WMS Newsletter
Monday, March 12, 2018
In this Issue:
  • Message from Principal Gavron
  • Progress Reports Delayed to 3/14, Weather Dependent
  • 6th Grade - Night of Plenty Re-scheduled for MARCH 15
  • AMC Contest
  • China Exchange Program Information Session
  • PTO News
  • Artist of the Week
  • Reminders from Previous Emails
  • Important Dates
Message from Principal Gavron

This fall and winter the stories that dominate our headlines leave parents, educators, and students alike reeling.  A barrage of tales of sexual harassment in the workplace, which have been spotlighted through the #metoo movement, bring to center stage the intolerable conditions under which so many (predominantly women) have found themselves subjected to working for so long. Most recently, the school shootings in Florida leave us aghast at the way a disenfranchised young man chose to express his anger at feeling wronged. As a parent and a principal I worry about how we can keep our children safe in such a world. Politicians are quick to enter into debates about guns (access and ownership), and while this is an important conversation, they might be missing the mark on the underlying root cause of the problem. Both sexual harassment and school shootings lead me to think deeply about a workshop I attended this past December entitled “Gender on the Agenda: The Socialization of Girls and Boys in the Culture of Violence.” The keynote was delivered by Jackson Katz, an outspoken activist who founded Mentor in Violence Prevention (MVP), a program we introduce in 8th grade health classes and continue teaching at Wayland High School. Katz , who also produced the documentaries, Tough Guise and Tough Guise II , would argue that the heart of societal problems like sexual harassment, school shootings, and domestic violence emerge from a culture of violent masculinity and limiting gender roles. He also contends that this taught behavior can be changed and that societally we can do better than we are doing.

Katz argues that historically (some) men have been abusing women, children, and other men for thousands of years. He talked about phenomena ranging from ritualized hazing to gang culture. Katz contends that men are both the primary victims of and perpetrators of violent crimes including murder, attempted murder, and aggravated assault. Much of the problem stems from the way we’ve socialized our boys for generations. For example, Katz argued that the simple phrase “boys will be boys” is very counterproductive. It creates an excuse for bad behavior in boys and sends the implicit, unhelpful message that boys can’t control themselves. Katz talked about cycles of violence that often begin with violence experienced in the home and then are perpetuated outward. Katz argues that being a male victim of violence leads one to believe that he has in some way failed to protect himself, which implicitly calls into question his manhood. Katz claims that shame is at the heart of this vicious violence cycle. Katz offers that any discussion about violence is a discussion about power - both maintaining or getting power. If manhood is about power and control, then a school shooting is the ultimate revenge fantasy. Katz states that boys can rise to standards we have for them or can sink to the standards we have for them. We can infuse them with heart and begin to interrupt the cultural context of behaviors and belief systems in which violence occurs.

I believe that as parents and educators we have our work cut out for us in shaping a safer, more respectful culture for our children. Countering narrow messaging about maleness and femaleness and expanding the range of gender roles is one aspect of the work. Actively stopping and discussing behavior that leads to objectification or misogyny is another. Finally, modeling healthy, loving, respectful relationships in our own lives is the most powerful example to learn from and is completely within our control as we seek to raise confident, caring, well-adjusted children. As educators committed to cultivating an atmosphere governed by BERT -- Belonging, Empathy Respect and Trust -- it is our privilege to join you in working towards a safer tomorrow.

Helping kids imagine a wide range of acceptable ways of being often feels like an uphill battle. The images splashed across our magazines, web browsers, and televisions of what it means to be female and male are far too limited, frequently lacking complexity and nuance. Girls are sold “sexy” and at an early age are encouraged to aspire to unnatural standards of beauty by a barrage of images that have been photoshopped and filtered. On the flip side, the primary models for masculinity are about toughness, power, and a disconnection from an emotional center. The phrase “man up,” speaks volumes and can carry a hurtful aftermath. This onslaught of gendered imaging combined with comedians, movie plots, video games, song lyrics, and even pornography (which is only a click away on a smart phone) are laden with misogynistic comments and themes that showcase violence and send troubling messages to our youth.   However, avoidance of the media is not necessarily a desirable task, nor is it even possible .  Sure, as parents we can and should limit screen entertainment time and delay access to more graphic content, but we can’t avoid pop culture completely. What we can do, however, is teach our children to be active, critical consumers of what they see. We can point out limiting stereotypes and worrisome role definitions, opening minds to the fact boys can enjoy dancing and gymnastics as well as football and lacrosse, while girls can program computers and kickbox as well as bake and shop. We can discuss choices characters in favorite TV shows make, actively exploring alternative narratives. Most of all we can make kids aware that they are being sold a way of being and empower them with the knowledge that they have the ability to accept or deny any aspect of the sales pitch.

Empowering stories of fellow parents making a difference are hopeful and inspiring too. A couple of years ago one mother shared a story of having a group of teenage boys playing the “hot or not” game on their phones during a carpool she was driving. Yes, believe it or not, hotornot.com is a real domain, and the very existence of such a website leads kids to think it is acceptable to rate people. Some may think these activities are playful at first blush, but when one thinks more critically about them, it becomes apparent that they are dehumanizing, judgmental, and cruel. I was impressed that this mother, who was upset with what she was hearing, stopped the car and informed the riders that this game was unacceptable to play on her watch. She modeled for us that as parents we do not need to be bystanders but instead have the power and responsibility to stop this type of behavior and set much needed limits. We can ask our children, would you want your friends talking that way about your mother or your sister? How would it feel to read a rating about oneself? Children need help thinking through the impact of their actions. While they have the capacity to be empathic, they need the coaching to make the cognitive leaps and analyze how their behavior might make others feel. Don’t be afraid to challenge behaviors that objectify and lead towards a slippery slope of maintaining a culture in which violence is acceptable. In doing so you teach students that they can and should step away from this objectifying group behavior.

As parents the greatest power we have is not in what we say but in what we do. We live out our values and can model for our children that the way we treat one another matters. We can laugh and find humor in the world without it coming at the hurtful expense of others. We can bust open gender stereotypes through our activities, our work, and our play. We can open a dialog about limiting, binary gender roles. Modeling healthy relationships by being respectful to our partners, even in times of disagreement and frustration is a gift to our children. We can have conflict and resolve it without utilizing hateful language or engaging physical violence. Apologizing and forgiving others when disagreement occurs shows how we can repair and maintain healthy relationships. Our children are watching and listening. Demonstrating affection and mutuality in all our relationships can be a much-needed antidote to the messaging of pop culture that is awash in violence. None of us is perfect, and we all have bad days, but we can work to create the world we hope our girls and our boys will experience. My parents gave me this gift, and I encourage you to offer this same present to your children too. 

Parents are not alone in working towards a safer more inclusive world. At Wayland Middle School we are here to partner with you. Through wellness, social studies, TAG and in our day-to-day lives we will look for teachable moments to explore and expand definitions of maleness and femaleness and the importance of mutual respect. In wellness classes we directly teach our students about characteristics of mutual friendships and relationships and learn the warning signs of unhealthy relationships. The in-depth study of the women’s movement in examining activism through our social studies curriculum is just another example of these efforts. Finally, TAG - Teacher Advisory Group is another useful venue. I have seen groups of 7 th grade students engaged in spirited dialog about whether they thought it was easier to be a boy or a girl growing up today, enabling real conversation about our gendered world. It’s powerful to explore justice and equity with our students at the age where identity development is at its peak. As a faculty we aspire to talk the talk and walk the walk to do our part in promoting healthy adolescent development.

Be inspired by Katz’s messages. Don’t let disturbing news stories, worry, or personal connections to violence leave you in a state of inaction. Through engaging in critical consumption of media with your middle schooler, interrupting hurtful stereotyping, and modeling respectful relationships you can make a difference in creating a safer environment for today’s youth. The time is now to raise and guide confident, secure boys and girls who are prepared to make good choices and develop healthy relationships. As Mahatma Gandhi offers, let’s “be the change we want to see in the world.”
Respectfully,
Betsy Gavron
Progress Reports Delayed

Progress reports have been delayed and will be viewable on HAC Wednesday March 14th, depending on any weather impact to the school schedule this week.
RE-SCHEDULED! Night of Plenty - 6th Grade Potluck Supper
Thursday, March 15, 6:00 - 7:30 pm
WMS Cafeteria

Please join us on  March 15th from 6 - 7:30 in the cafeteria for a 6th grade potluck supper. Students and their families are asked to bring something to share for the potluck as well as food for the food pantry.
China Exchange Information Session
for Rising 9th Grade Students and Parents
Tuesday, March 20, 7:00 pm
Wayland High School, South Building Room B214

The exchange program is open to 9th grade students taking ANY language. Topics to be covered include academic credit for program, summer institute, Wayland academics, Culture Class, hosting, cost, among others. Current and former student participants and parents will be there for a Q & A. Please come, we can’t wait to tell you about the program!
Peter Pan Jr.

Next Week the WMS Theatre!!

Wayland Fine Arts presents the Spring Musical, "Peter Pan, Jr."

March 21st @ 2:00 PM
March 22nd @ 7:30 PM
March 23rd @ 7:30 PM
March 24th @ 12:30 PM

Tickets are general admission. $5.00 for students and seniors, and $10.00 for adults. Tickets will be available for purchase at the door, 30 minutes before show times

Questions? Contact:  katherine_lopez@wayland.k12.ma.us
Students Participate in
National Mathematics Competition
 
Congratulations to the following students for their participation in the American Mathematics Contest AMC 10B last month. The AMC 10 contests are for students in grade 10 or below.
 
Hannah Han (8 th grade)
Carson Whitehouse (7 th grade)
Andrew Zhao (8 th grade)
Kevin Zhao (8 th grade)
 
Special congratulations go to Kevin Zhao for being the school winner and the recipient of the AMC 10 Certificate of Achievement. This certificate is awarded to students in grade 8 and below who score a 90 or above on the AMC 10.  
PTO News
Bus Driver & Crossing Guard Appreciation Breakfast
Wednesday, March 21, 9:00 - 10:00 am
Loker School Cafeteria
 
Join Wayland's PTO boards as we thank our bus drivers and crossing guards for all that they do to get our students safely to and from where they need to go. Whether your child walks to school, rides the bus, plays sports, or has enjoyed a field trip on the bus - we couldn't do it without these folks! This year the Loker Elementary School is hosting the event, and there are three ways that you can help:
 
● Volunteer to help at the breakfast by donating food, supplies or time on March 21 st
We are now using Signup.com (formerly Volunteer Spot). Visit our link, review the options and choose the spot(s) that you would like at:  http://signup.com/go/bxwQYun.  
You will not need to register an account or keep a password to sign up.
 
● You or your student can write a personal thank you note to your bus driver or crossing guard. These can be dropped off in the elementary school offices by the end of the school day on Thursday, March 15 th .
 
● Consider a $10 donation, instead, to help offset the cost of the breakfast and the simple gift bags for each driver/guard. Please make a check payable to "Wayland PTO" and drop them off at the Elementary School Offices or contact Nina Ching at  ninapc@gmail.com  for information on where to send them.
ARTIST of the WEEK



Artist: Sadie Norgaard
Grade: 7
Medium: Pencil
Reminders from Previous Emails
Parent Night at Wayland High School (for Parents of Current 8th Graders)
Thursday, March 15, 7:00 - 8:30 PM
High School Auditorium

Please come learn about our programs and school culture, meet department heads and administrators, and take a tour of campus. We hope to see you there!

Click here for the timeline for incoming 9th grade course recommendations and registration.
Dates to Remember
All Grades
String Jam: Tonight! 3/12
Band Fest: 3/13
Wayland Sings: 3/14

8th Grade
Parent Night at WHS: 3/15
2018 MCAS Dates
Please mark your calendars. If at all possible, we ask you to avoid scheduling appointments for your child on his or her testing dates. Many thanks! 

6th Grade
ELA: 4/2 and 4/3
Math: 5/7 and 5/8

7th Grade
ELA: 4/9 and 4/10
Math: 5/10 and 5/11

8th Grade
ELA: 4/26 and 4/27
Math: 4/30 and 5/1
Science and Technology: 5/3 and 5/4
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