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Cultural Diversity Social Justice Email 1/10/20

Dear Parents and Guardians,

 

I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the great connections that our staff members are making with regard to our district’s work with Dr. Joshi and Cultural Diversity and Social Justice.  I am really excited about these additions to our middle schoolers’ educational experience. Our staff has done great work to enrich our student’s understanding of cultural diversity and social justice as evidenced below by the following programs and learning opportunities:

 

No Place for Hate Designation: 

 

This year MMS is working towards attaining the No Place for Hate designation for our school. Part of this designation requires MMS to have students sign the No Place for Hate Pledge, which we emailed to you in December and asked students to sign during homeroom.  We are also required to host three (3) No Place for Hate events this school year. Today, Friday, January 10th, students had the opportunity to participate in our first activity. The BRAVE peer leaders have worked hard to put together our first event. They will be running a jeopardy style game during study hall. During the game, students will read scenarios related to stereotypes and assumptions that could happen in our school or community. They will be asked to name which part of the person's identity is being targeted in the scenario. Our hope is that students will gain an understanding of the various parts of their identity and become more aware of how to be accepting and inclusive. Students who do not have a study hall on Friday will be given the opportunity to attend a make-up session next week.

 

In an attempt to prepare students to fully engage in this activity, on Thursday during auditorium time our BRAVE peer leaders explained the ADDRESSING model to students which is an acronym used to understand various parts of a person's identity. ADDRESSING stands for Age, Developmental disability, Disability (acquired), Religion/Spirituality, Ethnicity/Race, Socioeconomic status, Sexual orientation, Indigenous heritage, National Origin, Gender. 

 

We encourage you to speak with your child at home about what they learned during this activity. If you have any questions please feel free to contact your child's school counselor.


SPORT Peer Leaders: 

In preparation for MLK Day, the SPORT peer leaders will be assisting Guidance’s Wellness Initiative during lunches on Fri. Jan. 17th. The peer leaders will present a short slideshow about the Montgomery Bus Boycott to each student who signs up for the Wellness Initiative during their lunch. Because SPORT’s goal is to keep students and staff active, the group will highlight that according to the NPS, workers walked as many as eight miles a day to get to-and-from work.

Then, students in those lunch groups will be invited to walk the hallways and stairs of the school from 2:40 - 3:30 p.m. on Wed. Jan. 22nd, along with staff members, to see how far we can get and really put what was done into perspective. 

SPORT plans on using pedometers/ apps and encourages participants to wear comfortable clothes. Signup and civil rights background information will be linked to the Guidance Google Classroom page.

 

 Turning Fifteen on the Road to Freedom: (Amy Ipp & Marylou Kirk)

 

The MMS PTO has generously supported the middle school and its curricular programs with corresponding cultural arts presentations.  This year, the 6th and 8th-grade students will be treated to the musical presentation of Turning Fifteen on the Road to Freedom.  

“Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom, a musical filled with traditional and original Gospel and Freedom songs, tells the moving, true story of Lynda Blackmon, the youngest person to walk all the way from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on the Voting Rights March of 1965. Lynda was jailed nine times before her fifteenth birthday — as she and her friends and neighbors fought alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to win the right to vote for African Americans.” 

(excerpt is taken from https://www.turning15ontheroad.com/bio)

            

Prior to the musical, the students engaged in several preparatory activities to provide background knowledge of the March from Selma in order to deepen their understanding of the struggles faced by young people as they fought for their voting rights. Many thanks to Arielle Goldstein for her help in developing this interactive, multimedia presentation.

 

On January 6th, during each grade’s Auditorium Time, the 6th and 8th-grade students participated in an interactive slide show presentation. After viewing images/GIFs about different groups’ struggles for civil rights, including images of the Suffrage movement, Gandhi, anti-apartheid, rights for people with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, and recent protests, students discussed connections they were seeing in the images which were followed by a classroom google survey concerning what might have sparked their interest for further exploration.

On January 9th and 10th, in the library, during 6th and 8th grade PE class time, students viewed film clips on the March from Selma to Montgomery and interacted in small groups discussing what is worth fighting for methods of peaceful protest, and the power of ordinary people. If you would like to view the film Selma: the Bridge to the Ballot in its entirety here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8-zk6tY-9Y

The musical performance on January 16th will continue our students’ journey as they follow Lynda Blackmon as she is Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom.

TIGS Peer Leader Group MLK Bulletin Board and Announcement

During the week prior to Martin Luther King, Jr Day, January 13-17, 2020, the TIGS Peer Leadership group under the guidance of Mrs. Freitag, will arrange for a daily announcement to be made during homeroom.  These announcements will be centered on the work and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The announcements will include a personal and civil rights movement fact along with one of the many memorable quotes from Dr. King.   This information will also be prominently displayed on one of our bulletin boards dedicated to helping celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. A special thanks to Mrs. Reilly for assisting with the creation of the bulletin board art.


LGBTQ Pilot Program Spring 2020


In exciting news, MMS has been accepted into the first cohort of a pilot program. The coach and curriculum will support our approach to meet the new mandate that seeks to make sure NJ students are getting accurate, appropriate and historically relevant information about the LGBTQ community. Be on the lookout for an invitation to a parent evening that will fully debrief the community about this initiative. 

Read more in this NJ.com article.