October 9, 2020
Home of the Falcons!
"We Achieve and Celebrate Educational Excellence"
Falcon Focus

A Message from the Superintendent

Happy Friday! Phew – we made it to fall break, and we all need a vacation. Below you will find all the great things happening with the school sites with additional information on the return to in-person learning. I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you just a couple of things that we will be working on over fall break. 

Schools PLP. When the independent study courses (Fountain Hills Virtual Academy) were set up, for some reason, the dates for completion of semester and yearlong courses were not correct. Our calendar was not entered into the system; therefore, setting arbitrary dates for completion. For those students on the FHVA, this may have put them behind in completing assignments when they thought all along they were ahead of schedule. PLEASE know that we are aware of this difficulty for your student. We are being flexible in grades for the first quarter as well as athletic/club eligibility. In fact, we are doing that for all of our students regardless of the instructional option. This doesn’t mean that every child receives an incomplete for their grade. Where technology and program issues directly affected a student, we are being as flexible as possible. For the students on the virtual academy, they need to show progress on their work. They have until the end of the semester to complete the work for the first semester.

Elevate K-12. We have been experiencing some difficulty with technology and the structure of Elevate K-12 for our students. During remote instruction, the platform for Elevate does not permit for the instructor to show their face and provide instruction through modeling. Once students are back in class, the projector and laptops will be set up so that students can see their teacher. One of the significant changes for the Elevate program is that we communicate with the company and the teacher through the trained classroom coach. The classroom coach is in the room while the teacher is online teaching. They help students with connectivity, can answer or direct questions to the teacher, and assist with the entering of grades in Power School. Elevate uses a separate system for grades. The classroom coach will be entering those grades manually into Power School for the report card. The administrators and I have had several meetings with Elevate to understand the changes. I will be meeting with the company over fall break to ensure that we have worked through issues related to the program and technology. 

Remember that we start full time in person learning on October 19thPlease remember to read the parent guide for return to in person learning that was sent out last week. It will be imperative for schools to remain open that we all follow the health guidelines. Please, keep your children home if they are ill or are exhibiting COVID-like symptoms. Remote option is available until the end of the semester (December 2020) with the virtual academy available until the end of the school year (May 2021). If your child is attending via the remote option, they will not attend in person school. This option is available for students who are quarantined, ill, or the parent selected this option until the end of the semester. Please contact the school or the district office if you have additional questions about this option. If your family did not complete the survey, we have enrolled your child in the in person learning option unless they are enrolled in the virtual academy. 

Have a great fall break –
Kelly Glass
McDowell Mountain Elementary School

Dear MMES Falcon Families: 

Thank you for all your great work with us this first quarter. We are looking forward to the second quarter after fall break October 12-16. School resumes with full in-person learning on Monday, October 19 and it’s going to be a wonderful fresh start! Please refer to the email we sent on October 2 for more details, but we are including some key information below:

Learning Selections Through December 18
Thank you for completing the district’s learning option survey and/or communicating with the school about your children’s learning selections that you have committed to through December 18.

Students who are enrolled in Traditional Learning will attend school Monday through Friday in-person. The schedule is 8:45-3:20 MTTHF and 8:45-2:20 on Wednesdays. Please keep your children home should they present any COVID-like symptoms or they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. If your child is going to be absent, please call the office at 480-664-5200 instead of only informing your child’s teacher. If and only if your children are ill and/or quarantined but able to participate, they may access remote instruction through Schools PLP during the period of illness/quarantine. If you have switched from the Fountain Hills Virtual Academy to the in-person model, you will find out your child’s new teacher’s name by Friday, October 9 and be ready to start on October 19, but note that students’ old FHVA courses in Schools PLP may still be listed until we’ve completed the transition after fall break.

Students who are enrolled permanently in Remote Learning through December 18 will attend Monday through Friday remotely through Schools PLP. If your child is going to be absent from remote learning, please call the office at 480-664-5200 instead of only informing your child’s teacher. During the fall break, there will be remote learning materials available for families to pick up outside at the front entrance under the awning. There will be one bin per grade level K-3 with baggies labeled with students’ names.

Students enrolled in the Fountain Hills Virtual Academy will not attend school on campus or through remote instruction and will follow an independent study instruction model with attendance monitored in Schools PLP. If you have switched from the in-person/remote model to FHVA, your new Schools PLP courses will be available this Friday, October 9 but note that students’ old courses may still be listed until we’ve completed the transition after fall break.

In-Person Learning Rules, Expectations, and Procedures
We really appreciate how well students, parents, and staff have been following all of our new rules, expectations, and procedures for in-person learning! We are confident that these will continue to run smoothly even with more students attending each day starting October 19. We will continue our temperature checks and symptom questions at student arrival. Students will continue to have access to hand sanitizer stations and/or sinks for handwashing throughout the building to use upon arrival; before/after class or individual bathroom breaks; and before/after lunches and recesses. When traveling individually or as a class throughout the building, students stay on one set of hallway carpet stars so that they’re going in the same direction.

Students and staff will continue to wear face coverings/masks in their classrooms and throughout the building, and there will continue to be several opportunities for mask breaks: in class, whether individually or as a class; during recesses outside; and during lunch in the cafeteria. For mask breaks, students sanitize or wash their hands, put their masks in individual brown paper bags, and maintain social distance.

Each grade level will continue to have their own recess and lunch times. When using the playground equipment, numbers of students using each will be limited. Playground equipment will be sanitized between uses. At lunch, students will be assigned seats marked 3 feet apart with tables facing in one direction.

As stated already, MMES students, parents, and staff are doing a really amazing job with these new rules, expectations and procedures. Let’s keep it up, MMES A+ Falcons!

We hope everyone has a wonderful fall break!

Valerie Dehombreux
McDowell Mountain Elementary School

Fountain Hills Middle School

Hello FHMS families,

I hope this Falcon Focus finds you safe and well and ready for some down time over Fall Break. The school has had a little more energy this week as the students prepare for the break as well. I know there is a side of me that is also feeling anxious about the break. I want to keep the momentum going that we have from Quarter 1 and jump right into Quarter 2. My own children have been on fall break this week and we talked about some of the nervousness they felt, the last time they had a week long break in their schooling, we never went back. That is a natural feeling and part of the world we are living in. That being said, I am very proud of the hard work our students and staff have put in here at the school this Quarter to ensure we have a safe environment to learn in.

Quarter 2 Reboot: As we leave Quarter 1 and get ready to jump into Quarter 2 I wanted to remind our parents that each time we start a new Quarter we also start over in the gradebook. This is a great time to look back at how Quarter 1 went and make any in-game adjustments for the next 9 weeks. I want to challenge each of our students ask themselves the following questions:
  1. How did my first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year go for me?
  2. What positives can I build on as I come back from Fall Break?
  3. What opportunities are there to make my Quarter 2 better than Quarter 1?
  4. How was my time management for Quarter 1, what adjustments can I make?
  5. Who are my trusted adults in the building I can go to for support?
  6. What PBIS pillar did I do the best job of representing during Quarter 1?

After answering these questions, you should be able to put together a game plan for your return after Fall Break. My hope as your principal is that each Quarter you use the reset of grades and standards to evaluate where you feel you are as a student and what adjustments can be made to continue to grow.

One major positive for our school has been our implementation of PBIS. The staff and students continue to live these pillars each day in the building and I love the positive culture it has begun to create. As we return to full in-person learning with all of our friends, we will continue to expect that we are all Responsible, Respectful, Safe and Kind. Each week we have drawn winners for our PBIS recognition wall from the mass amounts of Falcon Feathers that have been turned in by staff. It is awesome to see the names of students in our main area who live and breathe PBIS. Thank you for embracing this culture shift and I look forward to another great Quarter of PBIS.

The final piece of the Focus revolves around our return to full in-person learning.  Just a reminder that after Fall Break, we will have our students back on campus 5 days a week. There has been a lot of great information shared out from the district level about what this return will look like. A few highlights for FHMS to keep in mind are:
  • Our mask mandate and policy is still in place for students and staff on our campus.
  • Health Screens will still take place at drop-off, but just as a gentle reminder, parents should be screening their student at home before leaving for school.
  • Staying to the right in the building, as students travel from class to class we will still utilize the right side of the hallway just like the right side of the road.
  • Students who do not feel well during the day will need to report to the Health Office

As we put a close on Quarter 1, I hope that you and your family are able to take this time to recharge and refill your buckets. We are going to need to be firing on all cylinders when we return on October 19th. Our teachers are already gearing up for another big quarter of learning. Expectations will be high and I am challenging all of our students to rise up and meet those expectations. 

Jeff Markle
Fountain Hills Middle School

Fountain Hills High School
Hello Falcon Families,
As the first quarter of the school year comes to a close this week, we’ve been able to look back and reflect upon the journey we’ve been on throughout the school year. We are also looking forward to welcoming all of our students back on October 19th once fall break has concluded. 

2nd Quarter: New Beginnings and a Fresh Start
As the first quarter comes to an end, it’s important to know that the second quarter provides students with a fresh start. We understand that the first quarter was filled with many challenges that were out of the control of students and teachers. Given that, we will be working with students, in a collaborative effort, to ensure their success throughout the second quarter.

During the second quarter we will be welcoming all of our students back to campus, five days a week. Our safety measures that have been in place all year will not be going away. Students and staff will still be required to wear masks at all times except while eating lunch. Student temperatures will still be taken upon arrival each day before being permitted through the gate. Social distancing will become more of a challenge as we’ll have more students in a classroom at one time. However, when possible, we will spread students apart to the best of our ability.  

Athletic Procedures and Protocols
Our fall sports are underway. It’s been so enjoyable getting to see our student-athletes back out there competing. We’re happy to be welcoming fans to all of our athletic events. Our athletic department has put together the procedures and protocols for attending athletic events. Please be sure to review the Fan Attendance Guidelines.

Celebrations and Shout Outs!
At the end of last school year, our school submitted our application to the Arizona Educational Foundation to be considered an A+ School of Excellence. Part of the application process included a site visit by a group of judges composed of educational leaders from around the state. This visit was to have taken place last spring but was postponed until the fall due to the pandemic. Our visit took place virtually over a two-day period on September 22-23. The judges visited all of our classes virtually to witness the wonderful things occurring in our classrooms. Additionally, they met with a small group of students, as well as staff and community members. After this lengthy process, we received a call from the lead judge on October 6th. We’re happy to inform you that the Arizona Educational Foundation has designated Fountain Hill High School as an A+ School of Excellence!!! This is a tremendous honor for all of the hard work and dedication of so many, specifically our teachers, staff, students, and parents! We are currently organizing a ceremony to recognize this monumental achievement. Once the details are finalized, additional information will be provided.

Congratulations to three of our students for being recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Program!! The following students have been given a Letter of Commendation for outstanding performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test:
  • Torrey Jenkins
  • Cole Schulze
  • Andrei Urda

Those recognized as Commended Students place among the top 50,000 scorers of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2020 competition by taking the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Those being named Commended Students have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success. 

Future Dates to Be Aware Of
On Thursday, October 29th, we will be conducting various tests at the high school for all grade levels. This will be a non-instructional day for students, however, what they will be engaged in is highly academic. Below is an outline of what we have planned for the day.
  • Freshmen will be participating in various sessions during periods 1-4 that we are calling High School 101. Our freshmen students will be taught tips and best practices to ensure they are successful academically throughout their high school years and beyond.
  • Sophomore students will be taking the PSAT. This test is free for all sophomore students.
  • All Juniors will be taking the PSAT or PACT in preparation for those same exams in the spring.
  • Our Senior students will be taking the ASVAB exam. ASVAB is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery exam. It measures a student’s aptitude in four critical areas -- Arithmetic Reasoning, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension and Mathematics Knowledge. 
  • At the conclusion of our testing period in the morning and after lunch, all students will be taken to the football field area for an afternoon filled with Falcon spirit. One area that has not been easy to foster during the pandemic is school wide engagement and spirit. Given that students will be working hard during the morning hours on testing, we wanted to make the afternoon something more celebratory. Our STUGO students are organizing some fun activities for staff and students to engage in to celebrate our Falcon spirit! We’re also planning on having a special A+ celebration component to that afternoon as well. More details on this event will be shared as it approaches.
Lastly, thank you for the patience, positivity, and kindness as we continue to work through a very challenging and unique time. We all know and understand the difficulty and inconvenience this poses for many. We want to make sure that everyone comes to school and works in a healthy environment. We will continue to share any new information through email, Facebook and the FHHS website.  
Kris Alexander
Fountain Hills High School

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