Summertime, and the Livin’ is Easy!

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Upcoming Important Dates

Aug 29 – First day of school for 6th Graders
Aug 30 – First Day of school for 7th & 8th Graders
Sep 2 – No School Labor – Long Labor Day Weekend
Sep 5 – Labor Day No School
Sep 8 – School Picture Day
Sep 8 – Vision & Hearing Screening day
Sep 12 & 13 -MLTI Parent Information Evening
Sep 16 – School Dance

Student Placement

We have completed the placement process for all of our students for the next school year. The process is exhausting and extensive and it is one that we take very seriously. We take information from parents and the students’ teachers to make sure we put together combinations that make sense for the entire school. We also work hard to make sure that students have at least one friend on their team (usually, they have many friends with them!).  In any event, since the 8th grade is housed in one wing of the school, it is very likely that they will still have plenty of time for socializing with friends.

Our goal is to have teams that resemble the grade as a whole, in other words, a heterogeneous group of students with similar strengths and similar challenges. We endeavor to make sure that no one team can be perceived as the team that has far more of one type of student over another.

(Side note: In some of the emails and telephone calls we have received, parents have objected to their child being placed on the team with all of the Special Education students, or the behavior students, or, that another team has all of the “college-bound” students. This is why we do this exhausting process, to keep this from happening)

We also understand that sometimes we don’t get it right. We have set out a protocol for parents top voice their concern and request a change of team. To do so, parents must demonstrate one of the following four possibilities in making the request:

  1. Prior negative experience with the student and a teacher on the team;
  2. Prior negative experience with a sibling or family member and a teacher on the team;
  3. An issue between another student on the team that rises to the level of civil or legal involvement, and;
  4. A teacher on the team who is a relative and placement could cause a problem.

Short of meeting any of these conditions, we are restricted from moving students off a team.

There is a bit of hope, however, we know that over the course of the summer students move in and students move away. We are committed to making our teams representative of the grade as a whole. In late August, when we begin to receive the transfer requests, we re-examine the make up of each team and make adjustments at that time. In the past, we have had to move students to different teams.

What we cannot allow is the idea of “team or teacher shopping”. Making requests for a particular team or teacher would complicate the process to the extent that it would be impossible to keep the mix of students representative of the whole grade.

If I could pass on a little bit of wisdom that I have gained over the years, first as a parent, and then as a middle school administrator, kids are incredibly resilient. What appears to be the crisis to end all crises, can be mollified with time.

Finally, I am happy to meet with any parent to talk about each of the teams at our grade levels. We are incredibly blessed at Gorham Middl School because we have some very talented, dedicated teachers who go more than above and beyond to provide our students with great learning experiences.

 Supply Lists for 2016-2017 School Year

I figured that I would try to beat Staples, Wa;smart and Office Max to the punch and get our supply lists out to all well before the “Back-to-School Sale Season” starts. I want to temper these lists a little bit by reminding you that your child does not need  to have all of these supplies for the first day of school, these are meant to last for the entire year, so you might be able to ease into the purchasing a bit.

I have updated our GMS Webpage with the complete lists for each team. Follow this link to the GMS page and scroll down to “Supplies List” section. Please be very mindful of the amount of supplies your child will need. Also, if you are experiencing financial difficulties, please don’t hesitate to call me. We do have some supplies available for students, if necessary. I will keep any information in complete confidence.

Summer Reading for a Principal

Summer is the time that I can settle in for an afternoon of enjoyable reading. Maybe some history about General George Washington and the American Revolution, or John Sanford novel with Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, those are always interesting, if not a bit gruesome.

But for now, I am elbow deep into Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith’s Most Likely to Succeed (MLS). Tony Wagner has been featured in this blog on a couple of occasions, both in video and in print. I appreciate his take on the challenges we are facing in preparing pour kids for their future. Ted Dintersmith is new to me. The book jacket says he is a venture capitalist who has turned his attention to improving our educational system in a manner that is quite different than other wealthy people are suggesting.

As I said, I am only elbow deep into this book with lots more reading and understanding to do.

About a year ago, Ted Dintersmith was in Fargo, North Dakota, attending a TEDx conference. He delivered this address about his ideas and talked about the documentary he financed about education across the country. So far, I have been completely enthralled with everything Wagner and Dintersmith have said about how our education system needs to be more responsive to the needs of our future. I think we’ll be talking about this more in the coming months. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy his speech from Fargo.

Summertime, A Time for Learning

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Monday, August 31 – 6th Graders’ first day of school
Tuesday, September 1 – First day for 7th & 8th Graders
Friday, September 4 – No School
Monday, September 7 – Labor Day Holiday, No School

Student Placement

We have taken quite a few phone calls and emails regarding the placement of your kids on teams for the coming year, although not more than in the years past. It is always good to review the process we use in assigning students to their new teams and our reasons why we do it.

We have three academies teams at each grade level, each grade has a 4-person team and a 2-person team. The 7th and 8th grade have a 3-person team and the 6th grade, for the first time in several years have two 4-person teams, the result of a dramatic increase in the number of 5th graders coming from the elementary schools.

Our goal is to create teams at each grade level that are very similar in make up as the entire grade. We consider things like the proportion of males to females, the number of students receiving Special Education services, the number of students who receive services through our Gifted and Talented Program and students who have demonstrated behavioral issues in the past few years. We examine the results of the students NWEA assessments given during the current school year and the results of NECAP scores in previous years. This information helps us to make sure that we distribute all sorts of learners to each team.

We also ask parents fro  information on their children. You may remember that many of you completed a form (online this year for the first time!) answering, in a “million words or less”, questions about what your child found challenging in the current year, what your concerns are for your child in the coming year and anything that you wanted to tell us about your child as a learner.

We finally asked the current year teachers about the make-up of the teams. We asked if they noticed any combinations that may create a problem, should we pair students with another students, because they work well together. We also asked if their was anything that they saw in the teams that should be addressed.

Then we assigned the students to teams.

As you can imagine, this is a very tedious, human-intensive process, and we are bound to make mistakes or miss something. However, once the teams are created, it becomes very difficult to make changes, not impossible, but very difficult. The district has devised a protocol for making changes that all schools must follow. In order to make changes, one of these conditions must exist:

    1. Prior negative experience with a particular teacher and your child
    2. Prior negative experience with a teacher and a sibling,
    3. Significant conflict with a particular student (“significant meaning restraining order, protection for abuse, etc.)
    4. Relative or close friend or neighbor which could cause discomfort in the relationship.

As a final caveat to this protocol, we always have several students move out of the district and several students move into the district. Remembering that we want all of the teams to be a microcosm of the entire grade level, we will re-examine the team make-up in late August to see if adjustments need to be made. We will then call folks who have expressed interest in changing their child’s team, but do not meet any of the above conditions to see if they still want a change. Then we try our best to accommodate s many requests as we can.

Student Supply Lists

During the step up day, back in June, each team gave their new students a list of the supplies that they School Supplieswill need for the coming year. Now, I don’t think for a minute that these lists actually made it out of every student’s backpack. I want to encourage each of you to wait before you head out to Staples or Walmart to purchase each of the items on the list that probably never made it home.

We will post on our web site the lists for each team, but, I promise you, your child will not need all of the supplies on the first day of school! My hope is that we can be a bit more judicious with our list and try to reduce the cash layout for parents!

The Gift of Failure and What is “Grit”

Over the summer months, I have been fortunate to have some of the good people I follow on Twitter offer some very interesting ideas on the work that we do with our kids.

gift of failureJessica Lahey is a parent, a middle school teacher and an author who regularly contributes to the New York Times, Altlantic and is seen occasionally on the TODAY Show, as well as Vermont Public Radio. She writes about her experiences with her kids and her students. Of the many people I follow on Twitter, she regularly offers the most sound and reasonable advise in how to deal with our kids who are at a very vulnerable and precarious stage in their young lives. I value each and every morsel of information she offers because it is based in reality and not coming from the theoretical lab.

She has authored a new book called The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. The book is expected to be released later in August and it is available on Amazon for pre-purchase.

This is from the back cover of the book:

Modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness: parents now rush to school to deliver forgotten assignments, challenge teachers on report card disappointments, mastermind children’s friendships, and interfere on the playing field. As teacher, journalist, and parent Jessica Lahey explains, even though these parents see themselves as being highly responsive to their children’s well-being, they aren’t giving them the chance to experience failure—or the opportunity to learn to solve their own problems.

Everywhere she turned, Lahey saw an obvious and startling fear of failure—in both her students and in her own children. This fear has the potential to undermine children’s autonomy, competence, motivation, and their relationships with the adults in their lives. Providing a clear path toward solutions, Lahey lays out a blueprint with targeted advice for handling homework, report cards, social dynamics, and sports. Most important, she sets forth a plan to help parents learn to step back and embrace their children’s setbacks along with their successes.

I offer this information, not as an indictment on our communities parenting skills, but as a reminder that our kids are just that, KIDS! That means they will sometimes (some more than others) be forgetful. They will, in act, make mistakes and sometimes do things that we find absolutely inconceivable! But, they are still kids.

It also means that our teachers need to remember this as well, our kids are kids, prone to mistakes and failures as we work with them.

Joe Bower was a classroom teacher in a Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, middle school.More recently, he has left the traditional classroom to teach at a local hospital in Red Deer providing short term crisis stabilization and inpatient assessments  to children under the age of 18 who present a wide-range of mental heath related difficulties. (joebower.org).

Joe is a prolific blogger on education issues facing his school and his Province. He writes about a wide-range of issues that impact education.

In his blog… for the love of learning… dated December 12, 2013 and entitled, let them eat grit:four reasons why grit is garbage, he does a great job of dispelling our misguided ideas that our kids who areJoe Bower struggling only need to “buck up”, “stiffen their back”, “don’t give up” in order to succeed in school.

Joe does a great job of identifying those students we claim “need to show more grit” in order to succeed. He puts it this way:

When pundits call for more grit and resiliency, they aren’t talking about all children. No one is demanding that high-scoring students show more grit. When people call for more grit they are talking about the low scorers — and we know the low scorers tend to be children who are English language learners, special needs, living in poverty, suffering from mental health problems or are for complex reasons generally difficult to educate.

And, when we truly think about the kids we want to demonstrate more grit, he is spot on! Sure, we have a lot of students who appear to be from wonderful families, and they are, but we don’t know what happens when our kids leave school each day.

But the most important takeaway from this post by Joe are these words:

 Challenging one’s own practices and system priorities can be tough but nothing will ever change and schools will never improve as long as we place all the responsibility for change and improvement on students and schools.

Think about this. We spend a great deal of time in test preparation and angst about the results of standardized testing. We write, and re-write, curriculums to align with the Common Core State Standards or the Next Generation Science Standards or the myriad of other mandated standards aimed at our students, and then lament that they aren’t producing the results we want.

The better question is, “What are we doing in our classrooms that is different?” Are we still assigning lots of homework and rueing the the fact that some of our kids never get it passed in? Are we assigning worksheets and getting upset when they aren’t done?” Do we worry that the students are using technology to copy and paste their assignments, and then sharing them with their classmates?

We all know the answers to these questions band yet, we soldier on with what we have always done, albeit with our attempts to change.

So, let me ask you, is anyone interested in continue this conversation? If so, please drop me an email and we’ll set up a group!

 

Getting Ready for The New School Year

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Tuesday, August 26 – GMS Open House 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Wednesday, August 27 – 1st Day of school for 6th grade
Thursday, August 28 – 1st Day of school for grades 7 & 8
Friday, August 29 – No School
Monday, September 1 – Labor Day, No School
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, September 10, 11 & 12 – Tooth Fairies
Monday, September 15 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – Picture Day, Vision & Hearing Screening

Not to be a “Debbie Downer!”

I know that summer is just beginning, and we are all still formulating plans for that fishing trip or family gathering. I, too, really don’t want to be thinking about this, but as the great philosopher Yoda says “think, we must”.

So, with that in mind, we have scheduled to GMS Open House for the evening of August 26th from 6:00 – 7:00 pm. Teachers will be in their rooms to meet the parents and guardians of their new students. We all hope to see you all there. It will be a great time to meet our “old” staff and the new faces that will be joining the GMS Family for the coming year.

Student Handbook Revisions

As we do each summer, we examine our Student Handbook for areas where we need to make changes. We intend to publish the Student Handbook in Ibook Author which will allow everyone to see it, regardless of what computer platform you use. It should also be available on other devices as well, such as smart phone and tablets.

The area that seems to cause the most concern and consternation is our dress code! Given that styles are ever changing, and the retailers are marketing specifically to our aged kids with an eye toward making them seem older than the really are, becomes a problem for most middle schools.

We, meaning me, really struggle with writing a dress code that does not single out one gender over the other, and yet most dress codes seem to do exactly that.

In our school, our male students have eschewed the baggy, low riders that displayed their boxers. A couple of years ago, the skinny jeans were in style for many of our male students, but that, too seems to have passed. We now have the yoga pants fad going through our school for our female students, and that seems to be causing quite a stir among our faculty as well as around the country.

I have done a little research on this in the past week and I have discovered that we definitely are not alone with this issue. Seems that schools all across the country are facing this new fad. How they are responding to their girls wearing yoga pants, which tend to be body conforming, is not unexpected, they are banning their students from wearing them.

I am not sure we are sending an appropriate message when we ban things like yoga pants from schools because it is, in fact, gender specific. In some manner, it may be perceived that the “good order of the school” relies on what the girls are wearing, this somehow feels unbalanced.

I have survived the middle school years, albeit 15 to 20 years ago. The schools my kids went to had dress codes that restricted what the students could wear. I didn’t find that I had to fight too much with my kids about what they wore, mostly because my and I bought their clothes, and we didn’t purchase the kinds of clothes that made my daughter look older than she was. Also, she was quite level headed and involved in other things to worry about what she wore.

It also helped that I was teaching at the school and she didn’t have the opportunity to leave the house wearing one set of clothes and then changing into other clothes when she got to school. This has happened with several of our students in the past year!

In any event, we will be making some adjustments to our dress code this summer. We will try mightily to make sure that we do not isolate on one gender with too many restrictions. And, we will be asking parents to be mindful as the  begin the process of “Back-To-School” shopping of succumbing to the wishes of “Madison Avenue” and the Disney Channel Kids shows, and looking for clothes that will be functional for school, easy on the pocket book and doesn’t make you child look 5 years older than they really are!

As an aside, I came across this article from an Evanston, Illinois newspaper about the dress code at one of their middle schools. I think you’ll find this interesting! Haven Middle School Dress Code Protest

Student Placement Issues

We have received a few calls and emails regarding the placement of kids on teams for next year. I appreciate all of you for understanding our process of placement and the lengths we go to to try and make teams that make sense for our entire school. We do try to make sure that each child has  friend with them on their team. In some cases, we have even been able to get friends in the same advisory, but not always!

Just a reminder about requesting changes of placement for your child. We have four possible conditions to which we can respond:

  • Negative prior experience with your child and a particular teacher;
  • Prior negative experience with an older sibling and a particular teacher;
  • Issue with another student that rises to the level of legal action between the families, and;
  • A neighbor, relative or close friend as the teacher that would create an uncomfortable situation for the child, teacher or family.

We will be back in the office during the second week of August, so if you have any questions regarding placement, you can call us then. You can also email us if you have a question that we can answer. We do monitor our emails often during the summer.

 Student Supply Lists

At the annual step up day this past June, your child should have received a supplies list from their next year team. The list usually includes items such as notebooks, 3-ringed binders, pencils, pens, index cards, markers, etc. I know these are all very important items for school. I also know that your child will want to feel prepared when they arrive at school on that first day. So, that means that you will begin hearing about all of the things that will be “necessary” on that first day of school.

I have cautioned the teachers to make sure that all requested supplies are “necessary” and just “what we have always done”. I can assure you that no child will be made to feel uncomfortable on those first days of school if they don’t have everything on their supply list!

I have always been shocked by the total  cost of all of the items on these lists. I must say, however, our teachers do a really good job of keeping the lists short, but, depending on grade level and team, the cost of all of the items on the list can exceed $100! And some of the items will not be needed until 2nd semester!

So, please use your best judgment, not about what is on the list, nut about what you can reasonably afford, when you head out for back to school shopping. (there, I said “Back to School”!)

Summer Reading Recommendations fro CommonSenseMedia.com

CommonSenseMedia Over the past several years, I have recommended CommonSenseMedia.com as a great resource for all things about your kids. Things like newly released movies and video games, ideas about how to help your child deal with issues about bullying, and so many more topics. Here is a review of some books for teens from 12 to 17 years old that might help both you and your child pick out some interesting summer reading books.

CommonSenseMedia not only makes a recommendation according to genre and style, they also give you a very nice synopsis of the book to help you decide if it is right for your child. Check them out at CommonSenseMedia. While you’re visiting the site, check out all of the other great features they offer to parents to help you deal with technology, video games and even friendships.

 

 

And now, the end is near –Frank Sinatra

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Important Upcoming Dates

Monday, June 16 – 8th Grade to Range Pond
Tuesday, June 17 – K-9 Step up day (more information below)
Tuesday, June 17 – Celebration of Middle School 6:00 pm, GMS Gymnasium
Wednesday, June 18 – Last day of school, students dismissed at 11:10 am
Wednesday, August 27 – 1st day of school for 6th grade only
Thursday, August 28 – All students arrive at school
Friday, August 29 – No School
Monday, September 1 – Labor Day Holiday, No school

Step Up Day for All Students

We will be welcoming our newest students to the Middle School on Tuesday, June 17. The 5th grade students will arrive, via school bus, from their respective elementary schools at 9:30 am and proceed directly to the GMS Auditorium to meet their new advisors. Upon the arrival of the 5th graders, the 8th grade students will board the buses for their second trip to the high school.

The current 5th, 6th and 7th graders will meet their new teams and teachers and be given a very brief look into what a day will be when the arrive on their first days of school. All students will meet their new advisors and get to know those who will be with them each morning for the next year.

The 5th graders will be returned to the Auditorium at 10:45 and all other students will return to their “this year’s” teachers for completion of the rest of the day. The 5th graders will board their buses to return to their respective elementary schools at 11:00 am.

Student Placement

We begin the process of placing students in March by asking for parent input into their child’s learning style, concerns and success. We complete the process on Step Up day when we assign all students to their new advisors and teams. In between those two events there is a considerable amount of work. We include the child’s current teachers, the School Counselors and the School Social Workers. Finally, we ask the administrators to examine the lists to see if there may be something we may have missed.

We know that on Step Up day, students will still come home complaining about their team, not having any friends with them, etc. in spite of our best efforts. There are only four possible conditions under which we may be allowed to switch a student’s team, They are:

Prior negative experience with a particular teacher and your child,
Prior negative experience with a teacher and a sibling,
Significant conflict with a particular student (“significant meaning restraining order, protection for abuse, etc.)
Relative or close friend or neighbor which could cause discomfort in the relationship.

In any event, we will not be doing any possible changes in placement until late August, after we have examined any new student arrivals or departures.

8th Grade Celebration

For the past few months, several groups of parents have been busy planning and preparing for the final Celebration of Middle School for our departing 8th graders. I am excited about the send off for this great class that these folks have planned. I am sure that the kids will have a great time and it will be a fitting lasting memory of their time here at Gorham Middle School.

The evening begins with what I call the “Parent Portion” of the event. We will gather in the Gymnasium, beginning at 5:30 pm with the slide show of pictures submitted by the families of our 8th grade students. Seating is on a first-come-first-served basis and we have always had plenty of space available for all who want to attend.

The formal portion of the vent will begin promptly at 6:00 pm and should last about an hour. After the formal portion, our 8th graders will gather in the cafeteria for one final evening of dancing and enjoying the sounds of DJ Adam Parvanta. There will be food available for the students and lots of sweets and other “teen-like” food.

The dance will end at 9:00 pm and we ask that the students be picked up at that time.

Laptop Turn in and Repairs

The students are currently turning in their laptops for the year. This is a fairly cumbersome process as we ask the students to remove any work that they want to save that wasn’t saved to the “Cloud” and any music or games they downloaded to the device needs to either be saved to their ITunes account or they will lose them. We have give the students time to complete this process and we are now collecting them from each grade level.

Once we collect them, we will examine each device for damage to the case, keyboard, display screen. We will examine the “innards” for damage to moisture sensors to see if any of them may have been tripped by a spill.

If we determine that there has been some damage, we will contact the parents of the students and give them a list of the damages and what will be necessary to bring the device back to working order. This will be done either by phone call or through first class mail.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

GMS Summer Reading List

Each year, GMS School Librarian, Kathy Marquis puts together a list of books that would interest our students for summer time reading.

We all know that summer is filled lots of outdoor activities and family vacations, but we also know there needs to be time to keep the momentum for reading up. I can’t think of a better activity on a rainy day, or first thing in the morning before getting out of bed or in the afternoon after a swim in the lake, and always, before turning out the lights for the night. Here is Kathy’s list:

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library – Chris Grabenstein
When a lock-in becomes a reality game, 12-year-old and his friends use library resources to find their way out of Alexandriaville’s new public library.

Deep Blue – Jennifer Donnelly
Uncovering an ancient evil, Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, searches for five other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas, to save their hidden world.

Always Emily: A Novel of Intrigue and Romance – Michaela MacColl
Young Emily and Charlotte Bronte investigate a possible connection between series of local burglaries and rumors that a neighbor’s death may not have been accidental.

Ashfall – Mike Mullin
A super volcano erupts in Yellowstone National Park, covering much of North America in volcanic ash and plunging the world into nuclear winter.

The Familiars – Adam Jay Epstein
The young wizards-in-training are kidnapped by an evil queen and their familiars, the alley cat, the blue jay and the tree frog. The familiars set out on a dangerous journey to rescue the boys.

Foul Trouble – College recruiters are trying to sign Terrell Jamerson, the #1 high school basketball player in the country. Not all of these recruiters are straight shooters.

How to Catch a Bogle – Catherine Jinks
In 1870’s London, a young orphan girl becomes the apprentice to a man who traps monsters for a living.

Malala Yousafzai – This is the biography of a Muslim teenage girl from Pakistan, whom the Taliban attempted to assassinate on October 9, 2012.

SYLO – Pemberwick Island, Maine is occupied by a Navy section called SYLO who claim a virus has been unleashed, but Tucker Pierce, who has seen a strange aircraft, realizes something else is going on.

The 5th Wave – Richard Yancey
Cassie Sullivan, the survivor of an alien invasion, must rescue her young brother from the enemy with help from a boy who may be one of them.

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures – Kate DiCamillo (2014 Newberry Award Winner)
A girl named Flora and a squirrel named Ulysses team up to conquer villains and protect the weak.

Each of these books are available at the Baxter Memorial Library this summer.

I also follow @pragmaticmom on Twitter and she has produce a wonderfully extensive list of books that are of high interest. She has broken the list down by genre and interest as well as supplying titles for students who may struggle. Please check out her list here. You may also want to follow her on Twitter, she has some great resources for parents of Middle School kids.

Finally…

At the risk of being too commercial and being seen as supporting a particular office supplies store, I offer the following video to celebrate the end of the school year… but remind you of the next school year.

 

Happy Memorial Day… When Does the Summer Weather Arrive???

topperMiddle

 Upcoming Important Dates

Monday, May 26 – Memorial Day Holiday – No School Thursday,
May 29 – Career Day for 8th graders – Details below
Thursday, May 29 – GMS Chorus Concert GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
Friday, May 30 – Gorham School Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast, GMS 10:00 am
Friday, May 30 – Gorham Chorus and Steel Band to OOB and Funtown
Wednesday, June 4 – Little River Team to Boston
Thursday, June 5 – Band Concert, GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
Friday, June 6 – Stroudwater Team to Portland Freedom Trail
Tuesday, June 10 – 8th Grade Step up Day (More info below)

New Email Addresses

We have switched our email provider and moved in the world of Google and Gmail. Beginning on May 14th our new email address are our FirstName.LastName@gorhamschools.org. If you have been trying to email at our old address, the emails probably got bounced back to you (or they’re still bouncing around in cyberspace!). We really are not trying to ignore you, please try again with the new email address. Sorry for any inconvenience.

8th Grade Step up Day

On June 10, our 8th graders will make their first trip to the High School to learn who their advisors will be, what their schedule will look like and run through a mini schedule of their classes. This will, hopefully, allow these soon-to-be-newly-minted First Year High School students to learn where their classes will be held and how to navigate the maze of hallways, that I have yet to solve, by the way. It will also help them when the upperclassmen and women try to explain to these first years that the pool is on the 3rd floor and they are expected to report there for swimming lessons.

In order to accomplish this we will be asking students who normally walk to the Middle School instead walk to the High School. For parents who normally drive their kids to school in the morning, to please bring them to the auditorium entrance to the high school by 7:50 and our busses will be letting our 8th graders off at the High School rather than bringing them to the Middle School.

We will be bringing the 8th graders back to the Middle School around 9:50 am.

Step Up Day for the Rest of the School

Students in grades 6 & 7 will have their step up day on Tuesday, June 17. Students will be given their schedules, team assignments and meet their new advisors as well as run through a mini schedule. We will get the exact schedule out to everyone after we arrange the transportation with our buses.

Student Placement

We have been working since mid-March gathering information from Parents and teachers to inform our decisions about student placement. Our goal when placing students is to create teams that our balanced in several categories, gender, achievement, behavioral, student identification (Special Education, Gifted and Talented) and other social issues. We try very hard to make each team a microcosm of the entire grade level. Sometimes we are more successful than others.

When your child receives their placement assignments on June 17, expect that they will come home and complain that they don’t know anyone on their team, or that their friends all got placed somewhere else. We have tried to take all of these questions into consideration and worked to make sure that students have at least one friend, or someone they seem to work well with, on their team. We do not take any requests for team changes in the days following step up day.

If you have concerns about your child’s placement, we have 4 possible considerations that would allow us to make a change of team:

Prior poor experience of the student with a teacher on the team
Prior poor experience with a sibling and a teacher, or teachers on a team
A teacher is a relative or close family friend and the parents chooses not put either student or teacher in a difficult situation
A legal issue with another student, or student’s family placed on the same team

Other than those four conditions, we cannot consider a team change.

Field Trip Season

At the end of the school year, many teams try to take advantage of the good weather (Really? This year!) and plan excursions outside of the school building. Teams will send home permission forms for parent signatures and to also inform the parents of where, when and why a trip is planned. Last week, I talked about the Funtown Physics Day fired trip for the 8th graders and, while many folks doubted my explanation that this trip was truly academic in nature, that is what we ask the teams to consider when planning their trips.

If you have any questions about field trips, I encourage you to contact your child’s team and ask your questions.

Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast

On Friday morning, May 30, the Gorham Schools will celebrate all of the wonderful people who volunteered their time to help in our schools. It is no small sacrifice for these folks to give up their time to come into our schools and work with all of our kids. It is also a tremendous aid to our schools to have caring adults who are exemplary role models for our students in demonstrating what it means to be an engaged citizen.

Please join us in celebrating all of the great accomplishments of our volunteers. The breakfast will begin at 9:00 am in the GMS Cafeteria.

The Concert Season

It is that time of year when our students get the chance to “Show off their Stuff” in the form of concerts for our community. We will begin with the annual Chorus and Steel Band Concert on Thursday evening at 6:00 pm. This jus a great show of wonderful songs with our Chorus, including several solos from some very talented students. On Friday, The Chorus and Steel Band students will travel to Loranger Middle School in Old Orchard Beach for an adjudicated show. An adjudicated show means that their will be judges who will rate their performance on a certain set of criteria. The kids really look forward to this concert and they really love the feed back they get from all of the judges.

Of course the students also love the fact that after the concert, they get to go to Funtown/Splashtown and perform again before enjoying the “fruits” of the park!

8th Grade Career Day

For the second year in a row we are working with our 8th graders to give them a small taste of what all of this education business they have been enduring the past 3 years (and more) is all about. We will be having several members of the business community coming into school to discuss their businesses and how they work as well as discussing the skills they needed to be an “employable commodity” for their bosses. We expect to start off the day with and exciting keynote speaker who will set the tone for the rest of the day. We plan to wrap up the day with several activities that will have the students processing and sharing with the classmates what they heard and what they learned.

I think the day will be engaging and informative for our students.

Mandarin Chinese and Asian Culture

This year we offered to several students an opportunity to be exposed to Chinese Culture and the Mandarin language. The students who participated in this offering surpassed our wildest expectations for what they would gain from this experience. We will again offer this experience to 7th and 8th grade students next year, beginning a month earlier than this year. We will partner with the Confucius Institute at the University of Souther Maine to offer the course 4 days per week to students in grades 7 & 8. The classes will meet during our EICAL period on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

If you are interested in having your child participate in this class, please contact me at School.