This is a Lipdub! And at the end I am Looking for Help!

Our Very First Lipdub

In my last post, just a couple of days ago (seems like months), I told you that our I-Team and a very dedicated group of faculty members, were going to put together an activity called a Lipdub (a what!). This activity entails the entire school making signs and wearing appropriately outrageous clothes and hats, quite a bit if confetti and even a small fire, while other students were lip synching a song by Flo Rida (not Florida, the state! I guess being a Flo Rida is an entirely different state!).

We decided to do this instead of learning about science, social studies, math and English because…, well, because we wanted to! And we could!

So here is the link to: GMS Gets a Good Feeling with music and lyrics by Flo Rida and action by more than 600 students and teachers at GMS. A special thanks to Terri Dawson, our Technology Integrator and Angela Gosporarek, 7th Grade Science Teacher. We all hope you enjoy this half as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

The Teenage Brain

OK, no more jokes about the teenage brain, I promise, but I am going to add a couple more of the links to the PBS Frontline series done a couple of years ago. Each and every time I watch these clips, I am reminded about how complex the human brain is and how much we take for granted the amount of work it does for us. I am also struck by how fragile, yet resilient, the human brain is.

Making sure we take good care of our brain is not something that we really think about. You’d think that the brain would make sure that it gets taken care of by its human, but, as I think we can all attest, it doesn’t!

Every now and then, you see a TV commercial where the brain talks to other parts of the body, you know, something like:

Brain: Hey, stomach, why don't you do a better job of getting me the
       right kind of energy?
Stomach: Shut up, brain! Your the one who controls what goes into the mouth!
Mouth: Yea, brain, it's not my fault I just ate that Twinkie!

OK, so know one is ever going to accuse me of being the next William Shakespeare, but you get my point. (maybe you don’t!) We all need to take care of our brain, but the young developing brain needs special care. It needs the proper food and appropriate rest. One fact I heard is that the average teenage brain needs 9 hours and 15 minutes of sleep each, and every day. How many of our teenagers actually get that kind of rest.

It makes you think about a Middle School schedule that begins before 8:00 am, doesn’t it?

We forget that what we put into our bodies may affect our brain’s development, especially during times of great growth. I regularly remind our students who get caught smoking cigarettes or, who unfortunately decide to experiment with illegal substances or alcohol, ( full disclosure here, this happens very rarely at GMS)  that we don’t really know what the impact of that singular episode may have on brain development. We do know that it can’t be good, but that is a hard lesson to teach young adolescents.

I do hope that you get to view these videos and I will keep them in the archives for a while so that you can return to view them as many times as you like.

Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6

Meeting Concerning 8th Grade Celebration

Hopefully all 8th grade parents, who attended Parent/Teacher conferences, received a copy of a letter from me about the problems we are incurring with the Graduation night and the Municipal elections. Because of the number snow days we have had, we are now scheduled to hold our celebration on the same night at the elections. We can’t do both in the same space (my speech would put all of the poll workers to sleep!).

The meeting will be Wednesday April 4, beginning at 6:30 in GMS Library. We need to come up with an alternative to holding the celebration in our gym on Tuesday June 12th. I hope many of you can make it.

Odyssey of the Mind Wins State Competition

In my last post I congratulated our Odyssey of the Mind (OM) team for their showing in the state competition. There were hundreds of kids competing in several different divisions and types of competition. I think I was told that the Gorham School District had 10 teams entered in to all of the competitions. GMS had three teams entered and we placed first, second and third in their respective divisions. Here is the breakdown of the results:

First place trophy (Div.II/Balsa): Samuel Roussel, Samuel Martel, Teddy Lockman, Coleman Dowdle, Simon Roussel, and Isaac Martel.

Second place trophy (Div.II/Classics)
: Abbie vanLuling, Hayley Bickford, Bridget Daigle, Autumn Heil, Grant Hawkes, Nathan Bachner, and Maxwell Harvey.

Third place trophy (Div.II/Technical)
: Molly vanLuling, Elizabeth Lemieux, Avery Arena, Madeline Joyal-Myers, Emelia Nejezchleba, Claire Valentine, and Eleanor Feinberg.

Congratulations to all of our competitors and to their coach, Mrs. Knott. Next stop, the Worlds!

National History Day

We also had one of our team that competed in the state of Maine National History Day competition win their division and they are preparing to compete in the National History Day competition in the Washington, D.C. area later this Spring. We’ll get you some pictures in a later post. Congratulations to all of our National History Day competitors!

Looking for Help

At Gorham Middle School, we use our Early Release Days in a very different way than these days have been used traditionally. Traditionally, students would have shortened classes on these days, something like 20-25 minutes long and teachers would try to fill that time with activities that, for lack of a better word, would be like “warehousing” our students for the period and then move on to the next period.

Not being a proponent of warehousing kids, we came up with the idea of having themed early release days. Some of the themes we’ve used are Community Service Days, where our students go out into the community to do good. Some kids go to the elementary schools to read to kindergarten students, we’ve had students clear nature trails for the town and raising funds for local charities through walk-a-thons. All of the ideas have been great learning for our students, but we’re looking at even more interesting things to do.

One theme that really got the kids excited was our Public Safety Day. On this day, several of our local, county, state and federal agencies sent people to talk to the kids about their jobs and how math, science, social studies and Language Arts played an important role in them being able to do their jobs. The biggest hit of the day was the Maine State Police Evidence Van. The State Police detectives talk about how they gather evidence and how the process it. The kids really got into the CSI part.

Another popular choice was the U.S. Marshal Service. He brought in some really cool tools of his job, things like a taser (the kids thought maybe I should be the guinea pig for the taser! They really love me!?!).

So, how can you all help?

Next year we want to put on a cultural day using music as the central theme. Unfortunately, many of the artists we would like to have cost money (they have to make a living, too!), and we don’t have any money (remember, we’re a Public School!). The day would examine how music influences our culture and is present in all aspects of what we do as a school. Whether it’s math, science, social studies or language arts music is ever-present.We believe that all genres of music have made significant contributions to the American culture, and we would love to expose our students to all of them.

I am looking for ways to fund this idea, perhaps there are grants that may be available that we don’t know about. I know we have readers for many places around the world ( I am probably violated all blog etiquette by doing this!) and I would like to call on your possible knowledge of these things to help us make this possible. You can send me an email, call me at school, respond via the comment section of this blog, send smoke signals…We just need help making this work for our kids.

In the immortal words of Ben Stein from Ferris Bueller, “Anyone? Anyone?

Coming Next Week

We will begin a multi part installment on Technology and your child. Should be interesting!

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