The Merrill Minute

August 2, 2019


Greetings, Mustang Families,

The 2019-2020 school year is just around the corner and we are looking forward to welcoming all 800+ Merrill Mustangs on Friday, August 23rd for the first day of school!

The construction projects - including the new front office and secure main entrance, performing arts classrooms, science classrooms, family and consumer science classroom, computer room, and conference room - are all on schedule to be completed by Tuesday, August 13th. You may have also noticed the new bus lane that is under construction in front of Merrill that is scheduled to be completed in the next week or so. This addition to our campus will free up the west turnaround for parent drop-off and pick-up and hopefully keep traffic moving along Grand Avenue.

We've made a slight change to our master schedule for the upcoming school year by adding Mustang Minutes every morning from 8:30-9:00. During this time students will be reviewing Infinite Campus, setting goals, engaging in mini-inquiries, receiving additional instruction/support, and participating in activities that will support them in being balanced, IB learners.

A more significant change for the upcoming school year is our new personal electronic device policy. After surveying students and staff, visiting with community members, examining the latest research, and reviewing policies across our district, we have decided that we will be a personal device-free learning environment from 8:00 AM to 3:25 PM. You'll find more information regarding this new policy as you scroll down through the newsletter.

I want to invite all of you to join us on Thursday, August 29 for our Back to School Open House from 5:00-7:00. It will be a chance for you to walk around and see the newly remodeled space, meet all of the teachers, and let us know how the first few days went for your student. That evening we will also be hosting a "Getting to Know Merrill" session every 30 minutes for those of you who may have missed orientation or just want to learn a little bit more about our learning community.

Thank you for your continued support of and advocacy for the students in our community.The year ahead holds much promise and your partnership is vital to our success as we strive to live out our mission of creating a better and more peaceful world. Please don't ever hesitate to reach out. I can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 242-8448.

Go, Mustangs!


New Personal Electronic Device Policy

We believe that full engagement in learning is essential to student success. After surveying students and staff, visiting with community members, examining the latest research, and reviewing policies across our district, we have decided to pilot the below policy.

Personal Electronic Devices: Personal electronic devices (cell phones, ear buds, tablets, etc.) need to be off and put away for the duration of the school day. We define “put away” as locked in a locker, checked-in to a trusted teacher at the start of the day, or left at home. We define “school day” as the time from when the student enters the building until 3:25.

Click here to read the full memo from Mrs. Panek regarding the new policy.

Inquiring, Learning, and Reflecting

This year our faculty will continue to learn more about the use of nonfiction text to accelerate literacy and learning across the disciplines through inquiry.

We've analyzed big data, or what we call distance data, including MAP Assessment data and Iowa Assessment data. However, we've spent even more time collecting and analyzing small, or up-close data, including a student writing sample describing our school community, a student survey regarding reading and writing habits and perceptions, and face-to-face interviews with students about what it is like to be a Merrill student.

Central to our work is building a community of learners of students and staff, inquiring into issues that are relevant and important to our students, and using literacy and learning to help our students think and problem-solve like experts in all fields of study.

We are continuing to work on acquiring a collection of books for classrooms that support units of inquiry all across the building. Click here to access Merrill's Amazon Wish List of books. Thank you for supporting literacy!

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Upcoming Dates

First Day

Friday, August 23

Open House

Thursday, August 29

Labor Day - No School

Monday, September 2

School Picture Day

Friday, September 6

No School - Professional Development

Friday, September 27

Fall Conferences:

October 31 from 8:15 AM - 3:15 PM

November 4 from 4:00 PM -7:30 PM