Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Upper School Parents:
Peter Camm, Coordinator of the Fine Arts, shared with me the following “classical connections” with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra within the MVS community.
• Ross Williams, upper and middle school music teacher, will perform as one of the percussionists for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at 8:00 pm this Friday & Saturday, October 2 and 3 at the Schuster Center.
• Senior Sam Guggenheimer (on viola), Junior Sophia Hu (on violin), and Sophomore Lauren Yu (on viola) are members of the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Their concerts are also at the Schuster Center on Sunday afternoons at 3:00 pm: December 6, February 7, & May 9.
For tickets to these concerts, go online to http://www.daytonphilharmonic.com/
• It should be mentioned that Peter Camm is beginning a three-year term as a Trustee on the DPO Board. He also serves as a member of their Education committee.
• In the Lower School, the Schools Partnering with Artists Reaching Kids (SPARK) is now in its third year. The SPARK program links orchestra programs with school curriculum, and in the process forges close and insightful relationships between musicians, students, and faculty. Musicians pair up with teachers to create lessons that integrate music across the curriculum. In addition to bringing music into the classroom, students from each grade will attend a special DPO chamber concert designed just for their grade level, with themes they’ll relate to. A DPO docent will meet with the students before the concert, and as an added bonus, the lead conductor will also visit with students.
Violist Colleen Braid will return to the kindergarten class and string bass musician Steve Ullery will again join the first grade. Percussionist Michael La Mattina will explore music and education with the second graders. Kristen Canova, bassoonist, will work with the third grade and Christine Anin, violinist, with the fourth grade.
MVS has participated in the SPARK Program since 2007.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Monday, 28 September 2009
By the change in the weather outside, October cannot be far away! Here are a couple quick reminders to plot on your schedules and prompt in your children as we welcome the shift to autumn weather.
This week, we will hear presentations during Morning Announcements by upper school faculty members introducing the individual 2010 Immersion Programs. Two really important deadlines for Immersion applications are quickly approaching:
Financial Aid Application Deadline: THIS Friday, OCTOBER 2, 2009 by 3:30PM – Turn in to the
Immersion Application Deadline: NEXT Friday, OCTOBER 9, 2009 by 3:30PM– Turn in to student’s Academic Advisor during Advisory.
All deadlines are firm; applications submitted after a deadline will be placed at the bottom of the selection list, regardless of the student’s grade level.
The link to all forms, procedures, and program descriptions for Immersion 2010 are available on the
Archives to most of the letters, e.mails, and reminders sent from my office are available on Wagner’s MVS Blog, at: http://wagnersmvsblog.blogspot.com/ . I welcome your comments and suggestions.
This Friday, 2 October also marks the end of the mid-term for the Fall Trimester. Comments, work habit/effort marks, and grades are being composed this week by upper school faculty members, for review by Academic Advisors, and then will be delivered via the My Backpack portal on the web. I will send an e.mail to confirm when the mid-terms are live and available, likely by next Friday. Students will review their mid-term comments and grades with their Academic Advisors on Friday, 9 October, during scheduled afternoon Advisory Meetings.
With sincere regards,
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The 2010 Immersion Booklet, including program descriptions, deadlines, and applications, is now available on the MVS web at: http://www.mvschool.com/inside-mvs/division-homepages/upper-school .
Head of Upper School
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
With the approach of Homecoming events at MVS, including a Saturday “chock-full” of athletic matches, the Run for the Rams, and various alumni gatherings, followed (of course!) by the homecoming dance, I thought it a good idea to send a quick e.mail with some accustomed details and reminders.
As we draw near to what is sure to be a successful MVS Homecoming Weekend, including the dance on Saturday evening, I want to communicate clearly and directly to you our expectations for student conduct at such school functions. The dance will be held on Saturday, 26 September here at MVS in our Alumni Theatre, lasting from 8:00-11PM. Soda, juices, and snacks will be provided at the dance. Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased in the Upper School Commons at MVS, through Friday; tickets cannot be purchased “at the door” on Saturday.
As a growing tradition at MVS, Homecoming has become a popular autumn event; I anticipate this year’s functions, under the careful planning of the 2010 Student Government, will be both enjoyable and successful. However, as is the case in virtually all school cultures, school dances and similar evening events also raise potential anxieties regarding student behavior, including those relating to underage drinking and substance abuses, and other at-risk behaviors. Obviously, we are all concerned about student safety, especially since students will be traveling from various distances in order to attend the homecoming dance. Throughout the year, but particularly during homecoming and prom seasons, the sad but all too common incidents that are captured in the local and national press reinforce the fragility of human life and the dangers associated with teen driving and at-risk behaviors. Such events can be devastating to any community.
If your daughter or son is planning to attend the homecoming dance (which we hope is the case!), I strongly encourage you to have honest and direct discussions with your child (as well as with his or her date and other friends) about the important topics of safety and responsible decision making, carefully reviewing their plans, your expectations, and communicating directly with other parents regarding any questions of supervision that might arise. As a school, we will not tolerate any student drinking or substance abuse before or during the homecoming dance and will be vigilant in our monitoring of student conduct. If students feel compelled to engage in such at-risk activities, they should simply avoid attending school functions entirely. Any student, whom chaperones suspect to be under the influence, will be sent home from the event; we will phone you, as the parent, to come pick them up from the dance. Believe me, this is a potentially awkward and very serious incident that no one wants to participate in. Chaperones (me included), who agree to work for the benefit of students in supporting student events (without whom, there simply would be no homecoming dance), will use their best judgment in assessing student conduct; however, these decisions will be at the sole discretion of faculty chaperones and me. I encourage you to be very candid with your daughter or son in your conversations surrounding alcohol or potential at-risk behavior, as well as with the parents of your child’s friends, should you have any concerns regarding student gatherings, before or after the homecoming dance. Obviously, any violation of the alcohol and drug policy at or around an MVS event may result in serious consequences, up to and including suspension or expulsion. My hope is that through active discussion, transcending home and school, such matters can be avoided entirely, thus allowing everyone at the dance to enjoy the event as it is intended.
In the interests of ensuring student safety, under no circumstances will a student be allowed to leave from the homecoming dance before its conclusion (11:PM) without first contacting you directly. All students are to arrive at the dance by 9:30PM. If any student arrives late to, or asks to leave early from the dance, we will have them first phone you directly. Students will not be permitted to re-enter the dance after they have departed. Students are expected to cooperate fully with chaperones and staff members at the dance; attendance at the homecoming dance is a privilege, not a right. We look forward to enjoying these activities with the students; however, in the interest of student safety, we will be vigilant in monitoring student conduct.
A great deal of work has gone into planning for Homecoming Weekend, on the part of students, parents, faculty members, and administrators. We will do our very best to create an environment that will be safe and enjoyable for everyone; I am confident the students will have a great time! Again, as partners in the essential support of MVS students, please encourage your child (and her or his peers) to use sound judgment in ensuring that Homecoming is a wonderful, enjoyable, and safe night for all involved. Should you have any specific questions regarding the details of homecoming dance, feel free to contact Bryan Lakatos (advisor to the Student Government) or me.
With sincere regards,
Head of Upper School
Friday, September 18, 2009
Greetings Upper School Parents:
What a glorious day to accompany the Freshmen for part 2 of Freshman Orientation! Led by Freshman Dean Deb Spiegel, the Class of 2013 was accompanied by a robust group of Seniors and faculty members. Christie Kemper, Health and Wellness Coordinator, led us through an interactive group dynamics exercise, after which, we took to the river for a pleasant afternoon paddle. Although some canoes returned “more damp” than others, the spirits of the entire group was outstanding; a great start to the weekend, to be sure!
On Tuesday and Wednesday, 22 & 23 September, we welcome Selden Edwards, author of THE LITTLE BOOK (MVS shared summer reading selection) on campus as part of the MVS Visiting Authors Series. Mr. Edwards will address the entire upper school on Tuesday, following Morning Announcements and will attend classes and speak with students throughout his visit. Lunch with the Author, sponsored by the MVS Parents Association, will be held in the Lofino Atrium.
Next week also brings Spirit Week activities, supported by Student Government. We will have “theme” dress-up-days in the Upper School to further inspire MVS spirit, with the daily descriptions as follows:
Monday – “Marti Muffin Madness Monday” (decades/throwback day)
Tuesday – “Tropical Tuesday”
Wednesday – “When I Grow Up Wednesday” (future profession)
Thursday – “Jersday” (favorite sports team jersey)
Friday – “Red & Blue Day” (show your MVS pride!)
Friday concludes with the all-school pep rally at 2:15PM in the Lane Gym, including the parade of athletes, MVS Drumline, Jazz Bands, and Marti the Ram!
Description and registration details of the full array of Homecoming events can be found on the MVSchool website at: http://www.mvschool.com/homecoming.
Saturday evening is the Upper School Homecoming Dance, from 8-11:PM in the Alumni Theatre, sponsored by the Student Government. The Homecoming Dance is open to all students in the Upper School; tickets will be on sale next week for $15 per person; tickets will not be available for purchase at the door the night of the event. As with most MVS dances, the majority of students attend in groups or individually, rather than formally “asking dates.” My accustomed “Homecoming dance expectations letter” will be sent to you mid-week, encouraging parents to openly discuss any questions or concerns with your children (and their friends, as well as perhaps other parents) in the hopes of keeping all of our students safe.
As an alternative to my PDF archives of past letters and details sent to upper school parents, I have created Wagner’s MVS Blog http://wagnersmvsblog.blogspot.com/ as a running collection of letters and e.mails sent during the 2009-10 academic year. In the interest of encouraging active communication, I hope you will follow along and add your comments and suggestions, as you see fit.
With sincere regards,
Head of Upper School
Monday, September 14, 2009
Greetings Upper School Parents!
As promised, here is a quick e.mail confirming that US Parent Information Night (PIN) is scheduled for this Wednesday, 16 September, beginning at 7:PM. The evening will begin promptly at 7:PM with advisory group meetings, in the following locations:
Upper School PIN
Advisory Group Meeting Locations
MR. ASH Room 4
DR. BIRDI Room 22
MR. CAMM Room 6
MR. CZARNOTA Room 20
MR. DUNNIGAN College Counseling Office
MR. GRAETZ Room 2
MRS. GRIFFITH Room 23
MS. JEWETT-WARNER Room 12
MS. KEMPER Room 9
MS. MOULTON Room 5
MR. ROMEO Room 11
MRS. SPARKS Room 3
MS. SPIEGEL Room 7
MR. SQUIERS Room 1
MR. SWEENEY Room 8
MR. WAGNER Truslow Upper School Commons
MR. WILLIAMS US Music Room
Following Advisory meetings (during which, you will receive a copy of your child’s class schedule for PIN and a map of US classrooms), parents will then participate in an expedited rendition of your child’s academic schedule, each class meeting for 10 minutes, with a 5 minute passing time between. This schedule allows us to conclude US PIN at 9:PM, so bring a notepad for jotting down notes and your running shoes to keep on time! Class changing times will be announced over the integrated MVS phone/intercom system. If you happen to arrive at MVS after 7:15PM, a copy of your child’s schedule will be available at the reception desk in the main hallway.
Of special note: Ms. Kemper's Freshman Health classes will not meet during PIN, due to a scheduling conflict with her graduate courses, though Ms. Kemper will meet with the parents of her Advisees at the start of PIN.
Since US PIN begins with individual advisory group meetings, rather than as a large group gathering with general announcements (as in the Lower School), representatives from the MVS Parents’ Association will be in the main hall and Truslow Upper School Commons to answer questions about opportunities for you to become involved in this essential MVS organization. Colin Dunnigan (Director of College Counseling), Ken Laake (Athletic Director), and Jack Sweeney (Dean of Students), will join me in being available in the commons and hallways. Be sure to drop-by the information tables for pertinent information and discussion during a “free period” at PIN. Water will be provided by the MVS Parents’ Association, and will be in the Commons, available during free periods.
Reminder: PIN is intended to provide the opportunity for parents to meet teachers (and vice versa, of course), briefly experience academic classes, and put “some names to faces” in the interests of facilitating future contact and communication. Should you have a specific question regarding a class or relating to your child’s performance, please contact that teacher to arrange for a later appointment, when such matters can be addressed appropriately. The mid-term of the Fall Trimester is 2 October, with the goal of releasing comments, work habit/effort marks, and grades via MyBackpack on Friday, 9 October.
US picture day is scheduled for this Thursday, 17 September. Students need to bring a completed order form and payment in hand to place their orders.
On behalf of the entire upper school faculty and staff, we look forward to sharing Wednesday evening with you.
With sincere regards,
Head of Upper School
Friday, September 11, 2009
Friday, 11 September 2009
This quick up-date serves as a premonition of more lengthy epistles to follow, reflecting the quick approach of Upper School Parent Information Night (PIN) next week, followed by a whole bevy of MVS activities and events during Homecoming Week.
Upper School Pin is next Wednesday, 16 September, beginning at 7:PM sharp with meetings by Advisory Groups. Expect a lengthy e.mail on Monday with meeting locations, details, and reminders.
We have encountered some frustrations relating to attendance and students arriving late from appointments. Please inform the upper school office by 8:30AM if your child is absent, has an appointment, or will arrive late. If arriving late, your student needs to sign-in in the upper school office, and bring a note. Thank you for your help in addressing this important matter of school safety.
Next week is picture days: Wednesday for athletic teams, and Thursday for individual student packets. The order forms are being distributed by team coaches and Class Deans early next week; method of payment needs to accompany all orders.
Next week marks the beginning of visiting college representatives coming to campus. Colin Dunnigan, Director of College Counseling, has posted a calendar of dates and times of visiting reps on the MVSchool web page. While primarily intended for Juniors and Seniors, underclassmen are permitted to attend these meetings, provided they follow the appropriate procedure to miss a class.
Next Friday, 18 September is the second part of our Freshman Orientation Program with the traditional canoe trip. The entire Freshman class, led by Class Dean Deb Spiegel, will be joined by a select group of Seniors and faculty members as we continue to welcome the Class of 2013 into the
We recently had a visit from a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputy regarding reports of dangerous driving (excessive speed and not obeying stop signs) in and through the neighborhood. Please speak with and caution your student drivers (or to the drivers of your students) as we might expect higher enforcement of said driving regulations in the weeks to come.
You ought to have already received a mailer detailing the many events and activities planned for Homecoming Week at MVS, 21-26 September. I will send a reminder late next week, including details relating to the campus visit schedule for Selden Edwards, author of The Little Book, 2009 Upper School Shared Summer Reading selection; reminders for Run For The Rams; and my annual Homecoming Dance letter to parents. Stay tuned, devoted readers!
Best wishes towards a restful weekend,
Monday, September 7, 2009
Monday, 7 September 2009
I hope you had a pleasant Labor Day Weekend. Having received a number of inquiries regarding President Obama’s “back to school” speech tomorrow, I thought I would send a brief clarification. While there are certainly merits behind President Obama’s goals in addressing a speech to students at the start of the academic year, at MVS, we have decided not to make arrangements to broadcast the speech to our students.
The White House has made available the text version of the President’s speech, which can be found at the following weblink: http://www.whitehouse.gov/MediaResources/PreparedSchoolRemarks/
Pat Basset, President of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS, of which MVS is a proud member), posted a letter from a member school in Florida, which eloquently addresses the reasoning and approach that MVS and many other independent schools are taking in regard to President Obama’s speech. I hope this letter clarifies our position in the
With sincere regards,
Sam Wagner Head of
September 4, 2009
Dear Academy Families:
A small number of our families this week inquired about whether we intend to show our students President Obama's upcoming speech to our nation's school children. Some families have requested that their children be removed from such a presentation; others have requested that we show the speech. We do not intend to show a live broadcast of the speech. Our reason is that we don't think it's really intended for students like ours, as it is designed to be a message about staying in school, about taking responsibility to do your homework and encouraging all students to accept the value system of school and the idea that being a good student will lead to improvement in your life. Almost all of our students have internalized this message long ago. Still, I feel a need to comment about the idea of viewing a presidential speech and requests for children to opt out of viewing a speech.
We very much want to engage our students about the world around them and about taking part in our democratic system. We feel that they ought to learn about our national issues and hear perspectives on those issues regardless of which party's philosophy they might endorse. As an administration, we see a big problem in our country today - that, as a nation, we are not very good right now at engaging in civil discussion and disagreement about the policies and political philosophies that are being "debated" in the public square. We very much want our school to be a place where our students learn to listen to all sides of a debate and engage in questioning, answering, and exploring, but always in a polite and civil tone. We do not want our students to become liberals. We do not want our students to become conservatives. We want them to learn how to listen respectfully, how to question respectfully, and how to come to their own opinions and votes while respecting those who may come to different conclusions. We want them to learn how to be citizens. In order to do that, they have to be exposed to different points of view. We would like them to study those points of view.
If we were to show the President's speech, we would hope that those families who disagree with the President's comments would engage their children in discussion about what the President says, and that they will in turn provide (and teach) their own countervailing views. When you do so, please also reinforce rules of respect and polite civil discourse. ("We disagree with the President because . . ." )
We want our students to learn that patriots can disagree about policy choices in a democracy while still loving their country and wanting the best for all of her people. Opting out of hearing a speech by the President or a member of the clergy from a different religion or any opinionated speaker does not serve the goal of learning about others and, eventually, yourself. We believe that our students' education is well-served by exploration and engagement about issues, not by refusing to even hear opposing views.
As a school, we are absolutely fine with our students disagreeing with whomever is President and voicing that disagreement, even publicly, as long as every student shows respect to every speaker and every event that they attend. We want all of our students to know that they have the right to disagree with the President or their Congressman or the Governor, and that they have many appropriate avenues in which to voice that disagreement, including their vote.
Our democracy needs its young people. But before they turn 18 they ought to learn how to be better citizens and better participants than the models they see in their daily swim through our culture's waters. The Academy at the Lakes educational experience will help them learn how to participate with respect for others, respect for ideas, and respect for our country, the greatest nation on Earth.
Head of School