Friday, February 16, 2018

Weekly News and Notes

Weekly News and Notes

As we prepared for the winter/February recess, our attention was definitely pulled in a number of directions this week. Fortunately, we had a five-day week devoid of weather issues, which allowed our teachers to build a little bit of momentum. The next stretch is a tough one - between February and April break - and we know that it will be a time for us to get most of our academics in line for the stretch run in the school year!

Course Selections

Guidance counselors have been working diligently with students on course selections. Our freshmen, sophomores, and juniors have all picked their courses for next year, including alternate electives, and in the couple of weeks after break, we hope to do the same with the rising 8th and 9th graders. In time, we will commence with analyzing conflicts and determining what courses, if any, do not run. For now, we are on schedule!

University of Michigan Study

Uxbridge High School has been selected to participate in a nationwide study of 12th graders, entitled Monitoring the Future. The survey is funded by the National INstitutes of Health and tracks changes in attitudes, opinions, and behaviors of 12th graders, and has been offered for 42 years. The results are widely reported and used by many organizations to develop better programs and policies that affect today’s youth. The survey only takes about 40 minutes, and responses and results are kept confidential. Our staff is not involved in the survey at all, and we receive access to the composite report for the next three years. Permission for seniors to participate will be on an opt-out basis, meaning we will send a notice home to families regarding survey administration, and students will return a slip only if they wish to not participate.

Clark Tournament

Our boys basketball team faces Maynard in the Clark Tournament on Sunday. Game time is 7:30 p.m. Hope many of you can make it!

Engineering Featured
Mr. Smutok’s Principles of Engineering course was featured in this month’s Project Lead the Way monthly newsletter! The students built trusses that had to withstand certain weight-bearing loads! Very cool recognition for our program!

Basketball Senior Night

It was a bittersweet event on Thursday, as we honored senior basketball players Morgan McCarty, Scott Kaeller, Joey DuBois, and James Stark before their final regular season home games as Spartans. The senior members of the pep band and Spartones were also recognized for their support of the teams, including Jordan Washington, Riley Malone, Jenna Rosado, Russell Wise, Cassie Lobe, Alicia Nelson, Chloe Gardner, Olivia Burke, and Kayte Rooney. We thank them all for their contributions and commitment!

Have a great week!

x

Message/Direction for Students

We shared this with our students this morning via email.


Good morning,

As we indicated yesterday in our morning announcement, the recent events in Florida have brought up a number of emotions, from anger, to fear, to sadness - all of which are appropriate. We met yesterday as a school crisis team and then as a district crisis team, which involves police and fire. While we remain confident in the safety procedures we have in place at UHS, we know that there are some things that people are wondering.

1.      UHS is and will continue to be a safe place but we need students to play a major role in the security and safety of one another.
2.      Do not prop doors open or open them during the school day to let anyone in. Not even your peers, former students or staff.
3.      Be careful what you post on your social networks, group chats, etc. . “I didn’t know is no longer an excuse”. You should all know better.
4.      If you see something, say something. You can report any concern directly to a staff member, by sending an email or having a conversation. If you report something anonymously, I just ask that you be as detailed as possible. Not having a name makes it very difficult to follow up if there are many unknowns.
5.      Be kind to one another! Don’t allow a classmate to be isolated. Say hello!
6.      Each student should identify at least 1-2 adults in the building that they feel connected to that they can call upon if they have any concerns or need assistance.
7.      If you or a friend is having a tough time in or out of school, speak up. Access an Adjustment Counselor, Guidance Counselor or staff member. Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness!
8.      If you have a conflict with another student, work it out with that student. Do not seek to involve others and do not let it play out on a social network. Conflict resolution is a life skill, we can help you to hone your skills to perfection. If you need help with a conflict, utilize the Adjustment Counselors, Guidance Counselors, or any other staff member.
9. For those who are still feeling like they are struggling, Family Continuity will be offering support services to students and parents next week. On Thursday, from 11-12, there is an event at Family Continuity, located at 76 Church Street in Whitinsville. Parent/guardian consent for participation and registration are both required; contact them at 508-234-4181.
10. Returning to normalcy and a sense of routine is important, so help each other toward that!

Just as you seek out the support of counselors, our network of administrators also lean on each other for guidance, so I thank the principals of Milton High School and Belmont High School for sharing their resources with us. 

Finally, Mr. Carney, the counselors, and I will be meeting with student leaders over the next several weeks to consider ways that we can help encourage ways for students to speak up and help us take care of this community.

I wish each of you a relaxing, enjoyable vacation week.

Sincerely,

Mr. Rubin (for the UHS Crisis Team: Mr. Barry, Ms. Ciccone, Officer Deveau, Mr. DiMeglio, Ms. Hampton, Ms. Lesperance, Ms. Mason, Ms. Schiller, Ms. Tobin, and Dr. Vandergrift)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Message from Superintendent Regarding Crisis Prevention

Dear Families and Staff:

As we reflect on yesterday's tragedy in Florida and as the news coverage of this horror may overwhelm us in the upcoming days and weeks, we need to all do our part to ensure the safety of our children, community members, and the people who serve Uxbridge. Our Crisis Prevention Team, made up of Uxbridge Police, Uxbridge Fire, and school officials are meeting today, as we do monthly, to review protocols and plan for crisis situations.

Please work with us to limit the chances of violent tragedies in our community. This is especially important for visitors to our schools. Most of us grew up during a time when holding the door open for someone was considered an act of kindness. This remains true in most situations. However, it is not an act of kindness when entering a school from the exterior doors. Visitors must ring the bell for the office at each school to seek entrance. Each visitor must do this. If you are granted entrance, please shut the door securely behind you. Even if you know the person following you to gain entrance, please express your need to close the door and their need to contact the office for entry. 

On behalf of the students, staff, administration, and School Committee, Thank you for your attention to this very important request. During our meeting today, if we identify protocols that need to be strengthened, we will certainly put them into effect.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and victims of Parkland, Florida.

Announcement to Students and Staff

We shared this announcement this morning with students and staff in light of what happened yesterday in Florida:

Good morning,

When news like what transpired in Broward County yesterday breaks, we have a natural tendency to experience a range of emotions. Anger, sadness, denial, fear all come to mind. We naturally look inward and think of those close to us, our own schools, and the families of the victims. We remind ourselves of our own safety procedures, which can be as simple as having only a single entry and exit place to our building, not propping open doors, and requiring all visitors to register at the main office.

We also think of ways we can prevent both horrific, mass tragedies on one hand and, on the polar opposite, the smaller, more run of the mill, and unfortunate mishaps that occur daily, between student and student and even teacher to teacher from happening. We think of how our individual actions and responses to others may have a domino or ripple effect of which we have no idea or context. We think of how we can stay together as a community by taking care of each other and acting with respect and empathy.

I would ask that we take an additional moment to pause in Silent reflection as we consider both the senseless tragedy of Florida and our own renewed commitment to keeping this High School a safe and considerate community for all.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

UHS and Safety Procedures

I have been struggling tonight with the news of what transpired in Florida on Wednesday. As I have connected with colleagues and friends across Massachusetts and the nation, the Parkland tragedy brought to light, once again, some of our deepest fears. To paraphrase some of the conversations I had, "we spend so much time on response, but what about prevention?" "How prepared are we?" "What can we do to make sure that doesn't happen for us?"

Naturally, there will be people who may be inclined to discuss what happened. There will be some staff members, students, and parents who will need to vent and for whom safety in our own building is maybe a concern. There are procedures we have in place, steps we rehearse, and scenarios for which we are prepared, but it would only be natural for some to be concerned, tense, or shaken as we prepare for another school day, albeit 1800 miles away. Still, there will be others who will have no response whatsoever and for whom the disconnect is natural. 

I am sharing this resource from Harvard, which helps with both parenting and educating amidst times of trauma and crisis.

So you are aware of what we are redirecting and reminding from an administrative level:

1. All visitors are required to enter through the front entrance. Only the main office will permit someone to enter after identifying the purpose for needing access.
2. Visitors who have been granted access to the building will report to the main office to be signed into the building. They should shut the door behind them, not hold it open for the next visitor.
3. People waiting for pickup at the end of the day are not permitted "stand" or wait in vehicles in the staff parking lot or by the front of the building.

Staff, students, and parents who exit the building during the day for any reason: use the front entrance only. Upon arrival, make sure doors close behind you- we do not prop doors open. 

We have procedures and steps in place that keep and maintain UHS as a safe, vibrant community where we can support each other and maintain safety. We hope to never use them, and we keep the communities in Broward County in our thoughts and prayers.

UHS earns PLTW grant

The following press release was shared today. Dr. Drolet, Ms. DeMarco, and I have been working diligently on bringing new resources and programs to our community, and we are quite excited to acknowledge this opportunity!

This means that students coming to UHS will, over time, have greater exposure to engineering and technology programs at the intermediate school, and we will have the opportunity to expand our pathways at the high school. This is exciting news!

Mike Rubin, Principal






For Immediate Release                                                       
February 15, 2018
Media Contact:
Kevin Carney, Superintendent of Schools
508-278-8648
Uxbridge Public Schools Receive STEM Career Pathway Capacity Grant
Uxbridge, Mass. (2/14/18) – The Uxbridge Public Schools announced today that it has received a grant to offer high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Project Lead The Way (PLTW). PLTW is a nonprofit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers through pathways in computer science, engineering and biomedical science. More than 10,500 schools across the country offer PLTW programs to millions of students.
“Our entire team has been committed to partnering and expanding our existing opportunities to ensure that students are prepared for the world that awaits them,” said Kevin Carney, Uxbridge Public Schools superintendent. “That we are able to grow a program to bring even more robust offerings to more students is very exciting.”
Uxbridge High School and McCloskey Middle School are just two of 73 schools across the commonwealth to receive the grant, which is supported by the Administration of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, the One8 Foundation, and Mass STEM Hub.
“It is essential that we engage our students throughout their K-12 school years with hands-on lessons in science, engineering, computer science, technology and math,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.
Both schools will use grant funds to start and strengthen its PLTW program with PLTW Gateway Programs at the grade 6-7 and biomedical engineering programs at the 8-12 level, over the next three years. For Whitin Intermediate School, the school district will be able to expand technology education programs to build curriculum and offerings for students in Design and Modeling, as well as Automation and Robotics. The Project Lead the Way Gateway program will naturally expand the already established program in Engineering at Uxbridge High School, which includes a four-year engineering sequence that culminates in internship opportunities through partnerships with the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce. Funds from the grant will also support teacher professional development and the purchase of materials and equipment that will be used in the hands-on, activity-, project-, and problem-based courses.

Over the past three years, the Uxbridge Public Schools have earned more than $100,000 in grant money to support district goals and programming.
“We are proud to partner with the Uxbridge Public Schools to empower students to develop the in-demand knowledge and transportable skills to thrive in our evolving world,” said Vince Bertram, PLTW president and CEO. “Thank you to the Governor’s Office, the One8 Foundation, and Mass STEM Hub for making these grants possible and further investing in Massachusetts’s students.”

“These opportunities are relevant, real, and engaging for students across several grade levels, and the skills that students take from these classes will provide them with a strong foundation for the future, regardless of what they study,” Mr. Carney said. “We are grateful for our partners, and we thank them for believing in our programs, students, staff, and community.”
About PLTW

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a nonprofit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers across the U.S. PLTW empowers students to develop in-demand, transportable knowledge and skills through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. PLTW’s teacher training and resources support teachers as they engage their students in real-world learning. More than 10,500 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia offer PLTW programs. For more information on Project Lead The Way, visit pltw.org.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Message for Rising Grade 9 Parents

Good morning,
We had the pleasure of meeting with the Grade 8 students yesterday at McCloskey Middle School. We found the group attentive, thoughtful, and enthusiastic, and, perhaps most importantly, they seemed ready to engage with us and with the decisions that they face in the coming weeks. They asked fabulous questions, the highlights of which we'll include in this email and take some time, hopefully, to post to the website in the coming weeks.
We made the conversation a bit more interactive, as we asked the students what sort of classes they liked - universally, they enjoy classes that help them get up and moving, that allow them to be creative, that allow them to work with their hands. They were curious about electives, and, for grade 9, there is no shortage of electives - 20+ in fact. They wondered about athletics and extracurricular activities, and we were able to assuage concerns and help them understand that we will work with any group of students who feels like they have a need that is not being met.
In terms of academics, students will work with their grade 8 teachers in the coming weeks to identify appropriate levels for grade 9 core courses. They will also consider electives, and, through this process, work with our guidance counselors after February break to input their course selections. We will do our best to ensure that students have the opportunity to take their top choices, understanding that there is always the possibility of courses filling for upperclassmen first, which is why we ask students to select multiple alternates.
Our athletic program will remain pretty consistent for grade 9 students, in that there are not many changes. We do hope to, with the integration of grade 8, have more opportunities to offer a third level in some sports which would prevent us from making cuts, while restoring junior varsity sports to some sports where JV has been unable to field a roster.
Finally, some questions were raised about Advanced Placement and advanced course offerings, which are typically not available in grade 9. We do offer close to a dozen AP courses at UHS, as well as courses that are articulated for credit with the state college system. We hope to expand these opportunities, particularly with our rising ninth graders in mind for their 11th and 12th grade years.
We will be hosting a coffee hour in the morning after February break; when we have that date finalized, we will share it, so that families who have individual questions or who wish to chat with us more following the evening event last week may do so. Please reach out if you have any questions, concerns, or feedback!
Sincerely, 

Michael Rubin
Principal
Uxbridge High School