Cougar Connect

Week of September 9, 2019

Zero Period

Zero Period starts this Tuesday at 7:30 am. Students received a note on Friday if they were given a zeriod period. It indicated which zero period they were assigned to and where that class is meeting. We are working on getting this into PowerSchool for attendance and grade tracking purposes. A message was supposed to go out to families on Friday afternoon, but I am not confident it did, so I will get one out tonight. If we have space in any zero periods, we will share this information next weekend.

Student Planners

As many of you heard, there was an issue this summer at the County Office, which affected purchasing (and other things). As such, our student planners were delayed, but arrived this past week on Tuesday afternoon and we got them out to classrooms immediately. Please check to make sure your student is writing down assignments and encourage your student to put a check mark or something similar when your student has completed an assignment.

Our new student handbook has been included in the planner. Please review this with your student. This will be a homework assignment this week or next week.

Principal's Coffee

We had a great turnout at our first Principal’s Coffee this past Thursday and visited many classrooms. I presented on school data that was collected at the end of last year for STAR Reading, State Testing, and the Climate Survey. The presentation is attached below. Some of it needs a little explanation.

Slides 4-9 (Climate Survey): Most of these slides are what we call a Wordle. This is a graphic of the most common responses from the free-response section. The larger the word, the more frequent the answer came up in the survey. I am able to dig into the detail of the survey to get the context of these words, which you will see is necessary.

Slide 4: A clarification about the the response “fights.” Students shared that staff is quick to get involved in student fights/drama and is good about helping to resolve issues, which is why this was shared as a positive. There are not a lot of physical fights, but as this is a middle school and students are going through puberty, there is a lot of drama. (This is perpetuated by cell phones/social media. A lot of the drama starts outside of school, but then we have to get involved at school).

Slide 6: Students don’t like some of my policies, which is very appropriate. So you will see the responses like: cell phones, blankets, dress code, bathrooms, lunch. We don’t allow students to bring blankets to school because we have seen that sometimes they have lice or bedbugs in them.

They do not like my bathroom policy, which was implemented late last year. During class time the main hall bathrooms are the ones open. (We lock the ones in the 300 and 500 wings). This is so we can have someone nearby monitoring the bathrooms. It is amazing how many less kids suddenly didn’t have to go to the bathroom during class time when we didn’t have all three sets of bathrooms open at once and unsupervised. This change reduced a lot of issues we were having in the bathrooms and allowed us to better monitor, which helps with safety. During brunch and lunch we lock the main hallway bathrooms and open the 300 and 500 wing bathrooms and check to make sure there are no issues a few times. We also watch to see how many students are heading in there at once. The single use bathroom (near the library) remains open all day for students to utilize.

Lunch - Students complained they didn’t like certain things about lunch food. So last spring we worked with the District to have some of our students take pictures of the food and give feedback, which I shared in one of the Cougar Connect newsletters. The District will be working with our cafeteria staff to make some of these changes and I will continue to solicit student feedback again this year.

Slide 7: "North Star" refers to parents saying that they think RCSD should go with a K-5 and 6-8 model and not have a school that students test into that takes away from the other schools. They feel the traditional middle school model gives students more opportunities and that students are better prepared for the challenges of high school.

Drugs - Refers to the vaping issue, which is going on nation-wide. As I shared at the Principal’s Coffee, this is challenging because even police are limited in how they can assist with this. We plan to continue and expand vaping education this year and need your help at home to educate and check your students. I met with police on Thursday and they offered to come out to one of the next Principal’s Coffee sessions to answer questions about vaping and other topics , which I think is a great idea.

Bullying - As mentioned above, cell phones and social media are creating a lot of this problem. We do our best to get involved, but again need your support at home. We have a new bullying pledge that is in the new student handbook and we will ask students and families to sign a copy. We will continue with bullying education and are looking to bring some new social emotional training and support into the classrooms to help address this. More details to come soon.

Slide 10: I am proud of the progress we have made in the last two years with our reading. This graphic shows the progress since I arrived two years ago and we really started to target reading as a staff. (I apologize the bottom graphic is a little fuzzy. I couldn’t pull that report for some reason, so someone else took a snapshot for me).

Slides 11-16: These slides show cohort data, which means it tracks the group of students from one year to the next. So for example, the 8th grade slides show how that group of students performed in 7th grade as compared to 8th grade. Most of these slides indicate we are moving in the right direction and showing growth. 6th grade didn’t reflect what we had hoped. This grade is challenging because it is a big transition from 5th grade to middle school and the test was a lot harder last year than in prior years. We know math has been very challenging the last two years at Kennedy in 6th grade because we couldn’t get the right staffing in place. There is always a shortage of math teachers. I feel confident that this year we have the right 6th grade math staff in place to meet the needs of our students.

Back To School Night

A reminder that Back To School Night is next week on Thursday, September 19. Families can join administration in the gym from 6:00-6:20 pm and then attend first period. In the gym we will teach you how to use Google Classroom. This is how a lot of students’ work is distributed and turned in. We will also briefly show how Kennedy funds are being allocated this year. There will be food for purchase on the blacktop outside of the gym starting at 5:30 pm for your convenience. Here is the schedule for the evening:

6:00-6:20 pm: Administration’s Presentation in the Gym

6:25-6:32 pm: Period 1

6:35-6:42 pm: Period 2

6:45-5:52 pm: Period 3

6:55-7:02 pm: Period 4

7:05-7:12 pm: Period 5

7:15-7:22 pm: Period 6

7:25-7:32 pm: Period 7 (Grade printouts handed out as a progress report)


Dungeons & Dragons Club: Tuesdays, 3:15-4:15 pm, Room 528 (Started)

The following clubs are starting this week:

Photograph Club - Tuesdays, Lunch, and Wednesdays, 3:10-4:10 pm, Room 314

Yoga Club - Tuesdays, Lunch, Room A1 (Locker Room)

The following clubs start the week of 9/16:

Book Club - Wednesdays, 3:10-4:10, Room 531 (Starts, Wednesday, 9/18)

Maker Space Club - Mondays, Lunch, Room 531 (Starts Monday, 9/16)

Students can show up to the club and do not need to sign up ahead of time.

International Walk To School Day

International Walk to School Day will take place on Wednesday, October 2nd in the morning. Prizes and other goodies will be given to students who walk and/or bike to school on this day.

Students, small groups, or classrooms can participate in the Walk and Roll to School Poster Contest. Winning entries will be made into posters that will be shared countywide!

Walk and Bike to School Day events raise awareness of the need to create safer routes for walking and bicycling and emphasize the importance of issues such as increasing physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion and concern for the environment. The events build connections between families, schools and the broader community.

The Edge of Success

One of our Kennedy parents, Liza Meak, co-directed The Edge of Success, about teenage suicide prevention and awareness. There is screening at the Fox Theater on Thursday, September 12th at 7 pm.

They are partnering with a local film organization called BraveMaker, which is hosting the screening and it is free for students. Here's a link with all the event details. The film is appropriate for middle school students.

Announcements From The Community

Campaign Kick-Off

Kennedy PTO is proud to Endorse Measure H!

WHAT: Measure H Campaign Kick Off

WHEN: Sunday, September 15, 2019 1:00-2:30 pm

WHERE: Red Morton Park (in the sheltered picnic area)




Sequoia High School Shadow Program

Dear Friends in the Sequoia HS Community,

Another school year has arrived, and for us at Sequoia, that means another chance to welcome visiting 8th graders for a first look at the school. Our Shadow Program provides the unique opportunity to accompany a current Sequoia student throughout the school day. In our process, we make every effort to match our shadows and hosts based on curricular and extracurricular interests submitted during registration. In addition to seeing a host's regularly scheduled academic classes, we will kick things off with a general introductory information session (8:00-8:30) and will end the day with a summative question/answer session over a complimentary lunch in our Student Activities Center, ending the day at noon. Parents are also welcome to attend both the introduction session as well as an optional informational session from 8:30-9:15.

Shadow dates can be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that the program has become very popular and early dates can fill up fast. the program will open for electronic registration on Wednesday, September 11 on the SHADOWS PAGE (Home Page > Parents and Community > 8th Grade Shadowing Program) of the Sequoia HS website. Please feel free to contact shadow coordinator Corey Uhalde ( with any questions or comments.

Corey Uhalde

Sequoia High School
Director of Student Activities
Head Coach Varsity Baseball

Woodside High School Parent Night

See the flier below for information about the Woodside High School Parent Night for 7th and 8th grade families.

Pictures From This Week

September Events

Friday, September 13: Tie Dye Spirit Day; Pool Noodle Challenge, Lunch, Outside of Room 534/535; Grand Canyon Application due by 3:15 pm

Tuesday, September 17: WEB Leader Hunt, Brunch, Around Campus

Thursday, September 19: Back To School Night, 6:00-7:30 pm

Tuesday, September 24: PTO Meeting, 7:00 pm, Library

Wednesday, September 25: Site Council, 3:15 pm, Library

Friday, September 27: Missing Card Challenge, Lunch, Outside of Room 534/535