Newsletter, January 2021

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Optimistically Adventuring into Quarter Three

To say this school year has been different is probably an understatement to most. However, at HMS, we can proudly suggest that this school year has offered us opportunities to plan, prepare and execute education in ways never explored. Do challenges exist? Absolutely. Are the hurdles great? Yes. Are we prepared to overcome and thrive? You bet! Educators have been working diligently to provide the very best for their students despite the mode of learning, teaching at times, in two very different worlds at the same time (synchronous learning). Both, educators and students, have demonstrated resilience, grit and a strong commitment to personal growth and academic achievement. As expectations increase or changes occur, all stakeholders rise to the occasion.

We will continue to follow our district's health and safety practices and procedures, while staying abreast and evaluative of new research and aligned protocol. The health and safety of our students and staff will remain at the forefront, with student learning at the center of everything we represent.

May every teacher, student and parent feel optimistic and growth-oriented during this next quarter of school! Please let me know if I can be of assistance to your family.


Kyley Gatz, Principal

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Exciting News From Your School Counselor:

TeamMates is a school-based, one-to-one mentoring program co-founded by Dr. Tom and Nancy Osborne. The focus of the mentoring relationship is for an adult volunteer to help build a positive relationship with a student so as to help them reach their full potential. We are excited to have the TeamMates program come to Hiawatha this spring. We will begin the program for grades 5-8, while looking to expand in the future.

TeamMates is a strength-based program that focuses on meeting the students where they are each day. Mentors help students to focus on their strengths and build upon them while building strong relationships. Safety of both the students and mentors is a high priority for this program, so all interactions and communication between the mentors and mentees is facilitated through the school.

When the relationship between mentor and a mentee is established, both people benefit from the experience. Not only does the student have someone they can relate to and look forward to meeting with each week, but attendance at school improves, course performance increases, and behaviors tend to decrease.

It is our belief that all students can benefit from having mentors in their lives. Being a mentor doesn’t take much. Just showing up for an hour a week for a student is all it takes. You don’t have to be great at school or know everything there is to know about a middle school student. A mentor simply shows up each week because they said they would.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor please go to www.teammates.org to find out more.

For any questions about the program please contact Kim Krauter @ kkrauter@usd415.org or by calling Hiawatha Middle School 785-742-4172.

Updates from the HMS Music Department

Mr. Hatfield, Vocal Music

The 2020-21 school year has had its' fair share of challenges regarding Covid, but the arts took a significant hit this year. The NFHS gathered together a coalition of people to put together an aerosol study to determine how musicians spread the virus and what actions need to be in place to be safe. If you want a short write-up from NFHS, check out their website. But the main actions requested are as follows; all members where a mask (double-layer MINIMUM) the entire time, rehearsals are limited to 30 minutes, and then the air MUST circulate out and the room must be cleared between air changes, and of course, the 6 ft. spacing for every member. With classes that have 30-40 students in them with no breaks in between, that can cause many issues for our normal practices.

This has prompted a change in the curriculum for the moment. Lots of trying new things and seeing what sticks for the students. While singing would normally make a good chunk of what we do, we had to get creative for this year. Much of what we did and will continue to do is to develop a stronger appreciation for all kinds of music. We spent time talking about the genres of music ranging from rock to country to pop. On Wednesday's we bring out the truly weird and "out there" music in "Weird Music Wednesday", from Acapella covers to computerized voices. Along with appreciation for music, we also work to refine music reading skills like rhythm reading and note-name reading. We accomplish this with regular review, games, and activities. We are encouraging students to tap into their emotions and thoughts by connecting the music they're hearing with stories they are writing. After listening, we talk about the composer's inspirations and any historical context that comes with it. While this year has been made difficult with the challenges of Covid, we are maneuvering them and providing a different, but equally important, musical education for your students.

Ms. Bateman, Band

During this school year, COVID-19 has presented many challenges for the world of performing arts. Scientific studies executed over the summer have shown us that the respiratory particles we emit while talking, playing instruments, and singing can put us at a high risk for exposure if we do not take the proper safety measures. Some of the safety guidelines put in place from these studies include staying six feet apart at all times, and only playing in thirty minute increments. It has been my goal as both an educator and a musician to make sure my students are able to continue learning and sharing music, but also having fun in the safest way possible.

At the beginning of the school year, the 5th Grade Beginning Band class had the opportunity to spend time learning about the individual instruments, and were able to try out the mouthpieces of each instrument before they decided what they would like to play. The 6-8 band classes began the year by being able to go outside to play their instruments. With the cold weather bringing us back inside, I feel that this year has given students in the band classes the opportunity to learn about other musical aspects they normally might not get as much time on in a typical school year. At the beginning of 2021, I knew I needed to find some way to be able to bring playing back to the classroom. With extensive research and organization, I was able to come up with a plan that guaranteed the students would get playing time back in the classroom. This week, the middle school band classes began their new schedule. The band classes are now playing in small groups each week (Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion), so every student can have at least one playing day a week in class. When the students are not playing, they are working on paper or chromebook assignments on topics such as music theory, listening, critiquing, and researching. Since the classes are now typically broken into smaller groups, the playing group utilizes the space in the cafeteria, and the students working on their other assignment for the week are in the music room. The students also have been given tools and resources to be able to continue practicing their instruments at home. Flipgrid has been an easy source for students to use to submit recordings of themselves playing. I always welcome any student who is struggling to reach out and find a time we could individually zoom or meet after school for extra help on their instruments. Although it is not quite safe enough to go back to full group playing indoors, I feel this plan will provide consistency for the students, and give them the excitement of playing during the school day again. The students and myself are both very excited to have instruments back in the classroom!

Intervention at HMS....a glimpse into the essentials

Attention to Interventions by Marissa LeMay, Title Coordinator:

The current pandemic has changed many aspects of how children at USD 415 are learning, but it hasn’t changed the dedication within its educators to provide the best learning opportunities possible. Despite the challenges, schools in Hiawatha have begun incorporating reading and math interventions into their educating routines to benefit their students.

The district’s interventions are part of the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) model, a framework model that promotes data-based, continuous learning for all students, no matter their skill level. For interventions, children are divided into tiered groups based on data from screeners and assessments and put into groups that meet the needs of that specific tier of students. Tier 1 students are those that are on grade level and benefit from the reinforcement of grade level skills to prevent loss of skills. Tier 2 students are those that benefit from the reinforcement of grade level skills, but also have targeted skill deficits that they need to strengthen. Tier 3 students are those that benefit from intensive, targeted instruction of skill deficits.

A child is not considered to have severe academic challenges just because they are in an intervention group. Interventions are not a “cure” for children that struggle. However, they can provide support in filling academic gaps over time. Children with disabilities are not placed in the most intensive tiers just because of their disability. Tiered groups are based on academic skill deficits. Students within intervention groups are frequently monitored. If academic success is not being met, the data obtained is used to pivot instruction to warrant success for each student. It’s no wonder the district has chosen to give attention to interventions.

Congratulations to our HMS Teachers--USD 415 Teacher of the Month Recognition Program

Nurse News

I would like to thank all parents/guardians of our HMS students on your diligence to get doctor notes sent over when your child is ill, quarantined, testing, etc. and for keeping me updated on health changes for your kids! As we continue to see a variety of illnesses including strep throat, stomach viruses, and COVID-19 cases, it is imperative to the health and safety of others to keep your student home when they have a fever of 100.0 F or greater, or 2 or more symptoms of COVID-19 (sore throat, congestion/runny nose, cough, body aches, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, headache, chills/shivers, changes in senses of smell and taste, or extreme fatigue). Quarantine has been very frustrating for students, parents, and staff, but luckily we are seeing an increased compliance to wear our masks correctly (covering the nose and mouth), which in turn is helping to keep more students in school when a positive case does arise. Please continue to reiterate the importance of mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing at home so that we can continue our in-person learning!

Please remember, due to COVID-19 restrictions, water fountains are not operational this school year. Because of this, students will need to make sure they bring their water bottles to school every day. Water bottle filling stations are available in the schools for your student to refill as needed throughout the day. It is also handy to keep an extra mask in your student’s backpack or Chromebook case for those busy mornings that they may feel rushed or simply forget to bring one to school with them.

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The mission of Hiawatha Middle School is to provide all students with life-long learning skills and opportunities for academic, personal, and social growth in a safe and orderly environment. The educational program is designed to enable students to become productive citizens in an ever-changing society.