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Chenery Newsletter

Dec 22


Thursday, December 22, 2016  RssIcon

W.L. CHENERY MIDDLE SCHOOL PARENT/GUARDIAN NEWSLETTER

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Best wishes to all of you for a joyful holiday season.  Whether you are celebrating Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or none of the above my hope for all of you is for a rejuvenating vacation with family and friends.  If you are traveling for the holidays I ask only that you return to us safely.

12/14               (W)      8:00-9:45         Chenery PTO: 7th Grade Enrichment Program on  “Arabiqa” by

Karim Nagi Music

12/14               (W)      8:00-6:00pm    CMS Library Book Fair

12/15               (Th)     8:00-6:00pm    CMS Library Book Fair

12/16               (F)        8:00-2:30pm    CMS Library Book Fair

12/17               (Sa)      12:30               “Stand up for Safety: Hands Around the Pond” event at Claypit

Pond, sponsored by Belmont Against Racism

12/19               (M)      8:00-Noon       CMS Library Book Fair

12/24-1/2         (Sa-M) All Day                        December Vacation: School Closed

Important Dates to be Aware of: Please remember that the mid-point for quarter #2 is this week.  Q2 Mid-term Progress Reports (teacher-released) will be sent out by Sunday, December 18th.  Quarter #2 “officially” ends on Friday, January 27th.

Library Book Fair: Our annual Library Book Fair is this week!  Book Fair hours are Monday-Thursday @ 8am-6pm, Friday @ 8am-2:30 pm, and Monday, December 19th @ 8am-noon. Students, teachers, and parents are invited to come to the Library at any time during school hours and after school to browse and to purchase books.  The two main events to raise money to purchase school library books is this Book Fair and the Author Festival in the Spring.  Students can also buy gift books for teachers and, in doing so, support the Chenery Library!  If they are unable to attend the Fair, they can purchase books for the Library from our Amazon Wish List at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/1QS51EBLVNQPT/ref=nav_wishlist_lists_1

Parent-Teacher Conferences: On Wednesday, 12/7/2016 we finished our fifth and final Parent-Teacher Conference day of this year.  Already we have set our sights to next year to determine how we can organize them better, as there were certainly a few bumps in the road this year (most notably the fact that there are simply not enough slots to accommodate everyone and different teams and grades using different models which can be confusing for parents).  As we look towards 2017-2018 we are seeking to answer three important questions:

·         How do we create a conference system that is uniform for all teams and easier for parents?

·         How do we accommodate all parents despite our increasing student population and decreasing resources?

·         How can we address this gap in a sustainable way?

The general options are twofold:

1.      Get more available parent-teacher conference slots: This campaign began in November and I am happy to report that for the 2017-2018 school year we have added an additional conference day.  We will have 6 conference days next year.  While this still falls short of our original request for two additional conference days, it does go a long way towards finding a solution.  Moving forward, we will continue to advocate for more parent-teacher conference days to be added to the schedule until we are able to accommodate all 125 slots per team.

2.      Change the way we organize parent-teacher conferences: As a school community, we have to choose one option that can be applied uniformly.

If any parents/guardians have feedback about conferences you would like us to consider as we seek to improve the process for 2017-2018 please let me know.

Stand Up for Safety and Civility: In the spirit of continuing to be a welcoming community, and acknowledging the recent increase in hate crimes across the Commonwealth and nationwide, residents of Belmont and surrounding communities are invited to “Stand up for Safety: Hands Around the Pond” on Saturday, 12/17/2016 @ 1:00-2:00pm on the Concord Avenue side of Claypit Pond in Belmont.  The goal of the event is to bring the Belmont community together to reaffirm our commitment to safety and civility.  It is also the hope that residents who feel threatened or fearful know that we, as a Belmont community, will stand up to discrimination, harassment, or bullying.  The highlight of the event will be a “hands around the pond,” a powerful visual statement of residents standing shoulder to shoulder and linking hands around Claypit Pond.  About 1,000 people are needed to join hands.  It’s ambitious, but families, teachers, students, religious institutions, and civic organizations have started signing up.  The event is being sponsored by members of the Stand-Up Campaign, a non-political and non-partisan organization committed to kindness, decency, and civil discourse.  The Stand-Up Campaign is a branch of Belmont Against Racism.  Co-Sponsors include the Belmont Human Rights Commission, the Belmont Veterans’ Memorial Committee, and the Belmont Religious Council.  If you would like to be involved in this event a group will be assembling at Chenery around 12:15 on Saturday, 12/17/2016 and walking down to Claypit Pond together.  For more information please contact belmontagainstracism@gmail.com.

LABBB Coat Drive: One of our LABBB classrooms is holding a small “coats for kids” drive this season.  If any families would like to donate new or gently used winter coats for children in need there is a collection box set up outside of Room 111.

Street Crossing: Please remind your children, particularly the ones that leave school late, that they need to be vigilant about crossing the street.  There have been some close calls in front of the school, especially after we are no longer monitoring that cross walk (as we do each day immediately after dismissal).  Students are walking into the street without even a thought to look.  Additionally, vehicles are speeding down Washington Street.  We are working on all of those fronts, but a reminder from a caring adult will help as well.

Free and Reduced Lunch Update: Several parents/guardians have inquired with me recently when their child is notified of an overdue account balance, even though they qualify for free or reduced lunch.  Please note that each day your child is eligible to receive one lunch.  If they return for seconds they are charged.  If you have an outstanding balance – even if your child qualifies for free or reduced lunch – please pay it off as soon as possible in the short run.  In the long run, children should either be told not to take a second lunch or parents should be prepared to pay for seconds.

From Our Green Team: A special thank you to Mary Beth Calnan, Belmont’s Recycling Coordinator, and her team of parent volunteers who spent an entire week at Chenery at each lunch assisting students to recycle properly.  It was dirty work at times, fishing through trash to teach students about separating their recycling from their waste, but it was well-appreciated.  Our extended homeroom this week will continue to focus on the topic of recycling where we will watch a video made by students at Hingham High School (MA) about their recycling initiative (check out: http://e-awakening.com/www.e-awakening.com/Other_Videos_5.html), and we will review the main points from last week, including:

·         What we CAN recycle in the cafeteria?

o   Empty juice and milk containers

o   Clean tin foil

o   Empty water bottles (please screw the caps ON!)

o   Plastic and glass containers that are EMPTY of their content

·         What we CAN’T recycle in the cafeteria?

o   Styrofoam trays

o   Plastic forks, knives, spoons

o   Straws

o   Food

o   Plastic baggies and Ziplock bags

o   Single serving packaging--like chip and cookie bags

o   Juice pouches

Please feel free to reinforce this information and encourage your students to do their best to recycle here at school.  There are also several ways you can help from home, including:

·         Asking your children to bring home unopened/uneaten food rather than throw it away

·         Avoiding buying drink pouches

·         Using reusable bottles

·         Using reusable forks, knives and spoons

·         Substituting reusable containers for plastic baggies whenever possible

·         Packing a cloth napkin

Keep up the good work Chenery!

Have ideas about recycling at school?  The Chenery Green Team would love to hear from you!   Please contact Amanda Mujica, Chair, amanda@amandamujicadesign.com

Extended Vacations: Several parents have called to ask if we have school next week because many of their children’s friends are “taking off early.”  We do, indeed, have school next week, Monday through Friday.  However, it does remind me of my annual plea to please minimize absences from school.  As noted in our handbook, Parents/Guardians have the right to take their children out of school at their own discretion.  However, extended time away from school can be difficult for children at any age.  It is becoming more common for many families to travel during weeks other than school vacation, and sometimes there are very good reasons for it -- personal reasons, family situations, medical concerns, etc.  If possible, we continue to ask families to make it an uncommon practice.  Teachers cannot be expected to give work that will make up for the loss of instruction due to vacations.  They can, however, provide some advice on how to minimize the teaching your child will miss due to an extended time away from school for a family vacation.  If you know that your child will be out of school for any extended period of time please send a note in with your child’s homeroom teacher so that we can make the appropriate arrangements.  Notes should include which days will be missed.  The sooner we know the better.  Please note also that absent students can still check the Student Portal for any missed assignments or announcements.

Checking Email: Please remind your children to check their school emails every so often for homework assignments, messages from teachers, etc.

Gift Reminder: At the risk of being seen as a Grinch this time of year, please remember the applicable laws regarding gift giving to public employees. The state’s laws and regulations prohibit school employees from accepting any gift that has a value in excess of $50—whether in the form of cash, event tickets, meals, or goods. The sole exception to the $50 limit is a class gift or gifts from a group of students, parents, or colleagues, but only if the value of the gift or gifts do not exceed $150. Furthermore, recipients of gifts have an obligation under state ethics regulations to report to a supervisor each gift received and its value.  If there are individuals and groups who wish to recognize a teacher or group of educators, they might want to consider a contribution in the name of the teacher or group of employees to the school’s PTA or PTO, or to the Foundation for Belmont Education.  Donations to the Foundation are tax deductible, and Foundation grants support programming and needs of the Belmont Public Schools.  The Foundation is happy to receive gifts in the name of a teacher or group of educators.  (Foundation for Belmont Education, PO Box 518, Belmont, MA 02478: www.fbe-belmont.org).

Snow Information: With the winter months upon us, I would like to alert you regarding information pertaining to school cancelations or delays due to inclement weather. School closings are announced on all three of Boston’s three network stations:  WBZ (Ch. 4), WCVB, (Ch. 5), and WHDH (Ch. 7). Closings and delays are also announced on radio stations WBZ – AM, WBUR – FM and WCRB – FM.

Grade 5 Field Trip Update: As promised in two previous Parent-Guardian Newsletters, we continue to investigate possible overnight sites for this year’s Grade 5 students.  We have established a rigorous 7-point criteria:

1.      Trustworthiness: The organization must have a track record of above-the-board business dealings.  We are determined to vette all options via reference calls, site visits, and online reviews.

2.      Safety: The organization’s site must be able to safely house all 348 Grade 5 students.

3.      Sustainability: Subsequent years show us growing.  We are looking to engage in a longer-term partnership with whatever organization we select so they must be able to have the space to grow as we do.

4.      Cost: The cost must be reasonable.

5.      Schedule: The schedule must not interfere with our school calendar, especially MCAS testing.

6.      Curriculum: The program must connect clearly to our curriculum.

7.      The ultimate litmus test we make all school decisions based on: Is it good for children?

Our criteria is proving to be difficult to meet, but considering our past experiences as recently as last year it is important that we keep our standards high.  We began in the fall with 7 organizations, and expanded to 13 after receiving your input.  After much work we have winnowed it down to two possibilities.  We will begin site visits this week.  If successful we will enter immediate negotiations to secure a spot for 2016-2017 and beyond.  If we cannot, we will be up front with the entire community and will seek to determine an alternative culminating experience for our Grade 5 students.  I thank you all, in advance, for your responses and patience as we try to make progress on this front.

Modulars Update: Progress continues outside in the modulars.  Here is our most up-to-date timeline:

·         12/22 – Triumph Modulars turns over keys to the Belmont Public Schools Maintenance Department

·         By 12/23 (before vacation) – Teachers will pack up any “non-essential” items they would like moved to the mods over break.

·         12/28 & 12/29 (over vacation) – Custodians will set up classrooms with new desks, chairs, book cases, tables, printers, computers, etc.

·         Week of 1/3-1/6 (after we return from vacation) – Teachers will continue to teach in their old classrooms.  This will give us a full week when we return to:

o   Give students a tour of the space and orient them to the procedures for entering and leaving

o   Provide an evening open house for parents (exact date and time TBD)

o   Provide an evening open house for abutting neighbors (exact date and time TBD)

·         By 1/6 – Teachers will pack up all “essential” items that need to get moved to the mods over the weekend.

·         Evening of 1/6 – Movers will start carrying everything else to the mods

·         Morning of 1/7 – Movers will finish carrying everything else to the mods (if necessary)

·         Afternoon of 1/7 – Teachers and parent/teacher volunteers will unpack all boxes in the mods and set up classrooms

·         Sunday, 1/8 – Teachers and parent/teacher volunteers will continue setting up classrooms

·         Monday, 1/9 – First day of instruction in new mods

As always, this timeline is subject to change and can depend on any number of unforeseen circumstances: delivery changes, weather, etc.  If changes do happen I will continue to let you know in this newsletter.

Calendar updates: If you would like to view the school calendar, it is available at: http://www.belmont.k12.ma.us/bps/Portals/0/docs/calendar/BPS-Calendar-2016-2017.pdf

If I can be of any assistance to you or your children please contact me at 617-993-5800.  My office is always open to you.

Respectfully,

Michael E. McAllister, Principal

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