Dear Parents and Guardians,
I would like to begin by updating everyone on our plans for Wednesday, March 14. Since the school started planning this event with the Peace Club students as well as the 7th and 8th grade student leaders, our goal has been to provide them with the opportunity to raise their voices about promoting peace, kindness, and empathy. The majority of the planning process has been driven by the students. The adults’ role has been to guide students to consider how to keep the community safe during the event, as well to be mindful of the wide range of students’ needs.
We have decided to call the March 14th event the “Walk for Peace” instead of a “Walk Out”. The former conveys the message of unity as opposed to division. On March 14th at 10:00 am, 7th and 8th graders will have the opportunity to leave their classes and congregate in the North Gym. Students may choose to remain in their classes at this time if they prefer. No one is required to participate in the walk to the gym.
Once students gather in the gym, we will begin an assembly called “Let Us Be Heard” (a name created by the Peace Club students). During that time, student leaders will make speeches and make presentations focusing on the messages of peace, kindness, and empathy including reading the names of the Stoneman Douglas victims. Once the assembly concludes, students will return to their classes and proceed with the rest of the day.
Since our 5th and 6th grade students do not have the same level of awareness of the Parkland event as our older students but it is likely more and more of them will hear about the March 14th events being planned at the high school and the 7th and 8th grade level as we get closer to Wednesday, the middle school will be planning activities for our younger students so they can be part of the school-wide effort to promote peace, kindness, and empathy. On Monday and Tuesday, the 5th and 6th grade teachers will use part of their class time to have students reflect on the questions “What does peace mean to me?” and “How can I help create a peaceful community?” Students will write, draw, or create their individual messages about peace and kindness on a piece of paper and on Wednesday their teachers will lead them out of their classes and each student will post their message on blank banners created by members of the Peace Club. Fifth graders will do their “Walk for Peace” on Wednesday morning before the 7th and 8th grade event. The sixth graders will do their “Walk for Peace” on the afternoon after the 7th and 8th grade event. Ms. Osterholtz and Ms. Olsen’s students will be on a previously scheduled field trip to the Lowell Mills on Wednesday morning so they will perform their “Walk for Peace” on another day.
Please note that the focal point of the 5th and 6th grade event is not about the Stoneman Douglas shooting. The staff and I are not planning on initiating conversations with your students about that tragedy. If students do bring up the event during the “Walk for Peace” activity, we will continue our practice of referring them to you since we believe it is best for each family to determine how to address this subject matter with their children.
Here are some more updates and reminders for the week:
Interim Counselor – I would like to welcome Ms. Catherine Mandeville to our faculty. She will serve as the interim counselor for this year’s 6th graders as well as the 5th grade students in Ms. Glinka, Mr. Gannon, and Ms. Olsen’s homerooms since Ms. Liza Tierney left our district last Friday. Ms. Mandeville served as a School Based Counselor at Londonderry High School and prior to that position, she worked as a counselor for the Institute for Health and Recovery in Cambridge, MA. I am sure Ms. Mandeville will serve our students very well for the remainder of this school year.
School Cancellations and Schedule Changes – Due to this past Thursday’s school cancellation, the end of Quarter 3 for the middle school has been moved to Monday, April 2. The last day of the school year is now Monday, June 18. The calendars on the middle school and district websites have been updated. Please refer to it for more information.
This Friday is a Student Half day – Please do not forget that this Friday, March 16 is a half day for middle school students. Dismissal is at 11:30 pm. This information is now accurately depicted on our website’s calendars.
Texting during School Hours – I am sure all of you know first hand that today’s adolescents’ attention is frequently diverted toward their smart phones and other electronic devices. Our staff works very hard to teach students healthy electronic usage habits, especially the importance of unplugging. This is a challenging task given the additive nature of many of the social media apps. Please note that we do not allow students to use electronic devices in school unless it is under the supervision of our staff members and the usage is related to the class they are taking. If you send texts to your students during school hours, please do not expect them to respond to you or even receive your message until after the school day is over. Please do not hesitate to contact our main offices if there is an urgent message you need to convey to your students during the school day. Our admin assistants will help you with that. If your students contact you through their cell phones because they are in distress, I ask you to direct them to the appropriate staff members so they can provide your students with the necessary help.
Thank you for your cooperation with this matter.
Here are some messages from the community:
Middle School Enrichment Sign Up – Please note that sign-ups for GD Community Education’s Middle School Enrichment programs are now open. Please click here for additional information.
GD Youth Softball League – Please click here if you are interested in participating in the GD Youth Softball League.
Town Soccer – The Spring 2018 soccer season will open on Saturday, April 14th. Registration for the spring season for both players and volunteers will close March 15th. We had to move the date up by 3 days because our team registrations are due to the NVYSL by March 18th. Late fees will apply for any Grade 3 through Grade 12 player registered after March 15th. Players registered after March 15th will be put on a waiting list and only assigned to a team based on availability. All registration for these grades will be closed on April 1st. Game times and locations for games in the spring will be the following:
Girls Grade 5/6 – Saturday, 11:30 – 1:00 (home games at Cow Pond)
Boys Grade 5/6 – Saturday, 1:00 – 2:15 (home games at Cow Pond)
Girls Grade 7/8 – Saturday, 2:15 – 4:00 (home games at Cow Pond)
Boys Grade 7/8 – Saturday, 4:00 – 5:15 (home games at Cow Pond)
Thank you and enjoy the upcoming week.