Weekly Letter 3/16/18

Dear Parents, We have enjoyed a busy and productive week at The City School and are gearing up for next week’s Student Led Conferences. Please note that there is no school next week on Thursday and Friday, March 22nd and 23rd due to Student Led Conferences. Our 7th graders made it back safely today from their four day trip to Alpine Meadows in Big Bear. In addition to having an excellent educational and community building experience, the group was extremely fortunate to have had snow fall while they were in Big Bear. We look forward to hearing about their adventure when they return to school on Monday. As our 7th graders were off campus today, we enjoyed a special All School Breakfast with the 6th and 8th graders, complete with decorations and signs celebrating March’s Women’s Rights Month. After breakfast we had a short All School Meeting which ended with a group dance! During All School Lunch, hosted by Mr. Gray’s and Mr. Logan’s Advisories, kids were able to eat and choose to either play outside or to participate in one of the activities inside several classrooms. Although we missed the energy and presence of our 7th graders this week, we had a great week with our 6th and 8th grade students. In other news, local private high schools have recently sent out acceptance letters to high school applicants. Approximately 50-60 of our 8th grade students applied to private high schools for next fall. In speaking to numerous principals and admissions officers in recent weeks, I was thrilled to hear the wonderful comments used to describe The City School’s 9th grade applicants. In addition to the vast majority of our students being accepted into their first choice private high school, I heard numerous compliments as follows:  
  • Our students performed very well on the high school placement test (an academic exam required for entrance into a private parochial school).
  • Our students interviewed well, coming across as students who are interesting and clearly comfortable conversing with adults.
  • Our students expressed enjoying their middle school years and were able to clearly articulate the benefits they reaped and the things they appreciated about attending The City School.
  • Students who have previously come to their high schools from The City School have been well prepared, hard working, and proactive in their education and in the community.
I would like to take a moment to thank parents who were able to make it to the Principal Chat today. We spoke briefly about several issues including the issues of vaping and juuling, which have become quite popular amongst teenagers in recent years. As many parents are unaware of how vaping and juuls work and how prevalent they have become in recent years, I am attaching a link to an article that is informative, particularly about juulinghttps://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2017/10/31/juul-e-cigs-controversial-vaping-device-popular-school-campuses/818325001/ I hope you take the time to read this and to discuss the issue of vaping/juuling with your teens. Most likely, many of your kids will know more about this than you do as they see/hear about it from their friends, on social media, and some through their own personal experience. Nevertheless, it is important that your children know that you are aware that an increased number of teenagers are experimenting with vaping/juuling, and that you understand the importance of engaging your children in conversation about this critical issue. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Warmly, Sheri

Sheri’s Weekly Letter 3/9/18

Dear Parents,   We enjoyed another busy week of school and are happy that we made it through the week without the predicted rain! Thanks to the parents who were able to join us last night for information meetings regarding the upcoming 6th and 7th grade overnight field trips. For those unable to attend, we will email trip details before each trip and extra forms have been made available in the office. Any students not attending the overnight trips will be expected to attend school as these are regular school days.   On Wednesday, March 14th we will hold our lottery on campus at 4:00pm. We have around 700 students hoping for 120 spots in our 2018-19 lottery. Although we have shared that attendance is not mandatory to secure a spot, we expect it to be a busy afternoon at The City School. Please be aware of this if you are picking up students or trying to park on Wednesday afternoon.   In other news, I wanted to inform you that our faculty and students will be participating in the National School Walkout on Wednesday, March 14th at 10:00am to honor those killed in the February 14th massacre at the Parkland High School. Ms. Woods’ Advisory organized this walkout by sharing the purpose and logistics of the walkout with all Advisories. Having all the information, students will be able to make a choice as to whether or not they want to participate. Students who choose not to will stay behind with some teachers.   As a constructivist based school that values and promotes student proactivity, we support our students in voicing their thoughts and opinions in a respectful and peaceful manner. We want them to know that they can make a positive difference in their own lives and the lives of others. Parents interested in joining us for the walkout can be at school around 9:50am to get ready to walk with us at 10:am-10:17am.   I would like to once again remind parents to remain involved in your children’s phone use and online activities. I have been recently informed of several incidents of inappropriate internet use, including students creating fake accounts in The City School’s name and posting hurtful comments on Snapchat, in texts, and other online forums. While these activities occur outside of school, they have a tremendous impact on our students in the school environment. I realize that this is a topic I have addressed in weekly emails several times; however I will continue to revisit, as it seems that many of our parents are unaware of what their children are doing and/or saying online and via text.   Lastly, please remember to TURN YOUR CLOCKS AHEAD ONE HOUR this weekend (March 11th) for Daylights Savings Time.   Warmly,   Sheri

Sheri’s Weekly Letter 2/16/18

Dear Parents,

The students enjoyed a short week this week, while teachers spent Thursday and Friday together in Professional Development. Our faculty enjoyed a fun and productive two days of learning, planning, and enjoying one another. We are geared up and excited for the remaining months of our 2017-18 school year. Please note that there is no school on Monday, February 19th in observance of President’s Day.

On another note, I am, and know that many of you are, incredibly saddened by the news of yet another school shooting in Parkland, Florida this week. Indeed there are no words to explain this tragedy and the countless number of similar tragedies that have occurred in recent years. As educators and parents, our number one priority is ensuring that our children are safe at all times. While we have security drills and safety procedures in place at The City School, it is clear that this Florida high school and the many other schools where this has occurred, also had security procedures in place. It is unsettling to all of us that regardless of the measures we take to protect our children, we send them to school each day with the possibility that they may not be safe.

While important conversations are rampant right now regarding gun control, mental illness, metal detectors at school, etc., I cannot help but wonder about the type of prevention and intervention we are implementing in our schools that may help us not only to “red flag” struggling kids, but to provide them with help. I wonder whether some of these perpetrators may have benefited from being and feeling known, seen, heard, and valued in their school communities. I wonder whether it may have made a difference if they had just one adult–maybe an Advisor–in their schools that they felt they could talk to. What if they had been taught–in a school like City–to handle their sadness, anger and frustration in a different, more productive manner? I wonder if anyone at school ever let them know that their lives and the lives of others, DO matter.

As a school leader, I do not know the answers to these questions, as nobody can really know what drives certain people to commit horrendous acts. What I do know, however, is that while we are not responsible for the actions of other people, we, as educators and as school communities, can make a difference in the lives of students when we embrace every one of them –  socially, emotionally, and cognitively. There is much work to be done in our schools and in the world. We will continue at The City School to explore and revamp our safety and security procedures while never losing sight of our main goal of embracing all of our students.

I wish you a peaceful three-day weekend and hope that you will take the time to hug, love, and appreciate your wonderful children.



Weekly Letter 2/9/18

Dear Parents,

Our second semester is well underway. As I tour classrooms during the school day and observe the social, emotional, and academic climate of our school community, I am delighted to observe the following:

-Students engaged in the learning process; asking thoughtful questions and excited to contribute to class discussions.
-Teachers excited and invested in subject matter and student learning.
-Note taking and study skills included in the academic curriculum.
-Students being held accountable for their in class work, behavior, and work habits.
-Thoughtful and productive conversations around curricular activities and readings.
-Critical thinking skills being developed in math classes by teachers who refuse to simply “feed” students algorithms and answers.
-Group projects requiring students to work together in completing academic tasks.
-Cognitive, emotional, and social safety created in our classrooms, which allows students to learn, make mistakes, and move forward without being made to feel badly about themselves.

In other news, I am thrilled to announce that three of our 8th grade students competed in the National History Bee this week and qualified to compete in the final round in Atlanta next month. A huge congratulations to:

-Jackson Butts
-Paolo Ierace
-Macy Lerner

As you know, we are in the midst of determining the location of The City School for the 2018-19 school year and are thrilled to have two great options. We greatly appreciate the feedback received from our parents, both in the meeting we had with parents and in the survey emailed to families in my newsletter last week. The Board will consider parent input and will be making a final decision by the end of the month. If you have further questions, concerns, or comments about the site, please email our executive director, Valerie Braimah at: vBraimah@citycharterschools.org.

On a different note, I wanted to inform our parents that we discovered a couple of students who brought drug paraphernalia and marijuana to school this week. While I understand that this is quite a common occurrence in both public and private middle schools throughout the nation (and world), it is not common at The City School and it is something that we take very seriously. As students (mainly 7th & 8th graders) have caught wind of this and are discussing it amongst themselves, I took some time at today’s All School Meeting to discuss this with our students. My conversation with our students highlighted the following:

-Not only is it illegal for students to use drugs and alcohol, serious consequences can occur to those who are caught using drugs and alcohol both on and/or off campus. Consequences include arrest, suspension, expulsion, etc.
-Research states that teens who use drugs regularly are 65 percent more likely to develop an addiction than those who hold off experimenting until the age of 21, after which the chance of addiction drops to 2 percent.
-It has been proven that drug use can drastically and permanently harm young and developing brains. In fact, teens who use marijuana regularly have up to an eight point drop in IQ even if they quit as adults.
-It is not “cool” to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Even e-cigarettes (vaping with added flavor) is dangerous as it leads users to perceive e-cigarettes to be far more benign than they actually are.
-While I understand this is an uncomfortable subject to discuss, particularly for our younger students, research has proven that it is critical for parents and educators to discuss drug use with students on a regular basis, rather than a “one and done” discussion. We will continue to have these conversations in Advisory  and will have a directed focus on this topic during our Spring Wellness Day on April 3rd.

I also took some time to talk to the students about an issue occuring at school where students (both African American and other races) are saying the “n” word. Additionally, apparently some  African American students have taken it upon themselves to give a “pass” to certain students who are not African American, allowing them to say the “n” word. I explained to our students that the “n” word is highly offensive to all people because it is a word that is degrading of human beings, and we are ALL human beings. Nobody has a “pass” to say this word. I then reminded students of our school’s policy that we do NOT refer to anyone by calling them any derogatory names at all, particularly those related to race, religion, culture, sexual preference or orientation. I hope you will take a few minutes to follow up with your students about this important topic.

In closing, the lottery for The City School will take place on March 14th. The last day to apply to the lottery is March 1st at 12pm. THERE IS NO FLEXIBILITY IN THIS TIMELINE. If you have a child at TCS who has a sibling planning on attending for the 2018-19 school year, please know that the sibling does have priority but he/she must be entered into the lottery.

Please remember that we have no school next Wednesday and Thursday, February 15th and 16th due to professional development and no school on Monday, February 19th due to President’s Day.

Have a great weekend.
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