06 October 2015

New Resource for Families

The International Baccalaureate (IB) has created a new resource for parents.  This website is designed to support parents in deepening their understanding about the IB programmes.  Merton Williams is an IB MYP school - this means every student is part of the IB Middle Years Programme.  To explore and learn more, please visit the link below.  

From ibo.org
At the International Baccalaureate (IB), every student’s education is at the centre of all that we do.  Because we share every parent’s commitment to the success of his or her child, we’ve created this page to help parents understand, and to make the most of, the programmes we offer in partnership with IB World Schools.  

02 October 2015

Calling all Volunteers!

Merton Williams is looking for volunteers to supervise our                    Student-of-the-Month Room.
Our staff nominates students for this honor monthly in each grade level. If they are   Responsible, Respectful and Productive and set an example for the other students in the building, these students have the privilege to invite a friend to have lunch with them in the Student-of-the-Month Room. They can relax in a smaller, quieter environment, play pool,                  ping pong and more.
Lunches run from 10:35 until 12:09 daily.  This is a great opportunity to enjoy the company of some of our exemplary students, and your support of this program is great appreciated.
If you are willing to help, please contact Barbara Alessi in the Counseling Office @ 392-1000, Ext. 3192 or at balessi@hilton.k12.ny.us.
Merton Williams thanks you for your support!


The French club and SADD club teamed up to          celebrate International Peace Day which is celebrated around the world on September 21st.   We learned what it's all about:  spreading peace and making a difference!  On September 21st, every year, millions of people around the world recognize the need for peace; there are ceasefires, events and everyone tries to do something to make their family,            community, country, world, a better place.

The members of the French club and SADD club joined together to spread peace and  happiness around the school.  They encouraged everyone to wear blue in honor of peace.  They made posters, decorations, and posted peace pictures and quotes on EVERY student locker in the school!   At lunch time, students school-wide signed a pledge for peace and got their very own "peace tattoo" which spelled out P-E-A-C-E on their fingers.  
Great work kids!!!

From the Counseling Office

Another new year at Merton Williams!  The Counseling Department offers support for students, parents, and teachers. In late September and early October, counselors will be visiting classrooms on each team to introduce ourselves and let students know what services are available.  Individual counseling dealing with academic, personal, career, and social concerns, group counseling, mediations, consult and collaboration with parents and staff are all part of our daily work.

Counseling services are voluntary and confidential.  We encourage you to contact your child’s counselor with any questions or concerns throughout the school year.

Counseling Office Staff:

Mrs. Linda Fortin   ex. 3197   8th Grade Teams Novo and Brio A-L, 7th Grade Teams A-L
Mrs. Maureen Rundle   ex. 3198  8th Grade Teams Novo and Epoch M-Z,  7th Grade Teams  M-Z
Mrs. Beth Letters   ex. 3196  8th Grade Team Epoch  A-L and Team Brio M-Z (Tues., Wed., Thurs.)
Mrs. Kristi Travers  ex. 3095  Discovery & Imagine Teams and assigned students on all other teams
Mrs. Catherine Tortarella  ex. 3195  School Psychologist (Tuesday through Friday)
Mr. Rob Watkins  ex. 3191  Outreach Counselor (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
Ms. Jillian Malley  Counselor Intern ex. 3194 (Mondays. Thursdays, Fridays)
Mr. Ray Manioci   Counselor Intern ex. 3194 (Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays)
Ms. Barbara Alessi Counseling Office Secretary ex. 3192
Ms. Jodie Burns Counseling Office Secretary ex. 3191

30 September 2015

Managing Homework as Middle School Student

As the classwork and homework demands increase, you may find yourself in the evening stress of attempting to balance homework, sports, music, clubs, and social time.  Helping your child plan their week and their evening can pay off in dividends for them as they grow through school and life.  (It will also pay off for you as your child increases their independence – leaving you with more breathing room in the evenings.) Before your child begins their evening homework, encourage a to-do list with times.  This will allow them to plan out all that they would like to accomplish as well as all they need to accomplish.  If they are able to space out their work, include a TV show or screen time, connect with friends and also have some physical activity, they will likely feel much more fulfilled at the end of their evening.  This will also allow you to support the ongoing goal to balance screen time with academics and physical activity.  

29 September 2015

Well done!

As we progress into the second month of school, it is evident that the first day and week jitters have faded.  Students are quite comfortable with their schedules, have mastered their locker combinations and are arriving to classes in a much timelier manner.  While the initial growing pains of a new school year, especially for those students in an entirely new building, can feel overwhelming, time and practice truly do make a world of difference.  Give yourselves a pat on the back for the lessons and practices you have instilled in your child/children to allow them to successfully learn and navigate a new school, a new school year.  They are doing quite well and are growing having figured it out on their own.  

25 September 2015

LIMBS Walk Class of 2020

This upcoming Wednesday, September 30th 2015, your child will be taking part in a walkathon, where the purpose is to raise funds for Limbs International.  The goal of this walkathon is to raise at least $900 which will cover the cost of three prosthetic limbs for people in need.  Over the past couple of weeks, Merton Williams teachers have been infusing Community and Service Learning into the context of their lessons.  Ask your child about these lessons as we’ve seen some real excitement around this! 


On Wednesday morning, students will be walking to the high school track, under adult supervision, where they will continue walking on the track.  Ask your child about the pledge form that they received. They will be encouraging any contributor to use this website à www.tinyurl.com/mwlimbs2015.  After the walk, they will be transported back to Merton Williams by district bussing.   We hope you’ll support us in this endeavor by signing the field trip request form your child will bring home to you and for encouraging them in their service learning activities!

We believe our schools are the heart of the Hilton Community.  For this, we take pride in explicitly teaching students what it means to be passionate about working towards a goal that will have a positive impact on others. 

15 September 2015

News About Apple Devices - Please Read!

Please do not update district Apple devices until further notice
Apple is set to launch its new iOS9 operating system tomorrow, September 15, 2015. While this is very exciting news for Apple users, large scale OS updates can come with bugs in their first release. We want to make sure that our devices are functioning at the highest possible level for our students and staff. As such, we are asking that users refrain from updating their district Apple devices to iOS9 until further notice.
We are also asking that you encourage students not to update their HCSD devices. Because Apple’s new regulations require individual iTunes accounts for students we have limited management of iOS updates through our Mobile Device Management system. Please make an effort to reach out to students and parents and ask them to hold off on updating their HCSD Apple devices until we are sure the update will not impede their education. Thank you.
- See more at: http://www.hilton.k12.ny.us/news/Apple8.htm#sthash.Hj3hk7lO.dpuf

08 September 2015

Day One - A success!

Ask any incoming seventh grader how they are feeling about the start of middle school and they will likely mention two things: 1. Locker, 2. Schedule.  I can assure you - they are all doing well!  I have seen them working and practicing their lockers, finding their way to classes and figuring out the lay of the land.  

Eighth graders confidently moved through the halls, comfortably finding their way around, reconnecting with friends and staff. 

It's been a great day full of smiles, connections and excitement for all of us! 

01 September 2015

Only one week until school begins!

It has been an exciting week with students and families visiting to set-up lockers, checking out room locations, reconnecting with friends and sharing in the anticipation that comes with a new school year.  

Students: We are looking forward to seeing you next week on Tuesday, September 8th!  Be sure to return to your typical school routines, being sure to get plenty of rest, eating healthy foods and packing snack and a water bottle to keep you going during the school day.  Be sure, also, to check through your backpack each day to double check that you have all materials and assignments for homework and the next school day.  

Families: Looking for ways to commemorate the start of the 2015-2016 school year? Check out these ideas from Modern Parents, Messy KidsThe Best Breakfasts for School Brain Power

Wishing you a wonderful Labor Day weekend!  See you soon! 

31 August 2015

1:1 iPad Distribution

Student iPads will be distributed in school beginning September 11, 2015. Please note that a signed Protection Plan enrollment form must be received in order for students to receive an iPad. Protection Plan enrollment forms can be submitted to your child’s math teacher between September 8-10 if they have not been submitted already.

Protection Plan forms were mailed home the week of August 14. If you did not receive one please contact 392-1000 x7022 for assistance. Terms and conditions of the ProtectionPlan and User Agreement can be found on the HCSD 1:1 homepage, found via the first “Helpful Link” on the HCSD website

25 August 2015

Pre-Order School Pictures

If you would like to pre-order your child's school picture, please head to the website below prior to September 17th. Choose the "Order Now" button.  When prompted for the Merton Williams' password, enter: MWMSSPI15.  

School Pictures Inc. Website

Families will also have the opportunity to order after pictures have been taken.   At that point, families will receive an individual password and will be able to view the photo as well as order on-line.  Shipping charges will apply for those ordering after the photos are taken. 

19 August 2015

In the blog post below, a Scholastic.com author shares some of the top fears children have when beginning middle school.  From learning their locker combination and being late for class to worrying about friendships or personal style, this post helps parents find an approach that may help their child face and overcome their worries.  It is helpful for children to know that their families understand and validate their fears while supporting them with practical approaches to move beyond them.  

Click for post: Kids' Biggest Middle School Fears

18 August 2015

Helping your Middle School Child Stay Organized

The anticipation of a new school year is upon us all!  As students enter or continue in middle school, they often struggle to manage their assignments, after school activities, family events and other various appointments and commitments.  

Teaching our children time management is a skill that will support them throughout their life. By helping children lay out their week and understand what is happening in the coming days, they become better able to plan while anticipating how much is expected of them on a given day.  

Seeing a visual of their week, promotes children to become increasingly self-managed while still having support and back-up from an adult. A shared family schedule, posted at home or shared on personal devices, allows students to see more than just their school assignments - which are often what drives their personal agenda throughout the week.  

There are many apps that allow families to share and contribute to common calendars. There are also simple, paper calendars to accomplish the same goal. 

The following apps are popular for family calendar sharing and allow for access on all the child's devices (iPad from school, cell phone, computer, etc...) 

03 August 2015

Blog Transition

As I transition from Village Elementary to Merton Williams Middle School, I will maintain the same blog for families and students.  

All posts prior to this reference Village Elementary School and/or elementary school ideas and topics.  

01 July 2015

Reading All Summer

How are you doing with your summer reading?  At our house the kiddos wax and wane between excitement and enthusiasm for reading to some days where I hear, "Do I have to?" I wish the kids were always eager to grab a book, however, books have some big competition in the summer (sprinklers, popsicles, swimming, camps, friends, bike riding, frog catching, etc...) .  

Here are a few ways I like to motivate the kiddos, ages 7, 12 and 14, to read, listen to reading and talk about books: 

Audio Books
We all listen to the same stories in the car.  It naturally stimulates a discussion.  The more intense the topic, the deeper the discussion.  We use Audible from Amazon as well as several free apps for audio books.  Once the book starts, it's amazing how quiet the car becomes and how engaged they are in the story - often begging me to wait to turn off the car as they want to hear, "just the next part!" 

I also sneak in content books to build their knowledge for upcoming school work - lots of historical fiction, classic literature, non-fiction, and self-help type books.  Over the past year, we have listened to: 10% Happier by Dan Harris, Of Mice and Men* by John Steinbeck , The Traveler's Gift and The Noticer by Andy Andrews, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The Giver by Lois Lowry, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Great Gatsby* by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and I Have Lived a Thousand Years by Livia Bitton-Jackson.  *I censored parts for my youngest daughter or only played when she wasn't in the car.    

While we drive eight hours to our camping destination this weekend, we will listen to World Without End by Ken Follett (a little precursor to ninth grade Social Studies for my son).  On the way home, we will revisit the Harry Potter series.  My youngest has not yet experienced the books and in the blog post I reference below, the narration is supposed to be fabulous.  

As you can see, we pack a lot of books into just trips to and from sports, school, weekend camping trips, visits to family, etc... Audio books allow the kids to experience books at a much more rigorous level than they might approach on their own while also taking advantage of time we have while being in the car.  

Reading Aloud
Regardless of age, just like with an audio book, kiddos love listening to stories.  I am currently reading The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm to Caroline. Reading aloud to your kids is a great way to recapture the awesome feeling we all have during One School, One Book reads.  

Take advantage of the air conditioning, variety of reading sources and freedom to explore as many titles, magazines, audio books that they can get their hands on!    

You and your children can easily look for new books based on your ratings of other books. Goodreads links with online bookstores and reading apps, allowing you to flow effortlessly between their site and others.  You can rate books as far back as you can remember - the more you rate, the more accurate the predictions become.  If you are anything like me, the list of books you want to read far outweighs what you can actually manage.  Goodreads allows you to keep a list of books you "want to read" as well   

Resources you may find useful for the summer: 

Audible by Amazon  Thirty day free trial!

Audiobooks Thousands of free audio books! 

Kindle for Android or Kindle for iTunes  Free eBooks / audio books and free rentals!

Oxford Owl Hundreds of fee books for children!

Goodreads' Best FREE Kindle Ebooks for Children 184 FREE books for children!

Goodread's Best Middle Grade & Children's Best books from 2014 - reader reviews included!

Smashwords Free eBooks for children, teens and adults!

Blog post by Shannon Younger encouraging parents to use summer as a time to make their children better readers: Expert Tips to Make Your Child a Better Reader

29 June 2015

Teaching Resilience to Our Children

I like this kidspot.com/au post from Michael Grose, expert writer on many parenting topics.  Michael provides us with a variety of approaches to help support our children when they are faced with challenges - big or small.  

Kidspot: Grose explains how children and adults in resilient families tune into each other's needs, choosing situation-specific language, rather than simply regurgitating generalised ‘feel good’ or ‘get on with it’ platitudes.

10 phrases you hear in resilient families: are you using them?

16 June 2015

In this Washington Post article from Amy Joyce, I enjoyed the reinforcing reasons to raise children to be kind.  Joyce, who runs the Make Caring Common project, details not only her rationale for kindness being the most important value, but, also a variety of ideas to try with your child to help them put kindness before all else.  What a great list of ideas to practice with our children during our summer months.  

Are you raising nice kids? A Harvard psychologist gives 5 ways to raise them to be kind

04 June 2015

Knitting with their Arms!

Students in fifth and sixth grade learned how to knit - with their arms!  Betsy Reigle taught two Lunch 'n Learn sessions about arm knitting.  The students had a great time and each walked away with a brand new scarf!

Thank you, Mrs. Reigle!

27 May 2015

Parent Toolkit Video Series

Summer recess is a time for children to relax and play.  While summer is the time for vacations and fun, it can also be a time for kids to lose valuable math and reading skills they have acquired during the school year.  Sometimes, getting children up and outside to play actively can be a challenge in the summer.  This video series provides a quick look at several ideas for families to keep kids active, healthy and learning over the summer - all while doing what you have planned anyway!  
Summer Video Series from ParentToolkit.com

Video topics include: 
3 Steps to Summer Success
Road Trip Tips
What's the Deal with Sunscreen? 
Keeping Kids Active

Ride a Fire Truck to School Video Contest - Entries Due October 9

The Hilton Fire Department is offering students a chance to win a ride to school on a fire truck by submitting a home fire escape plan video.

Students in grades 3-6 are eligible to participate. The videos will be judged by the Hilton Fire Prevention Committee and one winner from each grade will be announced at the annual Hilton Fire
Department Open House on October 4, 2015.

All contest videos must be submitted no later than Friday, October 9, 2015.  When submitting your video please include your child's name, teacher's name, school, and grade your child will be in for the 2015-16 school year. All submitted videos will be played for the public at the October 14th open house and shared with students in class.

For more information and an entry form visit the Cadet Tech Blog:

26 May 2015

Parlez-vous Français?

We enjoyed learning how to speak French in our Lunch 'n Learn today!  Sue Skaryczinski taught kindergarten, first and second graders how to count, say hello and thank you in French. The students also learned which countries in the world speak French. 

Thank you, Ms. Skaryczinski

Would you like to share a passion, hobby, skill, talent, knowledge or any other idea with us?  Please contact the main office to get on our 2015-2016 Lunch 'n Learn schedule!