2020.5.8 – Saxe Weekly

May 8, 2020

Dear Saxe Family,

As we log another full week of e-learning, we have much to reflect on and be grateful for. Unfortunately, the weather is not one of them, yet, but that will surely change in our favor, soon! Being that this week was Teacher Appreciation Week, I would like to again thank all of our outstanding professionals at Saxe (and, across NCPS). Their dedication to our students, families, respective disciplines and each other has been amazing. They have continuously stepped up and led by example in doing what we ask our students to do on a consistent basis. This includes being flexible, adaptable, collaborative, open to new learning, applying new skills, being comfortable being uncomfortable, and all while maintaining a balance between personal, professional, and family needs. These are tremendous life skills on display each and every day. Thank you, teachers!

I would also like to thank our terrific PTC. They have been beyond supportive and helped show their appreciation to our staff each day this week. This culminated today with an absolutely wonderful video of students thanking their teachers and sending well-wishes. We are so fortunate to have such a caring, dedicated group. Thank you, PTC!

This week in the Saxe Weekly we take a look at, event updates, Teacher Appreciation, School Nurse Day, May the 4th, Social Studies, Mandarin, water coloring, Saxe students helping others, STEM, Bobby P, Saxe Spirit, and more…

Last, but not least, to all of our Moms out there, we wish you a very “Happy Mother’s Day!”.

Enjoy and have a great weekend,

Dave Gusitsch

Principal, Saxe Middle School

Want to check out the “Saxe Weekly” from last week? You’re one click away, here.

*Quotes that resonated with us this week:

“The reason why people give up so fast is because they tend to look at how far they still have to go, instead of how far they have come.” – Nicky Gumbel

“What really matters is not what we bought but what we built, not what we ‘ve got but what we shared, not our competence but our character, and not our success but our significance. Live a life that matters. Live a life of love.” – Unknown

“What holds you back is not what you think you are, it’s what you think you aren’t.” – Denis Waitley

“May we never take for granted: visiting our friends, shopping without gloves, feeling safe to walk with others, or the power of love.” – Unknown

“Just be a good person. Love who you can, help when you can, give what you can.” – Unknown

Transitions, Traditions, and Celebrations

As Dr. Luizzi mentioned in his letter to the community today, we are continuing to celebrate and recognize the significant events and milestones that are an important part of our school during this time of the year. All events that will be held will have details communicated early and often through multiple mediums (email, newsletter, daily announcements, twitter, etc.). Examples of events that will still be held include the grade 4 to grade 5 transition meeting, the incoming 6th-grade parent orientation, the 8th-grade promotion event(s), fun day(s), and more. We look forward to ending the year in style!

Celebrating our School Nurses

Thank you to Ms. Albright, Ms. Graham, and Ms. Paine for all they do for our school, and town!

Teacher Appreciation

Teacher Appreciation: From the Student Leadership Team

The Student Leadership Teams, with the leadership of School Counselor, Brad Lepisto, made teacher appreciation “cards” for all of the faculty. Thanks to the SLT and to all of our amazing teachers!

And, many great messages from students! Here are just a couple of examples:

Greetings, to the teachers of our beloved school and beyond! Thank you for all the hard work you have done for us, and still are doing! Thank you for making our learning fun during this time, and making sure we have our necessities during e-learning! I also highly appreciate the online meetings on Zoom and Google Hangouts, it makes me and all of us feel better socially! I hope you all are having a fabulous time. Thanks again for everything!

-Sazid Rob, 6th Grade, Red Team

To: All teachers, counselors, administrators, and Saxe faculty,

“Thank you for making sure everyone is having fun, is happy, safe, and connected. All of you have given each of the student’s so much support. Thank you so much for everything!”

Best Regards,

Siddhi Singhania

Thank you, teachers: 2020. If you have not seen this video yet, please take a moment to watch. It’s quick and represents all that our teachers do for students, and families, during this challenging time.

Clubs are underway and here is a great shot of a couple of our students participating in a painting activity. Nice work!

May the 4th (be with you)

Mr. Gillan got in the fun with his directions for the G6 Social Studies Gallery Walk!

6th-Grade Social Studies

Gustavo do Valle submitted a video as a part of a project for Ms. Demer’s Gilgamesh Connection Project. The objective of the work was to compare a hero story (student’s choice) to Gilgamesh’s by aligning the hero cycle elements. This submission is a stop motion video that took Gustavo hours to complete. It is of Luke Skywalker’s hero cycle and it is fun to watch. Nice job, Gustavo!


A short video message from 6th grade Ryan Shin says, “Ms. Wang, Happy Teacher’s Day!” in Mandarin.

Linkin Wong also made an animation this morning for all of his teachers!

Students review the word Baby Yoda, “尤达宝宝 yóu dá bǎobao” on May 4th. It’s a catchword, and students still remember it after five months!

Grade 7 and Grade 8 challenged themselves to read a mini-book in Mandarian about Mother’s day. Students practiced guessing unknown words based on context and props. After students read the book, one of the guided questions is to reflect on what things they will do for their family this coming Sunday.

Page examples:

Students’ reflection:

A note from Mrs. Portanova:

With all this rainy weather and time at home, I’ve been spending a lot of time working on water coloring! It’s a new hobby, but it’s a lot of fun and a great way to relieve stress! Take a look!


Saxe Students Helping Others

Alie Hanson (7th-grade), has been sewing masks in order to donate them to those in need. She has given many masks to local hospitals and to neighbors. She would be glad to keep sewing in order to donate them to anyone else in the Saxe community who would like one. If you know of anyone who is in need of a mask, you can email Mrs. Hanson at emilycarpenterhanson@yahoo.com. They would be glad to deliver, or people can pick up from their mailbox.

Students Teaching Students

At Saxe, the STEM Room is evolving. Not only is Ms. Birdsall adding classes but her students are also getting their “teacher feet” wet. Ben Skrelunas is teaching Science from Home. So far he has taught kids how to make ice cream and how to make rock candy. And he always goes live. Serra Savasoglu will be starting a Python coding class that will be both live and recorded. Alex Dathan and Andrew Mank are the directors of a server on Minecraft that is for Saxe students only. They are also building a Minecraft replica of Saxe. Andrew Mank and AJ Pellicci are recording themselves reading books for elementary students to enjoy. There is so much more to come. STEM is about collaboration, cooperation and problem-solving. https://www.ncps-k12.org/Domain/1179

Hometown Icon Turns 60

There was a great article this week on Bobby Peloso, who is a long time member of the Saxe staff!

‘Hometown Icon’: Bobby Peloso Turns 60

It was also nice to see some familiar faces (in a safe, responsible, socially distant manner). Is the expression “social-distance selfie” a thing yet?

Ms. Orlando and her cute dog that looks like a stuffed animal…

From the Student Support Professionals: Dealing with Disappointment

We recognize that the news that the school buildings will remain closed this year may bring many emotions for you, and for your children. While each student is different in their reaction, many will feel a sense of loss. They may feel loss at not seeing their teachers and friends, and at not participating in sports and other extracurricular activities. They may be experiencing the loss of the end of year rituals, which are such an important part of how we say good-bye, honor our accomplishments, and move on to new challenges.

Children and teens have many different ways of coping with their emotions- some will want to avoid the subject (and might get upset later) while others may break into tears. Others may be more irritable, oppositional or regressed as they feel frustrated at their lack of control over this challenging situation. We will be trying to help students with these feelings in the coming weeks- but wanted to give you some resources as well about how best to talk to your child at this difficult time.

  1. Ask questions about how they are feeling. Don’t force them to talk, but follow their lead. If they are quiet you can suggest that “many kids” are feeling disappointed or frustrated – and you wonder what they are feeling. As Marc Brackett, Ph.D. says- “Name it to Tame it.” Helping your student label and understand his or her feelings is an important step toward regulating them.
  2. Validate feelings. Don’t rush to reassure them. Spend some time talking about their feelings and disappointments- validate how difficult it must be for them. Even small losses can feel big to children- and it is important to let your child know you understand. Empathy, and their connection with you, are the most powerful ways to help children regulate their emotions, and to allow them to move on and accept these difficult circumstances.
  3. Problem-solve together. After you have spent time just listening and understanding- (be careful not to rush this) your child may be ready to think about ways to handle the situation. This might take a day or two! Ask if they want to think of ways to manage the disappointment. Ask them for their ideas in problem-solving. (This way, you are teaching them the life skill of how to problem solve on their own.) How can they say good-bye to good friends in their class? To their teacher? How can you celebrate the end of the year? Plan something fun in the future?
  4. Help them with regulation strategies. Ask how they can help themselves feel better- when they are ready. Help your child make a list of strategies that they can use to shift their mood. Listening to music? Putting together a digital collage of memories of the year? Talking to a friend? “Reframing” the situation (looking at it from another point of view- i.e. by not returning to school we are keeping people safe and helping the doctors and nurses….). Practicing gratitude? Helping children consciously think about how they will manage their emotions is a life skill!
  5. Take care of yourselves. This is a tough time for parents. Trying to manage full-time parenting, becoming homeschool teachers, managing your own responsibilities, and taking care of children is extremely taxing. You are dealing with your own grief and frustration. Take time for your own self-care. Practice self-compassion. Walks, good nutrition, sleep, connection with adults (through Zoom of course). You know it- please do it!
  6. Reach out. As always, please reach out to your building principal or social workers, psychologists and counselors for assistance or advice. We are here!

For more information on grief during this difficult time, read this article from the Harvard Business Review.

For Financial and Mental Health Resources, click here.

After the announcement that students would not physically return to Saxe for the remainder of the school year, 8th-grader Sylvie Hartley captured these dramatic photos on a nice evening. The symbolism fits the situation perfectly.

(worth noting: the playgrounds remain closed until further notice and these photos were captured from an artistic perspective).

The Saxe Admin team gets excited about celebrating spirit with school colors!

Upcoming Events

Have a great week!

* A special thanks to Mary Calabrese for the continuous stream of positive, optimistic quotes!

Saxe Resources (live links)

Website: https://www.ncps-k12.org/saxe

PTC: http://www.saxeptc.org/

Twitter: @SaxeMS

The Saxe Weekly: SaxeMS.com

Saxe Middle School

Celebrating Our Learning Community Through Caring, Communication, & Commitment

Saxe Weekly: Weekly “Features”

1st week ELA, Math

2nd week Science, Social Studies

3rd week World Language, VPA, Tech

4th week Health/PE, Counseling, Special Education

5th week all/any

Note: anyone is invited to include a submission on any given week outside their “featured” week


  • Please have all submissions in by 10:00 a.m. on Friday
  • Less is more; pics w/quick notes; lengthier info should include a quick description and a link to “more info”…

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