We have had a busy first week of school, and students seem to be getting settled. Each day, we have less kids looking lost, less kids having troubles with lockers, and less kids being late to classes. Next week we will begin playing the one-minute music between classes so students have an auditory warning that the bell will be ringing. We hold off on the music for the first week because it only increases student anxiety and stress when they’re trying to figure out their lockers. With the beginning of the one-minute music, we will also begin tracking tardies for students. Teachers have reminded students that tardies impact Citizenship grades, so please talk to your student(s) about the importance of being on time. This week, it seems that the time students are having difficulty getting to class on time is right after lunch.
Schedule changes should be wrapping up today, so students should be settled into their classes. We also started the process of electing class officers and selecting PLT team members. Both of those processes will wrap-up next week and the students will be announced at the Hello Day Assembly on September 5. We have had a lot of students petition for the leadership groups, and it’s great to see the kids wanting to get involved in school.
We had Back to School Night on Monday, and it was great to see everyone who showed up. I will review information that was provided in this message, but I also wanted to thank the Math and English Departments for presenting. The Math Department introduced the new math textbooks the district has adopted for use beginning this year. It is a program everyone should be familiar with because the sixth graders have been using Go Math for a couple of years; the seventh and eighth graders will now also be using Go Math. The English Department presented about Performance Based Grading (PBG). This is an initiative the district has been working on for a few years, and we are getting to the implementation stage. The English Department will be switching to this grading system this year and join Mrs. Perry who started it fourth quarter of last year. We provided a parent hand-out about PBG on Monday evening, and we will have copies of it available in the main office as well as posted to the school’s website. We will discuss PBG at more length throughout the school year in the “Principal’s Message”.
Re-Cap of Back to School Night Information:
The big pieces of information I shared at Back to School Night focused on updating the community on how we are doing in fulfilling our Mission. Churchill’s Mission Statement centers on striving for academic, artistic, and athletic excellence. We are making great strides in all three of these areas.
Churchill has had the #1 proficiency rate on the Reading Inventory (RI) for the last two years among Granite junior highs. We went over that information again and discussed what it means to have our students reading at or above grade level. Churchill was also #2 in RI growth last year. This is the average improvement from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. Most schools who have high growth have low proficiency because low proficiency students have more room to grow. Churchill was the only school in the top five in both proficiency and growth.
We also discussed SAGE results from last year. We went up on every test! Some of our improvement was significant. For example, our 8th grade ELA went up 17 points! It is very difficult to make such large gains in the course of one year, and just as hard to improve on all eight tests we have data for. Based on the initial reporting of data from the district, and acknowledging that we are still waiting for the final, official tally from the state, Churchill was #1 among all Granite junior highs in both ELA and Math SAGE for 2017-2018. That is a HUGE accomplishment, and we couldn’t be more proud of the students and teachers for their work last year.
We do not have results for SAGE Science yet as it was a new test last year and the state is norming the scoring of them. We should receive those scores in October sometime. The one unfortunate thing about how well we did is that the state is not posting school grades this year.
Churchill’s music groups did very well during their festival season last year. Festival is when they perform for judges and receive a “score” that shows how well they did. The festivals are a competition against yourself wherein you do your best and try to score as high as you can. The highest ranking is “Superior”. The Concert Band, Concert Orchestra, and Concert Choir all received superior rankings. Jazz Band received an “Excellent” ranking, which is just below superior. Churchill also received 11 awards at the district junior high art show. This was the second most awards in the district behind Olympus Jr. Finally, I highlighted that we had over 140 students participate in the musical last year. That is roughly 25% of the student body.
I discussed that Churchill has won six district championships in the last two years. We have also had individual champions in cross county even though the team may have not won first place. We also have great participation in school-based intramural programs that include both the team sport intramurals and the individual intramurals Mrs. Wagner runs after school. I include our annual Fun Run as an athletic achievement as well.
Other topics covered at Back to School Night:
I encouraged everyone to set-up their Parent Portal so they can keep track of their student(s). With the portal you check attendance, grades, teacher Canvas pages, lunch account information, and set alerts for items you want to be notified of.
Please use the drop-off on the west side of the building. The bus zone on the north side should be kept clear and the east parking lot is not a drop-off zone. The east lot is faculty parking and an area many students walk through as they walk to school.
We are asking that all parents who come to the school during the school day go straight to the main office and check-in. We will issue a Visitor’s Pass. We are asking this of PTSA and Community Council when they come for meetings, as well as of parents who are coming to guest speak in a class or attend an assembly. We are trying to improve the safety of our school, and this is a step that helps us down that path.
We briefly reviewed the electronics policy. The policy can be found in the student planner that we gave all students earlier this week. Basically, students can only have electronics at lunch time. This pertains mainly to phones, but also includes iPods and earbuds. Consequences increase with each infraction and will eventually necessitate a parent coming to the office to pick up the electronic.
Other items that were discussed are already talked about in other portions of this message.
Fee Waiver/Free and Reduced Lunch:
If you would like to apply for fee waiver or free and reduced lunch, please remember that they are two separate systems and applications. Fee waivers are handled with me, so you can fill out the paper work completely and bring it to the main office with your taxes from this past year. If your family qualifies for government assistance, a copy of your most recent benefits definition page will suffice for fee waiver approval. Fee waivers need to be completed at each school where you have children; one application does not cover all of your children. Finally, fee waiver applications are due 30 days after the first day of school, so please don’t wait to apply if you need to. The deadline for application will be September 18, 2018.
Free and reduced lunch applications are not handled by the school. You can pick up a paper application in the school office, fill it out, and turn it in to the lunchroom when school starts. The quickest way to apply for free and reduced lunch, however, is to go to www.MYSCHOOLAPPS.com and fill out the application there. Free and reduced lunch applications can be turned in for an entire family of kids at one time, so you will not need to fill it out at each individual school.
When you registered your student(s) for school you were charged the basic registration fee. This fee covers class fees for required core classes that all students take. Any class fees that will need to be charged for elective classes your student is enrolled in will not be applied to their account until September 20. So, please make sure you check your account again at that time. With our elective classes being quarter long, there will be four times this year that class fees will be charged to your account. I will make sure to give reminders each time.
Mrs. Wiebe-Strong is currently getting the library set up for this year’s district library theme: magic. She has taken this theme in a distinctly Harry Potter direction. Currently, the sorting hat is in the library and ready to sort your student into one of the four houses of Hogwarts. Next to the hat is an iPad on a stand with a short questionnaire students can answer. Based on the responses, they will be sorted into a house and then directed to see Mrs. Wiebe-Strong to receive a pin to wear that will show their house. It would be great to have all the students come up and get sorted. I stopped by this morning and was placed in Hufflepuff.
We will have a few openings on Community Council for this year. If you are interested in running for a spot, please go to the school website, under the Community Council tab, and fill out a Declaration of Candidacy. This can be turned in to the main office. We will also have paper copies of the declaration available in the main office for those interested. Voting for the open positions will take place September 17, so Declarations of Candidacy are due to the office by August 30. I am required to give the list of names to the district by August 31 so they can set-up the on-line voting form we will use for the elections. If the number of candidates is equal to or less than the number of openings, we will forego elections and all candidates will be appointed to the Community Council. Community Council meetings are on the third Tuesday of the month at 1:30pm, and all members need to be able to attend the meetings, so please keep that in mind as you consider joining the council.
Cross Country is an open sport, meaning that anyone who would like to participate is welcome to do so. There won’t be “cuts” and all kids can go to the meets and run. Churchill has done very well in cross country the last few years, and we look forward to getting a bunch of kids out to run so we can continue to strengthen our program. Cross Country begins next week and will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. Make sure to bring a water bottle.
Soccer will operate under the intramural/competitive format of the team sports. This means that for the first three weeks, anyone can come and play. The coaches will be working on helping everyone improve their skills and have fun playing the game. On September 14, the coaches will choose a team that will then compete against the other junior highs. In order to be eligible to be chosen for the team, a player needs to have attended at least 70% of the intramural sessions. Soccer begins on Monday and will be Mondays and Wednesdays. Make sure to bring a water bottle.
Immunization letters were sent home this week with students who are missing immunizations and/or students who had turned in a Personal Exemption Form that did not fulfill the requirements of the new state law. Students who received these letters have 21 days from the receipt of the letter to provide updated documentation to the counseling center (Ms. Despain). If updated records are not provided, students will be excluded from school until the records are updated. We don’t want anyone to have to miss school due to immunizations, so please take care of them if you received a letter.
Aug. 27 Soccer and Cross Country begin
Aug. 28 Class Officer Election
Sept. 3 Labor Day-No School
Sept. 4 PTSA Meeting (11am)
Sept. 5 Hello Day Assembly
Sept. 12 NetSmartz Assembly (AM)
Sept. 12 Bonneville X-Country Meet
Sept. 14 Soccer team selection
Sept. 18 Picture Day
Sept. 19 Hunter Jr. X-Country Meet
Sept. 24 Soccer vs. Bonneville (Girls away, boys home)
Sept. 25 Jefferson X-Country Meet
Sept. 26-27 Parent-Teacher Conferences (4-7pm)
Sept. 28 No School
Congrats on making it through the first week!