Middle School Newsletter
May 10, 2019
MS. WRIGHT'S WRITINGS…
Preparing for a new school year takes months and months of planning, brainstorming and endless meetings. We are always reflecting and looking for places where we can make changes, both minor and major, to improve the opportunities and educational experience for our students.
We have already started that brainstorming and planning work for next year and one area we have been discussing is reimagining our elective programming. I am thrilled to share with you our new vision for electives, which we are calling our Pathway program. We have developed 5 Pathways which are described below. Students in 6th grade will have the opportunity to experience all 5 Pathways. They will spend 7 weeks in each class so that they can get a good understanding of each Pathway. At the end of their 6th grade year students will take some time to reflect on which Pathways they found engaging, which were challenging and which offers the most potential for growth. At the beginning of their 7th grade year, students will then be able to select the Pathway they will study during their 7th and 8th grade years. They will identify their top 3 Pathway choices. Each student will then be placed in one of these choices and this will be their Pathway class for their 7th and 8th grade years.
Since we are piloting this new model next year, our current 6th and 7th graders need to fully understand what each Pathway is all about prior to making their choices. Next week, 6th and 7th grade teachers will be sharing a presentation on the Pathways with their students. They will then list their top 3 choices, one of which will be their assigned Pathway for their remaining time in MS.
We are all looking forward to implementing this model and truly believe it will be one that gives our students opportunities to become true experts in one of these areas.
The Visual Arts pathway is all about students learning how to express themselves through different art mediums. They will learn techniques to help develop their skills in drawing, painting, graphic design, printmaking, sculpture, and more. As they grow in these skills, they will be challenged to use the arts as a way to communicate. Throughout the course, they will also learn about potential careers, famous and local artists, and art around the world.
In Instrumental Music, students will learn how to read notes and rhythms and have a chance to explore various instruments with those skills. After first quarter, students will select either the guitar or the piano as their primary instrument and work on developing more specific techniques. In addition to independent practice, we will study musicians of the past and present, learn about ensemble playing, and try our hands at composing! Students will be able to start where they are at and continue from there whether they have past experience or not!
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. In STEAM class, we will combine all of these subjects together in order to complete challenges, solve problems, and engage in real-world applications. Students who enter this pathway will have the opportunity to code robots, design products, create 3D models, build structures, make videos, work with local professionals, learn about STEAM careers and collaborate in peer groups with the purpose of completing real-world projects. STEAM class will be student driven, which means students will have choices in how and what they want to learn, create, and share.
Within this pathway, student will engage in two categories of Computer Science: Coding and CAD (Computer Assisted Design). In each course, we will explore various facets of these two categories including computer animation, video game design, architecture and engineering design/revision. This will provide you with an opportunity to gain diversified knowledge of Computer Science that hopefully (1) sparks your interest enough to explore these topics in more detail on your own or (2) even help you on a pathway to become a computer scientist in your future!
How would you build affordable housing for families using few materials on a small budget while creating a quality living environment for them? Maybe, there is an oil spill in the ocean, and you must find the best way to clean it up. Tough problems need creative solutions. In the STEM - Engineering pathway, students will solve problems with their great ideas, available resources, and the given limitations in mind. Students will explore the main branches of engineering: mechanical, structural, chemical, and civil to help frame their understanding of their work. Whether the problem calls for a new Mars rover or a life-sized catapult, students will build and test working prototypes. Engineer experts will be invited and consulted to provide feedback and support. Students must brainstorm, design, create/build, test, and improve their creations to make sure they work to solve the problem identified. A solution could be presented using 3-D modeling, coding skills, and more while Lego Mindstorms or Arduino circuit boards are other ways to bring their creations to life. Design challenges will allow students to explore different areas of engineering until students are finally able to specialize and complete an extensive project related to the area of engineering they choose.
Please take a minute to have some conversation with your child about which Pathway they see as one that they can truly grow in. We want them to make a thoughtful decision when choosing their Pathway. Have a wonderful weekend.
Message regarding BAC for 2019-20…
Dear PCS Families,
Our primary goal with our Before and After Care program is to provide a safe, engaging and enriching experience for all participating students. In order to do so, each year we limit enrollment to 225 students. 2019-2020 will be no different, we will again be limiting enrollment to 225 students, evenly distributed among all 9 grade levels.
After speaking to parents over the course of the last few years and analyzing BAC enrollment, we believe that the most equitable way to distribute spots in BAC to all our families, old and new, is through an enrollment lottery. This is the same way that we fill open spots at the school.
We will begin accepting applications for BAC on April 1st and hold our BAC enrollment lottery on May 1st. This schedule will allow us to notify all families who applied for BAC if they were accepted or not before the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
We have also decided to offer a special, early bird enrollment lottery for all families who have submitted applications by April 15th. We will fill as many spots as we can on April 15th and fill any remaining spots on May 1st.
As a school of character, we believe strongly in the importance of equity and believe that this enrollment system is in line with our core ethical values. I am happy to answer any questions about this policy change and look forward to hearing from you.
Dr. Mike Schrimpf
Assistant Head of School
Just a reminder our next half day is May 10th, 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 aftercare 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
Thanks to the hard work of three 8th grade boys we have our new vending machine! We have made sure that the machine is filled with healthy snack options. Students may make purchases from 8:10-8:25, during lunch and from 3:25-3:35 daily.
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.
In 6th grade ELA, we just finished our novel Flush and are currently reading the final chapters of our nonfiction book World Without Fish. Our last project of the year is focused on researching and creating an informative consumer guide advising customers to purchase only sustainably caught fish from the grocery store. Next Thursday and Friday, each ELA block will take turns walking to Schnucks to use their informative consumer guides in real life!
Students wrote their last essay of the year, arguing whether the amount of daily screen time should or should not be limited for teens, based on research. Ask your kids about this argument-- you might be surprised to hear which side they chose to defend!
As we approach graduation, 8th graders are getting a chance to apply so much of what they have learned. Recently, they completed research projects, and they taught the class a lesson on their topic. It was excellent to see them shine in public speaking roles. They know how to hook, inform, and entertain an audience. These kids have a bright future ahead! Students have one more speech and the culminating project, an 8th Grade Exhibit, still ahead of them. We are eager to see what they produce!
Our PCS Career Fair was a truly amazing experience for students, staff and participants. We had over 25 professionals from all over St. Louis volunteer their time to speak with our 6th and 7th graders about their talents, skills and profession. Students had some hands on practice with candle making, construction and even a live demonstration of breathing pig lungs! Every single participant remarked in awe at how respectful, kind and engaged our PCS students were that day. I'm so grateful for our curious explorers and the support of our community.
Another successful field day in the books for 2019. This is always one of my favorite days and with this year being run a little different, it was so fun to see how the classes worked together and the teachers being a bigger part of the action. All year they work on building the homeroom as a family and looking at how this day took place, you could see those relationships blossom. Field day is a lot of planning and work to make sure all 950 plus students move the way they are supposed to and stay organized, but each year when it’s over, it always makes me sad and want for more. Thank you to all of the teachers, specialist, counselors, office staff, custodians, administrators, and every student who helped to make field day such a success. We, the PE department, could not make this day happen without each and every person helping us.
I hope every student had fun today being competitive and use this to motivate them to move and exercise through the summer break. Moving is such an important part of keeping your brain healthy and part of the learning process. We always need to keep movement in our lives whether we are 4, 14, 44, or 74, we need to stay active.
Quest Project Showcase
You are invited to the Quest Project Showcase, featuring group projects and independent projects from 6th - 8th grade Quest students.
What: MS Quest Project Showcase
Date: May 16, 2019
Time: 2:15 pm - 3:15 pm
Where: Makerspace in MS Building
Purpose: To showcase student work, provide an authentic audience and solicit feedback.
Parents and family members who will attend, please email Mrs. Daugherty at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you there!
REMINDERS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Please see the attached updates from SFE on activities from the last month, as well as upcoming events and menu changes.
Fun Around Town…
Grant's Farm is open for the Season
10501 Gravois Road at Grant Road
Free but cost for parking.
Meet the some new animals: Patagonian cavies, capybaras and coatimundis not to mention deer, elk, bison and those beautiful Clydesdales. Scroll to the bottom of this link for the 2019 season schedule:https://www.grantsfarm.com/
Sat 5/11 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
All aboard for National Train Day
Ulyssses S Grant National Historic Site 7400 Grant Rd. (across from the entrance to Grant's Farm)
Learn about the history of railroading, from the steam locomotives of the past to the diesel engines of today. Activities include: model trains, golden spike craft, railroad songs sing-along, scavenger hunts and more!
Sat 5/11 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
World Migratory Bird Day at the St. Louis Zoo Bird House
What can you do to help conserve migratory birds and protect their habitat? You'll find out at the Zoo's Bird House this Saturday.
Sat 5/11 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Brentwood Firehouse Open House & Summer Reading Program Kickoff 8756 Eulalie, just east of Brentwood Blvd.
Tour the fire station, meet the firefighters and check out the fire trucks. Librarians will be on site to help you sign up for the Brentwood Summer Reading Club while you're there.
Sun 5/12 3-4 p.m.
Carnival of Animals Children's Concert
Free Children's Concert at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church 1485 Craig Rd
The program will feature works about animals from familiar children's songs & Disney classics, plus Camille Saint Saens Carnival of Animals transcribed for handbells
Important Upcoming Dates
5.20.10-8th Grade Swing Around Fun Town Field Trip
5.21.19-6th Grade Zoo Field Trip
5.21.19-8th Grade Graduation 7pm
5.22.19-MS Fly Up Day
5.23.19-6th Grade Park Field Trip
5.24.19-Last Day of School-Noon Dismissal
May Lunch Menu
Vaccinations Flyer for 7th Grade Families
Menu Changes Note