Early Childhood Screening – Canceled

Early Childhood Screening on Friday, April 12, 2019 has been canceled. Please go to the the Early Childhood Screening page to reschedule a new time.

Depression in Children

By Lisa Kraft, Director of Special Services

Children growing up today often experience stress and this stress may cause depression. Yes, even young children can become depressed. Depression is the most common mental health problem that children and adolescents experience. It is generally defined as an ongoing sad or irritable mood as well as a loss of ability to experience pleasure in activities. Depression sometimes goes undiagnosed because the symptoms can look similar to the regular ups and downs of growing up. If depression goes untreated it can lead to serious problems for a child’s social, emotional, personal, and academic performance and growth.

Depression in young children, prior to adolescence, is rare and occurs in about 1.5% of children. However, up to 10% of adolescents experience significant depression. This means that in a class of 30 students, 3 students may have depression. Girls are more likely to show depression than boys. These reasons may include different social stressors, coping methods, hormonal differences, or differences in gender expectations. Typical onset for depression is usually between ages eleven and fourteen.     

Depression can take very different courses. It may be short or long term and persist for weeks, months or years. It can also come quickly in trauma situations. Most cases of major depression last between seven and nine months.  Children may have a greater likelihood of developing depression if they have family members with depression, live in a highly stressful environment, or have experienced a traumatic event.

Common characteristics a child or adolescent with depression may include:

  • Negative view of self, others, and the world
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from social settings
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depressed and/or irritable mood
  • Attention problems
  • All or none thinking
  • Decreased work or school performance
  • Detached from others
  • Low energy
  • Lack of ability to sleep or eat
  • Health complaints
  • Suicidal thoughts and/or suicidal attempts

The presence of one or all of these symptoms does not mean that an individual is depressed. However, if several of the above symptoms are present it would be wise to seek help from a mental health professional.

Depression can usually be treated effectively. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are critical for children and adolescents with depression. Treatment may include the use of medication, individual therapy, and/or family therapy.  

It is very important to have good communication between home and school when a child may be experiencing depression. Professionals in the schools, such as the School Nurse, Counselors, School Psychologist, and School Social Worker can all help to provide the connection between home, school, and the medical community. If you have concerns that your child may be experiencing depression contact your family physician for initial guidance.  You can also contact your child’s school teacher, administrator, or counselor to discuss how the possible depression may be hurting your child’s social, personal and/or school performance. Let’s all work together to ensure the well-being of the youth in our community!

NASP (2018). Depression: Supporting Students at School

Safe and Secure Schools: West Elementary

West Elementary has undergone some changes over the past year in order to make the school more safe and secure. This video was produced with the intention of informing parents about these changes and to educate parents about the ways that West Elementary ensures the safety of all students. We discuss how to visit West, how to pick up your child early, and end of the day procedures as well.

MRC Program – Literacy Tutor


Click here to view an informational video about the MRC Program.


Would you love to help children grow their reading skills, succeed in school and get extra support? If your answer is yes, you can be trained to serve as a tutor with Minnesota Reading Corps at both West Elementary and Park Elementary. Whether you want to explore an educational career, reenter the workforce, or give back to your community, you can succeed as a tutor. Last year, Minnesota Reading Corps provided direct services to over 30,000 children in more than 700 schools across the state.

As a Literacy Tutor, you’ll use strategies that help students believe in themselves and succeed.  Positions available include: Kindergarten Focus and Elementary (K-3) Literacy Tutors. Full-time tutors typically serve most of their hours during the regular school day.


In addition to extensive training, tutors will receive on-site support from specially trained school mentors. Tutors come from many backgrounds and include recent high school and college grads, career changers, stay-at-home parents, and retirees. Tutors may earn a living allowance, educational award, federal student loan forbearance, and other benefits, and have the chance to make a real difference in the life of a child.


To apply or learn more about the research based programs, position qualifications, and benefits, visit MinnesotaReadingCorps.org (do not apply via the district website). Questions? Email recruitment@servemnaction.org or call 866-859-2825.


West Elementary Orientation Video

Check out the West Elementary orientation video.


Ask Me!


Ask Me!

West Elementary is proud to introduce “Ask Me” stickers as part of our positive behavioral support system.  Students caught making good choices have the opportunity to be awarded an “Ask Me” sticker.  This helps facilitate conversation between their peers, school staff, and home about the great things happening at school.  If your child comes home with a sticker, be sure to ask them about the positive choices they made at school.

West Elementary Attendance Guidelines


One of the most important things families can do to help their children succeed is to make sure they attend school regularly.

When your student is absent:

Contact the school at (320) 587-4470.  State the name, teacher, length and reason for the absence.  If we do not hear from you, we will attempt to call you at home or at work.  If we have not spoken with you or a responsible adult regarding the absence, you must send a note to school.

Excused Absences:

  • Illness
  • Family Death/Illness
  • Religious Holiday / Instruction
  • Medical / Dental Appointments

Unexcused Absences:

  • Missing the bus
  • Staying home to care for siblings
  • Refusing to go to school
  • Oversleeping (Parent or Child)
  • Skipping School
  • No Doctor Note (if required)

Six Strategies to Support School Attendance:

  1. Let children know that you value their education.  Insist they go every day.
  2. Talk to you child about school.  Is your child struggling with schoolwork, classmates, or other problems? Ask how you can help.
  3. Discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher(s).  Ask them to help if needed.
  4. Does your child need a tutor or assessment for special services? Ask for referrals to community programs, and don’t hesitate to use counseling services.
  5. Get to know your child’s friends and their families.
  6. Support/follow school policies.


Second Step Bully Prevention Lessons

To further help our school be a safe, kind, and respectful place, we are implementing the Second Step Bullying  Prevention Unit.  In the lessons, your child will learn specific skills to help stop bullying.  Students will learn how to:

  • Recognize when bullying is happening
  • Report bullying to a caring adult
  • Refuse to let bullying happen to themselves or others
  • Be a bystander who stands up and is part of the solution to bullying

Traditionally, bullying is recognized and defined by three characteristics.  It is aggressive behavior that:

  1. Is repeated over time
  2. Occurs in a relationship where there is a power imbalance
  3. Intends to cause harm or distress

(Committee for Children, 2013)

We need your help.  Get involved in making our school a safe and respectful place by letting us know if you hear about bullying at our school.  Make sure your child knows to tell you or someone at school if he or she is being bullied.  And give your child the clear message that it is never okay to bully others.





West Elementary Buddy Bench

The West Elementary playground has a new addition this fall, a Buddy Bench.  The Buddy Bench is an idea inspired by Christian, a first grader in Pennsylvania, to eliminate loneliness and promote inclusion on the playground.  Our students are encouraged to use the Buddy Bench when they are having trouble finding someone to play with.  Students can show kindness and respect by asking someone on the bench to join their friends.  We are excited to have this addition on our playground and hope it will provide a way to make friends and put and end to kids being lonely at recess.

Buddy Bench

West Elementary Believes…

  • You are entering the world of the child.
  • If the furniture is uncomfortable and too small for you, remember that it fits us just fine.
  • If you must walk around our games, toys, and block structures, remember that it is through the use of manipulatives and this kind of experimentation that we learn best.
  • If we are noisy as we work and play, it is because we are learning to live with each other.
  • If we come up to you, don’t be surprised. We are open, friendly, and curious, and we want to know you as our friend.
  • Enjoy our world and when you leave, we hope you carry with you some of our enthusiasm for living and learning.
Hutchinson Public Schools

Hutchinson Public Schools