WMS/PTO Newsletter
October 13, 2015
Message from Principal Gavron

There is nothing more important than keeping our kids safe. In an ever-changing technological world this goal can feel elusive at times.  That is why I was thrilled that Wayland Cares, our community based coalition dedicated to helping youth make healthy decisions, recently brought presenter Katie Greer to speak with our middle school students, high school students, and the parent community (through an evening presentation). Greer, who has worked as an intelligence agent for Massachusetts State Police and as the Director of Internet Safety for the District Attorney’s office, had important messages to offer. Greer focused on issues of privacy, safety, apps to avoid, cyberbullying and the permanence of our digital footprints.  

Following the presentation, I spent a valuable session with Mr. Large, Mr. Longnecker and our sixth grade homeroom in TAG debriefing the assembly. I decided, what better way to share the big ideas that Katie Greer communicated than to offer you what the kids took away, in their own words.

“Turn on privacy settings. Turn off Geotagging.”

On the privacy front Greer advocated for students to utilize tools on the phone to maximize privacy settings. She opened our eyes to the worlds of geotagging, which on most phones are automatically set to “on.” Geotagging allowed apps to pinpoint one’s location from wherever an app was used. She urged the audience to turn off the geotagging on most apps (camera, facebook, instagram, etc.). It is good advice for adults too, to only allow location services for sites like waze (a GPS app). Controlling who sees what information is an important life skill and can go a long way to keep students out of harm’s way. 

“You should not have a social media account under 13 years of age.”

Greer drove home the message that it is illegal for anyone under 13 to have social media accounts (including facebook, instagram and snapchat). I was surprised to learn from her that this age restriction is critical because police can’t investigate crimes in the same cooperative way with the social media sites when children are illegally using accounts under age 13. It truly is a safety issue.

“Don’t talk to strangers on the internet.”

Our kids should never be communicating with strangers. This includes online gaming. The risk is too high. Greer offered students a good rule of thumb when it came to “friending” and communicating on the internet.  Only connect with:  

  • Kids from your school
  • Friends who know you or have been to your house
  • People whose parents you know

  “Yik Yak, Snapchat, Ask.FM, Flinch and Omegle are very, very bad websites and apps.”

Greer shared apps that in her professional opinion students should avoid:

Ask.fm & Yik Yak – You may recall me writing about ask.fm in previous years.  It is a site through which people ask anonymous questions.  Yik Yak is of the same ilk. If you have spent any time on these sites, you will quickly see how horrible people can be to one another online. Posting hateful comments and unkind banter is the norm there.

Kik – This is a platform that allows one to text friends, groups or strangers. It is just not safe. Kids need to continue to hear the message, “don’t talk to strangers – even online.”

Omegle and Flinch – These two sites are designed for live video chatting with strangers.  As you may imagine the potential danger of this is extreme. The live video feed makes one’s location immediately accessible through GPS coordinates and this has resulted in some horrific crimes against youth. With our older students Greer shared powerful examples of dangerous people pretending to be teens online.

Snapchat - Greer talked about how snapchat can be used positively, but she has seen it too frequently used in unkind ways or for sexting, which still is considered child pornography – a felony.  She emphasized that while in theory snapchats “disappear,” screen shots of posts can be captured and re-posted.  What you put on the web is not private.

“Don’t Cyberbully.” “Send only kind messages.”

Cyberbullying was another topic of conversation.  Greer shared examples of tragic outcomes that can result from unkindness in the online world, and the damage cyberbullying can do by contributing to depression and even suicide.

“Everything you do on the internet leaves a footprint that does not go away. Make good choices.”

Despite the misuses of the internet, the worldwide web has the potential to be a sea of positivity. Greer referenced the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which raised 220 million dollars for ALS research through the power of social media. She encouraged students to leave positive digital footprints in their online pursuits.

Parenting in the digital age is a tall order. As parents I encourage you to engage in an ongoing, open dialogue with your children about online expectations, safety, and respect. Actively monitor your child’s online presence. Let LARK (Legal Appropriate Responsible and Kind) be your family’s guide.  

Respectfully,

Betsy Gavron  

Helpful Resources for parenting in a digital age:  

How to Protect Your Children on their Smartphones  and

Common sense media Cell Phone Parenting

ALICE Practice
November 6

Next month, we will be discussing and practicing our new emergency response ALICE protocol with students. We will begin with informational assemblies for all grades on November 2, and conduct a schoolwide practice session on November 6. Principal Gavron is happy to answer any ALICE related questions you might have at the October 19 Middle & More Parent Coffee. To learn more about ALICE, you can also visit alicetraining.com.

Q1 Progress Reports
October 16 at 2:30PM

The progress report module of iParent will open at 2:30PM on Friday, October 16, and remain open until 8:00AM on Monday, October 19. If you've forgotten your iParent UserID or password, please contact ramah_hawley@wayland.k12.ma.us.

School Portraits
Retake Day November 4

We expect to send home school portrait packages by the end of this week. If your child was absent on picture day, or if you are dissatisfied with your child's portrait and would like to try again, the photographer will return to WMS on November 4. Retake information follows:

  • Please have your child return his or her entire undamaged portrait package directly to the photographer on Retake Day.
  • Write any suggestions for the photographer on a piece of paper so it shows through the envelope window (for example, indicate what you didn't like about the original photo). 
  • Portrait packages will be distributed approximately 3 weeks after Retake Day.
Seeking School Council Members
Please Respond by October 20

We are currently seeking parent/guardian volunteers to join this year's WMS Council.  In accordance with Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 71: Section 59C, Wayland Middle School will have a School Council that meets regularly and is responsible for the following:

  • Assist in the identification of the educational needs of the students attending the school
  • Review the annual school budget
  • Approve the school improvement plan
  • Review the student handbook

School council meetings typically take place quarterly, on mutually agreed upon dates, from 5:00 to 6:15pm. If you are interested, kindly submit your name and a short biographical paragraph to Betsy Gavron by October 20. Thank you in advance for your support. 

Collecting Coats for Kids
October 12 - January 8
WMS Lobby

Bring in your warm, gently used, good quality winter coats (in all sizes - babies, toddlers, children, and adult) and place them in the collection bin in the WMS lobby.  Anton's Cleaners will collect, clean, and distribute your donations to over 90 social service agencies to make sure the coats get to those in need, free of charge. You can find more information about Coats for Kids HERE.

Masquerade Concert
October 28, 7:30PM
WHS Auditorium

All are invited to the Wayland Middle and High School Orchestras' annual Masquerade Concert on Wednesday October 28 at 7:30pm in the WHS Auditorium. Come and enjoy the sounds of the season! Musicians - in costume - from the 6th grade orchestra, 7th/8th grade orchestra, HS String Orchestra and Honors Sinfonia Orchestra will perform selections to include "Deep Sea Fandango," "Zombie Tango," "Creepers in the Castle," "Midnight at the Mausoleum," "Witches Sabbath," and "Devil's Nightmare." Costumes welcome! If you’re not scared, we’re not playing!  Surprise Grande Finale with optional audience participation!

Thank You, Wayland Boosters!

Many thanks to the Wayland Boosters for funding ImPACT (baseline concussion) testing for all of our 7th and 8th grade students. You can learn more about the Wayland Boosters HERE.

Artist of the Week
Ian Patterson
Airplane in Sky
Colored Pencil & Graphite

Artist Statement:  "I like airplanes. They're an object that goes beyond other objects. They are a much better way of traveling." 

PTO News
Middle & More Parent Coffee
October 19, 8:45 - 9:45 AM
WMS Library

Our first Middle and More Coffee of the year is scheduled for Monday, October 19th, from 8:45-9:45 am.  Please join us in the WMS Library for coffee and conversation with Betsy Gavron and George Benzie.  Hear about  this year’s objectives and new initiatives at WMS and how these fit with larger district-wide goals (HEART = Health & wellness, Exploration, Achievement Gap, Response to Intervention, and Technology).  Bring your questions and let us know what you'd like to hear about in future coffees.  We look forward to seeing you!  Please contact Cathy Scholz at cscholz89@gmail.com with any questions.  

Reminders (from previous emails)
Principal's Blog

Principal Gavron has begun a blog, "WMS Windows into the Classroom," through which she and Mr. Benzie will share glimpses into our middle school classrooms.

If you wish to be notified by email whenever a new post is added, please add your email address in the "Follow By Email" box and press submit.

The LARK’s Nest is open… for applications!
Deadline 3PM, October 21

All students are invited to apply to become part of our technology student leadership team, the LARK’s Nest. Useful traits are a willingness to learn, being a good listener, a desire to explain things to others, creative problem solving, and knowing when to ask for help. Training will be provided in all areas, so all levels of expertise are welcome! For consideration, online applications should be submitted by 3pm on Wednesday, October 21st. 

Private School Applications

While we hope you are enjoying your experiences with Wayland Public Schools, we also know that some families will choose to apply to private schools as an alternative educational option. Please be sure to carefully follow the process outlined HERE to ensure a timely, quality processing of your child’s application to private school.

Upcoming Events
Upcoming Events .

ALL Grades
10/16:  Q1 Progress Reports
10/19:  Middle & More Parent Coffee, 8:45AM
10/28:  WMS-WHS Orchestra Concert, 7:30PM @ WHS
11/04:  Picture Retake Day

Grade 6
11/05:  Family Math Night (2 sessions)

Grade 7
10/19:  Rachel Cluster Ropes Course
10/20:  Carson Cluster Ropes Course

Grade 8
10/14:  Minuteman Presentation During Tag
10/22:  NY Caves/Kennedy Institute Field Trips
10/23:  NY Caves/Kennedy Institute Field Trips
10/27:  NY Caves/Kennedy Institute Field Trips