Important Upcoming Dates
January 9 – Lockdown Practice drill for whole school
January 15 – Early Release Day for students, dismissal at 11:10 am
January 15 – The Town Spelling Bee 8:30 am GMS Auditorium
January 20 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – No school for students or teachers
January 23 – PIE Meeting GMS Library 6:00 pm
January 24 – Semester ends
January 24 – School Dance (rescheduled from Jan 17) Sponsored by the 7th Grade
January 31 – Semester grades updated on Infinite Campus Parent Portal
Well Today was Fun… Not!
You should have received a note in your child’s backpack plus a voice message on your phone about the two separate incidents of emergency alarms at the middle school. First, let me tell you that is was just an alarm malfunction. There never was any danger to our school! We are not sure why the alarm malfunctioned and we are still looking into all of that, but the security company has been to the school to fix the issue. Secondly, everyone responded to the alarms exactly how we have been practicing them, even though the alarms happened during a time when students were changing classes, which added a possibility for great confusion.
It was absolutely coincidental that we had planned a Lockdown drill for later today and had informed all of the teachers and students about the drill. What surprised everyone, especially me, was that the alarms went off way ahead of scheduled.
As we do with every drill we practice, we held an after action review, this review we also included Gorham Police Department, to discuss our response to the alarm and how we can improve our performance and keep our students safe. Today’s “drill” will help us get better at this.
If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call.
Updates Since Our Last Edition
We continue to experience some “residue” from our extended Holiday Break, however not from our kids, they came back ready to work. So did our teachers, it really is great to get everyone back and to pick up with our work.
But, the extra days off did create some problems with some of the events that were planned. First, the Student/Faculty Talent Show has to be rescheduled because many of our acts have not had enough time to rehearse for the event. So we will put that event off until our early release day on February 5th and Thursday, February 6th. This will give our acts some needed extra time to refine their acts.
We will use the time on Wednesday, January 15th to hold our annual Scripts Spelling Bee so we can crown a school champion to represent us at the Cumberland County Spelling Bee later in the month.
We have also rescheduled the school dance to January 24th at the same time. Again, the extra time will give the 7th grade team, sponsors of the dance, time to promote and prepare for a great night of fun.
Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey
Just about a year ago (last February, to be exact), all of the middle school students participated in the biennial administration of the MIYHS survey. This was a completely anonymous survey and we had almost every student participate in the survey. Also, this was given to almost every 5-12 grader in the state, so the sample size is quite large and the results are valid.
There are some very interesting results, some that are encouraging and some that tell us we still have some work to do. In most categories we score below the state average and the Cumberland County average on instances of alcohol use, tobacco use and other substance use. That being said, even the small percentage of positive respondents is too many and is an area we will need to address.
On the questions about nutrition, our responses were either just below, or quite a bit below the rest of the 7th and 8th graders from around the state. Our kids responded that they were less physically active that their peers form around the state. I think this is something we will need to address in the coming months.
We will continue to review this dat and work through our Support Services Committee to offer some suggestions on how we can improve these results in the coming year.
I received this form our School Nurse, Teresa Merrill, and she asked that i publish it here:
Due to the increasing number of students with severe allergies to foods and other products that are life-threatening, we are asking you to review with your child the allergy procedure located in the school handbook. We are asking for your co-operation in speaking with your child regarding the importance of NOT sharing food with others here at school or on the bus in order to avoid inadvertent exposure to a food which could cause a severe allergic reaction. Students may choose to sit at an allergy safe table available in the cafeteria to reduce the risk of exposure to known allergens. Please let your child’s teacher know ahead of time if you want to send in a snack for the entire class so that arrangements can be made for the child with allergies to bring in an alternative snack. Please avoid sending in snacks intended to be shared with the class that may contain obvious nuts, peanuts or peanut butter. We appreciate your help in this matter. Please contact your school nurse with any concerns.
Gorham School Nurses
James Madison Writing Contest Winner
I promised to publish the other runner up winner and the grand prize winning essays last week, but I cannot get my hands on a copy of the other runner up winning essay. So, I don’t want to hold up the publishing (and I don’t like to break promises!), so here is the Grand Prize winning essay from 8th Grader Erica Mallory. I had the privilege of ready this to our assembly for Erica and I will tell you that I had chills as I read it. This was a wonderful piece of writing. Enjoy!
What Makes America Great
When the Puritans packed their things and hopped aboard the Mayflower to build The new country, they would not believe in the King’s religion. They were misfits, or rebels. That is what made America great, not the hardships of war or the ingenious engineering. It was the misfits.
In 1860, when Abraham Lincoln was elected president, many voters saw him as a powerful leader that could save the Union. While he may have been capable, Abraham Lincoln was a misfit. Brought up in a one-room cabin, Lincoln led an unconventional life. He was a common man, with an uncommon way of thinking. He saw slavery for what it genuinely was and rebelled against it. Lincoln taught himself, and earned everything he had. Whilst other people just went through life half-asleep, Abraham Lincoln made the most of his, and wanted to leave a mark. He was different, and he made America great.
In 1928, when Amelia Earhart ignored the notion that men were superior and became the first woman to fly the Atlantic solo, she was fighting for revolution. Earhart grew up as a tomboy, and had a fearless love for adventure. Amelia was simply a misfit. As time passed, she attended college and worked for her pilot’s license. After two years, she became the 16th woman in the world to receive a pilot’s license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. Earhart believed that women and men were equal, and she proved it when she broke countless flying records. Earhart was original, and she made America great.
In 1963, when Martin Luther King jr.’s distinguished voice vibrated into the ears of thousands, he was a misfit, disregarding the idea that only rich or famous people can inflict change. Raised by the words of God, King was a boy who not only realized the unfair treatment of African Americans, but a boy who knew it needed to stop. He was willing to stand out and to rise against it. King was not going to live an unhappy, half-lived life. He stood out, and he made America great.
At the end of the day, it is not the wealth of our economy or the results of our school tests. Instead, what makes our country remarkable, is the people that are unparalleled; the misfits with enough courage to twist the plot, and rewrite the whole story.
I do promise to find the third prize winning essay and publish that in our next edition.