Merrill Minute

August 6, 2021

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Greetings, Mustang Families,

The 2021-2022 school year is just around the corner and we are looking forward to welcoming almost 750 Merrill Mustangs on Wednesday, August 25 for the first day of school!

Mustang Launch:

Thank you for completing the back-to-school survey in the previous edition of the Merrill Minute. The data helped us develop our back-to-school plan that we are calling "Mustang Launch". Below are the components of Mustang Launch.

  • Self-Guided Tours: We will open the building to students and families for self-guided tours on Tuesday, August 17 from 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM. With their schedule (available on Infinite Campus on August 16), students may explore the building, drop off bulk school supplies such as Kleenex, turn in immunization records, and pick up pre-ordered school supply kits from the PTA in the cafeteria. While teachers will not be available, other staff members will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

  • Meet and Greet: On the same day, we will have a few staff members available at Deer Ridge and Franklin Avenue library to meet students and families and answer any questions that you might have. We will publish those times in the coming days.

  • Video tour: Thank you to Merrill parent, Dan Welk, who is producing a short, student guided video tour of Merrill. We will send the video to all students and families before school starts in case you are unable to make it to Merrill on Tuesday, August 17.

  • Success for All: The first few days of school in August, as well as throughout the school year, 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 a school.

Yours in launching a new school year,


Kathryn Panek

Merrill Middle School, Principal

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Caring, Principled, and Reflective

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. Our guiding principles include being CARING, PRINCIPLED, and REFLECTIVE, or CPR.

Students are introduced to CPR during the first few days of school where we converse with students about CPR, teach what CPR looks like in common areas, and provide students time to practice CPR in the hallways, restrooms, busses, cafeteria, and recess area. In addition, students will engage in dialogue regularly about CPR in the classroom. Throughout the year we will continue to strengthen our learning community and celebrate student success!

Day In The Life of a Merrill Student

  • 8:00 A.M. Doors Open Doors will open at Merrill at 8:00 each day. Students may grab breakfast before heading directly to their 1st period classroom. Students will eat breakfast in the classroom and prepare for the day.

  • 8:30 A.M.1st Period Begins Students will engage in six courses throughout the day. Class periods will be approximately 56-minutes in length. At the end of each class period, students will head out the door to their next class. Most classes are located in close proximity to each other. Staff members will be available in the hallways to help students find their way.

  • Lunch and Mustang Minutes: New this year we have divided students into two, 30-minute sections of lunch per grade level. This will reduce the number of students in the cafeteria at any given time and promote a more enjoyable and relaxing lunch experience. While the first group of students in each grade level is eating lunch, the other group will be in Mustang Minutes. (Mustang Minutes is more traditionally referred to as homeroom or advisory.) Sixth grade lunch and Mustang Minutes is from approximately 10:30-11:30, followed by seventh grade lunch and Mustang Minutes from 11:30-12:30, and finishing with the eighth graders from 12:30-1:30.

  • 3:25 P.M. Dismissal We have a staggered dismissal process set-up in which we will dismiss the walkers and bikers, bus riders as each individual bus arrives, and passenger vehicle riders at 3:25.

  • 3:45 P.M. After School All students not participating in a club or activity need to exit the building by 3:45. Families who are in need of an after school option may click here to learn more about our partnership with the Boys and Girls Club.
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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!

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 11 and will begin and end near the Des Moines Botanical Center.

Registration will be paid by corporate sponsors directly to the schools. Each participant may designate one school. The more participants, the more money to 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 '21-'22 School Calendar

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