Friday, January 10, 2020

Jumping Into 2020

As hard as it is to believe that we have turned the calendar to 2020, it’s just as hard to believe that we are two weeks away from the first semester of the school year coming to an end. The second Winter sports season has started for many of our middle school student-athletes and many students will be completing any half-year courses in their schedule and starting new courses later this month. Please be on the lookout for scheduling information to be mailed home to all parents in early February as we are beginning to plan for the 2020-2021 school year.

Strategic Planning Calls for Commentary 
For many years the West Genesee Central School District has engaged in a reflective and goal-oriented review process which culminates in a Strategic Plan for Educational Improvement. You can view the 
2019-20 Strategic Plan here. A critical component in the development of this plan comes from the feedback we receive from all stakeholders: our staff, students, community members, and parents. The Strategic Planning Team would appreciate a few moments of your time to tell them about our areas of strength and where we need to grow and improve. Please click here to complete the brief survey by January 24th. Your feedback and input is greatly appreciated.

Some of the most important moments in a student’s journey from Kindergarten through graduation are the transitions that take place when they move from one building to another. At West Genesee we currently have two transition points that take place as our 5th graders move to middle school and our 8th graders move to the high school. In both instances, we have spent a lot of time working between the different buildings to ensure highly effective and smooth transitions for students.

8th Grade Parent Night
Last night both middle schools held an 8th Grade Parent Night to start the process of getting our 8th graders ready for the high school. There was a standing-room-only turnout of highly engaged and involved parents who had great questions and want to be a partner in the process. The purpose of the evening was to explain the scheduling process, develop and understanding of graduation requirements, and build an awareness of the different course offerings that our High School has. You can access the presentation by going to the West Genesee Middle School homepage, scroll down to ‘School Links’, click on the ‘Counseling/Students Services’ link and select “8th Grade Parent Night: High School Planning & Scheduling Process” presentation. If you have any questions relative to this process please give our Guidance Office a call at 315-487-4622.

As always, if you have any general questions or concerns please give me call or send me an email. Thank you for your continued support of our students and staff.

Continued Success,
Steve Dunham
Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Celebrating Success

The last few weeks have been a blur of activities including Thanksgiving Break and our first snow day of the school year. As we work our way through the first week of December I wanted to share some of the successes that we recently celebrated. 

Wizard of Oz: Curtain Call
Wizard of Oz
The week prior to Thanksgiving we were fortunate to have three wonderful performances of the musical, The Wizard of Oz. Over 110 students were involved in either the cast or the stage crew. It was so gratifying to see teachers, parents, and students all working together to make such an incredibly well done production a reality. Opportunities like these that provide students a chance to develop their skills and a platform to share with others are incredible. A special thank you to our Director, Mrs. Christy Knowlton, who takes anyone and everyone who wants to be a part of the production. To manage and direct 110 middle school students and create such an amazing production is incredible. I had to remind myself several times that these are middle school students! Bravo!!

Wizard of Oz cast performing for their classmates during the day

Optimist Award Winners
Earlier this week we the honor and pleasure of recognizing two of our 8th grade students and one of our staff members with the Optimist Students and Teacher of the Year Awards. The biggest challenge we face is that we have so many outstanding students and staff members to consider it is a very difficult process.

Some of the selection criteria that we consider when nominating students is challenging to quantify - optimism, integrity, perseverance, caring, creativity, initiative - all noble qualities, and characteristics that we should all aspire to, yet they are difficult to really assess.  When talking about someone’s character the best measure in my opinion is the eye test - you see it, you feel, you sense it. It’s not very scientific, but when you are in the presence of young adults who embody what is most just know it. This year our two student winners were Nicole Vasilev and Joey Paoli. Congratulations to both of them and we appreciate them adding so much to our school community!

The simple dictionary definition of a teacher describes a teacher as a person who teaches, especially in a school. But there is so much more which the dictionary can’t describe. In real life, a teacher is a guardian, caretaker, instructor, mentor, coach, role model, and the list goes on. It has been our philosophy for many years that all of us, and any of us in our schools that work with students are teachers. Regardless of your job title, you are a teacher. With that as some background, it is easy to understand why so many people nominated John Lizzi, our Head Custodian, for the Optimist Teacher of the Year Award.

He goes above and beyond his duties all the time. You can see Mr. Lizzi out front each morning saying hello to students, waving at parents as they drop kids off and being a friendly face for anyone arriving at West Genesee Middle School from about 7:00 AM to 7:30 AM - rain or shine, sun or clouds, Mr. Lizzi is out there. Not because he has to be, but because he wants to be. 

Mr. Lizzi takes the time to listen to students and interact with them in our cafeteria, the hallway, and school events. He knows them by name and they know him. Mr. Lizzi has been a staple at our 8th Grade Career Fair where he shares his experiences as an actor. His stories sparking curiosity and wonder in the hearts and minds of 13 year-old wanna-be actors and actresses. He elicits realistic, useful advice, but inspires those young eyes to Dream and to Think Big.

Mr. Lizzi’s thoughtfulness, work ethic, compassion, initiative and sincere caring for our students, staff and entire school community is remarkable. Through his actions and leadership he has helped to create a culture of caring and learning. Congratulations to Mr. Lizzi for being the Optimist Teacher of the Year!

Thank you for your continued support of our students and staff. As always, if you have any questions or concerns please give me a call or send me an email. 

Continued Success,
Steve Dunham
Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

From Shorts to A Shovel

October absolutely flew by. We literally went from wearing shorts to using our snow shovels in just a few weeks! The month was a whirlwind of different events and activities at the middle level. Each and every day our students have amazing opportunities both during the school day and after hours to get involved, to pursue their interests and to challenge themselves. We continue to be committed to creating, promoting and supporting academically rigorous and developmentally responsive programs for our adolescent learners. Here are a few of the things that took place in October:

Career Fair
We had over 40 different community members representing a variety of careers at our annual Career Fair, filling our gym with energy and enthusiasm. Our 8th grade students had the opportunity to ask questions and learn about a variety of industries and possible career paths. Through those conversations we hope that a spark is ignited in our students to follow a path that is right for them whether it be college, trade school, military, or any other type of training that matches their interests and passion. This is a great event to get our students to start thinking about their future. Surprisingly, very few seem interested in becoming a School Principal! 

WGMS Top Spellers
Spelling Bee
The District Spelling Bee is one of the most nerve racking experiences I have every school year. And I’m not a participant! Top spellers from our four elementary schools and two middle schools come together to compete for the title of District Spelling Bee Champion. More impressive than anyone’s ability to spell, is the courage it takes to get up on stage, hold the microphone and try to spell a word all by yourself with 150+ people staring at you. There was certainly an air of nervousness in the room felt by both the participants and all of the adults in the audience. But as our students often do, when faced with adversity or an uncomfortable situation, they rise to the occasion. All of our participants were absolutely amazing and should be commended for their bravery!

A special shout-out to WGMS 8th grader Josephine Simpson who was the District Spelling Bee Champion. Congratulations Josephine!

Students of the Month
As a building we celebrate those that carry themselves in a way that we can all be proud of. Last week we recognized our ‘Students of the Month’ for October. We continue have students, who through their actions and character, help to create a positive school environment. Choosing ‘Students of the Month’ isn’t about grades and athletic or musical prowess, it’s about demonstrating all of the qualities that we value and celebrate - exemplary work ethic, citizenship, character, compassion, honesty, trustworthiness, responsibility, optimism and/or leadership in creating a positive school environment. As a school community we are extremely grateful for students who day in and day out show up, work hard, do their best, and make our school a better place.

This month we recognized 6th graders Clyde Allen, Logan DeWaters, Christina Guglielmi, and Julian Kurtz; 7th graders Norah Emery, Calina Olson, Connor Parker, and Jonathan Shoults; and 8th graders Noah Austin, Lamees Hussein, Nick Lauro, and Fefe Zawahreh. Well deserved and congratulations to all!

6th Grade Students of the Month

7th Grade Students of the Month

8th Grade Students of the Month
Thank you for your continued support of our students and staff. As always, if you have any questions or concerns please give me a call or send me an email. 

Continued Success,
Steve Dunham
Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms