January 10th, 2019

From: Mary C. Gormley
To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: January 10, 2019

FROM THE DESK OF THE SUPERINTENDENT

On Wednesday January 2nd, the Milton School Committee welcomed Carl Franceschi and Paul Moore from Drummy Rosane Anderson (DRA) to present preliminary findings and potential solutions on our space and enrollment issue. The presentation was informative and interactive as School Committee members discussed possible solutions. I urge all Milton residents to take the time to watch the recorded version of the meeting, which is available on Milton Access TV. The powerpoint presentation can be found here.

At the Wednesday, January 16th School Committee Meeting, there will be an extended Citizens Speak on Space as well as a follow up presentation by DRA with more details and preliminary budget estimates associated with various proposals. This meeting is at 7pm and will be held at Milton High School.

On Wednesday, January 23rd at 7pm, there will be an Open Forum on Space during the School Committee meeting. All are invited to attend and participate. The January 23rd School Committee meeting will be held in the Cunningham School Library. Please note that unlike Citizens Speak, the Open Forum will allow the opportunity for an exchange between citizens and Milton School Committee members.

I have asked current School Committee member Ada Rosmarin, who was involved in the Milton School Building project that began in 2001 to share some thoughts below. Ms. Rosmarin, who is the Chair of the Facilities Advisory Committee  can be reached via email at any time.

The Glover groundbreaking ceremony

Back in 2001, my family had a 2nd grader and 4th grader at the Glover School, and a 6th grader at Pierce.  Our kids were happy, but the Milton Schools were crowded and crumbling. Through some skilled advocacy by our legislators, Milton qualified for 90% reimbursement from the State School Building Authority, Milton voters (after 3 tries) said YES, and the school building project was in full swing.  The children and staff all wore hard hats for the many groundbreaking ceremonies across town, as school by school, we renovated and rebuilt our schools. We all withstood the multiple transitions to swing space, construction noise and dirt, because we knew that our schools were going to become brand new and wonderful.  One of the strings attached to the 90% state funding was that we could only build for the current enrollment at the time.

Fast forward to 2017, my kids have all graduated from MHS and college and are all off living their lives.  I wanted to make a contribution to the town that has done so much for our family, so I ran for and was elected as a School Committee member.  

During the years between the end of our last school building project (2008) and today, our town’s population has changed.  We built the schools and they came. Seniors began selling their homes and moving on. Despite the rising cost of housing, young families moved in, attracted by the town’s beauty, amenities, its proximity to Boston, and great schools.  

Our school enrollment has grown in the last 10 years to the point that we are now housing 5 elementary schools of children in 4 elementary buildings. The School Committee worked with NESDEC, the organization that studies enrollment trends and projections, to understand our situation.  We found that not only has enrollment grown dramatically, but that it is projected to continue to do so for the next ten years.  

This year, I became Chair of the Facilities Advisory Committee to the School Committee.  We hired the architectural firm DRA to study our elementary space needs. DRA designed our six school buildings for our last building project, and they know our physical plant and town well.  Their preliminary report was presented to the School Committee last week.

DRA has made a number of recommendations of short-term and long-term options for us to consider.  Over the coming months, we will explore these options, solicit input and feedback from throughout the community, and determine a plan to provide adequate facilities in which to educate our expanding student population.  Just as others did in the past, we will all need to tighten our belts a bit to invest in our town. I hope you will share your thoughts and ideas, your efforts and time, and your positive support to make these needed changes for the future of our schools and our town. I can be reached via email at anytime at arosmarin@miltonps.org.

PRESCHOOL AND KINDERGARTEN

Preschool Information Night: Mark your calendars and join us at Milton High School for a preschool information evening TONIGHT,  Thursday, January 10th at 6:30pm. This is guaranteed to be an informative evening as preschool staff and administrators outline the similarities and differences in the programs offered as well as answer any questions families may have. Milton Public Schools has a variety of programs for those children who will turn three or four on or before August 31, 2019.

Kindergarten Information Night: On January 24th, at 6:30 pm, we hope to see many kindergarten parents and guardians at Milton High School for Kindergarten Information Night.  As we prepare to welcome our new kindergarteners next September, the first step for families is to pre-register your new student. Pre-registration is  live on our website. Please note that your child must be five years old on or before August 31, 2019 to start kindergarten in September 2019.

Both information sessions will take place in the Charles Winchester Auditorium located at Milton High School, 25 Gile Rd. Please email Marti O’Keefe McKenna, Family Outreach Liaison, or call Ms. McKenna at 617- 980- 7343 if you have questions about preschool. Please email Laurie Dunn with questions about kindergarten.

HIGH SCHOOL HAPPENINGS  

The past week the members of the MHS social skills group and advisor Robin Lee visited Father Bill’s  to deliver the handmade blankets they have been working on. Students also  toured the facility and visited with residents. The trip was a success with many warm blankets now in the hands of people who can use them. In addition our students have a greater understanding of the challenges the homeless population faces while seeing firsthand one of the supports available.  

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Artwork by Conor Foley

Artwork by Anna Fahy

On Monday, January 21st we will celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. day. We greatly value the Milton Public School’s partnership with MICA (the Milton Interfaith Clergy Association) especially as it relates to their annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration on Monday, January 21st.  The theme this year is: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”.

L-R Caroline Gannon, Grace Kelly, Anna Fahy and  Connor Foley

Students from Kindergarten through 12th grade participate in the celebration with essays, poems, art projects, musical selections and more. Please join me in congratulating our four outstanding MHS students whose work was chosen to represent MHS in honor of Dr. King. We are very proud of Caroline Gannon, Grace Kelly, Anna Fahy,  Connor Foley for their excellent submissions. Please click on any of the students names or pictures for a clearer look at their work. 

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Curious as to who in the MHS Class of 2019 has the best smile or best laugh? Who’s the most talkative, best dressed or friendliest? All of your questions will be answered here, with the 2019 Senior Class Superlatives.  

INSIDE OUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

All are invited to join the Collicot and Cunningham PTOs on Friday morning, January 11th at 8:30am for a joint informational session on lice and how to prevent it in the Cunningham/Collicot cafetorium. Camille from Close Nit Family will speak about how to check and treat for head lice. How to “Know what you are looking for.” She will also have some preventive sprays, conditioners and combs for sale during the coffee hour. You  may also find the following Lice Videos informative as well as entertaining: Lice Video Part One and Lice Video Part Two.  All parents, from any school, are welcome to attend!

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Last week, Tucker Elementary students celebrated the success of the fall PTO Calendar Fundraiser with Tucker’s first annual Movement Day. Students participated in fitness activities in the school gym including running a Ninja Warrior-inspired obstacle course, competing in scooter races and showing off their hula hooping and basketball skills. When asking a group of third graders what their favorite part was, each student had a different answer, but they all enthusiastically declared that Movement Day was “so much fun” and “the best!”. The PTO would like to say a BIG thank you to Coach Jones for organizing this fun filled event! 

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Sara Truog, head of the Milton Public Library  Children’s Department, visited Collicot 5th graders in preparation for the annual science fair. Mrs. Truog began by sharing a personality quiz that would help students identify topics of interest for science fair projects. She also  introduced students to some of the many online resources available for free with a library card. Students explored ScienceFlix and World Book for Kids to find inspiration for science fair projects. Collicot will hold science fairs for students in grades 3-5 on January 31st and February 7th for students in k-2. 

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Mikey and Chris Clough with Officer Tom Wilson at the Milton Police Department.

Cunningham 2nd graders are learning about the importance of helping others in their Reach for Reading Unit 4, Lend a Hand.  Their goal is to start off the new year by helping others. During the unit, students were asked, “What is something that YOU can do independently to help someone out in the community?”.  Students brainstormed various tasks that they could do to either help out or make someone smile and came up with ideas including giving cards and treats to our mailmen, making get well cards for sick relatives, writing thank you cards to the host of playdates, and making motivational signs for high schoolers  saying “Good Luck on Exams”. Recently Mikey Clough from Mrs. Walsh’s class and his 5 year old brother Chris delivered homemade chocolate chip cookies to the Milton Police Department thanking them for their support in our community. During their visit they got a tour of the station and even got to sit in a holding cell. Connecting the Reach for Reading unit to a real life experience for students has enhanced both their learning and compassion. 

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The MLK Celebration began at Glover last week as students in grades K-5 assembled in the Glover gym to begin the month long celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Students learned about his life and the important impact he has had on our lives through viewing real-life pictures along with the reading of “Martin’s Big Words” by Doreen Rapport.  Students were also given the opportunity to reflect upon this years theme “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Following the presentation, students returned to their classrooms to further discuss Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and complete various projects related to the theme.

SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING

Do you know what youth addiction looks like?  The Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and the Milton Public Schools along with the towns of Milton, Dedham, Quincy, Randolph, Braintree, Stoughton and Canton are bringing back Drug Story Theater for a community presentation of “The Price You Pay:  Second Chances” on January 22nd at 6:30pm. 

This is a riveting play by youth about their own seduction by, addiction to, and recovery from drugs and alcohol.  It will give the audience an inside look, as well as some vital information about why getting hooked at such a young age can be so concerning.  

Dr. Joseph Shrand, Child Psychiatrist, nationally recognized expert on adolescent addiction, and founder of Drug Story Theater, will also share his experience treating youth challenged by substance use.  This is also an opportunity for parents, caregivers, community leaders and other audience members to ask questions of Dr. Shrand and the cast: What are the signs my child may be using? What can prevent this?  What can I do if my child is using? What is spice?

This play was seen in October, 2018 by MHS 9th and 10th graders, and you could hear a pin drop.  Principal James Jette said he was “thrilled with the performance and feedback from our students.” Our showing of “The Price You Pay: Second Chances”, is a unique collaboration between Milton and the surrounding towns.  This event is free and there is ample parking available. Suitable for 9th grade and older.  

ADULT EDUCATION

Milton Public Schools Adult Education aims to support lifelong learning by providing courses on a wide range of subjects and skills to adults in Milton and neighboring towns. Whether you want to try something entirely new or nurture an existing passion, we hope that you find what you are looking for in our new and returning courses. Registration for our Spring term ends February 22, 2019 online and by February 15th. by mail. The town-wide mailer features a listing of all 15 courses offered while our website has full course descriptions, dates, and online registration.

There are some exciting new classes this year:

  • Phoenix Rising Body-Mind Yoga
  • Balancing Screen Time in Elementary School
  • Ukulele for the Complete Beginner
  • Guitar for the Busy Adult

WEATHER AND BUS UPDATES

As we begin the winter season, we want to share links to two important documents that were sent to families in December. Please review our Winter Weather/Snow Day communication and Bus Text App for Major Delays. Inclement weather is a part of life in the northeast and the better we manage these challenges as partners, the more successful our winter will be.  

HEALTH NEWS – VAPING

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, Vaping has become a national epidemic for teens.  In this link, there are recommendations for citizens to have an impact at the local level . According to 2017 statistics, over 25% of grade 12 students in Massachusetts are current users and may be addicted, feeling compelled to use during school hours. This trend has been on the rise across South Shore communities including Milton.  Help protect your child by educating yourself, having ongoing conversations about your beliefs and values, and support local programs that restrict access to these harmful products. For more information contact Director of Health and Physical Education, Noel Vigue or Board of Health Director, Caroline Kinsella .   

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

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.

The police department is currently accepting applications for the position of School Crossing Guard. Duties include directing and escorting school children and pedestrians across the street, stopping traffic as necessary. It is preferred that applicants be available for both one hour in the morning (school opening) and one hour in the afternoon (school dismissal). Positions are ten hours per week with a salary range of $16.98 to $19.15 per hour. Positions are not eligible for benefits. More information can be found here.  Any questions can be directed to Lieutenant Mark Alba via email at 617-898-4814.

UPCOMING MPS DATES

Jan 10 Preschool Information Night
Jan 16  Milton High/Pierce Jazz Concert
Jan 16 Milton School Committee
Jan 17, 18,19  Pierce Players
Jan 21 MLK Jr. Holiday No School
Jan 22  Drug Story Theatre at MHS
Jan 23 Milton School Committee Meeting at Cunningham
Jan 24 Kindergarten Information Night

The full calendar can be found here.  

ART AND MUSIC

L-R Lemeul Marc, Caleb Smith, Coleman Rose and Brendan Scott

Last weekend, students of MMEA- Eastern District gathered at Boston Latin Academy for the annual Senior Festival, including these 10 Milton High School Musicians: Concert Band –  Esme Link, Coleman Rose, Caleb Smith; Jazz Band –  Brendan Scott; Mixed Chorus – Annabel Botsford, Jada Farar, Paula Hogan, Penelope Holland, Luke Palmer; Orchestra – Lemuel Marc.

A round of applause for these students selected for Senior District, and a standing ovation to MHS Band Directors, Rebecca Damiani who is an MMEA-ED Board Member, and Gary Good who was a featured piano soloist in the performance!

On to the next festival: this coming weekend, 22 additional Pierce and MHS musicians will be auditioning for the MMEA-ED Junior Festival.  Best of luck to our students in their audition, and to Pierce Chorus Director Julia Hanna who is acting Treble Chorus Manager this year. 

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

There are several MLK Day Service Projects taking place in Milton. It would be wonderful to see many MPS families at these volunteer events.

“Courageous Conversation towards Racial Justice” is leading a community service project to assemble and distribute Blessing Bags.  On Monday, January 21st, we will meet in the basement church hall at Church of Our Savior located at 453 Adams St., Milton from 9-11am then carpool to St. Paul’s Cathedral to distribute the bags. We need volunteers for all parts of the day.

9-11am assemble Blessing Bags; 11am  drive to St. Paul’s Cathedral; 12-12:45pm distribute Blessing Bags to homeless attendees at a mid day lunch; 12:45pm drive back to Church of Our Savior

Courageous Conversations also needs volunteers to gather these supplies before the event: gallon size ziplock bags; travel size: tissues, toothpaste, shampoo, bar soap, hand sanitizer, hand lotion; hand-feet-body warmers, gloves, white socks , toothbrushes, chapstick, feminine products, granola bars, small snacks, disposable razors for men, $5 gift cards to McDonalds, Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts and small water bottles.

On Monday, January 21 from 9:30 am to 12pm (half hour or hour shifts welcome), MICA (Milton Interfaith Clergy Association) is leading a clean up of the grounds around The Boston Nature Center, a community-based urban sanctuary, serving, among many groups, the Boston Public Schools. We will be picking up litter throughout the trails.  Come dressed for the cold and wear boots. Cleaning equipment will be provided. The Boston Nature Center is at 500 Walk Hill Street, Mattapan, MA 02126 and this event is open to all ages. Please email Debbie Alsebai with questions about any of these volunteer opportunities. 

NEWS AROUND TOWN

Milton Interfaith Clergy Association invites you to participate in the Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. This program is supported in part by a grant from the Milton Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency. On Monday, January 21st  from 6:30-8pm at Concord Baptist Church, 180 Blue Hill Avenue, Milton we will gather to celebrate the life and message of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Please RSVP if you are planning to attend.

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Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton is an important healthcare resource in our community.  Every three years, BID-Milton gathers information from people living, working, and learning in Milton, Quincy and Randolph. The information collected helps to identify strategies and programs that will improve community health.  It is important for BID-Milton to gather feedback from as many people as possible to ensure findings reflect the community-at-large. Please take a moment to take the survey online  or email Laureane Marquez  for a paper version in Spanish, Chinese or Haitian Creole.  Responses are completely anonymous and will not impact your existing health services in any way.  The survey window closes on January 31.

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On January 31, at 7pm at BID Milton in the  Nangeroni Conference Room, Professor Margie Skeer will speak on the topic of  “Underage Drinking Prevention: Practical Parenting Facts and Tips for ‘The Talk’ and So Much More”. Learn why talking to your kids works, get specific tips on how to talk to your kids and observe practice role-playing. The MSAPC invites all Milton community members to attend this important, free talk and the MSAPC meeting that will follow.

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

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On  Saturday, February 2nd at 7pm Milton Community Concerts and First Parish of Milton are proud to present a rare viewing of the silent film classic, Charlie Chaplin’s “The Kid” with live improvised organ accompaniment by virtuoso organist Peter Krasinski. This concert celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Wigglesworth Memorial Pipe Organ at First Parish. Tickets (at door only) are $25/$15 seniors/Free 18 and under.  

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The Milton Early Childhood Alliance Winter Newsletter is bursting at the seams with many free activities for families to do together this season. 

Milton Art Center winter/spring art class registrations are open now, sign up for creative classes in book making, weaving, sewing, storytelling yoga, clay, pastels, STEAM, sewing, watercolor, painting, quilting, photography, screen printing, creative writing and more!

ATHLETICS

The Girls Basketball Team earned their first win of the season with a hard fought, end-to-end battle with Notre Dame Academy from.  Kara Milliken led the way with 19 points, scoring 11 of those points in the final quarter.

The Boys Hockey Team also earned their first victory of the season over Brockton, aided by a flurry of goals in the second period.  Tyler MacNeil scored his first varsity goal in the first period to give the ‘Cats the lead, and then followed with his second that was ultimately the winning goal. Mark Guerra finished with 21 saves.

The Wrestling Team improved to 4-1-1 on the season with a blow-out victory over Wellesley High School.  Alex Paxhia got things started early with a pin and Raphael Yunger earned his first Varsity win!  They will host Newton North on Wednesday, January 16th at 6pm for their Senior Night.

Boys Basketball will host Walpole High School next Friday night, January 18th, at 6:30pm in the “Snowden” Game. Join us in recognizing Derrick Snowden, MHS Hall of Famer, for his 30th year of service to the Milton Public Schools.  He has been one of the biggest supporters for the MHS  Football and Basketball Teams! We will also be holding a sock drive during the game.  Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. For free admission, we ask that you donate at least one new pair of men’s or women’s socks (wool or cotton work best).  All donations will be sent to a local homeless shelter.

Milton High School is also happy to announce that we will become a Unified Champion School by starting Unified Outdoor Track and Field!  More information will be available soon. In the meantime, you can find out more about Unified Sports here.

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

Thank you to my blog contributors this week:  Jon Redden, Cat DesRoche, Bernadette Butler, Ryan Madden, Dawn Sykes, Laurie Dunn, Marti O’Keefe McKenna, Margaret Carels, Debbie Alsebai, Ada Rosmarin, Lacy Stoneburner, Tanya Walsh, Robin Lee, Karen Hughes, Barbara Wright, Ellen Lohan, Sara MacNeil  and Noel Vigue.

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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