Volunteer Needed: Chess Club

We are looking for a parent or grandparent volunteer to lead the Chess Club at Rattlesnake. Chess Club was started last school year (2017-2018) and all the materials are already at school- we just need a new coordinator for Fall 2018!

The Chess Club is open to all ages and abilities and can be held either one day a week (of your choice), or every other week. The club meets during lunch recess in the school atrium (across from the cafeteria). All you need is the available time, some basic chess knowledge, and the willingness to help run this fun and educational opportunity in our school!

Email us to volunteer! rattlesnakepta@gmail.com

Classroom Gift for Mr. Hughes

Our new 2nd grade teacher, Mr. Hughes, has requested gently-used and age-appropriate book donations for his classroom. Let’s give Mr. Hughes a warm welcome to Rattlesnake and help him build his classroom library by donating 2nd-grade (3rd-grade ok, too) books that your kids have outgrown!

To donate, send books to school with your child in a bag or box labeled “Mr. Hughes donation” or “2H donation” and your child’s teacher will pass them on.

Some suggested series:

    • Magic Tree House
    • Henry & Mudge
    • Arthur
    • Humphrey
    • Poppleton
    • Magic School Bus
    • Geronimo Stilton
    • Puppy Place
    • Black Lagoon
    • Flat Stanley
    • Froggy

Some suggested authors:

    • Mercy Watson
    • Cynthia Rylant
    • Junie B Jones
    • Henry Munsch
    • Dr. Seuss

The above lists are only suggestions, please donate any series or authors that your child enjoyed in 2nd grade! Thank you!



What: Open House to meet teachers and see classrooms!
When: Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Where: In your student’s classroom(s)– your kids can show you where to go!

You are invited to our Open House. Stop by and meet your teacher(s), Rattlesnake staff, and our wonderful PTA. Rattlesnake gear will be available for sale during the Open House. We hope to see you there!

Open House lasts one hour and is typically very busy, so your teacher may not have more than a few minutes to talk to you about your child’s progress and/or needs. As suggested on the district’s Rattlesnake School website, “If you feel that you need to spend more time with the teacher, please make an appointment.”

Please note that parking is always very packed for these types of all-school events. The weather forecast is for a sunny afternoon, so if you can walk or bike, please consider it!

sunset with trees

Indoor Air Quality Update, Fall 2018

Great news- the air inside Rattlesnake School will be cleaner and healthier this fall- and here’s why!

This past Spring (2018), Climate Smart Missoula received grant money from the United Way to assess the indoor air quality in Missoula County Schools and make recommendations for improvements. As a result, Rattlesnake Elementary School was the recipient of new Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 13 filters throughout the building. MERV 13 filters are the type of filter required to capture the most damaging small smoke particulates from the air when used in settings like a school or other public building (learn more on the Missoula County Air Quality website, scroll way down to the June entries). In addition to installing new filters, Climate Smart Missoula plans to assess the effectiveness of these new filters on the indoor air quality at school this year, to confirm that they are creating a cleaner and safer indoor environment for the teachers and staff at Rattlesnake Elementary. The Rattlesnake Wellness Committee has been working with Climate Smart Missoula on these efforts since 2017 and we are so pleased to see these positive changes implemented in our school that support the health of our students, teachers and staff!

This blog was written by Carissa, member of the PTA’s Rattlesnake Wellness Committee, in coordination with Amy Cilimburg, Executive Director of Climate Smart. 

Kindergarten Roundup 2018 FAQ

During the three kindergarten roundup sessions in May 2018, members of the PTA took notes on the most frequently asked questions as heard from parents of incoming kindergartners. We used those notes to create this list of short topics and details – and we hope it proves helpful to everyone! Many thanks to Principal Wright for fact checking this document, and Molly, Leigh, Maggie, Carissa, Matt, Erik, and Lucia for staffing the PTA presence at Roundup!


  • All families (K- 5th) should received their class placement by email during the week ending on August 17th 2018. If you do not receive the email by August 20th, please double check your spam folder, and then call Principal Wright (406-542-4050). 
  • Kindergarten classes up to 20 have 1 teacher. If 21 or 22 students are in a class then assistants are in the classroom.
  • The entire kindergarten class is expected to not exceed 88 students (i.e. 4 classes). If by the start of the year, enrollment exceeds 88, then decisions on differing enrollment will be made by Superintendent’s office. This process is referred to as leveling.


  • August 22nd from 5:30- 6:30pm: School tour for new families of 1st to 5th graders. Siblings are welcome but please note this tour is not designed for incoming kindergarten families, unless you missed Kindergarten Roundup in May. Meet at the front main entry.
  • Find the First Three Weeks of events page here.
  • Find our general Calendar page at https://rattlesnakepta.org/calendar/ 


  • NO KINDERGARTEN August 29, 30, 31 (Grades 1-5 are in session)
  • NO SCHOOL September 3rd, Monday. See entry above for NEW Kindergarten Playdate on this day.
  • Tuesday, September 4, K from 8:25- 12:30 (K has a half day, please send your child with a bag lunch or plan to order a bagged lunch as they will eat in the classroom to keep things less stressful). K only busing available *
  • Wednesday, September 5, K from 8:25- 12:30 (K has a half day, please send your child with a bag lunch or plan to order a bagged lunch as they will eat in the classroom to keep things less stressful). K only busing available *
  • Thursday, September 6, K from 8:25- 2:00 (All school, Early Out, Lunch will be however you prefer in main cafeteria). Regular on time K – 3rd busing
  • Friday, September 7, K from 8:25- 3:00 (All school, Full Day, Lunch will be however you prefer in main cafeteria). Regular on time K – 3rd busing
  • * See Bus Schedule First Week Note below *


  • Standard schedule and stops can be found at http://www.infofinderi.com/ifi/?cid=MCPS4CVNG54XW
  • Kindergartners often get very excited to ride the bus for the first few weeks. Please remind them to wear their “imaginary seat belt” and stay seated for the whole ride just like in a regular car or like for the city bus. This helps keep them safe, and keeps the bus drivers focused on the road.
  • * Bus Schedule First Week Note * – For the first two days of the first week in 2018 for kindergarten only, the half-day dismissal on Tuesday and Wednesday special kindergarten buses take longer and will bus to more than one route. This extended route can prove stressful to kids that are not very excited about being on the bus. If you think your kid might be upset by this, the PTA suggests sending them on the morning buses all week (those are the consistent and regular route), picking up your child at the school for just the half days (Tuesday and Wednesday), and then having them ride the bus on Thursday and Friday afternoons. This allows them to get used to the normal bus routes while skipping the possible stress of those two days of extended bus routes.


  • It is best to try to stick to talking about drop off and pick up only the night before- don’t build it up too big or with too many fine details.
  • Do your best to get your child to bed at a consistent time for at least a few nights before school starts. Sleep is so important at this age!
  • Kindergartners get Summer home visits to meet their teachers – these will take place in late August or early September. Look for letter from your teacher about this, later in the Summer.
  • If you child will be riding the bus, please review our “Bus Schedule First Week Note” in the paragraph above, so you can make a good choice for your child’s needs.
  • See the Supply List for the 2018-19 school year, organized by grade.
  • Worried you are forgetting something? Try our Back to School short list of reminders.


  • Walk, bike, or bus is best!
  • Kindergartners getting off the bus in the morning will be assisted with finding their classroom meeting spot (marked with a traffic cone and sign) and will meet their teacher outside the school each morning.
  • See https://rattlesnakepta.org/school-map/ for the map that details car dropoff guidelines
  • Kindergartners must have an authorized adult to pick up – they will not be released alone from the school nor off the bus. Kindergartners with no authorized adult at the bus stop at afternoon dismissal will be bussed back to the school to ensure their safety. Please be on time to meet the bus!


  • The basic daily schedule is here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/schedule/
  • The K day includes rest time in Fall for all classrooms. Rest time in Winter and Spring is figured out per classroom, as needed by class dynamics. Typically your teacher will permit a small blanket and a small soft toy, but this may vary depending on the classroom needs.
  • Most classrooms have a space for each child to have a set of spare clothing in case of accidents. It is normal for young children to accidentally pee their pants on occasion. If you are concerned about your child’s needs, please speak to your teacher or the school nurse as soon as possible so they can help.
  • Kindergarten has three recesses per day: First Recess, Pre-Lunch Recess, and Second Recess.
  • Recess is held outdoors in nearly all weather. It is only held indoors in very specific hazardous weather conditions. Learn more here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/snow-and-weather-policies/


  • All kindergarten students’ families will be able to indicate how they are dismissed each day in a form from their teacher, to ensure they safely and correctly follow their schedule (i.e. if your child will do Campfire Monday – Thursday, and home on the bus on Fridays, you will indicate that in writing).
  • Changes to your child’s routine must always be communicated prior to 2:30pm (1:30 on Thursdays).
  • Note that during the first week, Clark Fork School aftercare has allowed kindergartners in the past to be dropped off for their regularly registered aftercare schedule (from 3pm onwards) on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Talk to the folks at Clark Fork to confirm details!
  • Learn about afterschool programs here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/after-school-programs/


  • Breakfast is optional before school and is from 8am to the 8:25am bell.
  • Lunchtime is a 25 minute period, with the exact time dependent on schedule and grade. Hot and cold purchase options are available, or students can bring their own lunch. There is a nut-free table available for students with a nut allergy.
  • Lunch money is put onto an account and each student is assigned a number. Our Menu page includes information on how to add money to your account, as well as the current menu and a few back menus for examples: https://rattlesnakepta.org/menus/


  • Most classrooms have food-free celebrations and birthdays – learn more about this approach at the MCPS page Smart Snack initiative http://www.mcpsmt.org/domain/2749
  • Some K classrooms have group snacks, others do not, your teacher will communicate these expectations in the fall.
  • There is a nut-free table available in the cafeteria for students with a nut allergy.
  • Nut-free or food free classrooms are designated as needed, per classroom.
  • If your child has allergies and you have already submitted a completed medical form, you should have already heard from our assigned nurse. If you have not heard from her, please call or email Lisa Flanagan to discuss your child’s needs and ensure the forms were received: ltflanagan@mcps.k12.mt.us, (406) 728-2400 ext. 4511, or (406) 239-9065


  • Highly detailed curriculum descriptions are available at http://www.mcpsmt.org/Page/1827
  • Kindergarten classrooms at Rattlesnake Elementary begin the year reviewing single letters and their sounds, then they progress to two letter combinations (like “sh” and “st”), then learn to sound out short words and syllables, and finally will work on sight reading short words (such as “the” and “dog”). By the end of kindergarten, some students will have begun to read in full sentences or even books, and some will not- and that’s OK. Please speak directly with your teacher if you have concerns about reading expectations or classroom experiences.


  • Kindergartners have limited use of iPads and computers with educational goals in mind. Teachers also have interactive white boards used for calendar time and story times.
  • Grades 1 through 5 incorporate technology and screentime in different ways that are age appropriate. Please speak with your assigned teacher if you have any additional questions.


  • As a general statement, most students at Rattlesnake School do not have cell phones or smart phones, but some students do have specialized kid-type phones (such as the limited calling wrist style phones).
  • MCPS technology policy is that cell phones may only be used before and after school. The teacher recommendation is that students keep phones, wrist phones, and smartwatches turned off or on airplane mode and in their backpacks during the school day.


  • Rattlesnake Elementary follows the guidance of the Missoula County Public School district for all health and safety issues. Please review these guidelines each year to ensure you understand the basics for when a child must be kept at home, or not! Find our quick reference here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/sickness-and-lice/


  • For kindergarten, general classroom volunteering typically starts in late October. This helps the classrooms settle into their routines, prior to adding volunteers into the mix.
  • If you want to volunteer your particular knowledge for a self-led lesson or classroom experience, talk to your teacher about how to best schedule and plan. Please keep in mind that scheduling is particularly tight in September, December, just prior to Spring Break (lateMarch), and in May and June. Planning ahead with your child’s teacher will let you work with him or her as a team to ensure your time working in the classroom is a great experience for everyone!
  • In class volunteers (called a Supervised Volunteer) must sign a district volunteer form (see http://www.mcpsmt.org/Page/9033). Volunteers that would be working with students unsupervised are also required to sign more forms plus get a background check- this is less common and isn’t the kind of volunteering that you’d be likely to do with a kindergarten classroom.


  • There is no standardized testing done in kindergarten at Rattlesnake Elementary.
  • Teachers use a variety of assessments to guide instruction, some of which are standardized in format (i.e. a consistent assessment is applied to all students). Please note these are not standardized tests, but rather they are evaluation tools to help better understand student and classroom progress.
  • Standardized testing within MCPS starts in 3rd grade.


  • School District:
    • Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS) website: https://www.mcpsmt.org/
    • MCPS App: Search in App Store or Google Play Store for “Missoula County Public School” and you should find it!
    • Administration Building: 215 South Sixth Street West, Missoula, MT 59801, 406-728-2400
    • Emergency notifications are robo-called to parent or guardian phone numbers from the district on an as-needed basis.
  • Rattlesnake School:
  • Your child’s teacher:
    • During the school year, teachers can be reached via email or phone (find these on Rattlesnake School Staff Listings, https://www.mcpsmt.org/domain/2287) and will send a weekly newsletter via their school email.
    • You will get handouts and other paper format notes in your child’s “boomerang” (or “boom”) folder. The boomerang folder gets its name because it goes back and forth from school each day with your child.
  • Rattlesnake School PTA:
    • PTA website: you are on the PTA website right now! https://rattlesnakepta.org/
    • PTA facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RattlesnakePTA/
    • PTA specific email list: You MUST sign up separately for PTA emails to receive them! Sign up at any PTA event, or use the Contact Us form and simply write “please add me to the PTA email list” in your note. Thanks!
    • PTA via US Postal Service: Rattlesnake PTA, P.O. Box 7211, Missoula MT 59807

Summer Camp Scholarship Ideas

Summer is just around the corner! If you need ideas for summer camps in and around Missoula, we suggest you visit our Summer Camps page. If you are looking for potential scholarships for camps, here is a list that was provided to us by our FCC coordinator!

Chess Club Fridays at Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake is proud to announce our new CHESS CLUB starts this Friday, March 23, 2018!

Open to all ages and abilities, Chess Club will be held during each Friday lunch recess in the school atrium (across from the cafeteria). Find your student’s lunch recess time on our daily schedule page.

No sign up or registration required and all materials provided.  Just come ready to learn and play chess!

Thanks to parent volunteer Gail Bourguignon for volunteering to lead Chess Club!!  Contact Jen in the FCC with questions or to volunteer to help out.  Email Jen at frcres@mcps.k12.mt.us

Rattlesnake’s Jump Rope for Heart 2018

Did you know that in 2017 Rattlesnake Elementary students brought in $9,582 for the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart, making it the top fundraising school in Western Montana? Our amazing P.E. teacher Ms Delaney is again bringing this fun fundraiser to our school- and here at the PTA we are SO PROUD of her successes!

You can help Ms Delaney and the American Heart Association raise money related to heart health (research, training, community education, and more) if you’d like, by encouraging your child to ask family, friends, and neighbors for donations to support heart health. As Ms Delaney says, “Our Rattlesnake community makes a HUGE difference for the state of Montana!”

The packets are due back in the classroom by March 1st 2018.

Please note that all proceeds go to the American Heart Association, not to the PTA. This is just an information posting by the PTA in case you had questions about Ms. Delaney’s Jump Rope for Heart program.

October 2017 Indoor Air Quality Public Interest Meeting

Report from Community Indoor Air Quality meeting, held 10/16/2017

In attendance:

  • Alison Reintjes: Parent at Paxson, contact person (330) 806-2478, allisonreintjes@hotmail.com)
  • Sara Coefield: Missoula Air Quality Specialist
  • Amy Cilimburg: Climate Smart Missoula
  • Ronni Flannery: American Lung Association
  • Carissa Benjamin: Parent at Rattlesnake

Summary of the meeting:

  • What: Develop a specific “ask” for a district wide initiative to improve the indoor air quality during the winter months and wildfire season to create a “safe place” for our students
  • Why: To address health concerns for sensitive groups and all children in school. Our local pediatric Pulmonologist, Paul Smith, from Community Medical Center, reported that he is continuing to work with children experiencing asthma exacerbations secondary to poor air quality this summer/fall
  • How: Initial course of action will be to discuss with Mark Thane, superintendent of schools, how best to proceed with a specific “ask”
  • When: After Amy meets with Mark Thane and a specific “ask” has been determined, we will likely approach the School board at the next scheduled meeting
  • Other:
    • If you are interested in being involved, please contact Alison at the e-mail above
    • If you know people on the school board, discuss any concerns you may have with indoor air quality
    • If you have friends/ family who are familiar with the schools current HVAC system, retrofitting, filtration systems, etc. encourage them to attend our next meeting or contact Alison
    • If you know of a group that could possibly assist with funding/grants for this type of project, speak with them and put us in touch
    • If you know of an undergraduate or graduate student who may be interested in indoor air quality as a topic of research, introduce us to them!
    • Once a specific “ask” has been designated, we will ask for letters or support and attendance at the school board meeting to show support

Notes as taken by Carissa Benjamin. The Rattlesnake School PTA is grateful for Carissa’s willingness to take notes, be involved, and share this information with our community!

Rattlesnake’s Semi-Annual Food Drive

Oct. 9-13th

From time to time, Rattlesnake families experience unexpected life events that may leave them struggling to provide enough food for their family.  In an attempt to help with their immediate basic needs, the FCC would like to have a supply of non-perishable goods to donate.

At this time, we are asking just the Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades to participate and to donate within specific categories:

  • Kindergarten: Canned Soup
  • 1st Grade: Non Perishable Protein (i.e. canned tuna/chicken, peanut butter, beans, nuts etc.)
  • 2nd Grade: Healthy Snacks (granola bars, cereal bars, applesauce, etc.).

We believe the food within these three categories has a high impact on nutritional needs, a family’s food budget, and is easy to prepare/eat.

Grades 3, 4 & 5 will participate in our spring food drive.

Please contact Jen Jencso in the FCC with questions or concerns. Donations can be sent in with your student, or dropped off either in the FCC or at the front desk.


Thank you for your generosity!