February 11, 2021

To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
From: James F. Jette
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: February 11, 2021

FROM THE DESK OF THE SUPERINTENDENT

This week we began our new K-5 elementary learning model, doubling the in person learning for hybrid students and adjusting remote learning time for remote learners.  Despite new schedules, additional bus riders, changes to asynchronous work, and a double dose of snow, the week has been successful! We have been working out any kinks and will use the February break to make any needed adjustments. 

As one elementary teacher emailed, “I just wanted to share that today was a great day – it felt like things were almost back to normal.  You can do so much with a small, in person group. It felt good to be a teacher today!”

Thank you to the elementary PTOs for the treats they recently arranged for our teachers (above) and for hosting me for a conversation with each elementary school community in the two weeks after February Recess. I look forward to learning more about your goals, expectations and your child’s school experience and hearing your feedback on the new model as we look to the future. The link to attend and to submit questions will be sent from your PTO but please save the dates here: Glover PTO  –  February 23, 6:30-7:25 pm; Tucker PTO – February 23, 7:30-8:25 pm; Cunningham PTO – March 2, 7-7:55 pm; Collicot PTO – March 4, 7-7:55 pm 

We have reviewed the Pierce and Milton High School models and will be implementing modifications to the model after the vacation. I recognize that the delay in communicating specific details is frustrating and I want to thank you for your patience and understanding. Principals Cahill and Fish will be sending out any changes in the coming days.

This Saturday, February 13 the MHS Key Club will be collecting new and gently used coats from 9 am to 12 pm at the front entrance of MHS (25 Gile Rd) and in the parking lot of Cunningham Park (Edgehill Rd). The coats will be donated to people in need in Massachusetts. The Key Club appreciates your support.

Next week, our MPS school buildings will be closed from February 15-19 for February Recess. Central Office is open Tuesday through Friday of next week and we can be reached at 617-898-1073 ext. 1.

I wish our students, staff, and families a restful and relaxing break. We will resume school on Monday, February 22. 

SCHOOL COMMITTEE 

The next School Committee meeting will be on February 24, 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), attend via Zoom (link to attend found on the Town of Milton SC page), or watch on-demand in the days following the meeting.

IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES

  • Feb 15-19 February Recess
  • Feb 24 School Committee Meeting
  • Feb 25 Tucker Talks – All MPS Speaker Event
  • Mar 3 School Committee Meeting
  • Mar 4 Early Release K-12
  • Mar 9 1st Grade Information Night

The full MPS calendar can be found here.

Tucker Talks: All MPS parents/guardians are welcome! We will resume our Tucker Talk sessions with a special presentation from author Soo Hong. Dr. Hong was scheduled to be a PARENT series presenter last year when the school closure occurred. We are excited that she is willing to join us again this year.

Dr. Hong is a Wellesley College professor and author of Natural Allies-Hope and Possibilities in Teacher-Family Partnerships. We are excited to have all interested MPS parents/guardians join Dr. Hong for a discussion on how to create lasting and collaborative relationships between home and school particularly at this pivotal time in education. Please save the date for February 25th for an evening with Dr. Hong!

HEALTH AND SAFETY

COVID REPORTING: Each week, school districts report the number of positive cases in the Hybrid Model only to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE). For the week of February 4 – February 10, MPS reported: 1 staff positive and 9 students positive.

COVID TESTING: There are two local upcoming COVID test dates: Sunday, February 14 and Sunday, February 21, from 10am to 3pm, at the Department of Public Works (DPW) yard at 629 Randolph Avenue. All updates will be posted on the Town of Milton website.

TRAVEL REMINDERS: Anyone considering travel should review and abide by Massachusetts travel orders, and people who want to travel to another state that is not a lower-risk state should be aware of the quarantine requirements involved with such travel. All students/ staff will be required to provide a negative PCR test or quarantine for 10 days prior to return to in person learning after out of state travel.

MASK CARE: School vacation is a great time to wash/ care for your student’s masks. Wash masks at least once a day, or more often if they look dirty. If the manufacturer gave any special directions, follow them. Use the warmest settings on the washer and dryer that are safe for the material. It’s OK to put your mask in the washing machine and dryer with your other laundry. Don’t store your mask with other people’s masks. You can store each mask in its own clean paper bag or hang each one separately on a hook.

REMOTE ACCESS AFTER BREAK: To request remote access for COVID related reasons (see our COVID page for more information), please send an email to the nurse and principal of the school your student attends. All requests for remote access received after February 12 at 2pm will be reviewed on Monday, February 22 and granted within 24 hours.

EDUCATIONAL EQUITY

Somaly Prak-Martins, Senior Director of Education Equity, shares the following.

Quality Review Steering Committee and the Selection Task Force: Calling all educators, parents/guardians, community members, students, district partners, and anyone else who has a vested interest in making the Milton School District a more equitable entity. We are currently searching for constituents who would like to serve on the Quality Review Steering Committee and the Selection Task Force. All details on applying, the timeline, multiple language applications, and more can be found here.  

Honoring Black Lives and Stories: I hope you and your family took some time to enjoy the snow. In honor of Black History Month, I would like to elevate some stories from the present and the past. These are just introductions to push forth stories and voices that may not have been heard and/or told. I recommend that you conduct your own research to gain a more in-depth understanding of these stories. 

  • Isabel Wilkerson is an American journalist and the author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration and Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. She was the first woman of African- American heritage to win the Pulitzer Prize in journalism.
  • Meet Dr. Gladys West, the hidden figure behind the Phone’s GPS.
  • The Muse Brothers: The story of two brothers during the Jim Crow South Era

For an introduction to and resources about Isabel Wilkerson, Dr, Gladys West and the Muse Brothers, please visit this link. 

The Chinese Lunar New Year February 12, 2021: Happy New Year to all of our community members who celebrate the Chinese New Year. This is the year of the Ox. Many people who follow the zodiac calendar believe that the year you were born on gives you certain characteristics that are similar to the zodiac (animal) sign that represents the year. There are many symbols that are predominantly seen during the Lunar New Year celebration. If you would like to know why the color red, dragons, rabbits, and traditions like cleaning the house is important during this sacred time of the year, History.com provides some insight. Here are some additional links that share some of the myths and traditions around the Lunar New Year. 

FOOD SERVICE 

We are so grateful to be receiving 252 Farmers to Families boxes to distribute every Wednesday at our weekly food service drive through.

In an effort to best support our food insecure families, we will offer these boxes to those who indicate need at the drive through to ensure that all food insecure families can receive this box of food. We appreciate your support and ask that you email Jackie Morgan with any questions. 

Our weekly Food Service drive-through is open EVERY Wednesday, including during February vacation week.  

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

I am pleased to share the essays and artwork which were chosen to represent MHS at the Milton Interfaith Clergy Association MLK, Jr Celebration held in January. You can read Oona Bard’s and Lily McLaughlin’s essays at this link and Olivia Disandro’s artwork is shown at right. Thank you to these talented students for sharing their work. 

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On Wednesday of this week, some of our MHS students spent their office hours and lunch break participating in the American Mathematics Competition (AMC), a 25-question, 75-minute intensive math exam that challenges problem-solving, critical thinking, and reasoning skills.

Participating in the AMC 10 were William Degregorio, Kyle Denny, Kiera Glazer, Sophie Kosiba, Alex McEttrick, Josh Ricciardi, Daniel Steinberg, and  Alex Tran. 

Participating in the AMC 12 were Alix Benoit, Baron Clancy , Demi Davis, Lucia Dwyer, Maxwell Mitchell, Declan O’Connor, Bradan O’Loughlin, Philip Phan, Myles Phung, Jonathan Waldmann, and Chloe Zhong.

We commend these students for taking on the challenge of participating in the 2021 AMC exam! 

PIERCE PAGES

At Pierce last week, student scientists were on the move. Orion 8th graders investigated the uneven heating and cooling rates of soil and water, which contributes to local weather events while Neptune 6th graders created transverse and longitudinal waves with slinkies to investigate wave behavior.

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Students in 7th Grade Debate recently held Mock Student Council Elections as part of their debate curriculum. Pierce is making an effort to provide leadership opportunities for all students, and Pierce Student Council gives participants an opportunity to develop leadership by organizing and carrying out school activities and service projects. In addition to planning events that contribute to school spirit and community welfare, the Student Council is the voice of the student body.  

This debate lesson aims to educate 7th grade debate students on the process leading up to the Student Council debates and election. Preparation, marketing, developing a platform (campaign slogans and ads), and getting live feedback from their peers were all discussed and explored. Students presented their opening statement, fielded questions from their teacher, the moderator, and their peers, and finished with strong closing statements. This unit promotes citizenship, scholarship, leadership, and cultural awareness. Seeing our students’ confidence grow as they rehearsed and became more comfortable with public speaking was gratifying for all.

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Mr. Manning’s artists have been busy!  6th grade artists learned about animation with a visual timeline starting with Walt Disneys’ Steamboat Willie and ending with Pixar and Dreamworks movies. Students picked their favorite animated character and created a scene of their own.

7th and 8th grade artists became “style writers” and created their own graffiti ‘TAGS’. Students created their own alphabet and lettering style. Students looked at several artists who were creating  3D graffiti and who have successfully created their own graffiti tools and markers. We debated the vandalism aspect of graffiti and discussed changing attitudes about it as more recently, artists are commissioned and permitted to do their work. Students watched a guided tour of the first ever graffiti museum in Miami to wrap up the lesson.

INSIDE OUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

As part of their unit of study on motion and matter, Mme Koita’s 3rd grade Glover students spent time investigating with magnets and collecting data. Students were focused on the question, “What happens when magnets interact with other magnets and with paper clips?” Students tested different combinations and sides of the magnets throughout their exploration and collected their observations in their science journals.

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Ms. Elovich’s Glover kindergarteners learned about the incredible Mae Jemison last week for Black History Month. Students read books, discussed Dr. Jemison, and drew pictures of Dr. Jemison.

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Students in grades K-5 across the district are participating in the iReady Math Diagnostic Assessment this week to place them into their own personalized learning path within the iReady program. After the diagnostic is completed this week,  students will complete activities during their asynchronous learning time that target and strengthen skills specific to them.  Teachers will have access to this valuable math data that will help them provide support within the classroom.  Keep up the good work MPS Mathematicians!

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Cunningham 5th graders worked on a grade-wide mini-biography research project in honor of Black History Month this week.  Students were asked to study a Black American of their choice who was famous for their contributions to the world. Students did online research using articles and videos, took notes, and transformed their notes into a well-formatted informational slide. Their final biography projects will be shared with their classmates in small groups and compiled into a larger classroom slideshow with information on each important figure.

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This week Ms. Windwer’s Cunningham 3rd graders learned more about Harriet Tubman.  Students read an article and answered questions about her during the late 1800s. Students had great conversations about the true meaning of the Underground Railroad and watched an informational video on the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman. In ELA, we are learning about Characters and Character Traits. After reading and learning more about Harriet Tubman, some traits students used to describe her included: brave, strong, smart, sacrificed herself for others, and many more. 

Also learning about Harriet Tubman, Collicot students in Mrs. McDermott’s grade 3 class wrote persuasive essays supporting Harriet Tubman becoming the face of the $20.00 bill.

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Cunningham fourth-graders began their mural project celebrating Black History this week. We all know about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. but many students don’t know about Katherine Johnson, Guion Bluford, Claudette Colvin, Jacob Lawerence, Bessie Coleman, Ida B. Wells and many others. This project gives all of us the opportunity to expand our knowledge of Black History. Each student was tasked with first researching the outstanding Black American that s/he was randomly assigned. After researching, students will design and paint a canvas background and attach a photograph of the person they have been getting to know. We will hang up our paintings and information as a group mural (and will share pictures when complete) and each class will get to visit and learn more about these important figures of American history.

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Glover and Tucker students enjoyed their Diverse Reads Book Club this week with author Saadia Faruqi.  In the book Meet Yasmin! readers are charmed by this one-of-a-kind character and her small but significant dilemmas.  The book offers things to think and talk about from the stories, an index of Urdu words presented as a fun way to learn the language, facts about Pakistan, a recipe, and a craft.

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Students in Mrs. Attaya’s class are studying Black History Month. Students read a story about Garrett Morgan, inventor of the stoplight, and next designed their own stoplights. Students also studied Jackie Robinson and created portraits of him in response.

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This year the Lunar New Year will be celebrated on Friday, February 12, and it is the Year of the Ox. Collicot has been recognizing Lunar New Year on the morning announcements and students have been posting pictures of their families celebrating using the Lunar New Year Padlet. We invite anyone in the Milton community that is celebrating to add an image to our Padlet.

Students in kindergarten have been studying Lunar New Year and learning how it is celebrated in different countries. On Friday, all Collicot students will leave school with a traditional red envelope with a Lunar New Year greeting and a replica of the Chinese coins that are sometimes exchanged in the New Year.

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Congratulations to Lindhan, pictired at top right.

Tucker School was excited to hold its annual spelling bee, which can lead to a chance to attend and represent at the national Scripp’s Spelling Bee! To ensure safety, we made some changes in the model allowing students to automatically qualify to join the Spelling Club team to begin the work together.

Over the course of the four weeks, Tucker students joined Mrs. Driscoll and Dr. McNeil-Girmai for a review of the best tips, strategies, and etiquette for the spelling bee held on January 29th. There was stiff competition from students in grades 1-4 and after a stunning 24 rounds, Lindhan Nguyen was the winner spelling the final word “convulsive” correctly.  Lindhan is now preparing for the upcoming state-wide bee which will take place virtually this year.  Due to the excitement this great event brings to Tucker,  we hope to continue the Spelling Bee through the rest of the year. Congratulations to all of our Tucker students for exemplifying perseverance and teamwork!

SPECIAL EDUCATION

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

The February Special Education newsletter can be found here.  

We will welcome Pierce Middle School parents of students in special education to our next coffee. We will meet virtually on February 25 at 9am. The link to join can be found here. 

SEPAC, the Special Education Parent Advisory Council, has updated its website. Use this link to find out about meeting dates, SEPAC news and to access remote meetings. 

TRANSPORTATION

Thank you to our elementary families for your patience this week as we rolled out new afternoon routes with new drivers to get everyone to school for their afternoon sessions. We anticipate the delays will diminish as the new routines settle in. We will be making adjustments to many of the afternoon session route times over break so please check the schedules before returning to the bus stop on February 22. All bus routes are posted on the Transportation page of the MPS website.

COMMUNITY SCHOOLS 

Thank you to all who joined us for our second Family Virtual Art Event. We hope that you enjoyed creating cool crafts under the instruction of Ms. Paquette. We hope to see you at our next event! 

Ms. Van Allen and Mrs. Sheridan have been creating some delicious dishes with their ASE students. Our students are having a great time cooking and (of course!) eating their creations each week.

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.

Milton is a participating community in The William James INTERFACE Referral Service. Interface is a mental health and wellness referral Helpline available Monday through Friday, 9 am-5 pm, at 888-244-6843. This is a free, confidential referral service for residents of Milton and other participating communities. Callers from these participating communities are matched with licensed mental health providers from our extensive database, on average, within 2 weeks of their call to INTERFACE. Each referral best meets the location, insurance, and specialty needs of the caller. 

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

ART AND MUSIC

More great news from the MHS Music Department! Three students were selected to participate in the MMEA All-State Festival in March. Chorus member Isabel Feloney and Band members Timothy Fay and Claudia O’Neill received recommendations to audition for All State based on their high score results from the Eastern District Festival in the Fall. These three outstanding sophomores will represent Milton High School amongst students from all over Massachusetts and will participate in masterclasses with world class conductors and a virtual concert production set to premiere in April.

ATHLETICS

We are pleased to share this Fall 2 Floating Season Information! 

Please see AD Madden’s February 10 communication with all details here. 

Sports Offered: Sports that were not able to be played in the regular Fall Season

  • Boys and Girls Indoor Track (outside); Girls Volleyball; Cheerleading (sideline only); Football

Logistics

  • Registration is open!
  • Practices expected to begin on February 22nd
  • Games beginning approx. two weeks later, running through April 25th. 
  • Competition within the league is expected to be similar to the fall and winter.
  • No out-of-league competition / No MIAA Tournament

Registration

  • Linked here.
  • Closes on Wednesday, February 17th at noon. This is a hard deadline as coaches will need time to plan tryouts and practice sessions. Students not registered by Wednesday, February 17th will not be able to try out.
  • Students who played a sport in the normal fall season are eligible to play a sport this season, with AD’s approval.

COMMUNITY NEWS 

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

Milton Youth Advocates for Change are hosting a Teen Game Night on Zoom on Saturday, February 13 at 7 pm! This game night is open to teens in grades 6-12 and we will be playing games such as Kahoot, Scribblio, Scattergories, and more.  For more information, check out their Instagram Page (@miltonyouthadvocatesforchange) or check out the Milton Coalition Website.  We hope to see you and your friends there for an hour full of fun and a chance to meet other friendly faces in our community!

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The Forbes House Museum’s annual Lincoln Contest will be officially announced on Lincoln’s birthday – February 12th. Despite over 150 years passing since his presidency, Lincoln’s life and work are as relevant to our civic discourse as ever. Starting Friday, check out the museum website under “Learn” for all the contest details. New this year, students in Grades 6-8 can choose to enter either the art or the writing contest. Winners will be awarded prizes and be featured on Milton Access TV in the spring. 

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Virtual Chess with Mr. Vigorito starts soon. International Chess Master David Vigorito has been teaching chess in Milton for over 10 years. He teaches at all 4 elementary schools as well as Milton Academy and St. Agatha’s. The 8 week winter-spring session begins February 22. 

There are four levels to choose from and classes available Monday through Thursday. All details and registration info can be found here.

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Continuing the Brookwood Farm‘s mission of increasing access to healthy food, through the community supported CSA Fund, Brookwood Community Farm is increasing shares set aside for households looking for food access assistance. Options for payment, including the use of SNAP/HIP, can be found on the website under “Our CSA” along with all the CSA details. Don’t delay –  Brookwood’s CSA sold out in 2020.  

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

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

Thank you to my blog contributors this week: Kim Coughlin, Susan Maselli, Jackie Morgan, Ellen Lohan, Jason Greene, Janice Mazzolla, Miranda Watrous, Sara MacNeil, Ryan Madden, Rebecca Damiani, Kate Elovich, Javana Samuels, Bernadette Butler, and Elaine McNeil-Girmai.

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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