Monday, December 3, 2012

It is the most Wonderful Time of the Year?

High School Semi-Formal Dance: What an awesome week and weekend. Mrs. Hogan and Mrs. Deemer did a wonderful job with their students setting up and operating the High School Semi-Formal Dance over the weekend. The artwork, backdrops, picture taking areas, and the overall layout were just spectacular. The volunteers did a great job making sure that our 900 students had an enjoyable night.  I cannot say enough about how great it is for me to attend these events when they are organized, set up, and run so well. I heard many comments from the STUDENTS about how happy they were with the way things looked. Many thanks to all for a wonderful night.

Students Take the Plunge: All of you know that our students are generous and this weekend was no different. Our hockey team, after a challenging tournament and dance, joined fellow student Andrew Bowman (otherwise known as "The Mayor" of the high school) in the Polar Bear Plunge at Oneida Lake. I was not present because there are two things on my short list that scare me as a superintendent: watching the cheerleading "pyramid" and watching anyone jump into freezing water! My understanding is that all did very well and they raised a lot of money for charity. Nice work and thank you!

Academic Initiatives Update: On the academic front, we continue to monitor legislation related to the following: diplomas being awarded for students headed into engineering fields, the state aid impact from Hurricane Sandy on our budget for next year, the complete roll out of the "Common Core Learning Standards" in the Elementary, and the continued implementation of the "Annual Professional Performance Review Plan" district-wide. I was really happy earlier in the week when the state released how much money was going to be withheld from schools that did not have their APPR plans approved by Friday. Ours was approved long ago, and luckily we will not lose the $1.029M that was on the table.

It should be noted that all of our employees are working to their maximum capacity. All of these changes are taking a toll on many within the organization. While we will continue to achieve at the highest level, we also need a way to blow off some steam. You might see faculty and staff wearing bracelets that read "Just Let Us Teach". This is nothing against me, the administration, or the Board of Education. It is a way to show those above us that maximum capacity has been reached, and it would be nice to let some of these new initiatives breathe a little bit before introducing any more.

Students Try New Things: If you are the parent of a male middle school or high school student you might notice that they are growing a mustache (or trying to). This is completely normal because December is known by students as "Dirt-Stache December" just as November was "No Shave November".  For some reason it seems that many more students than normal are participating so don't be surprised.

Also, if you have children and are allowing them to use the Internet or a Smart Phone, they are moving beyond Facebook and Twitter and into two new applications called Instagram and Snap-Chat. Instagram allows students to use their "friends" lists from Twitter and Facebook to post and share pictures with comments. Snap-Chat is interesting in that students send pictures to others and each picture has a timer setting from 3 to 10 seconds. The person who receives the picture then sends a picture back that displays for 3 to 10 seconds. They are always into something new!

Have a great week and please do not let the stress of the holidays creep in to family and work time. This can be the best time of the year if we allow it to be!