November 1, 2018

From: Mary C. Gormley
To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: November 1st, 2018

FROM THE DESK OF THE SUPERINTENDENT

Adults and children are questioning and bewildered by the murders of eleven worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, and the murders of two elderly African American people at a grocery store in Louisville, Kentucky, by an individual who first attempted to enter a nearby church. As partners in your children’s education, we are committed to providing them with the time and resources necessary for them to begin to make sense of the hate-based tragedy that is sadly becoming increasingly a part of the national and global discourse that surrounds them.

Facing History and Ourselves, a nonprofit, international, educational, and professional development organization, contends that as “hate” becomes an “issue of global concern,” we, as Americans, “must consider what these troubling events suggest about the current state of the country and the future of this diverse democracy.” In keeping with its mission to “engage students…in an examination of racism, prejudice, and anti-Semitism…to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry,” Facing History and Ourselves reminds us that “If we don’t make the time to talk about these events, we risk normalizing them.”

Among the many suggestions they offer, they encourage us first to reflect upon how we, ourselves, have been affected by the tragedy and how we are processing it. They also explain that media coverage in the aftermath of murder is complex and ever-changing. We must take this into account as we engage our students, and find ways to teach them that facts can change. Our classrooms must be safe spaces for children to share their feelings, and most importantly, as educators, we should discuss with our students “positive ways” they as individuals and we as a community can respond to promote “inclusive norms and values.”

In our schools and classrooms, this work has already begun and is ongoing. We are committed to educating our staff and students with educational opportunities that provide this time, so that we never “risk normalizing” hatred and murder.  Discovering Justice is a literacy-based social studies curriculum that is taught in every one of our elementary classrooms. This curriculum provides students with the tools to understand sophisticated ideas such as democracy, tolerance, rights, responsibilities, and the connection between rules and law through literature. Our 4thgrade curriculum specifically fosters the e pluribus unum (“out of many, one”) ideals by teaching students to recognize the strength of our national diversity. At the Pierce Middle School, representatives from the Anti-Defamation League are currently training 7thand 8thgrade students to visit 6thgrade classrooms and present lessons specifically focused on teaching and promoting tolerance. On Friday, November 2nd, the Pierce Middle School Student Government will lead its 2ndAnnual March for Peace. Finally, students’ experience both in and out of the classroom at Milton High School is rich with opportunity to celebrate the school’s diversity. Directly and indirectly, students engage topics in their humanities classes meant to identify and mitigate social bias and prejudice and scrutinize information they consume via a variety of media. The plethora of after school clubs and activities at Milton High afford students the opportunity both to learn about new social groups and find comfort in groups of peers with similar backgrounds and experiences.

In addition to the continued work we do in our schools, students and families can also seek support from the Milton community at large. School Committee Member Ada Rosmarin has shared the following suggestions posted by the Fred Rogers Center:

  • When children feel angry and afraid, it helps them to “look for the helpers” so that they can see that there are people who will help keep them safe.
  • Children need to know that it is alright to feel sad, angry or afraid, and that talking to a grownup can help them feel better.
  • When possible, limit children’s (and our own) access to televised reruns of the event. Children may have a hard time distinguishing between what is real and pretend and what is happening in real time versus what is a repeat of past events. They may think that there is more than one event or that it continues to happen.
  • Children often seek outlets for their anger and fear. Drawing about their mad feelings and playing about their fears is one way that they express themselves. Using a puppet to talk about things can sometimes make it easier.
  • Spending time together as families and community can be a healing experience, so take some time to be together with family, friends, and neighbors.

Milton’s Interfaith Clergy Association and Rabbi Alfred Benjamin from Congregation Beth Shalom of the Blue Hills offer the following invitation:

In the aftermath of the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the Milton Interfaith Clergy Association invites, indeed calls, all in our community to gather in witness and solidarity with our Jewish neighbors on Saturday, November 3 at 11:45 am at Congregation Beth Shalom of the Blue Hills. This will be our local expression of the global Jewish advocacy group, AJC’s #ShowUpForShabbat campaign, calling on both Jews and non-Jews to fill synagogues this coming weekend.

We will gather at the entrance to the synagogue, located off Lodge Street in Milton, for a brief statement of purpose led by representatives from MICA and local leadership and then form a wide arc of protection and love around the front of the building. When the synagogue’s Shabbat service concludes at 12 noon we will be welcomed with songs, readings and prayers.  Everyone will then be invited inside for the traditional blessings offered over wine and challah bread that conclude the service.  Light refreshments will also be served.

Congregation Beth Shalom of the Blue Hills and the Milton Interfaith Clergy Association issue this invitation and call as a statement of defiance and resolve.  Defiance against those who seek to sow fear in the Jewish community and resolve that the America we believe in is a country that respects and embraces diversity.

Please note backpacks or large purses will not be allowed in the building. Ample parking is available nearby at St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church, 350 Reedsdale Road.

As AJC CEO David Harris declared in the hours after Saturday’s tragedy, “The community of conscience must stand as one, whether in the face of the hate-motivated attack against a black church in Charleston, which took nine lives, or a synagogue in Pittsburgh, which took eleven lives. We are determined to ensure that love triumphs over hate, good over evil, unity over division. That’s our America.”

We in the Milton Public Schools are proud of our growing diversity.  It defines us. When we read and hear about the hate-driven murders of innocent citizens like those in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, or in Pittsburgh just last week, we are not only saddened and shaken because these events tear at the fabric of our collective humanity, but also because we know that individual students and families in our school community, because of their backgrounds, share a personal connection with the victims of these atrocities. We work daily to promote a system of schools that not only mentors and counsels students through challenges they face in the wake of hate-based violence, and provides space and time for them to process, but also one that educates students to be proactive, positive agents for change.

PARENT SPEAKER SERIES

On November 6th, at Pierce Middle School, Casey Corcoran will present Healthy Relationships: Talking to Your Kids about the Birds, the Bees, AND the Butterflies with Casey Corcoran.  This presentation will focus on concrete strategies, conversation starters, and resources that parents and caregivers can use with their kids to promote healthy relationships. As the Center for Disease Control points out, “unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime.” Casey previously worked at the Boston Public Health Commission as the director of the Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships Initiative. He received his M.A.T. from Trinity College and is a certified batterer/dating violence intervention counselor. I hope you will join us at Pierce for this important presentation. 

SCHOOL COMMITTEE

There has not been a School Committee meeting since my last blog post. The next School Committee meeting and site visit will be at Glover on November 7th. The focus of the Glover site visit will be space, facilities, enrollment, SEL and PBIS. All are welcome to attend. School Committee meetings can be watched On Demand on Milton Access Television at any time.

HIGH SCHOOL HAPPENINGS

Students on the School to Careers field trip had the opportunity to visit Boston Children’s Hospital on Thursday, October 25.  MHS teacher Larry Jordan accompanied the students and writes the following. Our students were able to hear from a panel of 11 employees from Children’s Hospital. Employees represented different departments in the hospital and their careers ranged from social work, family support, finance, nursing and operations.  The panelists discussed their career path, courses that can be helpful for those interested in careers in health care, and what their daily responsibilities are. Our students were engaged and thankful for the opportunity to participate in this learning experience.

MHS student Arianna Simpson shares that “the experience of visiting Boston Children’s Hospital expanded my knowledge of the Medical Field. The amazing panelists shared specifics about how they accomplished their career paths as well as the work it took to accomplish their current job. Through their sharing of different professions, each panelists described how their original dream job was not what they ended up pursuing. In fact, the panelists mentioned how through all the great times and not so nice times, they felt extremely happy about where they currently are today. I would definitely recommend this eye-opening event to the younger scholars because it allows you to see where you can be, as well as the different things you can do in the medical field”. 

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Save the date for the upcoming MHS guidance event, College Information/Post Secondary Planning night at Milton High on Thursday, Dec 6th  at 6pm. 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, and Naviance. We look forward to seeing you Wednesday, Dec 6th at 6pm. This workshop is open to all parents/guardians & students in any grade level.

PIERCE UPDATES

The 1st Annual March for Peace, November 2017

The Pierce Middle School Student Council will be leading its 2nd annual “March For Peace” on Friday afternoon, November 2nd, starting in the school’s back parking lot at 2:45.  We are asking for your support by showing up and marching with us as we celebrate the theme of the day: Peace and Love. This is not a protest, nor a political statement, but rather a gentle reminder that we live in a world where all humans can coexist peacefully.

Please help us by spreading the word, showing up, and walking from Pierce Middle School, up to the Town Hall Gazebo (with a police escort) and listening to our Town’s youth share their words of wisdom through song and brief messages. Light refreshments will be served after the event. 

8th grader teacher Erin Power shared her student  Sophie Kosiba’s poem with me, and I think it’s appropriate to share with you this week. The poem is Sophia’s version of Maya Angelou’s, “A Brave and Startling Truth,” which she wrote for the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations. The United Nations came into being in 1945, following the devastation of the Second World War, with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. The UN does this by working to prevent conflict; helping parties in conflict make peace; peacekeeping; and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish.

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The inaugural  season of the Pierce Volleyball team ended with 8 wins and 3 losses. The team capped off the season with a great game against the Pierce staff!  Thanks to Coach Rhodes and all who supported the Play FORE Pierce Golf Tournament which made our Volleyball team possible. 

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The Pierce 8th grade is busy planning for the 8th grade Washington DC trip! This year we have more students than ever before signed up to go.  We are thrilled about that as it is important to us that everyone who wants to go-does go. That said, we now have a lot of fundraising to do for the DC Scholarship Fund. This fund provides critical support to families in need so that their children can participate in this amazing opportunity and have lifelong memories too.  

Our first Pierce Movie Night in support of the DC Scholarship Fund will take place on Friday, November 2, at 6:30 PM. We will be showing the movie, “Black Panther”. The suggested donation to attend is $10.00. This night is open to Pierce Middle School students only. This is a drop off event and there will be  a small concession stand. If this night is successful, we will plan another Pierce Movie Night the following month. Finally, if you would like to donate directly to the Pierce Middle School DC Scholarship Fund, you can just send in a check made out to the Pierce PTO with “DC Scholarship” in the notes section.

INSIDE OUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

A few weeks ago we shared that Mrs. Walsh’s Cunningham 2nd graders built their own town, called Walshville, which contained many of the buildings and businesses found around Milton. Over the past few weeks, real life “Walshville” residents have been invited to visit the classroom and share about their jobs and roles within the community. The 2nd graders have been thrilled to welcome “their” person into the classroom. In addition to those pictured, the 2nd grade got a visit from Miss Sara the MPS librarian and will welcome Tim the mailman, Mrs. Doyle from the Nutshell and the Milton Animal Control Officer. Thank you to all who visited Walshville!

Aidan Stock from Collicot asks his question.

On Thursday October 25, our 4th graders from each elementary school were treated to a special field trip to Gillette Stadium for the New England Revolution 4th Grade Fitness Day!  It was a brisk fall day with sunny blue skies as our students took their spots on the field. They were lead through a series of exercises by the Revs training staff and then ate their lunch in the stands while listening to Revs goalkeeper Matt Turner and defender Jalil Anibaba, speak about the importance of staying healthy with proper exercise and nutrition.  Some students were randomly selected to ask the players questions. It was a day they won’t forget with the players personally answer their questions and giving autographs. Thank you to our PTOs for their support.

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It’s not over just because Hamilton has sung! Tucker announces a new Bonus Raffle: A Night on the Town featuring dinner at MJ O’Connors, 1 night stay at the Park Plaza including valet parking and breakfast for two. There are still over $3,000 in prizes. Take a chance to win! Tickets can be purchased until November 30th at www.tuckerpto.com/raffle

UPCOMING MPS DATES

Nov 1, 3, 4   MHS Les Miserables
Nov 6  Parent Speaker Series-Casey Corcoran
Nov 7  Milton School Committee Meeting
Nov 8  Early Release (Grades K-12), PT Conferences Gr 6-12 Only
Nov 12  No School Veterans Day
Nov 15  MHS Fall Cabaret
Nov 17  Eastern District Sr. Auditions

The full calendar can be found here.

MPS EVENTS – Les Miserables

Les Miserables is here! There are four shows: Thursday, November 1 at 7pm; Saturday, November 3 at 2pm and 7pm; and Sunday, November 4 at 2pm.  Tickets ($10) are available at the door and at the MHS main office during school hours. They are also available online until two hours before the performance begins. This promotional video tells you all you need to know – and won’t want to miss – about Les Mis! 

SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING

District’s SEL Facilitator Laurie Stillman, has adapted an informative article, appearing in the South Shore’s Youth Connection newsletter, to help parents understand how promoting Resilience and Grit in their children are key predictors for their success. I hope you also find the content as beneficial as I did. You can read Laurie Stillman’s important article here. 

TECHNOLOGY

YES! You can still sign the “Wait Until 8th” pledge, even if you want your child to have a basic phone that calls and texts or a “smart” watch (with phone and GPS capabilities). The basic phone and “smart” watch avoid many of the distractions and dangers of the smartphone.  

Find your smartphone alternatives here.  The link also provides more information on why Milton Public Schools supports waiting until students are in 8th grade to provide them with a smartphoneBy banding together as a community, this campaign will decrease the pressure felt by kids and parents alike. Childhood is too short to waste on a smartphone. Take the pledge here

FUNDRAISING

We are once again lucky to be partnering with the Milton Fruit Center for Schools Shopping Week November 5th-11th. 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 5th through Sunday, November 11th. 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!

Collicot    Cunningham     Glover     Tucker     Pierce Middle School     Milton High School

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We are now in the last week of our fair trade fundraiser to benefit the Band. Sincere thanks if you have already placed an order but if not, now is the time to purchase a variety of fair trade holiday gifts and other fair trade products! Please consider making a purchase as we are a self-funded group that has doubled in size over the past three years. We rely on fundraisers and donations to run the program. The Marching Wildcats will receive 25% of product sales.

Please go to FairTradeCaravans.com; Log in to our fundraising event with “Participant Code” MarchingWildcats to participate in the fundraiser; Fill your shopping cart ; Check out and include your Fundraising Representative – the name of your student or staff member that will help us get your order to you (use Rebecca Damiani if you don’t know a member of the band or email Ms. Damiani if you  have questions). All orders will be delivered to MHS the week of November 26th. Thank you for your support!

 From production to purchase, fair trade is model of ethical, sustainable trade that puts people and planet first, so please share this fundraising opportunity with your friends and family!

MILTON FOUNDATION FOR EDUCATION

Almost 1000 runners came out for the 20th Annual Monster Dash last Sunday. The Monster Dash supports science in our 6 schools and is held each year in loving memory of Sam Cichello. In addition to the 5k, families enjoyed the fun run, kids activities, science experiments, and more. We look forward to the science enrichment that will benefit our students from the proceeds of the Monster Dash. Thank you to the MFE and to John Gillooly for some of the terrific photos below. 

NEWS AROUND TOWN

Tonight:

Milton Historical Society’s  is offering “Till We Meet Again – Songs of World War I” on Thursday,  November 1st.

Next weekend:

The Bradley, Eustis, and Wakefield Estates will show off their fall colors during the  2nd Annual Blue Hills Great Estates Fall Foliage Weekend.

Comfort Zone Camp is having a Holiday Family Day program in Weymouth on Saturday, November 10th from 12-4pm. Comfort Zone supports families who have experienced the death of a loved one.   

Later in November:

I encourage you to read this note from Debbie Alsebai,  one of the members of Courageous Conversations towards Racial Justice.  Courageous Conversations is hosting educator Debby Irving, author of Waking Up White: And Finding Myself In The Story of Race , a book widely considered to be an essential text on how to unpack racial privilege in the American context. Please join many of your friends and neighbors  for a conversation with Debby Irving,  Monday, November 19th 6-9pm at Milton High School. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

 

Brookwood Community Farm  will hold a Thanksgiving Sale on Sunday, November 18 from 11-2pm. Pick up locally grown veggies for your Thanksgiving Feast! Brookwood’s annual sale includes pre-ordered Harvest Boxes, Turkeys & Pies! This year enjoy kids activities, free warm drinks, self-guided scavenger hunt and more!

Also at Brookwood Farm there will be an Apple Pie Class with Chef Clare Garland on Sunday, November 18 2:30-4:30. Make your own perfect pastry crust and take home a delectable unbaked apple pie! Learn from pastry chef Clare Garland from the Ashmont Grill. Ages 14+.

The Milton Historical Society presents local author, furniture conservator and scholar Robert Mussey Jr. to discuss his book he co-authored with Clark Pearse, “Rather Elegant Than Showy: The Classical Furniture of Isaac Vose.” The lecture will be held on Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 7pm  at the Milton Public Library, 476 Canton Ave. The event is free and open to the public. The library is also a co-sponsor.   Although virtually forgotten for approximately 200 years, Milton Village native Isaac Vose built a substantial business empire in Boston and made furniture for the most prominent Boston families. 

Ongoing:

The Milton Public Library has great programs for children all month long

The Commission on Disability needs you! Whether you’re a parent, teacher or a student over the age of eighteen, Milton needs you to serve on the Commission to assist those who are living with disabilities enjoy all that Milton has to offer.  As a Commissioner or even as a Friend of the Commission, your eyes and ears are needed to bring awareness to:

  • accessibility needs for all people with various disabilities, not just those in need of ramps
  • unsafe sidewalks and roadways to prevent disabling incidents from occurring
  • reach out to family, friends and neighbors to assist with their needs.

Commissioners may call in to the once a month meetings which are under two hours. Friends of the Commission may submit their thoughts, needs or concerns to the Commission and volunteer to help with anything from picking up a small bag of groceries to shoveling a walkway.  Please contact Diane DiTullio Agostino, Chair of the Commission on Disability, via phone  617-698-8232 or email with questions. 

ATHLETICS

It’s a big weekend of MHS Tournament Events in the coming days.  Cheer qualified for States at their Bay State League competition on Tuesday.  Swim will compete in their Sectionals on Sunday.  Football beat Westwood so they will host Hopkinton on Friday.  Weather does not look good, so anticipate changes. See below for events this weekend.

Thursday 11/1: Volleyball @ Apponequet Regional HS 5:15pm

Friday 11/2: Girls Soccer @ Medfield HS 3:00pm, Football v Hopkinton HS 7:00pm

Saturday 11/3: Cross Country @ Wrentham Development Center, 1:15pm Girls, 1:45pm Boys

Sunday 11/4: Swim Sectionals @ Wellesley 9:30am, Boys Soccer @ Nauset HS 5:00pm

Go ‘Cats!

The MHS Boys Basketball team will be hosting a “Cans for Cats” can/bottle drive on Saturday, November 3rd,  9:00 am – 12:00 pm at Milton High School. 

Please see the Milton Wildcats website for schedules, rosters, and updates!

 

AMBASSADOR PAGE

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:

Students:  Will Korman, Chair of the MFE Board, reached out on behalf of the Monster Dash team  to thank the MHS student leaders for stepping up and populating not just one or two, but all three of the  water stations during last weekend’s race. Runners were pleased with the stops and as importantly, at the end of the race the area around each station was virtually spotless! These outstanding young men and women are a tribute to the Milton Public Schools and our town. 

Thank you to my blog contributors this week:  Jon Redden, Karen Spaulding, Elaine McNeil- Girmai, James Jette, John Gillooly, AJ Melanson, Noel Vigue, Ryan Madden, Rebecca Damiani, Nick Fitzgerald, Karen Cahill, Joe Dolan, Erin Power, Tanya Walsh, Jake Smith, Laurie Stillman, Christie Chiappetta, Debbie Alsebai, Ellen Lohan, Will Korman, Amy Tom, Jen Rhodes, Dawn Sykes, Joyce White, Ada Rosmarin, Rabbi Alfred Benjamin, Larry Jordan, Arianna Simpson and Kevin Black.

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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