Monument Valley Regional Middle School

Week at a Glance and News and Notes

Note from the Principal:

Here we are at Memorial Day Weekend.  In my recess sessions with the different grades this week I had a different response to “Enjoy the three day weekend!”  When we are in school in the past, the response is the typical excitement at a day off from school.  The kids this week were actually a little sad.  A day off from school these days is a day away from social connection.  It created the stark contrast for me about how things have changed, and what we value as a learning community.  It makes me want to be back in school so much!!!  We have tried to recreate what we can about school, and from your feedback I know you all both appreciate our efforts, and have ideas about how it could be better.  The kids just want to be in school.  I hope that we have school at the building in the fall, and we are planning for all types of scenarios depending on what the Governor and education departments tell us are the opportunities and limitations for schooling.  Please join me at the community forums next week for families where I will discuss what we know, what we are thinking and what you would like to see in the future.  And please help our students understand the meaning of “the day off” is really an appreciation of those who have dedicated their lives to ensuring that the values we share can be shared into the future.

I want to share my deep appreciation for our learning community.  The staff at Monument Valley have gone above and beyond to connect to all students and make sure there is a relevant engagement for our kids.  The families have done an amazing job at supporting this remote learning as best they can, and being in touch with the staff.  The students are the heroes, figuring out how to navigate remote learning and trying to see the positive in this experience, however they can.  We did not choose this, but as a community we are making the best of it.  I am proud of what we have accomplished so far as a full community.  Thank you.

This next week continues preparing for the end of the school year.  We are starting to connect with the students in Advisory about what the end of the year will look like in the remote learning experience.  Mostly it will be finishing up content work and reinforcing skills, and some reflection on the year in total and this particular experience.  We want the kids to make sense of the journey we are taking, and be able to share who they are with next year’s teachers.  We are also planning some formal end of year activities such as graduation in eighth grade and celebrations in each grade.  Teachers will reach out to you if they have questions for families or need assistance engaging your child.  If you have questions about your child’s class, connect with the teacher.  If you have questions about your child’s overall experience, please reach out to their advisor.  If you have questions about the experience in general please reach out to me at as I am eager to get feedback and answer questions.

Thanks, and be well,

Ben Doren


Week at a Glance:

Monday, May 25

No School Today–Memorial Day Holiday

Tuesday, May 26

Remote Learning School Day

Wednesday, May 27

Remote Learning School Day

Thursday, May 28

Remote Learning School Day

Friday, May 29

Remote Learning School Day

Community Forums next week

I will have our second set of community forums for families and students next week.  I will discuss the end of the school year, the summer, and what we know now about next year.  It will be a time to hear about what we are thinking and where we are going, and for you to ask questions.  I will also hold forums in June, July and August to keep folks up to date.  As before, I will record the sessions and share the recordings so you can view if you cannot connect at these times for the live events on Zoom.

Seventh and Eighth Grade: Wednesday, May 27, 6-7 pm.

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 952 1003 8181  Password: 6EBGfg

Fifth and Sixth Grade: Thursday, May 28, 6-7 pm.

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 949 1478 0328  Password: 3JjH32

Plans for Graduation for Eighth Graders

Here is information for you on how we will celebrate our eighth graders.  Some have been part of our school for four years, some just joined us this year and some came in between.  We want to honor all of them!  Even though these times are so different, it does not change our desire to see them off properly for their transition to high school.  Here are the things you can join if you are a family of an eighth grader, and even if you are interested in joining.

Thursday, June 11

Afternoon: PARADE!  The staff will drive through the towns to celebrate our graduates, make cheer (safely distanced!) with all of our students, and create a buzz for the evening graduation ceremony. Time to be determined in the next week.

Evening: GRADUATION!!! We will live stream a graduation program celebrating the eighth graders.  We will hold it at our regular time, 6:30 pm, to keep the same tone and flavor.  We will also record the ceremony so you can watch it again, or for folks who cannot connect that evening.

Friday, June 12

Morning: Come get your Graduation Envelope!  Students and families drive through the MVM front circle to get the envelopes with their certificates, and staff are there to cheer them (safely distanced!)  Our last hurrah, and a way to say goodbye as “in-person” as possible!

How much do we care about our students?  This much ———>

Here is the great news: The educators at Monument Valley miss the students so much!  And how do you know?  They showed them.  Please watch this video to see the heartfelt connection that the staff have with our students:  Many thanks to Katie Malone-Smith, our art teacher, for leading this and producing the video, and of course to our staff for snapping the pics!

Virtual Field Trip

Come join Mrs. Malone-Smith and her husband, Clinton Smith for a virtual glass blowing field trip on Monday May 25th at 12. Clinton Smith is a national recognized and celebrated glass artist and has exhibited his work in galleries and museums worldwide including Japan, London, Texas, Chicago, Philadelphia, NYC as well as at the Corning Museum of Glass.

Welcome to ALL MVM staff, families and students. This is a private event for users with a bhrsd account only.

Reminder about RECESS!!!!  Yes, even in our remote learning life there is a need.  I heard it from families at the Community Forums last week, and I keep hearing it from students… So…. I will be hosting weekly community meetings for each grade starting next week.  This will be a place for students to join me with their peers to have some informal social time.  I will have a few guiding questions for kids to get the conversation started (How are you doing? What do you like about this new way of schooling? What don’t you like? How do you want the school year to end? What do you want for next year? etc.).  And also just let kids connect outside of an academic setting.  Here are the times:

  • Fifth grade: Fridays at 11:00 am

  • Sixth grade: Fridays at 11:30 am

  • Seventh grade: Thursdays at 11:00 am

  • Eighth grade: Thursdays at 11:30 am

I sent a link to the Google Hangout Meet for each grade to your child’s email address.  Participation is TOTALLY voluntary.  I just heard from you that kids want this, so here we go!


Yearbooks will arrive at the school in early June and at that time we will communicate to you how and when to pick yours up.  Since this year is certainly one that will be remembered for the current events, be sure you don’t forget about all of the wonderful events and memories of Monument Valley Regional Middle School’s entire 2019-2020 school year that the yearbook staff has worked so tirelessly to chronicle in this year’s yearbook. Part of the book is dedicated to our online distance learning!  We have sold 35% of the books we ordered from our publisher which means there are still limited-edition copies available and you can order yours here:  We will communicate more details about how students will receive their yearbook as soon as possible.

Reminder about getting items from school

Many families have asked about getting items from school during the closure.  If you want an instrument or an essential item like medication, please email me and we will prepare it for you to pick up.  We are not retrieving items from lockers right now, and will have a plan for locker clean out once the district knows when it is safe for students and families to return to the school building.

Reminder about Community Forum archives

I held Community Forums the week of April 27–5-6 Grade on Tuesday evening, and 7-8 Grade on Wednesday evening.  They were well attended, and I appreciated those who could join us.  I also recorded the sessions in video and audio formats so you can watch or listen if you could not join.  The videos and audio files are in a folder at this link.  I start the session by welcoming folks and celebrating what we have accomplished, and continue by acknowledging how hard it is to make sense of this school closure.  I discuss what will be happening in the next weeks and to end the year, and where the district is with end of year activities like graduation and transitioning to the next grade.  If you have specific questions feel free to email me, as always, at  I will also hold another set of forums in a few weeks once we have more information from Massachusetss and our local leaders.

Reminder about Important (updated) news from our School Nurse

Please see the information posted on our School Nurse’s (Pat Harper) website  It has contact information so you can connect with her for health questions as well as get COVID-19 updates.

From the Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office

The “Think Before You Click” campaign from the United States Attorney’s Office encourages parents and guardians to discuss internet safety with children of all ages and to continue to monitor internet use during this time of COVID-19.  Please see the flyer in the link to the flyer page below.

From the Office of the Child Advocate in Massachusetts

On behalf of Director Mossaides, I wanted to let you know about a public information campaign the Office of the Child Advocate is launching in partnership with UMass Medical, and request your assistance in spreading the word.  The information campaign is designed to make Massachusetts families aware of state resources that are available to them and encourage struggling families to reach out for help.   We have posted a series of graphics on this website ( that are available to be printed, emailed, and/or shared on social media.


Would your child  like to borrow some books from the MVM Library?  We have arranged that Mrs. Kane can accept requests from students by Tuesday mornings at 9:00 and the books will be ready for you in paper bags for families to pick up on Wednesday mornings in the front circle.  Please have your child answer the brief questions about what books they would like in the attached form which has a link to our library’s Online Catalog, and a video to help you search it. This announcement will also be made via Google Classsroom.  Any questions?  E-mail Mrs. Kane at

Library Book Request

If you would like to purchase books from Scholastic Book Clubs, you may shop their collection online and order books which will be delivered to a teacher’s home and then brought to school for you to pick up.   Sign in at Scholastic Book Clubs.  5th grade families will use code #   H8ZR7 for Ms. Gillis’ bookclub.  Grades 6 to 8 families will use code # PDXDB for Mrs. Kane’s bookclub.  Scholastic offers a wide variety of books for all ages, with bargain books featured each month.

2020-2021 School Calendar

Many of you have asked about next year’s school calendar.  You can find it here:

Reminder about Food Support available at the end of the week:

The District will be providing a week’s worth of food to families of our students in our district community every Friday.  These meals will be available to all students who would benefit from the service. Food will be distributed on FRIDAYS from 11:00am-2:00 pm ONLY AT THE MONUMENT VALLEY site.  If you need this resource and cannot pick up, we can deliver to you.  Email  if you are interested in receiving a box, or share this information with a family who needs a box.  At this time we can only distribute boxes of food to families with children in our district.  There are resources in towns for food support as well, such as the People’s Pantry in Great Barrington, for families or individuals who do not have children in our district.


Flyers are available on our website at this link:

This week’s flyers:

  • Summer Reading with GB Libraries

  • Glass Blowing:  MVM Virtual Field Trip

Last week’s flyers:

  • Think Before you Click” Internet Safety Campaign

Older flyers:

  • Ward’s offering Free Tree Seedlings to Youth

  • GB Babe Ruth Baseball 2020 Registration

  • French & Spanish Immersion Camps for rising 4-6 graders

  • Berkshire Cal Ripken Baseball Registration

  • GB Girls Softball Registration

  • GB Little League Registration Information

  • CANCELLED–Family Dance at Unitarian Universalist Church

  • SMArt Summer @ Flying Cloud Institute

  • STEM Summer @Flying Cloud Institute

  • Outdoor Explorer’s Club @ Flying Cloud Institute

  • Eisner Day Camp

  • RSYP:  RYSE Weeklong Summer Program

Julie C. Duffin
Principal’s Secretary
Monument Valley Regional Middle School
313 Monument Valley Road
Great Barrington, MA  01230
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