Merrill Minute

September 23, 2021

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Checking in...

Greetings, Mustang Families,

Thank you for your support, feedback, and flexibility as we have settled into the 21-22 school year. It has been a delight to get to know all of our students and learn more about who they are, what they love, and the strengths they each bring to our learning community.

Friday, September 24 - No School

As a reminder, we do not have school on Friday, September 24. The Merrill staff will be participating in professional learning around our collective commitments (see below), and then working ahead to develop learning engagements for the next week.

Collective Commitments:

At Merrill our staff is focused on two big collective commitments...

  1. To strengthen literacy and learning for each student across the disciplines in an inquiry based, IB learning environment.
  2. Build individual and collective knowledge of how to be an anti-racist and anti-oppressive community and ACT on our knowledge.

These two big ideas work in tandem as we go about our mission of creating a better and more peaceful, liberated world.


Conferences are scheduled in late October. Due to the current COVID-19 conditions, we have adjusted our plan for conferences and are approaching conferences a little differently than in previous years.

  • Contact us anytime. We will do the same. We encourage all students and families to reach out at anytime via email, CNXT, or phone. While conferences have traditionally been an "event", they are not always timely. So, please don't hesitate to give us a call and we promise to do the same.
  • Grade Level Video: Prior to conferences in October, each family will receive a link to a grade level video that will introduce you to each teacher in the grade level and provide you with a short overview of the learning engagements for each course.
  • Virtual Conferences: We are monitoring student engagement and learning closely and will be inviting a few students and families for virtual conferences via Teams or a phone call. These invites will come mid-October.


Below are a few dates for you to be aware of in the coming months:

  • Friday, September 24 - No School
  • Friday, October 1 - Picture Retakes
  • October 28 - November 2: No School, Fall Break
  • November 2 - Election Day: Click here to find your polling location.

Yours in creating a better and more peaceful, liberated world,


Kathryn Panek

Merrill Middle School, Principal

Merrill Communication Plan

A Few Reminders...

Infinite Campus Gradebook

DMPS middle schools are making a slight change to the way we communicate student learning in Infinite Campus. The following courses will be using an updated version of SRG to communicate progress: Math, Science, Individuals & Societies, Language & Literature, Business, Health and Music Appreciation. We will also have a number of classes reporting out using the 8-point IB rubric criteria. Those courses include: PE, Visual Arts, Choir/Band/Orchestra, and Spanish. Read on for more information about each of these grading systems.

Body of Evidence

Beginning this fall, individual learning targets will be coded with ET (exceeding target), AT (achieving Target), PT (progressing toward target), or NM (not meeting target). This system is intended to allow more effective communication with students and families regarding student learning.

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Topic Scores

Topic scores are based on consideration of the entire body of evidence and will still be coded with the numbers 0-4.

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IB Gradebooks

The courses using the IB grading criteria will report out on an 8-point rubric. Each course will have four subject-specific criteria that will be assessed and measured over the course of the semester. Teachers have worked to integrate the SRG learning targets into the IB rubrics. Students will receive a task-specific rubric that will articulate the expectations for each graded piece of work in alignment with the criterion being assessed. Teachers will track student progress over the course of the semester, and similar to the SRG system, a topic score will be based on the entire body of student evidence.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions about subject-specific criteria or task-specific expectations for individual assignments and tasks.

8th Grade Washington DC Trip

Des Moines Public Schools is excited to offer our 10th annual 8th Grade Washington D.C. trip. This trip will take place over Spring Break 2022.

When and Where: Sunday March 13th – Thursday March 17th – in Washington D.C.!

Who: ANY current 8th grade DMPS student who is interested in participating in this trip.

Are you interested and want more information?

  • For additional details please visit the 2022 D.C. trip site HERE
  • Linked ( ) is a video to provide a brief overview of the Close UP program that Des Moines partners with to facilitate this trip.

If you have questions or need more information before proceeding, please email McKenzie Kennedy at

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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:

Kristina Cox

Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa

Gregory & Suzie Glazer Burt Club

2500 Forest Ave I Des Moines, IA 50310

o. 515-271-4608 l c. 515-577-7160 l l find us on Facebook

Meet the Merrill Team!

DMPS '21-'22 School Calendar

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