Dear Parents, 

The kids were happy to be back together after the summer and showed some excitement and wonder at what their eighth-grade year might look like. I told them that they can expect it to be their best year yet! We went over what each class might offer this year and talked briefly about grading expectations. I told the kids that their eighth-grade year is a time to prepare for high school and that they should fasten their seat belts and get ready to work hard. We’ve got lots of learning ahead and they should expect to work a bit more than they did in seventh grade. School guidelines are that they have up to one and a half hours of homework nightly, and while they might sometimes have that (and rarely even a bit more during busy times), I try to keep what I assign to one hour, knowing that they may have work from other teachers, too.

One change from last year is that the kids will have fewer teachers. I teach four of their seven subjects: history, religion, language arts, and literature, so they will be moving less throughout the day and will have fewer teachers to “figure out”. This consistency should help them to feel more settled and able to get right to work. Again this year the students have planners. All middle school teachers are training them to use them consistently to keep track of their daily and long-term assignments. These should come home each night and for some, will be a way for parents to keep closer track of what has been assigned and whether it has been completed.

I spoke to the kids about middle school expectations around late or missing work (most know these from my literature class last year). These expectations are also listed in the Family Handbook.

Your child was given a document about reading requirements. The main difference between this year and last is that the kids must now read 250 pages per week (combination of class and home reading). If your child didn’t share this with you, you can find it under “Resources” on the eighth-grade page. To get there, go to the school web page then Parent Resources→Classrooms→8th Grade. You will find several different resources there in addition to a homework page (which I update nightly), and access to the Parent (Friday Class) letters. Two items that are not yet updated in the Resources list are the Service Hours log (this should read 18 hours per semester) and the Legacy Project document (I have not yet set the dates for this year). I will update those next week.

Our service-learning project this year is to work in the WeGrow Garden, a community garden one block south of Bellingham High School. WeGrow provides low-barrier training to youth and adults who plant, grow, harvest, and distribute produce to those in need. Most of what we grow goes to the Bellingham Food Bank, right across the street from the garden. The garden serves as an educational space for school groups, non-profit youth agencies, and the public. It showcases how food is grown, managed, and harvested. We will begin our visits to the garden soon, so look for a permission slip and opportunities to volunteer by coming along with us soon. The “learning” part of our service-learning project will begin next week when we study several topics including the benefits of community gardens, sustainable and organic gardening, food insecurity, and at-risk youth. We will be participating in the WeGrow Open House in September (I will give you the date when I have it), and the kids will be making presentation boards and talking about these topics to stakeholders at the garden.

You may have heard that we purchased a new social studies text last year by Savvas Learning (formerly Pearson Realize). It is a digital text, and we will be learning how the platform works. There may be some frustration in these early days as we figure it out, but we will get through it and will benefit from the added features only a digital text can provide (interactive maps, videos, links to primary source documents, etc.). We don’t yet have our log ins for the text, so we are using the hard copies we have in class for the time being.

Please take care to review the Family Handbook and policies around uniform expectations. This includes things like hair length, make-up, and jewelry. I will be enforcing these policies, although I really hate to be the “boogeyman”, so would you please be that for me before your student even gets to school?

I meant for this newsletter to be short, but there’s so much to communicate! I’ll save some for next week. In the meantime, please mark your calendars to attend our Washington, D.C. trip meeting at 6PM in my classroom. It will take place immediately before Curriculum Night September 13th which is from 7-9PM. I will give you a preview of the D.C. trip, we will talk about fundraising, and we will then head over to the gym to begin Curriculum Night. You will learn about what is coming in eighth grade and I will answer questions you might have. Feel free to email me with any questions that can’t wait until then.

The following is from Gina DePalma (Pastoral Assistant for Faith Formation):

Baptism of Children 7-Years-Old and Older (RCIA/C)

Assumption Parish families with children aged 7+ who have not been baptized or were baptized in another Christian tradition and are interested in learning about and receiving sacraments in the Catholic Church, are invited to begin the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults for Children (RCIA/C) process. Please contact Gina DePalma at ginad@assumption.org with any questions. Sessions begin on Sept. 10 and the deadline to register is Oct. 1.

Youth Confirmation Information Meeting

All Assumption & Sacred Heart youth in 7th & 8th grade at ACS who are interested in preparing for the sacrament of confirmation are encouraged, along with a parent, to attend the information meeting on Sunday, Sept. 10, at 2:00 p.m. in the school library. Please contact Daniel Prenosil at daniel@assumption.org with any questions.

Have a great three-day weekend!

Chris Eusebio

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