Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Tuesday, June 2 Update

Good afternoon/evening everyone.  Before I get into the "update" portion of this blog, I think I would be remiss if I didn't at least acknowledge the angst we are all feeling right now due to the ongoing protests and riots that are happening after the death of George Floyd on Monday in Minneapolis, MN.  His death, along with other recent tragedies have sparked intense feelings regarding diversity and intercultural communications across our country.

I am not going to write to folks and say that the ongoing protests are "right" or "wrong"...the underlying issues that his death has sparked are much more complex than can be put into those two boxes.  Instead, I wanted to give you all a sense of what the Gorham Schools are doing to help improve our intercultural communications and provide parents with some resources to help you to have these difficult conversations with your children (if you are interested in doing so).

First, the Gorham School Department has been working with a group called Maine Intercultural Communication Consultants over the past year to provide important training to our staff.  The motto for this group's work is "Bridging Across Difference" and that is exactly what they are working to help us do as a public school system faced with addressing the educational needs of ALL our students and their families whether they fit the "majority" or the "minority" of any population.  The work began with our District Leadership Team (DLT) this fall.  The Maine Intercultural Communication Consultants (MICC) team first worked with our DLT to conduct a survey.  The goal  of this survey was to give our team a score regarding where we all fell on the Intercultural progression framework.  The survey used was called the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI).  This survey is internationally used to help teams just like ours understand where their baseline of understanding is so that specific training can be provided to us that is tailored and customized to our specific needs.  

Once the survey was taken by our DLT, we were provided two intense, 3 hour long professional development  sessions with our consultants.  It was extremely informative and helped all members of the DLT better understand how they are naturally programmed to deal with difference and how that "natural programming" may in fact get in our way of doing what we think we ought to do to acknowledge and better understand those from different cultures.  A conversation that was had many times was around the concept of privilege and how, even with the best of intentions this can block individuals from being able to truly understand and value the cultures of others.

After MICC worked with our DLT, they also met and provided the same training and survey work for members of the GMS and GHS teaching staff.  It was at this point,  that unfortunately, COVID-19 took us away from our plans...but those plans are only delayed and will continue once we have everyone back to school again! Ultimately, the goal is to create school-based intercultural leadership teams comprised first of school staff and then eventually students and parents, who after specific training in how to lead these types of endeavors - will help to lead our schools forward in these important areas.  At this time, we hope to have our intercultural leadership teams up and operational at GMS and GHS early this fall while we work to conduct training for our K-5 staff this fall/winter and then help them to develop their intercultural leadership teams next spring with the goal of having fully trained and capable intercultural leadership teams at each school who can help all of our schools improve in their intercultural endeavors moving forward.

I just wanted to share this information because I wanted  to make sure not to lose sight of this important topic even in the face of COVID-19.  For parents who are interested,  I've included some resources below for you to review and that might help you to have these  kinds of important conversations with your children if you so choose.  Here goes:

Teaching  Diversity to Your Kids
Teaching Children about Diversity 
How to Teach Children About Cultural Awareness and  Diversity 

And then believe it or not - Pinetrest has several great activities aimed at helping parents work with their children on these important issues...just go to https://www.pinterest.com/ and search for activities for children around diversity.  

In closing, just wanted to share one of my all time favorite quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.  which I believe speaks volumes now, just as it did over 40 years ago!

GHS Graduation Information

GHS graduation ceremonies will be held this weekend.  There will be three "mini-ceremonies" on Saturday, June 6 and three more on Sunday, June 7 at 9:00, 12:00 and 3:00 each day.  If you are interested, you can watch THIS VIDEO where Mr. Jandreau and members of the GHS senior class explain to their peers what to expect during the mini-ceremonies.  Then on Sunday there will be a graduation convoy to celebrate our graduates and to give them a chance to celebrate each other.  Graduates of the Class of 2020 will be joined by their families for the convoy in their cars. The convoy will begin at approximately 7:45 p.m. and 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. The convoy will end at GHS.

I will share a message from Principal Brian Jandreau below regarding how we plan to SAFELY celebrate our graduating seniors. He wrote:


In preparation for this weekend’s Graduation Ceremonies and Convoy, I want to highlight some important information to ensure each event goes smoothly and safely for everyone involved.  The purpose of this memo is to highlight important “rules of the road” that we all need to follow.

Graduation Ceremonies:
1.     Students will need to wear a mask while inside the building. We will provide them one with a Ram logo as they enter.  If a student is unable to wear a mask due a medical condition, then they must present a doctor’s note.
2.     Parents should arrive at the time of their son or daughter’s graduation. In order to help organize parking, parents will be assigned to a designated parking area nearest the bus loop. That area will have signage and police officers available to direct parking.
3.     Once parents have parked, they need to check in at a table on the sidewalk to receive their number.  Once parents/guardians have received their number, they will line up at the designated cone that numerically matches the number they are given at check in. For instance, if you are given #6, then you will line up at cone #6.
4.     Parents will not be allowed into the building until their graduate is preparing to march across the stage. A staff member will be there to usher all parents through the hallway and into the auditorium when it is time. (Please note, if it looks like rain that day, we will update the plan via email.)
5.     Parents must also wear masks when inside the building.  We are unable to provide parents with masks. If a parent is unable to wear a mask due a medical condition, then he or she must present a doctor’s note.
6.     Due to safety restrictions on the total number of individuals inside of the building at any given time, we can only accommodate two parents or guardians per graduate.  For those family members who cannot attend, we will be streaming each of the ceremonies via our Gorham School website: http://graduation.gorhamschools.org
Graduation Convoy:
1.     Students and their families must stay in their own vehicles throughout the entire convoy, including the time they are parked at Gorham High School. 
2.     Floats will not be permitted; neither will students riding in the back of pickup trucks or students standing in open sunroofs.
3.     Everyone, other than family members inside a vehicle, must maintain adequate six-foot physical-distancing during this event.
4.     Everyone must refrain from throwing items during this event.
5.     Bathrooms will not be available once on the high school campus.
Once again, to be clear - for those who cannot attend these "mini-celebrations" we will be live streaming each. Check out THIS LINK to make sure you can watch from the comfort of your home as our GHS seniors walk across the stage to get their diplomas!

If anyone has any questions regarding the planned graduation events, please reach out to Principal Brian Jandreau at brian.jandreau@gorhamschools.org for more information.

8th Grade Recognition Parade

A message from Mr. Donahue, GMS Principal:

The GMS 8th Grade Recognition Parade is scheduled for Thursday, June 11 from 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm. (Our rain date is June 15) 

Cars can begin lining up at 4:30 pm on that day. Follow the route all the way to the Middle School and park behind waiting cars. We will begin the parade at 5:00 pm.

Our route will begin on Quincy Dr, then to Caitlin Dr, to Weeks Rd. The plan is for cars to be able to loop around and pass the cars driving in. The cars That way students can see each other and cheer their friends on.

We will have a DJ (Mr. Parvanta), the GPD, the GFD, and all of our teachers spaced out cheering the cars on as they approach. Mr. Smith and I will read off students' names over a speaker system and hand out certificates and 8th grade bags that will include t-shirts, books, and copies of the slide show on thumb drive.

Please place student names on a clearly marked sign on the passenger side of your car. This will allow us to prepare for each arriving student and get their materials ready.

We have placed poster boards in the entryway of the school if you are in need of some for your decorations. Please help yourself.

Please reach out if you have a challenge with transportation for the procession. We will work with you to make sure you are all set.

GMS Transition Activity - Just Sharing Another Example

Just wanted to share another great example of some of the incredible work our K-12 teams are putting together to make sure our students transition smoothly from one year to the next.  The information below was shared with all current 8th grade students and their families.  This is the THIRD in a series put together by our transition counselor Samantha McCloghry.  In this feature, Mrs. McCloghry works with a group of GHS students to talk to 8th graders about what to expect next year...here is the message and link sent by Mr. Donahue:

Class of 2024, you did it! Here is the third and final video of the GHS Transition Seminars! This week you will meet current GHS students in grades 9-12 AND we have a special guest! Superintendent Perry stopped by to join in on the excitement and share some words of wisdom. Thank you Superintendent Perry!

The students talk about things like... 
Have you ever gotten lost in school?
How long did it take to adjust to the schedule?
How do you balance school, extracurricular activities, and a social life?
How does a CTE (Vocational) program fit into my schedule?
Were you nervous for high school?
And SO much more!

Part 3: 

Re-Opening Plan Development Timeline

As we continue to work diligently to develop a draft re-opening plan that is comprehensive enough to deal with the complexities of how to operate our public school system during these uncertain times, yet flexible enough to change and move with new information as it continues to develop and that is focused on meeting the needs of our students - we have recently worked to develop a more solid timeline for how this plan will be finalized and how feedback from all stakeholders will be incorporated into the process.

Please CLICK HERE for an overview of this timeline. As you can see - more information will be forthcoming soon! Stay tuned!

Starting To Think About Summer Learning?

We are going to be providing you with lots and lots of resources for this summer, but I don't want to overwhelm you all at once...so here are just a few summer resources from our K-5 Librarians...please "click away" and see all the great resources available for you to help your kids enjoy the love of reading all summer long!

·      Narragansett Creative Arts Links of Awesomeness – Resources for Families to use over the summer.  

·      Village Library Website for Summer Learning Fun.  https://sites.google.com/gorhamschools.org/village-library/home

Help Celebrate Our Staff As We Close the 2019-20 School Year!

I have created a "Kudos Board" for the Gorham Schools Staff. This is a place where YOU can go to send a message of Thanks to individuals, or teams or to your principal or to that special bus driver and cafeteria worker! The site will allow you to upload images and/or videos and to send a message of Thanks to our teachers and support staff.

This isn't the way we would have normally wanted to end the school year...but adding your sentiments to this "kudos board" will help our staff to end this school year on a positive note even as they miss the children they work with daily!

Please contribute! Here's the link:

It is open between NOW and June 13th. I will share posts with the district staff at our virtual "closing" scheduled for June 16th at 1:00 p.m. Please help me to help our staff celebrate an incredible year and to remember - WHY THEY LOVE DOING WHAT THEY DO!


GMS & GHS Choir Members Perform

I thought this song performed by our very own GMS and GHS choir members was a timely and POSITIVE piece to end my update with today!  It is most definitely worth the 3-4 minutes to watch!  ENJOY!  PROUD TO BE A RAM!

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