A Great Example of the Power of the Internet!

Kony 2012

There has been a considerable buzz around the school in past couple of weeks about this subject of Kony 2012 with our students.

What, you may ask is Kony 2102?

My answer will be rather long (what else would you have expected from me?).

In 2004, when I was Assistant Principal at Lawrence Junior High School, I had one of my teachers approach me about the Invisible Children: Rough Cut, a video that was made by a couple of college students during the summer of the junior year. They had in mind that they would travel to the continent of Africa to shoot a documentary on the genocide in Dafur, South Sudan. When they arrived in Dafur, there wasn’t a whole lot of “action”, so they moved their base of operations to Northern Uganda.

One thing to know about Uganda is that the region has been in turmoil for many years. Tensions between the people of the Southern portions of Uganda and those of the northern portions of Uganda had been building since the country gained its independence for the United Kingdom in 1962. The feeling that most of the country’s wealth and power resided in the southern portions created, within those of the north, a feeling of neglect and inequity.

On one of their first nights in northern Uganda, they met a woman who introduced them to children who would “commute” from their village into the city to avoid the nightly raids of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA). During these raids the LRA would kidnap the children and press them into their “army” and force these children to carry out the wishes of Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA.

In their documentary Invisible Children: RoughCut, these three rather naive college students document what they found. They found thousands of young children who would travel from their villages around Gulu to the inner portions of Gulu for sanctuary. Thousands of children would flee their homes hoping to avoid being captured by the LRA and made to serve as soldiers. Some of these children would be forced to kill their parents, it was far more than these three young, naive college students from reasonably affluent families, ever expected to encounter. They had the story line for their documentary.

Fast forward to present day and we see that nothing has changed in Uganda and that Joseph Kony is still doing what he was doing back in 2003, hence the movement Kony2012.

I am not going to, and I hope that I haven’t, imposed my political views. I do, however urge all of you to view the video that has been in cyberspace for about 4 days know with more than 49 million views.

Here at school, several students and teachers have asked me if we can show the video to our students. While I am not against showing the video, I do think that parents should have an opportunity to view it as well. This could very well be a topic of conversation around the dinner table, or during one of those long rides back from an athletic contest.

We know that students of this age and in this stage of development want to “save the world”. We also know that they are very impressionable. A video presented without the proper context and support can also be harmful to our youngsters. If you would like to view the video yourself, you can access it here: KONY 2102.

If you are really ambitious you can view the original video, which is about 56 minutes in length. You will get a chance to meet young Jacob, who wants to become a lawyer, for the first time. Jacob has a very prominent role in the KONY 2012 video as well. I must warn you, though, there is considerable amount of gruesomeness, and, if you are like me and gag at the sight of seeing someone vomit, you should be warned that there is some of that. You can view the original video here: The Invisible Children

PIE Meeting

Our next PIE meeting is this Thursday night at 6:30 pm in the GMS Library. (Which just so happens to be the day after Pi Day!) We really do have an awful lot we could talk about at this meeting. Certainly, I could get more information about the topic above for those of you who are interested, in fact, I could set up a viewing of the KONY 2012 video, or the original Invisible Children video.

I would love to begin a discussion with parents about holding a Pot Luck supper at the school to try to develop a better sense of community at GMS, not that anyone needs another event to place on their social calendar, especially with spring coming and baseball and softball starting. In any event, we’d love to see you here!

Planning for Next Year

We are beginning to set our plans for next year. Last week I mentioned that the High School teachers met with our 8th grade teachers to discuss the transition process and registration process for getting our kids into High School classes. That meeting was very successful and I believe that our teachers are ready to make the appropriate recommendations for classes.

Chris Record and his staff will meet with the 8th graders on March 26th here at the middle school. He will welcome them to the High School as the class of 2016 and he will explain the whole registration process. It has always been a great way for the kids to begin to feel as if their “middle school” days are drawing to a close and that the new journey is about to begin. It is also helpful that Chris get them re-focused on finishing their middle school careers on a strong note, rather than allowing them to “slack off” in their studies.

We will be looking for volunteers for the work needed to get the 8th grade celebration up and running. Kristen Fitz, school secretary, has been working hard already gathering photos of our 8th graders for the slide show and collecting well wishes to be included in our program for the evening. If you have any questions, please give Kristen a call.

Finally, the High School will hold their Parent Night for incoming 8th graders on Tuesday, March 20th from 6:30 to 7:30 pm in the GPAC. Joining Chris will be the School Nurse, Guidance Counselors, Teachers, Social Worker and the Athletic Director. They will try to answer all of your questions, even before you can think of them, on this night. Please mark your calendar for this very informational and important night.

Next Year for Middle School Students

For those students who will be returning to us for another year, our current 6th and 7th graders, we will be sending home with them a very short questionnaire for parents to complete and return. These questionnaires ask parents to talk about their child in “a million word, or less”. Tell us about your child as a learner, what seemed to work this year for them, and what challenges your child experienced that we might be able to reduce in the coming year. I expect that these questionnaires will go home with the report cards at the end of the 3rd quarter, so please watch for them.

For our newest middle schoolers, current 5th graders at Village, Narragansett and Great Falls Schools, we will be sending to your child’s teachers a similar form for you to complete. We will also be asking you child’s current teachers for information about your child that will help us make the placement on teams a bit easier.

8th Grade Celebration

With the most recent snow day pushing the last day of school ahead until June 14th, our 8th grade Celebration Evening will be Wednesday, June 13th (at least as of now!). Parents may still purchase Well Wishes, kind words of encouragement to your child, that will be included in the program for the evening. The cost of these Well Wishes is $5.00, the space is limited, for more information please call Kristen in the Office.

Also, we will be making copies of the slide show of student pictures commemorating their time at the Middle School. These copies are available for purchase for a price of $10. Again, you may call Kristen Fitz for more information.

School Dances, Full Moons and Spring Fever

For those of us who are old enough to remember Johnny Carson and the Tonight Show, (Yep, that’s correct, Jay Leno did not invent late nigh TV!) the title of this sections sounds like a punch line from Johnny Carson’s character Carnac the Magnificent. But, really it is all the reasons we attribute the behavior at tonight’s dance. Truth is, our kids are great! It was just that tonight the kids decided that using cell phones at the dance must be OK since the moon is full! We would like to remind parents that we do not allow students to have their cell phone on during the dance.

So why don’t we want to allow our students to use their cell phones, you ask? Most cell phones have cameras in them, some have video cameras and some are even HD. It is our position that we want all students to feel comfortable and safe at dances and not have to worry that someone may be taking a picture or video that might find its way in to Youtube, or go viral within our school. We do have plenty of phones at the school and we have someone in the office most of the time to answer any call. Students are allowed to use the office phones to call home if they need to.

We hope that you can understand why we don’t want cell phones out at the dances. Please call me if you any questions.

Until next time…

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