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Parent FAQs

The following information was asked by members of the Parents' Committee and answered by the divisional administrators to help new parents to Germantown Academy "find their way." If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact the appropriate Division Office.

Lower School - Barbara Buckley (267-405-7247) | Middle School - Anne Leonard (267-405-7275) | Upper School - Deb Kennedy (267-405-7302)


Lower School

How does Lower School Drop-off and Pick-up work?
Arrival: Lower School students are to arrive at school by 8am in order to begin at 8:05am, the start of the academic day. Early morning care (Early Birds) is available at no additional cost in the lower level of McLean Hall from 7:30 to 7:50am, and is required for students arriving prior to 7:50am.

Families dropping off children have two location options: The Connor Quad or outside the Field House along Morris Way at the A-F carline. Security and Lower School teachers will be outside to assist. We encourage 1st–5th Grade students to be dropped off while PreK and Kindergarten parents may temporarily park in front of Leas Hall to walk students to the classroom. 1st–5th Grade parents who wish to walk their children into the building must park in assigned Visitor spots on campus.

Dismissal: Lower School students are dismissed from their classrooms at 2:50pm. If you are picking up your child from car line, you will line up and then proceed to the designated area in the quad. Children whose last name begins with A –F are dismissed behind the Field House, along Morris Way. Children with the last names beginning with Letters G-Z are dismissed from the Quad: G-K in front of the Lavino Hall/Dining Room, L-R in front of McLean Hall and S-Z in front of Leas Hall.

What if my child will be absent or late?
When a student will be absent from school due to illness or will arrive after 8:15am, a parent/guardian must call the Absence/Lateness Hotline at 267-405-7900 (follow prompts for Lower School) no later than 8:30 AM to report that absence or lateness. For more information on Lower School Attendance Policy and Procedures, please see the Lower School Family Handbook.

What is a Blue Note?
If a parent wishes to change their child's daily transportation on a specific day, they need to fill in a blue note and have their child give it to their teacher in the morning. A packet of blue notes is distributed on the first day, and additional packets may be obtained from the Lower School Office.

What is the Lower School Dress Code, and where can I purchase uniforms?
The Lower School's dress code policies and uniform ordering information can be found here. Additionally, the Parents' Committee holds Consignment Shops several times throughout the year where gently-used uniforms can be purchased. Students who do not come to school with apparel that is aligned with the dress code may borrow an item from the LS Office to wear for the day.

What is Field Day, and how is my child assigned a team color?
Field Day is a half-day of school held on GA's fields on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. Starting with a parade from the Quad to the fields, Lower School students spend the morning in Red vs Blue Team competition using skills that have been taught and practiced in P.E. classes throughout the year. Upon admission to GA, children are assigned a color team; new students are assigned the same color as preceding members of the same family. Students wear white shirts and team-colored shorts. We invite parents to watch the events. Please do not bring pets to Field Day. After the conclusion of competition, families may arrange in advance to send their students to SPARK or take students home.

What is GA/PC Day?
GA and Penn Charter football teams have competed annually in what has become the oldest continuous prep school football rivalry in the country. The Friday before GA/PC Day each November is the Pep Rally, which all Lower School students attend with their classes. Families are welcome to attend GA/PC Day athletic events with their students on Saturday.

May my child bring a personal digital device or cell phone to school?
Students are provided iPads for in-class use throughout the day. Personal devices from home, including cell phones, tablets, or internet-enabled watches, may not be used during school or during afterschool programs. If these devices are brought to school, they must remain off and in the student's locker during the school day.

Where do I access the Lower School calendar of events?
You can view and sync the Lower School calendar here.

What is the Red Book?
The Red Book is a directory published each year with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of members of the GA community. It also contains other pertinent information. Please keep in mind that all the information found in the Red Book is for communication among the GA community and not for solicitation purposes. The same information can be found online in the Family Directory. Parents receive login information each August.

What is the Parents' Committee and how can I become involved?
The Parents' Committee has a large presence on the website, as activities, committees, and upcoming events are posted there and updated as needed. Most of the communication from the Parents' Committee comes via email (parents@germantownacademy.org). The GAzette provides information on upcoming Parents' Committee and school events and includes notes from each Division Head and the Head of School. There is a Lower School Division Chair and Co-Chair of the Parents' Committee who welcome volunteers for the many events and activities throughout the school year.

How can I volunteer in my child's class or at the school?

To indicate interest for all-school volunteer opportunities, parents should use the links provided on the Parents Committee Volunteer page. To indicate interest for Lower School volunteer opportunities, parents should respond to the Sign-Up Genius invitations sent via email by the Lower School Office prior to the activity or event. All Lower School volunteer opportunities are coordinated by the Lower School Office and the Grade Level Coordinators (GLCs), who are lead teachers from each grade level responsible for coordinating communications, activities, and events for their grade level.

Each grade level has several parent Co-Chairs who support community building with families at their grade level and encourage volunteers. Parent Co-Chairs meet and coordinate several times a year with the Lower School GLCs. If you have any questions about volunteering, you can ask one of the Co-Chairs at your child's grade level or ask your child's teacher. We ask that all parents respect the GA Civility Pledge on campus, maintain confidentiality when volunteering at school, and not discuss their observations of students with other parents.

What are my options for after school child care?
Learn about our After School Programs here.

How can I communicate with my child's teacher?
Emailing a teacher is preferable to using voicemail for initial teacher contact; teachers' email addresses are available via the faculty directory. Please allow at least 24 hours for a teacher to respond, as they are working with students all day. All students have an account on the school's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). On the VLE, the Lower School Lobby houses general Lower School information, school calendars, important links, and general notices that apply to the whole community. Each grade level has a page, which gives more detailed information about that grade and has links to each class' page. PreK – 2nd grade pages are used primarily as a communication tool between teachers and parents. Third – 5th grade pages are used primarily by students and have homework and other important daily announcements posted by 4pm daily.

What do I do if my child loses something?
All articles worn or brought to school should be clearly marked with the child's name. Clothing purchased at the Consignment Shop should have previous owners' names removed and be labeled with the present wearer's name. If an item is lost, please check with your child's teacher first, then in the LS office. There is a closet there where lost items are kept.

Where can I find more detailed info about LS policies?
Parents and students are expected to carefully review the Lower School Family Handbook, which is distributed at the beginning of each year.


ACADEMICS/GRADES/HOMEWORK

How often do LS students receive report cards and teacher comments?
Prekindergarten and Kindergarten-Transitional 1st student reports are written twice a year, in January and June, including reports from the homeroom and specialist teachers. In addition to two written reports, there are five scheduled parent-teacher conferences throughout the year. First-5th Grade core curriculum reports are written three times per year, in Fall, Winter, and Spring. Specialist reports are written twice a year, in February and June. In addition to these reports, there are three scheduled parent-teacher conferences throughout the year. Parents are encouraged to reach out to teachers at any time to discuss their child or the program.

How much homework can students expect in LS?
PreK and Kindergarten-Transitional 1st Grade students are not generally assigned homework, with the exception of being read to or reading books sent home at their 'just-right' level. First-5th Grade students may be assigned homework Mondays-Thursdays that may include core subject area's assignments such as reading, writing, word study, and math. Homework is typically an extension of, or practice with, a previously learned concept or skill, and should not be an introduction to something new. The average time a student will need to spend on their homework can be determined by multiplying the student's grade level by 10 minutes (1st Grade = 10; 5th Grade = 50). This is in addition to required, self-selected, independent reading for 15-30 minutes per night.

Do students receive homework over weekends and holiday breaks?
Students should not expect to receive homework over the weekend, unless they choose to work on a long-term assignment or are making up work due to absence.

Middle School

How does Middle School Drop-off and Pick-up work?
Middle school students are dropped-off and picked-up at the Pavilion. Parents should enter from the Arts Center Entrance on Morris Road. Families with students in both the Middle and Lower Schools, may pick-up and drop-off their children in Lower School carline.

Can MS students stay after school even if they are not participating in a MS sport or activity? If so, are they required to stay in The Korman Family Pavilion, The Roberts Family Library or a designated area?
Yes, Middle School students may stay after school in The Korman Family Pavilion (until 6pm) or the Roberts Family Library.

What are the after school library hours?
The Roberts Family Library is open until 5pm on Monday through Thursday and until 3pm on Friday.

Where can GA MS students go during morning break?
Middle School students may use the Common Room, the Middle School Commons, the Korman Family Pavilion, and the Middle School Green during break time. Students may also attend club meetings or meet with teachers.

What is the Middle School Dress Code?
READ MORE about the Middle School's dress code policies.

Where can I find more detailed info about MS policies?
Parents and students are expected to carefully review the MIDDLE SCHOOL HANDBOOK.


ACADEMICS/GRADES/HOMEWORK

How often do MS students receive grades and teacher comments?
The academic year is divided into two semesters. Progress reports are issued at four times: the middle and the end of each semester. Reports contain letter grades. The November and March interim reports also contain narrative comments. In January and June, comments are written as necessary or at teacher discretion.

How much homework can students expect in MS? How many hours should students be spending on homework each evening?
In general, students and parents can expect time spent on homework at home to vary based on the following factors:

  • Effectively using in-class and study hall time allotted for homework
  • Spending focused time on the work without frequent interruptions or distractions
  • Effectively planning (chunking-out) long-term assignments
  • Establishing a habit of daily review or preparation as opposed to “cramming“ for major tests, quizzes, projects, and presentations at the last minute

Students can expect to spend between one and one and a half hours nightly on homework.

Do students receive homework over weekends and holiday breaks?
Students should expect to receive homework over the weekend, though the following exceptions apply:

  • Thanksgiving Break, Winter Break, Spring Break. Assignments both short and long-term are not due the day after Thanksgiving Break, Winter Break, and Spring Break. Tests and quizzes are not given the day following these breaks.
  • Labor Day, Columbus Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Weekend, and Memorial Day Weekend Homework may be assigned over these weekends, but tests and quizzes are not given the day following.

Is there a limit to how many tests each student can have per day?
A test calendar is in place so that students will not have more than two tests on a given day. When more than two tests are scheduled, students should speak to their advisor and/or teacher(s) as soon as possible to ensure that one of the tests can be rescheduled.

Tell me about the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment)?
How should parents use the VLE?
The VLE is a Virtual Learning Environment that teachers use to disseminate information about their courses. While the course pages are specifically for student use, the Middle School regularly updates the Middle School Lobby page of the VLE with important information and upcoming events. To find the VLE, go to Quick Links on the top right of the GA web site and hit VLE.

MS Lobby Username: msparent
MS Lobby Password: Patriot

Is there detention after school if my student fails to complete his/her homework or misbehaves in class?
Students are not assigned detention for not doing homework; however, if a student demonstrates a pattern of late or missed assignments, he/she may be assigned to After School Study Hall as part of an academic support plan.

When a student’s behavior during class prevents or hinders instruction, he or she may be dismissed to the Middle School Office and asked to complete a Classroom Dismissal Form. After the class period, the student has a discussion with the Head Advisor and his or her teacher to reflect on why the student was dismissed, and parents are notified. A detention may be assigned and an accumulation of classroom dismissals may lead to additional consequences.


ADVISORY/MORNING MEETINGS

How many students are in my child’s advisory?
There are typically 10 to 12 students in an advisory.

What is the role of the advisor?
Advisors serve as the primary point of contact for each of their advisees. Advisors monitor and support the social and academic progress of students in their advisory. Parent conferences are held biannually with the advisor.

Will my student have a new advisor each year?
A student will receive a new advisor each year, with rare exceptions. Head Advisors stay with the class for all three years of Middle School to ensure a consistency of experience.

Will the advisor also be one of his/her teachers?
Students are an assigned to an advisor who will teach one of his or her courses or will work with him or her in an academic capacity.

What is the purpose of morning meetings?
Morning Meetings give students and faculty opportunities to make announcements, perform, present their work, or lead a discussion about items of community interest and concern.

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES


What are the extracurricular requirements for MS students?
Seventh and eighth grade students are required – and sixth grade students encouraged – to participate in at least one on-campus sport or in the drama program each year. The time involved is normally Monday to Thursday, 3:15-4:45pm. Drama may require more time as the production date gets closer, and does meet on Friday. Arrangements are made for students seeking to do both athletics and drama.

Are there MS Clubs at GA? When do they meet?
Activities and clubs provide opportunities for students and teachers to engage in areas of common interest.

Activities/clubs offered include:

Book Club
Community Service Organization (CSO)
Digital Art Club
Green Ambassadors
In Our Own Write – the literary magazine
Jazz Band
Karaoke Club
Math Counts
Reading Olympics
Student Government Association
The Messenger- our Middle School Blog
Other activities may be offered depending on student and faculty interest.

Who chaperones the MS dances?
Middle School teachers serve as the chaperones for the MS Dances. Parent volunteers supervise the snack table. Opportunities to sign-up to volunteer are communicated by the MS Parents’ Committee.

Are students permitted to bring friends from outside of GA to the dances?
Students are allowed to bring guests to Middle School dances. There is a registration card to fill out prior to the dance, and the GA student is responsible for his or her guest’s behavior.

Do students need to bring money to the dances for admission and snacks?
Dance tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. Drinks and snacks are sold, but students shouldn’t need more than a few dollars.

Is there an active Student Government Association (SGA) in the GA MS? Does my child need to be elected?
The SGA consists of elected officers who are responsible for providing leadership and a voice for the student body, as well as leading discussions on ways to improve life in the Middle School. The SGA is also responsible for promoting school spirit, organizing social activities, and serving as helpers for community events. The formal officers of SGA include 8th Grade co-presidents and an 8th Grade vice president, who were elected by the MS student body, an appointed secretary, and up to five elected representatives from each grade. All community members are invited to attend weekly meetings.

MIDDLE SCHOOL SPORTS


Do the majority of MS students participate in sports?
Seventh and eighth grade students are required – and sixth grade students are encouraged – to participate in at least one on-campus sport or in the drama program each year. The majority of MS students participate in many after-school activities throughout the year.

Does my child have to try out for the team?
There are no “cuts” in the GA athletics program. Depending on the number of participants, teams may be divided into Varsity, Junior Varsity, and/or 3rd teams. Whenever possible, teams will consist mostly of students from one grade level; however, a student’s level of participation may be affected by his or her skills and experience in the chosen sport, the limitations of facilities, or the number of student-athletes participating. The goal is to place students at the level where they can best develop their skills and do so safely.

Do players need to have experience with a sport to go out for the team?
Students do not need to have prior experience with a sport to go out for a team. The one-week period at the beginning of each season is a chance for young student-athletes to get a feel for a sport. Since for some this is the first experience of participation in a sport, students may change teams during that period of time.

What are the practice times for MS sports?
Middle School teams practice Monday through Thursday from 3:15-4:45pm (fall and spring) and 3:15–4:15pm (winter). Games typically run later than scheduled practice times.

Do students leave school early for away games?
Students are dismissed at the regular time for home games and at 2:05pm for away games. Before leaving for an away game, students are required to report to their last period class or study hall to check in with the teacher, turn in homework, and pick up any assignments or materials.

Where and when are students picked up after sports?
All Middle School students are picked up in front of the Korman Family Pavilion after practice.

Do students purchase their uniforms for MS teams?
No. Uniforms will be distributed during a scheduled lunch period during the first weeks of each season and are returned to the school after the season. There will be no uniform charge unless uniforms are not returned at the conclusion of the playing season.


ELECTRONICS

What is the electronic device (cell phone, iPad, computer) policy in the GA Middle School?
Smartphones, cellphones, tablets, laptops, and other electronic devices may not be used without the permission of a Middle School faculty member or the MS Office from 7:40am until 3pm.

Can students listen to music or use their devices in study hall?
Students may quietly listen to music with headphones; however, headphone sharing is prohibited. Students using screened electronic devices are to sit in the front rows during study hall in the Honickman Auditorium.

Can students use their devices in class?
Students may use laptops and tablets in class with the permission of their teacher.

Do most students bring laptops or tablets to school?
There is not an expectation or requirement that students bring a device to school. As part of our 1:1 table PC program rollout in 2018-19, all 7th Grade students will be provided a tablet PC to use at home and school during the academic year. Sixth and 8th Grade students may bring a laptop or tablet to school. This decision should be made by the student and his/her family.

If my 6th or 8th Grade student does not bring a laptop computer or iPad to school, will he/she always have access to one of the school’s devices?
Yes, if electronic devices are necessary for a particular class, he/she will always have access to one of the schools' devices.

Upper School

What is the GA Upper School Dress Code?
Full Dress Code
Relaxed Dress: If students are given a dress down day, they should still be dressed appropriately for school. Clothing that is too short, too tight, too revealing, too ripped or shabby, or vulgar in the opinion of the House Head will not be permitted. Lunch duty will be assigned for inappropriate dress even on relaxed dress days.

Where can I find more detailed information about Upper School policies?
The Upper School Handbook is available on the GA website and is contained in the back of each student’s planner.

How often do US students receive grades and teacher comments?
US students receive grades four times a year---at the end of each quarter. The November and March reports will include written comments for all courses. The January and June reports will include comments for all courses where the term and/or cumulative grade is below C.

How many students are in my child’s advisory?
Each student belongs to an advisory, which is a group of about 10 students from his/her grade.

What is the role of the advisor?
Advisors closely monitor the academic, extracurricular, and social lives of their advisees. They also communicate with the advisee’s parents, conduct the official parent conferences in the fall and spring, play a key role in the course selection process, and generally troubleshoot for their advisees. Senior advisors assist in setting up and monitoring the Senior Project. The advisor is a good first-contact person for parents with questions about their child. Students have one advisor for 9th and 10th grades and another advisor for 11th and 12th grades.

Will my child have a new advisor each year?
No. Students have one advisor who follows them in 9th and 10th grades and then another advisor who follows them in 11th and 12th grades.

Will my child’s advisor be one of his/her teachers?
Your child’s advisor may or may not be one of his/her teachers. The advisor will be in your child’s house, so for example if your child is in Kershaw House, his/her advisor will be a Kershaw House advisor.

What is the role of my child’s House Head?
The House Head provides leadership and support to all members of the House. In addition to supporting the advisor in his or her role, the House Head manages a range of issues from course schedule changes to attending college visits.

What is the purpose of House Meeting?
Each House meets as a group most Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:05 to 8:20 AM. The meetings are led by the House Head and Prefects. In addition to taking care of House business, the meeting time can be used for House members to make announcements or discuss school life.

Who are the House Prefects and what is their purpose?
Each House has two Prefects who are charged with helping to run the House. Selected by the House Head, these two senior students are chosen for their capacity to work with, to support, and to lead, the other members of the House in a variety of situations.

What is the purpose of morning meeting?
Every Monday and Friday the entire Upper School starts the day together at 8:05 am in the theater. Student announcements, talks, skits, etc. are all permitted and encouraged. The meetings also afford a time for faculty to address the entire Upper School. Routine announcements may be made as time permits, but longer announcements or presentations must be scheduled in advance with the Head of Upper School. All announcements should be appropriate, clear, articulate and practiced.

What is the activity requirement in Upper School?
Freshmen: 2 major activities; Sophomores: 2 major activities; Juniors: 2 major activities; Seniors: 1 major activity *(must be an on-campus activity)

What clubs are available to my child in the Upper School?
CLICK HERE for the list of US clubs for 2018-19.

Tell me more about the Student Government at GA:
The Student Government Association (SGA) is the formal means by which students help make and influence school decisions. SGA is comprised of sixteen Senators, four from each grade, who have been elected by their respective classes the previous spring (with the exception of the freshmen Senators who are elected in the early fall of the present school year). SGA also includes twelve Form Representatives, three from each grade elected the previous spring (with the exception of freshmen members elected in early fall of the present school year). Finally, SGA includes seven House Representatives (one elected by each House). SGA is presided over by the elected President who is assisted by the elected Vice President and the Secretary (may be a Junior or Sophomore), all elected in the spring. The SGA Advisor, appointed by the Head of the Upper School, is a non-voting member who serves as the liaison between the SGA and the Head of the Upper School.

All members of the US (students, faculty and staff) are invited to attend announced SGA meetings during lunch and participate when topics are open for discussion. Because they do not have individual voting privileges, they are expected to see their senators or form reps to let their concerns be known and their voices heard so that their votes will accurately be represented.

Do the majority of US students participate in athletics?
Yes, many of the students choose to participate in some form of athletics; from highly competitive Varsity teams to club sports, there is a level at which all students can feel comfortable participating. Of course, there are ample opportunities for students who choose to complete their activity credits in a range of other arenas.

Does my child have to try out for a team?
The only sports team that has cuts at GA in the Upper School is the golf team (fall season). This is a direct result of course availability. The other sports teams have a no cut policy---each student will be placed by ability on Varsity, Junior Varsity or third team.

Does my child need to have experience?
Your child does not need to have experience to play a sport in the Upper School, however, those with the most experience and proficiency will be placed on a higher level team (ie: Varsity).

What are the practice times for US sports?
Practice times for each sport can vary but are generally are after school each weekday until 5:30 PM.

Do US students leave early for away sports games?
Yes, US students do leave early for away games. Students leaving school early for games are responsible for the work they miss. Students missing an entire class for an early dismissal should let their teacher know beforehand. The Associate Athletic Director will post information regarding dismissal times.

How do I know if my child’s sports game is cancelled or postponed due to weather?
Weather-related changes in practice or game schedules will be decided at 1:30 PM. The Associate Athletic Director will send the decisions to the main receptionist’s desk where they will be posted; they will also be put on the GA Sports Hotline (#267-405-7416), posted on the web and on the TV’s located throughout the building.

What is the cell phone/device policy in the Upper School?
Cell phones and other electronic devices (ie: i-pods and any other hand held devices) may not be used between 8:05 am and 2:50 pm except in the Houses, Pavilion, Dining Room, Common Room and outside.

Students may ask a teacher or the US Office to use an office phone if necessary. Parents may also call the US Office or your House Head to convey urgent messages to students.

Can students use their phone/device to listen to music in Study Hall?
Electronics may be used for academic purposes with permission of the proctor. Students can listen to music in study hall with headphones.

Can students use their phone/device in class?
Students can use their phone/device in class only when directed to do so by the classroom teacher.

Do most students bring computers to class?
While many students do bring a laptop/table to class, it is by no means a requirement.