End-of-year conferences have 93-percent turnout

Sequim Middle School students, in sixth-eighth grade, participated in Sequim's first student-led conferences.

The state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction awarded Sequim Middle School an $11,750 grant for staff to lead students in gathering work samples and report cards to put together personal portfolios.

The students compiled samples from all their subjects and presented to their parents/guardians folders containing their best work, what they hope to improve and their plans for the future.

Principal Brian Jones said 93 percent of students and families came for the conferences on June 4, which was the highest attendance they've seen.

The annual parent-teacher conferences in November have 40- to 50-percent attendance, Jones said.

Students who were not able to participate in the conferences presented their portfolios to Jones or a volunteer.

Throughout the school year, 45 minutes was allotted every other Thursday for instruction on portfolio arrangement and goal-minded lesson plans.

For the last two months of the year, Wolfpack scheduling was weekly instead of biweekly. Late-start Mondays allowed the teachers time to prepare for the meetings. The grant money paid for materials and the staff time.

Forty-one advisers each worked with about 18 students in Wolfpack classes.

Eighth-grade U.S. history and civics teacher Tricia Billes said the conferences went well.

"I saw great things today with kids and their parents together."

Teacher are randomly assigned students for Wolfpack but they take younger or older students than their usual grade level. Billes hosted sixth-graders for Wolfpack sessions this year and will keep them through graduation to high school.

"Sixth-graders are just on the cusp of learning this but by the end of the year they are growing up," she said.

Eighth-graders, who move to high school this fall, took their folders home. Sixth- and seventh-graders will keep their folders through middle school.

"I can't wait to see these sixth-graders become eighth-graders," Jones said.

Matthew Nash can be reached at mnash@sequim

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