March 18, 2021

To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
From: James F. Jette
Re: Superintendent’s Weekly Update
Date: March 18, 2021


I want to acknowledge the senseless murder of eight people this week in Atlanta, GA. Although the preliminary reports indicate that this may not be a hate crime, we would be remiss to not recognize that six of the victims were of Asian descent.  

MPS Senior Director of Education Equity Somaly Prak-Martins shares the following statement on behalf of the Milton Public Schools: Join the Milton Public School District as we stand in solidarity with Asian Americans Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in condemning any and all racist, hateful and violent acts against the AAPI community. 

What transpired in Atlanta illustrates some of the work we need to do in our country, town, and school district. In the Milton Public Schools, we seek to celebrate the diversity in our community and to show respect for one another at all times. 

I want to assure all students, staff, and families that the Milton Public Schools strives to be an inclusive and welcoming place for all, and we continue to work with leadership, faculty, and staff to address any concerns. 

As an Asian immigrant woman, Director Prak-Martins shares information in her current newsletter about the struggle Asian Americans, Asian Immigrants, and Asian people experience. There are also are additional resources on how much these struggles are woven into US history and resources for the AAPI community. The entire newsletter can be read here, and it contains many valuable resources and links to supports for students, staff, and families.


There also appears to be a mental health piece to these terrible crimes, and if we see someone in crisis in our community, we should offer them support. I hope you are aware of The William James INTERFACE Referral Service, a free, confidential mental health and wellness referral helpline. This is a referral service for residents of Milton and other participating communities. Callers from these participating communities are matched with licensed mental health providers from an extensive database. 


This week, I received questions about a survey that was sent to Pierce and MHS students. As some of you may have these same questions, I wanted to share my answers here.

The survey is part of the Quality Review performed by Cambridge Education. The Quality Review is a project commissioned by Milton Public Schools leadership and facilitated by Cambridge Education. The purpose of the Quality Review is to examine the instructional, social-emotional, and cultural assets across the district to determine what things are working well and where there are opportunities to grow as the district develops the vision for the next strategic plan. The Milton Public Schools is committed to creating a school district where the achievement of excellent, equitable outcomes is a reality for all stakeholders.

Demographics questions that were asked about sexual orientation and gender identity are included in the surveys. Students do not have to answer these questions, and if a student does answer, their response is completely confidential. All surveys and survey questions are optional. No responses for any individual student will be shared with anyone at school or anywhere else. Although these questions are personal, we ask because we want to know if the school experience is different for LGBT students. We know from research that students who identify as LGBT are sometimes harassed, bullied, and suspended from school more often. If this is happening in our schools, we want to know so that we can make the necessary changes to make the school experience better for all students.

We do understand, however, that not all students are comfortable answering. If that describes your student, please have them skip these questions and complete the remainder of the survey. Students should skip over any item if they are unsure or uncomfortable answering. Again, the survey is completely optional, and individual responses are kept private.  


As spring approaches, MHS Senior Class Officers, along with class advisors and parent volunteers, have some exciting events planned for our 274 graduating seniors! These resilient young people have had a year of upheaval, and we look forward to celebrating them over the next few months. A recently installed banner at Town Hall, commemorative t-shirts, treats, and Milton swag bags kicked off the fun and we are looking forward to many more surprises for our graduating seniors.

This week we are excited to kick off one of those surprises – Sponsor a Senior! Sponsor a Senior is an effort to recognize every MHS Senior with a gift (suggestions include an inspirational note or card, a gift card, a small gift, a sweet treat – anything to let our seniors know how proud the community is of their accomplishments, adaptability, and resilience during a year long pandemic) from the Milton community as they prepare to graduate. Parent organizers are seeking volunteers from the Milton community to Sponsor a Senior and make this effort successful! All details on Sponsoring a Senior can be found here, and you can sign up to Sponsor a Senior here. There are 274 MHS seniors, and the goal is for every senior to have a sponsor. Please sign up now, so we can celebrate all of our seniors!

Thank you to BID-Milton, The Cunningham Foundation, Elliott Physical Therapy, MHS Boosters, and the MHS PTSFO for their support of our senior initiatives! 


As we continue with our planning to return to full in person learning, I want to highlight a few points below. 

  • Collicot, Cunningham, Glover, and Tucker begin full in person model on April 5.
  • Pierce and MHS begin full in person model on April 12.
  • School hours will revert to previous full day hours at each school.
  • MPS will continue to offer a full remote model through the end of the school year.
  • All students who are currently registered to ride the bus in the hybrid model will continue to have seats when Milton Public Schools returns to a full day model on April 5th and 12th. New bus passes with new seat assignments will be mailed beginning the week of March 29th. Registration to ride the bus in the latest full day model will close at 3 pm on March 19th. Please send transportation inquiries to
  • We hope to offer limited After School Enrichment (ASE) later in the spring. Details will be sent to elementary families. There will be no before school care offered this spring. 
  • Due to lunch and space constraints in our full in person model, MPS will be a peanut free district for the duration of this school year. All snacks and lunches that are brought to school must be peanut free. 

As many details of this model change are school based, your principal will be sending detailed information to all families in the week before the model change takes place. I will continue to update the MPS community in this space and in additional emails as needed. 


TONIGHT: As part of the annual budget process, the Milton School Committee and Central Office Administration will be hosting an FY22 Budget Presentation on March 18, 2021 at 7pm.​​​​​​ This is an informational presentation to explain the complexities of preparing the budget and to answer any questions you may have. We encourage everyone to join to learn more about this important process.  The link to attend can be found here (passcode 376737).

The next regularly scheduled School Committee meeting will be on March 31, 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.


  • Mar 18 Milton School Committee FY 22 Budget Meeting
  • Mar 22 MPS Rock Your Socks
  • Mar 31 Milton School Committee
  • Apr 1 Early Release Grades K-5 (PD Day)
  • Apr 2 No School – Good Friday
  • Apr 5 K-5 Full In Person Model Change
  • Apr 12 6-12 Full In Person Model Change

The full MPS calendar can be found here.

March 19: The Full Day Professional Day for MPS Staff on Friday, March 19 has been canceled and will now be a regular school day for all MPS students. Students should follow their regular hybrid/remote schedule. It is a Day 1 for Pierce/MHS students.

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day and we will be celebrating at MPS on Monday, March 22 (and at MHS on Friday 3/19) with our annual Rock Your Socks competition. Wear your craziest socks to show awareness and acceptance for people with Down Syndrome!

On Tuesday, March 23 at 6pm, WBUR is hosting a free, virtual event called “Leveling the Playing Field in STEM” that will focus on the challenges today’s Black and Latinx youth face when pursuing careers in STEM fields. The panelists, which include Dr. Adrian Mims, founder of The Calculus Project, will discuss solutions to these challenges, mentorship ideas, and more. Please click here to learn more about and register for this important event.

Milton is a participating community in the Massachusetts Partnership for Diversity in Education upcoming Virtual Recruitment Fair. This event takes place on March 31 and all details can be found here


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 weeks of March 11 – March 17, MPS reported: 0 staff positive and 2 students positive.

As we prepare to return to school full time in April,  the nursing department would like to send along some important health reminders.

  • All students should bring a reusable, labeled water bottle to school each day
  • If your student has an EpiPen or inhaler that you would like to drop at school, designated times for each school will be sent from your building principal in the next few weeks. Medication forms can be found on the MPS website under the Health Services tab. 

Please continue to follow all CDC and MA Department of Public Health guidance on mask wearing, distance, hand hygiene, and social gatherings so we can all Protect the Paw and keep our students and staff safe in school. Please refer to our COVID-19 page for all health and safety policies and updates. 


March 21 is World Down Syndrome Awareness Day and to promote Down Syndrome awareness, MHS students and staff are encouraged to wear  crazy socks to school on Friday, March 19. Best Buddies will also be collecting donations of $0.21 or $3.21 (to represent the three copies of chromosome 21) at all three entrances of the building this week. All proceeds will be donated to the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress.

Down Syndrome (or Trisomy 21) is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has always been a part of the human condition, universally present across racial, gender, or socioeconomic lines in approximately 1 in 800 people. It is caused when cell division results in extra genetic material for chromosome 21.  For WDSD 2021 we will focus on improving connections to ensure that all people with Down Syndrome can CONNECT and participate on an equal basis with others as we spread awareness of Down Syndrome across the Milton community this week.


Please see the MCAS Testing Notification letter sent to grade 10 and 11 families this week. MCAS Testing will be Next-Gen ELA and Mathematics computer-based tests, taking place May 3- 13 at MHS. 

Please also see this AP Exam Administration Notification sent to all AP Students & Families on Tuesday of this week. AP Testing will take place in the school building from May 12- 26.


Our Pierce Middle School chamber ensemble students recently recorded an excerpt from Vivaldi Concerto in G major. Performing are Avery Squiciarino, Rachel McNulty, Fedor Myshkin and Ida Zoll and you can enjoy their performance here. 


Collicot students were treated to two special musical performances in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.  Mr. Tim McMaster played his bagpipes in front of the school for all students, at dismissal for the morning cohorts and arrival for the afternoon cohorts. Students listened and watched and some even spontaneously step danced and jigged to the sounds of Mr. McMaster’s pipes!

Mr. John Kearney,  joined his grandson Teddy’s Collicot music class to give a very special Irish fiddle performance. Mr. Kearney explained to the class that he had emigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1959 and traveled on the great ship Britannia. He began playing the fiddle later in life. Mr. Kearney is a Milton resident and plays with several Irish groups in the area. Students enjoyed listening and clapping along to several musical selections. These performances were enriching to the music curriculum as all grades have been listening to Irish music and learning about its traditional instruments during their music classes this March.


4th grade Cunningham and Collicot students recently learned about the Harlem Renaissance and collage artist Romare Bearden. Students admired Bearden’s work and created a jazz musician and instrument of their choice. While listening to period music from such artists as Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, students made a colorful oil resist background using oil pastels and watercolors. They then collaged their musician onto their background to complete their jazzy artwork. Can’t you just hear the music coming right off their pictures?


Tucker was pleased to introduce Veronica Robles to students during a school wide assembly last week. Mrs. Robles was featured in honor of Women’s History Month as a trailblazer within her field and a local cultural icon.

As the leader of an all female mariachi band,  Mrs. Robles has performed at venues such as New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Through her work as an artist and as a founder of her own cultural center, she utilizes the power of the arts and culture to bring communities together by raising awareness of the importance of diversity and empowers youth by teaching them about their roots and culture.

Tucker students enjoyed her music and dance performance, learned about cultural clothing, reviewed Spanish vocabulary, and learned about her many firsts as an artist and community leader. The Tucker community is celebrating the many achievements of women not only this month but throughout the year.  


Cunningham students enjoyed their St. Patrick’s Day STEM projects this week! 

Students in Ms. Aldrich’s 2nd grade worked together to design a leprechaun tower with a design goal of holding as many gold coins as possible. Students used their own materials, however they had to have similar towers as their partners. This was a fun, team building STEM exercise.

Cunningham 1st and 3rd graders created rainbow arches and bridges as part of a STEM activity. Students placed blocks or coins under the arches and adjusted them accordingly. Each student had a different, colorful approach to the design of their arch. Both activities ended with students having a conversation about the geometrical shapes such as triangles, and patterns associated with engineering an arch.


To acknowledge the anniversary of the beginning of the school closures last March, Glover families lit up Glover last week with 600 luminaries, one for each Glover Kid. The message of “We continue to be all in this together” is strong at Glover, and this socially distant viewing served to amplify that message.


March is kindness month at Collicot and this week classes participated in Kindness Secret Missions. Collicot Adjustment Counselor, Mrs. Caruso, paired up all classes with a mission for each class to complete secret acts of kindness for their assigned class. This has been a wonderful way for hybrid and remote students to connect! See some examples of acts of kindness below.


Every year, Glover 4th and 5th grade students have the opportunity to participate in Student Leadership Teams. Student Leadership Teams work on projects and initiatives which give back to our school and community, and our students have been anxiously awaiting the start of this year’s teams. We are thrilled to say that this week we launched our newly designed teams for grade five students in the hybrid and remote model. These new teams were created with safety in mind and have been adjusted to meet the demands of this unprecedented year. Some of the new teams include recording videos for movement with Coach Jones, interviewing teachers about their family history, and a club that collects donations for those in need. Meetings with mentors and students take place through google classroom to accommodate students and teachers who are remote. Although the teams and our meetings look a little different this year, we are proud to share that Glover Kids continue to develop their skills as community leaders!


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

Does your child struggle with success attending school? We are pleased to share a local parent group that is open to all. The goal of this group is to increase school attendance of students by providing parents with the knowledge and tools to increase their child’s attendance and the likelihood of lifelong success. All details on attending can be found here. 


We are happy to announce the MPS Elementary Universal Summer Program!

One does not have to look far for emerging research and concerns raised by parents/guardians, teachers, and school leaders regarding the urgency to address the academic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Preliminary data both in the field and internally indicate that there has been at least some academic impact on reading and a more significant impact on mathematics due to the pandemic.  This impact is magnified when considering subgroups such as students of color, English language learners, and students from lower socioeconomic families.  Given that, as was announced at the Milton School Committee meeting last night, the district is planning to offer a universal summer program (free and consistent) to all students currently enrolled in grades kindergarten through 4th grade.  This program is being funded by a federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER II) grant.

Although planning continues, we imagine the program will have this general structure: 

  • Monday through Friday;  July 6 – July 30, 2021
  • Two 2-hour sessions offered each day with students attending one of the two.  8-10 am and 10-12pm
  • 2-hour session led by a certified teacher (times approximate) that includes:
  • 45 minutes of engaging literacy instruction
  • 45 minutes of engaging mathematics instruction
  • 30 minutes of engaging SEL/movement activity

Please look for a follow up communication early next week that will include information about how to sign up your child(ren) for this program, the MPS Elementary Universal Summer Program, as well as about two other summer programs- Milton Summer Enrichment and Camp Cunningham. As a note, we have aligned start and end times so that students who wish to attend Universal Summer Program and Milton Summer Enrichment will be able to. More information on that next week!


MPS Food Service is hiring!  We have several open positions, including for a cook at MHS, and cafeteria helpers and cashiers at Pierce, Cunningham, and Collicot. The hourly wage is $16.69 for these school day (between the hours of 9:30-1:30) positions. Please email Jackie Morgan at to explore joining the MPS Food Service team.

Weekly Wednesday lunch pick up continues at MHS (with Farmers to Families Boxes!) and students can also pick up grab and go options each day as they leave school.


The Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition shares that prevention starts early and it starts at home. For lots of tips and resources for parents and guardians about steps to take to help prevent teen use of drugs and alcohol, please visit our website and follow us on Facebook.

The MSAPC also has a variety of social-emotional learning webinars available on its website. Listen and watch on your own timeframe to these recorded webinars. 


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 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.


Please see the following from AD Ryan Madden

Spring Sports registration is OPEN! Register here. 

Spring Sports will officially start on Monday, April 12. We recognize that this is earlier than what the MIAA previously released, however, student-athletes are expected to attend all sessions starting on April 12. While there will be no games over April Vacation, student-athletes should make every effort to attend all practices. Families are still required to follow MA Travel Guidelines when returning from out-of-State travel. Students unable to attend tryouts beginning April 12th will be afforded a tryout on April 26th, with Athletic Director approval.

See here for a PowerPoint on the Spring Sports.

The MIAA voted today to run a full State Tournament. Teams not entering the Tournament may continue to play up to 3 additional regular season contests. Teams in the State Tournament may not finish their season until June 30th.

Colin Hoey has been named a Bay State Conference All-Star for Boys Ice Hockey! Congratulations to Colin and the rest of the All-Stars from the Winter.

Please see this link for the Bay State Conference School Specific COVID Policies. Please adhere to the opposing team’s policies. Not all schools allow visiting fans.


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

Milton Youth Advocates For Change is recruiting high school youth for leadership positions in Milton Minds Matter. Milton Minds Matter is a club promoting positive mental health for high school teens in Milton led by high school teens! All details can be found here. 


The Milton Public Library announces Milton Moves,  a physical literacy initiative!

Physical Literacy is the concept of providing people with the tools and information to lead healthy, active lives. While we at the MPL provide literacy services every day, at this crucial moment in our world’s health, we turn our attention to not only providing sustenance for the mind, but also for the body.

Please join us for this year-long initiative, beginning in March 2021, for all ages focused on fitness, wellness, and healthy eating. The Library will offer programs and resources related to health and physical fitness for all ages. In keeping with the spirit of a public library, all of these offerings will be free of charge.


Brookwood Community Farm, located in the Blue Hills, offers CSA (community supported agriculture) shares now with pickup starting in late May and running through just before Thanksgiving. This can be split into Spring, Summer, and or Fall shares and can also be picked up each week or alternate weeks. The choices for payment are all listed on the website and include options for SNAP and discounted shares. Please find all the details on our website. Get to it before they are all gone!


Animal Movements – Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 11 am. Join MECA for a free, fun, literacy, and STEM series with animals and staff from the Trailside Museum! Programs are designed for children ages 2.9 to 7 years old and their parent or guardian and will include a story, movement, 2 live animal encounters, and time for questions and answers.
Registration is required. Sessions will be held live via Zoom. Please register here to receive the link and password to this Zoom session. Many thanks to our kindergarten t-shirt sponsors. Their generosity has made this programming possible!

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Thank you to my blog contributors this week: Jackie Morgan, Debra Miller, Laurel Bernini, Sara Macneil, Ellen Lohan, Jon Redden, Kristen Driscoll, Ryan Madden, Somaly Prak-Martins, and Ben Kelly.

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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