Physics, Inertia, and Getting Started

Dear Central Academy students and families,

As we prepare to launch into a new school year unlike any that has come before, I keep thinking about the concept of inertia– also known as Newton’s First Law.  The First Law of Physics describes an inherent property of matter as “resistance to change”. The more massive the object, the greater its resistance, and the more work it takes to make it change speed or direction.

The good news: work is simply effort over time. Persistence pays, so don’t give up. More good news: effort is cumulative– it doesn’t have to come from one source.  Each of us can contribute to make the change.  When we work together, the effort required from individuals is lessened.

Collectively, our families, students, and staff have put in quite a bit of effort to get this school year off the ground.  Most of us will experience a smooth start to an incredible new way of schooling. But some may experience the lurch and pull of new beginnings. Just remember: we’re in this together, persistence pays, and the first attempt does not predict the final result.


Des Moines Public Schools has put together a Student Guidebook for Devices to walk through the common problems people encounter.


Just remember, take a breath, relax, and look around at the resources available.  We are all learning new things. Everyone makes mistakes while they are trying something new. So, just relax and realize that sometimes you must try it a few times to figure it out.


Every IT person I spoke with says that if all else fails, restart your computer.  Most of the time that will resolve the problem.


On the Academy website > Virtual Learning > Tech Support you’ll find links to DMPS support and some quick fixes.


Of course, the pandemic has impacted some of our suppliers.  We loaded the bags with everything that had been delivered.  And we were able to purchase online subscriptions to textbooks and simulations for some of our classes in the Sciences and Social Sciences. So, when some people got their bags, they were empty.  *Heavy sigh*  If I were to do it again, I’d put a note in every bag that would include this additional information:


Our English novels and some of our math workbooks did not arrive as expected.  We are planning smaller pick up events to distribute those materials that are arriving late. Please take this SURVEY to help us design the distribution procedure that would work for your family.  We’ll let you know as soon as the materials arrived. Our focus will be on Term 1 classes first, then Term 2 classes.


Some people were not able to come to materials pick up last week. When you log into your classes on Tuesday, your teacher will check if you have the materials you need.  If you did not get your bag and you have Term 1 classes that need materials, please come to Academy during school hours (8 – 4).  When you are in our driveway, give us a call (515-242-7888) and we’ll bring your bag out to you.


Students, if you get something in your bag that you don’t need any more or by mistake, or if you are missing something, please fill out this ERROR REPORT.  We’ll work out a plan to make it right as soon as possible. (Students must use their log in credentials to complete the error report so we can sync with our library system.)


If the materials you need are for a Term 2 class, you can always come and get your materials or your bag in October.


One feature of “Back to School Night” that has been missing so far is a chance to learn a little bit about the classes in which you are enrolled. So, the Academy teachers made short videos about their classes for students and families for a Virtual Back to School Night. You can find these videos by teacher name, organized by department on our website:


We have met with each middle school program that we serve to ensure the schedules for our shared students line up correctly. But when students and families look in Infinite Campus at their middle school schedules they don’t look right– the times listed are not correct and it appears as if classes are overlapping or missing.


Our 7th grade Prep Academy classes meet from 8:30 – 10:00 every day. You’ll have a double period of Mathematics or English for Term 1 (9/8/2020 – 11/9/2020) and then switch to the other class for Term 2 (11/10/2020- 1/22/2021).


Students in the 8th Grade Academy program are on the High School Schedule when they are at Academy.  Middle Schools have 6 periods this fall, but high schools only have 4 periods. So, you might have a period 3 on your Middle School schedule and a different period 3 on your high school schedule. Don’t worry, they are at different times and do not overlap. Period 3 in the middle schools is in the morning and period 3 in high school is in the afternoon.

Also confusing is that the times listed on your middle school schedule in Infinite Campus may not align with the actual times the class meets. Every middle school has unique needs and has a slightly different set of bell times.  So, unlike high schools which have standard bell times across the district, the middle schools don’t. To change the listed time on the public facing documents, a district programmer has to get at the underlying code.  Of course, schools don’t have permissions to do that work (thankfully!) and since every middle school is unique, the times don’t always match the Middle School’s plan.  Still, this won’t be a problem because we have reviewed those times with each middle school. Since Eighth Grade Academy classes are on the standard high school schedule, those times are correct in Infinite Campus.

Academy Period 3: 12:30 – 2:00

Academy Period 4: 2:00 – 3:30

Directed Study meets in either Term 1 or Term 2 and connects our 8th graders with our Counselor, Kris Hilton.  There is a real-time meeting at the beginning of the period on Tuesdays.  There will be some on-demand (asynchronous) assignments for students to complete independently during the week to help them make the transition to Academy and get to know the support personnel, resources, and services that we offer.

Happy New (school) Year!

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