James Morris School
Regional School District No.6
Principal's Message for June 10, 2016
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Dear Parents, Guardians and Community Members,
Please join me in congratulating the 2016 graduating class JMS 6th-graders! All year, and again tonight at our Moving Up ceremony, this special group of wonderful children made all of us at JMS proud. Below is a transcript of the speech I dedicated to and shared with the students during tonight's celebration.
"Two years ago at this ceremony, I spoke to the graduating 6th-grade class about kindness towards others. Last year, I shared an unfortunate but true story from my own childhood to illustrate a lesson about bullying. When I first sat to draft what would eventually become this speech, I set out to connect two things: first, the unique traits that have made you a very special group of children, and second, the fact that aside from your leaving JMS, this year is also highlighted by a historic presidential election cycle and all the media coverage that goes with it. During my prewriting process of brainstorming what might unify these two vastly different topics, the word ARGUMENT eventually simmered to the surface.
Outside of education, the word argument is generally understood to mean a disagreement by individuals, often with a negative association, and used in such context as, “I got into yet another argument with my 14-year old son about his cell phone usage.” In education, however, the term argument is more neutral, used synonymously with debate or a defense for one’s perspective.
When I think of you, the 6th grade class, negative words simply do not come to mind. In fact, the principal’s office has been strangely quiet for springtime in a school with 6th graders. At kindergarten orientation each year, I share with parents that the number of conflicts between students peaks in both kindergarten and in sixth grade. In kindergarten, this is generally due to the fact that the young children are learning how to interact socially, often through trial and error, and part of the learning experience is sometimes a conversation with other adults, perhaps the principal. On the other hand, sixth graders’ trips to the office tend to be due to behavioral issues, usually in which the student knows that what he or she did was a poor choice in one way or another. For the most part, these behavioral patterns held true for each of my years as principal of JMS… except for one noteworthy exception: You. Your sixth-grade class. From the first day of school through today, you have set a new standard for future JMS 6th-graders with your empathy for others, your seemingly instinctive awareness of right and wrong, and your ability to engage in respectful argument in such a way that makes us proud.
One characteristic of the world in which you have grown is the merging of news media coverage with both opinion and entertainment. A common feature of modern media is debate. If we were to turn on any cable news channel, there is a high probability that we will see two or three people debating over a topic. All too often, some might argue, these debates escalate, as the participants become more and more emotionally charged and frustrated, sometimes raising their voices, interrupting, and perhaps even insulting each other as individuals.
Compare that to the work you have done with Mrs. Connery, and Mrs. Torrant as you studied the power of words. What would Miss Rachel from Ford’s Theater think of the ethos, pathos and logos of such an approach to argument and rhetoric? These instances represent the first type of argument that I referenced early, characterized by elements of negativity and rarely finding the opposing participants having reached any sort of mutual respect or understanding of each other’s perspective.
This is not always true, and on any given night we can certainly find plenty of examples of debate and argument that are civil and productive. But, as an educator and a parent myself, I sometimes worry about the frequency and intensity of the negativity and the example that it sets for my own children and for the children in our schools. In these moments, however, I am able to find comfort and hope in spending time with classes such as yours.
Your team of educators, including those individuals who are not PAID your parents, grandparents, siblings, coaches, religious and community leaders and your team of teachers are clearly doing an exceptional job of together, helping you become wonderful young citizens, who will soon be young leaders and first-time voters in the 2024 presidential election.
As individuals and as a community, our ability to argue - to form an opinion, to present it to an audience, to allow it to be challenged, and to communicate that perspective in a mature, responsible and articulate manner is, I believe, at a crucial point in our lives.
Nobel Peace Prize winner, Reverend Desmond Tutu is credited with the wise words, “Don’t raise your voice; improve your argument.” I would like to repeat that: “Don’t raise your voice; improve your argument.” Many in our society are losing or have lost faith in the ability of our leaders to come together over differences of perspective - to argue in a manner that allows for compromise - to debate differences, without wounding relationships. For this trend to reverse, it will be the young, educated citizens - our future leaders - toward whom we look. It will be YOU whom will be called upon to lead and model what it means to communicate effectively and debate about important issues rather than simply raise your volume of your voice. And, based on everything you have shown to this point in your young lives, we all have MUCH reason to be optimistic and confident in a bright future.
On behalf of all of us in the JMS community, I sincerely thank your teachers, your families, and you, for all that you have achieved individually and as a group, You, the graduating class of JMS sixth-graders."
On behalf of the sixth-graders and their families, I greatly appreciate all the effort and time offered by Mrs. Maillet, Mrs. Bills, Mrs. Sweet, Mrs. Connery, Mrs. Torrant, Mrs. Richard, and of the 5th- and 6th-grade parents who helped make this night possible!
Student's Interview with Community Volunteer
Please click here to view a short video of first-grader, Allie interviewing Mrs. Dorsett, one of our wonderful community volunteers, about her experiences in James Morris School and how they compare to her time as a classroom teacher. Great job, Allie! Thank you, Mrs. Dorsett!
Summer Math Practice
Please see this link for summer math activities. From the link, you will find grade-specific summer calendar of activities for students entering grades one through six, as well as an online math-challenge program for students entering two and up.
Students' Support for our Giving Garden!
Recently, every K-6 student worked to prepare the Giving Garden's beds, to sow seeds, transplant seedlings, create garden markers, along with a host of other tasks. They moved through the planting process with a collaborative mindset that made it a wonderful experience for all. Upper-grade helpers came out with younger students and led them through the planting process with confidence and expertise. Pre-K students will be making their way out to the garden next week. The Giving Garden is sure to have a bountiful harvest, thanks to the efforts of our students, staff and family volunteers!
- Mrs. Alisa Wright
2016 Governor’s Summer Reading
The 2016 Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge is under way. Region 6 appreciates your involvement in your child’s summer reading life! Please keep track of books read over the summer. We are hoping for 100% participation.
Save the Date: Thursday, September 15th will be our 7th Annual Book Blast & BBQ at Wamogo. More information to come in early September. Below is a link to the website for more information and Summer Reading Journal.
Any questions feel free to contact our Language Arts Coordinator, Joanne Woodington at firstname.lastname@example.org . Happy Reading!
Giving Garden Summer Garden Maintenance
Students have been busily working to get the garden ready for another growing season! The Giving Garden has been successful because of the commitment and support of Morris, staff, students, and families. We are proud to be able to donate harvested produce to area soup kitchens and food banks. Come fall, we always look forward to our annual harvest luncheon. Please consider signing up to help maintain the garden for one week this summer. For the summer maintenance routine and sign up, please follow this link.
Message from Middle School Guidance for 6th grade students and their guardians:
Schedules continue to be a work in progress. We will personally mail all schedules home as soon as they are available along with my summer schedule should you wish to contact me with any questions or concerns.
I wish everyone a safe and happy summer and I look forward to working with your children during their middle school years.
As always you may contact me by email at email@example.com or by phone at 860-567-6646.
- The BOE meeting scheduled for June 7th has been RESCHEDULED to Tuesday, June 21st in the District Office Conference Room.
- As of June 10th, the cafeteria will no longer be accepting students' charging of purchases for the remainder of this school year.
- Pre-Kindergarten will continue through the last day of school, June 15th.
- Regional School District No. 6 is currently conducting kindergarten registration for the 2016-2017 school year. Children must be 5 years of age on or before December 31st of this year to be eligible for kindergarten enrollment this fall. Please call our main office at 860-567-7420 to request a registration packet. (See notice below)
Please feel free to contact me at any time with questions, comments or concerns.
ASAP! Summer Programs
Education Connection Folktale Fiesta
Education Connection Summer Reading Camp and Math Olympics
Flanders Summer Series
Goshen Mad Science
Ice Cream Social
Litchfield County 4H
Litchfield Jazz Camp
Middle School Program of Studies
Red Sox vs. Rays
Sandy Beach Swim Lessons
Summer Reading Skills
Summer Theatre Intensive
Underage Drinking Prevention
- Friday, 6/10...... Field Day
Tuesday, 6/14 - Early Dismissal
Wednesday, 6/15 - last day of school - Early Dismissal