November 7, 2019

From: Mary C. Gormley
To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: November 7, 2019

FROM THE DESK OF THE SUPERINTENDENT

The Milton Public Schools are recognized, nationally and internationally, for the quality and diversity of World Language instruction at all levels. Our district’s standing commitment to early language acquisition started more than 30 years ago as an increasing body of research was documenting the undeniable advantage of learning a second language at an early age. Our district counts today, from grade 1 to 12, 1,681 Spanish students, 1,518 French Immersion students, 333 Latin students (Pierce and Milton High School) and 58 non-immersion French students (Milton High School).

Dr. Martine Fisher has been directing the World Language Department for the Milton Public Schools for the last eight years. She is a graduate from the Sorbonne and McGill universities and was recently honored by the Ordre des Palmes Academiques, a national order bestowed by the French Government to distinguished academics and figures in the world of culture and education. I have asked Dr. Fisher to share more information on our World Language curriculum below.

The study of languages is integral to a well-rounded education in today’s global society.  Learning a new language builds listening, speaking, reading, writing and communicative skills while promoting understanding and appreciation of cultural differences. Learning a world language supports academic achievement, promotes understanding of other cultures and peoples, and opens opportunities for employment not only in business but also government, international relations and law, communications, travel, publishing and scientific research, among others.

Our thriving elementary French immersion and Spanish programs started respectively in 1987 and 1998. At the Pierce Middle School, students have the additional option to select Latin. At Milton High School, students may switch languages, if they wish, and start French, Spanish or Latin without prior knowledge. High School students  also have the option to select a second World Language as an elective. Our French, Latin and Spanish Advanced Placement Programs continue to grow and thrive. One hundred and forty students took the exam last spring with a overall rate of success of 89%. World Languages at Milton High School continue to demonstrate the highest rate of achievement on Advanced Placement exams.

In addition to being highly qualified, our World Language teachers demonstrate a native or near-native level of proficiency and first-hand familiarity with the language and the culture(s) they teach. Our students benefit greatly from regular interactions with these educators, who represent diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Our faculty currently includes educators from Cape Verde, Lebanon, Senegal, Turkey, Mexico, Canada, France, Lebanon, Egypt, Portugal, Vietnam, Algeria, as well as the United-States, among others.

At all levels, in accordance with the ongoing evolution of the field of World Language instruction, students in the Milton Public Schools learn and use their target language in meaningful and real-life contexts through an ever-widening range of reading, writing, speaking, listening and communicative activities. Through the use of standards and performance-based instruction students develop communicative, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Technology plays a major role in 21st century language classes. Smartboards, I-pads, chromebooks, educational applications and programs and our language labs at the Middle and High School all connect our classrooms and our students to the world. In April, a group of 35 High School students will participate with their teachers in a one-week educational trip to Portugal. You can read more about our French Immersion and Spanish programs in these links.

I look forward to sharing in-depth information about different aspects of the Milton Public Schools curriculum in this space in the coming months.

PARENT SPEAKER SERIES 

A recent survey conducted by Common Sense Media shows that for teens, ages 13 to 18, daily average screen time has gone up by 42 minutes over the past four years. Teens now spend, on average, 7 hours and 22 minutes per day on screens, not including homework or schoolwork.

In the article linked here, Screenagers director Delaney Ruston, MD talks about the impact and discusses some strategies for parents/guardians.  She says first and foremost, talk with your kids about the survey findings and the considerable increases in time spent on screens. Here are some questions to get a conversation started:

  • How many hours do you think the average teen is on a screen? How about the average 8-12 year old?
  • What do you think the biggest thing that 8-18 year olds are doing in those hours? (Answer: watching TV/videos)
  • Do you ever look at the “recommendations” from YouTube?
  • To what degree are having such recommendations helpful? Not helpful? Good for society?

As you navigate issues around screen time with your family, there are two items below that may interest you.

On November 13th, we’ll be showing the newly released film “Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience” at the MHS auditorium at 6:30pm. The film examines the science behind tween/teen’s emotional challenges, the interplay of social media, and most importantly, what can be done in our schools and homes to help them build crucial skills to navigate stress, anxiety, and depression in our digital age. This film is not available online or via Netflix, it is only available through community events that bring parents/guardians, kids, teens and educators together to continue the conversation about the impact of screen time, digital citizenship, the increase in stress/anxiety and to share ideas and strategies. Parents are encouraged to bring their children ages 11 and up to this PARENT Speaker Series event. After the film we’ll have a facilitated Q&A with MPS adjustment counselors. This event is free and open to the public.

The PARENT Speaker Series is made possible with financial support from Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton, Milton Public Schools, Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, Parent Teacher Organizations and Special Education Parent Advisory Council.

The Milton Public School’s Wait Until 8th campaign is in its second year.  300+ Milton families have taken the Wait Until 8th pledge. The Wait Until 8th pledge empowers families to rally together to delay giving children a smartphone until at least 8th grade.  By banding together, this will decrease the pressure felt by kids and families alike over the kids having a smartphone.

Please note that this pledge is for smartphones only! If you would like your child to have a basic phone that just calls and texts, you still can sign the pledge! The basic phone avoids many of the distractions and dangers of the smartphone.  A pledge becomes “active” once 10 or more families from a grade at a school sign. The organizers designed the pledge this way so you don’t have to fear “what if I am the only family that signs this in my kid’s grade.” This takes the pressure off because the pledge only kicks in once at least 10 families sign from your grade.

To learn more, please visit Wait Until 8th. When taking the pledge please use the following names for each school:Collicot Elementary School; Cunningham Elementary School; Glover Elementary School; Pierce Middle School; Tucker Elementary School.  If you have any questions regarding the campaign please email AJ Melanson.

UPCOMING MPS DATES 

Nov 8 Pierce Peace March – POSTPONED
Nov 11 No School-Veterans Day
Nov 13 Parent Speaker Series, Screenagers Next Chapter
Nov 14 Early Release Day for Students/Conferences Grades 6-12
Nov 20 Milton School Committee Meeting
Nov 21 MHS Cabaret
Nov 23 Eastern District Sr Auditions
Nov 27,28,29 No School-Thanksgiving Day Recess
Dec 2 Town Meeting
Dec 4 Milton School Committee
Dec 5 MHS College Information Night
Dec 9 Pierce Gr. 6 Winter Concert @ MHS
Dec 10 Pierce Grs 7&8 Winter Concert @MHS
Dec 11 MHS Winter Concert
Dec 12 Early Release Day for Students-Conferences Grs K-5 Only

The 2019-20 calendar can be found here.

Due to expected weather conditions this Friday, November 8th, the Pierce Student Council has decided to cancel Friday afternoon’s Peace March from Pierce Middle School to Town Hall. They will reschedule in the spring.

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As we approach Veterans Day on Monday, November 11th, I want to share the ways in which the Milton Public Schools helps to honor our Veterans.  Across the district, schools are holding assemblies and special events, inviting family members and friends who have served in the armed forces, both to acknowledge these veterans and also foster their connections to our students. Older students are writing essays and younger students prepare artwork honoring a specific Veteran or Veterans in general and these will be displayed throughout our schools. Our high school students often participate in our town wide Veterans Day observance.

Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed annually on November 11th, the anniversary of the end of World War I, to honor military veterans, victims of all wars, and persons who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Over the years, Veterans Day has evolved into a holiday honoring current and former members of the United States Armed Forces. The Milton Public Schools observes this federal holiday and there is no school on Monday, November 11th.

Periodically, the Milton Public Schools receives information and resources available to military. If you are a military family and would like to receive these announcements, please email your contact information to our Family Outreach Liaison,  Marti O’Keefe McKenna. Ms. McKenna can also be reached by phone at 617-980-7343.

On behalf of the Milton Public Schools, thank you to our Veterans and their  family members for your service!

SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Recent School Committee meetings can always be watched on Milton Access TV.  The next School Committee meeting is on Wednesday, November 20th at 7pm. School Committee agendas and documents can be found on the front page of our website. 

HIGH SCHOOL HAPPENINGS

Please join the Guidance Department for our annual College Information/Post Secondary Planning night, at Milton High on Thursday, December 5th at 6pm in the MHS Auditorium. The following topics will be presented in order to help you and your child successfully navigate the college application process:

  • Financial Aid
  • Standardized Testing
  • Supporting your senior throughout the year
  • NCAA Requirements
  • Overview of the College Application Process
  • Naviance

Representatives from Emmanuel College Admissions, Summit Educational Group, American Student Assistance and Milton High School staff will be running all sessions. After a brief introduction in the auditorium, each sessions will run in 30 minute intervals. Students & Parents/Guardians are invited to attend any sessions during that window.
This workshop is open to all parents/guardians & students in any grade level. A breakdown of specific topics covered in each session will be sent out as we get closer to the event.

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On the November 14th half day, our 6-12th grade families will have Parent Teacher Conferences and on December 12th, our K-5th grade families will have conferences. These articles from Parent Today and the National Education Association have some helpful guidelines to help you get the most out of your P/T Conference.

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We know that many of you attended last weekend’s performances of the Addams Family and thought you would like to read MHS student Will Scannell’s review of the play for the MHS publication, The Elephant in the Room.

“The Addams Family” Showcases the Talents of Milton High’s Theatre Program

Just in time for Halloween, the Milton High School Theatre Program dazzled with their production of the Addams Family.

The show was fun from beginning-to-end, with jokes galore and catchy musical numbers. More importantly, it was a showcase of the professionalism and creativity of the entire Milton High theatre department.

The story of the Addams Family is mostly set in the Addams household, filled with the family’s gothic characters. The daughter of the Addams family, Wednesday (played by junior Anna Hoey),  is a dark-humored teenage girl that hunts critters with her bow-and-arrow. Ironically, Wednesday falls in love with the preppy Lucas Beineke (played by sophomore Maxwell Mitchell), who tutors children in his free time.

Portraying the cartoon-like characters of the Addams Family takes a lot of energy from the actors. From Caitlin Lydon’s potion-mixing Grandma to Rowan Leggett’s moon-loving Uncle Fester, the characters are a motley crew of over-the-top wackiness. However unusual the roles were, each actor played his or her character with energy and conviction.

As husband and wife of the Addams family, Gomez (played by Gabriel Winkler) and Morticia’s (played by Olivia Ketler) hilarious banter and individual charisma energized the show. Also, Winkler and Ketler’s dark-witted characters contrasted perfectly with senior Maeve Bentley and junior Brendan Cullen’s portrayal of a prototypical American marriage.

The ensemble made their presence felt as well. Although they didn’t speak as much as the leads, their movements and facial expressions added to the mood of any given scene.

Just as fun and diverse as the characters were the musical numbers. “When You’re an Addams,” for instance, was like a flash mob with the entire cast dancing as one. Credit is due to choreographer, Katherine Encarnacao.

Still, songs like “Happy Sad” gave individual actors, like Anna Hoey, the opportunity to showcase their powerful singing voices.

The acting, singing, and dancing were backdropped by excellent set design and lighting. As the setting takes place entirely in and around the Addams’ residence, both the actors and stage crew were able to flip the sets between inside and outside the home. On top of the ingenious set design, the ominous lighting deepened the gothic style of the show.

House Manager Kathryn McCarthy, alongside crew members like Henry Hall, did a fantastic job of underlying the dark tone of the production.

The Addams Family showcased the quality of shows that the core group of student-actors and crew members at Milton High are capable of putting on. Director, Kevin Black, put together something special that was fun for audience members all while letting students’ talents shine. The theatre program now has its sights set on its future production of Newsies in May of 2020.

PIERCE PAGES

Our Pierce Volleyball team has just completed their second season. The Volleyball Team (and Wrestling Team) were started in the 2018/19 school year with fund raised from the parent run Pierce Golf Tournament in 2018. The Volleyball Team took on the Pierce staff as their final game of the season. Congrats to all on a hard fought, back and forth battle!

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Looking for a quick and easy way to help out at Pierce? Volunteer to bring an item or an hour of your time at the next Staff Appreciation meal on Thursday, November 14th. All details can be found here.

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Join us for the PIERCE PALS fundraiser, hosted by Milton Boot Camp, on Saturday, November 9th  –  10-11:15am. Meet at the Blue Hills Access Road. $15.00  donation to Pierce Pals, (Cash or make your check payable to Pierce PTO). Email Maureen@bootcamp.com or kconnell@miltonps.org with questions. Hope to see you there!

INSIDE OUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS 

Earning those Paws!

Cunningham 4th grade students in  Mrs. McKay and Ms. Staker’s class are embracing PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports) in their classroom with great success.

PBIS was implemented in the Milton Public Schools in the 2018/19 school year. The key to PBIS is prevention, not punishment. It seeks to proactively and consistently set out rules, routines and expectations for positive student behaviors in every school zone, and praise students when positive behaviors are exhibited. The approach uses the basic psychology tenet that humans learn best when they are rewarded for desirable behaviors.

Each school uses a school based system  to motivate students. In Mrs. McKay and Ms. Staker’s  classroom students have been earning many “Cunningham Paws” for showing expected behaviors. When students earn a paw they add a paw sticker to their card. Once they have earned 5 paws, the students can turn the card in for a Homework Pass or a Friday Friend Pass. Our students love this! The Homework Pass is good for one night without homework and the Friday Friend Pass allows them to invite a friend from another class to join the classroom for Friday stations. The excitement when they get to choose either the Homework Pass or a Friday Friend Pass is palpable and leads to more students showing expected behaviors and earning more paws. Thank you to our teachers and staff for continuing to make PBIS a crucial underlying component of a successful school environment.

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Collicot was fortunate to welcome The Bay Colony educators for an assembly this week – it was their 30th visit to Milton! Tim and Carol, a husband and wife team, bring colonial times to life for our Collicot 3rd graders. They talk about what it would have been like to live in Milton (called Miltontown) in the 1700’s. Students learn about the type of clothing, jobs, and responsibilities of men, women and children. They imagine what school was like (in a one-room schoolhouse) and what it means to be an “adult” at the time of losing their first baby tooth. Students walk away from this informative assembly with a deeper understanding and appreciation of what life was like in early Massachusetts and hopefully recognize how fortunate we are to have the many conveniences we have in today’s world.

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This Fall all 1st grade  students participated in the program “The Day the Water Stopped” presented by Meg Tabacsko of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, MWRA. The program sparked the curiosity and awareness of the importance of water in daily lives of our students. First graders imagined what life would be like if the water stopped! Students learned how patterns of temperature and precipitation can impact our water supply in the Quabbin Reservoir and movement through the water main.

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In Tucker Spanish classes this week, all grades discussed Day of the Dead, one of the most important Mexican Traditions. Students learned about the Ofrenda project and how each grade will contribute to it. All Spanish students participated in this project with 1st graders contributing marigold flowers, 2nd graders making sugar skull bags, 3rd graders working on the skull banners, 4th graders creating real mini sugar skulls and candles and our 5th graders constructing papel picado. The well known people you see in the Ofrenda were chosen by the students.

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Glover 5th graders enjoyed their time in the new MFE sponsored library Makerspace this week!

FOOD AND NUTRITION

There is a terrific opportunity for part time jobs or substitutes in our food services department. We are hiring for substitute positions at all schools. You’ll be serving healthy food to kids and be home when your kids are home due to the school schedule – what’s better than that?! This can be a great opportunity for parents and retirees and food service experience is a plus, but not required. The starting pay for the food service substitute position is $15.05 per hour. Please email Jackie Morgan or call (617-696-5040 X 5514)  for more information.

FUNDRAISING 

We are once again lucky to be partnering with the Milton Fruit Center for Schools Shopping Week November 4th-10th. All six Milton Public Schools will be benefiting from the Fruit Center’s generosity.  Here’s how you can participate:

Download a shopping voucher for your school below (you’ll need Adobe Reader). Print as many you’d like and share them with friends, family and neighbors.

Present your voucher when you make purchases at the Fruit Center Marketplace from Monday, November 4th through Sunday, November 10th. Shop as often as you’d like during that week. The Fruit Center Marketplace will donate 20% of the total purchases back to your school so stock up on your favorite Fruit Center items and help out your school! All details and vouchers can be found here.

SPECIAL EDUCATION 

The MPS  Inclusion Task Force recommends a free professional development opportunities to families. New England Yachad, in partnership with The Ruderman Family Foundation Presents: The New England Inclusion Summit 2019: Facing Isolation in Our Communities on  November 10th, 9:30am-6:30pm at The Campus @ 384 Harvard Street, Brookline. All details can be found here.

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Milton Public Schools holds periodic preschool screenings once a month and the next opportunity is November 14th. If your child is ages 3 to 5, and not yet eligible for kindergarten this message may be helpful. If you have concerns about your child’s development MPS offers screenings through the early childhood department. This screening is open to Milton Residents who have concerns related to their child’s development. If you would like to discuss this opportunity for your child, please contact Jaymne Szymczak via email.

HEALTH AND WELLNESS

Milton Public Schools Annual Flu Clinic will be held on Wednesday, November 13th from 3:00 to 5:00pm in the Pierce Middle School Cafe (enter and exit through cafe doors in front of school).  All students in grades 3 to 12 accompanied by a parent/ guardian are welcome.  Please bring your insurance card.

This clinic will have nurses from all of the Milton Public Schools in the hope to help our students have a healthy winter season and minimize the effects of the flu virus in your homes and in our schools.  Our nurses are committed to supporting the health and well being of all the students in our district and hope to see you there! For more information please see the Department of Public Health’s The Flu: a Guide for Parents.

ATHLETICS 

Thirteen students qualified for the Sectionals and States from the Swim Team. The boys 200 Medley relay not only won, but set a new meet record. They also qualified for states in the 200 free relay. Kevin Carberry made his second sectional cut. Emily Dobrindt won the 100 fly. Maggie Haley, Eliza Callahan, and Adri Halpin all qualified for states. Joe Pezzini won the 200 IM and 100 yard breaststroke, and Andrew Tran won the 100 yard backstroke. Last but not least, Swim has received the 2019 Fall Swimming and Diving Sportsmanship Award! Congratulations!

The Volleyball and Girls Soccer team lost in the first round of the tournament, both putting up great fights. The Volleyball Team lost a tie-break set to Plymouth South, while the Girls Soccer Team lost to Apponequet.

The Football Team will host Silver Lake on Friday at 7pm in the D4 South Sectional Semifinal Game.

Cross Country will travel to Wrentham Development Center for the DIII Eastern Mass Championships on Saturday, 11/9 at 11:00am.

Join the fun at the Milton High School Boosters 1st Annual Cornhole Tournament & Social
to benefit Milton High School Athletics!  All ages welcome on  Saturday, November 30th from 6pm to midnight at Florian Hall, 55 Hallet Street, Dorchester.
$40 for General Admission, $100 per team of two to play in the tournament

All pricing includes dinner and dessert. There will be a cash bar, raffles, a 50/50 and music, so grab a partner, or plan to come as a spectator! Register at miltonboosters.com,
limited tickets will be available at the door.

All game schedules can be found on our  MHS Athletics website.

NEWS AROUND TOWN

Milton’s Commission on Disability desperately needs a volunteer secretary. We’re especially in need of someone to proofread past minutes. Attending monthly meetings may be by calling in and we do not meet in the summer. This volunteer will write succinct minutes that will share important information for residents. Interested parties can call Diane DiTullio Agostino at 617-585-4546. Thank you.

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Please note that the Special Town Meeting has been moved to Monday, December 2, 2019 at 7:30pm @ Milton High School. This meeting will take place in lieu of the previously scheduled January 13, 2020 Special Town Meeting.

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The Milton Early Childhood Alliance is offering a free parent education workshop, Beyond Time Out – Positive Parenting for parents/guardians of children age 2-5 on Wednesday, December 4th. All details can be found here.

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The Milton Public Library has fantastic programs for students all month long. 

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MPS hosted nationally recognized digital safety expert Katie Greer several years ago to rave reviews. Ms. Greer is speaking locally at Dedham Country Day on November 7th on  Raising Digital Natives: What’s Now, What’s New, What’s Next? This event is free and open to the public and all details can be found here.

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Milton’s Select Board and the Town’s Airplane Noise Advisory Committee (ANAC) will be hosting an airplane noise and health meeting on Thursday, November 14th  at 7 pm at the Council on Aging located at 10 Walnut Street, Milton, MA.

This public meeting will give residents a better understanding of the growing issue of airplane noise and air pollution affecting the town and its more than 27,000 residents, the ways the town is actively fighting this issue on a local and federal level, and how residents can get involved to help propel the cause.

For more information about this issue and recent announcement, please visit the town’s website. Questions? Contact:Christine Stanton, Contract & Licensing Agent/Benefits Assistant – cstanton@townofmilton.org or Andy Schmidt, Chair, ANAC – aschmidt.email@gmail.com

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Cardinal Cushing Centers, supported by Best Buddies of Massachusetts, is excited to host its inaugural Run to Change Lives Run, Walk or Roll! The race will take place at the Cunningham Elementary School. Participants can register for a traditional 5K, or opt for a 1-Mile Walk or Roll. All abilities welcome!

Participants who raise over $50, or Teams of 10 that raise over $200, will each receive a free race t-shirt. Create or join a fundraising team to help us change lives. Our own Pierce Pals have a team – and they would love for you to join them.  Be sure to register now! 

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Brookwood Community Farm is hosting their  annual Thanksgiving Sale & Family Fun at the DCR property where they farm from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm on Sunday November 24th.   Farm veggies, fruit, honey, maple syrup, dried beans, and more will be for purchase.  We are also a site for DaSilva Farm turkey orders and Bushel & Crumb pie pickup.  This DCR property has plenty of farm roads which are great for strollers, kids bikes and walking.   We’ll have lawn games to entertain, bring a picnic or just grab a warm drink, learn more about honey bees and find a moment to just ask the farmers some questions.

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Milton Community Concerts presents “WEILL/LENYA: AN UNUSUAL LOVE STORY”, Saturday, November 23th  at 7pm, at the First Parish of Milton, 535 Canton Avenue. Recognized as one of the world’s foremost interpreters of the music of Kurt Weill, UTE GFRERER is both a singer and a storyteller in this musical exploration of the remarkable love story between Weill and Lotte Lenya. With Timothy Steele, pianist. $20 general/$15 senior/free for 18 and under (at the door only). Visit miltoncommunityconcerts.com for more details.

AMBASSADORS

As part of our E-blast, we highlight students, teachers or members of the community whose hard work deserves recognition.  Please read about some of their accomplishments below:

STAFF, STUDENTS AND VOLUNTEERS: Last week, Milton High School Theater presented the The Addams Family at Milton High School to rave reviews. I can share from personal experience that this show had it all – talented students on stage and behind the scenes, dedicated adults supporting our students, a vibrant script and score and thousands of engaged audience members over four shows. Bravo to all involved in this latest production!

Please join me in thanking our MPS staff  who helped to bring the Addams Family to life on our stage, our talented cast who entertained us all weekend, our exceptional crew who gave us four seamless performances and our many volunteers who contributed to this success in a multitude of ways.

BLOG SUBSCRIPTION

If you do not receive the Superintendent’s Weekly Update and would like to, please enter your email here to subscribe to this one weekly email.

Thank you to my blog contributors this week: Noel Vigue, Kevin Black, AJ Melanson, Ellen Lohan, Zeina Hamada, Laura Serna, Dr. Elaine McNeil-Girmai, Ryan Madden, Marti O’Keefe McKenna, Dawn Sykes, Jackie Morgan, Karen McDavitt, Bernadette Butler, Kim Coughlin, Martine Fisher, Noel Vigue and Karen Cahill.

The Milton Public School system does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, gender identity, transgender status, gender transitioning, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its programs, activities or operations. These include, but are not limited to, admissions, equal access to programs and activities, employment, provision of and access to programs and services, as well as selection of volunteers, vendors and employers recruiting at the Milton Public Schools.  We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, students, volunteers, subcontractors, and vendors. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Human Resources, 617-696-4812

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