January, February and Snow Days…
The second quarter is in the books, report cards have been uploaded to Edline and Progress Reports are due out on March 4th. Teachers have been administering the second half of their District Determined Measure (DDM) assessments; the administrators are getting ready for MCAS and the PARCC Pilot; and we could have a snow day…again? I know most kids love snow days and teachers do as well. But we are not so excited when it comes time to making up the day in June. We are feeling ready for the warm weather.
5 school days until… High School Musical Jr.
The cars have been lined up in the evening at Parker to pick up the cast and crew members from rehearsals. We are so excited for the show, it seems like there is higher demand for tickets this year than in years past. I don’t know if it is due to the familiarity of the show, or the fact that students are having so much fun preparing. Either way, you will see a lot of familiar faces at the upcoming shows.
We have always worked to communicate and reach out to the Parker parent community, not to alarm, but to keep you all informed about what we are seeing at the middle level. In the past months, we have seen an increase in the use of social media sites and aps that we think are difficult to monitor, and may be unsafe. The sites are Ask.fm, Snap-Chat, Kik and Vine. Ask.fm, often confused by adults as the Ask.com site, the two sites are very different products. Ask.fm is a virtual question/survey space that allows followers (or students in our case) to ask any question with complete anonymity. Students can log onto anyone’s site and make a comment, or start a chain reaction of comments that are often very hurtful.
We have seen instances like, student Jane Doe has a run in with a friend and gets onto Ask.fm and writes “OMG I so hate …” this post has no name attached to it and it allows for readers of the post to also log-in and make a comment. By the time Jane Doe’s friend gets to school the following day, there could be 40 comments that are considerably less than kind or helpful. This makes learning very difficult while a student is trying to deal with this public provocation and Jane Doe could be facing a school consequence (or worse). This is obviously a simplified version of how technology can be used in a way to hurt another student. We would encourage you to look on the web to find out more about Ask.fm.
Snap-Chat is a photo messaging application that allows students to send pictures and text that can be viewed for a few seconds until the picture and message pixilate and disappear, giving the person viewing the message the impression that the picture and text are gone forever. We have seen students using this ap, that is sending or receiving pictures/text, taking chances that they wouldn’t normally take because they believe what the send or see disappears and there is no evidence. This is not the case of course, but student’s behavior certainly indicates that they think it is completely anonymous.
Kik is a messaging ap and Vine is a picture/video sharing ap that allows students to send and share videos. We hear from parents that there is very little oversight or adherence to safety rules and regulations on these sites and often content is shared anonymously and isn’t always appropriate for middle school students.
I strongly suggest that you search the web to find out more about these products. To teach students more about cyber safety and cyber bullying, we will be hosting a presenter from the Middlesex Partnership for Youth on March 6th. If you have questions about the aps listed above or about our upcoming presentation please drop a note.
Thinking about Makayla
This past Monday, one of our eighth graders, Makayla Griffin lost her father, Dennis Griffin, to liver failure. Dennis was 41years old. I do not normally report or write about loss or family matters, however in this case there are so few people that know about Makayla’s situation that I think it is important to let the community know. Makayla is a remarkable young lady, she presents like every other eighth grader. She loves music, school and especially her friends. Few students know that she has lived with and taken care of herself and her dad for several years. I am particularly grateful for the support and guidance that Ms. Ketlak has been able to provide for Makayla during this difficult time. Makayla is back to school and her attitude is so upbeat and positive it is remarkable. We will rally around Makayla and provide her the support we can to help her through this very difficult time.
Please keep Makayla in your thoughts.