MAMS Update~January 25, 2018

MAMS Update~January 25, 2018
Posted on 01/25/2018

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

January 25, 2018

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope everyone is having a great start to the new year.  I have a few items for you:

Quarter 2 Report Cards. Quarter 2 ended yesterday and gradebooks will be finalized by this Monday afternoon, so we encourage all parents to go online and view grades within the Empower Program any time after that.  Paper copies of report cards will be sent home with students by Wednesday next week.  Quarter Two Honor Roll will be posted on our website by the following week.   Mid-year is an exciting time as teachers spend a significant amount of time measuring and reflecting on the progress your children have made since the last report card.  Please contact your child’s teacher(s) with any questions you have after reading the report.   Our report cards are designed to be a mere snapshot of where students are at this point in time with scores for learning goals and work habits.  All our teachers are happy to spend as much time with parents as needed to help you better understand the whole picture of how your child is doing in school.  Speaking of that...

Parent/Teacher Conferences


Parent-Teacher Conferences
will be held on the week of February 5 through Thursday, February 8, 2:30-7:00 pm.  You will be hearing from your child’s team teachers to schedule these student-led conferences.  If you also wish to conference with your child’s exploratory teachers (Health, P.E., Art, Music, Learning Commons, Culture/Languages, STEM), please contact them directly to schedule your conference with them during one of these evenings.  Their contact information can be found on our staff directory.

Catch Up Ketchup.jpg

Catch Up Growth and Target Time. As our school is committed to becoming a proficiency-based learning system, it means that we give students and parents clear information on how students are doing on the important knowledge and skills, aka. our Learning Goals.  For some students, this means they may not always meet their grade levels’ learning goal the first time.  This can be seen clearly on each student’s report card, as well as by clicking on the “Goal Browser” in Empower.  For students who have not yet met learning goals, we are also focusing on efforts to catch them up as much as possible.  One of the ways to work on this Catch Up Growth is through a period in our school day called, Target Time.  For 45 minutes, four days a week, student engage in targeted, teacher-directed instruction to maximize their growth.  In addition to Empower, our STAR universal screening tests, given three times a year (including last week), helps us get an accurate sense of the learning level students are at and allows us to provide appropriate interventions to maximize this Catch Up Growth.   This time is also used to extend the learning for students that may have already shown proficiency.  If you have any questions about this, feel free to ask your child’s teachers at upcoming parent/teacher conferences, or our school’s Student Data Coordinators, Rebecca Singleton (Reading/Writing) at and Mary Beth Latti (Math) at  Our efforts with Catch Up Growth and Target Time are part of how we make our vision of Fueling Hope Through Learning a reality for all students.  

Exploratory Class Changes.  With the new semester starting this week, students will see a change in many of their Exploratory classes.  Please click HERE to learn more about what is happening in your child’s exploratory classes (Health, P.E., Art, Cultural Literacy/World Language, Learning Commons, Music, and STEM).  The vision of our amazing Exploratory program is for students to discover their particular interest, talents, values and preferences. The intent of the program is to acquaint students with enriching, healthy pursuits in order for students to become well-rounded adults.  

“No Name Calling Week” Coming Up.  In my last update, I detailed an exciting event we have coming up at our school.  During the week of February 5-9, we are having “No Name Calling Week.”  We will be challenging all students to join the Civil Rights Team in creating a safe and welcoming environment at Mt. Ararat Middle School by discouraging hate-based language.  When the time comes, I encourage you to ask your child about some of the exciting and engaging events the Civil Rights Team has planned for that week.

Geo-Bee Pic

GeoBee Champion, Ezra Emmert(center), with social studies teacher Jon Beede (right) and principal Josh Ottow (left)

GeoBee.  Ezra Emmert, an 8th grade student on Team Kennebec, won the school competition of the National Geographic Bee and a chance at a $50,000 college scholarship. The school Bee was held in front of an all-school assembly on Wednesday, January 24, 2018.  Ezra and the rest of the field of finalists, including Alex Liva, Gavin Rowe, Fern Beede, Dashielle O’Hanlon, and runner-up Ana Coombs, answered questions on geography as part of the first round in the 30th annual National Geographic Bee.  Good luck at the next level, Ezra!

Ms. McCarthy

Staff Spotlight. One of the greatest resources at Mt. Ararat Middle School is our amazing staff. HERE in the new Staff Spotlight, you will get to know some interesting information about a member of our faculty! Staff members are chosen at random and will be featured on our website. We hope you enjoy this extra look inside our community and that you learn something new about the people that make MAMS such a special place! This month is 6th grade teacher Kelly McCarthy (above)!

8th to 9th Grade Transition.  Hard to believe, but we will soon be starting formal transition activities for our 8th grade students as they prepare to enter high school (cue the tears)!  During the spring of the 8th grade year, there are several events scheduled that are designed to help students make a successful transition to the High School as they enter ninth grade.  Our counselors and 8th grade teachers will be supporting students throughout these activities by keeping everyone informed of the dates and answering questions as best we can regarding their futures at the High School.  HERE is a brief description of the transition activities to help prepare our eighth graders for ninth grade. Also, High School Principal Donna Brunette, will be holding events that the high school has planned to support the transitions.  She asked me to let you know that the first one of these will be Tuesday, February 13 at 6:00pm in the High School Commons.  If you have any questions about high school transition events, please contact Ms. Brunette at, or our counselors.

student on cell phone

Is Your Child a Phone Addict?  Being a parent of an adolescent can sometimes be tough!  This is especially true when it comes to the role that cell phones can play in their lives.  In the updates, I will often share resources that may benefit parents (and teachers!) in better understanding how to support our adolescent child in their growth and development.  HERE is an interesting New York Times article that helps us all better assess the extent to which children may have a healthy relationship with their cell phone device.

barbiebarbie science exp.students working

Barbie Bungie!  In Mr. Wironen’s math classes, students were engaged in the learning goals of writing linear equations, collecting data, converting units of measure, finding lines of best fit, and calculating averages.  They did experiments testing how far a Barbie doll would fall with two, four, six, eight, ten and twelve elastic bands attached to her legs.  After collecting and averaging their data, students plotted it on a scatter gram.  They created a line of best-fit for the number of elastic bands versus the distance fallen using their scatter gram.   Students then found the equation for that line of best fit and used it predict how many elastic bands should be attached to each other in order to allow Barbie to get the best possible jump falling sixteen feet three inches from the third floor balcony.  Many of the students discovered that their line of best fit was a little off and Barbie either got a pretty boring ride, or ended up having a tragic head-crushing experience.  Some very careful mathematicians, however, made very accurate predictions and gave Barbie the thrill of her life by getting her head to almost, but not quite touching the floor and then bounce back up to safety.  Fun was had by all, and the operations to re-attach essential Barbie body parts have all been successful.

pennies for patients

Pennies For Patients.  Be Amazing!  Collect Change and Save Lives! It's time for the MAMS Student Council's annual Pennies for Patients fundraiser! The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society  is the world’s largest non-profit health organization dedicated to finding cures for blood cancers.  Our Student Series’ Pennies for Patients program helps raise money to fund research for therapies that save the lives of blood cancer patients. Students can make a difference in helping save the lives of blood cancer patients! You can learn more here. In a nutshell, students bring in change, or whatever they wish to donate, and add it to their homeroom box. Alternatively, donations can be collected online.  You can even set up a donation account for your child. If you have questions, please contact Student Council Advisor  Kym Granger.

Update from Nurse Naomi -- FLU UPDATE.  The Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention has distributed a Public Health Advisory that Influenza activity in Maine is widespread with laboratory confirmed influenza reported in all 16 counties. Maine’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory has indicated that most strains of influenza are circulating in Maine. Influenza vaccination is still widely available, especially to protect those persons at risk of severe disease. The vaccine appears to be a good match to all strains this year, and it is not too late to get vaccinated. Prevention of Influenza is key and Maine CDC recommends following the “No Flu 4 You” guidelines which include: Wash your Hands: Both the general public and healthcare providers should remember to wash their hands frequently to prevent transmission of influenza; Cover your cough: Use tissues, or cough into your sleeves;  Stay home when you are sick: Symptomatic individuals should remain home until 24 hours after fever resolves without the use of medications;   Get vaccinated: annual vaccination is recommended for everyone aged 6 months and older.

Mrs. Amy Brown

Grant Recipient, Ms. Amy Brown (center), with Horace Mann rep, Dave Dubriel (right) and principal Josh Ottow (left)

Horace Mann Grant.  Congratulations to 6th grade math/science teacher Ms. Amy Brown, as she recently received a $1000 grant from the Horace Mann Company.  Ms. Brown will be using the grant to purchase “standing desks” that will give her students an opportunity to try a different way of learning by showing them different methods of being able to focus. The standing desks are great for students to be able to move at their desk without disturbing the class. Ms. Brown is an excellent example of that many ways our staff members go above and beyond to support our students.  Thanks to Horace Mann for your support!

Region 10

Region Ten Tech Visit.  On January 18 all of our eighth grade students attended an exploratory program at the Region Ten Technical High School.  The goal of this program is to provide students with an understanding and appreciation of vocational/technical education.  When students enter the high school, they can choose to take some of their coursework/program at Region Ten.  This 8th grade visitation program is just one part of our ongoing exploration of the many course and career options available to students as they transition to high school and beyond.

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

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2020 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.