Message from Dr. Kaufman

Sun, 08/30/2015 - 1:02pm

Dear Parents/Guardians:

The last few weeks have been terrific!  Teachers are actively engaging students in learning and students are thriving in their classes.  The teachers of advanced level programs are challenging our kids with rigorous and thought-provoking lessons and the students are stepping up to the plate by studying and participating in extracurricular activities.  The 9th & 10th Grade Cohort group teachers are meeting and collaboratively planning, the SGA and Class Councils are preparing for an awesome Homecoming Week, and our drama and dance rehearsals have begun.  When you visit, you will see fabulous art work around the building and the technology education department is off and running with robotics and Project Lead the Way (PLTW).  Students in world language classes are involved in scavenger hunts and learning new vocabulary each day while the math teachers are busily enlightening minds and teaching students how to access their grades and course information on Canvas.  The English students are already analyzing literature and adding works to their writing folders, and science teachers can be seen taking students outside for activities and conducting labs that fascinate the kids.  In social studies, students are finding relevance to historical events and researching ways in which government impacts their lives while students in PE and Health are learning about healthy habits of mind through exercise and nutrition.  Nutrition is also important to the students in culinary science who are finding ways to create healthy and tasty meals; and the students who are in Child Development and interested in becoming future teachers are working with our pre-school program.  Our special educators who co-teach with general educators are spending numerous hours planning lessons to facilitate student success and collaborating on best practices in teaching.  All staff members are busy and working incredibly hard to ensure success for all of our kids!  

As I stated numerous times, it is through the partnership with the parents and parent organizations that we nurture our students and staff.  Thus, the parent groups started meeting and are already engaged in fundraising and program implementation.  Thank you to the Boosters for supporting all of the extracurricular activities at MRHS, and thank you to the Music Foundation for supporting the music staff and students with time, energy, and tremendous passion.  I also want to thank our Mustang African-American Parent Organization, the Korean Parent Organization and the newly created Chinese Parent Organization; your support makes a difference for so many of our students and staff.  And finally, I thank our PTSA for their support of the curricular activities and After-Prom.  I hope every parent in our community joins the PTSA and at least one other parent group.  The success at MRHS is largely due to the partnership among students, parents/guardians, and staff!  If you have questions about any of these organizations, please look through Today’s Topics where you can find the names and e-mails for the Presidents and Executive Board Members.  It is my privilege to work with Swami Swaminathan, President of PTSA; Jo Ann Kohler, President of Boosters; Joy Altenburg, President of Music Foundation; Kim Parker, President of MAAC-PAC; and Yoojin Jeong, President of the Korean Parent Organization.  I am awaiting confirmation for the position of President for our Chinese Parent Organization.  

The first official PTSA Executive Board meeting for 2015-2016 was held on September 9, 2015.  We had numerous people attend, some of whom are on the Board and some of whom were visiting as PTSA members.  The PTSA meets the second Tuesday of every month in the Staff Dining Room on the 1st floor by the cafeteria at 7:00 p.m.  Please feel free to join us if you are interested and/or willing to serve as a committee chair or committee member or if you just want to know what is happening at the school.  We enjoy seeing our parents attend these meetings, and parents find the meetings informative since an Instructional Team Leader reports on his/her department’s activities & teachers, a Student Government Association presents on student activities, and committee chairs present each month.  It is always interesting to hear the Parent Teacher Association of Howard County (PTHAC) reports.

Two of the topics discussed at the latest PTHAC meeting were about Synergy and Canvas.  The HCPSS should be releasing a statement in the near future.  While we have had some challenges with the two systems communicating, they are being used for their intended purposes.  You can still find course information and assignments in Canvas and you can find student information in Synergy.  Employees of the school system are prioritizing the needs of the community and the students while working diligently to fix the problems.  The first priority was to have transcripts ready for colleges and seniors; parents of seniors should have received an e-mail about this last Friday.  I believe an e-mail also went out to all parents of students in HCPSS.  The next priority is interims and interim grading; we will hear more about this over the next few weeks.  The interim grades are presently due on October 5 and interims will be distributed on October 7th.  I thank you for your patience as we work through the kinks in this new system.  I also ask that you please enter the Emergency Procedure information in the Family File of HCPSS connect.  It is extremely important for us to have that information on file in case extenuating circumstances or emergencies occur.  Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.  HCPSS Connect, Family File, Canvas and Synergy are very important systems and support all that we do for our students.

The Media Specialists and teachers who have been trained as Points of Contact are working diligently with our teachers who are experiencing challenges and/or have questions in Synergy and Canvas.  However, the Media Specialists do much more that support technological challenges. The media center staff recently completed the freshmen media literacy pre-assessment and orientation with all 323 9th grade students; this took place through the U.S. History classes.  This information will help teachers and Media Specialists design research skills instruction throughout the year in various content areas.  Additionally, all freshmen received the print copy of their usernames and passwords, for the HCPSS electronic tools, at the orientation sessions.  Other students will receive copies in their English classes; this allows access to all of the instructional programs.  Late last week, the Media Specialists also introduced the National History Day program to 160 U.S. History Honors students.  Information, assignments and timelines can be found in Mr. Minard’s and Mr. Incontrera's Canvas courses.  This year, National History Day research instruction will take place with all 240 U.S History Honors and GT students.  The first student book club meeting of the year will be on Monday, 9/28 during break in the media production room.  Students and staff will are reading, Noggin by John Corey Whaley.  Students should see a media staff member if they need a copy!  The media website URL has changed; please bookmark www.mrhsmedia.org to access the wealth of electronic research sources available to the students and families at MRHS.  Finally, this year, the Media Staff is adding a new activity.  On October 1st, a teen specialist from the Glenwood Library will be presenting to some of our students.  Presentations during Banned Books Week, an initiative of the American Library Association, raise awareness of our freedom to read and seek information.  Students will learn about censorship, their rights with respect to accessing information, and the role of their libraries in protecting those rights.  This is the first time MRHS is hosting a Banned Books Week presentation; we are looking forward to hearing our students’ responses.  Thanks to Mrs. Rashid and Mr. McDonald for coordinating all of the Media activities/programs and working with our teachers.

Educational activities, presentations, debates, and projects provide students with opportunities to learn by doing.  I had the pleasure of attending a photography class where students experienced the effect of being inside a camera.  The art room became a black box where students could learn about aperture and lighting effects prior to creating their own pinhole cameras.  I give kudos to Mr. Sinn for simulating such a wonderful experience in his photography classes.

Whether I am visiting a photography class or an AP English class, I find students actively and intellectually engaged in learning.  Rigor and performance are both components of the MRHS School Improvement Plan that has been submitted to Central Office.  In the plan, we are measuring performance by looking at HSA, AP & SAT scores, as well as GPA.  We are working on rigor by asking students to enroll in Advanced Level Programs, take the SAT and ACT, and participate in the 9th & 10th Grade Cohort/Career & College Ready Groups for students with a GPA of 2.0 and below.  The final SIP category focuses on increasing Student and Staff engagement as measured by the Gallup surveys.  Staff and students will be taking these surveys in late September and early/mid October.  We are looking forward to great results!

While we measure student and staff engagement in our School Improvement Plan, we also focus on parent engagement.  To that end, the Student Services held a Senior Parent Night on Tuesday, September 9, 2015.  The night was filled with energy, excitement, and lots of questions.  Parents of seniors learned about class events, post-secondary plans, the college application process, scholarships, and requesting transcripts and teacher recommendations.  Parents received lots of information and resources that will help the Class of 2016 as they continue to prepare for their “College and Career” lives after Marriotts Ridge.  All forms presented during the Senior Parent Night can be found on the Marriotts Ridge Website under Essential Applications (lower left hand side of the home page) in the Naviance Document Library.  Please join the Student Services Department on Monday, September 28, 2015 at 7:00pm for the SAT/ACT/Redesigned SAT Parent Information Night.

Students are well-prepared for the SAT when they participate in and take the PSAT seriously.  It's the time of year to focus on preparing our sophomores for taking their first PSAT; therefore, the 2nd Annual Sophomore College Trip is in the planning stages.  A college visit will give students an opportunity to learn about college life especially academic requirements related to the admissions process and recognize the importance of successful academic achievement.  OnWednesday, September 30th all Class of 2018 (approximately 291) students will have an amazing experience at some of our local colleges and universities.  The students will participate in an information session lead by a college admissions officer and be given a tour of the campus. This year our students will have the opportunity to experience one or more of the following colleges/universities: University of Maryland College Park, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC-Catonsville), University of Baltimore, Maryland Institute College of Art, Howard Community College, Loyola University, Morgan State University, Towson University & Johns Hopkins University.  Many of our students will have the opportunity to visit two campuses.  After a brief orientation session, sophomores were asked to select three colleges of interest to them.  The goal is to give each student one of their top choices.  Due to limited space on the bus and in campus sessions, approximately 50 students will be assigned to each group.  Students were given a permission slip and a fact sheet. Destinations will be determined on a first come, first served basis.  Please be sure to read all information on each document, sign the permission slip, and return it to school as soon as possible.  Permission slips and monies will be collected during all lunch shifts.  Make checks payable to MRHS.  If you would like to join us as a chaperone, please complete the chaperone section of the permission slip.  Please contact Choya Franklin, choya_franklin@hcpss.org if you have any questions.

CONGRATULATIONS: SEPTEMBER STUDENT-LEADER-OF-THE-MONTH: Nick Santangelo

From Mrs. Cannella: Nick, a senior at MRHS, is the president of the MRHS FBLA and State President of Maryland FBLA.  He attended the FBLA National Conference in Chicago this past July and placed 2nd in the Nation in Health Care Administration.  Nick is also one of three webmasters for the MRHS website; over the summer, Nick volunteered his time coming in for several days to work on the MRHS website's new format.  Additionally, Nick comes in before school, after school and anytime he is needed to work on FBLA club activities and our school's website.  His commitment and dedication to making our school's website and FBLA a success is above and beyond any student I have ever taught or advised.  Congratulations to Nick Santangelo and his family.

 

ATHLETE-OF-THE-WEEK

From Mr. Malt: I would like to nominate Emily Mirarchi for Athlete-of-the-Week.  Emily is an 11th grade athlete out for her second season of Cross Country.  Last year Emily ran the Howard County Invitational in 27:36; she finished the season with a personal record of 24:52 for the JV squad.  It was obvious at our first for the 2015 XC practice that Emily put in the hard summer work required to run at the next level.  Last Saturday, Emily ran the Howard County Invitational in 23:33; this if four minutes faster than her time at last year's Invite and over one minute off of her season PR.  Emily's time made her a scoring runner for the MRHS Girls' Varsity, but more importantly, Emily has demonstrated the level of commitment and determination that all coaches wish to see in their athletes.  Emily is most certainly deserving of Athlete-of-the-Week recognition.  Congratulations to Emily Mirarchi and her family!

Congratulations to chemistry teacher, Mrs. Cooper!  Class of 2015 graduate and present MIT student, Yoshine Saito named Mrs. Cooper as a teacher who was highly influential in her development.  MIT sent a congratulatory letter to Mrs. Cooper highlighting the impact she had on Yoshine and noting the time, patience, expertise, love, and discipline she gave and continues to give to the students in her chemistry classes.

Congratulations to Courtney Loeb, Seo Jung Park, Nicholas Santangelo, and Anna Xi who are Semifinalists in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Competition.  We are very proud of these young men and women and we wish them well as they continue their journey for scholarships.  To put this honor in perspective, our four students were selected from about 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools who took the PSAT and were among the highest scoring entrants in the state.  Semifinalists must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed by the high school administration, write an essay, and earn high scores on the PSAT.  Approximately 16, 000 students were named as Semifinalists and approximately 15,000 will move on to the Finalist level.  We wish our students the best of luck as they continue on this journey.

Congratulations to the students and staff of Marriotts Ridge High School!  I received a memo from Dr. Foose the other day, and I am proud to share some excerpts with you.

From: Renee A. Foose, Ed.D., Superintendent 

Subject: Update on Newsweek Top High Schools 2015 Omission

I am writing to provide an update on the recent omission of HCPSS high schools from the Newsweek list of America's Top High Schools.  Although we provided Newsweek with the relevant data files within the requested timeframe, Newsweek unintentionally neglected to include our data in their database before the rankings were calculated. Newsweek has agreed to include in a correction the projected ranking and data describing each of the four HCPSS schools—yours among them. All data points are now included, with the exception of the SAT/ACT composite score and percentage of students participating in dual enrollment courses, because these figures are calculated in relation to those of other schools. The correction is posted here: http://www.newsweek.com/high-schools/americas-top-high-schools-2015.

The schools and the placements they earned on national and state lists are in the table below. 

Centennial ranked 271 in the US and 5th in Maryland

Marriotts Ridge ranked 333 in the US and 6th in Maryland

River Hill ranked 356 in the US and 8th in Maryland

Mt. Hebron ranked 405 in the US and 10th in Maryland

 

Community Service is alive and well at MRHS

Thank you to Mrs. Golzsmidt for working with the National Honor Society on a community service project that took place this past Saturday in East Baltimore.  On Wednesday, Sept. 16, our NHS students heard presentations from representatives of The 6thBranch, a non-profit organization that utilizes the leadership and organizational skills of military veterans to execute aggressive community service initiatives at the local level and William Paca Elementary School (WPES).  Together, students from MRHS and WPES volunteered their time to clean up the Ambrose Kennedy Park in Johnston Square, Baltimore.  Students were asked to bring a willing heart, a great attitude, and a desire to help others.  Thanks to our NHS students and Ms. Goldzmidt for facilitating and participating in this wonderful event.

 

Thank you to Coach Gado and our field hockey team for sponsoring the “Stick it to Cancer” tournament this weekend.  Through a bake sale, donations, and a shoot out, the MRHS field hockey program collected over $400 at their "Stick It To Cancer" tournament this past week.  All proceeds go to the National Foundation for Cancer Research.  In addition, Varsity won their tournament and JV won their single game on the same day! Congratulations on a very successful day.

 

Mark your calendar…

September 28 – Counselors will present information about the redesigned SAT, as well as the comparisons between the SAT and ACT.

October 14 – All sophomores and juniors will take the PSAT.  The scores on the PSATs provide valuable information for students taking the SAT and the PSAT score in the junior year is used to determine which students will become National Merit Finalists. 

As you can see, the students and staff at MRHS are doing well; our students are successful and seem to be happy and involved at school.  Thank you for all you do to support your children and work with the Mustang staff.  Together we make a great team!  Have a great week.

 

Sincerely,

Addie Kaufman, Principal