Sunday, October 22, 2017

The 24 Character Strengths

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Super Strength of Gratitude… and the 24 Character Strengths

Happy Sunday! BCMS Students and Parents,

If you’ve paid attention to the banners that hang from the ceiling of our main hallway in BCMS you’ve noticed that there are 24 of them.  You might wonder, ‘why 24?’

The research behind the 24 Character Strengths was led by a group of former presidents of the American Psychological Association.  Martin Seligman, while meeting with a few of these former presidents, suggested that the field of psychology had been focused for too long (ie: the previous 200 years) on only ½ of the field.  He stated that psychology had always tried to take people from a negative number back to zero (ie: fixing broken people and getting back to baseline).  He then asked what if psychology could be more about taking people from 0 to some more positive number, or better sense of well-being!

This group then tried to define what was meant by the term “character.”  When they all arrived at different definitions, they realized that this was their first work.  And so, they set out to scour all the cultures of the world with one question; “what are the values that are consistent between all cultures?”

When I ask folks how many aspects of character they discovered I often hear numbers in the hundreds and even thousands.  The answer, 24!

That’s where our 24 strengths come from and to read more about the scientific studies that this group propagated in the span of time between 1999 and 2004 read Character Strengths and Virtues, by Seligman and his co-author Chris Peterson.  It’s a dense, thick read that’s definitely at an adult level but it’s full of really interesting research about the banners you’ll see in our halls.

All of these 24 strengths have now been researched extensively.  What the research continues to demonstrate is that some strengths, like GRATITUDE, are “super strengths,” in that, when we intentionally practice them, it makes us healthier and happier.  
Read more here:

More about the strengths in upcoming weeks, but Gratitude is one of my favorites!

Mr. Klugman

End of Week Notes
Parent Coffee with Counselors - This Thursday, 9:30 AM, Library Media Center
  • Each year our counselors host this event to talk with parents about the scope and sequence of our counseling program through 6th, 7th and 8th grades including the transitions into the building and to the High School.  We hope you can join us (no RSVP required)

Thank you’s
  • To our PTO and all of the students and parents who participated in our PTO meeting Monday night
    • For more information about our clubs check out this link
    • Here is a list of our clubs that we will try to keep up to date as new clubs form (for example, Mr. Klamka just started our Songwriting Club a few weeks ago)
    • To join a club or find out more about visit the classroom and / or teacher listed
  • Thanks to Mr. Warford and our Garden Club for another great Scarecrow Day!  

It’s Costume Ball Week!
  • We still need lots of parent volunteers and yes, you come in costume!
  • To sign up please use this link
  • Please also note that the only parents allowed into the event are those who are volunteering

BOU’s Talking with your Tween and Teen
  • The BOU’s Talking with your Teen is appropriate for MS students and their Parents!

PTO News & Notes
We are still desperately in need of volunteers for the Costume Ball next week!  If you can, please sign up to help. Thank you so much! Use the link above
Costume Ball
*Ticket Sales for students (during  lunches): 10/25, 10/26 & 10/27   11am-12n & 12n-1:15pm
*Chaperones: 10/27   6:15-8:30 or 9:30 pm
*Bakers: 10/27 (Drop off)  8am-3pm or 4-6pm
*Decorators (for the Haunted House): 10/26 starting at 3:00pm
Please email:
Parent Coffee & Counselor Presentation
*Bakers: 10/26 by 8:30am
REMINDER: PTO membership dues and assignment notebook payments are due!  You can make payment via our website at or include your student's name and info on an envelope labeled “PTO” and turn it in at the main office.
Please note:  Box tops for Education are due Nov 1st; please send yours in by Friday, October 27th

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Great Fall Weekend!

Good morning BCMS Community;

Last week’s end of week notes were delayed to remind all of the Great Event we have tonight for new students including all of our 6th graders. 

At tonight’s PTO Meeting we will have student representatives from our various clubs and activities give a brief overview of each with the hope of recruiting new members or simply promoting the mission of each club.

The meeting begins at 7:00 PM and is located in our Library.

Congrats to our many Fall Sports teams on their successful seasons both here at BCMS and to our former BCMS student-athletes now at the HS.  

Congrats also to our BC Chess Club who won their home invitational this weekend in defense of their regional championship the last two years.

Congrats and thanks to our Garden Club for their work at this weekend's Delmar Farmer's Market.

Lastly, it might sound strange that I congratulate the students and staff that attended the Washington, D.C. trip this past weekend but any time we have a group represent our schools, our families and our students with pride and dignity, as this group did, we're grateful that they maintain the legacy of the many groups before them!

On behalf of our PTO we look forward to seeing you at our meeting tonight!

Mr. Klugman

BCMS News & Notes

In case you missed it... on Tuesday, October 10, WNYT News Channel 13 aired a story highlighting the hard work and success of the Bethlehem Central Middle School Garden Club. Anchor Jerry Gretzinger interviewed a few club members, along with “veggie whisperer” Mr. Warford, as they showed what it takes to maintain the school’s extensive gardens and shared their devotion to delivering delicious and nutritious food options to students and the community at large.  You can see the story here:

BOU Presents – Talking with your Tween & Teen 2017
On Thursday November 02, 2017 Bethlehem Opportunities Unlimited will be hosting our annual “Talking with your Teen” presentation.  This year’s focus will be on emotional health and wellbeing with a panel of presenters which includes Kristen Connor, a local pediatrician, Donna Bradbury associate commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health and Dr. Jennifer Smitkin.  

The first Capital Region CoderDojo session of the school year will be held on October 16th, from 6:30pm-8:00pm, we will welcome guest teacher Dan Phiffer from Eyebeam, an organization that celebrates opportunities to merge the best of Art and Technology. Dan will present the Mapzen App, an emerging competitor of Google Maps. Together with students, Dan will work on developing new features of the application, demonstrate programming techniques, art innovation and data mapping within Mapzen. The October 16th session will be held at RPI. For further details, and to sign-up for the session follow this link:

From our PTO - Thanks to everyone for supporting our PTO

Volunteer Opportunities

Bakers needed for Parent Coffee & Counselor Presentation, 10/26 by 8:30a

Halloween Costume Party

Ticket Sales: 10/25, 10/26 & 10/27:  11am—12n  &  12n—1:15pm
Chaperones  Friday, 10/27  6:15---8:30 or 9:30 pm

Decorate the Haunted House---Thursday, 10/26 starting at 3:00pm

Box tops for Education are due Nov 1st, please send yours in by Friday, October 27th please

Friday, October 6, 2017

A Time & Place ...& Moderation!

Happy Friday!

This week sees the end of our first 5 weeks and if, to you, it feels like we just started school, our staff feel the same way!  We often comment to parents in our 5th grade orientations that this 3 years of middle school will feel like it flew by and this past 5 weeks is testament to that.

In my observations of students over the last 5 years I see stark changes in attention and distractibility.  I don’t know if this is related to device-use but I suspect so.  The sway that devices have in the lives of children is more pervasive and prevalent than it has ever been and the truth that we struggle with as educators and as parents is that we have no idea what this means to our children in 5, 10 or 20 years from now.  Our school-based approach on this consequently is the age-old expression ‘all things in moderation.’ 

This is why we do not allow students to bring their Chromebooks to lunch or use their cell phones in the lunch room.  The result – LOUD, but we love it.  The students are talking, touching base, making connections and reinforcing social skill.  Throughout my career I have always been what’s referred to as an ‘early adopter.’  I have long been willing to try anything that might help students.  Some might observe that this stands in contrast to an ethos of moderation but I always try to remain informed by what I read coming out of respectable research outlets.  This week I saw this article “Your Teen’s Phone is Ruining Her Concentration” and I was reminded of this theme of moderation and that there is a ‘time and place’ for all things.

I hope you find the article as insightful as I did, but even more I hope you have a great long weekend.  We teachers try to take at least one day off from school-work over a long weekend to focus on our own families and to get away from all distractions as a reminder that our families are our most important priority! 

Enjoy your family no matter its structure and Have a Great Long Weekend!

Mike Klugman

End of Week Notes

Thank you - WOW - What a Great Salads for Kids Day
For those who may not be aware, we have fewer students this year than we have had in more than 10 years.  So why did we eat more salad than ever before?!

One Answer; our students love Salad and fresh Veggies from our Garden.

Special thanks to ...
Mr. Warford and the Garden Club
To our Cafeteria Staff for their support
To our many parent - volunteers who make this event possible!

Student Leadership Committees (Formerly PAC)
Yesterday I sent an email out to all 6th, 7th and 8th grade students via their school-based email addresses encouraging them to consider joining one of our 9 leadership committees.  A list of these 9 committees came out of our earlier survey of students with regard to those things they'd like to engage with to make our school better.  We have a Student Leadership Committee (SLC) website with more information.

Unfortunately for parents, you WILL BE able to visit the website but the Google Classroom and Meeting Pages for each committee can only be opened by students (they will need to be signed into their school accounts).  If you want to review these you'll have to look over your students' shoulders when they are logged and you can tell that Mr. K gave you permission!

You may notice that our website also has a calendar and this is an intentional redundancy that should begin showing the dates of our committee meetings so please bookmark the SLC website linked above.

Please also encourage your son or daughter to pick one committee and get engaged.  The only way we have to demonstrate to them that their voice and leadership are important is by creating opportunities like this and the skills they can learn, while not measured on any standardized test, will carry with them forever!

PTO Meeting - Open to ALL Parents and Students
Reminder – Our PTO Meeting on Monday, October 16th (7:00 PM in the Library Media Center) is open to BOTH parents and students!  It has become an annual tradition to have representative students from our various clubs and activities come to speak and orient about what their groups do.  It’s a great way to create engagement and a sense of belonging.  Students who participate in events outside of their curriculum feel more ownership of the middle school as “theirs” and also come to form wider associations in their peer groups.

For more information about our clubs and opportunities you can also check out:

District Strategic Planning Committee
Next Wednesday, Oct. 11, the Bethlehem Central School District Strategic Planning Committee is hosting a Community Forum from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the high school library.

The committee is seeking to gather input for a strategic plan tentatively titled Design for Excellence 2025. The long-term plan will examine the district’s core values, mission and vision, and map out goals and strategies that will help guide district decision-making into the next decade. The planning process is just beginning and will likely extend through early 2019.

Please consider attending the forum on Wednesday to share your vision for the future of BC. You can RSVP here:
Learn more about the Strategic Planning process:

From our PTO

Thanks to everyone for supporting our PTO
Picture days went great thanks to you

Date to be included in the directory extended !!!.  You now have until Sunday 10/8 to sign up for the directory!! Consider joining & supporting the PTO too.  The easiest way is to go to our PTO website,, go to the PTO Store tab  and do online.  Also, you can pay for the agenda book, there if you haven’t already done so.

~Please remember to bring in your Box Tops (receptacle box in lobby)

For all 7th and 8th Graders…   Winter sports sign-ups are happening now for middle school and high school sports. Any interested athletes should visit their school health office to sign up. The deadline is Friday, October 13 and all paperwork is due to the health office by Monday, October 16.

Have a great Weekend

Friday, September 29, 2017

BCMS Students and Parents;

End of Week Notes and Updates

IMPORTANT – for All Students & Parents - PAC – Student Leadership Committee Update

All BCMS students were asked how they would like to “Make BCMS better” and they suggested the 9 domains referenced in the diagram below.

You can also see that our students’ interest in the importance of these domains is spread somewhat evenly and impressively.

Our next step in developing each of these areas is to connect our students to the clubs and committees that take up these charges.

  • Mr. Reilly’s “Helping Hands” club is a phenomenal model of helping others who are less fortunate
  • Ms. Sanders’ “No Place 4 Hate” celebrates diversity, tolerance & acceptance of all and works to create this in our school
In the coming week we will announce when these committees meet and we will be encouraging students to join those that are their passions!  Students will be allowed to take on whatever amount of leadership they are ready for and they WILL CHANGE OUR SCHOOL FOR THE BETTER!

We encourage all of our students (6th, 7th and 8th graders!) to participate.

So look for email about each committee throughout next week.

A Fundamental Leadership Skill … we are beginning to Teach NOW
Effective Leaders (at any age) are great communicators.  Middle School students typically have not developed the habit of checking email.  We will be working on this with them because we will share more and more information with them through this medium.  Meeting times of our Leadership Committees, their agendas, and our action planning will all be communicated through email so we ask that parents be patient with us as we copy these messages to you to help your student develop the habit of checking email at least once each day.  (We will also work on this during the school day).

Players Tribune – A Great Reading Resource for Athletes & Stories about Resilience
As a young science teacher a number of years ago I realized that LITERACY was both a key and an impediment to my students’ success.  My wife was teaching 3rd grade and I was teaching 8th and I began to use many of her reading and writing strategies in my classes.

Later in my career, as I began to study great teachers and as I took on more responsibility to plan professional development for and with teachers, I learned that great schools get their students to read and write well.  This lesson has never left me.

So here’s one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned as a parent; if you want your kids to be great readers, let them read what they love.  BC teachers from Kindergarten all the way through 12th grade will continue to push students toward finding authors and genres they love.  With this in mind I’m sharing a great resource that I would have devoured as a Tween and Teen.

The Player’s Tribune was begun by Derek Jeter (yes, that Derek Jeter) as an e-magazine by athletes (they are the authors) and for everyone.  This week’s article has a great story about the New York Knicks recent draft pick.

Caution – all content may not be appropriate for readers younger than Middle School.

Farm to You Fest … All Next Week!
BCMS celebrates our local farming community once again through “Farm to You Fest 2017.”
  • Mon – Fri our AM announcements feature agricultural questions for prizes each day
  • Wednesday is our Guess the Weight of the Pumpkin
  • Wednesday is also Walk / Ride to School Day – help save the planet by getting yourself to school!
  • Friday is our “Salads for Kids Day” where any student who would like one can get a salad with produce grown organically in the BCMS Gardens thanks to Mr. Warford and Garden Club
  • Saturday is Scavenger Hunt at the Delmar Farmer’s market

A reminder that “BC Meals Night” runs through Tuesdays in October @ “Garden Bistro 24” (look for SNN’s to see the menu each week and you can call ahead and take-out)  The menu each week features more organic produce that was grown in the BCMS Gardens!

Friday, October 6, is our “Go Home Early Drill”
We ask that all parents allow their child to go home via district transportation on this date to allow students the practice of understanding how we proceed through this drill.  All students, including students who do NOT have a bus route because of how close they live to Middle School are assigned to a bus and will be given a ride home on district transportation.  Our dismissal is 2:30 PM and we ask parents not to pick up students unless for a previously scheduled appointment.  A reminder that this drill is a mandate by New York State of all Public Schools.

From our PTO

Thanks to everyone for supporting our PTO

Remember you have until 10/6 to join & be included in the directory; easiest way is to go to our PTO website, and do online.  Also, you can pay for the agenda book, there if you haven’t already done so.

Volunteer Opportunities:

Upcoming Events
  • 10/2@ 7:00pm  BCMS PTO Meeting: LMC
  • featuring presentations on the various MCMS clubs & activities

Please remember to bring in your Box Tops (receptacle box in lobby)

Have a Great Weekend!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Student Survey Results - Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Happy Friday!

During our first full week of school last week we took advantage of our new accessibility to students due to their having Chromebooks by surveying them on a host of important issues for our staff.  I wanted to take a moment to share some of what came back to us and to dispel one really big misconception of students.

88% of our students (wrongly) believe that they can never change their lunch table once it is established!  This is NOT true!

Some background information; we DO want students to pick a table and stay at that table and here's why. We do NOT want students to have to race to lunch every day, which would be the case if our seating were a free for all.  This would have some students who may be taking a test, or simply slow at their locker NEVER being able to count on a reliable seat. We DO understand that students sometimes get into conflict and that they sometimes wish to change tables. So, how do we balance these two competing pressures?

We allow students to make changes by utilizing the counselors or noon-aide monitors. It goes something like this...

Johnny wants to change tables but the table he would like to sit at is full. We do NOT allow Johnny to displace one of the students at that new table (if there is an open seat then Johnny can simply move to that open seat but "open" in this context means permanently open and not simply open 'today' because some other student is absent).  We DO allow Johnny to move to a different table and move with a few of his friends provided his friends are okay with moving. How does Johnny talk to the friends he'd like to move with him?  If he's uncomfortable or just awkward in trying to have this conversation either his counselor (Mr. Farnan, Mr. Lenhardt, Ms. Marcucci, or Ms. Young) or one of our noon-aide monitors can assist and facilitate for him.  They won't do the talking for him but they'll help find a time and safe space to approach his friends to have the conversation.  By the way, our counselors will also do this for students new to Bethlehem to help them feel more comfortable acclimating to the district.

More Survey Results

  • 71% of Middle School students state they are comfortable seeking out a teacher to meet with them one on one if they need help.  That's good, but not great! By the time our students leave us in preparation for 9th grade we want all of our students to be confident in realizing that a behavior of strong students is help-seeking and self-advocacy.
  • Social Media and MS students
    • 66% of our students have an Instagram account
    • 60% have Snapchat
    • 16% have Facebook
    • 16% have Twitter
      • We remind all parents that it is perfectly acceptable to REQUIRE your children to FRIEND you
      • Mr. Klugman's three kids are 19, 17 and 14 and I follow all of their social media!
  • 25-40% of our students acknowledge that they don't have a lot of extracurricular, service-oriented, or community based participation.
    • A goal for all of our MS students is for them to have a healthy peer network. 
    • A reminder to all of our parents that our October 16th (that's a date change from October 2nd on our printed school calendar) PTO Open Meeting invites all students and parents to come and hear reps from our student clubs and athletic teams talk about these opportunities - we hope you can join us!
      • 7:00 PM in our Middle School Library!
End of Week Notes
From our PTO - Thanks to everyone for supporting our PTO

~ You have until 10/6 to join & be included in the directory; easiest way is to go to our PTO website, and do online.  You can also use our online store to pay for the agenda book if you haven’t already done so.

~Volunteer Opportunities:
   We need you:
   10/3 BCMS School pictures --one volunteer 8:15am-11:30am & one 11:30am-2:45pm
   10/3 BCMS School Pictures—one volunteer 8:15am-11:30am & one 11:30am-2:45pm

  please use this link to volunteer:

~Please remember to bring in your Box Tops (receptacle box in lobby)

FASS (Friday After School Support)
Beginning on October 13, we will once again provide students Friday After School Support (FASS), which is a quiet work time for students where they can receive tutoring support provided by our building administration in most subjects.  We also work with students on their organization.

Students can opt into this for any Friday that it runs (through June) but there is not transportation provided.  Some students may also be recommended for this by their team of teachers, by their counselors, or by building administration if they are falling behind or have work to make up after extended absence.

We meet from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM but students are allowed to leave early if they have transportation.

  • Tuesday, Sept 26 is our Hudson & Patroon Open House (most or our Mohawk Teachers will not be present)
  • Tuesday, October 2 is our Mohawk Open House (most of our Hudson and Patroon Teachers will not be present)
  • Friday, October 6 is our annual Go Home Early Drill (look for a direct message with more information about the timing of our dismissal coming through parents' Aspen account)
  • DATE CHANGE - Open PTO Meeting for all BCMS Families is moved to October 16th!  (7:00 PM in our Library Media Center)
Have a Great Weekend!

Welcome Back to School 2017!

Welcome Back to School 2017!

Happy Friday!

One of the most important things we do for students is help them establish routines and now that we are closing our first full week of school it feels like we’re there.  I thanked our teachers for their work to orient students back into school routines and I’d also like to thank parents for all of your work to get back to routines also.  Bedtimes, organization, lunches, homework, and a list of many other things all fall back into order this week and we’re grateful… AND students success these last two weeks are a direct result of their adaptability to getting back into routines.

We had our first fire drill yesterday (Thursday, Sept 14) and conducted a lockdown drill today (Friday, Sept 15) and the students were outstanding in understanding the purpose of practicing how to be safe and courteous during drills. 

If you missed our morning announcements this past Monday, I reminded students of why we take a moment to remember all those who were affected by the September 11, 2001 tragedy.  Specifically, we talked about the model that was set by those who escaped that day and that not a single person was trampled because of how calmly and courteously thousands of people exited the building.  We also remember those service people; police, fire, EMS, and first responders who bravely went into the World Trade Center buildings after they had been struck.  We lost more than 3,000 lives that day but we would have lost thousands more if not for the actions of so many.  They set a powerful model of bravery, courage and heroism!

Student Leadership!
I spend a lot of time studying adult-student relationships as you might imagine.  A trend that has changed in the last 20 years is that adults are doing more for children and it’s not hard to figure out why.  The security of our children and an ever-shrinking global community brought closer by the internet and cell phones have changed parenting dramatically.  As much as this is understandable and in many cases necessary, all of us parents and teachers run the risk of removing tweens and teens decision making skill and initiative completely.  BCMS therefore is responsive to this by promoting students into leadership opportunities with intention.

The Student Leadership concept is described here and we will be encouraging students to submit their initiatives into next week.  More to come with regard to what their ideas are next Thursday or Friday.

The link above will redirect students to a 1 question survey that simply asks them what they would like to do to make our school better!  Please take a moment to read this with your child.  This is his or her opportunity to join other groups of students in our school-change leadership program.

Lastly, I’d like to congratulate our 6th grade students and teachers for a great Fun Fair tonight.  More than 300 students showed their spirit and community by coming out in the interest of having fun!

On behalf of all of our Staff, Have a Great Weekend!

Mike Klugman

Friday, April 22, 2016

Kids show us that Sometimes being Pragmatic is BAD

Pragmatic Defineddealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations

Adults often view children as naive because their solutions to difficult problems are deemed too idealistic and impractical. Hunger? Feed the world!  War?  Make everyone obey peace!  Global Warming?  Take care of the planet!

To a middle schooler the answers to difficult questions are easy.  There are no practical or logistical considerations and while we adults regard this as naive or unfeasible, I often find middle schoolers' perspectives to be refreshing.  

Today, April 22nd, is Earth Day.  For those who do not know, Earth Day began informally in 1969 and more formally in 1970 but much of the push for it happened 20 to 30 years earlier with the work of Rachel Carson, author, scientist, and environmentalist who wrote the book Silent Spring.  In her book, published first in 1962, Carson followed up on nearly 20 years of research into the uses of pesticides in the United States.  She was also motivated to publish as a result of public perceptions that many of the era's Politicians were naively and unscrupulously believing propaganda being disseminated by chemical companies.  As a result of her book, attention was brought to bare on DDT, a pesticide linked to the declining Bald Eagle population (among many other birds of prey in addition).

Today, some 50 years later, (actually in August of 2007) the Bald Eagle has been removed from the Endangered Species list because of its population rebound.  The Bald Eagle, our national symbol, is a glaring reminder of how one person really can change the world and in recognition of Carson's work, Earth Day, or Earth WEEK as we like to call it around BCMS, is an annual reminder to all of us adults that there are times when it's not good to be practical!  

I hope you'll join me in being just a little more naive, innocent, and engaged in working toward making our planet a little bit greener and environmentally healthier over these next few weeks (or year round if you feel like I do). 

Our middle school students are a big reason why BCMS was awarded the first ever Green Ribbon School Award (only 1 of 3 schools in NYS to earn this distinction in the first year the award was offered in 2012) and while the students who were here in 2012 are now High Schoolers, our current students continue to broaden and build upon all that we did 4 years ago.

A tough reality for adolescents is learning about being practical.  There are times when being practical butts heads with being idealistic and one reason why I LOVE working with middle school aged students is that they remind me all the time that practical doesn't always have to win out against idealistic.  There are times that we adults should be forced to pause, to reflect, and to consider if by practical, what we are really being is inflexible, to expediting, or simply complacent.

And so, ...

... here's to EARTH WEEK,

... here's to being idealistic,
... and here's to recognizing that sometimes... A LOT of times, middle schoolers demonstrate a genius that makes the world a better place!

Happy Earth Day, and have a Great Spring Vacation!

May Events
May 2 (Monday) All students return to School
May 4     BOE Meeting 
May 6 (Friday)  BCMS' Staged Creations Play Production Opening Night
May 7      Staged Creations continues
May 8      Mother's Day
May 9 (Monday) BCMS Open PTO Meeting for Parents (7:00 PM)
May 12 (Thursday) Grade 5 to 6 Parent Transition and Orientation Meeting 7:00 PM
May 13 (Friday) 6th Graders have a 1/2 day due to 5th grade Moving Up Day.  More information will be sent to parents after our break