Frequently Asked Questions

Click a category for a list of questions and answers.

ABSENCES

ACADEMICS

ACADEMIC ASSISTANCE

Band

BEHAVIOR AT SCHOOL

COLLABORATION/MINIMUM DAYS

Community Service

COUNSELING

Dances

Discipline

Lunch

Math

ON-LINE BEHAVIOR

PARENT VOLUNTEER

Physical Education

SPORTS

STUDENT ACTIVITIES

TESTS/FINALS

World Languages

 

LUNCH

What is Lunch A vs. Lunch B (Not just the time, but how or why a child gets one vs. the other)?

In order to safely supervise students at lunch, the student population is split.  Lunch A runs from 11:45 – 12:20, and Lunch B runs from 12:40 – 1:15. Sixth grade students eat during Lunch A, eighth grade students eat during Lunch B, and seventh grade students are split between the two lunches.  Seventh grade students’ lunch intervals are driven by which lunch their period 5 teachers are assigned.

What happens if a student has no friends during their lunch period?  Is there

anything else to do?

It is an excellent opportunity to seek and develop new friendships.  There are also several lunchtime activities in which students can participate: ping-pong, shuffleboard, foozeball, movies to watch, basketball, dodgeball, chess club, library, etc.

Where do students eat lunch?

Students eat lunch in the patio areas and stairs below food service and in the MPR (Multi-Purpose Room).

How much do food items cost at brunch and lunch?

At brunch, $2.00 – $3.00 is enough.  At lunch, $4.00 – $6.00 is enough.

When is brunch?

Brunch is between periods 3 and 4, 10:40 – 10:50 a.m.

What should a parent do if a student forgets his or her lunch money?

If a student forgets his/her lunch money, the money may be delivered, in an envelope with the student’s name on it, to the PMS office.  The student will be called, during a passing period when possible, to collect the money.

What is available for lunch besides featured lunch entrée?

Students may choose from freshly made soups, salads, sandwiches and fresh fruit.   Fruit juice, water and milk are available.  There are also cookies or snack bars (compliant with Senate Bill 12) on a rotating basis.

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BAND

What is the difference between orchestra and jazz band?

Orchestra and jazz play material from different musical genres. They have separate instructors, instrumentation, and meeting times.  Orchestra meets during the school day and is part of the regular program.  Jazz meets once weekly after school.

Is there a marching band?

PMS has no marching band. PHS has a pep band, not a marching band. 

Is there a place to leave an instrument during the week?

The only place to store instruments at school is in the band room.

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TESTS/FINALS

How often are tests administered and how much do they count toward the grade?

Frequency of testing varies from subject to subject. Students may need to prepare for as many as five tests per subject per quarter in addition to quizzes and other assessments.  Typically, total assessments (test, quizzes, projects) count for 50% – 75% of grades.

How much do final exams count toward the semester grade?

Final exams count for 10% of each semester grade.

Are students taught how to study for a test?

Yes.  Methods for note-taking and studying are taught at all grade levels.

Do all grades take final exams?

Only seventh and eighth graders take final exams.

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DANCES

Are dances separated by grade?

Although subject to change, seventh and eighth graders share two dances.  Seventh and eighth graders may organize one additional, separate dance for their class only.  Sixth grade has only one dance at the end of the school year.

When are they?

The Welcome Back Dance is scheduled in September (for grades 7/8), and the Magazine Sale Dance is scheduled in May (6th grade at 4:30, 7/8 at 6:30). ASB (Associated Student Body) determines dates for the remaining dances.  All dances are announced in the Daily Announcements and Weekly Bulletin. 

How long do they last?

Two hours, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
What do students wear?

For all school-sponsored events, the PMS Dress Code applies (please refer to the Student or Parent Handbooks).  Sometimes the students will dress according to themes.

What do parent chaperones do?

At dances, parents volunteer sell beverages, monitor halls, restrooms, and dance floor, and ask the staff members on duty to address any problems.

How does a parent sign up to chaperone?

ASB students representatives contact parents before dance dates.

What is the social dance class?

The social dance class is done through the Piedmont Recreation Department.  It is for seventh graders, and they learn ballroom dance steps. 

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Sports

 

Do you have organized sports at PMS?

Piedmont Recreation organizes and manages the after-schools sports programs.  For more information, contact 510.420.3070.

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COLLABORATION/MINIMUM DAYS

Why do students get out early?

Students are released early on days devoted to teacher collaboration, final exams, and on minimum days prior to certain breaks.

Is there a Schoolmates kind of program for collaboration/minimum days?

No.  Parents must make arrangements for their children on early release days.

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ACADEMICS

How do students pick electives?

Prior to the end of the year students fill out elective cards prioritizing their choices for electives.  They are not guaranteed placement in their order of choices.

What classes have combination grades?

Electives for seventh and eighth graders are comprised of student from both classes.

Do core classes post class lists?

No.

Do students switch teachers mid-year?

Seventh and eighth graders switch teachers in elective classes when those electives last only for one semester. Otherwise, students remain with the same teacher in their academic classes throughout the year. Sixth grade students change only their elective teachers as they rotate through the sixth grade elective wheel.  They maintain their core and science teachers throughout the year.

What happens if a teacher is really not working out?

In our experience, students, teachers and parents find ways to make things “work out.” Honest communications between teachers and parents are encouraged. Upon occasion, counselors and/or administration may assist in discussions. 

When do students switch teachers during the day?

Traveling from one teacher’s room to another’s depends upon individual student schedules.  

How long do they have to do this?

Passing time between classes is five minutes.

When is library open to students?

The library is open 15 minutes before classes begin and at lunch every day. It is also open after school until 4:00 pm, Monday through Thursday.  There are occasions when the library is closed at lunch due to special class projects that utilize library staff and resources.

What is the difference between Algebra 1 and Intro to Algebra.

Algebra 1 is the equivalent of first year, high school math. Students who successfully complete Algebra 1 at PMS move into Geometry as freshmen at PHS.  Introduction to Algebra is exactly half of the Algebra 1 course spread out over an entire school year.  Students move from Intro to Algebra at PMS into Algebra at PHS.  (See Math Pathways)

Why aren’t all classes on School Notes or some other online homework reminder?

Philosophies vary widely on the topic of online homework reminders/gradebooks, etc.  Some teachers and parents believe that students should learn to be responsible for writing their assignments into their organizers.  They may feel that the “crutch” of online homework reminders does not foster responsibility, and may increase parent intervention/involvement where independence should be the goal.  Others say, “Welcome to the 21st Century!”  These teachers and parents may feel that an online source of information will prevent dropped assignments and help parents stay informed about their students’ academic obligations. 

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ACADEMIC ASSISTANCE

What should a parent do if a student is having a lot of difficulty with a subject?

Parents are better equipped than school staff to analyze external forces/distractions that could be hampering progress in school.  The following is recommended:

Consider the quantity and quality of time spent by the student attending to the subject matter in question.

Consider limiting TV, computer, iPods, video games, cell phones, texting, and other distractions. 

Confer with the teacher regarding how things are going in school and at home.

How does one get the names of tutors?

PMS counselors have helpful information regarding high school aged tutors. 

How does a parent know when a tutor is needed?

If a student is working to the best of his/her ability; taking advantage of all school resources; and is still not making grade appropriate progress, parents may consider hiring a tutor at their own expense.

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BEHAVIOR AT SCHOOL

What kinds of infractions are seen at school?

Typically, pre and mid-pubescent acting-out (talking, gum-chewing, challenging authority, disruptive behaviors) are the most common kinds of infractions committed by students.

What are the typical repercussions?

When students act out, teachers employ a progressive discipline strategy (verbal warning, name on the chalkboard, checks beside name) and attempt address situations in the classroom. In some cases, teachers will assign after-school detention in which case parents must sign a notice and the student must return it to the teacher.  If in-class strategies prove ineffective, an office referral may be sent to the Assistant Principal by the teacher describing the situation. In such cases, any or all of the following may ensue: Teacher/Assistant Principal conferences with students; further detention; parental contact and conferences; suspension. Records of all disciplinary actions are maintained by the Assistant Principal.

What is the feedback loop to other students that action was taken?

None.  We cannot, by law, talk about disciplinary actions with persons outside of a student’s immediate family.   

What is the feedback loop to parents of a student who was harmed?

School officials may assure parents of harmed students that appropriate action was taken.  School officials may not, by law, share information about disciplinary actions with persons outside of a student’s immediate family.

What is detention and why would a student receive it?

Detained students stay in at brunch, lunch or after school.  Detention intervals are typically 15 minutes long, but may vary depending upon the infraction.  Students may receive consecutive detentions from different teachers on the same day.

NOTE:  If a student receives detention, he/she must serve it on the same day.  Occasionally, students who have received detention will have sporting events, medical appointments, after school studies, and other activities to attend after school.  Part of the consequence of receiving detention includes being late for after school engagements and inconveniencing parents, doctors, teammates, etc.  Rather than attempt to reschedule detentions, we encourage parents to suffer the inconvenience detentions may bring to families, and to be sure that the detained student understands the peripheral consequences that misbehavior at school can bring.

Do students get tested for drugs and alcohol at dances or at sporting events?

No.  It is expected that parents will supervise their children at sporting events.  If drug or alcohol use is suspected, parents will be called to pick offending students up from the event.  In some cases, the police will also be notified.

What is the policy about cell phones at school?

Please refer to the section regarding cell phones in the Student Handbook or Parent Handbook.  Cell phone use is strictly prohibited at school during school hours.

What happens if a student is caught cheating on a test?

No credit will given for any assignment where cheating is an issue.  The offense is documented.  Additional instances of cheating will result in disciplinary action.

What happens if a student has an iPod or similar device at school?

All such devices are to be turned-off and put away at all times during school hours.  Such devices found in sight, whether in use or not, will be confiscated and returned according to the specific situation.  PMS and PUSD are not responsible for theft or damage of iPods and other such devices.  (See Student Handbook and Parent Handbook)

What happens if students try to take illicit videos at school gym?

If students try to shoot illicit videos or unauthorized videos of any nature while at school, appropriate disciplinary action will result.

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ON-LINE BEHAVIOR

What is “cyber-bullying?”

Please refer to the following link for a concise explanation of cyber-bullying. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyber-bullying

What are the expectations of the use of social networking sites (MySpace, Facebook)?

No use of these sites is permitted at school.  Blocking software is activated to prevent visits to inappropriate websites.

What is the role of the parent in their child’s use of social networking sites?

It is the role of parents to establish rules and expectations regarding Internet use that are appropriate for their individual homes and families.  We can only suggest that parents set clear boundaries; monitor usage; and take appropriate action as needed.

What access do students have to on-line computers during the day?

Students use the Internet for a variety of purposes ranging from research to computer arts and graphics.  Computer use is closely monitored, and site-blocking software is activated.

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DISCIPLINE

How is information communicated to students regarding behavior?

Students receive information regarding expectations for behavior through classroom review and home review of the information provided in the Student Handbook. Grade level assemblies are held at the outset of every quarter (four times per year).  At these assemblies rules, regulations, expectations and recent events that have resulted in disciplinary actions are reviewed.

How is information kept confidential when bullying or other mean behaviors are reported?

The staff is trained to keep such information confidential.  When bullies are questioned by school officials, the names of those who reported them are never disclosed unless by permission of the reporting student.

Are there consequences at school for off campus misconduct?

The school may become involved when events happening off campus directly impact the environment/learning of students while they are on campus. 

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Counseling

 

Under what circumstances does a student meet with a counselor?

Students may meet with counselors by request. Counselor may call for students for a variety of reasons.  Parents may call counselors to confer about their students.  Teachers may refer students to counselors for a variety of reasons.

Are there any issues that would be inappropriate for a student to speak to a counselor?

Students may begin a conversation with our counselors about any matter that is troubling them or about which they seek advice or an open mind.  The counselors make case-by-case decisions about what is and is not appropriate for discussion with students.

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ABSENCES

What are the procedures to follow when a student is sick or otherwise will be absent from school?

Refer to “Attendance” in the Student Handbook or Parent Handbook.

How does a student get missing schoolwork and homework assignments?

Students should get missed assignments through fellow students or online  be made with the office to collect work from the student’s teachers.  (See Student Handbook or Parent Handbook)
Are test rescheduled for students who are absent?

Students must make arrangements with their teachers to schedule make-up tests or quizzes.

What is ADA (Average Daily Attendance) cost for missing school?  Can I pay for that?

When students miss school it costs about $33.00 per student per day.  A check made payable to PMS is always appreciated.

When is the best time to schedule medical appointments?

In order to minimize missing instructional time, try to schedule appointments outside school hours.

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PARENT VOLUNTEER

What are parent volunteer opportunities?

Parent volunteer opportunities include the following:  food service (brunch and lunch), chaperone at dances, field trips, room parent, and special events.

What is the procedure when a parent volunteer arrives at campus?

Any time a parent volunteer visits the school for any reason, that person must come to the office to sign-in and obtain a visitor or volunteer badge.  Persons on campus without badges will be approached by school staff and asked to check in with the office.

What is School Site Council?

School Site Council is a body comprised of teachers, parents, classified employees, students, and administrators to develop, review, and evaluate school improvement programs and school budgets

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COMMUNITY SERVICE

What are community service activities for students?

Students participate in activities, such as Alameda County Food Drive, Toys for Tots, construct toys for pre-schoolers in other countries, and fundraise for charitable causes.

What is a blue slip?

Blue slips represent recognition, by a staff member of a student, of deeds above and beyond the call in the school community.

What does a T.A. do?

Teachers’ Assistants support the teachers or the office in any way directed; for example, record data, file documents, prepare labs, act as a runner, deliver call slips, greet the public, answer phones, take messages, etc.

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PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCES

When are parent-teacher conferences?

Opportunities for parents and teachers to discuss students’ progress/issues are scheduled for parent/guardian of sixth grade students in November and again in March.  Conferences for the parent/guardian of 7th and 8th grade students are by appointment with individual teachers. 

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Physical Education

What happens if a student forgets his/her P.E. shoes or uniform?

When students fail to wear their P.E. uniform or appropriate shoes, they receive a “dress cut.” 

How is the locker room behavior monitored?

The P.E. teachers are in the locker rooms with their students.

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STUDENT ACTIVITIES

What is Shakespeare club, what is Mathletes, and what is film club?

Shakespeare, Mathletes and Film clubs are all clubs that meet before or after school. Students may audition for Shakespeare and may participate in Mathletes or Film club if they so desire. 

What is Student Council?

Student Council is a body of student representatives who become involved in school affairs working in partnership with school administrators, staff, and parents for the benefit of the school and its students.  The student council share students’ ideas, interests, and concerns, help fundraise for school-wide activities, organize social events. And become involved with community projects. 

What is a peer mediator?

A peer mediator is a student who has been trained to facilitate solutions to conflicts between/among other students.
How are peer mediators selected?

Student applicants are interviewed by a panel of administrators and former peer mediators and must demonstrate the ability and willingness to effectively participate in the program. 

What is a youth educator and what do they do?

Youth Educators are PHS students who come to PMS to teach our eighth grade students about what to expect socially, emotionally, and academically at PHS.

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