Happy Thanksgiving
WMS/PTO November 2014 Newsletter

Dear Families:

 

I've been known to quip that seventh grade is the pinnacle of human meanness. While this is far from a scientific fact and perhaps an unfair generalization (world events would certainly indicate that there are far meaner people out there), my characterization comes from over twenty years of marveling at the range of unkind acts that can occur with both boys and girls during the middle school years. For example, my predecessor John Kavaleski tells the story of bringing a group of seventh grade girls into his office who had started an "exclusive club." When asked about the club, the leader proudly shared that there were six members of her club. Mr. Kavaleski expressed his confusion given that there were seven girls in his office. Without blinking an eye, the leader clarified that one of the girls was not a member of the group - she was the mascot. Years later when Mr. Kavaleski reconnected with the girls as seniors, they were horrified to be reminded of "the club" and their second-class treatment of the girl who was deemed mascot. "How could they have been so mean," they wondered aloud? Please don't for a second think that I feel that Wayland is plagued by bad kids - quite the contrary. I can't imagine a better community in which to work, full of truly amazing students. My comment more captures the developmental myopia kids experience in early adolescence and the egocentric unkindness that can occur as students explore identity and power while struggling to find their place among peers. So, what is going on developmentally for tweens and teens at this time? How can we support our children when they experience unkindness at the hands of classmates? When should a parent really worry and seek out help? While our children do not come with instruction manuals (wouldn't that have been nice), I can share a bit of what I have discovered through the years that might help a parent understand and survive these challenging years.

 

The teen brain is fascinating and seems riddled with contradictions. In adolescence the brain grows at a rate that mirrors that of a toddler who is learning to walk and talk. New synapses are forming constantly, just as they were during the terrible twos, yet simultaneously grey matter pruning is underway as the brain develops to become more efficient. Students are gaining the capacity to engage in abstract thought, yet their pre-frontal cortexes are far from fully developed impacting their ability to think deeply about the consequences of their decisions. Simultaneously, hormones wreak havoc as teens process the stimuli from their environment through the emotional centers of the brain. As their bodies and brains are changing at astounding rates, they can be incredibly awkward, self-conscious and self-absorbed. Even so, students are beginning to explore the capacity for empathy and they consider the perspectives of others. I have seen students debate thoughtfully and show incredible insight into issues such as prejudice and injustice during a social studies class, yet hours later post a cruel comment about a classmate online, without thinking twice about the hurtful repercussions. You may have experienced angst-ridden conversations in which your own child seems to both love and hate you simultaneously. While incredibly frustrating, this paradox is developmentally normal. (For more information on the teen brain see "10 Facts Every Parent Should Know about their Child's Teen Brain").

 

During this time of unparalleled growth and development, friendships often shift. This can be due to changes in interests and activities as students discover the many new paths offered in middle school. An exploration of identity and wrestling with its many facets including racial identity, gender identity, and sexual identity can also contribute. For others, popularity can be a motivator. Some kids look to improve their perceived place in the social order, and cast aside friendships in the process. The egocentric desire to fit in can lead students to turn a blind eye on the hurt they cause through their actions. Students might ignore former friends and even engage in relational aggression as they unskillfully break ties, causing pain in the process. The emotional pull can be for parents to want to intervene and help preserve those elementary friendships. Parents may want to prevent the upheaval that occurs in this process. This can even make it harder for kids to move on. Often parental friendships are grounded in the elementary friendships of their children, so it can be awkward to know what role to play, whether their child is the one looking to leave the relationship or the one being left. Helping your child understand that changing relationships are a normal part of middle school can be reassuring. Your child is not alone. Focusing on resiliency and seeking out new connections may help. Keeping a high expectation around kindness is also important. Not everyone has to be friends, but there is no need to be mean as relationships shift. Often just being there to lend a listening ear, dry a tear, and offer a comforting hug can be the way to go.

 

There are times, however, when a student finds himself or herself on the receiving end of extreme teenage cruelty including bullying and/or cyber-bullying. As a school we educate about bullying and the law, offering formal presentations to all three grades over the past month. We follow up in TAG and through Wellness classes and teach kids about characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships, aspiring to our core tenets of Belonging Empathy Respect and Trust as a constant drumbeat. We make kids aware of the ACT acronym that can help when they know about bullying (or any other situation that causes one to deeply worry about a classmate)

  • Acknowledge - Acknowledge that there is a problem.
  • Care - Let the person know you care.
  • Tell - Tell a trusted adult.

Bullying is never okay, and allowing it to persist is detrimental to both the target and the aggressor. Your child may need your help and intervention if this is the case. As a parent if you find your child unable to sleep, losing interest in their daily activities, or feeling fearful about going to school, please let us know. Our guidance counselors are amazing, and we can work together to assist you and your child. She or he does not have to suffer in isolation.

 

Parenting is tricky business and there is no single right way to do it. Every child is different and needs a different approach especially during this time of emotional volatility in early adolescence. At some point I predict your child will do something mean and also that someone will do something mean to him or her. It is part of growing up. As their friendships shift, don't try to micromanage but be there for them when they are feeling low. Love them, give them space and don't hesitate to commiserate with fellow parents and know that our professionals here at school are here to help, particularly if you are worried. Together we will try to navigate the pinnacle of human meanness and come out the other side. I have attached a list of great reads that speak to this developmental time period and might help you better understand and support your teen.

 

Respectfully,

 

Betsy Gavron

Principal 

 

RECOMMENDED READINGS:

  • The Primal Teen: What New Discoveries about the Teenage Brain Tell us about Our Kids by Barbara Strauch
  • 7 Things Your Teenager Won't Tell You: And How to Talk About Them Anyway by Jenifer Marshall Lippincott & Robin M. Deutsch
  • Staying Connected to Your Teenagers: How to Keep Them Talking to You and How to Hear What They are Really Saying  by Michael Riera
  • Get Out of my Life....But First Can You Take me and Cheryl to the Mall?   by Anthony Wolf
  • Masterminds and Wingmen by Rosalind Wiseman (about the social world of boys)
  • Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman (about the social world of girls)
  • The Way of Boys: Promoting the Social and Emotional Development of Boys by Anthony Rao
  • So Sexy So Soon by Diane Levin
Artist of the Week
Dancing Through Space
"I do ballet and that was the inspiration for my painting. I also feel that sometimes I let go and wing it, 'just floating through space,' and that is where my background came from."
Ellie Flacke, Grade 6 

Dr. Terrence Roberts Speaks to 8th Graders 

November 19, 10:00am

 

The social studies department and the King House are pleased to invite families to the following event.  This 
Wednesday, November 19th at 10:00 am, Dr. Terrence Roberts will be speaking to the entire eighth grade in the WMS theater.  Dr. Roberts is one of the "Little Rock Nine," a man who made history as a teenager when he helped integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Dr. Roberts has worked as a psychology professor, a consultant to public schools, and as CEO of a management consulting firm.  In 1998, along with the other members of the Little Rock Nine, he was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton.

Dr. Roberts is a dynamic speaker who engages students and pushes them to think carefully about questions of justice.  He comes to WMS through the generosity of the PTO and our relationship with the organization Facing History and Ourselves.  If you are available, please join us for this special event.  It will be unforgettable. 

 

Support Resources  

 

As part of the protocol for the 11/19 MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey, we are providing you with a list of mental health and safety resources. If you have questions or concerns please don't hesitate to contact your child's guidance counselor.

 

Pause Fran�aise

November 20 

 

Bonjour Wayland! Please take pause this Thursday, November 20th from 2:50 - 3:30 p.m. to join us in the WMS cafeteria for the annual Pause Fran�aise celebration in conjunction with National French Week. All are welcome to attend and view this year's 8th grade Regions of France presentations as well as 7th grade French speaking country displays. There will be treats representative of these locations and student-made artifacts related to the French speaking cultures of the world. A jeudi!

 

Merci,

Madame Williams, Monsieur Yurek et les �l�ves de 7th & 8th

Winter Sports Clearance  

Basketball Tryouts Begin December 8

 

Basketball registration is now open online for all interested 7th and 8th graders. Please be sure to register before tryouts begin on December 8. No need to pay the $125 sports fee yet - wait until tryouts are complete. 
 
Your child will need a valid physical on file in the nurse's office in order to tryout.  Physicals expire after 13 months.  Send updated physicals to the attention of our School Nurse Noreen D'Amico.

If you have questions about registration, sports clearance, tryouts, or the WMS athletic program, please contact the Athletic Office at 508-358-7488.

 

WMS Library News

 

Chromebook Care and Use Poster Contest

As we enter the 2nd quarter, our Chromebook Care and Use Poster Contest serves to reinforce the skills and strategies that students have been practicing to help them care for Chromebooks. All students are encouraged to submit a poster to the contest. Our student Help Desk staffers, the LARKers, are required to make a poster. More information about the contest can be found at the LARK's Nest in our Library. Submissions are due during Homeroom on Monday, November 24.

 

Teen Library Advisory Board

The Teen Library Advisory Group is exited to be Celebrating our Third Annual Gaming in Your Library Day this afternoon, Monday, November 17th. Students are welcome to play board, card, adventure, video and other games in the WMS library until 3:30pm.

 

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, December 9th at WHS. By student request, we will have Movie Afternoon in the WHS Little Theatre. More information is available on the library website.

 

Audiobook and Ebook Update

WMS library resources include a growing collection of ebooks and audiobooks, thanks in part to the generous support of the Wayland Public Schools Foundation. A new app, Follett's Brytewave, can be used to access both our cloud-based ebooks and cloud-based audiobooks. For those of you with students who have been using the Catalist app, this app will soon be replacing Catalist. Brytewave is available for a number of platforms and devices; installation options can be found here. Their development team will be working on additional enhancements in the coming months. See the WMS Library website or the library's e&audiobook page for the latest information on our ebook and audiobook collections.

Q1 Report Cards

Acknowledgement Forms Due 11/19

 

Students brought Q1 report cards home last Friday.  

Please be sure to sign and return the acknowledgement form to your child's homeroom teacher by Wednesday, 11/19.  Thank you!

Our Lost & Found Overfloweth... 

 

Now is a good time to have your child check for missing items in our lost and found as the piles are getting quite high.  Our lost and found is located in the hallway outside the Wellness Center.  Unclaimed items are donated to charity on the Fridays before each of the school vacations (December, February, April, and June).

PTO News 

Genevieve's Orders Arrive TODAY, 11/18  

 

This is the first year in recent memory that we have included frozen items in addition to Genevieve's standard offerings.  Almost all the orders placed included at least one frozen item.  To that end, our distribution plan, for all who participated, is a bit different this year.  We greatly appreciate your understanding at this new twist in getting these items to you!

 

The truck will deliver our order to the school by mid-day on Tuesday.  We really don't have the ability to store the frozen items.  Thankfully, we have a great group of volunteers who are willing to meet the truck and organize the orders in time for immediate pickup from 2:15 - 3:30 pm on November 18 in the school lobby. Please make every possible effort to pick up your orders at this time - or arrange for a friend or neighbor to do so.

 

If you arrive during dismissal time, please note that you will need to park in the parking lot as buses will be lined up out front. Please drive with extra caution as it is a very busy time outside of the school.

 

Unfortunately, students will not be able to bring even small orders home on the school bus as it would be very difficult for children to pickup items and then make it on to the buses in time.

 

For those who just absolutely cannot make the 2:15 to 3:30 time, you can pick up your orders later in the evening on November 18 between 6:30 and 7:30pm, but you must email us at ptowaylandms@gmail.com to make arrangements for the later pickup time. We have a very, very small amount of space in the school freezer to store a few orders.  

 

If you are a Boston resident who placed an order, you will be contacted directly. 

 

Again, we really appreciate your understanding with this new procedure for distributing the orders to you.  In future years, we will include the complete anticipated distribution plan at the outset of the fundraising appeal so you are aware prior to making your order.

 

Thank you to everyone who participated!  

If you have any questions or if you'd like to help with organizing the orders for parent pickup on 11/18, please send an email to ptowaylandms@gmail.com  

 

Gift Card Calendar Fundraiser  

 

WMS families are so amazing! 
Thank you to all who responded to our Sunday morning plea for more volunteers. Thank you for giving so generously of your time!

57 of our 76 volunteer spots have now been filled - 75%! We do still have 19 open spots
. If you can join us on a school day(s) from 9 to 10AM to help count money and calculate homeroom totals, please consider signing up on VolunteerSpot (link below) or contact ramah_hawley@wayland.k12.ma.us.  Many, many thanks!

Sign up here:

http://vols.pt/4fZUyi  

 

WMS Community Service Club 

Collecting Items for Buddy Dog  

 

The WMS Community Service Club is collecting items to help Buddy Dog, the Humane Society on Boston Post Road in Sudbury. If you'd like to donate any of the items below, please place them in the Buddy Dog box in the WMS Lobby through 11/14.   

 

~Many, many thanks from all the animals (and humans) at Buddy Dog and from the WMS Community Service Club!

 

For the Cats & Kittens:

Science Diet Dry Cat Food

Canned cat food

Non-clumping cat litter

Blankets and towels

Meat only baby food

Newspapers

Also:

Distilled Water

Laundry Soap

Paper Towels

Sponges

For the Dogs & Puppies:

Science Diet Dry Dog Food

Canned dog food

Collars and leashes

Rawhide bones

Toys and Treats

Blankets

Thanksgiving Week Absences

We Dismiss at 11:15AM on 11/26 

 

Turkey

Absences:

If your family's Thanksgiving travel plans involve your child missing school, please remember to let the office staff know (even if you have notified teachers).

 

By phone: 508-655-6670 menu option 2

 

Early Dismissal on Wed. BEFORE @ 11:15AM:   

We have a special program in our auditorium and a varied class schedule on Wednesday 11/26.  If you must collect your child early (before our 11:15 dismissal), be sure to send your child to school with a dismissal note as it will be very disruptive and difficult for us to find your child in the dark auditorium.   

 

Upcoming Dates 

 

11/18: Genevieve's Order Pickup

 

11/18:  Wayland Sings! WHS Field House, 7:30pm 

 

11/19:  MetroWest Adolescent Survey, All Grades

 

11/20:  MS/HS Jazz Concert, WMS, 7:30pm

 

11/25:  Grade 6 Roller Skating Social, 1:30 to 4:45pm

 

11/26:  11:15am Dismissal, NO LUNCH SERVED 

 

11/27 & 11/28:  NO SCHOOL, Thanksgiving Break