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Friday Focus

Welcome to the Friday Focus. Our weekly newsletter will be posted here. It will include the Administrator's message, important updates, and fun things happening around our school.

RMS Friday Focus, November 9, 2023

Important Dates

  • November 10 - Veterans Day - NO SCHOOL
  • November 14 - Dresden School Board
  • November 15 - 6 pm - RMS Library - Family Round Table - Suicide Prevention respond
  • November 16 - 6 pm - RMS Library - Family Round Table - RMS math structure respond
  • November 17 - Fall Talent Show
  • November 22-26 - Thanksgiving Break - NO SCHOOL
  • November 28 - 7 pm - RMS Choral Concert
  • December 5 - PTO Meeting
  • December 7 - Concert
  • December 12 - Concert
  • December 19 - MCS/RMS Science Night
  • December 22 - Jan 2 - Winter break - NO SCHOOL
  • January 3, 2024 - School Begins again


Thoughts from the Rolling Desk

Happy Mid November and the start of Q2!  With report cards becoming available on Monday, we are obligated to turn away from the joy of inquiry and learning at RMS and focus on the hardest part of the educational process - grades.  We all remember grades, don’t we?  The anxiety evoked by the seemingly universal A-F scale (grades at the University of Arizona included a “E,” which was still a failing grade, but not a bad fail…confusing to be sure) is something probably all students, present and former, share.  At RMS even more anxiety comes from the fact that for some of our students this report card will be their first time experiencing this unique part of the education system as currently constructed.  

(Q1 Woodworking projects courtesy of Mr. Harriman’s classes)

wood working projects

The larger discussion of grades is the stuff of long scholarly works and philosophical treatises, today we feel it important to offer a few reminders about grades at RMS.

What a grade is:

  • A snapshot of the work in each class for the past 9 weeks.  
  • A measure of progress toward a goal that is ongoing.  Middle school is best viewed as an experience and a process - not a product.  
  • A discussion point regarding what strategies worked in the first nine weeks, and what habits and methods might be changed going forward.
    • We had a startling earnest discussion with a student yesterday at the bus stop where they argued eloquently that leaving all the work until the last day actually was better because it “only ruined one day.”  Not sure the data would back up that assertion, but it is a good place to start a conversation. 
  • Potentially a reflection of choices regarding energy and effort that may have been directed at another goal during this quarter.  Discussions of these choices can be enlightening.
  • The starting point of a discussion about wider educational expectations between families and RMS.   We welcome inquiries about report cards, and look forward to deeper conversations about your students' learning.  


What a grade is not:

  • A measure of self worth.  A 2002 study found that 80% of undergraduates based their self worth on how they were doing in school.  This is not a healthy nor helpful idea - especially for middle school students.  We, as adults, can mitigate this feeling by continuing to stress what was learned at RMS rather than what letter was recorded.
  • An end point.  The 9 week grading period is, at some level, arbitrary, often coming in the middle of a unit.  Work and learning are ongoing, and will continue to build on themselves as we move forward.  RMS views all of Middle School as a process of getting ready for the start of 9th grade, and that progression will not be the same for all students.  
  • Restrictive or punitive.  In most cases middle school grades will not be divulged to outside entities.  Sometimes the lessons learned from a letter grade that is less than expected last longer than the subject matter of the class.  (Middle school is where I learned that I could not, in fact, do my entire science project in two days.  The grade reflected that, and I did not make that mistake again.)
  • A complete picture of a student.  At RMS we know that students are so much more than letters in a column.  We try to use comments to reflect the full, and wonderful, complexity of each student.  
    • Often, despite our best efforts, the outside world exerts pressure on our students that causes them to simplify their view of themselves based on one grade or another.  As adults we can reinforce the idea that learning is more important than grades.  Forgive the sports analogy, it is the world outside of school I know best - many times athletes learn far more from a difficult loss than an easy win.  Grades can be the same.
  • Meaningless.  We also know that the academic world as it exists relies on our current system, so we try to reflect in our grades the same values that will be important as our students navigate secondary and post-secondary education.  We will continue to stress individual learning and growth while remaining grounded in our current grading system.

We know that the single letters are not conducive to reflecting the nuance and subtle individual differences that make each of our students wonderful.  We will continue to try to foster those qualities while preparing them for what comes ahead.

In the spirit of discussion and dialogue as a way to build understanding and strength within the community we also wanted to remind everyone of two opportunities next week for further discussion. 

  • Wednesday, November 15 - Mental Health Family ConversationConnors Climb Foundation is proud to partner with the Dresden Schools in offering a family and community suicide prevention training at Richmond Middle School on November 15, 2023. The conversation will take place in the RMS Library Media Center 6-7 PM. The program complements the Signs of Suicide (SOS) curriculum that is used in developmental guidance during 7th grade, but is appropriate for supporting anyone who has youth in their life that they care about. Adults come away from the training with ideas to effectively start the conversation of mental health with youth, as well as assist with youth in a crisis -- whether their own or a peer's. We hope to see many Dresden families at this round table event. Please respond if you plan to attend.  
  • Thursday, November 16 - 6 pm in the RMS Library.  Math Meeting Join us for an open discussion of the changes to the RMS math structure outlined earlier this week.  We look forward to offering a comprehensive summary of the philosophy and process used to make the proposed changes.  Please respond if you plan to attend. 

Have a wonderful long wintry weekend.  Take a moment to thank veterans for their service, and, as always, be safe, stay well, and take care of each other.

Tim Boyle

Anissa Morrison
Associate Principal

School News and Information


RMS Cafe

Our menu currently being constructed based on local availability and prices.  An update will follow soon.  View updated price list.

RMS works hard to accommodate the dietary needs of our community, so if you have any questions, concerns, please contact Austin Jacobs.  

The RMS lunch program is run “in house” and does not follow a state or federal program.  If your family may benefit from assistance for meals, please contact Robin Morley-Ploof in the office for more information.  The program is confidential and runs the same way as the more traditional cafe meal funding program. 

If you have any questions regarding payment, please contact Janice Starkey in the main office.


RMS Health Office

health office door

Flu Clinic a Success

Thank you for the support of our student flu clinic.  We hope that by taking these streps we can keep folks healthy throughout the flu season.

Prescription Medications

Does your child need to take prescription medication during school hours? Students must keep all prescription medications in the health office and have a signed medication form as well. The medication form and additional information can be found at: Health Office Website

If you have questions regarding health programs, or anything related to the health of your students please reach out to Nurse Abby.

RMS Resources & Opportunities

RMS Fitness room needs your help

Last spring our PE department, spearheaded by Missie Rodriguez, secured a grant from the Dorothy Byrne foundation to refurbish the RMS fitness room, which is currently stocked with machines purchased when the new school opened. The grant is contingent, however, on raising funds to match the grant, so it is in this spirit that we are beginning a campaign to raise the money (approximately $30,000)  to make equipment upgrades to expand our fitness and PE offerings at RMS.  We would like to replace the 20 year old cardio equipment with new, manually powered (using no electricity) Concept II Ergs, Rogue Echo Upright Bikes, Suspension Ellipticals, Assault Runner Pro Treadmills, and Maxi-Stair Climber Machines. Coupled with a new, protective floor, these machines would offer an opportunity for a class of 20 students to take part in a meaningful, and safe, fitness experience that will set the stage for later life, and prepare students to use the newer, recently upgraded, fitness room at HHS.  We understand that this is a significant amount of money, and welcome any and all support anyone can give. Donations to the Dresden School District (RMS PE) will be accepted in any amount in the front office. Thank you for your continued support of our school and community.  

From Student Council
  • Proceeds from our annual Veteran's Day Pledge Run will go to "Josh's House" a recreational and support center for Veterans in Colchester VT.
  • Talent Show is next Friday November 17th at 7:00pm in the RMS Auditorium.
  • Next Friday will be Flannel and PJ Day here at RMS
  • The annual Turkey Bowl will be on Monday November 20 after school pitting 8th graders against staff in a flag football game.


Howe Library
  • The Howe Library wants to hear from you! We are conducting a community survey as part of our strategic planning process. Please consider giving us a few minutes of your time to tell us what is important to you. Howe Library Survey or you can go directly to our website to access the link Thank you!
  • Movie Night  Join Howe Library on Friday, November 4th for an after-hours movie night for preteens. Popcorn will be served. You bring pillows and sleeping bags. The library will be closed during this event. Adults, please drop off and pick up at the lower entrance. Recommended for ages 9-12. Children 8 years and younger must be accompanied by an adult. Registration required.


Support other local schools

Want to see a movie or a play in support of local students.  Check out opportunities


Want to play Chess?

Join other students at the Howe Library on Monday nights. View full information.


All Together Information:

ALL Together is getting ready to wrap up a year long media campaign created by SAMHSA called, "Talk. They Hear You" which aimed to:

  • Increase parents’ awareness of the prevalence and risk of underage drinking and substance use;
  • Equip parents with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to prevent underage drinking and substance use; and
  • Increase parents’ actions to prevent underage drinking and substance use.

We are working with our evaluation team to help determine the success of the campaign and this requires us to collect data via a focus group. We are holding one virtual focus group for parents/caregivers in the Upper Valley that will last for an hour or less. Questions will be related to talking with youth about substances, messaging related to this, etc.

Pre-registration is required and the first 10 people to register and attend will receive a $20 Amazon gift card for their time.

November 16th at 6:00 pm:

After registering, once approved, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting."


Video resources on Parenting

The Hartford Community Coalition, in collaboration with All Together, has created a video resource for parents around the issue of substance use.


Family Programs offered by Outright Vermont

Outright Vermont ( is an organization that supports LGBTQ+ youth and families around Vermont and neighboring areas. They offer a support group for families:

Trans Parent Group - Online - First Monday of every month 6-8pm. Support group for parents and caregivers of trans, nonbinary, and gender expansive youth. Email for more information and links.


11/10 Gaggle

Reminder: Update your information in the RMS Directory

We encourage everyone to visit the directory to confirm that the contact information listed for your family and your student is up-to-date. In particular, families may still need to update their student’s homeroom teacher. An accurate directory can be super helpful when trying to plan “play dates” (are they still called play dates anymore?), or when one is struggling to remember another parent’s name that is just out of reach….

Consider a donation to the RMS PTO

While on the Membership Toolkit platform, we invite you to consider a donation to support the work of the PTO. Donated funds go directly to support the many initiatives of the RMS PTO, including the directory, staff appreciation events, family socials and several student activities.

How to stay informed about PTO events….