New York State School of Character
We are thrilled to announce that Pelham Middle School was designated as a New York State School of Character! Each year, Character.org certifies schools and districts at the state level that demonstrate a dedicated focus on character development which has a positive effect on academic achievement, student behavior, and school climate. Founded in 1993, Character.org is a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. that works with schools, families, workplaces, and communities to educate, inspire, and empower people of all ages to be ethical and compassionate citizens. Their 11 Principles for Schools is a comprehensive framework that helps schools improve academic achievement, student behavior, and overall positive school climate. When we took over the leadership of Pelham Middle School in 2018, we immediately set our sights on this honor as one of our top priorities. While we were extremely proud of our school’s excellent academic standing and the richness of our curricular offerings and learning experiences as an IB World School, we were still seeing negative interactions between students that demonstrated a lack of empathy and compassion. For the past two and a half years, we have used the 11 Principles to guide our strategic planning to improve school climate in alignment with our cultural proficiency efforts and our IB work, resulting in designation as a No Place for Hate school by the Anti-Defamation League; our work with Rosalind Wiseman to, in collaboration with Pelham Together, create a Student Ambassador Program; our implementation of the One Clip at a Time anti-bias curriculum; our expansion of IB Service and Action through class projects like our seventh graders donating a well in South Sudan and our eighth grade MYP Community Projects; and the sponsoring of new student organizations such as our Common Sense Project, G.S.A. (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) and A.C.E. (Access Creates Equity), as well as many other positive outcomes. Of the 158 schools that applied for School of Character designation this year, only 76 were selected, and Pelham Middle School is one of only two in New York State. We retain this honor for five years, and plan to apply for recognition as a National School of Character. While we know this is only the beginning of our journey and will continue to strive to improve in every way, we feel very proud of our students and staff and all they have accomplished to make Pelham Middle School the best possible environment for all our students to learn.
Community Projects are Underway
The 8th grade Community Project is in full swing! The Community Project is a key component of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program, through which students apply the skills they have learned in middle school to real life problems. While we have had to make some COVID-19 related adjustments to our process, each of our classes is engaged in important work to address needs in their community and make the world a better place! Ms. Pinsker's period 1 English class is working to teach younger students about life skills. Students are working with middle school teachers to plan lessons on environmental care, finance, and nutrition & cooking. Ms. Pinsker's period 3 class is focusing on assisting the community as they cope with the impact of COVID-19. Specifically, individual groups are working on care packages for nursing homes, gathering food for local shelters, sewing masks, making & distributing hand sanitizer, and conducting science experiments that test the effectiveness of the products they create in class. Ms. Pinsker's period 7 class created "The Sour Patch Project." This project is complex in nature, but ultimately uses Sour Patch Kids as a symbol to teach about diversity and inclusion. Students are using an interdisciplinary teaching approach to bring their message and project to life.
Ms. Pinsker's period 9 class is focusing on the connection between mental health and COVID-19. Students are working together to create a public service video to shed light on how this pandemic has impacted teens, as well as the steps teens can take in order to cope with life in a pandemic. Students are working together as researchers, digital editors, script writers, and actors in order to make this possible. In Mr. Chimento’s classes, one group of students is creating an Online Ambassadors Program through which the 8th graders will serve as “ambassadors” to the incoming 6th graders. They are working with school counselor Mr. Brown to create a video that will be used for each elementary school's Transition Day as well as participate in a question answer session with the fifth graders. Another of Mr. Chimento’s classes is working on documenting "Social Awareness in 2020-21" for students and will be providing pictures and articles for the PMS Yearbook and School Newspaper. A third group is working on a “P.R.I.D.E. One to One” program through which 8th graders will be meeting with middle school students to discuss topics including Peer Tutoring, Student Equality, Mental Health, LGTBQ+ issues, etc. Another of Mr. Chimento’s classes is contributing to the “100 Year Anniversary of PMHS” celebration by researching the history of the high school over the past 100 years. A final group is working on creating specific outreach programs for the Pelham community including a Police Outreach Program, Athletic Assistance Outreach, a School Curriculum Program, and Essential Worker Outreach. Be prepared for more news on our Community Projects in our spring edition of the P.R.I.D.E. Post!
Collaborating Across the Globe
Students in Ms. Pinsker’s, Mr. MacDonald’s, and Mrs. Hogan’s, Mrs. Fetta’s and Mrs. Patel's period 5 English class chose to focus on the environment for their Community Project. Student groups are conducting research and determining creative solutions to assist with environmental issues. Additionally, in order to share their findings, students are creatively designing methods to teach younger students about these concerns. Students are also taking action within Pelham Middle School to ensure proper recycling is encouraged across the student body. The class has also made connections with Ikirwa School in Tanzania to work together to explore the impact of global warming on our respective communities. Students have participated in one Google Meet with the Ikirwa students and have more planned for the coming months.
Project Esperanza Helps Feed Our Community
Students at Pelham Middle School, along with their counterparts in the high school, have launched Project Esperanza to raise money to feed our neighbors at the Hope Community food pantry and soup kitchen in New Rochelle. To raise funds, they are designing a community and school-inspired cookbook which will feature recipes from our school families as well as local eateries. It will also feature artwork created by our students specifically created to raise awareness about hunger. Once it is, this cookbook will be available for purchase with suggested donation prices highlighting the food each amount would provide for a family. To kickstart their efforts, students are soliciting local restaurants for initial donations of $100. As a thank you for each donation, project Esperanza will showcase that restaurant’s recipe along with a page advertising that establishment as well as provide the business with a copy of the cookbook and a Project Esperanza decal to display in its window to show they are part of this community effort. Project Esperanza is a collaborative project between Pelham Middle School’s Pelham Cares Club, advised by Ms. Kitay, and the middle school Spanish Club, advised by Ms. Morovic, as well as Ms. Marrero, youth advocate for Pelham Together at PMHS. We look forward to hearing more about this endeavor as the year continues!
Cheryl Wills Pays a Virtual Visit
On February 24, our seventh students participated in a virtual assembly with New York 1 news anchor and author Cheryl Wills. Ms. Wills, an award-winning television personality and, shared her journey to discover her family’s history including that of her great-great-great grandfather Sandy Wills (Grandpa Sandy), who escaped slavery and fought for the Union Army in the Civil War. This discussion supplemented the students’ social studies curriculum, part of which included reading Ms. Wills’ book Emancipated: My Family’s Fight for Freedom. As part of the presentation, students had the opportunity to ask Ms. Wills questions about her personal journey and her family’s history.
Our Library Helps Students Celebrate Heritage Months
Each month, Ms. Rosenberg, our Library Media Specialist, creates newsletters presenting resources including heritage celebrations and other issues of interest. Recent newsletters have included Chinese New Year, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Irish-American Heritage Month. Each newsletter includes lists of books, audiobooks, e-books, websites, databases, and suggested readings. In this way, students can continue to expand their horizons as they learn about their own and other cultures and important figures of the past and present. Click on the links above to learn more!
Sheila Arnold Brings History to Life
Professional storyteller and historian Sheila Arnold conducted virtual assemblies with all Pelham Middle School students to speak about the life of Daisy Bates, a civil rights activist and President of the Arkansas NAACP. Ms. Arnold’s presentation, in which she spoke in character as Daisy Bates, helped students understand the struggles of black Americans during the civil rights era through Bates’ eyes. Bates, whose mother was murdered by white men, went on to become involved in the NAACP before starting a weekly newspaper, The Arkansas State Press, that covered civil rights issues. She went on to play a central role in integrating Arkansas public schools by helping to organize and advise the Little Rock Nine in 1957 as they enrolled in Little Rock Central High School. At the end of the presentation, Ms. Arnold answered students’ questions in her own voice and described her experience giving her presentation at Little Rock Central. This assembly complimented students’ study of the Civil Rights Era in history class as well as our celebration of Black History Month.
The Pelham Post is Hot off the Virtual Press!
The Pelham Post is our school newspaper, online, updated regularly, and full of outstanding writing from our student authors. Regular features include news articles, fiction, polls, reviews, opinions, and poetry. There’s something in The Pelham Post for everyone, so be sure to check it out today! You can access The Pelham Post via this link.
P.M.S. Students “Have a Dream”!
As our second “No Place for Hate” activity of the year and one of the components of our celebration of Black History Month, students listened to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, discussed the relevance of King’s message today, and considered their own dreams for America, as well as the actions they could take to help make those dreams a reality. Our goal in developing this activity was to empower students by allowing them to consider the roles they could play in making the world a better place for all. By the end of this activity, each student expressed their “dream” for the future and articulated the steps they could take to help that dream come true. All of our students’ “dreams” and action steps were displayed in the lobby as an inspiration to all.
Access Creates Equity Club Launched
Access Creates Equity (A.C.E.) Club is a new club at Pelham Middle School. Using the book This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell as our guide, the club has started to engage in thoughtful conversations about race. They have talked about our social identities and created identity maps. The students have also used their artistic sides to create possible logos for the group that we hope to put on future merchandise. The group meets every early release Wednesday at 2 p.m. and always welcomes new members. Interested students can contact advisors Ms. Archer (email@example.com) and Mrs. Levi (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Eighth Graders “Dig” Paleontology
This March, 8th grade students participated in a virtual earth science field trip with Dr. Rebecca Hunt-Foster. Dr. Hunt-Foster is the Monument Paleontologist/Museum Curator at Dinosaur National Monument. She was formerly the District Paleontologist for the Canyon Country District of the Bureau of Land Management, located in Moab, UT. Ms. Hunt-Foster holds a Master of Science in Geology (emphasizing in Vertebrate Paleontology) from Texas Tech University, and has a Bachelor of Science in Earth Science from the University of Arkansas. Her current research includes Early Cretaceous ornithomimosaurs from North America, the Upper Cretaceous Williams Fork Formation paleofauna of western Colorado and eastern Utah, and the ichnofauna of the lower-middle Jurassic rocks of eastern Utah. In addition to being an opportunity to for students to connect the content from their geology units to the real world, the students also learned about one of the many potential careers in science and had the opportunity to ask Dr. Hunt-Foster questions directly.
Chinese New Year Celebration
The Mandarin Club and Mandarin classes celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year and welcomed the year of the Ox during the week of February 8th, 2021. Students learned about Chinese New Year traditions, played a dumpling making Scratch game created by Mrs. He, made the origami Ox, and had a virtual tour of the Middle School International Baccalaureate display showcasing the traditions of the Chinese New Year. A great time was had by all!
Gender and Sexuality Alliance
The PMS GSA Club has been making the most of the virtual club setting with a variety of activities. They began the year preparing for LGBTQ Spirit Day, which was on October 15.Sponsored by GLSEN, Spirit Day is a day of solidarity insupport of LGBTQ youth, who are often disproportionatelybullied or harassed. Students designed posters in GoogleCanvas to raise awareness about this issue and pledged towear purple on October 15 to support the cause. Those posterswere displayed in the middle school lobby. In addition, members of the club meet to discuss current events, such as legislation impacting the LGBTQ community and the recent influx of LGBTQ representatives into public office. December brought fun holiday-themed activities, as well as a virtual art project that everyone created together from their homes. For "No Name Calling Week" in mid-January, the group wrote a collaborative poem to promote kindness in our school. During Black History Month, students learned about the life of author and LGBTQ activist James Baldwin. The club celebrated Valentine's Day with digital cards made in Jamboard. From movie and film clip screenings to articles and discussions, the group has found many creative ways to continue to build connections in our virtual setting. Stay tuned for an LGBTQ-related ‘No Place for Hate” activity later this month!
PEF Grant Brings the SORA App to Pelham
Thanks to a very generous grant from the Pelham Education Foundation, Pelham Middle School now has access to a robust e-book and audiobook collection through the Southern Westchester BOCES Consortium. Students are able to access this collection of over 11,000 titles via the Sora app in the Library folder or on any device with internet access by using their Pelham school credentials. The Sora app, a product of the global digital distributor Overdrive, also allows students to add the Pelham Public Library to their account, giving them access to all library resources in one central location. Over the past few weeks our library media specialist Mrs. Rosenberg visited students in all grades to provide instruction on how to use the app and access these resources, no matter the students’ physical location. Whether or not PMS is open, our library is never closed with this newest addition to our collection.
Studio in Art Students Learn About Art Careers
This year, Mrs. Levi's and Mrs. Schwarz's 8th Grade Studio in Art classes have been participating in a series of guest speaker presentations that focus on Careers in Art. Throughout the school year, there will be several career artists who will introduce these students to various art careers. On January 14, Mr. Jim Doherty taught students about what it is like to be an architect. Mr. Doherty, alumnus of PMS/PMHS and Managing Executive of TPG Architecture in Manhattan, gave a detailed explanation of his field and showed his impressive portfolio of work on commercial buildings and spaces. On February 3, Ms. Noreen Naroo-Pucci, Pelham resident and fashion designer, shared her fascinating journey in the fashion industry working for such famous brands as Under Armour and Calvin Klein. On February 25, Mr. Thomas Vitale, movie producer and Pelham resident, shared his journey in the film industry and taught students about the many creative jobs available within the field. Students enjoyed watching clips and seeing pictures of his various projects at Syfy and Chiller. The PMS Art department thanks our community career artists for giving of their time for this special program for the students! Throughout the school year, we will have additional guest speakers who will introduce the students to various art careers. We hope this will educate them about the many opportunities that exist for artists and inspire them to think about the future.
|March 12 – Interim Grades Available, 3 p.m.|
|March 14 – Daylight Savings Time Begins|
|March 27 – Passover Begins|
|March 27-April 5 – Spring Break|
|April 2 – Good Friday, School Closed|
|April 4 – Easter|
|April 16 – 3rd Marking Period Ends|
|May 3 – Teacher Appreciation Week Begins|