HJSH Newsletter March 2023

Go Hawks

Contact Information

  • Benjamin Howard, Principal: 892-9402
  • Orin Wear, Assist. Principal/AD: 892-9403
  • Brian Beaudry, Assist. Principal: 892-9456
  • Toni Reese, Administrative Assistant: 892-9401
  • Lisa Humphreys, Office Secretary: 892-9400
  • Michael Clauson, Safety Resource Officer:
  • Tanya Boehm, Safety & Security Coordinator: 892-9404
  • Johanna Burger, HS School Nurse: 892-9446
  • Virginia St. John, MS School Nurse: 892-9406
  • Amanda Nicoll, Registrar 9-12th Gr/Discipline Sec: 892-9485
  • Kathy Aldeman, Registrar 6-8th Gr/Counseling Sec: 892-9479

Principal Howard's Monthly Message

Houston Houston Jr./Sr. High Families & Friends,

March is here and the sunshine grows stronger and stronger each and every day! Our outdoor sports enthusiasts have been waiting for longer days and warmer temperatures to arrive and it's starting to happen. Have fun and be careful out there!

March is a busy month at Houston Jr./Sr. High. There are lots of activities happening and important dates to remember. Please take a few minutes to read over our March newsletter. As always, if there are questions, comments, or concerns, please call the school or make an appointment to see any of our teachers.

The end of 3rd Quarter ended on Thursday, March 9, 2023. Official reports cards will be available and uploaded to Parent-Vue and Student-Vue the week of March 20th! Have a wonderful relaxing spring break!

Also, there is no in-building school for students on Monday, March 20th, but will be a remote learning day for all students. A remote learning day schedule of classes will be emailed to parents that morning before classes begin.

Have a Great March & Go Hawks

-Principal Howard

Upcoming Events

Boundary Exemption Applications Due

Next year is fast approaching and if your student is currently on a boundary exemption, HMS and HHS will need a new boundary Exemption form filled out for your student for the 23-24 school year. The online form is located in your Parent-Vue account under registration.

Any questions that you may have can be directed to each school's registrar, Kathy Aldeman at HMS and Amanda Nicoll at HHS.

Title 1 Family Event

HHS Open house - March 28th 6pm-8pm

Parents/Guardians/Community Members.

Please come see our beautiful new building! During this open house, we will be highlighting our new CTE pathways within our building which will offer Welding, Small Engines, Culinary Arts, Auto Mechanics, and Construction Trades to start with. We hope to be able to add new career fields in the coming years. We welcome everyone and certainly hope to see you at our Open House.

Music Department News

Congratulations to Adam Johnson. He was accepted to Ohio State School of Music. He is a Alaska Principal Chair Tuba player. He has played in Large Group Ensembles, Honor Ensembles, All -State Ensembles , Solo/Ensemble State level with Command performances and he also plays with the Matsu Community Band. Please join me in congratulating this amazing young man and musician.

Jane Henry-Johnson

Band, Choir and Theater Director

Houston High School



MS Counseling Corner

Houston Jr/Sr High School Parents and Guardians,

An alarming issue has come to my attention that I will need your help addressing. Some new language has been adopted by our middle school age students, not just here at Houston, but very likely it has taken hold across our country. As you well know, social media has some positive attributes as well as some negative.

As parents, it has become more and more difficult to protect our children from negative influences due to the massive growth of social media sites. It is not uncommon for middle school aged students to adopt “popular culture” or “popular slang”. The current popular language being used right now has to do with suicidal ideation which, as you can imagine, is problematic on many levels.

Currently, when students are using back and forth banter they will say “oh, just go kill yourself”. In addition, when students are having a bad day or something bad happens at all they are saying things like “I’m just gonna off myself” or “I’m just gonna slit my wrists”. The school system has to take all of these threats seriously when they are brought to our attention which does harm in a couple of different ways. One, it makes the process of identifying and addressing suicidal ideation more difficult and two, because of the increased difficulty, it may increase the chances of suicidal ideation not being addressed thus putting potential lives at increased risk. The old “Cry Wolf” fable comes to mind here. Because this type of language has become so prevalent and thrown around so loosely it will be difficult to terminate completely but with your help I believe we can decrease its prevalence substantially.

Mrs. Boehm (our school safety officer) and I will be going into every class the first week of March to address each student in person. My thinking is that, if we can address this issue both here at school and at home starting the first week of March that we can substantially decrease this type of language moving forward.

Thank you all so much for working with us on this. Together we can make a big difference!

Matt Rush, LPC

Middle School Counselor grades 6-8

Houston Jr/Sr. High School



HS Counseling Corner

High School Counseling Corner:

Mark Your Calendars:

March 9- Quarter 3 ends! Get your work turned in!

March 10- Teacher workday/No school for students

March 13-17-Spring Break!

March 29 Mat-Su Employee Expo (can send 25 students)

March 30- Guest speaker for seniors Dan Vannoy with Vannoy Electric

Looking ahead:

April 7- Mat-Su College Health Forum field trip

April 10- UAA Seawolf Ready visit for students admitted to UAA in the fall. Will take place during 4C 10:30-12:30 in the library.

April 28- Professional Development Day, No school for students

May 15- Class of 2023 Graduation ceremony 7pm at Menard Sports Center, 2pm rehearsal

May 19- Last day for students!


We are beginning the process of scheduling and class selection for next year! Students will be able to choose their electives and their CTE Pathway. Pathway choices are Construction, Welding, Outdoor Power, Business Administration, and Computer Science.

Here is the schedule for counselors to visit classrooms:

  • 9th grade:
  • February 28th during 4C Wright & Spencer combined in Wright’s room
  • March 1st during 4C Ford & Cork combined in Cork’s room
  • 10th grade:
  • March 2nd during 4C Tilton
  • March 3rd during 4C Burson & Croft combined in Croft’s room
  • 8th grade:
  • March 6th during period 7 @ 10:30-11:15 Van Dussen & Harper combined in Van Dussen’s room
  • March 6th during period 7 @ 11:50-12:30 Buxbaum & Browning combined in Browning’s room
  • 11th Grade:

March 8th during 4C Hall & Knutson combined in Knutson’s room

March 9th during 4C Martin & Berg combined in Berg’s room

Students will need charged chrome books and be able to access Student Vue. We will do make-ups with absent students after spring break!

Opportunities for Juniors and Seniors!

RAHI (Rural Alaska Honors Institute) is currently accepting applications for their FREE summer college program. At RAHI, students take an average of 9 college credits in six weeks and learn how to thrive academically by experiencing life on campus, enhancing self-confidence and discipline, and developing a state-wide community to carry with them throughout their lives. RAHI is offered at no cost to students and takes place at the University of Alaska Fairbanks from May 30th-July 14th. Applications due by March 1st! https://www.uaf.edu/rahi/

MSBSD is hosting Matsu Business Week for students in the valley this summer. The program will be held May 22nd – May 26th at Wasilla High School and will be open to students and youth currently in grades 7 – 12.

We are once again going to host Matsu Business Week for students in the valley this summer. The program will be held May 22nd – May 26th at Wasilla High School and will be open to students and youth currently in grades 7 – 12.


ANSEP Acceleration Academy Summer 2023 application is now open and closes March 3rd! No Cost to spend time on UAA campus and take one or two math/science courses and engage in STEM career exploration projects from May 27-June 30th for 9th-12th grade students!


Become a Teacher and get help with college tuition! The link below is a flyer with information about an info session for the MSBSD/Chadron State College Academic Loan Forgiveness program. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 28 at 5 PM at the NEW MTA Technology Center in Wasilla (in the new development by Krispy Kreme, the Fred Meyer Gas Station, Sonic, etc.)


New Scholarships:

Valley Board of Realtors $2000 Scholarship: Due April 15 https://drive.google.com/file/d/11-i59jDWyPG4VSiNakdfqVCkLTtFicOn/view?usp=share_link


Big Lake Lions Scholarship, Due April 1st see counseling office for applications

Matanuska Telephone Association, Due March 27 https://apply.mykaleidoscope.com/scholarships/MTAFoundationScholarship

Mat-Su Health Foundation, Due February 28 https://www.healthymatsu.org/how-we-fund/academic-scholarships

True North FCU, Due March 20 https://www.truenorthfcu.org/content/docs/2023-Scholarship-Application-Packet.pdf

Martin Luther King Foundation, Due April 10 https://acrobat.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:ee4ffe9b-d4c6-3fcd-b8a4-ed5f9a9fc818

Lockheed Martin STEM Engineering Scholarship, Due March 31 www.lockheedmartin.com/scholarship

**See the counseling office for applications or the counseling website for links to scholarships!

Senior Checklist: This document includes important dates for college application deadlines, the FAFSA and ACT/SAT testing. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NhiStu6ZVOBA9MHmZ_CpVOw_DdNSMUpP/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=116274353430693262842&rtpof=true&sd=true

Please contact your student’s counselor with questions.

Teri Haddeland

School Counselor A-K



Ella-Kate Showers

School Counselor L-Z



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Nurse Office News

On March 3rd, 2023, a Growth and Development video was shown to all 6th grade students during their 6th period class. Girls viewed the video Straight Talk about Puberty for Girls and boys viewed the video Straight Talk about Puberty for Boys. If parents would like to view this video content, please contact Nurse St. John at (907) 892-9406 or by email at virginia.stjohn@matsuk12.us.

This is a great reminder that your student(s) may begin to ask questions about health and puberty. Kids Health is a great resource you can access via the internet and may help with the conversation at home.


Also, Health screenings will continue through March and April. A reminder, Alaska state statutes require school nurses to do health screenings on all 7th grade students, students new to the District, and those students with no screening data within the last 3-4 years (due to COVID, etc). The health screen includes height, weight, hearing, vision, blood pressure, pulse, and dental. This will typically be done privately in the nurse's office, students are fully clothed, without other students observing. You will be notified ONLY if something abnormal requires a provider referral.

Thank you for letting us keep your student(s) safe and healthy!

Virginia St. John, BSN RN - Houston Middle School Nurse

Matanuska -Susitna Borough School District

Ph: 907-892-9406 l Fax: 907-892-9460

HJSHS Sports Info

Sports Scheduled Dates and Times are Subject to Change at any time.

All participation forms and physicals must be turned into PlanetHS to participate in any practices. Please contact your students coaches with any questions regarding game times, changes, locations and practices.

Library Corner

Have you checked your library account lately? All books checked out before winter break are due (except textbooks). Please clear your library account of old overdues before we split schools at spring break.

Login to the Library Catalog to see what is on your Bills and Checkouts tab.

Clear your library account by:

Other HJSH News

March Spotlight on Literacy

Family Literacy Dinner and Movie Night on Feb 23rd 6-7.

Here is my monthly Family Literacy spotlight for March: comprehension strategies: how to support or guide students in improving their comprehension and understanding.

As you develop the communication to Parents for a newsletter this month here are links that you can add as a Spotlight on Literacy links: Science of Reading Playbook is a resource tool designed for Parents, Community members and staff to access. Please feel free to add or delete as space permits. Thanks for communicating this to families.

Science of Reading Playbook

My literacy spotlight for the month of March is: Comprehension and what true understanding of reading is asking readers to do. There are a lot of discussions on what it means to be a good reader. A big component of this question is what pieces readers have to do in order to understand at the word level, sentence level and passage level as well as the author's intent. Believe it or not, there is a science to this and brain research on what cognitive load we are doing. A visual to represent all the pieces centers on this visual below. Scarborough's Reading Rope. It is multifaceted and complex.

Experienced teachers know that true literacy is much more than just being able to sound out the letters on the page. Skilled readers need to be able to master both what the words are and what they mean. To do this successfully, they bring together various skills like vocabulary, language structure, and verbal reasoning. The Scarborough’s Reading Rope model can help educators better understand what it truly takes to create skilled readers.

What is Scarborough’s Reading Rope?

Your child's Teacher is applying this understanding to ensure your child is working on the areas that they may not have developed well at this point.

Please feel free to contact Deb Pomelow at Houston Middle 892-9496 for more helpful hints and suggestions: Next month Comprehension: what students are monitoring for themselves while reading and the impact of think-alouds.

Deborah Pomelow

Grant Manager/ Literacy Coach

HMS/HJS Mon. AM 7:15-11:45. , Tues. and Friday

Portable 8 907 892-9496

Meadow Lakes Mon. PM 12-3., Wed., Thurs.

Rm 163 907 352-6182

Youth 360

Youth 360 News

Youth 360 is moving! Our portable will be relocated to the new Houston High campus during spring break! Don’t worry, all Houston Middle and High school students will still be able to attend our after-school club. Please sign up for our text alerts by texting “Youth 360” to 907-745-5826 to stay up to date on announcements and updates on our move.

We have fun spring break activities coming up! We’ll go bowling at North Bowl on Wednesday, 3/15, and watching “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” at Valley Cinema on Friday, 3/17. Transportation and food are include, and these activities are open to all Houston students. Visit www.youth-360.org, visit our program at the school, or call 373-3613 to get signed up!

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Title I Information

Ways to Keep Informed and Contact Houston Jr/Sr High

Houston Junior Senior High School is committed to frequent and open communication with families and community members about student performance, school expectations, current events, and activities. Some of the ways you can expect us to reach out are:
  • Facebook
  • HJSH Website
  • Connect-Ed Messages
  • monthly ewsletters
  • Parentvue
  • phone calls and emails
  • instagram

Free & Reduced Lunch

All Houston Jr./Sr. High students will receive free breakfast and lunch as part of our Title I eligibility during the 2022-2023 school year.

Nutrition Services will be providing a Breakfast and a Lunch meal each week for Friday's meals. We will be standing outside at the front of the building on Thursday's with these meals ready for you to grab after school before you head to the bus.

Title I, Part A (Title I) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended (ESEA) provides financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards. Oct 5, 2015.

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The HHS & HMS library also have over 100 new books cataloged and available for you to checkout.