Address: Butler Elementary School
90 White St,
Belmont, MA 02478
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This morning I had the honor of virtually attending the Belmont 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Virtual Community Celebration, hosted by the Belmont Human Rights Commission and Belmont Against Racism. It was both moving and inspiring. A powerful video created by former Belmont High School students was featured during the event, and the keynote speaker, Boston Globe Associate Editor and Columnist, Renee Graham, gave a thought-provoking speech and offered some powerful responses to participant questions. If you weren't able to attend (or didn't know about it), it will likely be available on the Belmont Media Center website, as they were also a co-sponsor of the event.
I am struck by the direct relationship between the person we are celebrating today and the significance of the event that will be occurring on Wednesday. On Inauguration Day, for the first time in U.S. history, we will have a Black Woman as Vice President. This is a major milestone in the striving for racial and gender equity and justice. As I prepared the materials for our school celebration this week, I listened more closely to Dr. King’s entire “I Have a Dream” speech, and have been more moved than I ever have in my life. It is stunning both how powerful his words were, and how relevant they still are today, nearly sixty years after he delivered that speech. While it’s painful that his call is still so necessary right now, it is also comforting that we still have the power of his words to continue to inspire us and compel us to rise to the fierce urgency of now.
We will be having an all school celebration of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther, King Jr. this Friday (January 22) at 1:15pm. A team of fourth graders will be helping me to lead the celebration, and classroom teachers will show the celebration during their class meetings beginning at 1:15. You are welcome to join us by sitting with your child(ren) during our celebration.
On January 14 and 16, Kyandreia Jones, author of two Choose Your Own Adventure books, led virtual writers’ workshops with fourth-grade classes at Butler. Many thanks to our PTA, who, in partnership with Belmont Books, coordinated this fantastic visit. Kyandreia Jones sent the message below regarding the visit:
"I have absolutely adored facilitating workshops. The talented students and their incredible educators have made my work quite easy. I just show up and smile and laugh for an hour. Everyone is so kind and excited to embark on the journey of writing and creation. I found both workshops with the Butler School informative, inspiring, and eye-opening. The students have truly wow'd me with their descriptive stories full of mystery, heroism, and adventure. I couldn't believe how beautiful and witty and precious their stories were. They used awesome words like melodious, prestigious, and gaze. They wrote phrases like "You lie in darkness". There are definitely some future best sellers in the bunch. I could cry with how moved I was by them. Mr. Chiu, Ms. Hutton, Ms. Yates and Mr. Tavares were also instrumental in the event's success. They guided me/students through technical difficulties, applauded all the amazing stories, and made me feel welcomed throughout the workshop. It truly was my pleasure to virtually make everyone's acquaintance and empower them as they empowered me.
This has been a healing and positive experience. Both workshops inspired hope and reminded me why it is so important to believe in a bright future for kids like the students I met this week to know, explore, and inherit."
At last week's School Committee meeting, the Elementary Hybrid Advisory presented its recommendations to refine and improve our current hybrid model based on survey data collected from 539 family submissions and 126 staff submissions. To view the presentation, please go to the Belmont Media Center website, and here is a link to the slide deck we used to present the information. Thank you to all of the parents who offered to be on the committee, and to Butler parent, Jung Yueh, for serving on the committee.
During the week of February 1-5, our PTA has organized a series of events to celebrate our reading lives! Belmont High School students will be sharing pre-recorded read alouds throughout the week, and here are live events planned (Zoom links will be sent directly to family emails the morning of each event):
There are some accompanying handouts for the week, which are attached to this newsletter (see below). They will also be available outside of school during the week of January 25-29.
BAR invited Belmont community members to present their ongoing work at their meeting this past Thursday evening. District leaders, teachers (including a BECA member), School Committee members, and I had the opportunity to talk about our work. Before I began, I shared the metaphor Barack Obama recently used to describe his time in office: it is a relay, and one takes the baton and carries it for a while and then passes it on. Here is the slide deck I presented at the meeting to capture the work of the last four and a half years of my time at Butler, acknowledging that good work had been going before I arrived. While we have been growing and evolving, we know there is still much work to be done, and we welcome your partnership. Visit the website of BAR if you're interested in learning more about their work.
Finally, I would like to share with you my sincere and profound gratitude for each one of you. These are incredibly difficult times, and I know that each of you is managing (or not managing...) your own challenges, stresses, and anxieties. As parents, the weight on you right now is tremendous to balance so many things over a very sustained period with an unclear endpoint. Please, please, carve out time for self-care, even just a few minutes each day, to fill your own bucket. Also, please forgive yourself. In "normal time" it's very easy for parents to second guess every choice and to beat ourselves up for not hitting it out of the park every time (or ever). In these times, it is critical that you love and embrace yourself for doing the best that you can. Please reach out if you need any assistance or support. We are here for you.
With warm wishes for good health and peace,
Danielle Betancourt, Principal
With the long weekend upon us, I would like to remind you that Hawaii continues to be the only state identified as a low risk state. This means that per the travel order and BPS policy, travel outside of Massachusetts, even to neighboring states, PCR COVID testing is needed for your child to return to school.
If you travel outside of Massachusetts, please complete this form and submit PCR COVID test results to our school nurse before your child returns to school. To ensure the safety of everyone, please do not send your student to school until you receive clearance directly from the school nurse.
Please keep this in mind for all weekends and vacation weeks.
If you have any questions, please reach out to our school nurse via email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 617-993-5556. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Lisa Harteveldt BSN, RN
Butler School Nurse