Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Tuesday, May 5 Update

Good afternoon everyone!  I hope you were all able to get out and enjoy some of the beautiful spring weather Maine has had to offer these past few days! I have so enjoyed getting out and walking, listening to the birds and the peeper frogs!  My granddaughter (Emelin) even had the pleasure the other day of getting to know "Mr. Toad" who happened across her path.  What a great learning experience for a 2 1/2 year old!  It's the little things right?


Well enough about me...here's my update for today!  

Gorham Receives Laptops for Grades K-3 from the Maine Department of Education!

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our Technology Director, Dennis Crowe, Gorham has been the recipient of just over 900 (yes that is 900) Chromebook laptops for our students in grades K-3.  As you may recall, when our distance learning journey began, we had 1:1 devices for students across grades 4-12 but not for the majority of students in grades K-3.  Well...thanks to the hard work of Dennis and the MDOE, that has changed!  

Seen below are some pictures of our dedicated technology staff working with these laptops to get them ready to distribute.  The plan right now is to begin distribution to families this week and make sure that they are in the hands of our K-3 students as quickly as possible and no later than May 22.  



Having these laptops will enable our K-3 teachers and students to end the school year strong and because we do not plan on collecting them over the summer, it will also enable our students to access additional programming and learning supports over the course of the summer and as we prepare to open the school year again this coming fall!  

THANK YOU Gorham Technology Team and THANK YOU Maine Department of Education!

Gorham High School Graduation & Message to Our Seniors


This past weekend, Gorham High School Principal Brian Jandreau announced an overview of our plans to celebrate our graduating seniors.  Mr. Jandreau had worked over the course of the past several weeks with students and parents to determine the best path forward in making sure we give our seniors the best "send off" possible. With the additional clarity provided to us last week by the Governor's announcements, we were able to determine our overall plans.  Details of these plans are still to be worked out and will be reported to the School Committee on May 13 - but Mr. Jandreau shared the overview this past weekend.  Generally, here is the plan:

  1. Graduation will take place on Saturday, June 6th and Sunday, June 7th in the MPAC at GHS. 
  2. In order to abide by our governor’s prohibition on gatherings of more than 50 people, which begins on June 1st, the senior class will be divided into groups of 36 to 40.  The number of seniors combined with those who need to be part of the ceremony for logistical or ceremonious reasons will need to equal 50 or fewer.  Mathematically, we will need to conduct five or six graduation ceremonies; these ceremonies will occur over two days on June 6th and June 7th.
  3. Seniors will be given an opportunity to identify a friend, a “marching partner” of sorts, to be part of the same ceremony they are.  Unfortunately, parents will not be able to attend the ceremony in person due to the government’s constraints on gatherings.  Please know that I understand how disappointing this will be to parents and relatives, but we are going to try to stream each ceremony on the Internet so that parents and extended family can watch it live.  We are also going to record the ceremony so that it can be viewed later for years to come.
  4. Each of the five or six mini-graduation ceremonies will be conducted as close to a traditional graduation as possible where the students will hear their name called and will be given their diploma as they walk across the stage in their cap and gown (and they will be able to decorate their cap).  Every senior will have their picture taken in their cap and gown, holding their diploma, on stage in front of a GHS Rams backdrop.
  5. Sunday evening, after each of the graduation ceremonies has concluded, the entire senior class will meet in their vehicles at a specified location in Gorham and be led by Gorham Police, Fire, Rescue, and Public Works in a parade around the entire town of Gorham.  We invite parents to ride with their seniors and families to decorate their vehicles.  We are organizing a parade route that includes all the major areas of the town and will allow for our Gorham community to see the parade and celebrate our seniors by cheering and holding signs.  We will communicate with the entire community in order for them to be out on their laws and in their driveways cheering on our seniors, and we are excited for younger students to experience this parade and build their aspirations for future graduations.  The parade will conclude with a special drive through the village and end at GHS where many staff will be present to say goodbye to the graduating class.  

The information above is simply an outline of the plan we are working on.  More details about this plan will be shared in the coming weeks, but we wanted everyone, especially our seniors and their families, to be able to plan for this special event.  Also, Project Graduation and some other groups have been waiting for us to make a decision before making their own announcements; so please stay tuned for even more information to come out over the next couple of weeks.  Finally, please know that, as we make decisions and plan to celebrate the Class of 2020, our first priority is to ensure that as many seniors as possible can participate in their graduation and that we follow the wishes of the vast majority of seniors.

As you can imagine, we have gotten some feedback on this plan, most of which has been positive but some has expressed a concern that parents and family members are not able to be "as present" in this kind of a ceremony and celebration as otherwise would have been possible. The truth of the matter is that this is correct. Unfortunately, because of the restrictions we have to work within, we had to "give" on something because large groups above 50 just aren't possible at this time and in these circumstances. With an emphasis on the students, and hearing their wishes that they wanted to make sure to be able to graduate "with their peers", we decided on the ceremonies themselves being focused on the students and then made plans for the parade to be the focal point for families.

Is this ideal? No. We would all prefer to have these ceremonies go on as they otherwise would have. To have the family parties, to have the big graduation where you can invite family and hug one another and celebrate and cheer. We would all prefer to keep the project graduation trip intact. It simply isn't possible to do what we would prefer in this case. HOWEVER, what is possible, is to do something unique, and different and something "epic" that our graduating seniors won't likely forget...and that is what we plan to do!

I realize this is a bit of a "loss" to some families. I got an email recently from one mother (whose name I will keep confidential)...who described this lost better than I ever could. Her words are below...

Brian – over these last 4 years and really even more this last year – I feel like we’ve gotten to know each other and respect each other and as a result -  I feel confident you get what parents are going through and know this is hard.  Again – appreciate all your efforts.   And PS.  I do hope the parade is epic. 

So that said, Heather – I am directing these next comments your direction…  I actually don’t know you at all and have reached out a couple times with concerns but haven’t heard anything so I am not fully sure you understand where we are coming from.   High school graduation is a milestone for graduating seniors and the parents that raised them.  The school relationship starts by dropping them in kindergarten, we can’t believe we’re just putting them on a bus ALONE and then we just walk away? … we’ve had our eyes on these kids for 5 years and then we just have to hope for the best ….  We quickly get used to it and turn to trying to figure out how to help with homework, minimize girl drama, sports/music/dance pressure – just hoping that we remember to remain present and don’t say the wrong thing.  We move on to middle school and then the boy drama happens – we mend broken hearts, we watch our kids go from a little boy/little girl to a young adolescent and we can’t believe how hard middle school is and we’re grateful to watch them graduate 8th grade hoping high school might somehow get easier.  Guess what? – high school doesn’t get easier.  We watch the pressure build as they are expected to excel at everything, we try to tell them that what their so-called friend said doesn’t matter and again we try to mend broken hearts.  We do the hard parenting by saying “no” when we need to and try to guide them as best we can only hoping that by the time college rolls around we’ve taught them enough that they will hear us in the back of their minds as they are confronted with making the right choices on their own – we let go and tell them they can always come home but we let go and hope for the best.  Graduation is that symbol of letting go…  and for us to know we won’t be there in person is nothing short of devastating.  So – while I know it is highly unlikely that you will make a change in light of this email, I would like to see you acknowledge the parents in your blog in order to demonstrate some empathy.  I get it – if you aren’t the parent of a high school senior right now – its pretty hard to fathom what we might be going through but acknowledging parents will likely go a long way. 

Thanks to you both and again -we’ll support what has to happen to celebrate these kids. 

To this parent...I hope you consider this my acknowledgement of what I KNOW YOU ARE ALL FEELING.  I may not currently have a senior as a child, but I do have a 23 year old daughter and I very clearly remember her high school graduation day.  What you describe above is one of the most apt and accurate descriptions of what it means to be the parent of a senior in high school.  You have all done a tremendous job getting these students to this point in their lives and although I can't offer you what all of us likely most wants (a normal graduation ceremony), what I can offer you is my full commitment of time and energy and the full commitment of time, energy and resources on the part of the entire GHS staff and community to work  our tails off to make this the best darned graduation experience possible for our GHS seniors!  This whole community is going to know our seniors are awesome (in case they didn't already - which I already knew) by end of day on June 7!  You have our collective word on that!

So if you are reading this and wondering what YOU CAN DO to help celebrate our seniors...well, there's going to be a parade on the evening of June 7.  Let's make it one the community of Gorham won't soon forget!  I would love to see every lawn in Gorham have some sort of sign up wishing our seniors the best of luck!  I would love to see businesses with signs in their windows and on their lawns congratulating seniors on their accomplishments!  I would love to see cars lined up along the parade route from beginning to end (which I will post after May 13) with signs on them and people waving signs from their cars.  I would love to hear honking horns and air horns and sirens and as much noise as possible echo across our community as our seniors celebrate the ending of one part of the lives and the beginning of a new!  Let's come together (not literally, please keep 6 feet apart literally) as a community in a way that only Gorham can...let's make this parade "epic" for our seniors!

Teacher Appreciation Week This Week - All Week!

Just a reminder that this week is Teacher Appreciation Week and although we can't be together to celebrate our awesome  teachers...that doesn't mean we still shouldn't celebrate!  Send a quick email...post a  social media post... write a card and send it in the mail!  Its not too difficult to thank a teacher...we're right here standing next to you every day!

Here's a quick link to my simple Teacher Appreciation Message sent out to all District Teachers Today!

GHS Interact Club Still Doing Community Service!

Just wanted to share yet another example of our awesome students continuing to do "their thing" even via distance!  The message below is from Neile Nelson, Interact Club Advisory and GHS math teacher extraordinaire!

Yesterday, 60 plus members from our Gorham Interact club participated in a satellite, satellite, virtual, remote and socially distant, Relay for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society. Our members volunteered over 110 hours of their time and raised $2,666 for the day. I am so proud of these kids. Although we were separated in this event, this highlight video will show you that we are far from divided. Thanks to all who supported and to all who chose to participate and send your documentation and pictures and videos. I'm a proud advisor!!!
Please enjoy the 6 minute video below to see what the kids did!

Upcoming Meetings

The Gorham School Committee will be meeting jointly with the Gorham Town Council to provide a presentation on our proposed FY 21 budget.  Meeting will be held via zoom beginning at 6:30 p.m.  You can get details from the Town of Gorham Website LINKED HERE.

The Gorham School Committee will also be meeting on May 13th at 7:00 p.m. via zoom for their regular meeting.  That meeting will also be held via zoom.  You can get details on the agenda and links by CLICKING HERE.

I am also going to offer a few more virtual "Dunk and Discuss" meetings for parents to attend.  These have no formal agenda to them...they are just a time for parents to join me, ask questions, get answers and just share ideas!  Here's the schedule for these meetings coming up...I'll send links in a future post:

*  Thursday, May 14 at 6:30 p.m. via zoom
*  Thursday, May 28 at 6:30 p.m. via zoom
*  Thursday, June 11 at 6:30 p.m. via zoom

Gorham Businesses Need Our Help!
For so many years, our small businesses here in Gorham have helped us to become the strong community that we are...now during these times of crisis...THEY NEED OUR HELP!  If you haven't already checked out the Gorham Strong website please do...on it you'll find a link to a program called "Split the Tab".  The first round of this program has already sold out and the Gorham Business Exchange is looking to do a round 2 but they need more funding!  Here is where YOU can come in!  Below is a link to a GoFundMe page where  you can donate $ to support the "Split the Tab" campaign.  This program is 100% volunteer based so any funds donated will go directly to support our Gorham small businesses!  Check out the information on the website and then consider donating PLEASE!  Here's the link:

A New Resource for Our Young Ladies

I had this resource from the Girl Scouts shared with me that I thought some folks might be interested in!

Dear Ms. Perry,

On behalf of everyone at Girl Scouts, we want to say THANK YOU. Thank you for everything that you are doing for the children in your care and their families. It has been nothing short of AMAZING and should be commended! 

We look forward each spring to meeting girls from Pre-K to 1st grade and introducing them to our Girl Scout Daisy program. We are missing our girls and meeting new friends! And while we can’t host our Daisy Flower Parties in-person we will be hosting virtual Daisy Flower Parties and have developed new resources to engage girls including free Girl Scout activities to do at home.

Many of these resources can be used at home or at your center to engage children in meaningful ways. Our activities help unleash her imagination, grow in confidence, and build skills that will help her in school and beyond. Like our Family Activity Guide we shared with you a few months ago, we would appreciate your help in spreading the word about these resources and virtual opportunities to your families, or using them yourself!

By visiting www.girlscoutsofmaine.org/daisyflowerparty you will find videos, links, downloadable activity guides and more all for free!

As you continue to build a strong foundation for your pre-K girls, our Girl Scout Daisy opportunities can build on that foundation—helping girls go into kindergarten with confidence and new friends!

Thank you for all you do and for your support in sharing the Girl Scout Leadership Experience!

Yours in Girl Scouting,
Emily Rose

Emily Rose Mitchell, Recruitment Specialist
Girl Scouts of Maine
South Portland Service Center

Reminder About MPBN Learning Space

Here's the schedule for this week's lessons on MPBN's Learning Space!

This week's schedule.
5/4 Monday:
Dan Ryder: Cross content: Making Mini Comics

Betsy Mayo: Reading: Story Maps
5/5 Tuesday:
Nesrene Griffin: Math: Trail Mix Fractions

5/6 Wednesday
Cassandra Dunphy: Reading: Using context clues

5/7 Thursday:
Angie McLaughlin: Reading: Poetry
Cherrie MacInnes: Social Studies: Samantha Smith

5/8: Friday:
Brooke Teller: Science: The Water Cycle

IN CLOSING (For Today)...

Mr. Lambert from Gorham Middle School shared with me some awesome poetry created by his students...I am so impressed with their talent...I wanted to share a few poems...this first one is in honor of mother's day coming right up!

This second one is one that I loved...mostly because I love the outdoors and this reminds me of it!

More to come...later..."See" you again on Thursday!

1 comment:

  1. Heather - I sincerely appreciate these updates. Truly, I do. However - I would STRONGLY urge you to also post these in other formats - YouTube videos, audio clips, smaller quick-hit summaries. Not everyone can consume this volume of information all at once, and it is critical that our parents know what is going on at the schools. I've given this feedback a few times (through the call for submissions all parents were asked to provide, to my kids' teachers, etc), but it seems your posts have only gotten longer.

    I truly appreciate all that Gorham schools is doing to keep us informed. I just want to make sure that everyone has that same luxury!


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