VMS Vibe Online Parent Newsletter

September 2020

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    Message from the Principal

    We are off to a great start at VandenBerge Middle School! Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to work with your children. We truly believe in educating, inspiring and empowering every student, but the students also educate, inspire and empower us whether they are with us through hybrid or distance learning. Our students and staff are doing a fantastic job this year, and I am so happy to be back with them again.

    I would like to remind everyone about the new attendance model for this school year. When hybrid students are in school, attendance will be taken in class. For remote or distance learning, attendance is based on two criteria: a self check-in through the Attendance Module in Campus AND course engagement. Students should check-in for each class using the Campus Attendance Module. Students also need to demonstrate engagement in virtual coursework. If your student forgets to check-in, he/she should email the teacher, so the teacher can change the student’s attendance based on engagement in coursework. For 100% distance learning students, teachers will contact parents after three consecutive days of no engagement.

    I would also like to ask your assistance in reminding your students that face coverings continue to be required while in the school building. Please refer to the Student Face Covering Guide for a reminder of acceptable or unacceptable face coverings, as well as exemptions and guidance about when face coverings may be temporarily removed. We appreciate your cooperation and support in following these guidelines.

    Our fall conferences are just around the corner on October 22. Conferences will be held virtually through Google Meets or over the phone due to COVID 19. More details will be sent out soon.

    Thank you for your support of VMS and helping to ensure your child’s success. I look forward to a fantastic school year and getting to know you and your student.

  • COVID-19 Updates

    Stay up to date by using the ISD 728 COVID-19 website. This is a great resource with all the latest news and important information from the district related to COVID-19 and its impact on our school year. You can also find email updates that have been sent to families by the district on this website. Check it out!

  • Free Meals for ISD728 Students

    ISD 728 has qualified for an extension of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Minnesota Department of Education’s free meal program for all currently enrolled ISD 728 students. This free meal service, which offers breakfast and lunch daily, started Wednesday, September 16, 2020.

    In other words - Grab-n-Go is BACK! 

    The USDA has extended this waiver to assist school districts and households in feeding kids. This benefit has been extended until Federal funds are no longer available. Once the waiver ends, all students will automatically be returned back to their normal lunch status. We will inform households when this will happen as soon as we are notified. This USDA sponsored free meal program is for all currently enrolled ISD 728 students regardless of whether they are participating in face to face, hybrid or distance learning models.

    Students Participating in Face-to-Face Model
    The free meal program will begin with cafeteria service on September 16, 2020 for all on-campus students.

    Students Participating in the Hybrid or Distance Learning Model
    The ‘Grab-n-Go’ meal program will start on Wednesday, September 16, 2020. Meals may be picked up from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. – Monday through Friday at the locations listed below. ISD 728 families can pick up their child’s meal at any of the locations listed.

    Meal Pick-Up Locations

    • Elk River High School
      • 900 School Street, Elk River
      • Door F, located at the back of the building, off Jackson Avenue
    • Rogers High School
      • 21000 141st Avenue, Rogers
      • Door 10, located near the main entrance towards the end of the circle drive
    • Zimmerman Middle/High School
      • 25900 4th Street W, Zimmerman
      • Door 10, located at the back of the building

    Menus are located on the ISD 728 website, but are subject to change based on item availability. In some instances, warm meals (aka “hot lunch”) will need to be served. In these cases, the meal should be consumed immediately or families will need to utilize reheating instructions provided by food service staff. Allergens will be located on the Nutrition Services page of the District website, whenever possible. 

    At this time, this is the only means of meal distribution for Grab-n-Go. Due to food safety concerns, sending meals home with students – those in hybrid or in-person learning – is not available.

    Due to the timing of the USDA announcement and the application process required for the free meal program, the District did officially begin the school year under the National School Lunch Program and therefore the District will be unable to provide refunds for meals served through September 15, 2020 as we were not yet able to provide the Grab-n-Go, USDA sponsored free program to all students.  

    Last, but not least, this is a friendly reminder to complete your free/reduced meal application for this school year if you have NOT done so already. Even though meals are currently free, they will not always be. The application also helps our district qualify for additional funding. It is essential that every household, that may qualify, fills out the application, even if you are currently distance learning. This will make the transition back to a typical meal service easier for families once the Federal and State government announce a change. Applications can be completed online through Parent Portal.

    If you have questions regarding Grab-n-Go meal service, please contact Michelle Jones at michelle.jones@isd728.org.

  • From the Health Office

    Please evaluate your child daily for Covid symptoms before sending them to school by using the School Self-Screening Checklist

    Common key terms related to Covid:

    Close contact: Close contact means being within 6 feet of another person for 15 minutes or more.  In the context of Covid-19, a close contact exposure means that a person either lives with or was within 6 feet or less of someone with lab-confirmed Covid-19 for 15 minutes or longer while the person was infectious (regardless of whether either person wore a face covering or face shield).

    Isolation: Isolation is an infection prevention tool for a person who has tested positive for Covid-19, and requires the person to stay away from others, even those living in the same home.  For Covid-19, the isolation period is at least 10 days from the start of symptoms or test date if the person does not have symptoms, 24 hours without fever, and improvement of symptoms.

    Quarantine: Quarantine is an infection prevention tool for a person who was in close contact with someone who has or is suspected to have Covid-19, and requires the person to stay away from others for 14 days.  The quarantine period does not change with a negative test result since an infection could still develop after getting tested.  Quarantine lasts for 14 days because Covid-19 has an incubation period that is between two to 14 days long.

    Frequently Asked Questions:

    Q:  If my child has 2 of the less common symptoms listed on the School Self-Screening Checklist and my child has to be home for 10 days, do their siblings also need to stay home?

    A:  Yes, siblings need to stay home for 14 days or until your ill child receives a negative Covid test or an alternative diagnosis.

    Q:  If my child is diagnosed with Strep but they are also tested for Covid, can they return to school?

    A:  No, if they are tested for Covid, they have to receive a negative test result before they can return to school.

    Q:  If my child is a close contact of a confirmed positive Covid case, do they need to stay home?

    A:  Yes, that child needs to stay home for 14 days, but that child’s siblings do not have to stay home.

  • Counseling - A Message from Mrs. Mace

    I first want to say THANK YOU to students and families for welcoming me to VandenBerge. As some of you already know, this is my first year with VMS, but I have been a counselor for 4 years.  I am excited to get started on a great school year with you all. 

    During this time of online and hybrid learning, a lot is being asked of you to help facilitate your students’ education.  As always, the staff and I are committed to providing your students with support.  My main goal as a school counselor is to help instill in students the need to care for themselves and each other while helping them navigate through the wonderful and sometimes challenging middle school years. 

    I hope that when coming to school your student feels a sense of belonging and can be successful academically and personally. 

    I look forward to being a part of the VMS community and family.


    Kaylee Mace

  • Art

    Greetings to all from the VMS Art Room!

    First quarter is off to a busy start in the VMS art room, where students have been busy planning, creating and learning about the great world of art. Here is a quick snapshot of what students have been working on - they have been busy!

    Grade 6 is currently working on a lengthy project, learning the art of perspective drawing using vanishing points and atmospheric perspective. They have been applying the rules of space to learn how objects appear closer and farther away in a work of art. 

    Grade 7 just finished working on a value shaded shoe drawing project. They chose a favorite style of footwear as their subject. These students have been using light and dark value shading to create good proportions and accuracy of the subject. Many students invested time outside of class to make this a great success!  

    Grade 8 wrapped up their work on a short graphic design unit and are now focused on a mixed media art piece. The students are choosing a personally relevant and important topic that they’d like to speak about artistically and are using art as a tool for social and emotional expression. Their ideas have been developing and the work is starting to happen! They should be wrapping up some good mixed media collages soon!

  • AVID

    AVID stands for Advancement ViIndividual Determination. AVID's mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society. We want all students to have a drive to succeed and a focus on their future. This program helps students stay organized, reinforce the best study skills, and build skills in note taking and self-confidence through WICOR strategies.

    Currently, we have an 8th grade AVID course and a 7th grade AVID course, with a 6th grade course expected to start later this year. 6th grade parents, please watch for announcements coming out later in October and November about how your child can apply to be in the AVID program at VMS. 

    Our 7th and 8th grade students are working on building their AVID family and learning great collaboration and communication skills. We have been busy building our social contracts and connecting with each other through activities to show the building of our community.

    Please contact Sarah Weinhold at 763-241-3450 ext. 2698 or sarah.weinhold@isd728.org if you have any questions about the AVID program at VMS.

  • Band

    What a great start to the year so far! Our 6th grade band students came in August for our Summer Band Lessons to get a little head start on their instruments. The weather was so beautiful that we were able to play outside for the majority of the lessons. We've also been playing our instruments outside for band classes and the students have been doing a fantastic job!

    Just a few reminders as we start off the year:

    1. Make sure to have the necessary supplies for your instrument (a box of reeds, valve oil, band book, etc.) You may order from schmittmusic.com and they'll deliver to our school with free shipping! Just make sure you indicate VandenBerge Middle School.
    2. Instruments should be coming to school and going home on the same day, since students only have band at school one day/week.
    3. Students should be practicing 4 days a week for 30 minutes. Try to have a consistent place for them to practice, with a portable music stand, that is free from distractions. Practice makes progress! 
    4. Learning an instrument is not an easy task. Please encourage your student as much as you can! 

    Together we can make this an amazing year!

    Sara Klingelhofer, VandenBerge Middle School Bands


  • Choir

    We’ve had a great start to the school year. Students are starting to get the feel for how their music schedules work. I have had a blast getting to know all the students, and it’s going to be a great year for making music!

    Music is being passed out in class, but it is also available for all students to access in the music folder on Schoology. There are also practice tracks in their music folder for students to sing along with. In the upcoming weeks, we will have rehearsals available where distance learners can join us during class time via Google Meet.

    Materials students need to have: A black or red folder/binder to store music in. I recommend a plastic type of material, if possible, as it is less likely to be destroyed in backpacks. 

    Practicing at home can be scary and intimidating for some students. Please make sure to encourage your student to practice their music at home. Singing is a very personal art and practice only helps us grow as musicians. I encourage everyone to sing together--regardless of experience--find time to sing together. Billy Joel said, “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” I challenge you to find your love of music. 

    I’m so excited to see where the year takes us! 

    Kelly Heinonen, VandenBerge Middle School Choirs and General Music 


  • English

    Grade 6 students wrote a letter to the class, discussed what it takes to be successful in English, and checked out books from the media center. They also completed their first FAST reading assessment of the year. In English class this year, students will need to read a minimum of 2 books per quarter. Each student will need to self-select an appropriate book for their reading level to read during designated reading time. Students will also complete different novel responses throughout the year. Please encourage your student to read at home. Excellent work all around so far this year!

    Grade 7 has gotten off to a great start reviewing class and distance learning expectations, becoming familiar with my Schoology page and how to communicate with me on DL days. When learning from home, all students should be going to that date's folder in Schoology and start off by reading the Today's Directions page. 

    Secondary english has a new curriculum this year on the platform Study Sync. Students were given step-by-step directions on how to launch this platform from their Rapid Identity portal and have worked on two writing assignments. It's a fantastic one-stop-shop for all language arts and reading activities.

    Hybrid A and B groups visited the media center this week and became familiar with new policies and procedures. We also had a chance to check out books. All students need to have a novel and should try to read at least 20 pages a day on their own, especially on Fridays, when there will be a small assignment in connection to their novel. I shared a list of online novels and audio novels with students in a new Reading folder in Schoology, as well as a link to Destiny Quest, on which they can search for and put a hold on books in our media center. If you have any questions regarding the novel requirement, please contact me at kassea.boche@isd728.org

    I look forward to continuing to get to know your students!

    Grade 8 is off to an exciting start! We spent the last couple weeks going over classroom protocols, expectations and classroom specific routines. This year in ELA, we are implementing a brand new curriculum titled StudySync. Your child should have brought home a workbook or perhaps you picked one up for your Distance Learner on distribution days. In addition to the workbook, there is an online component as well. We will use online access more than the workbook, but the workbook is a good backup if there are any technology issues or if we prefer students to annotate the text in a paper format. We would like your student to keep the workbook at home in their workspace, and we will notify them if they need to bring it into school for learning. Students will access StudySync through Rapid Identity, and we have walked all students through logging into StudySync, either in the classroom or through video lessons.

    For day to day lessons, students should be watching our video lessons to get the complete content of the material for that day. Video lessons are posted on Schoology in the students weekly folders.

    If you are looking for updates on missing assignments, please check Parent Portal. If you want to know what is being assigned each day and what is coming up in your child's English class, please look at Schoology Updates as we post on Schoology daily.

    Office Hours:

    Students are welcome to drop into a Google Meet with their English teacher if they have questions about anything or just want to chat! The Google Meet link will be located on your child's English Schoology page. Here are when the teachers are available for student help:

    Mrs. Weinhold (Google Meet drop in times): Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:00-3:25

    Mrs. Butts (Google Meet drop in times): Mondays from 3:00-3:25 and Fridays from 10:00-11:00.

    Mrs. Boche (Google Meet by appointment links on her Schoology page): Thursdays 3:00-3:25 and Fridays from 9:00 - 10:30 and 1:00 - 2:00

    If you have questions, feel free to contact your child's English Teacher.

  • General Music

    We have been busy getting to know each other in 6th grade General Music. We have also been learning about Boomwhackers and how to play them. Throughout the year there will be various projects and units we will cover. We have the possibility to learn bucket drumming, boomwhackers, piano, and electric guitar. We may or may not get to all of these fun units, but students will be exposed to a wide variety of musical instruments, music genres, music cultures, and musical software programs. 

    I’m excited to see the students grow as musicians and learn with them about all the wonderful things music has to offer. 

    Kelly Heinonen, VandenBerge Middle School Choirs and General Music 


  • Math

    Greetings from the Math Team!

    It has been wonderful getting to know all of the students in these first few weeks, and we can already tell this year will be absolutely fabulous! 

    The VMS math teachers would like to take this opportunity to provide a couple of reminders so that every student has the chance to succeed in math this year.

    First, ALL students, regardless if they are assigned to Hybrid A, Hybrid B, or Distance Learning, are required to log in and follow through with all class expectations that are posted each day in Schoology.  This includes listening intently, following directions, and completing every activity to the best of their ability. Since we cannot see the students every day like usual, it will be extremely important for them NOT to "skip" or simply "breeze over" any of the material and/or videos that are provided in order for them to grow and be successful. All students should be spending roughly 30 - 50 minutes each day doing math in order to work toward mastering every new skill. 

    Second, if your student is in the building for Hybrid learning, we will be providing Math Help every morning before school from 7:45 - 8:10 on a rotating teacher schedule. You can click HERE to view the teachers/locations that are available each day (or see below). Each math teacher also provides opportunities for students to work virtually, one-on-one, by appointment every Friday using Google Meet. Please contact your child’s teacher if your student needs help signing up for a Friday appointment with their math teacher.

    As always, if you have any questions about daily practice or class expectations, feel free contact your child’s math teacher by phone or by email.

    Again, we can't tell you enough how thrilled we are to have the privilege to teach your child the importance of mathematics in their world and are so excited to dive into the world of math with you all!

    ~ The VMS Math Team


  • Media Center

    The media center is up and running after a long time of the books sitting lonely on the shelves and the chairs void of visitors. 

    This year we welcome Ms. Kohler to the VMS media center. Ms. Kohler is a lifelong learner who has up until now worked in elementary school libraries as a Media Specialist. Venturing to the VMS media center is sure to be a rewarding experience. Ms. Tracy is hard at work keeping the library running smoothly and assisting everyone with any need. 

    There are a number of elements to know that will make this year in the media center most excellent. 

    • Sanitize hands before and after browsing in the media center.
    • Makerspace is unfortunately closed until further notice. 
    • Place books on hold when you are able. 
      • Ms. Tracy has created a helpful video on putting books on hold. *Please refer to the library orientation slide on our Schoology group if you have more specific questions. 
      • Distance learners can place books on hold, as well, and pick up books on school pick up days. All hybrid students will have their books delivered to them in school. 
    • Check Out Policies:
      • 4 books may be checked out at a time.
      • Books should be returned or renewed within 3 weeks.
      • Return books to the media center or drop box in the main hallway across from the office.
      • 4 or less individuals are allowed to browse the book shelves at a time.

    Chrome Depot

    • The Chrome Depot is open for business for most of your Chromebook needs. 
    • If your Chromebook needs a charge, please visit the charging station. It is accessible all throughout the day.
    • Please limit your visits to the Chrome Depot to before school or in between classes.

    We look forward to a fabulous year in the library! 

  • Phy Ed

    We would like to thank the students and families for your flexibility this first three weeks of school. We have been having a great time in PE and enjoying time outdoors!

    Mr Michalak’s classes have been working on soccer and Mrs. Sheetz’s classes have been learning some golf. Some classes completed the 50 yard dash and others will work on that next week. This week, our awesome students are completing the mile run. Next up Mr. Michalak’s classes will be completing tennis and Mrs. Sheetz’s classes will be completing soccer. 

    We can't wait to start giving out VMS pride tickets because our students are very impressive! 

    Mr. Michalak and Mrs. Sheetz

    golf golf 2

  • Social Studies

    Grade 6 students are starting their studies this year by learning about how to read and analyze maps. Students have been introduced to the TODALSS method of reading and creating maps, which stands for Title, Orientation, Date, Author, Legend (key), Scale, and Source. Students will be using TODALSS throughout the year and will study various maps of Minnesota over the next few weeks.

    Grade 7 students are busy getting to know the original 13 colonies. They participated in a jigsaw activity, sharing information about the role of geography in each of the 3 regions. They also looked at the economic, social, and political characteristics of each region. We are now moving into how our nation formed with the early government. 

    Grade 8 students are learning the basics about geography and mapping. Students created a map of the mind where they created a map of the world from their memory! Students will be transitioning to learning about continents, oceans, landforms, and latitude & longitude. 

  • Yearbooks

    Have you ordered your yearbook? Yearbooks will be $25 until October 23rd. On October 24th, the price will increase to $30.

    Visit jostensyearbooks.com, click ‘Order My 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 Butts at morgen.butts@isd728.org if you have any questions about yearbooks. 

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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