VMS Vibe Online Parent Newsletter

March 2018

Message from the Principal

  • m Third quarter will come to an end on March 28th and we’ll move on to the last leg of our school year. This quarter is typically a tough time of year for our students to stay caught up on work.  We are noticing an increase in the number of students with missing assignments.  As of March 1st, the following number of students had at least one missing assignment:

    • 6th grade – 102 out of 203 total students
    • 7th grade – 93 out of 182 total students
    • 8th grade – 129 out of 188 total students

    Students are given the opportunity to work on missing assignments over the lunch hour in ZAP (Zeros Aren’t Permitted).  Students who are “zapped” go to the front of the lunch line, get their lunch and go to the ZAP room to complete their work with staff assistance. Students are also given the opportunity for remediation or enrichment on Wednesday and Thursday mornings during SOAR (Student Oriented Academic Response).  While ZAP and SOAR are ongoing throughout the school year, we are also trying something new in March.

    In order to motivate students to turn in their work and decrease the number of missing assignments, VMS will have its first-ever Incentive Day on March 23rd.  On that day, we will run the 2-hour early release schedule and students with no missing assignments as of Friday, March 16th will be rewarded with the Incentive Day.  They’ll have the opportunity to sign up for a variety of in-school or walking distance activities such as 8th grade tours of Elk River High School, skating at the ice arena, swimming in our pool, yoga, star lab, break out boxes and much more!  They’ll enjoy these activities during the last two hours of the school day.  Students with one or more missing assignments as of March 16th will not participate in the Incentive Day but instead will work on their missing assignments during that time.  School will be released at the regular time on this day.  Please encourage your student to get all their work completed before March 16th so they can participate in these awesome Incentive Day activities.

    As always, thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to work with your children. We thoroughly appreciate having each and every one of them bless our classrooms. Take care and have a great month!

  • PBIS

    Beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, our staff implemented the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) system. One of the tenets of the program is to look for the positive behaviors our students exhibit and reward them for what they are doing right. We give students positive referrals (positive messages sent home to parents), as well as PRIDE tickets they can turn in for different incentives.

    So far this school year, teachers have written 3,445 positive referrals on our 573 students, and students have also turned in 55,169 PRIDE tickets.  Our goal was to be at 3,500 referrals and 60,000 PRIDE tickets by the end of the year and we are almost there already.  Our students are really knocking it out of the ballpark!  

    In contrast, our behavior referrals are currently at 147, a number that has decreased dramatically since implementation of the PBIS program.  In 2014-15, students had 351 behavior referrals.  In 2013-14, students had 384 behavior referrals.  In 2012-13, students had 494 behavior referrals.

    Research tells us that if we continue to focus on the positive, educate our students on what is expected, and re-teach when necessary, we will continue to have a positive atmosphere for students to learn and thrive at VMS.

    Here’s a more complete summary of how all our behavior numbers look over the past several years.


  • Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) 

    Students will be taking the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments in Math, Reading and Science on the dates listed below.  Tests will be administered in the student's regularly scheduled Math, English and Science classes. Please make sure your student is in attendance on the days they are scheduled to test.

    To ensure that your student has a successful testing experience, please make sure they receive proper rest the night before the test and eat a nutritious breakfast on the day of the test.

    To provide practice test opportunities for your student, click here to utilize MCA Item Samplers.


    Grades 6 & 7 - April 10 - 13

    Grade 8 - April 17 - 20


    Grades 6 & 7 - April 23 - 26

    Grade 8 - April 26 - May 1


    Grade 8 - May 7 - 10

  • February Students of the Week

    Annika Bauer, Cerina Chang, Erin Gannon, Keana Gonzalez, Kylie Jimenez, Kage Johnson, Kendra Lockwood, Eli Rustad, Ella Seidel, Chelsie Thom, Olivia Thomas, Ella Wonser

  • Health Services

    We are in the midst of influenza season (October - April) and there may be times when your child is too ill to attend school. We realize that germs can be spread throughout school and encourage students to practice illness prevention, such as getting a flu shot, covering their cough and utilizing good hand washing practices.

    We discourage texting between students and parents to discuss health issues during the school day.  If your student becomes ill or injured, they should report to the Health Services office for care.  If a student is too ill/injured to remain at school, Health Services will contact you to pick up your child.  If students do not come through Health Services before leaving the building due to illness/injury, their absence may be considered unexcused.

    Please remind your students to get a pass from their teachers when coming to the Health Services Office, unless it is an emergency.  If it's in between classes, they should report to their next class for a pass. 

    For guidelines about when a student should stay home or return to school, please click HERE.


  • Art

    Greetings from the art room! Look at some of the great results from 8th grade painting.  They had a lot of fun! 

  • AVID

    AVID students and families came together for a night at Feed My Starving Children. Thank you to all students, staff and families who supported this great cause. We packed 99 boxes, which equates to 21,384 meals that will feed 58 kids for a full year! 

  • Do you want to join AVID?

    We are currently in the process of recruiting 7th grade students to join the 2018-2019 AVID program here at VMS. You might be wondering what AVID is and who is an AVID student?   

    AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. AVID is a program dedicated to helping students achieve their dreams of going on to higher education after high school. The AVID classroom is made up of students who are in the academic middle; GPA of 2.0-3.5, average to high test scores and most importantly, a desire and determination for learning. An AVID student would likely benefit from learning to stay organized, assistance with work completion, and creating good study habits. 

    If this sounds like a program your child might benefit from, ask them to pick up an application packet in the VandenBerge Counseling Office or from any of the AVID Elective teachers; Michalak, Sears, or Weinhold. Applications are due in the Counseling Office by March 22nd.  Feel free to contact Sarah Weinhold or Dave Crocker with any questions.

    Sarah Weinhold-ext. 2698


    AVID Coordinator

    Dave Crocker- ext. 2631



  • English

    Grade 6 students have been learning what research means by writing a research paper. Please check campus to see how they have been doing!  We are now working on some MCA test taking strategies, like marking the text, to prepare for testing in April.  Students are also learning Greek and Latin root words; ask them to name some for you.  Book donations and book orders are always welcome; this really helps with our classroom library.  Students need to keep up with their reading in order to meet their reading goal by the end of the year.

    Grade 7 students need to continue reading at home - please encourage them to do so on a regular basis! Quarter 3 Reader's Responses are due on Monday, March 26th. The quarter ends on Wednesday, March 26th so there will be no extra time for an extension this quarter. Although we give weekly time in class to read and work on Reader's Responses, reading and working on them during any free time inside and outside of school is necessary to complete the novels and assignments.  Please feel free to contact us if you have a question!

    Grade 8 students are finishing up their Informational Text Unit and preparing themselves for the cross-curricular research paper with their Social Studies class. The students will pick a country to research and learn the foundations to determining credible sources, data collection, in-text citations, and organizing their research into a multi-paragraph research paper. Your child will be receiving a calendar of due dates (click here to see the calendar). Please start conversations with your child about what they are learning from their research and check-in with them about the due dates on the calendar. Feel free to contact your child's Social Studies or English teacher with any questions.

  • Get the FACTS about FACS

    Grade 6 has been spending the past weeks learning about food and kitchen safety, kitchen tools, reading a recipe, and doing math in the kitchen. Students learned about common foodborne bacteria, how to prevent cross contamination and ways to prevent accidents in the kitchen. They learned the proper names of common utensils found in kitchens and the proper ways to measure out wet and dry ingredients. Our most recent topic was explaining the different parts of a recipe, how to double and cut a recipe’s ingredients, and understanding kitchen equivalents and abbreviations. We have now started some food labs where students work in a group to complete their recipe. So far we have done Apple Pie Bites and Chocolate Chip Muffins - YUM!

    Grade 8 has completed their Job Skills Unit and their Financial Literacy Unit. In Job Skills, students learned how to complete a job application, ways to interview for a job, and what happens once you have a job; W-4 and I-9 forms, paychecks, pay periods, and taxes. For their Financial Literacy, students completed an online based scenario project called Banzai. This taught them more about savings/checking accounts, budgeting their money, and navigating a future with credit/debit cards. Currently we are beginning our food labs and just completed the Pancake Lab. Students use their knowledge of what ingredients do and the scientific method to make predictions about what will happen at each step. Students were asked to break down the recipe by combining ingredients in steps and documenting what the pancakes look like, the texture and how they taste.

  • Math

    Students will be getting some extra math practice challenges in March.  These challenges are a good way for students to review the materials they've learned so far this year.  

    Just a reminder that Homework Help is offered EVERY DAY with a math teacher from 7:45 - 8:10.  All students are welcome to come get help with IXL, Study Island and daily homework. Here is the math help schedule:

    Mon: Mrs. Tuholsky RM 131

    Tues:  Mrs. Olsen RM 141

    Wed: Mrs. Beyer RM 111

    Thurs: Mrs. Boyer RM 143

    Fri: Mrs. Burken RM 217

  • Music

    We have an exciting month of music in March!  Please join us for these upcoming performances to hear VMS students perform some amazing music.

    ER Band Jam: March 3rd at 7:00 pm at Elk River High school.  This is a concert for 6th through 12th grade bands.  

    VMS Choir Concert: March 8th at 7:00 pm at VMS.

    A Night of Jazz / Swing Dance:  March 9th at Elk River High School.  High school jazz ensembles from Elk River and surrounding communities will play, as well as the Middle School jazz ensembes from VMS, Salk, and Zimmerman.  In addition to the live music, there will be a silent auction, concessions, and costume contest.  There will also be a large dance floor plus swing dance lessons at 6:00 pm before the live music starts.  Cost of tickets for this event is $10 for adults, $25 for a family, and $6.00 for students/seniors.

    Band Ensemble Night:  March 15th at 6:30 and 7:30 at VMS.

    Thanks for your support!


  • Phy Ed

    Greetings from the Physical Education department! Our PE classes have been busy this year being active and learning about a variety of activities. We are wrapping up our bowling, badminton and winter fitness testing. It has been so fun watching the students improve on their skills and fitness levels due to their hard work in class.

    We are looking forward to starting our swimming unit in March. This is meant to be a fun, introductory unit for students to improve their skills, no matter what their current swimming ability is. We will be working on front crawl, back crawl, sidestroke, breaststroke, front diving, breath control and fun games to play in the pool. The students will need a swimming suit and towel, along with a bag to bring them home each night to dry out. Girls with a bikini will be asked to wear a dark colored t-shirt. Those with a tankini or one piece will not need to wear a t-shirt. 

    Swimming Schedule for March 5 - 16

    Mon/Thurs classes

    1st, 2nd, 5th hour: Girls from Michalak & Hudak 
    3rd & 6th hour: All students from Hudak 

    Tues/Fri classes

    1st & 2nd hour: Girls from Michalak & Hudak 
    3rd, 4th, 5th hour: All students from Hudak 

    Swimming Schedule for March 19 - April 10

    Mon/Thurs classes

    1st, 2nd, 5th hour: Boys from Michalak & Hudak
    3rd hour:  All students from Michalak

    Tues/Fri classes

    1st & 2nd hour: Boys from Michalak & Hudak 
    3rd & 6th hour: All students from Michalak

    Due to class sizes, we would appreciate any parents who can volunteer to come and help supervise in the pool, even an hour or two would help tremendously.  Volunteers are not required to swim but should wear a comfortable, short-sleeved shirt since it is rather warm in the pool area.  Please email Mrs. Hudak at susan.hudak@isd728.org or call 763-241-3450 x2670 if you can help or have any questions.  We look forward to hearing from you!

  • Science

    Grade 6 Physical Science students are currently working on waves with the focus being sound and light waves.  We are working on a lab where students are creating their own songs and are being creative in tinkering with amplitude and frequency.

    Grade 7 Life Science students wrapped up their study on protist and fungi. They are beginning their exploration of simple invertebrates and then will progress to dissections. 

    Grade 8 Earth Science students completed their geology unit.  They have updrafted into the meteorology unit, studying our Minnesota weather, atmosphere and climate.

  • Social Studies

    Grade 6 has started its study of Minnesota and its involvement in the Civil War. Students will be learning about the causes of the Civil War and the impact of slavery, as well as how Minnesotans were one of the first "new" states with volunteers from the Union side.  

    Grade 7 is currently studying the causes, events, and consequences of World War I. Students are seeing how the US went from an isolated country to a world power during the war, and will be seeing how the Treaty of Versailles led to events that caused World War II.

    Grade 8 students are starting the process of writing a research paper. They started by learning about reliable, up-to-date and complete sources of information to prepare them for tackling research of their topics. Thanks to our media specialist, Ms. Yerbich, for helping us achieve this goal! If your student is absent from school, it will be essential that they check Schoology, as well as the hard copy of the calendar, for due dates. This research paper will constitute a large portion their 3rd quarter grade and is due on March 23.

  • World Language

    Third quarter is in full swing for World Language classes!

    Grade 7 has completed their Spanish unit and students are able to state basic facts about Spanish, including being able to have a basic conversation in the language.  We are currently in our French unit and will finish up the quarter with the German unit where students will be taking an imaginary trip to somewhere in the world - how exciting!

    Grade 8 had a special visitor, Grant Hendrickson, come in to teach students about the Ojibwe language and culture. They learned about the significance of the drum and even had an opportunity to play the hand drums!  They finished their Spanish unit and are now able to order a meal from start to finish using only the Spanish language - what an accomplishment!  They are currently working on the French unit and will do some fasion shows in class using the French language.  They'll wrap up the quarter with the German unit.

  • VMS Math Team

    The VandenBerge Math Team competed with 15 others teams in the Lake Region Chapter MATHCOUNTS competition at St. Cloud State University on February 6, 2018.  There were 123 total students at the competition.  The top three teams and top four individuals advance to the state tournament that will be held in Plymouth on March 10th.

    The team from VandenBerge finished in 2nd place and will advance to state as a team.  The team was led by Harper Westgaard at this competition. She finished in 9th place overall.  Peyton Maier, Lindsey Redepenning, and Jordan Bauer finished within a few points of one another, with Peyton being the second highest placing student (25th). Every member of the team finished in the top 40th percentile of all individual competitors at the meet.

    What an awesome team effort! The team has been busy practicing in hopes of a strong showing at the state level.

Contact Us!

  • VMS Office

    Marcia Welch

    Assistant Principal
    Jaime Hilyar

    Attendance Line
    763.241.3555 (24hrs)

    Counseling Dept.

    School Health Clerk
    763.241.3400 x2605

    Vision Transportation

  • Building Hours for Students

    Students are not allowed to enter the building before 7:45 unless they have a scheduled activity with a staff member.  Students remaining in the building after 3:15 must be under the direct supervision of a staff member.  

  • March Food Fight

    ISD 728 schools are having a district-wide "food fight" in March.  Help VMS, and more importantly our community, come out on top!  The competition starts March 1 and runs through March 28.  Students are invited to bring in non-perishable food items or money for the event.  Items will be collected in Rally classes and competition boards will be updated to track our progress against other schools in the district. We will also have our own competition between Rally classes and the winning Rally in each grade will get a donut breakfast!  

  • Assistance with Groceries

    There are resources available for VandenBerge families who are struggling to make ends meet.  One of these resources is a program that is coordinated by the Elk River Women of Today,  who deliver products such as bread, muffins, cookies, etc. to VandenBerge each week.  The products are collected from Coborn's, Cub Foods and Perkins Restaurant.  The food is then distributed to student lockers or you can make arrangements with the School Social Worker to pick up a bag in the main office.  If you are interested in receiving a bag on a weekly basis, please contact Krista Brannan at 763-241-3450 extension 2687.

bread program

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