MAMS Update January 25, 2017

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Mt. Ararat Middle School

66 Republic Avenue, Topsham, ME 04086

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


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January 25, 2017

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope everyone made it through our recent icy and snowy weather.  I have a few items for you:


Quarter 2 Report Cards. Paper copies will be sent home with students on Friday.  Grades will be finalized by tomorrow afternoon, so we encourage all parents to go online and view grades within the Empower Program any time after that.  Quarter Two Honor Roll will be posted on our website by early next week.   


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“How to Use Empower” Video  We have produced a VIDEO tutorial to help parents better understand how to use the Empower program to understand where their child is with their learning.  Since this is the first year we are using this grading program, this is very much a learning year for all of us.  We hope this video is helpful for you as you review your child’s Quarter 2 grades in Empower.  The video is designed to be played and paused on one screen, while you practice with Empower on another screen.  If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s teachers.

Catch Up Ketchup

Catch Up Growth. As our school is committed to being a proficiency-based learning system, it means that we make every attempt to teach a student the knowledge and skills that they are ready for.  For some students, this means that their learning goals might be from a grade level higher or lower than the grade they are in.  This can be seen clearly on each student’s report card, as well as by clicking on the “Goal Browser” in Empower.  It is important to note, however, that for those student working below grade level, we are also focusing on efforts to catch them up to their grade-level peers.  Our NWEA screening tests, given three times a year (including this week), helps us get an accurate sense of the learning level students are at and allows us to provide appropriate interventions to maximize this “Catch Up Growth.”  If you have any questions about this, feel free to ask your child’s teachers at upcoming parent/teacher conferences.


Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on the week of Tuesday, February 6 through Thursday, February 9, 2:30-7:00 pm.  You will be hearing from your child’s team teachers to schedule these student-led conferences.  If you also wish to conference with your child’s exploratory teachers (Health, P.E., Art, Music, Culture/Languages, STEM), please contact them directly to schedule your conference with them during one of these evenings.  Their contact information can be found on our staff directory.


School News Link. Recently, we have made several improvements to the MAMS WEBSITE.  You may remember that the school district converted to a new web platform this fall.  This transition meant that our school site was not as functional as it should be.  We apologize for this and we appreciated your patience as we have made improvements.  Please take a moment to explore the full site.  We’d like to highlight the “School News” page, which can be accessed on the homepage.  There, we will post our daily announcements, as well as other relevant happenings in the school.  

middle school dance

DANCE! DANCE! DANCE!  We have two upcoming school dances, and we need you!   

Mt. Ararat Middle School relies on parent volunteers to chaperone our dances and we need at least 10 parent volunteers to run a dance.  In addition, we would love to have any parents (whether you are chaperoning or not) to bring in individually wrapped baked goods or snacks for a snack sale at each dance.  Please contact the main office at 729-2950 if you are able to help out with this fun event.

6th Grade Dance:  Thursday, January 26, 2:30-4:00 pm (late bus provided)

7th/8th Grade Dance: Friday, February 3, 6:00-8:00 pm

Tickets are $5 at the door.  All proceeds benefit our student activities fund, which is used to support field trips and student recognition activities.  


MIYHS Survey. Every two years, all middle school students in the state participate in the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS).  The results from this anonymous survey are made available to the school and community and they guide health and wellness programming.  HERE is a detailed letter regarding this state survey.  


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Region Ten Tech Visit.  On January 19 all of our eighth grade students attended an exploratory program at the Region Ten Technical High School.  The goal of this program is to provide students with an understanding and appreciation of vocational/technical education.  When students enter the high school, they can choose to take some of their coursework/program at Region Ten.  This 8th grade visitation program is just one part of our ongoing exploration of the many course and career options available to students as they transition to high school and beyond.


MTA Building Project Update.  The Mt. Ararat High School project was presented to the Maine State Board of Education for Concept Approval and was unanimously approved on January 11, 2017. This is another significant step in the process of building a new high school to serve the students of Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell and Topsham.  This approval allows the School District to submit the project to the voters in a Referendum on March 7, 2017, with voting taking place at each town’s regular polling site. A Public Hearing is scheduled for February 15, 2017 in the Mt. Ararat High School Commons at 6 p.m. Should an alternate date become necessary, the hearing will be held on February 16.


Food Service Updates. Our Food Services staff have established a set snow day menu s to make it easier for our staff if there is a school delay.  This menu is published on the Food Services page on the district web page under menus.Please make a habit of checking your child’s balance at the end of each month.  We have quite a few students who are over the $20.00 owed mark.  Once a child reaches that limit, they are only offered an alternate meal of a sunbutter and jelly or a cheese sandwich. Notices are sent home by the school as well as the Nutrition director.  If you have any questions, please email our Nutrition Director, Katy Dicara  We have a few really fun events coming next month for our students.  Colors week will be the week before school vacation, this is where we showcase new fruits and vegetables for the students to try.  We hope to cook some of these items and offer as a taste at each meal period and really get the students involved.  Lastly, we would love to remind all families that they are welcome to dine with their student any day for lunch.  We are also looking for foodservice substitutes, this is the perfect opportunity for anyone who wants a few hours of work when it’s available.  These shifts generally run 3 hours, and will encompass serving a component of the meal being offered.  It’s a great way to make a little money for someone who needs school hours, or is retired. If you know of anyone who would be a great fit, have them email the Nutrition Director at


Orion Performing Arts Center

Dine at 99 to support Orion Performing Arts Center.  The Orion Performing Arts Center, School District #75’s theater inside Mt. Ararat Middle School, will hold a delicious event on Thursday, February 2: “Dining for a Cause,” at the Ninety-Nine Restaurant, on Topsham Fair Mall Rd.  Bring a voucher to either lunch or dinner, and the 99 Restaurant will donate 15% of your bill to the Orion’s capital needs fund.  The Orion Advisory Committee is raising money to improve curtains and lights at the theater.  We will soon install a rope system and proscenium curtains which close in the center.  These improvements will make the stage more attractive and useful for performances and community groups.  Vouchers are available at the Mt. Ararat Middle School or can be downloaded from the Orion’s website HERE.  Vouchers to support the Orion can’t be distributed at the restaurant, so get yours in advance.  The Committee is also holding a raffle, thanks to the generosity of donors.   Raffle tickets, available at the event, are $1, or 6 for $5.  Items include gift certificate to The Music Center, signed photo of Red Sox player Pablo Sandoval, signed photo of Patriots’ player Nate Solder, tickets to Portland Sea Dogs game, basket of Red Claws items including an autographed item, and more.  Raffle will continue until March 22.


If any questions, comments, or suggestions arise, please feel free to call the school at 729-2950 or send me an email at:



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Josh Ottow



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