Happy New Year

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GSD LogoUpcoming Important Dates

Jan 10 – School Committee Meeting 7:00 pm Municipal Center
Jan 11 – Fund raiser for the Gorham Backpack Program UNO’s Pizzeria
Jan 12 – School Dance 6:00 – 8:00 pm GMS Gymnasium
Jan 12 – Grade Level Assemblies during WIN Time
Jan 15 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday – No School
Jan 17 – PIE Meeting with Gorham School Committee 6:00 pm GMS Library
Jan 23 – GMS Talent Show – GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
Jan 24 – Early Release Day – Students dismissed at 11:10 am
Jan 24 – School Committee Workshop 7:00 pm Municipal Center

School Dance Sponsored by the GMS Student Council

Our next dance is this Friday, January 12 beginning at 6:00 pm and runs until 8:00 pm. This dance is for the benefit of the GMS Student Council who do so many  wonderful things for our school and our community.

Over the past year, the Student Council has raised funds for the Animal Welfare League of Greater Portland, as well as collected food and toys for the shelter to use with their “guests”. The students have lead a school-wide collection of food and holiday presents for more than 20 families so as to provide some holiday cheer for some of our families who have struggled during the school year.

For our school community, the students of the Student Council have organized Spirit Week Activities to increase the spirit of our school, Teacher Appreciation activities as well as placed notes of encouragement in lockers for their fellow students.

The funds from this dance will help the Student Council continue to be able to provide our school and community with all sorts of resources and fun for the balance of the school year.

As with all dances, we could always use chaperones. Now, I know that many of your children say that you cannot chaperone the dance! Remember, the kids are using reverse psychology on you, what they are really saying is that they want you to chaperone the dance. I hope to see you there!

PIE Meeting with the School Committee

Our annual PIE Meeting with select School Committee members will be Wednesday, January 17 at 6:00 pm in the GMS Library. Please come and meet the members of our School Committee and ask some questions as to the direction of the schools in Gorham.

Fundraiser for the Gorham Backpack Program

There will be a fundraiser for the Gorham Backpack Program at UNO’s in South Portland on Thursday, January 11. UNO will donate up to 20% of your check to the Backpack Program, whether you eat in our takeout.

The Backpack Program was started this year by Gorham Middle School Teacher Heather Whitaker, GMS Social Worker Thom Courtney and Village School Social Worker Jen Baker. The program provides students in need with healthy food choices to tide them over the weekends and school vacations.

The program received initial funding from the Gorham Educational Foundation. It is estimated that it costs about $225 per year to provide food for each student. These fundraisers are integral in helping to keep the program viable and working for our students. Please consider going out for dinner on Thursday, January 11 at UNO’s in South Portland.

Early Release Day 

Students will be dismissed at 11:10 am on Wednesday, January 24.

At this time, we are working to organize some sort of after school activity, although, as of now, we have nothing planned. It is always our hope that we can reduce the number of students who go “downtown” to roam the streets and do what adolescent do when they get a free afternoon.

Please stay tuned and as soon as we know what we may be doing, we will get the information out to you.

The Gift of Failure

Over the past few years I have mentioned a book written by Jessica Lahey, a teacher of adolescents and a mom of adolescents called the Gift of Failure. I would again recommend this book to parents and teachers who deal with adolescent students.

Jessica is now bringing her book to Youtube, and to date she has 4 episodes up. Each episode covers a different topic and is about 15 minutes in length. These short videos are filled with some great insights and ideas on how to deal with kids of all stripes!

You can subscribe to Jessica’s Youtube stream yourself, but I thought I’d include her first video as a teaser. I hope you enjoy!

Week of Nov 6

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GSD LogoUpcoming Important Dates

Nov 6 – PBL Parent night, GMS Library 6:00 pm
Nov 7 – Election Day, Gym will be out of use for the school
Nov 8 – Maine Bio Science Day, Special plans for the 7th grade
Nov 8 – Content Area Meetings, check agenda below
Nov 10 – Veteran’s Day observed, no school for students and staff
Nov 13 -15 – RtI Team meetings, please check the schedule for your team time
Nov 16 – Grade Level Assemblies during WIN Time (note: Lunch schedule change)
Nov 17 – School Dance Sponsored by the 6th Grade

PBL Parent Night

We will be holding an informational night for parents who are interested in learning more about the work we are doing with Proficiency Based Learning and how we will be reporting it. We will review both the JumpRope reporting system and the Infinite Campus system. We will highlight the similarities of both systems and also where there are differences. Our goal is to have our parents better understand how their children are are progressing towards the standards

I invite any and all teachers, ed techs or other staff to join us for this night.

Maine Bioscience Day

The Maine Bioscience Association of Maine is again sponsoring the Maine Bioscience Day for Middle School throughout Maine. This year, the date is Wednesday, November 8. On this day, we will provide a special schedule for the 7th grade so that they may participate in this very worthwhile event. This may have an impact on more than just the 7th grade.

Our participation in last year’s event was definitely a highlight for many of our 7th graders, and we look forward to working with our business partner, Artel of Westbrook. (I checked out their website to see if I could give a bit more information about what they do, all the words were way too big for me!)

Please check your mail for the 7th grade schedule for that day.

Election Day

Tuesday, November 7th is election day for local and state elections. Our gym will be closed for use beginning immediately after school until Wednesday morning.

Voters will be kept in the hallway between the gym and the lockers and will only use the entrance to the gym in that hallway. We will not be opening any other doors to the voters. Please remind your students not to open any doors for strangers, and, if you see anyone in our hallways not wearing a badge please ask them if you can help them and direct them to the office to sign in.

Content Area Meetings

This Wednesday is our Content Area meeting time. We will begin in the Library promptly at 2:30 and get the groups out to meeting areas by 2:40.

Agenda

2:30 – Meeting Library and review meeting locations, participants and expectations;
2:40 – Convene Different Content area meeting.

School Dance

Our next school dance will be Friday, November 17 and it is sponsored by the 6th grade. I will be asking Heidi McGouldrick to put out the word for chaperones from the list of approved volunteers. Please make sure that you have sufficient chaperones for the dance.

Because it worked so well prior to the last dance, we will be holding grade level assemblies during WIN Time on Thursday, November 16 to review some rules, but also to review some of our expectations about digital safety. We have seen a bit of an uptick in our students engaging in online behaviors that have caused concern.

We will be changing the 7th and 8th grade lunch schedule that day so that we can have the 8th graders for an uninterrupted time. So, 8t grade will eat first lunch that day and 7th grade will eat second lunch.

Inside the Black Box

I have had some request for the article, Inside the Black Box, I mentioned during our early release day time by Dylan Wiliam (yup, just one “L”) and Paul Black. I want to warn you that it is fairly wording, and it is written in an English accent, so you may want to take it in small chunks.

I am including a video of Dylan Wiliam as he was interviewed by Principal from a school in England.

Week of October 16

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GSD LogoUpcoming Important Dates

Oct 16 – The Science of Adolescent Sleep, Dr. Colby Wyatt, GHS Library 2:30 pm
Oct 19 – Showing of The Mask You Live In, GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
Oct 25 – Early Release Day, students dismissed at 11:10 am
Oct 26 – Parent Teacher Conferences begin after dismissal until 8:00 pm
Oct 27 – Parent Teacher Conferences 8:00 am- 2:00 pm

The Science of Adolescent Sleep

Dr. Colby Wyatt, Pediatrician , and GMS Parent, will speak on the science of the sleep habits of adolescents.

As many of you are aware, the school district has been  exploring the need for managing the school day in a more appropriate manner to capitalize on the optimum sleep and learning cycles of our students. There is significant science to indicate that our students need more sleep and that their sleep cycles and circadian rhythms are more in synch with a later start time to the school day.

Dr. Wyatt will elucidate upon the facts of the adolescent and their sleep habits and how schools might best respond to these needs.

This talk is open to all.

Maine Boys to Men Video Showing

We will continue to offer parent meet up opportunities to help us address, as a community, the manner in which our students treat each other here at school and everywhere else.

On October 19th at 6:00pm we will host a screening of the movie The Mask You Live In.  The movie is a critical look at the stereotypes that have been foist upon many of our young men and how those stereotypes are managed or how they consume their lives.

Please join Ryan Tardiff and others from Maine Boys to Men as we attempt to examine and understand these challenges.

WHAT:  The Mask You Live In

WHERE:  Gorham Middle School Auditorium

WHEN:  Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 6:00pm

This is open to the entire GMS faculty and staff.

Early Release Day

I would also ask each of you to remind all of our students (your children) that their behavior downtown reflects on the entire community. We would like our town to see our students as they truly are, young folks who are very mindful of our Code of Conduct and our responsibility to a safe community.

In that vein, Gorham Parks and Recreation have arranged for Maine’s number one video truck to visit GMS beginning at dismissal. The truck will be located in the parking lot at the fields across the access road to GMS. There is a cost and students need to sign up in advance.

“Our deluxe and fully customized mobile video game studio provides you and 24+ guests with comfort and ease as you enjoy 150+ of your favorite games in our spacious climate controlled 30 foot long enclosed trailer. Customized and fitted with seven 50″ High Definition Flat Screen TV’s and two 32″ High Definition Flat Screen TV’s, we bring you the latest and best in gaming consoles, featuring Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii, and now VIRTUAL REALITY!~Our state-of-the-art sound system, LED light show, and satellite system combine to bring the action LIVE to you. Experience the ‘WOW’~factor as you step inside and provide your guests with an experience they will never forget!”

Gorham Parks and Recreation is also conducting two other offerings on Friday, October 27, the day of Parent Teacher Conferences.

GPS Soccer Camp on Inservice Day, Oct 27th

Gorham Recreation and Global Premier Soccer will be teaming up on Friday, October 6th to offer  a fun and educational day of soccer activities for kids in Gorham. Players will be working on technical aspects of the game such as passing, shooting, and dribbling in a creative and competitive environment.”  

Come on over to the Multipurpose field on Friday’s Inservice day for a full day off soccer!

Location: Gorham Multipurpose Field (Rain location – Shaw Gym)

Time: 8:30am – 2:30pm

Date: October 27th (Inservice Day)

Cost: $60

Sign up by going to Gorhamrec.com

Scary Story Writing Workshop on Inservice Day, Oct 27th

Write and illustrate an original horror story just in time for Halloween. Using costumes and props students will create their own scary characters and bring them to life through writing and illustration. The workshop will culminate with a scary story hour where students will read their tales aloud. Stories will be recorded and hosted online for families and friends to listen.

Location: Gorham Rec Center

Time: 8:30am – 2:30pm

Friday, October 27th

Cost: $85

Happy Healthy Gorham

As we mentioned earlier in the year, Happy Healthy Gorham is hoping to make the town of Gorham the Happiest and Healthiest Town in Maine. We had a very successful first experience with our Moving Naturally Week. I would like to extend a HUGE Thank You to Denis Albert, Sarah Titus, Martha LaViolet and Heidi McGouldrick for the “successful beyond my wildest dreams” walking school bus!

The next theme, for a week in November is Kindling Kindness Week. I know that Kim Arena has reached out the GMS again, so if you have some ideas, we’d love to hear them.

There will be a meeting with some of the folks from HHG on Wednesday, October 18 at 3:00 pm in Martha LaViolet’s room. If you are interested in helping with Kindling Kindness, please stop by.

In keeping with the theme of Kindness, I thought I’d share this video with you all:

United Way Fundraising Campaign

We are pleased to once again provide all employees with an opportunity to participate in our annual United Way campaign.  Each year, the United Way of Greater Portland and its partner agencies provide services to more than 72,000 residents in Cumberland County, and it is likely that someone you know benefited from the efforts of the United Way, making this opportunity to give back to the community even more important and meaningful.

Please know that no donation is too small.  Pledging even $1 per week is significant, meaningful, and desperately needed.   Due to a generous donation from the John T. Gorman foundation, any new or increased pledges will be matched up to $150,000, so every new dollar we give will mean $2 to the United Way and its partner agencies.

If you donate $3/week ($156/year or more) you will be entered in a raffle for $1,000 L.L. Bean gift card

If you donate $8/wee ($416/year or more) you will be entered in a raffle for a new car from PAPE

To read more about the United Way in Cumberland County, please access their 2017 Community Report.

 

Week of Sept 11

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GSD LogoUpcoming Important Dates

Sep 11 – 6th Grade Technology Orientation Night 6:00 – 7:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Sep 13 – School Committee Meeting 7:00 pm Municipal Center
Sep 15 – School Dance 6:00 – 8:00 pm Gym
Sep 18 – US Constitution Day Celebrated
Sep 20 – Early Release Day, students released at 11:10 am
Sep 21 & 22 – Tooth Fairies will be at GMS
Sep 24 – 28 – Moving Naturally Week (see info below)
Sep 26 – Parent Summit on Bullying 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium

Time to Reflect

September 11! 9/11! and so many more acronyms and phrases, to steal the famous FDR line, evoke memories of a day of infamy. The images of the bright September morning are seared into the memory banks of every American who can even vaguely remember that fateful day.

This past weekend, as I was preparing to conjure up images that could be transmitted with the spoken word to our students, all of whom were not born on that day, I was stunned by the images of another catastrophe in the making, Hurricane Irma in Florida and Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

We tend to forget that September 11, 2001 was only the beginning days of the tragedy. The clean up of the sight where the buildings collapsed needed to be completed. Plans for the new building needed to designed. A memorial to all of the brave souls and those who just went to work on the morning of September 11 needed to be designed and completed. It was more than 5 years before construction of the Freedom Tower began, and more than 13 years before the Freedom Tower opened its doors for tenants. That is a lot of time from the beginning to the end!

The images of the past week in Texas and Florida are only the beginning for all of those folks.

We haven’t decided on how we should contribute to aiding our fellow countrymen, but we will be working on something to get our students involved in the healing. Please watch our announcements for information. If you have any ideas that you would like to share, please drop us a line or give us a call.

Parent Technology Night

I have some very good news to offer, especially for those parents who have had several children go through the Middle School in the age of MLTI. We are no longer required to hold the MLTI Parent Orientation Night! Imagine that, no more days of your children whining that “YOU HAFTA TO GO THE THE MLTI NIGHT!”

We will be holding an informational evening for parents of 6th graders who are interested in learning more about the new Chromebooks that their children will be issued this year. While the devices are similar in that they can process information, there are some considerable differences between the Chromebooks and the Apple MacBook Airs, which are used by the 7th and 8th graders.

Again, this night is not mandatory for 6th grade parents, but we will try to make it as informative as possible and answer as many of your questions as we can.

Tooth Fairies Coming to GMS

As we have for the past several years, we will have a dedicated group of Dental Professionals come to GMS to provide free or low cost dental examinations for our students. If you are interested in taking advantage of this great program, please call School Nurse Cathy Loiselle.

School Dance

The first school dance of the year will be this Friday night beginning at 6:00 pm and running for 2 hours, until 8:00 pm.

We are always looking for dance chaperones and would love to have a few parents (or more!) come and spend at least a part of the evening with us. There is truly nothing like a middle school dance to bring back all of those wonderful memories of sock hops and disco nights!

Admission to the dance is $5.00 and we ask that parents please pick up their children at the conclusion of the dance at 8:00 pm.

Early Release Day on Wednesday September 20

Students will be released early on Wednesday, September 20, at 11:10 am. The teachers will be working on professional development for the afternoon.

We are working with the Parks & Recreation Department to come up with some activities that would occupy the students between dismissal at 11:10 and the regular time we would dismiss at 2:15. There are a few things in the works, so I would ask that you watch our Daily Announcements on the GMS Webpage for details.

Happy Healthy Gorham

You amy have seen the article on the front page of the Gorham Times about the Happiest and Healthiest Town in Maine, don’t worry if you didn’t, here is a link to the Gorham Times story.

The Gorham School will be joining with Happy Healthy Gorham (HHG) to ensure that our students are involved in helping to make Gorham the Happiest and Healthiest town in Maine. We haven’t yet finalized our plans, but we will be including several activities throughout the of September 24 that will include our students  moving naturally.

We will include lots of pictures on our website showing off our school moving naturally.

Boys to Men and Hardy Girls, Healthy Women

We have arranged for two groups to come to GMS to help us address some of the issues were saw last year with behaviors between and among our adolescent students. Boys to Men and Hardy Girls, Healthy Women have special programs designed specifically for adolescent boys and girls. Both of these programs are highly acclaimed and are being done in several school across Cumberland County.

We are hoping, by using these programs, to reduce the number of incidents where students create an environment that is not conducive to learning. Where everyone is more concerned about what someone else thinks about them than they are with learning.

I will have more information on each of these programs that will go home with the students prior to the beginning of the sessions. If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call or send me an email.

Week of March 6

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GSD Logo

Upcoming Important Dates

Mar 7 – 8th Grade Parent Night at GMS 6:00 pm MPAC
Mar 8 – GHS Principal Jandreau speaks to 8th Graders
Mar 10 -12 – GMS School Musical (more info below)
Mar 11 – 6th Grade Honors Chorus Concert at Bonny Eagle 3:00pm
Mar 12 – Daylight Savings Time Begins
Mar 14 – GHS Chorus Concert beginning at 12:30
Mar 15 – Early Release Day, Students dismissed at 11:10 am
Mar 16 & 17 – Parent Teacher Conferences
Mar 19 – Winter Fever Reliever GMS cafeteria 6:00 pm
Mar 20 – MEA Testing Window Opens (You all received a schedule last week)
Mar 20 – No EICAL for the next 3 weeks for testing

Parent/Teacher Conferences

We will hold parent teacher conferences on Thursday and Friday, March 16 & 17. We will begin after dismissal on Thursday and run until 8:00 pm and Friday, beginning at 8:00 am and running until 2:00 pm.

Please make every effort to meet with your child’s advisor during this time, this is a very important time of the school year as we begin to plan for next year.

This is also a time for students to be able to understand what they need to work on to improve the results, as well as begin to set the positive habits in potion for the close of the school year and the opening of another school year.

If you child’s advisor has not made contact with you be email of via a letter sent home with your child, please contact me and i will see that you get an appointment with your child’s teachers.

8th Grade Transitions

The transition to 9th grade and high school for all 8th graders begins, in earnest, on Tuesday evening with the Parent Nigh at GHS. The evening’s events are held in the GHS Auditorium, begging at 6:00 pm. GHS Principal Jandreau and other administrators and department heads will be available for questions and answers to parent questions.

Principal Jandreau will meet with the 8th graders on Wednesday morning at 8:05 in the GMS Auditorium to review the registration and course selection process with the students. Mr. Jandreau will also introduce several of the Department Heads who will let the students know what to expect for their classes and what the requirements will be for a successful High School career.

We will shortly be calling for a meeting of the 8th grade parents to begin planning for the Celebration of Middle School, the event that highlights with the ceremony in the gym and the final 8th grade school dance. Please watch this space, and our website for the time and place of this meeting.

School Musical School Day Presentation

A sure harbinger of Spring is the annual presentation by GMS students of the School Little Mermaid 2017Musical. This year, our students, under the direction of Tana Krohn, will be presenting The Little Mermaid, Jr. Presentation times are Friday and Saturday night, March 10 & 11 at 7:00 pm, and a new Sunday Matinee with the curtain rising at 2:00 pm.

The student presentation always is very well done with lots of entertainment value for families, please circle the date to enjoy at least one of the performances.

 

Music in Our Schools Month Concerts

I believe we finally have solidified the date for the annual Music in Our Schools Month GHS High School Chorus Tour. We will be entertained by the GHS Chorus on Tuesday, March 14 beginning at 12:30 pm in the GMS Auditorium. We will call down the teams at their appointed times, classes will just stop where they are, and when you return to class, pick up where you left off.

I expect the concerts to last about 25 minutes.

MEA Testing Windows

The MEA Testing windows open for the math and reading portion of the MEA’s on March 20th. During the 3-weel testing window, we will not hold EICal as a regular part of the day, teachers and students may use this time to make up for time lost during the testing sessions to meet with students and check-in fro continued progress during the testing.

There will be an additional testing window in April for 8th grade science and an additional testing window (new this year) for all grades for a writing assessment.

 

Week of February 27

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GSD Logo

Upcoming Important Dates

Feb 27 – Students and Teacher return from Break
Mar 1 – Spread the Word to End the Word Day
Mar 2 – GHS Chorus Concert in the Gym 12:30 (we will do 2 concerts)
Mar 3 – School Dance sponsored by the 6th grade 6:00 -8:00 pm
Mar 3 & 4 – Southern Maine MS Honors Band and Chorus Concert
Mar 3 & 4 – GHS One-Act Play presentation 7:30 pm MPAC
Mar 7 – 8th Grade Parent Night at GMS 6:00 pm MPAC
Mar 8 – GHS Principal Jandreau speaks to 8th Graders
Mar 10 -12 – GMS School Musical (more info below)
Mar 12 – Daylight Savings Time Begins
Mar 15 – Early Release Day, Students dismissed at 11:10 am
Mar 19 – Winter Fever Reliever GMS cafeteria 6:00 pm

School Vacation

I hope that all of you had a great week of school vacation. I know that some years the weather can really deal a rough blow, but this year was exceptional. For those of you who are skiers, I cannot imagine better conditions than we had this week. And, even wit the warmer weather, there was still some great sledding weather or snowshoeing weather with great conditions.

It was also great weather to take in the championship run of the Gorham High School girls Basketball team at the Civic Center! Best of luck to the girls next week in Augusta as they take on the Vikings of Oxford Hills.

Now that we are at the end of a great week, we turn our sights toward a very busy March with MEA Testing, 8th Grade Transition activities and beginning the planning for the next school year.

Spread the Word to End the Word

Help Spread the Word to End the Word! You are invited to be a fan of respect and join us in an ongoing campaign to stop the use of the R-word. The goal of Spread the Word is an effort to draw attention to the fact that a large population of people are hurt and offended by the use of the R-word. This is more than just eliminating a certain word from your vocabulary, this is about an evaluation of our attitudes towards a population that has been stigmatized throughout their lifetimes. Everyone deserves respect and removing the R-word from our every day speech is one step we can take toward showing respect.

Please make your pledge by going to www.r-word.org. There will be pledge sheets at grade level lunches on Wednesday for students to sign.

GMS Students Present The Little Mermaid

Please circle the dates of March 10 trough March 12 and plan to attend one of the presentations of the annual GMS Musical. GMS students, under the direction of Tana Krohn, will present three (3) shows of the Little Mermaid. Shows on Friday and Saturday evening begin at 7:00 pm and, new this year, a Sunday matinee beginning at 2:00 pm.

We have come to expect from our students some amazing performances, beautiful singing, great acting, lots of laughs and a truly, wonderfully memorable evening. Please make pans to catch at least one show!

Changes in School Nutrition Program

We have been working with our School Nutrition folks to help get a handle on the number of students who are carrying negative balances on the school lunch account.

School lunch at GMS offers a very vibrant array of meals for our students to enjoy that are both delicious and nutritious (I sound like a commercial!). Our Food Service also offers some wonderful items on an “a la carte” basis. Pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, hamburg and cheeseburger as well as a variety of cold sandwiches, salads and snacks. These are priced individually and the students can use their Pre-Paid account to purchase.

Families can use this pre-paid account system so that they don’t have to remember to give their children cash each day to eat lunch. Here is a link to the on-line pre-paid system that families can use to keep track of their account balances and to receive warnings when the account drops to a certain level and needs to be replenished.

We don’t ever want to withhold lunch from a child, and we won’t, however, sometimes, we do have accounts that go seriously into a negative balance. This causes a problem for your child and for the Food Service people, who need to be responsible to the taxpayers of Gorham and not become a burden on the school budget.

We recognize that family situations change over time and the family finances sometimes cause a struggle. We want to be able to continue to provide nutritious lunches for all of our students. There are some programs that can help, and if you give me a call I can confidentially steer you in the right direction to obtain information about these programs.

In the meantime, I will be reaching out to the people who are carrying negative balances to see if we can work out a plan to bring these balances into line with the program, If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call the Food Service staff or me.

Winter Fever Reliever

This information is from Tracy Williamson and has been sent to all of you in an email. This sounds like a really fun evening of music!

On Sunday, March 19th, the Gorham Middle School and High School Steel Bands will be performing a benefit concert with the Portland based steel band, Sister Steel.  The benefit is to raise money for our registration fee for the New England Steel Pan Festival that is to be held at Thompson’s Point on May 7th.
The event is from 6-8:30pm in the GMS cafeteria with a suggested donation at the door.
We are also looking for people to donate food items to a bake sale/snack concessions table for the event.  If anyone would like to contribute something, please let me know!  The steel band parents and Sister Steel are making crockpot meals and traditional foods from Trinidad for the event too.
Come enjoy some steel pan music, food and dancing on the 19th!  Hope to see you there!

Proficiency Based Learning

Imagine, if you will, (cue the Twilight Zone music) you are once again sixteen years old. You are sitting in the driver’s seat of your fathers four-door sedan, with the white walled tires, waiting for the man from the Registry of Motor Vehicles to slide into the passenger seat to administer your driving portion of the test for your first driver’s license.

The palms of your hands are dripping with sweat, so much so that your are not sure that you will be able to hold the steering wheel steady. Your armpits are moist and your heart rate is preparing to break land-speed records. You have studied the drivers manual, taken all of the drivers ed classes and completed at least 30 hours of driving with your mom or your dad, and it seems like years for them. You know you’re ready, but you’re still petrified!

The passenger door opens and the man dressed in the uniform of the Registry of Motor Vehicles slides into the passenger seat and begins to give you instructions about where to go and what to do.

Not ideal conditions for test taking, but it is what it is, and you fail to make a full stop at the stop sign (although, you’re sure you did!) and you FAIL your driving test and do not get your license!

Lots of tears and self doubt but, the world does not end. You go back to a few more driving practices with Mom or Dad, or, maybe that uncle who seems to show a whole lot more patience than Mom or Dad when you downshift to second instead of upshifting to fourth! The practice seems to work, your uncle has given you a pep talk to get you ready, and you return to the Registry of Motor Vehicles for another go at the “TEST”.

Alas, the pep talk didn’t work and you, once again, failed your driving test.

Let’s say you fail this test a third time, and now you’re wondering if driving is something that you really should be doing. You give it one more shot and, you PASS!

The Registry does not place any special restrictions on your license. There isn’t some kind of sticker that says “Took 3 times to pass”. You pass and you now have your license to drive.

Wouldn’t it be silly if the Registry used the average of all of your scores to determine if you could get your license. “Well, you failed the first 3 times you took the test, so you need to pass the test 4 times to get a passing grade on the driving test!”. That would be silly, and a waste of time for all. Or, worse, the Registry decided that your fails were so terrible they determine you will never get a license.

That’s just not the way the real world works, we just don’t average the things that really count. Yet, for more than 100 years, this is what we have been doing to students. One colossal fail on “the test” and you can never get your average up high enough to pass the course.

There are a plethora of examples of how real doesn’t match what we do in schools and, yet we continue the practice because… well, I don’t know because.

Will Richardson is a self-described parent, author, speaker, instigator, blogger about the web and its effects on school and learning. He is the co-publisher of ModernLearning.com and he can be followed on Twitter at @willrich45. I have been following him for several years now, and each time I read one of his blog posts, I am reminded about why I got into education in the first place.

I think the most profound phrase he uses that continues to stick with me more and more each day is “…trying to the wrong things right…”. When you think about our Core Beliefs here in Gorham this is what they say:

Each student is unique and learns in different ways and at different rates.

And yet, we continue to move students through school in similar age groupings. We also provide 51 minutes for math learning, 51 minutes for science learning, and so on. Our Core Beliefs have much more than just this and, I believe that every teacher, support staff and administrator in our district wants for each of our students to be successful in their life.Yet, we continue to try to get better at doing more of the same!

I’ve ranted on long enough. I am including a link to something from ModernLearning.com that came across my Twitter feed over the vacation. This can voice what I am so woefully explaining far better. I hope you enjoy.
https://medium.com/modern-learning/9-elephants-in-the-class-room-that-should-unsettle-us-8335b2cef9aa#.gp35fnw0n

Week of Feb 6

topperMiddle

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Upcoming Important Dates

Feb 9 thru 12 – Gorham High School Spring Musical at MAPC
Feb 10 – Parent Meet-up 6:00 pm GMS Library
Feb 10 – School Dance 6:00 – 8:00 pm Gymnasium
Feb 15 – Early Release Day, students dismissed at 11:10
Feb 16 – PIE Meeting, GMS Library 6:00 pm (see agenda below)
Feb 17 – School Winter Vacation Begins
Feb 27 – Students return from Mid-Winter Break

Congratulations to the New England Patriots

I know that this morning we had a whole bunch of bleary-eyed people enter this building this morning, and a few bleary-eyed students too!

It was definitely a night for the ages and one that we all will remember with great fondness… unless you are not from New England! In any event, they certainly provided a lot of fodder for talk around the water cooler.

GHS Presentation of Footloose

Are you looking for some great entertainment next weekend? Can I suggest that you head on over to the Gorham High School MPAC to take in the GHS students’ rendition of the smash Broadway hit and the answer to many Kevin Bacon questions, Footloose. As in every other presentation of our wonderfully talented “former Gorham Middle School” students, this promises to be a night of great music and dancing. And who would pass up a chance to see Rocky Meyers on stage!?

Presentation are Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights,performances beginning at 7:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday matinees beginning at 2:00 pm

School Dance and Parent Meet-up

In conjunction with our monthly school dance, the Gorham Action Team for Youth (GATY) will be sponsoring a Parent Meet-up beginning at 6:00 pm in the GMS Library. The dance goes from 6:00 to 8:00 pm in the Gym.

GMS Social Worker, Cynthia Grover and GHS Substance Abuse Counselor, Claudine Emerson will host parents, answer questions and provide resources for parents who are questioning about the risky behaviors that are present in our community.

Last week, I sent out a letter to all parents and guardians about one such risky behavior, the Choking Game, explaining some of the tell-take signs your child might be engaging in this risky behavior.

If you decide to accompany your child to the dance, your child will be admitted to the dance for free and you’ll get some great information and meet two great resources (Cynthia and Claudine) to help you, and I’ll bet there will be some refreshments of some type!

We hope to see many of you at this very beneficial event!

Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey

Monday morning, all of our students will be taking the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey. The survey is a collaboration of the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. These agencies will use the information gained from these surveys to help these departments in determining how they will utilize their resources.

We will get the results of this survey sometime late in the Spring or early Summer. We will share this with all of you when we get it back.

Early Release Day

On Wednesday, February 15, GMS students will be dismissed at 11:10 am. The Gorham Parks and recreation Department have planned a couple of activities for students to enjoy after they are dismissed.

Here are two fliers with he details of each activity. If you are interested in having your child participate, you must contact the Recreation Department directly.

PIE Meeting February 16

We will be holding another PIE Meeting in the GMS Library on Thursday evening beginning at 6:00 pm.

Last month, we talked about the process of moving the school to a Proficiency Based Learning system, and all that it entails. The conversation was lively, and there were still some questions left to answer and still more information that needs to be developed. This could be the top topic of the conversation, as could anything else folks would like to discuss.

I hope we see many of you there.

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

Selected 8th grade students will be administered the NAEP this coming Friday, during the school day. This is an assessment that we do not control, it comes straight from the US Department of Education. The results of this assessment, which is being given across the country to selected schools and students, will be used to determine the progress of our students in grades 5, 8 and 11.

To learn more about the NAEP and its purpose, check out this link.

Mid-Winter School Vacation Break

Mid-Winter School Vacation will begin at dismissal on Friday, February 17. Students will be dismissed at the regular time.

Here at couple of things that parents will need to know:

  • Students will return to school on Monday, February 27.
  • Student Laptops will be kept at school over the break for inventory and damage assessments.

We hope that all enjoy a restful mid-winter break. Hopefully, we don’t have too many snow storms!

Real Learning

I cam across this video this weekend and it really struck a chord with me when I think about learning. Not just learning in school, but learning while living your life. I hope you enjoy it