Will Winter Ever Loosen Its Grip on Us?????

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Upcoming Important Dates

March 5 – Spread the Word to End the Word Day at GMS
March 6 – GHS Chorus Spring Concert Tour of the District.
March 7 – Progress reports available on Infinite Campus at the end of the school day.
March 12 – Early Release Day for students, students will be dismissed at 11:10 am.
March 13 – Parent Teacher Conferences 3:00 – 8:00 pm
March 14 – Parent Teacher Conferences 8:00 am – 2:00 pm. No School for students.
March 14 & 15 – GMS School Musical presentation 7:00 pm in the GMS Auditorium.
March 18 – GHS Principal and Department Heads present to 8th Graders
March 18 – 8th Grade Parent Night for all students attending GHS next fall, 6:30 pm in the GHS Auditorium.
March 18 – Southern Maine Middle School Math Meet at GMS beginning at 3:00 pm
March 19 – Drugs 101: What Parents Need to Know, GMS Auditorium 6:00 – 8:00 pm
March 20 – PIE Meeting 6:00 pm in the GMS Library
March 28 – Teacher Workshop Day, No school for students.

Spread the Word to End the Word

100h-Alternate-Logo-DarkWednesday, March 5 marks the fifth annual Spread the Word to End the Word campaign.  Spread the Word is a campaign that was created in 2009 at a Special Olympics Global Youth Activation Summit.  The motivation behind this campaign was to promote the positive contributions of people with intellectual disabilities by making a pledge to stop using the R-word. Most people don’t think of this word as the language of hate, but that’s exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends. I believe that most of us are fundamentally good and that we’re just not aware that the word is offensive and that it hurts.  Everyone deserves respect and removing the R-word from our everyday speech is one step we can take toward showing them that respect.

In 2009, Jordan Shiers (GHS ’10) attended the Global Youth Summit.  She has been an amazing voice for her brother Cole (GHS ’13).  With admiration and love she produced a video to help Spread the Word.  Her video can be viewed below:

For more info on the Spread the Word campaign, check out their website: www.r-word.org

Something for all Parents to be Aware

At our dance last Friday night, there seemed to some unusual commotion on the dance floor. Apparently, someone had dropped a “pen” on the floor and several of our students made rather dramatic attempts to retrieve said “pen”. Now, this may not sound unusual except that I am really struggling to understand why one of our students would have a “pen” out during the dance and on the dance floor.

This got me to thinking, (which is no small fete) about this, and then it struck me. Is it possible that our students could have been engaged in “Vaping” during our dance. I certainly hope not, but when we asked around at school, not many people knew what we were talking about. So I thought I would do some research and let the parents know about this relatively new behavior with young folks (as my dad liked to say!).

Students are able to partake of banned substances in a very surreptitious manner by using a vapor pen. It looks exactly like a pen and it does not produce any odor or smoke. So a student in the back of the room, pondering a question on a test by seeming to be chewing on the end of their pen, could actually be partaking of an illegal substance.

There are several reports from TV Stations from around the country about this phenomenon but I was only able to download a clip from Fox’s Hannity Show that talks about issue. I encourage all of you to have conversations with you children about this and other substance use as often as possible.

Music in our Schools Month

March is Music in our Schools month and we are so very fortunate, in Gorham, to have very dedicated music educators and very talented music students who make beautiful music Printthroughout our schools every day. In the month of March we celebrate all of this good work and we are very lucky to have Gorham High School students who are willing to perform for the students in the k-8 grades.

The GHS Chorus will perform two concerts at the Middle School on Thursday, March 6, at the end of the school day. We will be the last stop on their very busy day. They will also perform a number with our GMS Chorus during this visit.

Parent/Teacher Conferences

meeting-451-95-115-80-cOur annual Spring Parent Teacher Conferences will be held on Thursday afternoon and evening (3:00- 8:00 pm) and on Friday (8:00 am – 2:00 pm). In the next few days you will be receiving information from your child’s advisor with the times that you can schedule these conferences.

I urge all parents to make contact with your child’s advisor to arrange for this very important meeting time. At each grade level, there will be important information that will be transmitted regarding placement for next and for our 8th grade parents whose children will be moving on to the high school.

As always, you do not need to wait for these days to occur to meet with your children’s teacher. Appointments can be made on any day just be calling or emailing the teacher and expressing your concern.

I look forward to see all of the parents during these two days.

Early Release Days and Teacher Workshop Days

During the month of March, we have a couple of days where the students will be released early or will not come to school at all. These aren’t days where we send to teachers off to a spa to relax (I know you all know that!), these are days when we can dedicate time to explore topics such at Proficiency Based Education, Common Core State Standards and other topics of note, as well as provide time for Parent/Teacher Conferences.

Saying this, I know that this can be an inconvenience to some parents and we do try to limit the days we take for these reasons and we make every attempt to make these days productive for our staff.

As noted above, we have an Early Release Day on Wednesday, March 12. Students on this day will be released from school at 11:10 am. On Friday, March 14, there will be no school for students all day to provide time for our Parent/Teacher Conferences. Finally, on Friday, March 28, students will not have school to allow teachers in the district to undertake activities to further our work at complying with recently passed legislation to requires all school in Maine to award diplomas based upon students reaching proficiency in all content areas.

We will continue our discussions about Proficiency Based Education in the coming weeks. If you have any questions about our work in the area, lease give me a call at school.

Annual GMS Musical Presentation

Emps New Clothes pin designSave the dates of March 14 & 15 for the GMS Student performance of The Emperor’s New Clothes. The presentations will begin at 7:00 pm each night in the GMS Auditorium, admission is suggested at $5.00 and all are welcome to attend.

Each year, I am amazed and thrilled at how well Señora Krohn and all of our students manage to bring a little bit of Broadway to Gorham. The music and dancing, the acting abilities of our students and all of the work that goes on behind the scenes that make the presentation possible. It really is a heartwarming and delightful time of the year. Our students extend way beyond their comfort zones to give to our community!

The Transition to High School Begins

I know i Say this every year, but it truly does astonish me that the youngsters, who arrived here 2 and one half years ago wide-eyed and full of apprehension are getting ready to move on to the high school. Time passes so quickly sometimes!

On Tuesday, March 18th, Chris Record, Principal of GHS will bring the Department Heads at GHS to the Middle School to meet with our 8th graders. They will discuss the requirements for reaching graduation and give a brief description of what courses will be available to them as Freshmen. Each Department Head will explain the courses that they will offer during each year of their GHS career and what the requirements will be for entry to they more advanced classes.

Later that evening, Chris and his Department Heads will welcome the parents and students to an evening affair where he will inform the parents of the process of registration and how the students will be welcomed to the High School. The event will happen on the evening of March 18, beginning at 6:30 pm in the GHS Auditorium.

Drugs 101: What Parents Need to Know

Substance Abuse Counselor Claudine Emerson will reprise the very popular and highly informative session for PARENTS ONLY on Wednesday evening, March 19th in the GMS Picture 16Auditorium. The evening plans to educates parents about signs, symptoms and current trends of alcohol, tobacco, inhalants, marijuana and other drugs adolescents may use. A highlight of this program is a mock teenager’s bedroom set up for parent’s to observe and attempt to identify the obvious and not-so-obvious drug related paraphernalia. Throughout the presentation, more than 50 drug and alcohol indicators will be unveiled to show how some adolescents hide drug and alcohol use from their parents.

The Bedroom viewing will begin at 6:00 pm and the presentation will begin at 6:30 pm. I hope that you can make it.

For more information or questions, please contact Claudine Emerson  claudinee@gorhamschools.org or 222-1193.

March PIE Meeting

Above, we talked about our 8th graders making the transition to the High School, so that is our cue to begin the planning process for the 8th Grade Celebration of Middle School. This is an evening where we celebrate our 8th graders and give them a real great send off from the Middle School into the summer vacation and then off to the High School.gradclip6

We have, in the past, offered the students a cookout when the return from Step-Up Day at the High School, a viewing of a video of all of the highlights of their time at GMS and then have a huge celebration in our Gum for the parents to enjoy and, finally a dance in the Cafeteria complete with food and drink.

All of this takes planning, so we usually use the March PIE meeting as the kick off to our planning. We will meet in the GMS Library beginning at 6:00 pm. I hope that you can all join us and share your ideas for making this a great event.

More on Proficiency Based Education

For the past few weeks I have included a little a bit about how education in Maine will be changing in the next few years especially for our Middle School students. I have mentioned the  advent of the Common Core State Standards, the new Maine legislation regarding students achieving “Proficiency” before they will receive a diploma and the methods by which we will assess all of this.

I came across a video, about 15 minutes in length, that talks about all of these issues from the prospective of someone who has real questions about whether this is good for our students, or not. I will express that I am still working all of this through. I have reservations about our current course, I will admit. However, I think it is important to get all of the information out.  So, here is a video by Chris Tienken, and Assistant Professor of Education at Seton Hall University. He raises some real questions and offers some solutions to think about.

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