Middle Matters

June 6, 2022

In This Issue

Highlights from this week's Middle Matters:

  • Important Upcoming Dates
  • Summer Break
  • GBMS Adopt-A-Garden Program
  • Gwendolyn Brooks Birthday is June 7th!
  • School Spirit ABC Countdown to Summer
  • DePaul Talks Spring 2022
  • SY22-23 School Registration Information
  • Join the Brooks PTO! (Repeat)
  • Calling Your Child in Sick from School (Repeat)
  • Questions regarding COVID-19: Contact our School Nurse (Repeat)
  • Student Announcements (Updated weekly)
  • From the Library (Updated weekly)

Highlights from GBMS PTO

  • Donation to GBMS PTO
  • Connect with GBMS PTO
  • Buy GBMS Spirit Wear

Highlights from District 97

Repeated Topics from Past Week's Middle Matters
  • Bullying Report Form Link (Repeat)
  • Live Streaming of GBMS Athletic and Music Events (Repeat)
  • Partnership with D97 and DePaul University - Care Coordinator (Repeat)
  • School Supply Reminders (Repeat)
  • Water Bottle Reminder (Repeat)
  • Stay Home When Sick (Repeat)
  • Social Work Team (Repeat)
  • Office Phones and Dropping off Items at Brooks (Repeat)
  • Allergy Safe Information (Repeat)
  • School Physical and Immunization Information (Repeat)
  • Tech Support (Repeat)

Community Partner News

  • Hephzibah 5K Run & Walk
  • YEMBA Summer Camp
  • Oak Park OWL
  • OPRF Youth Football
  • OPRF Summer Sports Camps - Registration Opens April 25
  • OPEF BASE Camp
  • Kids Unlimited Therapy Services
  • EGD & Landry Foundation Basketball Tournament
  • Kids Kloset at First United Church
  • Friday Night Place
  • Strengthening Families Program
  • NAMI
  • Leyden Family Service

If you have questions about the upcoming school year, please don’t hesitate to contact me at acapuder@op97.org. You can also contact our Executive Coordinator, Ms. Latrina Hurst, at lhurst@op97.org or (708) 524-7636.

Our administrative team is also available to help answer your questions.

Angelica Love Curriculum & Instruction AP (6th grade, 7th grade) alove@op97.org

Antoine Bland Curriculum & Instruction AP (8th grade) abland@op97.org

Stacie Klein Culture & Climate AP sklein@op97.org

GBMS School Calendar

click button to connect to calendar events


  • Monday, June 6- A Day; Tuesday, June 7- B Day

  • Last Day of School- June 7th

  • Report Cards emailed by Friday, June 10th.

Happy Summer Break!

I hope everyone has a safe and relaxing summer break! Pleas look for a communication in August that will highlight information needed for the start of the 2022-2023 school year.
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Gwendolyn Brooks Birthday is June 7th!

Let's celebrate our namesake, the great Pulitzer Prize winning poet, teacher, and author--Gwendolyn Brooks on June 7th. We will have a KONA ICE truck on site during 6th and 7th grade lunch periods to serve tasty icees and we'll have games! Please see the flyer below for more information about how to pre-order icees, or visit https://app.konaicepay.com/#//F0061282
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GBMS School Spirit ABC Countdown to Summer

Let's celebrate the accomplishments of this year with some school spirit!

DePaul Mental Health Community Talks

Parent/Student/Staff (open to all):

Registration Information for 2022-23 School Year in D97

Online registration for the 2022-23 school year in District 97 will officially launch for all students on Monday, May 2!

This year, the registration window will be open May 2 through July 1 for ALL students—returning, new and kindergarten.

Returning Students

The parent/guardian listed as PG1 in PowerSchool will receive an email from infosnap@is.op97.org with their student’s snapcode and instructions to register. Emails will be sent on Monday, May 2, 2022.

Complete details can be found at https://www.op97.org/hr/returning-student-registration.

New Students and Kindergarteners

This year, we have streamlined the process for registering kindergarteners and new students to make it easier for families. Registration can be completed entirely online—no appointments necessary!

  1. First, gather all required documents. Click here for the list >
  2. Next, you will need to create an account in InfoSnap.
  3. Continue in InfoSnap by completing the online registration forms and uploading all your documents. Once you’re finished just click submit.

Please click the links below to learn more about the registration process for kindergarteners and new students.

Remember that the "ABCs" of registration are "D-E-F."

  • D - Documents: All required documents must be scanned and ready to upload before starting registration.
  • E - Early: Registration is a detailed process and we ask that families register early!
  • F - Finish: Registration is finished once you receive a confirmation email from the district.

CLICK HERE for a brief video that outlines the District 97 registration process!

Detailed information about the registration process is available on the district website at https://www.op97.org/hr/student-registration. If you are in need of translation or interpretation services, please email d97registrar@op97.org or call 708-524-3000.

Get involved and join the Brooks PTO!

Do you want to have an impact in the Brooks community and have the inside scoop on what is going on at Brooks and D97? NOW is the time to get involved!! We are looking to fill positions for the 2022-2023 school year and have some critical roles open! No prior PTO experience is necessary. Sign up here (also see more detailed descriptions of the roles) and email gwendolynbrookspto@gmail.com with any questions! We look forward to hearing from you!

Important: Calling Your Child in Sick from School - How to Report Student Absences (Repeat)

Please support our school nurse by LEAVING A REASON when you call your child in sick from school.

  • Our nurse follows up on every absence call when a specific reason is not provided. If your child is staying home due to reasons unrelated to COVID-19, sharing that information in the message helps the nurse determine whether a call is necessary.

Attendance will be taken every day for each class period by each of your child's teacher and it will be denoted in PowerSchool, including ADVISORY. Student's are expected to attend each of their classes at their scheduled time and day. If your student will be absent from school, please call the attendance number 708-665-3074 or email brooksattendance@op97.org

When calling please slowly state or when emailing include:

  1. Your Name
  2. Your Child’s Name
  3. Your Child’s Grade
  4. Reason for the Absence
  5. Best phone number to reach you

We appreciate your assistance with this process!

QUESTIONS REGARDING COVID-19: Contact our School Nurse, Ms. Radogno (Repeat)

Please contact the Brooks Health Office and speak with Nurse Nancy Radogno if you have questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 and any listed symptoms.

(708) 524- 3058 or nradogno@op97.org

Masks will continue to be required in two areas in school buildings effective March 17th:

  • Nurses' offices: Masks will continue to be required in school nurses' offices, which are considered healthcare settings. Disposable masks will be available if needed.
  • SHIELD testing areas: SHIELD Illinois will continue to require masks in testing areas, since collection sites are technically considered healthcare facilities. This means that all students participating in weekly SHIELD testing will be required to wear masks in the collection area. The district will have disposable masks available, however, we encourage families to make sure that their students bring their own masks on their designated testing days.

Supporting the Transition to Masks Recommended, Not Required (Repeat)

As of Thursday, March 17, the decision to wear a mask at school is at the discretion of each family. Masks are now recommended, not required, in all District 97 schools, the administration building, and school buses. This change also applies to after-school activities and events. Details about this change, as well as supporting documents, are linked below.

Masks will continue to be required in two areas in school buildings:

  • Nurses' offices: Masks will continue to be required in school nurses' offices, which are considered healthcare settings. Disposable masks will be available if needed.
  • SHIELD testing areas: SHIELD Illinois will continue to require masks in testing areas, since collection sites are technically considered healthcare facilities. This means that all students participating in weekly SHIELD testing will be required to wear masks in the collection area. The district will have disposable masks available, however, we encourage families to make sure that their students bring their own masks on their designated testing days.

Submit Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination After Second Dose/Booster

According to the Centers for Disease Control and state/local health officials, fully vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine due to potential COVID-19 exposure as long as they are asymptomatic. Additionally, achieving a high rate of vaccination will strengthen our overall safety plan and will put the district in the best possible position to reconsider other mitigations as conditions improve in our community.

To help us reduce any unnecessary quarantines and accurately track our student vaccination rate, District 97 requests that families submit proof of vaccination for their students as soon as they have received their second dose. There are two options:

  • IF YOU HAVE A GOOGLE ACCOUNT: Fill out a brief Google Form and upload a copy of the student’s vaccination card. CLICK HERE to access the Brooks vaccine form.

  • IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A GOOGLE ACCOUNT: Email a copy of your student’s vaccination card to Nurse Nancy Radogno (brooksnurse@op97.org). Please include the child’s full name and grade.

Students Who Participated in Clinics at District 97 Schools
If your student completed their vaccine series at one of the school-based clinics, a staff member should have taken a photo of their vaccination card following the second dose.

  • If your child's card was documented, no further action is needed.

  • If your child's card was not scanned or photographed, or if your child did not receive their second dose at a school clinic, please email a copy of the card to your school nurse.

If you have any questions, please contact Nurse Radogno. Thank you for your support and partnership in keeping our schools safe!

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There is still time to REGISTER FOR SUMMER BRAVO! We still have spot available for our 2nd Session - July 5 - July 23. Come join the fun! **Open to Current 4th Graders - 8th Graders

  • 3-Week Sessions for Actors: June 13 - July 2 AND July 5 - July 23
  • 2-Week Sessions for Crew: June 20 - July 2 AND July 11 - July 23

Student Announcements

Students can find announcements in each Student's Lunch (Green) or Lunch (Yellow) course in Canvas as well as on a button along the left side of our Brooks homepage.


Weekly Featured Novel to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May) and/or LGBTQIA Pride Month (June) (NEW)

How place a hold on a library book- No Holds are being delivered for the rest of this year.

WeVideo Code: 86V5EQC7CQL6

Oak Park Public Library Opportunities:

Teen Events Calendar

GBMS Summer Reading 2022

(***NEW: ALL GBMS LIBRARY BOOKS ARE DUE TUESDAY, MAY 31, 2022!***) Click the button above to download a copy of the slideshow to your Drive

PTO Weekly Communication

Please Consider a Donation to the PTO

As the calendar year draws to a close, please consider making a donation to the Brooks PTO. Since March 2020, we have been unable to raise money to support our mission through our primary fundraiser, the weekly Starship Restaurant lunch program, because of D97 Covid-related protocols. As a result, we have had to either scale back or eliminate funding of need-based scholarships, teacher grants, and other enrichment activities.

While we continue to look for other ways to raise much-needed funds until we are able to resume the Starship lunch program, we would be appreciative of any donations in the meantime. Donations may be made on our website. Please note that the Brooks PTO is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and a donation receipt for tax or matching purposes will be provided. Thank you!

Connect with the Brook’s PTO

Connect with PTO

Follow us on FaceBook at @gwendolynbrookspto, or email us at gwendolynbrookspto@gmail.com.

Order your Brooks Spirit Wear

Support the PTO, a local black-owned business, and get awesome Brooks Spirit wear all at the same time! Brooks Spirit wear can be ordered at any time visiting the Brooks section of the Shabby Fly website. Order will be shipped to your home!

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2020 - 2021 District News and Information

D97 Academic Acceleration (Repeat)

Similar to last year, the referral window for families seeking single subject or whole grade acceleration opens on March 1 and closes on May 15.

Please visit our D97 website for more information.

2021-22 District 97 Family Handbook (Repeat)
Click here for the updated 2021-22 District 97 Family Handbook, which contains general information about the district and its procedures. Please note that some of this information may be subject to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please email d97feedback@op97.org if you have any questions.

Additionally, if you would like to request a hard copy of the handbook, please contact the school office.

School Year 21-22 Meal Information (Repeat)

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved key waivers that allow school districts to continue serving free meals to all children. This means that all District 97 students are eligible to receive breakfast and lunch free of charge for the entire 2021-22 school year!

NOTE: Families DO NOT need to complete the Free/Reduced Meal Application in order for their students to receive free meals. However, families seeking to qualify for school fee waivers or other state programs MUST complete the application. We encourage all families who currently qualify to take a few minutes to complete the application as soon as possible.

More information on the D97 food service program, including breakfast and lunch menus for our elementary and middle schools, are available here.

If a student arrives to school after breakfast, they can let their teacher in their first know. The teacher will contact our school nurse and she will arrange for them to come to the commons to get something to eat. Students will miss some class time.

2021-22 Frequently Asked Questions for Back to School Plan (Repeat)
District 97 has created a 2021-22 FAQ page based on the top questions we have received over the past few weeks. Topics include ventilation, remote learning, vaccination and travel.

Our back-to-school plan is linked below and can also be found, along with other COVID-19 resources and information, by going to https://www.op97.org/back-to-school.

District 97 has developed a comprehensive back-to-school plan to keep our students and staff healthy and safe while they learn in person five days a week. Our approach implements data-informed response measures that are aligned with the most up-to-date scientific research and best practices for K-12 schools. The plan also reflects rising concerns about the transmissibility of the Delta variant, the resurgence of COVID-19 cases, and the fact that the majority of our students (Pre-K through sixth grade) are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Below is a brief overview of some, not all, of the safety mitigations that will be in place for the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. New procedures are starred (*).

  • Full-Day, In-Person Instruction for All Students: Per state guidance, remote learning will only be provided only if a student is placed in quarantine by the health department or if students qualify as medically fragile.
  • Masking Optional: Masks will be optional for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status starting Thursday, May 17th.
  • Weekly Screening Testing: District 97 will partner with SHIELD Illinois to provide weekly testing to all students in Pre-K through eighth grade. This is a non-invasive saliva test that will be conducted on site during the school day. Testing is optional but strongly recommended. No action is necessary to participate. CLICK HERE to learn more about SHIELD testing. CLICK HERE for FAQ related to SHIELD Illinois.
  • Updated Quarantine and Contact Tracing Procedures: At the direction of the Oak Park Department of Public Health, unvaccinated individuals who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or who test positive for COVID-19, must quarantine/isolate from school for a period of 10-14 school days. Students and staff may return after following the protocols outlined in our plan. As of today, quarantining is no longer required for vaccinated individuals unless they are symptomatic. The CDC and IDPH have also updated their close contact definition for classroom students, which we hope will minimize disruptions to in-person learning this year.
  • Physical Distancing: We will make every effort to maintain as much distance as possible between students—at least 3 feet—in classrooms and during lunch.
  • Cleaning and Disinfecting: Staff will perform regular school cleaning and disinfect all high-touch surfaces daily. The full classroom disinfection process will occur weekly.

Wanting to confirm information you've heard regarding our schools? (Repeat)

Oak Park District 97 is committed to providing accurate and timely information. Our new Fact Checker will be updated consistently based upon common questions and concerns to ensure you have access to the key facts that interest you most.

Text Messages from District 97 (Repeat)

District 97 uses the notification system BrightArrow to communicate with families via email and phone calls. This year, we have started using periodic text messages to send reminders directly to parents' cell phones. In order to receive text messages, parents must opt in by texting YES to 87569. Once you have subscribed, you will receive a text confirmation.

Texts may appear from District 97 from 87569 or a phone number with a 424 area code (you may wish to save them to your contacts).

Wellness Check-in Program (Repeat)

The district-wide wellness check-in program, which was an initial crisis response to the pandemic, will not continue in its current format during the new Hybrid schedule. Please reach out to your school's school psychologist or social worker if you have social-emotional concerns about your child. If your child is experiencing an immediate mental health crisis, please call the Thrive 24hr Crisis Hotline at 708-383-7500. You may also refer to this local resource guide created by the Community Mental Health Board of the Oak Park Township.

Repeated Topics from Past Week's Middle Matters

Bullying Report Form (Repeat)

Our school does not tolerate bullying and takes all reports of bullying seriously. Consistent with Oak Park Elementary School District Board policies; bullying, intimidation, and harassment diminish a student’s ability to learn and a school’s ability to educate. Preventing individuals from engaging in these disruptive behaviors and providing all students equal access to a safe, non-hostile learning environment are important District goals. Bullying of any type should be reported immediately.

Report Form Link

PLEASE NOTE: District 97 extends a special thank you to former Brooks Middle School student Shawn C. for building the foundation for the bullying form. We would also like to thank our middle school students and administration team for their valuable feedback.

Live Streaming of GBMS Athletic and Music Events (Repeat)

All of our student athletic events and music performances will be live streamed on our YouTube Channel: GBMS YouTube Live Streaming Channel

For more information regarding live streaming, please click here.

Partnership with D97 and DePaul University - Care Coordinator (Repeat)

Tetyana Krutsik, Care Coordinator, is working with Brooks Middle School to support our families. See the below flyer to learn more about the the various ways she can support our families. You can connect with her directly via email tkrutsik@depaul.edu.
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Water Bottle Reminder (Repeat)

We ask that if possible to please send your student to school with a filled water bottle. There are no drinking fountains open, but we have water bottle filling stations in the school for our students to refill their water bottles when needed.

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Social Work Team (Repeat)

Below are the emails of our Social Work team. Please email them if you want to learn more about how your student can connect with them.

Office Phones and Dropping off Items at Brooks (Repeat)

Office Phones

Please note that our office staff sets the phone to go to voicemail from 8:30am to 9:15am daily. Please leave a message of your student's absence or you can email brooksattendance@op97.org. Our office staff will listen to voicemails to call back or direct calls as needed after 9:15am daily. We appreciate your patience and understanding. Please check out our GBMS Learning SY21-22 Information page, as your question is likely answered there.

Dropping off Items at Brooks for your Student

You may drop off forgotten items for your student in the main office. Please note that we will not call into your student's classroom, as it is a disruption to the learning for other students and the teacher in the classroom. Your student should plan to stop by the main office on their way to lunch or between passing periods, if they think you may have dropped off the forgotten item for them to retrieve. We appreciate your understanding.

Keep D97 Schools Allergy Safe - No Nuts Allowed (Repeat)

Please visit https://bit.ly/3j0KGTB to access information about the district’s food allergy management program, as well as tips and options for identifying food that is safe for snacks and field trips.

Nuts and nut products are not allowed in any District 97 schools during the 2021-22 school year. This includes products that are labeled “processed in a facility that shares equipment with nut products.” The shift to include lunch was necessary as many students may be eating their lunch in spaces other than the lunchroom due to COVID-19 protocols.

We appreciate your help in adhering to this preventative measure.

School Physicals and Immunizations (Repeat)

Incoming 6th-grade students and/or any new students who have transferred into District 97, MUST have a wellness physical and dental exam dated no less than one year prior to August 25th, 2021. Your child's physical must have been performed after August 25th, 2020 . Your child may not be admitted to school without these documents. Please submit the documents by mail or in person no later than August 25, 2021 to the following:

Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School

Attn: Health Office, Nurse Nancy Radogno

325 S. Kenilworth Ave

Oak Park, IL 60302

SPORTS PHYSICALS – The State of Illinois Office of Education requires that any student who wishes to participate in interscholastic sports MUST have an Athletic Physical Examination, dated no less than one year prior to the first day of the current school year, anytime after August 25, 2020. It is MANDATORY that your child have this physical before they will be eligible to try out or participate in any interscholastic activity.

To access student health forms please visit http://www.op97.org/hr/health-requirements

**For any family having difficulty securing an appointment to get the physical completed, please email our School Nurse, Nancy Radogno, nradogno@op97.org.

Technology Support (Repeat)

Technical support will be available from school and district technology staff by accessing the Help Desk through email, helpdesk@op97.org. When an email is submitted, a Help Desk ticket is created and assigned to technology staff, who will be working throughout the day to address technology concerns. Our technology team can support District 97 devices and student online programs.

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The Help Corner will features a frequently-asked question related to services and opportunities available for District 97 students and families. We will keep a complete list of these FAQs on our district website.

District 97 has created Community Resources Page. We also encourage families to stay connected through Facebook and Twitter. Additional updates can be found at:

Village of Oak Park

Oak Park Township

Oak Park Public Library

Park District of Oak Park

Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200

District 97 also has a broad network of partner organizations that provide an array of supports and services for Oak Park residents. The Community Mental Health Board and Oak Park and River Forest Townships have also put together a COVID-19 Social Services Resource Guide, which is available at https://tinyurl.com/oprfguide.

Community Resources

Distribution of information by a community group in accordance with District 97 policy does not imply, directly or indirectly, that the group's program(s), event(s) and/or services(s) is sanctioned, sponsored or endorsed by the district, the Board of Education or the superintendent.
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Interested in OPRF Youth Football?

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OPRF Summer Sports Camps - Registration Opens April 25

District 97 students are invited to participate in Huskie Sports Camps this summer! Registration opens Monday, April 25, at 10 a.m. CLICK HERE for the program flyer >

OPEF BASE Camp (Updated)

Summer is so close, and so is OPEF’s BASE Camp! Did you know that BASE is an acronym for Build a Summer Education? Your child can do just that, this summer!! We have openings in many camps still, such as Shoe Drip Art, Tinker Lab, Anime Quest, Pattern & Print, Girl Power Frisbee Physics & many more! We guarantee a wonderful STEAM education opportunity for your child. Check out what’s still open at www.opef.org!

Executive Functioning Program at Kids Unlimited

We are excited to announce our new EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING group designed solely for Middle Schoolers! In it, we tackle time management, goal development, schedule planning, homework, test taking, writing, long-term projects and self-advocacy. Spaces are filled on a first come, first serve basis. For more information, please visit www.kidsunlimitedtherapyservices.com
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Kids Kloset at First United Church

(First United Church – 848 Lake Street, Oak Park)

Wednesdays from 3:00pm to 5:00pm

Saturdays from 9:00am to 11:00am

Enter through the west narthex door.

Come to the Kids’ Kloset to get great

cold-weather clothing

at the lowest prices possible!

Loads of winter coats!

Contact “susanzaruba@gmail.com

If you need an alternative appointment.

Friday Night Place at Julian Middle School

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SUPPORT4U is a mental health resource for our students to anonymously text licensed mental health clinicians any time of the day for assistance or guidance. Students can text for any issue; typical reasons might include social issues, anxiety, depression, substance use, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, bullying, abuse, or any other mental health-related topic. The clinician’s goal is to steer the student to available resources in the school and community. To use, students just need to go to Support4U.live on their phone, click on the Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School logo and hit send. Help is just a text away.

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Thrive Services and Programs


Thrive is offering phone-based counseling, 24/7 crisis intervention services, medication management and, a free Thrive Check-In phone support line (Ext. 8) to address our community’s needs during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Call us at (708)383-7500. Our Front Desk team is also ready to assist you Monday-Friday, 9am to 2pm, with requests for referrals or new services and to reschedule or cancel an appointment.

Mental Health Resource, "Call4Calm"

Thrive is also a proud partner of the Illinois Call4Calm Text Line Service. Text “TALK” TO 552020 (or “HABLAR) for Spanish. The Illinois Call4Calm Text Line is not a crisis hotline, but is a source of support for anyone experiencing stress and in need of a listening ear.

And we know the COVID-19 pandemic can wear on every resource—from food and shelter to our emotional bandwidth and mental health. Fortunately, the Illinois Department of Human Services has launched a support line called Call4Calm that is reachable via text. Individuals who want to speak with a mental health professional can text the word “TALK” or “HABLAR” (for Spanish speakers) to 552-020. Within 24 hours, that individual will receive a call from a mental health professional employed by a local community health center.

People can also text other terms, like “unemployment” or “food” or “shelter” to the same number to receive information on how to navigate and access supports and services. Call4Calm is free, and individuals who use it can remain anonymous. We encourage you to share this resource with your students, families, and staff.