The Responsible Renovation of Melrose High School

The proposed Learning Commons area for Melrose High School

The proposed Learning Commons area for Melrose High School

Two years ago, we transformed the science classrooms at Melrose High School from oversized open areas divided by makeshift partitions into a state-of-the-art science wing with nine new, fully equipped, proper classrooms and lab spaces. We took an awkward space that was designed according to an outdated educational philosophy and made it into a modern area that serves students and teachers well.

Now we are tackling a similar challenge: Reconfiguring the library area (the old resource center) to transform it into a learning commons where students can work independently, in small groups and in large classes in a variety of different learning situations and using both print and digital resources.

The existing library, which comprises 20,000 square feet, or about 10% of the total area of the school, is not maximizing the opportunities available for the students or the staff. Our redesign will bring this important part of our high school into line with 21st century teaching and learning expectations and practices.

That means important changes in infrastructure and wiring, strengthening the bones of our school so it can handle the demands we put on it. It also means reconfiguring the space to reflect the new ways that students learn, with separate areas for full classes, small group projects, and individual study:

  • There will be a separate space for “blended learning,” collaborative classes that combine online instruction and live supervision—something that would be unimaginable in 1975 but is happening every day in 2015.
  • To accommodate our students’ need for different types of literacy, not just reading and writing, we will have a special graphics classroom and an upgraded television studio.
  • A new business classroom and CAD lab will help train Melrose High School students for today’s jobs as well as tomorrow’s.
  • Students who have to quickly print a paper or look something up before a class will be able to use the computers in our quick-stop tech space.
  • We are adding project rooms, as we did in the middle school, where several classes can be brought together to work collaboratively and departments and teachers can hold professional development.
  • And we will have a presentation space with a practice room where students can hone their public speaking and presentation skills. This space will have a flexible layout to accommodate up to 200 people. Anyone who has been to a meeting in the existing resource center will appreciate the need for a comfortable space with good acoustics for large and small meetings. The space can also be used by other organizations and groups in Melrose.
  • In addition to the library renovations, we are creating a new administrative suite to bring guidance and other student services departments into a single space in an easily accessible area on the first floor. This will benefit both staff and parents with easy accessibility to the support staff.
  • Like all the capital projects previously done at Melrose High School, this will be done within our debt budget and is part of our ongoing infrastructure plan for keeping up with capital improvements throughout the city. It is in line with our policy of committing no more than 5% of the operating budget to debt service and also takes advantage of the best bond rating in the city’s history. This is smart fiscal planning for the most pressing infrastructure need in our city right now.

From the first day of kindergarten until the last day of senior year, we expect our students to learn independently and collaboratively–as will be required of them in the workplace. No longer do they sit passively all day and listen to a teacher give a lecture. We expect students to be active participants, to work together in small groups to solve problems and to do research and work on projects independently. This was an important component of the design of our award-winning middle school.

The Melrose High School library, in its current configuration, simply does not support this type of learning. It is a vast, underutilized space, cavernous, cold, and depressing. On the other hand, this open space configuration of the library, like the science wing, lends itself well to this redesign. We will not only change the ways the space is used, we will bring in more natural light to make this a more attractive and pleasant space for students and staff alike.

Building a new school would cost well over $100 million, and that’s simply not an option. What we can do is manage what we have in the best way possible. Renovating Melrose High School is the best choice for students and taxpayers. We have already enclosed the open space areas and made separate classrooms, and we turned the dysfunctional science area into a new, thoughtfully designed science wing, and we have built fine arts and athletic facilities that are second to none in Massachusetts and benefit the entire community across all age groups.

Our School Building Committee has been analyzing and discussing this space for several years. In fact, the poor initial design and construction of Melrose High School has been an albatross around the community’s neck for four decades, and that problem needs to be solved once and for all. The Committee has come up with a thoughtful solution that we believe is the best possible use of the space. We are not just putting new equipment in old rooms, we are creating a new space that accommodates the many ways students learn in the 21st century and allows them to develop and hone the skills they will use in college and in their future careers. This is how you build a better community and a better future for Melrose.

State of the City Address 2015

Here are the slides from my State of the City address; watch out later in the week for a video of the full speech.

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Continue reading →

DPW Recycling Center Opening for Spring Season and Paper Shredding Event

The Public Works Department Recycling Center at 72 Tremont Street will be open Saturdays starting April 4 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for drop off of yard waste, recyclables (including plastic, glass, aluminum, paper, and cardboard), books, textiles, CFL bulbs, and propane tanks. The Recycling Center will continue to be open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

On Saturday, April 18, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. there will be a paper shredding recycling drop off event at the Recycling Center at 72 Tremont Street. Residents can bring two boxes for free and additional boxes for $5 each (checks only).

The items collected at all Saturday recycling events include: CRTs (televisions, monitors, and lap tops), CFL bulbs, tires, mercury items, textiles, books, dried latex paint, metal items (microwaves, air conditioners, refrigerators, sofa beds, recliners, and exercise equipment). Some items have a fee that helps defray the expenses associated with properly recycling the materials (checks only). Recycling Center stickers and recycling barrel label stickers will also be available.

For a listing of additional events or for more information and questions, please visit the Melrose Recycles Blog at or call 781-665-0142. To learn more about the volunteer Recycling Committee, visit their website.

Melrose Education Foundation Announces Mini-Grants

Following another successful round of grants to educators this fall, the Melrose Education Foundation announces a spring round of mini-grants to Melrose Public Schools staff.

The Foundation is pleased to make available a total of $5,000 for smaller grants (of up to $300 each) to support professional development, technology, curriculum materials, and classroom-based projects that enhance curriculum.

The application period will be open March 30-April 10, 2015, and the online application will be available at melroseedfoundation.org/mef-grants. Decisions will be announced on/around April 17, 2015. Mini-grants may be used by educators this spring and/or during the summer months in preparation for the 2015-16 school year.

Applicants should kindly note the following:

  • Applicants must be MPS staff.
  • Each grant application may not exceed $300 (for an individual or a group).
  • Routine classroom supplies will not be funded.
  • Applications will be reviewed by the Board of the Melrose Education Foundation.
  • Activities should be carried out (and purchases must be made) before December 31, 2015.

Please visit melroseedfoundation.org/mef-grants/ for more information and to submit an online application.

The Melrose Education Foundation envisions a community mobilized in support of a high-performing, innovative school district that engages all students, empowers educators to try bold, new ideas, and creates a student body that makes a difference in an ever-changing world. To learn more or make a donation, visit melroseedfoundation.org, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MelroseED and on Twitter @MelroseED.

Buy a Brick to Support the ECC Playground

The ECC PTO is leading a fundraising effort to create a larger, better and more accessible playground area that will encourage outdoor play for all students. The PTO is pleased to have the strong partnership and financial support of the City of Melrose for this playground upgrade, but they need your help to meet the PTO’s financial contribution!

The PTO plans to install a small pathway of engraved bricks near the entrance to the playground, and to raise funds they are offering the public the opportunity to purchase an engraved brick.

There are two sizes available: a standard 4×8 brick for a $100 donation, and a larger 8×8 brick for a $200 donation (or more). Over 80% of this purchase price will go directly to the playground effort, with the remaining cost for ordering, engraving and shipping the bricks. The pathway will be installed, weather-permitting, during the summer of 2015.

This is a great way to recognize a favorite teacher, demonstrate the support of your local family-owned business, make a donation, or just celebrate your family’s love for the ECC!

You can download the form to order the bricks here. The deadline is May 15, 2015.

Learn About Cyber Safety for Children Wednesday Night

The Horace Mann PTO is sponsoring a presentation on “Navigating the Cyber World”, presented by Middlesex Assistant DA Dylan Krasinski on Wednesday, April 1, at 7 p.m. in the All-Purpose Room of the Horace Mann School. Learn how to protect your elementary child’s digital footprint and engage in safe cyber behaviors. This presentation is geared for parents with elementary age children. All Melrose residents are welcome, and free babysitting will be available by Melrose High School students.

Enjoy Easter Dinner at Tooba’s Cafe!

4-3-2015 easter dinner 2x4 CMYK

Tooba’s will be serving both ham and lamb on Easter weekend!

Easter Egg Hunt this Saturday, April 4

Hunt_Flyer2015

Presented by: Beanstalk Toy Shop & Beansprout Gifts
Sponsored in part by: Music 101, City Of Melrose, and Melrose Chamber of Commerce
When: Saturday April 4th, 10AM (Sharp!) Rain or Shine
Where: Fred Green Field – Melrose High School Sports Complex
Parking: High School parking lots, off Melrose St., and at the Ell Pond Knoll

Beanstalk Toy Shop and Beansprout Gifts is proudly presenting the 4th Annual Melrose Egg Hunt on April 19 at 10 a.m. (sharp!) at Fred Green Field Melrose High. This year’s event, open to all children ages 3-8, is sponsored in part by Music 101, the City of Melrose, and the Melrose Chamber of Commerce. The Easter Bunny will be hopping on over to Melrose with more than 10,000 toy filled eggs. There will also be exciting prizes for the children and the Easter Bunny will be available for pictures. The event will go on rain or shine.

Volunteers are very much appreciated, and anyone interested in lending a hand should contact Beanstalk Toy Shop at (781) 665-TOYS.

Century 21 to Hold Homebuyer Seminar Tomorrow at Memorial Hall

Homebuyer Seminar  Flyer

Come to the Lincoln Spring Carnival on March 29!

Lincoln_springcarnival_FINAL3

Check Out the MHS Craft Fair!

Craft Fair Flyer

Local Business Friday: New Menu at Ocean Sushi

2015 New Items Menu

New Lunch Menu Front

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