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Letter to Parents: Winter Break and Grading Policy

posted Dec 17, 2012, 8:55 AM by Matthew Campbell
December 17, 2012 

Dear MSAP Parents and Guardians: 

The staff at MSAP would like to wish you and your families all the best that this holiday season has to offer. We wish you peace, love and happiness and nothing but good health and fortune in 2013. 

At this time we would like to inform you of the following this holiday break: 

School will be closed from Monday, December 24th through Tuesday, January 1st. We will re-open on Wednesday, January 2nd

Students have been provided work from their teachers that must be completed over the break. In addition, they have online access to Achieve 3000 and should complete a minimum of one article per day. 

Progress Reports will be going home with students on Thursday, December 20th. Please review them and feel free to contact your child’s teachers should you have any questions. 

Our school has adopted a new school wide grading policy for all courses, please be advised of the following: 

New weights: 

Assessments 40%,: tests, quizzes, projects, essays, reports and performance tasks 

Classwork 35% : work done in class 

Homework 25%: work assigned and completed at home 

Starting February 1st, 3rd Quarter - the following will be the late policy for homework in all classes: If a student hands in late homework, it will be accepted for half credit up to five school days late. After that, no credit will be given. 

In light of the recent terrible incident in Newtown, CT, we are expecting students to have concerns and fear that will need to be addressed both in school and at home. We are attaching a document for you to review and consider to use to guide your conversations with your children concerning the event. Also, please note that our school’s visitor policy was updated a few months ago and we ask that when you come to the school, ensure that you follow the procedures: 

Sign in at the security desk on the first floor and show your valid photo identification. (visitor’s without identification will not be admitted) You will be given a sticker that must be displayed as well as a red visitor’s pass that you must carry with you. 

Security will call the main office and you will be met at the top of the stairs by a school aide. 

You will then be signed in at the main office and state your business. 

A phone call will be made and you will be escorted to your destination. 

At the end of your visit you should be escorted to the main office and then escorted to the security desk where you will return your visitor’s pass and exit the building. 

At no point should a visitor move through the building on their own. 

Should this not be your experience, please notify me in the main office as this is a priority and must be enforced to ensure the safety of all students and staff in the building. 

Please keep in mind, students are to wear their uniform every day. There is no “dress down Fridays” or any other day without written permission from the school. That will be sent home and posted on the school’s website, Students will be permitted to dress down this Friday, December 21st

Our school is improving daily and we ask that you support that improvement by following procedures, working with your children to help them understand and follow school policies and come to school prepared every day to learn. Preparedness includes, being dressed in uniform, prepared with assigned homework and not engaging in distracting activities such as gossiping and physical horseplay. 

We again would like to wish you and yours all the best this holiday season and we look forward to continuing to walk with you on our path of school improvement. 

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! 

Mr. McNeill, Principal 

and the MSAP Faculty and Staff 

A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope 

Tips for Parents and Teachers 

Whenever a national tragedy occurs, such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters, children, like many people, may be confused or frightened. Most likely they will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children cope first and foremost by establishing a sense of safety and security. As more information becomes available, adults can continue to help children work through their emotions and perhaps even use the process as a learning experience. 

All Adults Should: 

1. Model calm and control. Children take their emotional cues from the significant adults in their lives. Avoid appearing anxious or frightened. 

2. Reassure children that they are safe and (if true) so are the other important adults in their lives. Depending on the situation, point out factors that help insure their immediate safety and that of their community. 

3. Remind them that trustworthy people are in charge. Explain that the government emergency workers, police, firefighters, doctors, and the military are helping people who are hurt and are working to ensure that no further tragedies occur. 

4. Let children know that it is okay to feel upset. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy like this occurs. Let children talk about their feelings and help put them into perspective. Even anger is okay, but children may need help and patience from adults to assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately. 

5. Observe children’s emotional state. Depending on their age, children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can also indicate a child’s level of grief, anxiety or discomfort. Children will express their emotions differently. There is no right or wrong way to feel or express grief. 

6. Look for children at greater risk. Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others. Be particularly observant for those who may be at risk of suicide. Seek the help of mental health professional if you are at all concerned. 

7. Tell children the truth. Don’t try to pretend the event has not occurred or that it is not serious. Children are smart. They will be more worried if they think you are too afraid to tell them what is happening. 

8. Stick to the facts. Don’t embellish or speculate about what has happened and what might happen. Don’t dwell on the scale or scope of the tragedy, particularly with young children. 

9. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate. Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that the daily structures of their lives will not change. Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence and threats to safety in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. They will be more committed to doing something to help the victims and affected community. For all children, encourage them to verbalize their thoughts and feelings. Be a good listener! 

10. Monitor your own stress level. Don’t ignore your own feelings of anxiety, grief, and anger. Talking to friends, family members, religious leaders, and mental health counselors can help. It is okay to let your children know that you are sad, but that you believe things will get better. You will be better able to support your children if you can express your own emotions in a productive manner. Get appropriate sleep, nutrition, and exercise. 

What Parents Can Do: 

1. Focus on your children over the week following the tragedy. Tell them you love them and everything will be okay. Try to help them understand what has happened, keeping in mind their developmental level. 

2. Make time to talk with your children. Remember if you do not talk to your children about this incident someone else will. Take some time and determine what you wish to say. 

3. Stay close to your children. Your physical presence will reassure them and give you the opportunity to monitor their reaction. Many children will want actual physical contact. Give plenty of hugs. Let them sit close to you, and make sure to take extra time at bedtime to cuddle and to reassure them that they are loved and safe. 

4. Limit your child’s television viewing of these events. If they must watch, watch with them for a brief time; then turn the set off. Don’t sit mesmerized re-watching the same events over and over again. 

5. Maintain a “normal” routine. To the extent possible stick to your family’s normal routine for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc., but don’t be inflexible. Children may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork or falling asleep at night. 

6. Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games with your children before bed. These activities are calming, foster a sense of closeness and security, and reinforce a sense of normalcy. Spend more time tucking them in. Let them sleep with a light on if they ask for it. 

7. Safeguard your children’s physical health. Stress can take a physical toll on children as well as adults. Make sure your children get appropriate sleep, exercise, and nutrition. 

8. Consider praying or thinking hopeful thoughts for the victims and their families. It may be a good time to take your children to your place of worship, write a poem, or draw a picture to help your child express their feelings and feel that they are somehow supporting the victims and their families. 

9. Find out what resources your school has in place to help children cope. Most schools are likely to be open and often are a good place for children to regain a sense of normalcy. Being with their friends and teachers can help. Schools should also have a plan for making counseling available to children and adults who need it. 

For information on helping children and youth with this crisis, contact NASP at (301) 657-0270 or visit NASP’s website at Modified from material posted on the NASP website in September 2001. 

© 2002, National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814, (301) 657-0270, Fax (301) 657-0275;