November 8, 2018

From: Mary C. Gormley
To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: November 8, 2018


The Wait Until 8th campaign in the Milton Public Schools is off to a robust start. One of the leading digital safety experts in North America, Katie Greer, is a proponent of the Wait Until 8th campaign and writes, “This is such a fantastic, organic campaign that is creating pressure of a different kind that communities can get behind. It’s taking the pressure off of parents to conform to getting their kids smartphones at a super young age, and allowing parents to come together to make an informed choice about when their kids can have their own. Oftentimes parents admit that this choice isn’t theirs, but it’s forced upon them, so if enough in the community vow to hold off until 8th grade, then the decision is put back in the hands of the parents, who know their kids best. The research backing the Wait Until 8th Campaign (around addiction and the complexity of these devices) is broad, and I wish more communities would adopt this fantastic campaign.”

Pew Research Center released the following alarming statistics: The average age a student gets a smartphone is 10 years old; children are spending between 6 and 9 hours a day on media; 95% of teens have smartphones ; 45% of teens say they are online “almost constantly” ; 24% report social media has had a negative effect on their life.  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 and parental controls 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 smartphone.

Having spent my career as an educator, I know that if  parents/guardians sign the Wait Until 8th pledge and delay giving their children a smartphone, your children will read more for pleasure which will have a direct and positive correlation to improving their academic achievement and increasing their vocabulary.  By 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!


There has been one School Committee meeting since my last blog post. The School Committee held their meeting and site visit at Glover on November 7th. The focus of the successful Glover site visit was space, facilities, enrollment, SEL and PBIS. School Committee meetings can be watched On Demand on Milton Access Television at any time.


Did you hear the people sing?  Because the cast of Les Mis hit all the right notes!  Last weekend, Milton High School welcomed over 2,500 audience members to the fall musical production of LES MISÉRABLES.  In an incredibly successful four-show run, audiences were transported to 19th century France to follow the heartbreaking, life story of Jean Valjean (Prisoner #24601).  An inspiring performance of whirlwind of emotion prompted those in attendance to declare,“ Best musical, yet!”

Thanks to Wildcat News you can see and hear some of the Milton Public Schools talent on display last weekend. A round of applause to Directors Kevin Black, Katherine Encarnacao, Preston Pero and the team of incredibly dedicated parents and guardians who made the production such a success!  Congratulations to the cast, crew and orchestra on 4 amazing performances!


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.    


Coding to win!

Over the last 4 weeks, students in Mrs. Magill’s computer classes have been able to work on the Cyber Robotic Coding Challenge Bootcamp in preparation for the actual competition which started Monday, November 5th. In Coding Bootcamp,  students learned how to control a robot on the screen by using block code. We have had 119 students who completed 10 or more Bootcamp missions and the Pierce Middle School is in 3rd place out of 28 schools for overall points  in the Qualifiers! We hope to score enough points to move on to the Finals. We had a visit from the people who run the coding competition on Tuesday 11/6. They spoke with some of our 7th graders to find out what they liked about the competition and get suggestions for future competitions and we were happy to hear they were impressed with the students’ work so far. Wish us luck on the road to the finals!


Running for Senate in  2038? Maybe!

8th graders at Pierce were treated to a great Midterm Election week experience as each team experienced a senate immersion program at the Edward Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.  Two teams explored the issue of Immigration Reform while another team focused on a path forward for the Patriot Act. Students heard from State Representative Bill Driscoll before swearing in as United States Senators.  Each student was given a Senate profile, heard from experts on the issue – and debated what action should be taken. All staff returned impressed by the poise and active participation of our 8th graders and students returned appreciative of the experience.  Thank you to the Pierce PTO for helping make this amazing opportunity a reality.  


The Pierce Student Council held its 2nd Annual Peace March on Friday, November 2nd. Over 60 children and 20 plus adults began in the back lot, readied their signs, and marched to Town Hall- all in the name of peace. Thank you to the Milton Police Department for supporting us, our students were made to feel so special by our men and women in blue. Members of Student Council learned first-hand what it takes to plan such an event, including acquiring a permit and reaching out to local organizations to join them. The event was entirely student driven and designed. A special thank you to Mr. Dolan, Mr. Smith, and Ms. Percuoco, our Student Council advisers for supporting these student leaders!  


Our 6th graders are enjoying Mr. Romeo’s Lego Robotics PASS Class.  Many of these students have limited robotics experience, but they are exploring the materials and teaching themselves how to build and program the robots. We hope to see this PASS Class is grow and into a program that extends the work with the competitive teams happening at some of the elementary schools. 


Thank you to the Tucker Trainers !

We would like to recognize our parent volunteers for their outstanding efforts and valuable time spent organizing the before-school exercise program BOKS (Build Our Kids Success) at our elementary schools. In addition to the Tucker Trainers, Sita Cochran, Zee Mutyora, Meena Tondravi, Keith Schleicher, Brendan Bartlet, Gail Trachtenberg, Kim Johnson and Andrea Butterfield Robert (some of whom are pictured at left), thank you to Heather Bergin and Eric Kelly for running a terrific fall program at Collicot!

BOKS is a before-school exercise program that launched in October 2009. BOKS is a grassroots program, lead by parent volunteers that looks to get kids moving, teach simple nutrition lessons and reinforce healthy behaviors taught in health and physical education classes.  It’s a wonderful example of school community working to help students be their best.

School districts across the country are seeing the results and looking to provide more opportunities for students to be physically active and help prepare their brains to learn, Milton is no exception.  Standardized test findings from BOKS builds the case that physical activity engagement can actually support learning and that increased physical activity involvement positions children to be more ready and alert for learning experiences.  BOKS is a great example of some of the initiatives that we are exploring, as we look to find more options for students to be physically active and improve academic performance. Thank you to all our BOKS parent/guardian volunteers for providing this opportunity.  If you’re interested in learning more or volunteering for BOKS, please contact MPS Health/PE director Noel Vigue.


Mrs. Hyde’s Cunningham 4th graders got a taste of election day excitement this week as they worked on their Classroom 312 ballot initiative –  Should students turn in a lost BAM? What’s a BAM?  BAM stands for BeAMazing! Students in Ms. Hyde’s class get small pompoms(BAMs) for acts of kindness, working hard, and generally just being amazing. Occasionally a BAM falls on the floor and the students all have different opinions on what someone should do if they find a “lost BAM.” Since the question has come up several times in class, Ms. Hyde turned it into a ballot initiative and modeled some democracy in action. Students considered the question, came up with pros and cons, tried to persuade others to see their perspective, and then voted. It was a 10-12 result with the “No on 1” vote winning. So now we have new classroom legislation that students are not required to turn in a lost BAM. They can attempt to find the owner and keep it if the owner cannot be found. Democracy in action! 


At Collicot they are saving paper one morning at a time!  In Ms. Tran’s Kindergarten classroom, students practice various skills every morning such as drawing shapes, writing numbers, and spelling sight words. In order to cut down on paper waste, worksheets are put into plastic sleeves. Students can then complete work with dry erase markers and wipe it clean with a pom pom for the next day. Art teacher Mrs. Bernini also used transparencies that were used for overhead projectors in artwork for Veteran’s Day.


It’s not over after 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


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
Nov 19  Waking up White Author Presentation
Nov 21-23  Thanksgiving Day Recess
Nov 26  Jessica Minahan, Stressed Out-Reducing Anxiety in Children

The full calendar can be found here.


Dr. Casey Corcoran

Thank you to all who attended Dr. Casey Corcoran’s presentation this week. Dr. Corcoran was engaging and presented thought provoking and valuable information.  In addition to hearing from Dr.
Corcoran, audience members were treated to a skit presented by 3 members of the PMS peer leadership team. Caroline Duffy, Mallory Hughes and Emily King were part of a group of students who attended a training through  DOVE on healthy relationships and abuse prevention this summer. These students did a great job soliciting 8 volunteers from the audience, presenting the scene as well as leading a brief discussion following the skit. It was a very powerful example of skills-based health education (advocacy for self, friend, family or community, interpersonal communication, and decision-making).  

Our next speaker is Jessica Minahan, M.Ed, BCBA who will present Stressed Out! Reducing Anxiety in Children. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that one in four, 13-18 year olds has had an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Without intervention, these children are at risk for poor performance, diminished learning, and social/behavior problems in school. This presentation will introduce preventive tools, strategies, and interventions for reducing anxiety, increasing self-regulation, executive functioning, and self-monitoring. Jessica Minahan, MEd, BCBA, is a board-certified behavior analyst and special educator and a consultant to schools nationwide. Jessica has over 17 years of experience supporting students who exhibit challenging behavior in public school systems.


Many of our Glover students participated in the Create the Change Day in Boston this past weekend. This was an amazing opportunity to give back to the greater community and kids in need with families joining  Project Giving Kids for the third annual Create the Change Day Boston at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center.  Projects will benefit local nonprofits including Hope and Comfort, Rosie’s Place, MSPCA, Room To Grow, and more.  


Cunningham 2nd grader Sophia started doing a sock drive for the homeless when she was just 4.  This is her 4th year and she hopes to be able to deliver over 1000 pairs of warm socks to Boston’s homeless men and women. It’s easy to donate – drop your socks into the donation bin in the lobby of Cunningham or the front porches of  3 Phyllis Lane or 178 Lyman Road.

Have a new or gently used winter coat you would like to pass on to someone in need? You can drop it to the collection bin in the lobby of Cunningham. It will be dry cleaned and given to someone who can use a warm coat this winter!


3rd grade Collicot students in Ms. McDermott’s class were inspired to serve their community by Unit 1 in Reach for Reading, which focused on kindness. They decided to make quilts in class and donate them to children in need. The texts that inspired them were “The quilt maker’s journey” and ” The quilt maker’s dream.” Students were so motivated, they gave up their recess to make the quilts! 


The SEPAC will be hosting a Basic Right’s Workshop on November 28th at 7:00 in the library at Tucker Elementary School. They will also hold a brief board meeting at 6:30 prior to the presentation. Both are free and open to the public. 


Does your student need a flu shot? You’re in luck! Our Annual Student Flu Clinic is Wednesday, November 14th from 3-5pm (please no early arrivals) at the Pierce Cafe (enter and exit through the cafe in the front of the building). All students in Grades 3-12, accompanied by their parent/guardian are welcome and encouraged to get their flu shot at the clinic. Please bring your insurance card.


Milton Public Schools strives to ensure all students are college and career ready.  According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, “Employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.”  Plus, more than seventy-eight percent of Milton High School alumni report they submit seventy-five to one hundred percent of college assignments electronically.  

With this information in mind,  along with the successful implementation of BYOD at MHS, Pierce Middle School is planning for the implementation of 1:1 Chromebooks for the 2019-20 academic school year.  The Milton Public Schools has submitted a request to purchase nine hundred Chromebooks through capital funds for next year. If this request is funded, Pierce will be a 1:1 school next year.  Unlike BYOD, in this 1:1 environment, the new devices will be stored in a Chromebook cart in all of the core subject classrooms for students to use during class time. The Chromebooks will stay inside each classroom and not be available for students to use at home.  Currently, Pierce has twelve Chromebook carts. These carts will be available for the World Language and elective teachers. Read more about this initiative here. 


There is a terrific opportunity for part time jobs 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 pays $15.05 per hour and substitute jobs often lead to permanent jobs. Please email Jackie Morgan or call (617-696-5040 X 5514) for more information.


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


This 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.   

Next weekend:

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+.

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.

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.


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. Please contact Diane DiTullio Agostino, Chair of the Commission on Disability, via phone  617-698-8232 or email with questions.


The Football Team is in the South Sectional Semifinals.  They play @ Dighton Rehoboth on Friday November 9th at 7pm.

The Swim Team has several students swimming in the sectional tournament at MIT on Sunday, 11/11. The results from last week are available here.  

The Cross Country Team travels to the Wrentham Development Center on Saturday for their Regional Meet.

We are happy to announce our Milton High School Athletes of the Month for October!

Jared Carney Senior, Golf

Jared was voted a Bay State Conference First Team All-Star.  He shot a 73 (Tied for 3rd) at the Bay State Conference Tournament; he shot a 79 at MIAA D2 South Sectional Championships and he qualified for D2 State Championships at Marshfield Country Club where he finished tied for 27th out of over 200 golfers in Division II.  He was also a part of the Milton High School Golf Team that won the Division II Team Sportsmanship Award for 2018!  

Mary O’Connell Senior, Field Hockey

Mary just missed out on being named Athlete-of-the-Month for September, receiving an honorable mention nod. Since then, she has been voted a 1st Team All-Star for Field Hockey in the Bay State League. She faced over 400 shots this year and her saving average was 87%, increasing in the month of October. She had an incredible season this year, keeping the team in close games right until the end. In her coach’s words, “she was the heart of the field hockey team”.

Honorable Mentions: Tim Cummings, Senior, Boys Soccer; Megan Kelly, Senior, Volleyball

Look for a fall sports wrap up in the coming weeks.  Winter Registration is open and tryouts begin the Monday after Thanksgiving. Please see the Milton Wildcats website for schedules, rosters, and updates!


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: It is my pleasure to announce that Hokulani Panerio-Langer has been chosen to be this year’s Project 351 8th grade ambassador.  Hoku will participate in a year of service and leadership with other 8th graders chosen from the 351 towns and cities in Massachusetts.  Hoku has a genuine intellectual curiosity that is rarely seen in students her age. She so earnestly wants to learn everything that she can, both in her classes and about the world around her. She is kind to all her peers and radiates a positive influence to all.  Hoku always tackles a challenge, in fact she actively enjoys opportunities to learn, to help others, and to work hard. Last year, in the Model UN club, she was a star. She won several awards at conferences, including “best delegate,” (the highest honor) as a seventh grader at a conference with high school students! Hoku is a student with strong academic aptitude and a willingness to work hard.  She is truly genuine in all that she pursues and will make an outstanding Project 351 Ambassador. Congratulations, Hoku! 

Thank you to my blog contributors this week:  Jon Redden, Holly Concannon, Karen Spaulding, Elaine McNeil- Girmai, Karen McDavitt, James Jette, AJ Melanson, Noel Vigue, Ryan Madden,  Karen Cahill, Joe Dolan, Jake Smith, Dawn Sykes, Jackie Morgan, Joyce White, Marti McKenna,  Kevin Black, Deanna McGill, Lisa Veldran, Emily Hyde and Margaret Gibbons.

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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