MAMS Update May 16, 2017

MAMS exterior

Mt. Ararat Middle School

66 Republic Avenue, Topsham, ME 04086

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


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May 16, 2017


Dear Parents and Guardians,

As we approach these final weeks of the school year,  I have a few items for you:


Progress Reports. Next Tuesday, May 23rd, your child’s Quarter Four Progress Report will be live and up-to-date on the Empower Parent Portal.  The most efficient way to view their student's entire progress report is to click the "Print progress report" link.  By doing so, you can view the entire report at once and you can print out copies if you wish.  We have also added a “Year-to-Date” Progress 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.  Even as we finish our first year of using this new grading program, we are still learning about how to best use the program to its full potential and this has been a dynamic, exciting, and sometimes challenging work-in-progress.  If you feel like you would like to know more about how your child is doing in school as we go through this transition process, feel free to reach out to child’s teacher(s) directly.  All staff are happy to spend any amount of time with you to ensure that you have a clear sense of how your child’s learning is progressing.  

We are planning on holding our final Parent/Principal Coffee of the year on Tuesday, June 13 at 6:00 PM in the MAMS Learning Commons.  The goal of the parent coffees are for parents to be able to learn more and share their feedback on educational happenings at the school.  The focus of this session will be to debrief our school’s first year with a proficiency-based grading system, as well as to share a summary of the parent survey feedback.  Looking forward to it!  


We all belong walk poster


[AGAIN!!!] RESCHEDULED “We All Belong Walk”  The original walk was canceled twice due to weather.  The event has been rescheduled for Wednesday, June 7th.  This date is after the Spring Sports season, so we are hopeful there are no conflicts with other events.   We are hoping to have many parent volunteers attend this event to walk with the students.  If you are able to help with this event, please report to the front of the school building by 2:10 PM.  We will meet with all the parent chaperones before the walk begins to go over the logistics.  


Last Day of School. Our scheduled last day of school is Friday, June 23rd.  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 5.

MAMS Math team members

Mt. Ararat Middle School Math Team made a good showing at the Southern Maine Math League math meet at the Portland Expo on Tuesday, May 2.  Zander Chown earned a First Place with a perfect score on both of the individual rounds. Nathan Mao earned a Fourth Place, missing just one problem on the first round but earning a perfect score on the second round. Luke Spooner competed on the eighth grade problems, even though he is in sixth grade, and earned a perfect score in the second round. Jaimey Weidner and Sydney Dyer rounded out the team, doing a good job on some difficult problems.  Way to go, Mt. Ararat Middle School!


Spring Student Surveys Letters  On Wednesday, May 18, all our students will be taking two surveys in Advisor Group.  

  • Student Hope, Wellbeing, and Engagement Survey: Grades 5-12 - The questions on this survey, which we have adapted from the Gallup Student Poll, ask students about their hope (ideas and energy for the future), engagement (involvement in and enthusiasm for school), and well-being (how the student thinks about and experiences his or her life).

  • Clarity Survey: This survey is designed to gauge our students’ perceptions of the use of technology, and also measure how our students’ use of technology is affecting their learning in school.

Please visit HERE to learn more about these surveys and your option to opt your child out of these surveys.


8th to 9th Grade Transition. On Monday, May 22, 2017 at 6:00 PM Mt. Ararat High School Principal, Donna Brunette, will be hosting a meeting for 8th grade parents to learn more about the school’s plan for a proficiency-based learning system. HERE is a copy of message she recently sent all 8th grade parents.  She is hoping to have all 8th grade parents attend this meeting.


13 Reasons Why Poster

13 Reasons Show on Netflix.  There have been some safety issues in the news and on the internet lately that warrant community awareness.  Recently a Netflix series “Thirteen Reasons Why” was released. This series references the issues of bullying and teen suicide.  There are internet games, including The Blue Whale, which encourage kids to complete escalating dares culminating in suicide.  Many students are aware of this and have questions and concerns about the topic of suicide.  The National Association of School Psychologists is advising that vulnerable students with any degree of suicidal ideation do not watch the Netflix series.  Additionally, it is strongly recommended that if students insist on watching, they should do so in the presence of an adult.  Given the fact that we know that suicide is a heightened risk for teens and young people, we want to make you aware of the many resources that are available to support you as parents.  Mt. Ararat Middle School is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for your children.  If you have any concerns or questions please reach out to your child’s teachers, counselors or administration.

Resources: JED Foundation & NASP & Sweetser Crisis Hotline number:  1-888-568-1112


Our Music Program has exciting events coming up to finish off a great & musically-filled school year! On Thursday, June 1st, the MAMS Choirs will combine with the MTA Choirs for a final concert, at 7:00 PM in the Orion.  Many 7th and 8th grade band students are heading to Boston on Saturday, June 3rd, for their annual trip to hear the Boston Pops Orchestra and have dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. On Wednesday, June 7, all of the MAMS bands grades 6,7, & 8 will have their final performance of the school year at 7:00 PM in the Orion.  This our music teacher, Margie Landis’, last Spring concert, as she is retiring after 30 years in education!


Budget Process.  Our school district encourages all parents to participate in the School Budget approval process.  On May 25, there is a District Budget Meeting in the  Orion at 6:30 PM.  On June 13, it is the District Budget Validation public vote.


Parent Survey logo

Parent Survey.  We are asking all parents to take brief 12 question multiple-choice survey about how you feel things are going with your child(ren) at Mt. Ararat Middle School. The responses are confidential and will help us in our continual improvement efforts.  Our students are so fortunate to have such involved and caring parents/guardians in their life.  We value your feedback.   Click HERE to take the survey.  We are planning on holding our final Parent/Principal Coffee of the year on Tuesday, June 13th at 6:00 PM in the MAMS Learning Commons.  The goal of the parent coffees is  for parents to be able to learn more and share their feedback on pertinent educational issues happening at the school.  The focus of this session will be to debrief our school’s first year with a proficiency-based grading system, as well as to share a summary of the parent survey feedback.  Looking forward to it!  


Common Sense Media.  In this digital age we live in, it can be challenging for parents to teach their child how to use technology appropriately.  We hope you will find the attached Common Sense Media Tip Sheet on helping your students navigate the digital world helpful.

Junior Achievement Class

Junior Achievement.  On Thursday, April 13, Mt. Ararat Middle School 8th graders participated in an all-day Junior Achievement program.  Students rotated through innovative activities and games that focused on exploring potential careers, discovering how to plan for a job, developing a personal-brand, and job hunting tools.  The program was facilitated by community volunteers from the Bank of America branch in Brunswick.  The unique aspect of JA’s programs is the use of volunteers in the classroom to teach the student activities.  Instead of developing curriculum for teachers to use on their own, JA programs provide lesson plans for volunteers from the business community to engage in with the students. This relationship, which develops between the students and the volunteer, sets JA apart from any other economic education programs. Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students in grades K-12 about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. This year, JA will be reaching out to almost 11,000 Maine students.


8th Grade Parent Volunteers NEEDED!  The farewell tradition for the graduating 8th graders is the semi formal.  The dance always occurs on the last day of school from 6:00-9:00 PM.  The 8th Grade Semi-Formal Committee is gearing up to plan and hold this year's dance. We need lots of parent volunteers! If you are interested in getting involved, please contact for meeting times and more information!


overdue library books due poster

From the Learning Commons.  It is time to start thinking about the end of the year.  Please remind your student to make sure they backup all school materials to their school google drive and backup any personal files to a flash drive before the end of the school year.  All Learning Commons books will be due no later than June 9. It's time for students to track down overdue books and get them back to us!


Foodservice News.  Well the end of the year is fast approaching! Soon we will be hosting new 6th graders during Step Up Day. How exciting!

We have a lot of student accounts over the $20.00 limit set by the District. All bills carry over to the following year. If you have an 8th grader their balance must be at 0 before entering High School. It would be great to start the new year off fresh!  Any students who finish the school year with a negative balance, will start the next year that way as well.  If the balance is over $20.00, an Alternate Meal choice will start. Letters are being mailed home so parents are aware of these balances. You can also look on the Myschoolbucks Page for account balances.   

This is also the time for field trips as well, please be aware if a water is checked off on your student's form they must have money on their account or it will not be included. It costs $1.00.

Lastly, we always welcome families of students to come and enjoy lunch with their student.

We are also looking for Food Service substitutes in our kitchens. This is a great opportunity to make a little extra money for someone who needs school hours or who is retired.

Look for exciting changes next year. Free & Reduced Meal benefit forms will be available soon and there will be times to meet with the Food service director to fill these out.  Please look for that to come home in a mailing, and don't hesitate to contact Katy DiCara with any questions.

If you need assistance or have questions please call or e-mail Katy DiCara our Food Service Director at


International students

International Students Visit!  On Monday, May 8th, seven international students who are attending Lincoln Academy for this school year came to visit MAMS to tell our students about their home countries.  The goal of the visit was for our students to gain a better understanding and appreciation of countries and cultures around the world.   Among the countries represented were Spain, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Czech Republic, Turkey, Mexico, and Burundi. Working in coordination with our MAMS 7th and 8th grade social studies teachers, most of our students had the opportunity to meet and learn about countries on the other side of the world. The MAMS students were prepped for the visit by all teachers involved.


6th Grade Cultural Literacy Course.  Our sixth graders are creating computer and board games so they can teach their class members about Germany, France, or Mexico. This unit takes several weeks to complete and some of the games can be quite intricate. Don't be surprised if you parents are asked to help build, paint, or sculpt part of a country/language game. Parental involvement is encouraged. Those who play together, learn together!


Attention 6th Grade Parents Re/ Immunization.  The State of Maine has instituted a new immunization requirement for students entering the 7th grade for the upcoming school year.  Effective for the 2017-2018 school year, all students entering, advancing or transferring into 7th grade will need to receive 1 dose of Tdap(tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine before school starts. This requirement is for 7th grade students only; grades 8-12 are not included in this rule change.  If you are unsure if your child has already had this vaccine, please call the school nurse, Patty McGovern who can help you.  HERE is the formal letter describing this change.  HERE is the state website regarding this law revision.  HERE are FAQs.


Orion Performing Arts Center events:

"Hansel & Gretel" a ballet for all ages. Saturday & Sunday, May 20th and May 21st, 3:00 PM

MAMS students may attend Friday, May 19th dress rehearsal at 4:00 PM, without charge.  Elizabeth Drucker's Ballet School presents a beautiful year-end dance performance based on this beloved fairy tale.

MTA/MAMS Chorus Concert, Thursday, June 1st, 7:00 PM.

Moving Company Dance Performance, Saturday, June 3rd, 4:00 PM. Create-A-Play Theater/Art Summer Camp--Still has some spaces.  Last year's camp was a lot of fun and a great success.  The Orion Performing Arts Center is planning a week of theatrical fun for July 17-21 this year.  Campers imagine a character; collaborate to write a play; create all the sets, props, and costumes; and perform the play on Friday.  It's a whirlwind of creativity and activity,  Kathleen Nation will return as Theater Director, and we are seeking an Art Director.  Registration brochures are available at the school or online or contact Orion Coordinator Judy Lloyd for more info.

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 Signature

Josh Ottow





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