September 2017 Newsletter

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Welcome Eagle Scholars!

We want to welcome you back to what we expect to be a fantastic school year full of learning, leadership, and enrichment.

We especially want to welcome our brand new 6th grade Eagle Scholars, who are already getting rave reviews from the teachers at Pierce. They may be the "small fish in a big pond," but they're showing that they're up to the challenge.

On the other end of the spectrum, our seniors are already busy filling out applications to places like Michigan State, U of M, UCLA, Northwestern, and Harvard. Several students got a jump on their college essays at our first ever Eagle Scholars College Essay Boot Camp on campus at U of M Ann Arbor. We've also got three seniors - Mackenzie Gajda, Charles McCants, and Antony Gordon - taking part in the Michigan Student Caucus, a course at U of M that provides young people a voice in state politics.

We have a lot of big things planned this year, including a service project, multiple college visits, and increased funding for the Eagle Scholars award. Of course none of this would be possible without the amazing teaching and administrative staff and, of course, the parents.

Finally, I've included an introduction below for those of you whom I have not met and would like to put a video with a name!

Rory Hughes, Eagle Scholars Program Coordinator

Thurston Updates

Key Information

Our first Eagle Scholars Meeting is on Wednesday, September 27th during Advisory, in the auditorium. Attendance is mandatory.

Weekly study sessions begin Thursday, September 14th in the media center from 2:45 - 4:00 pm. Attendance is mandatory for students new to the district and those on probation.


  • The early decision deadline for U of M Ann Arbor is November 1st. Details here.
  • If you have questions about scholarships, read this blog post from my brother-in-law, who is a college counselor.
  • Contact me if you would like to take part in a College Essay workshop after school.
  • In order to be on track for Eagle Scholars distinction, you should have taken at least five AP courses by the end of this year.


  • Make sure you're getting your free SAT practice at Khan Academy.
  • In order to be on track for Eagle Scholars distinction, you should have taken at least three AP courses by the end of this year.


  • If you're feeling overwhelmed in your AP course (s), come to Thursday study sessions so you can get some help from Mr. Hughes and/or those who have been through it.
  • In order to be on track for Eagle Scholars distinction, you should have taken at least two AP courses by the end of this year.


  • In order to be on track for Eagle Scholars distinction, you should have taken Honors English, Honors or AP US History, and Honors Physical Science by the end of this year.

College Essay Workshop - August 3rd, 2017 at U of M Ann Arbor

Pierce Updates

Eagle Scholars Study Session

We've hit the ground running at Pierce, almost everyone invited back to the Eagle Scholars Program completed the summer homework and is already on the path to an extremely successful school year. To help in continuing the success, we will resume the study sessions that were started last year. The first study session will take place in the Media Center on September 20th. It will go from 3:15-4:15! This is just a nice time to get some work done, and get to know your fellow scholars. We hope to see everyone!

Welcome Interim Assistant Principal Mr. Martin

The Eagle Scholars at Pierce would like to welcome Mr. Kyle Martin, who has graciously stepped into the role of Interim Assistant Principal of Pierce Middle School. Prior to joining the Pierce Team, Mr. Martin was a fifth grade teacher at Jane Addams Elementary School. Last spring, Mr. Martin provided great insight into which fifth graders to admit to the Eagle Scholars Program from Addams. We are excited to have him, and know he will be a great asset to Pierce.

Pierce does Advisory

This fall Pierce has begun to role out a new program at Pierce called Advisory. While this sound like old news to our readers at Thurston High School or a parent of a Thurstonite, the Pierce Program runs a bit differently. At Pierce we are using advisory, built into each school day, to focus on some of the things that can get lost in the day to day of having six classes. For example we use advisory time to talk about issues like bullying, respect, proper attire, and many other critical topics. We are also combining advisory with the Accelerated Reader Program. So students will still be responsible for reaching their goals, but they will work with their advisory teacher to set the goals, and track their progress. We believe that this program will help change the culture at Pierce and foster a greater community of students in the building.

Eagle Scholars Leadership Team

The leadership team is settling back into school and will begin meeting very soon. We've had a lot of discussion before school was let out, about what sorts of things we'd like to do this year. A few ideas include an Eagle Scholars Day of Service, a car wash fundraiser, and an end of the year field trip to ZapZone for our Eagle Scholars who have been in good standing all year. If there are any suggestions for things you'd like to see from the leadership team, please contact Mr. Parsons at

Representing 7th grade for the 2017-2018 school year:

Jenacy Cardwell

Elle Hubbard

Representing 8th grade for the 2017-2018 school year:

Bethany Carter

Jewel Chattam

Any 6th grade students interested in joining the Leadership Team? If so, please see Mr. Parsons for an application!

Study Tips (revisited)

While I know you are probably aware of all of these tips, I figured it couldn't hurt to share them; these all come from my own independent research, experience as a teacher, university instructor, and student. To dig a bit deeper, check out the book Making it Stick.

  1. Make sure your child has a quiet, peaceful place to study Sunday through Thursday.
  2. Encourage your child to study in 25-30 minute increments broken up by 5 - 10 minute breaks.
  3. If possible, make sure your child's phone is turned off and in another room.
  4. Have your child complete "off-line" homework, then online homework.
  5. If possible, have your child study at a desk, free of clutter, with a desk lamp.
  6. If your child prefers to study with music, make sure the music is instrumental. Some background here. While students often say "It helps me concentrate," they are often fooling themselves.
  7. If possible, make sure your child is not in front of any screens one hour before bedtime.

Requirement Reminder


  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA in core classes
  • Display exemplary citizenship
  • Complete minimum of 5 hours of community service per academic year


  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA
  • Participate in at least one extracurricular activity beginning 10th grade
  • Take five AP courses (one of which must be AP Lang & Comp)
  • Apply to at least four 4-year institutions
  • Complete a capstone project

Academic Support


Weekly Study Session

  • Wednesday in the Media Center 3:15-4:15 pm

Homework Clinic

  • Monday - Friday, 7:50-8:20 am

  • Mondays and Thursdays, 3:15-4:10 pm


Weekly Study Session

  • Thursdays in the Media Center, 2:45-3:45 pm

After school tutoring

  • Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in Room 505, ` 2:45 - 3:45 pm

Advisory (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10:33 - 11:17)

  • Silent study time on Mondays, travel to your teachers in the classes in which you are struggling on Wednesdays and Fridays)

Pierce and Thurston

Schedule an appointment with Mr. Parsons or Mr. Hughes

  • Make an appointment at this web address:

  • Mr. Parsons is an alumnus of the program-class of 2012; he’s been in your shoes and he wants to help! He can help with homework, study skills, organization, etc.

Online Resources for Academic Support

  • Quizlet: Flash card website with content from every class and level on the academic spectrum

  • Khan Academy: Free educational videos covering a wide variety of math and science concepts from grade K-12

  • Free educational videos and tutorials for students struggling with every subject between grades 6-12.

  • GoConqr: Social media site created for students to connect with other students working on similar topics, and to help each other study and provide tips.

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."- African Proverb

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