Friday, April 9, 2021

We Keep Moving Forward

We are excited to announce that our students in both Grade 5 and Grade 6 will return to school five days per week starting on Monday, April 26th. Thank you so much for your patience while we have been working through all of the logistics with scheduling, staffing, transportation and lunch. Regardless of your role - parent, student, teacher, teaching assistant, nurse, bus driver, secretary, aide, Resource Officer, anyone reading this - this year has been a grind with a lot of ups and downs along the way. We are grateful for the support, flexibility and effort on the part of everyone to be at this point. 

I want to give a special THANK YOU to our WGMS Custodial Crew who has worked incredibly hard at moving desks, chairs, tables, cabinets, textbooks, boxes, and working to set up barriers in the cafeteria, all while doing their typical workload of cleaning and disinfecting the building. There are a lot of unsung heroes that have helped to get us to this point in time, but our custodians have been absolutely incredible. They show up and get it done each and every day! Thank you.


As we bring both groups of students back we are making necessary changes to the schedule to balance out classes and ensure that students continue to have the same opportunities that they had previously. School for 5th and 6th graders has felt and looked like school for quite some time and we intend to keep it that way! Our school counselors will be reaching out to families in situations where a teacher or schedule change is necessary. 


Our cafeteria is just about ready for students to eat lunch in. Half of each class of students will eat in the cafeteria while the other half continue to eat in the classroom. We will rotate this on a weekly basis so that all students have the opportunity to eat in the cafeteria. Splitting each class in half for lunch will allow us to adhere to distancing guidelines. In classrooms students will continue to eat six feet apart without barriers and in the cafeteria our students will be eating three feet apart with barriers between them. We cannot physically get all students in the cafeteria for lunch at the same time with the three foot distance requirement. 


The Transportation Department is finalizing bus routes. With almost double the number of buses and the large number of families transporting students to and from school, there is going to be a significant increase in traffic both in the morning and afternoon. As a result, we are anticipating some potential minor adjustments to our dismissal time and procedures for both arrival and dismissal. Stay tuned for another update as soon as we have that information locked in place. Transportation will share specific busing information with all families that requested school transportation.

New York State Assessments 

The New York State Assessments in ELA and Mathematics for grades 5 and 6 will be given in one session and consist of only multiple choice questions. The assessments are computer-based and will be administered in your child’s regular homeroom class. Any student who is not taking the assessment should still attend school and will be able to read during the administration of the assessment. Fully remote students will not be taking the assessments unless parents choose to send their students into the building on the day of the assessments. Please mark your calendars for the assessment dates: 

April 20th (Tuesday) ELA MON/TUE Group A

April 23rd (Friday) ELA THU/FRI Group B

May 5th (Wednesday) Math All Students

Fine Arts Update

The Fine Arts Department, including our music ensemble teachers, are discussing how best to provide a performance experience for students and their families. We recently learned that New York State has a new Executive Order regarding small and medium scale performing arts venues. We may now host up to 100 attendees indoors and up to 200 attendees outdoors, which may allow our family members of our student performers to attend live performances. We will update you once we know what we can safely accomplish at WGMS. Our school musical has the green light to take place this year which is awesome! We are proud to present Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr. on June 10th, 11th and 12th. We will send ticketing information and procedures once we have worked out the details.

As we transition to five days of instruction with all of our students there are going to be some challenges. Our 5th and 6th graders haven't been in school for more than 3 days per week in over a year. Stamina is going to be an issue for some students, as will being in a classroom with double the number of students that they have been used to. These changes are going to be very hard for some of our students. But this amazing staff at WGMS will continue to give everything that they have to take care of our kids and help them with this transition. We appreciate your support and our students and staff will continue to need it during this final stretch of the school year. If you have any questions or concerns please reach out to me. Take care and stay healthy!

Continued Success,

Steve Dunham

Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms

Friday, March 19, 2021

The Power of WE

We consistently talk with our students about being built for others. 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.

Our school community has been coming together since 2014 to get involved in a transcendent cause. On St. Patrick's Day we hosted our 8th 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 20 individuals step up to ‘brave the shave’ as part of #TeamWildcat, raising over $15,000 and counting. Nine of our shavees were students from both WGMS and CMS who collectively raised over $7,000 as a group. Unbelievable! We had local barbers from Saving Face Barber Shop volunteer their time and expertise to shave heads and be a part of our event as well. All in all, a lot of people giving of themselves for a cause bigger than themselves. All in all, a community stepping up and coming together, even during a Pandemic!

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

Friday, March 12, 2021

Opportunity to Get Involved

We find ourselves in challenging times for many reasons. The fabric of our society has been altered in ways that we could have never imagined. The COVID-19 crisis, coupled with the long overdue social and racial reckoning our society is facing, has impacted all of us in profound and challenging ways. The separation between educators, students, families, and school environments has been nothing short of devastating. The scramble to adapt has been exhausting, and, at times, seemingly insurmountable. However, there is a beauty in the way our creativity has risen to this terrible, challenging, and oftentimes isolating occasion. Compassion, empathy, and clear communication must be at the forefront of our decision making and action steps as a school district and community. 

As you may have read in the Superintendent’s Message from February 26th, there is an opportunity for all members of our community to come together as members of the West Genesee Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. We recognize that we need to listen to the voices, experiences, and perspectives of people from diverse backgrounds in order to advance our mission and help all members of our community achieve success. 

If you are interested in joining our West Genesee Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, please read the mission statement below: 

The West Genesee Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council embraces and honors each individual and the diversity of our collective community. We believe we all have a responsibility to educate ourselves and our community members about injustice and discrimination in all its forms.

The West Genesee Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council is committed to empowering all members of our community to have a say in our future as we work collectively to discover the richness and complexity of the cultural world we inhabit. We actively seek to understand the differences that make us stronger and to lean into topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This pursuit and belief prepares our students to be contributing members of a diverse world.

This council is open to all members of our community. Please fill out this Google form and a member of our team will contact you directly. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or one of our other co-chairs: 

Steve Dunham, West Genesee Middle School Principal, Director of Secondary Education 

Kathryn Ta, Stonehedge Elementary School Music, 

Keith Newvine, West Genesee High School English, 

Gigina Long, West Genesee High School Art, 

Thank you for your ongoing support of our students and staff. We have been able to evolve and offer more opportunities for our students as the school year has progressed because everyone - students, staff, families - has done a terrific job following guidelines and adjusting to to the changes along the way. We will continue to evaluate what is possible and make decisions that are safe and in the best interest of our students. Thank you.

Continued Success,
Steve Dunham
Twitter: @Sdunhamwgms