WMS/PTO Newsletter               October 2014
Betsy Gavron Principal

"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours" - from Henry David Thoreau's Walden

 

Dear Parents and Guardians:

 

Thirty-one years ago House Leader Liz LeBaron set out on the first ever 6th grade Walden Bike trip. Today the trip she championed is just as magical as it was three decades ago, and serves as a bookend experience to help frame our students' middle school years (with the Washington DC trip serving as the closing bookend in 8th grade). I was lucky enough to bike with the Thoreau Cluster this past Friday and re-experience the ways in which we honor the life's work of Henry David Thoreau, our sixth grade House mentor. In preparation for Walden, students learn about Thoreau's life and explore his values. The bike trip also allows students to step outside their comfort zones to accomplish challenging goals that some did not imagine possible for themselves. Finally, the trip it is wonderful venue for celebrating teamwork in action as TAG groups form special bonds that will anchor their groups through the coming year.

 

While Thoreau wrote Walden in 1854, his ideals remain a strong match for the developmental struggles of a sixth grader in 2014. Thoreau was a persnickety individualist who refused to blindly follow his government. At a time in one's life where the social pull to fit in can lead one to abandon her or his own ideas, passions or beliefs, Thoreau serves as a counterpoint writing in his conclusion to Walden, "If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away." We want students to wrestle with this notion that it is okay to think different thoughts, enjoy different activities, and be true to oneself. Be at peace with who you are; you don't work to be someone you are not.

 

Thoreau's message of "Simplify, simplify, simplify," is another teaching that resonates with our students. The Thoreau Cluster wore their purple jerseys Friday, sporting that message with great pride. In a day and age where consumerism leads one to seek out the latest gadget or the coolest pair of jeans, Thoreau challenges students to see that material goods are not the source of happiness. Thoreau found an appreciation for nature by living and working at Walden in his one room cabin. Through a walk around the pond and a visit to the cabin site, students imagined Thoreau's world and the simplicity he sought in his life, as he studied and appreciated the natural world around him.

 

In conjunction with the cerebral workout that Walden inspires, the bike trip provides a physical workout as well. Some students come into this trip as avid cyclists hoping to bike the nearly twenty miles at top speeds. Others are more cautious bikers who worry their stamina won't be enough to sustain this challenging ride. Still some arrive as non-bikers, worried that they will be unable to participate. As a team we work incredibly hard to have as many students as possible take on this journey by bike. For weeks prior to the trip a cadre of committed adults toils in tandem to help students acquire the skills necessary for success. House leaders put out a plea for extra bikes, as not all of our students have their own or can get them to the school. Maribel Valdes our METCO counselor then matches students to bikes and provides regular biking practice sessions through study halls and FLEX periods. Students take the risk to learn, a skill that we ask of them in our classrooms day in and day out, hoping to see the fruits of their labors. There is nothing that beats the wide grin of a student who finds his or her balance on those two wheels. It makes all of the effort worthwhile. And for students whose broken limbs or physical challenges deem them unable to bike, they too have roles as integral members of our trip photography team. Our photographers capture students' biking accomplishments in real time and take pictures of students sketching, journaling and marveling at the beauty of Walden Pond.

 

For this trip to run smoothly it also requires thoughtful examination around how a group functions best. Through Wednesday TAG sessions, students brainstorm and discuss the qualities they need to practice in order to have a successful trip. Patience, encouragement, communication, and positivity are among the offerings. Teams discuss what these attributes look and sound like in practice to help position the group to function optimally. Students then make bracelets where each different colored bead represents a unique quality discussed and serves as a physical reminder of the group's aspirations. As I biked on Friday, I saw evidence of this careful preparation permeating the trip. Our confident bikers showed restraint, knowing that we could only travel as fast as the slowest biker. Compliments and words of encouragement were offered to classmates. Students were quick to pass messages down the line of bikers - "mud ahead" or "slowing down" - to ensure optimal communication. The positive "Whoo Whoo Whoos" (one Whoo per kilometer), shouted proudly from each member of Mr. Longnecker's TAG group, brought a smile to my face every time we passed another kilometer marker. It was a joyful day to experience the exquisite magnificence of Walden and get some exercise with 6th graders.

 

This annual autumn rite of passage would not be possible without representatives of the PTO and our 6th grade house leaders working together to coordinate parent bike checkers, bike riders, van drivers, snack providers, and cheerers. It takes our whole Wayland community to pull off such a trip. Thank you to all who helped make it such a success. An accomplishment like this helps our students see what Thoreau believed - the potential of advancing confidently in the direction of their dreams as they dare to imagine all that is possible.

 

Respectfully,

 

Betsy Gavron

Library News

The next Teen Library Advisory Group meeting is an EL wire workshop at the WPL on Wednesday, October 29th. EL wire is thin and pliable, and lights up when you run electricity through it. More information about the event, including permission forms and transportation details can be found on the WMS library website.  

 

We invite you to join the WMS Library volunteer team! Parents/community members and students are all valued members of our library volunteer team. Please see the WMS library website for more information and a sign up form.

Genevieve's Fundraiser
Need Your Order Forms by 10/22

Thank you to everyone who participated in the WMS Genevieve's fundraiser.  The program has now ended and it is important for order forms to be turned into the school office by Tuesday, October 22 to ensure timely shipment.  If you have questions, please contact Lynne Cribben at lcribben@yahoo.com.

Wayland Connects 
October 22 & March 3
Taking time to connect with family and friends.

Wayland Connects is our deliberate attempt to acknowledge the rapid pace of life we lead and take pause for purposeful connection between friends and family. Between schoolwork, music, sports, extra-curricular activities, and other commitments, many students and families can find themselves overextended and tired. The schools have set aside October 22 and March 3 as two dates during which no homework will be assigned, and no school activities will occur. There will be no projects due the following day, nor will tests or quizzes take place. We encourage all families to participate and join in on a truly wonderful opportunity to take pause and reconnect with the ones you love. 


Some possible activities include:

  • Cooking dinner together
  • Going out to dinner with friends and family
  • Holding a family game night
  • Visiting a museum
  • Doing a group art project
  • Reading aloud together
  • Watching a movie together

Supported by:

Wayland Public Schools

Wayland PTO

Wayland Youth and Family Services

Wayland Cares

 


Important Dates

 

 

10/22: 
Wayland Connects! 

 

10/23 & 10/24: 
8th Grade NY Trip (1/2 grade/day)

10/30:
MS/HS Orchestra Concert, WHS Main Stage, 7:30pm


11/06:
Grade 6 Math Night, 4:30pm or 7:00pm


11/11:
NO SCHOOL, Veterans Day