Escalante Middle School

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Students rockclimbing
Teachers bike to work

Teachers bike to work

Picture of Escalante School Staff wearing solar eclipse glasses
Mary Dossey wins award
Students in Escalante marching band.
Front entrance to Escalante Middle School.
Student working with clay in art class.
Skyler the Fort Lewis College Mascot with the Escalante Eagle mascot.

Principal's Message

We are crew, not passengers

Dear Escalante Middle School Community, One of our slogans at Escalante is, “We are Crew, not passengers.” In a landlocked state that is hours away from the closest crew competition, the link to an obscure boating sport is somewhat strange. However, it does create a powerful metaphor that aptly guides our cultural aspirations as a school. In order for a Crew team to be effective, everyone on the boat must pull together and give a synchronized, maximum effort toward a common goal. Similarly, a classroom is most efficient when everyone in the room gives their complete effort toward the common goal of attaining an education. When one person is off-task or lazy, the entire culture of the room takes a hit, just as one lazy oarsman negatively impacts the overall performance of the team. No one should be a passenger - we all need to grab an oar and be involved. Even more dramatic are acts of harassment or bullying, which is similar to an oarsman actively trying to row the wrong way! As a principal, I spend a lot of time working with individuals to solve problems, correct mistakes, and get back on track to work toward that final destination - a great educational experience. However, I also have countless moments each day at Escalante that are filled with joy and satisfaction. Today alone I observed a math classroom engaged in an extremely difficult grapple problem based on a real world dilemma. Every student was engaged in a productive struggle to figure it out, and the teacher was actively providing feedback, encouragement, and excitement about the students’ effort. In woodshop I watched a class of 23 students working diligently to complete a variety of projects. Students would pull me aside to show me their projects with pride. They used words like craftsmanship and perseverance to describe their work ethic to build beautiful cutting boards, shelves, and tables. Those students waiting for wood glue to dry would actively find ways to help others in the class by holding vice grips or finding tools. At that moment, the class was the perfect Crew. In a science classroom I witnessed students learning volume in a lab experience. Each group member had a defined job within the lab, and when the teacher released students to work they immediately accepted roles and responsibilities to accomplish their task. On an afternoon where I have spent some time correcting instances of students rowing the other way, it really is deeply satisfying to reflect on our successes. So next time your child gets up from the table without clearing their dish, I encourage you to adopt our phrase and say, “Before you go, make sure you clean your area. We are part of the Escalante community, which means we are Crew, not passengers.” Principal Jeremy Voss
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Principal's Message

Work Hard, Be Kind

Dear Escalante Community, This week I had the opportunity to speak with all of our students during grade-level community meetings. My general message to students is fairly simple: work hard and be kind. My hope for them, and my own children for that matter, is that they learn to persevere when tasks are difficult, and that they treat others with respect and friendliness. It is my firm belief that these two character skills can take a person very far. In fact, research indicates that the amount of grit a person has is a better indicator of post secondary success than raw intelligence tests. Simply put, work ethic trumps ability. I also spoke to students very candidly about some traps I see kids fall into that undermine the hard working, kind community we strive to create. The first trap is very unique to our kid’s generation: social media. 95% of all students have already witnessed an act of cyber-bullying, and many students have already been victimized. The key to ending social media abuse is in empowering the bystander. Here are the steps on how parents and students should respond when they are victimized or witnessed cyberbullying: S: Stop. Don’t Respond. C: Copy. Make copies of all messages and pictures, and save cell phone texts and messages. B: Block or filter communications. T: Tell a trusted adult, either at home or at school. Please review these guidelines with your child. Another great talking point with your child is to encourage them to never post anything they wouldn’t want their grandmother, or their principal to read. Many students have a very false sense of privacy and do not realize how quickly an inappropriate text or post can be publically forwarded and shared. We also talked openly about illegal substances, particularly marijuana. Possession and/or distribution of illegal substances is by far the leading cause of expulsion in Colorado. I made it abundantly clear that illegal substances have no place in school and that school law dictates very harsh penalties for students who violate these laws. The link below provides parents with some advice about how to talk to your child about illegal substances: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/talk-about-drugs.html On a final note, if you have concerns about bullying or feel that your child is unsafe at school, please let us know right away and encourage your children to report to an adult at school. Parents and students can contact any teacher, counselor or administrator with concerns, and I assure you that we will follow up as soon as possible. Thank you for helping us build a strong culture at Escalante Middle School. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss EMS, Principal
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Principal's Message

Reframing Thoughts for Teens

Dear Escalante Community, Have you ever seen the old cartoons where characters have a demon and an angel appear on their shoulders that represents their inner voices? The angel always uses positive self-talk language to inspire positive actions, while the demon voice is filled with self-dread to motivate a negative action. In reality, this comical cartoon feature plays out for all of us. All people at one time or another will have a negative thought about our self-image, and this reality is even more intense for adolescents and pre-teens. Teaching students how to manage negative self talk is often the key to avoiding the depression and anxiety that is plaguing children across the country. A recent NPR article titled, “For Teens Knee-Deep In Negativity, Reframing Thoughts Can Help,” cites psychological research which “shows that what we think can have a powerful influence on how we feel emotionally and physically, and on how we behave.” More people today are reporting feeling alone, depressed, or anxious in our society than ever before, adults and kids alike. In an age where we are supposedly more “connected” than ever due to social media platforms, it seems that social media actually tends to create feelings of isolation. I highly recommend that you read the NPR article for some tips and strategies on how to support your children and model positive self-talk habits so that they can avoid some of the trappings of our digital era. You can read the article by following this link: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/09/09/549133027/for-teens-knee-deep-in-negativity-reframing-thoughts-can-help?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20170909 On another note, please be aware that the first round of progress reports are being sent home on September 20th. Several students in our school are currently missing work, which is having a very negative impact on grades. Please take some time this weekend to review the Infinite Campus Parent Portal to check on your child’s work habits. If your child does come home with unsatisfactory grades, the cause most often in middle school is a lack of organizational skills and time management (making time for studying). Organizing time is a learned skill and is a place that parents can really support their child’s education, so I encourage you to help set up those systems if your child’s grades indicate the need. If your child is expressing a lot of confusion about the content or needs additional support, feel free to contact the teacher as well to ensure we have the strong home/school relationships that are integral to middle school success. It’s hard to believe that we are approaching the halfway mark of the 1st quarter. It’s a great time to adjust habits and systems to ensure that the school year is a great one. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss, Principal Escalante Middle School
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Principal's Message

Back To School Night September 7

Dear Escalante Middle School Community, I am hopeful that all parents and students can join us for our Back-to-School Night event on September 7th. Everyone in the Escalante Middle School Community is invited to a hot dog cook out on the front lawn at 5:00 PM. At 5:30 PM, we will transition inside for a community meeting in the gymnasium to welcome you and to communicate our main priorities for the school year. Beginning at 6:00 PM, we will run a very modified schedule so that all parents can walk through each of their child’s classes, with the goal of wrapping up the evening by 7:00 PM. During the first few weeks of school, teachers spend quite a bit of time setting up classroom structures, supports, and expectations for the school year. In many ways, this is a great idea for parents as well, and something I strive to do with my own children. To develop our kids executive functioning skills, it is very important that we teach them how to manage time, plan for a day, and keep up with school work. Creating a dedicated time for homework, free-reading, and bedtime all directly correlate to higher academic achievement. One of the largest barriers to these structures for middle school students revolves around screen time. While the statistics tend to vary, most researchers agrees that the average American teen spends between five to nine hours a day viewing a screen for entertainment purposes. Fifty percent of teens report feeling addicted to their phones. A recent study from the Child Development Journal directly linked screen time and mental health. Essentially, it found that teens who view screens at night are more vulnerable to sleep-loss, anxiety, and depression. The link below gives a concise summary of the findings: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/late-night-cell-phone-screen-time-teens-mental-health-sleep/ So what are some proactive things that parents can do once we pry our children away from their screens? Strategy One: Eat Together as a Family Dr. Ann Dolin advocates for taking time to eat together as a family. She found that children in homes that regularly share meals: Do well in school (40% more likely to earn As and Bs in school) Are emotionally content and have lower levels of stress Have positive peer relationships and healthier eating habits Refrain from smoking, drinking, and doing drugs Believe their parents are proud of them Strategy Two: Read Independently for Pleasure Reading high volumes of text is the surest pathway to reading proficiency. According to Nancy Atwell, a lead educational researcher: “Every measure that looks at pleasure reading and its effects on student performance on standardized tests of reading ability—and science and math—tells us that the major predictor of academic success is the amount of time that a student spends reading. In fact, the top 5 percent of U.S. students read up to 144 times more than the kids in the bottom 5 percent.” Strategy Three: Ensure Nine Hours of Sleep a Night Sleep is essentially food for the teenage brain. When they get nine hours of sleep a night, students are much more likely to retain new information, be mentally healthy, and maintain a high grade point average. At Escalante Middle School we have been hard at work these first few weeks creating structures and routines that will create conditions for success throughout the year. As parents, we can support student learning by focusing on structures and routines at home as well. I very much look forward to greeting you at our Back-to-School Night next week as we work together to launch a successful 2017-2018 school year. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss Escalante Middle School, Principal
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Principal's Message

Welcome to the 2017/18 School Year!

​​Dear Escalante Middle School Community, I am thrilled that the first day of school is just two days away - it is always my favorite day of the year. We have a few plans and procedures on the first day to ensure that it goes smoothly for students. Our 7th and 8th grade students will report straight to their Crew classes where they will receive their detailed schedule. They will also receive their pre-ordered school supplies if you signed up for that service last year. Our 6th grade students will go straight to the gym in the morning where we will organize them into their Crews. Once in Crew, they will recieve their schedule and a tour so that they know exactly where to go during the day. Locker combinations are the main nerve-wracking, right-of-passage activity, and we will be sure to give them ample practice! Planning for the solar eclipse has been a bit more challenging them expected. The school district is sending out permission slips electronically to be signed and returned. Please take this step or write a note giving your permission if you don't have access to a printer. However, because it is the first day, getting permission for all students is quite the challenge. If you do not want your student participating in the eclipse, please contact the school through the main line and an alternate activity will be provided. On a final eclipse note, we had to make a last minute change on protective eye-wear for the event. I received an email yesterday that our original glasses were recalled. Ms. Jantz saved the day by finding an approved vendor from the American Astrological Academy (https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters) who can overnight 550 glasses and guarenteed that they would be on my front door on Saturday. Keep your fingers crossed! Please take some time to speak with your child about the danger of looking at the sun without eyewear, even during a partial eclipse. The following link provides safety informaiton that we will be covering with our students, but it would be great if parents can review this with their children as well: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety Here is to a great first day on Monday! Jeremy Voss Escalante Middle School, Principal
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News & Announcements

Student IDs for 2017/18

Dear Families, You student’s new school ID was recently issued for the 2017-18 school year. Student IDs serve a multitude of purposes within the district, including bus access and school library use. Student IDs issued this year are valid through the entire school year, as well as through the beginning of the 2018/19 school year until new photos and IDs are issued.
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News & Announcements

2017 Eagle Boys Basketball begins!

Practice begins October 10th, 11th, and 12th from 3:30 - 6:00 PM and open to all 7th and 8th grade boys enrolled at Escalante. Participants will need a current sports physical to begin practice. See attachments for the game schedule and physical form. Season practice schedules will be handed out after the first week of practice detailed above.
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News & Announcements

Coffee with the Superintendent

Drop in to Durango Joes Coffee to have a cup of coffee and join a dialogue with Superintendent Dan Snowberger this Friday, September 29th from 7:30-9am. He'll be there to answer all your questions and listen to your ideas and feedback for Durango School District 9-R. The coffee's on us!
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Calendar

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