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School Newsletter - 11/29 - 12/12

Dec 19


Tuesday, December 19, 2017  RssIcon

W.L. CHENERY MIDDLE SCHOOL PARENT/GUARDIAN NEWSLETTER

Wednesday, November 29-Tuesday, December 12, 2017

  • 11/30   (Th)     8:00-8:30am    Chenery PTO: "Coffee with the Principal" in the Community Room
  • 11/30   (Th)     7:00-8:30pm    CMS Fine & Performing Arts: Honors Concert in Auditorium
  • 12/1     (F)        All Day            Religious Holiday: Mawlid an-Nabi (Islamic: Sunni)
  • 12/2     (Sa)      8:00-10:00am  CMS Fine & Performing Arts: Saturday Morning Music School
  • 12/6     (W)      All Day            School Picture Retake Day
  • 12/6     (W)      All Day            Religious Holiday: Mawlid an-Nabi (Islamic: Shi'a)
  • 12/6     (W)      11:30am-3:00pm         Parent-Teacher Conferences: Day #5 (of 6)
  • 12/6     (W)      6:30-8:30pm    Chenery PTO: Meeting #2 in Community Room
  • 12/8     (F)        2:30-3:30pm    PTO Clubs End: Fall Session
  • 12/9     (Sa)      8:00-10:00am  CMS Fine & Performing Arts: Saturday Morning Music School
  • 12/11   (M)      7:00-9:00pm    CMS Fine & Performing Arts: Band/Chorus Concert for Grade 6
  • 12/12   (T)       2:30-3:30pm    Chenery Student Council: Karaoke Event for Grades 5 & 6

Some Disappointing News: It is with a genuine sense of sadness that I announce the decision to end the Grade 5 tradition of attending an overnight field trip to Ecology School, beginning with this year’s current fifth graders.  After a pilot trip last year and a thorough analysis of the logistics involved, I feel compelled to move in a different direction as it pertains to Grade 5 field trips.  This decision is based on several factors, including:

  • Last year’s students were not overwhelmingly supportive, with 45% of students either unsure or confidently negative about this year’s students going
  • Teachers expressed many reservations, including 27 total areas of concern (compared to only 6 areas of commendation)
  • Significant concerns about the sustainability of such an endeavor; the Grade 5 tradition has its origins in a time when Chenery was much smaller, and as the school has grown it has not been easy to “scale” the trip for our current size.
  • The impact a sleepaway trip has on our school schedule
  • The significant safety and liability concerns that an overnight, out-of-state trip brings
  • Concerns about whether this is a developmentally appropriate trip for a significant number of students who might be away from home for the first time in their lives

In its place, I propose to offer several single day field trips – an increase from the current offerings – for Grade 5 students during the 2017-2018 school year.  Offering these day trips will also allow us to be more inclusive, since overnight trips have a much higher cost than day trips. In an economically diverse community like Belmont, controlling costs are important for many families.

This is not a decision I take any joy in making, but I am confident in the reasons for it.  It is also not a decision we arrived at quickly or haphazardly.  It is, instead, the culmination of a review of the program’s history (dating back several years), a 5-month investigation into potential sites, a pilot trip in 2016-2017, and a thorough “after action review” of that trip. 

For those parents/guardians who may be frustrated with the choice who would like to discuss further, we will be providing several input opportunities, including:

  • The next "Coffee with the Principal" on Thursday, 11/30/2017 @ 8:00am.
  • The next PTO meeting on Thursday, 12/6/2017 @ 6:30pm.
  • The next BPS School Committee Meeting on 12/12/2017 @ 7:00pm.

To that end, I am also attaching to this Parent/Guardian Newsletter my proposed letter to the Belmont School Committee that provides an thorough and honest an explanation as I am able to provide for this decision.

At the end of the day I am charged with doing what is best for children; I cannot say confidently that a Grade 5 multiple day, overnight field trip is what is best for all children.  I am disappointed to have to make a decision that is certain to be unpopular.  I never want to disappoint a child, let alone 360 of them.  However, it is not a decision I make with any hesitation.  I believe it is the right decision for the right reasons.

Some feel good news: A Belmont sixth grader has come up with a creative way to raise money for the Women’s Foundation of Nepal.  For only $3.00 you can add beauty to your reading experience and support this important cause.  Check out: https://devote.gives/attention-readers-these-hand-made-bookmarks-support-the-womens-foundation-of-nepal/ for more details.  Way to go Subi!

Science and Technology/Engineering Department Parent Survey: The Science and Technology/Engineering Department is in the midst of their seven-year curriculum evaluation cycle and as part of the self-study process they are seeking input from parents/guardians.  To that end, they have released a survey where parents can have their voices heard.  The survey is available at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3BJN5VR.  This survey will be available until Sunday, December 10. They will use responses to help improve our programming.  If you have any questions, please call Liz Baker, Director of Science, Technology and Engineering at 617-993-5975.

Belmont High School Building Committee: Please mark your calendar for Tuesday, December 12th @ 7:00pm (Belmont High School) for the next Community Engagement Meeting where participants will have the opportunity to tour Belmont High School and engage in a special presentation by the BHS Building Committee. 

To sign up for email updates and to learn more about the Belmont High School Building Project, including project timelines, videos, meeting schedules, presentations, and more, please visit www.belmonthighschoolproject.org. Questions? BHS-BC@belmont-ma.gov.

Other BHS Building Committee News: The League of Women Voters of Belmont is sponsoring a Brown Bag Lunch on Friday, December 8 at 12:00pm at the Belmont Library’s Assembly Room.  The topic is the possible new grade configurations in the town if a new High School is built.  How will grade 7 and 8 students adjust to being at the High School?  Please reach out to Mary Dominguez at 617-484-3861 or via email at maryadominguez2000@yahoo.com for more details.

Parking Lot Reminder: Please remember that the rear parking lot is for faculty/staff and school busses only.  When dropping off students, we continue to request that parents/guardians drop off in the front of school on Washington Street or at the entrance to the parking lot on Oakley Road, rather than pulling into the lot and letting out nearest to the rear doors of the building.  There are both logistical and safety reasons for this request, and we appreciate parents/guardians’ respect for tight and busy space in the mornings.

Upper School Academic Honesty Policy (USAHP): Based on teacher interest and efforts from the past few years, Upper School students are expected to adhere to the Upper School Academic Honesty Policy. We are using this teacher-generated initiative in order to promote academic integrity and digital citizenship with our students. The policy effectively guides students on how to make appropriate choices for completing and submitting academic work. Students are encouraged to actively think about their actions in the classroom and while at home, and to seek input from their teachers for any uncertainty. As young adolescents, it is important for our Upper School students to become responsible learners as they progress into high school and beyond.  If you have any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to your child's teacher.

Planned and Extended Absences: If your child will have a planned or extended absence, please remember to inform the Upper School or Lower School Secretary, in addition to your child’s teachers.

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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