Diamond Gazette

January 2017

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Take a Peek at What's in January's Edition...

January's edition of the Diamond Gazette is LOADED with information for ALL ARVA families! Be sure to scroll all the way through to access the detailed goodies within, including:
  • School Resources and Information
  • Booster Club and Outing Information
  • ARVA Diamonds (students) Shining Across Arkansas (pictures of YOU!)
  • Community Resources, including Special Needs Activities in Your Community
  • K12 Resources and Information
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We hope that you enjoyed a peaceful holiday season with your families and friends and that you are returning with an eagerness to shine this semester! Here are a few pics from our staff holiday party, . We are so happy to work with you all towards our students’ successes!

Let’s make 2017 a great year ~ together!

Tips for Getting the New Year off to a New, Great Start!

1) Freshen up your work space: Unless you are Mr. or Miss. Clean, chances are you may need to declutter your work space. Get rid of any trash or old scrap paper that you no longer need. If you didn’t have a designated work space in the fall, consider finding a space you can make your own for the spring. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but you will definitely want to be near an outlet to keep your laptop or computer charged as well as good light.

2) Replenish your supplies: While you are setting up your work space be sure to replenish your supplies. The good news is, since we are an online school, not too many extra supplies are needed, but be sure to have pens, pencils, a highlighter, scratch paper and/or notebooks handy.

3) Create a schedule: A new semester will most likely bring new classes and a new schedule. Be sure to create a schedule with all of your class times. Include help sessions that your teachers offer as well so that you can easily take a glance and see when your teacher has time scheduled in case you are stuck on an assignment. Don’t forget to include a lunch break and other times for brain breaks! It is very easy to sit at your computer all day long and work without the reminder or a traditional bell schedule of a brick and mortar, but it is imperative that you take the opportunity to step away. Maybe you can get up and stretch, go for a short walk, grab a snack and enjoy a bit of downtime before you get back to your studies.

4) Reach out to teachers if you struggled in the past. Do not forget, teachers are here to help you or you can ask for advice on what you could do differently to increase your performance this semester. The bottom line is, we are here for you.

5) Set Goals: Just like some people set New Year resolutions, you should set semester goals. What are your goals for the semester? Are you hoping to accomplish a certain task? Maybe achieve a certain G.P.A.? Attend all live classes? Whatever your goals are, write them down so that you can refer back to them for motivation. Even teachers set goals!

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** Report cards coming out by Jan. 13! Check your email! **

Testing Information - Important

Please see the testing dates below, originally shared in an email dated 12/13/16 from Lauren Throneberry.

**Note: Please remember that these tests will be given in person. You will be asked to bring your student to a designated location near your home.**

1st & 2nd grade students will take the IOWA test. This test will be given on Tuesday, April 4th & Wednesday, April 5th, 2017. More details and specific locations will be coming, but please mark these days on your calendar.

3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, & 10th grade students will take ACT Aspire. This test will be given from Tuesday, April 18th through Friday, April 28th, 2017 (not including weekends). Each grade level will test two days only. Specific times and locations will be coming, but please mark these days on your calendar.

11th grade students will take the ACT. This test will be given on Monday, February 27th and Tuesday, February 28th, 2017. Students must attend BOTH days. Specific times and locations will be coming, but please mark these days on your calendar.

ALL 11th grade students in the state of Arkansas are offered a FREE ACT exam. This is the ONLY test you will be asked to bring your 11th grade student to this spring. They will NOT participate in the ACT Aspire or IOWA exams. These exams are for our 1st-10th grade students.

In a email on Jan. 2, 2017 from Lauren Throneberry, ARVA's District Testing Coordinator, you'll find more information from the Arkansas Department of Education. Be sure to read the email and memo, as it explains the benefits of allowing your student to participate in this exam.

In reading this memo, you will also learn that you have the option to refuse this opportunity. If you choose to do so, you MUST fill out the attached form (in the email) and return to Lauren Throneberry prior to February 1st, 2017. If we do not have this form on file, your student will be expected and required to test. Your assigned testing location will be emailed to you prior to February 1st.

Again, students who we do not have a refusal form on file by February 1st will be REQUIRED to come to a live site on BOTH Monday, February 27th AND Tuesday, February 28th, 2017. Arkansas Virtual Academy has opted to administer the paper-based ACT exam.

All questions regarding this information should be directed to Lauren Throneberry, lthroneberry@arva.org.

HS Counselors' Corner ~ Attention High School Seniors!

We are excited to be planning for ARVA's 1st high school graduation, May 20, 2017! You have already received information from your Principal, Mr. Keith Dempsey, concerning graduation planning. What a celebration this will be! Stay tuned!

Also, multiple opportunities to apply for scholarships are compiled in a list by your counselor. New ones are added all the time, including the Essay Scholarship for Juniors and Seniors, the AXA Achiever's Scholarship, and more! See the full list here.

High School Counselor Office Hours

An office hour for Counselors will be available weekly for students from 8-9 am on Wednesdays. If you have questions regarding credits, colleges, scholarships, etc, come on in and talk with your Counselors! The link to attend is:


Also, Mrs. Carol Heavin will be offering an evening office hour session on Thursdays for Seniors beginning Thursday, Jan. 12, at 6:30pm. Check your email for more details.

Middle School Students - Come see FAST for OMS Platform Training!

Check your Class Connect schedule for an invitation to attend Online Middle School (OMS) Platform Training with the FASTeam (Family Academic Support Team). If you need help maneuvering through the new platform, come see us and let us help! Currently offered to all MS students during new student orientations on Mondays at 3pm.
Prefer to view a recording that you can pause and rewind as needed? Click here.

Ready to Drive? Check here first!

  1. High School students must contact their counselor. Students not yet in high school should contact Hollie Gumm, K-8 Principal: hgumm@arva.org
  2. Counselor or Principal will check the last semesters’ GPA to see if it is a 2.0 or higher.
  3. Counselor or Principal will send request to ARVA's registrar to send form to the student if the student is eligible.

Please note: Student must complete one semester with ARVA before ARVA will grant eligibility for a driver's license.

Forms will be sent via US Mail only. Please request 2-3 weeks prior to driver’s test.

2017 Engineering Olympics @ UALR

The Engineering Olympics is designed to introduce students to engineering through competitive team events and exercises. All participating schools receive all materials necessary to compete. There is a nominal fee per student to participate.

The 2017 Engineering Olympics will be held on February 25, 2017 on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. This event is for middle school students (grades 6-8).

ARVA has participated in this event for the last several years and the student's have given it rave reviews!

Interested students should contact Katharine Greene: kagreene@arva.org

ARVA's Parent Lending Library

ARVA's Parent Lending Library has books and games to loan to parents and learning coaches. It includes book titles such as How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk (shown here) and non-book selections and games. To find out more information about the ARVA’s Parent’s Lending Library or to check out a book, click here.

*Note that you can also request titles at most Arkansas libraries. They will often request the book from another library or order it for you to check out. Find your local library here.


Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child: Eliminating Conflict By Establishing Clear, Firm, And Respectful Boundaries

Disruptive misbehavior, constant power struggles, manipulative or aggressive behavior--the challenges facing parents and teachers of strong-willed children can seem overwhelming at times. That's why thousands of parents and educators have turned to the solutions in Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child. This revised and expanded second edition offers the most up-to-date alternatives to punishment and permissiveness--moving beyond traditional methods that wear you down and get you nowhere, and zeroing in on what really works so parents can use their energy in more efficient and productive ways. With fully updated guidelines on parenting tools like "logical consequences," and examples drawn directly from the modern world that children deal with each day, this is an invaluable resource for anyone wondering how to effectively motivate strong-willed children and instill proper conduct.

2016-2017 ARVA Student/Parent Handbook

Handbooks were provided via email to all families enrolled by the first week of school. It has also been posted on the Strong Start site, here: View the Student/Parent Handbook
It is important to read and understand the handbook, whether you are a student or a learning coach. Once you have read the handbook, please sign the online form here, if you haven't already: surveymonkey.com/r/16-17_ARVA_Student-Parent_Handbook
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Wish there were more outings near you?

Plan an outing that your student would love! Set it up and we'll invite other ARVA families for you. Click here for specific directions on how to host an event.
Student Enrichment Activity Calendar

Click here to see what's happening around Arkansas!

Booster Meeting Recording

ARVA held its November Booster meeting on Nov. 17th for parents interested in being more involved. Topics of discussion: local social groups, upcoming outings, how to organize a Booster outing, school swag. Click here to view the recording and contact Beth Moore if you have any questions: bmoore@arva.org
Our next meeting is January 19.

Facebook Pages for ARVA Learning Coaches

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ARVA Students in Local Play

Josie, Izzy and Zino were in the play a Christmas Carol. Izzy was Tiny Tim and Josie was Scrooge's girlfriend from his youth. Zino, not pictured, was the Ghost of Future and Mr. Fizzywig. (Click the picture to the left to expand it for a better view.)

Students have Wintry Fun @ Winterland of Gingerbreads

ARVA students enjoyed a 'cool', fun time at both Winterland of Gingerbread events (below), held in December! Prizes were awarded to gingerbread houses, students skated (many learned how for the first time!), and new friendships were made. We can't wait for next year!
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Girls of Promise STEM Conference for 8th Graders

Educators from around the state recommend high-achieving girls to attend a Girls of Promise® conference for two days of activities focused on the importance of higher education and the payoff of hard work (and fun). Girls meet others like themselves and realize it’s okay to be a bright, motivated person with big dreams. They also meet and learn from women with amazing careers such as scientists, welders, physicians, computer systems engineers, and coders.
Click here for more information: http://girlsofpromise.org/join/student/

Calling all student filmmakers! AETN announces the 2017 Student Selects: A Young Filmmakers Showcase.

This annual event invites K-12 students across Arkansas to create videos - on their own or as part of a class - and enter them for a chance at broadcast, film festival screenings, THEA Foundation's Young Filmmaker Scholarships, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program's Arkansas Historic Places Film Prize and new this year, the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site's Reel Civil Rights Student Film Prize: Make a documentary about the social justice change you want to make in the world.

Workshop opportunities to help students gain inspiration, insight and skills to create videos for the upcoming competitions will be announced in early 2017. Click here to learn more. Entries must be submitted electronically or postmarked by March 31.

AETN/PBS Kids Writers Contest 2017

Through Friday, April 7, AETN will be accepting entries from kindergarten through third grade students for the PBS KIDS Writers Contest! Fact or fiction, prose or poetry, hand-drawn illustrations or original photography, we encourage the creative young minds in your school to submit whatever tale they choose. Stay tuned here submission details.

Crystal Bridges, in NW AR, Offers a Wide Variety of Student & Family Activities

From youth art classes to family activities, Crystal Bridges offers a variety of programs your students will love! Every Saturday and Sunday, guests are invited to drop into their studios between 1 and 4 p.m. for creative play and artmaking the whole family will enjoy. Over the Winter Break, they're planning Winter Break Wonders each afternoon, including artmaking, music, puppets, dance, and more. Crystal Bridges also recently won the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette “Best of the Best” for Family Outing! We hope you’ll take part in some of these wonderful programs to spark the imaginations of your young artists! Find out more.

Free Symphony Orchestra Tickets

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presents its newest outreach program to all children and parents in the entire state of Arkansas. This program offers every student, from Kindergarten to High School seniors—all 400,000 of them—the chance to experience live orchestra performances, some of them, perhaps for the first time in their lives. Free!!

Know of other community resources in your area?

Share them with us so that we can share them with the ARVA community.

Click the pictures below to read about programs in your area!

Do you know of more opportunities for children with special needs in your area?

Let us know so that we can share it with the rest of our ARVA community!

It's never too early to learn coding!

Computer science and digital literacy skills are necessary for students to have access to in-demand and high-paying jobs of the 21st century. Learning to code can be a fun step in that direction.

Numerous quality resources spanning all ability levels can be accessed online for free, four of which are as follows:

  • Code.org’s Hour of Code modules found at https://code.org/learn. These interactive block-based programming tasks include modules with popular themes such as Minecraft, Star Wars, and Frozen. While these modules are designed with younger individuals in mind, many adults may find that they are engaging and challenging, especially at the higher levels. These modules can be accessed online via almost any device that has web access.

  • Apple’s Swift Playgrounds engages individuals in a colorful world where logic and problem solving strategies are used to solve puzzles. The system uses text-based programming but is extremely intuitive and requires no prior coding knowledge. This system is geared more toward middle to high-school students, but can provide a challenge for even seasoned problem solvers. Swift Playgrounds is available for most iPads and can be downloaded via the Apple App Store. http://www.apple.com/swift/playgrounds/

  • Scratch is a block-based programming environment developed by MIT. Students can use Scratch to code their own stories, animations, and games using creativity, logic, and other essential problem solving skills. The Scratch environment is appropriate for beginning coders in middle and junior high schools but can be engaging for a variety of ages and abilities. The Scratch environment is accessible via many system platforms with web access and can be found at https://scratch.mit.edu/.

  • The Harvard University CS50x is a computer science course that is self-paced, entry-level, and available online via almost any platform and browser. This course is designed for high-school students and adults that are interested in learning how to program. Though it is entry-level, it is designed to be a rigorous course that can be challenging. More information, including how to register, can be found at https://goo.gl/ybDHNB.

Many other resources, including some that have costs associated with them, can be accessed via the ADE website at (http://www.arkansased.gov/divisions/learning-services/curriculum-and-instruction/computer-science.

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Learning Coach Certification Course Now Available!

K12 has created a Learning Coach Certification Course to provide more in-depth knowledge to our learning coaches striving to be their very best. We encourage you to click the link below to complete the 1-hour course.

Starting Strong for the Second Semester

Are you new to K12? Or a returning family who is looking to start the second half of the school year strong? Attend one of our LIVE online sessions brought to you by our K12 Customer Support Team.

Click here for more information about the sessions. See below for the schedule. (Remember all times shown are in Eastern time!) Click here to access the session schedule and live links to the sessions.

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K12 National College and Career Workshops

Have you thought about life after high school? Have you considered the careers that you might be interested in and whether or not you want, or will need, to attend college?

There is a lot to think about to get ready: where to go, what to study, how to apply, how to pay or it, and more. It’s never too early —or too late— to explore your options!

K12 will be hosting two live workshop sessions each month through the end of the 2016–2017 school year for students to talk about college and career prep topics.

College & Career Workshop Sign Ups

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Motivate 2 Activate

K12 and School at Home Effectively are pleased to offer the monthly Motivate 2 Activate Series, an introduction to principles and techniques that offer suggestions and strategies for Learning Coaches to help their students become motivated and involved in their academic success. Each session is scheduled for 30 minutes of discussion with follow up question and answer. Please join us for the session dates that work for your schedule. One RSVP will keep you informed, and session reminders, recordings, and details will be sent to your email. RSVP here: surveymonkey.com/r/K12M2A

Also, visit the ARVA Strong Start site to find all of the available links to recordings that will help you with everything from behavior strategies to managing multiples.


Practice Makes Progress

January 17 @ 6:30pm

A structured environment can help set up students and Learning Coaches for the best outcome. Establishing structure through the use of positive procedures can make many of the little power struggles that happen during the day disappear.

Click HERE to RSVP

ARVA's Family Academic Support Team (FAST) and the Strong Start Site

ARVA's Family Academic Support Team (FAST) provides comprehensive preparation and sustained support for engagement to promote improved achievement outcomes through strengths-based, proactive, and positive intervention. FAST publishes the Diamond Gazette newsletter, shares information from K12's National Family Academic Support Team, engages families at outings, and works to promote student engagement for academic success. If you have need support from your engagement coach or have forgotten who she is and need a call, please contact:

Need resource information for a financial or emotional need or crisis? Contact ARVA's Family Resource Coordinator, Amanda Weaver: aweaver@arva.org

Stay tuned to ARVA's Strong Start site for real-time updates and be sure to bookmark the site. Helpful videos, meetings through K12's Parent Network, local student activities, and more resources can be found here.
The Diamond Gazette is published monthly for all families at Arkansas Virtual Academy. It is sent via email and posted to the Strong Start site.
Gina Moore, editor
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