Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Here Comes June!

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Greetings Upper School Parents:

Welcome to the flurry of activities associated with the final week of classes in the Upper School!

This Thursday, following a special schedule allowing each academic period to meet, I am hosting a final Advisory Luncheon, catered here on campus by Amar India for all upper school students and teachers. Lunch will include menu items for even those with less adventurous palates. Individual Advisory Groups will eat together and might make plans ahead of time for group deserts.

Friday, 3 May is the final day of classes for Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors. Seniors will participate in the required Senior Class Transition Day, from 9:00-12:noon, in the Alumni Theater. Activities will include: scenarios on college living, an alumni panel, and concluding with a full graduation practice.

The Exam Schedule for Spring Term (grades 9-11) is now posted on the Documents section of the Upper School Homepage.

I posted an end-of-May edition of “Articles of Interest” on my MVS Blog http://wagnersmvsblog.blogspot.com/, including two links on graduation speeches, two on college majors, and one on the circuitous life cycle of spam e.mail.

I look forward to seeing you at the Academic Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, 8 June at 7:00PM in the Lane Gymnasium, and Graduation on Thursday, 9 June at 7:00PM at Dayton’s historic Victoria Theater.

With sincere regards,

Sam Wagner
Head of Upper School

Bonus May Edition: Articles of Interest; Grad Speeches

Monday, 30 May 2011

Greetings Upper School Parents:

Here is a late May edition of Articles of Interest.

Sarah Brewer, in-coming MVS Director of College Counseling, mentioned a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education during her visit to MVS last week: http://chronicle.com/article/Whats-a-Degree-Worth-Report/127612/ including an interactive graphic representing median earnings by college major and subject area: http://chronicle.com/article/Median-Earnings-by-Major-and/127604/

Being in the graduation season, Education Week presents an insightful article on the President Obama’s recent commencement address at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/05/26/33kiner.h30.html

On Sunday’s New York Times Op-Ed page, an essay titled Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts is adapted from writer Jonathan Franzen’s commencement address at Kenyon College: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/opinion/29franzen.html?scp=1&sq=franzen%20kenyon&st=cse

And from BoingBoing, here is a great article titled: How Spam Works, from End to End: http://boingboing.net/2011/05/21/how-spam-works-from.html

Happy reading,

Sam Wagner
Head of Upper School

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Upper School English Position Hire

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Shea Davis to the English department. Ms. Davis graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy, a renowned independent boarding school combining rigorous academics with comprehensive programs in the creative arts. She earned a BA in English from Kenyon College and is completing her MA in English from The Ohio State University. Outside of her teaching responsibilities, Ms. Davis’ duties at MVS will include supervising the Literary Magazine, helping to coordinate the community service program, and serving as assistant coach to the cross-country team.

Late May: Articles of Interest

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Greetings Upper School Parents:

I hope prom weekend finds you rested and well. It is great to have a brief respite from the spring rains, perhaps allowing some of those mythical ‘May flowers’ a chance to grow! With the hopes of conjuring some spring good-humor, here is a late spring set of “Articles of Interest” as we speed towards the closure of May.

This Thursday, the MVS chapter of Amnesty International will show the award winning documentary, “Pray The Devil Back To Hell,” which chronicles the remarkable story of the courageous Liberian women who came together to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country. Thousands of women — ordinary mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters, both Christian and Muslim — came together to pray for peace and then staged a silent protest outside of the Presidential Palace. Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, they demanded a resolution to the country’s civil war. Their actions were a critical element in bringing about an agreement during the stalled peace talks.

Our Amnesty Group has written discussion questions, which will be reviewed by Advisory Groups following the movie.

The link to the film is: http://www.praythedevilbacktohell.com/activists.php

In this season of graduation speeches, Mr. Munhofen forwarded David Foster Wallace’s memorable 2005 Commencement Address at Kenyon College. A gifted writer, Mr. Wallace reflects upon many of the important life lessons in his characteristic humorous style: http://moreintelligentlife.com/story/david-foster-wallace-in-his-own-words

Word is circulating that Garrison Keillor will step-down from his duties as writer and master of ceremonies of “A Prairie Home Companion” within the next two years, leading to a discussion of who could aptly fill his renowned red tennis shoes:

In this Sunday’s New York Times Opinion Page, Ben Schott (author of one of my most favorite books, “Schott’s Original Miscellany”) created a chart of terms of service for various world leaders; an interesting visual, to be sure: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/05/22/opinion/20110522_Schott_World_Leaders.html

Happy reading!

With sincere regards,

Sam Wagner
Head of Upper School

Thursday, May 19, 2011

MVS Commencement Program Details



The school purchases caps, tassels, and gowns for all graduating students. These items will be distributed to students on Friday, June 3, 2011.

Without Diploma: tassel to the right
With Diploma: tassel to the left

Students keep caps, tassels, and gown after graduation.


All graduating students will be wearing regalia. Students are to wear nice clothing under their gowns.

Ladies: Dress or dress slacks (V-neck top) with dress shoes

Gentlemen: Collared (white) dress shirt with tie, dress slacks, dress shoes.


Rehearsal for the Commencement ceremony will be held at school on Friday, June 3 in the Lofino Atrium as part of ‘Senior Seminar’ day.

A second ‘walk through’ will be held at the Victoria Theatre the day of graduation.

Graduates are to arrive at the Victoria Theatre no later than 3:45 p.m. on Thursday,
June 9.

It is very important that all graduates are on time! We have a limited amount of time scheduled to practice.


Victoria Theatre
138 N. Main Street
Dayton, Ohio 45402


The Victoria Theatre recommends parking at the Schuster Center garage on the corner of Second & Ludlow streets. The parking garage behind The Victoria Theatre closes at 7:00 p.m.


There are no tickets required for the graduation ceremony.


Seating at the Commencement ceremony is on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees will gather in the lobby of the Victoria Theatre. Doors into the theater will open at 6:30 p.m. and will close at 6:55 p.m. Individuals arriving after 6:55 p.m. will be seated in the balcony.


Cameras are permitted.

Official photographers (Nicholas Studios) will take individual photos of each graduate shaking the hands of the Headmaster or President of the Board of Trustees. These photos will be available for purchase by going to Nicholas Studios’ website – www.nicholasstudios.com.

There will also be an official videographer taping the entire ceremony, which includes the slide show of the graduates featuring their baby photo through senior photo. A copy of this DVD is automatically ordered for each graduating family. The student’s MVS account will be billed for the DVD and it will be mailed to your home a few weeks after graduation.

Congratulations and enjoy the day!

Monday, May 16, 2011

MVS Prom & After Prom: Expectations & Reminders

Monday, 16 May 2011

Greetings Upper School Parents:

As we approach what is sure to be a successful MVS Prom weekend, I want to communicate clearly and directly to you our expectations for student conduct. Prom will be held on Saturday, 21 May at Kira’s Oasis in Centerville, lasting from 9-11:30PM. After Prom will be held here at MVS (in the gymnasiums and atrium area), immediately following the conclusion of Prom, from 12:midnight-3:30AM, with an abundance of food, activities, and events, organized by the MVS Parents’ Association.

Prom season is often depicted as a rite of passage, celebrating friendships and accomplishments of the school year past, while also looking forward to the successful completion of the academic year and the approach of summer. I anticipate this year’s Prom and After Prom, under the careful planning by the Junior Class of 2012 and MVS Parents’ Association, will be enjoyable and memorable events. However, as is the case in many school cultures, school dances and similar evening events also raise potential anxieties about student at-risk behavior, including drinking, unsafe driving, and other potential dangers. We are all concerned about student safety. Throughout the year, but particularly during Homecoming and Prom seasons, tragic incidents are portrayed in the local and national press, reinforcing the fragility of human life and the potential dangers associated with teen driving, the “rites of spring,” and other potential adolescent vulnerabilities. Such events can be devastating to any community, so with your added attention as parents, I want to further protect our students at MVS from making unwise decisions that could carry very significant, if not dire, consequences.

As added protection of our students (and increased peace of mind for parents and teachers), this year we will administer individual breathalyzer tests to all students attending Prom. The tests we selected are recommended both by law enforcement and substance counseling programs. The use of these tests is to affirm that our students are safe and secure, as well as to reduce suspicions about at-risk behaviors at the MVS prom. As a school, MVS will not tolerate any student drinking or illegal substance use before or during Prom or After Prom; to that end, we will be vigilant in our monitoring of student conduct.

If your Junior or Senior is attending Prom (which we hope is the case), I strongly encourage you to have frank discussions with your child (as well as with her or his 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 you might have.

As parents, I request your assistance in modeling proactive, responsible decision making by our students. Please resist all temptations to offer alcohol to any students, even as a ceremonial toast or glass of champagne with dinner, especially since such actions are in stark conflict with MVS school policy, not to mention state laws. Such offers also place students in an unnecessarily precarious dilemma. If your daughter or son is traveling in a limousine or carpooling with a group of friends, please take the time to ask, then check to confirm, that there are no “smuggled containers or substances” within. It is better to be safe now, rather than remorseful later. If students (or you, their parents) still feel compelled to engage in any at-risk activities, they are cautioned to avoid Prom and After Prom entirely. Any student, whom chaperones suspect to be under the influence, will be denied from entering these events and, as a result, we will phone you, as their parents, to come pick them up. Believe me, these are circumstances in which no one wants to participate.

Chaperones (me included), who agree to work for the benefit of students in supporting student events (without whom, there simply would be no Prom) will use their best judgment in assessing student conduct; however, these decisions will be at the discretion of faculty chaperones, Vin Romeo (as Junior Dean), and me. I encourage you to be candid with your daughter or son in your conversations surrounding alcohol, drug use, or other at-risk behaviors. 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. The potential dangers of unsafe driving raise further concerns. Our hope is that through active and direct discussions, transcending both home and school, such matters can be avoided entirely, thus allowing everyone at Prom and After Prom to safely enjoy the events as they are intended.

In the interest of ensuring student safety, under no circumstances will a student be allowed to leave Prom or After Prom before their conclusions, without first contacting a parent directly. All students are to arrive at Prom by 9:30PM. Later, students should change out of their prom attire at MVS, after driving directly to After Prom. All students are to arrive at After Prom by 12:15AM. If any student arrives late, or asks to leave early from either event, we will have him or her phone you directly. If a student encounters an unanticipated delay, we ask that she or he phone the main phone number at MVS (434-4444, ext 157, the concessions stand in the MVS Atrium), to keep us informed of their status, just to be safe. Once a student has officially departed Prom or After Prom (having contacted a parent first), she or he will not be permitted to re-enter the event. Students are expected to cooperate fully with chaperones, parent volunteers, and staff at these events. Attendance at Prom and After Prom are indeed privileges, requiring an appropriate degree of student (and parent) responsibility. We look forward to enjoying these activities with your children; however, in the interest of student safety, we will be attentive in monitoring student behavior and conduct.

A great deal of work has gone into planning for the Prom and After Prom, 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 involved; 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 making Prom and After Prom a wonderful, enjoyable, and safe night for all involved. Should you have any specific questions regarding Prom, feel free to contact Vin Romeo (as Dean of the Junior Class).

With sincere regards,

Sam Wagner
Head of Upper School

Friday, May 13, 2011

Advice to Students New to the Upper School at MVS

Advice to Students New to the Upper School at MVS

Greetings! The transition to the Upper School at the Miami Valley School presents many exciting opportunities to new and continuing students; however, as with many transitions, we recognize that students may also encounter challenges in adjusting. Besides simply moving from our Middle School or another school to the Upper School at MVS, for many, the expectations of our college preparatory program are intense, as the work becomes progressively more analytical and conceptual. It is important, therefore, for new students to recognize quickly the expectations that will be placed upon them, establish healthy and productive study habits to meet those expectations, gauge the time necessary to succeed, recognize the various support resources available to them, and employ responsible behaviors that will contribute to a purposeful, enjoyable experience during the first year of high school and in subsequent years. Here are a few helpful suggestions which, though by no means comprehensive, students and parents should be mindful of:

1. Get to know your Academic Advisor, Class Dean, and Head of Upper School. These adults will prove to be great advocates. The purpose of the Advisory Program is to facilitate communication between MVS and home in providing individual contact and support for each student. Advisory Groups meet at least once a month; Academic Advisors will schedule two formal parent conferences a year, and can be contacted by voice or e.mail as questions arise.

2. Ask lots of questions. If you need clarification on a topic or require assistance in determining a solution to a problem, ask your Academic Advisor, a teacher, peers, Class Dean, or Head of Upper School.

3. Be proactive. Seek out your teachers and your Academic Advisor for extra assistance, establishing a regular meeting time for support, should you need it. Approach teachers before you feel anxious, rather than enduring through a problem. Although your schedule may not align perfectly with that of a teacher's, faculty members are approachable and eager to meet with you. Should you require further academic support, the Class Dean may assign you to a study hall, monitored by a faculty member. For most students, though, “free” periods allow ample time for attaining extra help, though you need to be active in seeking and clarifying the help you need.

4. Go the extra distance. Homework and daily preparation for classes are important keys to succeeding in the Upper School; however, if you simply “do” your homework by cursory reading, writing, or quick review, you may encounter surprises. Completing your homework means following up on materials covered in class, actively reviewing class notes, outlining and taking notes on reading, and mapping out strategies and schedules for longer term assignments.

5. On average, ½ to ¾ of an hour’s worth of study is normal for each of your classes, with obvious variance to this rule. Two to four hours of homework an evening is realistic, although at “crunch times” you may have more. Remember to balance your desire to do well academically with the value of being involved in other MVS activities, as well as the importance of family time and the freedom to lead a “normal” teenage life.

6. Take time to review the many academic, extracurricular, athletic, and co-curricular offerings in the Upper School; get involved in at least one activity. Students who are involved in the MVS community tend to adjust more quickly.

7. While being with friends is an important facet of the school day, it is suggested early in the year that you establish good habits regarding the use of your time. The “free” periods that you have in your schedule are designed to encourage you in being independent and self-reliant. While we value the balance of freedom and responsibility here at MVS, much of your time during free periods should be used productively for studying, seeking help, or working on extracurricular activities. Students new to the Upper School (including freshmen) may be assigned to at least one proctored study hall after the Fall Trimester mid-term. Reserve some time to be with friends and relax, but make sure you apportion your time for appropriate school related work.

8. Don’t let your work pile up. If you find yourself falling behind, seek out your teacher or Academic Advisor right away to develop a strategy for correcting the problem. Do not wait until you feel overwhelmed to seek assistance.

9. Know that you are not alone. There is a network of support here for you (and your parents). This network includes fellow students, as well as teachers and administrators. We have a full-time counselor who can provide assistance and advice to students, as well as a skills specialist to help with academic support. Do not hesitate to approach the school counselor if you have concerns for yourself or your peers.

10. Don’t worry—everything becomes familiar fairly quickly here at MVS. Enjoy the newness of joining the upper school community. We all bring our individual talents to this culture of thinkers, learners, and citizens. We excited that you have joined us here in the Upper School at MVS!

On behalf of the students and faculty members, we look forward to formally welcoming you to the Upper School in the months to come.

With sincere regards,

Samuel Wagner, V
Head of Upper School

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spring Mid-Terms, Bump-up Day, & Approach of Prom

Friday, 7 May 2010

Greetings Upper School Parents:

Even all varieties of May weather (cool temperatures, spots of sun, and occasional drizzle) cannot damper the spirits of MVS Grandparents Day and Spring Fling! It was wonderful to see so many MVS families (and in multi-generations!) as part of the day’s festivities.

This e.mail serves as notification that the comments, work habit marks, and grades illustrating your daughter or son’s Spring Trimester mid-term academic progress are now available via My Backpack. Mid-term comments for the Spring Trimester are required only for students achieving grades of “C-” or lower or effort marks of “3” and below. Since mid-terms provide a “snapshot” of a student’s academic performance, they should be considered accordingly. Time remains to attend to concerns mentioned up to this point; however, attentive preparation and follow-through are necessary in anticipation of the speedy approach of June. Consider it a good start-of-May resolution to conclude the 2011 academic year with appropriate academic vigor.

With the hopeful arrival of warmer weather, we continue to seek your assistance relating to matters of appropriate spring apparel, specifically regarding: ripped and torn clothing, shorts and skirt length, and overly revealing tops. As a quick guide, ripped clothing is not permitted, shorts and skirt must be longer than the extended fingers of a students hands at their sides, and shirts should cover a students’ shoulders and not be overly revealing. We appreciate your assistance (and good humor) in helping our students to be presentable and aware of their appearance.

Next Friday, 18 May is Bump-Up Day, providing the opportunity for current 8th grade students to attend upper school classes and further whet their appetites for life in the Upper School. The Freshman class will be bowling (with the 6th grade) off campus to allow room for the 8th grade to visit classes. The Freshman will return to campus in time to attend the class period before lunch.

Prom, hosted by the Junior class in honor of the Seniors, is Saturday, 21 May, followed by After Prom, hosted by the Parents Association. Following concerns raised by various constituencies in our school community, breathalyzers will likely be included in our monitoring efforts this year, as an additional safety precaution for our students and for peace of mind for parents. I will share further details in my accustomed “prom awareness letter.”

Although the last day of academic classes for seniors is Thursday, 2 June, seniors are required to attend Senior Seminar at MVS on Friday 3 June, during which a number of transition and graduation details will be addressed, including a formal graduation practice.

For Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors, Spring Trimester and final exams will be held 6 - 8 June. Academic Awards Evening, on Wednesday, 8 June at 7:00PM in the Lane Gymnasium, is an Upper School tradition not to be missed. In addition to faculty member presentations of departmental book awards, the Senior Class of 2011 will be acknowledged as a lead-up to their Graduation. Graduation occurs on Thursday, 9 June at 7:00PM at Dayton’s historic Victoria Theater. I hope to see you there!

I appreciate your support of and attention to the many events, activities, and initiatives at work in the Upper School. The early May edition of “Articles of Interest” will be posted soon on my MVS Blog at: http://wagnersmvsblog.blogspot.com/ As always, should you have a question, feel free to contact your child’s Academic Advisor, Grade-level Dean, classroom teachers, or me. Best wishes towards a refreshing and celebratory Mother’s Day.

With sincere regards,

Sam Wagner
Head of Upper School