Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New School Year, No Limits at VMS

As you enter RGCCISD’s Veterans Middle School you would never know it was the first week of school. Everything is calm and in order, and the more than 820 students are busy studying away.

“It’s been going wonderful. The students are so focused and well behaved,” said VMS Principal Maricela O. Garcia. “The transition for the younger students in sixth grade has been going well. They had to learn to follow a schedule and move from class to class, which was a little challenging for a few, but they made it through and are doing really great. And the eighth graders matured a lot over the summer. You can see that they are taking their role very seriously. They know they are the role models for the campus now and some have told me they are very excited about this being their last year before moving on to high school.”

Garcia and her team of about 100 teachers and staff have some specific goals in mind to help their students build a bright academic future.

“As we move further into the year we are looking forward to conquering the STAAR Assessment. We did well last year, but we know we can always do more and do better,” she continued. “Another of our goals is to improve our attendance record for students. We need to help them understand that attendance is very important to their academic success. Every instruction day is critical and they are getting the building blocks they need now to be the professionals and leaders of tomorrow.”

The VMS team is also very focused on getting students ready for the challenges of high school and college, which is apparent by the variety of college posters and pennants hung throughout the school’s hallways and classrooms.

“We are always working on getting our students ready for that high school transition. Our theme for the school year is ‘One team, one goal, no limits,’ which tells our students that their opportunities for the future are bright and limitless,” Garcia explained. “And that feeds into our academic preparation for high school, and eventually college. We are launching a new college-prep vocabulary plan this year, and parents should start seeing an elevation of their students’ vocabulary in the following months. “

The students clearly share in that excitement, demonstrating that they see today as the path to their future.

“It’s been really exciting to start learning new things,” said eighth grader Odaliz Barrera. “My favorite subject is history, and in U.S. History we are already learning about the Mississippi River so it’s been fun. I’m nervous that this is my last year here, but excited at the same time. I’ve been taking AP classes so I hope to earn credits for high school, that’s my big goal for this year.”

While the students are preparing for the first of many homework assignments, quizzes and tests, VMS faculty are preparing to ignite the excitement of learning in their students’ minds.

“The students are very excited and they are optimistic,” said Aime Alvarado, a VMS eighth grade science teacher. “We are looking forward to trying to do as many hands-on activities as possible and I’ve already set up one experiment this week; I made an experimental water shed and the students are seeing science in action. So once enough condensation collects in the water shed cup, I told the students I would drink it. Now they are paying attention because they want to see me drink the water. They are really grasping the concepts about erosion and what it does in the environment.”

Alvarado also shared some tips to help parents ensure their students are getting the most of their time in the classroom.

“Parents can help at home by looking in those homework folders, looking for any notes about materials needed for class or class experiments like mine,” she added. “Look for review information ahead of a quiz and be sure to ask your students about their day at school. Not all students at this age will want to talk with their parents about every detail, but at least make the attempt to ask. And be sure to visit with the teachers; reach out to us and get involved. Don’t be afraid to contact your child’s teacher with questions. Communication is very important and can help your child thrive and that’s what we are here for.”

Photo caption: Students work on a map of the United States in Dilia Garza’s history class at RGCCISD’s Veterans Middle School.

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