Principal's Message

This year has just been different. We began our school year with distance learning, and then we transitioned over three weeks to welcome some students on campus while supporting those who have remained in distance learning. It has been a learning experience for administrators, teachers, students, and parents, and all the while we have had COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, and the 2020 elections in the background. Still, it is hard to believe that the 2020-2021 academic year is one fourth of the way done!

Thank you for the grace that you have shown as we all navigate this complex period. We hope that everyone is able to have a restful October Break next week and return recharged for the second quarter of the school year.

The school will be closed Oct. 12-16.
Welcome to Karmen Kynard, our new Special Education Director

We welcome Karmen Kynard, who has joined us this week as our Special Education Director. Karmen will build off of the work of Anna Brown, who is leaving for her next professional chapter in the tech sector. Anna's leadership has been exceptional, and it is largely because of her and the team she assembled that it is the strong department we see today. 

We are confident that Karmen will take the reigns and keep the momentum going. Karmen joins us after three years as the Special Education Coordinator for Harmony Public Schools Austin campuses, before which she was a special education leader and educator in Louisiana. We are so excited to welcome her to Meridian!
Safety Drills Commence after Fall Break

Meridian follows the Standard Response Protocol for emergency procedures, and we will be conducting safety drills over the next few months beginning the first week of Quarter 2. Not all drills will be announced in advance. Each drill will be repeated during After School activities. 

Safety is our priority; students cannot be picked up while a drill is in progress. For these first five drills, parents will receive a text notification around ten minutes prior to the start.

Parents or visitors that are inside the building during a drill will be required to follow the appropriate procedures. This could mean sheltering in place on the floor of a hallway or huddling up with a classroom during a lockdown. For After School drills, pickup may be delayed if parents arrive during an active drill (which will take place before 5 pm). 
Sample Message PikMyKid
Emergency Notifications via PikMyKid

As the drills take place, parents will receive a message via cell phone notifying them of the drill, along with instructions to follow if there were an actual emergency on campus. This message will be shared via PikMyKid app, so you will only receive it if you are listed as the primary or secondary parent/guardian in the app. 

Contact admin@mwschool.org with the second parent's name and cell phone number if they are not yet set up with PikMyKid (they should see their child pop up on the app's screen once they're set up). 

If your student is not yet on campus, you do not need to download the app. Just know that you won't receive emergency text notifications until you do so. (And you shouldn't have a need for them; these alerts include traffic and weather updates). 
On Campus Student Absences

Though we have more flexibility when our on-campus students are absent than before (i.e. the option to count them as “asynchronous engaged” rather than “absent” if they are ill but complete the work for the day), please note that this option is not available in all cases. 

Students cannot sleep in or parents decide that it isn’t convenient to take their child to school that day. We will only count officially On-Campus students as “asynchronously engaged” if their parent contacts the attendance office reporting an illness, or if there is some other principal-approved reason for the absence (and, of course, the student still must complete assigned classwork by the end of the day). 

If parents have an exceptional reason other than an illness that they believe should receive principal approval, please email either principal-MS@mwschool.org (Middle School principal) or principal-HS@mwschool.org (High School principal).

Note as well that, simply because we do have the option for students who are ill to be counted as “asynchronously engaged” rather than “absent” as long as they turn in their assignments by the end of the day, this is absolutely not required. In most cases, students who are ill need a break from school to recover. It is perfectly fine to take an excused absence when one is ill. We still follow the policy of allowing students the number of days that they were absent (excused) to make up missing work.
PSAT Testing Oct. 29 for 10th & 11th Graders

Mrs. Holcombe emailed a survey to 10th and 11th grade students and parents this morning regarding the PSAT that is scheduled for October 29. Please read the text in the body of the survey before answering the questions; it should be completed by each family.  
Fall Picture Day Oct. 20

Lifetouch Photography will be here Tuesday, October 20 (the Tuesday immediately after Fall Break) to take yearbook photos of students in 7th-11th grades who are learning on campus. We will also take photos of 6th graders who were not present on the previous picture day. 

Student should wear their regular school uniform. Parents may pre-order packages online using the form below, or order pictures at a later date after they receive a picture proof.   


Students who are in Distance Learning in Quarter 2 will be offered an opportunity to take or submit a yearbook picture in Semester 2. 

Senior Yearbook Portrait Days Oct. 22-23

Seniors will take senior yearbook pictures Thursday and Friday, October 22-23. Mrs. Holcombe will send an email directly to the seniors and their parents with information about the schedule, how to preorder, and considerations for seniors who are Distance Learners.
NACAC Virtual College Fairs Oct. 12, 18, Nov. 8

NACAC is offering a series of virtual college fairs for students and families. Upcoming dates are:
Monday, October 12
Sunday, October 18
Sunday, November 8

On each fair date, more than 600 colleges and universities will offer Zoom sessions and meetings. To sign up and learn how to use this virtual fair, go to this Quick-Start Guide, or you can view this short video about the upcoming fairs.

We hope you will take advantage of this valuable resource for college planning this fall!
MYP Parent Night Oct. 22 at 6 pm

Mark your calendars, MYP Parents! We will host a webinar on the Middle Years Program with an emphasis on assessment. If you’re curious about how your child is assessed using MYP guidelines and practices, join us Thursday, October 22 at 6 pm. Here is the link. The passcode is 815410. We look forward to seeing you there! Questions? Please contact Kristen “Mac” Machczynski, MYP Coordinator.
Extracurriculars Update
Clubs
All Clubs will meet virtually through the Fall Semester. Find the list of 2020-2021 Clubs here.

This is the last week of the grading period. Students should work to ensure they maintain Academic Eligibility for Meridian Athletics, Model UN and Debate Club.

The mandatory parent & athlete meeting for registered participants of 2020 Volleyball is Thursday, October 8 at 5:45 pm via Zoom Webinar.
Upcoming Events and Useful Links
Upcoming Holidays, Holy Days and Observances
Indigenous Peoples' Day and Columbus Day
The first national commemoration of Columbus Day was declared by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892, the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage. Commemorations of Columbus soon came to be championed by Italian-Americans, who, like many immigrant groups in the United States, faced discrimination. NPR.org notes that, since the 1970s, both scholars and the American public have taken a more critical look at Columbus, with a particular focus upon his treatment of Native Americans he encountered. Read more about the history behind this holiday, as well as the movement toward celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Sharad Navaratri
The festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil, worshipping a universal mother goddess referred to by different names in different regions of India, such as Durga, Devi or Shakti. Read more.

Twin Baha'i Holy Birthdays
Two central holy figures of the Baha’i faith, the Bab (“Herald of the Baha’i faith) and Baha’u’llah (“Glory of God”, foretold by the Bab) have their birthdays commemorated by followers of Baha’i worldwide on October 18 and October 19 (2020), respectively. Read more.

World Teachers Day
World Teachers Day on October 5 commemorates the anniversary of UNESCO’s 1966 adoption of the Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. Read more.

Sukkot
Known as the “festival of the booths,” Sukkot is a harvest festival that also commemorates the period when, according to Jewish sacred writings, their people wandered in the wilderness for 40 days after fleeing Egypt. Read more.
Events At-a-Glance
  • Parent Book Group with our primary Counselors: Tonight at 6 (10/7)
  • Fall Break: 10/12-10/17
  • MYP Parent Night: 10/22 at 6 pm
  • Counselor Speaker SeriesFamily Support: How to give grace and space to each other during times of stress with Megan Ibanez. Georgetown & Family Therapist: 10/28/2020 at noon

  • Early Voting in Texas lasts from October 12-30; take advantage of Fall Break and vote early!
Questions or Concerns? We're here to support you.
Counselors

Middle School Counseling: Nicole “Coco” Cole
High School Counseling: Carrie Proctor
College Counseling: Kathy Gregg

Student or Curricular Concerns

Assistant Principal for grades 6-7: Matthew Castaneda
Assistant Principal for grades 8-10: Crystal Lane
MYP Coordinator for grades 6-10: Kristen Machczynski
Assistant Principal for grades 11-12: Stela Holcombe
IB Diploma Program Coordinator: Stela Holcombe
Secondary Special Education Coordinator: Haley Weisbrod
Secondary Librarian: Tina Van Winkle

Additional Contacts

Middle School Attendance: Olga Alexander
High School Attendance: Shawn Seaman
Cafe: Chef Leslie Sterzinger


Principals

Middle School Principal: Melina Berduo
High School Principal: Charles Ryder