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Letter from Principal Elkington to Parents/Guardian 3-28-13

posted Mar 31, 2013, 3:36 AM by Massabesic highschool   [ updated Mar 31, 2013, 3:39 AM ]

                                                March 28, 2013

Dear Parents & Guardians:                                                           

Whether we are talking about student-school success or safety the best way we all can help to minimize the likelihood that a student falls behind, starts to give up, or a threat becomes a reality in our school is to communicate with one another whenever we feel there is a cause for concern. This means that we have to work together and meet each other at least half way. Parents and guardians need to be aware of their son’s or daughter’s success and/or the difficulties they or their friends are having just like I expect our staff to keep each of our/their students in focus. I am happy to say that many times I do see parents/guardians and staff coming together to find solutions to difficulties. Sometimes mistakes happen, as no one is perfect and that especially includes your school’s principal. When a mistake happens at Massabesic High School or is made by a Massabesic High School Staff Member we deal with it as best we can to make sure the student who is affected has the opportunity for an improvement to be made. Parents/Guardians and MHS Staff may not always agree about the correction, but we all certainly give our best effort.

Over the last two months I have seen, read, and been a party to several meetings, emails, and/or phone conversations where a lot of blame-games are being played. This is very troubling to me, as I do believe that when a concern is brought to the attention of a member of my staff, or to me, that we do work to correct it. My concern in sharing this with you is that these discussions are becoming more and more antagonistic and mean-spirited. These conversations are more about “us against them” than looking for solutions for our students. Because the economy continues to be in terrible shape, and because services within our communities continue to be cut or reduced, and because a public school must follow state and federal law along with school board policy for each and every student, some requests are being made and not able to be followed. This can make Massabesic High School and members of my staff made to look like they don’t care, aren’t helpful, or are not doing their jobs. I do NOT believe this to be the case!

The staff of MHS delivers the best program possible to our students. We are constantly looking for ways to improve. We take feedback from students, parents, guardians, and each other. Over the last four years we have made many improvements based on feedback, national studies and data from successful programs at other schools. We do this under very difficult budget constraints, as we are 2nd-to-last in per-pupil funding for ALL public high schools in Maine over the last five years. Please know we never stop looking for ways to improve and the fact that we may not agree on possible solutions does not mean that we are not caring, not listening, or not doing our all for each and every student at Massabesic High School! Please know this is the base for the work we do!

Good news to share – Course failures continue to drop! In 2009 one of our school’s biggest concerns was failure on the rise. I am happy to report that we have a reduction in Tri 1 course failures for the third year in a row. After incompletes & interventions our numbers:

07-08                        725 Failures                        12.4%

08-09                        787 Failures                        13.5%

09-10                        942 Failures                        16.2%

*10-11                        419 Failures                          8.4%

*11-12                        389 Failures                          7.9%

*12-13                        304 Failures                          6.2%

Important Dates:

4-02-13 – 11th Grade State Science Test given in AM at MHS (“Best wishes “Mustang Nation!”)

4-03-13 – Sophomore College Trip, Red Cross Blood Drive at MHS & RSU 57 Finance Meeting 5:30 PM

4-04-13 – Mr. MHS 7:00 PM

4-09-13 – State Math Meet (Best wishes “Mustang Nation!”) & Project Grad Meeting 6:00 PM

4-11-13 – Progress Reports handed out to students

4-13-13 – No School

4-16-13 – 4-19-13 April Vacation

4-22-13 – MHS Athletics Boosters Meeting 6:30 PM

4-27-13 - PROM

Sophomores – Get your permission slips in! Next Wednesday, April 3rd ALL sophomores are supposed to be on a trip to a college or university as part of our MELMAC Aspirations Grant! Ten different colleges are being visited with some $9,000.00 in buses and lunches being paid for by our grant. I am saddened to say that only about 40% of our sophomores have turned in their permission slips. Please know this is the curriculum and learning for this day. Students who do not attend will be considered absent unexcused. Students who do not get their permission slips in will be sent home and will also be considered absent unexcused for refusing to participate. We have been sending students on these trips for four years. We strongly believe that this is a GREAT opportunity that should NOT be missed or wasted! I urge all sophomores to attend!

2013-2014 budget concerns – Are a reality as the news from Augusta is not good. With increases in costs and a shortfall in future funding we are looking at a possible budget increase for RSU 57 of $1.8 million. This can’t all be absorbed by our taxpayers, which means that our school board and Dr. Davis, our Superintendent, must look at ways to trim our district’s budget. As your school’s principal I can tell you that under Dr. Davis’ proposed budget our school will be losing the following eleven positions: ENGLISH, MATH, COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY, PHYS ED/HEALTH, LATIN, TECH ED, SCIENCE, SOCIAL STUDIES, GUIDANCE, GIFTED & TALENTED along with one EDUCATIONAL TECHNICIAN. Our school's athletic and activities budget has also been cut 5% for next year. District wide our K-8 programs are also losing several positions with a proposed restructuring of district G/T, nursing services, and administration. Dr. Davis presented his plan to the Budget & Finance Committee this past week. A copy of this presentation can be found on the district web site at http://www.rsu57.org/home/superintendent-updates/financepresentation313.

You have my word that we will do our best to continue to offer all we can to and for our students at MHS. These proposed cuts, will mean continued development of online options and other alternative credit options, along with creative scheduling and learning opportunities for our students. Because these proposed cuts will NOT be comfortable and mean reductions in several subject areas at our school the MHS Course Selection and Scheduling Process has been put on hold and will need to be redone, especially in regards to elective offerings. In making our cuts I looked at keeping a strong base within our core subjects and keeping our music, art, tech ed, world language and activities/ athletic programs as strong as possible. Without these programs many of our students interests would not be supported and we really would not have a high school! The fact is that under the present state budget difficulties there is no good solution. Unfortunately, no money trees are available within our district. I urge you to attend one of the Finance Committees next two meetings on April 3rd or 10th, 5:30 PM in the East Building at MHS to listen and/or share your thoughts.

It is my pleasure to share – With you the names of MHS students who successfully competed in the 2013 Skills USA Competition at Sanford Regional Technical Center:

Automotive Technology -1st Dan Allaire, 2nd (tied) Zach Gile and Jacob Desrochers

Cabinet Making -1st Steven Lord

Computer Networking - 1st John Caramihalis and 2nd Ryan Rutledge           

Culinary Arts -1st Dimitri Wrightington

Extemporaneous Speaking - 1st Nigel Wrightington           

Graphic Communications – 3rd Kaitlyn Bergeron

Health Occupations Portfolio - 3rd Kayla Belanger

Medical Terminology - 1st Britany Chamberlain, 2nd Jordan Bantz, 3rd Hannah Phinney

Nursing Assistant - 1st Nicole Roberge

Photography - 2nd            Kristin Lambert, 4th Megan Henderson

Pin Design - 1st Kaitlyn Bergeron, 3rd            Megan Henderson           

Precision Manufacturing - 1st Daniel Place

Prepared Speech - 1st Nigel Wrightington

Related Technical Math - 2nd Ben Gammon

Residential Wiring - 1st Ben Gammon, 3rd Josh Holt           

Screen Printing - 1st Kylie Johnson

Tee Shirt Design - 3rd Samantha Kruse

Landscape Design - 2nd Kathryn Nagy

Media Communications – 3rd Josh Wakefield

Massabesic Athletics Boosters - Are a voluntary association of individuals, organized to support, promote, and encourage ALL student-athletes and athletic programs for both the middle and high Schools. A short list of some of our most recent activities are as follows: Purchased a break-away banner for use by all teams, painted concession stand, awarded state championship rings to the Cross Country Team, upgraded speaker system for the soccer field, provided multiple fund-raising opportunities for teams, built new ticket booth for football field, provided two $500.oo scholarships for student athletes, purchased wrestling mats for Massabesic Middle School, provide annual awards and plaques for every sport, and provide financial support for athletes attending regional competitions. We need your help! We have reached a critical juncture as we are in danger of disbanding and MUST bring in some new volunteers to carry on. Please consider joining us at our April 22 or May 20 meeting, 6:30pm in the MHS Library to see how you can help support the athletic programs of RSU 57. Thanks!

Three cheers - Go to MHS Junior Augustus Mendoza who has been selected for the Navy's STEM training this summer at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Augustus will represent our school's NJROTC Program with distinction!

Congratulations - Go to Alyssa Wardwell (Nominee), and Deidre Lamontagne (Alternate) for earning the right to represent MHS at the Maine Youth Leadership Conference! Well-done!

The Research Club of Limerick - Held their annual art contest inviting MHS students to enter. Winners were announced with David Warren 1st place, Klara Blazejovska 3rd place, and Andrea Pare Honorable Mention. Way to go and best wishes to David & Klara at the state competition!

Congratulations go to the - 2013 Southern Maine Activities Association Student Summit Participants representing our school: Karlie Pike, Ashley Cryer, Hayley Bantz, Mira Kuni, Mackenzie Kidder, Adam Marcotte, Remi Gaetjens, Mike Aboud, Jordan Drain and Mike Risti.

To the parents/guardians of students with school issued iPads – I need to remind you that to receive the discount on repairs as stated in the Family Commitment Letter, all iPad repairs must be processed through the district's Technology Department. If this procedure is not followed you may void the device's warranty with Apple and you will have to pay full price for the repair. RSU57 will not reimburse you for your cost. Please remember that each iPad is the property of RSU57 until your son or daughter graduates from MHS. Thanks!

Three problems w/students that we need your help with:

Calling and/or texting parents or guardians – To go home when they say they do not feel well before checking in with our health staff. Our expectation is that students who do not feel well need to see our people first, before diagnosing their problem. Several of our students could be and should be finishing their day with us and are leaving when they should not. An education that we all share in paying for is a terrible thing to waste or miss! Your help with this is appreciated!

Students leaving school without signing out – Is also happening more and more and should NOT be! We are finding that parents/guardians are calling their kids or students are calling their parents/guardians on their cell phone and then the student leaves without signing out. An education that we all share in paying for is a terrible thing to waste or miss! Appreciate your help!

Students are forgetting to sign in – When they come to school late! If a student comes in late before 7:50 their Block 1 teacher will mark them tardy. If a student arrives after 7:50 they need to sign in at the main office at the East or West Building depending where their class is. Thanks!

Two MHS Students win the state - AMVETS - Americanism Essay Contest! Congratulations go to Brian Wardwell who earned 1st Place in the 12th Grade category and to his sister Alyssa Wardwell who earned 1st place for 10th Grade! Super Job, Wardwells!

Words of Wisdom from – Some of our former graduates about college:

“You have to take your education into your own hands.”

“Get an education, not just to get a grade, but to learn.”

“I felt very well prepared coming from MHS, but you only get from college what you put in.”

“Know your boundaries, what is right and wrong for you… academics come first.”

“Learn how to study. Finals are important and one test can be the bulk of your course grade.”

“Mrs. Blair could have taught my college calculus class better than my professor.”

“Teachers are more inclined to help you if you are helping yourself.”

“Stay sober…you look like an idiot if you don’t.”

“Can’t wait until the night before class to do homework. Time-management is key.

“Have fun with friends, within reason. Do academics first…set the right priorities.”

“Have to learn to mange your time… study daily.”

“You are more of an individual. No one will hold your hand to get you through.”

“Don’t just sit in your room. Going out is how you meet people. Most schools have many opportunities so take control and introduce yourself by making connections.”

It is my honor to share with you the names of - Two MHS Students who have earned recognition as our school’s SMAA Citizenship Award winners for 2012-2013:

Kate Sobanik has been a member of several teams, an SMAA All Academic Team honoree, is the president of our Student Council, member of NHS, a member of the Student Advisory Council, volunteers hundreds of hours and will be attending the University of Maine, this Fall. WOW!

Brian Wardwell has been a member of several teams, captain of two, SMAA All Star, two years as class president, a member of student council and NHS, has won first place in the state DAR Contests, successfully competed in Maine History Day, volunteers hundreds of hours, is a recording artist who will major in Civil Engineering at the University of Maine, this fall. WOW! 

The Lions Club Speak Out Contest - Chose Olivia Bradley as the 1st place winner in our region. She will move on to the next level and compete against other regional honorees. Congratulations, goes to all MHS students who received recognition: 1st Olivia Bradley (Why Geography is Important), 2nd Jane Pettit (Communication Without Any Conversation), 3rd McKenzi Stevens (Why the Military Should be Paid More), and Runner up Jackie Stolo (Stay, but Go.). Super job!

Thank you for reading this letter!

Christian M. Elkington