Middle School Welcome

 Dear Parents,

A warm welcome to the 2019-20 school year at ISZL Middle School. To our new families, we look forward to getting to know you and your children over these coming months as you transition into ISZL and the wider Swiss community. The vast majority of our ISZL families have transitioned here at some point and understand the challenges, as well as the opportunities, such a move brings. Our aim is for the Middle School to be a place of comfort and security as your children adjust, and our teams will work closely with you to try to ensure as smooth a transition as possible. To our returning families, I am eager to connect once again at an exciting time in the Middle School. You may notice changes to some of our practices and procedures; including a new schedule designed for Middle School needs as well as additions to our activities programme. All changes made are focused upon ensuring all students have every opportunity for success and to fulfil their potential. 

On a personal note, it is a great honour to have been appointed Middle School Principal, following seven years in the Assistant Principal position. I feel very privileged to work alongside a group of highly talented educators, engaged and vibrant students and a supportive and open-minded parental body; we are all working together to move our division forward. The importance of this triangular partnership between school, students and parents cannot be understated, and I believe it is fundamental to providing the support your children need as they enter into their early teen years. 

This is the first Middle School Parent Bulletin of the year which will be sent every other week, providing you with key information around Middle School life including upcoming events, important logistical information and standing links to relevant documents. At a time where perhaps your children become a little less open to sharing their school experience, my aim is to improve our communication so as parents you have a greater understanding of what is happening in and around our Middle School.

On behalf of the Middle School team, I offer a warm and heartfelt welcome to you and your family. Thank you for choosing and trusting us to work with your child at such an integral time of their lives. I am looking forward to celebrating their many successes with you along the way.

Upcoming Events

The 2019-20 school calendar can be accessed on ISZL’s Parent Portal. This should be your first port-of-call regarding upcoming events.  In these bulletins we will list the events coming up over the next two weeks.

New Family Orientation for the Zug Campus
: Monday 19 August
Location: Baarburg Theatre & Building
Time: 8:30-11:00
We are looking forward to continuing your transition to ISZL. New parents and students are expected to arrive between 8.30 - 9.00 and will be greeted by ISZL staff and student ambassadors as you make your way up the Zug Campus driveway. MS students will spend the morning meeting the student ambassadors and teachers and engaging in activities designed to acquaint them with Middle School life. Parents will spend time in the theatre making connections with other new families, members of our school leadership team as well as being offered an opportunity to learn about the pertinent information you need to help you transition smoothly into ISZL.

Middle School Clubs and Sports Registration Opens
Monday 19 August
Location: Online
All parents will be sent an email on the morning of August 19 explaining our activities and sports registration system. Sign-ups for the autumn season will begin that day on Monday 19 August and close at 12:30 on Friday 23 August. More information is below.

First Day of School
: Tuesday 20 August
Location: Baarburg Building, Zug Campus
Time: 8:50
All students will head directly to their homeroom in the Middle School building (Baarburg) arriving before 8:50. There will be staff on-hand to help support them finding their way to their homeroom. The initial part of the morning will focus on team-building within homerooms as well as supporting them through the schedules, Schoology log-ons and other important and relevant information. For Grade 7 and 8 we will transition into regular classes later in the day; for Grade 6 we spend a little more time building a team spirit and continuing developing understanding as they transition from Primary School.

Primary and Middle School “Sausage Sizzle”
Friday 23 August
Location: Zug Campus
Time: 15:30-18:00
A relaxed and enjoyable community event for families and staff on Zug Campus, welcoming everyone into the new academic year. Please join us for sausages and light refreshments at the end of the first week of school.

Schoology/Parent Portal Workshops

  • Friday 23 August, 9:00-11:00: Cafeteria, High School Campus
  • Monday 26 August, 9:00-11:00 and 13:15-15:15: Stuebli (across from Reception), Zug Campus

A series of workshops intended primarily for new parents will be offered during the first weeks of the new academic year. The workshops will provide parents with an opportunity to learn more about the ISZL Schoology environment and the ISZL Parent Portal. Parents are welcome to attend a workshop at either campus. If you are interested in attending, please register here. For questions, contact Chris Vincent, Director of Technology: chris.vincent@iszl.ch

Middle School Back to School Evening
: Tuesday 27 August
Location: Baarburg Theatre
Time: 18:00 - 20:30

18:00 -  Introduction to the Middle Years Programme (MYP). This is a quick 30-minute session focused on the ‘need-to-knows’ of the MYP. A session designed for parents who have not experienced this style of programme before.
19:00 - Introductory meeting in the theatre for the whole division before breaking into grade-specific groups to learn more about the Middle School and to meet the staff that are working with your children. You can informally meet with Middle School teachers from 18:30 in the Theatre Foyer.

English as an Additional Language (EAL) Wengen Visit (Residential)
: 28 - 30 August 
Location: Chalet Bergheim, Wengen
Our EAL students and EAL team travel to the school’s chalet in Wengen to build relationships between the staff and students.  This is a residential visit leaving from school on Wednesday morning and returning before the end of school on Friday. All EAL students are encouraged to attend.

Parents’ Association Welcome Fair
Wednesday 11 September
Location: Zug Campus Baarburg Theatre
Time: 9:00-11:00

This event is a great way to get in touch with new and old friends, find out about clubs and get informed about local life over a coffee. All parents new and 'old' are welcome.

News and Notes

Middle School Staffing/Teaming Information
We are delighted to welcome five new staff members to the Middle School Staff; Pete LaFrance (MS Assistant Principal), Robyn Schroeder (Learning Support), Aaron Broderick (Design), Tracey Smith (Science & Design) and Kim Joslyn (Music). They have already spent time developing an understanding about ISZL and specifically about Middle School. All are fantastic additions to our team and we are thrilled to have them on board.

Each grade is predominantly based on one floor of the Baarburg building with a team of core teachers dedicated to this grade. Each floor includes Language and Learning, Individuals and Societies, Maths and Language rooms as well as a Science Lab. Grade 6 is on the ground floor, Grade 7 is on the middle and Grade 8 is on the top floor of the Baarburg building.

The Grade Level Team Leaders for 2019-20 are:

You can find a staff list and teaming information in the standing document section at the end of this newsletter.

Following this bulletin you will receive an additional email confirming your child’s homeroom and teachers. These are the official placements following extensive work by our teaching teams over the past few months taking into account the academic needs, effective working relationships and friendship choices of all of the children. 

Clubs and Activities
Information regarding registration will come out to you via email on Monday 19 August. Please take your time to look through the options and click through the information to read more about what each club involves. We do not assign on a ‘first-come, first-served basis’, instead try to ensure all students have opportunities across the year. We will run an assembly for students on Wednesday 21 August to give them the opportunity to learn a little more about what is on offer. In addition to the sporting and arts-based activities we have built a “Creativity Hub” into our afterschool programme, with a variety of science, technology, engineering and mathematical based clubs with a creative twist. To give you an early insight there is an overview of the autumn season options in the standing documents at the end of this letter.  Any clubs/activities questions please contact Pete LaFrance: pete.lafrance@iszl.ch. Questions regarding the sports programme should go to our Athletics Director Hans Engl: hans.engl@iszl.ch

Student Absences, Late Arrivals and Appointments
We kindly request that parents/guardians inform the school office and the homeroom teachers of all absences, lates, and appointments as soon as possible.  Contacting the school if your child is sick or late will assist us to complete the attendance efficiently; as student safety is of the highest priority, staff must account for every student throughout the day.  The office can be contacted at office.zug@iszl.ch or by telephone on 041 768 29 00.

For requests of extended absence from school, please refer to the Student Attendance, Conduct and Behaviour section of the Zug Campus Handbook on ISZL’s Parent Portal.

Code of Conduct
The ISZL Code of Conduct is a driving document clearly setting out the expectations of all our community members (students, staff and parents).  Intentionally we have placed it here as a standing document, as well as within students home-learning diaries and have it posted around the Baarburg Building.  As a division we are raising its profile this year and want to ensure it continues to be living and visible document that guides how we act and interact with each other.  Please take some time to read through this with your children as we begin the new academic year. View the Code of Conduct online.

First Day of School – What to Bring
The following is taken directly from the Zug Campus Handbook on ISZL’s Parent Portal: a go-to place for some of your questions and linked in the standing documents below.  Middle School students need a standard pencil case with highlighters, small ruler and protractor. There is no need to have other special mathematical instruments. An A4-sized, two-ringed binder is recommended for keeping notes and handouts from teachers. Dividers are necessary to section the binder per subject. A first language dictionary is needed for students who do not have English as a first language.

At home, a reliable internet connection is key to enable students to have safe, secure and reliable access to web-based resources at home, including the school’s Schoology environment. Having a printer will also allow them, where necessary, to submit paper copies of electronic assignments in a timely manner. 

In terms of clothing: Middle School students do not need to change their shoes at school, but should be responsible for making sure their shoes are clean when entering buildings. Students will go outside for morning and lunch break as often as possible, therefore it is important that they are dressed appropriately for the weather conditions. Please see the requirements for Physical Health Education (PHE) in the standing documents section at the end of this message.

Mobile Phones
Despite what your child might tell you, we do not require any Middle School student to have a mobile phone!  Teachers may suggest that, on occasions, if students have them they can be utilised to support a learning experience.  However, we can also have this functionality via the ipads and other devices we have in school.  Our policy is that mobile phones are out of sight, in bags, within lockers from 8:40 until 15:30.  We will be following this through with our students more this year.  We ask for your support as parents and ask you not to send messages through to your children during the school day. If there is a message you need to get to them urgently, please ring through to the Zug Campus office at 041 768 29 00 and we can make sure it gets to them.

Personal Development Week (PDW): 23-27 September
Preparations are well underway to make the most of this fantastic opportunity to enhance our curriculum. It is a key aspect of our programme and as well as offering a unique experience outside of the classroom, it enables strong bonds to be built amongst staff and students. Grade 6 will visit Schwarzwald, Germany, Grade 7 will visit the Ardèche, France and Grade 8 will travel to Lake Garda, Italy. More detailed information regarding each trip will be sent home at a later date.

For now it is important that you check any visa requirements for the countries we travel in and make the necessary arrangements in order that your child can travel on Monday 23 September. Our teams will be asking for passports in the week before we travel and there is always a question of whether we need them as we live in a “Shengen” zone.  Travelling over national borders with 100+ students and 12+ staff is a very different experience to travelling as a family. I ask that you honour our requests and provide the necessary documentation required in order to enable us to cross borders smoothly and efficiently.  

A group of teachers have spent over two years as a teaching team researching into the optimum schedule format for Middle School, reflecting the community’s desire to move to a more student and staff friendly format. Our new schedule reflects this research within our context and constraints. Each school day contains 5 periods and we operate a Week 1 and Week 2 model, providing a flexibility to be able to offer an engaging and varied programme. In the standing document section you will find the Week1/Week 2 calendar as well as schedules for each of the homerooms across Middle School.

Parking – Drop Off and Pick Up
The school car parks are always extremely busy during drop-off and pick-up times. This will be exacerbated during the first weeks of school. The safety of our students and all car park users is our priority. Patience and courtesy on the part of all drivers will greatly assist in providing a calm and happy start and end to the school day for everyone. We ask that you follow the directions of the Site Manager and his team, who aim to ensure a smooth process.

Please note: the one-way traffic flow system will operate in the morning for the first two weeks of school from 8:15 - 9:15 and in the afternoon from 15:00 - 16:00 all year. Please read the Traffic Flow / Parking Updates which gives precise details of timings and the one-way system for the first two weeks of school only.


Standing Links - Useful Documents

Zug Campus Handbook
ISZL Code of Conduct
ISZL Student Support Services Handbook
Week1/Week 2 Calendar
MS Homeroom Schedules
MS Staffing List and Team Information
MS Clubs & Sports Autumn Overview
MS PHE Clothing Guidance


With best wishes,

Stuart Byfield
Middle School Principal

please contact: stuart.byfield@iszl.ch or sian.parry-sedgwick@iszl.ch