National School Walkout: Student Demonstration Safety Plan

Dear Henley Families,

I hope you and your child(ren) have had a great week! We have been extremely busy at Henley preparing for EXPO, getting ready for band performances, and learning, learning, learning.

I have struggled with the best way to share the information and safety plan for the upcoming National School Walkout Student Demonstration scheduled for March 14 at 10:00 am. I finally settled on writing a narrative in the hopes of conveying all of the information needed to understand Albemarle County’s position and Henley’s response and objectives to support the physical and emotional safety of ALL students.

To begin, since the announcement of the national demonstrations, we have had numerous conversations with members of our central office staff, as a Henley administration and staff, and with Henley students across all grades. My goals in meeting with and talking with these groups were as follows:

  • To understand the purpose of the demonstrations
  • To hear how ACPS would determine guidelines for the demonstrations
  • To align our Henley Middle School plan for student safety with ACPS
  • To understand the perspectives of various student groups either participating or not participating.
  • To evaluate and adjust our plan as new information became available.

I have now met with staff and students and I feel we are in a good place to share our plan with the school community.

On Wednesday, March 14 at 10:00 am, students have a right to participate in The National School Walkout demonstration. The school’s role is one of support. No staff member from Henley will encourage or discourage a student from participating. Student organizers have proposed to meet in grade level groups to hold their demonstration. The 6th grade will meet on the lower soccer field near the track, the 7th grade will meet on the upper soccer field, and the 8th grade will meet on the black top. Student leaders have written purpose statements that outline why they are walking out. They wrote these in the hopes that their peers who choose to participate will be respectful while attending. It will be up to the adults supervising to ensure that peace and respect exists. For example, this is not a time to run around, laugh, and disrupt the demonstration.

It will be up to the students to lead the demonstration. The school will not announce or signal at any point. Teachers who have students will remain in their classroom with students who are not participating. Teachers who are not teaching, counselors, and administrators will go outside with students as supervisors. Staff will not participate. After 17 minutes students will return to class. If students need additional support, we will have staff available.

We have been talking a lot in our Advisories, not specifically about the demonstrations, but about how to respectfully disagree. We want students to learn that sharing differing opinions, experiences, and worldviews is an exceptionally important part of living and coexisting in a peaceful society. Our students’ worlds are growing and it is important that we help them develop the important life skills that foster and promote civility. Our discussions in Advisory were designed to reinforce these lessons at a time when we might be challenged by events in our lives and in our world.

There will be many students who will question whether they should participate. This is where we could use your help. Please have a conversation with your child about his/her intent. We want students to have individual choice without the fear of other students saying or doing anything to influence a decision. At this age, students are particularly mindful and sensitive to the words and actions of their friends and peers, so a conversation in advance can be so important.

Our school goal is for all students to feel safe at school. We work towards this goal everyday and Wednesday will be the same. Thank you so much for your partnership in your child’s education. As always, please email me directly with any questions (bcosta@k12albemarle.org).

Best,

Beth Costa, principal

Henley Happenings

Dear Henley Families,

I have had a chance to talk with parents and students very informally over the past few days. Wednesday’s tragic events weigh heavily on our minds and hearts. I wanted to share with all of you that I take our school’s responsibility to keep every child safe very seriously. I assure you it is our first priority.

We will spend time over the next several days and weeks reviewing our Crisis Management Plan. We will work with ACPD and our School Resource Officer to improve our security measures. We have been interviewing for a School Security Assistant who will maintain a strong presence in our school and help visitors entering our building. This person will stay in place until our security addition is complete.

While we do secure the building and maintain a watchful eye, we recognize that another effective strategy is our relationships with students and our creation of a culture where students report things that do not seem right. To that end, we are increasing our efforts to share this message and strategy with students.

We will continue to use the advisory period as a platform to know all students and to make them feel safe and welcome in our environment. Our teachers have dedicated a significant amount of time to establish a positive climate in their classes and we believe that we can use the power of our relationships to keep each other safe. Please help us reinforce that message at home. Henley is a safe school and we continue to work every day to keep it a safe place.

A couple of other items for you:

  • Monday’s advisory reminds students that if they See Something, Say Something. If you would like to see the lesson, I have provided the link HERE.
  • On Thursday, we will conduct a lockdown drill. Wednesday’s advisory lesson will be around reviewing procedures with students and helping them prepare.
  • Tomorrow’s Snow Make-Up Day is a Blue 1234. Tuesday is also a Blue 1234. Our snow days have almost all been Blue days, so we are trying to catch up!
  • We hope you will join us for Thursday’s forum: Conversations in our Community: Social Media in a Teenager’s World. The social media conversation begins at 6:30, but if you are interested, ACPS is hosting a Learning Technology Expo in the Western Albemarle High School media center (2nd floor) beginning at 6:00 pm. Come see what students and teachers from all over the county are doing with technology.
  • We had a great weekend of student activities-basketball, Destination Imagination, and District Jazz Band. Follow @henleyhornets on Twitter for celebrations, learning opportunities, and other important information.

Thank you for your partnership and for trusting us with your child(ren). We value your input and look forward to hearing from you if you have any feedback or ideas to make Henley an even better learning place for all kids.

 

Best,

Beth Costa, principal

 

 

Henley Happenings: January 17

Dear Henley Families,

This is not the email sharing a weather update or school closure, although I can say that our hallways were “abuzz” about the predicted snow!

I wanted to share a couple of things as we move into the week and the end of the 1st semester:

  • The first semester, or second nine weeks, ends Friday. Teachers have a workday on Monday, 1/22, to finalize grades and plan for the second semester. We are waiting to see what tomorrow’s weather brings before we publish due dates for grades, so please be on the lookout for those.
  • Our Advisory lessons on social media and technology have started. One thing I would like to bring to your attention is a new app/tool called Sarahah. Sarahah is a social networking service for providing anonymous feedback. I bring it to your attention because some of our students have reported that unkind posts have been shared anonymously. While the intended use is to post nice or helpful feedback, the anonymous nature of the tool allows for cyberbullying to occur easily. Here is the Common Sense I am sure many use it as intended, but please reinforce with your child(ren) that their negative posts can be harmful and have a negative lasting impact. Used the wrong way, Sarahah could bring out the worst in our children as they struggle to navigate their way through the digital world.
  • To that end, Henley Middle School is teaming with Western Albemarle to host a Social Media Forum. While we have not set a date, we are looking at an early February evening. We want to share information with you, bring in experts and professionals who can help with best practices, and strategies for helping and supporting your child. Please join us. I will have the date to you as soon as it is set.
  • Beginning second semester we will make our Morning Announcements accessible via our website. If you or your child ever wants to check the announcements, they will be available on our homepage
  • Lose something? Our Henley Lost and Found is growing. Please have your child look for lost articles of clothing, water bottles, and lunch boxes if they have misplaced something. We will donate clothes to charity and dispose of lunch boxes at the end of January, so have them look before then.
  • EXPO Night for our 8th grade students and families is January 25th from 5:00-6:30. The change resulted from the team’s desire to make EXPO Night more authentic. 6th and 7th grade EXPO will occur on its original date-March 28th.
  • A HUGE thank you to all of our families who donated food or money to host a holiday luncheon for our teachers. We really appreciate all you do for us!
  • We did not have enough interest in our Modernization Bus Tour of other middle and high schools; however, I will be sure to share more information as we continue with our planning for next year and beyond.
  • Should we have some weather this evening and tomorrow, please be safe! As always, if you have concerns or feedback, please contact me directly.

 

Best,

Beth Costa, principal

Henley Happenings 2018

Dear Henley Families,
Happy New Year! I trust you all had a fabulous break. The students came back on Wednesday full of energy and ready to start the new calendar year. It was great to be back with them!
A couple of informational items as we get started again:

  • This month’s ADVISORY theme is “My Digital World.” We will explore the role of technology and social media in our lives and discuss issues such as digital citizenship and cyber bullying. In my overall assessment, we don’t have a lot of technology/social media issues during school, but often an issue that arises overnight will spill into the school day. We want students to have some time to think about technology in their lives and how they use it.
  • We will add some resources to our PARENTS page on the Henley website. We are adapting lessons from Common Sense and hoping to use what students bring to the conversation as entry points for deeper learning.
  • My new year’s resolution is to spend more time updating the principal’s blog. I think it will be helpful in communicating more of what happens at Henley, in addition to helping families understand our school goals and priorities. A link to my blog is also on the PARENTS page. It says principal’s blog, but I imagine having my admin team, staff, and students contribute.
  • The end of the semester is January 19. We will send an email when grades have been stored. Please encourage your child to finish strong and ask for help if he/she needs it.
  • Are you interested in taking a “Day Tour” of some of the schools that have had modernization and security updates? On January 22 from 9 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. we will travel to Walton and Jouett Middle Schools and WAHS to take a look at their new classrooms and spaces. Please join us! I have reserved a bus or you can always drive and meet us. Interested? Please RSVP HERE
  • And lastly, everyone’s favorite topic…the Henley parking lot. In an ongoing effort to make pick up and drop off safer, we are implementing another safety measure for pick up at the end of the day. First, just a couple of review points:
    • As you know, we have asked for drivers to heed to the NO PARKING signs that have been posted to avoid blockage and congestion.
    •  We ask that you do not block other cars in any lot.
    • Maintain an appropriate speed and be mindful of students crossing and walking.
    • Communicate an area with your child for pick up to maintain his/her safety
    • Spill over parking should occur in the Brownsville lot.
  • Starting Monday, we will block off the upper exit of the Brownsville parking lot. From 4:05-4:20 all cars must exit from the bottom of the lot by the pine trees/baseball field. Mr. Crutchfield at BES will communicate with his families so that they are aware of the change. Our purpose in doing this is to create fewer lines of cars trying to exit both lots. If you have been one of these cars, you know that significant delays can occur when three or more lines of cars are attempting to exit at once. We think this will help with time. As always, we will monitor and adjust. Thank you for your cooperation as we implement this change.

OK, I think that’s it! Please feel free to email with any suggestions or feedback. I enjoy hearing from you.

Happy New Year!

I woke up with the most amazing feeling! All of a sudden four months of Henley events, community celebrations, students successes, and our collective challenges synthesized into a new year. I look back at what we have accomplished as a school community and I believe we are the right track to provide high quality learning experiences for each and every child who walks through our doors each day.

With the advent of a new year, we can recommit to our goals for the school year and add resolutions for the coming of 2018. I feel a renewed energy to connect with students, for them to know that I care for their social, emotional, and academic well being. I want them to feel safe and connected to adults in our building. I want them to feel visible. If they do, we are on the right track and students are thriving.

The Winter Formal is Almost Here!

The Winter Formal is Friday! Students are very excited for this event. Our SCA has decorated the cafeteria; it looks festive and amazing.

A couple of things to help students and parents prepare:
• The dance is from 6:30-8:30 pm. Tickets are $5 and are sold at the door. All students must have a permission form including a family/guardian contact number.
• Student attire runs the range from casual to semi-formal. Boys will be dressed in a collared shirt and/or tie. Girls wear dresses, skirts, or dress slacks. Students can wear the clothes they wore to school.
• Pick up promptly at 8:30 is appreciated.
• If students need to be picked up early, parents must come inside the school to pick them up; however, parents are not permitted to be in the dance area. A teacher or chaperone can help you locate your child.
• All school rules are in effect.
• Refreshments can be purchased (pizza, fruit, snacks, candy, water, and soda will be available)

I hope all students have a great experience!

Henley Happenings 12-4

Dear Henley Families,

Well, the recent weather certainly doesn’t indicate the coming of winter, but I think our students are greatly anticipating winter break in just a couple of weeks.  I thought I saw some news about cooler weather on the horizon and it gets pretty exciting in middle school when snow rumors start!

Our students and teachers have been busy. We’d like to share several informational items with you.

  1. Students took a brief survey about how we are doing to achieve our School Goal #2: All students will be visible, feel safe, and have an adult connection in the building. We are looking at the results this week with our teacher leadership teams and we will share that data with you shortly.
  2. We’d love to hear your feedback about how you think we are doing toward making this goal a reality for all students. The survey also asks if you are interested in taking a tour of schools that have had recent security additions and modernization projects completed. Please respond! https://goo.gl/forms/qcFYclnCayXTVGQk2
  3. We are teaming with Brownsville Elementary School to support Hurricane Maria Relief Efforts. Some of our 7th and 8th graders have joined forces with BES students to gather much needed supplies and donations. Here is more information on the project and how you can help. Let’s make a difference for those in need.
    1. Hurricane Maria caused great devastation to the island of Puerto Rico and many areas remain without power, water or food!
    2. Brownsville parent, Elizabeth Alvarez, recently returned from a trip to Puerto Rico, where she helped distribute much needed supplies and provided medical support to those in need of care. Elizabeth will distribute any items or funds collected by Brownsville BEEs and Henley Hornets during her next mission trip to Puerto Rico in December. There are multiple ways you can help listed below:
      1. Supplies needed: diapers (any size), wipes, baby formula, water filters (i.e. Brita), solar lights, flashlights, and batteries.
      2. Option to order supplies online here: https://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/ACI1N6A8FE7F<https://brownsvillepto.us7.list-manage.com/track/click?u=68c76c79307c5693c1f95ff0a&id=d4d2ffa416&e=301f36ef34>.
      3. Supplies can be dropped off at Henley in boxes near the main office.
      4. Supplies will be collected until December 13.
      5. Monetary donations can be made here: https://www.gofundme.com/puertoricocville<https://brownsvillepto.us7.list-manage.com/track/click?u=68c76c79307c5693c1f95ff0a&id=743b2609d8&e=301f36ef34>.
  1. We are working on a matrix of “Who Do I Contact When…” for families to help make communication easier. In essence, we are trying to connect you quickly with the right resource for your question, concern, or feedback. Look for that document in the coming weeks.
  2. Speaking of what is coming…we are trying to push out more timely information on our website, not just to our families, but to our students, school community, and prospective families. Part of doing that is asking you to weigh in on what you’d like to see more of on our website. We’ll send you a survey after the Holiday Break.
  3. Please remember to respond to ACPS’s Budget Initiative Survey. The survey is open until December 17.
  4. This month’s Advisory theme is Diversity. We believe that we should explore how we are all diverse and how we use our cultures, heritages, and experiences to make meaning and construct our worldview. Our first task is to get to know each other better and learn to appreciate how we are all unique.

I realize that was a lot of information. I am very interested in hearing what you would like to learn more about, so that we can share relevant and meaningful information with our stakeholders.

I hope you will join us for the many student performances we have in the coming weeks (e.g. band, Strings, drama). Check out our school calendar for specific dates.

Please contact me directly with any questions or feedback.

Best,
Beth Costa, principal

Advisory for Wonder

HERE is the link to the Wonder Advisory…this is the anchor lesson that I provided. Teachers have several other activities to do with students…some are writing, others are discussion. Much of what happens depends on the students and how they want to explore the themes and ideas presented in the movie.

 

Wonder

I would like to thank all of our students, teachers, staff, and admin team for planning and orchestrating such an amazing school wide field trip to see Wonder at the Stonefield Regal this morning.

Interestingly, a woman stopped me outside the theater as we were loading the buses and asked, “Are you with the school group?” To which I responded, “Yes, we watched Wonder.” 

“Oh, that makes so much sense!” She replied. “Did you have a good time?”

We had an amazing experience, one that we think contributes exponentially to our school goal of building a community where all students are visible. So much has been written recently about the importance of social/emotional learning and I am proud to be in a school where the parents, teachers, and students believe in the importance of developing these skills in all of our students and creating a safe learning environment where all students have an adult connection.

We have planned a movie debrief for tomorrow, 11/21, that will give us a lot of insight about how students perceive the importance of the movie’s themes #ChooseKind and #KindnessIsContagious, but more importantly than recognizing the importance is understanding how each one of our students contributes to the creation of a community where kindness is the norm. Stay tuned!

Henley Happenings

Dear Henley Families,

Tomorrow is our school wide field trip to see Wonder!  We have over 820 of 860 students attending, and I know that number also factors our families who have already started their holiday traveling.

A couple of informational items:

  • Tomorrow, we will leave at 9:15 in the morning and stagger our arrival at Stonefield Theaters. 8th grade will leave and return first. We will have all students returned to school by around 12:30. Classes for the day, after lunch and recess, begin at 1:20.
  • Tuesday’s schedule is altered for an extended Advisory. We will be exploring the themes of the movie (#Choose Kind, #KindnessIsContagious, Diversity) and debriefing our experience. We also have our November Activity Period in the afternoon.
  • During the week of 11/27, we will be asking students to give us feedback about our school climate goal #2: All students will be visible and have an adult connection in the building. Students will report feeling safe at school. We will administer a short survey during advisory and share the results with you by the end of that week.
  • We will also be sending parents a survey about some of our school goals around climate, communication, topics for exploration, and our modernization plans. Please participate. I value your feedback and we can only improve if we are in this together!
  • Are you aware that Henley will be undergoing a security addition and other modernization improvements? Would you like to tour other schools that have had similar improvements and talk about the opportunities for our Henley students? Part of the survey sent next week will ask for an RSVP to do either a day or evening bus tour of Jouett, AHS, Walton, and WAHS.

I hope you have the most amazing Thanksgiving Break! Find time for family, fun, and the activities that make you the happiest. We value your partnership in your child’s education and we appreciate you being a part of our team.

 

Best,

Beth Costa, principal