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Letter from the Principal October 14, 2011

posted Oct 15, 2011, 3:42 PM by Massabesic highschool

October 14, 2011


Dear Parents, Guardians, and Students:            


The last two weeks have brought negative press and concern our way. In reviewing these concerns (Beebe Gun incident at the middle school involving an MHS Student and this week’s revelation involving one of my staff) with students this past Wednesday in school-wide meetings, we have been honest, direct and to the point. These two incidents are isolated and are not a reflection of our student, staff or school’s efforts to strive for excellence and success! Sharing and/or spreading of rumors about them are not supportive of the truth, to the authorities now dealing with these incidents and especially to the individuals and victims involved. I emphasized that we have, are and will continue to work hard to improve our school, which many initial results are demonstrating. We can’t let these two incidents slow our efforts.


I want you to know that I have not had a prouder moment in working with students than I have had the past few days, which started with my meetings with students on Wednesday. Your sons and daughters have demonstrated their understanding of the seriousness of these incidents, have and are acting respectful in regards to them and are continuing to move forward with their studies and efforts before, during and after school. Special thanks goes to our students for their focus, respect and dignity they have shown and to our staff for their focus and support of our kids. “Mustang Nation” is demonstrating our character, perseverance and commitment! “We are alive and well!”


It is my pleasure to now share the following updates and celebrations with you:


Important Dates:


-       10-18-11                        District 2 Auditions

-       10-26-11                        Senior Naviance/College Info Night 6:00 – 8:30 PM

-       10-28-11                        Progress Reports handed out in Advisory

-       10-29-11                        Halloween Dance 7:00 PM

-       11-1-11                                    Winter Sports Sign-ups 6:00 – 7:00 PM

-       11-3-11                                    NHS Induction

-       11-5-11                                    Picture Retakes 9:00 – 10:30 AM

-       11-9-11                                    Flu Clinic for students and staff 8:00 – 10:00 AM

Veteran’s Day Assembly 12:30 PM

-       11-10-11                        Early Release Day

-       11-11-11                        Veteran’s Day No School


Breakfast concerns – By starting our school day ten minutes earlier some questions have been raised in regards to students needing to grab a bite to eat before the school day starts. Please know that our school’s staff and students are working together with students who get to MHS closer to 7:30 AM. Students are allowed to finish their breakfast in class or right outside the room if a science lab is in progress. Please let me know if this is not what you are hearing. Thanks!


Medical Appointments and Excused & Unexcused Absences - If a student has a medical appointment and is tardy, dismissed out for the school day we must have documentation from their medical office or else it will be unexcused. Thanks for your attention to this!


Congratulations go to Victoria Long - As she has been selected as a "Commended Student", top five percent in the nation, for the National Merit Program! Well-done Victoria!


It is our honor - To recognize Cassandra Hamann for earning recognition as a National Merit Semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program! Well-done Cassandra!


MHS Library Media Center - After several weeks of construction, renovation, reorganization and redecorating the media center is open for business! In place of what was our traditional setting our LMC is a new vibrant hub of learning and collaboration. Thanks to grant funding, donations and district budget funds, our students can now use state-of-the-art computers, see news streaming on a big screen TV, practice skill-building across the curriculum on iPads and iPods, participate in remote broadcasting presentations, practice public speaking, learn a new language, explore college and career options, create exciting digital products, and work independently or within small groups at homework or project tasks. Down the road a Media Production Studio will allow students to learn and apply technical skills that will move with them to the workplace. Watch for announcements of after-school enrichment activities. Please stop in for a tour.


MHS Staff email addresses – Have changed. Over this past summer, in order to increase service and speed, new servers and a new email system were added to district technology resources. Each staff member’s email address should have their first and last name and @rsu57.org If you have been receiving bounce back messages or your messages have not been going through, this is probably the reason. Please accept my apologies for not sharing this change with you sooner.


Congratulations go to – Brian Wardwell who had a 2nd piece of writing published by the Maine Humanities Council this past spring. Brian’s piece, called “Through A Howling Wilderness, Benedict Arnold’s March,” was put to music and also sung by Brian! Well-done Brian!


Senior Parents and Guardians – Your help is needed! Project graduation for the Class of 2012 needs parents and guardians to help coordinate this year’s event. Over the past two decades MHS teacher Norm Legere was Mr. Project Graduation. He volunteered numerous hours supporting each senior class. Mr. Legere retired this past June and we now need to form a parent/guardian group to take this over. Please call or email me if you are willing to join this group. We need a team to step up to the plate. Thanks!


MHS Grading System – Has not changed. We are still using the A – F and 0-100 scale, which most of us grew up with. Are some of our teachers and teams grading assignments related to student mastery of a Maine Learning Result or the “new” Common Core National Standards? The answer is yes. Some of our teachers are expecting students to complete assignments based on specific standards within their course.


Massabesic High School is still using the 0-100 grading scale. Teachers use a common rubric scale that translates student success on assignments/assessments. Scores of 1 - 4 convert into 0-100 grade equivalents. Some of you are seeing student progress/learning displayed in Infinite Campus through specific standards. Our school is moving towards more clearly identifying student progress on each standard as is being done in grades K-8 as this is a much clearer picture for each student, parent and guardian on what your son or daughter knows, understands and can do. Please know that during this transition all grades will still be displayed using the 0-100 scale on a student’s report card and transcript. There are no plans to change this form of reporting, as we know there are many questions that need to be answered and researched before an in-depth discussion with parents, guardians and students should take place.


PBE Grading - What happens when my son or daughter receives a 1, 2 or 3 on their assessments/assignments? Please understand that under the Performance Based Educational philosophy there are ALWAYS opportunities for students to make-up learning/assessments in order to increase their final demonstrated success to a 3, 3.5 etc. In a PBE system our concern is not when a student demonstrates proficiency or mastery during the trimester, but that they do so by the end of the course. If you have individual questions in regards to how your son or daughter is being assessed I urge you to meet face to face with the teacher. Thanks!


“Mustang Nation”/ “M” Shirts recognition – Goes to Scott O’Brien (being positive and helpful as a student guide for new students), Josiah Krebs (respect shown at a recent event) and Cory Jernigan (help with open house) for representing themselves, their families and our school with respect and dignity!


Great news to report - With the continued growth of MHS Students taking advantage of college courses as the following data demonstrates:


Fall 2006 – 10 students enrolled in 10 classes

Spring 2007 – 14 students enrolled in 20 classes

Fall 2007 – 18 students enrolled in 19 classes

Spring 2008 – 24 students enrolled in 32 classes

Fall 2008 – 10 students enrolled in 10 classes

Spring 2009 – 12 students enrolled in 16 classes

Fall 2009 – 14 students enrolled in 20 classes

Spring 2010 – 23 students enrolled 30 classes

Fall 2010 – 31 students enrolled in 42 classes

Spring 2011 – 30 students enrolled in 48 classes

*Fall 2011 – 57 students enrolled in 75 classes


*As you can see our fall 2011 numbers are continuing to show a dramatic increase as our 2011-2012 School-year is 150 courses taken by MHS Students!


Update on “new” JJIC Policy (eligibility) – Policy JJIC was updated last winter to increase the academic expectations and commitment that we at MHS and in RSU 57 expect from our student-athletes. We are an academic institution first that also serves the needs of our students with earned opportunities for extra-curricular activities. It is our strong belief that with our fully developed credit recovery system and a teaching staff committed to individual learning for students as needed, that every MHS student can be successful if they meet us halfway! It is with this belief that our school board passed the highest extra-curricular participation expectations in our league.


Under our new eligibility expectations going into the Fall Trimester of 2011 our numbers were as follows:


Class of 2014

-       *26% of the class is ineligible

-       3% of the class is on probation


Class of 2013

-       *16% of the class is ineligible

-       5% of the class is on probation


Class of 2012

-       *18% of the class is ineligible

-       4% of the class is on probation


*This number includes students who had schedules that did not meet minimum course enrollment requirements.


In regards to MHS students who signed up for fall athletics, I am happy to report that only 15 MHS Students (5%) out of the 255 who signed up to tryout were ineligible or had eligibility questions needing clarity. Our higher expectations are balanced with a system of checks and balances (credit recovery supports) that will and do support students willing to make the effort to dig deeper so as to succeed!


In closing I want to take a moment to share with you a wonderful moment. During our Fall Activities Rally a few weeks ago student council members were explaining our school’s new theme “Mustang Nation” to our students. Within a short period of time after the explanation was completed most of our gym was standing and yelling in unison “Mustang Nation”! It was great not only to experience it, but also to be part of it! My hope is that with the work we have, and continue to do, that we continue to build off of positive efforts such as these.


Thanks for listening!


Christian Elkington