Friday, September 20, 2019

Weekly News and Notes

Here are a few updates from UHS this week:

Spirit Week Next Week

We applaud the effort of our students and Student Council to once again sponsor and support our Spirit Week. We have shared some guidelines with students in an effort to ensure that the days remain fairly structured, safe, and smart - in that we don’t want any students to do something that could compromise their own good standing, or to cause discomfort in others. To that end, we provided students with some guidelines for the dress-up days:

- Please be cognizant of school rules regarding length of shorts/shirts/dresses, types of shirts, and other basic dress code expectations (see the student handbook if you have any questions).

- Hats are allowed, provided they fit in with the theme of the day.    

- Face painting is allowed, but it must be done PRIOR to coming to school, not in the school bathrooms/locker rooms.  A student’s entire face can not be covered with paint.  

- Covering the entire face with any type of prop, mask, or dark glasses is not allowed.  

- Glasses/sunglasses are not allowed as props.  

- Student attire must be appropriate to the theme of the day.

Too frequently, the idea of “Spirit Week” gives way to “we can do whatever we want.” While we support our students in these days, we want to remain focused on the academic purpose of classes, respect the needs of teachers and staff, and share in the responsibility of ensuring these days do not compromise our core values, particularly of respect, responsibility, and integrity. So, as students start to costume themselves, remind them of these guidelines, remind them that school is still school, and remind them that we do not want to find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to something inappropriate - we are excited to see our students’ creativity and originality!

Monday: Lazy Day
Tuesday: Jersey Day
Wednesday: Red, White & Blue Day
Thursday: Occupation Day
Friday: Spirit Day - represent UHS by wearing Black and Orange

Homecoming Dance

Our Homecoming Dance is next Saturday, September 28th at 7pm in the gym and is open to all UHS students grades 8-12.  This is a semi-formal dance.
Tickets will be on sale next week, 9/23-9/27, during all lunches.  Tickets are $10 each. Cash and checks are accepted.  If you write a check, make it out to UHS Student Council.  
If you plan to bring a guest, you need to fill out a form in the main office. Forms need to be returned to Mrs. Wise in the office by Tuesday, 9/24.   

Week That Was

Here's a look at our Week That Was Video.

A little about curriculum and instruction

With all the conversations about yearbooks, sporting events, fundraisers, and clubs, we sometimes lose sight of the academics and the experience of the classroom, which, for me, is always at the forefront of the work we do every day. While we respect the efforts of the students, advisors, coaches, etc., we are also looking for balance with academics, as that, along with the extracurricular pursuits, is critical in pushing our students to be ready for life after high school. The skills we want to see in students upon graduation come from the playing field, the extracurricular experience, the coaches, and the classroom all working together.

Over the past couple of weeks, our department leadership has been facilitating dialogue with teachers (and each other) about ways to bolster performance. Some of this conversation has focused on what we teach - the curriculum in certain classes - while others have reflected on the rigor of courses. We had more than 20 students earn college credit last year through the work they completed in engineering classes, and more than 30 students are enrolled in college-credit bearing courses offered concurrently at UHS this semester alone. We had several successes on AP tests last year, and we continue to make strides with reducing dropout rates, improving five-year persistence rates beyond high school (students who are successful in their first year of college), and supporting students who have chronic attendance issues, particularly when related to health and wellness.
This year, our school will be focusing on a number of initiatives, including the continued revision of courses to better align with state frameworks in social studies, fine arts, next generation science standards, and mathematics. We likewise are focusing our effort on post-secondary planning with respect to both career and college, particularly the deployment of nearly $175000 in technology across all schools that will support authenticity and real-world problem-solving across the curriculum.
As we do so, please know that there will be some challenges - students will be stretched, and you may hear from some students about how "hard" school is and how they "don't get it," and some students may even throw their arms up to quit. Please know that encouraging perseverance and stretching students' capacity means that struggles will happen, but that we will also support students when things get challenging!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

School Council Agenda for September 2019

Our School Council meeting for September 2019 will be held on September 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the UHS Library. All meetings are open to the public.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Weekly News and Notes

First, thank you to so many of our families for joining us at last night's Meet the Teacher night. It was great to see you interacting with our staff, and we look forward to partnering with you the rest of the year.

Key Dates for Fall 2019

Homecoming September 23-28
Progress Reports October 2
½ Day October 11
PSAT October 16
Financial Aid night TBD
First Quarter Ends November 5
Report Cards (1st Quarter) Week of Nov. 12 (11/14)
Parent Conferences November 14

German Exchange Program

As you may have heard, Uxbridge High will be hosting international students visiting from Germany.  We believe the international student exchange will enrich the educational experience at Uxbridge High School and provide a unique opportunity for our students to learn about the culture of another country and share the culture of the United States.

During the 3 weeks that the international students are here (10/13-11/3) we need families willing to host them. The students do not need a private bedroom but do need their own bed.  This could be a pull-out couch or air mattress in your child’s room.  They have insurance and spending money; the host family is responsible for room and board.  In addition to host siblings earning 30 service hours, for host families, the benefits of an international exchange increase greatly due to their immersion in the program – friendships develop, bonds are created, and lives are changed.  As an added benefit, many American host siblings have visited their new friends in Germany over summer vacation.

It is no surprise that Uxbridge High families have responded generously to our initial request for host families.  However, there are still nine international students (7 girls and two boys) in need of a host family.  If you can open your heart and your home to a student from Germany, please contact Mr. Rubin or the group’s area coordinator, Maria Rodriguez, at or 440-708-4759.

PSAT Day & College Visit Day: October 16

We wanted to reach out to parents, students, and families about the forthcoming PSAT administration at Uxbridge High School, which will take place on October 16, 2019. The PSAT for 2019 will be administered to all members of the sophomore and junior class. Given the changes that the College Board made to the SAT, we wanted to position our students in the best place possible, not only for their post-secondary planning, but also for planning ahead to the SAT. In years past, the PSAT was administered to the sophomores and only to a certain number of juniors based on a first-come, first-serve basis. We are changing that to allow all students in the junior and sophomore classes to have access to the examination and its opportunities. Where our sophomores and juniors will be tied up with that administration for the better part of the start of the day,  our guidance counselors will be facilitating the first workshop of the year with the freshmen and 8th graders, as they will begin the introduction to the guidance curriculum before attending classes in the latter half of the day. For our seniors, we are encouraging them to use the day for college and career visits. Most seniors will take a day to visit a college campus, and others have reported a need to spend some time working on college applications and exploring career options. Thus, while our sophomores and juniors are taking the PSAT and the freshmen working with counselors on learning styles, seniors may visit colleges, spend a day in a job shadow, or interview with a prospective college admissions representative. Seniors who do not come to UHS on October 16 and visit a college on that day will be eligible to participate in interscholastic athletics and extracurricular activities on that day. Using this opportunity as a “College/Career Visit Day” will help them plan with counselors into November and be less disruptive, since the rest of the building is going to be busy with other endeavors. We will outline more details for this day when counselors meet with seniors at the end of September. Again, we look forward to the opportunity that the events of October 16 will provide our students. Feel free to reach out to your child’s counselor if you have any questions.

Destination Imagination
There will be an information session for all students and parents interested in Destination Imagination on Monday, September 30 at 6:30 p.m.

Science Olympiad
Our Science Olympiad team held signups this week with Mr. Lui. Interested students should contact him directly, and he is typically found in room B208.

Week That Was

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Announcement for 9/11

Good morning.

A few minutes ago our school had an announcement and moment of silence as we remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001. I am sharing our announcement below.

Mr. Rubin

Each year, making this announcement gets a little more challenging, as 9/11 becomes more of a history lesson than a day we personally endured. For our students, most were not yet born as the events unfolded on 9/11/2001, and so it exists through the lens of history, like the Challenger disaster for children of the 80s, Watergate in the 70s, or the assassinations of JFK and Dr. King in the 60s. That day’s images are burned in all of us forever, whether we lived them or relive them as part of history, tributes, or the way that it has changed the world in which we live. It is in that spirit that we will pause and reflect on the meaning not only of that day, 9/11, but the world it yielded in the immediate aftermath. On September 12, 2001, stores sold out of American flags, people were united in their resolve to rebuild, and people of all kinds and all parties put nation above self and ideology. It was a time where the return to our feet mattered more than the sucker punch, and when country meant more than party or personality.
It is in that spirit that today, we ask that you all pause in a moment of silent reflection with these thoughts in mind:

  • To remember the nearly 3000 innocent men, women, and children who lost their lives on an airplane, at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, in Shanksville, PA, and on the streets of New York;
  • To be inspired and grateful for first responders, police, fire, and military personnel who dedicate and risk their lives to protect our opportunity to live our own;
  • To acknowledge and think of the thousands of families and friends, some of whom are even in this building, who still grieve the loss of life from that momentous and tragic day;
  • And, perhaps most importantly, to resolve to work together to bring us closer to the America of 9/12, with the compassion, strength, unity, and pride that will help keep this nation great.
Please join me in a moment of silence.

Thank you.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Meet the Teacher Night

UHS will host Meet the Teacher/Back to School Night on Thursday, September 12. The evening will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the high school auditorium with a presentation from administration. Following the presentation, parents will be dismissed to A-block class, and then will follow student schedules. Each class will have about ten minutes to share with you some background on the course, the curriculum, course expectations, and parent-teacher communications, including the use of Google Classroom, which is a content management system that helps parents and students stay on top of course materials.

Several student activities will also have tables available to share information, and there will be students around the building to help guide parents. Parents should bring a copy of the student schedule with them, particularly since we may not run off close to 600 pieces of paper! If you need assistance, your students can share with you a screenshot from their iPads.

Parents will follow the Day 1 schedule, meeting blocks A-F, followed by the G block class last, which is the first period of day 2 on the schedule grid rotation.

Our anticipated times are listed:
A: 6:35-6:45
B: 6:50-7:00
C: 7:05-7:15
D: 7:20-7:30
E: 7:35-7:45
F: 7:50-8:00
G: 8:05-8:15

We look forward to seeing many of you here on Thursday!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Weekly News and Notes

A few updates from UHS this week:

Opening of School

We had a very positive week with our students this week! Overall, the hiccups with the schedule, getting around the building, and transitioning from class to class seemed to be minor at best. Our meetings with the students have been upbeat and positive, and we have enjoyed seeing our upperclassmen helping out the students who are newer to UHS. Generally speaking, we have challenged our upperclassmen to set a positive tone around the building, and we look forward to their setting that example for the balance of the year.

2019-20 Student Handbook

Our 2019-20 student handbook was approved at the School Committee meeting this week. Parents and students should be aware of the processes and procedures that are outlined in it, and the table of contents at the start of the document gives some quick links within the Handbook to key headers. If you have specific questions about any of the language, please reach out to the school and we will be happy to clarify.

The Handbook can be accessed through the Helpful Documents link on the website, and is also linked here.

Locker Room Cleanout

We directed all students to make sure that materials are taken from the locker room this afternoon for the weekend, as we have some cleaning crews coming in the next couple of days.

Grade 8 Information

Our grade 8 students met today with representatives from Student Council and will be coordinating class elections in the next couple of weeks. Students interested in running for an office (president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, historian) should see Ms. Bernard for nomination papers; elections for the Class of 2024 will take place on September 16-17.

Also, if a grade 8 parent is interested in serving on School Council, please reach out to Mr. Rubin.

Week that Was

Our "Week That Was" video is below:

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Student Assemblies and Handbook Review

Dear Parents and Guardians,

We have had a great couple of days with our Spartans back these past couple of days! There has been a positive energy as staff have emphasized connections before content, and we have students getting into the business of the curriculum as we build those relationships.

This morning, we began hosting assemblies with students to review some of the Handbook expectations and to discuss some changes that have occurred. In addition, we use the opportunity to set the tone for the year, for students to be reminded of guidance counselors, and to share what we anticipate being some of our goals for the individual grades.

Today, we began with grades 10 and 11, and, as part of the conversation, we reiterated two major points. First, we discussed that cell phone use is a privilege, not a right, and that some teachers may limit cell phone usage in class; we shared that the expectations from teachers may vary from room to room, but that, when made clear, students will respect those guidelines. We indicated that we believe it to be a strong tool, be it in playing music for some students who work best, for calculations, or even for research, when the iPad may not be best.

Our second point revolved around a school-wide challenge and expectation that we have regarding bullying and harassment. In a powerful moment, Mr. DiMeglio asked any student who felt like s/he had been bullied to stand up if they chose to do so. About a dozen brave students stood up, and others in the audience raised hands. The purpose was not to single out those who had been bullied, but to highlight that this is a shared experience, that we believe in the collective good of the students, and that we want to shift the mindset from walking away to standing up as an ally to those who maybe cannot stand up for themselves. The reality, as Mr. DiMeglio phrased it so well, is that bullying and targeting of some students at UHS is "an elephant in the room that we cannot ignore," so rather than starting with a Powerpoint, we did so with a discussion ,and an awareness. It was a powerful moment that many students have already expressed gratitude, as did the staff members in attendance.

Finally, while we did not explicitly share this in the meeting, we will be reviewing with the students some expectations regarding technology. Specifically, please check iPads and cell phones for the presence of virtual private networks (VPN's), which interfere with our school network and are explicitly forbidden on school-owned devices. Students will bypass our security protocols and processes by installing virtual private networks on their devices. Our own network detects the presence of VPN’s on devices, and, in turn, compromises bandwidth for school devices. This may include iPads we issue and cell phones that students bring to school, so we ask you to have students uninstall them; if found, consequences may be imposed, including the restriction of technology privileges.

We look forward to partnering with our students, staff, and community to make UHS better for all our students. We thank you for your insight, empathy, and support.

Michael Rubin, Principal