For the Week of 1/23 - 1/27

  • Welcome Message from Dr. Clapp

  • Classroom Peeks

  • Counselor's Corner

  • HKMS Happenings

  • Drive to Thrive

  • Ways to get Involved

  • and...Upcoming Events!

Dear HKMS families,

Last night’s instrumental concert was a joyous celebration of 90 days of hard work, skill development, practice, and teamwork! I want to send my congratulations to all the musicians, Mr. Dolecki, and Mrs. Gidley. Students who play musical instruments or sing in choirs have better memory, stronger hand-eye coordination, better study habits, develop teamwork skills, and show heightened processing and problem-solving abilities. All of these superpowers were on display last night. While the music was terrific, I love watching all the “in-between” work. The shuffling and sharing of music stands, repositioning of certain instruments and players, the coordinated on and off-stage movements all have to be practiced, revised, and re-practiced dozens of times. We see atrophy in music participation as students progress through their secondary education, which is a shame considering the benefits listed above. If your child performed this week or last week, please do whatever you can to encourage them to stick with it through high school, the efforts will pay off in almost every way we can measure.

This week's newsletter is full of concert videos, classroom peeks, lots of things happening around campus, as well as an excellent counselor’s corner, and a drive to thrive about upcoming standardized testing.

I hope you have a chance to unplug this weekend and enjoy a cozy spot with your loved ones and family!


Steve Clapp


Helen Keller Middle School

Find your strength, build upon it, and share it!

Grade 6

Sixth-grade French students play a "war-like" card game to win piles of cards based on day-of-the-week values. Dimanche (Sunday) is worth 1 point, Lundi (Monday) 2 points, etc... Students pair off their deck of days of the week against another student. Great way to gamify learning!

Our young readers are distinguishing between the main idea of a piece and the central idea, then applying these lessons to their writing. Great job, Mrs. Burke!

Grade 7

Ms. Mancini's mathematicians are figuring out the scale factor of similar shapes.

You never know where Mrs. Gale will pop up next! This week she is spending time with seventh graders in science classes. They are learning about scientific databases. Students will utilize these reliable collections of resources when they launch into their "Journey to the Center of the Earth" project!

Grade 8

Eighth-grade scientists taking a "next generation science" practice test this week while continuing their examination of waves. Do you know how one ocean says hello to another? It waves! :)

Main idea is the name of the game! The recent PD time spent with our ILA consultant, Kate Roberts, focused on the essential skill of identifying the main idea continuously as you are reading. This practice is not just a culminating event when reading. Mr. Jockers is frequently modeling for students the main ideas he is identifying in the book he is reading. He then supports students in keeping notes on emerging main ideas AS they read their chosen books.


Drippy art and weaving projects both coming together in art classes this week!

Mr. Fearn is teaching our engineers how to build a table, using a Computer Aided Design (CAD) tool.

As an introductory lesson to the P.E. Volleyball unit, students competed in a hilarious relay race!

S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Tim Sather MA, NCC & Sara Terry MS, NCC, LPCA

One of the most important Executive Functions our brains develop during our middle school years is the ability to set effective goals. While this may seem simple at first glance, goal setting is actually a complex process that involves understanding time, planning ahead, self-awareness and reflection, and a host of other specific developmental tasks. We support our students by setting goals in many ways throughout the school year:

  • Academic and fine and practical arts teachers do so during curricular units

  • Physical education and health teachers do so while discussing personal and physical development

  • Interventionists and specialists do so with students in workshops and content labs

  • Our counseling staff does so through individual counseling sessions and developmental guidance lessons

All of these goals are set as part of the Connecticut state "Student Success Plan", an individualized approach to helping students achieve long-term success in high school and beyond. More information on this model can be found at the following link:

When first asked what they want to accomplish, a middle school student might say "I want to get good grades" or "I want to run faster". Research tells us that certain elements of goal setting optimize our chances of actually meeting these goals. In line with that research, education has moved in a similar direction to the business world by adopting the acronym SMART for goal setting. They would help a student think through his/her goals by answering the following questions:

  • Specific - What exactly are you trying to accomplish? In what classes or areas of life?

  • Measurable - How will you know you have accomplished it? What data will you use?

  • Attainable - Is this realistic? Do you have the resources to do so?

  • Relevant - Does this matter to your life? How will it help you in the future?

  • Timely - By when will you accomplish this? What steps will you take to get there?

These guiding questions help students think about time, the steps it would take to accomplish their goal, and how to self-advocate (another key Executive Functioning skill developed in middle school). Whether through classes, individual support, or developmental guidance lessons, a student might transform "I want to get good grades" into "I want to earn at least an 80 in Social Studies by the end of Trimester 1" or "I want to run faster" into "I want to improve my mile run by 30 seconds by the end of 6th grade". The SMART format allows for consistent readjustment and reassessment as students learn, grow and change over their years in middle school. This model naturally leads to a plan of smaller action steps that can be developed in accordance with these goals. We encourage parents to talk with their kids about these goals and action steps to reinforce self-awareness and the importance of Executive Functioning skill development.

Students in grade eight have completed their SMART Goals in the domains of Personal/Social, Academic, and Career. Sixth and Seventh graders are completing their SMART Goals within the next couple of weeks. Ask your child what his/her/their goals are and possibly if you can be of any support!

HKMS Winter Concert Extravaganza!

Check out the videos and great pictures of the amazing performances from Thursday night's instrumental concert.


Jazz Band

6th Band.MOV

6th-Grade Band!


7th & 8th Grade Band!


7th & 8th Grade Band


Grade 7 Drum Line!


7th & 8th Grade Band


8th-Grade Dummers!



Orchestra 2.MOV

More Orchestra!

Orchestra 3.MOV
Orchestra 4.MOV

Even More Orchestra!

This week ALL of our eighth graders and a parent/guardian drafted up their schedules for next year with a JBHS and in person in our library (first time in over 3 years!).

"13!" The HKMS musical is coming!

Actors working hard with Director McIntosh-Newsom in the library this week (due to the concert).

(Photos by Ashley)

At HKMS we believe all students should be thriving whether performing below, at, or above grade-level standards. This section will highlight just one of the ways we support learners and/or extend their thinking.

NWEA List Serv to Parents - Feb 2022

School Spiritwear Store!

Keller Educational Discussions

Do you have an area of expertise middle schoolers can learn from? Do you like sharing? We want you to give a KED-Talk! Click here for more information and to sign up!

Best Fit Colleges with Rob Franek

The editor and chief from the Princeton Review will be at JBHS on February 23 at 7:00 for a very informative presentation. It is never too early to learn this valuable information!

To register use this link:

From Our Friends at the...

Dear HKMS,

This is a wonderful, energetic program to celebrate Black History Month. Students can take the bus to the library and check it out. Registration is required, link here.

Kristine Oulman
Youth Services Librarian
Easton Public Library