Saturday, September 2, 2017

Welcome to the 2017-2018 School Year!!

Southside Families-

Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year!  We are looking forward to welcoming our students back to the building, as we are excited to start a productive and innovative school year. 

The purpose of this letter is to share some exciting updates on our master schedule, second chance breakfast, advisory, lunch, Southside Reads (silent sustained reading), PBIS and RtI with our families.  We are reaching out to share this information as we feel it is important to provide each of you with a solid understanding of the improvements we have made to our master schedule and components of our day. 

Why did we make these improvements?  Our teacher leadership teams have been working hard to review student work, grades and feedback from our school community.  This information was used to better understand our strengths and areas for growth in the coming school year.  In addition to recognizing our areas for growth we sought to find opportunities to refine and improve on our current systems.  What does this mean? 

Southside Middle School is positioned to have a remarkable year.

First Day – Tuesday 9/1/17

On the first day students will meet in our lower front lot.  Our staff will be out to assist with any questions our students may have as they start their first day.  Please be mindful of the street signs for drop-off and pick-up.  Our School Resource Officer (SRO) will be out to direct traffic. 

At 7:30 AM we will welcome our students into the school in the following manner:
·      Grade 6 will go first and head into the gym
·      Grade 7 will enter second and report to the library.
·      Grade 8 will head in once grades 6 and 7 are in the building.  Our 8th graders will head to the café.

Our students will be meet in their respective locations by the team teachers who will provide the team assignments.  Once the team assignments are completed our students will be following their daily schedule.  Our staff will be available throughout the day to answer questions and to provide any help navigating the day. 

Master Schedule

            The Scheduling Leadership team reviewed our 2016-2017 schedule, data and feedback from our students, staff and families.  In the end this team proposed a master schedule that allows for an innovative way to meet our current student needs.  Our schedule has reduced the amount of transitions throughout the building while increasing time on learning.  Our schedule allows for an Advisory Block, Southside Reads, RtI and Grade Level Lunches.  While our teachers will continue to teach the same amount of minutes during the school day, we have purposed each minute to maximize time on learning.  The new schedule gives our teachers the multiple opportunities within the day to provide intervention and extension opportunities for our students.

·      If you ever have a question on your student’s schedule please reach out to one of the team teachers, guidance or administration so we can assist you!

Second Chance Breakfast

We understand everyone performs better when they have proper nutrition.  Over the past school year we have noticed students can be rushed in the morning and often skip breakfast.  In order to provide an opportunity to meet the nutritional need of our students we have added a Second Chance Breakfast program into our Advisory Block.  This program will allow a second opportunity for our students to have breakfast.  Our advisory teachers will have rosters available for students to sign-up for their second chance breakfast.  Once students sign up for a second chance breakfast the amazing café crew will prep the totes with the ordered breakfast items for delivery to the team/advisory locations.  We are excited to be able to provide this program for our students!

·      The prices for the year are as follows: Breakfast at all grade levels is $1.30 and reduced price is $.30. All milk purchased without a meal will cost $.50. 


This will be our second school year with an Advisory Block in our master schedule.  The purpose of this block is to provide an opportunity for small groups to work together on social skills development, a major area for middle school development.  The advisory block will include a daily lesson on character development along with small group discussions within the advisory.  While we are in year two of the adoption of Advisory we are looking forward to the addition of the Second Chance Breakfast to our Advisory.

Grade Level Lunch

We are very pleased to announce the addition of Grade Level Lunches for the coming year.  Our students have asked for the opportunity to have lunch as a grade level and we have been able to build this student request into our daily schedule!  Students will have 28 minute Grade Level Lunches in the coming year.  In addition to the Grade Level Lunches our students have been instrumental in the development of our café menu.  We are looking forward to the continued partnership of the café staff with our student leadership groups – their combined work to date has been key to our breakfast and lunch programs.  If you are curious about a typical Southside lunch – click the link to watch our very own Mrs. Levesque as she shared our Southside Stuffed Chicken on WMUR Cook’s Corner! 

·      Lunch Prices for the year are as follows: Middle/high school lunch meal is $2.55. The reduced meal price is $.40.
·      You have the option of monitoring transactions and loading your student’s account by using the following website:

Southside Reads (Silent Sustained Reading – SSR)

Our RtI leadership team noticed an area for growth in the area of reading.  In order to better support our students we have incorporated Southside Reads otherwise known as Silent Sustained Reading (SSR) into our daily schedule.  This block will allow every student a 17-minute reading period in order to read a book, magazine or article of his or her choice.  In addition we have added a Reading Teacher to our staff that will allow for assistance with selecting reading materials and/or assist a struggling reader.  We believe that incorporating reading into our school day will enable our teams to model reading for both purpose and pleasure.

·      Please feel free to assist your student with selecting books or materials outside of school.  If you ever have a question on reading level or options please reach out to the team teachers, guidance, media specialist or administration so we can help.  We hold two book fairs during the year.  We will post the dates once they are secured.


Our PBIS leadership team has developed and refined rollouts in order to share the Spartan Pride expected behaviors in the following areas of our school:  Hallway, Café, Bathroom, Classroom and Arrival/Departure areas.  In addition, rolls-outs address our dress code, code of conduct and active test taking as a means to help our students perform to their highest during our school day.  We believe clear expectations allow for a reduction in confusion and/or off task or inappropriate behavior drawing away time from those who are invested in their learning opportunities at Southside. The rollouts are combined with celebration assemblies so we can recognize the achievements of our students, teams and staff throughout the school year.
Over the past year cellphones became a major distraction in our school.  In order to maintain an orderly building and reduce distracting behaviors we will use the following plan:  Students should have their cell phones safely stored during the school day as outlined in the student handbook.  The only exception to this plan is when a teacher has an academic connection for the use of a cell phone in a class.  These exceptions will be under teacher direction and will have a direct academic link. 
As always, if a student needs to use a phone to contact home they can use their cell phone in the main office and/or use a school phone.  If you have the need to dismiss your student from school please send in a note.  Your notes allow us to provide students with a dismissal slip, which in turn reduces the need to disrupt the classroom environment with a phone call from the office for a dismissal.

·      Please take a moment to review your student’s agenda as it contains the code of conduct, student handbook and an agenda for the year.  Many questions, resources and/or policies can be found in this valuable agenda. 
·      We look forward to partnering with you as we work with our students in the coming year!

Response to Intervention (RtI). 

Our RtI leadership team has completed an in-depth review of our student data in order to understand how to best meet our student needs.  Throughout the year we review student attendance, behavior and academics as a means to support student growth within our school.  This leadership team understands learning is individual and strives to meet each student at their current level while also setting high expectations for growth.  Our RtI leadership team works hand in hand with our team and UA teachers to provide data to guide instructional decisions in the classroom.  This partnership allows our staff the ability to understand areas for growth, remediation and extension for all of our students. 
            We also offer after school help days to support our students in their learning.  If you note your student is experiencing difficulty in a course, please talk with the teacher, guidance or administration and have your student attend an after school help session(s).  We are here to help and guide your student through their academic journey. 

·      The after school dates are available on our webpage(s).
·      If you ever have a question on our RtI or after school help program please reach out to the team teachers, guidance or administration so we can help secure a schedule of support for your student.  In the past we have had low attendance for this program – we are hopeful to increase student attendance this year as a means to continue the learning opportunities for our students.

Open House – September 26, 2017

            We will hold our fall open house on Tuesday September 26, 2017.  We are looking forward to welcoming you into our school to learn more about Southside and from the Teams.

·      5:00-6:00 – 6th Grade families are invited to listen to opening remarks from the administrative team, UA teachers and visit our team locations.
·      5:30-8:00 – Community Forum in the Gym.  This will be our second year facilitating this forum for our community.  The purpose of the forum is to share community resources and information as we have many amazing community partners ready to work with you and your student.  In the past our PSG (including Spirit Wear sales), the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Bring It, Our Food Services Crew and 21st Century have been available to answer questions and provide registration materials.
·      7:00 – 8:00 – 7th and 8th Grade families are invited to listen to opening remarks from the administrative team, UA teachers and visit our team locations.

Thank you for taking the time to review this information, as we are hopeful the information contained can serve as a guide/resource in the days ahead.  Again, we are looking forward to our partnership with you as we strive to provide every opportunity for our students to grow and achieve in the coming year. 

Welcome to Southside for the 2017-2018 school year!


Jennifer Gillis

Proud Principal of Southside Middle School

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