Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dear Families in the Middle,

A quick and dramatic change to summer weather reminds me of the speed and drama often associated with middle school years. Elementary naivete gives way to Middle explorers; small and gangly frames rapidly experience a metamorphosis into larger and more defined shapes; and impulsive reactions begin to be replaced by critical questions and meaningful insights. Some days we marvel at the changes, other days we are aghast and exasperated, and still others we grieve how rapidly life takes us through both challenging and delightful learning experiences.

We hope the summer change of pace is a welcome opportunity for you and your family to get re-acquainted, reflect on old memories and new ideas, and re-discover what inspires and sustains you. It is my personal belief parenting, teaching, and learning during the middle years calls out our most flexible and positive selves and most aptly illustrates one of my favorite quotes:
Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; 
It's about learning to dance in the rain. 

May the storms we all encounter remind you of the strength and gifts you and your children possess to dance on through life.

Kudos to this 7th Grade Destination Imagination crew for their remarkable achievement of fifth at Global Finals Memorial Weekend!
Back row. Abby Knoke, Elizabeth Yray, Brayden Oehmke, Jasper Halvorson 
Front.  Cecilia McMenimen, Jakub Kudrle, Owen Malanaphy

Future Problem Solvers International Conference 
 Isabel Isaac and Ainsley Kennedy; ADvisor: Ms. Sarah Engstrom-Yde 

Isabel's writing team took 2nd place for Juniors and Ainsley's team took 3rd place for Middles

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dear Families in the Middle,

As the end of the year draws near, we see and hear interesting words and actions among middle-level learners. Anticipation of summer combined with anticipation of high school for our 8th graders sometimes results in an increase in impulsivity, less thoughtfulness, and more emotion in difficult situations. Adults helping middle-level learners work through situations are also experiencing demands on their schedules, anxiety about their impact on a child's progress, and exhaustion as they try to balance family and work responsibilities. Let's be patient and perseverant as we learn together these last few days of the school year.

This website was shared with me this weekend by one of our counselors. Perhaps it will inspire you to consider making a change or two in expectations related to cell phone use by your middle-level child. As parents and educators, we often hear of impulsive and thoughtless use of social media resulting in hurt, anger and depression. Continuous connections can feed anxiety as we check "likes" and instant messages frequently. I find myself talking to my own children and grandchildren often about limiting time on a device to practice listening attentively and visiting sincerely with others. I've also begun leaving my cell phone in the car or at home when I visit a friend. In an age of immediate communication, parenting and teaching children how to manage information and emotion is made even more complicated. We need each other to do this well.

Last Day Plans (Thursday, June 8) to celebrate learning together are linked below:
SIXTH GRADE Last Day Plans

Friday, May 19, 2017

Dear Families in the Middle,

Our Boys in the Boat (One Book One School) culminating celebration included several people who have demonstrated perseverance in their pursuits. Thanks to Ms. Kari Halstad and others who arranged for these guests to share their journey with our HMS students May 12.

Back row (L to R): Aime Caines-Lacrosse Pro, Chris Kost-YMCA, Gary Hoffman-marathon running, Jodie Bray-Coast Guard, Eric Vanden Heuvel-college athlete, Diane Schofield-Olympic trials, Don Hovland-lived during Great Depression
Front row (L to R): Rachel Price-Drake coxswain, Karyn Bye-Dietz-Olympian, Fern Tomaszewski-lived during Great Depression, Ben Popp-Race Across America and Head of Birkebeiner, Kurt Beinlich-World Championship-Wrestling 
Missing from photo-Melissa Burkhart-Olympic trials-marathon, Donna Stohlmann-CANUSA games, Lynn Maher-rower at UW-Madison, Linda Morning-personal fitness journey)

Thank you for taking time to respond to the Family Communication survey.  We especially appreciate the detailed feedback provided in response to ways we can improve overall communication here at Hudson Middle School and across the district. We hope the following updates address concerns and offer hope as we anticipate positive changes.

CONSISTENCY in format and platform - We are currently working on a District Raider Portal, under the guidance of Ms. Jen Lotze, our District Technology Coordinator. This "one-stop shop" approach will be easier to navigate than our current combination of Skyward, Google Classroom, Middle Musings blog and website (among other communication methods).  We are also providing additional support to help more teachers make use of the Remind app and Guardian Summary (for regular e-mail updates from your child's teachers' Google Classroom platform) parents have appreciated. More information will be provided during Registration Days early in August.

TRANSPARENCY and RUMORS - The "fight club" that had erupted in late February among some of our 7th grade students during recess has been non-existent since spring break. We no longer have assigned seating during 7th grade lunch and much more positive choices are being made. We have worked with our noon supervisors to shore up lunch recess supervision at all three grade levels. A small group of students are working with Mr. DeLeon to build the Gaga Pit we hope to have ready-for use by the last week of school. Thank you to our Parent Group for their support of this project! Thank you to many parents who have reached out directly with questions and shared rumors their middle-level learner shares at home. Oftentimes, a one-time incident rapidly becomes a game of telephone and grows in size and scope as it is shared. When you have concerns or hear something that raises questions in your mind, please let us know!

LUNCHES 2017-18 - We appreciate your feedback! Though we had initially thought combining 6th, 7th and 8th grade students would afford opportunities for friendships across grade-levels and more flexibility in our exploratory and elective course scheduling, we have opted to continue our grade-level lunches as we currently have in our schedule for the 2017-18 school year.

A group of students led a Day of Silence on May 17th to raise awareness of bullying. The day was intended to show peaceful conflict resolution and kindness. Students who chose to participate were still expected to speak in class. Please forgive our oversight in failing to communicate this earlier. I know there was some confusion about the purpose of the day. I appreciate the feedback from parents who called for clarification. 

LAST DAY PLANS are in the works and will be shared in next week's family communication.
May's Learning Habit is PERSEVERANCE. Thank you for sharing examples with your middle-level learner of times when you had to persevere to finish a challenging project or a difficult task. Your role modeling is so valuable - even if your middle-level learner doesn't always seem to think so!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Dear Families in the Middle,

Our annual Spring Fifth Grade Parent Orientation was held last evening. Included in the messages shared were tips from current sixth grade students for parents of incoming sixth graders. A few of my favorite student tips:
* Practice going to bed early and getting up early in the morning
* Don't worry!
* You CAN have lunch with your child; please call ahead
* Use your Personal Assistance Time (P.A.T.)!
When I think about it...these tips can apply to ALL of us! Life is so much better with more sleep, less worry, lunch with our kids (lunch at all!), and personal time!

Tomorrow (Friday, May 12) we have several guests joining our HMS Learning Community as a year-end Boys in the Boat culminating experience. These guests have varied backgrounds; some of them have been in the Olympics, others have coached athletes, struggled through challenges, or persevered in the face of adversity to reach personal goals. We are thankful for such broad community support for this experience and our HMS Ambassadors look forward to greeting these guests and welcoming each to a Personal Assistance Time group of students during the day. (Choir, Band and Orchestra will not meet this Friday.) Many thanks to Kari Halstad and our Boys in the Boat team for planning this opportunity for our HMS students.

We want to be sure our HMS families know about and can partner with us in promoting Habits of Mind in our learning community. For more information, please check out this graphic of the Sixteen Habits of Mind, (Art Costa and Bena Kallick). We want For more explanation regarding our HMS efforts to develop these habits, please click on this link: Learning Habits at HMS

We experienced the quickest and quietest tornado and fire drills this week, thanks to the teamwork of students and staff! Our building-wide SMART Goal of strengthening ALL of our collaboration skills is becoming more and more evident.

Walking Wednesdays is back in full swing, thanks to the leadership and example of several staff interested in promoting health and wellness! Special thanks to Sierra Dart and Jaclyn Gunderson for their leadership in getting us out on the track every Wednesday morning between 7:10 and 7:25 AM.

Hoping you and your family have many opportunities to enjoy the beautiful May weather!


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Dear Families in the Middle,

Our district, like several other districts, sent out information regarding a NetFlix series called 13 Reasons Why. As a follow-up, we want you to be aware of an upcoming Round Table Discussion in Stillwater, May 4, Noon - 2 PM. We are very concerned about the series and students viewing this portrayal of such an important phenomenon. Please take time to check out the links provided by the district and talk to your middle level learner about the seriousness of the topic and our response. There are so many positive ways to use our energy in this community!

We know of Hudson's reputation when it comes to promoting high quality music performance. Our Music Teachers are second to none in supporting students' growth and progress in music theory, technique and even composition! Recently Hudson Middle School band students had the opportunity to work with a composer, Dr. Jack Stamp. Several students gained valuable feedback and music theory tips to help further their theory understanding and compositional techniques. Thanks to Kaylynn Brown and our Music Team for the commitment to student growth in music!

Hudson Middle School STEM Competition Students have swept State in the eCybermission STEM competition! 

The first place team  of Ainsley Kennedy, Julia Ginsbach, Adrienne Weaver, and Isabel Brown are called "UT Astrom." They are also a regional finalist team! Thus far, the team has won $8000 for a project that cleans water by using calcite in the form of egg shells. Last Wednesday, the team provided an amazing presentation for regional judges and are waiting for results. The second place team of Sadie Hedding, Lilly Andersle, Annika Lautenbach, and Ella Sutherland is called "STEM Solvers." This team's project focused on using pumpkin waist to help soil retain more water in drought-prone areas of the world. They have won a total of $2000!  Many thanks to Mr. Chris DeLeon for his guidance and support during this competition.

Camp St. Croix hosts National Space Day in the Park this Saturday, May 6! 

Dining in the Dark  - Friday, May 19, 5:30 PM, Willow River Elementary (link provides more details) 
Please consider joining the cause to support students with visual impairments:
Volunteer Link 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dear Families in the Middle,

We would very much appreciate your feedback on our HMS Communication. Please take just 2-3 minutes to respond to this brief survey. Thank you!

Hudson School District is participating in a Safe Routes to School study. This is particularly timely, given our new construction and an anticipated Carmichael Road corridor study. Nationwide, we recognize fewer kids are biking and walking to school and more parents are driving. One of the goals of the study is to determine the barriers to walking and bicycling to school: safety and traffic, for example. Another goal is to promote the benefits of walking and bicycling to school: increased physical activity and fresh air. Please take 10 minutes to respond to a parent survey. Thank you!

We hope many families will join us for our annual Learner Showcase and our first Maker Fair next Thursday, May 4, from 5 - 7 PM.

Dress code reminder: The grass is green, the daylight is longer, and summer weather is on the way! With that in mind, it's also a good time to remind students and parents about our dress code. We know student dress can be a factor in establishing a positive learning environment. Balancing self-expression with our need for safety, comfort and modesty, and minimal disruption and distraction is our goal. Please take a few minutes to talk about limiting exposure of body and undergarments. Thank you for your support in helping us keep our learning environment safe and focused.

During this spring season, we are especially appreciative of parent support in communicating concerns, reporting incidents and partnering with us to help our middle-level learners make more positive choices. Thank you!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Dear Families in the Middle,

Thanks to seventh grade student Ella Dockery, each grade level was treated to a Talent Show last Friday. We were entertained by a variety of performances, including magic card tricks, unicycling, piano and flute solos, flips, martial arts and student-composed music (solo and small groups). "I want my classmates to see each other beyond our school day, beyond academics and athletics - to see their other interests and gifts," Ella stated when she proposed the Talent Show in a letter earlier this year. Thank you, Ella, for your leadership and compassion, courage and vision!

Hudson Destination Imagination teams traveled to the state tournament in Stevens Point last weekend. Liz Malanaphy reported FOUR of our Hudson Destination Imagination teams qualified for Global Finals! The teams include one fifth grade team from Willow River Elementary, two Hudson Middle School teams, and one Hudson High School team. All four teams will represent our district in the Global competition in Knoxville, TN in May.  This is the 13th consecutive year at least one Hudson team has represented our district at this Global competition. Many thanks to our DI coaches and community for supporting this creative opportunity for our youth!

More good news! The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMM) has (once again) named Hudson School District one of the "Best Communities for Music Education" for 2017! The recognition is awarded to districts demonstrating outstanding achievement in providing music access and education to all students. "IT's an honor to be nationally recognized for the commitment to music education by our district staff, administration, and school board, as well as by the continued support from the community," says our HMS Music Team (Mrs. Root, Mrs. Stein, Ms. Brown, Ms. Maher, Mr. Krasin). The honor is also important because of the research highlighting the personal benefits of making music as well as music's vital role in students' overall success in school. KUDOS to Hudson Schools and Hudson's music teachers for this recognition!

Thank you for your efforts to partner with us in limiting our middle-level learners use of their phones during the school day. You may find these articles inspiring as we navigate this challenging ease of access to social media:
60 Minutes story on Brain Hacking and Phone Addiction