How Can I Properly Express My Gratitude?

Hello parents, and greetings one final time from the friendly confines of the UAS MS!

As this school year rapidly moves towards its final day on June 28, I pause to give thanks, and to reflect upon the many blessings for which I will be forever grateful.  My four-year journey as a principal at the Universal American School has been full of thrilling adventures, exciting challenges, and just enough middle school drama to make my own personal news reel memorable.

As I reflect upon my 3-year stint as the MS Principal, I am filled with sentiments of appreciation, gratitude, and admiration.

I am overflowing with admiration for the teaching staff, with whom I was fortunate to work this past three years.  Together we have created a middle years’ program of which we are all very proud.  After 3 years of existence, our growth and improvements have been extraordinary, and our school climate positive and nurturing in nature.  I believe the overall value of our program should be measured by the quality of teaching and the depth of the learning that took place within our classrooms, the relationships built between the MS staff and our awesome students, and by the level of excitement and happiness that can be felt when traveling through our hallway.

Speaking of our awesome students, I have been rewarded every day for the past 36 months with the enthusiasm of our pre-teens who have populated our classrooms. Their energy has been an inspiration and motivation every day since I first walked into the building. Make no mistake about it, middle school kids are unique, but I truly believe each one of them has something valuable to offer. The MS students have impressively made many positive contributions for the greater good of our school, and I have confidence they will continue to contribute to UAS – in their own distinct fashion – for years to come.

I am grateful to have been supported by caring parents, who day in and day out have demonstrated concern for their children. We have come such a long way since the first parent meeting in September 2016, when we were still building our MS “plane” as we were flying it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in me as your MS Principal, and for providing me the golden opportunity to work with you to do what was best for your children.  My life is richly blessed for having known you and your middle schooler.

This community has been my family on this side of the planet since August 2015. Just as I have been left with many memories of activities, conversations, positive relationships and exchanges with people throughout my tenure, I hope that I have – in some small fashion – left a positive mark or impression.  At the end of this year, I will walk out the door with my head held high, proud of the many accomplishments we as a community have made, grateful for the people who have touched my life, and thankful for the many experiences I have been fortunate to share.  My 36-year educational journey will begin anew in August, but a piece of my heart will remain here within the hallowed halls of the UAS Middle School.

Thank you again for your support, and until our paths cross again in person, may peace be upon you and your family.

MS (and HS) Ramadan Timetable and Facts You Need to Know!

Greetings from the excitement filled hallway of the UAS MS.  As I write this article and I glance at the school calendar, I am in complete shock!  The month of June is fast upon us, and As unbelievable as it may seem, the school year is quickly coming to an end.  That said, there is still a lot of learning to be done, a lot of fun to be had, and we still have a lot of curriculum to cover, so hang on for a fast and frenzied ride to the finish line!!  WOOHOO!!

As you know, the Holy month of Ramadan has begun.  In recognition and celebration of Ramadan, I wanted to share with you some important facts recently provided to the entire staff by our Islamic Department.

  • Ramadan is a special month of the year for over one billion Muslims throughout the world. Beginning with the sighting of the new crescent moon. It is a time for inner reflection, devotion to God, and self-control. Muslims think of it as a kind of tune-up for their spiritual lives. The third “pillar” or religious obligation of Islam.
  • The month of Ramadan is a happy occasion; it is the month that the Muslim holy book, the Quran started revealing to Prophet Muhammad PBUH. Muslims are called by their religion to celebrate the month by coming together in worship, fasting each day for thirty days from dawn until sunset.
  • During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset every day. This means not consuming food and drink, including water, during the daylight hours. Smoking are also forbidden during fasting. For married adults, it also includes refraining from marital relations during the hours of fasting.
  • Muslims arise early in the morning during Ramadan to have a pre-dawn breakfast meal, known as “Suhoor”. At the end of the day, the fast is completed by taking the “Iftar” meal, which usually includes dates, fresh fruits, appetizers, beverages and dinner. Later in the evening, Muslims attend special night prayers called “Taraweeh” at their local mosque.
  • Ramadan is also a time of intensive worship, reading of the Qur’an, giving charity, purifying one’s behavior, and doing good deeds. As a secondary goal, fasting is a way of experiencing hunger and developing sympathy for the less fortunate and learning to thankfulness and appreciation for all of God’s bounties.
  • Not only does the fasting have spiritual benefits. Abstaining from food periodically will aid the body in cleansing itself from impurities. Fasting allows the body to rid itself of poisonous substances that can lead to serious illness and disease.
  • The good that is acquired through the fast can be destroyed by – the telling of a lie, slander, denouncing someone behind his back, a false oath, greed or covetousness. These are considered offensive at all times but are most offensive during the Fast of Ramadan.
  • Fasting is not an excuse. Although energy levels might be low, the point of fasting is not to slack off from our other duties and responsibilities. We believe that we are rewarded for continuing to work and produce during our fasts. Fasting is not a reason to push meetings or schedules.
  • Keep in mind that we’re fasting joyously (despite the tired look on our face). In fact, we wait for this month the whole year, so you don’t have to feel sorry for us. We are not trying to be rescued.
  • After the end of Ramadan, a very festive and joyous holiday is celebrated by Muslims, known as Eid-ul-Fitr, the Festival of Breaking the Fast. On the day of the Eid, Muslims attend special congregational prayers in the morning, wearing their nicest clothes and perfumes. Muslims greet and hug one another, saying “Eid Mubarak”, which means “Holiday Blessings.” Muslim families visit each other’s homes and have special meals together. Children are often rewarded with gifts, money, and sweets.

Ramadan Timetable

Parents should note that the we are currently operating under a revised Ramadan schedule. As you are likely aware, the UAS MS and HS are both utilizing a revised time table which you will find below. Students who are fasting have access to a quiet room during the lunch break to rest. A separate room is being provided for each or our 3 grade levels. Students who are not fasting have been asked to only eat or drink water/juice within our cafeteria. In addition, no outside play is allowed during Ramadan.  MS students are allowed to go to the library, the cafeteria, or the quiet room for their grade level.  Due to the expected high temperatures, students are allowed to go outside, but are certainly being discouraged from spending any length of time in the sun.

                          2018 MS/HS Ramadan Timetable

                                    8:00AM to 1:00PM

MS timing Length Length HS timing HS
Period 1 8:00 – 8:45 45 45 8:00 – 8:45 Period 1
Period 2 8:50 – 9:35 45 45 8:50 – 9:35 Period 2
BREAK 9:35 – 9:50 15 15 9:35 – 9:50 BREAK
Period 3  9:55 – 10:40 45 45 9:55 – 10:40 Period 3
LUNCH 10:40 – 11:20 40 45 10:45 – 11:30 Period 4
Period 4 11:25 – 12:10 45 40 11:30 – 12:10 Lunch
Period 5 12:15 – 1:00 45 45 12:15 – 1:00 Period 5

ID Cards Only in the Cafeteria

Parents should note that cash is no longer being accepted in the cafeteria. In order to purchase food or drink in the cafeteria, students must have money in their account and present their own identification card to be electronically scanned. Several announcements have been made to our students, and they are also aware of this change in practice.

Thank you for your attention to these details.  Until our paths cross in person, please take good care and may peace be upon you.

 

Celebrating MS Music and Preparing for the Ramadan Timetable!

The MS/HS Music Concerts were A-MA-ZING!!!!

Our MS band and choir students performed upon the stage of the MPH last week, under the direction of Emma Gordon.  Sharing the stage with Ms. Gordon was HS music teacher Lauren Corarito and her High School student musicians.  Both the band and choir performances were simply sensational, and the UAS community has so very much for which to be proud.  While Lauren is relatively new on the UAS music scene, Emma has been positively contributing and building our music program for several years. Bravo to both Emma and Lauren, and to the extraordinary and talented students who so memorably shared their gifts.  The fruits of their labor were on full and impressive display last week, and the future clearly looks bright for the UAS fine arts programs!!!  WOOHOOO!!

Ramadan Timetable

Parents should note that the we will be operating under a revised schedule later this week as Ramadan will begin.  While the official starting day has yet to be announced, the UAS MS and HS are prepared with a revised time table which you will find below. Students who are fasting will be have access to a quiet room during the lunch break to rest. A separate room will be provided for each or our 3 grade levels. Students who are not fasting will be asked to only eat or drink water/juice within our cafeteria. In addition, no outside play will be allowed during Ramadan.  MS students will be encouraged to go to the library, the cafeteria, or the quiet room for their grade level.  Due to the expected high temperatures, students will be allowed to go outside, but certainly discouraged from spending any length of time in the sun.

2018 MS/HS Ramadan Timetable: 8:00AM to 1:00PM

MS

MS Timing

Length

Length

HS Timing

HS

Period 1 8:00 – 8:45 45 45 8:00 – 8:45 Period 1
Period 2 8:50 – 9:35 45 45 8:50 – 9:35 Period 2
BREAK 9:35 – 9:50 15 15 9:35 – 9:50 BREAK
Period 3  9:55 – 10:40 45 45 9:55 – 10:40 Period 3
LUNCH 10:40 – 11:20 40 45 10:45 – 11:30 Period 4
Period 4 11:25 – 12:10 45 40 11:30 – 12:10 Lunch
Period 5 12:15 – 1:00 45 45 12:15 – 1:00

Period 5

 

Thank you for your attention to these details.  Until our paths cross in person, please take good care and may peace be upon you.

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Upcoming dates and activities:

  • May 16: Ramadan begins (tentative) revised schedule from 8 AM to 1 PM

A Salute to the UAS Middle School “Molders of the Future”!

Parents should note that May 6-10 is designated as Teacher Appreciation Week.  So, this week I pause to recognize the amazing educators within the UAS Middle School.  In honor of these talented and dedicated teachers, I offer the following tribute.

MOLDERS OF THE FUTURE – by Margaret O’Rourke

Most folks well worth the money

have statues carved in stone.

But teachers mold their monuments

in living flesh and bone.

The student who goes out in life

and makes well know name,

Admits unto the heart of it all,

some teacher shares the fame.

I never hear a pianist

with talent true and rare,

But in the shadows, I can see,

a teacher standing there.

No skillful doctor ever saved

the lives of human kind,

Without the seeds some teacher stored

within the fertile mind.

No actor, writer, carpenter,

no boxer, you’ll allow,

Pursues his chosen field unless

some teacher showed him how.

Lawyers, doctors, engineers,

all who are beloved by men.

Remember what some teacher taught

and quote it now and then.

Yes, teachers mold their monuments.

They build them year by year.

Not like the ancient pyramids

so awesome and austere,

Which time and time will wear away;

but spurning solemn stone,

Our teachers mold eternally

in living flesh and bone.

Every day I count my blessings for having the privilege of working with an enthusiastic, committed, and exceptional group of educators at the UAS MS. Our students are very lucky to be in their care, and as a parent of this awesome school, you should feel fortunate to have the MS teachers guiding your child.  So, in celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, I encourage you to thank a teacher this week, and remember that your child’s life has been forever impacted by their influence, their nurturing nature, and their guidance.

The MS/HS Music Programs Have Arrived!!!

Our band and choir students under the direction of Ms. Emma Gordon will be sharing the stage with their HS counterparts in two separate concerts this week.  On Monday, May 7, the MS/HS choirs will have their talents fully displayed, while their MS/HS instrumental counterparts will sound off on Wednesday, May 9.  Both concerts are free to the public and will be held in the MPH starting from 6:30 PM.  I hope you can plan to attend!  See you there!!!!

 

Thank you for your attention to these details.  Until our paths cross again, please take good care and may peace be upon you.

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Upcoming dates and activities:

  • May 7: MS/HS Choir Concert in the MPH @ 6:30 PM
  • May 9: MS/HS Band Concert in the MPH @ 6:30 PM

May 16: Ramadan begins (tentative) revised schedule from 8 AM to 1 PM

Student Led Conferences Were a HUGE Success!!!

Welcome back to the amazing world of the UAS Middle School!!!

As you know, our annual spring parent meetings were held last week, marking these as the first ever student led conferences in the UAS MS! Though the UAS Elementary School has operated this form of spring conferencing for years, this was our first attempt at hosting these meetings in this fashion. By all accounts, this method of conferencing was a HUGE success.

The parent feedback I have received thus far indicated that parents were very impressed with how organized their child was, and how smart they are!! The conversations were intellectually rich, and covered the broad spectrum of courses taught at the UAS MS. The dialogue I observed between parents and students included great questions, and enthusiastic student answers that expressed how much they know and are able to do. As advertised previously, this method of conferencing afforded our students the golden opportunity to highlight the progress of their growth and academic achievement. Students chose the evidence of their own learning journey, and then articulated their strengths and talents. It was truly marvelous to behold!!

A special thanks to all the parents who were able to attend, and to those parents who managed to conference with their child away from our campus. That opportunity still exists, and I would strongly encourage you to speak with your child about their portfolio if you have not yet had that marvelous chance.

MS Fine Arts Programs are on the Horizon!!
The Middle School fine arts programs are set to take center stage in the coming two weeks, with music performances and school plays scheduled for ShowTime!!! WOOHOO!!! First up, our actors/actresses will take to the stage of our drama room for five short plays on Wednesday, May 2 for two shows at 4:00 and 6:30 PM. Under the direction of Ms. Cris, Ms. Donald and Ms. Fiona, our Middle School thespians are sure to make you laugh, and maybe even make you cry! Here’s hoping you can join us on Wednesday.

Our band and choir students under the baton of Ms. Gordon will be performing alongside their HS counterparts in two separate concerts next week. The MS/HS choirs will showcase their talents on Monday, May 7, while their MS/HS instrumental counterparts will sound off on Wednesday, May 9. Both concerts will be held in the MPH starting from 6:30 PM.

Thank you for your attention to these details. Until our paths cross again, please take good care and may peace be upon you.

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Upcoming dates and activities:
• May 2: MS Theatre Production in the Drama Room @ 4:00 & 6:30 PM
• May 7: MS/HS Choir Concert in the MPH @ 6:30 PM
• May 9: MS/HS Band Concert in the MPH @ 6:30 PM
• May 16: Ramadan begins (tentative) revised schedule from 8 AM to 1 PM

Student-Led Conferences are About to Begin!! WOOHOO!!

Welcome once again to the wonderful world of the UAS Middle School!!!

As you likely know, the spring version of our annual parent meetings will be held this week, and the UAS MS will be hosting our first ever student led conferences! Though the UAS Elementary School has utilized this method of parent conferencing for many years, this will be the first time the Middle School has embarked on such an endeavor.

This method of conferencing will enable students to showcase the process of their growth and achievement at their individual level.  It provides students with the option to choose the evidence of their own learning journey, and it allows students the golden opportunity to highlight their strengths and talents.

An email was sent to parents last week with encouragement to register for a 30-minute block of time on Wednesday, April 25 for a student-led conference with your awesome MS student. Please note that these conferences will be conducted within the classroom of your child’s advisory teacher, and your child is expected to attend and share their learning with you. During this 30-minute conference, your student will be sharing evidence of their academic growth from each of their classes. Reflections, rubrics, self-assessments, peer-assessments, formative and summative assessments are all types of evidence your student might choose to share.

My staff and I are very excited about the opportunity to host this first batch of conferences led by our students, and we look forward to your positive participation!  If you have any questions about the conferences, please feel free to contact your child’s advisory teacher directly. Look forward to seeing you in the “house” Happy conferencing!

Directors Forum on April 24

The MS Principals Coffee, previously scheduled for Tuesday, April 24, has now been converted into a school wide Directors Forum focusing on the UAS Arabic and Islamic programs.  All parents are welcome to attend what promises to be a very informative presentation. You are encouraged to join your fellow parents from 8:00 to 9:30 AM in the Secondary School Library, where new UAS Director OB Sealey will play the role of host.

Thank you for your attention to this information.  Until our paths cross again, please take good care and may peace be upon you.

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Upcoming dates and activities:

  • April 23: End of year athletic awards ceremony
  • April 24: Directors Forum (8:00 to 9:30)
  • April 25: Student Led Conferences
  • April 26: Parent conferences for students of concern (SOC)
  • May 2: MS Theatre Production
  • May 7: MS/HS Choir Concert
  • May 9: MS/HS Band Concert
  • May 16: Ramadan begins (tentative) revised schedule from 8 AM to 1 PM

SLC’s, Directors Forum and Events Galore!!!

Welcome once again to the amazing domain of the UAS Middle School!!!

Our spring calendar is abundantly full of activities, and I encourage you to note the events listed below, and to consult the school wide calendar for more details. The pace will only get more hectic from here, so let’s collectively hang on and enjoy the ride!  WOOHOO!!!

A reminder about the 1st ever MS Student Led Parent Conferences

The spring version of our annual parent meetings will be held next week, as the UAS MS will be hosting our first ever student led conferences on April 25. Though the UAS Elementary School has utilized this method of parent conferencing for many years, this will be the first time the Middle School has embarked on such an endeavor.

Why student led conferences (SLC)?  SLC’s:

  1. enable students to showcase the process of their growth and achievement, and at their individual level,
  2. provide students with the option to choose the evidence of their own learning journey, and
  3. SLC’s allow students the opportunity to highlight their strengths and goals, and provide evidence they are working toward their goals.

Student led conference details:

  1. You will receive an email this week encouraging you to register for a 30-minute block of time on Wednesday, April 25 for a student led conference with your awesome MS student.
  2. The student led conferences will be conducted within the classroom of your child’s advisory teacher, and your child is expected to attend and present.
  3. During this 30-minute conference, your student will be sharing evidence of their learning from each of their classes.
  4. Reflections, rubrics, self-assessments, peer-assessments, formative and summative assessments are all types of evidence your student might choose to include.

Within each grade level, there are also students who are struggling academically and/or behaviorally.  We refer to these young people as being “students of concern” or SOC.  Each grade level team will be inviting parents of these SOC students to a team conference on Thursday, April 26.  Data that defines the concern will be shared, but more importantly strategies for improving the student’s current academic standing will be discussed and plans implemented.

My staff and I are very excited about the opportunity to host this first batch of student led conferences, and we look forward to your positive participation!

Directors Forum on April 24

The MS Principals Coffee, previously scheduled for April 24, has now been converted into a school wide Directors Forum focusing on the UAS Arabic and Islamic programs.  All parents are welcome to attend what promises to be a very informative program. You are encouraged to join your fellow parents from 8:00 to 9:30 AM in the Secondary School Library.

Thank you for your attention to this information.  Until our paths cross again, please take good care and may peace be upon you.

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Upcoming dates and activities:

  • April 17: Splash and Dash
  • April 23: End of year athletic awards ceremony
  • April 24: Directors Forum (8:00 to 9:30)
  • April 25: Student Led Conferences
  • April 26: Parent conferences for students of concern (SOC)
  • May 2: MS Theatre Production
  • May 7: MS/HS Choir Concert
  • May 9: MS/HS Band Concert

The UAS Splash and Dash is Here!!!

The UAS Splash & Dash is set to happen on Tuesday, April 17th.  The event will run from 9 to 11 am.

Spectators are encouraged to come along and support all competitors. We ask that all spectators be seated in the Pool Area or in the shaded areas around the track by 8:50 am.

Competitors will need to bring the following to the pool area:

Swimsuit & Towel (for swimmers)

Running Shoes (for runners)

Water Bottle

Students are asked to come to school ready for the competition and wearing their Splash & Dash t-shirts. T-Shirts will be distributed to them early next week.

All competitors will have a pre-race meeting on Sunday or Monday during lunch next week, to have more details about the event explained to them.

If you have any questions regarding this event please contact Mr. Carter or Mr. Trottier in the UAS Athletics Department.

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Student Led Conferences Have Arrived at the UAS MS!!!

Welcome back to the exciting world of the UAS Middle School!!!

Here’s hoping that you and your family had a sensational spring break and that your children have returned to school rested and rejuvenated, because I certainly have! WOOHOO!!!  As for me, I had the good fortune of connecting with my daughter in Cape Town, South Africa and we shared several FABULOUS adventures. I also enjoyed some quality down time, also known as a “staycation” last week, so I am truly good to go for the rest of this school year!

Welcome to the 1st ever MS Student Led Parent Conferences

We have reached the second half of our 2nd semester and it soon will be time for our spring version of the annual parent conferences.  This particular batch will be something new for the UAS MS however, as we will be hosting the first ever student led conferences on April 25. Though the UAS Elementary School has utilized this method of parent conferencing for many years, this will be the first time the Middle School has embarked on such an endeavor.

Why student led conferences (SLC)?  SLC’s:

  1. Enable students to showcase the process of their growth and achievement, and at their individual level,
  2. Provide students with the option to choose the evidence of their own learning journey, and
  3. Allow students the opportunity to include their strengths and goals, and evidence they are working toward their goals.

Student led conference details:

  1. You will receive an email by early next week, encouraging you to sign up for a 30-minute block of time on Wednesday, April 25 for the student led parent conference with your MS student.
  2. The student led conferences will be conducted within the classroom of your child’s advisory teacher, and your child is expected to attend.
  3. During this 30-minute conference, your student will be sharing evidence of their learning in each of their classes.
  4. Reflections, rubrics, self-assessments, peer-assessments, formative and summative assessments are all types of evidence your student might choose to include.

Within each grade level, there are also students who are struggling academically and/or behaviorally.  We refer to these young people as being “students of concern” or SOC.  Each grade level team will be inviting parents of these SOC students to team conferences on Thursday, April 26.  Data that defines the concern will be shared, but more importantly strategies for improving the current academic standing of the student will also be discussed.

My staff and I are very excited about the opportunity to host these student led conferences, and we enthusiastically anticipate plenty of quality sharing between students and parents. We look forward to your positive participation on April 25 & 26.

Thank you for your attention to this information.  Until our paths cross again, please take good care and may peace be upon you.

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Upcoming dates and activities:

  • April 17: Splash and Dash
  • April 24: MS Principals Coffee (8:00 to 9:00)
  • April 25 & 26: Parent Teacher Conferences – student led

MS Principals Coffee and Happy Spring Break 2018!!!

Happy day to you and greetings from the UAS Middle School!!!  WOOHOO!!!

I want to begin this message by resending my invitation for the Principals coffee this week. I sure hope to see you there – and bring a friend too!!!

Middle School Principals Coffee

I will host a parent coffee and conversation event on Monday, March 19 in the MS/HS library beginning @ 8 AM. As we think about the remaining days of the current academic year, preparations are already under way for the 2018-2019 school year.  During this Principals coffee, I will share details about the revised staffing list, including the talented educators who are replacing Ms. Beverly my MS Assistant Principal, and yours truly, and I will speak to the activities and focus points we are taking between now and June 28. In addition, the new Director, Mr. OB Sealey and the new Deputy Director, Mr. David Dorn, will share their vision for the future of UAS, and answer parent questions.  I hope you can attend what promises to be an important and informative session.

MAP Reports are Available to Parents

Please note that all UAS students completed their mid-year MAP testing session in February. The MAP assessment is used as a check-in for students and teachers to understand how learning is progressing towards the end-of-year goals. You are strongly encouraged to review the MAP report with your child and discuss how they are growing in their learning.

When looking at data for students, UAS considers both external and internal data to show a full profile of student learning. The MAP assessment is just one source of that learning profile.  For the most up to the minute information, please contact any of your child’s teachers if you have further questions about your child’s learning. If you would like more information about how to read the MAP assessment, please visit this presentation that was shared earlier with parents or the UAS MAP Resource page.

Splash and Dash 2018

It’s time for our students to participate in the UAS Splash and Dash, which is set to take place on April 17th during the school day. Students will swim 200M and run 3K either with a partner or alone. Prizes will be awarded to top finishers of the day.  Only students who sign up for the event will be able to attend, so students who are interested in participating in this fun and exciting event should be sure to register before the deadline of Wednesday, March 21.  Registration links can be found on the UAS Website and in Google Classroom. The cost of registration is 75 AED, which includes beverages on the day, a t-shirt as well as prizes. Also, for those students who are looking for partners, please encourage your son/daughter to ask their fabulous teachers to join in the fun!

Here’s hoping you and your family enjoy some quality time together during our upcoming spring break.  May your travels be safe and your adventures be many.  Until our paths cross again in person, please take good care and peace be upon you.

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Upcoming dates and activities:

  • March 19: MS Principals Coffee @ 8 AM
  • March 22: ½ day of school for students – noon dismissal
  • March 23 – April 7: Spring Break – NO school for students or staff
  • April 17: Splash and Dash
  • April 25 & 26: Parent Teacher Conferences – student led