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Principal Message


Welcome to October! We’ve had such a great first month of school! Students are continuing to settle into their classrooms, build meaningful relationships with their classmates and teachers, and learn and grow each day in their curriculums. 

I’m so excited and humbled to have this opportunity to continue on as Principal of Cottage Grove School. As I shared with staff on Tuesday, becoming a principal has always been a professional goal of mine, and I feel blessed to be able to do this here at CGS. A couple of things make this placement here at CGS extra special: First, prior to becoming an administrator, I had spent most of my time in education as a teacher in 2nd grade. This grade level is special to my heart, and I’ve always loved the amazing growth that students see 2nd grade. Secondly, 1st grade is extra special to me this year as my own son, Milo, is a 1st grader this year as well. While he’s not here at CGS, it has been so fun to interact and build relationships with this group of students as well, even though it has me missing him during the day a bit more.

As I hope you have been able to see already, I truly believe that relationships are key to success in education. The relationships that we create with our students, staff, families, and community are critical as we build a strong and supportive learning environment at CGS. I encourage open communication and collaboration between home and school, recognizing that together, we can empower our students to reach their fullest potential.

I look forward to working with you closely this year and getting to know both you and your student more. As I continue to work on learning lots of names, I’ll continue to encourage you to reach out if there is anything you need, or simply to just introduce yourself and your family.

There’s lots of important information in the newsletter this month, so please read carefully!


Jesse Starr


Cottage Grove School


7:00 a.m.–3:30 p.m.


Main Office: (608) 839-4576

Attendance: contact via email

School Website
School Calendar
District Website
Digital Flyers


  • Oct 3 - Picture Day
  • Oct 9-13 - MG Homecoming Dress Up Days (see below)
  • Oct 16 - Classroom Hold Safety Drill
  • Oct 12-19 - Parent/Teacher Conferences
  • Oct 20 - No School
  • Oct 23 - No School
  • Oct 25 - 2nd Grade Field Trip
  • Nov 3 - No School
  • Nov 7 - Picture Retake Day
  • Nov 22-24 - No School

Car Pick-up/Drop-off Procedures

Thank you for your continued support and patience as we continue to work on systems to best support our pick-up and drop-off procedures.  As you have noticed, we are working to establish a specific “loading and unloading zone” for students.  This helps to ensure the safety of our students, while also working to best keep our car line moving.  We know how tempting it is to just have your student jump in the vehicle as soon as you see them or as they are passing on their way to the loading zone, but we continue to ask that you wait until your vehicle is in the specific loading zone.  You’ll hear us continuing to encourage students to keep walking and moving down to the loading zone, and ask that you support that as well.  We will continue to evaluate our systems and make adjustments as necessary to make this a both smooth and safe process for our students and families.

A couple of other notes:

  • School dismissal time is 2:50.  This means that most students are exiting their classrooms at that time before making their way outside for pickup.  Currently, our pickup line is already mostly full by 2:30 each day.  This does cause traffic to start backing up on Main St. We understand that many of you have students to pick up at multiple buildings, and other after school activities that are pressing.  We just ask that you are mindful of how early you arrive as we do our best to prevent congestion on the main road outside of school.
  • Parents should remain in their cars at all times while in the pickup line.  If your child needs additional assistance getting in or exiting out of the vehicle, we ask that you park in the parking lot to not hold up the line of cars moving through.  Staff members are always able to assist in unloading and loading students as well, and are more than welcome to help.

October Safety Drill

Cottage Grove School will hold a classroom hold drill on October 16th for all students and staff. During the month we will also hold a student safety training to inform and prepare students for the potential of a threat or hazard (i.e. hazardous material) inside or outside the building.

The safety of our students is a top priority which is why it’s important for students to be present for monthly drills. This hold drill is designed to help students understand what they can do to protect themselves in the unlikely case of a critical event. A classroom hold is called when students would be in the way of staff or emergency responders responding to a crisis, such as a medical or behavioral incident. We follow best practices to use trauma sensitive language and exercises to mitigate fear and anxiety during the drill.  

What your student will experience: Staff will prepare students by explaining the purpose of the drill, what they can expect and what they will need to do during the drill. The drill will begin when an announcement is made over the speakers that a building hold has started. Staff will clear students from the hallways and collaboration areas as needed, and then remain in their classrooms until the classroom hold is lifted. Instruction will continue as normal until an announcement has been made that the drill has ended. Staff will use trauma sensitive language to help students process the experience. For the student safety training, staff will talk through scenarios and classrooms may plan and generate ideas together for action plans on potential threatening situations that could happen while at school. 

Students with sensory and other special considerations will be accommodated according to their needs. 

We encourage families to communicate with your student(s) about the importance of safety drills. You can find resources on our website to help guide those conversations. 

Read the full message on safety communication practices on our website.

Homecoming Week Spirit Days

Personal Items From Home and Heely

We’ve had lots of items coming into school from home.  We know that students are excited to share some of their favorite things with their classmates, and want students to be able share more of their interests and identity with their peers.  However, these items can often lead to distractions in the classroom and there is always the  risk of these items being stolen or damaged while at school.  We ask that these items stay at home unless they are being requested to be brought in by a teacher for a classroom activity. Pokemon cards have particularly been a huge interest of students, and we have communicated with students that those should be kept at home to ensure that they are safe. 

It’s also important to remember that not all students have access to some of these items, which could unintentionally create feelings of exclusion amongst our students.  We appreciate your partnership and support in upholding this with our students.

It also seems as if Heelys have regained some popularity among our students.  If you don’t know what these are, they are shoes with built in wheels that allow students to transition between walking and “rolling”.  While we recognize how fun these are for students, they do pose a safety risk in many areas and are very hard on our floors throughout the school.  With that said, students are not allowed to wear Heelys with the wheels inserted at school. We’d ask that you remove the wheels daily before sending your student to school. 

Fall Conferences

Student/Teacher conferences will be happening Oct. 12-19th.  You should have received a link from your student's teacher to sign up for a time slot. If you have not, please reach out to your teacher or the CGS office to sign up for a time by calling 608-839-4576.  We are excited to connect with you all around your student’s progress so far this school year!

Lunch/Recess Volunteers

We’ve so appreciated the number of volunteers that we’ve had to support students so far this year.  We’re excited to add a couple of new staff members this month as educational assistants, but would still love to have you join us during these times! 

 If you or someone you know are interested in volunteering, feel free to reach out to Mr. Starr at  

We’ve developed some additional guidance for volunteers to better help you when you’re at CGS supporting students, and you will be provided with that information when you come to volunteer.

1st Grade Lunch and Recess -   11:20 - 12:05

2nd Grade Lunch and Recess - 12:10 - 12:55

SEL/SJ Lessons

Social and Emotional Learning - What is SEL?

Social and emotional learning (SEL), is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. SEL is an integral part of education and is included within our 4K-12 curriculum. The Department of Public Instruction states that “explicitly teaching and promoting SEL skills in Wisconsin schools is one step on the path to student success.” 

SEL lessons will often include elements of social justice, which is the principle that society should never withhold rights and opportunities because of a person’s identity and should aim to create a society where everyone has access to the resources and opportunities to develop their full capacities, and everyone is welcome to participate. 

SEL can be a powerful lever for creating caring, just, inclusive, and healthy schools that support all young people in reaching their fullest potential. In the context of SEL, equity and excellence refers to every student—across race, ethnicity, family income levels, learning abilities, home language, immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other factors—engaging in high-quality educational opportunities and environments that best promote their healthy social, emotional, and academic development ( 

The October topics for SEL are: The Zones of Regulation, Resolving Peer Conflict, and Understanding the Size of a Problem. 

The October topics for SJ are: Hispanic Heritage Month, Who Am I To Others, What Am I Proud Of, LGBT History Month, and Getting Along with People Different From Me.

Monona Grove Education Foundation

The Monona Grove Education Foundation (MGEF) is the non-profit foundation that supports educational excellence in MGSD. We expand educational opportunities for our students of all ages through scholarships and grants, & we fund projects that benefit students & teachers both inside & out of the classroom. We do this through the following five programs:

  • The Pay It Forward Program (PIF) provides financial assistance to MG students struggling with food stability or clothing; & those needing additional educational support.
  • The Monona Grove Weekend Snack Pack Program strives to support district students who are struggling with food insecurity on the weekends.
  • The Summer Scholarship Program is designed to help support summer educational & enrichment opportunities for students in the district that may otherwise be out of reach.
  • The MGEF Teacher Innovation Grants support efforts to bring innovative new ideas & programs into the district that fall outside of traditional funding.
  • The Starting Line Fund was established in 2023 by private donors & supports the idea that every student should have an equal opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities or clubs, & that access to equipment or needed items should not be a barrier.

As a 501c3, we fund our efforts through tax-deductible donations from families, community members, & businesses from Monona and Cottage Grove. As a volunteer organization 100% of donations are used to support our mission. Our next event will support the Weekend Snack Pack program via a Cribbage Tournament on October 21st – 7pm @ Oakstone Recreational in Cottage Grove. To support the Foundation, or learn how to get involved in delivering these programs to our students and educators, please visit our website & be sure to follow us on Facebook!

News from the Health Team

Health Guidelines for Attendance

As we enter cold and flu season, it’s timely to review the guidelines for school attendance. We encourage families to send students to school each day as long as injury or illness does not significantly compromise the student’s health & there is no risk of illness transmission to the school community. A phone call or email to the attendance line at your student’s school is required to explain an absence on days they will remain home. 

Students should remain home & will be sent home from school if they: 

  • Have been experiencing episodes of vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours 
  • Have a temperature of 100°F or higher. Students must be fever free for 24 hours without fever reducing medication before returning to school. 
  • Are experiencing any symptoms severe enough to hinder participation in class & school activities (i.e., headache, body aches, fatigue, pain). 
  • Have cold symptoms that are not well contained (i.e. constant coughs, sneezes, runny noses).
  • Possibly have an untreated communicable illness (i.e. strep throat, impetigo, scabies, draining pink eye).
  • Rashes or patches of broken, itchy skin need to be examined by a physician if they appear to be spreading or not improving. Some rashes may need to be covered while your child is at school.
  • Tested positive for Covid-19 (please remain home for five days from symptom onset or positive test). Free tests are now available for ordering at & a limited number of rapid tests are available in our schools upon request.

Students may attend / return to school: 

  • When symptoms are improving 
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea free for 24 hours 
  • Fever free (100 degrees F or greater) for 24 hours without fever reducing medication 
  • If evaluated and cleared by a health care provider

Medication at School

Does your child need to take medication here at school?

Medication forms can be found here. If you need to speak to the school nurse, you can reach Nurse Nancy at 608-839-2184.

CG Parks and Recreation

Cottage Grove Village Guide - Fall/Winter

2023-24 Crossing Guard Map and Policy

Questions? Please contact:

JJ Larson

Deputy Administrator/Director of Administrative Services

(608) 209-8920

PTO News

Support the Cottage Grove PTO and our schools! 

SCRIP is one of the biggest (and EASIEST) fundraisers we have! 

SCRIP Information

Meet the CG PTO

Infinite Campus

Please keep your information on Infinite Campus up to date!

Be sure to check your phone number(s), addresses, emails, and emergency contacts.

Infinite Campus Q&A

Volunteer Form

Want to get involved at Cottage Grove School?

Fill out a form to become a volunteer!


If you know your child is going to be absent please email or call (608)-839-4576.

Pre-arranged absence? Fill out the form and turn it into attendance.

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5301 Monona Drive, Monona, WI 53716  Phone: (608) 221-7660  Fax: (608) 221-7688

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