Around the Courtyard

February 2016

Williams Middle School

Taylor P. Wrye, Principal

Jean Fontaine, Assistant Principal

Upcoming Events


15th-19th - School Closed - February Vacation

23rd - 8th Grade LHS Step-Up Day & WMS Variety Show @ 6:30 PM

25th - LHS Parent Night for incoming Freshman


3rd - Early Release Day - 1:30 Dismissal

4th - School Closed for Students - Professional Development Day

9th - District Wide Concert @ Symphony Hall

18th - End of Trimester 2

25th - School Closed - Good Friday


1st - Yearbook order forms due

Important MCAS Dates

March 29th & 30th - ELA MCAS All Grades

May 9th & 10th - Math MCAS All Grades

May 12 & 13 - Science MCAS Grade 8

From the Principal's Desk

Hello Williams Families,

As you may have noticed, Around the Courtyard has received a 21st century upgrade. It is our intent to provide meaningful information for each grade level in a more concise and accessible manner. I welcome all feedback as we tailor this newsletter to best suit your needs.

The 2016 Middle School MCAS dates have been announced. Please mark your calendars and make the necessary arrangements to ensure that your child is at school on time.

- ELA MCAS for all grades will be on March 29th and 30th.

- Math MCAS for all grades will be on May 9th and 10th.

- Grade 8 Science MCAS will be on May 12 and 13th.

We encourage all students to get plenty of rest the night before and eat a hearty breakfast the morning of MCAS.

Congratulations to the Williams Middle School Math Counts team! They won the Connecticut Valley Chapter competition and will advance to the state championship in Boston.

I hope that everyone has an enjoyable February vacation.


Taylor P. Wrye


Longmeadow High School Class of 2020 Parent Night

Thursday, Feb. 25th, 6:30-8pm

95 Grassy Gutter Road

Longmeadow, MA

C-Tech Open House for 8th Grade Students

Tuesday, Feb. 9th, 5-7pm

174 Brush Hill Avenue

West Springfield, MA


Order forms have been sent home. The cost is $17 and will be due by April 1st to Anna Gelinas. Starting Feb. 1st, you will be able to order and pay online as well. Refer to the Williams website for details.

Field Day

Field Day will be here before we know it. This year field day is on Friday, June 3rd. We have already chosen the 8th grade captains and are forming the teams. T-shirt order forms will be sent home after break to 8th grade students. 6th & 7th grade order forms will be sent home mid-March. T-shirts cost $7. Any questions regarding field day can be directed to Kathy Russotto or Terrence Leahy.

Quebec Trip

The Quebec trip is now only 3 months away! From May 26th-May 28th, 14 students from Williams and 8 students from Glenbrook will be traveling to Québec City to experience first hand the language and culture of Québec. Students will visit many sites of French history and government, the Montmorency Falls, Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré basilica, among many other wonderful sites. Parents of students going on the Québec trip, please remember that the remaining balance for the trip is due by Friday, February 26th. Several meetings will take place leading up to the trip, including a parent meeting on Thursday, May 5th at 5pm. More information will follow in the coming months.

Notes from The Nurse

Since February is American Heart Association Month, it’s a good time for families to look at their heart health. Inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, and a history of smoking are some of the major risks for heart disease. Evaluate your family’s lifestyle and try to make changes where needed. Get out and exercise with your kids. You might have fun. Watch your cholesterol intake and quit smoking if you can. Our children follow our lead and what better way to lead than with a healthy lifestyle! The American Heart Association website at has hints and ideas about ways to improve heart health.

Here’s to your heart health!

Liz Gartman, RN
School Nurse

Related Arts

Physical Education

We just wrapped up our Team Handball unit with all grades. If you’re unfamiliar with Team Handball, you can click here to learn more about it.

We have begun a brand new unit I’ve never taught at Williams. TRX is a suspension trainer that students of any level can build their strength, muscle endurance, balance, and flexibility. You can see the picture below of the students attempting the TRX for the first time. The students are always excited to learn something new and the first couple days has been very positive. If you’re not familiar with what TRX is, please see this link for a video of what it is.

Finally, we’re in the middle of our Intramural Team Handball where we have 72 students signed up. Liam Knowlton and Peter Marchese are our commissioners who have done a very good job managing all the players and referees. Please see the link for the upcoming schedule
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Technology with Mrs. Gallerani

Thursday, December 10, 2015, The “Every Student Succeeds Act” was signed into law. One of the highlights was that Computer Science (CS) is an important academic subject as math and English, potentially introducing it into more classrooms across the country. You can read the full article here: Wall Street Journal CS article

And another one from Princeton’s Engineering News... Growth in Computer Science Driven by Student Interest, Societal Need Princeton Engineering News (12/09/15) John Sullivan

STEM’s future rests in the hands of 12-yr-old girls is an interesting article worth reading.

December roughly two-thirds of the Williams student population took part in the “Hour of Code.” This event’s goal is to increase awareness of the computer science field. Per “ the success is reflected in broad participation across gender and ethnic and socioeconomic groups, and the resulting increase in enrollment and participation we see in CS courses at all grade levels.”

On January 11, 2016, Four 8th grade students spoke to the school committee on the importance of coding at the middle school level. Thank you to Ben Moss, Sam Barresi, Emily Cooper, and Sarah Reyes. The presentation can be found on Longmeadow TV:

I am often asked why we need to learn traditional typing when so much of our typing is done on a touchscreen device. Studies show that no matter how fast you think you can type using your thumbs, your speed will never get much faster than 40 wpm!

Visual Arts

Grade 6: The 6th Grade students are finishing up Tessellation and Scratchboard assignments. They have also started working on a Two-Point Perspective project, of a house.

Grade 7: The 7th Grade students are completing Ceramic Dwellings and Coil Pot projects. Some are beginning a Two Point Perspective project, of a city.

Grade 8: The 8th Grade students have begun work on Animation projects using PowerPoint. They are completing story boards and will begin working with the laptops the week of February 8-12, 2016. Some of the eighth graders have started sketches for vejigante masks, which they will make using paper mache’.

All visual arts students continue to use the pottery wheels and some are also assisting with props for the upcoming school play.


Our Winter Concert series was a great success this year! I have gotten lots of positive feedback regarding the separate instrumental/choral concert format. We will continue that for the Spring Concerts. Here are those dates:

May 31 - Grade 6 Concert

June 1 - Instrumental Concert (Band, Orchestra, Jazz Band)

June 13 - Choral Concert

The other big event this spring is the districtwide vocal concert at Symphony Hall on March 9th at 7pm. The cost for the concert is $20/student (maximum of $40 charge for families with more than 2 children participating in the district). Please make the checks to LHS.We will take busses from WIlliams at 5:15 to Symphony Hall and return by bus after the concert back to Williams. More information will follow.

Our Variety Show performance for the school will be Friday, February 12 at 1:15. The show for families and the community will be Tuesday, February 23rd at 6:30 in the Williams auditorium.

Instrumental Music

Grade 6 Concert Band: The 6th grade students have been mainly practicing the Essential Elements Book and building their fundamental skills to advance their playing abilities. Students have also received 5 concert band pieces to learn for the Spring Concert in June. Recordings of these selections can be found on the band website!

6th Grade CONCERT:

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at Williams Middle School- 7:00 PM

Grade 7 & 8 Symphonic Band: The 7th and 8th grade students have been developing their tone and technique. Students have also received 7 concert band pieces to learn for the Spring Concert. Recordings of these selections can be found on the band website!

7th & 8th Grade Before School Rehearsal Schedule:

Wed. May 4- Day E

Wed. May 18- Day C

Tue. May 24- Day A

Tue. May 31- Day E

7th & 8th Grade Instrumental CONCERT:

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at Williams Middle School- 7:00 PM

Jazz Band: Jazz band rehearsals will start on Wednesday, February 10. Students should have already picked up two pieces from Mr. Higa, Take Five & Aftershock. Recordings of these selections can be found on the band website!


Grade 6 students just finished a unit on goal setting, decision making and communication skills and will begin learning about the respiratory system and tobacco next week.

Grade 7 students have completed a unit on the digestive system and will use that knowledge while they learn about nutrition and how the body uses the food they eat!

Grade 8
students have learned about first aid and the circulatory system so far this year as well as CPR. Up next are units on harassment education, the nervous system and how drugs/ alcohol change your body.

Forigen Languages

Grade 8 students wrote Valentines in French and Spanish to their teachers and the staff as a way of thanking them for all their work.

Grade 8 Spanish students are working on a fashion show project in which they will use current vocabulary and grammar to describe their outfit, the season and weather when they wear it, and the activities they can do during that season.

Grade 7 Spanish students are learning about family and holidays in Spanish. They will study the quinceañera tradition in more depth during this chapter.

Grade 6

Social Studies

The 6th grade students are now studying Ancient Egypt. Some of the activities they are doing include: making and playing Senet games, a Pyramid Challenge, and an Egyptian Web Quest. Also, they are having fun coming up with Egypt WOWS. Please encourage your children to review the lessons in chapter four.


In English, we are finishing up a unit on Oral Traditions. Students read folktales, fables, and myths from different cultures. We studied such topics as universal theme, cause and effect, and making connections. Our next units of study will be Drama and Poetry. To prepare for the ELA MCAS test at the end of March, students will use questions from previous years to practice test-taking strategies. Finally, sixth graders are expected to read for at least thirty minutes each night.


We are wrapping up the unit on environmental science. Students explored topics like environmental issues, forests and fisheries, and biodiversity. Using what they’ve learned in these sections, students engaged in a cooperative activity where they were asked to create a town that would preserve the habitat of Dragonfly Pond. The end results were wonderful! After vacation, we will move into our unit on weather

Grade 7

ELA - Mrs. Cangemi

Students in Mrs. Cangemi’s ELA classes have just finished “Book Talks” to share their favorite books from the first half of the year with their peers. They prepared multi-media presentations to “sell” their books to their classmates. Their “Book Talks” generated a lot of interest in new titles for students to explore during the second half of the year. The students are really growing as a strong community of readers!

Students are presently working on the Anne Frank unit. They have read a number of informational texts to build prior knowledge about World War II and the Holocaust. In addition to reading aloud the play, The Diary of Anne Frank by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, they have selected World War II and Holocaust related fiction and nonfiction texts for their independent reading. As they read the play, they are comparing the drama with the diary and other primary sources to make critical evaluations about the content and dramatic elements used by the playwrights to convey the story of Anne Frank. The combination of nonfiction, fiction and drama texts provides students the opportunity to explore the life of Anne Frank, as well as others who lived through this period of history, through multiple lenses.



Our chapter on ratios and rates is wrapping up this month. We explored unit rates (mathematically finding the best buy), scale drawings and similar figures. Students used proportions, which included cross multiplication and solving for x to find solutions.

The next unit is focused on percents. We will be finding percents, discounts, tax and tips, percent of change as well as simple interest.


Mrs. Bradshaw’s 7.1 math class is currently exploring algebraic expressions, algebraic equations; including both one-step and multi-step equations. The students will be applying their knowledge of equations to solving inequalities. Finally, we will be studying linear functions and graphing equations and investigating slope.


The 7th grade geography classes wrapped up our unit on Sub-Saharan Africa before Winter Break and are now exploring Asia. In the Asia unit, students focus on the cultural and physical geography of the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. India, China, and North Korea are all looked at more in depth during this unit. Current events are also examined in relation to these areas.


We are finishing our earth science concepts and are moving into life science. Students will begin to work with microscopes in the next few weeks. Students will learn how to properly use microscopes, create wet mount slides and how to focus on prepared slides using various magnifications. This unit will be challenging, so students should be reminded to study their vocabulary on a nightly basis.

Grade 8

U.S. History

In 8th grade, we are currently examining American history from 1800-1850 - a time of great change. Students learn about the Early Republic (from Washington's presidency to Jacksonian democracy), the Industrial Revolution, and Westward Expansion. Students learn all about politics, new inventions, factory life, child labor, sectionalism, and how each piece of land became part of the U.S. We also explore the idea of Manifest Destiny and how westward expansion impacted the Native Americans.

ELA - Mrs. Aveyard

Mrs. Aveyard's ELA classes have just finished reading the greatest mystery novel of all time, And Then There Were None. We are now beginning "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," and we will finish our mystery unit by watching Murder on the Orient Express. The students will be creating their own mystery story by using the elements learned in this unit e.g. red herring, foreshadowing, detective etc., and this narrative will be due Feb.23rd. After vacation we will be jumping into a nonfiction unit as we prepare for MCAS/PARCC at the end of March.

Math - Mr. Scanlan-Emigh’s


After great success learning how exponents interact with each other (“10 squared …”) and a real-world grounding in slope, rate of change and speed, the Pre-Algebra classes have done themselves proud again with abstract analysis of the equations of straight lines, the meat of Algebra 1 courses. Our students deserve praise for becoming flexible thinkers who can look at data and decide, “Is this predictable? Does it follow a pattern?” and write equations to describe these patterns. The “Design With Lines” mini-project capped our work on the equations of straight lines.

We built on our exponent work with a look at how scientists handle very large and small numbers with scientific notation ( ), and are now investigating and estimating with square roots. These and other topics are often practiced with games like Scientific Sabotage that allow students to play around with the numbers, one of the best ways to develop the number sense needed for working comfortably with equations. The rest of the year promises to be fun, with geometry topics on how angles fit together in puzzles and how shapes can flip, slide, turn and grow.

For work, copies of assignments and notes, see


After finishing up our unit on straight lines in December, Algebra looked at how inequalities are useful for describing situations with a range of restrictions and more than one solution. We continued with systems of equations and how they can be used to make precise predictions about when a business will start turning a profit or when supply will meet demand. This continued early work on looking at equations not just as things to be solved, but as sources of practical information to be unlocked by connecting the visual characteristics of graphs to their equations.

February and the rest of the year will take us into the exponential growth of investments and bacteria colonies, and the motion of rockets. Throughout all our work we actively practice how to select the most efficient ways of solving equations to ensure solid mastery of skills, which in turn smooth the way toward sophisticated big-picture analysis. Think ‘math facts’ – but for algebra!

Course page:

Pre-Algebra - Mrs. Lawson

We are finishing up our unit on slope, slope intercept form, linear and proportional equations, unit rates and all of the mathematics that are related to those concepts.

Next we will explore geometry both 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional. This unit includes the Pythagorean Theorem, as well as area, perimeter, similar figures, surface area and volume.


Students are now working with earth science concepts,building on our plate tectonics information and applying it to earthquakes and volcanoes. Students will then have an opportunity to see samples of various rocks created during volcanic or tectonic processes. This shows the continuous building and spiraling of concepts during this portion of the year.

Extracurricular Activities

Math Counts

The Math Counts team joined other schools last weekend in the annual Connecticut Valley Chapter competition. Eight Math Counts students engaged in exciting, “bee-style” contests. They competed against other bright, motivated students from eleven local schools. Williams Middle School's Math Counts team received 1st place and will be advancing to the state competition in Boston. Congratulations to the Math Counts Team and all members of Math Counts!!

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Lego Robotics - Mr. Scanlan-Emigh

We’re off to a great start having learned key programming structures that let our robots sense their surroundings and make decisions. Not falling off tables is a hot topic for our ‘bots, and we have our sights set on facing off in a battlebot contest.

Student Council - Ms. King

Our next drive, “Pennies for Patients” will end on February 10th. Please donate generously. All proceeds will help children with cancer. Thank you for your support.

In March, we will have two spirit days to raise money for The Iron Giraffe Challenge, an organization that provides clean drinking water for people in Africa. We are working with the 7th grade as they read A Long Walk to Water.

March 3rd-Hat Day

March 11th-Pajama Day

All donations are appreciated.