• STEM Expo and Screen Free Week

    Posted by Randy Squier on 5/4/2019

    STEM Expo

    Celebrating Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

    The students of Coxsackie-Athens will be hosting their first annual District Wide STEM Expo on Wednesday, May 29th, 2019. There will be a Student Exhibit Hall showcasing our students’ recent STEM projects from 10:00 am- 7:00 pm in our Middle School Gym. There will also be an evening Maker Faire with STEAM  based activities, food and craft sales from 4-7 pm. All STEM and other projects district wide will be displayed in our Exhibit Hall. Parent volunteers are needed. Sign up to help and learn more here.  

    Screen Free Week

    April 29 – May 5 is Screen-Free Week, a chance for families to temporarily unplug from screens and find non-tech ways to have fun. Surprisingly, Screen-Free Week actually began 25 years ago. It was called “TV Turn Off Week”, during an era when the internet was in its infancy and parents were only concerned about TV rotting their children’s brains.

    And while work- and school-based screen time is necessary, it’s entirely possible to avoid entertainment media for at least a week or more. The trick is to have enough non-tech activities and ideas to keep everyone engaged. Click here for more ideas on going screen free and other resources for helping your kids develop healthy online habits.

    Parent Input

    A few weeks ago parents were emailed a survey asking for your perceptions about our schools. The results of this survey will help us set our goals for the next decade. Your participation is anonymous and appreciated.

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  • Momo Challenge

    Posted by Randy Squier on 2/4/2019

    We want to inform you of an internet hoax called "The Momo Challenge" that while not real, can still be distressing to students.

    The so-called Momo Challenge started with news reports of a new internet challenge that caused students to self-harm or commit suicide. There is little to no evidence that actually occurred. (Seehttps://www.snopes.com/news/2019/02/26/momo-challenge-suicide-game/ for details.)

    However, while fact-checking organizations have largely debunked the Momo Challenge, a disturbing image associated with the hoax has spread on social media. We have received reports of students talking about it and searching for it on YouTube on their personal devices. (The image is actually an unrelated sculpture of a grinning figure with dark hair and bulging eyes created by a Japanese special effects company.)

    We have alerted our faculty and staff about this and we are taking proactive steps to deter students from seeing the image or sharing false information about the hoax. It is blocked on district devices and our network. We do not believe students are intentionally trying to frighten classmates; it is more a curiosity.

    However, given the nature of the internet, it is difficult if not impossible to completely shield students from this unfortunate hoax. We recommend you talk to your child to reassure them in case they have heard about it or are concerned. Here are some talking points from our counseling team.

    • If they have seen the image, tell them it is not real and cannot harm them.
    • If they have heard about the Momo Challenge, tell them it is a story someone made up.
    • Reassure them they are safe.
    • Remind them that not everything they read online is true.

    If you would like to learn more about the hoax, Forbes has an excellent article on it.

    Please also feel free to contact your child's principal if you have further concerns.

    Sincerely,

    Randy Squier

    Superintendent of Schools

     

    C-A will be hosting the regional Odyssey of the Mind Competition next Saturday March 9.

    The Drama Club is presenting, “Once Upon a Mattress on Friday March 15th at 7pm and Saturday March 16th at 2 and 7 pm.  Tickets are $10 / $5 for seniors.

    The C-A Foundation for Education will be hosting the Harlem Wizards basketball team on Saturday March 23 at 3pm. Come watch our own faculty and staff and maybe a few surprise guests take on the slammin, jammin Wizards.  Doors open at 2 and tip off is at 3pm. Tickets can purchased at any school office or go online to www.harlemwizards.com/schedule-tickets

     

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  • Preparing for Conferences with your child's teacher

    Posted by Randy Squier on 12/1/2018

    The following information will help you prepare for our parent teacher-conferences.  

    Conference Preparation

    Parent-teacher conferences are an essential building block of home-school communication.   Parents provide important perspectives and information that can be extremely valuable. We need the help of parents to do the best possible job of educating every child, every day. Parent-teacher conferences are a time for listening and sharing.  They can reinforce the idea of working as a team.

    The conferences provide us an opportunity to explain the criteria and grades used on report cards.  They are most successful when we create a partnership with our families. You may find the following helpful to maximize the effectiveness of our conferences.

    Pre-Conference

    • Review class work brought home.
    • Prepare for the conference by developing a conference folder with samples of the child’s work and a list of questions or concerns.

    During the Conference

    Establish rapport with your child’s teacher and school

    • Develop a relationship with your child’s teacher by telling them about how your child feels about school and asking how you can support your child at home.  
    • Determine the best way to communicate.
    • Ask how you can join the PTO and meet other families in your child’s grade.

    Accept Teachers as Advocates

    • Provide your child teacher’s with information about how your child learns best.  Describe their learning styles and/or what triggers anxiety as well as learning and physical challenges.

    Emphasize the Positive

    • Research shows that when parents are positive about school, their child sees school as a positive experience.  
    • Share learning ideas with teachers and strategies you have found successful with your child.

    Establish Priorities

    • Establish 1-2 goals that you would like to see your child be successful at this year and how both the home and school can support each other in reaching these goals.

    After the Conference

    • Talk with your child about the conference and always emphasize the positive.
    • Keep communication open with your child’s teacher.
    • Follow up on concerns that you have presented at the conference.
    • Create a learning environment at home and keep routines.  
    • Volunteer in our school and model at home.

    For More Information

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  • Service to Community

    Posted by Randy Squier on 11/2/2018

    Coxsackie-Athens students often engage in community service.  They do so as a member of a club, community group and with their family.  We value these service opportunities and the Board of Education has made, “Expanding the quality and quantity of community connections,” one of its three priorities for 2018-19 to support our goal that every student at C-A engage annually in service to community.

    Research has shown that students who serve their communities are 22% more likely to complete college then their peers who are not civically engaged.  In the past, students were required to serve a certain number of hours for senior social studies classes and students participated in a variety of charity and service events. The challenge for students and the district has been tracking those hours.

    Therefore, students, faculty and families at C-A will begin to have access later this month to the Passport for Good mobile app to easily capture their community engagement experiences. The Passport for Good program will allow the district to quantify its positive community impact and assist students in creating a robust resume to share with colleges and employers.

    The mobile application, available in the iTunes and Android app stores, allows users to join groups; view event calendars; log and submit engagement hours to teachers and advisors. Similar to a passport, students  will earn stamps for service(and digital badges) and will be able to export their passport that includes a history of approved community engagement hours.

    Members of our school community will be able to use Passport for Good to capture three types of community engagement: community service, career development, and participation in school activities.

    This program will raise awareness of community need, increase connectedness, and provide comprehensive data on the positive impact of community service, internship and club experiences on students, the school, and the community. The service replaces manual paper systems, which saves time for students, teachers and administrators. It will help the students to reflect on their experiences and document their service and skills for college admissions officers and prospective employers.”

    Passport for Good is a Capital Region-based company. You will be hearing more about Passport for Good as the school year progresses.

    Research and Further Reads Regarding Community Service

    An Assessment of Civic Engagement and Educational Attainment

    Civically-engaged teenagers make greater scholastic progress during high school and subsequently acquire higher levels of education than their otherwise similar peers. Community service to fulfill class-requirements significantly enhanced the average odds of college graduation by 22 percentage points.

    12 Reasons Community Service Should be Required in Schools

    Widely cited pamphlet on the benefits of community service.

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  • Standardized Testing

    Posted by Randy Squier on 3/29/2018

    Over the next three months students at C-A will be taking standardized tests.  Students in grades 3-8 will be taking tests in math and ELA next month, some high school students will be taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams and or SAT and ACT tests in May, and in June many students in grades eight through twelve will be taking Regents Exams.  

    “A standardized test is a test that is administered and scored in a consistent, or "standard", manner. Standardized tests are designed in such a way that the questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent[1] and are administered and scored in a predetermined, standard manner.[2]

    Any test in which the same test is given in the same manner to all test takers, and graded in the same manner for everyone, is a standardized test. Standardized tests do not need to be high-stakes tests, time-limited tests, or multiple-choice tests. The questions can be simple or complex. The subject matter among school-age students is frequently academic skills, but a standardized test can be given on nearly any topic, including driving tests, creativity, personality, professional ethics, or other attributes.”  

    We all have an opinion on standardized tests, in particular those administered by the state or outside organizations like The College Board(makers of the SAT and AP.). Here is an objective site listing pros and cons to standardized tests. We also know standardized tests, as defined above, take place in our classrooms everyday, created and administered by our teachers.   

    A few reminders for the upcoming tests:

    Grades 3-8:

    • ELA will be administered the week of April 10th and math the week of May 2nd.
    • The tests are untimed: Students will have as much time as they need to complete each portion of the tests. Generally the tests will be broken into two 60-minute sessions over two days for the elementary grades and two 80-minute sessions for middle level grades.
    • The questions are made by NY teachers.  
    • The tests are not used in teacher evaluations, nor for student placement in classes.
    • The test results are analyzed and used by our teachers to inform their lessons.  
    • This year students in 3rd, 7th and 8th grades will be taking the tests on computers to prepare for the eventual transition when all these tests will be taken on a computer.  

    Regents Exams:

    • All students have to pass five Regents exams: (ELA, math, science, world history, U.S. history) to graduate with a Regents Diploma.  There are several important exceptions:
      • Students with disabilities may request a review by the superintendent to determine if a variance will be allowed resulting in a local diploma being issued.
      • Any student may substitute one of the two social studies exams with either a CDOS credential, or a CTE credential or another Regents exam in math or science.  
      • Here is a flyer that does a good job explaining the growing number of options towards earning a diploma.

    College Entrance Exams

    • Many colleges require applicants to submit scores from either the SAT or ACT test.  The counseling office can provide families with dates, times and deadlines for signing up to take these tests.  There is an overwhelming amount of information online regarding these tests and caution should be taken as the sources could be biased towards one test or the other.  Your school counselor can help you in determining how to proceed.

    Resources:

    Pros and Cons of standardized tests:

    https://standardizedtests.procon.org/

    Paths to Graduation:

    http://www.hvsepc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/2017-Requirements-Pathways-to-Graduation-Parent-Guide-final.pdf

    Guide to Grades 3-8 tests:

    https://www.engageny.org/resource/test-guides-english-language-arts-and-mathematics

    Information on all New York State Tests:

    http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/



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  • School Safety

    Posted by Randy Squier on 2/23/2018

    As we returned to school this week, we continued to process the horrific event that took place in Florida last week. Please know that everyone at C-A considers the safety of our students as our first priority. Disturbing events such as these bring to the forefront the issue of school safety, so I wanted to take the time to assure you that we have detailed security features and plans in effect to protect our students and staff to the best of our ability. While we strive to keep your children safe, it is also important that we have open communication between the community and the schools.

    Although we do not publicly share all our safety efforts, I can tell you that our schools are locked during the school day and only visitors with legitimate reasons to be in our buildings are allowed to enter by way of locked and monitored entryways. Additionally, to ensure our students and staff know what to do in the event of an emergency, our schools practice multiple emergency drills throughout the year and we regularly review and update our safety policies and procedures with input from our School Resource Officers and safety specialists.

    Several of you contacted me and expressed concern for students who were seeing disturbing images and on social media and television.  It is important for parents to know that children of any age may be frightened or upset by these events. Your child may be experiencing significant feelings of fear, sadness, confusion, possibly even anger. You may want to give your children the opportunity to talk about these feelings. Here are some helpful tips from the National Association of School Psychologists about what parents can do at times like this:

    • Make time to talk. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient. Children do not always talk about their feelings readily. If you choose to talk with your children about these events, ask questions to get their understanding of what happened. Questions like “What did you hear? What do you think?" or “What are you afraid of?” will allow you to identify any concerns and correct any misconceptions your child may have.
    • Make sure your child understands it did not happen here, and that it is safe for them to go to school. Let your child know that the feelings he or she is experiencing are okay and that he or she is not alone in feeling this way.
    • Help children identify at least one adult at school and in the community to whom they go if they feel threatened or at risk.
    • Use it as a teaching moment. A discussion about troubling events can lead to a conversation about helping others, such as donating to a relief organization or charitable event. There is bad in the world, but we all have the power to make it a better place.

    As always, our school counselors are available to assist any child who may have difficulty coping with this disturbing news. There is also a great amount of useful information available online that can assist you in talking with your children about difficult subjects. We want to be a resource for you and your child and are available to assist in any way we can.

    Please know that we take the safety of your children very seriously and we work each day to create a safe, positive environment for all of our students. In closing, I would like to remind you, and please remind your children of this as well, that if you “see something, say something.” If you or your child suspect another individual is exhibiting signs of potentially violent or risky behavior, or you become aware of threats or suspicious/unusual behaviors that could potentially pose a risk to our students or schools, please let the school or law enforcement know immediately. Together, we can work to prevent tragedies and keep our children safe.

    More resources:

    Talking to kids about the shooting http://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/assets/pdfs/talking_to_children_about_the_shooting.pdf

    Talking to kids about tragedies (such as shootings and terror attacks) in the news https://www.schoolcrisiscenter.org/resources/talking-kids-about-tragedies/

    Talking to kids about school shootings (from the American Psychology Assoc.) http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/qf/crisis_qt/APAshooting.pdf

     

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  • Screen Time

    Posted by Randy Squier on 1/27/2018

    “Mom, I want a phone!”  “Turn your phone off at the dinner table!”  These statements are heard on a daily basis in homes across the country.  When to give a child a phone and how much time they should be on it, are questions parents have been grappling with since the first modern smartphones hit stores in 2007.  The right answer to both questions is; there is no right answer.  Every kid is different and every family’s situation is different.

    Many agree that there’s no magic age to give a kid a smartphone. Common Sense Media, a nonprofit focused on kids and technology, says rather than considering the age of a child, focus on maturity. Some questions to consider are:

    1. Are they responsible with their belongings?
    2. Will they follow rules around phone use?
    3. Would having easy access to friends benefit them for social reasons?
    4. And do kids need to be in touch for safety reasons? If so, will an old-fashioned flip phone (like the one Sydney never charged) do the trick?

    Researchers are just now measuring the impact of passive computer and phone screen time as all older research centered on the television.  If your answers to most of these questions is, “yes” then putting some limits on screen time may be warranted:

    1. It is hard for my child to stop using screen media
    2. When my child has had a bad day, screen media seems to be the only thing that helps him/her feel better
    3. My child’s screen media use causes problems for the family
    4. The amount of time my child wants to use screen media keeps increasing
    5. My child sneaks using screen media

    A recent study from Oxford University concluded that caregivers, and their doctors, should do a cost-benefit analysis before “setting firm limits.”  Parents also need to differentiate between passive screen time like social media and YouTube versus using screens for school work.  

    Learn More:

    Deciding at What Age to Give a Kid a Smartphone

    Five Things to Know About Kids and Their Screen Time

    What If Kids Should Be Spending More Time With Screens?

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  • Reading at Home

    Posted by Randy Squier on 1/6/2018

    The more you read, the better you read. The better you read, the more you comprehend. The more you comprehend, the higher the achievement. This volume of reading helps students build important world knowledge and acquire additional vocabulary, both of which are critical for reading comprehension.

    In “one of the most extensive studies of independent reading conducted,” Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding (1988) traced reading growth to independent reading and reading volume. They found that the amount of time students spent in independent reading outside of school was the best predictor of reading achievement.

    Reading for 20 or more minutes at once builds stamina which kids need when they are faced with difficult tasks.  To build a love of reading, it has to be reinforced at home.  Even in our perceived busy lives, we can find 20 minutes each day to read as a family.  Turn off the TV and Facebook and pick up some literature.  Reading is not just about novels.  Non-fiction, magazines, and graphic novels are great sources of fun, engaging material that tweens and teens in particular enjoy.  Parents should look for content, such as; hobbies, sports, fashion,  that interest their kids. Give kids choice in what they read. When kids have ownership of their reading and learning, they tend to persevere and stay engaged longer.  Remember to ask your child to talk about what they are reading and share with them what books or articles you are reading as well.  Avoid offering rewards to them for reading.  We want to build a desire from within to read and adding extrinsic motivations lessens that desire.     

    Both public libraries in Coxsackie and Athens as well as each of our school libraries have great collections of books and other materials for kids to read and the librarians are there to help you. What’s best it’s free.  The next time you take a trip, upload the free app Overdrive(access to many public library collections) onto your phone and listen to an audio-book as a family.

    Easy access to books when on the go:  Free 30 Day trial to Epic:  An online digital library for kids 12 and under.  Link HERE

    Great ideas to make kids love reading:  Link HERE

    Nine ways to Get Teens Reading

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  • Increasing Use of Juuls by students.

    Posted by Randy Squier on 12/23/2017

    This is the first installment of a regular correspondence we will be sending to all parents to help you support your children and to be more informed about issues and trends happening in schools.  Each installment will be brief, and may possibly have links if you want to dive deeper into a topic.

    This Weekend’s Topic:

    Increasing Use of Juuls by students.

    If you don’t know what a juul is or how vaping works, this article provides an overview of what is becoming a concerning trend among teenagers across our nation and here at C-A.  We are seeing a spike in the use of juuls, sometimes called e-cigarettes or vape pens, by students at C-A who use the device to inhale nicotine and marijuana vapers, in and out of school.  The use of these devices is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 and violates our code of conduct when happening on school grounds by anyone regardless of age.  Any student caught possessing one of these devices or using it faces consequences based on our code of conduct as well as possible criminal charges from law enforcement.     

    The district will be hosting an awareness event regarding mental health and drug use on January 4th.  

    Link to article

    https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/12/04/568273801/teenagers-embrace-juul-saying-its-discreet-enough-to-vape-in-class

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