The Eagle Update

The Excel Academy Weekly Newsletter: September 20, 2021

Greetings Excel Community

As I write this message, we are officially moving into the fall season. My favorite quote about this season is from Keats, "Autumn, season of mists and mellow fruitfulness." There is something especially mellow about shorter days, longer periods of dark and leaves taking on brilliant hues in contrast to the darkness. The air is cooler air each morning, the cozy sweaters call from the closet, and spicy apple cider (in my opinion) makes everything wonderful! As we continue to settle into the school year, there are such wonderful things happening around us here at school. I hope you are finding ways to connect. If you are unsure about where to get started, please reach out to Bel Scrogham, our fearless and energetic PTO leader or Marisa Anderson, our Dean of Culture. They are great starting points.


Thank you to everyone who volunteers here at Excel to support smaller student groupings and the completion of a myriad of tasks to enhance earning. We are so grateful for your time, efforts, and energies each day. All of the people who come together help make it a wonderful place for students to learn. Please stay tuned for school volunteer training opportunities in the coming weeks. Marisa Anderson, and I will be leading these sessions to support volunteers in their knowledge of schools and policies around student support, privacy, and academic/social-emotional accommodations.


I found this quote today that left me thinking deeply about community and the conversations I have with students and staff about what it means to be in partnership and harmony with each other to foster a highly effective and positive environment for every person:


A true community is not just about being geographically close to someone or part of the same social web network. It’s about feeling connected and responsible for what happens. Humanity is our ultimate community, and everyone plays a crucial role.


An important part of community is positive and proactive connections to build understanding. Your student should have received phone calls from one or more teachers in August. Our goal was to make sure we reached out early and our continued goal is to reach out often, so you get to here about triumphs, successes, and celebrations directly from teachers. As we go through our year, we will continue to increase our positive outreach to families at the classroom level and beyond. I am also doing my part. Now that our school days are finally finding a rhythm, each month, I will host Leadership Coffee Conversations in the Cafe toward the end of each month. During these times, we can share information, exchange ideas, and better connect. I will happily offer an after school version too. Stay tuned for details.


Another essential component of community is our beautiful building, our school resources, and our grounds. As you may have heard, there are some social media outlets encouraging students to engage in acts of vandalism, so please be sure to read the section below about Tik Tok Challenges. These are of the same ilk as those that encouraged children to ingest Tide Pods and lay in freeway medians a few years ago. These are harmful not only to our sense of community, but to the immediate physical safety and well-being of children everywhere.


I hope that as the season continues to greet us, we will continue to work together to encourage the positive, safe, supportive kinds of exchanges that tether us to our resolve of Community, Care, and Belonging. Productive and actionable feedback is great and we have used that to push us in great ways. Also, many of you have taken time to leave me encouraging voicemails, send cards and notes to staff, and send emails of appreciation. It is such a bucket-filler to hear that things are moving in a positive way. I enjoy passing those onto staff, so thank you!


Like leaves changing colors to create a brilliant autumnal display, our collective movement toward what is next is exciting. Thank you for the opportunity to serve this community and for your continued support of the work here.


With vast joy about the weeks ahead,


Dr. Susan-Marie Farmen

Tik Tok Vandalism

On a serious note, we need to share that there is a trend taking place here at Excel, in other Jeffco schools, as well as many schools across the country. It’s a “challenge” on TikTok (a social media platform many students view) that encourages students to steal or destroy school property, then post a picture or video of this item as a “trophy.” We have seen these in our school and they are increasing in frequency. These issues also take a lot of time and resources to resolve.


The graffiti and defacing of property, the destruction of equipment in our schools such as toilet paper and soap dispensers, sinks, mirrors, and floors in the bathrooms negatively impacts our health and safety protocols and is against school and district policy and the law. In addition, we are experiencing theft of items from different spaces. We take great pride in our schools and our safe environments; these actions are unacceptable and disrupt our learning environment.


Please have conversations with your students about the seriousness of vandalism and the theft and destruction of school property. Students should report any of these incidents to an adults immediately if they witness them. Students who are involved in this type of behavior will be held accountable and face consequences like suspension, restitution, law enforcement referral, and/or expulsion in accordance with Jeffco policies.

Middle School Students, Media, and Texting

We have experienced a strong spike in phone/online exchanges between students that cause concern for families and often spill over into school. Recently, families who have discovered group chats, posts, and conversations that upset them, shared some of those concerns with us. We strongly encourage families to monitor the content students access and view the chats students engage in on their phones. Some of the images, comments, language, and student sharing can be important discussion points for families. We ask that students not have cell phones of any sort on at school during the school day in an effort to protect them from conversations at school that can be distractful, concerning, or potentially hurtful for themselves or others. We have asked our School Resource Officer, Adrienne Blackwood, to come and present to middle school students about cyber bullying and online exchanges. Thank you for partnering with us to support students in these important ways.

Middle School Principal Council

Congratulations to the middle school students who jumped on board for the first ever MSPC here at Excel. We will meet the first Friday of each month at 2:30pm. This will be a wonderful time to elevate student voice and personal experiences, and gather insights to refine our work as educators here. Thank you to each of these students for stepping into this role and helping us better understand their experiences.


The students who reached out to me for this work include:

Grace Enk, Ben Keleman, Sophie Champion, Ethan Kroyer, Mei Menon, Riley Hilliard, Allison Wood, Lyla Green, Kathryn Tibbles, and Kira O'Neal.


If you have a student who is still interested, please encourage them to email Dr. Farmen.

SOAR at Excel

Self-Discipline


Outstanding Effort


Accepting of Others


Resilient


These are student core values we are focused on at Excel. Students are filling the jar in the office with SOAR tickets and they are excited. Each week we will draw names in the office and highlight students who have been recognized. A focus on these values helps us always look for the best in others and these words connect to both our 7 Mindsets curriculum for social-emotional learning and our initial work toward what it means to be a highly effective school. We hope you will get to celebrate a SOAR moment with your student soon!

SOAR Winners = Eagle Ambassadors

We continued with week two of our SOAR drawings to choose students to highlight for exemplifying our student core values. This week's Eagle Ambassadors are:


Leo Devery, grade 7

Tatum Criswell, kindergarten

Emilia Glass, kindergarten

Kai Mundt, grade 5

Wolfgang Yaeger, grade 2


Congrats to these students! Each will receive a certificate and will be displayed on the front hall bulletin board when we change it out for October. These students will also be acknowledged in a trimester-end celebration.

Opportunities for Parent Training

Come listen to Jonathan Mooney’s inspirational talk about how normal sucks and different does not mean deficient. “We shouldn't be striving for, or enforcing, normalcy on anyone,” Jonathan. Jonathan will share his personal experiences as a dyslexic, ADD, and neuro-diverse student who did not learn to read until he was 12 years old in a presentation filled with humor, knowledge and, most importantly, hope. Jonathan has been a professional public speaker for over 15 years and has spoken in 49 states and five countries. He was known as one of “those kids” who couldn’t sit still and spent elementary schooling chilling with the janitor in the hallway. He was told he would flip burgers, be a high school dropout and end up in jail. Needless to say, their hopeful prophecies didn’t come to pass.

Register today at https://bit.ly/3lltPuB If you register but are unable to attend, a recording will be sent.

Athletic Updates

  • Current game schedule-subject to change.
  • Vaccination Status: Students who have been vaccinated should confirm with the school that we have their correct vaccinated status. Many of you have shared your student's vaccination card with us already. We now have access to a statewide database so if you have not shared your student's vaccination card you can email and confirm we have the information. (alice.allen@jeffco.k12.co.us).
  • Testing: Excel Academy encourages our student-athletes to participate in the free-testing option offered through the district. Locations and schedules can be found on the COVID testing website. Parents can also choose to test at other locations and share results via email with the school. (alice.allen@jeffco.k12.co.us).
    • Students, coaches, and sponsors are NOT required to wear a mask while participating in athletics/activities outdoors.
    • Masks are REQUIRED for all students, coaches, and sponsors while indoors regardless of vaccination status.
    • All spectators watching games indoors will be required to wear masks. This is in alignment with the PHO issued by JCPH. This includes student spectators to our indoor athletic and activity events."

Martial Arts Fundraising Opportunity

Personal Achievement Martial Arts is offering a six-class, after school opportunity for students and all proceeds go to Excel Academy! Sign up linked here: https://sparkpages.io/cart/2/?i=xcF&c=&ocu=


November 15, 17, and 29; and December 1, 6, and 8. They are also joining Ms. Pezzulo for PE classes on November 1-5. This is a wonderful chance to try out something new, practice discipline, and be fit. Contact staff@wheatridgema.com for more details.

Conferences: Save the Dates

Teachers will be holding conferences on Thursday, October 14th from 8 am to 6 pm and Friday, October 15th from 8 am to 1 pm. Teachers may also arrange times to meet with you that best work for you to connect. We will get more information out about the details and a Sign Up Genius will follow. Stay tuned!

PTO: Twisted Penny Fundraiser

Monday, Sep. 13th, 8am to Friday, Sep. 24th, 3:30pm

11500 West 84th Avenue

Arvada, CO

TWISTED PENNY FUNDRAISER

WHEN


MONDAY, SEP. 13TH, 8AM TO FRIDAY, SEP. 24TH, 4PM


WHERE


11500 WEST 84TH AVENUE

ARVADA, CO


MORE INFORMATION

Twisted Penny Details