BSCO: a parent teacher organization dedicated to enriching the education of students at Bonny Slope Elementary School
In an effort to maintain transparency between the BSCO Board and the BSE community, a monthly snapshot will be published of the various topics discussed at the Board's monthly meetings. These are not official minutes or a detailed description, but rather a window into the discussion and voting results of the Board.
August Meeting-- 8/29/2018
With summer memories in the books, the board reunited on 8/29 to kick off business for the new school year. Given the upcoming curriculum night on 9/6 and the Labor day holiday weekend, the board elected to meet on the first Wednesday after school start. All board members were present.
President, Ashish Gupta, opened with a reminder and discussion of last year's goals, including volunteer pipeline, smarter giving and STEM opportunities. There are some amazing results in these areas - over $20k in matching dollar income for '17-'18 (aka, free money), an ongoing impressive list of committees/programs/events led by our own generous and creative community volunteers and a new STEM in residence program which delivered coding instruction to BSE grades, K-5. While the results are excellent, the board agreed that the goals are still relevant in the coming school year and more opportunities in these areas exist. Ashish also helped to firm plans toward our school's emergency preparedness efforts, which was an approved spend down item in the 2018-19 budget. With Janet's input, there is a location identified in the building to store 5 55-gallon drums of water. Each classroom will also get new jugs of water.
Directors of Volunteers, Michelle Mulholland and Stephanie Wilson, welcomed many new and existing community members at the Welcome back coffee which commenced after the bell on the first day of school. There are an impressive number of new BSE families with not only entering kindergarten students but also students in all grades. Volunteer orientation (2 sessions) is scheduled for 9/11 at 8:30am in the cafeteria and 6pm in the library. All community members are invited to get the run down what you need to know to play a role at school. There is already great support from the community with nearly all the volunteers already identified for each of the 24 classroom coordinator roles. Classroom coordinators serve as the liaisons between teachers and the community on any help needed or volunteer opportunities for the classroom. Social media and curriculum night will be used to identify individuals for the few remaining classrooms.
Ellen Rothery, VP of Fundraising, shared plans underway for BSCO's first fundraiser of the year, Jog-a-Thon (JAT). This year's event leads will carry forward last year's theme and format, "Around the World". Each class is assigned a different country, signifying the many countries represented by BSE's student population. Because of the earlier school start date, there are 1-2 extra weeks to prepare for the 10/5 event and get student donation pages set up. JAT is the largest expected fundraiser for this school year due to the alternate format and lower expected income planned for this year’s auction. Although the immediate focus is JAT, there is steady progress on auction 2019 with a date and venue secured. The many fun adult/family auction parties from the 2018 event certainly made our summer highlights lists and there are few more parties the community has to look forward to this month. A popular form of fundraising and community building, these adult/family parties are expected to still be part of the 2019 event.
Katie Kammer, Director of Committees, will kick off her first monthly committee leads meeting on Sep 10. She also extended an invitation to all committee leads and board for an informal meet and greet at Erin's Wine Cellar on Wed, Sep 12th, 7-9pm. Aside from JAT planning, Geo Club, Walk to School day and BSE student directory are programs to be on the look out for this month.
Melissa Gatchell, Treasurer, briefed the board on the approved 2018-19 budget. Carry over funds already supported the purchase of 60 new iPads and covers, all available for use from the start of the new school year.
In an effort to boost transparency between the BSCO Board and the BSE community, a monthly snapshot will be published of the various topics discussed at the Board's monthly meetings. These are not official minutes or a detailed description, but rather a window into the discussion and voting results of the Board
June Meeting-- 6/11/2018
The board met for the last time before summer to wrap up current business, share preliminary thoughts about next year, and celebrate accomplishments and transitioning board members. All current and newly elected board members were present. Kindergarten teacher, Debra Henley, spared some of her evening time to join the meeting as well.
President, Ashish Gupta, reiterated the 3 dates/times for the August playdates, intended to welcome new families and ease transition before school starts. The dates/times are Aug 6 (4:30-6), Aug 13 (4:30-6) and Aug 20 (5-7). Debra confirmed a representative from the kindergarten team will attend on at least 2 of the dates. Ashish shared the gratitude received from various staff members for the recent teacher grants approved by the board. The board approved the outstanding requests for Hokki stools from the kindergarten team and remaining headphones for the 3rd grade team. The BSCO budget will be combined with dollars already raised by teacher Donor's Choice pages to purchase 8 stools, leaving any remaining funds for additional headphones for 3rd grade.
The board shared thoughts about the Makers' Space idea and how it may or may not fit with the technology special. Even a minimal amount out of the STEM in residence budget could kick start this hands-on creating/coding lab - a meaningful alternative/complement to computer games. The board agreed with the desire to continue the coding in residence program which brought in great feedback from the BSE student body.
Ellen Rothery, VP of Fundraising, shared a near final draft of the the 2018-19 dates to remember. Aside from the earlier start, the other dates are well aligned to last year's calendar. Ellen revisited the community outreach opportunity which was originally suggested by a parent at the last community meeting. The board expressed support for using BSE's Boxtops program as a means to share funds with a neighboring school. Before moving forward, the idea will be presented to the new committee chair. While an auction lead is still unnamed, Ellen has led a lot of initial planning and brainstorming for next year's more simplified event. The initial groundwork would allow a new lead to hit the ground running.
The final weeks of the school year are memorable ones due in part to the energies of a number of committees. Holly VanderPloeg, Director of Committees, acknowledged the efforts of the carnival, 5th grade send-off activities, BTC and yearbook teams. The 5th grade composite and their chosen quotation is a wonderful contribution to the walls of BSE. It's worth a look before you depart for the summer. Holly shared more progress made with filling the committee lead list for the 2018-19 school year. One of the more time-critical positions, Monster Mash chair, has been filled. A co-lead is still desirable for an event of this magnitude.
After being asked to consider supporting a neighbor school event, the BSE community responded in an impressive way. Jenna Dornblaser, Director of Volunteers, recognized 30 BSE community volunteers who gave their time to help make the Barnes Elementary field day/JAT event a success. All end of year class parties are scheduled. Volunteers are welcome and appreciated at these end of the year events.
The community is invited to view the current financials here.
On Tuesday, May 22nd, our community gathered for the last BSCO community meeting of the 2017-18 school year and voted on both the BSCO board and 2018-19 BSCO budget. (Full Meeting Minutes Here)
Director of Committees, Holly VanderPloeg, and Director of Volunteers, Jenna Dornblaser are leaving the board, having completed the maximum of two years in their respective roles. The community expressed gratitude to both of them for all of their valuable contributions and leadership.
In their place will step Katie Kammer as Director of Committees and Michelle Mulholland and Stephanie Wilson as Directors of Volunteers.
The proposed and voted-on 2018-19 budget highlights include a decrease in the Auction income in an attempt to simplify the fundraiser, increase to teacher fund to include allocation to the aides, new line items for Music to replace aging instruments and other performance lighting and audio improvements, for capital improvement and for emergency preparedness.
Other highlights from the meeting included grant updates, an update on an alternate Auction format, and updates on all the programs sponsored by or paid for by BSCO around the school.
The 2018-19 budget is coming into focus. The Auction netted over $55,000, exceeding expectations and without accounting for any matching dollars. Expenses are slightly under forecast due partly to under-spending and partly to pending receipts for reimbursement.
BSCO Community Meeting
Location: BSE Library
ATTENDANCE: Ashish Gupta, Jenna Dornblaser, Kelly Kinzer, Josh Resch, Melissa Gatchell, Ellen Rothery, Josh Resch, Julie Gupta, Jessica Canessa, Sara Peters, Brian Rea, Mara Da Silva, Nathan Traller, Holly VanderPloeg, Bitsy Parks, Hannah Donahue, Elia Friedman, Jacob Whitehead, Jessica Osika, Kaitlyn Watz, Janet Maza, Jennifer Oordt
CALL TO ORDER: 7:04pm
APPROVAL OF LAST MEETING'S MINUTES:
Approved 1/31/18 meeting minutes
PRINCIPAL’S REPORT, Janet Maza
- Several great programs over the last few months - OBOB, Science night, Art Literacy. The community has consistently offered its support in so many ways. As one 5th grade exhibition team studies social injustice in schools, the community has responded to a call to action from this project team and shown a willingness to share one of BSE's most valuable assets (its sizable community of volunteers) with a neighboring BSD school. Every hour of volunteerism will help this school pull off a jog-a-thon/field day event on June 8th.
- Staff Development - Staff has a unique opportunity to watch math instruction recently
- Staff expressed gratitude for the all the special attention during Staff Appreciation - gorgeous flowers in the staff room, nutritious meal, relaxing couch/essential oils was well appreciated. Huge Thank you from the staff!
BOARD MEMBER REPORTS
Vice President of Fundraising Report, Ellen Rothery
- Bridge to gap is CANCELLED - amazing results from JAT and Auction make the 3rd fundraiser unnecessary.
- Auction recap
- Auction result is estimated at $55k+ net. Amount does not include matching $ and income still pending some adult party sign-ups. Open spots to select parties are still available - see auction site for more info.
- For those donors at one of the many eligible companies can request matching contributions from their employer (any donation amount above market value are eligible)
- Teacher parties were successful and fun!
- Auction lead/committee help needed. Board recognizes an annual live auction is not sustainable. Change to format is expected and projected income for 2018-19 was lowered. Top Golf event is a venue option being explored. This format could still support silent packages, art, adult/teacher parties - all of which bring in meaningful fundraising $.
Directors of Volunteers Report, Jenna Dornblaser
- June 8 JAT/field day at Barnes Elem is an opportunity to give meaningful time/heart beyond BSE. Those willing to commit 1 hr of volunteer time can contact Jenna.
- BSE Field day, June 15th. Help is needed and appreciated for this event, which is always a favorite with our students. End of Year class parties over the last 3 days of school.
- Thank you to 2017-18 party coordinators/classroom coordinators and all the volunteers!
Director of Committees Report, Holly VanderPloeg
- A LOT is scheduled for last month of the school year
- Carnival on 6/1 (celebrating the 10yr anniversary-->CUPCAKES), Adults required for bouncy houses (30 minutes)
- 5th grade activities
- Yearbooks available for $15 (delivered by last day of school)
- Community garden committee is offering opportunities for families use irrigated beds over summer. Contact Christine Hyatt
- Art Lit - last artist
- Bobcat trail - last day is 6/11. Breakfast party on 6/14
- Geo club - last check date 5/24 and recheck on 5/31
- Thank you to all committees (over 50 committee leads) for a great year!
- There remain a few committee lead gaps for 2018-19. Specifically, Monster Mash, Auction, Yearbook. Given the timing of this event, finding leads for Monster Mash is very critical.
Treasurer’s Report, Melissa Gatchell
- Reviewed Year to date numbers
- Reviewed proposed 2018-19 budget (for community vote)
- Most notable change is auction income (projecting 25k net, given new format without live)
- Increase to committee discretionary
- PYP, science enrichment, PYP training combined under one line item
- Teacher fund increased to include allocation to aids
- Science night, Author visits increased
- Music fund added for replacement of aging instruments, performance lighting/audio
- Capital improvement budget item added
President’s Report, Ashish Gupta
- Thank you for Holly and Jenna for their countless hours, energy and contributions to community over the last 2 years. Staff joined in recognizing their contributions.
- Introduction of 2018-19 Board Slate and Motion to Vote (by secret ballot)
- President, Ashish Gupta
- Vice President, Ellen Rothery
- Secretary, Andrea Steyskal
- Treasurer, Melissa Gatchell
- Director of Committees, Katie Kammer
- Directors of Volunteers, Michelle Mulholland and Stephanie Wilson
- Director of Communications, Josh Resch
- Member at Large, Kelly Kinzer
- Learnings from the listening sessions helped facilitate a number of recent teacher grant requests and approvals
- Includes headphones (for kinder and 3rd), OBOB books (4th) and Cricket Sets (PE)
- Installed projectors/apple tv allows for more mobility within the classroom. Students can project from their IPads, and teachers can project as he/she moves throughout classroom. With 2018-19 technology budget, the aged IPads are being replaced and each teacher will receive an Apple pencil which can mark up any image from a student ipad
- 2017-18 Focus Areas Progress shared
- STEM/Future idea
- Ashish shared Maker space idea as well as photos of actual maker spaces implemented at 3 BSD elementary schools. Spaces are equipped with supplies, computers and resources for students to create, model and build in an unstructured setting. The implementations at neighboring schools were done on limited budget. The 2018-19 Science Enrichment budget would well afford a Maker Space at BSE.
- August playdates scheduled for 3 Mondays in August, 8/6, 8/13 (4:30-6pm) and 8/20 (5-7pm). Goal is to welcome new families, allow new students to get acquainted and provide an informal setting for questions/info before the school year begins.
Vote: 2018-19 Board slate, approved 21-0
Vote: 2018-19 Budget, approved 21-0
MEETING ADJOURNED: 8:01 pm
The sun is out and summer is oh so close. Here’s a quick wrap-up of our very last principal chat of the year.
New Year Gettin’ Here
The infamous BSD demographer has predicted that Bonny Slope will have a whopping 16 more students next school year. Combined with the overwhelming passage of the Beaverton levy, next year’s classroom lineup is shaping up. Here’s a first look at what to expect in 2018-19:
- Retaining our vice principal! Ali is back, baby!
- Four teachers at every grade
- 24-28 students per class
- Positions to be posted include a special ed teacher (while Mrs. Harris is on leave)
- First day of school to be Monday, 8/27
The only classroom changes known at this point are Jennifer Klingner, from Hiteon Elementary, who will be replacing Leslie Cranell in fifth grade, and Jeff Steindorf (from Five Oaks Middle School) will be joining BSE as our part-time PE teacher.
Other Juicy Tidbits:
- Still room next fall in our Bonny Slope preschool! Various marketing ideas were thrown out as BSE struggles to get the word out to preschoolers living within our boundary.
- Surprised by next year’s school calendar? We vote on three calendars at once, so this time ACTUALLY LOOK before you vote this fall on the next three year cycle.
- The shrubs along the sidewalk on McDaniel are getting a bit out of control. Time to call the county!
- After all that hubbub, early Wednesday release is actually working! Teachers are getting more professional development and more importantly, consistent time to pow-wow with their teaching teams to chat about students and methodology.
- Fifth grade teacher, Robert Vaughn, and one of his fifth grade exhibition groups have connected Bonny Slope with Barnes Elementary, who are in need of some volunteers for their Jog-a-thon on June 8. Side note: Email Jenna (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested.
And that’s a wrap for the year! Thank you to Janet and Ali for these monthly raucous gatherings that rival any book club. Your candor and communication are always appreciated. See you next fall!
In an effort to boost transparency between the BSCO Board and the BSE community, a monthly snapshot will be published of the various topics discussed at the Board's monthly meetings. These are not official minutes or a detailed description, but rather a window into the discussion and voting results of the Board.
May Meeting-- 5/7/2018
The May meeting was rescheduled to earlier in the month in order for the board to prepare for the final community meeting of the school year on 5/22, which includes a vote of both the 2018-19 BSCO budget and the BSCO board slate. New slated candidates for Directors of Volunteers and Director of Committees were also in attendance.
President, Ashish Gupta, shared his learnings after presenting and connecting with the BSE staff in late April. This meeting helped drive some movement on a variety of teacher grant proposals which hadn't yet been submitted. The $3k which was budgeted will now be allocated to a number of meaningful proposals, including headphones for both the kinder and 3rd grade teams, OBOB books and cricket sets for PE, all of which were approved by the board. Even after approving several, there remains budget for additional requests that may still come in.
Ellen Rothery, VP of Fundraising, announced impressive results from this year's auction event. While miscellaneous expenses and payments are still being tallied, the net fundraising result is taking shape and nearing $60k. This amount does not include matching contributions from various corporations. Efforts and communications to ensure eligible auction attendees take advantage of their companies' matching programs were discussed. Given the success of both JAT and auction, the board agreed with the proposal to cancel this year's "Bridge the Gap". While a chair still needs to be identified for next year, Ellen shared some exciting and creative ideas for what a simplified 2019 auction event could look like. A simplified event translates into a reduced fundraising income, but would still bring the community together in a fun and significant way and reduce the annual burden on the event planning team. Despite the anticipated change to income, the 2018-19 cash flow is managed by intentionally spending down some of the reserves.
Director of Committees, Holly VanderPloeg, reported on the progress with filling open committee lead positions. Because of the need to kick off planning, identifying leads for Monster Mash is particularly critical. Once leads are identified, help from a broader group of community members should not be hard to come by for this popular and favorite fall event. Planning is progressing well for the school carnival in June. This year's event features a celebration of BSE's 10 year "birthday".
Jenna Dornblaser, Director of Volunteers, is preparing for the final classroom parties of the year. Holding the parties outdoors is a popular tradition, weather permitting. After priority is given to the 5th grade events, the various outdoor spaces are made available to other grades/classes. Volunteers are welcome and appreciated at these end of the year events.
After BSE's kindergarten round-up event, there is real data on anticipated growth of our community. Josh Resch, Director of Communications, reported 50 new requests for the BSCO newsletter since the round-up in April. The board solidified its plans for 3 August playdates on 8/6, 8/13 and 8/20 from 4:30-6pm. These informal events provide young incoming students an opportunity to get acquainted with a new school and give new family members an opportunity to connect and ask questions.
The community is invited to view the current financials here.
Sun is out and we are here! Let’s jump right into the fray…
ReTweet Hot Seat
Sadly, former deputy superintendent, Steve Phillips, must have missed his global citizenship lesson. While his actions don’t match Bonny Slope's or Beaverton School District’s beliefs, here at BSE, our staff strives to ensure that all students–- EVERY.SINGLE.ONE–- can learn and be safe within these walls. Superintendent Don Grotting has offered to meet with any parent who has concerns, so don’t be afraid to take him up on that (Don_Grotting@beaverton.k12.or.us).
Friends. This month’s school levy is a big deal. Like YUGE. It has a ridiculously large impact to teacher positions, both here at Bonny Slope and across the district. Many people don’t realize how the number of classrooms directly affects how many specialists and support staff a school is granted. So a lot more is on the line than just three teachers at BSE. Again, it is not an INCREASE to your taxes-- it is a RENEWAL of a levy from 2013.
Side note: Please poll your friends and neighbors who had a child in BSD in 2012. Their info may be eye-opening.
While we can’t tell you HOW to vote, we respectfully ask that you educate yourself and PLEASE vote. Here is the District’s handy dandy info page to get up to speed.
Operation Big Toe
This aptly named undertaking gained its moniker when BSE vice principal, Ali Montelongo, nearly lost her big toe due to the crazy driving maneuvers of an irate parent after Ali pointed out that she was parked illegally on McDaniel.
True story, folks. True. Story.
Yet even after this close call, our BSE administrators are still out there RISKING LIFE AND (apparently) LIMB to ensure that McDaniel stays clear, traffic keeps moving, and no child is injured during our frenzied and frantic pick-up.
So, here’s a little recap for all you wayward parents who feel the rules don’t apply to your precious self:
- Please don’t park at the bus stop on McDaniel
- Be respectful of private property
- Understand where your car does and doesn’t belong
- Respect that the car pick-up won’t begin until AFTER our busses leave, so clogging up the parking lot or McDaniel only hurts us all
- Remember that even school employees value their toes too
SeeSaw Hee Haw
See Saw, baby! All BSE teachers K-5 have access to this hysterical and insightful window into our child’s classroom. I mean... THOSE VIDEOS! Half their face is missing! Anyone else want to gently tell them to tilt the screen up already?
But in all seriousness, have you seen those “Parents We Heard You” posters? Those are Janet and Ali’s direct response from the BSD parent survey from last spring. One recurring theme-- parents wanted to know what was going on in the classrooms. Because let’s be real-- our kids tell us zilch.
Originally started as an app for primary teachers, parents now find SeeSaw to be a great way to chat with their children about school and listen as students truly explain their learning (often with half their face missing). This year, teachers either provide blog posts or SeeSaw updates on a regular basis (the optimum goal is every other week).
Our Girl IRLA
Oh, IRLA. Me and her go waaaay back. So few of you will remember that she was the FIRST topic of our FIRST EVER “Principal Chat… Revealed,” eons ago in September 2015. Read our inaugural issue to get a refresher on BSD’s English Language adoption (and also some really riveting info on our Spanish program that actually still applies.)
Nearly three years later and… IRLA’s working, baby! Parents are sharing that they really like the IRLA reading program for younger children. Usually, it’s ridiculously complex to know where your child stands in reading. This program helps parents determine not only where their student is, but also words to work on, appropriate reading material etc etc etc. All students at BSE have a power goal, which is more than just reading, but includes things like reading with expression and understanding punctuation. Jen Oordt is still our Madame IRLA, BSE’s resident expert.
Other Juicy Tidbits:
- Cell phone coverage within Bonny Slope just stinks. But one parent offered to look into cell phone repeaters within the school, so hey-- maybe there’s hope! Side note: Can’t get onto facebook or instagram while at the school? Shame on you for not being fully present! Kidding. But seriously… pretty sure Big Brother BSD is suppressing social media on their guest network.
- Not-New News Flash (that will still surprise some poor parent this August): School’s starting before Labor Day this fall. Yup, America. TRUTH. BSD’s first day of school will be Monday, August 27, 2018. So book those Sunriver plans earlier, y’all!
And that’s a wrap! Check us out at our next Principal’s Chat on Tuesday, May 22nd at 6pm. Yes, you read that right-- we’re moving this circus to the evening! Can’t wait to see all our working parents join in the fun. See you then!
In an effort to boost transparency between the BSCO Board and the BSE community, a monthly snapshot will be published of the various topics discussed at the Board's monthly meetings. These are not official minutes or a detailed description, but rather a window into the discussion and voting results of the Board.
March and April Meetings-- 3/19/2018 and 4/16/2018
Cruising into the final months of the school year, the board spent time during the last 2 meetings preparing for the 2018/19 school year. This includes drafting the budget, discussing the calendar, identifying committee lead needs and preparing for board leadership transitions. The board has not identified any need to change the BSCO By-laws, after making updates last year.
After offline working sessions and consultation with committee leads and staff, the 2018-19 budget is drafted. It was shared during the community listening sessions this month and will go up for community vote during the final BSCO community meeting on May 22nd. The financial standings look good. Notable differences in next year's budget include a proposal to scale back the monetary goal for next year's auction fundraiser. The current auction format, which includes a combination of live and silent auction packages and a formal event with sit-down dinner, is a very heavy lift to pull off annually. While an annual cadence is maintained, the event can take a different format. Ellen Rothery, VP of Fundraising, shared ideas and learnings, which will be valuable going forward. Although an overnight 5th grade science school may conflict with new BSD restrictions, a 5th grade science school remains in the budget for next year. The format may need to be adjusted, but the experience and enrichment has proven valuable and fun. The preliminary spend downs include $s for a music grant, emergency preparedness, continued technology upgrades and some miscellaneous building/aesthetic improvements. The budgeted expenses for teacher support, events and student enrichment look fairly close to last year. So, how does lower fundraising income and sustaining expenses balance the budget? The board grappled with the idea of an unbalanced budget and toggling between a large and medium scale auction event, and considered other factors such as actual spending that often falls under budget and fundraising that often exceeds plan.
Ellen Rothery is working the 2018-19 Dates to Remember in collaboration with BSE office staff. With a current calendar which is already very crowded, she expects 2018-19 will look similar.
Director of Committees, Holly VanderPloeg, shared various committee lead openings. There are a number of opportunities for those in the community looking to contribute in a very meaningful way, including some committee leads positions which have not changed ownership for a number of years. With only a few more months before the end of the school year, there is great progress on a number of end of the year events and activities, including 5th grade activities and the Carnival. While middle school volunteers often help out with the BSE carnival, extra adult hands for event clean up and bouncy house supervision are always needed. The yearbook committee is also looking for pictures.
In addition to the committee lead opportunities, candidates for Director of Committees and Director(s) of Volunteers are needed. Both Holly and Jenna Dornblaser, Director of Volunteers, have seeked out interest and continue to be available for questions from interested candidates. In preparation for the ballot vote on May 22nd, promotion through BSCO, Paw Prints and word of mouth should continue.
Ellen Rothery, VP of Fundraising, shared impressive efforts and momentum leading up to this year's auction on April 21st. At the final week before the event, over 200 tickets (seated guests) have been sold, nearly $16k secured in sponsorship, 17 golden tickets sold and over 10 raffle tickets sold. The teacher experiences also have high sign up counts. There is a call for desserts to support the dessert dash at this year's event. This add to the evening's line up is sure to be memorable and fun.
Our March Principal Chat featured special guest, Cedar Park principal, Dr. Shannon Anderson, who came to provide the scoop about big, scary middle school. Dr. Anderson has been taking her show on the road to the various feeder elementary schools to better engage with upcoming parents.
So. Middle school. The first thing to realize is that having a child move onto middle school is like reliving the first day of kindergarten. All the same fears apply. Will there be bullies? How will they get to the bus? Will they find the bathroom?
Sadly, those fears are exponentially amplified because clearly public middle schools are cesspools of hormones, online bullying, drugs, and toxic friendships. I mean… amiright??
To keep this conversation moving, let’s switch to a quick and dirty FAQ to answer everyone’s burning questions and give some factual answers.
How big is Cedar Park? Like 6000 kids, right?
Cedar Park hovers around 1000 students. There are seven feeder elementary schools– Bonny Slope, Cedar Mill, Terra Linda, William Walker, West TV, Ridgewood, and a portion of Raleigh Park. Bonny Slope is the largest feeder school, with nearly 200 more total students than any other school that feeds into CPMS. Next year’s numbers have similar projections for CPMS, even with the loss of sixth grade Summa next year.
How does CPMS roll out the welcome wagon?
Cedar Park will host a “Wolf Day” in mid to late August, prior to school starting. Students and parents will get schedules, have pictures taken, and have an opportunity to purchase prepackaged school supplies, PE shirts, etc, which makes back to school sooooo much easier. Seventh and eighth graders will be issued chromebooks, but sixth graders won’t get theirs until the third or fourth week of school.
Helpful hint: Complete your student enrollment forms and pre-purchase your chromebook insurance and school supplies ONLINE AT HOME BEFORE COMING. See section on Parentvue below.
CPMS also holds a new student picnic, usually the week before school starts. WEB leaders (eighth grade leadership program) will be on hand to give student tours. Now that your precious hooligan has their schedule, they can quite literally practice walking to and from each class, plus find the bathroom.
The first day of school, Monday, 8/27/18, will be sixth graders only. They better enjoy the back of the bus because they won’t be sitting that far back again for awhile. The sixth graders are divided into small groups and the WEB leaders lead them through various ice breakers and whatnot (middle school awkwardness at its finest). They go to each class on a shortened schedule & basically get the lay of the land before Day 2, which includes the entire school.
Will my sweet cherub be in any proximity to those terrifying man-childs called eighth graders? They all look 18.
Well, your sixth grader will be on the bus with eighth graders. However, once at school, the sixth grade has their own hallway that’s home to most of their core classrooms and their lockers. Also, all the grades have separate bell schedules, so they will not cross paths with older students while switching classes. However, their advisory group is mixed ages, so there will be seventh and eighth graders there.
Advisory. Riiiight…. tell me again, now… that’s like their homeroom?
Yes, you could say that. Advisory meets for 25 minutes twice a week. They will have the SAME ADVISOR for all three years at Cedar Park, which gives kids a chance to build a years-long relationship with a faculty member. All teachers, admins, and counselors have advisory groups, which keeps the groups as small as possible.
But what do they DO in advisory, you ask? Eh, a variety of things. Announcements, service projects, group discussion… depends on the teacher. Dr. Anderson admits that CPMS’s advisory program is a work in progress and is looking to next year to make even more improvements.
So, what’s the deal with AVID? Is it a class? Is it a binder? Is it a study hall?
Yes, let’s chat AVID. First and foremost, AVID is a collection of teaching strategies that all Cedar Park teachers are trained to implement in their classrooms. BSD has a very nice little recap here. In a nutshell, AVID in the classroom promotes collaborative, subject-specific learning groups, the inquiry method, and using writing as a learning tool (just google it). Examples include the Socratic seminar and teaching how to take standardized notes. These strategies should be seen across ALL classrooms at CPMS.
That gigantic AVID binder that you’ve heard your neighbors complain about? That’s an organizational tool to help students maintain notes and school work IN ONE PLACE. There’s an ENTIRE AVID SYSTEM AND METHODOLOGY to that THREE INCH binder (which could easily be confused with a small briefcase or a booster seat). As new sixth grade parents, you will most likely be shocked at its size and baffled by the table of contents system. Like, REALLY baffled. Just roll with it, buy lots of tape, and buy the zippered binder, if possible.
The AVID elective is a specific program that is meant to target students who would be the first in their families to attend college. This AVID class is an extra support system for those students to thrive and excel on their way to college admission. Students must apply and be accepted into this program.
The AVID program is popular throughout the area school districts, including Portland, Hillsboro, Tigard-Tualatin, and North Clackamas.
What does a typical sixth grade schedule look like? Will my baby be confused?
Understanding the nuances of a middle school calendar is insanely tedious. In the spirit of brevity, here are sixth grade class schedules, broken down into a very nice bullet point list.
Cedar Park students have a daily block schedule of their three core classes – humanities, math, and science. Depending on the day, core classes run anywhere from 64 minutes to 86 minutes.
A student has a total of four elective periods (two each day, alternating days). Two of them will be filled with PE and Spanish. That leaves two “open” electives for a student to choose. Electives are between 32 to 43 minutes long.
Now, here’s where it gets complicated.
If a student chooses band or choir as their elective, currently those teachers require students to meet every day, essentially filling both open elective periods.
If a child chooses art or drama, that leaves one more free elective. Some students choose to do both art and drama, while others opt for an enrichment class. Enrichment classes are pass/fail and are meant to be more hands-on exploring and an extension of science and math.
If a child is referred to intervention services, AVID, or ESL services, those classes take the place of one of the free electives.
So! Still with us? In a typical day, a CPMS student will have three core classes and two electives (with the electives being half the duration of one core class). Here’s the current CPMS schedule.
Ummm… still confused. Why do these class durations change day to day? Shouldn’t they all be the same?
Every Wednesday is early release, so all classes are shortened on Wednesday. Advisory meets every Thursday and Friday mornings, which also shortens the rest of the schedule.
What math do sixth graders take?
Awesome question. The majority of sixth graders begin in Math 6-7 (also known as Accelerated 6). That means they will work through all the sixth grade targets and as many seventh grade targets as they can in the school year. A smaller group may begin in Math 6-7-8, which is ALL the middle school math targets through eighth grade (and is what all Summa sixth graders take).
Can I just tell you to put my child in the highest math possible? I’m sure she can handle it.
Nope! All students were invited to take a math placement test if they’d like to be considered for Math 6-7-8. That info has already been sent to fifth grade families.
I’d like to stalk my child’s homework assignments online. What are my options?
Well, you actually have two options to circle the cyber parenting helicopter– Parentvue and Canvas.
First, is Parentvue, which allows you to view your child’s grades and report cards. This is where you fill out the student enrollment forms as well. And because we’re so helpful…
Setting Up Your ParentVue Account (Activation key code needed from school)
The second branch of Parentvue allows you to make payments online, which is INCREDIBLY HELPFUL for Wolf Day. But because nothing in life can be easy, this payment portal (also through Parentvue) requires a DIFFERENT password than the portal you use to view grades. WHY IN THE LOVE????? (raises fist and screams to sky)
Making Online Payments via ParentVue You’re welcome.
Canvas is BSD’s online learning management system, used by many (but not all) Cedar Park teachers. While Parentvue will give you grades and general overview, Canvas will show you the nitty gritty details– every single assignment, teacher comments, due dates, etc.
Canvas for Parents…. because mama’s always watching.
Can I still volunteer and stalk my child in person?
Absolutely, though middle school volunteering has a totally different look and feel than elementary. Say goodbye to the cutesy little cutouts and gluing together 30 student-made calendars. There are simply not as many opportunities within the classroom.
However, some familiar options remain– Art Lit (one project per year), Media Center (checking out books), book fair, OBOB, and staff appreciation to name a few. Individual teachers usually need speakers, chaperones, or occasionally someone to help with small groups.
There will also be a few brand-new options to your volunteering repertoire-- the student store (before school), the PACK store (during lunch), and student socials (twice a year and sooooo entertaining to watch).
If you are looking to volunteer at CPMS next year, you will need to email email@example.com in order to move your profile from BSE to Cedar Park Middle School. Parents are not automatically moved into the Cedar Park volunteer database. Because frankly, that would be just too easy, now wouldn’t it? (eye roll)
You can also check out the Cedar Park PTC’s website to learn more details.
So we spent MONTHS trying to get into an option school, but now we’re stuck at Cedar Park. Please make me feel better.
Oh, honey. Going through the option school process is as stressful as college admissions, no? The open house circuit, the application itself, the second consideration – it’s all just one big roller coaster of anxiety, anticipation, and often, disappointment. We see you, we hear you, we know you. If you are looking for some silver linings about joining Cedar Park, we have a couple.
First, while yes, CPMS is larger than your option schools, that also means that CPMS has more resources. Larger schools can offer more electives, more intervention, and more options for teachers and friends. Also, while Cedar Park might feel like some OTHER PLACE that is wholly foreign and unfamiliar to you, it’s actually comprised of a LOT of familiar faces. Cedar Park is the community we live in. Faces and families you’ve seen at preschool, milltown soccer, cub scout jamborees, cedar mill baseball…the list goes on. We’re all still here, ready to tackle middle school together.
This all sounds well and good, but who can I talk to when my sweetie is struggling?
Well, if the student is struggling with one specific subject, contact the teacher. If they are barely managing in multiple classes and/or with friend groups, contact the sixth grade counselor. The current counseling model will change next year as counselors will now loop with a specific grade, ensuring that students have the same assigned counselor during all three years at CPMS.
Other Juicy Cedar Park tidbits:
The new maker’s lab at CPMS is still a work in progress, but is accessible through a student’s science class, depending on the unit and the teacher.
Art Lit DOES happen at the middle school level, but it is only one project per year per grade.
Cell phones are allowed before school and at lunch. Some teachers do allow students to use them as an academic tool during class. As you can imagine… well, some teachers are more strict than others. However, Cedar Park does have one consistent problem–– PARENTS TEXTING THEIR KIDS DURING CLASS. Ummmmm.... guilty (lowers head in shame).
CPMS has 19 busses that service the school so the bus lines are one big chaotic crush of bodies. CPMS staff walk around with a cookie sheet attached to a yard stick with magnetic numbers that announce the order of the arriving busses. Seriously. You read that right. COOKIE SHEET ON A STICK. However, as nuts as that sounds, it actually works. Daily. The kids manage and few actually miss their bus.
You’re bound to have more questions. Any more can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In complete and total non-Cedar Park news, our Bonny Slope preschool is now taking applications for 2018-19. Call the school if you are interested!
And that’s a wrap! Join us for the next Principal Chat on Friday, 4/27 at 2pm.