VMS Vibe Online Parent Newsletter

February 2020

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    Message from the Principal

    Greetings! We are in the home stretch of winter and will soon be in the home stretch of our school year. It always amazes me how fast the time goes.

    I want to share with you some of the positive data we have collected about our students so far this year. In 2012-2013, our staff implemented the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports system (PBIS). One of the tenets of the program is to look for the positive behaviors our students exhibit and reward students for what they are doing right. We give students positive referrals (positive messages sent home to parents) as well as PRIDE tickets that students can turn in for different incentives.

    To date, teachers have written 2,577 positive referrals on our 570 students. Our goal is 4,000 for the year. Our students have also turned in 65,955 PRIDE tickets for a variety of incentives. Our goal is 80,000 by the end of the year, so they are well on their way to meeting that goal. 

    In contrast, our behavior referrals are currently at 341. Since implementing the PBIS program, our behavior referrals have decreased dramatically from a high of 736. Research tells us that by continuing to focus on the positive, educating the students on what is expected and re-teaching when necessary, we will continue to have a positive atmosphere for students to learn and thrive.


    On February 13, we asked students to complete a voluntary survey on Schoology regarding school safety. Students were asked to rate the statement “I feel safe at school” to which 94% agreed or strongly agreed. The places they feel most safe are the classrooms, media center, and cafeteria. We also asked students if they know where to report bullying or harassment at VandenBerge and 93.5% said yes.

    Through the survey, we found areas where we can work on improving our supervision or procedures, such as the hallways and during open gym. Our Principal’s Student Advisory Group also had some wonderful suggestions that we will share with our VMS Site Council and staff to determine what we can implement to improve the safety and security for VMS students.

    Spring conferences will be Thursday, March 5 from 4:00 to 7:00 and Thursday, April 16 from 4:00 to 7:00. Conferences are an important time for teachers to connect with parents/guardians and share information about their student. I look forward to seeing you at conferences!

  • Students Recognized by Elk River City Council

    At the February 18th City Council meeting, two special Elk River students from VandenBerge Middle School, Gabriella Tobin and Elena Rangel, were recognized following a statewide essay contest by the League of Minnesota Cities. (LMC).

    Every fall, the LMC puts out a call for submissions in a “Mayor for a Day” student essay contest. Young people are challenged to think about the variety of services cities provide that make a community great (parks and recreation, street maintenance, police and fire service, etc.) and to explain how they’d enhance those programs/services if they were "Mayor for a Day" (see attached winning essays).

    More than 300 students statewide submitted essays and two Elk River students were selected for recognition in the January 2020 Minnesota Cities magazine for their creativity, originality and innovate thinking. Gabriella Tobin, a sixth grader from VandenBerge Middle School was one of the three published essays in the magazine. Elena Rangel, also a sixth grader at VandenBerge, was awarded honorable mention in the publication.

    In the 2018 “Mayor for a Day” essay contest two Elk River students were honored for their essays, and we’re very pleased to have Gabriella and Elena continue this tradition of innovative young thinkers and talented writers in this statewide competition!

    Congratulations Gabriella and Elena!


  • 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 mark your calendar and do your best to ensure your student is at school on the testing dates. If you are aware your student will be absent, please contact the VandenBerge Counseling Office so we can make alternate testing arrangements.


    To ensure that your student has a successful testing experience, please help us with the following reminders:

    • Ensure your student's Chromebook is fully charged as it will be used for testing.
    • Provide your student with wired headphones - no bluetooth headphones are allowed.
    • Remind students they are not allowed to have phones or wearable technology (Apple Watch, FitBit, etc) in the testing rooms and to leave these items at home or in their locker.
    • Encourage your student to get a good nights sleep and feed them a nutritious breakfast.

    Resources to prepare your child for the MCAs can be found by clicking the following links:  MCA TipsStudent Tutorialsor Item Samplers.  In addition, your child’s teacher will be providing students with information to help them do their best on their tests.

  • Powder Ridge Field Trip

    Students and staff had a great time on a beautiful day at Powder Ridge on February 6th. Skiing, snowboarding, tubing and chalet games provided a fun-filled day for all! 

  • Students of the Week

    Congratulations to our February Students of the Week!

    Ella Beltrand, Prince Ben, Austin Christian, Dylan Durfee, Arionna Engberg, Maria Estrada, Grace Gilbertson, Kaden Hansen-Valppu, Carly Humphrey, Emme Jorgenson, Gracie Karnitz, Andrew Miller

  • From the Health Office....


  • AVID

    Our AVID students are working hard on completing grade checks/binder checks, which helps them stay organized and assists them in communicating with their teacher about grades and assignments. 7th and 8th grade AVID students are working with tutors in their tutorials groups to help with questions from homework, tests, and notes that may be confusing for them.

    We currently have a full program here at VMS and are excited to see growth in our students as the year continues to progress!

    If you have any questions about AVID, please contact the AVID coordinator at sarah.weinhold@isd728.org

  • English

    Grade 6 students have been working through nonfiction units in class. They learned the different text structures of nonfiction texts, how an author’s purpose can change depending on the intention of the author, and found great evidence to support claims in texts. Students are still working on independent novel reading and completing a variety of different responses to reading. Please continue to encourage reading at home!

    Grade 8 thanks all the parents who were able to attend the College Fair last month - it was a great success! Students are currently working on MN standards surrounding Informational Text. Students will be starting a research paper that is cross-curricular with their Social Studies class. The subjects team up and provide students with a thorough researching unit to develop their writing and researching skills. The research paper is due March 20th. Please continue to check Schoology and Parent Portal for updates on grades and assignments.

  • Math

    Greetings from the Math Department! 

    Grade 6 students are finishing algebra and starting the geometry unit. 6th grade geometry focuses on special angles, 2D and 3D shapes.

    Grade 7 students are finishing percentages and starting graphing and equations. 

    Grade 8 students are working on graphing linear equations using slope-intercept form. 

    Students typically have daily practice to work on the skills taught in class that day. Please use Schoology to keep up-to-date on assignments. Daily work should be completed in FOCUS! Students are expected to show their work and correct any mistakes made to demonstrate mastery. If you have any questions about daily practice or class expectations, feel free to contact your child’s math teacher.

    We have been stressing quality practice all year. We want to do whatever we can to help make sure students are truly Math Masters of the current Grade-Level Standards so they can move on to next year feeling comfortable, confident, and ready to be successful.  In March, students will have IXL review topics to complete. In April, students will complete skills quizzes. 

    Math Help is available most days before school.  Please encourage your student to take advantage of this extra time with a math teacher.


  • Music

    Jazz Swing Night

    Friday, March 6 at Elk River High School from 6:00 - 8:00, Doors Open at 5:30

    The VMS Jazz Band will be performing at 6:45!

    Free Swing Dance lessons begin at 6:00. 

    Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Performers are free!

    VMS Choir Concert:

    Thursday, March 12 at VandenBerge at 7:00

    6th, 7th, and 8th Grade

    Band Ensemble Night

    Tuesday, March 17 at VandenBerge at 6:30 and 7:45

    Students will perform in small groups for this performance.

    Grade 6 will perform in the Cafeteria, Grade 7 in the Band Room, and Grade 8 in the Choir Room

    Students will either perform in the 6:30 time slot or the 7:45 time slot.

    The Jazz Band will perform in between sessions at 7:15 in the Cafeteria. 

    Mark your calendar

    Spring Choir Concert - May 12

    Spring Band Concert - May 21

  • Phy Ed

    Greetings from the VandenBerge PE teachers!

    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 level is. We will be working on front crawl, back crawl, sidestroke, breaststroke, front diving, breath control and fun games to play in the pool. Students not comfortable in the deep water will stay in the shallow water.

    The PE swimming schedule will be as follows:

    March 13 - 26:

    • 1st hour (even and odd days): Girls from Michalak and Hudak classes
    • 2nd hour (even day): Girls from Michalak and Hudak classes
    • 2nd hour (odd day): All students from Hudak classes
    • 3rd - 6th hour (even and odd days):  All students from Hudak classes

    March 30 - April 15:

    • 1st hour (even and odd days): Boys from Michalak and Hudak classes
    • 2nd hour (even day): Boys from Michalak and Hudak classes
    • 2nd hour (odd day): All students form Michalak classes
    • 3rd - 6th hour (even and odd days):  All students from Michalak classes

    Students will need a swimming suit, towel, shampoo/conditioner (if desired), and a bag to bring things home in each night to dry out. Girls with a bikini must wear a dark colored t-shirt over the bikini. Those with a tankini or one-piece suit will not need to wear a t-shirt. Nose plugs are not allowed but earplugs are allowed. 

    If a student is not able to participate in the swimming unit, we need a Dr. note excusing them from the unit.  If they need to be excused just for a day or two, they will need a parent note excusing them and will participate on the deck with different exercises. 

    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 walk back and forth on the deck and keep eyes on the students while Mrs. Hudak is teaching, they are not required to swim. Volunteers should wear a comfortable, short-sleeved shirt since it is rather warm in the pool area. A current background check is required to volunteer.

    Please email Mrs. Hudak at susan.hudak@isd728.org or call 763-241-3400 x2670 if you can help or have any questions. We look forward to hearing from you!

  • Science

    Grade 6 is working on Energy Transformation which includes temperatures and various types of energy such as electrical, chemical, mechanical and kinetic vs. potential.

    Grade 7 is starting a unit about plants, the difference in plants and their reproduction.

    Grade 8 is storming into weather, such as what causes wind, the uneven heating of the earth, and how much oxygen is in our atmosphere.

  • Social Studies

    Grade 6 students recently completed a unit on the development of the Minnesota Territory in the 1850's. This built on an earlier unit in which students learned about treaty negotiations and land deals between Minnesota's American Indians and the United States Government. Students learned about the rapid growth of the Minnesota Territory throughout the 1850's and created their own recruitment poster, brochure, or letter.  Students are currently learning about the U.S. Civil War and Minnesota's contribution to one of the most important events in our nation's history.

    Grade 7 students are finishing a unit on WW I, with a focus on how America became involved in the conflict. Students are completing a playlist with options for what activities they want to complete to demonstrate their learning. A WW I test will be given on March 2nd. Moving forward, students will be studying the "Roaring Twenties", which will include a research paper on a personality from the time period. Watch for more information about this project in the next few weeks.

    Grade 8 students are starting a cross curricular research paper with the English department. Students will have a choice of topics/issues related to the United States. This paper will take us through the last week of the quarter and will be due on March 20th. Students have a calendar that breaks the paper down into sections with specific due dates. Please ask your student to see the calendar or you can see a copy in Schoology. 

  • Yearbooks

    Have you ordered your yearbook? Yearbooks are $30 and will be available until we sell out. 

    Visit  www.jostens.com and search for VandenBerge. Click "2020 Yearbook” to view products and add them to your cart.  Check out online and be sure to enter your email address so you get a receipt for your purchase.  Yearbooks will be delivered to school in the spring. 

    Please contact Morgen Schultz (morgen.schultz@isd728.org) if you have any questions about yearbooks.

    Thank you!

Contact Us!

  • VMS Main Office

    Marcia Welch

    Assistant Principal
    Paul Warzecha

    Attendance Line
    763.241.3555 (24hrs)

    Counseling Dept.

    School Health Clerk
    763.241.3450 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.  

  • 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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