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Landmark High School
Volume I No. 1
March 12, 2001
Dear Parents, Students and Staff,

I have been at Landmark for about one month now and I���d like to begin to publish a weekly newsletter. It will have announcements about important events like chess tournaments, prom committee meetings, SAT classes, reports on trips, awards, contests, visitors, special events, etc. We will also include pictures from Landmark taken by students or staff on our digital cameras as a visual record of our day-to-day lives at Landmark. We need a banner, the art work above the headlines, and a name for the newsletter. If you have suggestions, or art work, please bring them to Paul or Vivian.

The newsletter will be a place for Vivian and me - and other teachers and students ��� to describe our vision of Landmark. We are a different kind of school - small, portfolio driven, personal and dedicated to the idea that smart is not something a person is, it is something a person can become. We are proud of being different and need to be clear about why and how we are different. Every week we���ll write about our beliefs about teaching and learning and our dreams for Landmark. We ask that every advisory take time to read the newsletter and talk about the ideas. Sometimes what we say will be controversial. Some people will disagree with them. We welcome letters to the editors (Paul, Vivian, and Erik Torres for now). They must be signed and if we think they are too controversial, we���ll gather a committee of students, teachers, parents and others to make a judgement about them.

I had a conversation with two young women in my office last week - Marisol and Indiana - and we began talking about music. They asked if we might ever have a music class here at Landmark and I said that it was possible and
asked them if they would take a music class if we were able to offer it. One thought and then replied, ���Not if I had to do a portfolio.��� That really made me think about our portfolios.

Portfolios are collections of evidence of a student���s learning. We use them, along with tests, because we think they give individuals a good way to show what they have learned. Written reports are one way students can show their work. While we do expect our graduates to write well and be competent readers we hope that portfolios are filled with art work, video tapes of performances, audio tapes of music, charts, photo essays, video documentaries, testimony from others and all sorts of evidence of learning.

A ���music��� portfolio might consist mainly of an audiotape of a student playing an instrument or videotape of a performance. It would not have to contain a long composition on the history of music or a reflective essay on playing the drums. A ���fitness��� portfolio might be a trophy a student won at a karate tournament and a letter of congratulations form the coach. The trophy and the letter might merit a distinguished grade! A two-sentence review in a newspaper about a performance at a ���poetry slam��� would be powerful supplementary evidence put into a literature portfolio. (Can you think of other forms of portfolio work that might be strong and appropriate evidence of learning?)

We need to expand our idea of what is appropriate portfolio ���stuff.��� Portfolios are our way of judging whether students are ready to graduate. They can also be celebrations of what students have learned and can do. We all need to be creative and make our portfolios reflective of the myriad learning experiences of Landmark students.

(A last thought! Vivian and I will try to include vocabulary that will be helpful on tests like the SAT or the ELA. The best way to increase test scores is to improve your vocabulary so we���ll try and work in words like ���myriad��� or ���controversial���. Be sure you understand them or ask your advisor what they mean.)

Landmark Logo Contest

Finally-- What you have been waiting for, Landmark T-shirts, but we need a design. Submit your design by Friday, March 16th to Amy. Student Council will then choose the winning logo. The winner will receive free T-shirts and an advisory pizza party. The design must be submitted on an 8���x11��� paper in black ink.

Design me, Build me,
Fix me,

10 Students wanted to help give the Landmark lounge a face-lift. Applications available in Advisory. The deadline to submit the application is Friday, March 16th. Student council will review applications and students will be notified.

Chess Club

Carlos Vasquez challenges Jeff and his daughter