• PTSA Newsletter February 2019

    Hello Islander Families:

    Welcome to the new year. Happy 2019. It is hard to imagine that we are finally getting close to 2020. Soon students will complete first semester and they will be selecting new courses for next year’s academic schedule. The following are a few thoughts we have for February’s newsletter.

    Bridges Survey Need Your Input

    Shannon Tapp & Kati McConn are our Bridges Coordinators. They are looking to obtain data for the restructure of Bridges. They are seeking out some in-depth information from our parent community about their knowledge, feelings, and general insights about the program. They are looking for about 25 parents to meet in small groups with student leaders after the midwinter break. They would also like to get as many parents to take the their survey. Students in the DECA program will be leading the discussion. The students will have some basic info and a few questions to get the conversation started, however, they are generally interested in letting the conversation be organic to whatever insights you have. The end goal is an understanding of what you know, would like to know, and hopes for our program. This data, along with our student and staff data, will be taken into consideration to help make decisions about what the restructuring of Bridges will look like. Because this is going to be student-led, they have constraints on the times. They are hoping to do this over the next two weeks, during our 4th period classes. They can be flexible and schedule multiple groups within the time frame.  One-on-one meetings are also a possibility depending on availability.

    Click Here for the survey.   

    Dates: TBD*

    Time: TBD*

    *Information will be sent out via email, please include your email address in the survey.

    Survey Link: https://goo.gl/forms/Pm93CNZck1AyEXzm1

    Contacts: Shannon.Tapp@mercerislandschools.org and Kati.McConn@mercerislandschools.org

    2019-20 Fall Registration for Courses (Next Year)

    Registration for classes will be coming up soon for next year’s 9th – 12th grade. It is very important for students to carefully select the courses they wish to enroll in next year. We build our master schedule of courses around “students’ choices” that they select. We also need students to carefully select their “alternate” courses of choice in the even a course they wish to take is not offered due to low enrollment. We do our best to minimize the conflicts that can occur when a student choses a course that is only offered certain parts of the day. If we do not get enough students enrolled in a course it may be canceled. If this happens we review the student’s alternate choices they selected and place them in the alternate course they selected. For more specific details please don’t hesitate to contact our Counseling Center staff. Registration for next year’s class is now on-line. Please help us by asking your student to register for their classes.

    New Attendance Procedures and Policies

    One focus our entire school district has been focusing on is helping students to reduce absences away from school. Effective January 28, 2019, the Mercer Island School District’s administrative policy and procedure for excusing student absences will be significantly changed. Under the revised Policy 3122 and Procedure 3122, parents or guardians will now have five (5) days to excuse a student’s absence from school effective January 28, 2019. When students miss class it is much harder to make up the work missed in those classes and it requires additional time that many of our students don’t have in their cramped schedules. You can help your student by scheduling appointments around their class schedule so they do not miss classes. We recognize sometimes it is unavoidable.

    The process for excusing student absences will not change. We will continue to ask that parents/guardians provide advanced notice (signed note) for prearranged absences. This helps the attendance staff with managing workflow and tracking students. Additionally, for unexpected absence due to illness and emergencies, please continue excusing these absences by calling or sending in signed note the next day the student returns to school. Again, parents/guardians will have five (5) days from when the student returns to notify the school.

    New Civility Board Policy

    In the past couple of years we have seen an increase in hostile parent/guardian interactions with staff members about individual student matters. We recognize at times there is frustration.

    We ask for the concerns to be discussed in a civil manner. First, concerns about such disputes need to start with a desire to solve the concerns and to help the student to take more of direct role advocating for his/her/their situation.

    Vaping

    Like other high schools we have noticed some of our students taking an interest in unhealthy habits like vaping. Vapes, Juuls, Mods and ECigs are terms used to describe a new electronic nicotine delivery device that has become very popular with youth. These devices consist of a battery, a heating element and cartridges that hold a liquid glycol infused with flavorings, nicotine and in some cases THC (the active chemical in marijuana).  All produce a steam-like vapor that has little odor making vaping more easily concealable by youth. The sleek modern design of vape devices, which often resembles a computer memory stick which is very attractive to teens.

    The 2018 Mercer Island Health Youth Survey revealed that 25% of Mercer Island High School students had tried vaping. This is up from the 6% of MIHS students reporting ever vaping in the 2016 survey. While these results are concerning it is significantly lower than the national average of 36%.

    Given the popularity of the devices it is likely that your youth might be curious about trying vaping. Parents may also be less concerned by what seems like a harmless fad due to media that markets it as “safer” than smoking.

    However, current studies have found several risks associated with vaping:

    • Youth who vape are more likely to use other nicotine products, alcohol and marijuana.
    • Nicotine can have effects on the developing teen brain and lead to addiction.
    • The long term health consequences of inhaling the heated vapors are not fully understood but early studies have found links to respiratory illnesses.

    The Office of the US Surgeon General has created a web page at (https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/) that details the health risks associated with electronic devices and provides parents and teens accurate, fact-based information about the impacts of nicotine use.

    We encourage you to use this information to talk with your youth directly about the risks of vaping. For questions or a confidential consultation, contact MIHS-based YFS Drug and Alcohol Counselor, Chris Harnish, at (206) 236-3363 or chris.harnish@mercerislandschools.org.

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    Vicki Puckett

    Principal