The Merrill Minute

September 13, 2019

Independent Reading

Greetings, Merrill Families,

Our faculty at Merrill is continuing to inquire into how we can best strengthen student learning. We are regularly reminded in our inquiry of the value of wide reading. Below are two highlights that really struck us.

“The habit of daily reading…overwhelmingly correlates with better reading skills and high academic achievement.” The author continues, “It only makes sense that students should be reading something in every class every day related to the content, ideally something so interesting that they will want to continue reading outside of class.”

This Is Disciplinary Literacy: Reading, Writing, Thinking, and Doing…Content Area by Content Area by Lent, 2016

"It is estimated that students who read independently for 20 minutes per day will read over 1 million more words per year than a student who reads 10 minutes per day. In theory adolescents should spend two to four hours per day engaged in literacy-connected learning across content area classes, reading many millions of words per year."

-Building Background Knowledge Through Reading: Rethinking Text Sets by Lupo, Strong, et al., 2017

To this end, every Friday morning this year our students and faculty are participating in 20 minutes of independent reading followed by time to discuss what we read with each other. In addition, we encourage students to ALWAYS be carrying a book with them to read when they have a few minutes here or there.

As you can see from the chart below, time spent reading adds up to significant word exposure. Continue to encourage your middle school student to set aside a little time each day to read. They can read books, blogs, newspapers, tables, graphs, lyrics, magazines, infographics, etc. As expected, students who have some autonomy in choosing what they read, tend to be more engaged in reading.

Yours in curling up with a good book,


Kathryn Panek


Merrill Middle School

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Attendance (515)242-8358

If you need to report an absence, a late arrival, or an early dismissal for your student, please e-mail Mrs. Grace at or call the attendance office at (515)242-8358 by 9:00 AM the day of the absence. If calling before 8:00 AM or after 4:00 PM, please leave a message and Mrs. Grace will record the absence. Reporting your student's absence through Merrill Attendance will assure that the absence is recorded accurately and in a timely manner. Thank you!

Mustang Events (Weekly Calendar and Daily Announcements)

To find out what's happening each day at Merrill, please check out the Mustang Event link by heading to the Merrill Homepage--->Students--->Mustang Events.

Mustang Events (Weekly Calendar and Daily Announcements)

Merrill PTA - Monday, September 23 at 6:30

Merrill PTA’s focus is simple. We help our students, teachers, and staff.

The school or PTA identify a need, and the PTA works with staff, families, and the Des Moines community to address it. Throughout the year, PTA will ask for donations – time, financial or in-kind. Watch your email for on-going volunteer and donation opportunities along with our meeting dates. We greatly appreciate your support of our students, teachers, and staff.

September 2019 Update!

First Meeting Date: Monday, September 23, 2019 at 6:30pm in the Merrill Library. All families make up the Merrill PTA. We are not a “members only” organization.

Thank you to the many families that have provided sponsorships already this year. Please click the link below for more details in our “membership form”. Note: all families are members regardless of financial donations!

Merrill PTA Membership Form OR donate online through our Facebook Page HERE!

Last year, the PTA gifted all students and staff a great Merrill t-shirt. This year, all 6th grade students, new to Merrill 7th and 8th grade students, and new staff will receive the same t-shirt for free. We are collecting sizes from the students this week and will provide a delivery date once we place the order.

Beyond this, PTA is hosting an online Merrill apparel sale with a deadline of Friday, September 20, 2019. Place your order online and PTA will deliver the orders to students the second week in October.

2018-2019 PTA

President: Rose Green

Treasurer: Theresa Chivers

Secretary / Communications: Holly Kilborn O’Neall

Membership & Community Relationships: Sarah Witt

Merrill Matters Parent Education: Vacant

Apparel: Megan Tempero

IB Liaison: Marquis Ellis

Helping Hands: Julie Hahn

Teacher Appreciation: Sarah Ramsey

Scholastic Book Fairs: Karina Casini

School Supply Kits: Emily Cataldi

Box Tops: Amy Dagitz

Order Merrill Apparel Here!

Below is a sample of available items. More styles are available on-line. Click to see more!

And I Would Walk 500 Hundred Miles

A huge thank you to community volunteer, Willard Olesen, who spent Labor Day weekend transforming the walking path from Shriver to Merrill. It takes so many volunteers to accomplish what we do everyday. Thank you, Dad!
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Go Hawkeyes!

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Upcoming Dates

PTA Meeting in Merrill Media Center

Monday, September 23 6:30

No School - Professional Development

Friday, September 27

Fall Conferences:

October 31 from 8:15 AM - 3:15 PM

November 4 from 4:00 PM -7:30 PM