Posted on 09/09/2019

C:\Users\billingerb\Google Drive\School Photo.jpg

Mt. Ararat Middle School

66 Republic Avenue, Topsham, ME 04086

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


Follow us on Facebook


September 9, 2019

Dear Parents and Guardians,



We are hoping all our parents can come to our annual Open House Curriculum Night this, Wednesday, September 11, 6:30-7:15 pm.


  • All 6th Grade Teams = First Floor
  • 7th Grade Androscoggin Team = Third Floor to the left
  • 7th Grade Merrymeeting Team = Second Floor to the right
  • 8th Grade Casco Team = Third Floor to the right
  • 8th Grade Kennebec Team = Second Floor to the left

We hope to see all our parents at our Open House this Wednesday evening!

Optional Pre and Post Sessions On Open House Night.  This year, we are trying a new protocol where we are holding optional pre and post sessions for parents that wish to learn more specifics about and/or provide input on certain programs.

Optional PRE -Sessions (6:00-6:30 pm)

  • Exploratory Program (art, music, STEM, PE, health, world languages, Learning Commons)  -- Health Room
  • Special Education:  Parents of students in Special Education can hear from Support Services Coordinator, Cathy Curtis  -- Learning Commons
  • Progress Monitoring Group:  Parents of students in this Response to Intervention (RTI) program can meet with RTI Teachers Rebecca Singleton and Marybeth Latti; invites were sent to these parents -- Room 2643 (Across from Learning Commons)
  • Gifted/Talented Programming:  Parents of students in G/T Programming can hear from GT Coordinator Kim Emerson and Advanced Math Teacher Pete Stevens -- Room 2729 
  • Sweetser Out-of-School Mental Health Counseling: Parents who currently have children in Sweetser Counseling or are interested in having their child participate can meet with Sweetser staff -- Table in Lobby All Evening
  • Community Substance Abuse Prevention:  Parents who wish to learn more about substance abuse educational programming through Access Health, a community-run organization, can meet with Coordinator Jennah Godo -- Table in Lobby All Evening


Optional POST-Sessions (7:15-7:45 pm)

  • Parent Academy:  Supporting Parents in Supervising Computers in the Home.  Our learning commons staff and assistant principal will provide a “Parent Academy” information session on tips and tricks to help parents supervise computer use in the home, with a focus on the school laptop.  We are encouraging (but not requiring) any 7th and 8th grade parents who would like their child’s laptop to go home to attend this session. -- Orion
  • Parent-Principal Coffee -- What Do You Want Our New Report Card To Look Like?  Our entire school district is in the process of reviewing and updating our grading and reporting system.  Currently our school district uses the Empower Report Card in grades K-8, however we are exploring other options for the next school year.  Parents can provide feedback on our current grading program, as well as what they would like the new reporting system to look like from their perspective. -- Learning Commons

‘MAMS Update’ Emails.  Every three or four weeks, I will send you a “MAMS Update” via email and also posted on the web page under “From the Principal.”  In addition, you should expect to receive similar “Team Update” emails from your child’s team at least twice per quarter, with information pertaining to happenings on that specific team.  Today I have a few quick items for you:


Community Building.  We do so much in our first few days of school to create a strong sense of community on each of our teams.  Much of that work happens in Advisor Groups. The Advisor Group program is a flagship of Mt. Ararat Middle School.  Every student participates in the Advisor Group program, where they are matched up with one adult and a small number of peers that they start every day with and with whom they engage in positive team building and character development activities.  Above is an example from a community building activity completed by one of our 6th Grade Teams.

School Laptops No Longer Being Sent Home.  As you may have seen in my previous updates, we are changing how we handle 7th and 8th grade school-issued laptops.  Starting this year, we are no longer needing these computers to go home. This is because almost all homework can be done without technology or on any tech device.  It is also because students can stay after with teachers and do any work on the computer here. In the end, we want to honor that what happens in the home is 100% the purview of parents and they should be able to decide what comes into the home.  Our school will allow parents that elect to have their child’s school-issued device go home to do so. In early October, we will be providing a form for students whose parents request that the device go home, so interested parents can look for that at that time.  Parents who are interested in having the laptop go home are encouraged to attend the Post-Session on Open House night, but parents will not be required to do this.


Drop Off Area.  We ask any parents who are dropping their child off at school in the morning to use the designated drop-off off area (see diagram).  Please do not stop your car to drop off your child in the crosswalk, the area before this spot, or in the staff parking lot. By stopping in any of these non-designated places, it creates a highly unsafe situation for student pedestrians.  Thank you for your cooperation in this matter, as it ensures the safety of our students.  

Fall Sports Season Has Begun.  This week, we start our tryouts and practices for 7th & 8th grade girls soccer; 7th & 8th grade boys soccer; 6th, 7th & 8th grade girls field hockey; 6th, 7th & 8th grade boys/girls cross country; and a parent-run 6th, 7th & 8th grade boys/girls Tennis Club.  For any information about athletics, please contact our Athletic Director, Rick Crawford at, visit our Athletics webpage, or call 729-2950.

Student Leadership.  We are a “Student Voice and Empowerment School.”  Last Wednesday, we held an all-school meeting in the Orion (above).  In addition to welcoming everyone back and greeting our new 6th graders, we focused on the topic of student leadership.  This year, every one of our teams will be creating a team-based leadership group to address issues on the team. In addition, every team will send a few representatives to serve on the schoolwide Student Council.  Some of our 8th grade leaders (above) issued a challenge to every student to get involved with the leadership of our school. We are letting parents know this so that you can also encourage your child to get involved so that they can build their leadership skills and help make our school a better place.

Teacher of the Year!  The accolades keep piling up for MAMS teachers...  Our Adaptive Special Education Physical Education Teacher, Rose Marie Angell (above),    was recently named “APE Teacher of the Year” by the Maine Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAHPERD).  In the recent past, we celebrated as our teachers were named as the statewide “Art Teacher of the Year” and “STEM Teacher of the Year” and now this.  We are so proud of Rose for this well-deserved recognition!

Spotlight on Health and Wellness.   Throughout the country, school systems are embracing requirements from the United States Department of Agriculture that impact all foods and beverages offered or sold to students throughout the school day.  More information will be coming but it is important to think in terms of “healthy snacks” whenever you send any food item into school. And as always, make sure you always check with the classroom teacher or the school nurse to see if any students have food allergies or intolerances before sending in any food or beverage item to share.

Attendance – It is Being Present and So Much More!  As a new school year begins, so do the routines across the country, such as taking daily attendance.  Taking attendance is a way of checking to make sure every student has arrived, and is present for the day.  Records are kept for each student and patterns of absences are tracked. Most people know that the more days a student misses, the greater the risk for the student falling behind academically.  In fact, students who miss 2 or more days a month throughout the year are likely to end up testing a full grade level below their peers who attend school regularly. What people fail to recognize about school attendance, is the impact it has on a student’s emotional level.  Students want to be part of their school community: to feel they are part of the whole group. Staying at home isolates students from that sense of belonging. There are definitely days when students run fevers, are contagious and need to stay home until they are well. But, there are other days when going to school may provoke feelings of anxiousness.  This is normal and there are school staff trained to help. But we cannot help if you keep your child at home. This year, encourage your child to attend school every day. 

Going on a Trip?  While we ask parents to not remove their children from school for extended periods of time for non-educational reasons, we know that family events may come up. Time away from school constitutes disruption in a student's learning process and it becomes difficult for some to meet the learning goals. Requests for extended leaves-of-absence from school need to be submitted to the Assistant Principal, Megan Hayes Teague, at least two weeks prior to the beginning of the leave using the Mt. Ararat Middle School Planned Absence Form. When you make a choice to remove your child from the school setting, please do not expect teachers to provide alternatives to classroom learning. Additionally, teachers are not required to prepare work in advance for your child's absence. Students may work with teachers to make up missed work upon their return.

Backpack Program.  Good Shepherd Food Bank and Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program are excited to bring the BackPack Program to your child’s school during the 2019 – 2020 school year! We hope, if you participate in this program,  that you will find this BackPack of healthy snacks and staple meal items helpful to your family. The mission of the BackPack Program is to provide children with nutritious, easy to prepare food at times when other resources are not available, such as weekends and school vacations. We aim to provide backpacks filled with food that is child-friendly, non-perishable, and easily consumed; and to distribute them discreetly with the help our counselors.  HERE is a flyer describing the program or you can see one of our counselors for more information.

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


Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2021 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.