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Friday Focus 121815

posted Dec 18, 2015, 12:01 PM by Michael Lepene   [ updated Dec 23, 2015, 4:28 AM ]

Frances C. Richmond Middle School

Friday Focus  12/18/2015   

Principal's Corner

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Over the last few weeks of concerts, CodeWeek, a mock trial, and other RMS events we have had the privilege of welcoming you to our school. If you had the opportunity to attend any of these events or activities you were able to witness the learning community and student talent that we enjoy on a daily basis. We hope you'll be back soon! If you have not been at RMS for a visit in a while we hope to see you at an upcoming event or meeting soon. Experiencing school through attending performances, celebrations, and learning exhibitions gives you an insight into the school program you simply can't get from the outside.

In the spirit of experiencing the RMS educational program through the student lens I took a "No Office Day" on Thursday and followed a 7th grade student schedule. Thank you to the teaching staff and students for welcoming me and helping through my day as a middle school student. A special thank you to 7th grader Simon who offered up his schedule. Here are a few highlights of what I experienced:

My 7th Grade Schedule:

Homeroom: We discussed announcements for the day, took attendance (I was a bit late from AM basketball and had a tardy slip), shared some highlights and celebrations, and then headed out for classes.

Period One: Algebra 7. While it has been a while since I last solved Systems of Equations it came back quickly during our all-class review and practice session with Ms. McCarthy. I had a bit of nostalgia using the same TI-82 graphing calculator I had used in high school (when they were a fancy new classroom technology!). 

Period Two: Social Studies 7. Mrs. Nugent led us through an exploration of an interactive map of population change and demographics during the 1800s. We were challenged to identify trends in changes in free and slave groups while also associating those changes with current events in the nation and different states. Our responses were turned in using a GoogleDoc.

Snack: I grabbed some much needed coffee, took a peek at the day's email, and got started on my Algebra homework. 

Period Three: Strings Orchestra. Full confession, this one had me nervous. I didn't play an instrument in school and music was not a favorite for me. Ms. Rommer led us through several engaging and entertaining explorations of Beethoven. The class immediately put me at ease and I was able to (mostly) follow along and learned more in the one period than I could remember from my middle school music classes. I also ended up whistling his "5th Symphony" for the rest of the day.

Periods Four and Five: English 7. Students finished up projects for the first block so I took advantage of the opportunity to finish my Algebra homework and ask a few students about their work. The second block we had a literacy circle discussion of chapter four from "A Christmas Carol" led by Mrs. Wonsavage. We spent 45 minutes in a deep discussion of the characters and themes of the book. I was so impressed with the engagement and participation of the class. They clearly knew the book and had some developed opinions. I tried to get a few words in but mostly enjoyed the analysis and listening to students build on each others ideas. 

Lunch: Enjoyed some lunch and conversation in the cafeteria, then checked in on recess.

Period Six: Science 7. We started class watching a short TedTalk that contained amazing imagery from the macro to the smallest micro. Watching time lapse changes to the planet made it seem like a living organism. Zooming in to look at various materials at the nano level showed a whole new world. Mr. Schluntz then facilitated a quick conversation about what we saw and invited students to think about what the video clip meant to them. Following this warm-up we jumped into reflecting on a recent physical adaptation lab. We thought about the impact of the opposable thumb and then extended the lab experience to other physical or behavioral adaptations and reflecting on how they impact human populations and technologies. I wrote as much as I could in the time we had and submitted the reflection via GoogleDocs.

Period Seven. French 7. First, huge thank you to the French class and Mrs. Grzesitza. I studied Spanish in school so this one was a stretch. With the help of my assigned partner we practiced with using the verb venir and conjugating it for use in conversation. I was thankful for the time to practice in pairs before we shared out in class. I was impressed by the comfort students had with taking risks with pronunciation and use of French. Everyone was especially supportive of my stumbles and attempts.

Period Eight: Study Hall. After a few minutes of finishing up my homework I signed out to the office for the rest of the period.

I thought I would share my experience both to give you a window into the day of a student but also to try and convey my appreciation to all those involved in creating days like this all year long. Our program is a combination of great kids, talented teachers, a carefully designed and reviewed curriculum, and a supportive community. At this time of year I think we can all be thankful for the gifts of learning and education. For me, spending a day as a middle school student immersed in a community of learners was the perfect present.

Have a wonderful winter break and New Year. I hope you can enjoy learning something new!

Michael Lepene 

All School Events and Calendar

Wednesday, December 23 - Begin December Break (No HW)

Monday, January 4 - Return from December Break.

Monday, January 11 - Q3 Elective Arena Scheduling

Friday, January 15 - 7th Grade Field Trip to Hop "Twelfth Night", AM.

RMS Notes and Information

-December Break is a "No-HW Holiday." Students are encouraged to enjoy the time with family and to pursue whatever learning excites them.

-Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our Toys for Tots Drive. The donations will make a big difference for Upper Valley families in need this holiday season.

-A few photos to share from RMS this week:

​Making Ravioli in Foods Class (photo Mr. A)

-Delora Homeroom Pancake Breakfast (photo Mrs. D)

Special Recognition
-Congratulations to all of the participants in this week's 8th grade "Of Mice and Men Mock Trial". The trial required an understanding of the processes of the judicial system: making a statement, gathering evidence, effectively communicating and supporting one's position. Students effectively played all of the roles involved in a trial and juries spent hours in intense deliberations. This culminating assessment more than demonstrated an understanding of the text as well as a host of skills practiced and developed in classes. Thank you to Mr. Ivanoski, Mrs. Haines, Mr. Goodling, Mrs. Wipfler and the entire teaching team for all of the work involved in providing our students with an authentic and engaging assessment of their learning.
Community Calendar and Activities
-A Call to Collect Holiday Styrofoam for Recycling

The Town of Hanover, spurred on by one of our local Lego Robotics clubs, is exploring the possibility of holding a Styrofoam collection event later this winter or spring at our Public Works Facility on Route 120.  We hope to fill a truck with Styrofoam and then take it to a recycling facility in Massachusetts.  Knowing how much Styrofoam we all tend to accumulate throughout the year and particularly over the holidays, please consider holding onto your Styrofoam rather than putting it out with your trash if you have a place you can store it for a few months.  We will be in touch with the community as we work through the logistics for a recycling event and while there is no guarantee we will be able to make this event happen, we hope to do so.  The more Styrofoam we can collect the happier we will be.


In the meantime, thank the RMS Lego Robotics team for coming up with the recommendation and providing us with their initial research on the viability of a Styrofoam collection event.  The Town of Hanover is so happy to hear about sustainability projects like this as they bubble up from Ray, RMS and HHS.  Our kids do really make a difference in the community.


Many thanks and happy holidays to all.

Julia Griffin

Town Manager

-PARENTS' DAY OUT - Marion Cross School 
dayDec 19 10:00am-2:00pm 
Calling parents of kids aged 3-12!  Enjoy a day out (last minute Holiday shopping, anyone?) while RMS 8th graders babysit your children at the Marion Cross School for an afternoon of movie and food fun!  Proceeds support the RMS 8th Grade French Exchange with St. Gaudens, France.
Cost: $
 per child in advance, $
 at the door 
Ticket price includes pizza, juice box, and popcorn.  Checks payable to Dresden Schools Memo: RMS French Exchange Fundraiser.
Register online!! by visiting: include your child’s name, age and any allergies. 
We look forward to seeing you there!
Mme Mills & the RMS French exchange students 

-Circle Up! is a parent-motivated community partnership working to ensure our Hanover/Norwich area community supports safe and healthy development for our children, including reducing the likelihood that they will be hurt by alcohol and other drug misuse.  We believe all parts of our community must work together to establish, monitor, and reinforce healthy norms and behaviors, and work to reduce teen access to alcohol, marijuana, unused medications, and other drugs.  For more information, go to

Circle Up! is building their Listserv to include more Hanover/Norwich/Lyme families.  If you would like to receive Circle Up! news and event information,  please send your name and email address to Angie Leduc (, Drug Free Communities (DFC) Partnership Coordinator at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Expect to receive 2-3 Circle Up! emails a month. 




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