Bullying Behaviors and School Dances

topperMiddle

GSD LogoUpcoming Important Dates

Sep 21 & 22 – Maine Boys to Men and Hardy Girls Healthy Women
Sep 24 – 28 – Moving Naturally Week (see info below)
Sep 26 – Civil Rights Team Training – Portland
Sep 26 – Parent Summit on Bullying 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Sep 29 – End of STAR 360 testing
Sep 28 & 29 – Maine Boys to Men and Hardy Girls Healthy Women
Sep 29 – Announced Lockdown Drill 12:30 pm
Oct 5 – Maine Boys to Men and Hardy Girls, Healthy Women
Oct 6 – Teacher Workshop Day – No School for Students
Oct 10 – Columbus Day Holiday, No School
Oct 13 – School Dance sponsored by the 7th Grade

Addressing Bullying Behaviors

We are taking several steps to address the behaviors of our students toward each other that has created issues within the school culture for the past few years.

We are engaged several organizations to help us address the manner in which our students deal effectively and positively with each other:

  • Rand Corporation –We are involved in a multi-school, multi year long study on the role of Restorative Practices in reducing the incidences of bullying behaviors. Our students have taken surveys, our faculty has been and will continue to be trained in the Restorative Practices.
  • Maine Boys to Men – Boys to Men is a non-profit organization in Maine. They have been operating for almost 20 years with middle and high schools across the state. The goal of the program is to help boys understand the stereotypical nature our culture can apply to the genders and help the students better understand their role.
  • Hardy Girls, Healthy Women – Another Maine non-profit that works with young women in middle and high schools to help them understand and come to grips with the cultural expectations of being a women today.
  • Opportunity Alliance – A Community Action Agency for Cumberland County serving more than 20,000 people. The have access to services and resources to aid in our goals to reduce the negative behaviors of our students.
  • Gorham Action Team for Youth (GATY) – GATY is a group organized within Gorham to work to provide positive alternative activities for our youth of Gorham.
  • Civil Rights Team – Team of GMS Students who are passionate about making GMS a safe and welcoming environment for all students at GMS.

To begin, we have Maine Boys to Men and Hardy Girls, Healthy Women meeting with our students for 4 sessions over the next four weeks. This will help give us a common language to use with our students. These meetings begin this week and run until the first week in October.

We have schedule a Parent Evening on Tuesday, September 26 at 6:00 pm in the GMS Auditorium. You will meet several of the people we will be working with over the course of the coming year. At this meeting, we will also begin to map out a community plan for addressing these behaviors as a community.

We will be holding several of the evening events throughout the school year to address these behaviors among our students. We look forward to seeing many of you there.

Moving Naturally Week

Happy Heathy Gorham (HHG) is a group formed last year with the aim of making Gorham the “happiest and healthiest town in Maine. Over the course of the school year, HHG will be sponsoring four weeks of activities aimed to provide healthy and happy citizens of Gorham. The four themed weeks will be Moving Naturally Week in September, Kindling Kindness in November, Growing Gratitude in February, Eating Well in April.

The week of September 24 will be Moving Naturally week and Gorham Middle School will be joining in the activities. All week long students will count their steps for the day and we will record our progress each day. We are looking to track our progress toward one million steps for the week on our web page, so that the community can watch our progress.

We are also planning a “Walking School Bus” for Wednesday where students will get off the bus at the high school and we will have several teacher and parent volunteers along the path through the neighborhood as the students walk to the middle school.

Finally, during our advisory periods each day students will engage in activities organized by our Health and Physical Education Teachers to provide for movement during the day.

If you would like to volunteer with the walking school bus, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Heidi McGouldrick at GMS.

Lock Down Drill

We will conduct an announced Lock Down Drill on Friday, September 29. We announce this first drill so that we can make sure that all of our school community is ready to execute all of the protocols we have set up for the safety of the school. We will hold at least one more drill during the school year, which will be unannounced. We will send out a blackboard message at the beginning and at the end of the drill to let all families know of the drill.

School Dances

Each month, we hold school dances for the students of Gorham Middle School. Many of our students look forward to these dances as a great way to enjoy the company of their fellow students. Adam Parvanta, our resident (well now at GHS!) DJ keeps the music upbeat (and G Rated) and works the dance with precision and with engaging activities for all of the students.

These dances have also allowed the middle school to forgo many of the extra fundraising activities that we have done in the past. It is very rare when your child will come home from the middle school asking you to buy wrapping paper or magazine subscriptions. All of the money raised at the dances goes to each of the grade level teams to help pay for field trips and other activities.

One thing that I have noticed in the most recent dances, the end of last year and the beginning of the year, is the idea that the dance is somehow a place to dress up and to have a “date” for the dance. While I can’t tell anyone who they can come to the dance with, I do want to encourage all parents that “going with someone” or “dating” at the middle school level is strongly discouraged. This sort of behavior is not developmentally appropriate for students at middle school and, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia could lead to higher dropout rates.

Beside the longer term negative effects of “dating” in middle school, the shorter term impact is that our students are not ready for the responsibilities of “dating” and  it creates all sorts of drama in school, which creates conflict between and among student. I know that most parents may not even be aware that their child is “dating” in middle school, but I would ask that all parents have a conversation with their child about this. I would also suggest that reading this article first may help.

Circle These Dates

In an attempt to give you a “heads up” on important dates a little further out in the future:

October 25 & 26 – Parent Teacher Conferences
November 6 – Parent Night on “How to Read My Child’s Report Card 6:00 PM

I’ll Finish with a Short Video

This video is just a part of a longer TED talk by Sugata Mitra given in 2013 at the TED Conference in Long Beach, California. It truly will pique your interest and if you’d like to see the entire talk (23 minutes long) you can see it at TED.com

Here is just the first 5 minutes of the video from Youtube:

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.