Thurston Middle School
Welcome to the Thurston Middle School. The questions and answers below should help you and your student take full advantage of what Thurston has to offer.
What can we expect at the Thurston Middle School?
Is there an Open House?
- There is an Open House held at the end of August. The exact date will be announced in the Newsletter which is mailed home during August, or check the school website. At the Open House, your child will receive his or her schedule, take a tour of the building, find their classrooms, and catch up with old and new friends. Parents can also sign up for volunteer opportunities.
- Your child's schedule will be mailed to your home address in early August. He or she can also pick up his/her schedule at the Open House held at the end of August. Corrections adn adjustments are soemtimes made to students' schedules before school opens. Students will receive new copies of their schedules from their homeroom teachers on the first day of school.
- You can see a copy of the 2010 - 2011 Westwood Public School calendar in the Forms and Publication section of this website or by clicking here: School Calendar
- On the first day of school, 6th graders experience an extended homeroom, which is always the first class of the day, and X-block, the class towards the end of the school day, which gives teachers time to help students understand their schedules, get their lockers organized, navigate the hallways and learn about the school rules.
I heard that there are “Teams.” What does that mean? Is one team better than the other?
- The “team” philosophy has been developed to provide a feeling of a “school within a school”. At Thurston, these teams are referred to as the Red Team and the Blue Team. Students are taught by six teachers on a team; one of these teachers is the “team leader.” Students remain with their teams throughout the entire school year. New teams are created each year. The teams are designed to be balanced in terms of gender, academic strength, elementary school attended, special needs, and social dynamics. Students can find their team by looking at the mailing label on the Thurston Newsletter from the school in August. The Thurston Directory, which is published by the Thurston Parent Teacher Organization each September, contains a listing of the teachers who make up each team and email addresses can be found on the TMS Website under Our Staff.
How will I find out if my child is having trouble academically?
- Progress reports are issued in the middle of each term with the first one arriving about six or seven weeks into the school year. Progress Reports do not provide a letter grade; rather they provide an opportunity for teachers to give a brief snapshot of your child’s performance to date as well as teacher comments.
- Formal term grades are issued at the end of each term. When combined with the interim progress reports, parents receive eight written reports during the school year.
- There are Parent/Teacher Conferences once per year in the fall. See below for more information about conferences.
- It is not uncommon for your child to bring home quizzes, tests, or projects that must be signed by a parent and brought back to school.
- If your child is really struggling, the teacher will generally notify you.
- If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your child’s teacher or team leader at any time during the year by leaving a telephone message at the office or via email.
Is there a PTO or PTA at Thurston?
- The Thurston Parent Teacher Organization supports activities and curriculum at the Thurston Middle School through dues and the hard work of many parent volunteers. The Thurston Parent Teacher Organization also produces the Student Directory, organizes the Fun Run, and plans the 8th grade Semi-Formal. For more information including a list of volunteer opportunities, click here PTO Bulletin Board.
How does Thurston communicate with parents?
- On Fridays, the Principal writes an email update to inform parents about key dates and what’s happening at the Thurston Middle School and in the community. This is the primary communication tool used at the school. To receive this newsletter, click here for the Thurston Listserv and follow the directions for subscribing. We encourage you to sign up for this newsletter, as this is the primary means of communication between school and home.
- The Thurston Parent Teacher Organization writes and distributes its own newsletter with progress reports and report cards.
- The TMS website includes a Calendar of Events, School Handbook, announcements, etc.
- The school uses the Connect Ed automated phone system to notify parents of certain events when messages need to go from the school to families in a timely manner.
Is there a Student Handbook?
- The Student Handbook contains important information about Policies and Procedures such as Homework, Attendance and Absences, Academics, Dress Code, Discipline, etc. The School Handbook is published in the Assignment Notebook which your child will receive at the beginning of the school year and is also posted in Forms and Publications section on the TMS website or linked here: “Student Handook.”
How do I report that my child will be absent?
- Call the Thurston 24-Hour Absence Call-In Line at 781-326-7500 x 2394 and leave a message.
- Please be aware that it is your child’s responsibility to make up work from missed school days. He or she can ask a friend or check with the teacher upon returning to school. Teachers will not contact you.
- A list of homework assignments may also be found on the TMS Homework WikiSpace.
- The absence and homework policies are outlined in the School Handbook which is published in the front section of the Assignment Notebook which your child will receive at the beginning of the school year and is also posted on the TMS website under “Student Life”.
If my child is absent, how will he or she get the missed homework assignments?
- On the first and/or second day absent, we ask that students please call a friend for the missed work for those days. If your child is absent for three or more days, please call the office on the morning of the third day to request homework from the team. The teachers will gather work and have it in the office to be picked up by 3:00 that afternoon.
- A list of homework assignments may also be found on the TMS Homework WikiSpace.
How will I know if my child does not show up at school?
- If your child is marked absent in their homeroom and has not been called in sick by a parent, the school will send out an automated Connect Ed call to verify the absence.
What if my child is going to be tardy?
- If your child is going to be substantially tardy (one hour or more), it is very helpful if you call into the absence line and notify the school. It is very important that ALL students who come into school tardy report to the office to check in so they are not marked absent for the day. Students are considered tardy after the 7:50 bell.
What about early dismissals?
- If your child needs to be dismissed, please write a note stating the child’s name, date, grade and time of dismissal. The child needs to bring this note into the main office first thing in the morning (before homeroom) to retrieve a dismissal pass. The child is responsible for holding onto this pass and showing it to their teacher at the time of dismissal and coming down to the office. We do not call into classrooms to dismiss students; it is their responsibility to come down when they need to leave.
- If something unexpected comes up and you haven’t sent in a note, it is important to call the office as soon as you know when your child will need to leave, unless of course it’s an emergency situation. This gives us a chance to notify the student ahead of time and is the least disruptive to classes.
My child left something at home (homework, lunch, etc). What should I do?
- Children should be responsible for bringing what they need to school for the day; however, if you need to drop something off, please be aware that we make announcements only at 7:50am and at the end of the day. It’s very important that the item your child needs be dropped off before the morning announcements so we can call him or her down. We cannot call into classrooms for individual students, as this is very disruptive to teachers and the entire class.
- If your child calls home and says they need something, they will be responsible for coming to the office on their own between classes. Also, if something is dropped off after the morning announcements, the child may not get it until the end of the school day unless they come down on their own for it.
How do I let the school know that my child will not be riding the bus home?
- Thurston does not need to know that your child will not be on the bus. Your child is now solely responsible for knowing what arrangements have been made for them after school. This is one of the many new responsibilities of being in Middle School.
Are there late buses?
- Late buses start running on Tuesdays and Thursdays once afterschool activities begin in October. They depart Thurston at approximately 3:30 and are available for any Thurston student who needs a ride, for example, if they stay late to see a teacher or to participate in an afterschool activity. There is no extra cost to use the late buses. See below for a description of afterschool activities.
What is lunch like?
- There are more choices and bigger portion sizes available at the Middle School. There is a daily hot special, pasta, sandwiches, yogurts, bagels, milk, and juice. Extras are available at an additional cost.
- Also, unlike some elementary schools, there is no assigned seating at lunch. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to socialize with old friends and to make new friends. Both the Red and Blue team of a particular grade eat lunch at the same time, so your child will have an opportunity to see the students on both Teams.
- Lunch is paid for using cash or a prepaid lunch card. See below for more information about the lunch card.
Will my child receive a lunch card?
- Each student is issued a lunch card at the beginning of the school year. The lunch card is not a charge card, but rather a prepaid card. Students will not be allowed to purchase lunch with their card if there is not enough money in the account.Parents prepay by mailing a check to the Food Services Department or paying online at MealPayPlus.com.
- Parents who have paid in advance should check your child’s account periodically to see if there is a minimum balance available. Please go to MealPayPlus.com in order to register. By registering online, you are not committed to using MealPayPlus for payment purposes if you do not wish to do so. You can simply check your balance and account activity.
- Questions regarding your child's lunch account should be directed to the Food Services Department at central office at 781-326-7500 x1301.
I received a call from the school saying my child owes the office for lunch money. What does this mean? What is a “temporary lunch card?”
- If a child has a $0 balance on their account, the cafeteria will send them to the office to borrow a temporary lunch card. Students who borrow temporary cards must re-pay the office $2.75 as soon as possible. Adding money to the lunch card account does not cover this charge. It must be paid to the Thurston office directly. Office funds are limited, so please try to make sure your child’s card has an available balance at all times. If students forget or lose a card, but there is money in the account, they may get a form from the office that will allow them to purchase their lunch.
I just added money to my child’s lunch account, so why was my child sent to the office again to borrow a temporary card?
- It can sometimes take 2-3 days for a payment to process, especially if it was paid by check and mailed to the Food Services Department or dropped off at the Middle School. To speed up the process, use MealPayPlus.com or drop payments directly at the Administration office at the High School. If your child had a $0 balance and you just made a payment, it is helpful to send the child in with cash to pay for lunch for a few days while the payment is processed, or they will likely be sent to the office to borrow temporary cards until that is done.
What subjects will my child study?
- Each student studies Math, Social Studies, Language Arts, and Science each year. Sixth grade students also participate in a Reading course. Foreign Languages (French and Spanish) are added in 7th grade. Additionally, students participate in a wide variety of subjects such as Art, Music, Drama, Technology, Health, Physical Education, and Life Skills on a rotating quarterly basis. For more detailed information, the Program of Studies, and detailed Course Descriptions can be found on the TMS website under the Curriculum tab.
What is X block?
- Students return to their homeroom locations at the end of the day for X-Block, a 42-minute reading and directed study period. During X-Block, students are expected to read silently for the first twenty minutes and then start on their homework. Students may also use X-Block time to organize their binders, visit teachers for extra help, or make up tests.
My 6th grade student’s schedule has both Reading and Language Arts? Why? Aren’t these the same thing?
- Reading and Language Arts are not the same thing. Reading focuses on reading comp[rehension strategies across the currciulum, and students learn to read textbooks, newspaper articles, and a variety of nonfiction texts as well as genres within fiction. Language Arts focuses on reading and analyzing literature, writing, vocabulary building, grammar and mechanics.
Is there any leveling of classes?
- Math is leveled beginning in 7th grade, based on teacher recommendations and prior performance. You will receive information regarding your child’s math placement in the spring of 6th grade.
What foreign languages are offered?
- Spanish and French begin in 7th grade.
- 7th and 8th grade together counts as 1 year of HS foreign language.
Is there a Curriculum Night?
- In September, you will be invited to meet your child’s teachers as you follow his/her school schedule during Curriculum Night. The night will be organized on a “bell system” that allows you approximately 10 minutes per class. You will get a snapshot of your child’s day as you pass from class to class. Your child will bring home a copy of his/her schedule for you to follow. Make sure you bring your child’s schedule with you to Curriculum Night. The evening will conclude with a General Assembly where you will meet the school’s Leadership Team. Parking is limited, so please arrive early.
Are there Parent/Teacher conferences?
- There are Parent/Teacher conferences once per year in the fall. There are no conferences in the spring. Watch for information that is sent home about how to sign up for your conferences. If you have any questions or concerns during the school year, please contact your child’s teacher or team leader directly by email or by calling the office. Contact information can be found in the Thurston Staff Directory.
What is new and different in 6th grade?
- Rotating class schedule: Middle School students have a challenging and exciting curriculum that allows for many different teachers in different classrooms. Don’t worry, what might seem confusing to parents, quickly becomes second nature to the students!
- Lockers: Each student is assigned a locker with a combination lock, to store their personal belongings. Students spend extra time at the beginning of the school year learning how to use their lock. Please encourage your student to develop a system to keep their locker organized
- No recess: Instead, your child will most likely have Physical Education every other day throughout the year. (Please make sure gym clothes and deodorant are packed in backpacks.) They will also experience specials such as Art, Music, Drama, Technology, Health, and Life Skills. See below for a detailed description of the Curriculum. Many 6th graders also participate in an afterschool sport or afterschool activity.
- Lunch: In 6th grade, lunch is served as early as 10:30 am. There are more choices and bigger portion sizes available at the Middle School. Also, unlike some elementary schools, there is no assigned seating at lunch. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to socialize with old friends and to make new friends. Both the Red and Blue teams of a particular grade eat lunch at the same time, so your child will have an opportunity to see students on both Teams. Lunch is paid for using cash or a prepaid lunch card. See above for more information about the lunch card.
- Special activities: 6th graders also participate in a number of special activities including: Hale team building trip in the fall; a trip to Westwood Public Library; Friday activities during X Block; the solar car project in Science; the 6th Grade Social in June; the Greek Olympics; and seeing a play in Boston.
What is different in 7th grade?
- Math leveling occurs – for more information about Math leveling, see the related information under “Academic Curriculum”.
- Foreign language classes begin. (Spanish and French)
- Eligible to go to WOSC dances along with 8th grade students.
- Eligible to try out for the School Musical held each spring.
What is different in 8th grade?
- Peer Leadership – Information is provided and sign ups occur in the fall.
- Diversity Week/World of Difference Day is held in the spring.
- WOSC and the WOSC trip – see below for information about WOSC.
- 8th grade Semi-Formal dance – this special event is held in June. Parents plan this event. To volunteer to help with the 8th grade Semi-Formal planning, please speak to any PTO Board member.
- Moving Up Ceremony - this ceremony for 8th grade students and their families, generally held on the last day of school, celebrates the end of the Middle School years and the beginning of the High School years.
Are there any Thurston sports teams?
- Thurston Cross Country is a fall sport available to boys and girls in all grades.
- Thurston Boys Football is a fall sport available to 8th grade boys.
- Thurston Girls Volleyball is a fall sport available to 8th grade girls.
- Thurston Girls Field Hockey is a fall sport available to 8th grade girls.
- There are also sports that meet as part of the afterschool activities. See below for more details.
- Your student will receive information about how to sign up for these activities.
- You can find out details about upcoming sports events at Highschoolsports.net. Search for Westwood, MA then navigate to the school and sport you are interested in.
What afterschool activities are available?
- A wide range of afterschool activities are offered mainly on Tuesdays and Thursdays including: Great Chefs of Thurston, Bulldog Press school newspaper, Science Club, Jazz Band, and intramural sports such as basketball, street hockey, ultimate Frisbee, etc. Sign-up sheets will be distributed to the students prior to the beginning of each session. Information is also available on the TMS website under “Forms and Publications.” There is no charge for afterschool activities and associated late buses as these are funded with the proceeds of the school magazine drive.
What is WOSC? When does it meet?
- The World Organization Study Club (WOSC) is open to all 8th grade students. Members meet one or two Mondays per month after school to study political events. There are no late buses available for transporting students after WOSC meetings. The culminating event is the trip to New York City and West Point held in May.
How can I get my 8th grader ready for WHS?
- The High School and Middle School administrations work in a coordinated manner to make the transition from Middle School to High School as smooth as possible. In the winter, 8th Grade Parents are invited to 8th Grade Parent Night at WHS to hear about an overview of WHS, curriculum, course selection, activities and athletics. In addition, during the winter, the Guidance Counselors from the High School visit the 8th graders at TMS. In the spring, the 8th grade students visit WHS for an orientation tour.
Help Us To Improve This List:
- If you have a suggestion for a question you’d like to see answered here, please email it to: ThurstonPTO@gmail.com