EMS Newsletter

December 13, 2019

Dear EMS Families,

As 2019 draws to an end, I find myself reflecting on the inspiring and powerful work and leadership happening at EMS every day. For example:

  • Seeing a climate change banner hung by an EMS student from our 2nd floor balcony and partnered with a meaningful circle script was a powerful example of student voice and advocacy.

  • Hearing about the work of our 7th and 8th grade student leaders as they begin their “World of Difference” training in order to prepare for the anti-bias teaching they will do with 6th graders this spring.

  • Watching Quest and Endeavor students share their thinking and learning from their most recent design projects with community members in the Maker Space/Library.

  • Enjoying our Chorus, Band and Strings performances in their mid-year concerts and being reminded of the growth that comes with persistent practice.

  • Appreciating YPAR’s readiness to present their initial proposal for the revised EMS dress code to Engage EMS this coming week.

My favorite part of my job as principal is the time I spend in classrooms. Observing authentic engagement when students find meaning in the work they do brings a smile to my face and warmth to my heart. Earlier this week I witnessed Nia students wrestle with the many different ways they could solve a math problem and then unpack their thinking. Today I witnessed Vista students making sense of cells by comparing them to other complex systems of their choice. What a gift!

I wish you a restful break with much laughter and moments that allow for gratitude and joy.

Happy New Year,


Friendly Reminders

  • 12/16 - 6th grade Quintet 3 exploratory classes begin

  • 12/17 - Engage EMS 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. in EMS Library/MakerSpace

  • 12/23 - 01/06 - No School

Check out the photo below showing the amazing work of our food services to provide healthy snacks for all our students.

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Lincoln Essay Competition 2020 for 8th Graders

Calling interested 8th graders! The Lincoln Essay Competition 2020 is underway. Mrs. Renca will be meeting weekly with any interested 8th graders. Cash prizes and a first-class luncheon at the Lincoln estate for winners! https://hildene.org/learning/lincoln_essay Essays are due February 12, 2020, on Lincoln's birthday!

The Library Club

The Library Club read the novel The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Vermont author Ann Braden. As part of this learning unit, they sewed gift bags for the organization Steps to End Domestic Violence. This video shows the EMS students creating the gift bags. Carol Roach, a quilter living in Burlington, volunteered her time to help students create the bags.

Meet Nell from YouBeYou!

Meet Nell, who is running YouBeYou (LGBTQIA+/Allies) after school every Monday in Ms. Ott's Chorus room (A07) from 2:50 - 5:00 pm.

"Hi there! My name is Nell Carpenter and I am so excited to be on board. I am currently the director of STEM and trades summer camps and afterschool programs for middle schoolers. I also lead hiking and backpacking trips for queer and trans adults throughout Vermont on the weekends. In my free time I play roller derby, have dance parties, read sci-fi novels, and participate in local activism. LGBTQIA+ communities are made up of the most vibrant people I know and I can't wait to create a community of pride, authenticity, and acceptance with you all at EMS! Thanks for welcoming me into your space!"
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Hello from the Health Office!

While the majority of students are immunized and up to date on required vaccines, some in our community choose not to immunize, and others are medically unable to do so. In all three categories, it is unknown how many students and adults in our community get their flu shots each school year. Have you gotten your flu shot this year?

While it is every parent’s legal right to choose for their child not to be immunized, it is imperative that the choice is well informed. Specifically, by not immunizing your child, those children who are medically immunocompromised become more at risk for contracting disease. Students who are immunocompromised have medical conditions that leave their immune systems vulnerable, and unable to fight off disease. When those who are healthy get immunized, we help prevent the spread of disease. Those who choose not to get those immunizations become potential carriers of disease. For example, if you did not get your flu shot this year, you could be putting those who are vulnerable to disease at risk, especially if you contract the flu.

How can we as a school community help prevent illness for those who are immunocompromised?

  • Get vaccinated against Flu, Varicella, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Diptheria, and Hepatitis.

  • Stay home and go to the pediatrician’s office when you have flu-like symptoms or a fever. Stay home for at least 24 hours after the last signs of vomiting, diarrhea, or a fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine. Children must be free of these symptoms for 24 hours before returning to school.

  • Practice good and frequent hand washing

  • Cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue if available and wash your hands afterwards.

  • Use your elbow to cover a cough or sneeze if no tissue is available to lessen the spread of germs.

  • Get 8-10 hours of well-rested sleep each night.

It is very important that we follow these guidelines to ensure the health and safety of all students in the building, but especially for those students with chronic health conditions that leave students’ immune systems compromised. If immunocompromised students are exposed to and contract a communicable disease, or even a common cold, it could be life-threatening.

There are students at Edmunds Middle School who are immunocompromised due to various medical conditions, and becoming ill from students who are unimmunized is a real medical concern in our community. We appreciate your support in helping to keep our school community as healthy as possible, and thank you in advance for keeping your child home when they are sick.

Be Well,

Becca McCray, MSN RN

Edmunds Middle School Nurse

New Dress Code Proposal

Over the past couple of weeks, the EMS YPAR team has been brainstorming and talking amongst ourselves about possible solutions to the sexual and racial discrimination that the dress code unintentionally embodies. We have read multiple articles on the subject to give us evidence as to why we need to see change. Our current dress code is misogynistic, sexist, racist, and unfair. We need change. The new changes would fit better with our community goals. Our community goals are that students are heard, seen, and respected. Students are currently feeling that their words are falling on deaf ears as they push for a more equitable dress code. Here are some articles and quotes that we have collected to strengthen our evidence as to why this dress code needs to be changed.

Peer-reviewed studies have found that school dress code violations unfairly target girls (Raby, 2010), students-of-color (Pavlakis & Roegman, 2018), and gender minorities (Kosciw, Greytak, Zongrone, Clark, & Truong, 2017). For example, Pavlakis & Roegman (2018) did a mixed-methods study of an urban high school where they surveyed 384 students and interviewed 13 teachers. Their findings indicated that Black males, Black females and multiracial females were more likely to be coded for dress code violations than white students. This proves that the dress code needs to be redesigned so that the biases of teachers can not affect the students.

Also, here’s what an 8th grader at EMS said: “I don’t think there should be a dress code because I feel like the dress code holds me back from being myself and I feel like I’m gonna get shamed for wearing what I really wanna wear, or get in trouble, and that’s not fair.”

The Anti-Defamation League did a study that found that “ (1) dress codes unfairly target girls and transgender students; (2) they send a message to girls that if they are harassed by boys, it is their fault; (3) they feel judged and shamed by the dress codes; and (4) that a different standard is applied to girls who are more curvy and developed than other girls” (ADL: What’s Fair and Unfair About Dress Codes). The Government Accountability Office did a study that found that “Black girls are often disciplined more harshly in school than their white peers, and dress codes seem to be part of the problem”).

It is obvious that the EMS dress code is a misogynistic tool that teaches compliance at its best and oppresses the marginalized groups in our society at its worst. If we truly want to create a school that follows the lofty goals of the Burlington School District in its continued work to create an equitable and inclusive school community, then making a bias-free dress code is a great first step.

The EMS YPAR Collective

NEW EMS DRESS CODE: Edmunds Middle School is committed to creating a positive learning environment for all students. The purpose of the EMS dress code is to promote a body-positive environment where all students are safe and feel welcome by upholding standards that foster a secure and equitable community. The purpose of the EMS dress code is to disrupt the marginalization or oppression of any group based on race, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, cultural observance, household income, or body type/size. The EMS dress code is designed to be “school functional”. This is defined as: Basic Principle: Certain body parts must be covered for all students at all times. Clothes must be worn in a way such that genitals, buttocks, breasts, and nipples are fully covered with opaque fabric. All items listed in the “must wear” and “may wear” categories below must meet this basic principle.

Students Must Wear: ● A Shirt (with fabric in the front and back), AND ● Pants/jeans or the equivalent (for example, a skirt, sweatpants, leggings, a dress or shorts), AND ● Shoes

Students May Wear: ● Hats must allow the face to be visible to staff, and not interfere with the line of sight of any student or staff, ● Hoodie sweatshirts (wearing the hood overhead is allowed, but the face must be visible to school staff), ● Fitted pants, including opaque leggings, yoga pants and “skinny jeans”, ● Pajamas, ● Ripped jeans, as long as underwear and buttocks are not exposed, ● Tank tops, ● Athletic attire, ● Visible waistbands on undergarments or visible straps on undergarments worn under other clothing.

Students Cannot Wear: ● Clothes with violent language or images, ● Images or language depicting drugs or alcohol (or any illegal item or activity) ● Hate speech, profanity, pornography, ● Images or language that creates a hostile or intimidating environment based on any protected class or consistently marginalized groups, ● Any clothing that reveals visible undergarments (visible waistbands and visible straps are allowed), ● Swimsuits (except as required in class or athletic practice), ● Accessories that could be considered dangerous or could be used as a weapon, ● Any item that obscures the face or ears (except as a religious observance).

Dress Code Enforcement: To ensure effective and equitable enforcement of this dress code, school staff shall enforce the dress code consistently using the requirements below. Students will only be removed from spaces, hallways, or classrooms as a result of a dress code violation as outlined above. Students in violation of the Basic Dress Code Principle and/or are in violation of the “Students Cannot Wear” section will be provided three (3) options to be dressed more to code during the school day: ● Students will be asked to put on their own alternative clothing, if already available at school, to be dressed more to code for the remainder of the day. ● Students will be provided with temporary school clothing to be dressed more to code for the remainder of the day. ● If necessary, students’ parents or guardians may be called during the school day to bring alternative clothing for the student to wear for the remainder of the day.

These dress code guidelines shall apply to regular school days and summer school days, as well as any school-related events and activities, such as graduation ceremonies and dances.


Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Zongrone, A. D., Clark, C. M., & Truong, N. L. (2018). The 2017 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Youth in Our Nation's Schools. Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). 121 West 27th Street Suite 804, New York, NY 10001.

Pavlakis, A., & Roegman, R. (2018). How dress codes criminalize males and sexualize females of color. Phi Delta Kappan, 100(2), 54-58.

Raby, R. (2010). “Tank tops are ok but I don’t want to see her thong” Girls’ Engagements With Secondary School Dress Codes. Youth & Society, 41(3), 333–356.