Thursday, May 17, 2018

Carry the Torch

Yesterday, all of our 8th grade students from both Camillus Middle School and West Genesee Middle School had the incredible opportunity to hear the story of perseverance, determination, faith and hope from Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan. If you don’t know about her you should set aside a few minutes and check out her life story and work here: It truly is remarkable and speaks to the human spirit and ability to survive and get through incredibly difficult and catastrophic times.

This is the last generation that will hear these stories from the people that lived through them. It is on all of us to continue to share these stories and to study and teach about the horror of the Holocaust to make sure that it never happens again.  In addition to experiencing her firsthand account of this dark period in history, our students were challenged by Mrs. Lazan to carry the torch of justice and freedom with them throughout their lives:

“We must live with love, respect, compassion and tolerance towards one another. It starts with each of us. We all must look for similarities and respect our differences.”

At a time where hatred unfortunately continues to show its' ugly face, having our students learn from the past and continue to keep watch to speak up and stand up whenever they see intolerance, injustice and hatred is incredibly important. 

Students of the Month
As we turned the calendar into May we recognized our new ‘Students of the Month’. 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. 

This month we recognized 6th graders Hannah Sparks, Bridget Dunham, Charlie Searle, and Michael Hess, 7th graders Michael Dedrick, Ryan Considine, Nani Ross, and Mariya Kostiv, 8th graders Cameron Hovater, Connor Jacuk, Ella Robertson, and Anna Caruso. 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.

Continued Success,
Steve Dunham
Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Show Up. Do Your Best.

There are a lot of things in life that we have to do that we may not necessarily love to do or even like to do whether it is at work, at school, at home or in our lives in general. Think paperwork. Think washing the dishes. Think going to the gym. Insert whatever that "thing" is for you. But even the things we don't necessarily like to do all have a purpose. In those instances where we have to do the thing that we don't openly embrace, the message that we should give and model for our kids as parents is that whether you like it or not, show up and do your best. Whatever it is, that is the expectation. We expect you to show up and bring it. That's life. Over the next two months our students will be taking part in the New York State Assessments in both ELA and Mathematics. The NYS Assessments are something that not everyone necessarily loves to do, but they have a purpose and play an important part in what we do as a school. This is the letter that we sent home to all of our WGMS families in regards to the assessments:

"West Genesee Middle School students will be participating in the New York State English Language Arts Assessment April 11th and April 12th and the New York State Mathematics Assessment May 1st and May 2nd. These assessments measure the learning standards around which our teachers design and deliver their daily instruction. Our teachers routinely revise and refine this instruction to make it the most rigorous and relevant experience for our students. Because of this, we have no need to engage in test preparation or practice tests. Our children are completely prepared to take these assessments because our curriculum is in alignment with the standards the tests measure.

I know that some of you may have some reservations about encouraging your child to take the assessments. Your concerns, together with those of educators, have been influential in changing some important aspects of the assessments. Here are some of the positive changes for this year’s testing cycle:
  • 2 days instead of 3 days
  • Untimed testing – students may have as much time as they need
  • All questions have been written and reviewed by New York State teachers
  • Student scores are not part of the evaluation score for teachers or administrators
From our perspective, the New York State Assessments are a valuable tool that help us know how effectively our curriculum is aligning to the standards. Since students from across the state take the assessments, the results provide a window into how we compare with similar schools and where we can make improvements. As we do in other aspects of our children’s lives, we should encourage them to participate, encourage them to do their best, and celebrate their tremendous effort.

I am encouraging you to support the message we are giving your children here at school; this is your opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned and how you have grown as a student. We ask them to simply do their best.

I am so proud of how hard our students work, and I appreciate all of your support at home for 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,

Stephen R. Dunham
Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Stepping Up

We’ve been talking with our students about being built for others for several years at the middle level. Being built for others is having concern for the welfare of others, for caring about them, for trying to help them, and giving of yourself in an effort to make a situation or the lives of others better – whether you know them or not. Whatever it is you can do, it’s about giving your time, your effort, and your attention to something bigger than yourself that benefits others with no expectation of getting anything in return. It’s selflessness. It’s powerful. It’s energizing. It’s the greatest untapped renewable resource that we all have available to give.

This past Friday our entire school community came together as it has the four previous years to get involved in a transcendent cause. We hosted our 5th consecutive St. Baldrick’s event at West Genesee Middle School. This is a special event for a few reasons. The first is that this was student-initiated in 2014 as a result of some students looking for a way to support and stand with fellow students and members of our community who have been impacted by childhood cancer. Whenever you have students step up in an effort to make the world a better place and to help others, we need to listen, support them as needed and step aside. The results are usually incredible. Secondly, this event involves our entire school community: staff, students, parents, alumni and community members all involved in some way, whether it be shaving their head, donating, spreading the word or showing up to support our efforts with great enthusiasm. This is a true example of “The Power of WE.” Finally, we have all lost dear friends and family to cancer, and there are many others we know that have survived or continue to battle the disease. Most of us are not scientists or researchers so we are not going to be directly involved in finding a cure for this horrific disease. But that doesn’t mean we are helpless. St. Baldrick’s has been an avenue for us to do something positive and try to be part of what will hopefully be a significant breakthrough in helping to fight not only childhood cancers, but all cancers. That need to do something and to be part of the solution is what drives us.

For our St. Baldrick’s event this year we had 28 individuals step up to ‘brave the shave’ as part of #TeamWildcat, raising over $15,000. Twelve of our shavees were students who collectively raised $7,000 as a group. Unbelievable! Other students and staff were involved in making shamrock key chains and door signs in Technology classes with all of the proceeds going directly to our St. Baldrick’s event. We had former West Genesee graduates from Saving Face Barber Shop volunteer their time to shave some heads and be a part of our event as well. All in all, a lot of people giving of themselves for a transcendent cause. All in all, a community stepping up and coming together.

When we talk to students about being ‘built for others’ this event is exactly the type of thing we are talking about; to take part in something bigger than yourself and to work for impacting others in a positive way. It is energizing, inspiring, moving and incredibly powerful. The entire West Genesee community has been a part of this whether you shaved your head, made a donation, promoted the event, forwarded our link or supported and cheered on colleagues, students and friends who braved the shave. I can’t thank everyone enough for their involvement, encouragement, generosity and support. We are making a difference.

The world needs more people stepping up for transcendent causes, thinking about others first and living their lives to be truly built for others. We all have it in us. We just need to continue stepping up.

Continued Success,
Steve Dunham
Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms