SOMS Student Handbook
A Message To Students
Welcome to South Orange Middle School. We are thrilled that you are part of our learning community, and we look forward to your success during your time with us, and beyond. You are part of a very special and caring place that is committed to preparing you for high levels of success in high school, college, and your career. We believe in the importance of preparing you to becoming caring, ethical, and involved global citizens who possess the communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills necessary for success in the 21st century.
In order for us to be successful, we need your commitment to your own learning and development as a citizen of this school, and our local and global communities. The keys to this success are within each and every one of you: a belief in yourself that you can accomplish any goals you set, and your best effort in pursuing those goals.
One of our goals as a school this year is to increase the number of students involved in school activities and clubs. I urge you to explore the afterschool activities SOMS offers, and to get involved in one that interests you. This is a great opportunity to meet new friends with similar interest to you, and to develop these interests under the guidance of a club advisor.
This year we will be begin our journey to become an International Baccalaureate Middle Years School. This is an incredibly unique and exciting opportunity for all of us who are part of SOMS, and it requires all of us to grow as learners and citizens. I have enclosed the IB Learner Profile Attributes for you to review. These are the characteristics and traits we will all be looking to acquire and develop this year. I hope you take a look at them.
From all of the staff of SOMS, we wish you a positive and successful school year.
Lynn A. Irby, Principal
James Jennings, Assistant Principal
James Waldron, Assistant Principal
SOMS Vision and Mission Statement
The South Orange-Maplewood District Middle Schools will together become the top-performing middle level system in the nation by focusing on Academic Excellence, Responsiveness to Student Needs, and Social Equity.
The South Orange-Maplewood District Middle Schools will together prepare all students with the skills, knowledge, and habits of mind necessary for success in high school, college, and a 21st century career. This includes developing global citizens who are:
- caring, collaborative and ethical people
- critical thinkers and problem solvers
- effective communicators, and
- lifelong learners
Student Expectations At SOMS
To succeed in middle school, you need to bring a positive attitude and tireless effort. In addition, commit yourself to meeting the following four
expectations we have for all students.
- Be on time for school.
- Be on time for class.
- Be prepared. Every day come prepared with the tools for success. These include:
- A Positive attitude.
- Your best effort.
- Your materials (notebooks, pens, homework, etc).
- Be respectful. Be kind, compassionate, and respectful to every member of our community, to yourself, and to our building.
8:15 a.m. Doors open
8:20 a.m. Students must be seated
in their period 1 for
attendance at this time.
2:45 p.m. Final bell for scheduled classes
3:15 p.m. End of conference period and/or teacher detentions
12:30 PM Dismissal Days
A few days shown on the calendar are 12:30 p.m. dismissal days. These are regular attendance days, except that lunch is not served and the activity period is dropped. Class periods are slightly shorter, but all classes meet unless a special schedule is announced. You will report to school at the regular time.
In the event that schools are to be closed due to bad weather, there will be a one-minute siren blast at 7:00 a.m., the district website will post the closing and the district’s All Call will be activated. In addition, the following media stations are notified: Radio station 1010 WINS and television channels 4, 5, 7, NJ 12, and CNN.
Three short blasts (15 seconds) on the siren at 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., the district website will post the delay and the district’s All Call will be activated. In addition, the following media stations are notified: Radio station 1010 WINS and television channels 4, 5, 7, NJ 12, and CNN. Students report to school at 10:15 a.m.
Going To And From School
We ask that students do not arrive at the school prior to 8:10. Students who do arrive before 8:15 a.m. will have to wait outside the building because staff supervision does not begin until 8:15 a.m. Students may not wait inside the building except in the case of extreme weather. Students who are purchasing and eating breakfast should report to the cafeteria.
Entrances and Exits
Sixth and seventh graders enter the building through the REAR doors (rear parking lot entrance) and eighth graders enter through the front of the building (North Ridgewood Road).
Students must leave school grounds promptly after dismissal unless requested to stay during the conference period by a teacher. This would include detention, extra help, club or school activity, etc. Parents who need supervision for their children beyond 3:15 PM, should contact the SOMS YOUTHNET PLUS at (973) 763-6371. Unsupervised children are not permitted in the building beyond dismissal.)
The Board will permit the use of bicycles by pupils in grades six through twelve in accordance with district rules provided such pupils present written parental approval and have been granted permission by the building principal. If you receive permission to ride your bike to school, you must wear your helmet, as required by law! If you do ride your bike, there is a bike rack on the side of the building. This is the ONLY place you may leave your bike during the day. Be sure to lock and chain it to the bike rack. The school is NOT responsible for damage or theft of parts of bicycles that are parked at schools. Students are not to ride their bikes on school property.
The transportation department notifies and sends information to students eligible for bus services prior to the beginning of the school year. Bus conduct rules follow the same school behavior policies. Repeated misconduct may result in temporary or permanent removal from the bus.
Skateboards / Scooters
The Board prohibits the operation or possession of scooters, skateboards, and in-line skates on school grounds. If you bring them to school, it will be confiscated and returned only to a parent or guardian.
Regular attendance is an essential part of part of academic success. Students are required by district policy and state law to attend school on a daily basis. In instances when students begin to demonstrate a pattern of absences, the school will begin progressive interventions to try to establish more consistent attendance. These interventions include:
- Letter to Parents/Meeting between Counselor and Student
- Letter to Parents/Meeting between Counselor and Parents – Development of Attendance Action Plan
- Meeting between Parents and Administration
Parents are to call ( 973) 378-2772 between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m to report if their child is absent. An automated call will be made by the school to the home whenever a child is absent.
When students return to school after an absence, they must bring a note signed by their parents stating the specific reason for your absence.
Absences and tardiness are excused for religious or legal reasons, medical appointments, or death in the family.
You will be considered late if you are not seated in your PERIOD 1 class by 8:20 a.m. If you arrive during period 1, you must report directly to your class.
If you arrive after period 1 has ended (9:14 a.m.), you MUST report to the main office for a pass BEFORE going to class to avoid being marked “Absent” from school.
After initial warning, if a student continues to be tardy (excused or unexcused), the teacher may do one or more of the following:
4 tardies = teacher detention; parent contact
8 tardies = administrative detention; parent contact
12 tardies = parent conference with administrator & counselor
Students who accumulate multiple unexcused tardies in each marking period are subject to disciplinary action.
If you need to leave school for part of the day for an approved absence, on the morning of the early dismissal, you must: 1) report to your period 1 class, and 2) go to the office with the note from your parents stating the time and reason you must leave and when you may return to school. You must sign out in the main office and be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The purpose of the school dress code is to establish standards for what is acceptable dress and grooming within the school setting with particular concern for health and safety. The code is designed to encourage a climate conducive to teaching and learning.
- Hats and other head coverings are not permitted unless for religious purposes or medical reasons
- Pants and shorts must be worn at waist level.
- Shorts or skirts are to be an appropriate length. To be appropriate, they must reach to the fingertips of the extended arm.
- Wear appropriate footwear. Flip flops and shoes with no back are not permitted.
- No clothing advertising alcoholic beverages, smoking or illegal substances.
- No clothing with culturally offensive messages.
- No clothing with sexually suggestive pictures, sayings or slogans.
- No attire or body markings that demonstrate or suggest gang-related symbols or colors.
- No attire that exposes undergarments or anatomy.
- IN ALL INSTANCES THE BUILDING ADMINISTRATION SHALL MAKE THE FINAL DETERMINATION ON THE APPROPRIATENESS OF DRESS AND GROOMING DURING SCHOOL HOURS AND/OR SCHOOL FUNCTIONS.
Program of Study
Every student is part of an academic team. Teams consist of a Language Arts, Math, SS, Science, and Special Education teacher. Each of the teachers on a team share the same students and common time to plan their lessons and have parent meetings. Essentially, academic teams are small learning communities or schools within the school. Teams activities are planned throughout the year for sharing the learning and the fun of middle school. Each team has a teacher/leader that coordinates the work of the team. The team leaders are as follows:
Team 6A Linda Abella
Team 6B Diane Grant
Team 6C Angela Forero
Team 7A Lynn McGlotten
Team 7B John Gregory
Team 7C Anthony Cicenia
Team 8A Lisa MacPherson
Team 8B Kiina Dordoni
Core Academic Program
In each grade, all students take the 4 core subjects: language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. Subjects included in the related arts program are: art, music, technology, health and physical education. Students also take:
7th grade: Spanish for a full year
8th grade: Spanish for a full year
In addition, grades 6,7 and 8 have a supplemental instruction program which extends learning beyond the regular program of study.
All students are required by state law to participate in physical education unless certified by a physician as being incapable of such participation. The physical education program in grades 6 through 8 involves strenuous activity. To guarantee freedom of movement, health, safety and protection, everyone must change for class. We recommend the following: gym shorts, T-shirts, socks, sneakers, and sweatsuits. Uniforms should be washed each week. Jewelry is to be removed for class.
Students need a note from parent/guardian, or physician to be excused from physical education. The note should be given to the nurse in the morning before homeroom. Excuses for more than a few days must be from the physician. Grades are based on daily participation in class, effort and skills, and written tests.
Advisory is a thirty minute mid-day study period during which students can begin their homework, prepare for a test or quiz, or meet with their teacher. In addition, we will begin this year to use advisory to reinforce the International Baccalaureate Learner Profile. Students will be involved in discussions and activities that build familiarity with the Learner Profile Qualities, and encourage development of them.
Homework is an important part of learning as it provides an opportunity for students to practice and extend skills learned in class. As such, it is included as part of the marking period and final grade averages.
At the beginning of each school year, students receive an agenda pad. We encourage each student to record all of their homework daily basis, and that parents check the agenda each night. For students struggling with homework, we encourage they take advantage of conference period to get support from their teacher(s).
If you miss a class for any reason during the day, see the teacher during advisory or the conference period to get any assignment you need to complete before class the next day.
If you are absent from school, you will have time to make up your assignments --- usually two days for each day of absence. See your teacher after school the day you return to get any assignments you missed.
Progress Reports are sent home at the mid-point of each marking period. All students will receive a minimum of four progress reports.
Report cards are mailed four times a year. Please refer to the school calendar for those dates.
Report card grades represent your progress towards achievement of state and national grade level standards, as determined by various assessments. The letter grade represents a numeric value. Please see the grade scale below.
A+ = 100 – 97 C+ = 79 - 77
A = 96 - 94 C = 76 - 74
A- = 93 – 90 C- = 73 - 70
B+ = 89 – 87 D+ = 69 - 67
B = 86 – 84 D = 66 - 64
B- = 83 – 80 D- = 63 - 60
F = Below 59
Report cards will not be issued in the event that a student has an outstanding obligation to the school such as a library or book fine.
Concerns ABOUT Progress
When a parent is concerned about their child’s academic progress, it is advised that they meet with the teacher to communicate their concern(s), and to develop a plan to address them. To schedule such a meeting, parents can either email the teacher directly, or schedule a team meeting through our guidance secretary, Ms. Knight by calling (973) 378-2772 ex. 2007.
Each marking period, the school recognizes students who demonstrate outstanding achievement and effort in all their courses by placing them on either the HONOR ROLL or the HIGH HONOR ROLL.
To achieve placement on the HONOR ROLL, a student cannot have a grade lower than a B- on his/her report card for that marking period.
To achieve placement on the HIGH HONOR ROLL, a student cannot have a grade lower than an A- on his/her report card for that marking period. Please note that all graded subject areas count towards honor roll. Therefore, it is essential that students put forth their best effort in each and every class.
To achieve placement on the EFFORT ROLL, student must receive all positive comments on the report card.
Team leaders plan field trips to enhance and extend the curriculum. In the event of academic or behavioral concerns, students may be kept from participating in the event. In these situations, an alternate educational activity will be provided.
While some trips involve costs for transportation and other fees, no child shall be excluded from a trip based on the inability to pay the costs.
Every student is assigned a guidance counselor that they will stay with through their three years at SOMS. Assignments this year are as follows:
Ms. Paula Bethea: (973) 378-2772, ex. 2009
8th grade and 7th graders with last names L-Z
Ms. Kelli Dios: (973) 378-2772, ex. 2008
6th Grade and 7th graders with last names A-K
The counseling program at the middle school is organized to service the academic and social/emotional needs of our students and their parents. The services offered by the counselors range from:
- Individual counseling and support for students struggling academically, socially, or emotionally.
- Group counseling to ease transitions to middle school, develop essential organizational or social skills, or promote healthy social/emotional behaviors.
If you need assistance to deal with a problem causing you concern, please see your counselor for assistance.
Our nurse’s name is Mrs. Cathryn Iorio (973) 378-2772, ex. 2013. Her office is open from 8:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. daily. Mrs. Iorio is on hand to respond to emergencies, such as accidents and illness. She also provides health screening and advice to students as needed.
Our medical office also provides yearly screening for hearing, height, weight, blood pressure, vision and scoliosis.
Some important facts for you and your parents to keep in mind:
- Students who have been sent home or have been sick with a fever, are NOT to return to school until they have been without a fever for 24 hours or more based on the illness.
- Medication to be given in school must be accompanied by a physician’s order and a written request from a parent must be kept in the nurse’s office.
- Students with diagnosed strep throat or conjunctivitis will not be permitted to reenter school until they have received prescribed treatment. The nurse must be contacted prior to returning to school.
- If you have a medical condition requiring adjustments in the school program, please ask your parents to notify the school nurse.
Social Work Program
The middle school social work program offers students a chance to reflect on this intense and sometimes confusing stage of development. Students, with parental consent, can participate in individual and group counseling opportunities that provide a warm and supportive atmosphere to address the multitude of challenges they face.
The school social work program is directed by Mrs. Alison Steiner, LCSW who works with graduate interns from schools of social work in the tri-state area. For more information contact your child’s guidance counselor.
The South Orange Middle School Library is open Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. - 3:15 p.m. It has a large collection of books, magazines, and online material to support your learning, as well as your recreational reading.
You may sign out all books and materials you wish to borrow from the library, except certain reference works, which do not circulate. Most books may be kept out for two weeks, but some are reserved for overnight use during periods of high demand. You are responsible for all material you check out and must return books on time so that others may use them. There is a fine imposed for lost or overdue library materials.
Lunch time is 30 minutes long. The cafeteria serves a complete lunch. Lunches may be purchased at a set price for a complete lunch or individual items may be purchased separately OR you may bring your own lunch.
There are a few special rules about behavior in the cafeteria:
- Students are expected to arrive to the cafeteria on time.
- When lining up for lunch or snack, students are not allowed to save a place in line or cut.
- While eating lunch students must remain seated. There will be no more than twelve students sitting at a table.
- When finished with lunch, each student is responsible for cleaning his or her area.
- Do not take any food or drink out of the cafeteria.
- Assigned seats or lunch detention may be assigned for repeated misconduct in the cafeteria.
After School Activities
The conference period from 2:45 to 3:15 p.m. is considered part of the regular school day. Your teachers will be here for you most afternoons during this time. You don’t need an appointment to see them if you need help. Take advantage of this opportunity to gain additional support in your studies or seek advice about questions
related to school. Please schedule outside appointments after 3:15 p.m.
Becoming involved in an after-school club or activity is an outstanding way to become connected to our school and develop positive relationships with students and teachers who share interests similar to your own. We strongly encourage you to get involved in one of the many school or YouthNet (see below) clubs or activities we have to offer. Clubs generally meet one per month after-school between 3:15-4:15. The school clubs and activities include:
- Newspaper (Mr. A. Cicenia): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Yearbook (Ms. P. Miller): email@example.com
- Student Government (Ms. P. Bethea): firstname.lastname@example.org
- MLK Club (Ms. J. Wright): email@example.com
- O Ambassadors Club (Ms. Butler):
- Band (Mr. Tighe): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Orchestra (Mr. Cook): email@example.com
- Chorus (Ms. Harris): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Intramural Sports (Mr. Shannon, Mr. Paradiso): email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
- All-school Musical (Ms. Harris): email@example.com
SOMS Youthnet Plus
SOMS YouthNet Plus is a community organization that provides an after school wrap-around program for SOMS students. The Extended Enrichment Program runs from dismissal until 6:00 pm, Monday-Friday. It includes access to SOMS YouthNet Plus clubs, arts and crafts, open gym, academic support.
In addition to the Extended Enrichment Program, SOMS YouthNet Plus sponsors after-school clubs for SOMS students. These clubs range from Cooking to Chess to Step and are open to all SOMS students.
For more information about the Extended Enrichment Program or the after school clubs, please contact Ms. Diane Malloy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student Discipline Policies
At SOMS, we understand that part of our job is to foster sound decision-making skills, and to support students in their efforts to regulate and manage their own behavior, emotions, and impulses. Especially during young adolescence, these are skills that must be explicitly taught and reinforced. This is a responsibility we embrace at SOMS.
The SOMSD Code of Conduct establishes rules and expectations for student behavior in school. These rules also establish consequences for when students violate these rules. We approach these violations with the students as opportunities to learn, and develop in the areas of self-regulation and decision-making. We use a number of interventions that increase in intensity to correct student misbehavior.
If the conduct is repeated, or if the learning process cannot continue, the student will be referred to an Administrator. The Administrator may assign one or more of the following:
- Detention with the teacher from 2:45-3:15
- Administrative detention from 3:15-4:00pm
- Extended detention from 2:45-5:00
- Parent/ guardian conference
Per the district code of conduct, an administrator may assign severe consequences for certain violations, including suspension or expulsion from school. These violations include:
- Smoking on school grounds or at any school-sponsored activity
- Using, possessing, or selling drugs or alcohol in school or on school grounds
- Fighting, roughhousing, or any activity which would likely result in injury to others
- Refusing to follow a staff directive; offensive language toward a staff member
- Threatening or assaulting another student or staff member (physically or verbally)
- Misusing safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and alarms
- Defacing, vandalizing, or stealing any property --- school or personal
One fire and one emergency drill are conducted each month. Emergency drills include building evacuations, bomb threats, and lock-down drills. It is critical that students remain quiet and follow the directions of the teacher throughout the course of every drill.
Lockers are school property. You will have the exclusive use of a hall locker near your period 1 class to keep your books and personal property during the school day. Students must have a combination lock to be given access to a locker. Your combination must be kept on file with your period 1 teacher.
There are three times that students are permitted to go to their hall locker without a pass:
- Prior to period 1
- Before lunch
- At the end of the school day
You will also have the use of a locker in the gym locker room for which you will need to buy a lock. This locker will hold your personal items while you are taking physical education.
Be sure to lock ALL personal belongings in your locker. SOMS is not responsible for any lost, misplaced, damaged or stolen items.
Cell phones must be off and out of sight during the school day. Cell phones may be used for academic purposes in the classroom when determined by the teacher. If a cell phone is seen or rings while in the building, it will be confiscated and sent to the main office. Parents will be notified about consequences. SOMS is not responsible for lost or stolen cell phones.
All visitors must enter through the front entrance of SOMS on North Ridgewood Road. Upon being buzzed in, visitors are to report immediately to the front office to sign in and receive a pass. Student visitors are not permitted as a matter of safety and that they typically detract from the educational process.
The School District of South Orange and Maplewood does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender, socio-economic status, or disability in its programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquires with regards to discriminatory concerns and non-discrimination policies:
**This Student Handbook has been designed to provide everyone with a base of information. From time to time events may take place that require administrative action beyond that which is found in the Handbook. When and as appropriate, building administrators will take those actions that are prudent and consistent with Board policy.