December 17, 2020

To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
From: James F. Jette
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: December 17, 2020

FROM THE DESK OF THE SUPERINTENDENT

The time from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day is often called the Holiday Season, and many in our MPS community celebrate multiple holidays during this time. These holidays are secular, religious, cultural, and national,, and they hold dear places in our hearts and minds. Whatever your holiday routine is, it is likely deeply impacted by COVID -19 this year. Social and family gatherings are canceled or greatly modified, gift giving may look different, volunteer traditions are changed or nonexistent, and most importantly, many families have lost loved ones or experienced health difficulties due to COVID-19. Our stress levels are high as we celebrate our traditional holidays and consider the winter months ahead. But as always, there is hope. We have all watched with excitement as the first vaccines have been given in the US this week. The best description I have heard of the vaccines is that it is a bright light at the end of a very long tunnel. We still need to get through that tunnel (the winter and into the spring and summer) but the light is there. 

The light was evident this week in the Milton Public Schools as we concluded our annual gift and gift card drive. In a year that seemed to provide little hope, an outpouring of kindness and generosity by MPS families, staff, and community members has made the holidays a little brighter for many Milton families experiencing hardship this year. Trunks were overflowing with toy donations, and gift cards poured in, overflowing mailboxes and emails. We are so appreciative of the overwhelming concern and thoughtfulness shown by so many in our community. 

I would like to acknowledge those who helped to make this year’s holiday gift drive such a huge success. Thank you to:

  • The dynamic PTO boards and Gift Drive coordinators.  Without your energy and organization, none of this would have been possible in a pandemic year. We would like to specifically acknowledge Amy MacIntyre (Tucker), Jaime Levash (Collicot), Kate Deeb (Glover), Kate Daly (Cunningham), Christy Loring (Cunningham), and Michelle Cardoza (PMS and MHS) for all the time and effort they put into planning and publicizing the gift drive, purchasing gift cards and transporting collected gifts to the Milton Residents Fund and My Brother’s Keeper.
  • The Toy Box in Hanover, owned and operated by an MPS family, and The Toy Chest at Milton Market Place. A sincere thank you to owners  Julie Ritchie and Nancy Doyle for opening your doors, inviting Milton families in to shop for a child in need, and for all the “just right” toys you helped to connect to a child.
  • All the MPS families, friends, and neighbors in the community who donated gift cards, called to see what was needed and how they could help, and those who just stopped by and opened their hearts and wallets. We are overwhelmed by your generosity in a year that has been hard on so many.
  • The MPS Staff for your donations of gift cards and gift items. Milton is fortunate to have you. You are amazing!
  • My Brother’s Keeper, who has been delivering gifts to families in Milton over the past few weeks. We are truly appreciative.
  • Noreen Kearney Dolan, Director of the Milton Residents Fund, for her dedication to our families who find themselves in need this holiday season and beyond. Noreen has worked tirelessly these past few months overseeing the holiday gift program, matching families to donors and gifts, often burning the midnight oil. The Milton Public School is extremely fortunate to have a wonderful friend in Noreen and the Milton Residents Fund.
  • Marti O’Keefe McKenna, MPS Family Outreach Liason, whose coordination of the overall effort is crucial in its success. Marti keeps all the pieces in the air, coordinating with our families who need assistance, our Principals, Guidance and Adjustment Counselors, our PTOs, My Brother’s Keeper, and The Milton Resident’s Fund to ensure that our families are supported, not just during the holidays but throughout the year. 

On behalf of the Milton Public Schools, thank you for bringing joy to so many children and their families this Holiday Season. This truly is a great community!

We have four more days of school this calendar year and will begin winter break on Thursday, December 24. I wish you and your family a healthy, happy, and safe Holiday Season and winter break. 

SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Please take a moment to watch last night’s School Committee meeting and hear from some of our talented MHS and Pierce students who are working hard to bring musical and theatrical shows to our school communities in the coming months. These students and our theater directors – Bill Deschenes at Pierce and Kevin Black at MHS – have been resilient and creative and have found meaningful ways to practice their craft during the time of COVID-19. I look forward to sharing ways to watch their shows soon. 

The next School Committee meeting will be on January 6, 2021, at 7pm. You can watch School Committee meetings live on Milton Access TV online, live on Milton Access cable channels (Comcast 22, RCN 15), via Zoom (link to attend found on the Town of Milton SC page), or on-demand in the days following the meeting.

IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES

  • Dec 24-Jan 3 Winter Recess
  • Jan 4 Classes Resume
  • Jan 6 School Committee Meeting
  • Jan 7 Preschool Information Night
  • Jan 28 Kindergarten Information Night

The full MPS calendar can be found here.

Preschool Information Night is on January 7, 2021, at 6:30 pm.  Preschool staff and administrators will highlight programs offered as well as answer any questions families may have. This information session will take place virtually, and a link will be posted on our website before the event. To get an idea of the programs MPS has to offer, please visit our Preschool webpage.  Details and specifics about programs for the SY ‘21-’22 will be posted to our website shortly.  Children attending an MPS Preschool Program must be three years old on or before August 31, 2021.

Kindergarten Information Night will be held on January 28, 2021, at 6:30 pm. We hope many incoming kindergarten parents and guardians will join us to learn about our programs and have an opportunity to ask any questions you might have.  This information session will take place virtually, and a link will be posted on our website before the event.  As we prepare to welcome our newest kindergarteners next September, the first step for families to take is to complete the pre-registration form found here.  Please note that your child must be five years old on or before August 31, 2021, to start kindergarten in September 2021.

HEALTH AND SAFETY

TRAVEL REMINDER: If you are considering traveling this month, please follow Massachusetts Travel orders linked here and adhere to MPS Policy that all students (regardless of age) and staff must provide a negative COVID 19 test taken upon 72 hours of arrival back in Massachusetts or quarantine for 14 days after travel before returning to in-person learning.

If you anticipate traveling over the holidays and would like remote access for Monday, January 4,  the request should be received no later than 12pm on 12/23, or access will not be granted until after our return Monday, January 4. Nurses will not be able to access email and grant remote access or school clearance during the holiday break.

Please see the most updated CDC travel guidelines and restrictions here. Please contact your school nurse with any questions.

COVID TESTING: Manet Community Health Center is hosting another day of COVID-19 testing at Milton High School on Saturday, December 19, 2020. All details on the testing can be found here, and the preregistration document can be found at this link.  Registration is required, and the deadline to register is TODAY, December 17.

The Town of Milton will be offering free drive through COVID tests at the Milton DPW Yard (629 Randolph Ave) on Sundays on December 20, 27 from 10 am to 3 pm. This testing is for Milton residents or people who work in Milton only.  Please visit the Town of Milton website for more information. 

FLU CLINIC: The Town of Milton is holding its final Flu Clinic of the year on Saturday, December 19 from 10 am-2 pm at the front entrance of Milton High School. All details can be found here. 

Per the Commonwealth of Massachusetts guidelines, all students will be expected to have received a flu vaccine by December 31, 2020, for the 2020-2021 influenza season, unless either a medical or religious exemption is provided. Elementary and secondary students in districts and schools that are using a remote education model are not exempt.

Please email documentation of your child’s flu vaccination to your child’s school nurse.

COVID GUIDELINES: Over the past nine months, guidance from health and medical professionals has evolved as we have learned more about COVID-19. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), recently issued revised guidelines related to quarantine requirements for individuals who have been identified as “close contacts”. There are now shorter quarantine options for those individuals if certain conditions are met.

The Milton Board of Health has confirmed that they are currently using the new CDC guidelines and will adopt the updated Department of Public Health guidance.  The Milton Public Schools will also follow this new guidance. 

FOOD SERVICE 

Our weekly Food Service drive through is open EVERY    Wednesday, even during school break. Swing by Wednesday, December 23, and Wednesday, December 30 to pick up a week’s worth of breakfasts, lunches, and a fresh box of produce! Come see our friendly Food Service team every Wednesday at MHS!

Weekly Pick Up: Weekly pick up is available at two different times on Wednesdays. Come to MHS 9:30-10:30 or 12:30-1:30 (please don’t arrive before 12:15 to allow for MHS pick up) to pick up 7 days of breakfast and lunches and a fresh produce box.

Grab and Go: Available each day as your student leaves school. Multiple breakfasts, lunches, and snacks are included in each bag. Students can take a grab and go bag with several breakfasts and lunches as they leave school each day.

HIGH SCHOOL HAPPENINGS

Milton High School students have been busy this first term making their own music, and we are excited to share their work with you. Please enjoy this video of the MHS December Cabaret!

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The National Honor Society is hosting a Virtual Charity Run/Walk to raise money for the Milton Food Pantry. This is an independent, self-paced event, so please feel free to join us in walking or running 2 miles anytime between now and December 23rd to raise money for the cause! Please email NHS President Megan Farley with questions. 

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Our MHS Debate team held its first annual in-house MHS Novice Debate Tournament on Saturday, December 12. Congratulations to Stella Yuan and Nina O’Loughlin and Abigail Taugher, and Mary Mullen. These two teams were undefeated at this weekend’s first annual Novice Debate Tournament. Congrats also go out to Abigail Taugher and Tucker Korman, who won the highest speaker point award! A special thanks to Mrs. Norton’s Debate Class for participating.

Thank you to Debate Captains Ralph Destin, Jonathan Waldmann, and Anderson Korman, who were instrumental in organizing the event. Bravo to all those who competed; job well done.

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MHS Computer Science classes sponsored a Computer Science Education  Week last week. The CS website details the events, contests, virtual visits, and resources that are available to students. 

PIERCE PAGES

Pierce’s Spirit Week is off and running and will continue through next Wednesday. Spirit Week has been a nice chance for our students and staff to have some fun and continue to foster a sense of community. All students and staff are invited to dress up for each day’s theme during in-person and remote classes. Prizes are being awarded for our most spirited students!

INSIDE OUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

Toby Teel (MHS 2001), a Software Engineer at Roblox, recently shared what it’s like to work in the computer sciences with our Cunningham students. Students were able to ask questions about being a software engineer, creating and designing video games, and the engineering process. Toby shared a video game that he had created and is still developing for fun since all games on Roblox are created by their users. Thank you, Mr. Teel, for a great presentation, and thank you to Mrs. McClain for bringing this great speaker to Cunningham.  

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Glover and Tucker students were excited to Zoom with author Elana K. Arnold about her story, A Boy Called Bat, this week. A Boy Called Bat is the first book in a wonderful series starring an unforgettable young boy on the autism spectrum. The next read will be Meet Yasmin by Saadi Faruqii, a creative and fun new series with a Pakistani American main character, and students will meet with Saadi in the spring. They will also meet Karen Strong, author of Just South of Home, and Christina Soontornvat, author of All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team. If you are interested in having your Glover student participate in our Diverse Reads Book Club, please email Sara Crowe to sign up.

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Mrs. Mcgrory and Mrs. Jones’ Tucker kindergarteners had fun this week with their snowman directed drawing project. This lesson was geared towards 3rd grade but as you can see, these kindergarteners loved it and created some impressive and creative snowpeople!

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Way to go, Basil!

Collicot students and staff are working hard each day but also having some fun! Throughout the week teachers nominate students to be honored as the Collicot Cardinal of the week. One student per grade level is selected each week. Students are nominated by teachers by modeling the collicot code of being respectful, responsible, and hardworking. In this video, Basil Bullis from Mrs. Mcdermott’s room learns she was selected! 

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Need a pick me up? Ms. Perrault’s dancing Collicot kindergarteners will get your spirits up and might even have you up joining their weekly dance party! Please excuse the blurry images – these kindergarteners move FAST! 

AFTER SCHOOL ENRICHMENT 

We’re excited to announce the Winter 2021 ASE session of our virtual program. From Soccer to Fun Science, we have classes for everyone. Registration starts today. Check out our Brochure here. 

SPECIAL EDUCATION

Administrator for Pupil Personnel Services, Sue Maselli shares the following.

  • Mark your calendars: Our anticipated dates for Extended Year Services are 7/6/-8/13/2021- 8/13/2021.
  • The Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) announces their first meeting on December17 at 7:30 pm. Email miltonsepac@gmail.com for details.
  • Thank you to all the parents who logged in for our Parent Coffee at Collicot and Glover.  Our next special education parent coffee will be hosted by Milton High School on Jan 6, 2021, at 7pm. If you would like to attend, please use the link found here. 
  • By now, you have heard from your student’s liaison or team chair related to compensatory services for special education for any student who may have experienced a disruption in services due to school closure. If you have questions about how compensatory services are being discussed and determined, here is some information from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education you may find helpful.  You can also reach out to your student’s Team Chairperson with any questions about special education services. 
  • The Inclusion Task Force is still looking for your response. Please take their brief survey here. 

MILTON FOUNDATION FOR EDUCATION 

The Milton Foundation for Education has been funding initiatives for the Milton Public Schools for decades. This year, the MFE has found themselves unable to fundraise in their traditional way, yet the need for our schools and student communities has never been greater.

The MFE has already answered this call by funding initiatives this school year to help with both in-person and remote learning in this unique year. Most recently, they donated $10,800 for Ed Tech training for our staff to enhance remote teaching and learning. The first round of training was held with Pierce and MHS staff just last week to rave reviews. We are looking forward to the same experience for elementary teachers in the new year. We are so grateful for this funding!

Please consider making a donation to the MFE at this link to continue this critical work this year, as this will likely be our only fundraiser.

FAMILY RESOURCES

The Milton Public Schools is committed to being a resource for you. Whether you are unsure how to connect with school staff or directly need a referral for services or supplies, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Marti O’Keefe McKenna, MPS Family Outreach Liaison, at 617-980-7343 or by email at mmckenna@miltonps.org. All calls and emails are confidential.

All updates on Family Resources – food, heating assistance, health insurance, financial assistance, contacts – can be found at this link.

ART AND MUSIC 

Please see the update below from Magen Slesinger, MPS Director of Fine and Applied Arts.

Covid may keep us apart, but it can’t keep us silent. Since March, in order to ensure the safety of our community, student and professional musicians alike have been unable to play music together. But as Tracy sings in the beloved musical, Hairspray, “You can’t stop the beat!” Please enjoy the updates below.

The Massachusetts Music Educators Association developed a virtual experience so that our student musicians would still have an opportunity to hone their skills and audition to represent Milton among the eastern district’s top student musicians. We would like to recognize the following student musicians for being accepted to the MMEA Eastern District Senior Festival!

Barron Clancy- Orchestra; Tim Fay- Band; Isabelle Feloney- Chorus; Max Hollingsworth Hays- Band; Max Hollingsworth- Hays- Jazz; Michael Howard- Band; Nesta Ryan Malin- Chorus; Madison Massad- Band; Aislinn Mershon- Band; Claudia O’Neill- Band; Abigail Taugher- Chorus

Five of these students were also awarded an all-state recommendation, which gives them the opportunity to audition for the MMEA All-State Senior Festival. If they are accepted, they will represent Milton among the top student musicians from the state of MA. We would like to congratulate these students for receiving All State Recommendations:

Tim Fay- Band; Isabelle Feloney- Chorus; Max Hollingsworth Hays- Band; Max Hollingsworth- Hays- Jazz; Claudia O’Neill- Band

Music teachers and students have been experimenting with new technology to creatively make music in a virtual setting. Soundtrap is a recording and sequencing program that allows students to record and layer multiple tracks to collaborate. One student records their part, then another student accesses the project and records their part until you’ve got a final project comprised of individual recordings from each student in the ensemble, layered to create the final project. This is a complex process that requires a high level of independence and musicianship. Here is an example of the Pierce 7th grade band, led by Guillermo Ortiz, playing Finlandia

Roisin Queally and Keira Earner are ready to perform Last Christmas!

Tri-M, our high school music honor society advised by chorus director, Julia Hanna, is currently in the process of editing a Virtual Holiday Greeting to send out to the Milton community. The goal is to spread some holiday cheer since students, don’t have the opportunity to perform around town like they typically do during the holiday season. The finished product will be sent out to local retirement communities, Milton businesses and organizations, and to living rooms across town via Milton Cable Access. We don’t have a finished product yet, but here is one of the many wonderful videos which are being edited together. Roisin Queally and Keira Earner performing Last Christmas will surely put a smile on your face!

As you know, singing and playing wind or brass instruments is something we are not doing in groups this year, because excellent singers and wind and brass players necessarily project aerosols in order to perform. However, that hasn’t stopped us from finding ways to create live music together. When the high school band gathers together on their in-school, hybrid days, they have been working on percussion ensemble music together! You can hear the music ringing through the high school hallways and it is wonderful. Here is an example from one of their recent rehearsals.

 

This strange year might have pulled us away from some of our ensemble playing, but it has opened up opportunities for students to work on developing independence and confidence as soloists. Students from ensembles across the grades have been working on various solo video projects. Keep your eye out for a virtual showcase of many of these performances coming in 2021! In the meantime, MPS District Orchestra Director, Debra Miller, would like to share a preview of Senior Project work by Sam Higgins. His project will include performances on violin and voice. Sam is concertmaster of the MHS orchestra as well as an accomplished countertenor. 

We would like to thank the MFE for the generous grant awarded to the Milton Music department to purchase the UpBeat Music app for all of our 6-12 music ensemble students. This app will allow students as close to an ensemble experience as we can get in a virtual setting. Music teachers learned to use the app last week, and ensemble students in band, chorus, and orchestra have already started to dive in and explore this new way of making music together. Here’s one example of some of the high school chamber orchestra students trying it out for the first time. 

We’d also like to thank Celebrate Milton for awarding us a grant to build culturally diverse music and picture book libraries for all four of the elementary school music rooms. These new libraries will be an amazing support to our continued efforts to ensure a rich, culturally responsive educational experience in our music classes!

This is just a tiny glimpse of the good that is going on in Milton Music. We love to contribute to the Superintendent’s weekly blog, so look for more videos, audio recordings, photos, and general updates here!

COMMUNITY NEWS 

We recommend checking with the local organizations below for any changes to the following events.

Want a Socially Distanced Outdoor Elf Visit? The Milton Junior Woman’s Club (MJWC) is hosting a fundraiser to support their efforts to provide Milton scholarships and community grants. Please see MJWC’s Milton Elf Visits – Milton Junior Woman’s Club  to learn more. 

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Visit the Eustis Estate during the holiday season and get into the Christmas spirit! Explore the beautiful 1878 Eustis Estate and its lavish decorations during A Victorian Christmas. There are bright lights, an enormous tree, garlands, and mantelpieces adorned with holiday decorations inspired by nature. There are floral arrangements from the Brush Hill Garden Guru, Cedar Grove Gardens, and floral designer Lisa Ahern. From December 4 to January 3, the mansion will be open for visits by reservation only Fridays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Masks, and social distancing are required for all staff and visitors. Please call 617-994-6600 for more information. Historic New England members and Milton residents are free. Milton residents need to call to make a reservation. Non-member adults $20; seniors $17; children/students $10.


Forbes House Museum offers FREE tours to Milton residents in December! We’ve decked the halls and are eager to share the magic of the season. So if you’ve “lived in town forever but never visited,” here’s your chance! We’re offering FREE tours this month to any Milton resident. Simply call the main number at 617-696-1815 to reserve your spot. 48 hours advance notice is recommended. Tours will be available Wednesday-Saturday at 11 am and 1 pm. COVID safety guidelines will be observed; see the website for more details.

All visitors will also receive a coupon from our friends at Lower Mills Tavern, good for 15% off your order. Cheers!


The Milton Public Library has some terrific programs for students of all ages. Check out next week’s activities here. 

Thank you to my blog contributors this week: Kim Coughlin, Susan Maselli, Jackie Morgan, Marti O’Keefe McKenna, Rebecca Damiani, Kathleen Kelley, Elaine McNeil-Girmai, Karen McDavitt, Meredith Mcgrory, Maureen McClain, Bill Fish, and Magen Slesinger .

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 a 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: Asst. Superintendent for Curriculum & Human Resources, Dr. Karen Spaulding, (617) 696-5040 ext. 5582.

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