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.

 

Weekly Update, October 3, 2017

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GSD LogoUpcoming Important Dates

You can find all important dates for GMS activities at the link below. This is updated daily, so you can check it often!

GMS Daily Announcements

Teacher In-Service Day, October 6 & Holiday on Monday October 9

There will be no school for students on Friday, October 6 as teachers will be involved with a professional development day for the entire district. This will provide all families with an extra long four-day weekend. Students and teachers return to school on Tuesday, October 10.

Movie Screening and Parent Meet-up

We will be screening the film The Mask You Live In on Thursday evening, October 19 beginning at 6:00 pm. All parents are invited to attend the screening , which is free of charge and open to the public. Following the screening, Maine Boys to Men will facilitate a short discussion about the film.

This is part of our on-going effort to address our concerns as to the negative student interactions that have seemed to increase in the past few months.

This screening is for adults only, and will help us all better understand the world our children inhabit, complete with all of the pressures of social media, media representations of how life should be and where real life actually intersects with these stereotypical models presented to our children.

I hope that you can all join us for will be a thought-provoking evening.

School Dances

We have another school dance approaching, and we are hoping to straighten out a couple of misconceptions that have arisen lately.

These dances are invitation only. This means that we invite our students to join us for the dance. The invites can be reminded at anytime by administration. Some of the ways students lose their invite to a dance is as follows:

Throughout the year, dances may be held for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. They are always chaperoned by several teachers, willing parent volunteers and the school administrators. They are held on Fridays, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. in the gymnasium and drinks and snacks are available for purchase. Dress is expected to be appropriate for the activity and “dating” is strongly discouraged.

Parents must pick up their son or daughter promptly after the event, usually 8:00 pm. Students may not be allowed to attend a dance because of poor school behavior. The following rules will be followed while at the dances:

  • Only students from Gorham Middle School are invited to attend the dance. Students from any other school cannot attend. This would include visiting family members, students who attend private or parochial schools or charter schools.
  • The student is absent on the day of the dance. Only students who are present at school can attend the dance.
  • Similar to our guidelines for athletics, students must arrive at school prior to 9:00 am and must stay through the remainder of the day. Students who are dismissed by a parent for a doctor appointment, or such, may come to the dance. Students who are dismissed because of illness, may not attend the dance.
  • Students who have received 3 detentions in the period between the date of the last dance and the next dance, may not attend the dance.
  • Students who have been suspended from school, either in-house or out of school, may not attend the dance.
  • We realize that cell phones are an important communication tool with parents, and we expect students to have them so students can arrange pick up after the dance. However, we do not want students to be using them at the dance. We have had too many occurrences of students testing each other, using the camera or video function on their phones to create situations of conflict. Students who use their phone during the dance, will have the phone confiscated until the end of the dance.
  • Students are expected to dress in a fashion similar to the school day. We discourage students from dressing in formal attire, and the school dress code still applies.

These dances have been wonderful experiences for many of our students, students enjoy the school in a totally different setting than our traditional school day. They also enjoy seeing teachers and other adults in very different settings that usual, and that has been positive. Most, but unfortunately not all, enjoy the dances and rate these evenings as one of the more positive experiences of middle school. It is those few who seem to need to create the “drama” of conflict, that create problems for the whole. We are trying to reduce those episodes.

I plan to hold grade level assemblies with all students to review these rules for our dance. It would be very helpful to all of us if you would take a few minutes before the dance to make sure that your child understands the rules for the dance.

I would encourage all parents to volunteer to chaperone at least one dance during your child’s middle school life. It truly is an experience and one that will allow you to better understand what makes adolescents tick!

Parent Teacher Conferences

Please circle the dates of October 27 & 27 (Thursday and Friday) to meet with your child’s advisor. As we have done in the past, parents will meet with the child’s advisor to discuss student progress. Parents may request a time to meet with particular Content Area teachers if you fell the need.

Advisors will be meeting with teachers from within the Advisory Cluster to exchange information about student progress, so all advisors will be current with student progress. Also, students will be leading these conferences, helping parents make sense of the new formats of the JumpRope and Infinite Campus Report Cards.

You should be hearing from your child’s advisor shortly about scheduling your meeting time.

District Committee Opening

We are looking for a Middle School Parent to serve on a District-Wide K-12 Grading and Reporting Committee. The purpose of this committee is to collect data to monitor the success and challenges of implementation of our new grading practices across the K-12 system.  This data can be collected through student, staff, and parent pre and post surveys as well as through monitoring of student failure rates at the 6-12 level.  Other data collection methodologies can be determined by the group.  Once data is collected, this group will then make recommendations regarding any “tweaks” to our system and or plans for moving forward that need to be made in order to meet the needs of our students.  

The time commitment for this committee is one meeting per month for ten (10) months. The meeting duration is about 90 minutes and usually begin at 4:00 pm.

If you are interested in joining this committee please send me an email or call my office at 222-1228.

A Word from a Former MS Teacher on Grading

Rick Wormeli is an author of many books on teaching and learning as well as a noted national speaker on all things education. Rick is articulate, funny and concise. He makes his point with humor, but his perspective comes straight from the classroom and his actual experiences with adolescent learners. When he speaks, he speaks from experience… and he is fun to listen to!

Bullying Behaviors and School Dances

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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.