Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tuesday May 26 Blog Post Update

I hope you all had a great long weekend - the weather certainly cooperated! It  is now time for the "home stretch" of the school year!  I always find  it funny when folks talk  about the school  year "winding down"...in my experience, there  is nothing "slow" about the end of the school year! This time is filled with special activities, celebrations, interventions, enrichments, and transition activities.  Much to do and accomplish and with our little "distance adventure" still ongoing - we're doing all  of these things in a  new environment.  A challenge for sure-  but one I know Gorham is up to the challenge to meet!

Parents/Guardians should be sure to keep a close eye on these blogs, and on the weekly updates being sent out by building principals.  Also, for students in grades 6-12 you should be keeping a close eye on your  gorhamschools email accounts so you don't accidentally miss something that is important!

Here are my updates...

End of School Year Calendar Reminder

Just a quick reminder to students and parents that we are getting ready to enter "stage 2" of our end of the year "phasing down" process.  GHS seniors are currently in the middle of focusing on making sure they are all caught up and ready to graduate, or participating in virtual job shadowing or other enrichment experiences.  GHS seniors should also be preparing to trade in their laptops next week for their caps and gowns!  So exciting!  I am sure they are all very much looking forward to June 6th and 7th for their graduation ceremonies and for their "convoy" parade on the night of June 7th beginning at 7:45 p.m. I've got a section below with a reminder on this.

This week will be the last week for "formal" new instruction for students in grades 9-11 at GHS.  Beginning next week students in these grades will move to a focus on either enrichment activities (of which there are robust selections) and/or intervention activities to make sure all students will receive the credits they should receive this school year.  In addition, a focus will be placed on continuing transition activities for students, making sure students are signed up for the classes they need in the fall of 2020, and working on making sure everyone is clear on academic expectations for the coming year.

Students in grades K-8 will be continuing their "formal" new instruction through June 5, 2020 and then focusing their work between June 8- June 12 on enrichment and interventions as well as on continuing the transition activities which have already begun.  

Students receiving Special Education and/or other RTI supports will continue to receive direct instruction and learning support through June 12, 2020.  June 15 and 16 will be spent allowing teachers time to do  whatever last minute things they need to do to wrap up the school year effectively which means that students should make sure to be available to meet with teachers on these two days even though formal instruction will not be occurring.  The summer vacation will then begin at the end of the day on June 16, 2020.

If you have questions about the details of what to expect for your student, you should reach out to your child's building principal and they will be sure to answer any questions you may have!

GHS Graduation "Convoy" Parade Information Announced!
Gorham High School in collaboration with the Gorham Police Department, Gorham Fire Department, and Gorham Public Works is excited to announce that a Graduation Convoy to celebrate Gorham’s Class of 2020 will commence at 7:45 p.m. on Sunday, June 7th beginning at the Gorham Industrial Park and conclude at Gorham High School.

Graduates of the Class of 2020 will be joined by their families for the convoy in their cars. The convoy will follow Route 25 and Main Street from the Industrial Park through the Gorham Village.  The convoy will turn left onto South Street and enter the Gorham High School campus via Morrill Avenue.  Please see the map of the convoy route below.

We invite members of our Gorham community to line Route 25 and Main Street, South Street, and Morrill Avenue to cheer and wave signs that celebrate our seniors.  We do ask, however, that everyone maintain adequate six-foot physical-distancing during this event.  

We ask that participants and spectators follow these safety guidelines during the convoy:
  1. Maintain physical distancing; and
  2. Refrain from throwing candy or other items, either from vehicles in the convoy to spectators or from spectators toward the convoy.

Outdoor Facilities Will  be Re-Opened June 1 (WE HOPE)

As part of the Governor's "Phase II" of re-opening, the Gorham School Department has been working in conjunction with the Gorham Recreation  Department to allow for outdoor facilities to be re-opened for public use beginning June 1.  Of course, this re-opening could be delayed if the Governor steps back her phased in reopening plans, but so far so good on that front. 

When these outdoor facilities reopen, there will still be some restrictions for use of fields and equipment, most of which deal with the NEED TO MAINTAIN  6 FOOT SOCIAL DISTANCING PROTOCOLS AT  ALL  TIMES.  Signs will be posted up on the facilities with clear instructions.  Playground equipment will also be open as long as individuals maintain 6 foot social distancing  and understand that the Town of Gorham and/or the Gorham School  Department WILL NOT be sanitizing the equipment after each use.  Parents/guardians should be prepared to bring their own sanitization materials if using this equipment and understand that you do so at your own risk.

Other outdoor facilities that will reopen will be the tennis courts, baseball fields, soccer fields, outdoor basketball courts and batting cages -  again, all with strict protocols regarding maintaining 6 foot social distancing (can I say that enough times???).  Please keep in mind that the Gorham School Department and the Gorham Recreation Department want the public to be able to use these facilities safely.  Please maintain six foot social distancing, and follow any rules/directions posted on signage outside of the fields.   We will only be able to keep these facilities open if folks make sure to follow the rules so that everyone can be safe!  If you have questions about Gorham School fields, please reach out to  Tim Spear (timothy.spear@gorhamschools.org).  If you have questions about Gorham Recreation fields, please reach out to the Gorham Recreation Department, their website is LINKED HERE.

Upcoming  Meetings

Just wanted to make sure folks were aware of upcoming meetings this week.  We have a Special  School Committee meeting coming up on May 27 (tomorrow night) at 7:00 p.m.  The major piece on the agenda will be voting on an adjustment to  the proposed FY 21 School Budget to attempt to hit the "target" (or come as  close as we can) of a 0% impact to the mil for Gorham taxpayers  in FY 21.  We have lots of ideas that the School Committee will need to consider so it should be a  lively discussion!   You can find the agenda (which  has zoom link information on the top) and meeting materials by CLICKING HERE

There will also be a "Dunk  and Discuss" meeting for any K-12 parent or community member who would like to join me to discuss current themes and topics  related  to our  schools.  I'm sure some folks might have some questions about what re-opening might look like this fall.  I  likely won't have detailed answers, but  I can answer questions about what our current thinking  is.  Feel free to join me for this informal meeting via zoom.  You can get the zoom contact information by going to our district website and on the home page, just view the calendar and click on the "Dunk and  Discuss"  calendar item listed.  Zoom link information is shared right there! 

The Importance of Wearing Face Masks

I know there is a lot of debate out there regarding the wearing of face masks or face coverings.   Its a personal choice that folks need to make, each for their own reasons.  I've noticed in the social media world recently that there seems to be a lot of "shaming" going on for those that either choose to wear masks or do not choose to wear masks.  

Personally, I put a great deal of faith into my "neighbors" and understand that folks elect to wear them or not for their own good reasons.  Take my father for example.  He's 72 years old but is still a very active soul.  Several times now he has gone out to Hannaford to pick up something for the house and people have definitely treated him differently for not wearing a face mask.  But what you wouldn't know about my father (if you didn't know him personally) is that he doesn't need to wear a face mask as it would do him no good!  Five years ago now he had a total laryngectomy and he actually breaths through his neck and wears a "mask" at all times...you simply can't see it as he has it covered by the high neck shirts he always wears.

There is no doubt and science has clearly shown that when you can't maintain six foot social distancing - face coverings are essential, not so much to protect you as an individual, but to protect  others from you because you might unwittingly have been exposed to the virus and are carrying it around with you and spreading it even though you may feel fine.  They call this  being "asymptomatic" and it seems to be a very real thing with this virus.  Here's an image I found that I think does a great job at explaining...

I am sharing all of this with you because there is a distinct possibility that when we get ready to open school back up in  the fall that there may be a need then, or maybe a little later in the year if another outbreak occurs that I will need to ask folks in schools to wear face coverings.  If this occurs it won't be because I wish to tread on anyone's civil rights.  It will be  because they are proven to be an effective means of preventing the spread of this virus.  And just like my father's situation...if there are necessary exceptions to the  need to wear a mask, we'll address them together then...but in the meantime, I just wanted to get people thinking about this so that they can mentally be prepared for what MAY be a very real possibility this coming fall.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out!  My email is heather.perry@gorhamschools.org.  THANKS!

Great Job - Gorham Reads!

I just wanted to share a quick  message from Heidi Whelan, the Youth Services Librarian  at Baxter Memorial  Library.  

Hi Heather,
Deb Tanguay sent me the total book distribution numbers.  We gave away 179 BML books total during our 3 day distribution at your 4 Operation Feed Gorham locations.  Kim and Luci were great to work with. I heard there were many positive comments from people receiving the books. Deb spent hours sorting the books for this event and we may plan another distribution in the future since we have a supply of books leftover that are sorted and labeled already.  I'm attaching a picture of the event for you.  It's of Kim Fadrigan and Deb Tanguay giving out books at Great Falls Elementary.  Danielle Grady and Jeffrey Knox (2 BML Youth Services Assistants) helped with the distribution at Village and the High School.  Truly a team effort.  Thank you for allowing us to be part of this project.

Heidi Whelan
Youth Services Librarian
Baxter Memorial Library
71 South St
Gorham, ME 04038

Check Out This Week's Career Exploration Options for GHS students!

Again, just have to share that our talented crew at GHS is not letting our students get away with not thinking about their aspirations and careers while we are on this distance learning journey!  They've moved this exploration to a virtual setting!  GHS students can join Eliza (our Career and Community Coordinator) for small group zoom meetings with professionals in fields ranging from theater to healthcare.  They can ask questions and connect with peers who have shared interests and gain an insight on their own future path. New conversations are  scheduled every week! Here's this week's selection:

Helpful Tool for Parent/Teachers

As many parents are still working very hard in their roles as Parent/Teacher, I thought I might offer up a quick little chart that I think helps folks (parents or teachers) to better determine what to do with students as they continue to struggle through these difficult times.  As  I've said before every student and every family is experiencing  this distance learning  journey differently  and sometimes as a parent/teacher I am sure it is difficult to try and determine whether a child/student is simply just not wanting to work on school work,  or for whatever reason they can't work on school work.  As a teacher and as an educational leader, I have always found the chart below to be very a very helpful guide in how to approach these sometimes tenuous circumstances...so I thought I'd share it with you.  It's called the "Willing and Able Grid"  and is used frequently by professionals to help determine how to engage with students who may, for whatever reason be having a difficult time.  

Class of  2022 Face Coverings
I wanted to share this announcement for folks that may be interested in purchasing face coverings to support the GHS class of 2022 as well as the Gorham Food Pantry.  The following message is from Neile Nelson, a teacher at GHS and class advisor to the class of 2022...

Good morning everyone,
Please consider supporting the Class of 2022 by purchasing a Gorham themed facemask. Some of the proceeds will also benefit the Gorham BackPack Program. Now you can represent your community in style, while still following the Maine CDC's guidelines. Each mask is $15. You can purchase them through the link below. Help stop the spread and do your part to make sure we can be together again as soon as possible. The sale will run up to June 13th. Thanks for your support.


A Concerned  Student Has His  Fears Allayed

In closing, I wanted to share this funny, yet very real story with all of you.  A student in Gorham had a huge concern about Santa Claus catching COVID-19 and about Christmas being canceled as a result.  Their loving  parent did what any other loving parent would do and reached  out to DHHS constituent services to ask if there was a way that this child's concerned could be deferred.  Here's the email that was sent by the parent:

Question: My son is very worried about Santa catching Covid-19!  I wondered if there's any way Dr. Shah can reassure children in some way that Santa and the elves are safe and quarantining at the North Pole?  He is very worried Santa will not be able to come at Christmas.  I know this is petty compared to deaths and suffering from it, but his mental health is suffering, too.  I'm sure he's not the only kid who is worried.  Thank you for all your hard work--stay safe! 
Now, as busy as DHHS is right now, one would think that they wouldn't have responded.  I mean seriously...this likely isn't at the top of their priority list right now with all that is going on...but a kind soul from DHHS did indeed respond!  Here's their "official" response to the concerned parent and child...

Good morning,

Thank you for reaching out with this important and very heartwarming concern. Please reassure your son that Santa and all of his helpers (reindeer included) are faring very well. The workshop is set to reopen in June, albeit with the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of Santa's elves. "Social Distancing" has presented quite a challenge for all of them; as you probably know, they are by nature quite an affectionate and rambunctious bunch. Christmas is still scheduled to take place as it always has and we (Santa and the MECDC) remain hopeful that all of our efforts now, will result in a healthier and happier future.


Scott A. Perkins (on behalf of Santa)

Scott Perkins, Constituent Services Coordinator
Department of Health and Human Services
109 Capitol Street
#11 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0011
Email:  Scott.Perkins@maine.gov
Tel:  (207) 287-5846
Fax:  (207) 287-3005

Now I don't know about you...but Mr. Perkins here (the gentleman from DHHS who responded) deserves a huge thank you for taking the time to respond to this email and assure this child that Santa is doing well, following  social distancing  protocols, and working to make sure that Christmas is "still on" as scheduled!  I know I am going to send  him a  "Thank you" note...and would encourage others who feel like he deserves it to do the same!  

I hope you enjoyed that little note as much as I did!  Sometimes as much as we think the world is  teetering on the edge of destruction and that the human condition has somehow gone south...we see little things like this and we know the good in people still exists and faith is returned!  AWESOME!

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