Posted on 12/18/2019

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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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December 17, 2019

Dear Parents and Guardians,


I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season.  I have several items for you:

Progress Reports. This afternoon your child’s Quarter Two 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.   If you feel like you would like to know more about how your child is doing in school, 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.  

Follow Up Re/ K-12 Grading Review Work.  Thanks to all the parents who attended the latest Parent-Principal Coffee on December 4th.  At that session, we reviewed draft proposed improvements to our grading system and gathered input from parents.  In addition to parent input, all students in our school participated in a focus group discussion around what they wanted to see in a new grading system.  The goals and timeline of the K-12 grading review process were included HERE in a letter sent from the then Superintendent and were endorsed by the Board of Directors in April 2019.   If any parents were unable to attend these parent input sessions, feel free to reach out. I would be more than happy to sit down with any parent who wishes to learn more about our draft proposed changes, as would any of our teachers.  

MAMS Student to Serve on Statewide Leadership Body!  The Maine Department of Education (DOE) announced that it is launching its first-ever student cabinet, a group of students that will meet quarterly with Commissioner Pender Makin to discuss educational opportunities, improvements, and policy. The purpose of the Student Cabinet is to provide a forum for Maine students’ voices to be heard.  Student Cabinet members will be selected based on representation of Maine’s geography, with a goal of two students from each county in Maine, based on the pool of applications submitted, and inclusive of the diverse cultural and economic backgrounds of students throughout Maine.  There were hundreds of students who applied for this incredible leadership opportunity. We are so excited to announce that 7th Grader, Maddie Bleau has been appointed the the Maine Student Cabinet!

Last Year’s MEA.  If your child completed the MEA last year, either here or in 5th grade, we have received their score reports from the State of Maine Dept of Education. We will be sending these reports home with students (in sealed envelopes) tomorrow, so be sure to ask your child about it.  While no single test can give a complete picture of a child’s achievement, the MEA, combined with other information, can help students, teachers, and families have a clear understanding of where a student’s learning is, and where it is headed. In order to make thoughtful decisions about what each child needs, we use multiple sources of assessment data together (see diagram above). If you have questions or concerns about your child’s performance, please reach out to your child’s teacher(s).  We are very proud of our students and their teachers; and we are always seeking improved outcomes for our learners. Along with your help, we can support our students in continuing to grow in their learning and overall success. Thank you for partnering with us.We are proud of our students, and we thank you for your support.   

Seeking Socrates.  All 6th grade classes have had the opportunity in November and December to participate in a program called The Spirit Series, inspirational one act plays where students learn about culture and values while improving their literacy and public speaking skills. Seeking Socrates presents the story of the great Greek philosopher.  Cathance and Magalloway completed the 3 week program with performances right before and after Thanksgiving. Carrabassett and Sebasticook are currently preparing to present their shows on December 19 and 20. This has been a great team building and hands-on learning experience for our 6th graders.

Maine BioScience Day.  Recently, our science teachers worked to bring STEM professionals into the classroom in conjunction with Maine Bioscience Day November 21st.   A record number of students from around the state participated in this year’s events.  This was the first year Mt. Ararat Middle School has participated. Ms. Feiss’ 8th grade Science class welcomed a bioscientist from Kennebec River Biosciences in Richmond,  as well as MAMS parent Kris Curtis, a scientist at Idexx. The visiting scientists discussed their jobs and provided a hands on activity. It was a great opportunity to expose students to a broader range of STEM related careers to consider.  A big thank you to parent Bill Keleher for partnering with our school to make this event impactful and positive for our students!

From the Counseling Office for Parents of 8th graders.  In the new year we will begin a series of activities to prepare our 8th graders for their transition to high school.  The first transition activity is a trip to the Region 10 Technical High School on January 23, 2020. Students will enjoy a hands-on experience in four of the twelve programs. The purpose of this is to expose the students to some of their programming options that would be available to them  when they’re in high school. We will also be visiting the High School in the early Spring. More details to come. Please look for the permission slip and more detailed information to be coming home early in the new year for the trip to the Region 10 Technical High School. This is a fun day and we cannot wait to spend the day with your children exploring this program.  We will continue to be in touch as more transition activities are scheduled to happen!

MAMS Focused--Respectful--Responsible Student of the Week.  Because of the great value we place on focused, respectful, and responsible behavior in our community, we have established a program to recognize our students. Each Friday, teams are asked to submit the name of one student whom they believe most exemplifies the team's definition of focused, respectful, and responsible behavior. Those students are called to the office, presented a certificate, and entered into a monthly drawing for a gift certificate. Additionally, Ms. Hayes Teague calls the families to describe the behaviors that led teachers to their choice!  Congratulations to our November Students of the Week:

Sam Betz (Exploratory)

Phoebe Kibler (Magalloway)

Brody Parker (Carrabassett)

Nicholas Chonko (Exploratory)

Ethan Card (Sebasticook)

Wynter Przybylski (Sebasticook)

Savannah Baker (Cathance)

Evelyn Lagrange (Merrymeeting)

Carly Satterfield (Merrymeeting)

Nella Acker (Exploratory)

Cassidy Pullen (Magalloway)

Lexa-Leigh Valentin (Sebasticook)

Savannah Naples (Sebasticook)

Caleb Edwards (Cathance)

Kira Chown (Merrymeeting)

Rachel Skolfield (Exploratory)

Hunter Thibeault (Exploratory)

Nick Creek (Exploratory)

Clara Saxton (Sebasticook)

Cailey Buckner (Sheepscot)

Jenna Jensen (Carrabassett)

Jaelyn Jensen (Carrabassett)

Abbie Doble (Casco)

Bryce Holden (Cathance)

Maggie Fitzpatrick (Kennebec)

Wow!  Math Achievement!  Congratulations to 7th graders Trent Bailey and Will Middleton for being number 1 in the world (not at the same time)! Like many of our students, Trent and Will have been testing their fact fluency on in Mr. Steven’s math class. Math Trainer is used around the world by 100,000+ students and adults, and gets extremely challenging as you progress. Over several weeks, Trent and Will were each able to mentally answer hundreds of questions like 2028➗13 or 3753647-295965 faster than any of the tens of thousands of other users to become the top ranked user in the world. Some of the other highest scoring users are in Russia, South Korea, South Africa, Switzerland, and France. This is incredibly hard to do, and it's fantastic that Two MAMS students have done it this year!!

Lost and Found Purge.  As we do every year around this time, we will be clearing out any lost and found items.  Please encourage your child to use these last few days before break to go through the bins located in the corner of the cafeteria.  We always donate our unclaimed lost and found items to local charities. We do this several times a year to keep the area clear of clutter.

Laptops Are NOT Going Home over the December, February, and April school vacations.  We will be collecting computers on Friday, December 20th at the end of the day.  If your child is planning on not being in that day, please bring their computer to the main office before their last day.  Extended vacations are meant to be a "break" from school.  Because of this, homework is not given over breaks. We want our students to relax and refresh and come back ready to learn after vacation.  Because we provide laptops to students for an educational purpose, it makes sense to keep them at school during a long period of time when there are no educational activities required, just as we do over the summer.  Vacations are a time to be with family and friends. We encourage all our students to"unplug" and enjoy this time with loved ones, without electronic interruptions. 

Battle of the Books is coming! The MSAD 75/MSBA Battle of the Books, also known as BOB, will be held on 2/6/2020. Students are busy forming teams and will need to submit a blue Team Sign-up Form and a yellow Permission Form to the Learning Commons by 1/31/2020. Forms are available in the main office and in the Learning Commons.

Drama Club.  We are holding auditions for our Spring Play, Alice in Wonderland this week.  Advisor Mr. Adam Blais want to thank everyone who plans to audition for the show.  For more information about the rehearsal and performance schedule please visit HERE

The Winter Chorus Concert for Mt. Ararat Middle School and Mt. Ararat High School will be held on Wednesday January 15th at 7:00pm.  All middle school singers should arrive in their concert attire (black & white) by 6:30pm. Also, a reminder that students who elected not to participate in Chorus for the first semester, do have the option of joining Chorus after this concert.  If your child wishes to join chorus, please contact their homeroom teacher. Any questions should be directed to our Chorus Teacher, Ms. Marro-Day at

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 lockers during the school day.  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.  

Routines Can Make This Time of Year Less Stressful.  The days before the December winter break can be a busy time of year.  It can also be a challenging time when students miss the routine of school if they are absent.  Routine bedtimes, healthy diets, regular physical activity, and good school attendance all combine to make this time of year less stressful for everyone.  Learning takes place every moment your child is in school. Our teachers will be teaching, and our students will be learning, right up until vacation starts and on the first day back.  This is healthy and provides students with purpose and direction. Thank you to everyone who makes it possible for our students to come to school every day, on time, and ready to learn.

Student At Risk of Self-Harm Outside of School Hours?  If you and/or your child become aware of a student that may be at risk of self-harm outside of school hours, please DO NOT attempt to contact school personnel outside of school hours.  Staff are not working and may not be checking email or voicemail during these times. Therefore, vital safety information could easily be missed and students could be placed at greater risk.  Instead, please utilize THIS step by step guide for how a parent could respond to such concern outside of school hours.  This guide is placed prominently on our MAMS webpage, and was created in collaboration with local police, mental health providers, and the local Crisis Response Center.

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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