AMS Cougar News

Sunday, February 5, 2023

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Principal's Message

Dear AMS Cougar Families,

February is Black History Month. Black scholar Carter G. Woodson is considered the father of the movement that led to this month-long celebration of how Black individuals have contributed to the advancement of human civilization. While he began organizing this idea in 1915, it was not until 1926 that a week in February to honor Black history was announced. He chose February as it was the birth month for both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, who played prominent roles in shaping Black history. In 1976 the week-long celebration shifted into a month-long one. Here are some additional resources for your family: Carter G. Woodson biography , events and resources from, and the Center for Racial Justice in Education resource guide for educators and families.

My second topic is much less celebratory and it is an increase in students not complying with the school's cell phone policies. I have had several parents state that they did not know that we had a cell phone policy, so I want to highlight the expectations here and how you can support our efforts to keep students safe and focused on learning. If a student is going to bring a cell phone to school, they must place it in their locker from 8:30 AM until 3:30 PM. This policy is pretty simple. Students often state that their parents have told them they are to break this rule and not put their cell phones away. Here are some reasons that not following this rule is problematic. First, it is hard for us all to break ourselves away from the draw of social media and the unlimited resources of the Internet. If it is a challenge for us as adults, it is nearly impossible for pre-teens and teens to manage that level of self-control. When I am supposed to be working on my doctoral work on the weekend, I often have to place my phone in another room so that I will not succumb to the distraction and can get some work done; having students leave their phones at home or placing them in their locker, gives them the freedom to stay focused on their academics, which is why we come to school. Second, phones today are a financial investment. Bringing one into the school comes with the risk of it getting broken, lost, or even stolen. Locking them away for the majority of the day protects this investment. School staff can not waste resources of manpower and time to look for an item that we have asked for students to either leave at home or keep locked up. Third, the majority of bullying issues that creep into our school day come from things said on social media while students are off campus. While we can not control student's access to these platforms when they are at home, we can do so here at school to support our efforts to have a bully-free zone. Finally, being a part of a community comes with a promise to uphold the community's expectations. In this case, this has been a clear and consistent expectation from before the school year started. As a parent/guardian, please partner with us in sending the same message to your student(s).

Congratulations to our MATHCOUNTS Team for placing 5th in the region on Saturday!

Please consider joining Matt Whiteside, Instructional Technology Director for Asheville City Schools, on February 7th from 6:00 PM to 7:15 PM in partnership with adolescent internet use expert and psychologist Teodora Pavkovic for a session on how to keep the Internet safer for your students. This event will be held over ZOOM and is free to the public. There is more information in an article later in this newsletter. You can register in advance for this online information session here.

Insurance regulations do not allow students to use microwaves in K-8 schools. Please do not send your student to school with a meal that needs heating.

If you have not already, please send your student's report card back to school signed. Sixth and seventh grade students also had field trip permission forms attached. All grade levels of students had an Impact Aid Survey and a Panorama Letter. If your student did not bring home a report card, please check with them to see if it somewhere in their bookbag. If it is not, then please ask them to ask for another report card from their advisory teacher. If that does not work, please reach out to their advisory teacher for another copy.

Afternoon Academy will start this week on Monday, Ferbruary 6. This is an opportunity for students who need support with homework, classwork, or general concepts to get support from a certified staff member. Students should report to the cafeteria at dismissal. Tutoring will end right before 5:00 and students will be escorted to the front loop for pickup at 5:00 PM. I hope to have information soon about bus transportation to limited locations. For now, the bus is not yet up and running. Please submit this form if your student will attend any of the days this week. We will use this form on an ongoing basis so that we can plan for snacks, volume of students, etc.

On a final note, our school counselors are critical to the work that we do here at AMS. This week is National School Counseling Week. While the purpose is to focus public attention on the unique contribution of school counselors within US school, I think many of you already know all the ways our counselors make a difference with our students. Beside helping students troubleshoot day to day problems, they hold lunch bunches, conduct classroom lessons, lead restorative circles, connect families with resources, and much more. This year's theme is Helping Students Dream Big. Please take a moment to send your student's counselor a note of gratitude for their hard work, and encourage your student to also thank them.

6th grade Jesse Pitt

7th grade Rachel Herrick

8th grade Karen Evans

Here's to another great week at Asheville Middle School!

Jo Landreth


Asheville Middle School

Hello-grams for sale this week for $1

The Gender-Sexuality Alliance is selling Hello-grams to raise money for The Sandy Hook Promise. The mission of Sandy Hook Promise is to educate and empower youth and adults to prevent violence in schools, homes, and communities. A Hello-gram is a message to a friend, just to say hello, with a sucker attached! Students will be invited to purchase Hello-grams for $1 February 7-10 during lunch. Messages will be delivered on Tuesday, February 14 during advisory.
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Period Project Education Event

Ms. Noblitt and a group of seventh grade students are working to get period products supplied in all of the girls restrooms and staff/student restrooms. Now through February 10, Target at 115 River Hills Rd is collecting period product donations for AMS. On February 22, ACSF and Planned Parenthood are co-hosting an education event and donation bin making party 3:30-5 in the media center. February 24-26 multiple businesses will put out collection bins for AMS. Our goal is to have period products freely available in the bathrooms starting in March.

PTO meeting on Zoom this week



Update on January Open House

Bus Driver Shortage and PTO Reponse

8th Grade Dance Update

January 2023 Financial Report

Upcoming Sale of Spirit Wear and Go Local Cards (via flyer to all students) - scheduled for late February

Upcoming Snack Drive for AMS Social Work Team - scheduled for late February

Seeking new Educator Appreciation Lead for PTO

Principal Update

Topic: AMS PTO - February Meeting
Time: Feb 7, 2023 05:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 833 8390 7184
Passcode: 050133
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,83383907184#,,,,*050133# US (Washington DC)
+13052241968,,83383907184#,,,,*050133# US

Safer Internet Day

Asheville City Schools invites you to join us as we take part in Safer Internet Day. This is a time to support safe internet use by students in our schools and community.

Safer Internet Day aims to not only create a safer internet but also a better internet, where everyone is empowered to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.

We have joined forces with a company called Linewize as we work to keep our students and staff safe online. Matt Whiteside, Instructional Technology Director for Asheville City Schools is hosting an online information session on February 7th from 6:00 PM to 7:15 PM in partnership with adolescent internet use expert and psychologist Teodora Pavkovic. This event will be held over ZOOM and is free to the public.

At this event, families will learn more about major social media and gaming platforms, the main online safety risks kids encounter today and what to do about them, and some actionable tips on how you can manage online safety and digital wellness at home. There will also be time for families to ask questions.

You can register in advance for this online information session here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Families can use Asheville City Schools digital wellness hub for additional resources. It contains the latest topics, trends, guides, and timely articles from digital wellness and online safety experts, specifically focused on child development.

We hope you will make plans to join us and as always, thank you for your continued support of Asheville City Schools.

NCAGT Virtual Coffee Chat for Parents

The North Carolina Association of Gifted and Talented (NCAGT) announces its first virtual coffee chat for parents. Come and share the joys and challenges of parenting high potential, gifted, and multi-exceptional children. This is open for all parents who want to learn more about nurturing and supporting gifted children. (Your student does not have to be formally identifed as gifted to participate in this opportunity.) The session will be moderated by NCAGT Board members. If you plan to attend the session, please complete the registration form.

Time: 7:00 - 8:00 pm

Date: Tuesday, Feb 7, 2023

Facilitators: NCAGT Board Members - Ms.Benna Haas & Dr.Dani Sullivan

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Student Grief Support Groups

We are fortunate to partner with Four Seasons Hospice grief services. The program, "Compass," offers free grief support for students and their families. At Asheville Middle School there is an opportunity for students to participate in small grief support groups or individual counseling related specifically to grief. These services are provided at no cost.

Grief counseling provided by Four Seasons is time-limited for the purpose of addressing grief that is related to the loss of a person by death. Professionally trained counseling staff utilize well-established, proven techniques. Students and their grief counselor will devise a plan to address their specific needs.

If you think this is a great fit for your student, please complete this form.

If you are interested in learning more, please let the AMS Counseling staff know!

We need volunteers!!!

Here are some upcoming needs:

Field trip chaperones in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades

End of Grade Test proctoring

Please complete the volunteer training process (see below) so that you are ready when we need you! Then let your student's teachers know that you are ready and willing!

ACS Volunteer Training Schedule

We love volunteers! Please get prepared now so that when the opportunity arises you can jump in to support our students. In order to work with a student or go on a field trip at AMS, you need to be a Level II Volunteer. That requires a one-time volunteer training AND an annual background check. Please go ahead and register for a training today. Spots are limited!

ACS Volunteer Training Schedule for 2022-2023

All level II volunteer training will be held virtually for the 2022-2023 school year. There are 20 slots available for each session. The sessions last 30 minutes. Please register at the Sign-up Genius link below

You will need to attend the entire session in order to receive credit for the training. Once the training session starts, you will not be allowed into the Zoom session. Attendance will be taken at the end of each session.

Tuesday, February 21, at 12:00 PM (@Boardroom at 85 Mountain St.)

Tuesday, March 14, at 12:00 PM (@Boardroom at 85 Mountain St.)

Thursday, April 13, at 12:00 PM (@Boardroom at 85 Mountain St.)

Link to the Background Check form:

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Applying for Educational Leave

Just a reminder from the AMS Family and Student Handbook:

Requests for educational leave should be completed and submitted to the principal at least two weeks in advance of the planned travel. No more than five days will be approved, and families must submit this form and students must submit the assigned work to have the absence coded as educational leave.

In order for an absence to be considered educational, the student must meet educational goals and standards as outlined in the Standard Course of Study. All standards are available here on the NC Department of Public Instruction website. These standards must be listed out on the form.

Educational Leave Form

COVID Reporting Form

Please complete this form if your student tests positive for COVID-19. Once this is completed, our COVID Coordinator, Josh Rigsby, will reach out to you about next steps.

Fall 2023 School Exclusion Criteria

School Health Program

A Division of the MAHEC Family Health Center

When to Keep Your Student Home from School

There are times when your student should not attend school. Keeping your student home at these times will prevent the spread of illness to other students at school. If you have questions, please contact your School Nurse, Lina Lam at 828-708-5328.


Difficulty breathing or other signs of serious illness - Keep student home. See Healthcare Provider.

**See COVID-19


Keep student home until they have no new sores for 24 hours AND all sores are dried and crusted.

**During an outbreak of chickenpox, students who are NOT vaccinated for chickenpox (Varicella) and have been in close contact with someone sick with the infection will not be allowed at school for 21 days after they were last exposed to chickenpox, even if not sick.

COVID-19 (positive antigen or PCR/molecular test)

Keep student home until:

• It has been at least 5 days after the first day of symptoms (or specimen collection date if asymptomatic); AND

• It has been at least 24 hours since the student had a fever (without using fever reducing medicine); AND

• Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving

**Student should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days after the first day of symptoms to minimize the risk of infecting others, unless an exemption to mask use applies. The student may remove their mask sooner following 2 sequential negative tests 48 hours apart.

COVID-19 symptoms, including: • Fever or chills • Cough • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing • Fatigue • Muscle or body aches • Headache • New loss of taste or smell • Sore throat • Congestion or runny nose • Nausea or vomiting • Diarrhea

Keep student home until:

  • Student has received a negative PCR/molecular test for COVID 19 OR an alternate diagnosis from a healthcare provider AND: o It has been at least 24 hours since the student had a fever (without using fever reducing medicine); AND
  • They have felt well for at least 24 hours


  • It has been at least 5 days after the first day of symptoms AND It has been at least 24 hours since the student had a fever (without using fever reducing medicine); AND Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving

**Unless student has received a negative PCR/molecular test or alternate diagnosis, they should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days after the first day of symptoms to minimize the risk of infecting others, unless an exemption to mask use applies. The student may remove their mask sooner following 2 sequential negative tests 48 hours apart.

Diarrhea that cannot be controlled and/or has blood/mucus in it or with a fever

Keep student home. See Healthcare Provider.

**See COVID-19

Fever with oral temperature 100.4 F or higher and not feeling well enough to participate in class. Keep student home until fever-free for 24 hours without using fever- reducing medicine such as Motrin or Tylenol

**See COVID-19

Head lice

If lice are first found at school, student may stay until end of the day but may not return until treatment has been started and all live lice are gone.

Illness that prevents the student from taking part in class activities easily - Student may return to school when able to take part in activities.


Keep student home until 24 hours after antibiotics have been started.


Keep student home if sore is draining and cannot be covered with a clean, dry bandage. Keep student home if they cannot keep from picking at sore.

Pink eye with white or yellow discharge or eye pain - Keep student home until seen by a healthcare provider and 24 hours after 1st dose of medicine, if prescribed.

Rash with fever or behavior change - Keep student home until seen by a healthcare provider and treated if needed.


If ringworm is first found at school, student may stay until end of the day if it can be covered. Student may not return until treatment has been started. Area must remain covered until completely healed.


Student must stay home until after treatment is complete.

Strep throat

Keep student home until 24 hours after antibiotics have been started.

Vomiting 2 or more times within 24 hours- Keep student home until able to tolerate regular diet.

**See COVID-19

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Optional Girls' Soccer Workouts are on Wednesdays from 4-5 through February 8. Soccer Tryouts are on February 13 & 14 from 4-5:30 PM. Both days are mandatory.

Two Weeks at a Glance

February 6-10: National School Counseling Week

February 6-10: Hello-grams for sale

Monday, February 6: Afternoon Academy until 5 PM (Sign up here)

Monday, February 6: Boys' Basketball vs. Cane Creek @ AC Reynolds (5:30 PM)

Monday, February 6: ACS Board of Education Work Session @ 85 Mountain St. (5 PM)

Tuesday, February 7: School Improvement Team Mtg in Room 219 (3:45 PM)

Tuesday, February 7: AMS PTO meeting on Zoom (5:30 PM)

Tuesday, February 7: Safer Internet Day on Zoom (6 PM)

Wednesday, February 8: Two Hour Delay schedule

Wednesday, February 8: Afternoon Academy until 5 PM (Sign up here)

Thursday, February 9: Afternoon Academy until 5 PM (Sign up here)

February 13-17: Love the Bus Week

Monday, February 13: NC Check-In Reading (6th-8th)

Monday, February 13: ACS Board of Education Regular Session @ 85 Mountain Street (5 PM)

Friday, February 17: Parent Teacher Conference Day; No School for Students

Beyond two weeks, but worth looking ahead at:

Monday, February 20: NC Check-In Science (8th only)

Tuesday, February 21: Community Night Featuring HW Diner & Superintendent Search Forum (5 PM)

Wednesday, February 22: Two Hour Delay schedule

Monday, February 27: NC Check-In Math (6th-8th)

Tuesday, March 7: Washington, DC Field Trip Parent Meeting (6 PM)