Merrill Minute

November 13, 2020

DMPS Returns to Virtual Learning Model

Greetings, Mustangs,

With the continued growing number of COVID-19 cases in Polk County, DMPS is transitioning to our Virtual Learning Model beginning this Monday, November 16, and extending through Monday, November 30. Under the waiver granted by the Iowa Department of Education, DMPS is tentatively scheduled to return to the hybrid model on Tuesday, December 1.

Beginning on Monday, November 16, we will use the Merrill Virtual Schedule below. It is the same schedule we started the year with; however, we will NOT have an advisory before 1st period. Instead, that time will be open for teachers to provide individual and small group instruction for students in need of support.

We know that this is a difficult time, that there seem to be more questions than answers, and that it is tricky to find a cadence to our daily lives. Our community is resilient. Below are my words of encouragement for the week...

1. This pandemic won't last forever. Things will get better.

2. It is normal for both students and adults to experience ups and downs.

3. You have a whole team at Merrill here to support you, listen to you, and help you.

4. It may not always feel like it, but students and staff are both hanging in there and approaching each day with flexibility and optimism.

5. Mustangs stick together. Mustangs on 3....1, 2, 3, MUSTANGS!

Yours in a "virtually" unforgettable school year,


Kathryn Panek, Principal

Merrill Middle School

Merrill Virtual Schedule

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We've got spirit!

We've got spirit, yes we do! We've got spirit wear just for YOU!

Below is a sample of items available through the Merrill Middle School PTA 2020 Apparel Sale. Click here to order today! The link will be active until November 29th with delivery expected a few weeks after that.

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Library Books

Book Box: A huge thank you to our PTA for purchasing the above book return box to help us keep the library operating smoothly during virtual learning.

2 Books - 2 Weeks: Students can checkout 2 books for a 2-week period. This allows our collection to keep rotating and honors the holds that have been placed by other students. Returned books will be quarantined for a minimum of 72 hours before the next checkout.

Merrill Online Catalog: Merrill's online catalog, including digital and audio books, can be found by navigating to the DMPS homepage > Students tab > Library Resources > Destiny Discover (Library Catalog).

After choosing "Merrill," students login with their district email address & computer password to self check-out eBooks and audiobooks.

Click here to watch a video with step-by-step directions.

Heartland AEA Online Catalog: Also, through our partnership with Heartland AEA, DMPS students have access to hundreds of Ebooks and Audiobooks on Mackinvia, Bookflix, and Trueflix. Click here to navigate to Heartland AEA's website.

Username: merr1737

Password: haea11

Thank you: Thank you to Mrs. Kent for troubleshooting and keeping 800 student computers in working order AND making it a priority to get books in the hands of Merrill students.

A few reminders...

Merrill Links - We are here for you!

Merrill Theatre Collective

The Merrill Theatre Collective, led by Mr. Davenport (a local professional actor and Roosevelt High School’s Theatre Arts teacher), seeks students interested in joining a virtual (for now) club of creative artists, comedians, poets, actors, and any student wanting a place to express who they are in a fun, respectful, and educational way. All students are encouraged and welcome to be a part of our collaborative, funky group. You don’t have to have any previous acting or performing experience, because Merrill Theatre Collective is about educating young artists to explore their expressive creative side in the performing arts. MTC will offer virtual workshops and performance opportunities, in unique partnership with Roosevelt Repertory Theatre at TRHS.

To learn more, please join the Microsoft Teams Meeting on Tuesday, November 17 from 4:00-5:00 pm. Click here to join the meeting.

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DMPS Community Legislative Action Team

Make your voice heard in support of public education and DMPS. The DMPS Community Legislative Action Team (DMPS-CLAT) is made up of parents and other community members who recognize the need for more awareness of how specific legislative actions affect our schools, and actively advocate for policies that increase student success.


To be successful, this group needs one thing: YOU. It’s important that the voices of parents, grandparents, community members and others are heard by our legislators and the Governor so they know how important education and schools are to our children and all of Des Moines.

Join us as we focus on the need to extend support for our English Language Learners, expand funding for students in poverty, and ask the legislature to increase the SSA to meet the needs of all students. Follow the Community Legislative Action Team on Facebook for event updates.

Legislative Coffee

This is your chance to hear directly from your legislators and ask questions about education-related issues! Join your neighbors and learn more about what’s planned for the session in 2020-21. Register now for the first coffee on Saturday, Nov. 21, from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

A message from Polk County Health Department

Language Acquisition at Merrill: 2020-21

Our Spanish department uses the SOMOS curriculum, which is comprehension-based, proficiency-oriented, and culture-rich. In addition, SOMOS encourages natural output, scaffolds authentic resources, and examines grammar in context.

Novice (beginner) learners in a language behave much like they did as a child learning to speak. Your student may be able to explain what is happening in class, they might know a few stand-alone words, or they may be able to recite phrases in Spanish or parts of songs. Unless your student has had extensive exposure to Spanish previously, it is not likely that they will be able to recite or explain full ideas in fluent Spanish.

Support from Home: How can you support your student’s progress?

· Have them tell you the class story or topic

· Ask them what words they are currently working on

· Tell them to show you gestures that represent structures (vocabulary)

· Open and review Quizlet with them

· Listen to songs that have been presented in class

Infinite Campus

Teachers will track student progress in Infinite Campus organized by the following topics:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Speaking
  • Writing

Tracking student progress on Infinite Campus will focus on student growth, not an average of scores; thus, the most recent score will reflect your student’s current level of proficiency. Since students are growing in their skills, we expect to see an increase in proficiency throughout the course; scores earlier in the semester may be lower and will rise as proficiency builds.

All student evidence will be assessed using IB rubrics. Scores of 0-8 will be recorded for each piece of evidence, ranging from exemplary performance down to minimal evidence of achievement. For formative assessments, we may also use a +/- to track a student’s progress toward understanding and achievement.

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to (6th Grade), (7th Grade), or (8th Grade).


November 16: Return to Virtual Model

November 25: No School

November 26 and 27: No School - Thanksgiving Holiday

December 1: Tentative return to Hybrid Model

December 23-31: Winter Break