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Belmont Public Schools News

Superintendent's May 2019 Newsletter

date 5/10/2019

The PTO and PTA organizations celebrated National Teacher Appreciation Week on May 6 through May 10. Many schools had treats, luncheons and praise for teachers and staff. We appreciate our teachers all year long, and are pleased to have them recognized during this time. May also holds the Memorial Day holiday which means a three day weekend in hopefully summer-like weather. Please note schools are not in session on Monday, May 27.

“Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten.” 
― B.F. Skinner


Belmont High School Building Project News:

  • Groundbreaking for the new Belmont Middle and High School: As you know, the new name for the grade 7-12 school is the Belmont Middle and High School. After looking at the survey responses from earlier this month, the School Committee voted on the new name at the April 23 meeting. We welcome you to attend the groundbreaking ceremony at the high school on May 28 at 10:45 a.m. to celebrate this historic moment in Belmont history.
  • BHSBC  Zero Net Energy Presentation: BHSBC Chair Bill Lovallo invited Rob Demers, one of the architects working on the project, to provide an overview to the School Committee at the April 23 meeting about how the high school project will be built to be a zero net energy building. Mr. Demers' presentation showed the green aspects of the new school, such as mechanical systems, lighting and plumbing. For more information, please see the Zero Net Energy presentation.
  • Belmont High School Phasing Presentation: Please see the Belmont High School Phasing presentation given to the School Committee at the May 7 meeting. Here you will see what it will look like on the BHS campus and information on accessing the campus from June 2019 to 2023. There are helpful maps and, hopefully, most questions answered that the Belmont community may have.

Configuration Working Group: Assistant Superintendent Janice Darius presented the findings of the grade Configuration Working Group, one of the groups formed as part of the District Configuration Education Plan, to the School Committee on May 7. The recommendation proposed grouping grades K-3 in the four elementary schools and grades 4-6 in the Chenery once the 7-12 school is completed. The School Committee will vote on this proposed configuration on May 21. Please see the Configuration Working Group Recommendations presentation for more information.

Last Day of School: The School Committee voted that Monday, June 17 is the last day of school for the 2018-2019 school year. It will be a half day for students and a full day for staff. The 2019-2020 school calendar is on the BPS website. Tuesday, September 3 is the first day of school for staff, and Wednesday, September 4 is the first day of school for students. There is an early release that day for students while staff has a full day with professional development.

FY20 School Budget: The School Committee voted on the 2019-2020 school budget at the April 23 meeting. The next step is to present it at Town meeting for approval in June. Please see the FY20 school budget presentation.

Belmont Against Racism (BAR) Acknowledgement: BAR was formally thanked at the May 7 School Committee meeting for all the support they give to our students and our work with them. To date, BAR has donated more than $12,000 in grants this year to BPS used for purposes such as Culturally Responsible Teaching, Parent Speakers Series, supporting our METCO students and more. Please see the Letter of Acknowledgement to the School Committee for more information.


There is still time to sign up for summer enrichment classes for students entering grades Pre-K through 6. Classes include engineering, coding, graphic design as well as two new classes for grades 5 and 6; Model UN and Foreign Language and Culture. Please see the BPS website for more information.


A series of free classes for parents of English learners about how to support your student's education are being held during this spring and summer. Please go to the BHS website for more information about the classes and to RSVP. 


Burbank Principal Dr. Tricia Clifford and Chenery Middle School Assistant Principal Torrance Lewis have announced their resignations, and will spend their last day at BPS on June 30. Dr. Clifford will become Assistant Superintendent at Bedford Public Schools, and Mr. Lewis will become Principal of the Baker School at Brookline Public Schools. There will be a search process for Mr. Lewis' replacement and an interim principal search for Burbank beginning on July 1 for the 2019-2020 school year. We thank Dr. Clifford and Mr. Lewis for their leadership, and we wish them well in their next endeavors.


  • On April 25 Assistant Superintendent Janice Darias and I attended the Capstone Project presentations at BHS. Capstone is a pilot program new this year offering students the opportunity to present their senior theses as a project-based learning alternative to the traditional senior theses. More than 75 students displayed and discussed their Capstone projects with students, teachers, and community members. The topics, the research, and the flexible products used by students were impressive. Traditional papers, art, and podcasts were among the different ways students demonstrated their learning. The students chose their own topics and presented them in their own unique way. The event was nothing short of amazing. The Capstone project is going in front of our School Committee Curriculum Sub Committee and our full School Committee this month.
  • Commissioner Riley and BPS Director of Human Resources Mary Pederson BPS and (BAR) held an event called "Building Bridges" on April 25 at the high school. The topic was about strategies for closing the diversity gap in school leadership and educators in public schools. We were honored to have the Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Jeffrey C. Riley as the keynote speaker, who is a Belmont High School graduate himself. Attending the event were deans and faculty of DESE approved educator prep and leadership prep programs, METCO and BPS staff. The discussion was followed by a working session in breakout spaces. Thank you to BPS Director of Human Resources Mary Pederson for her work in organizing this important and informative conversation.
  • This year’s Lillian F. Blacker Prizes for Excellence in writing are Abby Mohr, who won first place for her paper on Rushdie; Cameron Anderson, who won second place for this paper on Wilde; and Alex Park, who won third place for his paper on war novels. The Belmont High School English Department will present this annual award on May 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the BHS Library. The Blacker Prizes, named in memory of Lillian Blacker, a longtime Belmont resident known for her community service, are presented each year to three BHS seniors for outstanding writing ability on their senior theses. Some of this year’s English Capstone project students will display their completed portfolios with guests one hour before the Blacker prize ceremony begins. Please read more about these awards on the BHS website
  • Boston Belmont Friends Group and Families Boston and Belmont Friends Group with help from BAR held their annual family bowling event on March 11 at Boston Bowl in Dorchester, one of several gatherings the Group organizes during the school year. Now in its fifth year, the event was attended by more than 100 community members. This is a great way for Boston and Belmont parents and children to get together with old and new friends.
  • BHS Marauder of the Week for April 9 is Nathalie Hansen, for April 22 are Jessie La Roche and Jenn Muson, and for May 6 is Naina Woker. Please see the BHS website for more information about these students.
  • CMS Team 7-1 students had the opportunity to attend a presentation after school on April 8 to talk to Kelly Ann Cicales, WCVB Channel 5 meteorologist. There, the students were involved in demonstrations about weather concepts that have been discussed during science class. Ms. Cicales also took questions from the students about her job as a television meteorologist.
  • Daniel Zhang Men's Foil Champ U.S. Jr. Olympics Congratulations to CMS eighth-grader Daniel Zhang who recently won the championship in Men’s foil in the US Junior Olympics. Principal Mike McAllister reports Daniel placed first out of 300-plus fencers. Daniel is the youngest champion in US Men’s foil history.
  • Congratulations to BHS Junior Leon Fan who was just announced as one of 20 Semifinalists in the USA Biology Olympiad. He will be participating in the USABO National Finals held on the campus of University of California San Diego. The National Finals consists of two weeks of intensive theoretical and practical tutorials, where students work with leading biologists. At the conclusion of Finals, the students take two exams—a practical and theoretical—to compete for one of the four places on Team USA. The four gold medalists from the National Finals represent the United States at the International Biology Olympiad (IBO). The 2019 IBO will be held in Szeged, Hungary July 14 to 21, 2019.
  • Brain Break The kindergarten team at Winn Brook collaborated with Jessica Smith, their occupational therapist, in order to create a new and exciting sensory-motor opportunity for their students as one of the Professional Learning Team projects. Principal Janet Carey says the resulting “Sensory Pathway” includes gross motor exercises which are used to create “brain breaks” throughout the school day. Students follow the alphabet path while hopping over puddles, balancing on logs, stopping for wall-push-ups, etc. Ms. Smith says, “Organized gross motor tasks get the blood pumping, helping children sit still and focus for longer periods of time in the classroom. Sensory Pathways assist those that need to increase their energy and arousal level as well as those who need to calm and organize their bodies.” Principal Carey says this is just one of the exciting projects undertaken by their teachers and specialists.
  • Butler visit to LEGO Car Rally workshop at Edgerton Center at MIT Butler third graders visited the Edgerton Center at MIT on March 19, 21 and 25 to take part in the LEGO Car Rally workshop there. Organized by the PTA to enhance the curriculum unit on Force and Motion, the workshop provides a hands-on experience in mechanical engineering. The students are tasked with building cars from LEGO bricks that are tested on a ramp course to see how far they will travel, and on a tilt-board to demonstrate their center of gravity.
  • Wellington Science Night Wellington Science Night, a non-competitive science fair, was held on April 11. Organized by the PTO, 106 students worked in small groups of two or three to research and present an idea/experiment aligned with the third and fourth grade science units. The night's purpose is to encourage student's interest in science, develop their inquiry and investigation skills, and to help them learn to work as a team. This year's themes for third grade were Water-Weather and Climate, Animal Adaptations, and Competing Forces and Motion. Fourth grade themes were Changing Earth, Experiments with Plants, and Focus on Energy.  
  • Burbank Geography Challenge Burbank held the 24th Annual Dr. Feinberg Geography Challenge on March 21 and 22. Organized by the PTA, Burbank students who signed up for the Challenge answered questions found in the Study Guide, which is distributed before the Challenge day. The Challenge had 254 students participate, forming 70 teams of three or four students. This educational and non-competitive event is always a fun activity for teachers, students and parents to watch, learn, and cheer the teams.
  • Student Playing Ukulele at Butler School Last year, students in our elementary schools began using ukuleles in their music classrooms. As a part of the music curriculum in various grades, students use ukuleles in addition to other instruments to explore how different chords and chord progressions give structure to and support melodies. Now in the second year with the ukuleles, the elementary music teachers say the ukulele enables children who may not have had any prior involvement with a string instrument get that hands-on experience to add to their general music knowledge. The students are having fun and enjoy the ease of learning the ukulele. The elementary music teachers are grateful to the FBE grant and POMS funds which has made this possible.


  • Learning Cycle 2 grant awards were approved on March 26. The six approved Learning Excellence Grants total $25,922. This grant program awards teachers and educators in the fall and the spring. We thank the Foundation for Belmont Education for their continued support to Belmont Public Schools. Please see the FBE website for more information on these grants and recipients.
  • 2019 FBE Outstanding Teacher Award left to right; Leon Dyer, Bhuvana Kaushik, Kelly Mastalong, Ellen Levy, Nicole Torniero, Colleen McBride, Sarah Pierson, Mark Abruzzese The FBE Outstanding Teacher Awards were held on May 2 at CMS. Please see the BPS website for the names and a brief look at what makes the 2019 Outstanding Teacher of the Year Honorees special. Congratulations to all of these educators.


  • The Belmont METCO Art show held at the Grove Hall Public Library on April 11 exhibited K-8 student artwork of the Belmont students who live in Boston. The room was full of parents and BPS staff who came out to support these young artists. METCO Director Rosa Inniss said she enjoyed seeing students reconnecting with some of their former teachers as well as parents building relationships with their students' current teachers and school leaders. Thank you to the Visual Arts teachers for all of their work in organizing this successful event.
  • The Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association (MICCA) three-day concert festival was held at Chenery in early April. This event is made up of thousands of student musicians from 35 different bands and orchestras from neighboring communities. This was Belmont's first time hosting, organized by Chenery Band Director of member of the MICCA board Megan Riccio. Thank you to the BPS music teachers, parent and student volunteers for a successful event.


  • Congratulations to BHS Girls' Rugby Head Coach Kathryn McCabe named the recipient of the 2019 MIAA Girls' Rugby "Coach of the Year". Ms. McCabe will be presented the award at the MIAA Annual Awards Recognition Banquet on May 23 at the Doubletree Hotel in Milford.
  • Congratulations to the Belmont Boosters of the Month for February 2019, Maiya Bergdorf for Girls Basketball and Antonio Netto for Boys Swimming, and March 2019 Boosters of the Month Nina Minicozzi for Girls Basketball and Danny Yardemian for Boys Basketball.


The Library Building Committee and the Architectural Team will present designs for the new library on May 19 at 2:00 p.m. in the Assembly Room. There they will discuss plan options among other items. Please see more on the Belmont Public Library website.


The Belmont Facilities Department has openings for persons interested in applying for temporary summer positions within the department. The hourly compensation will be $12.00 per. Responsibilities will included basic custodial and maintenance tasks, such as cleaning, painting, moving furniture, light landscaping, raking mowing and pruning. Days and hours are Monday through Thursday, 7:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Fridays 7:00 am to 1:00 pm. Please go to the Human Resources page on the BPS website for more information and how to apply.


Below are some events going on through June. Please check school websites and communications for any additional events, information or changes in dates, times or venues.


May 10, 11 - 7:00 p.m. (on May 11 an att'l performance at 4:00 p.m.) - BHS Little Theater - BHS One Act Play Festival. Tickets are on sale at Champions in Belmont Center and online. Please see the PAC website for more information.

May 13 - 7:00 p.m. - BHS Room 113 - Belmont Boosters Club Member Annual Meeting

May 15 - 6:30 p.m. - BHS Library - Lillian Blacker Awards

May 16, 17, 18 - 7:00 p.m. (4:00 p.m. on 5/18) - CMS Auditorium - CMS Spring Play

May 17 - BHS Senior/Junior Prom

May 21 - 7:00 p.m. - CMS Community Room - School Committee Meeting

May 22 - 7:00 p.m. - CMS Auditorium - Grade 4-5 Chamber Orchestra Concert

May 22 - 6:30 p.m. - BHS Field House - New England Patriots Celebrity Basketball Team vs Belmont Boosters "All-Stars"; Please go to the Belmont Boosters website for ticket information

May 23, 24 - 7:00 p.m. - BHS Little Theater - BHS Improv Show

May 24 - CMS Honors Festival

May 24 - Memorial Day Exercises

May 27 - Memorial Day Holiday - Schools not in Session

May 29 - Early Release all Schools

May 29 - K-12 Art Reception

May 30 - 7:00 p.m. - CMS Auditorium - Grade 7-8 Chorus/Orchestra Concert

May 30 - 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. - Wellington Spring Family Picnic

June 1 - BHS - SAT Testing

June 2 - Belmont High School Graduation

June 3 - 9:00 a.m. - Winn Brook Cafeteria - PTA Meeting

June 3 - 7:00 p.m. - CMS Auditorium - Grade 7-8 Band Concert

June 4 - 5:00 p.m. - BHS Auditorium - Spring Athletic Awards

June 4 - 6:15 p.m./6:45 p.m./7:00 p.m. - CMS Cafeteria/Community Room - Retiree Reception/Retiree Recognition/School Committee Meeting

June 5 - 7:00 p.m. - Chenery PTO Meeting

June 6 - 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. - Winn Brook Ice Cream Social

June 6 - 7:00 p.m. - CMS Auditorium - Grade 6 Band, Chorus, Orchestra Concerts

June 8 - BHS - ACT Testing

June 13 - 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. - Chenery Grade 8 Party

June 17 - Last Day of School; half day for students, full day for staff

June 18 - 7:00 p.m. - CMS Community Room - School Committee Meeting

Burbank Students at Geography Challenge  Burbank Geography Challenge  Wellington Science Night  Butler visit to LEGO Car Rally workshop at Edgerton Center at MIT  Taking a Brain Break  Brain Break  Daniel Zhang Men's Foil Champ U.S. Jr. Olympics  WCVB Meteorologist Kelly Ann Cicales with CMS Team 7-1 Students  Families bowling  Boston Belmont bowling  Boston Belmont Friends Group and Families  Audience at Building Bridges  Commissioner Riley Speaking  Commissioner Riley and BPS Director of Human Resources Mary Pederson  Latinos for Education CEO and Co-Founder Amanda Fernandez, BPS Superintendent John Phelan, Comm. of Secondary and Elementary Education in MA Jeffrey C. Riley, BPS HR Director Mary Pederson  Student Playing Ukulele at Butler School  2019 FBE Outstanding Teacher Award left to right; Leon Dyer, Bhuvana Kaushik, Kelly Mastalong, Ellen Levy, Nicole Torniero, Colleen McBride, Sarah Pierson, Mark Abruzzese