September 8, 2014
Dear YHS Students and Parents,
The purpose of this letter is to give you some information about a new component of our classroom assessments, called cornerstones.
For many years, our teachers have worked collaboratively so that students who take the same course with different teachers are taught the same material and assessed using common assessments that are tied directly to the standards of the course. Since 2010, our faculty has worked together to more clearly define our school-wide expectations and learning area expectations for student learning. Recently, two outside influences have emerged that are consistent with this work: accreditation through NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) and the recent state initiative on graduation by proficiency. All of this work has pushed us to better define our academic expectations and how we assess these expectations so that all students who graduate from Yarmouth High School can be assured that they have met those expectations.
The process that has brought us to the use of cornerstone assessments began several years ago when the faculty identified our beliefs about teaching and learning. Simply stated, we believe that the best learning occurs:
when positive relationships form the foundation for learning;
when students engage in high-level learning and access appropriate support;
when students have an active role in their learning and in the school community;
in a culture of collaboration;
when students and teachers extend their learning beyond the school;
in an environment of creativity and innovation.
The next part of the faculty’s work was to identify several overarching school-wide expectations for student learning. The idea is that these expectations will come up for students in several areas of their high school experience, mostly through their classes but also through advisor-based activities. The school-wide graduation expectations are stated as follows:
As a Yarmouth High School Student, you will:
Exhibit personal responsibility, civic engagement, and global awareness;
Work independently and collaboratively;
Demonstrate critical, creative, and innovative thinking;
Develop understanding through inquiry, research, and synthesis.
Once we established our school-wide expectations, each of the learning areas (English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, World Language, Visual and Performing Arts, and Health Science) began to work on their own specific graduation expectations. These learning expectations are based on what we expect students to learn in the courses they take here. You can find the learning area expectations at this link.
Since students do almost all their learning within their classes of various subjects, we felt strongly that the assessment of these expectations should take place within the classes, so we identified the concept of cornerstone assessments as a way of knowing that students have demonstrated their understanding and application of the learning expectations.
What are cornerstones? These are assessments designed by Yarmouth High School teachers that connect directly to the learning area expectations and the school-wide expectations. Many of the cornerstones are assessments that have been previously used by teachers in their classes. Most of these existing assessments have been improved by better aligning with the expectations. In some cases, teachers have created one or more new assessments that will be their cornerstones. Every full-year course at Yarmouth High School will have between 3-5 cornerstones. Semester classes will have between 1-3 cornerstones. Students will need to pass all of the cornerstones in a course with a grade of 80 or above in order to pass the course. Students who do not reach that grade on the first try will have multiple opportunities to meet the required score. You can find three examples of cornerstones at this link.
Students have already begun to hear about cornerstones in their classes and parents will hear more from the teachers at our Open House on Thursday, September 18th. Like any change, cornerstones will become more clear when students experience these sometime later in the first quarter or early in the second quarter.
On Tuesday evening, October 7th, from 6:30-8:00 PM, all parents are invited to my first Parent-Principal Coffee in the YHS Library. Please come if you would like to learn more or have questions. And, as always, feel free to be in touch by phone or email with any questions, comments or concerns about any aspect of our school program.
Dear YHS Parents,
I hope that the first week of school went well for your son or daughter. From my perspective, students jumped right back into their schoolwork with engaging assignments and classes. At the end of the day on Friday, we had a short "Back to School Welcome Assembly" where we welcomed the ninth graders, our new students, and our new staff. Today, I have several brief updates for your information.
1. On Wednesday, we will be welcoming a film crew from a German TV station as they put together a show that will compare American and German high schools through the eyes of one student in each country. The film crew will be following one sophomore student throughout the day starting with his bus ride to school, continuing through his classes and his after school activities. Since the filming could involve many students in the background, I want you to know that if you do NOT want your son or daughter shown in this film when it appears in Germany, you can have your child pick up a sticker as they come into school that day that can be worn on the clothing so that the videographers know not to include him or her in the final edit. This should be a fun way of highlighting Yarmouth High School in another country. If you have any questions, please let me know.
2. Next Thursday evening, September 18th, is our annual Open House, beginning at6:30 PM in advisor groups. In the next few days, you will be getting an email from your child's advisor with more details. This is a great opportunity to hear from the teachers about the classes. Remember that parking is tight, so if you can carpool or walk, that would be helpful.
3. On Saturday
evening, September 20th
beginning at 8:00 PM
, the Junior class will be sponsoring a Homecoming Dance in the cafeteria. Because many of you will have children attending, I want to make sure that you are aware of the expectations for each student who attends. For the last three years, we instituted mandatory breathalyzer
tests for all students as they come into school dances. This was based on work that was done with students and teachers to create the conditions for safe and substance-free events at school. We will once again use the breathalyzer
for all students as they enter the dance. Our school committee worked with us to create a policy for breathalyzer
use, which you can find at this link
. Students will be tested in a private area not in site of other students coming into the dance. The type of breathalyzer
that we use is one where the student does NOT have to put their mouth directly on it. Instead, the student blows into a funnel from a few inches away. The equipment is designed to determine whether there is any alcohol present in the breath. Often students ask if chewing gum can have a bearing on the test and it does not.
4. I want to make you aware, if you are not already, of a social media app that is causing lots of discussion among the students and staff of Yarmouth High School. It is called Yik Yak. It is an app that allows people to post comments anonymously about a range of topics. It is based geographically so the Yarmouth Yik Yak would only include topics posted about and in Yarmouth. Much of the discussion in school has revolved around comments that have been hurtful and specifically targeted at named individuals. Our Student Senate and the "Be the Change" team have already been talking about how to address the negative aspects of this app. You can learn more about this app by looking at the Common Sense Media website at this link
. If you have not talked to your son or daughter about the app, it would be a great way to better understand what is going on with Yik Yak.
If you have questions or comments, please be in touch.
Yarmouth High School
286 W. Elm Street, Yarmouth, ME 04096
Empowering all students to lead fulfilling lives in a changing world.
Main Office - (207) 846-5535 Guidance - (207) 846-3731
August 25, 2014
Dear Students and Parents,
Welcome to the 2014-2015 school year. I hope you have had an enjoyable summer and are ready to return to school. The first day of school is Tuesday, September 2nd. We will begin classes with the expectation that all students will be ready for school work and prepared for class. I am hopeful that you (students) have already completed summer reading and assignments. Just in case you haven’t quite finished, please be sure to get the work done this week so that you are prepared for the first day of school. All summer reading assignments are found listed at this link on our YHS home page (http://yhs.yarmouthschools.org/). Our school day will begin with advisor group at our usual time of 7:40 AM and finish at 2:25 PM. As has been the practice in the past, on Wednesday mornings students have a late start so that teachers can meet for professional development and planning. We will have a late start on Wednesday, September 3rd, starting at 8:40 AM.
While the students were away, there was plenty of work going on at Yarmouth High School. There have been a number of summer curriculum projects completed by teachers. Much of that summer curriculum work was focused on planning for the implementation of “Cornerstone Assessments” in all of our courses. These cornerstones will be tied directly to each of the school-wide and learning area graduation expectations. I will provide a much more detailed email with specific information about this exciting process in the first week of school. The custodial and maintenance staffs have been working to make sure that all parts of the school are “deep cleaned” and serviced so that we are ready for another year.
We are very pleased to welcome the following new staff members:
Andrew Dolloff has joined us as our new superintendent.
Brian Kim will be a new English teacher.
Sarah Hirschfeld will be a new science teacher.
Chris MacWhinnie will be a new technology education teacher.
Derek Burow will be a new special education teacher.
Amy Ashley will be our new athletic secretary.
Chelsea Harlow and Nathan Peterson will be new educational technicians working with special education students.
Blair Currier is our new Director of School Nutrition
There are a few items of information on our website that I would like to highlight for you:
We have updated many of the links on our “Student Handbook” page which you can find at this link from the YHS home page. Hopefully, this will help you to find the information you need.
You can also see each day’s announcements on our home page if you want to stay up to date with what is going on at YHS.
Every year, we need to notify parents about our pest management policy. You can find the exact policy at: http://tinyurl.com/yhspestmgt
If you need to access information about the school lunch program, go to: http://tinyurl.com/YarNutrition.
Please consult our website throughout the year for information about activities at the school.
Here is a reminder about the Yarmouth High School security measures:
Last year, we installed a “buzz-in” system for entry into YHS during school hours at the two main entrances on West Elm and Portland Streets. Anyone wishing to come into the school during school hours (between 8:00 AM and 2:25 PM) will need to be buzzed in by someone in the front office. There is a camera where you can be identified before coming in. Seniors with open campus privileges will be assigned a PIN number to be able to come into the back door only. All visitors are required to come to the Main Office to sign in and get a visitor pass to wear.
We have cameras at both entrances that can be used, if needed, to investigate any breaches in security. The intent of these cameras is to enhance safety and security, not to use as a student discipline tool. There is also a camera installed at the Turf Field to help us in preventing vandalism on our newly renovated field.
I remember the words of a school safety consultant who did an audit of our safety and security systems. He said that the most important component of a safe school is the positive relationships among the students and adults. We certainly want to maintain those positive relationships as we add systems that make our school less vulnerable to outside threats.
Here is some important information for the opening of school:
School will begin on Tuesday, September 2nd as a BLUE day. This will be a full school day, with advisor/advisee period starting promptly at 7:40 AM. We will have advisor group lists and locations posted in the main hallways for any student who is not sure where to go.
Open House will be held on Thursday, September 18th at 6:30 PM. Open house is an opportunity for parents to come in to meet with their son or daughter’s advisor and learn about the classes by going through an abbreviated student schedule. We always have a good turnout that night and look forward to seeing parents.
Many of our students drive to school regularly. We are asking all student drivers to provide a copy of their car registration information to keep on file. This information will be kept in a confidential database that can be accessed by the front office staff in the event of a safety or security situation. For example, if headlights are left on or there is a minor “fender bender,” we can quickly notify you or your son/daughter. If your son or daughter plans to drive to school on the first day, please make sure that we get a copy of the registration. We can make copies in the office. A separate letter, from Mr. Ottow, has already been sent to seniors describing the protocols for our Senior Open Campus program.
This year, we are continuing the laptop computer program for all students in grades 9-12. Students will be issued a “MacBook Air” computer during the first few days of school to use for the year. Students will receive permission slips on the first day of school and we ask that these be returned to the advisors along with a $25 check for insurance prior to the distribution of computers. We ask parents to spend some time with their sons and daughters reviewing the expectations for laptop use. This program will continue to help our students be able to use technology in many aspects of their school experience. If you would like to get a jump start on this process, you can access my letter on the laptops at this link: Parent Letter for the Laptop Rollout. To get to the form you need to sign, you can go to this link: Form to be sent in to advisors.
Once again, we are a part of the Virtual High School program (http://thevhscollaborative.org/). This allows our students to take classes for credit online. This program has a wonderful reputation for offering high quality classes online. Any students who are interested in taking a class that we do not currently offer at Yarmouth High School are encouraged to see their guidance counselor in the opening days of school to see if this program is appropriate.
Each year, we supply our volunteer coordinators with the names, phone numbers and emails of parents. If you do NOT want your information shared, be sure to call the Main Office to let us know so that we can take your name off the list.
Finally, I want to make sure that you know the link to the sports schedules on “Schedule Star.” To access team schedules please go to this link and look under Schedules to click on the drop down menus for the team name, level, and gender.
I am looking forward to seeing each of you in the coming weeks. Please know that I would love to hear from you if you have questions, comments, or concerns. Feel free to call the school or send me an email at email@example.com.
I am hopeful that students are excited about the coming school year. The rhythm of the school year gives each of us a chance to begin again every September and provides us with the opportunity to try new courses, activities, and habits of working.
HERE is a summary of behavior/discipline data from this past school year, 2013-2014. Here a few highlights:
1. Tardies were reduced by 18% from last year and 25% from the year before that; during the first year of the Restorative Justice "Dial Back" Tardy Plan, 110 dial backs occurred.
2. Inappropriate use/care of computer violations were reduced by 63% from last year, most of that reduction was related to less damage to the new machines.
3. Bullying/Harassing/Teasing incidents decreased by 58% from last year.
4. There was a very large increase (72%) in incidents of inappropriate/immature behavior compared to last year.
5. There were 20 Extracurricular Code violations last year; there 30 violations the year before ('12-'13) and 39 the year before that ('11-'12); this represents a 49% decrease in this 3 year period.
Thanks to Beth Lucien and Paula Roberts for all their hard work in helping put this data together.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
On June 22-26, I was able to attend some excellent professional development at the Tuck School at Dartmouth College with Jodi McGuire, Ellen Honan, Betsy Lane, Joan Adler, and Bruce Brann. The week-long program was entitled "Executive Education for Education Leaders" and our instructors were the highly-esteemed professors at the renowned business school. The sessions focused on leadership, strategic thinking, and change management. We engaged in activities that explored how new ideas would be applied to the challenged faced as a school leader in Yarmouth.
I recently did some outreach on behalf of Youth Court, a program whose genesis was in part due to Yarmouth Schools and Yarmouth High School students three years ago. Yarmouth School Committee was the first school board in the state to approve an official policy that allows restorative practices to be used in school discipline situations in lieu of traditional detentions/suspension. This policy was enacted in December, 2012 after a year of policy creation work led by students, staff, and administration. Since that time, several other school districts in the state have used our policy as a guide in creating their own.
On June 9th, I gave one of the keynote TED Talks at the State Restorative Justice "Think Tank" Conference held at Bates College. I talked about my experiences in working with Youth Court as a school administrator.
The goal of the conference was to explore the growth, impact and sustainability of restorative justice practices in Maine and to engage participants in a variety of ways to learn about the philosophy, principles and practices of restorative justice. One of our soon-to-be seniors, Dylan Tureff, who serves on Youth Court, also attended and led a workshop in the afternoon. The conference was attended by over 150 law enforcement officers, judges/lawyers, educators, and policy makers.
I am very proud of our students for helping create and grow this program and bring positive attention to the work we do in Yarmouth Schools.
Dear YHS Parents,
Our last two days of school are coming up on Monday and Tuesday. Monday is the day for the last scheduled exams and Tuesday is a day for students to do make up exams or work if they missed school last week. I have a few items for you as we close out the school year.
1. This is a reminder for parents of spring sport athletes (not crew, sailing or ultimate frisbee) that we would like you to complete a survey at this link
to give us feedback on our coaches. The survey will remain open until the end of the day on Tuesday, June 17th.
2. As part of our ongoing effort to get feedback from both parents and students, I am asking the parents of students involved in Playmakers to complete this survey
to help Betsy Puelle in continuing to improve the experience for students in theater.The survey will also be open until the end of the day on Tuesday, June 17th. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
3. As usual, our Lost and Found table is full of clothing, shoes, water bottles, backpacks and various other items. Please remind your son or daughter to check the table before school gets out. A week after school is done, we donate any unclaimed items to local charities.
4. Whether you attended convocation or graduation or not, you might be interested to know that a middle school student recorded both events and we will soon post them online. As soon as the link is live, I will send it out to both students and parents.
5. If you are wondering about quarter, semester and year long grades, please know that it takes a few days after school finishes until grades are truly final grades. Most will be completed and accurate by the end of the day on Tuesday, but they become official on Friday, June 20th. If you have any questions, it is best to email the teachers before school gets out on Tuesday.
6. The school is open in the summer for a variety of activities as well as being available for any questions you or your child has about school. You can count on the office being open from 8-2 Mondaythrough Thursday and often someone is here at other times as well.
I hope that we have great weather this summer and that we can all enjoy a great Maine summer.
Dear YHS Parents,
It is our second day back from spring break so we are on the home stretch until the end of the year. This is always a busy time of year with a very compressed sports season, SATs, AP tests, end-of-year events, and hopefully good weather. I have some information to share with you today.
Spring Music Concert, Wednesday, April 30th, 7:00 PM: Please join us in the YPAC for our spring concert where you will be able to hear the band, jazz band, chorus, advanced vocal ensemble, and chamber choir. This is the last concert for our seniors.
Teacher Appreciation Week, May 5-9:
Brenda Whitney has volunteered once again to organize events for teacher appreciation week May 5-9. There are three specific events: a breakfast on Wednesday
morning for the teachers, a number of raffle prizes to be given to teachers Thursday
, and a student-run carwash for teachers on Friday
. She needs help with all three events and you can sign up at this link
to make your contribution. Thanks to Brenda and to you for recognizing the hard work and dedication of the YHS teachers.
Exchange Student Hosting:
Please consider hosting an exchange student next year. We have been very fortunate to have seven students with us this year from Belgium, Spain, Norway, Brazil, Japan, and Vietnam. Prospective host families select their students from applications approved by a sponsoring organization. These non-profit organizations work with the U.S. State Department to obtain a visa and to ensure that students are qualified and properly cared for while in our country. The major responsibility of a host parent is to parent the student, feed them, and, when necessary, transport them. No fees are paid or received by the host family. Your reward is the pleasure of having a new member of your family, not only during the exchange period, but often forever, as these students continue relationships with you through visits and correspondence over the years. If the idea appeals to you, you can contact one of the sponsoring agencies below. Alternatively you can contact Janice Cooper email@example.com
3, who hosted one of our exchange students this year through Cultural Homestay International. You can click on the names to take you to the organizations' websites: Cultural Homestay International , American Field Services , Rotary International Youth Exchange, CCI Greenheart, CIEE, and Youth for Understanding.
As always, if you have questions, please be in touch.
Ted Hall, Principal
Dear YHS Parents,
I have information about a number of items in this email. We are beginning the very busy season of spring at YHS (even though the ground doesn't look like spring just yet) as you will see from the long list below. I hope this is helpful to you.
- Congratulations to the Playmakers for winning the Class B One Act Play State Championship last Saturday night. They will travel to St. Johnsbury, VT April 15-17 to represent Maine at the New England One Act Festival.
- Pizza Regatta, Tomorrow, March 29 from 11:30-2:30: Come to the YHS Cafeteria and support Yarmouth Crew at the Pizza Regatta where you can spend $8.00 for an all you can eat lunch.
- Opening Day of Spring Sports, Monday, March 31: If your son or daughter has not yet signed up for a spring sport or if you have any questions about the athletic program, be sure to contact Susan Robbins.
- "Science Augmentation" Test, Wednesday, April 2: This is the day that all juniors take the "Science Augmentation" test as part of the Maine state tests. This will take place starting at 8:40 AM and will go through until approximately 10:45 AM. Most of the Maine state test is done through students taking the SAT in May, but since there is no science tested on the SAT, this assessment will give us information about how our students are doing in science.
- College Information Night, Wednesday, April 2, 6:30-8:00: This is an opportunity primarily for sophomores, juniors and their parents to hear first hand from college admissions professionals about the college admission process, including information about course selection, types of admission (early, rolling, regular, etc.), the value of a campus visit, and the role of the interview. We will have admissions staff from Bates, University of Maine and Wheaton.
- Power of One Exhibition, Thursday, April 3, 6:30-8:00: This is the night that the ninth graders share their learning from the Power of One project that focused on addressing hunger.
- Senior Talent Show, Friday, April 4, 7:00 PM, Yarmouth Performing Arts Center: This is a great opportunity to be entertained by lots of different seniors with music, dance, performance, and film. Tickets are $5.00 and all proceeds go to Project Graduation.
- School Physicals, Thursday, April 10, 8:00-11:00 AM: If you would like to have a free physical so that your son or daughter can remain eligible for athletics, please complete the attached form and return it to Margi Moran, School Nurse, no later than Friday, April 4. If you have questions, please call (846-5535) or email Margi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Reminder about Driving to School: With many students recently getting licenses, please remember that if you want your son or daughter to drive to school, we ask all student drivers to drop off a copy of their car registration to the main office to keep on file. This information will be kept in a confidential database that can be accessed by school personnel. This is helpful if a car's lights are left on or if there is a minor "fender bender" in the parking lot.
Ted Hall, Principal