January 2nd E-Blast

From: Mary C. Gormley
To: Parents/Guardians and Staff
Re: E-blast Update
Date:  Thursday, November 5th, 2015

FROM THE DESK OF THE SUPERINTENDENT

  • It’s official, Stoughton vs. Milton is the Fox 25 High School Game of the week! Thanks to all who voted. Please come this Friday night 11/6 to Brooks Field at 7pm to cheer on our Milton Wildcats football team.
  • Tonight is Opening Night for our high school musical. Please come to see “42nd Street”at 7pm in the Charles Winchester Auditorium or come Saturday, November 7th at 2pm or 7pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance at the front lobby of MHS or PMS– or buy your ticket at the door.  

Please read the summary below regarding the Youth Risk Behavior Survey administered by the Milton Public Schools, which was presented at last night’s School Committee meeting:

The Milton Public Schools recognize that for students to be productive, caring and contributing members of society, as our Mission Statement says, they need more than an excellent academic experience. They also need to be healthy in mind, body and spirit.

We regularly assess the academic progress of our children through a variety of mechanisms such as report cards, MCAS, PSATs, portfolios, and the like. We believe it is also important to understand our students’ health and safety status and to ask ourselves: Do the Milton Public Schools create a safe environment where children can thrive, and are MPS students making the right choices to keep themselves physically and psychologically sound so that they can reach their fullest potential?

To ascertain these questions, we felt it was important to survey students to better understand their risks and address them if need be. We determined that the best instrument was to employ a validated survey developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and used by many districts across the Commonwealth entitled, the Youth Risk Behavior Factor Surveillance Survey (YRBSS).

In December 2014, we randomly selected nearly 500 students from grades 9-12. This was a large enough sample to make statistically valid conclusions, and the sample was quite representative of the ages, gender, racial backgrounds and academic standing of MHS students. We were able to also compare how we stand relative to the U.S. and the state. Here are some of the key findings:

Results of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System at Milton High School:

In this report (see link below) prepared by Lynch Research Partners, MHS students were compared with students in: 1) the United States 2) Massachusetts and 3) the Metrowest region. Results reported below represent statistically significant differences between MHS students and students in other samples.

Results of the survey highlight several areas in which MHS students are doing well and also identify potentially problematic areas that may be targeted for additional remediation efforts. Positive findings suggest rates of bullying and cyberbullying within MHS are significantly lower than rates within the United States, Massachusetts, and Metrowest. Rates of sexual assault and dating violence are also lower among Milton students than other students in the United States. In addition, Milton students are less likely to drive drunk or to ride in a car with a driver who is drunk. In relation to substance use, MHS students are less likely to smoke cigarettes, use hallucinogenics, ecstasy, heroin, methamphetamines, or prescription drugs and less likely to be given, offered or sold drugs on school property then students across the United States and Massachusetts. The YBRSS also identified several risk behaviors in which MHS students engage at higher rates than students in the United States, Massachusetts, and Metrowest. Specifically, Milton High School students use alcohol and marijuana at higher rates than United States, Massachusetts, and Metrowest students and report depressive symptoms more frequently than Massachusetts and Metrowest students.

Violence and Bullying

  • MHS students are less likely to be bullied on school property or online than students in the United States, Massachusetts, and Metrowest
  • While 7.1% of students across the United States report not going to school because they felt unsafe, only 3.3% of MHS students reported feeling unsafe at school

Mental Health

  • 25.3% of MHS students reported experiencing symptoms of depression in the last year – this rate was lower than students in the United States (29.9%) but higher than students in Massachusetts (21.7) and Metrowest (20.0%)
  • MHS students were less likely to have attempted suicide in the last year than students in the United States and Massachusetts

Cigarette Use

  • 41% of students in the United States and 31.6% of students in Massachusetts report smoking cigarettes within the last 30 days compared with 24.1% of MHS students

Alcohol and Drug Use

  • MHS students reported higher levels of binge drinking (34.5%) than students in the United States (20.8%), Massachusetts (18.9%) and Metrowest (19%)
  • 73.9% of MHS students report they consumed alcohol compared with 66% of United States students, 63% of Massachusetts students and 56% of Metrowest students
  • MHS students were more likely to use marijuana than students in the United States, Massachusetts, and Metrowest
  • Rates of cocaine use among MHS female students were significantly lower than students in the United States and Massachusetts. However, 6.9% of MHS male students reported using cocaine compared with 6.6% of male students in the United States and 4.4% of male students in Massachusetts

Drug- and Alcohol-Related Risk Behaviors

  • 29.2% of MHS students reported using alcohol or drugs before sex compared with 22.4% of United States Students and 23.5% of Massachusetts students
  • Only 5.8% of MHS students reported driving drunk in the last 30 days compared with 10% of students in the United States, 7.1% of students in Massachusetts and 9% of Metrowest students

Call to Action

The Milton Public Schools is a highly regarded system because we believe in looking at data, naming our challenges, and devising plans for addressing them. When our school assessments showed an achievement gap, we named it, and then pursued evidence based strategies and resources to turn this problem around. Similarly, we cannot afford to ignore the problems that this survey has illuminated. If we want our children to be successful and productive citizens, we cannot pretend that social issues don’t exist, nor can we afford to ignore or hide them.

Underage alcohol use and youth mental health issues are particular challenges in Milton that were raised by this survey. We must be clear that these are community problems that the school system cannot possibly address alone. These conditions are influenced by children’s environments including at home, their peers, and in their communities. Our schools must join with our families, community leaders, faith organizations, social service and health care organizations, and public safety officials to have a coordinated response that is inclusive and that identifies interventions that are proven to make a difference. Our approach cannot be driven by personal anxiety or indignation. We must look at the research and determine how we can unite to address these issues in a coordinated and impactful way, emphasizing prevention instead of punishment.

What Can We Do?

  • The Milton Public Schools has developed a Resource Guide on our website where families can get help for a variety of substance abuse and mental health issues http://www.miltonps.org/partnerships-resourcepages.php
  • We will convene faculty, administrators and students to better understand the issues and prioritize our strategies
  • We are sending our faculty and students to a regional conference on underage drinking to get as much information as we can on best practices
  • We are teaming up with the newly-formed Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, sending faculty, resource officers, administrators and students to meetings, where representatives from all sectors of Milton are committed to working on addressing these issues. We will tap their public health professionals for technical assistance and resources.
  • We will sponsor educational programs for our faculty, parents and students, in coordination with the Coalition.
  • We will continue tracking these issues in the future, and monitor our progress.

Every town, every school—whether public or private—has social challenges. They can choose to ignore or conceal them, or they can confront and address them.  The Milton Public Schools’ administration chooses the latter.  We are fortunate to have a community that is poised to make a difference for all of our children.

Please click here to view the report in its entirety or here to read the executive summary.

SCHOOL COMMITTEE UPDATE

There has been one School Committee meeting since my last E-blast, held last night. I will summarize this meeting in my next E-blast. The next School Committee meeting will be held on Monday, November 23rd at 7 pm in Room 245 at Milton High School.

CURRICULUM NEWS

Please note, Wednesday, November 11th is a NO SCHOOL day in honor of Veteran’s Day.

Also please note that Thursday, November 12th is a HALF DAY for all students PreK-12 due to Parent-Teacher Conferences held throughout the district.

Please be sure to register for one of the Parent-Teacher conferences. I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining communication with your child’s teacher, and conferences are one of the best tools for doing this. If you have not scheduled a time for your conferences, please do so as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please contact your child’s grade-level guidance counselor.

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Save the Date! Milton High School’s Diversity Committee will be presenting “WOMAN UP – The Power of Phenomenal Women,” on November 18th from 6:30 to 9:30pm in the Charles Winchester Auditorium at Milton High School. This event is free and open to the public and will feature four panelists, including myself, Joanne Jaxtimer, Elsie Taveras and Tracey West. Panelists will discuss their journeys toward leadership, perceptions and expectations around leadership, and reflect on their own challenges and successes pertaining to gender and power.

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Please see the note below from Pierce Middle School teachers. Kerry Callender, Sarah Pullia, Jill Markarian, Owen McElhinney:

On behalf of the Orion Team teachers and students, we would like to extend a sincere thank you for the opportunity to go to the Hale Reservation for a second year.  It was a huge success!! The weather was beautiful (despite the puddles), the kids were all so positive and willing to take risks and push themselves, and the Hale staff was so complimentary of them all.  They really came together as a team, and the energy was palpable. We couldn’t have asked for a better day.

UPCOMING MPS EVENTS

Veteran’s Day Services:

Cunningham:  The Cunningham School invites any Cunningham student who has an active or retired service member in his or her life to bring that service member for a Coffee Social in the Cunningham School library at 9am on Tuesday, November 10th.  At 9:45am, the school community will assemble on the front yard of Cunningham School for a flag-raising ceremony, accompanied by a Military Honor Guard.

Collicot:  The staff and students of Collicot Elementary School will hold a flag-raising ceremony on Tuesday, November 10th at 2pm to honor the nation’s veterans.

Glover: The Glover School will be “planting” flags in honor of veterans.  The students have written tags with the name of a veteran and those tags will be tied around a flag and planted on the lawn in front of the school.

Tucker:  The entire school will be reading a book entitled “America’s White Table,” by Margot Theis Raven, which explains about honoring our veterans. On Tuesday, a table in the cafeteria will be set to symbolically honor veterans. Also, Tucker Parent and US Navy veteran Rebecca Harvey will hold an in-school assembly on Tuesday and will discuss her military career.

Pierce:  Pierce families and staff members were sent Veteran’s Day stars and were asked to write in the name of a veteran, decorate the star and return it to school. The Pierce Student Council Members filled a large bulletin board in the cafeteria with these stars to honor our veterans.

Milton High School: Members of the MHS Key Club are collecting Halloween candy to donate to our troops. Students are bringing extra candy, as well as toothpaste, toothbrushes and dental floss to package up and ship to our troops. (Candy can be dropped off in Guidance or at the main office.)  In addition, MHS Junior Michael Sullivan is collecting used/tattered flags for a retirement ceremony. Donation boxes are in the lobby of each school.

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Parents of college-bound students, please plan to attend the College Information Night on Wednesday, December 9th @ 6:30pm. This event will be held in the Milton High School Library. Do you want to learn more about the college process; how to use Naviance, understand the difference between SAT, ACT and SAT Subject Tests and which one to take? Do you have Financial Aid Questions? If so, please come this night to have your questions answered. Anyone is welcome to attend this event. It is never too early to start planning!

FAMILY OUTREACH LIAISON NEWS

The following item was submitted by Family Outreach Liaison Marti McKenna O’Keefe:

November Is Family Literacy Month! Celebrate and Support Family Literacy! National Family Literacy Day, celebrated across the U.S.A. on November 1st, focuses on special activities and events that showcase the importance of family literacy programs. First held in 1994, the annual event is officially celebrated on November 1st, but many events are held throughout the month of November. Schools, libraries, and other literacy organizations participate through read-a-thons, celebrity appearances, book drives, and more. To celebrate Family Literacy Month and National Story Walk Day, the Milton Early Childhood Alliance is teaming up with the Milton Public Schools to bring a tri-lingual, English, French, and Spanish Children’s book to the community. A Story Walk will be installed on the grounds of Tucker School for the month of November. Be sure to come out, take a walk and enjoy a great book all at the same time.

In addition to a story walk or sharing a story at home, try one of these activities with your family*:

Family Game Night: Set up a family board game night where a different game is played each week. Have each member of the family involved in reading instructions and game cards and keeping score.

Karaoke Night: Rent a Karaoke machine and invite the neighbors over for a party. Not only is this activity fun, but it also encourages, reading, singing and family involvement.

Sous Chef: Following recipes is a great way to improve both reading and math skills. Ask your children to read the instructions out loud and help measure the ingredients when making a treat for the family.

*Adapted from Global Literacy Project

NEWS AROUND TOWN  

Milton’s American Legion Post #114 and the administration of the Town of Milton invite the public to join them in the Veteran’s Day observance to be held Wednesday, November 11th. All participants who wish to march should gather at Milton High School, 25 Gile Road by 10:30am. The parade will proceed from MHS to Canton Ave. and on to the Town Hall for the services, which begin at 11am. All residents, friends and relatives are welcome to join the American Legion in honoring the men and women in our country’s armed services – those who have served and those who are presently serving.

MILTON PUBLIC LIBRARY

The following item was sent to us by Sara Truog, MPL Children’s Librarian:

Fall is here – and so are fun things for kids to do at the Milton Public Library! In addition to our regular storytimes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we have these exciting programs for the young people in your life happening during the week of November 15 – 21:

Saturday, November 21, 2015 from 10:00 – 10:30 am
Tech Tots Storytime, Ages 0-5

Join Miss Sara for a storytime that incorporates iPad apps along with books and songs to show families how to appreciate stories in new ways! For ages 0-5 with caregiver; no registration required.

Saturday, November 21, 2015 from 2:30-3:30 pm
MCBA Book Club, Grades 4-6

The Massachusetts Children’s Book Award was established as a program to encourage children in grades 4-6 to read great books. This year the MCBA Book Club will read one book from the 2015 shortlist each month, and in February-March we will vote for the book we think deserves to be named the book of the year. November’s book is The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ: A Laboratory Dog’s Search for Love by Martha Ritter. Copies will be available one month in advance of the program at the Children’s Room desk, or by placing a hold in our online catalog. Please read the book in advance of our meeting – you’ll have more fun that way! Registration is required.

Don’t forget to check the library web calendar for a listing of the many programs we offer year-round. Information about and registration for all of our programs can always be found on our online calendar at www.miltonlibrary.org, or by calling the Children’s Room at 617-898-4957 during business hours. Also, like the Milton Public Library on Facebook and get updates right in your news feed! Please contact the Children’s Room if you have questions about any of our programs or services.

To see a complete listing of library events, please click here:

http://www.eventkeeper.com/code/events.cfm?curOrg=MILTONPL

ATHLETICS

Please note the following tournament games being played by our MHS teams during the next few days:

Tonight: (11/5) Milton Girls Soccer plays Apponequet  at Brooks at 6:00pm

Friday night: (11/6) Milton Football Home vs. Stoughton at Brooks at 7:00pm

Monday night (11/9) Milton Girls Volleyball at Canton at 7:00pm

For sports schedules for all MHS teams, please click here:

http://www.usatodayhss.com/school/milton-high-school-milton-ma/scores-and-schedule

AMBASSADOR PAGE

Students: I would like to recognize Tucker students Olivia & Isabela Corporan, who recently hosted a book swap. Family, friends & neighbors were invited to bring any school-age books and take home ‘new-to-them’ books in return.  Attendees received goodie bags filled with stickers, book marks, name plates and gummy “bookworms.” All of the books not taken from the swap were then donated to Tucker School to enhance our classroom libraries and take home book bins! Thank you to these two young bibliophiles!

Staff:   I would like to thank Cunningham teachers who opened their classrooms to their colleagues and MPS administrators as part of the Leadership Team Learning Walk held this week. Sarah Smith, Kerry O’Leary, Sue Hennessy, Tanya Walsh and Emily Hyde along with Carla Eigen, Pam Smith, Karen McGrath, Marlene Mason and Michelle Jensen allowed us a glimpse into their “typical” school day. This was an outstanding learning opportunity for all. Thank you!

Volunteers:   I would like to recognize Laurie Stillman, a former MPS parent, School Committee member and current member of the Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition. Ms. Stillman has volunteered countless hours assisting the Milton Public Schools with a variety of issues, the most recent of which has been her work on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey mentioned in my introduction. We are lucky to have a health professional who has given us such valuable advice. Thank you!

The Milton Public School system is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to the provision of quality educational programs for all students. The Milton Public School system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, genetic information, age or sexual orientation.

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