DaVinci Connection – February 16, 2023

Happenings and Highlights

Hello DaVinci Families,photo of Holly Fischer

There are so many exciting things happening at DaVinci right now.   

  • The Equity Committee, made up of students, parents and staff members, met this afternoon to plan a number of community events which will be new offerings for the school.  The energy of that group is so positive and warm that I feel encouraged listening to their plans.
  • The fifth graders spent the day off site at a Kindness Retreat this week.  So many powerful lessons on friendship, acceptance, and community were learned and we are all encouraged by the connections made at that event.
  • The fourth grade Inventor’s Fair (pictured below) was held this morning and the atrium was buzzing with parents, grandparents, friends, and judges all learning about the creative solutions the students found to real world problems.
  • Lastly, the enrollment lottery was held on Monday, February 6 and over 100 new students were invited to enroll for the 23-24 school year.  We are looking forward to making connections with these new families and are always energized by their positivity.  

I wish you all well as we step away for the next few days to recharge and jump back into learning next Wednesday. 


My Best,

Holly Fischer, Executive Director  

Monday Late Start Reminder

Starting on Monday, March 20, 2023, and each subsequent Monday throughout the 2022-23 school year, the school day will begin at 9:00 am. There will be no change to the dismissal time on these days. This will be a pilot program for the remainder of the 22-23 school year to assess effectiveness in order to make an informed decision about continuing this schedule in the 23-24 school year.

The following dates (all Mondays) will be 9:00 am start time days:

March 20, 2023 May 1, 2023
March 27, 2023 May 15, 2023
April 3, 2023 May 22, 2023
April 17, 2023 June 5, 2023
April 24, 2023 June 12, 2023

Please visit our Late-Start Monday page for complete information 

Academic Updates

Winter Testing Update

Winter FastBridge assessment scores are now available in Parent Portal. To view your student’s scores: log in to Parent Portal, select “More” from the left menu, then click “Assessments”. From there, you will be able to view their scores. If you do not have a Parent Portal account or need help logging in, please contact the main office.

Students complete FastBridge testing three times per year to help identify which students are likely to meet end-of-year learning goals and which ones are likely to need more help. Each test will have a score, a national percentile ranking, and a risk level. Average students score roughly in the 40th-70th percentile and ideally, students will be considered “on track” or “low risk.”

FastBridge reports include indicators of student risk for not reaching learning goals. These are known as benchmarks and include indicators for the following levels: 

  • On Track: very likely to meet grade-level goals 
  • Low Risk: likely to meet grade-level goals 
  • Some Risk: unlikely to meet grade-level goals 
  • High Risk: very unlikely to meet grade-level goals 

This information can be used by schools to identify supports for individual students. Note that the tests for students in Kindergarten and First Grade do not have an “On Track” rating.

If your child has a low score on a screening test, and other information shows that the student needs extra help in that area, extra instruction will be given automatically during the daily school schedule. The tests we most closely look at for extra support are aReading, aMath, Early Reading, and Early Math. Generally, students considered high risk on these tests qualify for additional support outside of the regular classroom. Please contact their teacher if you have questions about your student’s progress. If you have questions about the assessments and scores, please contact Academic Director, Andrea Halverson.

Renaissance Update

We are excited to share that we are planning to roll out changes to our Renaissance program in the fall of 2023. These changes help us align more closely to best practices in gifted education and provide a better experience for all students at DaVinci. To read more about these changes, please click here.

Random Acts of Kindness Day!

artwork for Random Acts of Kindness DayFriday, February 17th, is Random Acts of Kindness Day! This is a great time to stretch our “kindness wings” and bring more joy and positivity to the world! 

Psychology Today notes that kindness has significant positive effects, like reduced stress, boosts our immune system, and reduces anger, anxiety, and depression. The biggest impact is, kindness helps promote community and a sense of belonging; people feel less isolated when they know others care about them. Check out the Random Acts of Kindness website for inspiration, freebies, and ideas on how to infuse more kindness into your life.  

Here are some great random acts of kindness to inspire you for Friday (or any other day, too!).  You can also find free printable “kindness tags” here to attach to your act of kindness to encourage others to pay it forward! 

  • Smile at someone JUST BECAUSE. Smiles are contagious! You have the power to brighten someone’s day, by simply smiling.
  • Buy the person behind you in line coffee.
  • Donate toys to charity.
  • Make homemade dog treats and deliver them to an animal shelter.
  • Bake cookies for your neighbor.
  • Donate to a food bank.
  • Send a card in the mail just because!
  • Volunteer
  • Donate old blankets and towels to an animal shelter.
  • Paint “kindness rocks” and hide them for others to find!
  • Send a care package to deployed soldiers.
  • Pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant.
  • Let someone go in front of you in line.
  • Mow the lawn, rake the leaves, or shovel snow for your neighbor.
  • Leave a generous tip at a restaurant.
  • Send flowers to someone.
  • Help someone before they ask.
  • Carry a stranger’s grocery bags.
  • Leave a treat in the mailbox for your mail carrier.
  • Donate to your favorite charity.
  • Compliment a stranger.
  • Bake treats and deliver them to your local police station. Thank them for their service!
  • Pick up litter at the park.
  • Place a jar of pennies by a wishing fountain!
  • Call a relative or friend just to say hello

Mindfully Yours,

DaVinci Academy’s Mental Health Team

Phoenix Hathaway, K-4 School Counselor, phathaway@davincicharterschool.org 

Diana Muske, 5-8 School Counselor, Dmuske@davincichrterschool.org 

Dom Jefferson, K-8 School Social Worker, djefferson@davincicharterschool.org 

Amy Key, K-8 School Counselor Intern, akey@davincicharterschool.org 

Volunteer Spotlight - Veronica Sheck!

Why did you decide to start volunteering at DaVinci?

I started volunteering at DaVinci for a few reasons. I recognize the importance of getting to know people in the community (both staff and students) where my children spend a significant part of their day and want to give back in tangible ways such as my time as well as skills/knowledge. I also feel it is important to model the things my husband and I are teaching our kids, one of which is the significance of volunteering. Getting to see my kids and their friends when I am volunteering at school is always a day-brightener.

 Do you enjoy volunteering at DaVinci?

Absolutely! I love the variety of volunteer activities available at DaVinci. When my kids were little, I started out helping with at-home projects for teachers and was able to chaperone a few field trips. Once my kids were all in school, I branched out to in-school opportunities. Some have been one-time activities and others are ongoing. I’ve been able to do things such as make graduation caps for the kindergartners, assist with picture day, work in the library, refresh bulletin boards, attend school board meetings, help a couple of MS teachers with book projects, and coach.

What is your favorite volunteer activity?

I have two favorites, helping in the library and working on the bulletin boards. One gives me a chance to use my creative side and the other allows me to help behind the scenes while also interacting with smaller groups of kids of all ages. I highly recommend getting involved at DaVinci by volunteering!

Thank you, Veronica!

A Note from Nurse Cassie

Hello Parents, portrait of Cassie Johnson

Obtaining a healthy sleep schedule is essential for both physical and mental health. It can improve productivity, improve the overall quality of life, and is a central part of our health. 

Creating healthy bedtime and wake-up habits is sometimes referred to as “sleep hygiene”, may be easier than you think, and essential to daily function!

4 ways to improve your or your student’s sleep are as follows:

  • Set a sleep schedule
    • Prioritize sleep, but avoid naps if possible. If you have to nap, keep it brief.
    • Have a fixed wake-up time, regardless of the day, to get in the rhythm of consistent sleep.
    • Make gradual adjustments to your schedule.
  • Follow a nightly routine
    • Stay consistent in your routine, as this helps to reinforce in your mind that it is bedtime.
    • Dim the lights, as this can hinder the body’s natural production of melatonin.
    • Unplug from screens – phones, tablets, TVs, etcetera – for 30-60 minutes prior, as this can also hinder melatonin production and it causes mental stimulation that can be hard to “shut down”.
  • Foster daily healthy habits
    • Get as much daylight exposure as possible, as sunlight is key to circadian rhythms!
    • Getting regular exercise or activity may make it easier to sleep at night.
    • Try not to eat late, especially if it is a big or spicy meal. 
    • Only use your bed for sleep if possible.
  • Optimize your bedroom by focusing on your senses
    • Make things extra cozy with nice sheets and bedding.
    • Fine-tune your bedroom temperature to err on the cooler side, as low as 65 degrees, but to your preference.
    • Use heavy/blackout curtains if you can.
    • Drown out noise with earplugs, a white noise machine, or a fan.
    • Diffuse calming scents such as lavender if that is helpful.

The concept of sleep hygiene applies to all, but ideal sleep hygiene is individualized and will vary from person to person. Good sleeping habits will not always resolve all sleeping problems that individuals may have, and we suggest you seek medical care if you need it. 

We want our students and parents alike to make the most of their days, and it all starts with a good night’s sleep!

Cassie Johnson, RN

School Nurse


Knowledge Bowl Finals

Our Academic Bowl team competes in two different styles of knowledge meets Quiz Bowl and Knowledge Bowl. Our Knowledge Bowl season wrapped up at the state meet which was held at DaVinci on Saturday, February 11.

Four teams competed on Saturday, February 11 and one of our rookie teams (Team Demolishers: Joshua I., Lydia R., Aashirya N., Max T., and Bryn W. ) was recognized as the top-scoring rookie team. Additionally, several DaVinci students participated in the space-themed costume contest with Bryn W receiving a prize (pictured below).

Thank you to all the staff and parents who helped make this event successful and to all the community members who donated items for the concession stand. The concession stand was run by the fabulous student council.

The academic bowl team members have one more competition on March 4 in the Quiz Bowl format.

Band and Choir Concert Invite

Come and check out our upcoming middle school band and orchestra concerts.

  • When: Tuesday, February 28th
  • 6-8 Bands: 6:00 pm. 
  • 6-8 Orchestras: 7:00 pm.

Each concert will last just over 30 minutes. We are excited to share what we have been working on with you. Our concerts are the music department’s public sharing of our accomplishments in the classroom. 

Read-a-Thon Update

Our PTO Read-a-Thon is off to a great start!

  • Total readers: 970
  • Pages created: only 159 of the 970
  • Total raised: $2,715
  • Total minutes read: 4338

Keep up the great work!


If your family has plans to move on from DaVinci at the end of this school year, please reach out to enrollment@davincicharterschool.org to let us know.  We understand that life happens and moves are sometimes unpredictable, but it is easier for us to fill your student’s spot if we know about it in advance of the summer; so, we appreciate you sharing that information as soon as you know about the change.

Thank you. 

Pam Carlson

DaVinci Academy Enrollment Coordinator

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