Week of October 16

topperMiddle

 

GSD LogoUpcoming Important Dates

Oct 16 – The Science of Adolescent Sleep, Dr. Colby Wyatt, GHS Library 2:30 pm
Oct 19 – Showing of The Mask You Live In, GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
Oct 25 – Early Release Day, students dismissed at 11:10 am
Oct 26 – Parent Teacher Conferences begin after dismissal until 8:00 pm
Oct 27 – Parent Teacher Conferences 8:00 am- 2:00 pm

The Science of Adolescent Sleep

Dr. Colby Wyatt, Pediatrician , and GMS Parent, will speak on the science of the sleep habits of adolescents.

As many of you are aware, the school district has been  exploring the need for managing the school day in a more appropriate manner to capitalize on the optimum sleep and learning cycles of our students. There is significant science to indicate that our students need more sleep and that their sleep cycles and circadian rhythms are more in synch with a later start time to the school day.

Dr. Wyatt will elucidate upon the facts of the adolescent and their sleep habits and how schools might best respond to these needs.

This talk is open to all.

Maine Boys to Men Video Showing

We will continue to offer parent meet up opportunities to help us address, as a community, the manner in which our students treat each other here at school and everywhere else.

On October 19th at 6:00pm we will host a screening of the movie The Mask You Live In.  The movie is a critical look at the stereotypes that have been foist upon many of our young men and how those stereotypes are managed or how they consume their lives.

Please join Ryan Tardiff and others from Maine Boys to Men as we attempt to examine and understand these challenges.

WHAT:  The Mask You Live In

WHERE:  Gorham Middle School Auditorium

WHEN:  Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 6:00pm

This is open to the entire GMS faculty and staff.

Early Release Day

I would also ask each of you to remind all of our students (your children) that their behavior downtown reflects on the entire community. We would like our town to see our students as they truly are, young folks who are very mindful of our Code of Conduct and our responsibility to a safe community.

In that vein, Gorham Parks and Recreation have arranged for Maine’s number one video truck to visit GMS beginning at dismissal. The truck will be located in the parking lot at the fields across the access road to GMS. There is a cost and students need to sign up in advance.

“Our deluxe and fully customized mobile video game studio provides you and 24+ guests with comfort and ease as you enjoy 150+ of your favorite games in our spacious climate controlled 30 foot long enclosed trailer. Customized and fitted with seven 50″ High Definition Flat Screen TV’s and two 32″ High Definition Flat Screen TV’s, we bring you the latest and best in gaming consoles, featuring Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii, and now VIRTUAL REALITY!~Our state-of-the-art sound system, LED light show, and satellite system combine to bring the action LIVE to you. Experience the ‘WOW’~factor as you step inside and provide your guests with an experience they will never forget!”

Gorham Parks and Recreation is also conducting two other offerings on Friday, October 27, the day of Parent Teacher Conferences.

GPS Soccer Camp on Inservice Day, Oct 27th

Gorham Recreation and Global Premier Soccer will be teaming up on Friday, October 6th to offer  a fun and educational day of soccer activities for kids in Gorham. Players will be working on technical aspects of the game such as passing, shooting, and dribbling in a creative and competitive environment.”  

Come on over to the Multipurpose field on Friday’s Inservice day for a full day off soccer!

Location: Gorham Multipurpose Field (Rain location – Shaw Gym)

Time: 8:30am – 2:30pm

Date: October 27th (Inservice Day)

Cost: $60

Sign up by going to Gorhamrec.com

Scary Story Writing Workshop on Inservice Day, Oct 27th

Write and illustrate an original horror story just in time for Halloween. Using costumes and props students will create their own scary characters and bring them to life through writing and illustration. The workshop will culminate with a scary story hour where students will read their tales aloud. Stories will be recorded and hosted online for families and friends to listen.

Location: Gorham Rec Center

Time: 8:30am – 2:30pm

Friday, October 27th

Cost: $85

Happy Healthy Gorham

As we mentioned earlier in the year, Happy Healthy Gorham is hoping to make the town of Gorham the Happiest and Healthiest Town in Maine. We had a very successful first experience with our Moving Naturally Week. I would like to extend a HUGE Thank You to Denis Albert, Sarah Titus, Martha LaViolet and Heidi McGouldrick for the “successful beyond my wildest dreams” walking school bus!

The next theme, for a week in November is Kindling Kindness Week. I know that Kim Arena has reached out the GMS again, so if you have some ideas, we’d love to hear them.

There will be a meeting with some of the folks from HHG on Wednesday, October 18 at 3:00 pm in Martha LaViolet’s room. If you are interested in helping with Kindling Kindness, please stop by.

In keeping with the theme of Kindness, I thought I’d share this video with you all:

United Way Fundraising Campaign

We are pleased to once again provide all employees with an opportunity to participate in our annual United Way campaign.  Each year, the United Way of Greater Portland and its partner agencies provide services to more than 72,000 residents in Cumberland County, and it is likely that someone you know benefited from the efforts of the United Way, making this opportunity to give back to the community even more important and meaningful.

Please know that no donation is too small.  Pledging even $1 per week is significant, meaningful, and desperately needed.   Due to a generous donation from the John T. Gorman foundation, any new or increased pledges will be matched up to $150,000, so every new dollar we give will mean $2 to the United Way and its partner agencies.

If you donate $3/week ($156/year or more) you will be entered in a raffle for $1,000 L.L. Bean gift card

If you donate $8/wee ($416/year or more) you will be entered in a raffle for a new car from PAPE

To read more about the United Way in Cumberland County, please access their 2017 Community Report.

 

Weekly Update, October 3, 2017

topperMiddle

GSD LogoUpcoming Important Dates

You can find all important dates for GMS activities at the link below. This is updated daily, so you can check it often!

GMS Daily Announcements

Teacher In-Service Day, October 6 & Holiday on Monday October 9

There will be no school for students on Friday, October 6 as teachers will be involved with a professional development day for the entire district. This will provide all families with an extra long four-day weekend. Students and teachers return to school on Tuesday, October 10.

Movie Screening and Parent Meet-up

We will be screening the film The Mask You Live In on Thursday evening, October 19 beginning at 6:00 pm. All parents are invited to attend the screening , which is free of charge and open to the public. Following the screening, Maine Boys to Men will facilitate a short discussion about the film.

This is part of our on-going effort to address our concerns as to the negative student interactions that have seemed to increase in the past few months.

This screening is for adults only, and will help us all better understand the world our children inhabit, complete with all of the pressures of social media, media representations of how life should be and where real life actually intersects with these stereotypical models presented to our children.

I hope that you can all join us for will be a thought-provoking evening.

School Dances

We have another school dance approaching, and we are hoping to straighten out a couple of misconceptions that have arisen lately.

These dances are invitation only. This means that we invite our students to join us for the dance. The invites can be reminded at anytime by administration. Some of the ways students lose their invite to a dance is as follows:

Throughout the year, dances may be held for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. They are always chaperoned by several teachers, willing parent volunteers and the school administrators. They are held on Fridays, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. in the gymnasium and drinks and snacks are available for purchase. Dress is expected to be appropriate for the activity and “dating” is strongly discouraged.

Parents must pick up their son or daughter promptly after the event, usually 8:00 pm. Students may not be allowed to attend a dance because of poor school behavior. The following rules will be followed while at the dances:

  • Only students from Gorham Middle School are invited to attend the dance. Students from any other school cannot attend. This would include visiting family members, students who attend private or parochial schools or charter schools.
  • The student is absent on the day of the dance. Only students who are present at school can attend the dance.
  • Similar to our guidelines for athletics, students must arrive at school prior to 9:00 am and must stay through the remainder of the day. Students who are dismissed by a parent for a doctor appointment, or such, may come to the dance. Students who are dismissed because of illness, may not attend the dance.
  • Students who have received 3 detentions in the period between the date of the last dance and the next dance, may not attend the dance.
  • Students who have been suspended from school, either in-house or out of school, may not attend the dance.
  • We realize that cell phones are an important communication tool with parents, and we expect students to have them so students can arrange pick up after the dance. However, we do not want students to be using them at the dance. We have had too many occurrences of students testing each other, using the camera or video function on their phones to create situations of conflict. Students who use their phone during the dance, will have the phone confiscated until the end of the dance.
  • Students are expected to dress in a fashion similar to the school day. We discourage students from dressing in formal attire, and the school dress code still applies.

These dances have been wonderful experiences for many of our students, students enjoy the school in a totally different setting than our traditional school day. They also enjoy seeing teachers and other adults in very different settings that usual, and that has been positive. Most, but unfortunately not all, enjoy the dances and rate these evenings as one of the more positive experiences of middle school. It is those few who seem to need to create the “drama” of conflict, that create problems for the whole. We are trying to reduce those episodes.

I plan to hold grade level assemblies with all students to review these rules for our dance. It would be very helpful to all of us if you would take a few minutes before the dance to make sure that your child understands the rules for the dance.

I would encourage all parents to volunteer to chaperone at least one dance during your child’s middle school life. It truly is an experience and one that will allow you to better understand what makes adolescents tick!

Parent Teacher Conferences

Please circle the dates of October 27 & 27 (Thursday and Friday) to meet with your child’s advisor. As we have done in the past, parents will meet with the child’s advisor to discuss student progress. Parents may request a time to meet with particular Content Area teachers if you fell the need.

Advisors will be meeting with teachers from within the Advisory Cluster to exchange information about student progress, so all advisors will be current with student progress. Also, students will be leading these conferences, helping parents make sense of the new formats of the JumpRope and Infinite Campus Report Cards.

You should be hearing from your child’s advisor shortly about scheduling your meeting time.

District Committee Opening

We are looking for a Middle School Parent to serve on a District-Wide K-12 Grading and Reporting Committee. The purpose of this committee is to collect data to monitor the success and challenges of implementation of our new grading practices across the K-12 system.  This data can be collected through student, staff, and parent pre and post surveys as well as through monitoring of student failure rates at the 6-12 level.  Other data collection methodologies can be determined by the group.  Once data is collected, this group will then make recommendations regarding any “tweaks” to our system and or plans for moving forward that need to be made in order to meet the needs of our students.  

The time commitment for this committee is one meeting per month for ten (10) months. The meeting duration is about 90 minutes and usually begin at 4:00 pm.

If you are interested in joining this committee please send me an email or call my office at 222-1228.

A Word from a Former MS Teacher on Grading

Rick Wormeli is an author of many books on teaching and learning as well as a noted national speaker on all things education. Rick is articulate, funny and concise. He makes his point with humor, but his perspective comes straight from the classroom and his actual experiences with adolescent learners. When he speaks, he speaks from experience… and he is fun to listen to!

Bullying Behaviors and School Dances

topperMiddle

GSD LogoUpcoming Important Dates

Sep 21 & 22 – Maine Boys to Men and Hardy Girls Healthy Women
Sep 24 – 28 – Moving Naturally Week (see info below)
Sep 26 – Civil Rights Team Training – Portland
Sep 26 – Parent Summit on Bullying 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Sep 29 – End of STAR 360 testing
Sep 28 & 29 – Maine Boys to Men and Hardy Girls Healthy Women
Sep 29 – Announced Lockdown Drill 12:30 pm
Oct 5 – Maine Boys to Men and Hardy Girls, Healthy Women
Oct 6 – Teacher Workshop Day – No School for Students
Oct 10 – Columbus Day Holiday, No School
Oct 13 – School Dance sponsored by the 7th Grade

Addressing Bullying Behaviors

We are taking several steps to address the behaviors of our students toward each other that has created issues within the school culture for the past few years.

We are engaged several organizations to help us address the manner in which our students deal effectively and positively with each other:

  • Rand Corporation –We are involved in a multi-school, multi year long study on the role of Restorative Practices in reducing the incidences of bullying behaviors. Our students have taken surveys, our faculty has been and will continue to be trained in the Restorative Practices.
  • Maine Boys to Men – Boys to Men is a non-profit organization in Maine. They have been operating for almost 20 years with middle and high schools across the state. The goal of the program is to help boys understand the stereotypical nature our culture can apply to the genders and help the students better understand their role.
  • Hardy Girls, Healthy Women – Another Maine non-profit that works with young women in middle and high schools to help them understand and come to grips with the cultural expectations of being a women today.
  • Opportunity Alliance – A Community Action Agency for Cumberland County serving more than 20,000 people. The have access to services and resources to aid in our goals to reduce the negative behaviors of our students.
  • Gorham Action Team for Youth (GATY) – GATY is a group organized within Gorham to work to provide positive alternative activities for our youth of Gorham.
  • Civil Rights Team – Team of GMS Students who are passionate about making GMS a safe and welcoming environment for all students at GMS.

To begin, we have Maine Boys to Men and Hardy Girls, Healthy Women meeting with our students for 4 sessions over the next four weeks. This will help give us a common language to use with our students. These meetings begin this week and run until the first week in October.

We have schedule a Parent Evening on Tuesday, September 26 at 6:00 pm in the GMS Auditorium. You will meet several of the people we will be working with over the course of the coming year. At this meeting, we will also begin to map out a community plan for addressing these behaviors as a community.

We will be holding several of the evening events throughout the school year to address these behaviors among our students. We look forward to seeing many of you there.

Moving Naturally Week

Happy Heathy Gorham (HHG) is a group formed last year with the aim of making Gorham the “happiest and healthiest town in Maine. Over the course of the school year, HHG will be sponsoring four weeks of activities aimed to provide healthy and happy citizens of Gorham. The four themed weeks will be Moving Naturally Week in September, Kindling Kindness in November, Growing Gratitude in February, Eating Well in April.

The week of September 24 will be Moving Naturally week and Gorham Middle School will be joining in the activities. All week long students will count their steps for the day and we will record our progress each day. We are looking to track our progress toward one million steps for the week on our web page, so that the community can watch our progress.

We are also planning a “Walking School Bus” for Wednesday where students will get off the bus at the high school and we will have several teacher and parent volunteers along the path through the neighborhood as the students walk to the middle school.

Finally, during our advisory periods each day students will engage in activities organized by our Health and Physical Education Teachers to provide for movement during the day.

If you would like to volunteer with the walking school bus, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Heidi McGouldrick at GMS.

Lock Down Drill

We will conduct an announced Lock Down Drill on Friday, September 29. We announce this first drill so that we can make sure that all of our school community is ready to execute all of the protocols we have set up for the safety of the school. We will hold at least one more drill during the school year, which will be unannounced. We will send out a blackboard message at the beginning and at the end of the drill to let all families know of the drill.

School Dances

Each month, we hold school dances for the students of Gorham Middle School. Many of our students look forward to these dances as a great way to enjoy the company of their fellow students. Adam Parvanta, our resident (well now at GHS!) DJ keeps the music upbeat (and G Rated) and works the dance with precision and with engaging activities for all of the students.

These dances have also allowed the middle school to forgo many of the extra fundraising activities that we have done in the past. It is very rare when your child will come home from the middle school asking you to buy wrapping paper or magazine subscriptions. All of the money raised at the dances goes to each of the grade level teams to help pay for field trips and other activities.

One thing that I have noticed in the most recent dances, the end of last year and the beginning of the year, is the idea that the dance is somehow a place to dress up and to have a “date” for the dance. While I can’t tell anyone who they can come to the dance with, I do want to encourage all parents that “going with someone” or “dating” at the middle school level is strongly discouraged. This sort of behavior is not developmentally appropriate for students at middle school and, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia could lead to higher dropout rates.

Beside the longer term negative effects of “dating” in middle school, the shorter term impact is that our students are not ready for the responsibilities of “dating” and  it creates all sorts of drama in school, which creates conflict between and among student. I know that most parents may not even be aware that their child is “dating” in middle school, but I would ask that all parents have a conversation with their child about this. I would also suggest that reading this article first may help.

Circle These Dates

In an attempt to give you a “heads up” on important dates a little further out in the future:

October 25 & 26 – Parent Teacher Conferences
November 6 – Parent Night on “How to Read My Child’s Report Card 6:00 PM

I’ll Finish with a Short Video

This video is just a part of a longer TED talk by Sugata Mitra given in 2013 at the TED Conference in Long Beach, California. It truly will pique your interest and if you’d like to see the entire talk (23 minutes long) you can see it at TED.com

Here is just the first 5 minutes of the video from Youtube:

Week of Sept 11

topperMiddle

GSD LogoUpcoming Important Dates

Sep 11 – 6th Grade Technology Orientation Night 6:00 – 7:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Sep 13 – School Committee Meeting 7:00 pm Municipal Center
Sep 15 – School Dance 6:00 – 8:00 pm Gym
Sep 18 – US Constitution Day Celebrated
Sep 20 – Early Release Day, students released at 11:10 am
Sep 21 & 22 – Tooth Fairies will be at GMS
Sep 24 – 28 – Moving Naturally Week (see info below)
Sep 26 – Parent Summit on Bullying 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium

Time to Reflect

September 11! 9/11! and so many more acronyms and phrases, to steal the famous FDR line, evoke memories of a day of infamy. The images of the bright September morning are seared into the memory banks of every American who can even vaguely remember that fateful day.

This past weekend, as I was preparing to conjure up images that could be transmitted with the spoken word to our students, all of whom were not born on that day, I was stunned by the images of another catastrophe in the making, Hurricane Irma in Florida and Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

We tend to forget that September 11, 2001 was only the beginning days of the tragedy. The clean up of the sight where the buildings collapsed needed to be completed. Plans for the new building needed to designed. A memorial to all of the brave souls and those who just went to work on the morning of September 11 needed to be designed and completed. It was more than 5 years before construction of the Freedom Tower began, and more than 13 years before the Freedom Tower opened its doors for tenants. That is a lot of time from the beginning to the end!

The images of the past week in Texas and Florida are only the beginning for all of those folks.

We haven’t decided on how we should contribute to aiding our fellow countrymen, but we will be working on something to get our students involved in the healing. Please watch our announcements for information. If you have any ideas that you would like to share, please drop us a line or give us a call.

Parent Technology Night

I have some very good news to offer, especially for those parents who have had several children go through the Middle School in the age of MLTI. We are no longer required to hold the MLTI Parent Orientation Night! Imagine that, no more days of your children whining that “YOU HAFTA TO GO THE THE MLTI NIGHT!”

We will be holding an informational evening for parents of 6th graders who are interested in learning more about the new Chromebooks that their children will be issued this year. While the devices are similar in that they can process information, there are some considerable differences between the Chromebooks and the Apple MacBook Airs, which are used by the 7th and 8th graders.

Again, this night is not mandatory for 6th grade parents, but we will try to make it as informative as possible and answer as many of your questions as we can.

Tooth Fairies Coming to GMS

As we have for the past several years, we will have a dedicated group of Dental Professionals come to GMS to provide free or low cost dental examinations for our students. If you are interested in taking advantage of this great program, please call School Nurse Cathy Loiselle.

School Dance

The first school dance of the year will be this Friday night beginning at 6:00 pm and running for 2 hours, until 8:00 pm.

We are always looking for dance chaperones and would love to have a few parents (or more!) come and spend at least a part of the evening with us. There is truly nothing like a middle school dance to bring back all of those wonderful memories of sock hops and disco nights!

Admission to the dance is $5.00 and we ask that parents please pick up their children at the conclusion of the dance at 8:00 pm.

Early Release Day on Wednesday September 20

Students will be released early on Wednesday, September 20, at 11:10 am. The teachers will be working on professional development for the afternoon.

We are working with the Parks & Recreation Department to come up with some activities that would occupy the students between dismissal at 11:10 and the regular time we would dismiss at 2:15. There are a few things in the works, so I would ask that you watch our Daily Announcements on the GMS Webpage for details.

Happy Healthy Gorham

You amy have seen the article on the front page of the Gorham Times about the Happiest and Healthiest Town in Maine, don’t worry if you didn’t, here is a link to the Gorham Times story.

The Gorham School will be joining with Happy Healthy Gorham (HHG) to ensure that our students are involved in helping to make Gorham the Happiest and Healthiest town in Maine. We haven’t yet finalized our plans, but we will be including several activities throughout the of September 24 that will include our students  moving naturally.

We will include lots of pictures on our website showing off our school moving naturally.

Boys to Men and Hardy Girls, Healthy Women

We have arranged for two groups to come to GMS to help us address some of the issues were saw last year with behaviors between and among our adolescent students. Boys to Men and Hardy Girls, Healthy Women have special programs designed specifically for adolescent boys and girls. Both of these programs are highly acclaimed and are being done in several school across Cumberland County.

We are hoping, by using these programs, to reduce the number of incidents where students create an environment that is not conducive to learning. Where everyone is more concerned about what someone else thinks about them than they are with learning.

I will have more information on each of these programs that will go home with the students prior to the beginning of the sessions. If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call or send me an email.

Week of March 6

topperMiddle

GSD Logo

Upcoming Important Dates

Mar 7 – 8th Grade Parent Night at GMS 6:00 pm MPAC
Mar 8 – GHS Principal Jandreau speaks to 8th Graders
Mar 10 -12 – GMS School Musical (more info below)
Mar 11 – 6th Grade Honors Chorus Concert at Bonny Eagle 3:00pm
Mar 12 – Daylight Savings Time Begins
Mar 14 – GHS Chorus Concert beginning at 12:30
Mar 15 – Early Release Day, Students dismissed at 11:10 am
Mar 16 & 17 – Parent Teacher Conferences
Mar 19 – Winter Fever Reliever GMS cafeteria 6:00 pm
Mar 20 – MEA Testing Window Opens (You all received a schedule last week)
Mar 20 – No EICAL for the next 3 weeks for testing

Parent/Teacher Conferences

We will hold parent teacher conferences on Thursday and Friday, March 16 & 17. We will begin after dismissal on Thursday and run until 8:00 pm and Friday, beginning at 8:00 am and running until 2:00 pm.

Please make every effort to meet with your child’s advisor during this time, this is a very important time of the school year as we begin to plan for next year.

This is also a time for students to be able to understand what they need to work on to improve the results, as well as begin to set the positive habits in potion for the close of the school year and the opening of another school year.

If you child’s advisor has not made contact with you be email of via a letter sent home with your child, please contact me and i will see that you get an appointment with your child’s teachers.

8th Grade Transitions

The transition to 9th grade and high school for all 8th graders begins, in earnest, on Tuesday evening with the Parent Nigh at GHS. The evening’s events are held in the GHS Auditorium, begging at 6:00 pm. GHS Principal Jandreau and other administrators and department heads will be available for questions and answers to parent questions.

Principal Jandreau will meet with the 8th graders on Wednesday morning at 8:05 in the GMS Auditorium to review the registration and course selection process with the students. Mr. Jandreau will also introduce several of the Department Heads who will let the students know what to expect for their classes and what the requirements will be for a successful High School career.

We will shortly be calling for a meeting of the 8th grade parents to begin planning for the Celebration of Middle School, the event that highlights with the ceremony in the gym and the final 8th grade school dance. Please watch this space, and our website for the time and place of this meeting.

School Musical School Day Presentation

A sure harbinger of Spring is the annual presentation by GMS students of the School Little Mermaid 2017Musical. This year, our students, under the direction of Tana Krohn, will be presenting The Little Mermaid, Jr. Presentation times are Friday and Saturday night, March 10 & 11 at 7:00 pm, and a new Sunday Matinee with the curtain rising at 2:00 pm.

The student presentation always is very well done with lots of entertainment value for families, please circle the date to enjoy at least one of the performances.

 

Music in Our Schools Month Concerts

I believe we finally have solidified the date for the annual Music in Our Schools Month GHS High School Chorus Tour. We will be entertained by the GHS Chorus on Tuesday, March 14 beginning at 12:30 pm in the GMS Auditorium. We will call down the teams at their appointed times, classes will just stop where they are, and when you return to class, pick up where you left off.

I expect the concerts to last about 25 minutes.

MEA Testing Windows

The MEA Testing windows open for the math and reading portion of the MEA’s on March 20th. During the 3-weel testing window, we will not hold EICal as a regular part of the day, teachers and students may use this time to make up for time lost during the testing sessions to meet with students and check-in fro continued progress during the testing.

There will be an additional testing window in April for 8th grade science and an additional testing window (new this year) for all grades for a writing assessment.

 

Week of February 27

topperMiddle

GSD Logo

Upcoming Important Dates

Feb 27 – Students and Teacher return from Break
Mar 1 – Spread the Word to End the Word Day
Mar 2 – GHS Chorus Concert in the Gym 12:30 (we will do 2 concerts)
Mar 3 – School Dance sponsored by the 6th grade 6:00 -8:00 pm
Mar 3 & 4 – Southern Maine MS Honors Band and Chorus Concert
Mar 3 & 4 – GHS One-Act Play presentation 7:30 pm MPAC
Mar 7 – 8th Grade Parent Night at GMS 6:00 pm MPAC
Mar 8 – GHS Principal Jandreau speaks to 8th Graders
Mar 10 -12 – GMS School Musical (more info below)
Mar 12 – Daylight Savings Time Begins
Mar 15 – Early Release Day, Students dismissed at 11:10 am
Mar 19 – Winter Fever Reliever GMS cafeteria 6:00 pm

School Vacation

I hope that all of you had a great week of school vacation. I know that some years the weather can really deal a rough blow, but this year was exceptional. For those of you who are skiers, I cannot imagine better conditions than we had this week. And, even wit the warmer weather, there was still some great sledding weather or snowshoeing weather with great conditions.

It was also great weather to take in the championship run of the Gorham High School girls Basketball team at the Civic Center! Best of luck to the girls next week in Augusta as they take on the Vikings of Oxford Hills.

Now that we are at the end of a great week, we turn our sights toward a very busy March with MEA Testing, 8th Grade Transition activities and beginning the planning for the next school year.

Spread the Word to End the Word

Help Spread the Word to End the Word! You are invited to be a fan of respect and join us in an ongoing campaign to stop the use of the R-word. The goal of Spread the Word is an effort to draw attention to the fact that a large population of people are hurt and offended by the use of the R-word. This is more than just eliminating a certain word from your vocabulary, this is about an evaluation of our attitudes towards a population that has been stigmatized throughout their lifetimes. Everyone deserves respect and removing the R-word from our every day speech is one step we can take toward showing respect.

Please make your pledge by going to www.r-word.org. There will be pledge sheets at grade level lunches on Wednesday for students to sign.

GMS Students Present The Little Mermaid

Please circle the dates of March 10 trough March 12 and plan to attend one of the presentations of the annual GMS Musical. GMS students, under the direction of Tana Krohn, will present three (3) shows of the Little Mermaid. Shows on Friday and Saturday evening begin at 7:00 pm and, new this year, a Sunday matinee beginning at 2:00 pm.

We have come to expect from our students some amazing performances, beautiful singing, great acting, lots of laughs and a truly, wonderfully memorable evening. Please make pans to catch at least one show!

Changes in School Nutrition Program

We have been working with our School Nutrition folks to help get a handle on the number of students who are carrying negative balances on the school lunch account.

School lunch at GMS offers a very vibrant array of meals for our students to enjoy that are both delicious and nutritious (I sound like a commercial!). Our Food Service also offers some wonderful items on an “a la carte” basis. Pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, hamburg and cheeseburger as well as a variety of cold sandwiches, salads and snacks. These are priced individually and the students can use their Pre-Paid account to purchase.

Families can use this pre-paid account system so that they don’t have to remember to give their children cash each day to eat lunch. Here is a link to the on-line pre-paid system that families can use to keep track of their account balances and to receive warnings when the account drops to a certain level and needs to be replenished.

We don’t ever want to withhold lunch from a child, and we won’t, however, sometimes, we do have accounts that go seriously into a negative balance. This causes a problem for your child and for the Food Service people, who need to be responsible to the taxpayers of Gorham and not become a burden on the school budget.

We recognize that family situations change over time and the family finances sometimes cause a struggle. We want to be able to continue to provide nutritious lunches for all of our students. There are some programs that can help, and if you give me a call I can confidentially steer you in the right direction to obtain information about these programs.

In the meantime, I will be reaching out to the people who are carrying negative balances to see if we can work out a plan to bring these balances into line with the program, If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call the Food Service staff or me.

Winter Fever Reliever

This information is from Tracy Williamson and has been sent to all of you in an email. This sounds like a really fun evening of music!

On Sunday, March 19th, the Gorham Middle School and High School Steel Bands will be performing a benefit concert with the Portland based steel band, Sister Steel.  The benefit is to raise money for our registration fee for the New England Steel Pan Festival that is to be held at Thompson’s Point on May 7th.
The event is from 6-8:30pm in the GMS cafeteria with a suggested donation at the door.
We are also looking for people to donate food items to a bake sale/snack concessions table for the event.  If anyone would like to contribute something, please let me know!  The steel band parents and Sister Steel are making crockpot meals and traditional foods from Trinidad for the event too.
Come enjoy some steel pan music, food and dancing on the 19th!  Hope to see you there!

Proficiency Based Learning

Imagine, if you will, (cue the Twilight Zone music) you are once again sixteen years old. You are sitting in the driver’s seat of your fathers four-door sedan, with the white walled tires, waiting for the man from the Registry of Motor Vehicles to slide into the passenger seat to administer your driving portion of the test for your first driver’s license.

The palms of your hands are dripping with sweat, so much so that your are not sure that you will be able to hold the steering wheel steady. Your armpits are moist and your heart rate is preparing to break land-speed records. You have studied the drivers manual, taken all of the drivers ed classes and completed at least 30 hours of driving with your mom or your dad, and it seems like years for them. You know you’re ready, but you’re still petrified!

The passenger door opens and the man dressed in the uniform of the Registry of Motor Vehicles slides into the passenger seat and begins to give you instructions about where to go and what to do.

Not ideal conditions for test taking, but it is what it is, and you fail to make a full stop at the stop sign (although, you’re sure you did!) and you FAIL your driving test and do not get your license!

Lots of tears and self doubt but, the world does not end. You go back to a few more driving practices with Mom or Dad, or, maybe that uncle who seems to show a whole lot more patience than Mom or Dad when you downshift to second instead of upshifting to fourth! The practice seems to work, your uncle has given you a pep talk to get you ready, and you return to the Registry of Motor Vehicles for another go at the “TEST”.

Alas, the pep talk didn’t work and you, once again, failed your driving test.

Let’s say you fail this test a third time, and now you’re wondering if driving is something that you really should be doing. You give it one more shot and, you PASS!

The Registry does not place any special restrictions on your license. There isn’t some kind of sticker that says “Took 3 times to pass”. You pass and you now have your license to drive.

Wouldn’t it be silly if the Registry used the average of all of your scores to determine if you could get your license. “Well, you failed the first 3 times you took the test, so you need to pass the test 4 times to get a passing grade on the driving test!”. That would be silly, and a waste of time for all. Or, worse, the Registry decided that your fails were so terrible they determine you will never get a license.

That’s just not the way the real world works, we just don’t average the things that really count. Yet, for more than 100 years, this is what we have been doing to students. One colossal fail on “the test” and you can never get your average up high enough to pass the course.

There are a plethora of examples of how real doesn’t match what we do in schools and, yet we continue the practice because… well, I don’t know because.

Will Richardson is a self-described parent, author, speaker, instigator, blogger about the web and its effects on school and learning. He is the co-publisher of ModernLearning.com and he can be followed on Twitter at @willrich45. I have been following him for several years now, and each time I read one of his blog posts, I am reminded about why I got into education in the first place.

I think the most profound phrase he uses that continues to stick with me more and more each day is “…trying to the wrong things right…”. When you think about our Core Beliefs here in Gorham this is what they say:

Each student is unique and learns in different ways and at different rates.

And yet, we continue to move students through school in similar age groupings. We also provide 51 minutes for math learning, 51 minutes for science learning, and so on. Our Core Beliefs have much more than just this and, I believe that every teacher, support staff and administrator in our district wants for each of our students to be successful in their life.Yet, we continue to try to get better at doing more of the same!

I’ve ranted on long enough. I am including a link to something from ModernLearning.com that came across my Twitter feed over the vacation. This can voice what I am so woefully explaining far better. I hope you enjoy.
https://medium.com/modern-learning/9-elephants-in-the-class-room-that-should-unsettle-us-8335b2cef9aa#.gp35fnw0n

Week of February 20

topperMiddle

GSD Logo

Upcoming Important Dates

Feb 17 – Mid-Winter School Vacation begins at dismissal
Feb 27 – Students and Teacher return from Break
Mar 2 – GHS Chorus Concert in the Gym 12:30 (we will 2 concerts)
Mar 3 – School Dance sponsored by the 6th grade 6:00 -8:00 pm
Mar 7 – 8th Grade Parent Night at GMS 6:00 pm MPAC
Mar 8 – GHS Principal Jandreau speaks to 8th Graders
Mar 10 -12 – GMS School Musical (more info below)

Winter Fever Reliever

This has been re-scheduled to Sunday, March 19 at 6:00 pm

This information is from Tracy Williamson and has been sent to all of you in an email. This sounds like a really fun evening of music!

Next Sunday, the 12th, the Gorham Middle School and High School Steel Bands will be performing a benefit concert with the Portland based steel band, Sister Steel.  The benefit is to raise money for our registration fee for the New England Steel Pan Festival that is to be held at Thompson’s Point on May 7th.
The event is from 6-8:30pm in the GMS cafeteria with a suggested donation at the door.
We are also looking for people to donate food items to a bake sale / snack concessions table for the event.  If anyone would like to contribute something, please let me know!  The steel band parents and Sister Steel are making crockpot meals and traditional foods from Trinidad for the event too.
Come enjoy some steel pan music, food and dancing on the 12th!  Hope to see you there!

Early Release Day – Feb 15

On Wednesday, all of our students were able to enjoy several presentations by members of local public safety organizations. I only wish we could have had a few more so that more students could have enjoyed listening to these people talk about their jobs and how what they learned in middle school matters to them even now in their work.

 

Let me give you an example of who will be here:

  • Maine State Fire Marshal – We had two folks from the Fire Marshal’s office who talked to the students about investigating the origins of fire scenes and how they go about inspecting buildings to make sure they are safe for the public.
  • Gorham Police Department
    • Accident Reconstruction – Students were able to see, first hand, how police agencies are able to reconstruct, using math and science.
    • Crime Scene Processing – Math, science and language arts in processing a crime scene.
    • K-9 Handling
  • Gorham Fire Department
    • Paramedics – How science and math are critical in their work everyday.
  • Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department
  • Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • U.S.Marshal’s Service
  • U.S. Secret Service
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • Maine Juvenile Justice
  • Maine Bureau of Highway Safety – How math and science are involved in driving a car.

Parent Meet-up

On Friday night, in conjunction with our monthly school dance, Cynthia Grover, GMS Social Worker and Claudine Emerson, GHS Substance Abuse Counselor, held a Meet-up for GMS Parents. We had about 26 parents show up for this meeting and, from all reports, the night was a great success! I am sure this will be the first of several events like this to help us all keep our kids safe.

Please keep a watch here for the next event planned, and thanks to all of the parents who attended.

GMS Students Present The Little Mermaid

Please circle the dates of March 10 trough March 12 and plan to attend one of the presentations of the annual GMS Musical. GMS students, under the direction of Tana Krohn, will present three (3) shows of the Little Mermaid. Shows on Friday and Saturday evening begin at 7:00 pm and, new this year, a Sunday matinee beginning at 2:00 pm.

We have come to expect from our students some amazing performances, beautiful singing, great acting, lots of laughs and a truly, wonderfully memorable evening. Please make pans to catch at least one show!

Changes in School Nutrition Program

We have been working with our School Nutrition folks to help get a handle on the number of students who are carrying balances on the school lunch account.

School lunch at GMS offers a very vibrant array of meals for our students to enjoy that are both delicious and nutritious (I sound like a commercial!). Our Food Service also offers some wonderful items on an “a la carte” basis. Pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, hamburg and cheeseburger as well as a variety of cold sandwiches and snacks. These are priced individually and the students can use their Pre-Paid account to purchase these.

Families can use this pre-paid account system so that they don’t have to remember to give their children cash each day to eat lunch. Here is a link to the on-line pre-paid system that families can use to keep track of their account balances and to receive warnings when the account drops to a certain level and needs to be replenished.

We don’t ever want to withhold lunch from a child, and we won’t, however, sometimes, we do have accounts that go seriously into a negative balance. This causes a problem for your child and for the Food Service people, who need to be responsible to the taxpayers of Gorham and not become a burden on the school budget.

We recognize that family situations change over time and the family finances sometimes struggle. We want to be able to continue to provide nutritious lunches for all of our students. There are some programs that can help and if you give me a call I can steer you in the right direction to obtain information about the programs.

In the meantime, I will be reaching out to the people who are carrying negative balances to see if we can work out a plan to bring these balances into line with the program, If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call the Food Service staff or me.

8th Grade Transition Begins

I know I say this every year, and the time seems to be picking up speed as each year passes, but it is time to begin the transition of our 8th graders  heading toward the highs school.

It will begin with the 8th Grade Parent Night hosted by Gorham High School Principal Brian Jandreau, and his staff on Tuesday evening, March 7 at 6:00 pm in the Gorham High School MPAC. Brian will talk about the High school experience in general and what to expect in the coming days, as the 8th graders begin registering from classes beginning in August as First Year Students at GHS.

The next morning, Principal Jandreau and several department heads and Guidance Counselors will meet, in an assembly, with all of the 8th graders to talk about requirements for First Year Students, and possible courses that will be open to them.

There will be several other events happening during the school day here at GMS that will help the students prepare for that ever crucial first year of high school. Transition Counselor Anna Peterson has lots of interesting plans fro the next few weeks and will be in classes with students to help as well.

Then we need to begin to plan for that last, final, big day at GMS. Watch this space for more information about gathering a planning committee.

TeenSafe

I have recently discovered this web site fir parents who are concerned about their child and the use of technology, especially cellphone use. Now, I am not endorsing this for anyone, but I am including a news report from a TV Station (I am not sure where!). I believe there is a free version and a paid version and this report gives lots of good information that you can follow up on if you are interested.