Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Second Half Push

It’s unbelievable to think that the majority of the school year is now behind us. Today we are officially on day 2 of the second semester. With the jump to the new semester we start to live in two school years simultaneously; we obviously still have a great deal of work to do as we push, grind and grow through the 2017-2018 school year, but we also are now heavily into our planning for the 2018-2019 school year.

A big part of the planning process for next school year is working with our students and their families to identify course requests as our 6th graders move to 7th grade, our 7th graders move to 8th grade and our 8th graders prepare to transition to the High School. Each in their own right a pretty significant step.

The transformation of the middle school that has taken place over the last few school years has opened up some new opportunities for our students that started when our current 8th graders entered the building as 6th graders in the fall of 2015. The Reader’s Digest version of what those opportunities are going to mean down the road for our students is this: greater flexibility in terms of accessing wider breadth of high school & college level courses, and opening up additional diploma endorsement opportunities for our students. Some of those new opportunities for our students at the middle level are outlined in a blog post from earlier this school year: http://wgmsprincipal.blogspot.com/2017/09/new-opportunities.html

Earlier this month we started the planning process for the 2018-2019 school year by meeting with our 8th grade parents and guardians. The purpose of the meeting was to provide and overview of graduation requirements, discuss 9th grade course requirements & electives, and outline the scheduling process for our 8th graders as we start their transition to the High School. Our School Counselors will be meeting with our 8th grade students to review the same information and then ultimately meet with each student individually to make their High School course requests. That entire process will be completed by late February. Here is a link to the presentation if you’d to check it out:

School Counselors will also start to work with our 6th and 7th grade students to take a look at the different options that they have in terms of course requests for next school year. Parents and guardians should look for course request information coming home from us in early March.

Students of the Month
The end of the month and start of the new semester also brings with it our new ‘Students of the Month’ for January. We continue to 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. Yesterday we recognized 6th graders Dillon Collier, Hannah Kenna, Anthony Mangano and Ella McIntyre, 7th graders Aidan Gartner-Baca, Lana Hussein, Margaret McDonough and Peter McMahon, 8th graders Kylee Barry, Aidan Braun, Carolyn Coffey and Nicholas Personte. 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, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Continued Success,
Steve Dunham
Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms

Monday, December 18, 2017

It’s The Most Wonderful (& Busiest) Time Of The Year

Whatever your ‘to-do’ list is filled with this time of year I’m sure it’s pretty extensive. Whether tied to home or work, this time of year can be incredibly busy; shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, closing out one year and preparing for the next, and a thousand other things filling up your plate. In all of the ‘noise’ and ‘frenziness’ of the season it is easy to lose sight of what matters most; other people. When it’s all said and done, and the Holidays are in our rearview mirror several weeks from now, it will be the time we spent with our family and friends, as well as all the things we did to bring some brightness into other people’s world that matter most.

So slow down. Make some time for yourself and for those around you and enjoy the moments of the season without stressing about that ‘to-do’ list. Turn the Holiday music up just a little louder, leave it on the Hallmark channel all day and don’t apologize, have an extra cookie, put your phone away, let people know how much you love them, and go out of your way to lift someone up who needs a helping hand. We all have the incredible power to change the world one day at a time, one person at a time, and one action at a time.It starts with us.

With that said, we have a lot of great things happening in our building around our students and staff stepping up and doing their part in changing the world:


Last week our 6th grade choir and Jazzkatz brought some Holiday cheer and lots of smiles to the faces of the residents of the Camillus Senior Center.


Our Technology and DDP students have been mass manufacturing wooden paw print ornaments for the holiday season with all money being donated to WG families in need. Made with their own hands and lots of love, our middle school students are trying to bring some Holiday cheer to our Wildcat community.

We continue to have students, who through their actions and character, help to create a positive school environment. This 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. Last week we recognized our November Students of the Month; 6th graders Nicole Vasilev, Vivian Raposo, Riley McGiveron and James Mungro, 7th graders Tyler Tabaczyk, Mia Pinker, Kevin Bailey and Katelyn Hagadorn, 8th graders Anthony Paini, Jacob Adams, Emily Kurz and Alana Eastman. Well deserved and congratulation!



May you enjoy all that matters most this Holiday Season and all throughout the year! Merry Christmas!!

Continued Success,
Steve Dunham
Twitter: @sdunhamwgms

Monday, November 13, 2017

November Flurry

The last four weeks have been incredibly busy and have absolutely flown by at the middle school. We’ve jumped from fall sports to winter, we moved the clocks back, and we just came to the end of the first quarter. It seems like we just started and yet we are two weeks away from Thanksgiving. In that blur of a month we have had some outstanding things happening and a lot to be proud of.

Halloween Spooktacular
On Friday, October 27th we held our 2nd Annual WGMS PTA Halloween Spooktacular. Over 325 students (over half of our building) showed up to dance, play BINGO, shoot hoops, sing karaoke, and eat a lot of foods not found on the 'whole-30 diet'. It was a really terrific evening of fun! To pull off this type of event off you need great planning and you need people willing to step up and volunteer their time. We had both, and our parent & staff volunteers are simply awesome! I received several emails from parents thanking us for putting this on for our kids and many of our students were vocally appreciative as they thanked us heading out of the building Friday night. 

WGMS Team
District Spelling Bee
This past week was the District Spelling Bee at Camillus Middle school. WGMS was very well represented with six of the final twelve spellers including 6th graders Joe Paoli & Cooper Corcoran, 7th grader Sophia Van Horn, and 8th graders Connor Dunham, Cameron Hovater & Emily Pattermann. Our 6th graders Joe and Cooper were the two finalists with Joe Paoli ultimately being crowned Spelling Bee Champ.
District Finalists: Cooper & Joe


Students of the Month
In an effort to be more consistent at recognizing our students at each grade level we created a building-wide ‘Student of the Month’ award recognizing two girls and two boys at each grade level. This recognition is presented to students for demonstrating exemplary work ethic, citizenship, character, compassion, honesty, trustworthiness, responsibility, optimism and/or leadership in creating a positive school environment. This isn’t about grades and athletic or musical prowess, it’s about demonstrating all of the qualities associated with great character that we value and celebrate. Last week we recognized our October Students of the Month; 6th graders Sarah Adams, Karolina Lata, Gabriel Farino and Joseph Paoli, 7th graders Kate Kuppinger, Emilie Shoults, Gabe June and Daniel McManus, 8th graders Jessica Femano, Julia Klazco, Matthew Murdock and Brad Smith.  


Career Fair
On Friday, November 3rd we had our annual Career Fair for our 8th grade students. We had 41 participants representing 30 different careers. This was a terrific opportunity for our students to get a better understanding of what some potential careers are, but also what types of skills they will need to be successful regardless of the career that they pursue. The Career Fair is a great connection to Career and Financial Management which is a high school elective brought down to the middle school for the first time this year.  A big thank you to School Counselor Cindy Kurz and our entire Counseling Department for pulling this together.


Camillus Optimist Teacher/Students of Year
Each year we have the opportunity to recognize two 8th grade students who embody everything that we value in our young adults. It’s about being a wonderful person who exudes excellence and great character in all that they do through leadership, citizenship and service to our school community. Last week I had the honor of recognizing Julia Biggs and Connor Dunham with the 2017 David Kenna Outstanding Student Award. It has been an incredible experience watching these two young people grow over the years.

In addition to the students of the year I had the honor of recognizing Toni Abdo who received the 2017 Joseph A. Witowski Outstanding Teacher Award. What is most unique about the teacher award is that individuals are nominated by their peers for being sensitive to the needs of their students; for creating an exciting and challenging classroom atmosphere; and contributing to the quality of instruction at West Genesee. Mrs. Abdo is a champion for kids who makes a personal connection with each and every student, where she demands their best and where she never ever gives up on anybody. It is an honor working with her each and every day.

This next month will be just as exciting and equally as busy as the last. We kick it off this week with our school musical, ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ with show times of 7:00 PM on Thursday and Friday evening, and Saturday afternoon at 2:00 PM.

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

Continued Success,

Steve Dunham
Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms