Principal Clark's Weekly Address 5-30-17

May 30, 2017

Principal’s Address


I hope you all enjoyed the long holiday weekend.  While this summer will offer many opportunities to spend time with family, it is always important to have an extra day just before summer to enjoy our loved ones and to remember all of those lost in the fight “for liberty and justice for all.”  

As we begin our last week of the school year, I believe it’s important for everyone to recognize this milestone.  As adults, the years often pass without any reflection nor any celebration; however, for those of us with children in school - or who work in schools - it’s very important to celebrate the passing of another year.  Like the pencil lines in a door frame measuring a child’s growth, completing a year of school also marks growth. Our children are developing intellectually, emotionally, and socially, and all at a much quicker rate than most of us did at their same age.  At times, this can be scary for all of us, child, parent, and teacher alike.  So, as we anticipate the coming summer, let’s reflect on the past year, if for nothing else to comfort us for the next one.

Sixth graders came to Murchison with some anxiety, I’m sure, but soon they figured out that while the student enrollment is large, the school feels small.  Sprinting from the portables to the cafeteria soon evolved into briskly walking and finally slowed to socializing along the way.  They adjusted to changing subjects, classrooms, and teachers every period.  They learned to organize their binders in IB Study Skills (hopefully), the difference between a whole note and a half note in Band and Orchestra, and that the numerator goes on top of the denominator in math. They now eagerly anticipate pep rallies, dances, and some the opportunity to represent Murchison on the field, court, and track.

Seventh graders, already wise to Murchison’s systems like the block schedule and being ZAPPED, started the year a bit shorter and more awkwardly - especially the boys.  Friendships paused over the summer soon resumed, and it didn’t take long for them to grow comfortable in their occupation of the main building.  As the boys outgrew their jeans, the girls were relieved that they wouldn’t always be taller than their counterparts. Seventh graders learned about cattle drives in Texas History, enlarged their vocabulary in ELA, how to sight read in Band and Orchestra, and athletes finally had to run the dreaded hill in football and track practice.  Add to that Matador Fest, football games, and homecoming, and in this seventh grader year, they gained their Matador spirit, and a confidence that never seemed possible during that awkward day when they all returned in August.    

By the time they started eighth grade, our students already had the confidence of two years at Murchison behind them, and they felt they were the kings of the campus.  They learned US History in Social Studies, many learned FOIL in Algebra 1, and others conversational skills in foreign language. Hopefully they earned some high school credit but if they didn’t, they still earned some high school credibility in the countless opportunities they enjoyed to partner and collaborate with Anderson High School coaches, athletes, performers, and teachers. By this time in their eighth grade year, they are ready to move to high school. With the help of our PTA, they got one amazing night all to themselves at the enchanted 8th grade dance, and now they’re off.  While our 8th graders might not believe it right now, they will reflect fondly on these middle years they have enjoyed at Murchison.

Middle school is a complex time in adolescence: They grow from children to young adults in the span of three short years.  No matter where your children are on this journey, remember, like you, we’ve done our best to prepare them for the next year.  Like you, we might not always succeed, and we might wish we could have a “do over” every once in awhile, but we believe that with you we have all prepared them for the next step.

Here’s to the next step, wherever that may be!


Brad Clark


IB Campus Activities

End-of-Year Awards –  (IB Learner Profile Traits - Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk-takers, Balanced, Reflective)

6th Grade

Tuesday, May 30, 8:30 a.m - 11:30 a.m. Large Gym

7th Grade

Wednesday, May 31, 8:30 a.m - 11:30 a.m. Large Gym

8th Grade - (Completion Ceremony)

Thursday, June 1, 8:30 a.m - 11:30 a.m. Large Gym

This year we are returning to the original intention of the EOY Awards Ceremony, and we will be awarding every 8th grade student a completion certificate. Students who have earned other awards will receive those awards during this ceremony, as well as their completion certificate.

8th Grade Trip  –  (IB Learner Profile Traits - Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk-takers, Balanced)

Tuesday, May 30, 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Austin Parks and Pizza

End-of-Year Procedures

In order to ensure a safe and respectful last week of school, we will follow our traditional end-of-year procedures.

Effective Tuesday, May 30th through Thursday, June 1st, PLEASE do not bring the following on campus:

  • Backpacks
  • Large bags or purses (purses 8 1/2” x 11” and smaller will be allowed.)
  • Any other unnecessary items that may cause a disruption to the school environment. This includes cameras, water balloons, water guns, shaving cream, confetti, or any other inappropriate items.

***** Individuals who ignore these warnings may face disciplinary consequences. *****

We will have a staggered release of students on Thursday, June 1st.

  • Walkers – released at 3:20 pm
  • Bus riders – released at 3:30 pm
  • Students being picked up by parents – 3:45 pm

Please have your student ride the bus, if at all possible, to reduce traffic in the parent pick-up areas.

Thursday, June 1st will be our final Food of Minimal Nutritional Value (FMNV) exempt day of the year. We would prefer parents to bring any food or drink items for the classes to the office on the morning of June 1st instead of students bringing them. If students bring the items, we will collect the items in the Main Office and get them to the appropriate teachers.

Thank you for following these important procedures to help us maintain a safe, clean, and respectable environment this last week of school.  


Other Important Dates

Dyslexia Discussion

Tuesday, May 30, 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. MMS Cafeteria

Please join us for this important conversation about dyslexia services in AISD and MMS. We want to learn from you what works so we can best support children with dyslexia. District and building dyslexia service providers will be in attendance, as well as community supports.  

Anderson Vertical Team Community Meeting

Tuesday, May 30, 5:30 p.m - 6:30 p.m. Anderson High School Theater

Come hear about plans that the Anderson Vertical Team schools have for incorporating additional Staff Development days into the 2017-2018 School Calendar in order to provide teachers with additional training days to develop vertical alignment among our schools. This falls under the AISD District of Innovation Initiative.  We will gather community input about the calendar we are planning to implement in the 2017-2018 School Year.

(Apologies to MMS community that this event was scheduled for the same day as the MMS Dyslexia Discussion.)

Other Important MMS News


Please wish Ms. Nina Wilson and Ms. Melissa Nguyen the best of luck on their new ventures.  Ms. Wilson has accepted a position as Professional Learning Design Specialist with AISD.  We will miss her leadership and her countless contributions to our campus.  Ms. Nguyen has accepted a math teaching position at school in another district. She provided phenomenal instruction to 7th grade math students and was integral in preparing students for Algebra 1.

Summer News

5 Book Dive   

The 5 Book Dive is an Austin ISD summer reading program created in 2016 by Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz. The purpose of the program is to encourage all students to read at least five self-selected books over the summer. Summer is a great time for students to relax with a book (or magazine, or comic, or whatever) and experience the pleasure of reading just for fun! And research has shown that reading just five books can protect students from a drop in reading levels known as the "summer slide", which disproportionately affects lower-income students (Alexander, Entwisle, & Olson, 2007; Kim, 2004).  The effects of the summer slide are cumulative, and can have serious consequences. As much as 85% of the reading achievement gap between lower-income students and their middle- and upper-income peers can be attributed to the summer slide (Allington & McGill-Frasen, 2009).

For more information, please follow this link:

Murchison Transition Camp

August 7, 8, 9 - 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Intended for all incoming 6th graders and all students new to Murchison next year.  

Matador Days

Dates to be determined.  Information will be communicated once plans are finalized.


As many in our community know, the AISD FABPAC is working on a bond proposal for the AISD Board of Trustees to consider to be included on the November 2017 ballot.  This bond would include a great deal of funding to alleviate the overcrowding at Murchison and to repair/renovate/rebuild Murchison Middle School, a campus built nearly 50 years ago. Our campus is in the highest needs category - complete modernization within 1-12 years. The fate of this bond, once approved for the November 2017 ballot, will have an incredible impact on our school for decades to come.  Below are some notes from the most recent FABPAC meeting.

May 24 Notes

The committee discussed the themes that came out of the May 8 Board Work Session:  

  • Worst first and overcrowding  
  • One bond proposition is favored  
  • Technology is a re-occurring high cost  
  • Do not increase the tax rate  
  • Bond should be less than $1B  
  • Equity – what does it mean?  
  • Rosedale should be in a walkable location  
  • Concern of not addressing under-enrolled facilities  
  • Concerns about the new northeast middle school, and the under-enrollment of adjacent schools  
  • Board needs to have plenty of input on the bond scenario

Matias Segura, AECOM, presented the existing timeline for a June 19 Board Meeting to Call the Order for Election, and a modified schedule for the Board to Call the Order for Election in August. The committee discussed the merits of allowing for more time to educate the Board on a draft bond scenario (Call the Order after June) versus allowing more time to educate the community on a final bond proposal (Call the Order in June). One member also mentioned that a replacement for Trustee Saldana is expected in mid-June, and additional time may be beneficial to bring the new board member up to speed.  Some members expressed concern of waiting until August, and questioned if the Board could hold a special meeting to Call the Order in July.

FABPAC was asked to vote if they would like to remain on the current schedule for a June 19 Board Meeting or a modified schedule (after June 19):

  • 7 votes to keep existing schedule (June 19)  
  • 7 votes to extend the schedule (preference for July, not August)  
  • 1 vote for no preference 7

Discussion on Potential Bond Scenarios Matias Segura (AECOM) presented a revised bond scenario (A2) which reduced the total bond amount from $1.24B to $1.06B. Mr. Segura explained given guidance from the Board, the goal of the committee is to further reduce the scenario to $900M and asked the following questions for the committee to consider in their breakout groups:

  1. What should be removed from the bond scenario?  
  2. What should be reduced?  
  3. What is missing?

Comments from FABPAC New Northeast Middle School

  • Concerns that the developer of Mueller (Catellus) will not support a phased project; can the athletic fields be phased first?  
  • Do not phase the new northeast middle school.  
  • The district needs to make a decision on the future of the programs for Sadler Means and Garcia due to their low enrollment.  
  • Need to invest in Garcia facility due to the structural issues.  
  • Reduce the dollar amount for Sadler Means, and only include funding for “warm, safe, and dry” due to the uncertainty of the program.

FABPAC Vote:  Do you support adding funding back into the bond scenario for complete construction of the new northeast middle school (do not phase)?  

  • Yes (10)  
  • No (5)  
  • Abstain (1)

I will share pertinent information with you all this summer, but please feel free to do your own research.  

More information can always be found at:

IB Learner Profile Trait - Principled

They act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them.

IB students are infused with the academic integrity that is a fundamental value of universities and colleges.

Have a great week, Matadors!