Middle School Newsletter
November 30, 2018
MS. WRIGHT'S WRITINGS…
Two weeks ago my oldest daughter, Taylor, sent me a panicked text because she was certain she had just failed an exam. Typically she is pretty calm but this had clearly shaken her. She was crying and very confused because she knew how much she had done to prepare for it. While Taylor is in college now, it was really only relatively recently that she really learned how to study effectively. After this conversation though, I began to reflect on our own practices at PCS. I began to wonder if we were doing enough to help our students learn these all important skills as well. While every student is unique and will need to personalize their study habits there are some basic skills that all individuals can benefit from. I recently read an article that highlights six different strategies that could potentially assist students in how they prepare for assessments. While I was reading it occurred to me that Taylor certainly could have benefited from this information prior to starting college. While our students are still young I don’t believe it is really ever too early to instill solid study skills. I strongly encourage you to read the article and talk to your child about it.
Getting back to Taylor’s story, when she got her exam back, as she had anticipated, she did not do as well as she would have liked. When we receive an assessment or project back with a grade we typically have a reaction. The reaction can vary depending on how well we did. I believe reflecting on how well we preformed is just as critical as preparation. On Tuesday, Taylor shared with me that she had emailed her professor immediately after her exam to see if he would meet with her. During her meeting, her professor asked why she is in college and she gave the standard answer, “to get a degree and then get a job”. He quickly corrected her and told her the correct response is, “to learn how to learn”.
He shared with her that she isn’t the first (and won’t be the last) student to reach out to him and he has the same conversation with all of them, he teaches them HOW to study for his class. In reflection, she now sees how she was unprepared, even though she had studied for multiple hours for the exam. If she hadn’t taken the time to stop and reflect on her performance on that exam, she ultimately would have set herself up to potentially fail her final in a couple of weeks.
We ultimately know ourselves best so only we can answer the question, “Did I do my best”? However, you can play a vital role in helping your children learn how to reflect in this way. Start by asking them this same question often. That way, when they are on their own they will know how to reflect independently. I encourage you to take the time to have a conversation with your child about their performance in their classes. Are they fully prepared? If not, what skills are missing? This conversation will not only help build their skills but reinforces that their education is important to you too. Together I know that we can give our children the necessary tools to be well prepared and reflective.
8th Grade End Of Course English 1 Exam …
As stated in our middle school mission, it is our goal to help prepare our students to be successful in high school and competitive with students from across the city in academics and character. In keeping with that mission, we have made the decision that we would like to test 8th grade students in English I, using the Missouri End-of-Course examination. This test is the equivalent of an end of freshman year test, and due to your child’s progress in English/Language Arts, we feel as though they could be successful in achieving a passing grade. This test will NOT take the place of the regular ELA MAP test used to assess 8th grade student achievement in the spring.
We will be administering this test on December 13. Please make sure your child gets a good night’s rest, eats a healthy breakfast and is on time to school.
We received the results from our end of year MAP and End of Course testing this week. We are so proud of our students for all of their hard work on these tests. We will be sending home your child's test results next Friday, December 7th along with some information about how to interpret them. If you would like your child's results before next Friday, you can contact Dr. Schrimpf, our Assistant Head of School, or your child's principal.
Message from Ms. Walsh…
BE KIND ~ DO YOUR BEST ~ HAVE FUN
Jennifer Walsh, M. Ed.
Rude, Mean, or Bullying?
How to Tell the Difference
As we head into December one would think that by now we have all become quite comfortable with one another here at school. However, generally speaking, middle schoolers rarely reach the mindset of feeling settled. The typical pre-teen/teen brain is constantly jockeying for social position amongst his or her peers. Ideally, your child feels accepted, valued, and safe within the social constructs of middle school. If you are not feeling at peace regarding your child’s descriptions of his or her interactions with others throughout the school day, you may be wondering right now how to tell the difference between a person being rude and/or mean, as opposed to when it’s crossed over into bullying. Unfortunately, our world consists of humans choosing to, at times, be unkind so certainly we need to assist our children in developing the skills necessary in handling these occurrences independently. But how do we know when it’s just too much for a child and, therefore, time to intervene?
Here’s the breakdown…
Rude = Inadvertently saying or doing something that hurts someone else. It’s often unintentional. There’s typically not much thought behind it
In middle school this may look like a student burping in another child’s face, jumping someone in line, laughing as someone says a wrong answer in class, etc.
Mean = Purposefully saying or doing something to hurt someone once or maybe twice. It’s intentional. The aim is to hurt. It is often motivated by one student trying to prop themselves up socially in comparison to the person he or she is putting down.
In middle school this may look like a student criticizing another child’s clothes, intelligence, “coolness” factor, weight, etc.
Mean behaviors are unacceptable and can wound deeply, yet they differ from bullying.
Bullying = Intentional aggressive behavior repeated over time. It involves an imbalance in power.
Experts agree that bullying entails three key elements:
An intent to harm.
A power imbalance.
Repeated acts or threats of aggressive behavior.
It is important that both adults and children are able to distinguish the difference between rude/mean behavior and bullying. When we blankety label all unkind behavior as “bullying” we are essentially watering down the concept of bullying. As we actively listen to our children’s frustrations in dealing with the unkind behavior of others, it is certainly appropriate for us to guide them toward being assertive while also encouraging them to stay above reacting to unkind acts with similar rude and/or mean behaviors themselves. Yet, when we assess and determine that a child is truly being bullied we know that it’s time to intervene. That child needs adult support. If this is the case please encourage your child to reach out to me. As the school counselor, I can assist by listening and then mediating as the students attempt to resolve the issue. If the bullying type behaviors continue your child needs to let me know, and then the next step is to involve an administrator. A phone call or an email from a parent is, of course, appropriate in this case and always welcome.
I can be reached at: email@example.com or (314)645-9600 x412
As it starts getting dark earlier and we are reminded of situations as we watch the news, please have a conversation with your child about being aware of what is going on around them as they walk home from school. If your child has permission to walk to the park, YMCA or QT etc. please remind them not to accept a ride or engage with any strangers. While we are sure you have already had these conversations with your child we want to reiterate the importance so that your child can continue to make smart decision for themselves.
We want to remind you that PCS has safety structures in place if we were ever to be in a lockdown situation because of an outside threat. Please rest assured that we understand communication in these situations are of utmost importance. Parents will be notified through the automated school system; calls texts and emails. We have a very good relationship with the police department down the street and if we hear of or are made aware of a situation where lockdown might be a possibility, we will be in contact with district 2. They will be able to provide accurate details of the situation and from there we can receive their recommendation on our course of action. At all times, student safety is on our minds and we will always communicate with what you need to know. As always please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
On the last Monday of the month any student who has earned 80% or higher on their homework completion grade may dress down. Students can check their grade on Infinite Campus to ensure that they have indeed earned this privilege. Please remember that all clothing must be school appropriate.
Message from the nurse…
The Center for Hearing & Speech will be screening PCS students during the weeks of December 3 and December 10 this year. All students are eligible for free hearing and vision screenings with the goal of identifying any hearing or vision problems that may improve with early intervention. There is no charge for this service. After the screening is performed, a report will be sent home to all parents for your review.
A parent/guardian form is attached in this newsletter. This form is an opt-out form, which means you only need to sign and return the form if you do NOT want your child to participate in the screenings. If you want your child to participate in the screenings, you do not need to do anything; your child will automatically be included in the screenings.
If you have any questions concerning the screenings, feel free to call the nurses at the following numbers.
Bonita Mitchell in the Early Childhood Building 314-645-9600 extension 108
Annette Gerwitz in the Elementary Building 314-645-9600 extension 244
7th Grade Update…
Representatives from the Wyman Leaders Program, formerly known as InspireSTL, visited 7th grade classes a couple of weeks ago and spoke to students about their program and application process. It is a 10 year mentoring program that supports students throughout their academic journey as well as college and career readiness. Applications can be picked up from Mrs. Batson and are due Friday, December 15th. It is an extensive and lengthy application requiring essays and letters of recommendation, so please assure your child is working on it ahead of time, if interested.
Feel free to reach out to Mrs. Batson at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
6th Grade-This past week students have worked on exploring the values of rational numbers including fractions, decimals, and their opposites! Additionally, we have solved real world problems related to the absolute values of numbers. Students have worked with placing the values on number lines, grids, and justifying their work with real world application of numbers. Ask your student, "Which is greater, 3.5 or -3.5, and why?"
7th Grade-In 7th grade math, we have learned how to find the measure of angles using angle rulers and protractors. We have also been using angle relationships to solve problems! Next we will be learning about how angle relationships affect constructing triangles. This will lead us into finding the special properties of triangles!
8th Grade-8th grade math is working on solving multi-step equations. Every problem is like a mystery that we have to figure out. In this unit, we are also focused on checking our answers. This has given us an opportunity to practice self-monitoring! We will be finishing the semester out with looking at the volume of cones, pyramids, and spheres!
Here is your math department problem of the week:
Find the missing number!
Music Opportunity…There is a great opportunity here in St. Louis to learn piano for families who may not be able to afford it otherwise. Pianos for People offer FREE pianos and piano lessons for families who qualify. If you are interested, please go to https://pianosforpeople.org/ and apply for a free piano and/or free lessons!
Art... In the art room, students continue to work in media of their choice: drawing, painting, collage, yarn, or sculpture. As we approach the end of the second semester, students are completing work that showcases the artistic skillsets that they have honed over the past months. Bulletin boards outside of the art room have transformed into an art gallery space for display student work. Please stop by and view the creations of 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students!
PE…Thanksgiving Break has come and gone and we are moving in the gym. We have been working on hockey skills in the gym. We focused on how to hold the stick, how to dribble the puck (we used a ball), and then passing it to a teammate. This week when we got back we put all of those skills to good use by playing games. Most of the students had fun playing the game of hockey against their classmates.
3D Modeling with Mr Book... In 3D modeling this week, we are working on identifying problems that exist in our lives or society that can be solved using 3D designed inventions. We have worked so far on the engineering and design process and how solutions can be derived any problem one faces, as long as the problem is specific, measurable, and solvable. Next week, we will begin drafting inventions for problems John Henry faces in his classic folk tale to help him lay more railroad track than the evil steam engine!
Coding with Mr Book...This week in coding, we have been working towards creating custom video games that tell stories. Specifically, we have worked on skill building activities that include making character move on a rotational basis and how to identify bugs or glitches in a string of code. Next week, we'll be learning about how storytelling and video game design can intersect using Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey as a template for story identification and writing. These stories will serve as the basis for their video games and will use in game animations ("cutscenes") to tell the story alongside the playing of the game.
Tight 20 will be running a winter wear drive beginning next Thursday, December 6th through the month of December. If you have any unused coats, hats, scarves, or gloves laying around, drop them in the donation box in the front lobby for donation to a homeless shelter.
Girls on Fire
Girls on Fire promoted high self-esteem this week in the middle school. Students dressed down to show their individuality and donated a dollar to benefit girls in need. Also, Girls on Fire showed appreciation this week by hosting a waffle breakfast for staff. For the rest of their meetings in this calendar year, the girls will be planning various ways to inspire girls at our school.
Girls Basketball Update:
Congratulations to all of the middle school girls who made the 2018-2019 girls basketball team! I sincerely appreciate all of the girls that came to tryout for the team. It was great to see so much effort put in.
Girls will practice on Monday starting after school and ending at 5 o'clock. Players can be picked up in the parking lot outside of the Middle School building at 5.
The basketball schedule for the season will be going home with the girls soon. Boys and girls will kick off the season with a tournament at Confluence Academy South City December 6-8. More info on that to come.
Cheerleading practice will continue on Wednesdays and Thursdays after school .
REMINDERS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Middle School Trip…
Middle School Trip: Colorado 2019
The 3rd fundraiser for the MS trip to Denver, CO was passed out this week to student. This fundraiser, the Coupon Book, will end on December 12th so make sure to start selling! Please reach out to Ms. Slattery if you have questions or are in need of more order forms. Thanks for your support!
If you have any questions regarding the trip please email Ms. Rhine, email@example.com. If you have specific payment questions please contact Denise Matthews at AST, (877) 397-5700. When calling please tell the AST representative that you are with the Premier Charter School group.
Dear PCS Families,
As the weather starts to turn colder we want to take a minute to remind everyone of our morning drop off and Before Care procedures. All students must be walked into the building and signed in at the office if they are dropped off prior to 8:00 am. If any student is at PCS prior to 8:00 am, we will bring them to before care and will charge the regular $5 drop in fee. In order to maintain a safe student/adult ratio and ensure we have adequate staffing in our BAC program, students are only allowed 5 drop ins over the course of the school year. The safety of our children is our highest priority and we thank you for your adherence to these procedures.
Just a reminder our next half day is December 21st, school will dismiss at noon. Please make sure your students have a way home. If they attend aftercare, it will end at 4:00 pm. If your student(s) are not enrolled in aftercare but need the program please let us know ahead of time, half day drop ins are $25 per child. Just remember that students are only allowed 5 aftercare drop ins per year.
Please see attached flyer for a Martial Arts Fundraiser
$49 will give the students 4 weeks (8 lessons)
100% of all money raised will go back to PCS
This is valid for both elementary and middle schools.
Contact Shelby Ford at Karate Life Studios, 314-352-6166
The PCG is a support group for the students, teachers and parents of Premier Charter School.
Parent volunteers promote social and extracurricular activities, which will lead to successful and
positive experiences for the students. We want to welcome you and encourage all parents to
become involved in PCS. The best way to become involved is to volunteer or help out in any
way you can and you can do this through the PCG.
Please take a look at the attached letter and PCG events for the year.
Fun Around Town…
If it's fun, free, and family friendly, it's listed below. Have a wonderful weekend.
Sat December 1 and every Saturday in December 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Free Carriage Rides at Westport Plaza in front of the Panera Bread Co.
Sat Dec 1 9-11:30 a.m.
Winter Wonderland at Rossman School 12660 Conway Road
Winter Activities for kids all morning plus the Mad Science crew will perform in the Performing Arts Center at 9:45 a.m. with winter themed science projects featuring freezing temperatures, snow, dry ice and the power of chemistry!
Sat Dec 1 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
A Spirited Holiday Past
26 Historic Homes, Historic Sites, and Museums in St. Louis and the surrounding area will be open this Saturday to celebrate the holiday season.
Some are free including the Old Courthouse, Bellefontaine Cemetery, Sutter Meyer Farmhouse, The Tapmeyer Homestead, Twillman House, & White Haven; others have an entrance fee. For a list of all participating sites go to:
Sat Dec 1 2-3 p.m.
Mario Manzini: A Tribute to Houdini At Grant's View Branch Library
With audience participation, Manzini recreates all of the thrilling escapes of the legendary Harry Houdini. All ages
Free STEM Events presented by the Junior Academy of Science St. Louis
The Junior Academy of Science sponsors events that encourage Middle & High School Students to consider careers in science fields.
Target Audience Middle School & High School Students and their parents
Free for all students & parents & Free parking at both the Zoo & the Library Headquarters
Wed Dec 5 7 - 8:30 p.m. Medicines from Plants at the St. Louis Zoo
Thur Dec 6 7-8:30 p.m. Good & Bad Genes for Your Heart at St. Louis County Library Headquarters
Every Thursday though Sunday evening from now until Dec 30 5-11 p.m.
Anheuser Busch Holiday Lights
Fri Nov 16 through Jan 1
Our Lady of the Snows Holiday Light Display
ONGOING FREE EXHIBITS
Oct 19, 2018 through Feb 10, 2019
Kehinde Wiley: St. Louis at the St. Louis Art Museum
Artist Kehinde Wiley gained national notoriety for his work on the official portrait of Barrack Obama. Mr. Wiley now is exhibiting portraits of ordinary St. Louisans in his ongoing exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum; free now through 2/10/19 in Galleries 249 & 250 in the East Building.
Note: Due to construction directly in front of the Art Museum, Fine Arts Drive is blocked in front of the statue of St. Louis overlooking Art Hill but you may reach either one of the 2 free parking lots coming from the Zoo side or from Skinker Ave side but you currently cannot drive past the statue of St. Louis going in either direction.
Now extended through March 24, 2019
Panoramas of the City at the the Missouri History Museum
Panoramic photos of St. Louis as large as 10 feet x 30 feet taken from 1900 to 1950 tell the history of St. Louis is the first half of the 20th century.
Exhibit date has been extended through March 24, 2019. http://mohistory.org/exhibits/panoramas-of-the-city/
Through June 2, 2019
Muny Memories at the Missouri History Museum
The nations oldest outdoor theater celebrates its 100th birthday. Learn about past performances, take a peek backstage, vote for your favorite star, & learn a dance step at the free ongoing exhibit now through next June. http://mohistory.org/exhibits/muny-memories/
Through December 21, 2018
Riverbend Public Art at the Gateway Arch
The 100-foot-long artwork, made of silver, mirror-like material that references the Arch, shows the navigable Missouri River, highlighting it as the primary means of Westward Expansion and Gateway to the West for Lewis and Clark and many others. Riverbend will represent the confluence with the Mississippi on the east and extend westward. Artist Margaret Keller won the Critical Mass for the Visual Arts Public Works Project commission to create this artwork.
Important Upcoming Dates
12.13.18-8th Grade English EOC Exam
12.14.18-MS Winter Formal Dance
12.15.18 Pancake Breakfast with your Grandparents or Special Friend
PCG Events Calendar
Welcome PCG Letter
Hearing and Speech Opt Out Form
MS Trip Traveler Information Sheet
6th Grade Basketball Flyer
December Lunch Menu
KLS Fundraiser Flyer