For the week of 5/9 - 5/13
A message from Dr. Clapp
Ways to get involved at HKMS!
Dear Helen Keller Middle School Families,
I had the good fortune to be trained by Dr. Mark Bracket on three different occasions. Dr. Bracket is the director of the Center of Emotional Intelligence at Yale University and the author of several books, most recently the bestseller, Permission to Feel (which gets 4-stars from me). One of the most poignant lessons I learned from Dr. Bracket, is that emotions are neither good nor bad, they are our brain's way of interpreting events and thoughts we are experiencing. Emotions are data! While many emotions are uncomfortable if we can take a second to interpret what they mean we can plan a course of action with the best possible outcomes.
Anxiety is a very prevalent example. A recent article in the NY Times reported the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is calling for all children over eight to be screened for anxiety disorders (see article here). In the midst of the mental health crisis, our country is facing it is important to remember that anxiety, is not a "bad" emotion, it is data. And if your child is feeling anxious, that is not necessarily a disorder. Think of anxiety as a dimmer switch, rather then an on/off switch says clinical psychologist Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary author of Future Tense: Why Anxiety Is Good for You (Even Though It Feels Bad). Mild anxiety, being nervous and excited (like butterflies in your stomach) tell us something is important, we have hopes for a certain outcome and may be disappointed by an unanticipated outcome (think of letting in the winning goal, not getting called back from the audition, or being rejected by a peer). Being socially anxious about an upcoming gathering of friends is fine, but staying home because of those worries is a problem. Anxiety can be dialed all the way up to being panicked or devastated. When our daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia, my wife and I were freaking out, we thought we were in a nightmare. The level of anxiety we experienced was tremendous. Instead of being immobilized, the anxiety gave us focus to make important decisions, and gave us the energy to fight and be brave alongside our child. In the end, the experience made us a stronger family, more able to deal with crises and unexpected stressors than before her diagnosis. If we had fallen into despair and were unable to act, then that would indicate an anxiety disorder.
There are a lot of similarities between mental health and physical health. We know what makes our physical bodies stronger; a well-balanced diet, restorative sleep, check-ups with our physicians, and regular strenuous exercise. We plateau physically if we never lift more weight, walk a little further, or swim the extra lap. The same holds true for our and our children's mental health. While we want to protect our kids from any discomfort, some anxiety will build their emotional strength. We are descendants of our most anxious ancestors and have evolved to handle much more stress than we expect, and kids are more resilient than we think! As parents and adults in their lives, our job is to push them to new experiences while supporting them through their anxieties. We need to listen first, then help them strategize and overcome these stressors, which will build their mental strength for the anxieties that are ahead. If it ever gets overwhelming, our team of mental health experts is here to help. They have helped families deal with every possible anxiety and stressor. It is my hope that this national crisis leads to more open and honest dialogue and a destigmatization of mental health care.
What better way to reduce your anxiety than checking out all the amazingness happening at HKMS this past week! From mind-blowing technology in science classes to beautiful art, and timely outside learning, it's all here!
I hope everyone enjoys this edition of the newsletter and has a great weekend!
Grade 6 Peeks
Sixth-grade math students are using their math skills to prepare themselves to handle their own finances. In small groups, they are trying to figure out which cell phone plan is the best option.
Conversation Rotations are happening in 6th-grade Spanish classes! What do 6th graders like? Talking with friends! They can do that in Spanish class as long as their conversations are in the target language!
Grade 7 Peeks
Seventh Grade ILA students competed in a high-paced inference team challenge.
Probability fun in 7th grade math!!
Taking advantage of the awesome weather and newly improved outdoor classroom, students in Mrs. Mancini's classroom are working through a scavenger hunt review for the upcoming test!
Using GIMKIT to review math concepts and skills from the beginning of the year until now!
Grade 8 Peeks
Mind-blowing science in Mr. Mac's room this week! Electromagnetic propulsion systems, Hyperloop, and solutions to transposition and energy problems were all on the minds of our young scientists this week!
Reading and discussing To Kill a Mockingbird seemed all to appropriate in the setting of our newly "roofed" outside classroom.
Seventh grade students in Project Lead the Way are designing three-dimensional models of a toy peg board using the Scratch design program.
Check out the progress students are making on their clay projects!
We are less than 30 school days away from summer break! As exciting as this is for students, we still have lots of important work to focus on. At this time of the year, we try to keep momentum going to end the school year off strong. Keeping momentum is important for many reasons. Below are nine of the many reasons to continue to work hard and attend school until the very last day. Don't worry, there's some fun along the way!
Why keep doing school work? Tidbits for our students.
1. Future Classes: Everything you are learning now is a building block for future content. Being present and continuing to complete the assignments will allow for an easier transition into your next grade level. For 8th graders, remember the course selections we completed? At the end of the school year, we look over your work completion and grades to make sure the classes you selected are the best fit for you. Please continue to show us your true potential and competence (because you are all smart cookies) until the very last day!
2. College and Career Readiness: Working hard and keeping momentum is a life skill. This is great practice for college, if you are planning on attending, and/or your future career. Continue this momentum into summer as well by completing activities that strengthen your brain (I like to play sudoku on the beach!).
3. Instilling Commitment: Yes, it can be challenging to take time to complete your homework when it's so nice out and you just want to play! It's all about balance and commitment. Put your mind to something (i.e. setting a goal) and see it through. Setting a routine can help with instilling commitment and succeeding short-term and long-term goals.
4. Building Work Ethic: Work ethic is doing your job to the best of your ability. Right now, your job is to be a student and a contributing member to your family by helping out. Work ethic starts at a young age by setting boundaries, routines, and priorities. Chores are a great example of building work ethic. This also ties into doing what you say you are going to do, and doing it with all your effort. Completing school work helps build your work ethic by practicing skills of time management, discipline, productivity, and responsibility.
5. Education/Lifelong Learning: The United States has obligated education as an essential to life. There are other countries who do not value education and prepare children for their futures. Complete your work and your schooling with pride- we should not take our education for granted.
6. Grades: Any work done now can help boost your overall final grade. As teachers and counselors, we want to see you do your best up until the very end so your grade is reflective of your hard work. In high school, your grades will be reflected on your transcript for college.
7. Connections: When you come to school each day, you are learning much more than just academics. Humans are social beings. You are learning how to navigate social conflict, rigor, self-identity, and so much more! Building connections is important for our mental health and overall academic career.
8. Time Management: Continuing to complete school work helps build your time management skills. This is a life skill that is essential in all elements of your life. Make sure you are managing your time well and incorporating some self-care by getting outside, riding your bike, playing a sport, reading a book, or whatever it is that makes you feel good!
9. Community: We are all part of a community that is growing and learning together. It would not be the same without you here with us as we continue our journey into June. Continue to support one another and motivate one another to continue doing our work, coming to school, and being part of this awesome school community!
In summary, create a routine and continue to exercise your brains. Yes, we want you to do this until the end of the school year, but really, we want you to do this all the time (even through summer). Remember though, balance is key. Self-care is just as essential as lifelong learning; balance the two. You are building your future; build it bright.
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.
All of the wonderful activities, events, and learning going on around HKMS this week (and beyond!).
We had a great time meeting some of the fifth grade parents at the PTO coffee this week!
Spring Extra-Curriculars Up and Running!
Chamber Orchestra - Mondays (7:25-7:55 AM)
Math Club - Mondays (3:00 - 4:00)
Select Choir - Tuesdays (7:25 - 7:55 AM)
Jazz Club - Tuesdays (3:00 - 3:45)
The Keller Courier- Tuesdays (3:00 - 3:45)
Peer Leaders- Tuesdays (3:00 - 4:00)
Track - Thursdays (3:00- 3:45)
Student Council - Wednesdays (7:25-7:55)
Homework Club - Wednesdays (3:00 - 4:00)
8th-Grade Govt.- Wed. & Fri. (7:25-7:55 AM)
Ultimate Frisbee- Thursdays (3:00 - 4:00)
NEW! Drama Club - Thurs. (3:00 - 4:00)
NEW! Futsal - Fridays (3:00 - 4:00)
NEW! Track & Field - Thursdays (3:00 - 4:30)
Join the EPL's Teen Library Council!
Community Service Opportunity!
Do you know of an individual or organization looking for a community service project? We would love ideas and help to create an outdoor eating area off the side of our cafeteria. A patio? Flower boxes? Please reach out to Dr. Clapp or Mrs. Mohr.
Keller Educational Discussions
Have some gently used games getting little play?
A big shout-out to a very generous parent who donated this outside barrel to our basketball court! While the court was cleaned during the day, visitors at night often left bottles, used masks, and other refuse behind. This has greatly improved the tidiness of the courts and our students experience, Thank you!!
May 16th-May 26th: Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) Testing Window - Grades 6-8
May 20th: Minimum day for students (dismissal at 12:50), afternoon PD for teachers.
May 23rd: 7th Grade Field Trip to Chelsea Piers!
May 30th: Memorial Day - No School
June 2nd: Chorus Concert (6:30PM)
June 3rd: 6th Grade Field Trip to Chelsea Piers!
June 9th: Instrumental Concert (6:30PM)
June 15th: Grade 8 Celebration Trip: Brownstone Adventure Park
June 16th: 8th Grade Twilight Picnic Party
June 17th: Grade 8 Closing Ceremony (6:00PM)
June 21st: Last Day of School, Field Day at ECC, a minimum day (dismissal at 12:50)