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Middle School Newsletter (March)

News for March 2019
From Principal Paul Conrad
Hello Huskie Middle School Families,
With the recent weather we have experienced, flexibility has been critical as our staff and students have adapted to the conditions. Winter activities are wrapping up, temperatures are rising, and spring will soon be here. A big thank you to our staff, students, and parents for helping maintain the focus on learning during these weather-jumbled weeks of school.
Please remember quarter three will now end on March 29, not March 25, due to missed days caused by weather. March 25 was originally scheduled to be a non-student contact day, but students will now come to school that day. The weather has also pushed us to revisit e-Learning days. Most would agree learning can and does happen everywhere. Staff will be planning what e-Learning days will look like. Information will be shared once our plan has been approved by our school board.
I want to share an article from the recent Association for Middle Level Education magazine that does an excellent job explaining to adults about the teenage brain. While the article's intended audience is teachers, I think it also applies to parents. A few findings you may find reassuring:
  • The adolescent years are one of two time periods in life when the brain is most conducive to learning (the other being birth to age three). We must be intentional about providing engaging and challenging learning experiences in middle school.
  • Middle school students tend to give overly dramatic responses and have higher "highs" and lower "lows" than older adolescents and adults.
  • Teenagers have difficulty accurately reading the emotions on adult faces, which is why students sometimes respond to us in unexplainable ways.
  • Middle school students do not always display self-control or consider the consequences of their actions.
My assumption is that these findings do not surprise you. I hope they assure you that your student is normal when you see them exhibiting these behaviors. We also know teenagers crave caring relationships with adults who support them regardless of what they do or say. Knowing this, I am thankful for the caring staff we have at AAMS. Your children are in good hands.
On behalf of our staff, thank you for your continued support. We look forward to working together to provide our students with an educational experience that strives to meet our district’s mission: To cultivate and nurture engaged critical thinkers who are lifelong learners.
Mr. Conrad
Follow us on Twitter @AAMSlearns

This Month's News


MCA Testing Schedule

MCA testing for the middle school will be held the following dates and times:
Tuesday, April 16 and Wednesday, April 17
  • Grades 7 and 8 Reading from 8:20 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • Grade 6 Reading from 10:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Thursday, April 25 and Friday, April 26
  • Grades 7 and 8 Math from 8:20 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • Grade 6 Math from 10:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Monday, May 6 and Tuesday May 7
  • Grade 8 Science - students will test during their regularly scheduled science class
Open Gym and Movie Night
Come for a night out at AAMS on Friday, March 22! Open gym is from 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm in the main gym and will cost $2. Movie times will be 7:15 pm and will cost $3. The Flex Hall will be showing The Greatest Showman and the Lecture Hall will be  showing Wonder. Concessions will be available before and during the shows. Pay at the door! You can attend one event or the other or BOTH! Movies are about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Please have a ride ready to pick you up at the end of the movies.

Sixth Grade Student Council Members Chosen

The sixth grade student council members have now been chosen. Students were asked to complete a form with questions about their strengths and interests and what they would like to bring to student council. The forms were reviewed without knowing who the applicants were and members were chosen by their responses to the questions. This year's sixth grade student council members are pictured below.
Student council has been getting ready for our March Madness basketball tourney as well as our event happening on Friday, March 22: Open Gym and Movie Night Out! Our positive culture committee put out a survey on Schoology asking middle school students to use one word that would describe Albany Area Middle School. Here are the results: 
Sixth Grade Student Council Members
Back row (l to r): Elliott Burnett, Caleb Thull, Hunter Donabauer, Faith Beuning, Hailee Stich, Kayla Forster

Front row (l to r): Allyson Adrian, Grace Burg, Allison Gourde, Anna Scherping, Ava Borgerding, Ellyana Sand
Constitution Escape Room
In sixth grade Minnesota History, we are starting to learn about the basics of our government. The Constitution Escape Room takes students on a secret mission around the classroom! It has students decode interesting facts about the U.S. Constitution using ciphers, Morse code, cryptograms, and a final 4 digit code based on the decoders/clues. Students learn about the branches, articles, and number of amendments.
Minnesota Author Visits Sixth Grade
Minnesota author William Durbin spoke to sixth graders at the end of February. Mr. Durbin writes middle grade historical fiction novels that mostly take place in Minnesota. The sixth grade social studies curriculum focuses on Minnesota history, so his books are a perfect fit to supplement student learning.
Mr. Durbin spoke to the students about his novels and seamlessly wove in his knowledge of Minnesota history and some European history as well.
After his presentation, a select group of students had a chance to write with Mr. Durbin and get feedback from him. The students practiced coming up with a great first sentence and were able to ask questions about the writing process.
Here are a few things our students had to say about his visit:
  • “My favorite part was all the story summaries. I learned a lot about history also.”
  • “The writing workshop afterward helped me to write a good first sentence.”
  • “My favorite part of his visit was looking at all of the books and learning how he writes his books.”
  • “I liked it when he talked about the lumberjacks.”
  • “I liked the part where he talked about the war and his books."
Some books by William Durbin: The Broken Blade, Wintering, Blackwater Ben, Winter War. 
If you are interested in learning more about William Durbin and his books, click here to visit his website.
Seventh Grade English Has a Tea Party
Seventh graders in Mrs. Gilk's class are reading Fever 1793, a historical fiction book about the yellow fever epidemic that took place in Philadelphia that year. Matilda, the main character, must endure a tea party and is supposed to act civilly, even though she really doesn't want to. 
Students got a "taste" of what a tea party would be like in class. They received an invitation as shown on the right.
Then, following certain rules of etiquette taken from George Washington's "Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation" (click here to view), they sipped on iced tea or water and discussed questions from the book. Students tallied up their rule violations (such as raising one eyebrow above the other in conversation), and we discussed how easy or difficult it was to follow all these rules during the "tea party." Most students discovered that they are fortunate to have been born in the 21st century. 
NOTE: Spelling in the "Rules of Etiquette" was kept the same as George Washington's transcription of the rules. 
Paraprofessionals Attend Training Seminar
On Saturday February 24,  the middle and high school paraprofessionals attended the 22nd Annual Potpourri Seminar. They were able to hear keynote speakers and attend sessions covering many topics including anxiety, autism, communication, and many more. They came back with a wealth of knowledge to help them better serve their students.
Back row: Paula Doebler, Rosie Thell, Lori Arceneau, Holly Anderson
Front row: Paula Capp, Lindsey Dornburg, Rosie Rademacher, Tami Goehring
What Can We Do to Save the World?
This question, and many more, were recently answered by all eighth grade students as they wrapped up a research project that they worked on in both English 8 and Global Studies. At the beginning of quarter 3, students discussed what “global issues” are in their Global Studies class. They were then tasked with a “mission”--from their mission commanders, Benn and Schmitz--to choose one global issue to research and find possible solutions for. Students asked and researched important questions such as, “What is terrorism? What can be done to curb homelessness? How long does plastic take to break down? How does the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef affect us?”
Once these important questions were asked, students needed to complete various tasks such as checking sources for credibility, taking notes on their topic, and citing their sources in order to successfully complete their mission. And, after all was said and done, the students could educate almost anyone on their global issue and what steps need to be taken to stop their particular issue.
When asked about what it was like working on a project in two class periods, one eighth grader said, “I think it's cool that two ‘subjects’ are able to combine their separate topics into one ‘mega topic.’” 
Click here to hear a message from mission control.
Hello, Bonjour, Hola, Guten Tag, Ciao!
Eighth Grade Global Studies students spent the month of March creating their own travel agencies that specialized in planning trips to Europe. Students needed to create a travel website that convinced potential travelers to book a European Vacation through their travel company. Their websites included information about their country, flight information, a three day itinerary, a budget for their trip, and a virtual tour. If you are in need of a European vacation, linked below are some trips planned out by the eighth graders!
France     Greece     Netherlands     Sweden     Switzerland     Belgium
Counselor's Corner
The seventh and eighth grade advisories are finishing up their Social and Emotional Learning lessons with me. Our focus this month has been on the qualities of a healthy friendship and how to make connections with others. It has been a great experience going into the advisories and having these discussions with students. Other topics we have discussed this year include stress management and healthy coping skills.
Sixth grade parents/guardians: There will be a “Going Into Seventh Grade” presentation on Monday, April 29, during Quarter 4 conferences from 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. This will be held in the BEAT. The presentation will be discussing school schedules in seventh grade and how they differ from sixth grade schedules. We will also be addressing the options of taking band or choir. We look forward to seeing you there!
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me at or 320-845-5047.
Have a great day!
Jaime Garas


News in Review

February Students of the Month
The Students of the Month for February were announced on February 28, 2019.
The winners are (back row, left to right): Sophia Schiffler, Logan Goebel, Dominick Winkels
and (front row, left to right): Rebekah Domke, Kaylin Fischer, Bryce Frericks


Upcoming Dates
March 25: Snow Makeup Day. Students will be in school.
March 27: School Board Meeting
March 27: Seventh Grade Star Day
March 29: Sixth and Eighth Grade Star Day
April 22: Snow Makeup Day. Students will be in school.
Calendar Links