Del Mar News                                  March 22, 2017 

Dear Families:

One of the cornerstone components of our RUSD Vision is that students become their "Best Selves." This entails speaking and acting in respectful ways, appreciative of diversity and other cultures and perspectives.

To promote Best Self behavior, we have programs in place at each grade level and school-wide to promote this vision and these values, and to ensure that all students feel safe at school.  Some of these programs include:
  • David Roche and Marlena Blavin's Love at Second Sight assembly,
  • Soul Shop and Challenge Day programs in 7th and 8th grades respectively,
  • Common Sense Media and other advisory lessons that focus on no bullying and being an "upstander" who advocates for self and others.
We are proud that due to these and other efforts, Del Mar scored in the 99th percentile as a caring, engaged community based on the most recent California Healthy Kids Student Survey. 

Despite these efforts, we have seen a rise in unacceptable and hateful speech behavior on the part of some of our students which is of grave concern. Having spoken with my principal colleagues at other southern Marin schools, this issue extends beyond Del Mar; it has become a common theme and focus of all our attention.

More specifically, we had a recent incident where a student discovered a small swastika etched on a peer's eraser, found the "N" word and anti gay remarks penciled on students' lockers, and comments about some of our Muslim students being terrorists. What these incidents have in common is that some of our students have been targeted because of race, religion or sexuality.

We are addressing this issue at school in a variety of ways and I am writing to enlist your support at home.  At school, we have and are:
  • Utilizing some of our advisory time to raise awareness and create a forum for students to voice their feelings, ideas and concerns. 
  • Devoting professional development time to send some staff to presentations by the Anti-Defamation League at other school sites. 
  • Planning a school-wide assembly with a multi-denominational panel to address all students about the what's and the why's associated with these forms of hate speech. 
  • Promoting the message of "if you see something, say something," so can be aware and respond more immediately if and when subsequent issues arise.  
  • Reminding students of their No Bully Pledge made at the onset of the school year, and that it is their obligation to advocate on behalf of themselves or others. 
These are cultural competency skills, and we are doing our best to teach students how to embody these skills as an engaged citizen within our school community. 

When we catch a student who has committed this type of offense, we discipline the student, speak with the family, and also take the opportunity to engage him/her in a restorative practice to help educate and do some community service type of activity so this person learns from mistakes and gives back to the community in a positive way.

It heartens me that regarding these incidences,many students shared their concern and disgust with a teacher, counselor, or an administrator to let us know what has been happening. Students in Friday's lunch time TEA Club initiated a recent Mix-it-Up (Nobody Eats Alone) Day and are brainstorming other ideas to raise all students' awareness and stop these offensive behaviors.

We ask that families please work in partnership with us and reinforce the following messages with your child. 
  • First and foremost, students need to understand that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.
  • We will follow Ed Code in response to any type of hateful act, and students involved will face serious consequences.
  • It is never okay to use hate speech, even when joking.  Certain words, symbols, and phrases anchored in a history of hurt and oppression, perpetuate hate and stereotypes are never acceptable, not even when joking between friends.
  • We would like our students to stand up for others when they hear hateful and derogatory language and/or let an adult (e.g. parent, counselor, teacher) know when they see or hear things that make them uncomfortable.
These conversations are not always easy.  They are, however, extremely important for all of us to have.  Thank you for working in partnership with us ~ our children are worth it!


Alan Vann Gardner
Principal, Del Mar Middle School

Kaiser Permanente will present Nightmare on Puberty Street to our students on April 19th.  This assembly contains sexual health information so you have the option to opt your child out of the assembly. Please see the attached flyer for more information.  If you choose to opt out of the assembly, please let Vice Principal David Sawyer know.

Being Adept is hosting Dr. Danielle Ramo of UCSF on 4/19 at Bel Aire School. Dr. Ramo will talk about teens and marijuana use, and will go over what the recent legalization means for our communities and youth. Attached is a PDF flyer with more info. 

It's all about creative problem solving. Come together with your peers and work together to solve problems in our communities. Dive in, have fun, and be part of the solution.
For more information and to register click here.

RUSD School Psychologist, Dr. Allan Gold, will host a workshop addressing the issues, challenges, and rewards of being an adoptive parent.  Please join him on Wednesday March 29th at the Staff Development Room at Bel Aire School from 8:30 to 10:00 am for this unique oppportunity to meet other parents of adopted children and to engage in a helpful and benficial discussion.

Please RSVP to Dr. Gold at agold@reedschools.orgby Friday, March 24th.  We look forward to seeing you there.

PTA News

Don't forget to get your tickets for the Bel Aire Play, Beauty and the Beast!
"Rising to the Complicated Challenges of Family Relationships in the Digital Age" by Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair  
Wednesday, March 29th from 6:30-8:30pm
Marin County Office of Education
111 Las Galinas Road, San Rafael

Foundation News

Family participation rates matter! Regardless of dollar amount, high participation percentages allow the district to apply for grants. Currently, 57% of families have participated. We ask the remaining families to consider a donation or pledge, in any amount, and help us reach our goal of 100% participation! 
Thank you to the 551 families who have donated to the Foundation's Family Giving Campaign! 
Did you know?
* You can make a pledge now and pay by June 30th?
* Monthly payment plans are available.
* Many companies offer corporate matching. 
* You can donate stock.
* You can make your donation via credit card and earn points and miles!
Interested in volunteering on the Foundation Board next year? There are many ways to get involved. Please visit our website and go to the "about" tab to see a detailed description of open positions!