MAMS Update~March 7th, 2018

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Mt. Ararat Middle School

66 Republic Avenue, Topsham, ME 04086

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


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March 7, 2018

Dear Parents and Guardians,


Good luck to everyone with tonight's winter weather!  I have a few items for you:

Progress Reports. This afternoon your child’s Quarter Three Progress Report is live and up to date on the Empower Parent Portal.  Progress reports contain updated Work Habit scores, as well as any Learning Goal scores to date.  The quickest way to view your student's entire progress report is to click the "Print progress report" link.  We have provided DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS HERE.  As you may know, Empower is a relatively new grading program for us.  Since this is our second year using Empower, we are still learning to use the program to its full potential.  If you feel like you would like to know more about how your child is doing in school as we go through this transition process, feel free to reach out to your child’s teacher(s) directly.  All staff are happy to spend any amount of time with you to ensure that you have a clear sense of how your child’s learning is progressing.   

FAQ’s on Proficiency Based Grading.
  We are committed to continuous improvement in how we are approaching grading and reporting.  We are always soliciting feedback to ensure that we are achieving our proficiency-based principle that “Students, teachers, and families have a clear understanding of where a student’s learning is, and where it is headed.”  We have assembled of the most frequently asked questions and provided our responses HERE.  This is meant to be a fluid list that will be updated as we get more questions/feedback.  As always, we welcome your feedback/questions at any time.

Parent Coffee
. We are planning on holding another Parent/Principal Coffee on Thursday, March 15 at 6:00 pm in room 2642, the room across from MAMS Learning Commons. The topic of discussion could be any issues or questions raised by the parents in attendance. We know, given national and local events, many parents may have questions about school safety at MAMS. We are certainly able to talk about this at this meeting. As always, the goal of these parent coffees are for parents to be able to learn more and share their feedback on educational happenings at the school. Looking forward to it!

Next Friday’s
 Schedule.  Just a reminder to parents that next Friday, March 16 is a half day for students, 7:40 am -11:00 am, with a staff development day for the remainder of the day.  The abridged schedule is part of the school district’s effort to make up time lost during the windstorm in October/November. HERE is a detailed memo describing the process and changes, including a new calendar printout.  

March 14
 Our school values student voice and empowerment. We know that school safety is an important issue for many of our students. Some students have expressed interest in possibly staging a 17 minute walk out at 10:00 on Wednesday, March 14.  If there is a walkout, the school will neither support or impede students from participating.  The event would be student-led and student-initiated. From 10:00-10:17, on March 14, teaching and learning will continue during this time.  Students understand that whenever they miss instructional time, there is an expectation of completing any academic work missed. We will not impose consequences on those students who elect to participate.  The staff’s role is limited to supervising students during this time. We will have staff present to supervise any student who elect to participate. Staff are not organizing the walkout, it would be a student-led event.

Parents Learning More About Region 10.  We know that our 8th grade parents are very focused on their child’s transition to high school.  As part of working with your child on what they can plan for and expect in high school, we encourage parents to talk about Region 10 Technical High School.  Mt. Ararat High School students have the option of attending this school for part of their educational programming.  There are many fantastic programs there that many of our students would benefit from. We brought our 8th graders to visit the school in January, but we know that more follow up at home will likely help students get a better sense of how Region 10 may fit into their secondary plans.  The Director of Region 10, Nancy Weed, is hoping to hear from our 8th grade parents. Please contact her at  She is hoping to hear from any and all interested parents, including possibly setting up a tour and open house for 8th grade parents.   Please send her a brief email indicating that you would be interested in learning more about the programming at Region 10 Technical High School.


DANCE! DANCE! DANCE!  We have two upcoming school dances, and we need you!   

Mt. Ararat Middle School relies on parent volunteers to chaperone our dances and we need at least 10 parent volunteers to run a dance.  In addition, we would love to have any parents (whether you are chaperoning or not) to bring in individually wrapped baked goods or snacks for a snack sale at each dance.  Please contact the main office at 729-2950 if you are able to help out with this fun event.

6th Grade Dance:  Thursday, March 15, 2:30-4:00 pm (late bus provided)

(this was the rescheduled date pending tomorrow’s snow storm)

7th/8th Grade Dance: Friday, March 16, 6:00-8:00 pm

Tickets are $5 at the door and students may use Eagle Bucks towards this.  All proceeds benefit our student activities fund, which is used to support field trips and student recognition activities.  

The Maine Education Assessment will occur during the week of March 19-23.  The MEA is the State’s test that measures  our students’ achievement in mathematics (grades  6-­8), reading, writing, and language, (grades 6-­8), and science  (grade 8). Our goal is for every student to engage in these assessments  and put forth their best effort. While it is true that State and federal  laws require that we test all students, for us it means more. When all students participate,  the results of these tests help us to inform our programming for students, reflect on our teaching, and  they serve as one of the many ways that we are accountable to our community. Though students take the test  on a computer, we will provide allowable supports in multiple formats based on our students’ needs during testing.  During this time your child’s normal schedule will be modified  in  order  to accomplish  the testing. We  have arranged the  testing to maximize student  readiness by distributing the  sessions and including motor breaks.   If a student is absent during testing,  make­ups will be scheduled to allow for  all students to complete the tests. We have  posted some frequently asked questions HERE.  If you  have other  questions or concerns  about your child’s testing  experience, we ask that you  contact me before testing. If your child completed the MEA last year, we are still awaiting the release of student reports from the Maine Department of Education. We will share the results of your child’s testing from both years as soon as they become  available to us. We are proud of our students, and we thank you for your support.

Richard A. Ferrier Scholarship
. The Maine Community Foundation's Richard Ferrier Scholarship offers financial assistance to Bowdoinham residents between the ages of 13 and 18 (as of April 1, 2017), to pursue their artistic, academic, athletic and vocational or life's passion outside of the traditional school environment.  Visit HERE or contact committee members Kirsten Coker (, Amy Petitti (, Lisa West (, or Jon Beede (, or Liz Fickett at Maine Community Foundation ( or 207-412-2015) if you have any questions.

Blood Drive. 
 To meet the health learning goals, 6th Grade Health classes will be hosting the MAMS Annual American Red Cross Blood drive on Wednesday April 4 from 2:30-7 pm in the MAMS Cafeteria.  One donation can save 3 lives. Power Reds are accepted at this drive if you wish to enhance the positive impact. Use the link Blood Drive put in the MAMS Zip-code 04086 select the MAMS Blood drive for April 4 and schedule your donation.  Our goal is collect 100 units of blood. Please help, share the link with family and friends.

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

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