East Central Middle School


Principal Notes

As stated at the beginning of the school year, we have a lot of new staff in the main office and we are all excited to be a part of East Central Middle School. I personally have had the opportunity to have a first day at five different schools throughout my educational career, and this one may have been the most exciting. I began my teaching career sixteen years ago, as a 7th grade social studies teacher and I almost forgot how excited middle school students are about returning to school (they won’t let you know this as parents). On day one, they climb off the bus excited/nervous to meet new administrators, teachers, and staff but with a smile on their face.

A full month into school, students are becoming comfortable with the daily routine at the Middle School. They are becoming more comfortable with switching classes, opening their locker, and the new lunchroom operation. It is our goal as educators to keep that same day one excitement for the entire school year. This will not come without some bumps along the way but that is all a part of the growing process.

On day one we outlined four key expectations for your student to follow to be successful at ECMS:

  1. Be Kind - Treat everyone with respect

  2. Learn - Do the best that you possibly can, give 100%

  3. Do Your Job - Take care of yourself, your classmates, and our school

  4. Have Fun - Believe it or not, education can be fun!

It has been a great first month of school. Please reference the monthly newsletter for information regarding activities that took place at ECMS for the month of August.

Yours in Education,

Chad Swinney

August Students of the Month

Congratulations to our August Students of the Month. Each of them has been recognized by staff members for outstanding work ethic and school pride.

Noah Kakaris

Noah is a 6th grade student who loves science and the Green Bay Packers. Noah was nominated by his teachers because he has started this school year strong. He is putting in a lot of work and doing his best to make this a successful year. Way to go, Noah!

Dylan Kruse

Dylan is a 7th grade student whose favorite food is chicken alfredo. His favorite team is EC football. Dylan was nominated by the staff for his extra work he put in prior to the start of the school year. Dylan came in for book days to help teachers and the office staff with extra things that needed to be done. He helped give student tours during this time and helped handout schedules during Open House. Thanks for all you did, Dylan!

Kaci Lainhart

Kaci is an 8th grade student whose favorite subject is mathematics and Zootopia is her favorite movie. She was nominated by her teachers for her kindness when working with the younger students to open lockers, showing students to classrooms, and picking up trash in the hallways. She is a great example for her fellow students. Congratulations, Kaci!



Mr. Mersmann is the counselor for students with last names that begin with the letters A through K. Mr. Mersmann is beginning his 10th year as a counselor at Sunman-Dearborn schools with three at East Central High School and starting his 7th year at ECMS. His wife Rachel is the 7th grade Reading Teacher at ECMS. They have three sons Alex (EC Alum), Noah (12th grade) and Owen (9th grade).

Mrs. Watkins is the counselor for students with last names that begin with the letters L through Z. Mrs. Watkins is beginning her 33rd year in education, with 16 years total as a school counselor, prior to being a counselor, she taught FACS and was involved with FCCLA. Mrs.Watkins has been married for 31 years, and has 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren.


Students took a career interest survey during Trojan Pride. The survey was provided by Career One Stop and included a personality traits chart. Your student’s results were emailed to them and will be used in Exploring College and Careers and Digital Citizenship.

The top career was Administrative Law Judge. The 2nd most popular career was Architectural Engineering. The 3rd most popular jobs were varied positions within the medical field.


Students now have an easy and discreet way to sign up to see a school administrator or counselor. Links to sign up forms are available in their school bookmarks.


  • Winter NWEA testing will take place from November 27 through December 6th.

  • Spring NWEA testing will take place from May 6 through May 15th, 2024.

  • ILEARN testing will take place from April 22nd through May 2nd, 2024.

Success Opportunity Session (SOS)

Success Opportunity Session or SOS is an after school program that allows students to get caught up on homework. SOS is offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m to 5 p.m. To have your student attend, please contact one of their teachers or their counselor.

Parent/Teacher Conferences

Parent/Teacher Conferences will take place on September 14th (3:30 PM - 7:30 PM). Please make an appointment below to speak with your students teacher.

Parent/Teacher Conference signup



Student Council

-ECMS 7th and 8th grade student council started out the year helping host Book Days and Open House. They are currently working on planning upcoming events such as Homecoming Week festivities, Red Ribbon Week Awareness campaign, and our first school wide event "Homecoming Chillin n Grillin" .

Unity Club

- The ECMS Unity Club is a student-led organization with a focus on promoting kindness and positivity at ECMS, as well as teaching peers how to empathize with others, seek justice, and stand up for equality for everyone. First meeting will be held on Sept. 11, 2023 in room A108 (Mr. Wagner).


- FCCLA hosted an Ice Cream Social on August 16th where students could attend to find out more about this amazing organization. They enjoyed a sweet treat as they listened to the officers explain all the opportunities available to them. We have a lot of events and activities planned for this year, so stay tuned!

Art Club

- Anyone wishing to join Art Club can pick up information in the front office. Our first meeting is Monday, September 11.

Drama Club

- ECMS Drama Club's Fall Production will be The Great North Pole Bake-Off. Auditions will be after school on September 7th and 8th. Audition packets are outside the choir room or in Mrs. Zengerling's room (219). Stop by the choir room to sign up for an audition time.


-The East Central FFA has had a great start to the year. Students who are interested in learning more about FFA are welcome to attend the FFA Callout Meeting on Wednesday August 30th, from 5:30 - 8 pm in the ECHS Ag Room. Students who are wanting to come to the Callout Meeting need to come see Mr. Snider ASAP for a permission slip. We will be having a regular meeting, cornhole, chapter activities, a dunk tank, food, and more during this event. Contact Mr. Snider with questions.

In other FFA news, members have begun practicing for both the Indiana FFA Horticulture and FFA District 12 Livestock Skillathon Career Development Events (CDE's). Both CDE's will take place in early September along with the Soils Evaluation CDE right around the corner.

For more info about the East Central FFA, please visit our website to learn more (see the link below). Students need to sign up for the FFA by October 1st in order to be able to get their East Central FFA's 50th year anniversary t-shirt.


Academic Team

-The A+Team would like to welcome Cathy Bertke to the coaching staff! Tryouts for the Academic Team will take place in October. It is open to all middle school students. Once details are finalized, we will send them out to the students! Keep an eye on the ECMS School page for more information!

National Junior Honor Society

-The newly elected National Junior Honor Society officers are President Brooklyn Botts, Vice President Reagan Whitehead, Secretary Dustine Dawley, Historian Josie Duncan, Parliamentarian Adam Nagel, Treasurer Dakota Dawley.

The officers will meet in the next week to plan the service projects for the year. A chapter meeting will take place in September (it will be on the daily announcements). NJHS members must maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher and have no category 3 or 4 disciplinary actions. In addition, they must have 5 or more hours of community service throughout the year.

Book Club

-Any student interested in ECMS Book Club can come to the library for more information. Our first meeting will be Tuesday Sept. 12, 2023 from 3:00 - 4:00pm.


-Will begin in late September.

Washington D.C. Trip

-Those going on the Washington DC/New York trip, there will be a meeting on September 20th. It will take place in the middle school cafeteria from 6:00pm to 7:00pm. We will be giving out important information in regards to the trip and draw the names for the students who will participate in the Wreath Laying Ceremony at Arlington.

Your Education Is What YOU Make It.


6th Grade Agriculture:

Students in 6th Grade Agriculture have begun their journey exploring agriculture. Students started off the nine weeks with an ice breaker activity called the Milk Song Activity. During this activity, students had the opportunity to pretend that they were either a farmer or a cow that was producing milk. This activity was meant to get students out of their comfort zone and begin exploring agriculture.

6th Grade Agriculture students have just completed their FFA Unit. Students had the opportunity to learn more about the loads of opportunities within the FFA program. Our East Central FFA Officers even came down and spoke about their experiences within the FFA. Students ended their FFA Unit by learning about FFA Opening and Closing Ceremonies. During this activity, students moved around the room and role played being FFA Officers. See the attached pictures of Bently role playing the FFA President during our Opening Ceremonies Activity.

7/8th Grade Agriculture:

7th and 8th Grade students in the mixed agriculture class have been busy wrapping up their first unit, The Agriculture Industry. During this unit, students identified sectors of agriculture, and explained how plants and animals are used to meet basic human needs.

Students learned about key agricultural terms such as: agriculture by-product, aquaculture, commodity, natural/synthetic fibers, and more. Students worked in groups to identify an agricultural commodity and up to thirty by-products that commodity produces. Students took their findings and created infographics about their commodity of choice. See some of the students' work attached. Students will begin their second unit, World Food Supply, this week.

Introduction to Agriculture - 8th Grade:

Introduction to Agriculture students have been keeping busy with their weekly Ag Class Task Board Rotations. Students in this class are responsible for learning and demonstrating proper care and management of the classroom plants and animals. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, students have the first ten minutes of class to complete their Ag Task Board Rotation. Rotations include: Tower Garden, anole, american toad, dubia cockroach, fish tank, aquaponic system, mealworm farm, cricket farm, and soon paludarium care. Students are able to get up close with each of the plants and animals in these rotations to learn more about each of their specific care.

Students have also been working on their FFA Unit alongside the 6th Grade students. Most of the Intro students have been apart of the agriculture program since sixth grade. For their FFA Unit, students in this class are given the task to create FFA Infographics about a variety of things within the FFA program. See some of the attached infographics for more info.

FFA Colors, Membership, and Chapter Levels

Four Levels of FFA Membership

East Central Middle School Newly Renovated Agriculture Room

The East Central Middle School Agriculture Room was completely renovated over the summer. The newly renovated space is welcoming for all students and includes new flooring, new paint, new lighting upstairs, and Mr. Snider's favorite thing - a new HVAC system. This new room has been amazing to work in with students as they explore agriculture and the FFA. This space is now more open and flexible for projects, animal/plant care demonstrations, and more. Mr. Snider would like to thank the SDCS School Board, Dr. Jackson, ECMS Administration, and the community for this opportunity. See the attached pictures from before and after transformation.


The East Central Middle School math department would like to welcome Mrs. Sarah Smith and Mr. Russell Creek. Mrs. Smith is the new 7th and 8th grade math teacher. She is a past graduate of East Central High School. For the last 9 years, she taught 8th graders at South Dearborn Middle School. Mr. Creek is the new 6th grade math teacher. This will be his fourteenth year of teaching, and he has taught elementary, middle and high school, with the majority of his career teaching middle school math and social studies.

6th Grade Math

Students are working on adding/subtracting and multiplying/dividing multi-digit decimal numbers. Over the next few weeks, they will be working on computation with fractions and decimals. The sixth graders are doing a good job with their transition to middle school.

7th Grade Math

Students are focusing on adding, subtracting, multiplication, and division of integers, which is an important skill that they will always need in math. The students are focused and eager to dive into the world of mathematics. The first couple of weeks are off to a great start, with students learning the expectations of the mathematics classroom and getting to know the peers in their classroom.

In 7th Grade Honors and Advanced Math, students are reviewing their knowledge of prime factorization, squares and square roots, and rational vs irrational numbers. Students will draw on their knowledge of exponents and operations with rational numbers to build fluency involving powers and rational numbers. Students will learn the properties of exponents to write and evaluate expressions involving powers and exponents.

8th Grade Math

After reviewing the integer rules, students have been working on converting rational numbers and approximating irrational numbers as well as ordering them on a number line. For the first couple of weeks, students have been getting back into the routine of school by learning the classroom expectations and understanding the importance of 8th grade math as it is the backbone of high school algebra.

In 8th Grade Algebra 1 classes, students reviewed the properties of exponents and evaluated real-world problems by using multiple operations. With NWEA testing completed, students are learning how to simplify square roots of monomial algebraic expressions, including non-perfect squares.

Students have worked hard on their fall NWEA tests, and we are excited to see how much they will grow this year. We have a tough first quarter, but our students are resilient and are doing a great job of asking questions and working hard.


The FACS students have been learning about values, decision-making and leadership opportunities through FCCLA while getting to know each other. The 7th & 8th grade students designed a hexagon to help them “form connections” with their classmates. The sewing unit is now under way as the students learn how to measure, cut, pin and stay safe in the sewing lab. Stay tuned for sewing project photos!

Social Studies

In 8th Grade Mr. Meyer they are covering the Aztec and the Incan civilizations while in Mrs. Bond's classes they did a CSI Activity on the mystery of the Roanoke Colony.

In 7th Grade, the classes are covering the five themes of geography and latitude and longitude. The seventh graders in Mr. Jackson's class worked with a partner to create a website about an issue in Human Environment Interaction and the pros and cons of that issue.

The sixth graders covered climates and biomes and made pamphlets to convince people to travel to their biomes.

Special Education

The special education department has seen an amazing start from ECMS students! They showed tremendous effort from the very beginning when they began NWEA testing. It has been incredible to see student scores that grew over the summer! We are anticipating a fantastic year, full of building relationships and seeing social, emotional, and academic growth!

Mrs. Meyer’s class has been very busy in the month of August. We are very excited to have an improved classroom equipped with a sensory room and cooking space. We have exciting things to come! The class made Thank you cards for the Veterans who will be attending the Indy Honor Flight on 9/23/23. Thank you Veterans. We appreciate you! Meyer’s Munchies cart has already delivered many snacks and drinks to staff. Thank you to the staff that purchased from our cart. We get to work on social skills, counting money, and manners, for example. We look forward to helping you every week. As part of our first cooking lesson, we made Parachute Popcorn that included cheddar fish, gummy worms, and MMs. Yummy! We look forward to our first community outing in September.

Teacher of Records will be making contact throughout the year to set up annual and transition meetings. Communication is key to our students' growth, so please reach out at anytime with any questions or concerns.

Teachers are as follows:

Mrs. Heather Carr- 6th Grade

Mr. Sam Krider- 7th Grade

Mrs. Tammy Hensley- 8th Grade

Mrs. Tracy Meyer- 6th-8th Grades

Mrs. Natale Riley- 6th-8th Grades

Mrs. Brandy Bastin- 6th-8th Grades

Mr. Bryce Stonefield- 6th-8th Grades


Construction is over and Mrs. Moeller and her art students are enjoying the new art room. It is spacious, has more sinks and storage, and has a beautiful window letting natural light into the room.

6th grade art students are learning the subtractive method of sculpture by creating balsa foam carvings. They started with a whole-to-part drawing of a bird and will end up with a painted low relief carving.

7/8th grade art students learned the difference between realism, semi-abstract and abstract art. They created an abstract drip painting in the style of Jackson Pollock. They also created a collaborative work that has been hung in the new art room.

Computer Art students are learning the Adobe Photoshop program. They started by creating a realistic digital drawing of a flower in they style of Georgia Okeeffe.



The 6th Grade Choir and 7th and 8th Grade Concert Choir are learning complex pieces that incorporate minor keys and 3 part harmonies.

The Show Choir Classes are learning choreography to add into their vocal pieces in order to create a fun and enjoyable performance for the audience.

The Fall Choir Concert will be Monday, October 2nd at 6:00 pm at the ECHS Performing Arts Center. Call time for all choirs will be 5:30 pm. All Show Choir members will have a mandatory dress rehearsal on Friday, September 29th from 3:00 - 5:30 pm at the PAC. The Fall Concert will feature classic autumn and Halloween arrangements as well as pop songs spanning the decades. We look forward to seeing you at the concert!

Beginning Band

The students in Beginning Band have been hard at working learning to play their instruments! We first learned to safely assemble our instruments, sit with correct posture, breathe with proper technique, and produce a tone. Now, our beginners have learned 3 notes and can even play short songs! The first concert for Beginning Band will be on December 12th at 6:30 PM in the ECHS Performing Arts Center. More information about this performance will be shared in the months to come.

Intermediate & Advanced Bands

Our 7th and 8th grade students have begun working on music for our Fall Concert (see info below). We are learning more complex notes and rhythms than we learned last year, and both bands are making great progress! Keep an eye on Google Classroom for more frequent playing tests as we continue to learn new skills.

IMPORTANT: Fall Concert Date Change

Due to a scheduling conflict in the Performing Arts Center, our Fall Concert will now take place on Wednesday, October 4th at 6:30 PM in the ECHS Performing Arts Center. Thank you for your flexibility concerning this change. We look forward to seeing you there!


ECMS physical education is off to a great start! Students have been participating in volleyball, flag football, tennis, and fitness testing. As a reminder, students are to wear clothing and shoes that permits them to be active. Also, keep in mind that many activities take place outdoors and a sweatshirt or light jacket may be necessary if you have PE in the morning.


6th Grade

Sixth Grade students in Mr. Johnson's and Mrs. Lecher's classes have been actively working through the Engineering Design Process this quarter.

Students were involved in an index card challenge, solving the problem of hiding twenty pennies from a four inch man using only 50 index cards, one foot of tape, and 20 pennies with a time constraint of 30 minutes. Their goal was to build the highest tower and hide all 20 pennies from the man.

Winners of the challenge were Kate, Lorelai, Siena, Ali, Marisol, and Kailee whose tower was 32 3/4 inches high and lasted the duration of 30 minutes while holding the 20 pennies.

7th Grade

Mrs. Knueven's Science classes are off to a great start learning and practicing the Nature of Science by completing different labs. Here, students are identifying the state of matter of toothpaste and then utilizing their critical thinking skills to design a plan to put the toothpaste back into the tube.

Mrs. Radcliffe's classes are studying Newton's Laws of motion. They are planning an investigation to provide evidence and examples of the laws.

8th Grade

Mrs Bertke's Students are learning about Scientific Inquiry & the Engineering Process. Students completed a measurement lab to practice this skill.

Mr. Dawley's students have started the Chemistry unit by studying matter and atoms. Defining important terms and labeling a model has been on their agenda.


6th Grade ELA

Mrs. Andres and Mrs. Packer

The 6th graders are off to a wonderful start! They have managed to acclimate to a lot of "new" here at ECMS: locker combinations, 8 classes to gather materials and get to by the bell, 8 different teachers' personalities/expectations and of course, the new state of the art cafeteria! We are so pleased with the 6th graders' kindness, respect, hard-working attitudes and their willingness to help others as well. Thank you for your support at home! It is greatly appreciated.

In ELA the students are learning the foundation of writing: sentences, knowing the 6 Traits of Writing as well as working through and understanding the 5 step writing process. Narrative writing is our main genre for quarter 1. The students will be working on a personal narrative first and then they will move into narrative writing prompts.

Along with writing, reading is another important focus area of ELA. With that being said, the students will move into their first literature study around mid-term. Your child will either read Maniac Magee or A Wrinkle in Time. Both of these novels connect very well with the narrative writing genre as the major character in each novel narrates a life experience. Connecting to the students that "readers are writers and writers are readers" will shine through this first quarter!

7th Grade ELA

Ms. Rogers and Mrs. Sohns

Our 7th grade ELA students are starting the year reviewing the elements of a story. We are learning about the setting, characters, and plot structure. So far, we have been practicing analyzing stories by using short films. Next, we will be moving on to short stories. We are really excited about the wonderful stories that we will be reading and analyzing together. We will be reading “A Sound of Thunder,” “The Treasure of Lemon Brown,” and “The Cask of Amontillado,” just to name a few. Our classes will also be working on building our vocabulary by practicing our weekly lists on Vocabulary.com. In addition to this, we have been using No Red Ink to work on our grammar skills. Right now, we are reviewing nouns and verbs. All students should have library books by now and are working towards their AR goals. The AR deadline for the first quarter is October 2. We are really looking forward to a great year!

8th Grade ELA

Mrs. Bevis and Mr. Wagner

Grade 8 ELA: Mrs. Bevis and Mr. Wagner

Welcome back! We have started off the year with NWEA testing, getting acquainted activities, and setting Accelerated Reader (A.R.) goals. Over the course of the quarter we will be studying the following topics: identifying and using strong textual evidence, recognizing the theme or central idea in works of both fiction and nonfiction, classifying the types of text structure used in nonfiction, and reviewing the RACE method for short-constructed responses. We will be working on writing conventions all year, including Daily Language Review as bellwork each day. To build vocabulary skills, we will study Greek and Latin roots and affixes. Students are encouraged to strengthen self-advocacy skills and always give their best effort on assignments. Accelerated Reader goals should be met by October 26, 2023, and one nonfiction book is required this quarter. We are looking forward to a great year!

Grade 8 Advanced ELA: Mr. Wagner

We have had a wonderful start to the 2023-2024 school year and students have been busy getting acclimated to the expectations of 8th grade advanced language arts. We will be tackling many important topics this year such as various forms of composition, nonfiction and literary analysis, SAT and ACT-level vocabulary, and advanced communication methods. Students are reminded to continue working on their Accelerated Reader goals for this quarter and are encouraged to ask questions about assignments or class concepts.

Grade 8 Honors ELA: Mr. Wagner

I have very much enjoyed meeting this year’s group of 8th-grade honors ELA students! We have already been working on our SAT/ACT level vocabulary and spent the first two weeks of school composing our own vignettes. We will soon begin conquering textual evidence and polishing our constructed response techniques. Students are reminded to continue working on their Accelerated Reader goals for this quarter and are encouraged to ask questions about assignments or class concepts. Honors ELA students also have a quarterly project that is due October 6th and is to be completed as an enrichment activity.


In Mr. Monhollen's Engineering class, students are learning sketch and modeling tools in Autodesk Inventor...our 3D modeling software.


ECMS Fall sports are in full swing. There are 218 student-athletes representing Trojan Nation! Athletes have the opportunity to participate in volleyball, football, cross country, swim, and cheer. Admission to all events is $5, and children under 6 are free. Sports passes are available at the East Central High School athletic office between 7:30 am and 3:30 pm. If you have questions feel free to contact Chris Riehle: criehle@sunmandearborn.k12.in.us.

All of our teams have been competitive, but some of our highlights would include the Girls Cross Country team placing 2nd out of 26 teams in the Greensburg Invitational. The volleyball teams are off to a great start! Both teams are 5-1 and have two home games to finish out the month of August. Eighth graders voted unanimously to name Maggie Hornbach and Sophia Crisman as their captains. Morgan Ewing is leading the 7th grade team in kills! The football team continues to improve each week. They now hold the record for the most participants in one season...110 players!! Swimming and Diving have not had a meet yet due to some cancellations by other schools. They will have their first meet on August 31 against South Dearborn Middle School.

Finally, the cheer team continues to show their support (rain or shine) for the football teams at all of the home games. Boys basketball call-outs will be Wednesday, August 30 during "Trojan Pride" bell. The meeting will be in Mr. Sam Krider's room.


I want to thank all of the students for your patience and hard work in navigating and figuring out all of your options in the new cafeteria. They are off to a great start. Each day the lines improve and we are sliding into a routine. We just continue to ask them to think about what they may want for lunch ahead of time so that decisions and choices are easier once they get to the cafeteria.

On August 24th, we started to introduce A-la-Carte in the cafeteria. Our A-la-Carte includes items like Switch drinks, Izzy drinks, Juicy Juice drinks, and a wide variety of cookies and chips. These items are all available to purchase and range anywhere from $0.50 - $1.25. Students must have a positive balance on their lunch account in order to purchase these items.

If there is a time when you get concerned about the amount of money your child may be spending on these items please feel free to reach out to me via phone or email, and I can discuss with you their purchases and any limits you may want to set on their accounts. My phone extension at school is 12981 and my email is ckbarnhorst@sunmandearborn.k12.in.us