Vol. 6, Iss. 26
Sept. 29, 2016
 Dear Parents,
 
IS BFA TOO HARD?
 
Recently, I overheard a conversation between two parents who were discussing whether or not BFA is too hard for their kids. The conversation even went to the point that one parent said they were thinking of sending their child to one of the traditional neighborhood middle schools next year because it would be easier for their child. I must admit, that this is not the first time I have heard mention that there is a perception among a group of parents that BFA is too hard. I processed everything I heard and have an undeniable answer to the question about BFA being too hard. The answer is, NO! It is not too hard!
 
BFA offers students the opportunity to achieve and grow academically in a safe and caring environment. It is a school where students are challenged to do their best and given the resources to meet all challenges. When I hear the comment that BFA is too hard I interpret that to mean that school is impossible, burdensome, exhausting and overly frustrating. Instead, I believe BFA is appropriately challenging for students.
 
-        We set high expectations.
-        We hold students accountable; and
-        We recognize and reward students for their accomplishments.
 
A challenging curriculum can be fun and exciting especially when students and parents see just how well prepared they are for high school.
 
WHAT IS RIGOR?
 
Academic rigor is determined not just by what is taught, but how it is taught and how it is assessed. To prepare students for the future, schools need to not only be able to teach complex concepts in a way that students with various learning styles can understand, but they need to ensure testing adequately gauges an understanding of the curriculum. This is what teachers at BFA strive to do every day.
 
A rigorous curriculum is "focused, coherent, and appropriately challenging." The Core Knowledge Curriculum, not to be confused with Common Core, is a challenging curriculum; one that will prepare students to be successful in high school, college and throughout their life.
 
But curriculum design is only part of what defines rigor. What actually happens in classrooms is hugely important, too. Students are introduced to new concepts and skills in the classroom and given plenty of opportunities to practice and master those skills. At BFA, classroom learning is supplemented with hands-on learning to reinforce concepts. In addition, BFA teachers are available in the classroom to help students.
 
It is worth noting that many educators equate rigor with pain, rigid thinking, and harshness - they think it means HARD. Too often, rigor becomes 'Let's give more homework.' Rigor does not mean more homework. Rather, it means giving students relevant and appropriately challenging work to further their reasoning and critical thinking skills. A rigorous and relevant curriculum requires students to use knowledge to create and apply solutions to complex, real-world problems.
 
SO WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN FOR MY SOON-TO-BE MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT?
 
Middle School is not easy, nor is it hard. It's not an easy time socially and emotionally for kids.  It's not easy academically.  Now that we have been in school for a month, I am hearing students say, "Eighth grade is hard," "Seventh grade is harder than I though it would be," or "Wow! Sixth grade is a lot of work." Yes, our students are asked to work hard. We are an academically rigorous school, and our curriculum can be challenging. We balance these daily challenges with brain breaks, recess and advisory time. Furthermore, students can choose from a wide variety of electives based on their interests to round out their day. The skills they are learning, along with their academics, such as organization and time management, will help them to be successful in high school.

How do we know that what we are doing is working? Our former students tell us it's working. They say that they were very prepared for high school and concepts new to other kids were a review for them. We hear this again and again from parents and former students. In fact, many mention they feel high school is easy. The reason they feel that way is due to the amazing foundation that was built while attending Ben Franklin Academy. The middle school teachers are the best in the business and will challenge the students, but will give them the support, encouragement and tools to meet all challenges.
 
The hard part is that most of the students (and parents) do not realize how well prepared they are for high school until they are actually in high school. That is when they realize the benefits of a BFA education. Hindsight is 20-20 vision. Foresight is having the trust and confidence to know that having your child complete kindergarten through eighth grade at Ben Franklin Academy is one of the best things you can do for your child.
 
Is BFA too hard? NO!!! Rather, it is the foundation of a successful future!
 
SUGGESTIONS TO HELP YOUR STUDENTS BALANCE THEIR WORKLOAD
 

- Help them develop a plan for their week using teacher newsletters and the homework calendars (as applicable).  Many assignments are given with deadlines a few days out.  It will be helpful to break those assignments down and plan the week out ahead of time.  Be sure to include other activities in your planning. 
 
- If there are weekly assignments that take more time than others, talk to your student about getting a head start on the weekend. Many teachers to not assign homework on the weekends, so it may be a good time to work ahead.

- Typically, students have math and reading every night. Depending on your student's grade, they may need to do Lexia or have literacy work to finish. Students should NOT be doing more than two hours of homework a night, if they are using their time in class and are planning out their long-term assignments. If your student CONSISTENTLY spends more than two hours a night on homework, please let me know.  

- Check Gradelink, but not daily.  Set up alert notifications or plan a time each week to look at grades. If you choose to set up alerts, you will get an email notifying you of grades based upon your preferences.
 
If you still have questions about homework, reference our Homework Policy. 
 
Sincerely,

Bob Barber 
  
Sponsor
SUPPORT BFA AND PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS
 
The BFA Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) is proud to offer many opportunities to support our school through your sponsorship. Click here for additional details, and find the sponsorship level that's right for your business.
 
Sponsorship opportunities will be available beginning Friday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. Go to the BFA Store and select "Donate" to become a sponsor. If you have questions, email Serena Grissom and Rachael Hamburger, PTO fundraising coordinators.
 
kids_fieldtrip2.jpg
THANKS TO OUR VENDORS AND VOLUNTEERS FOR MAKING THE STEM EXPO A HUGE SUCCESS
  
BFA's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Expo gets better and better each year! At this year's Expo, kids were enthralled watching a rocket launch through virtual reality goggles. They tried their hand at steering BB-8 through a maze and did spin art with Legos. Students also learned the importance of pollinators and made polymers (slime and worms). This year, we even offered snacks--although we admit that bugs and Kix cereal frozen with liquid nitrogen may not have been the tastiest treats. 
 
We were thrilled to have the support of the following companies for the Expo: Ace Hardware, Bear Creek Lake Park, Bricks for Kidz, Challenge Island, Colorado Bluebird Project, Colorado Rocketry Association of Space Hobbyists, Douglas County Libraries, Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Home Depot, Kodo Kids, Modular Robotics, National Park Service, Oakman Aerospace, Play-Well Teknologies, Sphero, Steve Spangler and United Launch Alliance.

An event of this magnitude cannot happen without volunteers! More than 30 parent volunteers helped with the event. In addition, BFA students as well as kids from other schools, including STEM, Mountain Vista and Highlands Ranch High Schools, came out to volunteer. Special thanks to BFA's STEM Committee members who organize the event each year!
 
WAHOO! IT'S CONFERENCE TIME! 
 
It's  Spirit Night all week at Wahoo's Fish Taco . Wahoo's in Highlands Ranch (870 Cpl. Max Donahue Lane) is donating 25 percent of their incremental sales for the week to BFA from Monday, Oct. 3, through Sunday, Oct. 9. Go for lunch or dinner!  Take advantage of a delicious and quick meal and support the school. Proceeds benefit all BFA students.
macaroni kid
LET'S LET EVERYONE KNOW - BFA IS ONE COOL SCHOOL!
 
Macaroni Kid is a weekly online newsletter and website that covers kid- and family-friendly events, activities and businesses in our area. Each year, they hold a 'Cool School' contest whereby the community can vote for their favorite school. Vote today and every day until the contest ends on Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. (It takes around 30 seconds to vote.) You have to be 18 or older to vote, and you can vote once each day. The winning school will receives a $500 gift card, a lunch for staff and a $250 gift card for toys and STEM supplies.   
thanksgiving.jpg
MAKE PLANS NOW FOR FALL BREAK 
 
BFA's BASE program is offering care during fall break this year.  Sign up by Monday, Oct. 3, to participate. Child care for the week of Oct. 10 - 14 will be similar to the summer camp program. The cost is $50 for Monday as we'll be taking the kids to a pumpkin patch; and $35 per day, Tuesday through Friday of that week. Child care will be available from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. It is going to be a fantastic week with a field trip, movies and lots of other fun activities. 

All registrations are non-refundable. Please note, a registration fee of $25 is required for BASE participants. If you have not paid this for 2016-17, we will contact you.  Click here for the registration paperwork and parent handbook. To register, click here and select BASE camp. If you have any questions, email Leigh Savoy.  
 

Parent Teacher Conferences
PARENT TEACHER CONFERENCES 
 
Parent Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 4, and Thursday, Oct. 6, for all students. 
 
Preschool parents and parents of students in grades K-4 should have signed up already; teachers are looking forward to seeing you in their classroom during your selected time slot.   
 
Fifth grade and middle school teachers will be holding drop-in conferences so parents can visit with each of their student's teachers.  Parents of fifth graders can head to the Middle School Commons for their conferences, while middle school parents should go to the BFA Gym.  Conferences will be held from 4:15 - 8:15 p.m. and parents are welcome to visit with each teacher for 10 minutes.  

FALL BOOK FAIR NEXT WEEK
 
BFA's fall Scholastic Book Fair will be held Monday, Oct.3, through Thursday, Oct. 6, in conjunction with Parent-Teacher conferences:
  • 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m., Monday, Oct. 3, and Wednesday, Oct. 5, and
  • 8:30 a.m. - 8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 4, and Thursday, Oct. 6.  Please note, the office is closed from 3 - 4 p.m. every day so unless you are in the building already, you will need to wait until carpool ends to come in and shop. 
Click  here   for a preview of all the exciting selections that will be offered this year. Visit the fair and enter your child's name in a drawing for books and miscellaneous items.  The drawing will be held after the fair. We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Welcome
PROSPECTIVE FAMILY TOURS
 
Tours are continuing in October!  Every Wednesday in October, except Oct. 12, which is during fall break, families are welcome to  tour the school . Tours begin at 9 a.m. and will be lead by a member of BFA's administrative team. New families--please remember to bring your driver's license and check in a few minutes before the tour is scheduled to begin.  
Ice Cream Cone
DON'T LET THESE SAVINGS PASS YOU BY - COUPON BOOKS STILL AVAILABLE
 
Have you purchased a Select Rewards coupon book yet? The book contains valuable coupons for Cold Stone, Indulge, Mici's, Farro, Rita's Italian Ice, Anthony's, Dart Warz and more! If you would like to purchase a Select Rewards book and support the eighth grade Washington, D.C. trip please  email  Tiffanie Vaught. Books also will be available at parent teacher conferences. Purchases can be made with cash or a check.
Destination ImagiNation
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DESTINATION IMAGINATION?  HERE'S YOUR CHANCE!
    
Have you heard about Destination Imagination (DI)?  The organization's vision is, 'to teach students the creative process and empower them with the skills needed to succeed in an ever changing world.'  If this sounds like something that would interest your student, please attend an informational meeting at
6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5, in the BFA Library to learn more about this amazing program.  We encourage you to bring your student.
 
Last year, BFA's DI teams had a record year with three teams making it to the state competition and two of those teams continuing on to the Global Finals.  We are looking forward to another great year.  If you are interested in joining a team or being a team manager, sign up today.   
BFA FUN RUN, OCT. 18-27
 
Students will participate in the BFA Fun Run, BFA's major fundraiser for 2016-17, next month! The Apex team will be on campus for two weeks teaching our students leadership and fitness through this year's theme - APEX LEGENDS - which stands for:  
  • Learn
  • Engage
  • Give
  • Empower
  • Never Quit
  • Do
During this time, students will be raising pledges for the laps they'll run at the Fun Run on Thursday, Oct 27. The money raised will help fund new playground enhancements, STEAM building enhancements, and many other items which benefit our students and teachers. Look for additional details in the coming weeks.
 
If you have questions, email Serena Grissom and Rachael Hamburger, PTO Fundraising Coordinators.  
Box Tops Logo
KEEP CLIPPING THOSE BOX TOPS!
 
In anticipation of the next Box Top collection date on Wednesday, Oct. 19, the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) has a few reminders for parents:
 
  • Please look at the expiration date listed on each Box Top as expired Box Tops will not be accepted by Box Tops for Education.
  • Be sure to put your child's name and classroom on the bag of Box Tops sent into school. The PTO will hand out trophies for Elementary and Middle School classrooms that send in the most Box Tops during the trimester. Encourage your student to send in Box Tops so their class can win.
  • Box Tops has a new app. Download the app and start earning even more money for BFA. The website also has several great resources.
 
Volunteers needed: The PTO needs your help bundling the Box Tops. They will be scheduling both evening and daytime sessions so all of our parents have a chance to help out. If you have questions or would like to volunteer, please email Jen Jones, Box Top Committee Chair.     
JOHN ADAMS HIGH SCHOOL INFORMATIONAL MEETING HELD AT BFA
 
Have you thought about where your children will attend high school? Looking for a great charter school that will continue the legacy of excellence your students have received in elementary and middle school?
 
John Adams High School is a Douglas County charter school opening in fall 2017 in the I-25/C-470 corridor. Seats are filling up fast for the inaugural 2017-18 class of freshmen and sophomores.
 
JAHS' mission is to prepare students for collegiate success by offering a full college-preparatory program that includes an extensive college counseling program, AP classes, character education and life skills. JAHS will also offer a wide array of athletic programs and extracurricular activities.
 
JAHS will hold a parent information meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19 at Ben Franklin Academy. Come hear more about JAHS and why it's a unique opportunity for you and your student. We'll also share more about our location and busing options for students.
For more information and intent-to-enroll form, click here.  
 
Please note, John Adams High School is a separate legal entity and is not in any way affiliated with Ben Franklin Academy.

Winter snowflake
SAVE THE DATE FOR WINTERFEST!
 
Depressed because there's no Harvest Fest? Put those feelings to rest and get ready for WINTERFEST. Save the date  - Jan. 28, 2017.
Hot Lunch
LUNCH ORDERS FOR LATE DROP OFF 
 
If your student is going to be late to school and plans to order hot lunch, please email the teacher your student's lunch preference (e.g. cheese pizza) before 8:15 a.m. This will allow them to add your student's order to their lunch count for that day.  
Red School Calendar
ATTENTION PARENTS!  NEED AN EVENING OUT? 
    
Mark your calendars for the first Parent's Night Out child care on Oct. 21, to benefit the eighth grade Washington, D.C. trip. Child care will run from  6:30-9 p.m. and is just $5 per child. Volunteers will watch your children while you grab a bite to eat or do some shopping. We can only accept BFA students (including preschool students). We must sign up at least 30 children by Oct. 14, to host the event - sign up early to help ensure the event is not cancelled.  Please feed your children dinner before they come.  We will show Zootopia (rated PG) and provide popcorn and water.
 
Sign up your children today!  (Please note:  sign up each child you are bringing individually.) Additional Parents Night Out child care dates are as follows:
  • Nov. 18
  • Dec. 16
Enroll
ENROLLING A SIBLING AT BFA? TAKE ACTION TODAY! 
 
BFA is now accepting enrollment applications for the 2017-18 school year. If you wish to enroll a sibling of a student currently enrolled at BFA (grades K-8), please complete the following steps:
  1. Submit an Enrollment Application form online by clicking  here; and 
  2. Email Rachelle Patterson, registrar, by  Monday, Oct. 31.
Please note, applications received after this deadline may not receive priority enrollment. In fact, there is a chance you may lose your spot all together. 
BE A HERO FOR THE DAY--BUY A BIRTHDAY BAG

Celebrating birthdays at BFA is fun! For $10, your child will receive the following:
  • A bag full of goodies, such as erasers, pencils, bouncy balls, etc. (no food or candy will be in the bags) delivered to their classroom by eighth graders
  • A personalized note from you (if requested)
  • Eighth graders singing happy birthday to your child in his/her classroom while delivering the bag
Did your student already celebrate his/her birthday? Is his/her birthday in the summer? We also will deliver "unbirthday bags" for students who have already celebrated their birthday or "half-birthday bags" for summer birthdays. 
 
Thank you for supporting the eighth graders' trip to Washington, D.C.!
 
To order your birthday bags, click here. If you have any questions, please email Mrs. Simpson.
Oct. 3 - 6

BOOK FAIR

BFA's fall Scholastic Book Fair will be held Monday, Oct.3, through Thursday, Oct. 6, in conjunction with Parent-Teacher conferences:
      • 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m., Monday, Oct. 3, and Wednesday, Oct. 5
      • 8:30 a.m. - 8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 4, and Thursday, Oct. 6
Oct. 4 and 6

Parent Teacher Conferences
PARENT TEACHER CONFERENCES

Parent Teacher Conferences will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 4, and Thursday, Oct. 6, for all students.  
Wednesday, Oct. 5

unifrom
FORMAL UNIFORM DAY

The first Wednesday of every month is Formal Uniform Day.  Students should wear a navy polo shirt with the BFA logo, and tan shorts, pants, shirt or a skort.  

STEM
STEM COMMITTEE MEETING
   
The Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Committee will meet from 5:30 - 7 p.m., Oct. 5, in the Sanders Science Lab.  Their next meeting is Wednesday, Nov. 2.  All are welcome!

Destination ImagiNation
DESTINATION IMAGINATION INFORMATIONAL MEETING

If you are interested in learning more about Destination Imagination (DI), please attend an  informational meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 5, at BFA  to learn more about this amazing program.  We encourage you to bring your student. 
Thursday, Oct. 6

jumping_schoolkids.jpg
DRESS OF CHOICE DAY

Thursday, Oct. 6, is Dress of Choice Day for all students without uniform violations.  The next Dress of Choice Day is Nov. 18.   

Workshop
FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING

The Finance Committee is meeting from 5 - 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6, in the BFA Library.
Friday, Oct. 7

No School
FALL BREAK BEGINS

There will be no school from Oct. 7 - 14.  Students will return to school on Oct. 17.  
Additional Upcoming Events: BFA Calendar
Middle School: Blog | Athletics 
CONTACT US:
Ben Franklin Academy
2270 Plaza Drive
Highlands Ranch, CO 80129
Main Office: (720) 383-4519 info@bfacademy.org 
Attendance: (720) 432-9239 attendance@bfacademy.org 
Fax: (303) 974-1738
Our mission is to create young adults with character like America's founding Renaissance man, Benjamin Franklin: well-read, scientifically curious, and civically engaged.
Our students will excel academically through a challenging, sequenced curriculum that emphasizes math, science, and literacy. We will be a data driven institution, focusing on individual students. Our students, teachers, parents, staff, and leaders will be held accountable for the success of our school. Finally, we recognize that an education is incomplete without fostering the arts, sports, nature, and character.
Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness, Tranquility, Purity and Humility.