Posted on 05/15/2019

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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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May 14, 2019

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As we approach these final weeks of the school year,  I have a few items for you:

Last Day of School. Our scheduled last day of school is officially Friday, June 21.  School will let out at 11:00 am that day.  We will serve breakfast and provide bag lunches to any student that needs one.  

Progress Reports. Today your child’s Quarter Four Progress Report will be live and up-to-date on the Empower Parent Portal.  The most efficient way to view their your student's entire progress report is to click the "Print progress report" link.  By doing so, you can view the entire report at once and you can print out copies if you wish. There is also a “Year-to-Date” Progress Report under this menu. We have provided DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS HERE.  If you feel like you would like to know more about how your child is doing in school, feel free to reach out to 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.

Grading and Reporting Review Process.  Our district is beginning a process of reviewing our grading and reporting system. The goals and timeline of the process are included HERE in a letter sent from the Superintendent and were endorsed by the Board of Directors at its April 25th, 2019 meeting. Our teachers will this work and will be seeking input from parents (see below) and students on the improvement process .

Parent Coffee. We are planning on holding another Parent/Principal Coffee on Wednesday, June 5 at 5:00-6:30 pm in the MAMS Learning Commons.  The goal of the parent coffees are for parents to be able to learn more and share their feedback on educational happenings at the school.  As part of this, our next Parent-Principal Coffee will be focused on the questions:

  • What works well in our current reporting system?

  • What would you like to see the report card look like in the future?

While we will start with these questions, parents can also bring up any other topic related to our school. All parents are welcome to attend and can drop-in at any point.

Cell Phones at School.  I wanted to remind parents of our school’s cell phone protocol for students.  All students are expected to keep their cell phone “off and away” in their locker during the entire school day.   Students should not have their cell phone in their possession while at school. If a parent needs to get a message to their child, for any reason, contact the Main Office at 729-2950 and we have an efficient and discreet way to relay that message.  We ask parents to not text or call their child during the school day.  As you know, adolescents struggle with ambiguity and this may send mixed messages to them about expectations.  We are also asking for your support in reinforcing this expectation with your child at home.

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.  For this Friday’s 6th/7th Grade Dance, 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/7th Grade Dance:  THIS FRIDAY, May 17 , 6:00-8:00 pm

8th Grade Semi Formal Dance: Friday, June 21, 7:00-10:00 pm (see below)

Tickets are $5 at the door for the 6th/7th Grade Dance and students may use Eagle Bucks to pay for tickets.  Snacks and pizza are also available to purchase with cash. All proceeds benefit our student activities fund, which is used to support field trips and student recognition activities.  

8th Grade Semi-Formal. The farewell tradition for the graduating 8th graders is the Semi-Formal. This year's dance will occur on the last day of school from 7:00-10:00 pm. Students recently voted on the theme for the dance, Hollywood. Semi-Formal attire is requested for this dance. If any students need help covering the costs for this dance, please contact your child's school counselor. For volunteer opportunities or more information, please contact our secretary Vicki Smith at, who can can connect you to the parent volunteers.

Dress Closet.  Speaking of semi-formal attire… Our health teacher, Ms. Doreen Swanholm started a dress closet years ago and it lives upstairs in the Orion. She has 50+ semi dresses, short and long that have been donated. Some still have the original tags on them.  They are free to any student who needs or wants to use a dress. Most have been donated by staff members. If any of you know of a student who needs/wants a dress for the end of year 8th Grade Semi-Formal dance, please reach out to Ms. Swanholm at and she will work on a time that they can shop and look.  Ms. Swanholm will even do some basic alterations for them if needed.  All free of charge, they can keep the dress or she will clean it and recycle if for someone else.  Thanks to Ms. Swanholm for organizing this!

MAMS at Special Olympics.  Many of our students participate in the Special Olympics.  The  recent Sagadahoc/Lincoln County Special Olympics Track and Field Event was a success, with our 7th grader Nicholas Spencer (above right) being chosen as the torch bearer for the event.  We are so proud of all of our MAMS athletes!

Vaping - Parent Information Session.  Our school, along with Brunswick Junior High, is again partnering with Access Health to help parents better understand the issue of vaping and how it impacts our children.  On Wednesday, May 15, 6:30-7:30 at Brunswick’s Crooker Theater. Join local police and prevention specialists for an interactive presentation entitled, “Vaping - The Target is Our Youth,”  to learn more about the latest trends on vaping, juuling and other products. Find out what local youth are telling our presenters, see some of the most common devices  and receive tips on how to talk to your child. We hope you can come to this very important parent learning event. HERE is a flyer publicizing the event.

Literacy and Social Studies Learning.  For the month of May Team Androscoggin is immersed in an interdisciplinary unit of study.  Throughout the month Androscoggin students are working with The Brunswick Topsham Land Trust, The Cathance River Education Alliance, Bowdoin College Staff and Students, and assorted members of the Brunswick/Topsham community as they explore topics related to citizenship, community service, economic development, and aspirations. As they immerse themselves in this study they will continue to develop their reading/writing skills through narrative, argument, and research-based informational reading and writing related to the social studies learning goal dealing with “place.”  In addition, they are participating in walking writing marathons and day long writing institutes. We will celebrate our Place Based Writing Unit of Study on Thursday May 30th with a Celebration of Learning and Author Share. If you are interested in joining our classroom community for this exciting learning opportunity please contact Michele Aronson @  Thanks to the MSAD 75 Trust for Our Future Grant for helping make this program possible!

The Sheepscot Team is excited to have been awarded a $3000 grant from Lowes.  The Lowe’s Toolbox for Education will allow us to establish a true woodshop and give our students the education and experiences they need to be successful in school and beyond.  Some of the equipment we will purchase includes a compound miter saw, Shop-Vac, clamps, hand tools, and storage cabinets.

Our Approach to Math Instruction.  At MAMS, we strive to group our students for math instruction based on the Learning Goals they are prepared to learn. We know that all students can learn math at high levels, yet not every child is ready to learn the same skills and concepts at the same time. We seek to provide the right amount of challenge for each student which means finding the balance between rigor and frustration. We have found that using the Open Up Resources program allows us to meet our students’ needs through grouping and differentiating within each classroom. We place incoming 6th graders in math groups based on their Learning Goal needs. All 6th grade students work on 6th Grade Learning Goals. Students who need more time, will work on 6th grade Learning Goals, but at a slower pace in order to fill some of the gaps they have in their mathematical understanding. Some students will move off team for math instruction and be regrouped based on their needs in order to receive the appropriate mathematical instruction. In 7th and 8th grade, the majority of students stay on team for math instruction. Each math teacher has four sections of math classes allowing them the opportunity to group students according to Learning Goal and pacing needs.  Students with a Gifted and Talented (GT) identification leave the team for math instruction and work with the GT teacher. We may place other students who are not identified as GT, but exhibit similar learning needs, in this group as well. Also in 8th grade, we offer an accelerated course that mirrors the High School Algebra I curriculum for students who are ready. We use multiple indicators to determine the best placement for each of our students. Some of our data points come from test scores like STAR and MEA, Learning Goals completed in Empower, and the teacher’s recommendation. As the year progresses, we continually monitor each students’ progress and adapt instruction as well as class placement when appropriate. We appreciate hearing from parents about our process and/or with questions you may have about the math program or your child’s placement.

For more information contact the Math Teacher Leader, Melissa Cribby at, Gifted/Talented Coordinator Kim Emerson at

Aladdin Jr.  We are so proud of all our amazing students for their participation in the performances of Aladdin Jr. on April 26-27.  The musical production was a huge success and hundreds of community members filled Orion Performing Arts Center for the performances.  The Mt. Ararat Stage Company is excited to announce that next year’s Spring Musical will be Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland!

Summer Activities and Free Meals for Children. The Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program is offering summer-long fun and free meals for children in multiple locations in the greater Topsham and Brunswick area. Many children who receive lunches during the school year have a difficult time finding a nutritious meal during summer vacation. Through the federally funded Summer Food Service Program, free meals will be served at open sites on weekdays all summer to any child 18 years of age or younger - no questions asked.  HERE is a list of all the meal sites.  Lunch (12-1pm) will be served Monday through Friday starting June 24th and ending August 30th at the Mt. Ararat Middle School.

From the Learning Commons.  Summer is coming! Please remind your student to make sure they backup all school materials to their school google drive and backup any personal files to a flash drive before the end of the school year. Now is the time to gather up library books and look for missing laptop chargers. If books or chargers are lost, please ask your student to stop by the Learning Commons so we can help them look. Also, if you and your student come across any library books from other district libraries, please send them our way and we’ll make sure they are returned to their proper home. All Learning Commons books will be due no later than June 3.

Pedestrian Safety Around MAMS Campus.   For the last two years, I have been cooperating with the Town of Topsham Engineers and Planning Office to improve pedestrian safety on the roads and sidewalks near the MAMS campus.  As you may know, these major thoroughfares are overseen by the town, not the school district. Fortunately, these cooperative actions are leading to significant changes to traffic and pedestrian protocols around the MAMS and new MTA campus.  I am hopeful that this will make it safer for pedestrians to walk and/or ride bikes to MAMS. To seek further public input, the Town of Topsham is holding a public hearing on June 3rd from 5:30 to 7:00pm at the Topsham Town Office.  All members of the public are encouraged to attend.

Budget Process.  Our school district encourages all parents to participate in the School Budget approval process.  On May 23, there is a District Budget Meeting in the Orion at 6:30. On June 11, it is the District Budget Validation public vote.

If any questions, comments, or suggestions arise, please feel free to call the school at 729-2950 or send me an email at:


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Josh Ottow


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