Thursday, March 13th is Band Night at the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School Auditorium. Youth Band, Middle School Band, Jazz Band and Concert Band are all performing beginning at 7 p.m. Please join us in celebrating our very talented band students in grades 4 – 12 under the direction of the Melrose Band Director, Matthew Repucci. The suggested donation for the band night concert is $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. Tickets are available at the door.
Roman Music Therapy, featuring Meredith Picci’s Sprouting Melodies, will provide the entertainment at this month’s Melrose Kids Club on Friday, March 14, from 10-11 a.m., at Memorial Hall. Admission is free.
Each month, The Melrose Kids Club features a different entertainer for children age 5 and under and offers parents and caregivers an opportunity to get together and network with each other.
Please check www.melrosememorialhall.com for additional dates and information.
Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School is already a green school, but could it get greener?
The Green Team thinks it can—and they are doing something about it.
The Green Team is an environmental club at the middle school, and last year they took part in the national We Can Change the World Challenge, in which they had to look at how to improve the school from an environmental perspective. One of the problems they identified was water bottle waste, and this year, the team decided to take action: They are raising funds for a water bottle refilling station in the school.
The students began by doing a survey of students, then met with principal Tom Brow to discuss their proposal. “He loved the idea, and he has been a great advocate for them,” said Recycling Coordinator Jessie Schmitt, who has been working with the Green Team for the past two years. With his approval, the students began fund-raising. They started with a presentation to the middle school PTO, which kicked things off with a $500 donation. Then they spoke to Kara Showers, who runs the Mass In Motion health initiative. “She is trying to encourage kids to drink more water, instead of juice or soda, so Mass in Motion has now donated $100 toward the station,” said Schmitt.
The Green Team also did their own fund-raisers: A bake sale, a hot chocolate sale, and a sale of reusable bottles that students will be able to use at the new station.
As they neared their fund-raising goal, the students met with the sales representative from the company that makes the refilling station and asked “all sorts of questions,” Schmitt said. They also talked to DPW staff to determine where the station should be placed; as it will be located next to an existing water fountain, no new plumbing will be needed. As of this writing, the students are close to their goal.
Schmitt and science teachers Julia Apostolos and Erik Murray are the club advisors, but Schmitt says they are very hands-off. “They make all the decisions,” Schmitt said. “If they say ‘What should we do?’ we say ‘Ask your teammates.’ They are so determined—they have taken this on as their own project, and they are getting their friends involved as well.”
For Maura Conlan, moving from school secretary to administrative assistant was more than a change in job title; it was an acknowledgement that she was doing more than smiling and answering the phone.
Conlan and Hoover School principal Jenny Corduck break it down very simply: “If it’s educationally related, it belongs to Jenny,” Conlan said. “If it’s anything else, it starts with me.” That “anything else” can range from attendance to technology to issues with the building.
The position of school secretary for the elementary schools and the ECC was eliminated at the end of the last school year and replaced with a new job, administrative assistant. “Nobody likes to reapply for their own job,” said Conlan, “but because it had grown so much, it was an opportunity to say yes, I’m going to take that step.”
That change in position and title reflected a reality that has been evolving for several years. “There are definitely responsibilities that all elementary and ECC secretary/administrators were doing,” Conlan said. “This change made it official and more of an expectation versus things that I do that are outside my realm.”
Conlan sees her job as giving Corduck and the teachers the support they need to do their jobs. That means if a parent reports a patch of ice on the playground, she tells the custodian; when students are getting ready to do the announcements, she makes sure they can pronounce all the names correctly. She updates the school website and co-writes the school newsletter with Corduck. “As the day goes on, the biggest part is managing Jenny’s schedule, making sure she is where she needs to be and making sure she has time in the classrooms, and getting the teachers the support they need,” she said. “The shift in this position is to allow educators to educate and to not spend all of that time during the day on tasks that aren’t necessarily related to educating the children.”
Before coming to the Hoover this year, Conlan was the school secretary at the Early Childhood Center for six years, so she understands how the job has changed. Either way, she is “the face of the school,” the first person most parents and visitors encounter. “Not only should we have an environment that is welcoming and friendly, but we should also be professional and efficient,” she said. “The shift has been away from just warm and friendly–it needs to be both.”
The West Wyoming Avenue neighborhood has a great new addition: The Melrose Diner, on the site of the former Coffee Time at 44 West Wyoming Ave. I stopped by today to say hello and got a warm welcome from owner Thoma Zoto and his wife. The diner is open for breakfast and lunch, and I expect it will quickly become a neighborhood favorite.
Someone dropped by Angela Singer’s classroom in Melrose High School recently, and on the way out, asked “Is that your AP class?”
It wasn’t, although it could be. In fact, the students in her classroom were preparing for the LA2 Tenacity Challenge, a competitive academic event for African American and Latino students in the greater Boston area. Last year, Melrose High School sent one team to compete against the other schools in the Challenge; this year, they will send three. The Challenge will be held on March 29—but students have been preparing all year.
The challenge includes a number of parts that require different skill sets, according to Singer, who is the Chair of the English Department as well as the advisor for the group. Students create a banner that represents their team, debate a social studies question (last year’s question: “Has South Africa progressed significantly in the 20 years since apartheid?”), make a presentation on a work of literature, and finally, compete in a science and math quiz.
“It’s a great deal of work, but it gives our African American and Latino students here at Melrose High School a place to shine,” said Singer. “I think as in any academic competition, if students feel they have done well, it very much enhances their opinion of themselves as students. They may feel they should progress to another level of study, to an honors or AP class, because they have received this outside feedback on how successful they could be.”
The Tenacity Challenge was created by Bedford Superintendent of Schools Jon Sills and is currently in its third year. The Melrose team includes both METCO and non-METCO students, Singer said, and this is the second year the school has participated.
“Last year we had a team of seven, all 9th and 10th graders,” Singer said. Thanks to their enthusiasm, Melrose High is sending three teams this year, the original team plus two new ones. METCO director Doreen Ward has been an enthusiastic supporter and lobbied several students to join, Singer said, and the faculty have been generous with their time to help the students prepare.
The students have the opportunity to win scholarship money in the competitions, but Singer said there are intangible benefits as well. “It’s great for college applications, and I’ve been very impressed by the way it changes students’ perceptions of themselves,” she said. “This year I am teaching a sophomore honors class in English and I have three students from last year’s team. They are all doing very well. This is a new way for them to see themselves: They think of themselves as being better students and more competitive academically.”
This year, 146 students at the Hoover School are aiming to run 100 miles—one mile at a time.
Fourth-grade teacher Joellen Beaudet started the club this year after reading a magazine article about Kara Lubin, a California teacher who found that her students did better in school when they got daily exercise. Lubin went on to found the 100 Mile Club, which now has chapters in 50 states and 45 countries.
Members of the Hoover School 100 Mile Club meet four times a week after school to run laps around the playground (in good weather) or do a circuit of the school itself (in bad weather). They know that eight laps around the playground is a mile, and they tally their laps every day. As students reach different milestones, they get incentives—a T-shirt at 25 miles, a pencil at 50, a bracelet at 75. At the end of the year, the club will hold a special assembly and the students who have reached 100 miles will get a medal.
The 100 Mile Club does more than help students stay fit—it is also bringing the school together, said Beaudet. “We have students from every single level, kindergarten through fifth grade, and we also have 12 staff members who are the coaches,” she said. “We thought this would be a fun thing to get the kids up and moving, but we also found that students have developed relationships with staff members that they might not have for years down the road. They know them by name, they greet each other in the hallway. In the past, kindergarteners might not have interactions with fifth-graders, but now they do. As a teacher of upper grades, the fact that I know so many of these K-2 students and they know me has been the best part—the relationships that have formed because of this little half hour.” At the same time, the parents of the 100 Mile Club members are getting to know each other as well, and some of them walk or run with the students.
“On Fridays, when the weather is nice, we bring our the sound system and play music while the kids are running,” Beaudet said. “We also have 100 Mile Club cheerleaders who put on a dance performance in the middle when the others are running.”
When she was planning the club, Beaudet and another 100 Mile Club coach, first-grade teacher Jenn Flynn, had the opportunity to meet Lubin personally when she made a trip to Boston. “She is a great varsity coach, and we are the freshman coaches,” said Flynn, who is a longtime runner. After that meeting, and hearing what coaches in other communities were doing, Beaudet and Flynn started planning more activities for next year, such as themed activities once a month. “As this was the first year, a lot of it has been trial and error,” said Beaudet. “I think next year we will be that much more prepared and add in more fun little bits.”
Hoover School principal Jenny Corduck and her staff have launched a new initiative this year to help students develop good habits and build leadership skills.
“We wanted something to help build community,” said Betsy Lamore, the educational facilitator and psychologist at the Hoover School. “This is a nice, small elementary school, and we wanted to foster that and have everyone feel comfortable and welcome here.” She and Corduck decided to take a systematic approach to address students’ social/emotional and behavioral needs, using The Seven Habits of Happy Children, which is based on the work of Stephen Covey (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People). The staff has also been reading and discussing The Leader in Me, which describes how a school put those principles into practice.
The school year began with students and staff writing a set of school-wide expectations. “The staff developed expectations for common areas, including bathrooms, the lunchroom, and the hallways, and the teachers and the students worked together on classroom and playground rules,” Lamore said. “Everybody has the same rules now, and the kids know what to expect.”
Corduck and Lamore introduce each new habit with an assembly in the school’s all-purpose room. After that, each classroom has mini-lessons to reinforce the habit. “We try to do it slowly, so the children have time to ingrain those skills, versus throwing seven habits at them all at once,” Lamore said.
The first habit was “Be proactive”. As part of that, teachers talked about the “circle of control” and encouraged students to recognize what they can control and what they can’t. For example, remembering to do their homework is inside their circle of control. If their mother forgets to put it in their backpack, that’s outside their circle of control—but, Lamore said, “you can be proactive and check if it is there.”
The second habit is “Begin with the end in mind.” “It talks about making a plan, taking the direct route rather than going the long way,” Lamore said. The students wrote measurable, attainable goals and checked in at the week to see if they met them. “One class said ‘I am going to read five more words per week,’ and every week on Friday they track it,” she said. “If they have read five new words—or gone beyond five—they are just beaming with pride.”
The third habit, “Put first things first,” was introduced last week. “We are talking about setting priorities, what are the big things you have to do and what do you like to do—you have to make room for both of them,” said Lamore.
After each habit is introduced, teachers follow up with lessons in the classroom, and Corduck also sends an e-mail to parents with suggestions on how to reinforce it at home.
In addition to the Seven Habits program, the staff is working on ways to build leadership opportunities for students. Fifth-graders now do the announcements, and fourth-graders are morning greeters, standing with teachers who have door duty in the morning. “The teachers have talked to them about you greet people: Shake hands, make eye contact. It’s teaching them something you wouldn’t have time to teach during the day.”
The students also put together a bulletin board about the habits they are learning, and they made posters to put up around the school. This year has been a learning experience, she said, but the students have embraced the program, and she and Corduck plan to continue it next year. “Once this year is done and we have a solid place to start, next year will be easier,” Lamore said. “Next year we will continue to build leadership opportunities for children. This is a great starting point.”
The online portion of 10th Annual Roosevelt Auction is now open! The auction will run from March 3, 2014, to March 13, 2014, with the live event taking place on March 14, 2014. Proceeds go to Roosevelt Elementary School PTO.
If you can’t join us at the event, place a bid online and show your support!!!
You can view the items for online auction
The primary election for State Senate is March 4. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Polling places and other information are listed on the Election Department website. Not sure where you should vote? Click here to find out what ward and precinct you are in, and what your polling place is.