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Students Donate to Animal Rescue Group
For the past few years sixth grade students have read the book Because of Winn-Dixie in English Language Arts (ELA) classes. In the book, 10 year-old India Opal Buloni moves to Naomi, Florida with her father. She is lonely at first… that is, until she meets Winn-Dixie, a stray dog that helps her make some unusual friends and changes her life.

To celebrate the book, students are participating in a host of activities to bring the story to life. Most notably, representatives from a non-profit animal rescue organization called Out of the Pits will visit Goff on December 23. This group rescues Pit Bulls and trains them to become Certified Therapy Dogs.

Students are once again collecting items to donate to non-profit groups
Items, such as blankets, old towels, “Kong” type toys, pig ears, Nylabones, and pressed rawhide, can be delivered to Mrs. White in Room 140.

Teacher, Jaclyn Timmany-White, looks forward to supporting the group again this year. “Each year we fall in love with our canine (and human) visitors, and can concretely see how animals can change people’s lives and vice versa. It is always heartwarming to see all the generous donations that our children bring in.”

For more information visit their website at www.outofthepits.org. If you click on the “About Us” link you will see a picture of a past visit to Goff.

Student Council Helps Families in Need
Earlier this year, Lara, an eighth grader, approached the Student Council seeking support with a bracelet sale to benefit the Dzembo family. Their nephew Connor is struggling with Ataxia-Telangiectasia, a terrible diagnosis that will soon disable him. Students were immediately touched by the story, and eager to do anything they could to help. Through a bracelet sale held each lunch period, the Student Council was able to raise about $300 for the A-T Foundation.

The Student Council is also helping other families in need this holiday season. Two fundraisers are planned - a weeklong carnation sale and an ice cream sale. Proceeds will fund the purchase of holiday gifts for struggling local families. On December 16, the Goff Student Council will purchase gifts at the Target in East Greenbush and personally deliver items to the Community Network of Schodack, East Greenbush, Rensselaer, Nassau and Sand Lake United Nassau and Sand Lake-United (CoNSERNS-U) in Rensselaer.

Teacher Lauren Casullo said there is plenty of work to do to help Goff’s neighbors this year. “Our involvement is only more necessary considering the financial struggles facing every family. We also recognize the positive effect we can have on different areas of the world,” she said.

The Student Council is also working with the Eddy VNA in Troy to collect basic hygienic supplies for five remote villages in Brazil. Items will be delivered in January.

7G Students Raise Money for Books
The students of 7G are working with CoNSERNS-U to make sure everyone has something good to read during the holidays. In their English classes, students are competing to see who can raise the most money to buy books for less fortunate middle and high school students. Students are also donating new and gently used books. To date, students have donated over 600 books and raised more than $350.

Peer Leadership Gives Back
Peer Leadership just finished its “Together We Can” canned food drive for CoNSERNS-U. The group collected and donated approximately 100 pounds of goods for the needy. Peer Leadership will also do an afternoon of caroling at the Evergreen Commons Senior Care Facility on December 16. This activity is now an annual tradition for the Peer Leadership group, which has brought holiday cheer to residents for the past five years.

Clothing Drive Supports Unity House
During the month of October, Goff Middle School faculty and staff brought in warm clothing to donate to the Unity House of St. Josephs in Troy. Unity House is a human service agency that “provides a wide range of services to meet the otherwise unmet needs of people in Rensselaer County.”

The clothing drive was managed by Kathy Dayton, Irene Wiltsie and Emily Cobb-Higgins and students from the DOME Club (Defenders of Mother Earth). The group sorted, packed and delivered collected a wide assortment of items, including new socks and soft pile throws. It took six trips to deliver all that was collected!

In a letter, Unity House Chief Executive Officer Christopher Burke thanked Goff for their donation. “These items will make a difference in so many families’ lives, and help them all to stay warm this winter. You are great examples for other young people,” Burke wrote.

Goff Holds Annual Thanksgiving Dinner
The Goff Middle School and Questar III special education classes held their annual Thanksgiving Feast on November 18. Students and staff from Carol Bluhm, Graci Finkle, Nancy Braley and Tammy Kirwin’s classes prepared dinner and desserts for hundreds of school staff and other invited guests. The school would like to thank Freihofer’s Bakery for donating many of the food items from the dinner. Additionally, potatoes, pumpkins, onions, squash, herbs and spices from Goff Middle School’s own garden were also used to prepare the dinner.

Students Promote Tolerance
Goff Middle School students stepped out of their comfort zones and sat down with a new circle of friends during lunch on November 10.The activity was part of a national outreach program designed to promote tolerance.

Goff coordinated the lunchtime Mix-it-Up Day in conjunction with the school’s PTO. This was the fifth year the school has participated in this event.

Students entering the cafeteria were randomly assigned to tables with six other students and one adult facilitator. In total, more than 1,000 students participated along with Goff staff and members of the school community.

Table activities included games, socializing and learning more about how to promote tolerance in both the school and community. Each grade level played different games, which included questions such as “Are you more like…?”

Goff Middle School Counselor Joanne O’Leary says Mix-it-Up Day is important to middle school students because it gives them an opportunity to widen their circle of friends and challenges them to take a closer look at others around them.

“By swapping seats, students step out of their comfort zone and connect with new people,” O’Leary says. “These new relationships contribute to growing the already positive culture at Goff.”

Group Walks in Colleague’s Memory

Goff Middle School staff participated in the 14th annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on October 18 in memory of the school’s secretary, Barbara Lehmann. The group joined 12,000 other walkers in Albany’s Washington Park to honor Lehmann, who passed away on the first day of school after fighting a courageous, 10 year battle with cancer. She was a positive force in the school and a great friend to all in the building and in the district.

Members of the Goff Middle School community walked in her memory by wearing black and pink shirts with “Barb Lehmann – Forever in our hearts” printed on the back. The group sold 57 shirts so together they could wear the shirts as a staff to keep her memory alive in the building. Local businesses such as Chez Mike’s in the Hannaford Plaza also donated money to the cause.
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Important Information about H1N1 Flu for the 2009-10 School Year
This fall, the H1N1 flu is expected to impact more schools than it did last spring. At the recommendation of the State Health and Education Departments, Goff Middle School is asking parents and guardians to help reduce the spread of the flu by reminding their children to wash their hands frequently and cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze. Please watch carefully for signs of the flu and keep children home if they are sick. For more information, please read a letter from Superintendent Dr. Angela Guptill.