WELCOME BACK LETTER

Todd Hembury

Pelham Middle School


Lynn M. Sabia, Principal
Sean A. Llewellyn, Assistant Principal

Read in Google Docs

 

August 16, 2021

 

Dear Pelham Middle School Families,

Welcome to the 2021-22 school year!

It is with great enthusiasm that we welcome all of our new and returning students and families to Pelham Middle School. As the end of summer rapidly approaches, we hope that you are looking forward to the start of a new school year that promises to be an exciting and productive experience for all. 

Our first day of school is Thursday, September 9. We will be staggering student arrivals on that day in order to hold brief student orientation sessions. Students should report to the middle school gym at the following times:

  • Grade 6 students - 8:15 a.m. (arrive by 8:00 a.m.)
  • Grade 7 students - 9:02 a.m. (arrive by 8:47 a.m.)
  • Grade 8 students - 9:46 a.m. (arrive by 9:31 a.m.) 

Students will receive their class schedules during their orientation session. Following this session, seventh and eighth graders will continue with the remainder of their classes. Sixth graders will participate in several opening day activities aimed at familiarizing them with the school, their teachers, and their daily schedules. Lunch is available for all students. Dismissal for all students will be at 2:51 p.m. via the main entrance.

In order to keep students and staff members safe from COVID-19, we will continue to follow the recommendations and guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Westchester County Department of Health, and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) as it evolves. You can check our District webpage for updates. Based upon current guidance, students, staff members, and visitors to the building must wear masks while inside and students will be seated at a 3’ distance from one another while in classrooms and a 6’ distance while eating lunch. Students and staff will be encouraged to sanitize their hands regularly and our custodial staff will disinfect surfaces frequently. We will not be assigning student lockers at the start of the year and plan to evaluate whether we will need to phase in student lockers as the year progresses. As a result, teachers will work with students to limit the number of books and supplies students will be required to carry on any given day. Students will not have to change for physical education class, just to wear sneakers. As has been the case since spring, students are not required to carry personal dividers and they are no longer cohorted. Now that all students are permitted to come to school each day, virtual learning is also no longer an option. 

We will be returning to our original bell schedule, with first period beginning at 8:15 a.m. (zero period begins at 7:32 a.m.) and the school day ending at 2:51 p.m. We will continue to require students to hand in a Student Health Questionnaire signed by a parent or guardian (or completed EZSCRN app) before entering the building each day. Students who arrive at school without this form will have to have their temperature taken before entering the building, and students who show a fever of greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit will be quarantined awaiting pickup by a parent or guardian. Students should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the start time of school each day to allow for this process to occur. Students will not enter the middle school via the main entrance, but will instead enter through the gate between the high school and the annex at the at the intersection of Franklin Place and Nyac Avenue. Please rest assured that the health and safety of our students and staff members is of utmost importance and will remain a priority throughout the year. 

We encourage all students to take advantage of Academy Period from 2:51-3:11 p.m. each day for help with homework and other academic needs. All of our teachers are available during Academy Period. In addition, our library will have extended hours until 4 p.m. on Monday through Thursday starting Wednesday, September 15.

Sixth grade students will receive Chromebooks on the first day of school, and seventh and eighth graders will keep their Chromebooks from last year. In order to successfully use the district network and portal both in and out of school, students will need to sign a document indicating that they have read our district’s Acceptable Use Policy and both students and parents need to sign a document indicating that they have read our Student Portal User Agreement. This document should be signed by hand and students should hand these in to their homeroom (first period) teachers by Friday, September 17. Alternately, students can drop their forms off in the main office. 

Students should also familiarize themselves with the Student Handbook and the District Code of Conduct. Students should print and sign this form indicating that they understand both documents. Students should hand this form in to their homeroom (first period) teachers by Friday, September 17. Alternately, students can drop their forms off in the main office. 

We will be engaging in a number of important initiatives for this school year. As you may already be aware, Pelham Middle School was proud to receive recognition as a National School of Character earlier this year. As such, we will continue to implement the 11 Principles of Character as follows:

  • Core values are defined, implemented, and embedded into school culture.
  • The school defines “character” comprehensively to include thinking, feeling, and doing.
  • The school uses a comprehensive, intentional, and proactive approach to develop character.
  • The school creates a caring community.
  • The school provides students with opportunities for moral action.
  • The school offers a meaningful and challenging academic curriculum that respects all learners, develops their character, and helps them succeed.
  • The school fosters students’ self-motivation.
  • All staff share the responsibility for developing, implementing, and modeling ethical character.
  • The school’s character initiative has shared leadership and long-range support for continuous improvement.
  • The school engages families and community as partners in the character initiative.
  • The school assesses its implementation of character education, its culture and climate, and the character growth of students on a regular basis.

To continue our character efforts, we are also very excited to announce that, in partnership with Pelham Together and thanks to a generous grant from the Pelham Education Foundation, we will be inviting renowned author Rosalind Wiseman and Cultures of Dignity to Pelham Middle School. After conducting preparatory work via information gathering and virtual meetings with students and faculty, Ms. Wiseman will visit our school to conduct grade level student presentations, a faculty presentation, and a faculty team meeting with the aim of helping us improve our school culture, prevent anti-social behaviors, increase student well-being and achievement, and help students grow into responsible adults committed to justice, compassion, and respect by inspiring students and staff to act with humanity and purpose and strengthening students’ and staff members’ ability to engage in civil dialogue and critical thinking, including the ability to navigate difficult conversations. We also plan to once again achieve designation by the Anti-Defamation League as a “No Place for Hate” school with gold star distinction by implementing four schoolwide anti-hate and anti-bias activities throughout the year.

As you probably know, Pelham Middle School is an International Baccalaureate World School offering the Middle Years Programme to all of its students. The International Baccalaureate (or “IB”) works with schools to help develop well-rounded students who respond to challenges with optimism and an open mind, are confident in their own identities, make ethical decisions, join with others in celebrating our common humanity, and are prepared to apply what they learn in real-world, complex, and unpredictable situations. The Middle Years Programme (or “MYP”) provides a framework of learning that encourages students to become creative, critical, and reflective thinkers. By emphasizing intellectual challenge and encouraging students to make connections between their studies in traditional subjects and the real world, the MYP fosters the development of skills for communication, intercultural understanding, and global engagement: essential qualities for young people who will one day become global leaders. Throughout this year, we will be preparing for our Evaluation Visit, which takes place every 5 years. As part of this process, teachers will be participating in professional development and engaging in curriculum development, revision, and alignment. Our focus is to continue to provide instruction that engages students as inquirers and thinkers and fosters a stimulating learning environment based on understanding and respect. We will also continue to expand our use of the MYP Assessment Criteria to assess student work in order to provide a feedback process that is more standardized, precise, transparent, and holistic: one that not only reports on student learning but encourages it. In addition, we will strive to further incorporate the Approaches to Learning Skills (helping students “learn how to learn”) and Service as Action (through which the curriculum inspires students to take principled action in their local and global communities). 

We are also well aware of the social and emotional toll the past year and a half has taken on all of us. One of our key goals this year is to promote an “atmosphere of joy” here at Pelham Middle School, including team-building activities, trips, spirit days, competitions, service activities, concerts, celebrations, and fun assemblies. We sincerely want everyone to look forward to coming to our school each and every day.

All of us at Pelham Middle School are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our students so that we can begin another year full of exciting learning experiences, personal development, and fun! We firmly believe that a strong school to home partnership and open communication is the key to a successful school, so please feel free to reach out if you ever have any questions, concerns, or suggestions. Welcome back, and let’s make this our best year ever!


Sincerely,

Lynn M. Sabia               Sean A. Llewellyn
Principal                        Assistant Principal

 

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