Island Trees Memorial Middle School

The Home-School Connection

February 5, 2018

Hello All.

It was a banner week at Island Trees Memorial Middle School! We found out on Monday that each of our school's History Bee champions had qualified for the regional competition, which will be held on April 16th in Yonkers, NY. On Sunday, February 4th, three teams from our Lego Robotics Club participated in the Lego Robotics Regional Competition.

I have the good fortune of walking our hallways, visiting classrooms, and working with your children throughout the week. I have been incredibly impressed by the intellectual curiosity, innovative mindset, and productivity of your children and their teachers. Thank you, as always, for your support of our school and the many programs designed to challenge and inspire your children.

Coming Up:

With the great support of our PTSA, we will welcome Rohan Murphy to ITMMS on Monday, February 12th. Please see the resources attached here.

Our PTSA has also made it possible to arrange for an assembly program built around the documentary Screenagers. All students at ITMMS will view Screenagers on Tuesday, February 27th. Please see the film's website. Screenagers is an award-winning film that probes into the vulnerable corners of family life and depicts messy struggles over social media, video games and academics. The film offers solutions on how we can help our kids navigate the digital world.

Please come out to support our great performers, set designers, directors, and production assistants as we stage Fiddler on the Roof JR. this week. Additional information is included below.


As you peruse this newsletter, please review the materials related to IT Community Learns Night. This important evening has been created to highlight issues associated with the health and wellness of our children. Workshop topics will include risks and signs of substance abuse, the dangers and health impact of social media, and nature of cyberbullying in our digital world.

I would also ask that you carefully review the PTSA's Board Nominations Form as well as the information regarding the PTSA Honorary Life Award. Your continued support of our PTSA is an integral part of the Home-School connection.

You may also be interested in one or more of the programs listed under Contests & Competitions. These competitions are beyond the curriculum but do hold the possibility of inspiring, motivating, and tapping into the areas that most interest our students.

Additionally, I would encourage you to review the Healthy Kids section of this newsletter. This section includes a number of resources that promote safe and healthy behaviors for our adolescent learners.

As always, thank you for all that you do to support our school and connect with us in so many meaningful ways.

Please enjoy this week's newsletter.

Mr. Keegan

Lego Robotics Regional Competition (2/4/18)

The LEGO League Robotics team won two awards at the Regional Competition on February 5th at Mineola High School. One of our teams won the Judges Award. This award goes to the team that improvises and overcomes a difficult situation while still making a respectable showing, with an attitude that shows, “We can overcome incredible odds if we never give up, no matter what!”

Another one of our teams won the Core Values Inspiration Award. This award celebrates a team that is empowered by their FIRST LEGO League experience and displays extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit. These awards show the amazing accomplishments of our students and their dedication to always learning and collaborating.

Please see the attached photos from the amazing day we had yesterday and our team photo from this morning.

Special commendations go out to Mr. Cava and Mr. Groneman for their amazing leadership and guidance.

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History Bee

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On Tuesday, January 2, 2018, the students at ITMMS participated in the prestigious National History Bee Competition. All students competed in the first round of the event in their social studies classes. Students with the top twenty school-wide scores qualified for the semi-final round which took place on Thursday, January 11, 2018. At the conclusion of the last round, five students qualified as finalists:

Sukhman Jaswal (7th grade)

Maximillian Reilly (7th grade)

Aidan Coffey (8th grade)

Nicholas Isaacs (8th grade)

Aarshia Sharma (8th grade)

During the next round, all five students took an online test graded by the History Bee administrators. We are happy to announce that all five of our students have qualified to represent Island Trees at the Regional Finals on April 16th in Yonkers, New York.

Congratulations to our finalists and best of luck in the Finals! We are so proud of your accomplishment!

By the Content of Our Character Winter Challenge

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By the Content of our Character Winter Challenge

Inspired by the words and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, and understanding adolescence as a critically important stage in human development, the Island Trees Memorial Middle School staff has created a month-long, character-centered calendar to help our students "practice" ways to grow the traits associated with high character. I ask that you continue to speak to each "task" at home and support our school-wide efforts to support the growth of our students in all ways.

To the extent possible, please continue to reference this calendar at home and with your children. This four-week stretch leading to Winter Recess provides a focused period for us to rally around around character development and to promote the habits that support positive behaviors and student growth.

When History & Literature Collide

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When History and Literature Collide

By aligning their study on the American Revolution with the novel, My Brother Sam is Dead, 7th grade students at ITMMS created outstanding interdisciplinary projects in their ELA and social studies classes. Students honed in on their literary and research skills, artistic talents and historical knowledge to create their very own time capsules. Each one included student created artifacts, postcards, letters, diary entries and even their original recruitment posters and book jackets. Students clearly took pride in their work and applied their understanding of the time period and this engaging novel in such creative ways!

Thank you to Ms. Siniscalchi and Mrs. Villano for organizing this worthwhile learning experience, and to all our 7th grade teachers and students for participating!

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Fiddler on the Roof JR.

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In Case You Missed It

Be sure to follow Island Trees Memorial Middle School on Twitter for daily updates from our classrooms, club meeting rooms, playing fields, and the stage. @islandtreesmms
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IT Community Learns

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Please join us on February 12th at 6:45 PM for an important evening of learning. This event will feature timely and powerful workshops that will address the social, physical, and emotional health of our children.

Jamie Bogenshutz and Corinne Alba of the YES Community Counseling Center will be engaging parents and students (Grades 5-12) in open dialogue about the risks and signs of substance abuse and the power of making healthy choices in today's world.

Danielle Messineo of the Federal Bureau of Investigation will captivate both parents and students with hard-hitting information about social media safety, digital footprints, and the positive effect of making sound decisions when posting, texting, and communicating.

Please complete the registration form posted below.

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PTSA Nominations

PTSA Honorary Life Nomination

The Honorary Life Award is the highest recognition annually awarded by the Island Trees PTSA at the Island Trees District Dinner. This award is bestowed upon an individual who has been outstanding in his or her dedication and service to the children in our community.

Is there a person who has generously donated his/her time, talent or skill to improve or enrich the lives of the youth in our community? Do you believe this person deserves to be honored in a special way?

If you would like to nominate a member of our community who you feel is deserving of this award, please send us the name of the candidate, together with a brief summary of his or her contributions. Please be sure to sign your letter. Anonymous letters will not be considered.

Please submit your recommendations to ITPTSA Honorary Life Committee, Attention: Maureen Dieppa,, by March 1, 2018.

The Honorary Life Committee will read all of the nominations and choose the candidate that has the most outstanding letter. If your letter is chosen, please make sure you are available on April 26th to read your letter at the District Dinner, where the winner will be announced.

If you have any questions, please call Maureen Dieppa at 796-6563.

PTSA Founder's Day

Yearbook News

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Healthy Kids

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Grades & the Growth Mindset for Parents

As you visit the Parent Portal and review grades throughout the quarter, please be sure to review some of the Growth Mindset resources included below. The midpoint of a quarter provides an excellent opportunity for students, teachers, and families to examine the differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. This discussion can also help to reboot a student who may feel as though he/she can never do well in a particular course.

Stay Connected

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Our Hallways are Popping with Student Work

Walk the hallways of Island Trees Memorial Middle School on any day it is quite likely that there will be a new display that forces one to stop. Our teachers and students continue to create projects and produce work that illustrates deep learner, creativity, and student personality. While many of our projects and assignments have migrated to the digital form, many of our students and teachers continue to create wonderful displays that now proudly grace our hallways.
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As a father with young children and a middle level educator, it is important that I use the resources available to me to find age appropriate and meaningful experiences, books, apps, and tech tools that support growth. One website that I refer to often is Common Sense Media. As your child may be interested in books, apps, movies, and games, you may find the reviews and ranking helpful.

The Mission of Common Sense Media:

Common Sense is the leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. We empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.

Common Sense Media helps families make smart media choices. We offer the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites, books, and music. Our Parent Concerns and Parent Blog help families understand and navigate the problems and possibilities of raising children in the digital age.

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No Place for Hate

Our No Place for Hate initiative is launched! On Wednesday, December 13th, all students at Island Trees Memorial Middle School signed the Resolution of Respect, a pledge which committed them to respecting others, combatting prejudice, and standing up for the dignity of others. Our committee has met to discuss activities and programs for the school-year, and it is our belief that No Place for Hate will have a strong a positive impact on our school community.
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With public displays of hate on the rise, it is more important than ever for schools to commit to programs that clearly define expectations in behavior for all members of the community. Whether you are a student, educator, or family member, you have a role to play in combating bias and bullying as a means to stop the escalation of hate.

Island Trees Memorial Middle School is excited to announce our partnership with the ADL's No Place for Hate Movement. No Place for Hate is a self-directed program helping all of the stakeholders take the lead on improving and maintaining school climate so all students can thrive. To be designated No Place for Hate, a school must complete the following:

  • needs assessment
  • formation of a No Place for Hate committee
  • signing of the Resolution of Respect
  • one A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute anti-bias or bullying prevention training program (optional in some regions)
  • design and implementation of three school-wide anti-bias or bullying prevention activities

We look forward to your support and ideas as we work with our students and school community to promote respect, understanding, and positive interpersonal behaviors.

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Read Every Day Initiative

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Walk around our school before Homeroom, step onto buses at dismissal, or circle the cafeteria during a lunch period and you are likely to find students buried in a book. No, not only a school-assigned book, but one that is driven by a passion or a particular interest. Though we have and will continue to create many opportunities to promote reading across the curriculum, we would ask that you continue to support your child's independent reading outside of school.

Read Every Day Initiative

Island Trees Memorial Middle School requires all students to have a book of their choice with them at all times. Teachers often set aside 5-10 minutes of class time to silent reading in order to promote reading stamina and skill development.

We also have students read whenever there is any downtime in class. Most importantly, teachers very often to read with their students. This has really had an impact on students reading because they see our love as well. We have had kids make quick review posters for other classmates who might need an idea of a book to read.

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If You Are Looking For...

Thank you for connecting with our school in so many ways. Whether it has been at a trip meeting for Greenkill or Washington DC, Meet the Teacher Night, or the 5th Grade Welcome, it is clear that the home-school connection is strong. I wanted to use this section to remind all of the ways in which we continue to connect with families.
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The Daily Bulletin

Please be reminded that our school's daily announcements are posted on our website. These announcements come from teachers, coaches, and club advisors. Please be sure to review these announcements by selecting the "Daily Bulletin" link on our school's website.

Homework Online

Our teachers work hard to keep families connected to their classroom by posting homework to our website. Please be sure to review the "Homework Online" link on our school's website.

Home-School Connection Newsletter

Maybe you read something in a school newsletter and wanted to go back to review. Perhaps you missed a newsletter but heard it was worth reading. Find all of our Home-School newsletters on our school's webpage and in the Archives section found below.


Want to celebrate so many of the great things happening in our schools? Sign up for our IT-Grams and IT-Grams will be sent directly to your inbox. You can also view our library of IT-Grams from our website. The screenshot below is an illustration of the form found on our website to sign up for IT-Grams.
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Let's Stay in Touch

Though decisions regarding the use of social media should be made by families, it is important to know that adolescents are increasingly drawn to this medium. The Island Trees Memorial Middle School will make every effort to model the appropriate use of social media and support your children as they navigate the digital age. Though e-mail and phone calls are still welcome and useful, we will seek to leverage the power of technology to provide school-based updates in multiple formats. To this end and to keep the lines of communication open between home and school, we ask that you consider following ITMMS on the platforms below.

Contests & Competitions

This space highlights the many programs that are geared toward middle-level learners.

Please encourage your child to participate in competitions and contests that speak to his/her passions and interests.

Generation Nano: Superheroes Inspired by Science

The National Science Foundation and the National Nanotechnology Initiative are sending up the signal and asking for your help!

Optimus Prime Spinoff Promotion & Research Challenge

Students are asked to use their imagination and creativity to identify NASA Spinoff technology in their everyday world.

NYS Student Research Awards

The contest is open to all New York State students in grades 4 – 12 who use historical records in their research projects. The deadline for entries is July 1, 2018. Three awards will be presented in the Fall of 2018.

C-Span's Student Cam

“THE CONSTITUTION & YOU” Choose a provision of the U.S. Constitution and create a video illustrating why it's important to you.

Flocabulary Shout-Out Contest

Every Thursday at 6 PM EST, we'll announce the week's contest prompt. You have a week to submit your entry. The contest closes when we post a new prompt.

Parenting & Middle School

This section has been created to help parents and families better understand the needs and characteristics of young adolescents. The research and briefs shared below highlight the significant changes that our students are going through and the ways in which families and schools can best support our children.

Essential Resources

Please bookmark the following websites as they will be important points of reference throughout the year. Each site will be update throughout the year, providing timely and important updates regarding our academic and co-curricular programs.
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