September 9, 2021
from Jenn Milam, Middle School Director
We are officially 10 days into school by your reading of this issue of News & Notes and we’re all settling in a bit more each day. We’re experiencing new routines, meeting new people, and re-learning what it means to be in school full-time, all of us together. We have new students who were virtual the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year and some, like us, who experienced the crazy, rollercoaster ride of hybrid learning. Each of us bring our experiences, perspectives, wishes, hopes, hurts, and dreams to school with us each day and that makes Middle School both beautiful and brutal–all at once!
The faculty and I are working diligently and firmly to establish expectations and guidelines for our work together this year and to begin to set into motion our quest to build independent, creative, compassionate, and brilliant dreamers and doers!
Study Hall and Panther Den
Study Hall is a popular choice and will continue to be so as we turn the dial up a bit toward more rigor and deeper learning. Please know that your student is always welcome to attend study hall so long as they are working hard, remain focused, and are being the best version of themselves possible.
Study Hall begins promptly at 3:15 PM students are not allowed to move between Study Hall and Panther Den–they must make a choice after the school day ends. Study hall is not a place to play games, watch videos, or visit with friends.
As a reminder, I ask your support in sharing the following expectations with students so they may use their time well:
- No cell phones are allowed. The same rules that apply during the regular school day apply in study hall. Cell phones should be “off-and-away”.
- No earbuds/listening to music while working. I have explained to students that research and science on the brain and learning teaches us that when we focus on fewer things, even one at a time, we work more efficiently and more successfully. Music is a distraction to manage and 45 minutes with no music or distraction can make for a much more productive time.
- Games or videos on school computers are also not allowed–this is a quiet time to get homework finished or to read a book. The teachers supervising study hall can direct computers be put away completely if needed.
- Collaborative/group work is not ideal for this setting and students should be encouraged to work on independent tasks as much as is possible.
- Students may bring a quiet and not-messy snack to study hall, if they’d like.
Finally, you may pick-up your student at any door to the school. If your student is in Study Hall and you cannot reach them or have not made arrangements for pick-up, please call the PANTHER CLUB/DEN phone number and they will give a call to the room to you’re your student out.
Panther Club/Den Phone Number: (651) 748-5571
Please remember that any student not picked up promptly by 4 PM, will be sent to Panther Den and charged for after-school care. Students are absolutely not permitted to “hang-out” in the North Lobby, or any other areas of the building, unattended. This is for their safety and that of their schoolmates.
Middle School Dismissal
I am, so far, grateful for the ease and efficiency with which we are dismissing at 3 PM in the West Lot. A few reminders to keep us moving and allow all of us to get to our next destination safely, and in a timely way:
- Please do not stop along the curb near the busses to allow your student to enter the car. I ask that you pull around to the curb close to the building to keep cars from backing-up on Larpenteur and/or in the driveway.
- I am always, very lovingly, encouraging your students to “hustle” to get into the car and keep things moving. I don’t do this to be hurtful, but rather because I realize that many times folks are on their way to the next thing and we need to keep the line moving.
- I also appreciate everyone staying in the car line (unless parking and waiting outside the door, which you are welcome to do!) and not “leap-frogging” or “budging” ahead in the line.
Finally, while I know there can occasionally be issues that hold us up as parents and we get to school a bit late, we are beginning the practice this week of taking all students not picked up by 3:15 PM upstairs to either Study Hall or Panther Den. Our dismissal staff and faculty have meetings after school and cannot be downstairs waiting indefinitely. We also cannot leave your Middle School student outside to “wait” for you without an adult. Please make every effort to be on time unless you have previously determined that your student is going to Study Hall, Athletics, or Panther Den.
If you run into an issue and cannot make pick-up time, please call the office and let us know and we will send your student to Study Hall or Panther Den.
Mrs. Lassonde and the Middle School Office
Mrs. Lassonde is our Middle School Assistant–otherwise known as co-pilot, queen, or all-knowing-wonder-working-unicorn! Please get to know her and her contact information.
Mrs. Lassonde (pronounced “La-ssone”) is available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at (651) 748-5565. We need to hear from you if you need an early dismissal or late arrival for an appointment, an absence from classes, or have any other question or concern, please reach out.
Schoology Bootcamp and Parent Troubleshooting
As we scale up and get more engaged in the academic program, there will be an increased wish for you to be connected in Schoology! As new parents, and maybe even for those of you who are returning, Schoology can be a big virtual web of “stuff” that doesn’t make much sense. I invite you to join me for a virtual session to learn more about the structure and function of the learning management system and how you can best engage with it to support your student.
Please join us at one of the following sessions to learn more:
- Thursday, September 9 @ 4 PM
- Tuesday, September 14 @ 6 PM
Meeting ID: 996 7989 0943
Middle School Show Auditions Are Here
Staring next week, students can audition for our Middle School show. This is an exceptional opportunity to explore theater, meet new people, and be involved in an incredible tradition in the Middle School. Ms. Mastel has asked students to select times for auditions and to sign-up ahead of time. Additionally, there is a great opportunity to work behind the stage as a member of “Crew”! Applications for crew are due next Friday, September 17.
For more details and information, please email Ms. Mastel (email@example.com) or have your student stop by to see her in her classroom.
Parent/Teacher Conferences—Save the Dates
On Monday, all Middle School parents will receive an email from me with instructions on how to register with Pick-A-Time and schedule parent-teacher conferences. Conferences are being held on the following dates/times:
- Thursday, September 30, 3:30-7 PM
- Thursday, October 7, 3:30-8 PM
- Friday, October 8, 8AM-4 PM (NO CLASSES)
All Conferences Are Being Held Via Zoom
Each family is offered the opportunity to sign-up for up to five, 10-minute conferences with their student’s teachers. Conferences are scheduled on a first-come, first-scheduled basis. Please keep an eye out on Monday for the email with detailed instructions, dates to schedule, and more!
Overnight Class Trips and Travel
Given where we are currently with COVID-19 and our youngest Middle School students not yet eligible for vaccinations, we have postponed all overnight class trips and travel to the spring. We are considering some class bonding day-trips for the fall and will keep you posted as we make those determinations. Thank you, for your support and patience, as we do our best to make wise and decisions that keep everyone healthy!
We are nearly done with our i-Term programming brochure and will share that very soon! We are excited to have two opportunities for international travel and a variety of passion-driven courses that include Woodworking, Strategy Games, the Art of Baking, and SIR Boxing. Mark your calendars now for the i-Term Share Fair on Friday, March 4, from 2-3 PM–you won’t want to miss this celebration of learning!
MPA COVID-19 Symptom Response Protocol–Important Reminders
As we continue to navigate the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, we ask for your diligence in working with our COVID-19 symptom response and contact tracing team. At the first sign of symptoms, parents should complete the daily AUXS app symptom screening and/or email firstname.lastname@example.org. When a negative COVID-19 test is required for student clearance, results must be provided prior to the student’s return. All symptomatic community members, regardless of vaccination status must remain at home pending those results. Thank you for your partnership. For any questions, please contact Jennifer Rogers at email@example.com.
Mark Your Calendars
- Sept 9 Schoology Bootcamp for Parents #2, 4 PM
- Sept 13 MPA All-School Picture Day
- Sept 13-14 Middle School Show Auditions
- Sept 14 Schoology Bootcamp for Parents #3, 6 PM
- Sept. 16 Middle School Show CALLBACKS
- Sept 30 All School Parent-Teacher Conferences, 3:30-7 PM
- Oct 7 All School Parent-Teacher Conferences, 3:30-8 PM
- Oct 8 All School Parent-Teacher Conferences, 8 AM-4 PM, NO CLASSES
- Oct 20-22 Fall Break–NO CLASSES