August 28 - Teacher Day
September 2 - Labor Day
September 3 - First Day of School
September 5 - Rosh Hashanah (No School)
September 11 - Grade 8 PIN
September 17 - Grade 7 PIN
September 18 - Grade 6 PIN
September 20 - Teacher Professional Day (No School for Students)
October 8-11 - 7th Grade to Nature's Classroom
October 14 - Columbus Day (No School)
Summer reading is an expectation and a valued activity here at Blake. Every student is responsible for reading our all-school book, Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. In addition to the all-school book, each student must read the respective grade-level requirements for summer reading (all Blake Summer Reading Lists are on Blake's website). During the first two weeks of school, students will participate in several activities related to this required reading, culminating with grade-level assemblies in mid-September. Along similar lines, the Blake Supply lists, supply lists for all students and the Swim Test Form for incoming 8th graders can be found on the Blake website.
As with last year we will be having a cohort of students from The Education Cooperative (TEC), a collaborative educational collaborative program, be with our community. These students will spend the majority of their day in a sub-separate program in our school building, but they may also be integrated into certain classes with appropriate TEC staffing throughout the year. We are excited that this program will be housed with us here at Blake this year.
As you are aware, a significant element of our Administrative Technology Team's recent work, in conjunction with the increased implementation of technology in our schools, has been the exploration of a uniform, school-wide platform for mobile devices in the classrooms. During the 2012-2013 academic year the Stars cluster in 8th grade were involved in a yearlong pilot with iPad devices and we are excited to be expanding these efforts to an all-grade iPad initiative for the entire 8th grade class for the 2013-2014 school year. Although the pilot was successful and we are excited about this endeavor, from a school-wide and district perspective, we are committed to taking the time to make thoughtful, informed decisions in this work before we make a vertical commitment to one device or approach. I am thrilled to announce that Blake has an exciting opportunity this academic year to explore the potential benefit of Google's Nexus 10 tablets by having one cluster of students and teachers participate in a yearlong pilot program during the 2013-2014 academic year. Similar to the approach we took with iPads, we believe that the pilot study will allow our teachers and staff to thoughtfully implement and review the effectiveness of the iPads, while assessing their feasibility and impact on a small scale before any full-scale changes are in place. Feedback from this pilot program will be a critical factor in both the school and district's future implementation and direction we will take with technology. For the process of establishing the pilot cluster, teams of teachers put forth proposals to be considered for the program, and the Koalas cluster in the 6th grade has been designated as our pilot cluster. It is important to keep in mind that teachers and students on this cluster will be following the same curriculum frameworks and will be following the same common core Blake curriculum as their peers in the other clusters. To assure and maintain classroom consistency and device management, and stay true to the guiding principles of our pilot program, we are currently not permitting other students to bring their mobile devices into Blake Middle School. We are excited about this opportunity and look forward to sharing our findings and developments throughout the year.
In addition to these 'device-oriented' initiatives, all students and staff at Blake will be using Google Apps for Education. This domain will enhance our students' ability to access, collaborate, and share what they have been learning in school. We will be providing students with their logins for Google Apps during the first few days of school, and these accounts will help facilitate the communication and workflow for students and staff. These applications are secure and are different from public Google applications (such as Gmail), as they are managed by the district and therefore have stricter filtering and content controls. For an overview and more information about the benefits of Google Apps, please refer to this link: Google Apps Overview. More information will be coming home at the start of school.
We have two openings for parent representatives (Grade 6 and Grade 8) on the Blake Middle School Site Council. The Site Council meets monthly to review issues and discuss initiatives for the Blake Middle School community. The Council is also responsible for developing the annual School Improvement Plan and monitors progress with the plan throughout the year. Members include the administration, teacher representatives, and members of the community. The meetings are typically held once a month on Monday afternoons at 3:30 p.m. Serving on the Site Council is a wonderful way to get involved in your child's education and have an active and positive role in improving the Blake Middle School experience. Interested parents should send a letter of interest, indicating their desire and rationale for involvement, to me (email@example.com) by Friday, August 23. If multiple parents express interest, an election will take place at the respective parent nights. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Parent Information Nights
Our Parent Information Nights (PIN's) will take place on Wednesday, September 11 for grade eight, Tuesday, September 17 for grade seven, and Wednesday, September 18 for grade six. These nights will provide you with an opportunity to visit your student's classrooms and hear about the curriculum and exciting programs that will take place throughout the year. Sixth grade chorus, band, and orchestra parents are invited to informational meetings at 6:30 p.m. on September 18, prior to PIN. There will be an optional meeting on Wednesday, September 11 at 6:30 p.m. for eighth grade parents interested in hearing about the trip to Washington, D.C. We will send out reminders and more details on all of these meetings as we get closer to the actual dates.
In an effort to keep all valuables safe, all Blake students are required to have locks on their lockers and the lockers should remain locked at all times. Combinations will be given to advisory teachers for safekeeping in the event that they are forgotten. In addition, students are not permitted to bring in baked goods (cookies, cakes, etc.) to celebrate birthdays or personal events. There are many students who have food allergies and other dietary needs, and it is important that we continue to provide all of our students with a safe and healthy environment. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated. On the topic of general reminders, when shopping for 'back to school clothing', please bear in mind the Blake Middle School guidelines for appropriate attire. We are confident that good judgment on the part of students and parents will result in the wearing of clothing which will contribute to a respectful academic environment and educational atmosphere. At Blake, we endeavor to remove as many distractions from the day as possible so that students are able to focus on the most important aspect of their day - learning.
Health Information from Mrs. Williams
All 7th grade students and new students are required to submit a recent physical dated within the past twelve months to our school nurse by the first day of school in September. The physical must include an updated immunization record. Students who require any medication during school or school sponsored activities must provide written authorization from a physician and parent. This includes prescription as well as over-the-counter medication including Advil, Motrin, ibuprofen, allergy and cold relieving medication, etc. Medication must be kept in the nurse's office and dispensed by the nurse. Medication authorization is valid for the current school year only. To do his/her best in school, it is important that your child gets an adequate amount of sleep every night, starts each day with a healthy breakfast and drinks plenty of water throughout the day. Please send your child to school with a refillable water bottle daily. During adolescence, eight to ten hours of sleep is recommended each night.
You may have already met or been introduced to some of these individuals, but please join me in welcoming the following staff (some returning or in a new capacity) to Blake:
- Cori Jacomme - Special Education Coordinator
- Jillian Chiasson - Grade 8 Science
- Katherine Dimitriou - World Language
- Brandee Franciosi - Special Education ACCESS Teacher
- Brenna Hayden - Orchestra
- Gregory Keohan - Grade 7 Social Studies
- Joe Knaus - Art
- Kristen LeVangie - World Language
- Amanda Ma - Mandarin
- Kristen Musto - Grade 7 Science
- Shayn Robitaille - Custodian
- Ann Marie Sabra - MARS English (Grade 6)
- Nick Stevens - Wellness
- Erin Winter - Grade 7 English
Communication and Updates
I will resume updating my blog on a consistent basis once again after the official start of the school year, and I encourage you to check this site weekly for updates and important information. The school's website can be found at www.medfield.net/blake, and the principal's blog is located at (http://blakeprincipal.weebly.com/principals-blog.html). I will continue to e-mail this link each time the blog is updated. In addition, you can 'follow me' on Twitter (@nat_vaughn), as I am using this account as a communication and resource tool for the Blake community - tweeting up-to-date information, Blake happenings, links to sites, and articles on a daily or more frequent basis. We have established the hashtag (#bmsed) for education-related tweets of interest and Blake events, so be sure to check it out!