Hello again and welcome to the start of the 2014-2015 school year! I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend after a great first week of school. As we prepare to start Week Two tomorrow, here is this year's first "Weekly Bridge" update. At Stanbridge, we strive to maintain strong communications between school and home to keep you plugged-in and informed as the school year goes on. Once again, we will be sending out a Weekly Bridge email and blog post to ensure you are always up-to-speed on what is happening at school. With a busy first month ahead of us, there is plenty to cover as we start things off this year, so without further ado, here are the latest news and notes from Stanbridge:
• It was great to see so many Stanbridge families at our Back to School picnic last weekend, and we had a strong turnout at Monday's SPA coffee social. The network of families at Stanbridge is the backbone of what makes our school such a special place. We have a number of new families this year, and I invite all of our parents and guardians--new and old--to join us for the September Stanbridge Parents Association (SPA) meeting this Wednesday morning at 8:30 on campus in Hayden Hall. The SPA group meets on the first Wednesday morning of each month to coordinate, plan, and organize upcoming school events, as well as discuss trends and topics important to our student/family population. Previous SPA meetings have featured discussions with school counselors, outside guest speakers, and parents of Stanbridge graduates. With a full year of events and activities ahead of us--everything from school dances, community service projects, book fairs and fundraisers--this week's SPA meeting provides a great opportunity for you to get involved in the Stanbridge Community; I hope you are able to join us.
• If you are unable to join us for this month's SPA meeting, don't worry. The SPA group maintains the SPA Spot page on our school website and you can always check their page for important news and updates, including minutes from the monthly meetings, calendar updates, and links to the SPA Yahoo! group and Facebook page. Because the information on the SPA Spot page occasionally features personal contact information (such as email addresses or home phone numbers), the page is password-protected behind our "Parent Portal," which can only be accessed by Stanbridge families. The portal's password is included in the email version of the "Weekly Bridge" update, and you can always contact our main office or webmaster if you cannot access the content.
• Regarding our website, we are still in the midst of updating our website for the new school year. Site maintenance will be completed for Back to School Night on Wednesday, Sept. 10, but some pages are already up and running. On the Files and Forms page in the Parent Portal section, we've posted updated links to the 2014-2015 school calendar, the SPA events calendar, and the updated 2014-2015 Parent/Guardian Handbook. Additionally, there are downloadable versions of the required handbook verification and acceptable use policy forms. If you have not already submitted these forms to the main office, please ensure you return them this week, along with any other paperwork from the summer mailing that may still be outstanding (i.e.--emergency contact card, photo release form, etc.). If you have any questions about the paperwork or need additional copies of forms, please contact Susan or Maggie in our main office.
• Also on the Files & Forms page is an order form for "Bulldog Wear." The reports are in from Paris Fashion Week and bulldogs are in this year! You can select child or adult sizes for t-shirts, pullover sweatshirts or zip front sweatshirts. Your item will come with the Stanbridge logo on the left breast and the back will have the Bulldog logo. You can pick up an order form in the main office or download one from our Files & Forms page. Checks should be made out to "Stanbridge Academy" and submitted to the main office with your order form by September 17th. Click over to the Files & Forms page for additional information, including contact details for questions about your oder.
• Parents and guardians of new students in our upper elementary, junior high, and high school divisions should have received email invitations to sign-in to QuickSchools last week. QuickSchools is an online school management program that we use for various administrative tasks, such as tracking attendance and generating quarterly report cards. You can get an idea of how QuickSchools works and some of its features by watching this short video. Full details of how Stanbridge teachers, students, and families can use QuickSchools will be explained at Back to School Night, but the short answer is that teachers and students have access to QuickSchools as a way to post and keep track of homework. The email new families received invites you to create a parent account, which you can use to view homework assignments, check attendance status, update contact information and more. Parents and guardians who used QuickSchools last year can login using their username and password from last year (if you don't remember your password, click the "Forgot Your Password?" link on the QS sign-in page). We are still updating information for students in the middle el and lower el divisions, and their QS accounts will be ready later this week.
• The first round of overnight experiential trips will take place the week of September 21. Our high school seniors will spending the full week at Yosemite, while the HS underclassmen will be visiting NatureBridge at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Shorter overnight stays are planned for students in junior high (Web of Life Field School), and middle & upper el (Westminster Woods). All necessary permission/release forms and packing lists will be sent home soon, as well as posted on the Files & Forms page.
• Coming up before the trips, however, will be our annual fall reading and math assessments. Taken at the beginning and end of each school year, the assessments help us track student growth and progress in these core academic areas. More information about the assessments will be provided at Back to School Night, and once dates are finalized, we will announce them in the Weekly Bridge and on the Bridge Blog.
• Many students and parents have already been asking about afterschool clubs. This year, we will be starting clubs at the end of September, after all students have returned from their Fall experiential trips. Club offerings will be announced and sign-up forms distributed at Back to School Night, along with details about the basketball and hockey teams, and afterschool swimming lessons at the San Mateo YMCA.
• And since we're talking about upcoming events on the calendar, please flip ahead to November and save the date: On Saturday, November 15th, Stanbridge will host our Fall Gala--a dinner dance and silent auction that brings together Stanbridge families, friends, alumni and staff. This event debuted last year and was a runaway success. We are looking forward to making this year's gala even bigger and better, and hope you will join us for another memorable night. More information will be forthcoming at Wednesday's SPA meeting and next week's Back to School Night.
• Are you sensing a theme that a lot will be covered at Back to School Night? You'd be correct in that assumption. Back to School Night will be held on campus at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, September 10th. I highly encourage you to attend this event, as we will be covering many of the topics mentioned above in greater depth. Back to School Night also gives you the oppotunity to meet all of your student's teachers and hear them talk about their class curriculum, academic goals, homework policies, and more. A not-to-be-missed event at the start of every school year, I hope you are able to attend.
In the meantime, we will continue to provide information every weekend via the Weekly Bridge update, and we will post important updates throughout the week on our website's Bridge Blog. The blog is not password-protected and provides a quick, easy way to stay informed (it's especially convenient if you are using your smartphone or tablet). The blog provides a way to post important information immediately, as opposed to waiting until the weekend, so be sure to check it throughout the week, especially during these first few hectic weeks of the new school year.
Things got off to a fantastic start last week and I'm really looking forward to the year ahead. Hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend. See you back at school tomorrow!