FAQ for Parents of Cunha Students

Q: How will Cunha Intermediate help my student grow?

A: Cunha offers a safe environment, along with the necessary tools and inspiration, to nurture the uniqueness and brilliance of every student. Our students are guided towards critical thinking, collaboration, effective communication, and self-advocacy. Additionally, they cultivate qualities such as kindness, creativity, courage, resilience, and a strong sense of community. Our holistic approach emphasizes the development of the 'whole child', providing them with a solid foundation for success not only in high school but also in their chosen paths beyond. At the heart of our mission are our dedicated, passionate, and highly committed teachers who play a pivotal role in shaping the Cunha experience for generations of Coastside middle schoolers. 

Q: How can I help my child be successful at Cunha?

A: For your child to excel at Cunha and beyond, three fundamental principles can pave the way to success. These principles are:

  1. Complete and submit homework assignments: Many students struggle due to incomplete or missed assignments. Ensure your child checks their Cunha planner for homework tasks. You can also find homework listings on Schoology and/or PowerSchool.

  2. Seek assistance proactively: Encourage your child to seek help when needed, directly from teachers rather than relying on parents. Practice effective communication methods for your child to confidently ask for assistance.

  3. Exhibit positive behavior: People are often inclined to assist those they have a positive rapport with. Demonstrate the conduct expected at school, serving as a role model for your child to follow. 

Q: What are some of the extracurricular student activities available at Cunha?

A: Cunha students engage in a diverse array of school-sponsored student activities, encompassing sports teams (such as basketball, volleyball, and tennis), clubs (including chess, anime, etc.), school dances, and student leadership roles (such as ASB and Web Leaders). These extensive opportunities allow students to actively participate in the Cunha community, forge friendships, cultivate a genuine sense of identity, and enrich their academic journey. Should a student wish to initiate a new club, they can approach the school administrators for guidance.

Q: What is the school's philosophy regarding student discipline?

A: The rules governing behavior at Cunha can be effectively summarized into three distinct activities. A student can gauge the appropriateness of their actions by affirmatively answering the following questions:

  1. Is it SAFE? Safety holds paramount importance, and students are expected to engage in actions that prioritize their well-being, the safety of others, and the preservation of property. This entails avoiding dangerous situations or risky behaviors.

  2. Is it LEGAL? Students are prohibited from engaging in any actions that would violate the law.

  3. WOULD I engage in this activity in front of my FAMILY? Students are encouraged to pause and reflect on their behavior, making adjustments whenever necessary to align with the standards they would uphold in front of their own family.

By evaluating their actions through these three lenses, students can make informed choices that contribute to a positive and respectful environment at Cunha.

At Cunha, our primary focus is on identifying students who exhibit positive, safe, respectful, and responsible conduct. In recognition of such behavior, students are rewarded with a Cub Compliment that holds value throughout the year, enabling them to enjoy various perks from ice-cream drawings to Cub gear. Our commitment lies in adhering to the PBIS framework, which stands for Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports.

In situations where students deviate from the expected behavior, a structured approach is taken for accountability. Cunha employs a citation, detention, and restorative justice model. For minor infractions, students are first cautioned about their behavior, and if it persists, a citation is issued. In cases where behavior is more serious or continues to be a concern, students might be assigned to an Extended Learning Opportunity, commonly referred to as detention. In more severe instances, students may participate in a restorative circle or conversation, aiming to address and correct the behavior in a constructive manner.

Q: My child is having some social and emotional difficulties. Can Cunha staff help?

A: Students encountering challenges such as bullying or family-related issues are encouraged to reach out for assistance. The support network includes counselors and school administrators. To seek help, students can take the following steps:

Schedule Appointments: Students can arrange appointments with their counselor using the designated computer in the main office. This computer is specifically meant for booking counselor appointments. Use this link to book your appointment.

Direct Email: Another option is to directly email their counselor to initiate communication.

Contact School Administrators: Students can approach school administrators at any time to share their concerns. It's recommended to do so promptly to address issues effectively.

At Cunha, the well-being of students is a priority, and the available support channels are intended to provide assistance and guidance during difficult times.

It's important to note that all information shared within the Counseling and Administrative Office is treated as confidential. This means that no information is disclosed to external parties, including parents, teachers, or fellow students, without the student's permission. However, there is a crucial exception to this confidentiality:

If a student communicates that they are contemplating self-harm, harm to others, or if they reveal that they are being harmed by someone else, the situation changes. In such cases, there is a legal obligation to seek assistance for the student to ensure their safety and well-being.

Confidentiality remains a cornerstone of the support provided, except when immediate safety concerns arise that necessitate taking appropriate action to safeguard the student involved.

Q: My child is struggling with their schoolwork. How can I get help from Cunha staff?

A: If your student is encountering difficulties with their schoolwork, we have several avenues to offer assistance. Here's how you can help them:

Contact the Teacher: Reach out to the teacher to pinpoint the exact areas where your child is facing challenges. Teachers can provide valuable advice and tips tailored to your student's needs.

Tutoring Opportunities: Students have the option to receive tutoring during lunch and after school at Homework Club, which convenes in the school library every Tuesday. They can approach the Homework Club teacher for assistance. This program operates on a drop-in basis, so there's no need for advance registration. Students can simply attend during the specified hours for tutoring. 

If your child is grappling with social or emotional issues at school, they should connect with their counselor, psychologist, or administrator for support. Our school team is dedicated to addressing the individual needs of our students. Engaging in conversations with counselors, psychologists, or administrators can provide your child with valuable suggestions and strategies for personal growth and improvement.

Q: What are your tips for communicating with my child's teacher?

A: The Cunha staff is truly dedicated to their roles, and the presence of experienced, long-term teachers enriches the learning environment. You are fortunate to have access to their expertise, and reaching out to teachers directly for guidance is encouraged. Here are some specific pointers for effective communication with teachers: 

  1. Tone Matters: When seeking help, approach teachers with a tone that conveys your request for assistance. The tone you use can significantly influence the response you receive. Begin with kind words and use open-ended questions to foster a positive exchange.

  2. Choose Your Words Carefully: Select words that effectively convey your concerns and facilitate a clear, open, and constructive conversation about what's best for your child's education. Aim to avoid phrasing that might not yield the desired outcomes. Consider whether someone unfamiliar with you would find your email to be kind, constructive, and conducive to meaningful dialogue.

  3. Schedule a Meeting: Propose a meeting at a time convenient for both you and the teacher. When meeting, it's beneficial to have your child present. This way, they can actively participate in devising strategies to enhance their educational journey.

By maintaining a thoughtful and respectful approach, you can collaborate effectively with teachers to ensure your child's academic success.

Q: My child is currently required to take ELD (English Language Development). What are the advantages of their completing this requirement, and how can they get there?

A: The benefits of your student completing their English language development courses are extensive and varied. While it's challenging to encompass them all in a single paragraph, we highly recommend that all students opt out of their English Language Learner status. By doing so, they open the door to a wider range of opportunities, including electives, college preparatory classes, and access to the full spectrum of courses offered at Half Moon Bay High School. Moreover, those who are no longer part of the Cunha ELD program can engage in electives and avoid participation in the zero period.

Should you have specific inquiries regarding your child's redesignation, we encourage you to reach out to your student's counselor. They can provide personalized guidance and information to support your child's educational path.

Q: What are some of the elective classes Cunha has to offer?

A: Cunha Intermediate School offers an extensive array of elective courses, enabling students to delve into their passions and discover new areas of interest. A notable portion of these electives is presented through the rotational 'Wheel' course model. These courses encompass subjects such as Drama, Music/Band, Craft, Agriculture, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), ASB (Associated Student Body), Spanish Immersion, Web Leader, and much more. Our elective offerings evolve to cater to the evolving interests and preferences of our student body. Through these diverse electives, students can engage deeply in subjects they enjoy and explore exciting new areas of learning.

Q: The Cunha Parent & Student Handbook is so long. Are there certain rules that are more important than others?

A: Navigating through the extensive California Education Code and the comprehensive Cunha Handbook might seem overwhelming to students and parents. However, by adhering to these three fundamental principles, students can enjoy a fulfilling experience at Cunha, enhance their learning, and grow as individuals. Evaluate your actions using the following ideals as you move through Cunha:

  1. SAFE: Consider whether your actions might cause harm to yourself or others on campus or in the community.
  2. LEGAL: Reflect on whether your intended actions are in alignment with both the law and school regulations.
  3. FAMILY TEST: Ask yourself if you would engage in the same behavior in front of your family.

Consistency in following school rules is essential. Every Cunha staff member enforces the following top 10 rules:

  1. Electronic Devices: Devices like iPods, phones, and headphones/earbuds should not be used during school hours.
  2. Gum: Gum is not permitted on campus.
  3. Food: Consume food only during designated break and lunch times and in specified areas.
  4. Profanity: Use of profanity is prohibited; kindness is encouraged.
  5. Bullying: Bullying is not tolerated; kindness prevails.
  6. Litter: Dispose of trash properly; do not litter.
  7. Running: Only run when appropriate, such as during PE or on athletic fields.
  8. Fighting: Avoid fighting; prioritize kindness.
  9. Hats and Hoods: Do not wear hats or hoods inside buildings.
  10. Staying on Campus: Once on campus, remain on campus until the appropriate time.

By adhering to these principles and rules, students can contribute to a respectful and positive learning environment at Cunha.

Q: Is it true that students also need to follow school rules on their way to and from school?

A: Absolutely. This requirement extends to bus rides, encompassing both privately-owned and public buses. It's important to emphasize that students must adhere to the school rules during these journeys.

Q: Why can't my child leave school after drop-off to get breakfast at a cafe on Main Street?

A: Safety stands as our foremost concern at Cunha Intermediate. To ensure your child's safety, their presence on campus is vital. Once they step off-campus, we cannot guarantee the nurturing, secure, and well-organized environment you anticipate for your child. From the moment your child arrives at Cunha, their well-being becomes our responsibility. Moreover, we offer nutritious breakfast options on campus, available free of charge!

Q: What is the school's attendance policy, in brief?

A: Consistent attendance plays a pivotal role in students' academic achievements. When a student is frequently absent, they not only miss out on valuable social interactions but also on direct instructions provided by their teachers. Although written assignments can be caught up with, as per the CA Education Code, every absence, regardless of its duration, translates to a lost chance for learning. It is the students' responsibility to attend classes punctually and consistently. Accumulating excessive absences or tardiness could result in limitations on participation in various school activities and privileges, including assemblies, sports, dances, and even the promotion ceremony.

Please be advised of the following guidelines regarding student absences and their impact on participation in school dances. It's important to note that dance exclusions are reset after each dance or quarter. To ensure uninterrupted participation in school activities, kindly employ the following strategies:

  1. Reporting Absences: When a student is absent from school, parents should call the attendance office at (650) 638-8306 (English) or (650) 638-8601 (Spanish) before 9:00 am on the same day to report the absence. After two unexcused absences or cuts, students will be assigned detention. Continued unexcused absences or cuts can lead to progressive discipline measures, including referral to the Student Attendance Review Board for both the students and their parents.

  2.  Sign-Out Procedures: If a student needs to leave school during the day, they must be signed out in the office by a parent/legal guardian or an adult listed on their emergency card. Only individuals listed on the emergency card will be authorized to pick up the student. This includes students who have medical appointments: Students with a note and permission to visit a nearby doctor, dentist, orthodontist, or counselor for a scheduled appointment must also sign out in the front office before leaving.

  3. Extended Absences (5-10 days): If a student will be absent for an extended period (between 5-10 days), parents should coordinate homework and assignments directly with the teachers. They can also apply for short-term independent study using the provided links for English or Spanish. The student's counselor and the school's Attendance Clerk can offer assistance if needed. Additionally, homework and assignments may be accessible through teacher sites in Schoology/PowerSchool, although not all teachers utilize this feature.

Your cooperation in following these procedures will help ensure that student participation in school activities remains uninterrupted. If you have any further inquiries, please feel free to reach out to the relevant school personnel.

Q: Are there special requirements for playing on school sports teams?

A: Athletic Eligibility: Cunha acknowledges the numerous physical and social benefits associated with participating in athletic teams, while also upholding the paramount importance of intellectual growth and academic achievement for all students. All sports are inclusive and open to every student, regardless of their sex or gender.

For students who did not achieve a 2.0 GPA in the previous quarter, a remediation process is in place. The Athletic Director will collaborate directly with students facing challenges in behavior or grades that impact their eligibility to participate.

In the event of your child's absence on the day of an athletic contest or any school activity, their participation will be precluded. In the case of partial absences, students must complete a minimum of four (4) full periods to be deemed "in attendance." 

Q: Are there grade-level field trips for my child?

A: For 6th-grade students, the Outdoor Ed field trip is available. For more information, kindly reach out to Mr. Rippberger. Similarly, 8th-grade students have the opportunity to participate in the Washington DC field trip. For details, please get in touch with Mr. Cox. It's important to be aware that each of these trips comes with associated costs. If financial assistance is needed, the PTO offers support through a dedicated fund. Feel free to approach the Principal or Assistant Principal for further guidance.

Q: Does Cunha have a dress code?

A: Yes. The responsibility for a student's dress and grooming primarily lies with the student and their parents or guardians. This approach aims to ensure a safe and inclusive learning environment. The dress code was formulated with guidance from the Cunha Health and Wellness Committee and was implemented starting from the 2018-2019 School Year.

It's important to note that Cunha's dress code does not intend to discourage cultural expressions or affiliations in any manner. For instance, students can continue wearing items that showcase their national origin or religious beliefs without any restrictions. Please follow this link to learn more about the new code.

Q: What is the Boys and Girls Club and how do I learn more?

A: The Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside operates independently from Cunha Intermediate. They offer various services to Cunha students. To learn more about their programs tailored to Cunha, visit their website through this link.

Q: When should I be reaching out directly to the school principal or assistant principal?

A: The school administration serves as a valuable resource for Cunha parents. If you have concerns, compliments, or ideas that would benefit the Cunha student body, it's recommended to contact the administration. For specific concerns regarding a teacher or an incident, your first step should be reaching out to the teacher, followed by your child's counselor. If the issue persists, you are welcome to contact the Assistant Principal or the Dean of Student Services.

In situations where your child's safety is immediately at risk on campus, do not hesitate to contact a member of the administration without delay.

Transitioning from Elementary School to Secondary School introduces the availability of school counselors who play a pivotal role. These counselors assist students in developing social and emotional skills, managing conflicts, and devising strategies for self-advocacy. Establishing a positive rapport with your child's counselor is strongly recommended for both students and parents. When unsure about the appropriate course of action, parents should seek guidance from their child's counselor, who often proves to be an excellent resource for non-teacher related matters.

When dealing with conflicts involving teachers or questions, it's advisable to directly communicate with your child's teacher. Additionally, consider reaching out to the Assistant Principal and/or the Dean to initiate conflict resolution or restorative conversations.

Q: Where can I find additional information and stay up-to-date about the goings-on at Cunha?

A: The most effective approach to stay updated on all things related to Cunha is by regularly checking Schoology and/or PowerSchool, in addition to visiting the school website. The website features weekly videos and daily news and announcements to keep you informed.

Q: What Is the school's policy regarding electronic devices at Cunha?

A: Electronic devices are prohibited for use on the Cunha campus during school hours. If you need to reach your child, kindly get in touch with the main office at (650) 420-3229. Furthermore, we highly recommend that parents engage in discussions with their children regarding the proper utilization of electronic devices, both on and off school premises, and the importance of practicing good digital citizenship to ensure online safety for all.

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