From the Director’s Chair
Dear Upper School Parents,
With only a few remaining days in the school year, I wanted to share some important information and details. In addition to the information below, please be sure to read the Parent Post and consult the school calendar.
If I do not see you in the next few weeks, I hope you and your family have a wonderful summer break.
Summer Courses at Penn Charter
This summer, four courses are being offered to Upper School students. All of these summer courses fulfill Penn Charter graduation requirements. Enrollment for these courses is separate from the 2017-2018 course-planning process.
To enroll in a course, print and complete the registration form for the individual course, provided at the link below, and return the form to Rose Mary Cavalcante in the Upper School office.
You can read all of the necessary information and dates on these summer offerings.
Update: “Religious Pluralism in America” is currently at capacity.
Upper School Year-End Assessments
Upper School year-end assessments will be given from Thursday, June 1, through Wednesday, June 7. Please view the schedule, along with other important details about year-end assessments.
And please be sure to read Karen Campbell’s exam-prep advice, which appears below.
Leading up to year-end assessments, students will have two formal review days.
On Tuesday, May 30:
- Blocks 1 thru 4 will each meet for 80 minutes.
- We will end the day with an assembly.
- The school day will end at 3:15 pm.
On Wednesday, May 31:
Blocks 5 thru 8 will each meet for 80 minutes.
The school day will end at 2:30 pm.
Upper School students will soon be taking final exams. On one hand, this signifies the ending of the school year, which brings great joy since summer fun is just over the horizon. On the other hand, it also can bring a significant increase in stress and anxiety to students and, consequently, parents.
If you are the parent of a ninth grader, and this is the first time your son or daughter will be experiencing finals in this way, we want to provide information to inform you and prepare you to help.
It’s important for you to be present, calm and assertive in helping your child through the next few weeks. With proper preparation, getting ready for finals does not need to be overwhelming. Each student will be receiving review materials for his/her classes as well as a packet of information about study strategies, which they can share with you. Ask your child about what he/she finds helpful in preparing for tests and what concerns him/her most about taking finals. Sometimes just talking through what worries us can put our minds at ease.
The best approach to combat exam angst is to take the time to plot out a solid plan of studying that is manageable, realistic and productive. Here are a few tips to support your child in this process:
- Talk about time. Plan out the rest of the month. Your child should be thinking about the extracurricular activities, study halls, personal appointments and weekend time that they have. Family commitments and social activities should be considered as well. As they assign studying time to their calendar, this would be a great opportunity to speak about the importance of balance and self-care with your child. (And model it, too!)
- Get organized. Your child can gather old tests, quizzes, review sheets and notecards acquired over the year and organize them by subject. Rewriting, prioritizing and correcting work is a great start to the review process. If help is needed, setting a teacher meeting with these documents and questions in tow will be a wonderful use of time.
- Remove distractions. Help your child set him/herself up for success by finding a place at home conducive to studying. Ideally, the bedroom is not the best location for this as the bed becomes too inviting over time! A clutter-free surface with an upright chair work well. Music isn’t necessarily bad if there are no lyrics, and breaks should be encouraged but last no more than 10 minutes. The phone should be out of sight and notifications turned off. Once a studying time is agreed upon, have everyone in the household try to be respectful of this time to support your child. We could all use an hour or so of mandated quiet, right?
- Take good care. Healthy eating, exercise and good sleep cannot be overstated as critical to performance, especially during exam time. Give gentle reminders as the weeks move on to keep your child focused on these points. Help them stick to a nightly ritual that settles their minds and bodies. Have them charge electronics away from reach and view. Screens should be closed at least 20-30 minutes before bed. Even as exam days get closer, don’t let your child stray from the routine.
Be assured that this is a challenging time for everyone. Remain a present, calm and positive force for your child and you too can reap great rewards in the end!
Upper School Learning Specialist
Summer Reading and Summer Math Work
Summer should absolutely be a time for more rest and relaxation (for students and adults!). While we recognize the importance of both in our students’ lives, research also shows that appropriate amounts of mental activity can help stem some of the “summer melt” between school years. Every student will be asked to complete summer reading and math work. We ask that students wait until after year-end assessments have finished to begin their summer work.
The all-Upper-School Read this summer is No Barriers: A Blind Man’s Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon, by Erik Weihenmayer. Erik, who is also the first and only blind person to summit Mt. Everest, came to speak at PC this year. Both students and adults were captivated and inspired by his story and his life’s work. Prior to the end of school, all Upper School students and faculty will be provided with a complimentary copy of this book.
Here are details and instructions on Summer Reading. If you have any questions about summer reading, please contact Nora Landon, chair of our English department.
Here are details and instructions on Summer Math. If you have any questions about summer math, please contact Beth Menzie, chair of our mathematics department.
Important Information for Parents of Seniors
Rose Mary Cavalcante recently sent home a hard copy of this letter, which outlines some of the major events and policies for seniors and parents of seniors as we enter the final few weeks of their tenure at Penn Charter. Please be sure to read this letter in its entirety, and please feel free to contact Rose Mary (email@example.com) with any questions.
2017-18 Course Planning & Teacher Requests
All students in grades 8 through 11 have completed and submitted preliminary course requests for the 2017-2018 school year. Throughout the months of May and June, the administration and department chairs will finalize Upper School staffing, and Sandy Portnoy, the registrar, will build the Upper School schedule based on staffing decisions and student requests for courses. Department chairs and teachers will review student requests for advanced, AP and/or oversubscribed classes to select students for these courses. Please contact department chairs if you have questions about their departmental selection processes for courses. As the process moves forward this spring, we will be in touch with students who need to resolve conflicts and/or select alternative courses to complete their schedules. Please remind your children to check their email on a consistent basis throughout the summer.
As we enter into the scheduling process for next year, please understand that we would be happy to discuss your child’s academic progress this year and your perceptions of what types of teaching styles might best fit your son or daughter’s learning needs. However, we are unable to honor specific teacher requests from parents. (Asking that your child not have a certain teacher also is viewed as one of those requests we cannot grant!) While you act as your child’s advocate, please recognize that we must put together the best academic program possible for 450+ students in the Upper School.
Student schedules and class lists are closely reviewed by department chairs and the Upper School administration to ensure that we are creating the best learning environment possible for all of the students in the Upper School. If you would like to further discuss your child’s specific learning needs and what type of classroom environment might further enhance his or her learning, please e-mail or call Travis Larrabee.
Completing the Activity Requirement for 2016-17
The Upper School activity credit requirements underscore the belief that extensive involvement in the life of the school is an integral part of a student’s Penn Charter education. All students in grades 9 through 12 are required to participate in one sport per year. All students are also required to participate in a second activity, which could be a second sport or a 40-hour activity. Failure to fulfill these requirements is serious. Returning students who do not fulfill their activity requirement will have them automatically added to their activities requirement the next year (and they will not be eligible for extended privileges). Seniors who do not fulfill their activity requirement will have to complete the work over the summer and will not receive a diploma at graduation (because graduation requirements have not been met).
Most students have little difficulty meeting the activity requirement. The sport and 40-hour activities are listed in the Student Handbook. If you have any questions about the status of your child in any of the activities (e.g., how many hours left?), please call Assistant Director of Upper School Catherine Ezzo at ext. 251.
Out-of-School Sport or Activity Credit for 2017-18
In very rare circumstances, Penn Charter will waive all or part of the activity requirement for students who have demonstrated interests so specialized and talents so extraordinary that they cannot be maintained within the context of our program. Weight is given to the requests of older students. In every case, exemptions of any kind are rare. Our goal is to help students find meaningful ways to stay involved in the school, and students and parents will find Penn Charter’s offerings varied and programs flexible. Proposal instructions for the 2017-18 school year may be obtained from Assistant Director of Upper School Catherine Ezzo. Completed proposals for exemption for next school year are due no later than June 1, 2017. If you have questions, please contact Catherine Ezzo at ext. 251.