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Middle School Newsletter (January)

News for January 2019
From Principal Paul Conrad
Hello Huskie Families,
Our Albany Area Middle School staff strives to use data to make decisions on how to best provide educational experiences in helping students grow as learners. Over the next two weeks, students will be taking STAR tests in reading and math. Teachers will then participate in data retreats, analyzing results to make decisions on what we need to do instructionally and curriculum-wise to help students better master state standards, prepare for state assessments, and most importantly, show growth in learning. 
Last month, I upgraded my iPhone to the next IOS version, whatever number we are at now. With this new version came an automatic Paul’s iPhone, screen time, data notification setting. This weekly notification has been interesting to me as a person who has been in the education field for twenty-eight years. Someone who is married to a teacher, who has a daughter-in-law who is a teacher, and who has a preschool granddaughter. All of us--yes, including our granddaughter--have access to devices that eat up minutes of our day. A parenting job I did not have to worry about a mere 18 - 25 years ago when our sons were middle school-aged. 
Each week I am reminded of time spent per day on this device. My minutes are eaten up by checking and replying to text messages, checking and replying to emails, Twitter (my choice for accessing information), and general web surfing. My career in education reminds me of how we, as adults, are more like students than we care to admit. These notifications made me realize that I, like students, have too many minutes of my day connected to my phone. 
I think we all agree that cell phones are part of our lives and can be a valuable tool personally, professionally and educationally. Our goal is to work collaboratively as educators and parents to help students understand and appropriately use these devices. One place to start is analyzing the data phones can now provide us and set goals on usage. 
By the way, I decreased my screen time by 15% from last week. While I have not reached my phone usage goal, I have shown growth. I am human, just like our students.
Mr. Conrad
Follow us on Twitter @AAMSlearns

This Month's News

School District Community Survey Reminder
Just a friendly reminder that the school district community survey will be open and available for you to take until midnight Sunday, January 20.
If you have not yet taken the survey, please consider doing so. Your feedback will help our school district make important decisions directly affecting your child's or children's education.
Click here to complete the survey.
Thank you! Your participation is important and much appreciated.
Tower Challenge
This lesson in Grade 8 science is designed to show students how technology has advanced in our society and how the impact of earthquakes affects us.
Students were required to use only the following:
30 straws
20 paper clips
20 pins
10 rubber bands
12 inches of tape
What they learned:
"Planning carefully works!"
"Measure twice, cut once."
"Remember, it is okay to fail . . . it is what you learn from your mistakes that improves the outcome."
Grade 7 Art
7th graders finished up their creative clay pinch pot creatures! We focused on additive and subtractive design elements as well as creating unique textures in clay. Students love working with clay and came out with some pretty wonderful sculptures! Thanks for a fun quarter!
These are from Paige Easterlund, Mason Plumski, and Amberly Martin. 
New Year's Resolutions
Coming back from the Christmas break can always be a tough one for students to handle. That is why in Mr. Fragodt's 7th grade math class, the first day back is full of review, along with a New Year's resolution activity. New Year's is always a great time to think of a simple thing or two that each of us can do to improve and grow as a person. As we talked in class, students agreed that New Year's resolutions often do not last long, as individuals forget about them and they have no one to hold them accountable for their goal. For that reason, the New Year's resolution that each student made was hung up in the classroom as a reminder for them to see daily and for their peers to help hold them accountable for their actions. Some of the most popular resolutions included getting more sleep, eating healthier, using their phone less, and spending more time with their family. The students also wrote about what they would do to achieve their goal and drew a picture of their resolution. It was a great activity that many of the students enjoyed, and hopefully they continue to work towards a goal that will help them have a new and improved 2019!
Registration Meeting for Next Year's 9th Graders
On January 30, there will be a registration meeting held in the lecture hall for current 8th grade students going into 9th grade (class of 2023). This meeting will be held by Jaime Garas (middle school counselor) and Jess Savolainen (high school counselor). This is a mandatory meeting for students as they will receive a registration form and hear from teachers in core and elective courses. A registration form will be brought home for students to fill out with their parents/guardians. Once the form is complete, please sign and have your student return the form to the counseling office. If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know. My email is and phone number is 320-845-5047.
AMS Has GeoBee Winners!
This winter the 7th and 8th grade students competed in the National Geographic GeoBee! Lance Nathan won 1st place, Caedan Birr took 2nd place, and Hope Hartung finished third. The school-level competition is the first round in the annual National Geographic GeoBee, a geography competition designed to inspire students to think about the world. Lance will have the opportunity to take an online exam to qualify for the state level competition which only the top 100 students in the state are eligible to compete at. All of the 7th and 8th graders who participated did a fantastic job!
Grade 8 Finds Their Passion Projects
Students in Mrs. Thompson’s 8th Grade Genius Hour class choose a passion project to work on and complete throughout their quarter long class. The very first assignment for students is to Google “Genius Hour” and define what it means to them.
Click here to view a few examples of student projects from this school year.

Looking for Creative Ideas and Leaders
Learning takes place in and out of our school building. I, along with our building leadership team, have been brainstorming on ways in which we can raise funds to engage our students in learning experiences outside of our building. One idea we have discussed is starting a Parent Teacher Organization, PTO. If you have ideas or have an interest in possibly organizing a PTO, please contact Mr. Conrad.
AMS Students to Perform a Play for the First Time
For the first time ever, Albany Middle School students are performing a play of their own. 27 students in 6-8th grade will be performing Blather, Blarney, and Balderdash, a hilarious, action-packed adventure by Patrick Dorn and directed by Paula van der Hagen, assisted by Holly Boeckermann. Blather, Blarney, and Balderdash follows Fin, played by Lance Nathan, as he learns how to tell a good Irish story in order to win the hand of the fair Pegeen, played by Hope Aronson. Using traditional Irish folktales and slapstick comedy, Blather, Blarney and Balderdash brings the tradition and spirit of Ireland to life for children and adults alike. Students will be performing for Albany elementary students and 6th graders at 1:00 pm on January 31 and for the general public in the B.E.A.T. on Friday, February 1 at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for students.
Jam the Gym
On February 1, 2019 Albany Area High School Captains and Leaders is hosting their annual Jam the Gym Fundraiser. We invite you to bring in your pop tabs or cash donations to be entered in a prize drawing. All the proceeds will go to the Ronald McDonald House. Either bring your pop tabs to your teacher by February 1, or bring them to the boys basketball game that night. JV/9th at 6:00 p.m. and varsity at 7:15 p.m.
Counselor's Corner
The 6th grade students finished up their Top 20 lessons with me the last week of school before winter break. On the last day of our lessons, the students created their own puzzle piece in which they drew, wrote, or did both to identify what they will take away from the Top 20 lessons. During our time in Top 20 together, the students learned a lot of valuable information on how to pursue personal growth throughout their lives through their thinking, learning, and communication. Whether it was discussing how to be a bucket filler, learning to be mindful of their non-verbals, how to be an upstander, or learning how to shred away their worries, the 10 lessons were created around the emphasis of helping students become lifelong learners who pursue personal growth in the TLC areas.
In January, I began my social and emotional lessons in the 7th and 8th grade advisories. These lessons will help the students learn how to pursue personal growth from a social and emotional standpoint. The topic for January is learning how to manage stress with healthy coping strategies. This is a lifelong lesson and skill which will help students be able to identify healthy ways they can cope with stress and figure out other healthy alternatives to utilize in the future. I look forward to working in the 7th and 8th grade advisories these next three months!
I hope you all had a great winter break!
Jaime Garas


News in Review

December Students of the Month
The Students of the Month for December were announced on December 20, 2018.
The winners are (back row, left to right): MaKaya Hernandez, Hailey Shay, Natalie Blonigen
and (front row, left to right): Vincent St. Marie, Joseph Hoff, Nicholas Merdan


Upcoming Dates
January 18: Early Release Day (released at 12:20 p.m. - last day of Quarter 2)
January 18: Albany Band Booster Chili Feed - Serving starts at 5:00 p.m.
January 21: No School (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)
February 1: Middle School Play at 6:30 pm in the BEAT
February 1: Deadline for ordering yearbooks
February 8: Deuces Wild performance at 7:00 pm in the BEAT
February 15-18: No School (President's Day Break) (2/14: grades 6-12 will physically attend school)
Calendar Links