Wow, we are already in the 3rd six weeks at Mason Elementary & Jr. High Schools! There has been a lot going on at our school this year! I just wanted to hit a few highlights of what we have been doing; I know a lot of it has been in the paper already. In September, Mrs. Parrish set up a mobile dairy to come and visit our PreK-4th grade students. We learned some great information and even got to see a mobile dairy machine milk a cow!
(digital pic of dairy farmer)
Clyde Holekamp has been employed by Southwest Dairy Farmers, Inc. since 1998. He has been very active in the dairy industry coming from a long generation of dairy farmers
This semester we have had two schools from other districts come and visit our school as well! Ozona came to visit and learn about our Elementary School’s Prime Time program. Our Prime Time program is a way to get every child in K-4th grades 30 minutes of intense reading instruction and/or acceleration. A few weeks later, Irion County came to visit our Elementary and Jr. High schools to learn about our Promethean ActiveBoards. All of our teachers have the ActiveBoards in their classrooms; they are a wonderful way to utilize technology. I am sure the Irion County visitors discovered lots of neat ideas from our staff.
The last week of October we celebrated Red Ribbon Week at Mason Elementary and Jr. High. We had dress-up days every day and all the kids received goodies to help them remember to "Say No to Drugs!" At our Jr. High Pep Rally we had Garrett Rice and Garrett Allen speak to our students about making good choices and team work. They did a fabulous job and the kids loved seeing them at our Pep Rally!
Speaking of football…Our Mason Jr. High Punchers did a FANTASTIC job this year! We are so proud of our 7th and 8th grade football teams! Thank you, Coach Searsy, for all you do for the players!
(digital pic of football shrine)
Coach & Mrs. Searsy keep us all informed!
In early November, Mrs. Richelle Joy took a group of her Jr. High Gifted and Talented students to a Robotics Competition in San Angelo. They all learned so much and enjoyed the competition. On November 30th at our Region XV Center there is a competition hosted by TCEA, Texas Computer Education Association. There will be pictures put in the paper after the competition is completed!
On Veterans Day, Mason Elementary’s 3rd graders participated in the memorial ceremony on the courthouse square. In the Jr. High, there were 5 different Veterans that spoke to the different grade levels regarding their experiences. Mr. Boone Kemp, Mr. Nolan Donop, Mr. Bill Hight, Mr. Roger Luchenbach, and Mr. Clifford Parker were our fantastic speakers. It was a wonderful way to commemorate what Veterans Day is all about. In addition, this week, we had a friend of Mr. Nolan Donop, Mr. Reichel, come and visit with our 8th grade classes. Mr. Reichel was in Germany during Hitler’s reign and shared with the classes what it was like to be a young man during that era.
Right now, we are gearing up for UIL competition in December for the Elementary and Jr. High students. Mason’s 1st – 5th graders will travel to Medina on December 8th and the 6th-8th graders will travel to Hunt on December 10th.
Our character lessons have been going very well! We are still utilizing the Character Counts! program in the Elementary school. Character Counts! focuses on learning the six pillars of character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. Our staff gives "Character Cards" for students that are "caught" doing good deeds. We have almost 100 for the 2nd six weeks, alone!
We did several activities to reinforce these concepts. For trustworthiness, we learned about "The Boy Who Cried Wolf", and talked about the importance of telling the truth. For respect, in PreK and Kindergarten we read a book called, It’s Okay to be Different, by Todd Parr. We discussed how essential it is for us to appreciate all of our differences and treat others with respect. In 1st-4th grades, we discussed following the Golden Rule daily and how we should treat each others as we would like to be treated. We then did a toothpaste activity in which the children had different teams to see who could get the toothpaste back in the tube. It was lots of fun to watch and at the end we discussed how once we say words, we cannot put them back. So our lesson was to not say hurtful things in the first place and then we do not have to worry about taking them back.
Around the corner, in grades 5-8, we spent a lot of time talking about online safety and cyberbullying, the following information is some of the information the students received. We went over a PowerPoint presentation, and then watched a video from Wiredsafety.org to reinforce what we had learned. Afterwards, we discussed the different types of cyberbullying and what to watch out for.
What is Cyberbullying?
Vast amounts of people, both younger and older, have fully embraced the Internet as a means of communication, information, and an environment for socializing. There are multitudes of ways we can correspond with the world; we can send emails, IMs (Instant Message), texts from cellular phones, send photos, post to blogs, etc. One of the most enjoyable aspects of cyberspace is the ability to keep in contact with friends and family. On the other hand, this feature can also be one of the most detrimental aspects of the Internet.
In the world today, there have been an increasing number of reports of teenagers, and sometimes even younger children, using technology to post damaging text or images to bully their peers or engage in other aggressive behavior. (Paris, B. 2010)
So what exactly is Cyberbullying? Cyberbullying is being cruel to others by sending or posting harmful material or engaging in other forms of social aggression using the Internet or other digital technologies. There are several forms that Cyberbullying can take, here are just a few:
1. Denigration – Insulting, disrespecting, or bashing someone online. Sending or posting gossip or rumors about a person to damage his or her reputation or friendships.
2. Flaming – Online fights using electronic messaging with angry and vulgar language.
3. Harassment – Repeatedly sending nasty, mean, and insulting messages.
4. Impersonation – pretending to be someone else and posting materials to get someone else in trouble or hurt their reputation or friendships.
What is the impact of cyberbullying on others? Most people are already aware of the effects face-to-face bullying can have on children and adults. This damage includes low self-esteem, depression, anger, school failure, school avoidance, and, in some cases, violence or suicide. Some may argue that the harm caused by cyberbulling might even be greater than the harm caused by face-to-face bullying because….
1. Online communication can be extremely vicious. It is easier to be mean when you are using the computer or cell phone to"speak".
2. There is no escape, the computer is there 24/7. It is hard to "not look" when people post things about you or others.
3. Cyberbullying can be distributed worldwide. People can upload videos and photos and the material is often irretrievable. This can be catastrophic to someone whose privacy has been violated.
4. Cyberbullies can be anonymous. This might give a larger sense of helplessness because the identity of the bully could be anyone they know or no one they know.
5. Teens might be reluctant to tell adults what is happening online or through their cell phones because they might fear their computer or cell phone use will be restricted or taken away.
What can we do about cyberbullying? We can talk to our children about bullying and about cyberbullying. It is not a game, it is not fun. No one enjoys being slandered for the world to see and there is no reason for it to happen here in Mason, Texas. We want our children to feel safe and loved, so for their sake, here are a few safety tips for parents:
The following information was found on a website was created by Mr. John Halligan, a father whose family was tragically touched by bullying and cyberbullying. http://www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org/
Parenting Suggestions Regarding Technology
Become involved in your child’s cyberspace.
Sit at the computer and let them teach you how they use the Internet:
· Ask them to take you places they frequently visit and show you what they do.
· Three types of sites children commonly utilize are:
o Instant messaging services (e.g. Yahoo, AOL IM and Messenger)
o Social networking sites (e.g. Facebook and MySpace)
o Video Posting (e.g. You Tube, AOL Video)
· Open up your own accounts where they have accounts. Have your child guide you through the process.
· If your child is under 13, you do have the option to have these accounts deleted since most of these services have an age and/or parental consent requirement.
· Have them share with you all their user account names and passwords. If this is creating a trust issue, perhaps a good compromise is to have your child write down all the user account names and passwords on a sheet of paper and place this in a sealed envelope to only be opened by the parent in case of an emergency.
· Make certain they have never and will never share their passwords with anyone, even a friend. Explain the risk of someone impersonating them and ruining their reputation.
· Have them show you what they have in their profiles/pages. How do they describe themselves? Is it all accurate and appropriate? Does it show too much detail about your child? Are they protecting and sustaining a positive reputation?
· Scrutinize their friend lists on these accounts. It is very important to recognize the identity of each person. If they don’t know the real name of an on-line friend, then consider that person a stranger. Request they delete and block that person.
· Ask your child if they have ever been ridiculed, intimidated and/or humiliated on the Internet (cyber bullied). Encourage them to come to you for support if they are being bullied. Both of you should learn how to use the print screen option to save evidence of the cyber bullying.
· Ask whether they have bullied anyone. It’s important for them to appreciate how much emotional pain can be inflicted by unkind words or images, and that the reach of the Internet makes it far more destructive
· Also explain that this is a particularly difficult emotional period for many children and what may seem to be harmless teasing, can be devastating to the person being teased.
· Share with them that the Internet is a public forum so anything can be shared with other people without their knowledge or consent. They should be very discreet in what they say and do on-line. They need to always be vigilant in protecting their reputations. Things said and done on the internet can come back to hurt them many years later.
Resources: Cyberbullying Presentation, by Barbara J. Paris, The Ryan Halligan website, http://www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org/ .
Do not put anything on the internet or in a text unless you would be willing to wear it on a T-Shirt!
THINK BEFORE YOU POST!
Some Common Acronyms for Texting
121: one to one
143: I love you
AAF: as a friend
ABT2: about to
AFK: Away from keyboard
AFN: all for now
AISI: as I see it
ALOL: Actually Laughing Out Loud
AND: any day now
B4N: bye for now
BBL: be back later
BD: big deal
BFF: best friends forever
BFN: by for now
BRB: be right back
BTW: by the way
CWYL: chat with you later
DEGT: don’t even go there
DIKU: Do I know you?
F2F: Face to Face
GAL: Get a life
GOL: Giggling out Loud
H&K: hugs and kisses
HTH: Hope this helps
HHO1/2K: haha only half kidding
IC: I see
IDK: I don’t know
IMO: in my opinion
LMIRL: let’s meet in real life
LMSO: laughing my socks off
LULAS: love you like a sister
LYL: Love you lots
NP: Nosy Parents
OTP: on the phone
P911: parents are coming!!
PAL: parents are listening
POS: Parent over shoulder
ROTFL: rolling on the floor laughing
SO: significant other
SWAK: sealed with a kiss
TIA: Thanks in advance
TMI: Too much information
TOY: thinking of you
TTFN: ta ta for now
Some helpful resources: