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Frequently Asked Questions @ HMS

How is the Middle School different from the Elementary?  

HMS is designed to provide a separate transition from the elementary school and the high school.  HMS is organized in smaller communities referred to as “academic teams.”  Teams of teachers meet regularly to collaborate; share ideas about student, academic, social, emotional, physical, and developmental needs. HMS focuses on the “whole” child, rather than only focusing on the academic needs.  Students at HMS move from teacher to teacher throughout the day to learn from content area specialists who also enjoy working with young adolescents.  One of the goals at HMS is to build a trust relationship through the Advisory program.

An education for young adolescents must be

  • Developmentally Responsive--using the nature of young adolescents as the foundation on which all decisions are made.
  • Challenging - recognizing that every student can learn and everyone is held to high expectations.
  • Empowering - providing all students with the knowledge and skills they need to take control of their lives.
  • Equitable - advocating for every student’s right to learn and providing challenging and relevant learning opportunities.

When does school start?  

First Day of School:  Wednesday, August 17, 2015 

What time does school start?   What time does school end?

Morning announcements take place each day at 7:32.  First bell rings at 7:32.  Dismissal bell rings at 2:35. 

Is arrival and departure from school the same as it was at the elementary school? 

Riding the bus, being dropped off by a friend or family member, walking or riding your bike to school; students will enter the main entrance of the building (between 7:05 and 7:32 am.).  Supervision is not provided before 7:05 am please do not drop off students before 7:05.  At approximately 7:20, 6th grade students will report to the gym, 7th grade students will report to the Pup’s Pen and 8th grade students will remain in the plaza. 

Can I eat breakfast at HMS?

Yes. Ceres serves breakfast from 7:10 to 7:30 am.  Breakfast is not served during half-day dismissals. 

If I am not riding the bus home after school, where should my parents park to pick me up?

Parents picking up their child(ren) after school are asked to park in a parking spot in the south lot by the gym or in a parking spot in the east lot by the Flag pole.  If you choose to pick up in the east lot by the flag pole please be aware that all traffic will be held until the buses leave.  Please stop in the office and sign your child out first if you are picking your child up before the end of the school day (2:35 pm).

Can I ride a different bus home from school with a friend?

Yes.  A note is required from a parent stating what bus your child is to ride home on with their friend and is to be brought to the office in the morning for a signature.  The note will be signed during the day and can be picked up at the end of the day on the way out to the bus and must be shown to the bus driver to allow you to ride the bus.

Is there a dress code?

Yes!  It is very simple.  We expect children to be dressed appropriately.  Some guidelines for students include:  Clothes should be clean, and safe to wear (this includes shoes).  Coats, hats, bandannas, sweatbands, sunglasses, etc. should not be worn in class. Any clothing that exposes the chest, midriff, abdomen, buttocks and/or undergarments will not be permitted.  All pants must fit the waist (no low riding jeans and/or shorts).  Any clothing that is questionable in appearance or reference to sex, violence, profanity, race, alcohol, and tobacco will not be permitted as well.  Any numbers and/or symbols that are considered to be offensive will not be permitted.  This policy is also outlined in our school handbook and is available online.

How are students disciplined?  When will I be notified if my child is in trouble?

The most important classroom management tool is the way in which the teacher interacts with students.  Most of the time teachers will handle their own discipline in class or during team time.  Sometimes, your child will be called to a team meeting for to discuss disciplinary concerns.  Team Time is also used as a time when the teachers may call your child in for praise and encouragement as well.  There are times when it becomes necessary for the administration to assign consequences for a student’s choice that they have made.  We consider the least restrictive discipline first whenever possible.  The types of disciplinary actions allowed at school are time outs, team talks, change of schedule, change of seating assignment, morning and/or lunch DSR (Detention Study Room), after school DSR, Saturday School, activity suspension, suspension from class and/or school, notification of law enforcement agency, Short Term Optional Program (STOP) in Troy, in-school suspension served at Highland High School, expulsion from school and other consequences deemed necessary by the administration. 

As a parent, you will be notified whenever the situation is serious or if the inappropriate behavior is persistent. The notification can come in the form of a Conduct Note mailed home, a letter of explanation sent home with your child, email, phone call or home visit.  Teachers will attempt to keep you informed in any major change in behavior and/or attitude towards the learning process.  One of our goals at HMS is to encourage your child to share information about their rewards and consequences with you, the parent(s).

What supplies does he/she need?

Each grade level will have a general supply list available for students and parents to start the school year.  Each team may also ask for specific items to be purchased throughout the school year.  This list can be found on our web site and in our student handbook.  The school supplies list will also be mailed to local vendors.

What extra-curricular activities are available at the middle school?

A semi-complete list of school activities will be listed in our weekly announcements, on our school web site, shared on the Pups Plaza activities board and announced daily to the students.  The transition from the elementary to the middle school is a gradual experience.  The numbers of after school activities available to HMS students can be overwhelming.  All students will have the opportunity to participate in a free tutoring program each Monday and Wednesday after school and every day before school, several clubs that range from Scholar Bowl to Model United Nations, more than 25 Intramural programs ranging from Ping Pong and Archery to Basketball and Bowling, and tryout for competitive athletic programs; baseball, softball, cross country, dance, cheer, basketball, volleyball and track.  Research and best practice have shown us that kids involved in extra-curricular activities have higher grades, have less discipline and make more positive choices when faced with negative social actions.  One of our goals at HMS is to involved 100% of our students in after school activities. 

Can my middle school student go to basketball, volleyball games, etc.?   Are there any rules for attending?

They may attend any function open to the public.  Rules for attending these functions are simple.  They must behave appropriately.  Students who attend a game must have a ride home immediately following the game and/or activity.  Students cannot leave a game/activity while the activity is in progress unless they are planning to leave school grounds.  Once they leave the event they will not be permitted to return.  Students attending such functions, whether at home or another site will be subject to all school rules.

If my child has to take medicine at school, what do I need to do as a parent?

The district approved form must be completed by the physician and accompany the parent request for medication.  Please do not send medication with your child and ask that they keep it in their backpack or purse.  The form can be found on our website or can be faxed to your child’s doctor upon your request to the school nurse.

What are the requirements for physical examinations and immunizations?

Health examinations are required for all incoming 6th graders.  All student athletes attending a tryout for any of our competitive sports must have a sports physical on file in the nurse’s office on or before the day of the first tryout. 

Where do I go if I visit the middle school? 

All visitors must report to the office.  Please have a valid identification ready to present to the office team upon arrival. 

What is the curriculum at the middle school? 

The middle school curriculum is provided through “teaming, advisory, core curriculum, student assistance and service learning.”  With the new focus on Common Core, HMS teachers will continue to differentiate instruction to reach all children.  Department heads and team coordinators are currently working on curriculum guides/handouts to further explain this topic.  HMS will be offering Enriched Language Arts and Advanced Mathematics for qualifying students in 6th, 7th and 8th grade. 

How much homework should my child expect at HMS?

This depends on how your child manages his/her time while at HMS.  Each teacher will regularly provide students with time in class to start homework.  Some students will choose to work on homework while eating lunch with their friends.  Other students will study before school, while waiting for the bus, attend morning tutoring sessions, attend Monday and Wednesday after school tutoring sessions and rarely have “take-home” homework.  At the same time, other students will have 60 minutes of homework per night especially if they are in band due to the fact they will not have ELP (Extended Learning Period).

When do we register and when will I find out what bus my child will ride to school? 

The HCUSD#5 online registration window will open July 1 through July 20, 2015. You will receive more information about online registration towards the end of the school year.  HMS will also have office team members working in the HMS office on July 13 and 20, for those families needing computer assistance to register.  Bus information will be provided on eLink on August 10th, once the bulk of families have registered.  Students will also be able to access their schedules on August 10th through PowerSchool.

Does my child need a P.E. uniform? 

Yes.  HMS students have daily PE and must change into their PE uniform before participating.  The PE uniforms and can be purchased online and cost $14.00 for the shirt and shorts. 

What is the grading process like at the middle school? 

Students will receive a report card each nine weeks.  In addition, a progress report will be issued at the mid-term of each grading period.  Students can earn a grade of A to F.  Parents are encouraged to keep in touch with their child’s teacher regarding their progress.  Parents can also check Power School and setup email alerts on Power School. 

What does my child need in order to be promoted to the next grade level?

Students earning passing grades (“D” average or higher) will be promoted.  Or students who only fail one core academic subject area can be promoted with tutoring in that subject area.  Any student who fails two or more core subject areas will be retained.

When will my child know his/her schedule

Your child’s schedule should be available via PowerSchool on August 10th.

What is Advisory?  

Advisory is regularly scheduled each day for students to interact with peers and teachers about both personal and school related concerns.  One goal of the Advisory program is to have students build positive and professional relationships with their classmates and their teacher. 

How do we pay for lunches?

Please send your child’s lunch money the first week of school. The preferred method of payment is by check and/or online at www.myschoolbucks.com (safety and record keeping).  If you use a check, be sure to include your child’s account number on the check memo line.  If you send cash, please place in a sealed envelope with your child’s name and account number.  Remember: same account number as in the elementary school. 

What should I do when my child is absent from school?  (illness, emergencies, vacations, etc.) 

We ask that you call the office in advance if you know your child is going to be out of school for any absence.  If your child is ill and you keep him/her at home, please call or email Deb Holcmann at dholcman@highlancusd5.org or call the Attendance line at 618.651.8800 ext. 3201. 

Where do I find information about school throughout the school year? 

Friday Folders are no longer used at HMS because most papers have no chance in making it home.  Past attempts to send home Friday Folders has kept our custodians busy after school cleaning up the left-behind folders and kept our bus drivers very aware of our school events with lots of folders tucked neatly between the seat cushions.  We inform students daily of events and expectations during morning, lunch and afternoon announcements.  School announcements are also posted on our web site, on the plaza bulletin boards, emailed home by the teams and often times shared using our social media accounts. 

Who do I call if I have a question about school?  A problem?  A concern?  A compliment?

You should call your child’s teacher or his/her team.  But anyone in the office would be glad to help or direct you to the right person.  The most important thing to remember is to call and share your concerns and/or ask your questions.  Past experience has shown us that young adolescents want and need a bit of independence but also want and need their parental involvement in school.  We encourage you to stay involved with your child’s education by reaching out to your child’s teacher(s), checking PowerSchool regularly, skimming through weekly and daily announcements, volunteering at HMS, calling a teacher to check on how things are going, or simply stopping by the office and asking for a tour.

Volunteer.  Where can I volunteer at HMS?

Everyday during our lunch hours, we open the “Pups Patch”.  This is a small school store setup in the plaza at the information center.  Students can purchase pens, pencils, rulers, gum and other items.  Although this is a convenience for the students, it is also nice for us to have an extra set of parent eyes in our cafeteria during lunch hours.  Other ways to volunteer include working in the media center, helping during Veterans Day, serving as a presenter during Safety Day or one of our other building-wide assemblies, and much more.  For more information on how and when to volunteer, just ask.  We are always open for ideas on how to have more parents in our building. 

Why is middle school such a challenging, tough, exciting, challenging, fun, interesting and challenging age for kids and parents?

The short list----puberty, peer pressure, misunderstanding of social cues, boy-friends, girl-friends, lack of sleep, young adolescents, curiosity, cliques, drama, self-esteem, academic pressure, temptation, rejection, and puberty. 

Fact #1--In regards to athletics, this might be the first time your child is ever “cut” from a team.  This is one reason why we have developed such an inclusive, after school, intramural program. 

Fact #2--In regards to social belonging, this might be the first time your child is ever “excluded” from a social group or “broken-up” with by a boy-friend or girl-friend.  This is one reason why we continue to push forward with our morning advisory, encourage kids to get involved with new after school groups and step out of their comfort zone to meet new people.

Fact #3--Puberty.  The American Medical Association and WebMD will tell you that kids are starting puberty two or more years earlier than they did decades ago. The team of teachers we have assembled at HMS are experts in how to handle sensitive issues relating to kids at this age level. 

Fact #4--Peer Pressure.  This is real.  PBSKids recently ran a series that dealt with peer pressure of middle and high school kids.  As much as we want to tell our middle school children that “these are the best years of your life”, we also need to be very aware that middle school kids today are facing pressures that many of us never faced as a young adolescent. 

Fact #5--HMS is a great place for kids, teachers and parents.  We love working with kids and invite you to be a part of making HMS a better place for all.  If you have an idea on how we can improve, please share.  If you have a concern about your child, please contact us as soon as possible.  We believe in our mission, “Doing What’s Best For Kids” and need your help to continue to make improvements. 

Can 6th graders tryout for HMS sports?

Yes.  Cross Country and Track are “no-cut” sports.  All student athletes trying out for the team will earn a spot on the team.  Baseball, Softball, Dance, Cheer, Basketball and Volleyball are “cut” sports.  Traditionally, we have fielded very competitive teams. During the past years, each of the sports above has won Conference, won regionals, placed in the top 3 at State and our boys’ basketball team won the State Championship in 2012.  In talking with other competitive schools that open their tryouts to 6th grade, while meeting with our own coaching staff and developing our own athletic philosophy, we struggled with the idea of opening tryouts to 6th graders.  On of our concerns was that 6th graders might decide not to tryout in 7th grade if they are “cut” as a 6th grader.  With this in mind, we want to share that we are not expecting many 6th graders to make the 7th grade teams.  We will continue to offer after school clubs, Intramurals, tutoring and other extra-curricular activities to engage kids and keep them involved in school. 

Important Summer Dates:

• August 10 - Log into the PowerSchool Parent Portal to access your child’s schedule, team, or teacher name.
• August 10 - Log into the transportation site to check your child’s bus information.
 August 16 - Fees should be paid, or payment plan established.