Parent Teacher Conferences and so much more…!

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Upcoming Important Dates

Wednesday thru Friday, October 15 – 17 – Tooth Fairies
Friday, October 17 – GMS Dance Gymnasium 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Wednesday, October 22 – Early Release Day, Students dismissed at 11:10 am
Wednesday October 22 – Parent Teacher Conferences 2:00 to 8:00 pm
Thursday, October 23 – GMS Flu Shot Clinic
Friday, October 24 – GMS Flu Shot Clinic
Friday October 24 – Parent Teacher Conferences 8:00 am – 2:00 pm
Tuesday, November 4 – Election Day in Maine

PIE Meetings

Our monthly PIE meetings will begin in November. We had originally planned to hold a PIE Meeting on Thirsday evening, October 9th, but we have postponed that so that we can attend a ceremony in Augusta where our very own Technology Integrator, Terri Dawson will receive a much deserved award from the Maine Chapter of Technology Educators, ACTEM.

I promise we will be back on schedule on November 20th, where we will have some discussions about Proficiency Based Education and what it will mean for my child.

Speaking of Proficiency Based Education

I have heard from a few of our parents about their concerns of the state switching to a Proficiency Based Diploma and their concerns focus on their child’s chances of being accepted to a good college.

I think these are real concerns. We have long lived with the notion that there is some magic formula for students being accepted into college, That somehow, the admissions departments at all of these colleges and universities have some sort of ritualistic method for deciding who gets accepted and who gets rejected. This is real stuff to many of our families and we shouldn’t enter this blithely or cavalierly.

I have been telling parents that while this is going to be different, much of the process will look the same. Teachers will still be giving test and students will still be writing papers. Parents will still receive reports about their child’s progress. Some students will still excel and some students will still struggle. That is the age old process of school and this will still happen.

What won’t happen is that students who excel will not have to languish in classes that are moving too slow. Once they have sufficiently demonstrated proficiency in a particular topic, they will move on. They will continue to be challenged to greater heights, because the leaning will never stop! Students who struggle will receive time to get it. (notice, I didn’t say “get it right or correct”!) That is what I meant. Students will work until they master the learning challenge.

Parents will receive reports that explain what your child is learning and where your child still has more learning to complete and master. Time will not be a factor in determining a student’s progress through school, learning will be the determinant. This is a dramatic shift in how schools have been operating for the past 100 years, at least.

Parent/Teacher Conferences

GMS will be holding our Parent Teacher Conferences on Wednesday, October 22nd from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm and on Friday, October 24 from 8:00 am until 2:00 pm. You should be receivingparents information from your child’s advisor about scheduling a time that works best for you. If, for some reason Wednesday or Friday can’t work for you, please give your child’s advisor a call or an email to arrange a date and time that does work.

We have conferences set up with the students’ advisors to allow more time for parents to meet and discuss the progress, both academically and socially. If you would like to meet with one, some or all of your child’s content area teachers, you need only make an appointment. This can be done at anytime of the school year.

I say this every year, so this year will be no different, you do not need to wait for these schedule conference dates to meet with your child’s teachers. You can schedule meetings any tie during the year that you need to meet. A simple phone call or email to arrange the meeting is all you need.

Student Apple IDs

Apple LogoSince the MLTI meetings back in September, we have been working to de-bug the issues with our good friends at Apple Computer to allow students under the age of 13 to create an Apple ID. This is to be able to allow these students to download selected applications and content created by our staff on to their devices.

We think we are ready to for the rollout!

We are putting a link to a presentation on our GMS Website that will help answer some quest you may have and also help you in the process of creating the Apple ID for your child under the age of 13.

If you have questions, please call Terri Dawson, Technology Integrator at GMS 222-1007.

 Flu Clinic

Flu shotAs we have done for the past few years, we will be offering a Flu Shot Clinic in conjunction with the Parent/Teacher Conference days. Here is the information for the dates, times and locations of the clinics:

The Gorham School Department will be offering Influenza (Flu) vaccine clinics on the following dates:
OCTOBER 22 at GHS back of MPAC for GHS students only 8:00AM to 11:00AM
OCTOBER 23 at GMS GYM for K-8 students (Parents must be present with their child or an adult designated by the parent) and GHS students who could not attend at GHS in the morning from 3:30PM to 6:00PM
OCTOBER 23 at GMS GYM K-8 students (Parents must be present with their child or an adult designated by the parent) 8:00AM-12:00PM

For more information, please call Teresa Merrill, School Nurse at GMS 222-1220.

An Oldie but Goodie!

As we examine how we are making the shift to a Proficiency Based Education system and a diploma awarded to high school students based upon the attainment of proficiency, I am offering, for the Oldiessecond time, a video we showed to our faculty in September 2012 to help lay a foundation for our work. Diana Laufenberg is still a classroom teacher working with students, just like ours and still challenging her students to reach beyond their classrooms, themselves and their teachers to discover great learning. She still embraces failure as a learning opportunity, but she is no longer working in a school with the great technology she had in Philadelphia. In fact, she has very little technology in her current school, and yet she still has her students reaching beyond to great learning.

I hope you enjoy this video and, more importantly, I hope this stirs up some questions that we can discuss.

October 1st! Where Does the Time Go?

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Upcoming Important Dates

Monday, September 29 – October 3 – NWEA Testing for 6th graders
Tuesday, September 30 – Meet the Candidates Night at GMS 6:00 pm, GMS Cafeteria
Wednesday, October 1 – Maine Harvest Lunch celebration
October 13 – Columbus Day Holiday No School
Wednesday thru Friday, October 15 – 17 – Tooth Fairies
Friday, October 17 – GMS Dance Gymnasium 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Wednesday, October 22 – Early Release Day, Students dismissed at 11:10 am
Thursday, October 23 – GMS Flu Shot Clinic
Thursday, October 23 – Parent Teacher Conferences 2:00 to 8:00 pm
Friday, October 24 – GMS Flu Shot Clinic
Friday October 24 – Parent Teacher Conferences 8:00 am – 2:00 pm

Meet the Candidates Night

TN_sign_voteOn Tuesday, September 30, in conjunction with the Maine School Management Association, Gorham Middle School will host a regional Meet the Candidates night beginning at 6:00 pm in the GMS Cafeteria. It is expected that several candidates for the Maine Legislature will be in attendance to meet with local voters and discuss their positions on several issues. If you would like to join us on this evening, you should contact the Maine School Management Association to let them know of your interest.

There will be local candidates for legislative positions as well as several local elected officials available to answer questions and share ideas.

I hope you can join us for this informational evening.

Maine Harvest Lunch Celebrated

We will celebrate all the is Maine in agriculture on Wednesday, October 1 during the lunch times at GMS. The Maine Harvest Lunch Program, which has its beginnings right here at GMS, is an Lopeopportunity for us to highlight all of the agricultural delicacies available from our home grown farms and gardens. This year the menu includes beef raised right here in Maine as well as selected greens from local farms, Maine baked potatoes with good ole Maine made made cheese from good ole Maine raised cows.

The students will also get a short lesson on the importance of knowing where your food comes from and how important it is to have vibrant Maine farms.

Please ask your kids about their lunch on Wednesday when they come home from school.

ACTEM Recognition for GMS Technology Integrator

logoWe received news this week that Terri Dawson, Technology Integrator for GMS will be feted at the annual meeting of Technology Educators during the month of October.

Terri is an omnipresent being in every one of our classrooms helping to bring out teaching staff towards technology in their already great teaching. Her hard work and dedication to the Gorham Schools and, in particular GMS, has left an indelible mark how we do our work with our students. In in era when we are looking for constructive, engaging methods to bring our students closer to the work they will be doing when school is done, Terri is a critical friend to our staff and an abundant resource for our staff and our students. Congratulations, Terri!~

School Dances and Cell Phones

It seems as though with each passing year, cell phones become more a part of the middle school experience. Each morning on my arrival at school, we have a contingent of students who are already cellhere and each of them are on their cell phone! Some are listening to their playlist, others are playing games and some are texting messages to places unknown (but probably to the person sitting next to them or across the foyer. No sense getting up and walking across the foyer when a text will do!)

Some of our teachers are beginning to put the students and their cell phones to use in the classroom, which is good because it takes the device out of their pockets and places it on a desk, in the open, in view of all, so the teacher can insure that the device is used for school purposes.

As these devices get more and more sophisticated it becomes more and more important that we help our students understand the proper ways to employ these gadgets, and that brings me to our dances and cell phone title.

All of the phones that have been introduced in the past several years also include a camera with excellent resolution capabilities as well as a video mode for taking some fairly lengthy videos. When parents send their child to one of our dances, the last thing they expect to see at the end of the dance is a video of their child that is not very complimentary showing up on social media!

Seriously, though, we don’t want students to feel as though they must always be on guard for someone shooting pictures of them, especially when they are having fun with their friends. Sometimes,we all can “go over the top” with something and we don’t want that to become a reason for not coming to school. That fear of thinking that everyone is looking at them because they all saw the post of the video or picture of me at the dance on Friday night!

So, when we ask our students not to have their phones out at the dance, that is the reason. We ask all chaperones to be on the lookout for phone in use, but I am not sure we can catch it all, all of the time.

I rely on our Code of Conduct, Respect, Responsibility, Courage, Compassion and Honesty to guide our method of handling the idea of technology and socially networked adolescents. I believe our students do as well, yet, as we are all too aware, sometimes our adolescents’ frontal lobes don’t function the way we would like to expect and our students do things without thinking.

Operating under the idea that we must sometimes act as our students’ frontal lobe, we restrict the use of cell phones at our dances. This is sometimes contrary to the wishes of some of our parents. Rightfully, they want to know where their child will be when it comes to pick up time, or, if their child is planning to spend the night at the home of a friend. Sometimes, the plans of our kids change during the dance and parents need to know this.

We are asking all parents to help us with this and remind their children that we have phones in the office for our students to call (not text) to confirm plans of to notify of changes of plans. We need everyone’s help in keeping the phones of our students in their pockets during our dances.

So far, we have not had any problems that we know, but, as Ben Franklin said, “… an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Thank you for your help with this.

School Holiday – Columbus Day

Not that many of our students (or teachers and Principals) need the reminder, but we celebrate Columbus Day on Monday, October 13, so there will be no school on that day for students or teachers.

I hope that all get to enjoy the wonderful fall weather we always seem to get over that weekend (there I go! I just put a huge jinx on the forecast!)

Proficiency Based Education

We continue our progress toward a Proficiency Based Learning system that has been mandated by our Legislature through LD 1422, which requires that students achieve proficiency in the eight content areas of the Maine Learning Results. You may remember the Maine Learning Results or the MLRs as we in education like to call them. Students are expected to achieve proficiency in a particular area of study before moving on to the next level of learning. In essence, what this really means is that students will determine how quickly, or slowly they “travel” through their education careers. Currently, the school year begins in August (used to be September) and ends in June. At the end of that time students are usually moved to the next higher grade, although there are always exceptions to this. Some students have been “held back” and, less frequently, students are moved ahead and “skip a grade”. (Never a problem for me!)

In this system, time is the constant, that being the school year and learning is the variable. In other words, some students learn more during that time than others.

In the new Proficiency Based Learning System, time is the variable and learning is the constant. Some students will take longer to gain proficiency in certain areas than others students, and that is OK.

This video isn’t the typical kind of video I put here. Usually, I try to find something that is funny or engaging or has someone famous in it to keep your attention. This video is actually one that I could imagine being put on to a film strip. You know, the kind that beeps when you need to advance to the next slide. But the information is important and it does hit on all the elements of Proficiency Based Education, and, it’s short. (Ed Note: the term Standards Based Grading and Proficiency Based Learning are synonymous.)

I hope this helps in increasing your understanding of of what we are trying to do.

Looking Forward to a Great Fall Season

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Upcoming Important Dates

Friday, September 19 – 1st School Dance of the year 6:00 – 8:00 pm GMS Gym
Monday, September 22 – 26 – NWEA Testing for 7th graders
Tuesday, September 23 – Odyssey of the Mind Awareness Night, 6:00 pm GMS Library
Tuesday, September 23 – Ice Hockey sign ups in the GMS Cafeteria, 6:30 pm
Wednesday, September 24 – Early Release Day, Students will be dismissed at 11:10 am
Monday, September 29 – October 3 – NWEA Testing for 6th graders
Tuesday, September 30 – Meet the Candidates Night at GMS 6:00 pm, GMS Cafeteria

School Dance

Our first dance of the school year is this Friday night from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.ani-dance1

This is a great time for all of our kids to gather with friends and socialize and enjoy each others company. All of our school rules still apply as to behaviors and dress codes. I know this is an evening event where the opportunity for getting together and making impressions is very important to all of our students. This is where we need real help from home. Our dress code still applies to our dances, so I am asking that parents remind their children that this is a fun event and not a formal event, id students could dress accordingly, it would be appreciated.

Laptop Information

mlti-logoI really want to thank all who attended the MLTI Parent Orientation evenings we held earlier this week. We are in the process of collecting all of the information that the students have returned and we (actually, my secretaries!) are compiling the lists and making sure which parents want the devices to go home and which do not. When we get this part of the bookkeeping done, we will then allow the devices to go home, not latter than Monday, September 22nd however.

Again, thanks for your participation.

Common Sense Media and Emily Bazelon

CommonSenseMediaEach evening of the MLTI Parent Orientation Meeting, Terri Dawson and I mentioned Common Sense Media and Emily Bazelon, author of the book entitled Sticks and Stone: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. (Phew! Long Title) Well, here is a video that has both of these people in one place, sticks and stonestalking about how to stem bullying in our schools.

And, as I write this, I am wondering if anyone would like to join a book group to read and discuss this book? I really would be interested in gathering with parents who are interested in learning more about this scourge in our society and I would love to expand this conversation beyond our school and into our community.

If this is of interest to any of you, please send me an email at robert.riley@gorhamschools.org

Fall Sports Season  Schedule

I will reprise our entry form our last post to make sure that everyone has a copy of our Fall Sports Schedule. I also want to remind all that weather can be our friend… or not! Please check the daily notices for changes to the sports game schedule as well as changes to daily practices.

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How was School Today?

Screenshot 2014-09-18 09.47.54So often, when our kids come home from a long day at school, we want to know how school was for them, so, we ask the question “How was school today? And our kids respond with something like “good” or “OK”, and that ends the conversation. And you want to know more!

The Huffington Post offered a wonderful article by Liz Evans on this subject with 25 different ways to elicit more tha a one word answer from your child. Several of the suggestions are really good and can really lead to some great discussions bout school and open the lines of communication between parents and children. Here is a link and I hope you enjoy. Liz Evans, How was School Today

Odyssey of the Mind Information Night

OM LogoGorham Schools are very lucky to have an active Odyssey of the Mind (OM) organization. Our students regularly compete at national levels and are very successful. The group gets together regularly during the school year under the direction of Diane Knott. All of the participants are so engaged in their work and in solving the problems that are presented by the National Organization. This is a great opportunity for students to practice working collaboratively refining their creative problem solving skills. This is also an excellent way for our students to practice the leadership skills they will need in the future. I encourage all parents to find out more about this activity for their children.

The informational night will be Wednesday, September 23rd in the GMS Library beginning at 6:00 pm. Parents and students are encouraged to attend and if you would like more information contact Diane Knott at email: diane.knott@gorhamschools.org or by phone 222-1376.

 Proficiency Based Education

By now, many of you have at least heard about Proficiency Based Education and that the state of Maine has made the decisions to base all graduation decisions on whether of not students attain proficiency in all 8 content areas. Now comes all of the hard work, and believe me, we (our faculty) are working very hard to comply with the law, but more importantly, we are working to make the learning for our students as real and engaging for them.

For years, we have used a system of communicating to parents the progress of their children’s learning that required teachers place a number of letter that would represent the entirety of the students’ learning. All of the work over a period of 45 days, or so, boiled down to a single letter or number to represent all of the complexities of the daily learning that happens in every class, for the entire grading period.

I get that we need to keep things efficient and as simple as possible, I do get it! I wonder, however, if some of the message we are trying to communicate to parents and students gets lost in the simplicity. I think that communicating about student learning is a far greater story than a single letter or number. And that is what we are working on as we strive to meet the mandates of the state while insuring that our students are getting the best from us.

We will continue to work on this and we will work to communicate with all of you about how these changes will impact our kids and their futures. I encourage anyone who has questions about subject, or any other for matter to contact me.

We will have plenty more about this topic here in the future. Until then…

Looking Forward to a Great Week!

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Upcoming Important Dates

Monday, September 15 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Monday, September 15 – 19- NWEA Testing for 8th grade
Tuesday, September 16 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – Picture Day, Vision & Hearing Screening
Wednesday, September 17 – Information Night for the Washington, D.C. trip 6:30 pm at GMS Library
Friday, September 19 – 1st School Dance of the year 6:00 – 8:00 pm GMS Gym
Monday, September 22 – 26 – NWEA Testing for 7th graders
Tuesday, September 23 – Odyssey of the Mind Awareness Night, 6:00 pm GMS Library
Wednesday, September 24 – Early Release Day, Students will be dismissed at 11:10 am
Monday, September 29 – October 3 – NWEA Testing for 6th graders
Tuesday, September 30 – Meet the Candidates Night GMS Cafeteria 6:00 pm

MLTI Parent Nights

CommonSenseMediaOur annual nights for informing parents of the new and improved features of the MLTI Program and the devices will be on Monday and Tuesday night beginning at 6:00 pm in the GMS Auditorium.

This is something we are trying for the first time. If this works well, you may see more of me!

WGME School Spirit Challenge

This coming Friday, September 19th, GHS will be participating in the WGME News 13 School Spirit Challenge. Channel 13 will be on campus all morning, beginning at 5:00 am School Spirit Challenge(yup, that’s right,5:00 am). As part of the Challenge, school collect nonperishable foods for the Good Shepherd Food Bank. The school that collects the most food, as measured in pounds, will win the season long competition against several school from all over the Channel 3 viewing area. We at GMS are determined to help our fellow Gorham students win that challenge, so over this week, we will be collecting canned and other nonperishable foods. Our plan is to bring what we collect over to the high school on Thursday night to be added to what the students from the high school bring, Let’s hoe we can collect a whole bunch of cans and boxes!

For more information on the Spirit Challenge, check out the WMGE 13 web site.

Early Release Day Activities

On Wednesday, September 24, the entire school will be working to produce a Lipdub for the Macy’s Lipdub competition. As I mentioned in our last post, our students will lip dub to Beach Boys all time favorite, Be True to Your School. We hope to have all students, through their advisories, join in the making of this video. Just as a short reminder, here is our last Lipdub done 3 years ago to our great friend Flo Rida.

School Picture Day, Tuesday

a=school pcJust a short reminder that all students will have their pictures taken on Tuesday, September 16, by Life Touch Studios. The pictures will be available for purchase by parents either in the package plans they offer or on an a la carte basis. If you want pictures, but don’t want one of the packages, just call the customer service line and order what ever pictures you want.

NWEA Testing

Over the next 3 weeks, each grade will participate in the administration of the Northwest Education Assessment (NWEA) tests. These assessments are nwea_logo_twittersquare_biggergiven on the computer and they serve to assist us in planning for what students may need in the coming school year. The results of the assessments do not have any weight on the students report cards but they do give a fairly clear picture about the strengths and weaknesses of each student.

Usually, the testing last about 3 to 4 class periods for each students, so there should not be a great disruption to the normal student day.

US CapitalWashington, D.C. Information Night

Any 8th grader interested in traveling to our Nation’s capital with a group of your classmates during the April school vacation, April 20 -25, 2015. The meeting will last approximately 30 minutes. For more information, contact Melanie Doran at melanie.doran@gorhamschools.org

First School Dance of the Year

DancersIt is that time again for the clock to creep to an alarmingly slow speed.No, not really, the two hours of the dance seems to travel incredibly fast for the students and equally as slow for the adults who monitor these dances. In any event, the evening is filled with lots of fun for the kids and our DJ Parfecta (Mr. Parvanta) always finds the perfect combination of slow dance music and not so slow dance music to keep all of our kids entertained.

Truly, we look forward to seeing our kids enjoy their time in school, which they seem to do at the dances. Now, if we could only figure out how to get that much energy from them during the normal school day!!!

Fall Sports Schedules

We have, hot off the presses, our Fall Sports Schedule for all to cut out and put on the refrigerator door. As with all sports schedules in the Northeast, we are subject to some strange weather and that weather can wreak havoc on our best laid plans. I would advise all to check our daily notices, published to the Middle School web page for any changes or updates to this schedule, as well as the practice schedules put out by each coach.

 

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Odyssey of the Mind Awareness Night

There will be an evening meeting for all folks interested in learning more about how OM works and what kinds of great adventures students can experience when that participate in this activity. Join Diane Knott in the Library of GMS at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, September 23 to learn more about your child could expect. For more information about OM, email Diane at diane.knott@gorhamschools.org

We are Beginning to Hit Our Stride

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Upcoming Important Dates

Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, September 9, 10 & 11 – Laptops Deployed
Wednesday, September 10 – Gorham Education Foundation meeting 6:30 pm Recreation Building
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, September 10, 11 & 12 – Tooth Fairies
Monday, September 15 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – Picture Day, Vision & Hearing Screening
Friday, September 19 – 1st School Dance of the year 6:00 – 8:00 pm GMS Gym

Tooth Fairies Postponed

tooth fairyThe Tooth Fairies, a group of Dental Hygienists who travel to school offering free dental health services, had to postpone their arrival at GMS. Don’t fret, however, as they have rescheduled to October 15 – 17. This gives some of you who may not have signed up time to do so. If you would like your child to receive these very important dental health service, please call Teresa Merrill and arrange an appointment.

Gorham Education Foundation (GEF)

GEF logo1-u149We have received word that the Gorham Education Foundation will be holding their first meeting of the school year this Wednesday evening (September 10) in the Recreation Building near the Library at 6:30 pm.

The GEF is a non-profit foundation, under the guidelines of the IRS 501-c-3, that raise funds to support the mission of the Gorham Schools. They hold regular events to raise funds and awareness of, and for the Gorham Schools.

For more information on the Gorham Educational Foundation email: gorhamef@gmail.com

GMS is on Twitter

You can follow Gorham Middle School on Twitter now at @GorhamMiddleSch,if you have your own Twitter account. If you haven’t joined the Twitterverse, you twitter_newbird_boxed_whiteonbluecan still access our Twitter feed by going to http://twitter.com/GorhamMiddleSch.

We plan to offer some views into the day-today happenings at GMS and to feature some of the very innovative and engaging activities that happen on a typical day. We will also use the medium to inform our community into all upcoming activities. We look forward to having you join us.

Picture Day

Next Tuesday, September 16th, all students will have their picture taken by the good folks at Life Touch Studios. We will use the student images for our Student a=school pcInformation System as well as offer to parents and families the opportunity to purchase packages of photos for family enjoyment. Life Touch has provided us with some very high quality portraits for families to frame and give as gifts or to just enjoy looking at over the years.

We have sent home descriptions of the photos and possible packages for purchase by families with your child in their backpack. Life Touch has put together several possible options for purchase, you  just need complete the information on the sheet along with your selections and have your child bring it with them on Tuesday/

Life Touch has been willing to work with us to help all families record the early years of their children. If you do not find a package that meets your requirements, or you think may be too expensive but you want one 8×10, please give the phone number on that order sheet a call and tell them what you would like. They are after all in the business of selling pictures, so I am willing to bet they will work with you. If they don’t, give me a call and I will see what I can do.

Sports and Physicals

The fall sports season has begun with practices commencing yesterday after school. I am not sure how many kids we have signed up so far, but it was really great to see all of our fields filled with young people running and jumping and kicking. The schedules are being finalized for the middle school and as soon as I have it, I will get it up on the Middle School Web site.

In order for our students to participate in sports, students must have a current physical on file with the school. By current, we mean within two years. One thing that happens often is that physicals “run out” or expire during the school year because the actual date of the physical was later in the school year. If you have any questions about your child’s physical date, give the office a call and we’ll check.

Safety Drills

BFD2During the first week of school we held two fire drills for our students and teachers. We usually conduct 8 to 10 fire drills during the course of the year and 2 to 3 lockdown safety drills. Our goal is to never have to use any of these exercises for real, but we do practice all of these safety exercises to be prepared.

We will, in all likelihood, hold a coup,e of more fire drills with the students this fall while the weather remains comfortable. We will also be putting up obstacles during the evacuation so that students and teachers will revert to plan B and move students in a different direction and to a different evacuation point. We usually do this with first responders observing and providing critiques for how we can improve.

We will also hold the lockdown drills in the coming months. We will notify our community of parents and guardians of these events before hand so that you will not be getting any strange texts from your kids about an emergency at the middle school.

Mandarin Language and Culture Offering

COnfusius InstWe will again be offering to our 7th & 8th graders an opportunity to participate in the Mandarin and Culture course offered through the Confucius Institute at the University of Southern Maine. The course will meet on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays during the students EICAL period. Unfortunately, students who are in band or chorus will not be able to participate in this offering as that is when band and chorus has their rehearsals.

If you are interested in having your child participate in this wonderful offering, please send me an email or give me a call.

After School Library

The GMS library is open for students who wish to use the resources of our Library for homework or research. The Library is manned by Mr. Carpenter beginning at 2:30big_bookworm_color until the late bus at 4:00 pm. Students are expected to be working on school work while they are in the Library and not just be gathering for social purposes.

This is a great chance for students who may need some help in finding resources for their projects or getting some assistance with getting homework done. The Library is also a nice quiet place for some great reading time in an environment that is conducive to quiet reading.

Parents may pick up their child before 4:00 pm if they would like by going to the Library and getting their child.

GMS is Doing Another LipDub

I can’t believe it was four years ago that we performed a whole school activity that was very new to me called a Lipdub. Mr. Flo Rida provided us with the “Good Feelin'” and all of our students and teachers got into the spirit of the day. With the exception of the two folks introducing the event, the kids and students were terrific. So, if you’ll fast forward past the old folks at the beginning you can see our first try at a LipDub.

We are now going to try to make this work positively for GMS, given our experience. Macy’s, the huge department store (do they still call them that!?!) is offering significant cash prizes for the top three LipDubs in a national contest of middle and high schools across the country. Each school is required to follow a set of rules, which we already know we can do, and upload the video to the Macy’s Youtube account.

Here are the rules of the contest and a sample of what a LipDub might look like.

Keeping Maine Students Safe

dhhs-logo-footer2We have received several advisories from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention regarding mosquito borne illnesses. Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus have been detected in a few mosquito pools in southern Maine and the Healt Department advises that we take precautions. We have sent home with your child several fact sheets on both of these mosquito borne illnesses as well as a sheet with preventative measures that parents can take to protect their children.

At present, there have been identified cases of either illness in the Gorham area, but we will continue to monitor the Maine CDC website for updates and we will keep you informed if we learn more.

 More From our School Nurse

More and more we are hearing in the news about how certain childhood diseases are on the rise. Diseases such as measles and mumps and even polio are making a big comeback across America and the world. Many of the stories that I have seen are laying the resurgence of these diseases on the lax immunization protocols and, sometimes a fear of the possible negative side effects of some of the immunizations.

The state of Maine has requirements of schools to insure that schools remain safe by requiring proof of immunization of all students. There are exceptions allowed for philosophical and religious reasons, we just need to have those exceptions documented and on file.

If you have any questions about your child and the requirements for immunizations, please give Teresa Merrill, School Nurse a call.

Until next time…

 

We Have Liftoff!

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Upcoming Important Dates

Thursday, August 28 – 1st Day of school for grades 7 & 8
Friday, August 29 – No School
Monday, September 1 – Labor Day, No School
Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, September 10,  11 & 12 – Laptops Deployed
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, September 10, 11 & 12 – Tooth Fairies
Monday, September 15 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – Picture Day, Vision & Hearing Screening
Friday, September 19 – 1st School Dance of the year 6:00 – 8:00 pm GMS Gym

No School on Friday August 29 or Monday September 1

Just a reminder that we will have no school for students and teachers on Friday and Monday to allow all families to enjoy one, final long weekend. I hope that the weather holds out for all of us to be able to enjoy all of the activities and family get togethers that are planned for the Labor Day weekend.

We will get back to business on Tuesday, September 2nd for the long haul to Thanksgiving (with a few breaks in between).

MLTI Laptop Deployment

mlti-logoMike Nash and our entire Tech Department have spent the entire summer getting all of the laptops ready for the new school year. There are some new features on theses devices, as there are every year and we will go over those changes during the MLTI Parent Nights on September 15 & 16.

We will deploy the laptops to each grade level beginning on Tuesday, September 10 to the 8th graders, and then we will get the 7th grade and 6th grade on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. The student will not be able to bring their devices home, if parent choose to allow that, until after the meetings and after all of the paperwork has been completed> I think we can expect to allow the devices to go home to those students whose parents chose to allow it, on Monday, September 22.

Tooth Fairies coming to GMS

tooth fairyOK, not real fairies, but real “people doing good things” for our community.

The Tooth Fairies are a group of dental hygienists who travel around to school offering free, or low cost, dental health services. It is a wonderful service that allows parents to have their child’s teeth checked and cleaned for little or no cost, usually no cost!

If you want your child to have these services here at school, please complete the form that was sent home in the summer mailing and return it to the Main Office of GMS by Friday, September 5th. Those who have the forms completed will be contacted with the date and time of their child’s appointment. The Tooth Fairies will be at GMS on Wednesday,Thursday & Friday, September 10, 11 & 12. The appointment will happen during the school day, and may mean your child will miss a portion of one of their classes.

If you have any other questions about the Tooth Fairies or other health related issues, please contact Teresa Merrill, School Nurse.

MLTI Parent Nights

putthis_on_calendar_clip_artWe are required every year to present an evening of information and digital citizenship to the parents of middle school students who will be using the MLTI issued laptops. As I mentioned above, this evening information session is required for students and families that wish to have the laptops go home.

This year, we are planning a very vigorous session on Digital Citizenship and what parents can do to help their child become positive constructive users of technology. We will be introducing all parents to the CommonSenseMedia web site and the many tips and strategies they offer to help parents who may struggle to keep up with the rapidly changing world of technology.

Please plan to attend one of these informative evenings. The night will begin at 6:00 pm in the GMS Auditorium.

Picture Day

The all important and much anticipated Picture Day will happen this year on Wednesday, September 16. We will have a schedule set up for the students by grade and by team. Again, our pictures will a=school pcbe done by LifeTouch Pictures.

Last year, I heard some concerns that the passages were too expensive and really didn’t offer the bare minimum. I have spoken to LifeTouch and they have assured me that they will address this issue, but I was told that if parents only want one picture, they can do that. They may need to call customer service or use the online shopping option, but any pictures that parents want of their child will be available, not just the packages.

Vision and Hearing Screening

School Nurse Teresa Merrill will also be doing vision and hearing screening for all 7th grade students, and a few selected other students,on the day of the school pictures. These screenings are required of the schools for all 7th graders, and doing them on the picture day makes for fewer interruptions in the school week.

One Last Thought on the Dress Code

First, we have NOT banned students from wearing yoga pants! We understand that yoga pants are comfortable for people wearing them and they are stylish as well. We do expect that all pants are worn at “the natural waist line”. We still are not interesting in seeing students’ undergarments, (this includes boxers, bras, including sports bras and bra straps) as well as bare bellies or the large cut T-Shirts that expose much of the side of male and female students.

We still don’t allow students to wear clothing that promote drugs, violence, sexual activity or hate speech. What we are trying to create is an environment that will allow for the larding process to maximized, free from disruptions or distractions.

The one test I use, and this may not be for everyone, but I asked my kids (when they were students), “would your grandmother approve of what you’re wearing?” Now, to be fair, their grandmother was born in 1915, so she had a very different view of how children should be dressed, but it worked for me… for a while!

 

Ready, Set…

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Upcoming Important Dates

Tuesday, August 26 – GMS Open House 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Wednesday, August 27 – 1st Day of school for 6th grade
Thursday, August 28 – 1st Day of school for grades 7 & 8
Friday, August 29 – No School
Monday, September 1 – Labor Day, No School
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, September 10, 11 & 12 – Tooth Fairies
Monday, September 15 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – Picture Day, Vision & Hearing Screening

GMS Open House

Our first big event of the school year will be on August 26 at 6:00 pm as all of our teachers will have their rooms ready for the annual open house. Teachers will welcome parents beginning at 6:00 pm until 7:00 pm in their classrooms. We will have lots of information available to parents on tables in the foyer of the school as well as our library and cafeteria. We hope to you all at GMS on Tuesday (holy smokes, that’s a week a way!)

Preparation for the New Year

We are all very busy getting the school ready for the arrival of almost 660 students on August 27 (first day for all the students). The floors have been waxed, the walls have been scrubbed and painted where needed. Each of the classrooms now has projectors mounted to the ceilings. This helps us keep the students safe from accidentally tripping on the many wires on the floor. It also makes our insurance carriers very happy! Our supplies are arriving daily, restocking our emptied store rooms with paper and pens, markers, rulers (do we still use those?), graphing paper and the all important erasers (‘cuz we do make mistakes).

We are also doing lots of work to comply with the newest laws regarding Common Core and Proficiency Based Learning. Over the summer, we have attended several workshops, listened to several videos and read lots of the newest articles to make sure that we are ready for the coming shift.

Now, all we need are the students! I can’t wait for them to arrive, even though that means the end of summer and the coming of what the Old Farmers Almanac calls “A Winter of Super Cold!”

The First Days of School

As we have for the past couple of years, we will welcome the 6th Graders on Wednesday, August 27th, just the 6th graders! They will have the whole school to themselves to explore and get comfortable. The 6th graders will have a chance to get to meet all of their teachers, as well as the teachers at 7th grade and 8th grade, just so that they can put names to faces and feel comfortable and safe in our school.

We will also have plenty of time to take care of the two most dreaded items that brand new middle school students encounter, the combination lock for their locker and the lunch line in the cafeteria. If there are any areas that cause more consternation and angst among our new students, it is these two areas, initially. I promise that once they feel as though they have these conquered, they will turn their attention to items such as wearing the right kind of shoes, having the latest style of jeans and appropriately styled T-Shirts. But, first they must conquer the combination locks and the lunch line with a correct PIN.

The rest of the students will all arrive on Thursday, August 28th. The students will report to their Advisors first thing. While we will not have a typical day for all students, they will have time to attend all of their classes and meet all of their teachers.

Save the Date

We are required by our lease agreement with the state of Maine to hold an annual meeting to discuss the use of the MLTI provided devices (laptops) before we allow them to go home with the students. We have set aside two evenings, Monday, September 15 and Tuesday, September 16 at 6:00 pm for these meetings. You only need to attend one of these meetings and you must sign the appropriate permission sheets and acknowledgment forms to allow your child to use the laptops away from school.

I remind all parents that the final decision about whether a laptop goes home with the student rests with the parents. Part of the acknowledgment is that the parent accepts responsibility for the device in the event that it is damaged. We have, in the past, developed several methods to limit that liability for parents, and we will be discussing these methods at these meetings.

We will also use these meetings to help parents gain a greater understanding about how to keep your children safe while they are on line and other strategies to keep your child cyber-safe.

New Staff at GMS

There have been some changes at GMS since the students left last June. We have a bunch of new folks working with our students at different grade levels. One of our teams has changed their name to reflect the island off the Maine coast with the tallest lighthouse (recently sold at auction), The Boon Island Team at the 8th grade.

So over the next few weeks I will be introducing you to some of our new staff, beginning with our newest teaching staff:

Because of retirements, we have hired 2 new English/language arts teachers. The Boon Island Team will be joined  Mary Guimond. Mary is very familiar with Gorham and many of our students may have had Mary as a substitute teacher last year. Mary completed her training at the University of Southern Maine in the ETEP program. During her internship period, she was placed at Gorham High School as well as Biddeford Middle School. Mary also coaches the girls ice hockey team and girls lacrosse team at Gorham High School. We are very excited to have Mary join the GMS team.

Meghan Rounds will be joining the Sebago team at the 6th grade. Meghan comes to us with experience teaching in the Richmond, Me school district and with a couple of years as an educator with the Portland Water District. Meghan has actually taught several of our students over the years through they program. We are excited to welcome Meghan to our team.

I will work on getting pictures of everyone for the next edition.

Looking forward to the beginning…