MVMS Pride Newsletter

September 2018

Here We Go!

It is hard to believe that we are already a month in to the 2018/2019 school year! The refreshing energy of the students and staff have been a joy to have back in the building. The overall climate of the building has been very positive, and students of all grades seem to be enjoying themselves!


Parent and student Alma accounts are live. Thank you to everyone who has activated their account and begun navigation. We look forward to the improved communication that Alma allows for our students and their families. So far, the feedback from parents has been overwhelmingly positive.

If you have students at multiple schools, you will use the same user name / password for each child; however, you must log in through the school Alma portal associated with the child you are trying to view. A shortcut to the MVMS portal can be found below or on the middle school's website. For quick and easy access, we suggest bookmarking the portal page as a favorite. We've included a button below that will take you to the middle school log in as well.

Here is a breakdown of what parents should see as they log in to their student accounts:

1. Directory - This is where you can access a database of MVMS staff members. In order to send a communication to any one of these staff members, simply click on the envelope icon next to their name, or the email address below their name.

2. Calendar - This provides a yearlong overview of MVMS events, holidays, and school vacations. The calendar on our MS website will have more detailed information and is the best source for dates/events.

3. Student Tab - This will show as your child's name (ie; Liam, Madison, etc). By clicking on this tab, parents will be able to access their child's schedule, attendance record, class assignments, grades, and report cards (after they are published).

4. My Info - This is where you can find your individual demographic information, including phone number, email address, and physical address. Your children are also listed in this area, as well as your emergency contacts. Our staff is still working to update this information from the biographical forms we sent home. Please contact us if information is not correct.

If you are having trouble logging in, have not received an activation email, or have general questions about Alma, please contact the main office.


With the implementation of Alma, as well as this year's new grading system, there are some factors we hope students and parents will consider in terms of their student's grades:

Missing Assignments - Students should be communicating with teachers around missing assignments. Whether it is something a student did not complete or a student missed due to an absence, communication with the teacher is key to ensure the student completes their work. Alma makes it very easy for students and parents to send a quick email to their teacher(s).

Scores Posted to Alma - Teachers work hard to update Alma regularly. Please keep in mind that teachers may not necessarily have the time to grade and input the grade into Alma immediately after an assignment is handed in. Please be patient and feel free to follow up with teachers if you are concerned about a grade.

Point Values - Assignments entered into Alma carry a point value. The point values should be listed in the description of the assignment. Some assignments may only be worth a small number of points (ex. homework) while others will be worth more (ex. unit exam). A poor grade on an assignment that has a low point value can be easily made up for as the class goes on.


This year we are excited to have multiple opportunities for students to experience hands on, experiential learning, while utilizing technology and engineering principles. The implementation of our new Innovation Lab as well as the return of Project Lead the Way, provide unique experiences for students.

Innovation Lab

Innovation Lab is a new class at MVMS. This class is designed to make students think outside the box about solving challenges. These challenges can be related to real life situations. For each challenge, the students are asked to answer the following questions with detail: What is the SCIENCE behind this challenge? Which TECHNOLOGY did you use to solve this challenge? What was your ENGINEERING design solution for this challenge? Which ART skills did you use with this challenge? What MATH data can you record from this challenge?

Project Lead the Way

Students are starting their PLTW/STEM courses by completing introductory, open-ended team challenges. Although each grade level is completing their own unique challenge, the goals for each grade level are the same. Regardless of whether they have been challenged with innovating a common household item, designing strong and lightweight structures, or utilizing robotic structures to construct a transportation system for a marble, our true goal is to familiarize the students with our new competencies. By completing the PLTW/STEM courses, students should be able to: effectively solve problems; utilize the knowledge and skills obtained from the class; and demonstrate proper communication and teamwork.

6th grade students have started their journey through the world of STEM and Engineering Education by investigating a common household object and innovating its design to improve its function and appearance. Currently, students are utilizing the Autodesk Inventor program to create virtual prototypes of their designs. During the last week of September, we will then 3D print each design so that we can evaluate if we have met our goal of designing a functional and appealing paperclip.

7th grade students were challenged with the task of designing, building, and testing a strong lightweight structure capable of holding a significant amount of weight. In this case, the structures were built from straws and tape, and were required to carry the load of an orange as high in the air as possible. At the conclusion of the challenge, students were told that this would be the last year for this challenge because of the negative impact of plastic straws on the environment, and were then required to research and answer this writing prompt: “Every solution introduces new problems that must be solved. In our case, the use of straws has a negative impact on the environment. What recycling method or re-use could we develop that would help alleviate this impact?”

(See below for our showcase video)

The focus for 8th grade PLTW/STEM is on automation and robotics. Utilizing our new VEX robotics structural components, students' opening challenge titled, “Slow as You Go,” required teams to design and build a structure that was capable of transporting a marble from one location to another as slowly as possible. By completing this challenge, students were reintroduced to effective problem-solving strategies and the skills necessary to work within a team structure.

Important Documents

This year, MVMS will not be sending home printed copies of the Free and Reduced Lunch or Dental Clinic paperwork. These forms can be accessed by clicking on the below links. PRINTED COPIES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE MAIN OFFICE UPON REQUEST. Links to all important paperwork can be found on the MVMS website under the Documents and Forms tab.

Save the Date

  • October 2 - Photo Re-take Day
  • October 5 - No School - Teacher Workshop Day
  • October 26 - DC Pep Rally (8th Grade Only)

Merrimack Valley Middle School

MVMS's mission is to promote an environment that teaches students to be active learners, critical thinkers, and responsible citizens in an ever-changing global society.