On May 15, 2018, it was announced that the new mascot for Stonington Middle School would be a stingray. The choice of school colors will be blue and gold. The big reveal took place at the Mystic Aquarium with students, teachers, and staff in attendance.
Now that we know that Stonington Middle School is the name of our new school, the next step is deciding on a mascot and school colors. This is a very important step in the process, and we have decided to let the students take the lead on this. Students currently in grades 4-8 will take part in discussions and surveys to create these important symbolic elements for Stonington Middle School.
A typical definition of a mascot is a symbolic figure designed to bring good luck. But really a mascot is a representative figure, a symbol and a communication tool for an organization. As a symbol, the mascot should personify the values and core beliefs of the organization. As a communication tool, the mascot communicates effectively and helps the organization stand out and get noticed.
This is a big responsibility, and we know our students will take it seriously. We encourage creativity, and we are asking students to really think about what they want to represent them. We are also asking them to keep in mind that they are engaging in this work not just for themselves, but for generations of Stonington students in the future.
The teachers from both Pawcatuck and Mystic Middle came together as the staff of Stonington Middle School on Monday, March 19, 2018, for a professional development meeting. The focus of this meeting was the "Restorative Practices" model of classroom and school discipline. As we come together, this work will be an important part of building our new learning community.
Kris Wraight, an educator from Safe Futures, facilitated the session. According to The Restorative Practices Handbook, "To be 'restorative' means to believe that decisions are best made and conflicts are best resolved by those most directly involved in them. The restorative practices movement seeks to develop good relationships and restore a sense of community in an increasingly disconnected world." One of the core beliefs in restorative practices is that the adults show respect to students by both holding them to a higher standard of behavior and by providing the support they need to be more responsible. Research shows that restorative practices in schools improve both student behavior and the overall climate of the school. We look forward to more opportunities to work together to create our new Stonington Middle School.
On March 8, 2018, The Board of Education voted to officially name the new combined 6-7-8 middle school as Stonington Middle School. This was the recommendation of the Steering Committee after completing two separate surveys. The first survey was used just to collect ideas. After reviewing this large list of possibilities, three choices were selected for a vote. Parents and students submitted almost 1,500 responses. Stonington Middle School was the clear winner, collecting 78 percent of the vote.
Most people know the famous lines from Romeo and Juliet, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other word would smell as sweet". We all know that names do matter. The Steering Committee set deciding on an official name for the new 6-7-8 Middle school as a priority. We also believe that everyone should participate in that discussion.
Students in both schools will be talking about this in their Advisory groups this week. Listed below is a link to a survey that anyone can answer. The purpose of the survey is to just gather all of the suggestions, not to vote on any one specific suggestion. The Steering Committee wants to cast a wide net just to see what people think. The next step in the naming process will be based on these initial responses.
Here's the URL for the survey, just in case you want to forward it to someone:
The Faculty Steering Committee held its second meeting on Friday, February 16, 2018, at Stonington High School. The group created six subcommittees to organize all of the work that needs to be done to ensure the successful opening of the new 6-7-8 middle school in the 2019-2020 school year. The six subcommittees are Programs1, Programs2, Operations, Facilities, Communication, and Technology.
The committee decided to create two subcommittees around programming for the school because of the sheer volume of work that needs to be done in this category. The Programs1 group will focus on the curriculum, instruction, and assessment in core academic classes, survey classes, and special education. This subcommittee will also review mental health supports for students. The Programs2 subcommittee will focus on the student activity components. These not only include extracurricular activities, clubs, and sports, but also covers student-centered activities such as Advisory, community service programs, student success plans, and the 8th-grade capstone project.
The communications subcommittee will develop the parent, student, and community integration activities to ensure that all of the stakeholders in the school have multiple opportunities to participate and contribute to our effort to open the new 6-7-8 middle school. The operations subcommittee will focus on the logistics of the move and things such as the school's schedule and the room assignments. The facilities group will deal with upgrades and changes to the physical building and the grounds, while the technology subcommittee works on the integration of technology to all of the other groups.
The Faculty Steering Committee also planned the activities for the half day professional development meetings scheduled for teachers in both middle schools on Wednesday, February 21, 2018. These activities were designed to give all teachers the opportunity to dream big when designing the new school experience. Teachers in both schools were also given information about the subcommittees and they received information about how to get involved in the process.
Now that the Board of Education voted to consolidate the town's two middle schools into one new 6-7-8 middle school, the work on the consolidation project can begin in earnest. As we start this work, it is important for everyone to know that teachers, parents, students, staff, and the community-at-large will all play a role in creating this new school.
We need to be very clear that, while we are calling this a school consolidation project, it really is the creation of a new school. The 2019-2020 school year will be a watershed year for Stonington Public Schools. We will officially open two renovated K-5 elementary schools and a new single 6-7-8 middle school. This project is so much more than closing Pawcatuck Middle School and sending those students to Mystic. We are creating a new middle school. In effect, both Mystic Middle and Pawcatuck Middle will close in June of 2019 and a brand new school with a brand new learning community will open in the fall. For communication and transparency throughout this project, a wide variety of communication tools, including this website and several social media platforms will be used.
This creates an exciting opportunity for designing the school we want for all of the middle school students of Stonington. We hope that everyone will embrace this design challenge and find ways large and small to contribute to its success.