April 29 2020

Week of 04.29.20

Dear Westlake Parents and Guardians:

I can’t believe we are already finishing up the month of April!  The time is going by so quickly!  I’m grateful for our Westlake school community and all the wonderful people (students, staff, and parents) who make every day a joy.  I know things aren’t what we imagined they would be at this time a few weeks ago, but it is important that we try to find the joy in the current situation as best as we can.   Thank you to all of our  parents and guardians for your work in the essential work field and for supporting your children’s education at home.  You all are doing a great job during such a historic and challenging time. 

Digital Family Resources

Check out the following from our library!

Best Family Documentaries by Common Sense Media 

Common Sense Media is a nonprofit resource for families discussing technology and entertainment.  There are libraries of reviews organized by age and content to browse.  Best Documentaries

Recommended Audiobooks by Common Sense Media

There is also a list of audiobooks organized by age from Audible (for free).  Best Free Audiobooks on Audible


Podcasts recommended by Common Sense Media

For something a little different try listening to these podcasts – maybe even during dinner.  Podcasts for Tweens and Teens


Dr. Heide, Principal Westlake Middle School

Category: Weekly Blog Posts | Comments Off on Week of 04.29.20
April 15 2020

Week of 04.15.20

Westlake Parents and Guardians:

I hope you and your family are doing well and staying healthy.  I know the state-wide stay at home order has provided each of our families lots of time together which is good….and probably has caused patience with each other to run a bit thin.  Cultures of Dignity published an interesting article around how to navigate the family dynamics during quarantine….I hope you find it helpful!  Take care of yourselves and stay healthy!

Navigating household dynamics during quarantine

We need to keep healthy, safe, and connected to each other. But the everyday moments of living together can be seriously challenging. Even in the best of times, the ability to regulate yourself and have a high level of social and relationship skills has always been the most important skills a person needs to function and thrive. Now, it is critical to you and everyone you’re living with.

Let’s keep in mind:

  • Conflict is always inevitable. In this situation it’s even more likely.

  • Conflicts are usually about two things: the actual thing people disagree about and how we are talking to each other about the problem.

  • It’s up to us to try our best to be easy on people, hard on ideas.

  • No matter what happens, we still have to interact with each other. We aren’t going anywhere, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to get to a better place. That means really listening; being prepared to be changed by what you hear.  Beware the temptation to wait for someone to stop talking so we can tell them why they’re wrong and we’re right.

  • Everyone is going to have to change at least one thing about what they’re doing to make the problem better and get us closer to where we want to be.

Before talking to the person you’re frustrated with go to a quiet place and write your responses to the following questions:

  1. What are the three things you want to accomplish in this meeting?
  2. Are your three goals realistic?
  3. What is one thing you want to hold yourself accountable during this meeting?

During the conversation, it is important to aks “curious” questions instead of a “why would you ever think X question” is. Try using these sentence stems:

Can you tell me more about…

Help me understand why…

What’s success look like here?
Maybe it didn’t go perfectly. That’s OK. It’s unrealistic to expect that one meeting will solve the conflict. So have a short check the next day. And don’t worry, you’ll have more opportunities to practice.

Whether you’re cooped up at home or not, you can use this strategy anytime you’re in conflict with other people.

News from the Library

Have you taken a look at the reading resources on the Westlake Library homepage?  During this time of remote learning across the state and country, publishers have increased access to digital books for students and families.  These are available along with the titles already a part of the Westlake Library. Two of the resources (Sora and MackinVia) provide access to both eBooks and digital audiobooks.  Two other links offer access to LightBox Interactive books. These titles have embedded quizzes, games, and activities as well as titles in multiple languages. The Audible link also includes titles in six different languages along with two additional audiobook resources focused on YA literature.  Instructions for accessing each resource are linked as well.

Now might be a great time to revisit the Harry Potter series (through the Audible).  Start a family book club at the dinner table. Learn new science facts while taking care of the laundry.  Reading is beneficial for all aspects of children’s lives. Of course it improves academic skills like literacy, but it also increases imagination, expands world views, and builds compassion.  Take a look at the Westlake Library page has to offer. If you would like a book recommendation, just answer the questions on this link: https://forms.gle/MUFxv8kuWtrFdKxt5

For even more options, don’t forget to visit your public library’s site.  They have many more digital titles available and a digital library card if you need one! 


Info for 8th Graders Interested in Color Guard at Legacy HS

Are you interested in getting more information about the Legacy Color Guard?  If you are fill out this form by clicking HERE.



WEB Leader Application is now available!

We are excited to inform our current 7th grade students and families that the W.E.B. Leader application for the 2020-2021 school year is now open.  Please click HERE for information and the application.

Staff Member of the Year Nominations Extended!

If you would like to nominate a staff member for our new recognition program you still have time.  Click HERE to submit your nomination today!

Dr. Heide, Principal Westlake Middle School

Category: Weekly Blog Posts | Comments Off on Week of 04.15.20
April 8 2020

New posting day! Week of 04.08.20 through 04.14.20

Dear Westlake Parents and Guardians:

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the spring weather we’ve had the past few days.  The sun has certainly been a welcome addition to our days at home and remote learning!  I came across an interesting set of 10 tips from Random Acts of Kindness that I wanted to share with everyone.  Check out the Random Acts of Kindness website for more ideas around kindness during this time of challenge and difficulty by clicking HERE.

One of the things we know about times of crisis is that sticking to a routine is crucial to our own mental health. So, we’ve put together 10 tips on how to maintain a routine of kindness during difficult times:

  1. Maintain a sleep schedule and manage your hygiene. This may be difficult for those working on the front lines, but remember that sleep is critical to wellness. Getting enough (continuous) sleep is so important! Keep up with your hygiene habits. Get showered, brush your teeth, wash your face, wear something other than pajamas (even though they are so comfy!) and include bright colors in your daily wardrobe.
  2. Do good for others! When we help others and increase altruistic behavior, we are doing good for ourselves. There is a LOT of evidence about the science of doing good and why it benefits our own health. Make sure that while you’re taking care of yourself, you’re doing what you can to support others.
  3. Get outside. Go for a walk. Play frisbee. Plant some flowers. Try to go for at least 30 minutes. If you can’t go outside, open the windows. Get fresh air and sunshine. Vitamin D is so important to our physical and mental health. Soak up some rays!
  4. Connect with others. Use your phone or platforms like FaceTime, Skype or Zoom to talk with family and friends. Share how you’re feeling and actively listen to others when they share how they are feeling.
  5. Spend a little extra time with your children and/or pets. They may be confused and/or scared. This is a great time to build stronger connections with those around you. Looking for ideas for things to do with your kids? Did you know we have a curriculum that has all kinds of great ideas and activities? Check it out and adapt the lessons for use at home! And, it is SO IMPORTANT to keep kids on a schedule as well. Let your children help with creating a daily schedule that includes academics, exercise, creative time, quiet time and time to connect with friends.
  6. Drink lots of water! Eat healthy. Often, during stressful times we over-indulge and don’t maintain a healthy diet. Use this time to re-evaluate your diet and try new recipes!
  7. Develop a self-care plan for yourself. Consider strategies that are proven to work well for many. Listen to music you love, burn a candle that smells good, write in your journal or read a book. When was the last time you colored something? Get out the crayons and colored pencils and color a picture! Take a long warm bath. Start a craft project. Organize a room. Whatever feels good to you… do it and pat yourself on the back for taking care of yourself.
  8. Be kind. Everyone is doing their best right now. It is easy to be judgmental of how others are handling this challenging time, but know that we all operate a little differently. Offer a bit of grace to others during this time. Notice all the good things happening in the world right now. There are a ton of great things… just do a search online for “good news during Covid-19” and you’ll find a lot!
  9. Find a reason to smile every day. In fact, find a way to generate a good hearty belly laugh every day. It does a body good.
  10. Be grateful. There is SO MUCH to be grateful for right now. Practicing gratitude builds resilience and helps us through the toughest times. Find three things every day that you are grateful for and write them down. Put the lists in a jar and look at your lists months from now to remind you of all the little reasons you were able to get through this period.

We can do this if we keep a routine of love, laughter and beauty at the forefront.

Students not returning to school this school year…..when can we get our things? And other questions you might have with the school closure and remote learning

I know the news from our district regarding school being closed for the rest of the year might have raised a number of questions for you around when/how do we get our belongings from our lockers, what about awards ceremonies or other end of the year events, or when/how do we get our yearbooks, to name a few.  Please know that Westlake along with our district are working on how we address all of these questions.  A plan will be shared with you soon around all these pieces, especially how students will get their items out of their lockers, within the next few weeks.  Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this unprecedented event of the school moving to remote learning for the remainder of the year.

In addition, teachers are posting the upcoming week’s assignments on Fridays by noon.  Teachers will respond to questions from students and parents regarding new assignments after the weekend.  Please feel free to reach out to us any time with questions.

Virtual Spirit Week!

Please join us this week for a couple of fun days of virtual school spirit!  Check it out!



Category: Weekly Blog Posts | Comments Off on New posting day! Week of 04.08.20 through 04.14.20
April 3 2020

Week of 04.06.20

Dear Westlake Parents and Guardians:


We made it through the first week of remote learning!  It was great to reconnect with kids this week and see their shining faces either in live class meetings or in pictures of them posted in the classroom spaces.  I know it is a challenge trying to balance your own work from home and overseeing what your children are doing in the virtual classroom space.  We are working hard to learn from the feedback our students and parents are giving us and what we are seeing in the virtual classroom space in order to create the best possible learning opportunity for students under the circumstances.  I came across this Parents’ Ultimate Guide to Google Classroom that I thought you would be interested in it.  Check it out by clicking HERE.  I hope this helps you!  If you have questions please feel free to reach out to the teachers or school administration any time.

We have put together a one-stop-shop location for access to all the Westlake teacher’s remote learning access points.  To access this information click HERE

Online Class Etiquette Tips and Tricks

Across the nation schools have moved to a remote learning environment and it has highlighted the critical nature of understanding how to interact with one another in this virtual environment.  Below are some guidelines for students as they engage in the online environment:

1. Be respectful. While it is easier to say hurtful or disrespectful things without standing face-to-face with someone, it is important to remember that your classmates and teachers are real people who are affected by the words you say and write.  It is essential to keep in mind the feelings and opinions of others, even if they differ from your own.  If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online either.

2. Be aware of strong language, all caps, and exclamation points. It is easy for written text to be misread and misunderstood.  Have you ever sent a text message with good intent but your recipient thought you were being rude? If so, then you’ve experienced this firsthand.  By being cognizant of strong language, you can identify potential confusions before sending messages.  Tip: Read everything out loud before you send it.

3. Be careful with humor and sarcasm. Certainly you shouldn’t avoid being funny. We love to see your personality shine through in online classes.  Many of our teachers are exceptionally funny too.  But like mentioned in Rule #2, make sure that it is clear you are being funny and not being rude. Emoticons and smileys can be helpful when conveying humor or sarcasm so that it is read correctly. Just remember to keep the smiley faces away from academic papers. 😉

4. Yes, grammar and spelling matter. While texting, textspeak can b gr8 4 ur friends.  In an educational setting (even online) however, keep it formal.  Your written communication should be professional and reflect proper writing style.  Save written shortcuts and less than stellar grammar for Snapchat if you must, but follow grammar rules for school.

5. Cite your sources. Whenever you are sharing an idea that originated from someone else (even if it is not word for word), it is good practice to cite that source.  This applies to discussion forums too.  If you read a great thought in your text, share it, but be sure you let your audience know where you saw it first.

6. Don’t post or share (even privately) inappropriate material. Enough said there. Nothing is truly private online.

7. Be forgiving. Remember that not everyone will know these rules before posting. Try to be understanding of others when they struggle with written communication.  It is very different than simply talking to a person face-to-face.

(“7 Rules for Online Etiquette.” Achieve Virtual Education Academy, 7 Feb. 2019, achievevirtual.org/7-rules-for-online-etiquette/.)


Technology Help and Support

Our district has tech support for you!  If you are struggling with the Remote Learning technologies, we have several options for assistance with technical issues, including:

For each option above, please provide as much information as possible to help us respond to the issue you are experiencing (student name, student ID / lunch number, a phone number or email we can use to contact you, a complete description of the problem).

Dr. Heide, Principal Westlake Middle School


Category: Weekly Blog Posts | Comments Off on Week of 04.06.20