-digit by one-digit multiplication! I’ve gotten better… way better!
  • Gavin – When we were building bone bridges, mine broke.  I rebuilt it over and over for it to stand up.
  • Maverick – A time when I had a growth mindset was learning to ride a bike.
  • Miss Ticknor – I had a growth mindset when I first tried cooking Thai food.  The first dish was awful.  I tried a few more times and now I make a delicious Pad Thai.

—Miss Ticknor

Mrs. Russell – Library/Resource/Title I

December is one of my favorite months of the year!  Some of my favorite things about December are:

  • The crisp cool days (okay some are frigid and those are not my favorite!) and cold nights.
  • Watching snowflakes whirl and drift outside my window while I am warm and cozy inside.
  • Making large pots of bubbling soups combined with fresh hot bread out of my oven!
  • Looking through my garden/seed catalogs to plan for spring.
  • The joyous secrets that surround Christmas shopping and purchases!
  • ALL the Christmas music, lights, decorations, and magic of the holidays!
  • Reading in my recliner covered with my favorite fuzzy blanket!

I want to thank our P.T.A. for all their hard work, support, encouragement, and enthusiastic participation in our last Barnes & Noble fundraiser!  They bought the prizes, manned the activity booths, and helped me all day!  You are truly role models for our school!  Thanks so much!

We now have over 200 new, exciting, colorful, and completely fantastic new books for our library.  Oh, the many superb adventures and places you can go in our new books!  Remember books can be your personal passport to a world of adventure and excitement!

The upcoming holidays are a great opportunity to include books with your children’s holiday gifts and surprises.  Foster the love of reading by spending time this holiday season reading together with your children!  Remember the ‘gift of reading’ is not only a life-long gift but also one that will positively impact all their future academic endeavors!  I would be happy to explore, suggest, and help with ideas for reading selections for your children!  Accelerated Reader questions about books you may have at home?  Or plan on purchasing?  Please call or stop by to visit with me!

I hope you all have a most wondrous and blessed holiday season!  A very merry and magical Christmas to everyone!

—Mrs. Russell


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

Hey.  Hope everyone had a relaxing Thanksgiving and a good start to the holiday season.  It was a nice break for me, spent with friends and family, on the outskirts of Yellowstone National Park.   I’m looking forward to lots of learning and a little holiday fun as we move into December.

My math classes are moving through our curriculums at a much accelerated pace compared to last year’s classes.  I’m proud of our progress and excited to see where we’re at when we wrap up 2nd quarter at the end of January.  The 6th grade has been working with basic fractions in November and this month, we will learn more about decimals, mixed numbers and practice basic operations with fractions.  The 3rd grade has been exploring multiplication, and practicing factors 0-10.  We will be practicing division in December.  I’m grateful for my student’s hard work over the past few months and definitely counted being part of this wonderful learning community as one of my many blessings during my reflections over Thanksgiving break.

Pioneer’s P.E. classes will be transitioning inside as we move into December.  Students still need to come with proper footwear and water bottles, as we will be practicing leisure sports (i.e. bowling, ping-pong) and short inside workouts, in addition to learning about our bodies and how to take care of them, via some lessons from our health enhancement curriculum.  Thanks you to all Pioneer students for their excellent attitudes and commitment to healthy lifestyles.

After a frustrating Fall, in regards to getting our Gifted and Talented program up and running, I’m happy to announce that we have finally started G/T classes for the 2016-2017 school year.  Thank you to parents and students for your patience as we navigated through our new referral/testing process and the hiccups that came with it.  In November, we spent our time getting to know ourselves and our peers as learners, and in December we’ll be starting some special interest projects.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  As always, if you have any questions and/or any ideas to send my way, please don’t hesitate.

—Mr. Wallace

Mrs. Schnitzmeier’s Classroom News

5th Grade Math

We continue to work our way through the seven standards in Numbers Base Ten. We are using multiplication properties to evaluate equations, multiply multi-digit numbers and break equations apart using the distributive property. Next up, we’ll uncover how to divide decimals!!

6th Grade ELA

We have started our third unit in Reading Street. Our focus in this unit will be literature as well as informational text. We’ll look at cause & effect, plot, character, and drawing conclusions. In writing, we’re continuing with our informative/explanatory unit. In this unit, we’re learning to examine different topics while analyzing and expressing ideas presented within our research.

6th Grade Science

We’re continuing to explore cells! Now that we know all about each organelle and what it is responsible for, we’re beginning to look at how materials move through and across the cell and how they divide.

6th Grade Social Studies

We’re continuing to learn all about the election process. We took a little bit of time in November to dig deeper into debating. I saw this as a good time to teach them what a formal debate looks/sounds like. As a class, we chose a popular school topic to form opinions on. The students were split into teams and each researched their stance which helped them to form valid arguing points. Next up, economics!

Principal’s News

Pioneer Families,
Our students and staff have accomplished a lot during our first few months of school! In an effort to continue delivering the best instruction possible, we have focused our professional development on skills, interventions and instructional strategies for grade level teachers. Thanks to Lockwood Elementary, our teachers have had the opportunity to observe other teachers in their grade level! In addition our sights are set on our curriculum and the Common Core Standards; building classroom environments where students can effectively engage in rigorous, content-rich conversation and collaboration while setting goals for success.  December is very busy time of year and we are all very excited for our winter break! The school will be closed from December 23 – January 1. During the break there will be many opportunities to create a stronger bond with your child and continue to support their academic growth and success. The holidays are a good time for story telling around the dinner table or routines like bedtime reading that cultivate connections between home and school expectations. Young children do best with regular schedules, and I encourage you to prepare for their return to school by instilling in them an understanding about the importance of being rested and ready to learn. I wish you and yours health and happiness in the new year and look forward to seeing you all back and ready to learn January 2.

Best Wishes,
—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. ! December’s Value is Generosity Generosity is the quality of being kind and generous

pay-it-forwardWays you can be Generous include:

  • Do someone else’s chores at home.
  • Donate a toy or your time to a local charity organization.
  • Share knowledge or a skill with someone who has never tried it.
  • Call an elderly family member just to say hello, tell them what’s new, and ask them what they’re up to these days.
  • Invite someone who doesn’t have family nearby to share a meal or come over for a movie.
  • My Friend Fred by Hiawyn Oram!
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein!
  • The Giving Book by Ellen Sabin!
  • The Quiltmakers Gift by Jeff Brumbeau!

Book Ideas:
My Friend Fred by Hiawyn Oram!
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein!
The Giving Book by Ellen Sabin!
The Quiltmakers Gift by Jeff Brumbeau!

From the School Nurse

Dear Parent/Guardian:

A photorefraction vision screening was completed on November 17th. Your student should have brought home a vision report card before Thanksgiving. Here is some explanations of what the screener assessed. Photorefraction screening includes

  • eye-chartAnisometropia – compares how your eyes are focusing
  • Astigmatism – irregular curvature of the eye
  • Hyperopia – checks farsightedness – difficulty seeing near
  • Myopia – checks nearsightedness – difficulty seeing far
  • Corneal reflexes – checks symmetric eye alignment
  • Anisocoria – compares pupil size of both eyes

The lower right hand corner of the report card showed pass or refer. If the results indicate refer, it is suggested that your child would benefit from a professional eye exam by an eye specialist.

If finances are a concern and you do NOT have insurance, please contact Nurse Karen at 247-3367. Financial assistance may be available through various agencies.

A few more amazing facts about your eyes

  • Your eyeballs stay the same size from birth to death, while your nose and ears continue to grow.
  • Only 1/6 of the human eyeball is exposed.
  • Corneas are the only tissues that don’t have blood.
  • 80% of our memories are determined by what we see.
  • Eyes heal quickly. With proper care, it takes only about 48 hours to repair a minor corneal scratch.
  • Eyes are the second most complex organ after the brain.


  • 80% of what we learn is through our eyes.

So take good care of your eyes!

A big thanks to the Lions Club of Huntley for allowing Nurse Karen to use the photorefractor for our vision screening.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
—Nurse Karen

School News!!


Hello from the PTA.  Our next meeting is December 1st at 6pm.  All are welcome, including non-members.  We’re very excited to present Pioneer’s new drinking fountain proposed by Ms. Ticknor’s class to replace our old, inefficient one, this new drinking fountain is designed to save water, provide cleaner, colder water, and keep our kids in class more by providing a higher pressure flow.  Thanks to our resident handy-man Kevin Maddox for installation.  Check it out next to our info corner in the library!

  • Coming up in December is Santa’s Secret Shop.  This Pioneer tradition, provides a safe, inexpensive pop-up shop in our lunchroom, two mornings in December, for students to shop for Christmas presents for friends and loved ones.  The dates for this year’s Santa Secret Shop are December 7 & 8.  We are still looking for volunteers.  Please contact SKelly Adkins ( if interested.
  • PTA also will be hosting cookies, coffee & punch after the Christmas Program on December 21st, 7 pm at the Lincoln Center.  We ask all families to bring one dozen cookies to share.  That’s all for now.  Hoping everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and wishing you a wonderful Christmas & Happy New Year!  Please send your students to school in warm clothes!

—Ike Wallace (PTA VP)

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!!


Are you looking for a great original Christmas gift? 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.)

pta-what-is-your-storyPTA REFLECTIONS PROGRAM!

PTA is once again sponsoring a Reflections Program.  Entries from all grades and abilities are welcome. Flyers were sent home with all students with information about the Reflections Program.  The theme is “What is Your Story?”

Entries are due the morning of January 5, 2017.

You can learn more at PTA.ORG/REFLECTIONS or email Pioneer School PTA with questions at

cat-grizCAT/GRIZ 2016 FOOD DRIVE!!

The Cats may have taken the big game, but that won’t stop us from having a little Cat/Griz competition of our own! Pioneer School is once again sponsoring our ANNUAL FOOD DRIVE TO BENEFIT THE BILLINGS FOOD BANK!!

This year, our students will be racing to see who the winning team will be! Will the Cats conquer the Griz again? Or will the Griz stomp the Cats into the ground?!? Only you and your donations will decide!

pioneer Food Drive

The FOOD DRIVE will begin December 1st and run through December 20th. Please bring as many non-perishable items as you wish


Peanut Butter, Canned Tuna, Mac & Cheese, Canned Vegetables, Hamburger Helper, Crackers, Canned Meats   Coffee, Canned Fruits, Potato Chips, Tomato Sauce, Dry Milk, Pasta, Stew, Whole Tomatoes, Canned Milk, RicePork & Beans, Tuna Helper, Beans, Baby Food/FormulaChili, Syrup, Ramen, Sugar, Soups, Baking Mix, Jelly/JamFlour/Bisquick, Pumpkin Pie MixStuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Jello  Potatoes, Cereal


hat-day-1-pioneer-schoolIn an effort to raise money for the Billings Food Bank, Pioneer School will also be holding 2 hat days. Students may pay a $1.00 fee on Hat Day and they will be allowed to wear a hat all day in school.

The Hat Days will be held:

  • Wednesday, December 7th
  • And Wednesday December 14th.
  • You must pay the $1.00 each day.

Please help us raise money for the food bank by wearing your favorite, funniest, or silliest hat!! Thank you for your support of our Food Drive and Hat Days!! Let’s see how far we can line the hallways with food!!

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