Pirates' Scroll

BHS Parent Bulletin, March 2020

Volume 3, Issue 3

We're all in this together...

BHS Message from Mr. Clark April 7, 2020

Spring, 2020… We gain some sobering perspective

We approach a stretch of nearly a month gone by whereby one wakes up and confronts the reality that our present is not a part of an awful dream. The Spring of 2020 is very real and globally, we experience something that no one who walks the planet today has ever experienced. Certainly, as individuals with our own respective journeys, we all know of hardship and heartache. But, such widespread tragedy… every man, woman and child alive today does face this for the very first time. The stories and the daily reminders of the tally are captivating, staggering and have us question… Is this really happening?

As such, and hopefully this is true for each of us, we have taken pause to consider our own actions and thoughts about how humankind is impacted. In addition to thinking about ourselves and our immediate circle, we consider our friends and neighbors. We think about those who live next door, down the block and across this globe. Whether we are dealing strictly with the limitations tied to a “stay at home” order; or, we are fearful for a loved one who is called upon to treat others experiencing the disease, thus placing themselves and their own family members at risk; or, we are among those who painstakingly wait to learn whether we’ll ever get to see a member of our family return to us following their own battle for life; we experience this together.

If we’ve not allowed ourselves to pause and really think about all of this, then, we invite each of us, no… we encourage each of us, to stop for a moment and truly reflect upon our own manner of processing all of this.

With so many of the challenges we confront, we often turn to the “silver lining” and recognize the positives which are either clearly evident or, we force ourselves to dig a little in order to identify those which are real, but somewhat obscure. Sometimes in our self-talk we may even allow our minds to think... “Well, at least it is not this.” With this current challenge… it almost seems inappropriate to let our minds take us there. We imagine it probably has something to do with the simple volume of this pandemic. Or, because this has not only hit close to home, we are staying at home… it is home. We, to varying degrees, experience this one together. So, for those who’ve had experiences which would not allow them the luxury of a “silver lining” or a “Well, at least it is not this.” answer, most of us can begin to relate to what this must feel like.

2020 is often linked to vision. Just how well does one really see? Do we have the vision which permits us to see beyond what is directly in front of us? Do we have the capacity to recognize and thus, grow our appreciation for the world around us as well as those who reside in it? Are we able to identify with those who share this stretch of time? The tallies we receive at the end of the day are certainly more than simple numbers… they are figures which represent real people. We hope… we genuinely hope, for everyone, this whole experience makes us realize just how precious life really is. We hope, for everyone, this contributes to a realization we share not only this stretch of time and all of the experiences contained within it, but that perhaps, we should also share a genuine love and joy for one another and for the lifetime we do share.

Belton High School students… a message to you

We miss you. We genuinely miss you!

Although difficult to acknowledge, we recognize there is a general understanding that occasionally, we confront challenges which force us to adapt. We choose to be resilient and are simply forced to accept the reality that, with regard to many things in our lives, humankind is simply not always in control. So, from a distance… we celebrate you and encourage you to “Finish Strong” just as if ours was a conversation in the commons of your high school.

As you can imagine, our main focus since March 13 has been how we might best serve you and the Belton community via “Distance Learning.” We’ve learned a great deal and continue to see improvement with delivery and the overall comfort level. Behind the scenes, we are also reviewing options for some complicated issues which also have value. Receiving a great deal of our attention… a) measurement (grading) and awarding credits earned for the second semester of the 2019-20 school year, and b) student recognition… ie. Commencement.

As has been communicated previously, in large part, we’ve been playing a bit of a waiting game to determine how the guidelines provided by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) may evolve and shape future decision-making. On April 1, we received information which contributes to some of the discussions we have been having for the past couple of weeks. With regard to a number of key issues… students and school districts are provided some additional flexibility. Now, we are in a better position to have further discussion to determine which of our previously reviewed options best serve our students and community. With the recently published information, we can know our ultimate solution will satisfy these DESE guidelines.

Our goal is to invest some additional time over the next week to further shape our plans to address these complicated issues and then, share the Belton response with our Belton community. We thank you for your continued understanding and patience.

Seniors… Our Class of 2020…

We would add… we also miss the opportunity to share the final semester of your high school experience together - in person. We miss the daily encounters which occur with each passing period. We miss our interactions in the classroom, at sporting events, musical concerts, stage performances, academic contests and having an opportunity to witness you, along with your friends, enjoying activities such as Prom. However, and above all… we simply miss you.

We can certainly imagine you have some of the following questions… a) Is there going to be a Commencement Ceremony?, b) What am I to do about my cap and gown and other items purchased from Jostens?, c) Just how will grades from this semester impact my overall transcript, my status with “latin honors”... Cum Laude, or my ability to graduate with my classmates?

We can tell you with all sincerity, we are working diligently to provide you answers just as soon as we are able.

A sneak peek… Yes, it is understood Commencement Ceremonies will not be held, as previiously planned, on May 7th. However, we do intend to make every effort to provide a Commencement for the Class of 2020. We are working through countless details as well as some potential “what ifs?” It has been said, “It is the virus that will determine the timeline.” As such, we join everyone in thought and prayer for an end to this so the healing and recovery can begin. We believe while we remain sensitive to the fact that many lives have been lost or forever changed, we can still celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2020 and, if able, afford you… our seniors… your Commencement.

In conversation with Jostens, we understand they do have a distribution plan for graduation items which is designed to keep people safe. While there are other schools who have already received their items, we hope to “slow play” a bit longer so as to provide a “Commencement Update” insert along with the materials ordered. We will not stretch this out much longer. We know you’d like to obtain your “stuff.” But, we are hopeful to have key decisions finalized so you’ll have everything you will need/want in the materials received.

In closing, we have been intentional about keeping the Class of 2020 Senior Packet on the website. Obviously, it is outdated and much needs to change. However, we felt this document continues to provide a general guide as to what one might anticipate tied to our Commencement Ceremony while we prepare for our “Plan B.” We do plan to update the entire packet as soon as more is known about the direction we ultimately choose for Commencement 2020.

Again, we celebrate each of you, thank you for your continued patience and trust each of you is doing what is necessary to remain safe and well

Grading (measurement) and awarding credits…

Truth be told… There are those who simply wish grades didn’t matter and were only a part of the equation so instructors could identify student progress in order to enhance the experience. Taking it a step further, the wish would include that all students would find it in their nature to seek new learning, relevance and applications for every experience they encounter. Continued… the pursuit of a symbol would be deemed insignificant because as human beings, we remain forever curious and have a thirst for understanding. We recognize this is not current reality nor has it been for generations.

We acknowledge that grades (measurement) serve multiple functions… among them, information to help teachers help their students. But, in addition, grades do determine who among the masses outperforms the rest either because of their efforts, their intellect, the combination of the two, or the simple fact that there are those who simply know how to do school. There is also no denying that one’s grades factor into future opportunities. As such, you’ve heard us, along with parents and educators across the world, who continue to stress the significance and potential impact of grades upon one’s future.

This being said… we understand this to be another complicated issue.

There are those districts who have opted to simply freeze student grades following the 3rd quarter and will award semester credit as a result. It is not difficult to see how this decision to “freeze” grades from the 3rd quarter provides benefit to some while potentially having a negative impact on others.

On the other hand, to continue measuring performance during 4th quarter as if this “Distance Learning” effort were something normal has flaws as well. One easily recognizes the tremendous adjustments both the students and teachers alike are having to make because this is not something for which we are accustomed. So, while one may argue student learning must be measured and credits assigned as if nothing has changed, he/she would be well-advised to consider the phrase… “apples and oranges.” With the abrupt change in terms of how material is delivered and processed, any measurement of student performance should factor in how well and how quickly one (student and teacher alike) was able to adjust to the new way of business. Logic would suggest… This doesn’t necessarily seem to be entirely fair for the masses either.

So, again, we continue to explore options. We can assure our community… we have ideas. As previously mentioned, now that the waiting game is behind us and we have additional information, we can move forward. Soon, we will determine what we consider to be the best way… “The Belton Way” in order to address these very complicated questions. Once again, DESE has weighed in. These officials have acknowledged that given the challenges of the times there exists a need for greater flexibility. Therefore, we have some options. Soon, we’ll have some specifics to share. Bless you for your continued patience and understanding.

As always… We do want the best for our Belton community. We want the best for our Belton students. We do love you always!

Belton Proud! Belton Strong! We ARE Belton!

BHS Building Access

We continue to honor the "Stay at Home" mandate by the Cass County Health Department and Mayor Davis. Thus, BHS staff are working from home and students do not have access to the building. At this time, the main office remains closed and office phones are not readily answered. The best communication tool continues to be email: bhs@bsd124.org. We will keep you apprised of any updates or changes in this status.

Tips for Distance "At-Home" Learning during COVID-19

This is an unpredictable time for everyone and likely stressful. You can be a positive force in your student's education by providing a structure and routine to support their continued learning. As we adjust to the new reality of learning at home we offer these tips.

1. Set a time for learning...

Establish routines; a time to get up in the morning, meals, learning time, breaks, family tasks and recreation.

2. Make a space for learning...

Kids achieve their best work in a quiet, comfortable and dedicated space devoted to learning. Ideally, this will be a different set-up than where they normally play games or watch television.

3. Digital Quarantine...

Consider limiting your children’s cellphones and other technology until their schoolwork is done satisfactorily, so that it can receive their undivided attention. Apps, games, and messaging features are fun, but they can also be distracting.

4. Monitor the computer...

In this new learning environment, you can help by monitoring your children’s levels of interest and engagement in adapting to their new schedule and at-home materials. The simplest way to do this? ...Observation.

Look at your student's eyes to see if they are following along with the screen. Check if they’re taking notes or zoning out. Ask questions at the end of a lesson. While this certainly will require some time, it’s important to confirm that your student is indeed learning.

If you find that your student is not engaging with the lessons, don’t hesitate to contact their teacher(s) to discuss how we can work together. Sometimes, easily remedied technical problems such as bad audio, a poor connection or difficulty accessing the material can make the difference.

5. This is not a vacation... but, don't forget to have fun.

Even though staying home from school might feel like a holiday, remind your kids that they’re not on vacation. Assignments, grades, requirements and tests like state exams, SATs and ACTs aren’t going away just because classes have moved online.

Plan off-screen activities for the whole family. Between school and work obligations, it’s rare for parents and children to have this much time together, so turn it into an opportunity for bonding.

Write predictions for a TV show that the whole family watches. Organize a tournament, family card games, charades or chess, or get outside for a hike or walk together after "school." Follow the community’s guidelines about safe behavior and events, but make sure you still find time for fun with your kids.

6. Plan your work and work your plan...

Good planning can relieve stress for both children and parents. Check in with your kids about their plans and help them develop a written schedule not only for the day, but for the week. Help them prioritize and learn to create goals, tasks and deadlines, just like adults do when they go to work.

Tasks that may not have been difficult for them while attending school in person can become more challenging when learning from home, so it’s important to reinforce boundaries and offer incentives for healthy behaviors.

7. Digital recess...

Make sure your kids take plenty of breaks in order to get physical activity and time away from screens. Set alarms similar to those they would encounter at school and encourage them to get up, get some fresh air, go for a walk or bike ride, or have a snack so that they are not sedentary for the entire day.

We're all in this together... please stay connected...

It is a challenging time for parents, teachers and children alike. Studies show that screen time can have both positive and adverse impacts on kids, and the shift to Distance Learning may increase your student's time with their devices.

Hopefully these common sense practices can help you and your family navigate this new way of delivering school and make the most out of the Distance Learning,

Distance Learning Calendar

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ACT / AP / A+ / Bright Flight Updates

ACT Changes in Testing Dates

The safety of students and test center staff is ACT’s top priority. ACT has rescheduled its April 4 national test date to June 13 across the U.S. in response to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). All students registered for the April 4 test date will receive an email from ACT informing them of the postponement and instructions for free rescheduling to June 13 or a future national test date. Learn more.

AP Exams Spring 2020

BHS students who have registered to take an AP exam this spring will receive an email with information about the specific details and processes. The format for all exams is online to be taken at home, and the test is 45 minutes in length. The testing window is scheduled for May 11 - 22, 2020. A link to the Testing Schedule with the dates for specific content testing will be included in the email. Questions should be directed to the student's AP course instructor. It is expected that results from the exams will be accessible after May 26, 2020.

A+ High School Eligibility for 2020 Seniors

In response to multiple school closures as a result of the COVID-19 virus, the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development (DHEWD) is issuing the following guidance for 2020 high school seniors’ A+ Scholarship eligibility. This guidance is temporary and only applies to 2020 seniors. All other high school students will be required to meet the A+ Scholarship requirements outlined in Section 160.545, RSMo and the A+ administrative rule,

6 CSR 10-2.190.

Grade Point Average. To be eligible for the A+ Scholarship, students must graduate from high school with a 2.5 cumulative grade point average. Since school closures may negatively impact seniors’ spring 2020 GPA and thus the cumulative GPA at graduation, 2020 seniors who have a 2.5 cumulative grade point average at the end of either the fall 2019 or spring 2020 semesters will be eligible.

50 Hours of Unpaid Tutoring/Mentoring. The A+ Scholarship requires students to complete 50 hours of unpaid tutoring or mentoring. For the 2020 seniors, the number of tutoring/mentoring hours has been reduced temporarily to 25 to accommodate those students who are unable to complete 50 hours prior to high school graduation. The high school’s A+ policy should outline acceptable methods of meeting this requirement. Schools may add temporary exceptions to their policies, or permanently amend their policies, to allow for a broader range of ways for students to complete their tutoring/mentoring hours. In addition, high schools may utilize the six month exceptional circumstances provision outlined in the administrative rule for 2020 seniors who are unable to complete 25 hours prior to graduation.

Algebra I EOC. DHEWD is working with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop guidance about how this provision might be affected and will provide that guidance as soon as it is available.

There are no deviations from standard policy for the following eligibility criteria:

  • 95% Attendance. Students must have 95% attendance overall for grades 9-12 as calculated per the high school’s A+ policy.
  • Attend an A+-designated high school for two years. Students must attend an A+ high school for at least two years. As a reminder, students must be enrolled in at least 80% of the instructional days included in the two year period to meet this requirement. This requirement is separate from the 95% attendance requirement, which must also be met.

Bright Flight Eligibility for 2020 Seniors

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, ACT and the College Board have made adjustments to their spring 2020 testing schedules. This message provides information about those adjustments and their impact on the Bright Flight Scholarship for 2020 seniors. ACT has canceled the April 4, 2020, national test dates and is allowing students to register for either the June 13 or July 18, 2020, national test dates in lieu of the April 4 test. The College Board has canceled the March 14 SAT exam and its March 28 make-up exam, as well as the May 2, 2020, exam. It has not yet canceled the June 6, 2020, exam but may do so in the future as it continues to assess the situation. The College Board will provide future testing opportunities to replace any canceled SAT tests but details are not yet available.

The Bright Flight Scholarship requires students to achieve a qualifying ACT of SAT score by the June national test date of their senior year in high school. However, in response to the adjustments made by ACT and the College Board, the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development is extending the date on which 2020 seniors may achieve a qualifying ACT score for the Bright Flight Scholarship to the July national test date. The 2020 seniors who achieve a qualifying ACT score on the July national test date and who are otherwise eligible can receive the scholarship. Scores achieved on the July 2020 national test date will also be considered when determining eligibility for this year’s sophomores and juniors, as has always been the case. Accommodations for the 2020 seniors taking the SAT will be announced as information becomes available from the College Board.

As a reminder, the qualifying scores for the 2020 seniors are: $3000 Scholarship: ACT Composite 31; Top 3% SAT Math - 800 ; SAT Verbal 780 or $1000 Scholarship: ACT Composite 30; above Top 4th & 5th Percentiles SAT Math 790-799; SAT Verbal 770-779. Bright Flight eligibility for 2020 seniors who take the ACT is based on the composite score. However, for those who take the SAT, eligibility is based on the individual math and verbal scores, both of which must meet the thresholds above. Superscores (ACT or SAT) will not be considered for 2020 seniors’ Bright Flight eligibility.

Qualifying score information for the 2021 seniors is not yet available. In addition, we are currently reviewing whether ACT’s decision to provide an official superscore beginning in September 2020 will affect the Bright Flight Scholarship going forward. We will provide information about these items as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please contact the following staff. At this time, email is the preferred mode of communication. Connie Bestgen, financial aid specialist (800) 473-6757, option 4, (573) 751-1722, or connie.bestgen@dhewd.mo.gov

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Pirates Continue to Excel... Congratulations

Missouri Scholars Academy

Congratulations to sophomores Reese Dolson and Megan Myers for their acceptance into the Missouri Scholars summer program. It's a highly selective, prestigious, and rigorous 3-week summer program housed at the University of Missouri with the top sophomore students in the state of Missouri.

Missouri Boys State

Congratulations to junior Mitchel Wells for his nomination to the Missouri Boys State Program! The American Legion Boys State of Missouri is an eight day hands-on experience in the operation and fundamentals of government.

Missouri Girls State

Congratulations to juniors Taylor Emond and Khushi Patel for their nominations to the Missouri Girls State Program. The American Legion Girls State program provides young women who have just finished their junior year in high school the opportunity to come together to study city, county and state government.

RYLA - Rotary Youth Leadership

Lauren Eager, junior, will represent BHS as a participant. The Missouri RYLA Academy is a leadership academy for high school sophomores and juniors who exhibit a desire for community service. Developed by some of Missouri's top professional educators, the curriculum is designed to identify and enhance the qualities of servant leadership for each participant, educate them on how to successfully implement a service project, and inspire them to live a lifetime of "Service Above Self."

BHS Yearbook and Cutlass Staff

March 25, 2020 BHS Yearbook and Cutlass staff members were scheduled to attend the University of Missouri Journalism Day Awards and Workshop Day. Unfortunately, true for many events this spring, the event was cancelled. However, awards were still announced/presented, and BHS students were the recipients of a number of them.

The most prestigious was an All-State Award presented to junior Brooke Truman and senior, Brady Stegner for their mini-documentary on sports injury prevention. Only 13 broadcast students across the state of Missouri received an All-State Award for broadcast and BHS was the only school to win one for a mini-documentary. What a great achievement for these students and Belton!

Overall, the Cutlass and Yearbook staff members received 14 awards.

Cutlass awards (individual packages):

1 All-State

3 Superior

1 Excellent

1 Honorable Mention

Yearbook awards (individual spreads and photos):

2 Superior

1 Excellent

5 Honorable Mentions

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Academy Update

The theme for the Academies of Belton is Navigating New Horizons. With the impact of COVID-19, we are certainly holding true to that theme! Although the BHS school building is not accessible at this time, we continue to work together as a staff and to plan for the future of our BHS Pirates and the Academies of Belton.

During the third quarter, after extensive research and exposure to the academy and pathway options, each member of the Class of 2023 selected a College & Career Academy and Pathway to guide their course enrollment for the next three years at BHS. A special Academy Reveal Ceremony was held to confirm assignment to an Academy for each member of the Class of 2023. Freshmen were very intentional as they selected courses for their Sophomore year enrollment at BHS, while strategically looking ahead to what will come during their junior and senior years.

During Business Roundtables in February, students had the opportunity for face to face interactions with individuals in their selected pathway to discuss what the day to day looks like in that career path, and what skills they need to focus on to be prepared to do the job. Unfortunately, a snow day cancelled school, shortened the week and several of the scheduled Roundtable Discussions were also cancelled.

As the third quarter ended students were working on creating a resume and staff were scheduling opportunities for each Freshmen to participate in either a College Campus or Industry Site visit. That event was scheduled for April 7th. Currently we are looking for ways to deliver that opportunity early next school year.

As is true for students, the staff at BHS is working from home. We are utilizing video conferencing and other forms of electronic communication to "meet" and continue the planning and implementation of the Academies of Belton for the 2020-2021 school year and beyond. We Are Belton, and we are committed to providing these opportunities for our BHS Pirates!

Canvas information... how to...

As previously addressed, it has yet to be determined exactly how grades will be ultimately calculated for the Spring Semester. However, it is timely to provide the following flyer as a reminder to those parents who wish to access and engage more thoroughly with their student through Canvas. (Be reminded... Until such time as how grading will be addressed, staff are not expected to update grades each Monday and any effort to discern what a student's grade is through the parent portal would be premature and ill-advised.. Thank you for your continued patience.)

Here's a link to the flyer with directions for viewing information on both platforms.

BHS '20 Senior Packet... to be updated soon!

As previously stated, we hope to have some additional information to share with regard to our Seniors and their "End of Year" activity including... "What about Graduation?" The BHS '20 Senior Packet remains in the original form, but as "Plan B" materializes... the packet will align. We've been in conversation with Jostens as recently as Friday, April 4. They "stand at the ready" to produce updated information and have your materials ready soon afterward. Again, we do thank you for your continued patience.

Future Pirates' Scroll Publication Dates

Our design is to regularly publish our parent communication, The Pirates' Scroll, on the BHS webpage. Minimally, the publication will be posted quarterly.

For reasons mentioned earlier in the newsletter, we've delayed this publication and, as promised, we will provide an addendum to this third issue as future plans regarding "grading" and "Commencement" evolve. We thank you for your continued patience and support. We know the importance of good communication and we sincerely desire to share all that we can... as soon as we are able.

As a reminder, our "Why Papers" are also found on the BHS Website. BHS "Why Papers" are designed to address very specific topics and in such a fashion one can gain greater insight as to the reason(s) things are as they are. Topics include, but are not limited to: Assessments, A+ Program, Cum Laude and Safety. You'll find the BHS "Why" Paper link on the BHS website.

Additional "Why Papers" will be posted as they are deemed important/useful.

Student Attendance… Make-up Timeline

Reminder… Students have an opportunity to make up attendance hours on or prior to the third Saturday. See our “Why” papers on Attendance.

We've made some adaptations to our "make up" practice and are hopeful our BHS students will take advantage of the on-line opportunities to address prior attendance concerns. Dr. Denise Rangel has reached out directly to each student who could benefit from this time to "clear the slate" and begin the 2020-21 school year having eliminated all "NC's" from their record. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to her directly via email. drangel@bsd124.org.

Belton High School

Each issue of the Scroll and BHS "Why" Papers will be available on our BHS webpage.