Merrill Minute

August 1, 2023

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Greetings, Mustang Families,

The 2023-2024 school year is just around the corner and we are looking forward to welcoming approximately 685 Merrill Mustangs on Wednesday, August 23 for the first day of school! Our mission at Merrill is “to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful, liberated world." While at Merrill students will forge new friendships, navigate and engage in rigorous coursework, participate in clubs and activities after school, and ultimately become more independent learners and young adults before they leave us and head off to high school.

Mustang Launch:

We have several events planned to support students and families in the transition from summer mode to school mode. Mark your calendars for the events below.

  • Infinite Campus Portal: Schedules will be made available for viewing on the Infinite Campus Portal beginning on Sunday, August 6. Students and families may log in and view student schedules and begin to become familiar with the flow of the day. Classroom numbers in the 100s are downstairs and classroom numbers in the 200s are upstairs.

  • Back 2 School Night: Back 2 School Night is scheduled for Monday, August 21 from 4:00-6:00 PM. Students and families may stop by Merrill to walk the building and become familiar with classroom locations, meet teachers, drop off any bulk school supplies, and visit with staff regarding any unanswered questions.

  • 1st Day: The first day of school is Wednesday, August 23. On the first day, and continuing into early September, we will focus on getting to know students, building community, helping students navigate the Merrill campus (lockers, lunch, schedules, etc.), and supporting students emotionally and academically as they return to the physical space of the school.

You can do this!

Some students are excited and ready for the new adventures of middle school and a new year, while others are anxious and intimidated. Most students are a little of both. We are here to help you navigate all of the emotions, learning, and logistics of middle school. Please don't hesitate to reach out. Welcome to Merrill!

Yours in making '23-'24 the best school year yet,


Kathryn Panek

Merrill Middle School, Principal

Top 5 Tips from Former Merrill Students

Back 2 School Night

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What should students bring each day?

PROUD to be a Mustang!

Merrill Mustang Building-Wide Expectations

Our mission at Merrill is to create a better and more peaceful, liberated world. In doing so we partner with students to establish a culture that supports improving social, emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes for all students.

Students are introduced to our building-wide expectations, PROUD to be a Mustang, during the first few days of school where we converse, teach, and provide students time to practice the expectations listed below in the hallways, restrooms, busses, cafeteria, and recess area. PROUD to be a Mustang is an acronym for being PREPARED, being RESPECTFUL, taking OWNERSHIP, being UNDERSTANDING, and DREAMING big. We will continue to strengthen our learning community throughout the year and celebrate student success! We are PROUD to be a Mustang!

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Day In The Life of a Merrill Student

  • 8:10 A.M. Doors Open Doors will open at Merrill at 8:10 each day. Students may head to the cafeteria for breakfast or to the gym where they are welcome to sit in the bleachers and socialize with friends.

  • 8:30 A.M.1st Period Begins Students will engage in six courses, plus an advisory/Mustang Minutes, throughout the day. Core classes (Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies) are approximately 60-minutes in length, and Extended core classes (Spanish, Business, Health, Art, PE, Choir/Band/Orchestra) are 45-minutes in length. At the end of each class period, students will head out the door to their next class. Most classes are located near each other. Staff members will be available in the hallways to help students find their way.

  • Lunch: We have split students into two, 30-minute sections of lunch per grade level. This reduces the number of students in the cafeteria at any given time and promotes a more enjoyable and relaxing lunch experience. Teachers will help students navigate which lunch students have been assigned, and it is also listed on student schedules. When students are finished eating, we do encourage them to go outside to get some fresh air.

  • Mustang Minutes: Mustang Minutes, more traditionally referred to as homeroom or advisory, is used to provide additional academic, social, and emotional support for students.

  • 3:25 P.M. Dismissal All students are dismissed at 3:25.

  • 3:35 P.M. After School All students not participating in a club or activity need to exit the building by 3:35. Families who need an after-school option may click here to learn more about our partnership with the Boys and Girls Club or here to learn more about Wilkie House.

Merrill Links of Interest

Fall Conferences

Monday, Oct. 16th, 12-7:45pm

5301 Grand Avenue

Des Moines, IA

Opportunities to Join the Team!

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Boys & Girls Club: After School Programming

The Boys & Girls Club (Drake University location) offers a wide range of programming to support academic success, character and leadership development, and healthy lifestyles for Des Moines area youth. After-school programming information will be available soon. For more information, please click here or contact:

Abby Block

Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa

Gregory & Suzie Glazer Burt Club

2500 Forest Ave I Des Moines, IA 50310

o. 515-271-4569 l l find us on Facebook

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Willkie House: After School Programming

The Willkie House offers child care services to children ages 5-12 (must at least be in kindergarten) Monday through Friday 2:40 PM to 6:00 PM when school is in session. The middle school program is free.

We currently serve the following schools:

  • Elementary Schools - Edmunds, Walnut Street, Perkins, Hubbell, Samuelson, and Downtown School

  • Middle Schools - Callanan, Merrill, and Meredith

For more information, please click here.

Meet the Merrill Support Team

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Join Us for One Run in Support of Merrill

Lace-up your shoes, put on your navy and white, and hit the streets of Des Moines in support of Merrill Middle School! OneRun is a district-wide fundraising event for the Des Moines Public Schools Foundation, in support of K-8 schools at DMPS...and it is free! This two-mile fun run/fundraiser is set for Saturday, September 23 at a new location, Water Works Park!

Registration will be paid by corporate sponsors directly to the schools. Each participant may designate one school. The more participants, the more money for our school, so invite your family and neighbors to register! Please be sure to designate Merrill Middle School as your home school when registering! Click here to learn more about the event and to register online.

DMPS '23 - '24 School Calendar

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