MAMS Update~June 11th, 2018

MAMS Update~June 11th, 2018
Posted on 06/12/2018

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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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June 11, 2018

Dear Parents and Guardians,

We have only nine days of school left and we are gearing up for a great end of the school year.  I have a few items for you:

MSAD 75 District-wide Proficiency-based Learning Feedback Survey.  We value your feedback as we seek to continuously improve our methods to help our students grow.  When the Proficiency-based Learning Steering Committee (comprised of staff, parents, community members, and Board members) began to meet, we started by defining four principles of proficiency-based learning for our district.  Those four principles will guide this survey. Each principle will include some examples, some specific questions, and an opportunity to provide additional comments.  A similar survey is being sent to teachers as well. As a reminder, we have information about proficiency-based grading and reporting (including answers to frequently asked questions). Thank you for taking time to respond to the survey.  Please take a few minutes to complete THIS SURVEY

Last Day of School. Our scheduled last day of school is Friday, June 22.  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 4.

Quarter 4 Report Cards will be going home in student backpacks on the last day of school.  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.

Students Taste  South American Cuisine as Part of “All Cultures Together” Week

All Cultures Together Week.  This week, the Interact Club has created a week titled All Cultures Together, or A.C.T. It was dedicated to promoting and accepting all cultures, to create a sense of unity. We believe that no matter what someone may look like, what sort of food they eat, or what they dress like, we are all people; these differences are what make us beautiful.

Our week was set out as follows:

  • The Thursday and Friday before the original week were dedicated to Antarctica and Australia. Monday was focused on South America. We sent out a slideshow to all of the teachers to show their students at some point in the day. The slideshow included basic information on the continent, and clips of dances, music, and pieces of art. At lunch, the students enjoyed a taste of a food from South America. (pictured above)
  • Tuesday was Africa day. A similar slideshow was sent out, containing photos of amazing places, and more traditional dances and interesting music. The cafeteria staff also provided a themed food for this day - couscous, a Maghrebi dish, made of steamed crushed balls of wheat served with a broth.
  • The week continued, with Wednesday focused on Europe, Thursday on Asia, and finally Friday focused on our home continent, North America, all with the taste of the culture in both the slideshows and the food.
  • We brought the focus back from different cultures from around the world to our home. Friday was the day of the Naturalization Ceremony, hosted in the Orion, where 65+ people were being welcomed into America. We thought it would be a great way to end the week! The Interact Club is planning to help out at the ceremony by ushering in people, handing out programs, and creating a hospitable environment.  We would like to thank the cafeteria staff for their enthusiasm and amazing food, and all of the teachers for helping us out and participating. It has been a great success thanks to them!

Naturalization Ceremony!  On Friday morning, June 8th, Mt. Ararat Middle School in Topsham, Maine hosted an official United States Citizenship Naturalization Ceremony.  The entire body witnessed 60 individuals earning the right of citizenship in the United States (above left, a new citizen originally from Brazil).  The event was organized by 7th Grade Social Studies Teacher Mark Dugal and the school's Interact Club and Civil Rights Team. During the ceremony the school's band and chorus performed, and the keynote address was given by Nassar Rohani (pictured above, second from right), an American Citizen originally from Iran who went through the same ceremony himself decades ago and now works at the corporate office of LL Bean. The ceremony supported the Mt. Ararat Middle School core values of patriotism and belonging.  

MAMS Civil Rights Team with Maine Attorney General Janet Mills at the State Civil Rights Conference

Civil Rights Team in the Spotlight.  On Friday, May 18th, the Mt. Ararat Middle School Civil Rights Team was selected by the Maine Attorney General’s Office to present their project #WordsHurt at the annual Civil Rights Team Project State Conference. Mt. Ararat Middle School was one of eight middle schools selected from around the state to showcase their work. This is an amazing accomplishment for a first year team! We are so proud of the seventh and eighth graders involved in this project for their hard work and dedication to making MAMS a safe and welcoming place for all students!

Staff Spotlight. One of the greatest resources at Mt. Ararat Middle School is our amazing staff. HERE in the new Staff Spotlight, you will get to know some interesting information about a member of our faculty! Staff members are chosen at random and will be featured on our website. We hope you enjoy this extra look inside our community and that you learn something new about the people that make MAMS such a special place! This month is Physical Education teacher Jack Rioux (above)!

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. The MAMS Learning Commons will be open during the last week of school and on dates to be announced during the summer. Students who have access to devices and internet will find that the MAMS Learning Commons is open all summer for digital books. To find books, navigate to the MAMS Learning Commons catalog which includes Follett digital materials and access to Overdrive titles. 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 2018 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.  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.

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.

District Budget Vote.  We have an important District Budget Validation Referendum next (this)Tuesday, June 12th.  In addition to the annual budget, voters are being asked to approve a bond issue in an amount not to exceed $1,560,000 to construct, repair, renovate and improve roofs at SAD 75 schools on a system-wide basis.  You can find the schools and specifics about the projects in the attached.

Social Studies Learning.  Magalloway students are working hard to get ready for the Magalloway Museum of Ancient Civilizations that opens  June 13 from 1:00 - 2:00pm. This hands-on project provides the students with choice in how they meet the social studies learning goals.

The MAMS 8th Grade Semi-Formal is almost here, and parents/guardians, we need your help before, during, and after! Volunteers are needed for decorations/set-up, chaperoning, and clean-up. Please sign up HERE to help make this annual tradition a great send-off for our eighth grade students.

From Nurse Naomi. As this school year comes to a close Nurse Naomi Mullane has some health information to share and to say that she has thoroughly enjoyed being  the "new nurse" at MAMS. Summer has finally arrived. Many think of beach trips, cookouts, sleeping in and lazy days. What comes to my mind? Tick bites, sunburns, 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.

Our Approach to Math Instruction. Here at MAMS, we do the best we can to group our students for math instruction based on the Learning Goals they need.  We understand that all children can learn math at high levels, but not every child is ready for the same skills and concepts at the same time.   We want to provide the right amount of challenge for each student. That means finding the right balance between rigor and frustration. So, within the resources we have at hand, we do our best to meet all of our students’ needs.

We place incoming 6th graders in math groups based on their Learning Goal needs. Most students will start 6th grade with 6th grade Learning Goals. Some, who need more time, will work on 6th grade Learning Goals, but at a slower pace in order to fill in some of the gaps they may have in their learning.  Because we have several teachers beyond our core teams helping to make our groups smaller, some students move off their team to receive instruction. We keep our groups somewhat flexible, so that if we see a student who really needs to be with a different cohort of students to work on a different set of Learning Goals, we are able to make that placement throughout the  year.

In 7th and 8th grade, most students stay on team for math instruction.  Each math teacher has 4 sections of math classes, and so is able to group students according to Learning Goal needs.  Students with a GT identification leave the team for math instruction and work with the GT teacher. We may place other students who are not identified as GT, but exhibit similar learning needs, in this group as well.  In 8th grade, students who are ready for a fast pace and the Algebra I high school curriculum are placed in such a class.

We do our best to use multiple indicators to determine the best placement for each of our students.  Standardized test scores (STAR, MEA), Learning Goals completed in Empower, and the teacher’s recommendation all go into the decision making.  

We appreciate hearing from parents about our process, with questions you may have about the math program or your child’s placement.  

For more information contact current Math Leader Peggy Brown at , future Math Leader Melissa Cribby at, or Gifted/Taleted Coordinator Kim Emerson at, or Josh Ottow,

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. At the meal sites, different activities will be offered daily such as outdoor games, arts & crafts, and even wildlife presentations with live animals! Breakfast (9-10am) and lunch (12-1pm) will be served Monday through Friday starting June 25th and ending August 31st at the Mt. Ararat Middle School. Other locations in Brunswick and Lisbon will be available as well.

“Create-A-Play” Theater/Art Summer Camp at the Orion.   Limited Space available in "Create-A-Play," Theater/Art Summer Camp, at Orion Performing Arts Center

Limited space is still available at the Orion Performing Arts Center’s “Create-A-Play” Theater/Art Day Camp.  Deadline for registrations is June 29. Camp will take place Monday-Friday, July 16-20, from 9am to 4pm. The play will be performed on Friday, July 20 at 3 pm, followed by a cast/family party.  Camp is open to all students finishing grades 5 through 8 in June. This unique camp invites 20 middle-school-age students to develop characters, write their own play together, create all the scenery, and perform the play.  Half of each day will consist of theater activities—character development, scene-writing, acting skills, projecting the voice, theater games, and more. The other half of the day will be creating visual arts such as set design/ building, props, costumes, self-portraits, painting, and other art activities.  Theater Director is Kathleen Nation and Art Director is Christine Gates. Both have wide experience in the performing and visual arts fields, and have worked frequently with middle-school students. The generosity of Norway Savings Bank allows us to offer some scholarships to eligible children. Registration brochures are available online at; at Mt. Ararat Middle School, 66 Republic Ave, Topsham; and at local libraries. For more information, contact Coordinator Judy Lloyd at the Orion, or 729-2950 ext. 7.

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


Josh Ottow







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