Middle School Matters
Whatcom Middle School Newsletter, April 2022
From the Wildcat's Den...
Let’s talk about student-initiated activities and associations.
We have an awesome club culture here at Whatcom Middle School. Kids have generated interest and support of a variety of associations and activities including: Art Club, Aviation Club, Choir Club, Dungeon and Dragons Club, Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA), Technology Club and Yearbook Club, to name but a few. Our attitude is, if two kids have an interest and can find an interested adult to supervise, with ASB approval, they can form a club.
Student clubs and organizations are all under the guidance and legally established parameters under Washington state’s Associated Student Body (ASB) law. The Equal Access Act of 1984 (EAA) established the rights of students to initiate activities and clubs/associations. According to Phi Delta Kappan, a professional journal for educators, Congress passed the EAA, a measure grounded in free speech principles under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The main concepts of EAA as it pertains to students and school districts is that starting and participating in student organizations are part of students’ first amendment rights.
Unless they violate a law, policy or procedure, all student clubs are welcome. For example—Art Club is great, while Vandalism Club wouldn’t fly.
We are currently in the news because one of our ASB clubs was the happy recipient of funding through The Bellingham Public School Foundation as a result of their Think Big event on March 29th. The GSA’s intent is to sponsor, in their words, “A Drop Dead Drag Show,” a fashion and talent show.
A number of adults have reached out and expressed their concerns about a drag show occurring at a middle school. People need reassurance and a reminder that this is a middle school. We do things as appropriate for middle school kids. The two prior events the middle school GSA Club sponsored were really fun fashion and talent shows. All kinds of kids participated and shared all kinds of talents wearing all kinds of outfits, including drag. Many staff, including myself, attended.
As a school leader I support students’ rights to initiate and form clubs. I love the fact that we’ve created a school culture where students can express themselves, their interests, and their values. It’s such rich experience for our students and so reflective of the opportunities that exist within our greater community.
Wishing you good learning,
5th grade Parent Night
WMS PTSA Meeting, Monday, 4/25, 7:00 pm
Our next PTSA Meeting will be on Monday, 4/25 at 7:00 pm in the WMS Library. Aside from updates from our administrators, news about the 8th grade celebration and teacher appreciation week, and opportunities to join the board, we're also featuring a special guest speaker.
Learn about Equity, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives at Bellingham Public Schools from Janis Velasquez Farmer, Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
BPS’s goals for this work:
To accomplish our mission, we will develop and support initiatives to:
Remove institutional and systemic barriers to success.
Increase equitable access to resources.
Integrate diverse cultures, heritages, and identities in our classrooms, policies, and practices.
Advance and amplify historically silenced voices and stories in education.
Please turn in Wrestling Gear!
ATTENTION WMS WRESTLERS - Please take a minute to look around for WMS singlets and headgear! The team is missing 5 headgear and 2 singlets from the 2022 season. Singlets and headgear should be turned to the WMS main office ASAP to ensure all items are available for next season's student athletes. Your time is appreciated.
SPRING SPORTS SEASON is underway! Best of luck for a spectacular spring season to all of our amazing Coed Football, Coed Cross Country, Coed Unified Soccer and Girls basketball student athletes! Go Wildcats!
Welcome back; I hope everyone enjoyed Spring Break and got some restful downtime. The kids (and some of the adults 😉) are showing signs of Spring Fever, but we’re trying to stay focused on finishing the year strong. We’re hoping conversations are happening at home to encourage the kids to continue to put forth their best effort, practice courtesy and respect, and follow school rules. On a related note, as many of you know, I’m very interested in the effects of social media/cell phone use on the social-emotional development of kids, particularly as relates to increases in depression, anxiety, and loneliness. I’ve been doing some reading on this topic and found a few articles that may be of interest. I believe the research into the link between social media and increased anxiety/depression amongst our youth is getting stronger as well.
Here are a few of the articles I’ve found:
Florida Tech Psychology Blog: https://www.floridatechonline.com/blog/psychology/how-smartphones-are-contributing-to-the-loneliness-epidemic/
There are benefits to cell phones, for sure; I would like to figure out how to maximize the benefits and mitigate the potential harms! As I’ve told many kids, “I would never hand you the keys to a car without significant training around safe-use and responsible driving; why would I hand you a tool as powerful as a cell phone (particularly smart phones) without similar training and expectations?” When parents ask me what they can do, my suggestions include having phone-free hours overnight, monitoring apps and social media, having expectations around appropriate times for cell phone use (i.e., not during dinner, not when you’re face-to-face with your friends, not during school hours, etc.). It’s a complex issue and there aren’t any quick fixes, but I hope some of these suggestions help!
Free Covid Tests available
Testing before returning to school after Spring Break can help our community stay healthy. At-home rapid tests are available to families and staff on a weekly basis. Please come to our front office to pick up tests.
Testing continues to be available for staff and students at our schools and the Family Resource Center at Shuksan Middle School each school day from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
We care about your family and want to help you stay strong together
Encouraging Good Behavior
This Strengthening Family podcast episode will share about Encouraging Good Behavior. One way to get your youth doing what they’re supposed to do is giving encouragement and compliments. This not only shows your child that you care, but also gets them to do what they’re supposed to do. We all feel better about doing things that are noticed and appreciated.
We encourage you to become familiar with this parenting local program, it is our hope to bring it to you at some point. We trust you will find it helpful.
City of Bellingham hosts local activities for Earth Week 2022
Join the City of Bellingham in celebrating this year’s global Earth Day theme of “Invest In Our Planet” with a week of local activities during April 17-23, 2022. The City is hosting free activities for all ages to honor our planet, including:
·A volunteer work party at Fairhaven Park to help restore Padden Creek. Spots are limited so please register in advance.
·Community art project at the Lightcatcher Building – help us populate a giant globe with animal life!
·Earth Day themed online Children’s Storytimes for kids ages birth to five years.
·Themed book lists for adults and children.
·Essence of Bellingham photo contest. Submit your climate action photos for a chance to win the Climate Action Award!
Summer recreation and sports camp opportunities
- The COB offers $200/person annual scholarships for Parks and Rec/Arne Hanna Programs.
- The Pass Program through Every Kid Sports provides up to $150 to athletes ages 4-18 for recreational sports programs. Families are expected to contribute $10 towards the camp or program.
- Blue Skies for Children in Bellingham provides funding through their Little Wishes programs for children experiencing homelessness, children who are in foster-care, or children who are eligible for free or reduced school lunches.
- The Bellingham Schools Foundation may also provide assistance if a student is unable to access any of the above funds. Contact Laurel Peak for assistance.
After-school dinner program free for all children 18 and under
Bellingham Public Schools serves hot dinner at no cost to all children 18 and under. These meals are offered from 5 to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday through June 16, 2022. Dinner is served in the Shuksan Middle School cafeteria, located at 2717 Alderwood Avenue (at the corner of Northwest and Alderwood). It does not matter what school you attend in the district.
Accompanying adults are charged $4.75 per meal — please bring cash or check. Please plan to eat onsite in the Shuksan cafeteria.
The daily Monday through Thursday dinner menu is listed on the school menu webpage by day after the lunch listing.
Please note: Dinner will not be served on school holidays or on the following all school early dismissal days: Nov. 4, Nov. 24, Dec. 9, Feb. 10, March 10 and April 28.
Picking up students early from school...
The quickest way to check your student out early is to send them with a note to the attendance window in the morning before school starts or send an email to Beth.Pelto-Fishbeck@bellinghamschools.org. Your student will receive a pass allowing them to leave the building at the appointed time and meet you at your vehicle.
Do not make arrangements with your student's teachers!
If you have an unplanned check out, please call the attendance office, (360) 676-6460, opt. 1. Please allow us time to locate your student by calling in advance. You will then be required to come inside and sign your student out.
Students arriving to school late, or returning from an appointment, must come to the attendance window with a signed note from a parent or guardian. Your student will then receive a pass which they will take to their teacher.
Whatcom Middle School PTSA
Whatcom Middle School PTSA is committed to providing teachers and students with an excellent level of service this year. We are asking you to join PTSA by following the link below. Thank you for your help and please support your PTSA.
2021-22 PTSA Board:
- President - Bri Smolen
- Vice President - Lorrie Melton
- Treasurer - Daniele O'Connell
- Secretary - Amy Guerra
Cell phone policy
Parents needing to contact their students may do so by emailing your student's district email address or by calling the Main Office or Attendance Office. Your child can call you from our attendance office.
Getting to School
Halleck St. (in front of the school) is closed to all vehicles except school buses. Please do not attempt to drop off your student on Halleck St. Please use one of the side streets instead.
Students not riding buses should not arrive until 9:00 am. At 9:00 students will be allowed to enter the building and go directly to their first period classroom. The first bell rings at 9:10 am signaling the time to be in their seats and the late bell rings at 9:15 am.
Bike racks are available in front of the school. Bikes should always be locked to prevent theft. If a student happens to forget their lock, we can help with securing the bike in the building for the day. Scooters and skateboards can be stored in the main office.
School Dress Code
Part of The Bellingham Promise, our strategic plan, strives to develop students and graduates who are respectful and compassionate humans. We want students to respect themselves and others. While we encourage individuality, the district’s dress code aims to foster a positive and healthy environment.
- Students should dress casually and comfortably for school, while wearing clothing that is well-suited for a school environment.
- Appropriate headgear may be worn for warmth and protection outdoors, and inside for religious reasons or special circumstances.
- Clothing, drawings, tattoos and accessories that display or promote negative messages are not permitted. These could include drug, gang, weapon, alcohol or tobacco-related information, obscenities, put-downs, stereotypes, sexual innuendo, offensive words or graphics.
- A violation of the dress code will require a change of clothing.
- Special circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Skyward Emergency Contact Information
Sometimes emergency contacts change phone numbers or the contact in Skyward is no longer available. We would appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to log into Skyward Family Access and make sure your emergency contact information is up to date. If you need help or have questions, you can contact our registrar, Nancy Howell. Thank you!
Manage your notifications with Skylert
Skylert enables you to receive notifications concerning your children, including messages from Bellingham Public Schools and your child’s school. You have control over which notifications to receive and how you would like to receive them. Skylert is accessed via Skyward Family Access, so it is no longer necessary to login to a separate portal for SchoolMessenger to manage contact preferences.
WTA Bus Fare: FREE for Youth
Whatcom Middle School
Principal: Jeff Coulter
Assistant Principal: Tina Allsop
Administrative Assistant: Aileen Walton
- Attendance, option 1
- Athletics, option 2
- Registrar/Counseling, option 3
- Main office, option 4
Greetings From the Counseling Office!
It feels like we’re working our way to Spring, which means that transitions for our incoming 6th graders and outgoing 8th graders is under way! The high school counselors had their first visit with our 8th graders last week and will be returning on the 18th to go over the kids’ course requests and to make sure everything is entered correctly. Please encourage your student to enter their course choices in Skyward ASAP!
In more 8th grade news, if your student is interested in a summer job, they might consider working for the Ecology Youth Corp. There are two work sessions, 6/27-7/21, and 7/25-8/18. Students must be 14 years old by the first day of employment (either June 27th or July 25th). Information is available on the website and applications must be submitted online. To apply go to: ecology.wa.gov/EYC Applications are due April 7th.
We’re working on our initial 5th grade visits and getting ready to welcome our incoming 6th graders. I’m looking forward to meeting our newest Wildcats!
It’s almost Spring Break (4/4-4/8); I hope the sun comes out and everyone has a relaxing and enjoyable break!
Beth Schille-O'Connor & Rita Hocking-Kombol