Principal Updates

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Mt. Ararat Middle School

66 Republic Avenue, Topsham, ME 04086

Phone:  (207)729-2950     Fax: (207)729-2964

Website:  mams.link75.org

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June 18, 2019

Dear Parents and Guardians,

We now have only a few days of school left.  We hope all our families have a wonderful and restful summer vacation.  I have a few items for you:


Last Day of School. Our scheduled last day of school is this Friday, June 21.  School will let out at 11:00 am that day. For your family’s advance planning HERE is our school calendar for next year.  The first day of school next year is Tuesday, September 3.


Quarter 4 Report Cards will be going home in student backpacks on Thursday or Friday.  We received feedback from parents that having the report card contain all the learning goals from the entire year made the report card too lengthy and difficult to read.  In response to this, we included only those learning goal and work habits scored during the Quarter 4 marking period, April 9 - present. If you wish to see the entire year to date, simply log on to the Empower Parent Portal and click the "Print progress report" link and follow the “Year-to-Date” Report under this menu.  In addition, by clicking on the “Goal Browser” in the upper right hand corner, you can see a more longitudinal view of the important knowledge and skills that your child is and will be learning.  We have provided DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS HERE or through this VIDEO.

Student Growth.  We are so proud of the amount of growth our students have made this year in all subject areas.  In particular, we wanted to highlight the growth that MAMS students have made in the areas of math and reading.  Above is a bar graph that shows the average of all our students’ academic growth for math and reading this year on our screening tool, the STAR assessment.  It lists the Student Growth Percentile (SGP), which represents the amount of growth one student makes compared to middle school students nationwide. A student with an SGP score that is greater than 40 means that student’s growth is more than the expected grade level growth. As you can see above, our schoolwide average SGP is 52 for math and 54 for reading.  This is fantastic news! Another way to state this is that our school, as a whole, grew one year plus an additional three months - so our school grew three months faster than other middle schools nationwide. Kudos to all our amazing teachers and students for all their hard work this year to bring about this growth.


Yearbooks.  Our school contracts with TreeRing Publishing for our school year books.  We just received word from TreeRing that, unfortunately, publication of our yearbook has been delayed and won't be available for distribution before our students leave for the summer. We are working with the publisher to arrange shipment to students' homes.  We apologize for this delay.


MTA Grads Visit MAMS.  On Friday, June 7, our students were treated with a special surprise.  As many of you know, that was the day before MTA's Graduation Ceremony.  On that Friday morning, a large group of Seniors volunteered to be here at MAMS.  They were here with their full caps and gowns on. They stationed themselves at the front entrance and cheered for all our students when they arrived to/from motor breaks and lunches.  The tradition started at Williams-Cone Elementary School several years ago, when several graduates who were WCS alum made a surprise appearance at the school and walked through the hallways to cheer on the younger students.  We are excited that the Seniors wanted to expand this to other schools, including MAMS. The goal of this program is to remind younger students that all MSAD 75 students have a clear, tangible goal in common -- to graduate high school!


The Changing of “The Honor Guard.”  Our school has a remarkable program that began years ago through the leadership of former student Sam Hughes (member of Class of 2021 and recent recipient of the Eagle Scout honor).  The program is called “The MAMS Honor Guard.” Members of the Honor Guard are student leaders who raise the American Flag in front of the school every morning. This is a responsibility that the students take very seriously, and this honor is bestowed on students who have shown a high-degree of positive school citizenship.  When one member of the Honor Guard leaves our school, it is their responsibility to nominate a student to replace them on the guard. This year, Jackson Byrne (second from left) is moving on to the high school, and replacing him will be 6th graders Jeffrey Jellison-Bozeman, Parker Munsey, and Chrisopher Jellison-Bozeman. Congratulations to these important student leaders.




Friday’s “Mad Grill Day” Lunch!  Our amazing kitchen staff surprised our students with a  special event this past Friday. Instead of the regular lunch service, our lunch staff served a BBQ lunch outside in the courtyard.  The menu that day consisted of grilled hamburgers, watermelon, corn on the cob, fun chips, baby carrots with dip, and fresh squeezed lemonade. For an added side and included in the price of the value meal all students also received popcorn, cotton candy, and a mini-frisbee!

Since it is the end of the year, please check your students accounts. All balances positive or negative will carry over to the next year.  Be safe and enjoy your summer!


Mural Group.  MAMS Eagle’s Cafe (our cafeteria) has some new artwork!  The MAMS Mural Club, made up of Jocelyne Coombs, Katherine Gross, Kelsey Lemieux, Madison Peters, Piper Dedek. Rose Tuttle, and Sydney Dufresne, recently installed their new piece of art on the walls inside the Cafe.  The Mural showcases healthy eating choices, as well as a small tribute to Donna Lavigne, the longtime MAMS food service staff member, who passed away unexpectedly this year. Thanks art teacher Elizabeth Michel and to all our amazing student artists!   


From Social Worker Judy Maloney.  My 7th grade acting class participants chose to have a celebration and goodbye for the summer party by making root beer floats. We did it like a tea ceremony where groups of two made a float for the other, with their guidance, and then offering it with appreciations of that student. My heart is warmed by the meaningful and sweet things they said to each other: “I was afraid to enter this group but you made it safe for me.” “You are so unique and free. I’ve learned from you.” “I look forward to this group all week because you all make it so much fun.” “You get so silly. I would never have known that. It’s cool.” “I would never have known you without this group. Now we’re friends.” “You are such a talented singer.” “I expressed myself in ways I don’t other places because you accepted it and did it yourself.” The whole group listened and sometimes chimed in. I appreciate working in a district where I have the freedom to lead groups like this.



STEM Learning.  Students in our STEM Program have just completed building and testing their engineering design challenges.  They had lots of criteria and constraints to follow and consider as they worked and problem solved issues that occurred throughout the process.  We are very proud of what these groups have been able to accomplish, this is not an easy task!

Pre-Engineering Program.  We are excited to announce an even greater expansion of our school’s cooperation with Region 10 Technical School in Brunswick.  For the past two years, our students have been able to access programming at their school. For example, this year, several of our 8th graders attended Region 10 Tech every afternoon to participate in programming related to welding, building trades, automobile technology and outdoor power.  Next year, we are looking to expand participation for our students who may be interested in the field of Engineering at the university level and/or a possible interest in engineering and architecture. This Spring, we took many of our top math and science students to Region 10 to spend a day in their newly formed Pre-Engineering program.  Next year, our students could access this Pre-Engineering program as part of their middle school schedule. If you are interested in your child potentially participating in this program, please reach out to me and/or their counselor.


From the Learning Commons.  Many studies have shown the importance of summer reading and the positive impact summer reading has on Summer Learning Loss. Current 6th and 7th grade students who are in good standing with the Learning Commons, will be able to check out up to 5 books for the summer. MAMS students are encouraged to create a reading goal for the summer (either a number of books or a number of pages per week) and record progress on the  MAMS 2019 Summer Reading Goal and Reading Log Form.  Students who return a completed Reading Log to the Learning Commons in September will be entered into a raffle at the MAMS Fall Book Fair.

Students should check out their public library programs too. The Topsham Public Library has already started their Summer Reading program and they are offering lots of prizes to participants. MSAD students living in Bowdoin and Bowdoinham can sign up for FREE non-resident summer library cards at the Topsham Public Library thanks to a collaboration between the district, Trust for Our Future, and the Topsham Public Library. Students living in Bowdoin can sign up for a FREE library card at the Bowdoinham Public Library and students living in Harpswell can sign up for a FREE library card at the Curtis Memorial Library.


sora

Students who have access to devices and the internet can access the Maine Schools Shared Digital Collection of eBooks and audiobooks using the Sora app (use your school username and password to log in). Don't forget that summer is a good time to check out the new Maine Student Book Award nominees!

 

Laptop Coverage for rising 7th and 8th grade students -- now with less paper! Parents are encouraged to pay the laptop coverage fee online through Infinite Campus for next year. If you pay the fee online, you will not need to return a paper form to us.  HERE is the letter that outlines this process for rising 7th and 8th graders.  HERE is the process for incoming 6th graders.

 

Learning Commons classes: Please enjoy some very creative and fun book trailers created by our 6th grade students using Adobe Spark and by our 7th grade students using iMovie.

 

Possible Change to Laptops Going Home Next Year.  We are exploring a possible change to the Laptop Take Home Protocols for our school.  This has been discussed with our staff, and we are hoping for more parent feedback prior to moving forward with this for next year.  Here is a brief summary of the background/context of the issue, and a brief summary of the proposal:

Background/Context:

  • While technology is vitally important to the learning process, if adolescents have too much screen time it can be unhealthy to them (lack of sleep, addiction, inappropriate content, social media/bullying, etc)

  • While there is sometimes homework given to students that requires technology, students have access to alternative ways to do that work that doesn't require their school laptop going home.  This includes using another tech device in the home, accessing files via the cloud, and/or staying after school.

Proposal:

  • Switch the laptop take home protocol so that a parent would need to request to have it go home. These parents could request because they prefer to not have their child access the alternative tech access options listed in the bullet above.

  • If a parent would like to make this request, the school would require that they attend an information session where they would learn more about how to set healthy boundaries with technology and how to effectively supervise its use in the home

  • All student school-issued macbooks (including those that go home) would be remotely disabled at 9:00 pm, aka. "lights out".  

We welcome parent input and/or feedback on this proposal.  Please send a note to me (ottowj@link75.org) or Learning Commons Teacher Karen Silverman (silvermank@link75.org).

 

8th Grade Semi-Formal. The farewell tradition for the graduating 8th graders is the Semi-Formal. This year's dance will occur on the last day of school from 7:00-10:00 pm. Students recently voted on the theme for the dance, Hollywood. Semi-Formal attire is requested for this dance. If any students need help covering the costs for this dance, please contact your child's school counselor. For volunteer opportunities or more information, please contact our secretary Vicki Smith at smithv@link75.org, who can connect you to the parent volunteers.


From Nurse Naomi. As this school year comes to a close Nurse Naomi Mullane has some health information to share.  Summer has finally arrived. Many think of beach trips, cookouts, sleeping in and lazy days. What comes to my mind? Tick bites, sun burns, brown tail moth rash and dehydration.

Below is information on each of these topics for those who like a lot of detail.

The short version is as follows:

    - do daily tick checks

    - use sunscreen

    - watch out for brown tail moths

    - hydration, hydration - water is the best drink for all

Best wishes for a great summer.  May you and your children spend lots of time playing and exploring, being outdoors and away from screens.


Summer Activities and Free Meals for Children. The Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program is offering summer-long fun and free meals for children in multiple locations in the greater Topsham and Brunswick area. Many children who receive lunches during the school year have a difficult time finding a nutritious meal during summer vacation. Through the federally funded Summer Food Service Program, free meals will be served at open sites on weekdays all summer to any child 18 years of age or younger - no questions asked.  HERE is a list of all the meal sites.  Lunch (12-1pm) will be served Monday through Friday starting June 24th and ending August 30th at the Mt. Ararat Middle School.



Sincerely,


Josh Ottow

Principal


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