Auburn Middle School Monthly

September 2019

The Principal's Perspective

Lessons Learned from a Tragedy

There are some things in life that you just never forget; events that are as though seared into our memories. We can’t remember where we put our keys this morning, but we can’t forget where we were or how we felt when certain events unfurled. September 11, 2001 was undoubtedly one such occurrence. Though our nation is relatively young, we have had our share of wars. Rare, however, have been the times that those wars have been waged on our own soil. Rarer still have been the times that the United States was flat-out blindsided as it was on that horrible day. What I’ll bet all of us grown-ups felt that day, in addition of course to empathy for the victims, was a tremendous feeling of unease at the fact that we may never be 100% safe, even in the most advanced and powerful country in the world.

As weeks went on after September 11, 2001, you probably remember how stories of heroism and compassion began to surpass those of violence and hatred. There were far too many heroes for the media to even write about. President Bush rallied the nation behind a renewed patriotism. Homeland Security was born. Long overdue respect was given to police officers, firefighters, military personnel and first responders of every kind. Bruce Springsteen sang “The Rising,” Adam Sandler and Spike Lee made movies and, to the chagrin of terrorists everywhere, the United States came together. All along, we thought about how to make sense of this for our children. In the same world that housed Dora the Explorer and Barney the Purple Dinosaur, how would we explain the existence of such hatred and evil to our kids? At the time, I was the Assistant Principal at Charlton Middle School, and I tried (probably unsuccessfully) to help the students learn a lesson from the tragedy without scaring them too much.

Among so many stories of heroism, I heard one that hit home. It was the now well-known story of “The Man with the Red Bandana.” That is the nickname that has been attributed to Welles Crowther, who at the age of just 23, lost his life when the South Tower crumbled on September 11. Crowther was a kid not completely unlike many of ours who, growing up in suburban New York, loved his family, sports, friends and mischief. When he was only a small boy, his father gave him a red bandana with which to blow his nose. Nothing special there. Somehow, though, this red bandana came to symbolize for Crowther all that he held dear. As he grew, he used the red bandana as a reminder to stay focused and do the right things. It was his trademark – he never left home without it. Crowther went on to attend Boston College, starring for their lacrosse team and earning a degree in economics. It had long been his dream to make millions in the world of finance, and he was well on his way, earning a job at a prestigious firm in the World Trade Center in just his first year out of college.

Shortly thereafter, he was at work when a plane slammed into the tower in which he was working. The chaos and destruction on his floor was indescribable. Among the people who were still alive, nobody knew just what to do. Welles Crowther took action. He battled the fires and debris to search, and ultimately find, the only functioning stairway in the tower, 22 floors below. He went back to his floor and continuously led groups of people to the functioning stairway, staying with them until first responders could take them to safety. He re-entered the burning building three separate times, saving at least 18 people in the process. On his fourth re-entry, the entire tower crumbled.

We are now 18 years beyond this tragedy and the lessons are still the same, only growing more truthful over time. I passed the following lessons on to the students I was with at the time, but I feel they are still relevant to us in 2019 at AMS:

1. Treat others with civility and respect (Amazing how often this little piece of advice turns up around here). As people, we all share this world, and the overwhelming majority of us are good people. Do things that make other people’s days better. It’s never too soon to learn that the best people in this world are the ones who put others needs before their own.

2. Be very, very good to the people in your life who try to help you. Your family, close friends, teachers, coaches and others have dedicated portions of their lives to helping you. Give back by letting them know you appreciate it and by doing things that make them proud of you.

3. Know that no matter how hard we try or how good an example we set, there will still be some people in the world who are angry, sad and hateful. We must never allow those people to influence the way we live our lives.

4. Make the absolute most of every day. Even if you live to be 200 years (or 73,000 days) old, you still only have a finite number of days left. So don’t waste a single one of them being unhappy or being angry with others. Life’s just too short to be miserable all the time.

5. Appreciate that you live in the most opportunity-laden country in the world and in a community that cares deeply about you. A great life is yours for the taking.

Welles Crowther’s mom and dad found out he was dead a few days after the event, but not by direct confirmation of his body. They picked up the New York Times and read a column highlighting several stories of survival. A number of survivors gave eyewitness accounts of the very reason they were still alive – you guessed it; a confident, compassionate young man, shielding his mouth and nose from debris with a red bandana, who led them to the safety they would otherwise never have found. In an incredible twist to the story, the 18 known people he saved and all of their family members carry red bandanas with them daily as a reminder of how fortunate they are to be alive and as a tribute to the one person they’ve ever met who truly put others before himself. Not with a burning building, but rather a school and a community as our proving ground, wouldn’t it be great if we could teach – and show – our students what these lessons look like in human form?

I look forward to working with you this year to do just that.

We Do Our Best, but...

Sometimes, the need arises for parents/guardians to contact the school with questions, concerns or complaints. If so, in order to ensure the smoothest possible flow of information, please remember to attempt to begin contact with the person most likely to be fully aware of the situation:

If the question or concern involves:

* Teacher / classroom - please contact the teacher first

* Other students - please contact the guidance counselor first (If the issue potentially involves your child's safety, please contact Mr. Desto or Mr. Carlson)

* EC Activities - please contact the coach or activity advisor first
* School wide policies / procedures - Please contact the principal or assistant principal first

* Emergencies - Contact the main office immediately. If after 3:30, Mr. Desto's extension is 4121 / email is and Mr. Carlson's is 4117 / We are often out of our office spending time with students (clubs, games, etc.) in the afternoon, but please leave a message, and we will call back asap.

Extracurricular Activities at AMS

AMS offers multiple extracurricular activities in order to increase our chances of being able to provide something for the diverse interests of middle school students. As of right now, the following activities are running (adult(s) in charge in parentheses):

* Cross country (Coaches - Mrs. Moran and Mr. Reid) (Can no longer accept new members)

* Field Hockey (Coach Higgins and Coach Zona)

* Football (Mr. Caswell, Coach Luks and Coach Swedberg)

* Student Council (Mrs. Bailey)

* National Junior Honor Society (Select membership earned through academic and social performance - applications for new members go out later in the fall) (Mrs. Watson and Mrs. Dupuis)

* Games Club (Mr. Kahn)

* Art Club (Mrs. Starbard [formerly Ms. Prunier])

* Spanish Club (Ms. Rivera)

* Math Club (Mr. Bastien and Ms. Mahoney)

* The Book was Better Club (Ms. Bushe and Mr. Bastien)

* Rockets 2 Rockets (Mr. Clark and Mrs. Adelinia)

* Young Engineers Club (Mrs. Robbins, Mrs. Palumbo and Mrs. Stiling)

* Newspaper (Mrs. Mancini and Mrs. Watson)

* Theater (Mrs. Taylor and Mr. Kahn)

Coming Soon (Please remind your child to pay close attention to morning announcements)

* Basketball (Girls and Boys)

* Hockey

* Cheerleading

* Ski Club

...and more!

If you have any questions about school activities, please contact the adult in charge or the main office.

School Council

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Upcoming Events

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AMS School Musical Auditions

Auditions for Aladdin Jr. will be held on Monday, September 16th and Tuesday September 17th, immediately after school. If you have any questions, please see Mr. Kahn. Please see the audition information below. The show will take place on January 17th and 18th at Auburn High School.

Back to School Dance

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Arc Jr. presents the "AMS Back to School Dance" on Friday, September 20th. The 6th grade dance will be from 3pm-5pm and the 7th and 8th grade dance will be from 6pm-8pm. Tickets will be on sale during lunches for $10 each. Snacks and games will also be available for $1 each.

Picture Retakes and Order Forms

Students that missed picture day or who wish to retake their picture will have the opportunity to do so on September 24th. For those requesting a retake, please be sure to bring in the envelope with your proofs and $3. Anyone else wishing to purchase their original photos should return the form by September 24th as well.

Football Games

Cheer on the Rockets are they face Webster Middle School at home on Thursday September 19th at 3:30. They will also play Northbridge Middle School in Northbridge on Thursday September 26th at 3:30. Go Rockets!

Field Hockey Games

Upcoming Field Hockey games for AMS are as follows:

9/17/19 at 3:30pm, AMS will face McCloskey Middle School at home.

9/19/19 at 3:30pm, AMS will play at Miscoe Hill Middle School in Mendon.

9/24/19 at 3:30pm, AMS will face Forest Grove Middle School at home.

9/26/19 at 3:30pm, AMS will play at Oxford Middle School.

9/30/19 at 3:30pm, AMS will play at Northbridge Middle School (171 Linwood Ave, Whitinsville MA)

Cross Country Meets

The Cross Country team will compete against Oxford in a meet at Lemansky Park in Auburn on Monday, September 16th at 3:30pm. They will also have a meet on Thursday, September 19th at 3:30 at McCloskey Middle School in Uxbridge. On Thursday, September 26th, the AMS Cross Country team will meet against Bartlett at Lemansky Park at 3:30pm.

If They Had Known

Monday, Oct. 7th, 6:30pm

99 Auburn Street

Auburn, MA

Please join us for this powerful and insightful film which highlights yet another of the dangers our kids face in 2019. The film will be followed by Q&A with an expert panel. Please see below for details.
On Monday, October 7, 2019, at 6:30pm, the Auburn Public Schools will present a showing of “If They Had Known” in the auditorium at Auburn High School. This is a 35 minute documentary that chronicles the experience of a group of young people who were involved with recreational mixing of prescription drugs with alcohol. It is an honest and emotional account of what happened one night, spoken by the friends of a young man who tragically died.

The Auburn Public Schools is committed to the safety of our students both on and off the school campus. We invite parents to join us for a viewing of the documentary followed by a panel discussion with representatives from the Auburn Police Department, Auburn EMS, and Massachusetts District Attorneys Office. We believe this information can help us all be more informed as we work to provide our students with a safe learning environment and a safe community. Follow the link below to view the trailer for this film.


Thank you for all your support...together, we can make AMS the very best!