Thoughts on a Spring Day

Spring has Sprung!

While I am not sure that we ever had Winter, I am sure that Spring is here!

OK, May we had Winter on Halloween and then again on March 1st, but in between those could hardly be called “Winter”, come on! I remember winters where the snow would be up to my waist! Of course, I was 6 years old and I stood a whopping 4 foot, 2 inches tall!

My hope is that this isn’t one of those Springs that comes in nicely and then Pow! hits us with a 2 foot drop of snow during the April vacation. So, I’ve said it… I may have angered the snow gods… so, you can all blame me if it does happen.

In any event, let’s enjoy this fine weather while we have it, OK.

Speaking of Spring

This is the time of year when our students break out their warm-weather clothes in anticipation of the summer. I’d like to remind all of our parents about our school dress code. Here is what our handbook says about student dress:

Dress Code:

Students are to dress in a manner that will not distract, disrupt or be hazardous to their safety and well-being.  Parents should be involved in setting standards of dress and grooming for their children.  However, if the student, by dress or grooming is interfering with the educational process or is not dressed conducive to the activity, appropriate action, involving the parents will be taken.

The following will not be permitted in school:

§     Shirts, tops, and dresses should cover the entire back and midriff and should be buttoned appropriately; students wearing spaghetti straps should have no exposed undergarments, as exposed undergarments are considered inappropriate for school.

§    Suitable footwear should be worn at all times.  Socks, bare feet, or sippers are not considered safe or suitable footwear.

§    If students wear shorts they should be worn at the natural waistline, be of a length no higher than mid thigh, and should not expose underwear.

§    All pants should be worn at the natural waistline and belted if necessary to keep them at natural waistline.

§    All skirts and dresses should be of a length no higher than mid thigh.

§    Hats, caps, chains, headbands, and bandannas cannot be worn in the building.

§    Students may not wear clothing or jewelry that depicts obscene, vulgar, or sexual, promoting illegal activity (tobacco, drugs, or alcohol), libel, fighting words or other expressions that could cause a disruption.

Note: Administrators will make the final decision regarding clothing/accessories of a questionable nature. 

The Bully Project

Our friends at Common Sense Media have published a review of a new documentary movie that will be released in theaters on March 30th. The movie is calledBully, and it documents the life of students who are the targets of the bullies. This movie is hard to view because it is raw, to the bone, events that actually take place in schools across America every day. Unfortunately, the movie has been given and R rating by the MPAA, the association that rates movies for appropriateness for different audiences. This means that we at Gorham Middle School  can not screen this movie for our students. It also means that students should not be able to see it in the theaters without their parents being present.

Here is a link to the review from the folks at Common Sense Media. I do suggest you read this and other pieces before you choose to take your children to this movie. I also suggest that you read up on the topic of bullying so that your conversations after viewing the movie can be beneficial. The Bully Project

PIE Meetings

A gentle reminder that we have our monthly PIE meeting tonight (March 15) in our Library. I invite all of you to attend, we begin at 6:30 and go until, whenever we get done!

We can talk about whatever you’d like, The movie Bully that will be released in theaters on March 30th, or the KONY 2102 project that has been in the news lately. We have 8th Grade Celebration that will begin planning in the next couple of weeks (we’ll get a separate meeting for those planning sessions) and we could talk about all things middle school. We hope to see you!

Let’s Talk about Technology

We haven’t talked about technology for a while (OK, we did last week, but in technology time, last week is like a century ago!).

We are very fortunate to live in a state like Maine that has placed a very high priority on placing technology into the hands of our students. I know that when I travel out of state and meet with educators “from away”, they always ask bout our Laptop Initiative. I have a niece who teachers at a middle school in eastern Massachusetts, all she ever wants to know id how are we using all of our technology. She tells me about how she has to “fight” for a cart of laptops (old Dells that can’t hold a candle to our MacBooks!) with four other teachers and never gets anywhere near enough time with technology. And, when I talk about our interactive whiteboards and LCD projectors and all of the other “stuff” we use, she just gets mad at me and storms off!! (I wonder if that would work with people I don’t want to talk to??!!?)

We continue to try to improve how our students use technology at the same time work to keep the students safe and responsible. As we are all too painfully aware, technology can be used inappropriately, and that inappropriate use can cause immeasurable harm. Terri Dawson, our Technology Integrator, reminds our students constantly that “with great access, comes great responsibility”. I think that if our kids have heard this once, they have heard it a thousand times, but it is as true as any words that can be spoken. Students who don’t think before they post, are very likely to find themselves in very “hot water” with us.

Last week I talked about the KONY 2012 video that went viral. On the day I wrote the entry into the blog, there were 48 million views of the video, when I posted the blog, there were 68 million. Over 20 million views in about a day and a half. Now, it has been on every nightly news outlet and all of the cable news outlets. I doubt that there are many people who have not, at least, heard about Joseph Kony. That is the power of this medium, and that is also the danger of the medium.

We can be fairly sure that the future of our students will center on technology of some kind. Our task, as educators of our future citizens, is to make sure that they have the tools, skills and dispositions to be successful.

Parent Teacher Conferences

Just another reminder that we will be holding Parent/Teacher Conferences on the final two days of the month of March (March 29 & 30). Thursday’s conferences will begin at 2:00 pm and teachers will be available until 8:00 pm that night. On Friday, teachers will be available from 8:00 am until 2:00 pm. As we have done for the past two years, you will meet with your child’s Adviser, who will have all information about progress and conduct in his/her classes. But, if you wish,. you can arrange to meet your child’s content teachers during this time as well, in fact, you can set up a meeting time with them anytime, you do not need to wait for March 29 & 30 if you have an issue or concerns.

Please remember, also, that on the 29th the students will be released at 11:10 am and on Friday, the students will have no school.

School Safety Drills

With the warmer weather our school fire drills will return. We also will be practicing our school Lockdown Drills in the final months of the school year. During these drills, we announce to the school that this is a drill and then set off the alarm that announces instructions for the students, staff and visitors of the building to follow. Unfortunately, events of the past few years across the country require us to hold these regularly and to review the results of each of these drills.

We recognize that these can be troubling to our students and we try very hard to make these as tame as possible yet practice what we need to practice what needs to be practiced. If you have any questions about these drills, please feel free to call us.

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