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January 2013 Letter to Parent/Guardian from Principal Elkington

posted Jan 15, 2013, 6:57 AM by Massabesic highschool

Dear Parents and Guardians:                                                                                     January 14, 2013


I hope this letter finds you and your family staying healthy, as we seem to be in the throes of a severe flu bug grabbing hold in the Northeast. If your son or daughter is having multiple difficulties we urge you to keep them home. If they are getting better or are just seeing the onset of something that could be the flu we urge you to make sure your son or daughter comes to school, but that when they are home they rest etc… Time at school is important and so taking measures at home such as extra rest, more fluids and extra hand washing will reduce or eliminate the chances of catching the flu.


Over the last seven weeks we have been extremely busy at Massabesic High School with multiple student concerns in regard to students making healthy choices with peers along with multiple students having social-emotional distress. These concerns are being seen both away from and at MHS. The holidays are always a stressful time in high schools, but this year is different as the number and range of difficulties we are seeing is much larger than we have ever seen before. The key with any and all concerns is preventing them if possible, but if that isn’t possible getting to them early. This happens with and through communication and so we ask you to please keep us, through your son’s or daughter’s guidance counselor, in the loop when a concern comes to your attention as working together we may be able to reduce the severity of the problem or distress.


Important dates:

-       1-11-13 Progress Reports & Parent Conference info handed out to students

-       1-17-13 MHS Unplugged 7:00 – 9:00 PM

-       1-21-13 Martin Luther King Jr. Day No School

-       1-21-13 MHS Booster Mtg 6:00 – 7:00 PM

-       1-24-13 Winter Trimester Parent-Teacher Conferences 2:15 – 6:00 PM

-       1-26-13 Regional Cheering Championships in Augusta

-       1-28 & 1-29-13 Sanford Regional Technical Center Presentations to Sophomores

-       1-30-13 MHS hosts Southern Maine Math Meet

-       2-01-13 Early Release Day

-       2-02-13 Southwestern Swimming Championships

-       The week of 2-3-13 MHS participates in the MI Youth Health Survey

-       2-06-13 College Goal Maine FAFSA 5:30 – 7:00 PM

-       2-06-13 College Night Presentation 6:30 – 8:30

-       2-08-13 Progress Reports handed out in Advisory


A change in administration – Has occurred at MHS as Mr. Stinson became the interim principal at the Line School over the holiday break. We will miss his positive efforts in support of students and staff and wish Tim well! Two MHS staff members have taken on most of Mr. Stinson’s duties. Acting Dean of Students for juniors is Mrs. Angela Scully, and Mr. Kevin St. Jarre is Acting Dean of Students for freshman.


“M-Shirt” Recognition – Long overdue! While running at a Cross Country Meet in Cumberland Cody Vachon came along and found a young lady having an asthma attack, he threw her over his shoulder and carried her out for assistance. Way to go Cody!


MHS safety review and – What are the next steps for MHS? As I have shared we feel strongly that our lock-down procedures are appropriate, have worked well and will support our students and staff if an intruder makes a poor choice and enters MHS to do wrong. With a campus as spread out as ours it is difficult to lock all doors as we have students entering and leaving our two large buildings as well as three sets of portables throughout the day. This does not mean that we are not doing anything about this difficulty and/or improving other supports. We have: Again increased the number of staff who are out and about, increased the expectations for those on duty, come up with a plan for making individual classrooms more secure, further increased the expectation for all visitors with wearing identification badges and are in the process of looking at a plan that would lock all outside doors when classes are in session. More info to come!


Parent-Teacher Conferences for the Winter Trimester – Will be held on Thursday, January 24th. A sign-up sheet was given to each student (this past Friday) with his or her Progress Report. You can also download the sign-up sheet you need by going to our school’s web site and looking under News & Announcements, make sure to choose the correct one. If you wish to make an appointment to discuss your child’s progress at MHS, please fill out the required information on the form and have your child bring this form to each of his/her teachers ASAP! This form will be signed by teachers and will need to be brought back to you with the time of your appointment. Appointments are booked in ten-minute increments with each teacher.  On the form you are asked to indicate a preferred hour of time for your appointment.  Please know that the sooner you return the form, the better your chances are of getting the time you requested. Your telephone number will be requested in case there is a conflict with your requested time. The teacher will contact you if they need to arrange a mutually convenient time for your meeting. (Please remember that the walk time between the East & West Buildings takes 5 minutes.)


Two Important Events Sponsored by the MHS Guidance Dept:


1.)   College Goal Maine FAFSA – Student and family financial aid support will be held from 5:30 – 7:00 on Wednesday, February 6th. Family appointments are available for families wanting assistance with filling out the FAFSA. Please call your son’s or daughter’s guidance counselor for an appointment.

2.)   College Information Night – Will also be on Wednesday, February 6th from 6:30 – 8:30 PM. College may seem like a long way away, but it is time to start preparing! Our Guidance Department is presenting “YOU CAN GET THERE FROM HERE” a College Information Night for students, parents and guardians.  All juniors who are thinking about continuing their education beyond high school, whether at a technical school, community college, or four-year university, should attend on February 6th.  Other underclassman and their parents & guardians are also welcome! There will be an in-depth presentation on the College Admissions Process, including how to research and apply to colleges, what colleges look for and how to optimize your chances for admission. Workshops include: Paying for College – Facts About the Financial Aid Process; Early College Study Programs; College Placement Testing (SATs, ACTs, Accuplacer); NCAA Eligibility – Workshop for Student Athletes; and Naviance and the College Process.  Refreshments will be served. We look forward to seeing you!


An MHS Student Advisory Council – Has been started to increase student voice in the happenings and expectations at MHS! The presidents of all four classes along with the presidents of NHS and Student Council as well as the Two Student Board Reps to the School Board are now meeting on a regular basis with me to ask questions, discuss concerns and to come up with ideas to better support the students of MHS!


This past trimester - Saw three important instructional and assessment next steps being implemented in the classrooms of MHS as we continue to improve our Performance-Based Instructional techniques for improved student learning. These implementation efforts do require some “Check & Adjust” moments from teaching staff, students and MHS Administration. My update is as follows:

1.)   MHS School Coaches – Has had a very successful beginning supporting teachers at improving their instruction. Each Trimester we take one of our best teachers and have them work closely with an assigned number teachers throughout the Trimester. Our coaches complete observations, share ideas and techniques, meet with teams and departments along with supporting training opportunities within our district. MHS School Coaches are assisting our classroom teachers in improving how they teach your sons and daughter! Our teachers are sharing with me how much they appreciate these efforts!

2.)   Implementing the “new” MHS Grading Rubric – Has, for the most part, gone smoothly with few complaints being brought to our attention. One of our “Check & Adjusts” was to raise the grade equivalency of earning a “3” from an 85 grade to a 92.

3.)   Implementation of the “new” MHS Work Habits Rubric – Is taking more time for a large number of our students to see it as seriously as they should be. Many parents and guardians have shared they appreciate the breakdown of expectations, but have shared their concerns with the rubric being followed similarly amongst our teaching staff. We understand this concern and are working on it first being used clearly within departments. There has also been some confusion with “Practice” taking the place of homework (HW). Several students have been fighting the battle “if practice does not earn me points toward my grade then I am not going to do it.” This is putting some of our students behind the “8-Ball” when it comes to being prepared for class and the assessments they are expected to complete based on finishing their “Practice” work. In sharing the rubric with area business leaders they have told me “it is about time these expectations are being asked for” and are positive about the steps we have taken so far.


The FAME Financial Aid Night – On Tuesday, December 4th had a record turnout with over 70 families present. With students also in attendance our auditorium was almost full. If you still need information please contact your son’s or daughter’s guidance counselor!


Needing a note from your doctor’s office? – If your son or daughter is missing school for an appointment has surfaced as a concern from some parents/guardians. All I can do is reiterate with you that we expect a note from your son’s or daughter’s doctor’s office to let us know they were at an appointment. We don’t need to know what the appointment was about, but that your son or daughter was there. On too many occasions over the years parents and guardians have not told the truth and so in order to make sure that we are following our responsibility this note is needed.


Over the break:

-       I spoke with a Dean from one of the schools on the USM Campus. He shared with me how well two of our students from the Class of 2011 were doing in his program! He couldn’t stop telling me how well prepared they were and how they were shinning examples for his program!

-       Two of our students from the Class of 2012 shared with me that their first semesters in college had gone very well and that they felt VERY prepared for college and for us to keep up the good work at MHS!


December’s unannounced iPad check – Found that iPad damage is way down. During iPad checks last year we found multiple problems. It appears the credit goes to a different protective case and to our students taking care of their iPads!


The RESPECT shown by our students – In the face of the lives lost and events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, has been outstanding! Thanks go to all for these efforts!


The MHS Holiday Fund – Has become a tradition at MHS during the holidays as MHS Staff pull together to support students and families in difficulty. Money contributed this year added up to over $1,400.00 with 52 students supported with a little something extra. Special thanks goes to our student council and to the staff of MHS for their contributions!


Honors Course Expectations - Have been developed by our staff to help meet the needs of students who learn at an accelerated pace. Honors classes are faster-paced and sometimes cover topics in more depth. Students who choose these courses must be willing to push themselves by devoting extra time to their studies. Recently, we are seeing students not making the kind of effort they need to and who are demonstrating below minimal course expectations by either earning a grade of C- (76-77) or below (un-weighted), as measured by their assessment proficiency or are receiving multiple 2’s within their MHS Work Habits Assessments. Students with these difficulties WILL be reassigned by administration to a more appropriate course section when needed. If your son or daughter is having difficulty in an Honors Course please speak to the teacher immediately. Thanks!


Several MHS Graduates - Shared their thoughts and experiences about college at our annual Alumni Talk for present MHS Students. Special thanks goes to the following MHS Graduates for sharing their insight and experiences: Dominic Amato (Class of 2011), Ryan Audy (2012), Matt Bullard (2012), Ryan Dodge (2012), Nate Elmore (2012), Claire Harrison (2012), Jordan Knight (2009), Lucas Roy (2012), Vivian Sawtelle (2012), Emily Schatz (2012), Christina Twombly (2012), Tyler Wright (2012) and Patrick Wyman (2012). Thanks so much!


Please join me in Congratulating November’s Honored Students: Joceyln Acheson, Tyler Allen, Lance Archambault, Samantha Berard, Connor Bourassa, Katelyn Bourque, Olivia Bradley, Mark Bshara, Matthew Buck, Jillian Cadman, Stephen Chaves, Kayla Colby, Jeremy Colello, Sarah Connelly, Haley Cox, Jacob Day, Joseph Diaz, Julianne Dumond, Christian DuPaul, Alissa Duval, Deanna Faunce, Matthew Garland, Andrew Gerry, Peter Gilman, Shaunee Glancy, Dylan Hanson, Morgan Heavel, Zachary Huff, Matthew Hunt, Cynthia Jarrett, Jolena Lampron, Terry, Jean Langevin, Justin Langlois, Justin Leach, Alex Legere, Kristina Lenchuk, Jacob Lizotte, Nicole LoConte, Taylor Martin, Tiffany McCutcheon, Zachary McGrath, John Melanson, Nicole Mercier, Hayley Monroe, Roshelle Morrison, Jasmine Mullen, Hannah Newman, Meghan Neyer, Neil O'Gane, Jonathan Ohman, Joe Parker, Skye Parslow, Hannah Pazmany, Maggie Redman, Rain Reinauer, Dawson Renaud, Leah Ridley, Cody Roberge, Audrey Robidoux, Alexis Rumney, Joe Semo, John Shirk, Bernard Simpson, Katherine Sobanik, Cote Taylor, Andrea Thompson, Zachary Traver, Nicole Verrill, Krista Walton, Alyssa Wardwell, Rayne Whitten and Collin Winkel! A “BIG” WELL DONE to you all!


We have great kids at MHS who demonstrate RESPECT, RESPONSIBILITY AND CREATIVE THINKING every day!


Thanks for reading this letter!


Very truly yours,



Christian M. Elkington, Principal