Sunday, March 25, 2018

What They're Watching...

The advent of the internet and the ever increasing evolution of technology has allowed people to have more information than ever at their fingertips. It has also allowed an avenue for perpetual entertainment. On a daily basis, you can find people huddled around a screen somewhere showing off the most recent funny video or story they have stumbled across on the internet. This situation is no different for our elementary children as well. As parents, the tablet/iPad has become a fantastic tool for learning, but at time has also become a pacifier. Above that, our children (including my own) have become a part of a generation called "YouTubers" where virtually everything (videos, learning experiences, mini-episodes, live events, how-to directions, and much more) are easily accessible. One of the dangers of YouTube is that once you are in it, there can be links pushed to your device and it becomes very easy for one to wind up viewing channels that most adults would not approve of. On an increasing basis, we are seeing kids come to school using language that is not acceptable in a public location. When speaking to kids, it has become apparent that most of them are learning their negative behaviors are being learned through various YouTube channels. A list of the top YouTube channels that children should not be watching can be found HERE. Atop this list is a channel called Super Mario Logan and a show on the channel called Jeffy. This is the show that our students, mostly boys, are coming to school and attempting to recreate. Unfortunately, most of us as parents have minimal understanding of the shows that our kids may be watching on the internet and YouTube. I frequently have to either block channels, websites, or remove privileges from my own children if they find these shows on YouTube. However, it is important that we take the time as parents to pay attention to what our kids are watching online, and on occasion take the time to sit and watch with them. Most kids don't have the capacity to understand that what they are watching could be inappropriate and be teaching them bad behaviors. Please take time each week to spend time with your children while they are viewing things online and ask questions. It also doesn't hurt to review their browsing histories and research the shows that they are watching as well. In the end, the benefit of finding something that they shouldn't be watching while they are young and having the ability to talk about it with our kids and help them learn appropriate vs. inappropriate is time well spent. 

2018-2019 Health Information


Each year, New York State reviews their health screening requirements and on occasion will make changes. For the 2018-2019 school year, there are changes to the immunization requirements and health screening requirements. For a copy of the updated immunization requirements from the Department of Health, please click the link below. Other changes to health screenings include:

Health Examinations required in grades pre K or K, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11.
Vision and Hearing Screening required within 6 moths of entering school and in grades pre K or K, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11.
Scoliosis Screenings are required for females in grades 5 and 7, and for males in grade 9.

Please speak to your school nurse or family physician if you have any questions regarding these new requirements.



Go Home Early Drill


Each year, schools in New York State are required to conduct what is called a "go home early" drill. In our region, schools attempt to have this event occur on the same day to minimize disruptions for our local BOCES. This year, the go home early drill will be occurring on Thursday, April 19. For this drill, students will be dismissed from school 15 minutes earlier than regularly scheduled. Please make sure that necessary arrangements are made for students to arrive home from school earlier on that day.

Dialogue Event


On Monday, March 26, 2018, we will be hosting our second Dialogue with the Superintendent event at Staley Elementary School from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Auditorium. Following last year's tour through the District to provide families an opportunity to chat informally and get questions answered, we have continued the practice this year, however in fewer locations. The event is intended to provide families an opportunity to ask questions through the submission of a question card and elicit an on the spot response. All questions are anonymous. This event is open to ALL parents in the District and is not specific to any one given building. For more information or if you have questions, please contact the District office.

Utica OD Teen All-Stars


Who's your Teen All-Star?

The O-D is currently accepting nominations for its 2018 Teen All-Stars! Each year, dozens of local seniors are nominated by friends, family, school officials and members of the community.
Teen All-Stars is an annual awards program created by the Observer-Dispatch to recognize local students who excel both academically and in their extracurricular activities.
The nomination period will be open from Sunday, March 4, until Wednesday, April 4.
To nominate a local high school senior, please fill out this form in its entirety. The nomination must include:
* A letter of nomination (no longer than 500 words)
* A list from the nominee of his or her Top 10 school/community activities
* A statement from the nominee describing one accomplishment he or she is most proud of.
Additional requirements and details can be found on the form.



Sunday, March 18, 2018

Generation Negative...

Over the years, different generations of people and eras get labeled from time to time based on some of the events that occur during that time frame. Unfortunately, I feel that we are currently experiencing Generation Negative. On a daily basis, regardless of your walk of life, you find people complaining, putting others down, and just in general being negative. Social media, as you know, has not helped to curb any of these behaviors either. It has provided an open forum with next to no regulation or oversight for individuals to slander others and write false information via hearsay that eventual turns into reality because enough people believe it without verifying from the source. Worse yet, our children pick up on these negative tendencies and they themselves either model the negative behavior, or become a target of it. The concept of grit, which is something that our society was built upon for more than a century, is all but gone. Many educational researchers and writers are claiming that the lack of grit in the human spirit today is directly at fault for the decline in educational systems. People in general, not just students, are easily giving up on tasks, jobs, and life if things become a challenge. Instant satisfaction and gratification has become a hallmark of our society. Beyond all of the negative commentary, the damage that can be done to a human's mental psyche can be tremendous. Constant put downs, listening to negative comments, and being in a negative environment can lead an individual to depression, mental illness, and more. All of these are reason enough for more schools to be exploring the PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) model that our schools are working to implement. I've heard people say that it takes roughly five positive comments to erase the harm caused by one negative comment. If this is true, we have a lot of work to do in order to help each other. PBIS is a model that works to find positive behaviors that are occurring and reinforce those behaviors. Some people say that you shouldn't be rewarded for doing things that you're supposed to do anyway, but then why do we get a paycheck for doing our job? Incentives have always been a way to encourage the masses to improve an behavior, which is why PBIS works so well. Beyond just that, it brings more positive conversation into a classroom on a daily basis with a focus on good things; rather than constant negative commentary as much of our world has become. Through focusing on the positive, we can turn Generation Negative into Generation Positive and work together to create an environment that fosters growth, care, and team work. 

Dialogue Event


On Monday, March 26, 2018, we will be hosting our second Dialogue with the Superintendent event at Staley Elementary School from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Auditorium. Following last year's tour through the District to provide families an opportunity to chat informally and get questions answered, we have continued the practice this year, however in fewer locations. The event is intended to provide families an opportunity to ask questions through the submission of a question card and elicit an on the spot response. All questions are anonymous. This event is open to ALL parents in the District and is not specific to any one given building. For more information or if you have questions, please contact the District office.

Utica OD Teen All-Stars


Who's your Teen All-Star?

The O-D is currently accepting nominations for its 2018 Teen All-Stars! Each year, dozens of local seniors are nominated by friends, family, school officials and members of the community.
Teen All-Stars is an annual awards program created by the Observer-Dispatch to recognize local students who excel both academically and in their extracurricular activities.
The nomination period will be open from Sunday, March 4, until Wednesday, April 4.
To nominate a local high school senior, please fill out this form in its entirety. The nomination must include:
* A letter of nomination (no longer than 500 words)
* A list from the nominee of his or her Top 10 school/community activities
* A statement from the nominee describing one accomplishment he or she is most proud of.
Additional requirements and details can be found on the form.

Strough Taco Knight


Strough Middle School students (7th and 8th graders) and their families are invited to a Free Taco Knight on Thursday, March 22nd at the Strough Cypress Street campus cafeteria from 6-8 p.m. Jodi Warren and representatives from the Center for Family Life and Recovery, in partnership with the Rome City School District, are presenting “Concealing Secrets,” Part II. A more in-depth look into teen drug use that will discuss the “why” drug abuse occurs, current drug trends, drug references such as clothing, how social media may impact teen use, signs and symptoms of use and abuse, treatment, and recovery. All students, families, and staff are welcome to attend the dinner (which is Title One Funded event). Please note during the presentation, only adults are allowed. We will have entertainment for students and children during the presentation! The event is free to Strough families. Reservations are required by Tuesday, March 20th, so food service will have a count of how many guests they will be serving. For more information contact Strough Middle School Main office at Cypress Street: 315-338-5202. Come and enjoy a delicious taco dinner with drinks and dessert! 




 



Sunday, March 11, 2018

N Apostrophe T...


Recently, I had the opportunity to have a unique conversation with one of our behavior specialists regarding changing the mindset of someone from negative to positive. Prior to the conversation, I had no knowledge of just how vast this individuals experience was. Their resume includes developing behavior improvement philosophies that have been universally adopted by at least 4 State Departments of Education and a military manual to work on helping families adjust to a military lifestyle. The reality of the concept is really not anything new, but it’s not really improving behaviors but an adjustment in an individuals attitude or mindset. Becoming more positive with our lives and how we approach a situation has been universally discussed in recent times, including many schools adopting the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) model. PBIS aims to shift the mindset of those working in schools to acknowledge and reward positive behaviors, rather than the old fashion focus on all things negative. In talking to our specialist, his concept is unique, simple, and ironically common sense. He works to train people to remove N’T words from our vocabulary. Can’t, won’t, don’t, couldn’t, isn’t and etc. are all words with not only negative connotations, but also carry some level of dejection with them. If you take a moment to think about being a parent or teacher, how often to we simply let these words slip out without even thinking every time we see something happen that we hoped had a different result. Example: you give your child a cup of milk and they try to carry it with one hand. Most of us would say, “don’t spill that” or “that isn’t how to carry the cup”. Instead, we could ask, “how should you carry the cup?” Both statements will yield the same desired results, but one of the statements does not put the child on edge and requires them to think through what is happening. I have spent the last several weeks carefully reflecting on my language use and it is shocking how often these N’T words are used. What is equally shocking and enjoyable is how much more positive you can feel by removing these words from your vocabulary. Asking kids questions about what they should be doing rather than directing them or casting negativity on their daily routines will make a big difference in their lives. Eventually, they will pay it forward and our entire society will become more positive. Our children recognize those of us that they feel areN’T against them. They remember those that say they CAN more than those that constantly say they caN’T. I challenge you to start a wave of positivity in your environment and attempt to minimize or eliminate N’T from your vocabulary. Both your kids/students and your own demeanor will change for the better. 

Rising Stars


Rising Stars is a fun learning experience that teaches stage and life skills through games and activities, individual coaching, and actual performances on the Capitol Stage. The program focuses on developing the students' own creativity, building self-confidence, improving reading comprehension and speaking ability, accepting responsibility, and teamwork.

Students will learn stage movement, character development, how to audition, and a whole lot more! Skills developed will better prepare students to compete for roles in school plays and other local stage productions, as well as interacting with confidence during pageants, interviews for college or jobs, and in everyday dealings with teachers and peers.

Four sessions of 10 classes each are offered yearly.  Students can sign up for any or all sessions. Stage Performances are offered during the Spring and Fall Session and require extra rehearsals on weekends and weekday evenings.  Winter and Summer sessions focus on learning the necessary skills to qualify for performance and require attendance only for regular classes on Saturdays.  In 2018 only, Summer Session will also include a short performance which requires a few extra rehearsals.

Regular Classes are on Saturdays:
Grades 7-9 from 10:00 AM-11:00 AM
Grades 10-12 from 11:30 AM-12:30 PM
Grades 3-6 from 1:00 PM-2:00 PM
2018 Spring Show Date:  June 3.  
Rehearsals begin April 15.

For more information, please visit their website at https://www.romecapitol.com/rising-stars/


Utica OD Teen All-Stars


Who's your Teen All-Star?

The O-D is currently accepting nominations for its 2018 Teen All-Stars! Each year, dozens of local seniors are nominated by friends, family, school officials and members of the community.
Teen All-Stars is an annual awards program created by the Observer-Dispatch to recognize local students who excel both academically and in their extracurricular activities.
The nomination period will be open from Sunday, March 4, until Wednesday, April 4.
To nominate a local high school senior, please fill out this form in its entirety. The nomination must include:
* A letter of nomination (no longer than 500 words)
* A list from the nominee of his or her Top 10 school/community activities
* A statement from the nominee describing one accomplishment he or she is most proud of.
Additional requirements and details can be found on the form.

Paying for College - HESC


New York State has a division set aside to help students and families understand the funding process and where to gain financial support called the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC). Each year, there are thousands of dollars that students and families leave on the table unclaimed that they would be eligible for. In recent years, the Governor has worked to find ways to help make college more affordable for families. For more information about the programs and services that HESC can provide to your student or family, please visit their website at https://www.hesc.ny.gov/ .

Host Families Needed


The Rotary Club is in need of a host family for a current RFA foreign exchange student from Hungary. The family is needed for roughly 6 weeks, from the middle of May through the end of June. The opportunity to work with a student from a foreign country and experience another culture as you help them experience yours is extraordinary. If you think you can help this student out or if you have questions, please contact Sam Pendergast at 315-617-3567 or by email at slpender55@gmail.com.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Budget Update...

For the first time in most people's memory, the school district has presented their proposed budget in the month of March. Traditionally, the budget is presented for the first time in early April only weeks before the Board of Education needs officially adopt the budget, which leaves little time to make adjustments, if necessary. By presenting in March, we have much more time to refine the proposed budget and make sure we are making the best decisions possible. The early completion also means that any increase in revenue could mean improvement as well. The proposed 2018-2019 budget is $118,373,465. This number reflects a total increase of expenditures of 2.64%. In order to balance the budget, we are also proposing a 3.96% increase on school taxes. With this increase, some of major concerns left exposed are a $1.6 million gap which will be covered by our fund balance, the loss of roughly 25 positions (including 7 current working teachers), a restructuring of our pre-k program, and a reduction in the funding that the District provides to some of our service providers. Due to the fact that the District has not raised taxes in three years, this budget cycle we started with an estimated $11 million in funding deficit. All of the non-controllable costs (health insurance, retirement system contributions, and salaries are the big ones) grew significantly. For those that don't understand the process, there are rate increases set by other agencies that we don't control that grew significantly more than the past or predicted. Thanks to the leaders in our business department, we were able to trim the $11 million gap to $9 million by tightening up the current year budget to reduce expenditures in the 2017-2018 school year, thus freeing up some reserves. From there, we have trimmed away at various things throughout the budget to bring the deficit number down to $1.6 million, of which we are proposing to cover with reserves, as opposed to cutting more. A pdf copy of the slide presentation is available on the website and I will be doing a VLOG in the near future for all to have a better understanding of school budgets and our budget. The Board of Education will be hearing another budget presentation/update at the regularly scheduled meeting on April 5.  

Kindergarten Registration


Dates: Monday, March 5th through Friday, March 9th
Times: 9:10 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM to 3:10 PM

All Kindergarten registrations will take place at your child’s home school, except for evening registration on 3/7/18 (see below). Home school is determined by your address. For questions about which school your child will attend, please call the Central Registrar’s Office at 315-338-6569 or check this link: http://romecsd.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_695381/File/Attendance%20Zones%202017-18.pdf.

EVENING REGISTRATION DATE: Wednesday, March 7th
TIME: 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM
LOCATION: District Office, 409 Bell Road, Rome, NY

The following must be provided at the time of registration:
-Original Birth Certificate (Your child must be 5 on or before
December 1, 2018 to register for Kindergarten)
-Record of current immunizations
-Proof of residency (rent receipt or lease, recent National Grid or phone bill, etc.) *
Any child who will be 6 on or before December 1, 2018 must be registered for school.



Connections Art Exhibit


The Rome City School Districts 2018 Traveling Art Show will open on Thursday March 8, 2018 at the Fort Stanwix Willett Center ​​ 3:30pm. This year’s exhibit showcases work from grades K-12 and offers an array of “connections” that students have with different topics including nature, the future, art and the environment.


'Mindmajik Hypnotist'



The 'Mindmajik' hypnotist/mentalist show is open to the public and all are welcome to help support the students of RFA. Pre-sale tickets are available by contacting Gina Colangelo or Lynne Duffy at RFA or through the junior class officers. The show will be entertaining and involve approximately 20 volunteers from the audience. Among the volunteers, the following adults and students have already been pre-selected to be on stage: Mr. LeBaron, Mrs.  Stevenson, Coach Brown, Noah Nardozza, Kyle Clark, and Tejas Desai. The 'Mindmajik' show will be held on Friday, March 9 in the RFA auditorium beginning at 7:00 p.m. Student and pre-sale tickets are $7, tickets at the door are $10.



Host Families Needed


The Rotary Club is in need of a host family for a current RFA foreign exchange student from Hungary. The family is needed for roughly 6 weeks, from the middle of May through the end of June. The opportunity to work with a student from a foreign country and experience another culture as you help them experience yours is extraordinary. If you think you can help this student out or if you have questions, please contact Sam Pendergast at 315-617-3567 or by email at slpender55@gmail.com.