Pacific Grove Middle School

August/ September 2019

This is the only PAPER copy that will be handed out. All other newsletters will be emailed to you. Please make sure we have your current email address on file.

Principal's Message

Dear PGMS Families,

I would like to welcome you back for the 2019-2020 school year. I hope that your summer has been rejuvenating and that your family is looking forward to the beginning of the new school year. I anticipate an exciting year as we collectively strive to continue to foster a culture of learning, kindness and respect. I am extremely fortunate to be working with such an exceptional group of students, families, and staff members. My time off with my wife and three daughters has been precious, and I return to Pacific Grove Middle School refreshed and anxious for the start of a brand new year!

As we prepare for another challenging and rewarding year of school, I believe it is important to convey our path, not only towards a successful school year, but to strengthen the foundational skills necessary for our students to be successful well after they leave PGMS. We continue to master the Common Core standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, as we look to mold and guide students with the knowledge and skills that colleges and businesses are looking for. This year’s focus will remain on Equity, and working to ensure all students have equal access to opportunities, support, and the tools they need to succeed. We will continue to utilize achievement data to keep our collective fingers on the pulse of your students success. This year, we will introduce our new school culture curriculum called Character Strong. Our goal is to effectively teach strong character and social-emotional skills to better arm students with the tools to deal with challenges in a healthy and productive manner.

“Failure is success if we learn from it.” This simple quote by Malcolm Forbes remains one of my absolute favorites, I can tell you from personal experience, that some of the most impactful growth in my career has come on the heels of “failure” and having a Growth Mindset. This life lesson teachers us to embrace risk, build resilience and learn from our mistakes; such environments truly prepare students for transformative success in college and beyond. Our teachers and staff set high standards and are not afraid to tell students that they haven’t met them. However, in the next breath, they provide detailed suggestions on what students can do to improve and provide them the time, space, and support they need to acquire these skills. At PRMS, we strive to build a culture where failure does not mean, “you lose”, it means “You can do better, we believe in you, here is some feedback, try again!” Our hope is that not only will students feel encouraged to persevere, but view failure as an opportunity to grow as a student and a human being.

As we draw closer to the beginning of the year, I can already feel the excitement as sixth graders approach the middle school with curiosity, seventh graders look to reconnect with their pals, and eight graders take their turn to lead the school. We look forward to partnering with you in the educational pursuits of your PGMS student and instilling a lifelong passion for learning!

~ Mr. Sean Roach

Assistant Principal's Message

How do parents set appropriate boundaries and keep kids safe online in a constantly changing internet landscape? I don’t know, exactly. So, to help families build their awareness of some of the research findings on the topic, I will defer to an expert on the subject and post relevant articles from physician-turned-filmmaker Dr. Delaney Ruston’s blog, Tech Talk Tuesdays. I hope you find them helpful.

~ Jason Tovani, Assistant Principal PGMS

Six Homework Strategies in the Digital Age

(Borrowed with permission from

One of the hardest things in parenting is helping kids stay focused while doing homework because of all the internal distractions, like the dread of working on certain tasks, or the desire to check in with friends, and the many external technological distractions that live right on the same device they are using for homework. In a study by research psychologist, Larry Rosen, he found that “students studied less than 6 minutes before switching to technological distractors.” In this same research, he found that students who had study strategies were able to stay on task longer.

After looking into research on the topic, and working with my teens on this, here are some suggestions for helping your children stay focused while doing their homework.

1. Spend several nights validating how hard it must be for children and adolescents to stay on task when doing homework given all the various tech distractions like Snapschats, texts, games etc. right on their homework device. Acknowledge that it is hard for you to stay on task when you are doing your work, taxes, etc. online because the pull of more fun activities is just one tab away.

2. Ask your kids what has worked for them and what has not? Help them understand that you are not concerned about the short term of tonight’s homework, but how this is an important skill that will serve them well throughout their life.

3. If they own a cell phone or other personal device besides the screen they are working on, talk about how important it is to put it out of site for extended periods of time. For my teens, they try to make a habit of putting their phones in another room during study time and then they check it about every 30 minutes for a break. I know many adolescents will be very opposed to not having their phone by their side. Try an experiment with them—have them keep their phone nearby and study for 15 minutes, and then have them put the phone in another room for 15 minutes and study. Then, talk about the experience.

4. Use a timer. This can be very effective—an old-fashioned kitchen timer is ideal. Have them set a goal to study uninterrupted for a certain amount of time on a subject, 15 minutes for example. A set study interval lets the brain know an end is coming. This can help increase motivation to delve into a subject. The timer can be set for even 10 minutes or less.

5. Encourage them to start their homework with their most dreaded assignment by saying to just spend five minutes on it. It may be that after the five minutes they want to continue. My son took an online course called “Learning How to Learn” where he discovered that the brain experiences the thought of doing work it does not want to do as physical pain. That's why it feels relieving in the moment to distract yourself with something else—otherwise known as procrastination. However, just a couple minutes into starting the feared task, that sensation of pain dissipates.

6. Breaks—spend time talking about them. In Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, he writes about how breaks were traditionally frowned upon in high performing work settings, but are now seen as critical to productivity. Breaks are particularly effective when they contain these elements: movement, fresh air, social interactions (so checking in with friends via social media counts for this—but ideally it would not be the only break students go to).

For questions to get these conversations going with your student(s), please visit

New PGMS Staff

Please welcome two new staff members to Pacific Grove Middle School.

* Staphany Arriola: Staphany will join our P.E. department as an Instructional Assistant replacing Wendi Roland. Staphany comes to us from the Monterey Recreation Department and is a recent graduate of CSUMB with a degree in Kinesiology and a concentration in Exercise Science. During her junior and senior years at CSUMB she researched the effects of exercise in people with Parkinson's Disease. She has also traveled to Cusco Peru and Zambia Africa on humanitaraian trips to help build orphanages and clinics for the community.

* Giacomo (Jacob) Paoletti: Jacob willjoin our special education department as an Instructional Aid replacing Melanie O'Neil. Jacob comes to us from the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club where he was a Program Manager and an instructor. Jacob holds a degree in Meterorology from the University of Hawaii and is currently working on his Math credential.

We are excited to have these two staff member join our PGMS famiy.


If your student is going to be absent, please call 831-646-6568 ext. 305 or email Robin Cochran at, to let the office know. You will receive an automated message via email and voicemail at 9:00 a.m. to let you know that your child has been marked absent. A parent/guardian will need to call the office to clear the absence or it will be marked truant. If you call after 9:00 a.m., you will receive an automated voicemail and an email regarding your student's absence.

Please refer to the student/parent handbook for our policies on attendance, tardiness, and homework requests. With both the school and home working together we will always know where our children are.

School Picture Day- August 23

School picture day is on Friday, August 23. The order forms will be handed out in your child's 2nd-period class. Your student will need to turn in their picture order form to the photographer. There is no online option to purchase pictures. If your student forgets to bring their order form on picture day, they need to let the photographer know that they are purchasing pictures, and your student can bring the order form to the office the next day. We will mail out your order form. Pictures will be taken during their P.E. period. They will not be dressing out for P.E. on picture day.

If your student is not purchasing pictures, they still need to have their picture taken so it can be in the yearbook.

No picture taken = No picture in the yearbook

Picture Retakes will be in October. Picture retakes are for students that are absent on the day of picture day and for students who purchased picture packets and would like to retake their picture.

Back To School Night, Thursday, August 29

Back To School Night is on Thursday, August 29, at 6:30 pm, in the Auditorium. During back to school night, your student will give you their schedule and you will follow their schedule for the evening. You should have received from your student(s) a letter, if not, please ask your student for it. This is an opportunity for you to experience your child's classes and meet the teachers. This is for parents/guardians only. This is NOT a parent-teacher conference event. This event is only for parents/guardians.

Parent- Teacher Conference Week

The middle school sets aside one week each year for parent-teacher conferences. This year the conferences will be held the week of October 21- 25. This week will be minimum days and students are released from school at 12:11.

Please mark your calendars. No other notice will be sent out.

Conference sessions are especially important for students who are at risk of failing. Parents of those students will have priority in scheduling. If the teacher has remaining timeslots, parents who would like to conference with their child's teachers need to call the school office beginning Wednesday, October 9. We maintain a schedule of conferences in 15-minute blocks.

There will be one evening session of conferences on Tuesday, October 22.

If the teacher's conference schedules are full, you will have to email the teacher to arrange a conference at another time that is mutually convenient. For the staff directory, please visit

A few Reminders....

• Parents, please do not call the school office to leave messages for your students, unless it is an absolute emergency, as it is a disruption to classes and interferes with learning. We do not have the office personnel to handle the volume of calls that occur sending messages.

• Please make every effort to have your daily plans settled the night before or in the morning before your student comes to school. Have a plan in place for rainy days, minimum days, pick up locations, etc..and discuss them with your student ahead of time.

• Students who have forgotten items such as lunches, PE clothes, school work or instruments should check in the office to see if the item has been brought in. We can not send notes to students who have forgotten these types of things. If your student calls you to drop off something, it is the student's responsibility to come back to the office and check to see it is there. If your student realizes that they forgot something, they should stop by the office to see if it's already dropped off.

• School is dismissed at 2:00 pm every Thursday. Study Hall in the library is not open on Thursdays due to faculty and staff meetings. You will need to make other after-school arrangements for your child on those days.

• Study Hall and Detention are not held on Thursdays and Fridays. Please make other after-school arrangements for your child on those days.

6th Grade Outdoor Science School

All eligible 6th-grade students are invited to attend the Outdoor Science School in Watsonville, scheduled for September 24- September 27. If your student will not participate at Outdoor Science School, please email Patti,, to let her know. Students who will not attend Outdoor Science School will have an alternate schedule and will need to attend school.

The trip will cost $390, cash or check payable to PGUSD. The Outdoor Science School packets will be distributed during 2nd period, once we receive them.

No student will be denied participation in Outdoor School because of financial hardship. If you are in need of financial assistance, please contact Mr. Roach at

Sports Physicals

It really helps if your student turns in their sports physical at the beginning of the school year. Sometimes the announcements of try-outs and practices are a few days before they happen. Volleyball, Soccer, and Cross Country usually happen within the first two weeks of school starting. If you have any questions please contact Apple in the office, or 831-646-6568.

Per Board Policy, students must have a current sports physical on file in the office before a student can try-out or practice a PGMS Sport (this does not apply to the Physical Education class). Please make sure your student has a current sports physical. The physical form is available online.

No Sports Physical on file = No Tryouts.

• Fall Sports: Volleyball, Soccer, Cross Country

• Late Fall & Winter Sport: Basketball

• Spring Sports: Golf, Wrestling, Track & Field, Tennis

• Cheer is available all year.

Fall Sports Information

August 9: All Fall Sports lunch time sign-ups (Cross-Country, Volleyball, Boys and Girls Soccer)

August 12 - 16: Clinics for Volleyball teams. Dates and times to be determined for 6th, 7th, 8th grade girls teams, as well as the boys team. Sports physicals are not needed for clinics.

August 19 - 23: Tryouts for all teams. Specific teams, dates and times to be determined. Sports physicals are NEEDED prior to tryouts.

August 27: Fall Sportsmanship Night for Parents AND Athletes in the Gym at 6:00 p.m.

Are you still waiting for your P. E. clothes to arrive? Well, the first week of school students will not dress out.

Bicycles & Skateboards

Once the students arrive on campus they must walk their bike on campus and carry their skateboard on campus. Students are able to lock their bike in the bike cage. The bike cage is locked throughout the school day and will be unlocked when school is dismissed. Please remind your student to bring their own bike lock. Please do not leave any bikes or skateboards in the bike cage after school is out because the bike cage will not be locked and your items are at risk of being stolen. PGUSD is not responsible for lost or damaged items. Please remind your student to wear a helmet.


BASRP is not offered at the middle school. Study Hall is available on Mondays- Wednesdays, 3:10- 4:00 pm. There is one Monday a month that Study Hall and Detention is not available due to Staff Meetings. Study hall and Detention is in the library. There are no in and out privileges when you are in the library.

Parent Drop Off & Pick Up

We would like all students to gather in the back of the school in the eating area before school. Regardless of where your child is dropped off, he or she should walk to the picnic table area and wait until the 8:25 am opening bell sounds. If a student rides a bike to school, they should lock it inside the bike cage, and then head over to the picnic area. Students should not hang out near the bike cage or in front of the school before school.

The student drop off area in the back of the school is loading and unloading zone only. No parking is allowed in the cul-de-sacs, please pull forward when dropping off your student in the cul-de-sacs.

Please utilize Sinex Avenue below PGMS and Hillcrest Avenue above PGMS for additional student drop off and pick up areas. This will help alleviate the congestion that sometimes occurs on Forest Ave in front of our school. Thank you in advance for your help with this matter.


The library is open at 8:00 a.m. If students would like to go to the library at 8:00 a.m., they need to wait outside at the back of the school until 8:00 a.m. There are no in and out privileges. The library is open during break and lunch. Students must sign-up to come to the library during lunch time.

Community Service Hours

All students must have a minimum of 16 hours by the end of 8th grade in order to participate in Promotion Activities. Community Service must be done with a non-profit organization. After the last day of 5th grade, community service hours can be counted. If you have questions about community service hours and to make sure the hours will be approved, please email our counselor, Janie Lawrence,

PGMS Website

Please familiarize yourself with the PGMS Website at You will find the Daily Bulletin, this is one of the ways we communicate to our students about sports tryouts, upcoming events, and a lot of different things that are going on. If you click on the Daily Bulletin, you will see what your students see in class.

Office Hours

PGMS office hours are open from 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. The doors unlock at 7:35 a.m. for students who have a 1st-period class. Those students are allowed to their lockers and then go to class. If your student does not have a 1st-period class, which begins at 7:45 a.m., they are not allowed in the building. If your student would like to go to the library, they will have to wait outside until the library opens at 8:00 am. We do not have any student supervision before 8:00 a.m.