We have just completed our first semester with the conclusion of our mid-term exams two weeks ago at Morse. Semester two is underway and with it, a feeling of a fresh start for teachers and students.
Many students find this part of the year to be busy and productive. Our winter athletic teams of Basketball, Cheering, Indoor Track, Swimming, Wrestling, and a few Ice Hockey players are in full swing. Morse Cheering placed 4th at the KVAC championship and third at Regionals. Both Boys’ and Girls’ Swim Teams are nearly undefeated in their regular-season competitions. The Morse Unified Basketball team is in its second season and if you have not been to a game, mark it on your calendar. This is an excellent opportunity to see Morse students shine!
Morse will once-again send an original student-written play to the MPA’s One Act Play competition. Our cast and crew are busy in the theater working on senior Emily Minott’s play, A Man of the Past. The world premier of A Man of the Past will occur at Morse’s Fine Arts Night at 7:00 p.m. on March 6th.
The Morse Debate Team, Math Team, and Ocean Bowl Teams are all busy preparing for competitions. We will, once again, send two Ocean Bowl teams to the regional championships at the University of New England. Will our teams qualify for the national championship again this year? Stay tuned! These academic teams are building momentum at Morse with renewed support and attention; as your students make plans for future years, please encourage their participation in these fantastic opportunities.
Many of Morse student musicians have received commendations and honors already this school year. Senior, Sierra Wallace has been chosen to perform a solo in the All-State Jazz Mixed Choir. Oscar Henin, Zach Lay, Sierra Wallace, Caleb Adams, Jason Lou, Rachel Ouellette, and Hadley Wong were all chosen to perform in three ensembles during this winter’s District 3 Honors Music Festival. Congratulations to these talented Morse Musicians!
As I am sure you are aware, Morse has shifted from a grading system that was based on quarters, to that of semesters. This is perhaps a subtle shift, as we always did average our first and second quarter grades (with the midterm exam) to formulate a semester grade. Our new system allows for grades to continue to build through the semester, allowing us to balance summative assessments more equitably through the semester. Now that the dust has cleared and we have generated grades, we will review the practice and monitor its success and evaluate any unintended consequences. I have not found any major issues with this new grading system to date; feel free to reach out to me with comments or concerns regarding semester grading.
Progress on the new Morse High School/BRCTC is going well. The site work is a significant undertaking and Crooker Construction is making impressive progress. The site work is scheduled to be ready for the initial building phase in March of this year and we will move into the building in the summer of 2020, opening the building to students at the start of the 2020-21 school year. Our planning continues to be more detail-oriented and we have begun to plan for changes in our school day once we are in our new school.
Our move to the new building will bring many more changes than just the walls around us. For one, the new school will have a cafeteria that will accomodate half of the student body, eliminating the need for a third lunch. Therefore, our daily schedule will be changing when we move to the new building. A scheduling committee of teachers from Morse and BRCTC, a school counselor, building and district administrators, and a school board member/parent have had one meeting to start this process. Whether the committee lands on a daily schedule that is very similar to that which we already have, or something quite different, we have a few priorities that we are paying attention to in this work. We wish to:
Maximize the amount of effective time that is spent with students in academic classes
Maintain or improve access to BRCTC programs for Morse students, including the addition of elective classes taught by BRCTC faculty
Configure the day to allow for students to access a variety of types of academic programming
Maintain or improve academic interventions for students who need extra help in order to find success
Develop a plan that would maximize the effectiveness of our time, now that we are able to have two lunch sessions rather than three.
This is one of the most significant potential changes that will shape our day when we move to the new Morse. We know that we will not be able to get everything that we want; however, we will make an informed decision. It is important that we start this work early, in order to assure that we are maximizing the wonderful opportunities that the shift to our new home can bring.
The class of 2019 has already begun their plans for the future. Many students have already been notified of college and technical school acceptances and received good news regarding financial assistance with the next stages of their life. Of the 128 current seniors, 78 have already completed the FAFSA and we believe 25 more have plans of completion. Students have a wide-range of anticipated majors. Three students have already received the great news that their college tuition will be completely paid for through scholarship and/or military commitments. As June comes closer, I will have more progress towards our seniors’ goals to report.
The annual Morse Winter Carnival will be held on the afternoon of Friday, February 15th (the Friday before February vacation). I must admit that I have refused to participate in the outdoor dunk tank again this year (I think it took weeks to bring my internal body temperature back up to normal); however, it is sure to be a fun time! We will conclude regular academic classes at the beginning of block five in order to have our semester 1 recognition assembly and winter carnival until the end of the day.
It is hard to believe that we have passed the halfway mark of the 2018-19 school year. Although our days are quite busy in the most unpredictable ways, Mrs. Gallice and I are honored to work in our positions at the helm of Morse High School. We look forward to the spring semester. Feel free to reach out to either of us.
Eric J. Varney
Morse High School