September '19 Parent BeeLine Newsletter

September '19 Parent BeeLine Newsletter
Posted on 09/17/2019
Bee Circle




 Opening Minds - Opening Hearts - Opening Doors

Principal’s Message

September, 2019

Hello Branciforte parents and guardians, we are roughly a month into the school and kids and staff seem to have the rhythm of the 2019-20 school year.  I often say, “Branciforte is a special place to be” and this fall that statement is again proving to be the case. We are lucky to have such a great community of learners, educators, parents and guardians!  Please read below for some important updates for this fall.  

      Casey O’Brien

      Principal - Branciforte Middle School

      A California Gold Ribbon School


Home and School Club - our Home and School Club (HSC) is a group that fundraises for academic and extracurricular activities on campus.  We have already supported teachers with approximately $4,000 in classroom supply monies this school year. The HSC the annual fall Drive For Schools Fundraiser kicks off today, Monday, September 16 and runs through October 18.  Your student will receive a manila envelope with tickets to sell for this annual event.  Tickets cost $5 each or 6 for $25. Here is your chance to win a new car or $25,000 AND raise money for our school!  100% of the proceeds go to Branciforte Middle Home & School Club. We appreciate your participation in one of our most lucrative fundraisers of the year.    

AmazonSmile is a program that donates 0.5% of your eligible purchases on Amazon to Branciforte Middle HSC.  All you need to do is start your shopping at and select Branciforte Middle School!

School Site Council - we’re looking for three or four B40 Parents to serve a two-year term as a member of the School Site Council which meets approximately six times a year to monitor our school plan.  Please see the school news item on the website for information about how to get involved. This coming Friday is the deadline to volunteer for this important council at B40.   

Library News - our Project LIT chapter is hosting a school community book discussion for the fantastic middle grade graphic novel, New Kid, by Jerry Craft.  In the next few weeks, we will be fundraising for copies of New Kid so that we can give them away free to students. We encourage everyone (even parents!) to read this graphic novel, and then to join us on Friday, October 4, at 7:30am in the library for a Community Breakfast Book Talk. If you are interested in attending our event, supporting our fundraisers, or purchasing copies of the book for us, please contact librarian Jessica Brooks at [email protected].   For more information, see the Project LIT flier  and the library website.

You may have heard about Learning Ally,(, which is a human voice audiobook program designed for students who have difficulty reading complex texts at grade level.  It was originally made for students with dyslexia and visual impairments, and has expanded to provide support for all students with reading difficulties.  When students read along with the audio track, either on their screen or from the physical book, Learning Ally supports academic vocabulary development and increases independent reading speed and fluency.  Your student may benefit from Learning Ally if:

-English is not their first language.

-they are often distracted while reading silently.

-they are slow independent readers.

Our school has purchased a school-wide license for this program and it is free to students.  If you would like an account set up for your student, or if you have any questions,  please contact librarian Jessica Brooks at [email protected].

Progress Report and Grading Timelines -  every six weeks within each semester at Branciforte students receive Progress Reports. This means that teachers will have their grade books up to date at the end of each progress report window so that they, students, and parents have a designated date to mark their student’s academic progress.  The school will send hard copies of progress reports home via US Mail approximately one week after the window ends. If you are concerned about the grades you see please reach out to your student's teacher. Students who are at risk of failing one or more classes will receive a Deficiency Notice at the second six weeks mark of each semester. Progress Report and Grading Deadlines for teachers to have them completed (by the end of the school day) in the Illuminate Parent Portal are listed below:

Progress Report and Grading Timelines in Illuminate Parent Portal

Progress Report #1  October 8

Progress Report #2  November 19

Semester #1 January 21

Progress Report #3  March 3

Progress Report #4  April 21 

Semester #2 June 4

English Learner Advisory Council - the English Learner Advisory Council, or ELAC, had our first meeting on September 4th where we welcomed many new families to our school and went over some ways for parents to help set-up student for success at school. In addition, we invited our families to help support the Tamalada, which is coming up on September 27th.  We will have regular meetings on the first Wednesday of each month, from 6:00 - 7:30, with some exceptions around the holidays. We will be sharing more information about how to support students, community resources, and about upcoming events this year including parent education nights and the Latino Role Model Conference in February.  Please watch for updates in future Beeline Newsletters and in emails, phone calls, and text messages.

B40 Tamalada! - plan to attend our annual spirit raiser the B40 Tamalada on September 27th from 4-8pm.  There will be music, dancing, and other events and yummy food for sale.  Event proceeds also support the B40 Arts Academy. See the attached fliers and tamale pre-order form.  Students will also receive hard copies of these this week so check the bottom of those backpacks!     

Counseling Corner - the counseling team has begun working with individual students and are in the process of planning groups for other students that need additional support.  Soon, they will be holding groups for students in the areas of academic support, self-regulation, impulse control and socioemotional. Currently we have a support group for our newcomer students, executive function skills, lunch bunch, mindfulness, and a lunch bunch group.  If you feel your student needs additional support from one of our counselors just let us know!

B40 Lands Two Educational Grants! Congratulations to our B40 team for successful grant applications in the areas of mathematics and computer science.  See descriptions below. 

  • Santa Cruz County Math Network Improvement Community Grant - $20,000.  This grant focuses on the following objectives:
    • Improve student learning in grade-level mathematics 
    • Improve student mindset about math achievement 
    • Incorporate Silicon Valley Math Initiative (SVMI) instructional practices
    • Provide targeted support with specific local metrics and progress monitoring for traditionally underrepresented student group

Math and special education teachers along with administration will team with county and central coast organizations to improve our craft through the objectives above - we are excited for this opportunity!  


  • Computer Science for All Grant - $1,000,000 over three years for SCCS district with a focus on the Gault Elementary and B40 Middle pathway.  This is a second phase of a smaller and shorter term grant that was largely facilitated by our own David Norman and that involved other Bees as well.  This grant is called Computing for the Social Good: A Research-Practice Partnership to Increase Equity among Students and Parents and is a collaboration between Santa Cruz City Schools (SCCS), the Santa Cruz Education Foundation, and Education, Training, Research (ETR), with additional researchers from Stanford University and the University of California Santa Cruz. It builds on the smaller grant we received in 2017 for a research-practice partnership (RPP) to build capacity, and design and test a pathway for computer science education and computational thinking in 3rd-8th grade.  


After School Sports News - fall teams in girls basketball, boys soccer, cross country, and cheer are off to a great start. Make sure you have your doctor physical completed if you are interested in any sports this year. The Illuminate Parent Portal is the place to go to sign up for sports and get notifications of practices and tryouts from coaches. Boys’ basketball and girls’ soccer start October 28 so if those are your picks, be ready to hit the field or court in a few weeks! As always, contact Athletic Director Dusten Dennis if you have any questions. Email, texts, or calls work great. [email protected], 831-316-4684

B40 Boosters - The Booster Club has already met twice this year and is off to a fantastic start.  All B40 parents are invited to the Booster Club meetings which take place the first Friday of each month at 1:30 in the Bee Inn. Come share your ideas about how to support the athletes and musicians at B40! Shortly, we will be ordering an athletic sweatshirt for every 6th grade fall athlete. A gift from the Boosters to thank them for their amazing effort. Already, we have assisted Mr. Bianchini (our outstanding band teacher) to schedule a First Friday band event downtown. More info to come on that.  At this time, we are seeking banner sponsors. Banners will be hung in the gym and around the field. If you or someone you know owns a local business and would be interested in supporting the Booster Club, while advertising their business please contact Sonia 831 234-4389.

Need help?  We know of a few B40 parents who are seeking employment to help make ends meet.  They are able to do housekeeping or gardening or other similar work. Please call or email B40 Community Coordinator Fe Silva at [email protected] or at extension #3103 if you or someone you know could use this type of help.  Nice to help our own when we can! 

Picture Day is Coming - on October 2nd.  Parents or guardians can access your student’s Life Touch pictures after picture day with this link and code to order online prior to picture day:

Code for Branciforte Middle School: BY019026Q0.   After picture day, families will receive proofs along with their unique code which will be valid for 12 months after picture day.

Mark your calendar for important upcoming dates and remember that you can always see events in the future on our parent calendar on the B40 website at  Click “More Events” to see further out in the future.  

9/20 Movie Night, 6:30 - 8:45pm (see attached flier or website calendar)

9/25 First Day of Attendance - B40 Arts Academy

9/27 B40 Tamalada!  (see attached flier)

10/1 Vision and Hearing Testing for some students 

10/2 Picture Day (pictures taken in PE classes - more info to come soon) 

Three Important Meetings: - Home and School Club, 6:00-7:00pm, room 17 - School Site Council, 4-6pm - room 12 - English Learner Advisory Council, 6:00 - 7:30pm (mtg held in Spanish) 

10/3 County Bike/Walk/Scooter to School Day - breakfast provided 

10/4 Project Lit Community Book Talk, 7:30-8:30am, B40 Library

Boosters meeting, 1:15-2:00pm, B40 BeeInn Innovation Center

Special Event:  Love the Skin You’re In for girls with Brie Mathers, 3:15pm, Cafeteria

10/5 Queer, Trans and Allies Youth Leadership Summit, All day, Watsonville High School 

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