Weekly Notes from the Head of Upper School, Sept. 6

Dear Upper School Families,

Welcome to our new families. We are so excited to have you all as part of our Firebird family. There is an amazing vibe in the air this year! If you were present at the all school assembly on Friday, you saw some true school spirit in our Upper School students. Technically, I would argue we won the spirit competition, but kudos to Mrs. Rice for calling a tie between the divisions! I will keep these remarks short because we have a lot of information to review to get ready for the year.

After-Care Program
Upper School students are now required to report to After-Care after school. Supervision is required for us to have a safe campus. Students who are waiting for sports games or practices to start, will not be charged. Additionally, US students who choose to participate as Homework Helpers for Lower and Middle School students will also not be charged for After-care. Please contact me for more information.

Semester Assessments
We are very proud to announce that we have revamped our semester exam process in the Upper School. To bring our assessment process in line with best and current practices in colleges and universities, we will be asking our teachers to create more authentic assessments of student learning. These assessments will still be cumulative and reflect the learning of the semester. However, teachers will be free to determine in what way the student should be able to demonstrate their knowledge. These assessments may take the form of a traditional exam, a research paper, or a project and will still account for 20% of the semester grade. Teachers will have the flexibility to decide when in the last two weeks of the semester the assessment will happen. Students will still have no more than two in a day, and no more than five in a week, just like our previous schedule. This change should not have any impact on family time outside of school.

Changes to Community Service and Service Learning
We are going to be requiring students to do 40 hours, instead of 36, but we are creating more opportunities for students to participate in activities on campus. We would like to bring the community onto campus, as well as provide students ways to earn service hours through things like our Homework Helper program. Students will have authentic experiences that connect them to the school, and outside the community, in meaningful ways that connect to our curriculum, as well as our mission. We will be offering enough opportunities on campus that students will be able to meet this additional requirement, without impacting family time outside of school.

Attendance Changes
We have simplified our attendance policy this year. We have made it easier for parents to deal with sickness. Last year, we had a rule that for excused absences due to illness, students had to have a doctor's note. This year, parents can call and excuse their child from school due to illness up to three times in a semester. If a student is going to miss multiple days in a row for illness, then we would still require a note from a doctor. But a day here or there is something parents can excuse. This change does not change our previous policy regarding what constitutes an excused absence, in fact, it increases the ways that parents can excuse their child’s absence. Please refer to the Students and Families Handbook for more information about the school’s attendance policy.

Personal Electronic Devices
Just a reminder that students are not allowed to use personal electronic devices during school hours. This includes breaks, recess, and lunch. Devices are to be stowed in the locker during school hours. Students who violate this policy will have their device confiscated and returned to them at the end of the day. After one violation, parents will be required to come to the school and pick up the student’s device. We appreciate your assistance in reinforcing this rule. Students are having better conversations and interactions already!

Lockers
Students must stow their belongings in their lockers during the day. Each student has two lockers, one for books and materials, and one for bags and sports equipment. Students are not allowed to bring purses or bags to class.

Important Dates and Reminders:
A reminder that students for whom English is not their first language: You should be checking TOEFL and/or IELTS testing dates and locations that fit into your application timeline. Visit www.ets.org/toefl or www.ielts.org/en-us to register!

9/8 - Last Day to Register for 10/7 ACT
9/11 - College Visit: Concordia University 8:30 am
9/12 - CSF Fall Semester Applications Due
9/14 - MUS Back to School Night
9/15 - Elections for ASB Class Reps
9/26 - Picture Day!
9/27-9/29 - Freshman Retreat

Ms. Steinman
Head of Upper School
asteinman@pvs.org