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Superintendent's December 2019 Newsletter

date 12/13/2019

We wish everyone Happy Holidays, a restful winter recess, and a Happy New Year as we usher in a new decade. Please look below for news and pictures in the gallery. 

“To sit down on a chair and read my books with all my friends at school is my right. To see each and every human being with a smile of happiness is my wish. I am Malala. My world has changed but I have not.”
― Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala


The last day of school before our winter recess is Friday, December 20. Please know we are conducting a full day of school on that day. The winter recess begins Saturday, December 21 through January 1, with school back in session on Thursday, January 2. 


Winter Weather Although winter weather came early beginning with a snow storm Thanksgiving weekend, we want to remind you at this time of the various ways you can find out about school delays and closings. As always, Belmont Public Schools will put an automated call out to parents and staff.

When faced with inclement weather, we will consider the following options: closing school for the day, calling for a one-hour delay, calling for a two-hour delay, and/or having a full school day. These decisions are made with the support of the other town departments as we consider the safety of our staff and students traveling to school.

Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the various ways you can find out about an unexpected school closing or delay due to weather:

WBZ Radio (1030 AM) and TV (Channel 4) http://boston.cbslocal.com/closings/

WRKO Radio (680 AM) and WHDH TV (Channel 7) http://whdh.com/storm-closings-delays/

WCVB TV (Channel 5) http://www.wcvb.com/weather/closings 

The BPS Website http://www.belmont.k12.ma.us/bps/Parents/School-Closing-Delayed-Opening


  • 2020-2021 School Calendar: Assistant Superintendent Janice Darias presented the school calendar for 2020-2021 at the December 10 School Committee Meeting. The School Committee will vote on the calendar at the January 7 meeting.
  • English Language Education Update: Director of English Language Education Lindsey Rinder presented an annual update on the program to the School Committee at the December 10 meeting. New this year is the English Learner Parent Advisory Council (ELPAC). ELPAC works to promote multilingual and multicultural values for all students and help in integrating new English language learners into the Belmont community.
  • Meagan Taylor and Nathan White from Cityside Subaru with Winn Brook first grade class Subaru Loves Learning Book Donation: Cityside Subaru donated 150 science books for our elementary science program. Jessica DeFrances, K-4 math/science curriculum specialist, selected books that align with our science and English language arts curricula. Please see more information in the Memorandum presented at the December 10 School Committee Meeting.
  • Vision 21 Implementation Committee Update: The Town Vision 21 committee presented their Belmont Master Plan Project Overview to the School Committee at the December 10 meeting. For more on this, please see their presentation for the Refresh Overview, Timeline, and other information.
  • The Identity Project: Dr. Adriana Umaña-Taylor, professor of education in the Harvard Graduate School of Education, presented her curriculum, The Identity Project, to the School Committee at the November 26 meeting. This curriculum is evidence-based and designed to support adolescents in the developmental processes of exploring ethnic-racial identity and resolution. Dr. Umaña-Taylor explained how adolescents demonstrate better mental health and overall general well-being if they have a clear sense of their identity. This fits well into our district Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Culturally Responsive Teaching work (CRT).The Identity Project curriculum will be implemented with eighth grade students in the spring of 2020 in eight sessions during ELA at Chenery. Please see more information in Dr. Umaña-Taylor's presentation.
  • Middle School Math: Assistant Superintendent Janice Darias presented to the School Committee on November 26 the school administration's recommendation to discontinue the practice of allowing students to take a test in order to advance a year of middle school math. The administration explained that the current practice that allows students to take more advanced classes sooner is challenging due to logistical, financial, and class size issues. Additionally it has also resulted in a negative impact on some student's social and emotional well-being. We have heard thoughtful and constructive feedback from parents in the community, and we are reviewing this recommendation and will report back in the near future. For more detail on this, please see the presentation.
  • CMS Community Block: Chenery Principal Mike McAllister presented Community Block to the School Committee at the November 12 meeting. On Wednesdays at Chenery there is a 45 minute Community Block in the morning to allow teachers and students a structured school-wide break to deepen collaborative relationships by having the time to do so. The idea had been around in past years and was revisited this year through Social Emotional Learning (SEL) survey data, polling teachers and students on their needs, and looking at research. So far, the initial results are favorable, and the Chenery administration will continue to check on the progress of this pilot program.


We have posted the principal positions at Burbank and Winn Brook Elementary Schools. As you may know, Winn Brook Principal Janet Carey is retiring at the end of this school year, and we wish her well in her retirement. The Burbank principal position is currently filled for one year with Interim Principal Seeley Okie. Although Principal Okie is serving Burbank well, the position must be filled permanently. 

Search committees, made up of parents, staff and administrators, are being formed and will meet after the winter recess. The committees will review resumes and make recommendations for interviews. Two or three finalists selected by the committees will then be referred to the Superintendent. Each finalist will spend a day in the district meeting school staff, central office staff, parents/ guardians and community members.

I would like to thank Interim Director of Human Resources Judith Malone Neville, Assistant Superintendent Janice Darias, and all the members of the search committees for their time and thoughtful attention toward this important work. Parents at Burbank and Winn Brook can contact the PTA chairs if they would like to be considered for placement on one of the search committees.


Kindergarten Information Night Audience Kindergarten Parent Information Night for parents and guardians of students entering kindergarten at Belmont Public Schools in 2020-2021 will be held on Thursday, January 23 at 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the Chenery Middle School auditorium  (snow date Thursday, January 30).

Presenting is Superintendent John Phelan along with central office personnel and elementary school principals (please note Kindergarten Parent Information Night is for adults only).

Online registration opens on January 24 incoming kindergarteners and for students new to Belmont Public Schools. Please do not register an existing student.

Kindergarten Central Registration is on March 26 and 27 by appointment only for families with students entering kindergarten in 2020-2021. More details will be presented at Kindergarten Information Night.

Registration information is available on the Belmont Public Schools website at: http://www.belmont.k12.ma.us/bps/Parents/Registration/K-4-Registration.

We hope to see you there!


  • Butler Gr. 3 Visit to MIT LEGO Butler third grade classrooms visited the Edgerton Center at M.I.T. as an enhancement to the curriculum unit on Force and Motion last month, sponsored by the PTA. Students had hands-on experience in mechanical engineering through the LEGO Car Rally workshop. The students built cars from LEGO bricks and testing them on a ramp course to see how far they would travel while systematically altering variables to modify their cars and center of gravity..
  • Fine Dining Day with Wellington Parent Anne Paretti on piano Wellington had Fine Dining Day in honor of first grade teacher Carolyn Bell who retired last week. The students dressed in fancy clothes while eating lunch on tablecloths with flowers on the tables and practiced their table manners. Wellington parent Ann Paretti and Carolyn Bell both played the piano for the students to enjoy. We also at this time wish Carolyn Bell the best in her retirement.
  • WBZ-TV Meteorologist Sarah Wroblewski visited Butler first grade classrooms on November 22. Invited by the PTA to enhance the curriculum unit on weather, Ms. Wroblewski spoke about tools used to measure temperature and observe weather, ways to predict weather, and the differences seen in weather during the seasons.
  • CMS Art Teacher's Henson Lesson CMS students learned about the history, artwork, and puppeteering engineering of artist Jim Henson, creator of characters from the Muppets and Sesame Street, on October 31. Students created illustrations of their own Jim Henson puppets, and the teachers dressed up to help inspire them. The art department takes the day every year as an opportunity to focus on either a specific artist or art movement in a fun and creative way.
  • Game Night at Winn Brook Game Night at Winn Brook, held on November 20, was a great success. The event raised more than $600 for the PTA and fulfilled 20 wish-list games. Each classroom gets a new game just in time for rainy days.


The Belmont community is helping many organizations during this holiday season. Well done to all:

  • Getting boxes ready Chenery held their annual food drive benefitting the Belmont Food Pantry November 25 through December 6. This drive is the food pantry's biggest donation drive, and Chenery did not disappoint with 3,260 non-perishable food items collected and delivered to the pantry on December 7. Thirty volunteers comprised of staff, students and families boxed and loaded up the items.
  • Winn Brook held their Annual Gift Drive, donating gifts to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.
  • Wellington throughout December is holding their Helping Hands Drive collecting winter gear for Children's Services of Roxbury
  • BHS Belmontian Club continues the more than 20-year-old tradition of making and selling snowflake ornaments to students and staff to fund gifts for families struggling with critical illness through Community Servings in Jamaica Plain. Sales are going on now up to delivery before the winter recess.
  • All schools are participating in the BHS Second Hand Club's first clothing drive of the year going on through December 20. Benefitting Dress for Success, schools are collecting women's gently used (cleaned) professional attire.


Belmont High School had 72 students accepted to perform in the Massachusetts Music Educators Association (MMEA) Northeast Senior District and, chorus, orchestra or jazz ensemble, which will take place on January 8, 10, and 11. In addition, many of these students earned recommendations to audition again for the All-State ensembles later in the year. Congratulations to these students and to all 138 students who auditioned, prepared, and made their best effort at these auditions. Please see more from Director of Visual and Performing Arts Arto Asadoorian on the BPS website.


There is a lot of news from Athletic Director Jim Davis from games to awards. Please read below for all.

SCHEDULE - All Events - Belmont HS & Chenery MS
12/14/2019 to 12/21/2019

Saturday, December 14
9:00 AM Boys Varsity Wrestling Triton Regional High @ Quad Meet @ Triton Reg HS Away
12:00 PM Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Wilmington High School Away
1:00 PM Boys Varsity Ice Hockey Wilmington High School Home
7:00 PM Boys Varsity Swimming Reading High School Away
Sunday, December 15
6:20 PM Boys Junior Varsity Ice Hockey Uxbridge High School Away
Monday, December 16
3:30 PM Boys Varsity Swimming North Andover HS Away
3:30 PM Girls Chenery Middle Basketball Waltham Kennedy MS Home
5:00 PM Boys Chenery Middle Basketball Waltham Kennedy MS Home
5:00 PM Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Medford High School Home
Tuesday, December 17
4:00 PM Boys Varsity Swimming Winchester High School Away
4:15 PM Girls Junior Varsity Basketball Wilmington High School Away
4:15 PM Girls Freshman Basketball Wilmington High School Away
4:30 PM Boys Varsity Indoor Track Lexington High School ML - Block #1 @ BU Away
4:30 PM Girls Varsity Indoor Track Lexington High School ML - Block #1 @ BU Away
5:00 PM Boys Junior Varsity Basketball Wilmington High School Home
5:30 PM Boys Freshman Basketball Wilmington High School Home
6:00 PM Girls Varsity Basketball Wilmington High School Away
6:30 PM Boys Varsity Basketball Wilmington High School Home
Wednesday, December 18
4:00 PM Boys Junior Varsity Ice Hockey Arlington High School Away
5:00 PM Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Stoneham High School Home
6:00 PM Boys Varsity Wrestling Woburn High School Home
6:00 PM Boys Junior Varsity Indoor Track OPEN DATE Away
6:00 PM Girls Junior Varsity Indoor Track OPEN DATE Away
8:00 PM Boys Varsity Ice Hockey Stoneham High School Away
Thursday, December 19
8:30 PM Boys Varsity Swimming Watertown High School Away
Friday, December 20
4:00 PM Boys Freshman Basketball Winchester High School Away
5:00 PM Girls Junior Varsity Basketball Winchester High School Home
5:15 PM Boys Junior Varsity Basketball Winchester High School Away
5:30 PM Girls Freshman Basketball Winchester High School Home
6:30 PM Girls Varsity Basketball Winchester High School Home
7:00 PM Boys Varsity Basketball Winchester High School Away
Saturday, December 21
TBA Boys Varsity Indoor Track OPEN DATE MSTCA Speed Classic LG Schools @ RLTC Away
TBA Girls Varsity Indoor Track OPEN DATE MSTCA Speed Classic LG Schools @ RLTC Away
8:00 AM Boys Varsity Wrestling Wayland High School Wayland Tournament Away
1:00 PM Boys Varsity Ice Hockey Melrose HS Home

BHS Athletics Department held the 2019 Fall Athletic Awards on November 19. Congratulations to all.

In addition, congratulations to the athletes below named the 2019 Fall Middlesex League All Stars and All Conference (where noted):


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

December 13 - Burbank - Book Fair

December 13 - 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. - Butler Family Art Show

December 14 - BHS - ACT Testing

December 16 through December 20 - Mon. 11a-5p; Tues., Wed., Thurs. 8a-5p; Fri. 8a-11a - CMS Book Fair

December 16 - 7:00 p.m. - CMS Auditorium - Honors Concert

December 17 - 7:00 p.m. - CMS Auditorium - Gr. 6 Band Concert

December 17 - 6:30 p.m. - BHS LIttle Theater - BHS/McLean Hospital Speaker Series - Managing Stress and Anxiety; Strategies and Recources for Students and Families

December 18 - 7:00 p.m. - BHS Auditorium - Winter Concert #2

December 23 through January 1 - No School - Winter Recess

January 3 - 7:00 p.m. - Viglirolo Rink - Butler Ice Skating Night

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

January 8 through 11 - Off Site - Sr. District Festival

January 9 - BHS Patrons Meeting

January 10 - 7:00 p.m. - Viglirolo Rink - Wellington Sue Tudisco Ice Skating Night

January 14 - 7:00 p.m. - BHS Auditorium - Screening: Screenages NEXT Chaper: Uncoveing Skills for Streee Resilience

January 15 - 8:00 a.m. - BHS Little Theater - Sophomore Parent Coffee/Conversation with BHS Guidance

January 15 - 7:30 p.m. - BHS Library - BHS PTSO Meeting

January 16 - 6:00 p.m. CMS Gr. 5 Band/7:30 p.m. CMS Gr. 5 Orchestra - CMS Auditorium

January 15 - 6:30 p.m. - Burbank PTA Meeting

January 16 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. - Winn Brook Multicultural Night

January 20 - No School - Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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

January 23 - 8:00 a.m. - Coffee with the Principal

January 24 - 7:00 p.m. - Viglirolo Rink - Burbank Ice Skating Party

January 24 - 6:30 p.m. - Winn Brook Movie Night

January 24 - 6:15 p.m. - Moira Gavin BINGO Night - Wellington

January 25 - Off Site - All State Auditions

January 31 and February 1 - 7:00 p.m. - BHS Little Theater - Improv Show


Getting boxes ready  Food Drive Boxes being packed  Packing the truck  Kindergarten Information Night Audience  Winter Weather  CMS Art Teacher's Henson Lesson  Henson Lesson pic 1  Henson Lesson pic 2  Henson Lesson pic 3  Henson Lesson pic 4  Henson Lesson pic 5  Henson Lesson pic 6  Henson Lesson pic 7  Henson Lesson pic 8  WBZ-TV Meteorologist Sarah Wroblewski visits Butler Gr. 1  Fine Dining Day with Wellington Parent Anne Paretti on piano  Teacher Carolyn Bell with school mascot Welly and Parent Anne Paretti  Game Night at Winn Brook  Game Night Playing  Butler Gr. 3 Visit to MIT LEGO  Butler Gr. 3 Visit to MIT  Winn Brook first grade class with books  Meagan Taylor and Nathan White from Cityside Subaru with Winn Brook first grade class