Posted on 10/16/2018

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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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October 4, 2018


Dear Parents and Guardians,

We are now into our second month of school and we have had a great start!   Every three weeks or so, I send out these “MAMS Updates.” These are also posted on our website for your reference.  I have a few items for you today:


Progress Reports.  We are now halfway through the first quarter.  We encourage all parents to log on to Empower, our school’s grading program.  Once logged in (see below), parents can find updated work habit scores, based on our school wide Code of Cooperation:  Focused, Respectful, and Responsible. Empower will also contain scores for any learning goals that have been assessed and graded, although there will be relatively few of these at this point in the year.   Every Progress Report time (halfway through each quarter), you will be receiving an email from me prompting you to check your child’s progress in Empower. At the end of the quarter, you will receive similar email notification, as well as a paper Report Card sent home with your child.  


Empower Parent Login Information was recently mailed to 6th grade and new MAMS parents’ home addresses.  This mailing contains your assigned username and a temporary password. Please take a moment to log into Empower, select a password, and explore this program.  Each parent/guardian has their own login and with it they can view every child they have at MAMS through one portal.  If you have any questions about logging into Empower, or if 7th and 8th Grade parents need a reminder of your login information, please call or stop by the office, or email  During Parent-Teacher Conferences, parents may swing by the Learning Commons for help with Empower.


Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on the week of Tuesday, October 9 through Thursday, October 11, 2:30-7:00 pm.  You will be hearing from your child’s team teachers to schedule these student-led conferences.  If you also wish to conference with your child’s exploratory teachers (Health, P.E., Art, Music, Culture/Languages, Learning Commons, STEM), please contact them directly to schedule your conference with them during one of these evenings.  Their contact information can be found at this link.


Seeking Your Feedback at Conferences.  Just like with our students, we, as a group of professional educators, foster a "growth mindset" within ourselves.  We are always trying to improve and we need feedback to do that. We know we are not perfect, but we are always trying to do what is best for our students.  As part of this, we will be asking all parents to fill out a brief survey at the conclusion of parent conferences with the following two questions regarding:

  • Level of support for  MAMS’ Proficiency-Based Approach to Teaching and Learning?
  • Level of support for MAMS’ Proficiency-Based Approach to Grading and Reporting?

We plan to share the results of this survey, and the data will further inform our school staff, the MSAD 75 Board of Directors and Proficiency-Based Learning Steering Committee.  Thank you for your feedback!

School Pictures.  School picture day was on September 11.   We will be sending home picture proofs and order forms for all students soon.  Students who ordered prints will be receiving picture packages later this month.  Retake day is October 18. Please contact Geskus Photography for more information or to order pictures at this link.

Drop Off Area. We ask any parents who are dropping their child off at school in the morning to use the designated drop-off pull off area (see picture). Please do not stop your car to drop of your child in the crosswalk or area before this spot. By stopping here, it creates a highly unsafe situation for student pedestrians. Also, if you regularly drop off or pick up your child at school, please remind them to only cross the streets at the designated crosswalks.  Thank you for your cooperation in this matter, as it ensures the safety of our students.

Boys to Men and Hardy Girls.  Every year, we engage our students through programming around the challenging issues of what it means to be a young man or young woman in our society.  For boys, this work involves the Boys to Men program and, for girls, the sessions use the Hardy Girls Healthy Women curriculum.  In the coming weeks, we will begin this comprehensive 4-week long program with our 8th grade students.  Both programs were featured in the media, and I encourage interested parents to check out these pieces: Hardy Girls & Boys to Men I & II.  We also encourage parents of 8th graders to talk to your child about their experiences and perspectives with this program.  


A LockDown Drill will be held on Monday, October 29 at 8:45 am with cooperation from local police/fire departments.  Team teachers will notify and prepare our students in advance of this drill. State law requires that we hold a number of fire/evacuation drills and one lockdown drill per year and we want parents to be aware of this upcoming drill.



New Clubs!  We have so many different clubs, sports, and activities for students to participate in at MAMS.  A big part of the middle school philosophy is that these three years are the prime time for students to try new things and explore their passions.  We have a rotating set of clubs that meet throughout the year. We encourage students and parents to check out our School News page, where announcements about new clubs will be posted.  For example, we are excited about three new clubs that will be starting up soon:

Debate Club - Advisor: Ms. Josephine Eltzroth ( A Capella Club - Advisor: Ms. Rachel Williams ( Intramural Sports Club -  Advisor: Mr. Mike Toomey (


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Science Club at MAMS is starting again this December.  It will meet one Thursday a month for 4 months in room 1327 from 2:20-4.  We have room for 20 kids. Sign-ups will happen at end of November in the office.  The Maine School Volunteers (MSSV) will be helping to run the club. MSSV is a group of retired scientists, mathematicians, physicians and engineers that help students better understand science and make it fun.  In over twenty years, they have enriched the science education of thousands of Maine students. Please contact 6th Grade teacher Ms. Vandenberg at for more information.


New Bus Stops Near MAMS.  Because of the new High School Construction Project, some of the sidewalk on Eagles Way (the road into the high school) may be impacted, potentially increasing safety risks for students that may walk to school on Eagles Way.  Therefore, the MSAD 75 Transportation Department may be adding bus stops to some neighborhoods close by to MAMS. We encourage families who live very close by to MAMS to contact the Transportation Office at 729-1608 to see if there may be a stop added to your neighborhood.


Late Bus Info.  Every day (except Friday) there are four late bus runs that depart from MAMS at 4:30.  The runs DO NOT STOP AT THE REGULAR STOPS, but instead use several regional stops throughout the four towns.  HERE is detailed information on these runs or you may contact MSAD 75 Transportation Office at 729-1608.  For our 6th graders and any new students, this may be the first time you have used a late bus from school.  Therefore, we encourage all new and 6th grade parents review the late procedures and stops with their child prior to taking the late bus for the first time.  Especially before the 6th grade dance….


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.  In addition, we would love to have any parents (whether you are chaperoning or not) to bring in individually wrapped baked goods for a bake sale at each dance.  Please contact the main office at 729-2950 if you are able to help out with this fun event.

6th Grade Dance:  Thursday, November 1, 2:30-4:00 pm (late bus provided)

7th/8th Grade Dance: Friday, November 2, 6:00-8:00 pm

Tickets are $5 at the door and students may use Eagle Bucks towards entry.  All proceeds benefit our student activities fund, which is used to support field trips and student recognition activities.  


Mystery Artist of the Month! Each month there will be a new mystery artist for everyone to learn about and investigate.  Students, Staff, Teachers, and Parents are encouraged to join in on the fun! The display is outside Mrs. Michel's art class in the first floor the exploratory hallway.  The goal is to encourage curiosity of learning through exposure to art history. September's Mystery Artist was: Winslow Homer. Come by and see whose artwork is on display for the month of October!


From the Learning Commons: Student Laptops.  Now that 7th and 8th grade students are allowed to take their laptops home, it is a good time to review the MAMS Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). Students are permitted to download non-educational programs (games, spotify) on their devices, however, they must only use the school network for educational purposes. We advise students that the best practice is to stick to education-related tasks while on school property. We always encourage students to talk to their parents about how they will be using their laptops at home. It's an especially good idea for students to check with their parents before downloading or installing any non-educational programs. A couple of resources you may find useful when talking about technology best practices at home:

Common Sense Media provides advice, reviews, and tips for parents to help navigate media and technology

Talking with Teens about Instagram is a new guide from Scholastic and Instagram

Please contact the Learning Commons team at MAMS if you have any questions or concerns about school laptops.



Counselor Corner.  Is your child getting enough sleep?  What is a healthy bedtime routine?

Research shows that adolescent students on average are not getting enough sleep.  Lack of adequate sleep can impact children in various ways such as lack of attention in class, irritability, and many other significant physical and emotional health concerns.  The following articles are great resources on why sleep is important and offer some healthy bedtime routines to help with sleep! KidsHeath, CDC, WashingtonPost, SleepFoundation.  If you have any further thoughts or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s counselor.


MAMS RESPECTful Student of the Week.  Because of the great value we place on respect in our community, we have established a new program to recognize our most respectful students. Each Friday, teams are asked to submit the name of one student whom they believe most exemplifies the team's definition of respect. 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 September RESPECTful Students of the Week:

Nicholas Brady (Carrabassett)

Alexis O'Connor (Exploratory)

Brooklyne Choate (Sebasticook)

Aidan Gomez (Carrabassett)

Taylor Morrell (Merrymeeting)

Alyssa Sheen (Exploratory)

Isaac Wheeler (Exploratory)

Julie Alvarado (Carrabassett)

Jackson Byrne (Merrymeeting)

Isaac Wheeler (Kennebec)

Vlayta Dubois (Casco)

Addie Greenleaf (Magalloway)

Evie Goudreau (Sebasticook)

Hailey Stark (Cathance)

Rose Tuttle (Kennebec)

Marc Hagan (Carrabassett)

Natalie Curtis (Androscoggin)


The Sheepscot Team (formerly known as Alternative Ed) is off to an active and exciting start of the school year.  We have been busy relocating our Aquaponics program from our third floor classroom to the front balcony over the main entrance to our school.  The tanks are full of fish which are producing nitrates which will be used to grow fresh green and herbs. In addition, we’ve launched our daily exercise program with walking, rollerblading, and biking.  Thanks to the Merrymeeting Wheelers and Center Street Cycles for their support! With the coming Governor’s election, be sure to explore our hallway to learn about the candidates.


New Advanced/GT Math Teacher.  We are excited to announce that Mr. Peter Stevens (above) will be joining the MAMS community as the new Advanced/GT Math Teacher, replacing Dr. John Wironen.  Mr. Stevens has been working with children for the past 24 years, 17 of which have been as a teacher of Gifted and Talented math students at Brunswick Junior High School.  Dr. Wironen's last day is Friday October 19. The plan is for Mr. Stevens to team teach with Dr. Wironen for the entire week of October 15-19 in order to aid in the transition for students.



  1. Forms- thank you for the quick response on all the forms: health history, immunization updates and exemptions. medications, asthma and allergy documentation!  Not too late to send in any outstanding forms.
  2. Dental cleanings (for those who have signed up) will be Thursday, Oct. 11 and Friday, Oct 12 with Judith Jones, dental hygienist.
  3. Flu shot clinics will be at MAMS on Saturday, October 20 from 9-12 noon and again on Tuesday, Nov. 27 from 4-6pm in the cafeteria.  Clinics are open to all in the community ages 6 months and up. No cost, donations accepted by CHANS Home Health Agency.
  4. Cold season has arrived.  Please provide cough drops and refillable water bottles for your students.
  5. Sleep - seeing a lot of very tired students this past month. Preteen and teens in the middle school years require 9-11 hours of sleep per night.  This can seem almost impossible with homework, sports, family and friend time. HERE is a link with helpful information about sleep.  


Target Time is up and running! Target Time is a forty minute block of time on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. The purpose of Target Time is based around the belief that all students have areas that they can grow in.  Because we utilize a proficiency-based approach to teaching and learning, we are able to focus in on the specific knowledge and skills that each student needs to grow.  The first rotation began on September 24th and will continue until October 26th. Students have been scheduled in classes with students who have similar targeted needs. Students may be working on math, reading, spelling, or writing.  Data used to determine the groupings are from teacher observations, classroom performance, formative assessment and universal screening tools including STAR, AimsWeb Plus and running records. If a student is in band or chorus, they will get Target Time twice a week.  If a student is in both band and chorus, that will be their Target class as chorus and band runs concurrently with Target Time. If you questions, please contact Rebecca Singleton (reading, writing, spelling) at or Marybeth Latti (math) at


Vaping & E-Cigs.  As many of you know, E-Cigs and Vaping devices have become a fad for many teenagers.  The most concerning factor may be that many young people do not perceive their use as dangerous or harmful to their health.  This is because these products have been actively marketed to teengagers as being different and safer than other forms of drugs and alcohol.  The truth, however, is that vaping can be even very harmful and addictive because of the various chemical additives and high nicotine content.  HERE is a helpful one-pager that may be useful for you when we talk to your child about this issue.

Box Tops for Education.  Yes!  We do participate in this program as one of our fundraising efforts to support our student activities fund.  Students are encouraged to drop off Box Tops in the collection box in the main office.


Cafeteria Subs Needed.  Looking to make a little extra money, making a difference in our schools and having fun while doing it? Consider being a Substitute in our kitchens! Flexible, school day hours, great coworkers and a lot of fun! Please call the Nutrition Director, Katy Dicara today for more information.  207-729-9961 x 238.


Phone Tag.  Did you know that almost every space in our building has a telephone? That's a lot of phones!  This makes it nearly impossible for us to know who may have called you if they weren’t able to leave a message on your phone.  Staff and students have been encouraged to always leave a message so parents won't be left wondering, "Who called me?" To help with this, we ask that your voice-mailbox be set up and able to receive messages from the school.


The Mt. Ararat High School Sports Boosters would like to introduce itself to the MAMS community.  The purpose of the organization is to support the athletic teams at Mt. Ararat high school.  The main way we do that is by providing concessions at the home athletic competitions. In turn, we use the funds raised to support all of our teams with equipment and recognition for athletes.  This year we are also running the concessions booth at the home MAMS boys and girls soccer and field hockey games. The money raised will be used to recognize the MAMS athletes now, with pins and letters, and in the future as they go on to participate in high school sports.  We invite you to consider donating an hour or two of your time to help out at the concession stand this fall. Please use the signup genius HERE.


Scholastic Book Fair is coming!  The MAMS Fall 2018 Book Fair is coming! The Book Fair will run from Tuesday, October 9 through Thursday, October 18 in the MAMS Learning Commons on the 2nd floor. Please stop by before or after (or both!) your Parent-Teacher Conferences. We are always looking for volunteers if you can spare some time to work at the fair too. Check out the e-wallet feature where you can set up a digital payment account for your students. See you at the Fair!


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



Josh Ottow


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