[CAS-BHS] All CAS Welcome Letter to Families

CAS at BHS: Current Students & Parents Mailing List cas-bhs at mail.transpacific.net
Fri Sep 5 07:53:56 PDT 2008

Dear CAS Community Members, 
Welcome to the '08-'09 school year! The first week back was great for
students and teachers alike and I hope it went well for your family,
too. Seeing students' excitement upon their return to school is a
gratifying experience for teachers. Kids change over the summer and
their return to school brings those changes into focus for them.
Familiar faces and places remind them of who they were in the past while
they realize they have a chance to be different in the future. It is an
honor for teachers to get to witness and support this process of
What follows is a mix of information, invitations and updates. Thanks in
advance for taking the time to read it through. 
New and Returning Members of the CAS Staff 
We're thrilled to be working with two new teachers, Ellen Bracken and
Mike Smith. Ellen has been a math teacher at BHS for more than ten
years. During that time, she has taught almost all the math classes 
offered at BHS including Integrated Math Program (IMP). Her subject area
expertise, her patience and her compassionate nature make her an
excellent addition to our staff. She teaches three sections of IMP 2 and
two sections of IMP 3 and so is full-time in CAS. 
Mike Smith joins CAS this year to teach Advanced Bio to tenth graders
and Chemistry to eleventh graders. He has taught science in Oregon and
in Los Angeles and is expert at utilizing digital technology in the
science classroom. He teaches two sections of bio, two of chem and a
seventh period lab in which students who need extra support in their
science class will get help. He, too, is full time in CAS. 
Another addition to our staff is Vice Principal Uri Skowronski. Uri has
experience as an educator and as an administrator here in the Bay Area
and in Boston. Already, he's demonstrated his deep caring for kids, his
supportive attitude toward teachers and his commitment to CAS. 
Finally, we're excited to have Bill Pratt rejoin the CAS staff after a
one-year sabbatical. He'll be teaching two sections of 10th grade World
History while he coordinates new teacher support for all of BHS. Bill 
has been a part of CAS since its beginning twelve years ago and we're
glad he's back in CAS. 
Contact Information 
CAS is committed to working closely with parents/guardians in the best
interest of students and we believe that clear communication facilitates
that partnership. Please email you child's teacher with questions,
suggestions or concerns. We are committed to responding within two
business days. Email addresses follow. 
Amy Crawford (11th and 12th grade English): 
acrawford at berkeley.k12.ca.us 
Ingrid Martinez (9th and 10th grade English): 
imartinez at berkeley.k12.ca.us 
Dharini Rasiah (11th and 12th grade media): 
drasiah at berkeley.k12.ca.us 
Bill Pratt (World History):mailto:%0Dbpratt at berkeley.k12.ca.us 
bpratt at berkeley.k12.ca.us <mailto:%0Dbpratt at berkeley.k12.ca.us>  
Biko Eisen-Martin (Senior Diploma): 
EM_Biko at yahoo.com 
Hasmig Minassian (American History and Sr. Government/Economics): 
HMinassian at berkeley.k12.ca.us 
Dana Moran (Ninth and Twelfth Grade History) 
dana_moran at berkeley.k12.ca.us 
Leah Katz (Resource Teacher): 
lkatz at berkeley.k12.ca.us 
Ellen Bracken (IMP 2 and 3): 
ebracken at berkeley.k12.ca.us 
Mike Smith (Adv. Biology and Chemistry): 
msmith at berkeley.k12.ca.us <mailto:msmith at berkeley.k12.ca.ues>  
Phil Halpern (Introduction to Communication Technology, Leadership Class
and CAS Lead Teacher): 
philiphalpern at mac.com 
Molly Offermann (CAS Counselor): 
mofferman at berkeley.k12.ca.us 
Uri Skowronski (BHS Vice Principal assigned to CAS): 
Uri_skowronski at berkeley.k12.ca.us
News and Information 
To improve our collaboration with families, all CAS teachers will be
posting assignments, homework, due dates, etc. to Edline, an
internet-based resource for parents and students. Our official start 
date is Wednesday, September 10, though some teachers are already using
the website. In order to access Edline, go to: 
Crystal Jensen, the tech coordinator adds the following note: 
"Parents/families were sent activation codes over the summer in their
to school packets. If parents are new or lost their codes, they need to
stop by the records office and verify their address/identity. Rhonda
Jefferson then sends their name and contact information to BUSD's Edline
manager in the District office.  <mailto:bhsedline at berkeley.k12.ca.us>
The requestor will then have their code sent to them in the mail." 
We regret that students have had to start the year with a substitute,
but I am happy to announce that CAS has found a teacher to teach the
single, 4th period PE section. We are awaiting final approval from the
district and the hope to introduce this new member of the CAS community
by next week. We thank everyone- especially the students!- for their
Extracurricular Events 
CAS has a long tradition of educating students in "experiential" ways;
we take kids on one-day and overnight retreats, field trips and to
foreign countries... Kids do internships in 11th and 12th grade and, 
starting this year, we'll be connecting every 11th grader with a mentor.
(See below if you'd consider being a mentor.) Please keep an eye out for
emails from us concerning these events; we'll need parent volunteers to
make them happen! For example, international travel; the CAS trip to
Oaxaca, Mexico this past June was possible because a group of parents
invested the time and energy to make it happen. If a trip is to happen
this coming spring or summer, parents, in collaboration with the CAS
staff, will need to begin planning ASAP. 
Community Partnerships Grant 
Thanks to the hard work of Amy Crawford, Dharini Rasiah, Dana Moran,
Leah Katz and Molly Offermann, CAS was awarded a Community Partnerships
grant by the state of California. This is extremely good news. The money
we'll be receiving has the potential to transform the experience kids
have in CAS. For example, this year we'll be designing and implementing
an 11th grade mentor program that will pair all juniors with adults who
work in media and social justice fields. Hasmig Minassian is the person
to contact if you'd like to be a mentor or if you can recommend someone
you know.
Sharing Ownership of CAS 
To strengthen our partnership with you, we'd like to encourage you and
your child to actively participate in CAS by joining one of the groups
described below, the Leadership Council and the Parent Coordinating
Committee and to attend Back-to-School night, which is Thursday,
September 25. 
I. Ways for Parents/Guardians to get involved in CAS 
1. Parent Coordinating Committee: This parent-run committee meets
monthly to discuss issues, share information, plan events and answer
questions. Four PCC members also serve on the CAS Leadership Council and
act as a liaison between CAS leadership and the parent community. If you
are interested in learning more, contact Gary Mingle, CAS parent and the
chair of the PCC at: 
gary.mingle at hamlinharkins.com 
2. CAS Leadership Council: The LC is comprised of parents, students,
teachers and the CAS counselor. It meets once a month on Thursdays from
5:00-7:00pm and subcommittees typically schedule one additional meeting
per month. The LC guides CAS on programmatic decisions such as new
course offerings, approving large expenditures, and goal setting for CAS
as a whole 
This year's LC meeting schedule is as follows: 
September 18: (LC meeting for all prospective parents.)
Oct. 9 
Nov. 6 
Dec. 11 
Jan. 8 
Feb. 5 
March 12 
April 23 
May 21
If you would like to learn more about the LC, please contact me at: 
philiphalpern at mac.com 
3. E-tree: In order to stay up to date on current CAS business, we ask
that all families subscribe to the e-tree, our means of communicating
with one another. To sign up, follow these instructions 
Please go to this link and fill in the requested information 
To POST a message to ALL CAS E-tree Members: 
Send an email with the SUBJECT line filled in to: 
cas-bhs at lists.berkeleypta.org 
(example: Freshman-Field Trip Chaperones Needed) 
4. Translation: CAS is committed to creating an all-inclusive community
comprised of parents, teachers and staff, and students. To that end, we
would like to have everything we send out to the CAS community be
bilingual. If you are a qualified translator and would like to help us
in this way, please contact me. 
5. CAS Conversations: Once a month, CAS parents/guardians are invited to
an informal conversation with me and other CAS parents and guardians.
We'll be gathering to talk about CAS in broad terms, to share
perspectives on education and parenting and to get to know one another
better. These conversations will take place upstairs at Jupiter (2181
Shattuck Ave in Berkeley) so we'll be able to relax in a less
institutional setting. 
Ways for Students to get involved in CAS 
1. Leadership Class 
This week, I'll be visiting classes to recruit students for Leadership.
The class will meet four afternoons per week from 3:21-4:30. As in the
past, Leadership will coordinate activities for students like the CAS
Olympics and assemblies as well was studying issues of equity and
achievement within CAS. Four Leadership Class students will be elected
to the Leadership Council and will act as a liaison between the student
body and the LC. Participating students will earn 10 elective credits
for the yearlong class. 
2. Mock Trial 
We're pleased to announce that a Mock Trial club will be forming
shortly. Erin, the Boalt Hall law student who will be organizing the
club, will be visiting classes to recruit students. Please contact Uri
for more details. 
YOU MADE IT TO THE END OF THE LETTER! As you can see, there is a lot of
news, (almost) all of it good. The year is off to an excellent start and
I am confident that CAS will be stronger than ever this year. Thank you
for being an active part of our school. 
Phil Halpern 
CAS Lead Teacher 

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