MAMS Update October 6, 2017

mams outside

Mt. Ararat Middle School

66 Republic Avenue, Topsham, ME 04086

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


Follow us on Facebook


October 6, 2017


Dear Parents and Guardians,

We are now into our second month of school and we have had a great start!   Every three weeks or so, I send out these “MAMS Updates.”  These are also posted on our website for your reference.  I have a few items for you today:


Progress Reports.  We are now halfway through the first quarter.  We encourage all parents to log on to Empower, our school’s grading program.  Once logged in (see below), parents can find updated work habit scores, based on our school wide Code of Cooperation:  Focused, Respectful, and Responsible.  Empower will also contain scores for any learning goals that have been assessed and graded, although there will be relatively few of these at this point in the year.   Every Progress Report time (halfway through each quarter), you will be receiving an email from me prompting you to check your child’s progress in Empower.  At the end of the quarter, you will receive similar email notification, as well as a paper Report Card sent home with your child.  We will have more information about the Report Card format near  the end of the quarter.

empower logo

Empower Parent Login Information was recently mailed to 6th grade and new MAMS parents’ home addresses and should be arriving imminently, if it hasn’t already.  This mailing contains your assigned username and a temporary password.  Please take a moment to log into Empower, select a password, and explore this program.  Each parent/guardian has their own login and with it they can view every child they have at MAMS through one portal.  If you have any questions about logging into Empower, or if 7th and 8th Grade parents need a reminder of your login information, please call or stop by the office, or email


p/t conferences logo

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on the week of Tuesday, October 10 through Thursday, October 12, 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, Culture/Languages, Tech Ed), please contact them directly to schedule your conference with them during one of these evenings.  Their contact information can be found at this link.


Increasing School-to-Home Communication.  One item of feedback we received in the parent survey was that parents wanted to hear more about what was happening in the classroom regarding learning activities and how parents could use Empower to find more information about how their child is doing on those activities.  To address this, I have asked each team to send periodic team update emails, that contain a description of what learning just occurred, what learning is upcoming, and a “roadmap” for how to use Empower related to any scores given during this time.  Expect to receive an update from your team soon.


Because exploratory teachers are not affiliated with a specific team, they will separately report out what is going on in their classes and I will link them in these updates.  Please click below 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):



picture day

School Pictures.  School picture day was on September 11.   We sent home picture proofs and order forms for all students.  Students who ordered prints will be receiving picture packages later this month.  Retake day is October 17. Please contact Geskus Photography for more information or to order pictures at this link and use the key: 768P4EH9


Boys to Men and Hardy Girls.  Every year, we engage our students through programming around the challenging issues of what it means to be a young man or young woman in our society.  For boys, this work involves the Boys to Men program and, for girls, the sessions use the Hardy Girls Healthy Women curriculum.  In the coming weeks, we will begin this comprehensive 4-week long program with our 8th grade students.  Both programs were featured in the media, and I encourage interested parents to check out these pieces:  Hardy Girls & Boys to Men I & II.  We also encourage parents of 8th graders to talk to your child about their experiences and perspectives with this program.  


Michele Aronson

New Androscoggin Teacher.  We are excited to announce that Michele Aronson (above) will move into our Androscoggin ELA position starting on Tuesday, October 17.  Michele is a long-time teacher at Woodside Elementary and Bowdoin Central schools, most recently teaching 5th grade.  She is highly knowledgeable of literacy practices, including Teachers College pedagogy. Michele is well connected to many teachers, students, and parents at MAMS through her long track record of excellent work and positive relationships in the district. Welcome Michele!  Parents wishing to contact Michele can do so at


Yearbooks are on sale now! Bring home a memory of your year at Mt. Ararat - your friends, your team, sports, clubs, maybe even teachers! Each year, the Yearbook Club, made up of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students, plans and designs our yearbook, including taking many of the photographs featured in the book. The Mt. Ararat Middle School Yearbook is a great way to remember your time here through the eyes of other students. Soft cover books are $20, hardcover is available for $26.95.   ALL YEARBOOKS MUST BE PRE-ORDERED.  And orders placed online early get a discount! 10% off orders placed in October, 5% off orders placed in November! Books can be ordered until April 13, 2018, and books ordered online can customize 2 pages (pages must be finished by April 13). Orders can be placed in the Main Office, but the discount is only available for orders placed online. All books will be delivered in the last week of school. Parents can purchase and personalize the 2018 Mt. Ararat Middle School Yearbook HERE.

gr 6 stem

6th grade: STEM/Music - This year, we started a new course for 6th graders that combines the General Music learning goals with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning goals.  The new course is co-taught by our STEM Teacher Ms. Sandy Bickford, and our new Music/Band Teacher Ms. Rachel Williams.  So far, students have shown that they can create and produce an original music instrument based on their idea using the design process. They have also designed and printed original objects or laptop tags using Tinkercad on their computers. They are currently learning the basics of playing the ukulele with Ms. Williams and will compose an original score and compare it with others.

gr 7 stem

In the 7th grade STEM Course students have started planning and designing their wooden CO2 racecars. They will have started drilling and cutting by the time you read this. They have also learned how to use a CAD program on their computer to design original objects for 3D printing. Each has had the opportunity to design and print a tag for their laptop case. They have all designed a “winner” award and voted on the best ones for printing as awards to be presented to the winner of the race and the best car design. Award design winners were: Abby B., Andrew Y., Chris J., and Parker B.

gr8 stem

In the 8th grade STEM Course students are using the engineering design process to plan, build, test, modify and evaluate a wind turbine that will produce at least 6 volts of electricity. They started by designing, testing and modifying their prototype wind blades to determine the best ones to use on their turbine. There was some pretty impressive voltage data being collected and analyzed. Students are currently in the process of planning and building their wind turbines.

lost and found

New Lost and Found System.  In the past, we noticed that many items were left unclaimed in the lost and found table, located in the cafeteria.  This led to an unsanitary situation where items were piling up for months and months.  To address this, we have created two rotating lost and found bins, located beneath the stairs in the Main Lobby (above).  The first “Lost and Found” bin contains items found within the last couple weeks.  Any items not claimed within two weeks are moved to the “To Be Donated” bin, where they will remain for at least a week.  Eighth grader Ryan Robertson is leading a “Community Reach Club” and this group has volunteered to organize the donation of unclaimed items to individuals in need within our community.  If you believe your child has lost something at school, please direct them to these bins in the Main Lobby.

cross country

Mt. Ararat Middle School Cross Country Team won the Scarborough Middle School Invitational on Friday, September 29, edging out dozens of other schools from Southern Maine, with top finishes by Mary Wheeler, Logan Munsey, Isaac Wheeler, Grady Satterfield, Nate Chase, Ben Keleher, Ben Therriault (above with Coach Palmer).


Introducing Eagle Bucks.  In an effort to improve our culture and emphasize respect as a core value, faculty and staff may reward EAGLE BUCKS to students demonstrating RESPECT as defined by class, team, or school Codes of Cooperation. EAGLE BUCKS may be spent in various ways including for entry into Dances ($5 cash or 5 EAGLE BUCKS), to purchase items in the School Store (coming soon), and for Team Fundraisers. Be sure to ask your child how many EAGLE BUCKS they have earned!


And Speaking of Dances...We rely on parent volunteers to help chaperone our school dances.  Please call the Main Office if you are able to attend any of our dances.  Unfortunately, if we do not have at least 8 adult chaperones, we may have to cancel the dance.  Our first dances of the year are scheduled for Thursday, October 26, 2:45 to Late Bus (Sixth Grade) and Friday, November 3, 6:00pm to 8:00pm (Seventh and Eighth Grade). Dances cost $5--in cash, Eagle Bucks or some combination of the two. Snacks, Water, and Pizza (new this year! $2/slice) will be available for purchase with cash only. Mr. Ottow and Ms. Hayes Teague are looking forward to seeing all students in their dancing shoes!


Our Students Attending High School Events.  We know that many of our students sometimes attend Mt. Ararat High School athletic events, especially football games and the homecoming bonfire.  We want to remind all parents that all middle school students must be picked up no later than 10:00 pm from these events.


bb uniforms

New Basketball Uniforms.  Thank you to parents Deb and Bubba Henke for organizing a community-wide fundraiser to donate new uniforms for the Mt. Ararat Middle School basketball program.  They organized a raffle with support from the from the following businesses:  Bubba's Hairstyling, McAvoys on the Green, Lucky Oppedisano Lobster, Pedro O'Hara's, and Joshua's Tavern.  Pictured above (from left) Principal Josh Ottow, Bubba Henke, and Athletic Director Rick Crawford.


A LockDown Drill will be held on Thursday, November 12 at 1:00 pm with cooperation from local police/fire departments.  Team teachers will notify and prepare our students in advance of this drill.  State law requires that we hold a number of fire/evacuation and one lockdown drill per year and we want parents to be aware of this upcoming drill.


MSAD# 75 Flu Clinics at Mt Ararat Middle School.  Saturday October 21, 9am-12pm,  and Tuesday  November 28, 4pm- 6pm  in the cafeteria. Nasal mist will not be offered this year. This clinic is sponsored by CHANS, open to the public ages 6 months and up, and free. Donations are accepted.  Please contact our Nurse Naomi Mullane at with questions.

books make a difference

From the Learning Commons.  It's Book Fair time! The MAMS Fall Book Fair runs from Tuesday, October 10 through Monday, October 16. We'll be open late on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons -- please stop by before or after your Parent/Teacher Conference.

Parents - We would love your help. If you can help run the Book Fair, please sign up here.

We hope to see you at the Book Fair!


Do You Have a Spare Refrigerator?  Our athletic program uses a refrigerator in the snack shack by the baseball field to keep cold beverages for athletes and for spectators.  Unfortunately, the unit we had in there recently failed and we need another one.  If you have a spare refrigerator that you are able to donate, please contact Athletic Director Rick Crawford at


October Events at the Orion Performing Arts Center—your school and community theater in the middle school.  Contact Coordinator Judy Lloyd with questions and comments. or 729-2950 x7.  

  • Fiddle-icious! -- Sat, Oct. 21, 7 pm. Fun and lively evening of fiddle music. Maine’s largest fiddle orchestra plays traditional and lively tunes from Celtic and Franco heritage.  Tix at door, $10; student $5. Children under 12 free.    (Not affiliated with or endorsed by school or district.)

  • Midcoast Symphony Orchestra -- Sun, Oct. 22, 2:30 pm “Fairy Stories and Dances”  Conductor: Rohan Smith.  Program:  M. Ravel:  Mother Goose Suite;

  • P. Hindemith:  Sinfonische Metamorphosen; A. Dvorak:  Symphony No. 6.  Tix:  Public: $20; Student age 18 or under: free.  Online  or at door.  (Not affiliated with or endorsed by school or district.)

  • Frank J. Wood Bridge—Public Meeting hosted by Maine Dep’t. of Transportation – Wed., Oct. 25, 6 pm Repair or replace the “Green bridge” between Topsham and Brunswick?

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. © 2019 West Corporation. All rights reserved.