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Upon Reflection: Literacy, Arts and ESS
October 2021

Greetings, ESS Families! In addition to promoting the Book Fair, Reading Night, cultural assemblies, and artist and author visits, your ESS PTA Literacy & Arts Committee looks forward to providing you and your kids resources each month to enjoy reading and the arts together as a family as we seek to build a more inclusive community and promote creative expression. We are also thrilled to announce Reflections, an exciting competition sponsored at the local, county, state, and national level through PTA, encouraging more than 300,000 kids each year to express their creativity, with the potential to win prizes and recognition. Read more below and welcome to our first edition the Upon Reflection: Literacy, Arts and ESS  



This year, the student-selected theme for Reflections is: I Will Change the World By… . Students are encouraged to create submissions of original art responding to the theme in one or all of six genres: Dance Choreography, Film Production, Literature, Music Composition, Photography, and Visual Arts. There are no limits regarding submissions by genre. The ESS deadline for submission is Tuesday, November 23, and all submissions, including visual art work, must be e-mailed to Winners from ESS in each genre will be selected to advance to the county level, and from there winners will be selected at the state and then national levels. Winners are recognized with prize monies and opportunities to participate in travelling exhibitions, as well as the distinction of being in a juried competition. ESS judges will be drawn from the local artistic and literary community and announced in November, and work by all participants will be exhibited by ESS either through our website or at Reading Night on December 15.

We can’t wait to experience your creativity, Pandas! Download application form, explore submissions by last year’s awardees, and watch a video to learn more


Questions? E-mail our Reflections Chairperson, Mark Sylvester, at




Did you know that Hispanic Heritage month is celebrated across America from September 15 through October 15? And that your children are focused on learning about Government and Citizenship during this month’s literacy unit in school? Our reading recommendations this month, made in partnership with Ms. Renée Pace, our school’s reading reading specialist, and Ms. Robin Madden, our school’s media center librarian, celebrate Spanish-speaking luminaries and characters involved with government, and other characters that are also upstanding and engaged citizens.


Reading at ESS is taught through a curriculum called Benchmark Universe. It’s a comprehensive spiral literacy instruction where students in each grade K-5 have a common knowledge strand/ unit, with a focus on a different essential question by grade level. Check out the topic of study for each grade in addition to their essential question -- and some recommended picture books that you can read to your child to support the learning they are doing in school.

Grade K

Rules at Home and School

Why do we have rules?

Grade 1

Being a Good Community Member

Why do people get involved in their communities?

Recommended Picture Book:


Maybe Something Beautiful

by F. Isabel Campoy


What Can a Citizen Do?

by Dave Eggers

Grade 2

Government at Work

Why do we need a government?

Grade 3

Government for the People

Why do people participate in government?

Recommended Picture Book:


Sonia Sotomayor: A judge grows in the Bronx

by Jonah Winter


Giant Steps to Change the World

by Spike Lee

Grade 4

Government in Action

How can government influence the way we live?

Grade 5

The US Constitution: Then and Now

Why do laws continue to evolve?

Recommended Picture Book:


Separate is never equal: the story of Sylvia Mendez and her family

by Duncan Tonatiuh


Grace for President

by Kelly DiPucchio

Plus, Literacy & Arts Committee Parents’ Recommendation, fun for all elementary ages: 


Sofia Valdez, Future Prez

by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Want more suggestions for children’s books that feature diverse characters? Follow @theconsciouskid and @brownbookshelfteam on social media platforms, and, and expand your child’s lens! (And, @diversespines is great for parents, too!)


And, take advantage of our local Montgomery County libraries, which carry these titles and more. Get your free library card anytime!



There is so much to enjoy as live music and arts continue to return to stages outdoors and to proliferate online! Here are just a few suggestions connected to celebrating the rich cultural traditions of Hispanic Heritage Month.



Company E, with a special appearance by Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández


Washington Performing Arts Teaching Artist group Company E is inviting children of all ages to dance with them during this edition of FAM! This program includes a warm-up, introduction to ballet basics, and a lot of creative movement! After watching a special appearance by Sofia Segura from Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández, children will learn choreography and continue to express themselves through movement. Keep the fun going with downloadable activity pages and recommended reading list, and of course keep dancing at home!


Enjoy “Cucurrucucú Paloma”, a song by Mexican-American diva, Ailyn Pérez, paying homage to Spanish Independence Day and Mariachi, important to her Jaliscan family roots. Save the date: Watch Ms. Pérez in a televised performance on WETA, our local PBS station, in concert with two other Latin American divas, Isabel Leonard and Nadine Sierra, in a fabulous program of opera and treasured Latin American folk song on October 10.



Did you know that GALA (Grupo de Artistas LatinoAmericanos) Hispanic Theatre is a National Center for Latino Performing Arts in the nation's capital? Since 1976, GALA has been promoting and sharing the Latino arts and cultures with a diverse audience, creating work that speaks to communities today, and preserving the rich Hispanic heritage for generations that follow. By developing and producing works that explore the breadth of Latino performing arts, GALA provides opportunities for the Latino artist, educates youth, and engages the entire community in an exchange of ideas and perspectives. Check out their rich 2021/22 season and other offerings, and visit in person in D.C.’s Columbia Heights.



The National Portrait Gallery is a treasure of the Smithsonian, right here in Washington -- always free, always fascinating! In October, the NPG is offering several Young Portraits Explorers events for children that are focused on Hispanic and Latino historical figures, from Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta to Carmen Herrera and Isabel Toledo, all free and online. Check it out!

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