MAMS Update October 27, 2016

MAMS Exterior

Mt. Ararat Middle School

66 Republic Avenue, Topsham, ME 04086

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


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October 27, 2016

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope everyone is enjoying these brisk fall days.  I have a few items for you:

The First Quarter wraps up next Friday, November 4.  Learning Goal and Work Habit scores will be finalized by the following Thursday, November 10 and we will be sending paper report cards home with students on that day.  Parents can always go online and view grades on the Empower Parent Portal.  

Follow Up to Empower Parent Workshops.  Thanks to all the parents who came out this week to our two parent workshops.  Our students and staff led parents through sessions on how parents can best use Empower to clearly understand where their child is in regards to their learning.  We also discussed our recognition and eligibility protocols (see below).  HERE are the materials we used for these workshops in case you missed them.  We would be happy to sit down with any parents who want to better understand how to use this new grading program. We are all learning together!

Recognition and Extracurricular Eligibility will be based on Work Habit scores.  Work habits have been shown to be positively correlated to achievement on academic learning goals and support our school’s mission of developing a growth mindset.  In order to make the Honor Roll, students need to have 95% or more of their work habits scores be at the “Meets” (3) or “Exceeds” (4) level from the previous quarter.  We will release our Honor Roll four times a year at the end of each quarter.  In order to be eligible to fully participate in extracurricular activities, including clubs and sports, students will need to have at least 80% of their work habits scores be at the “Meets” (3) or “Exceeds” (4) level from the previous quarter.  

Dances. Mt. Ararat Middle School has a few dances during the year as a way for students to socialize outside of school and to promote positive school spirit.  The dates for these dances are:

TODAY! 6th Grade: THURSDAY, OCT. 27, 2:30-4:15 PM

7th and 8th Grade:  FRIDAY, NOV. 4, 6-8 PM

6th Grade:  THURSDAY, JAN. 26,  2:30-4:15 PM

7th and 8th Grade: FRIDAY, FEB. 3, 6-8 PM

6th and 7th grade: FRIDAY, MAY 5,  6-8 PM

8th Grade Semi Formal:  JUNE, TBD-Last Day, 6-8 PM

Our dances are held in the cafeteria and admission is $5 (exception: Semi-Formal is $10).  The proceeds from the dances benefit our Student Activities Fund which supports student enrichment and recognition.  We rely on parent volunteers to chaperone our dances.  Please call the office at 729-2950 if you are available to chaperone an upcoming dance.  We are currently in need of volunteers for the 7th and 8th grade dance on Friday, November 4.  We also ask parents to bring in baked goods on the day of our dances.  

On the evening of the last day of school, we hold a Semi Formal Dance for our departing 8th Graders.  This is an exciting rite of passage for our soon-to-be high school students and is our way of sending them off.  This dance is 100% organized and run by parents;  please call the main office at 729-2950 if you wish to be part of the 8th Grade Semi-Formal Committee.

Facebook.  Mt. Ararat Middle School has a Facebook page!  We use this for ‘on-the-fly’  communication and announcements and it can be a great way for parents to stay connected to our school.  Simply visit THIS LINK to subscribe to the page.

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STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  All our 7th and 8th grade students participate in a STEM course as part of our our comprehensive Exploratory program.  In this class students engage in hands-on designing, engineering, collaborating and creating. Please click HERE to see what your student has been doing or contact our STEM teachers Sandy Bickford or Elizabeth Michel with questions.

Team Androscoggin Students and teachers will be holding a "Celebration of Learning" on November 22, 2016 from 1:00-2:00.  Students will have their work on display from all four content areas.  Please join us to celebrate all of their hard work.  More information will be coming home in a flyer.

SASSM. Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine are coming to Mt. Ararat Middle School again this year throughout the months of October and November to work with students at the 7th and 8th grade levels. SASSMM is a non-profit agency that provides awareness and risk-reduction programs to school children by presenting programs on various topics which are informative, discussion- and activity-based, and specifically designed to meet the needs of students in each particular grade level.  SASSMM's educational programs are created in conjunction with the Health Education Learning Goals.

Chili Competition

Chili Cook-off.  Be sure to ask your child about our school’s inaugural “Chili Cook Off”! Each team is challenged with creating a three bean chili recipe with all the veggies and spices.  Samples will be available to all students for tasting and judging.  Chili’s will be judged and voted on during each grades lunch, staff are invited to taste and cast a vote. Winners will be photographed and results will go to the media and the chili recipe will be prepared by our cafeteria staff and served at lunch on National Chili Day in February.

Kids outside art museumkids in art museum

Art News.  On October 14th, a group of MAMS Art students went to the Farnsworth Museum and Wyeth Center in Rockland, ME.   Each year, every 7th and 8th grader, as part of their middle level Visual Arts curriculum, has an opportunity to take a field trip and venture out to visit one of the many “world class” art museums that is a part of our community here in Maine.

During these trips, our students have a chance to view original artwork up close in a professionally curated museum setting and interact with it in a variety of ways, guided by each museum’s educational staff. These opportunities make the artwork come alive for students as they view it, interact with it and learn about it in the context of each artist’s artwork being a reflection of their life in Maine.

On Oct. 20th, our 6th graders were treated to a drawing workshop given by visiting local artist/illustrator/cartoonist, Mr. Vance Bessey. Mr. Bessey has work featured regularly in publications such as the Times Record and The Coastal Journal. He volunteered his time to come into our art room and enrich our curriculum by sharing information about his career as a working artist and by teaching the students some of his figure drawing techniques.

Finally, as you visit the Orion Performing Arts Center this fall to see various shows, check out a new exhibit hanging in its Lobby Gallery. The exhibit called "Abstract Thinking" showcases large, bold abstract paintings done by some of our 8th graders who have Visual Art as an Exploratory class this quarter.

Music/Band Update.  On Thursday, October 20th, our 8th grade band students attended an open rehearsal of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Symphony Hall, Boston.  It was a fabulous experience for our students to see and hear a rehearsal of one of the great orchestras in the world and to see how professional musicians go to work.  Yo-Yo Ma was performing with the orchestra and it was a very special occasion.

On Thursday, November 10th, about 30, 7th and 8th grade band students will travel to Medomak Middle School to audition for the Maine Music Educators Association District 3 Middle School Honors Music Festival.  They will be auditioning, along with students from 33 other middle schools for positions in the 2017 Honors Band.  If accepted, the festival will be held right here at MAMS on April 7th & 8th, 2017.  Good luck to all!

Learning Commons Tech Tip: Parental Controls.  We understand why parents might want to use parental controls on student and family devices. Turning on parental controls -- or adding any other type of filter or control -- on school-issued devices may have the unintended consequence of blocking access to required educational content.

School-issued laptops are set up in a very specific manner to work with MLTI and the school network. These devices are owned by the State and are not the property of the student or MAMS. Additionally, our back end management software must be able to connect with the laptop to update software and settings. If the accounts and passwords are changed on the device, we will not be able to make these necessary updates.

We ask that you do not add any filters or controls to your student’s school-issued laptop. An alternative you might consider is setting up a filtering service on your home network. The service we use in the district is OpenDNS.

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Thank you for your cooperation. If you have any concerns or questions about your student’s laptop, please contact Karen Silverman or any member of the Learning Commons team.

ORION Events.  Exciting public events upcoming at the Orion Performing Arts Center:

"The Diary of ‚ÄčAnne Frank"

A new adaptation by Wendy Kesselman of "Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl," by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett.  Presented by Mt. Ararat High School Stage Company.  

Friday, November 4: 7:30 PM

Saturday, November 5: 7:30 PM

Sunday, November 6: 3:00 PM

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.jpg

Josh Ottow



Josh Ottow
Mt. Ararat Middle School
66 Republic Ave. |  Topsham, ME  04086  |  729-2950
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