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School news

As students return, playground rules affirmed

Kathleen BodieBodie

School playgrounds will be limited to in-person student use only from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days,  Superintendent Kathy Bodie has announced. The elementary schools are reopening Monday, April 5, and middle schools April 27.

The playgrounds will be open to remote students and the public after 4 p.m. weekdays and weekends and any day that in-person learning is not in session, which currently includes Wednesdays, YourArlington partner Patch has reported

Recreation Director Joe Connelly confirmed the report, adding that the announcement continues the policy already in place, with in person students being able to use the playgrounds until 4 p.m.

School playgrounds include:

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Schools get $14K for STEM, owls, theater, music

AEF logoThe Arlington Education Foundation (AEF) thi spring has awarded awarded $5,000 for a development grant and $9,450 for four innovations grants.

AEF’s Development and Expansion grants support school-based or districtwide development of new educational strategies that target demonstrated needs and have the potential to serve as models for the rest of the district. The most recent grant awarded is:

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Overseas zoom-bomber disrupts feminist student meeting, police say

APD logo

UPDATED: A person suspected of being overseas impersonated an Arlington High School student during a videoconference advisory class hosted by a student feminist group on Wednesday, March 24, and made misogynistic comments in a group chat and displayed what appeared to be a gun, according to the school’s principal.

A teacher quickly ended the meeting of the Young Feminist Alliance after the Zoom-bomber appeared, Principal Matthew Janger said in an email message to families.

Arlington police believe the intruder joined the call from overseas, Janger said in a follow-up message to families Thursday, which he confirmed March 27. There is no reason to believe the act was initiated locally or that a student was involved, he wrote.

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Westford promotes one of its own; Janger looks forward to AHS progress

Matthew Janger Janger

UPDATED, March 19: For the second time in a month, Arlington High School Principal Matthew Janger was a finalist for superintendent of a Massachusetts school system, and for the second time, he was not chosen.

Dr. Janger, who was not picked in Reading in February, was among four seeking the top school job in Westford, whose School Committee voted Thursday, March 18, to choose one of their own.

Janger told YourArlington on March 19: "It is always a learning experience to consider other options and, like travel, it is always great to come home again. I am happy to continue as principal of AHS and I look forward to opening the new STEAM building next February." He was referring to the under-construction wing for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

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Analysis: As Riley schedules school reopenings, what do Arlington leaders say?

Baker won't let teachers get shots ahead of 'most vulnerable,' Patch reports

Jane Morgan School Committee chair

'providing vaccines directly to municipal health departments, the state would be treating teachers and staff as the essential workers that they are.'
-- Jane Morgan

UPDATED, Marech 11: Two related demands -- for Covid-19 vaccination to be provided locally to school personnel and for full-time in-person education – continue to grow in Arlington. The stakes got higher March 5, as commonwealth education czar Jeffrey Riley gained broad powers to control when public schools return to the traditional mode, possibly as soon as April 5 at least for elementary schools.

Covid-19 image
Statewide vaccine availability is being expanded for teachers.

As per the 8-3 vote by the board of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, districts who decline to fall in line with whatever deadline is set can request waivers exempting them from the requirement. But if these are not granted, that could jeopardize potentially district funding, with the threat that Riley might declare that their remote instruction hours no longer qualify.

Meanwhile, statewide vaccine availability is being expanded for teachers -- but its schedule probably won’t result in full vaccination by the time five-day-a-week classes are to start, nor will it be locally based, as many associated with Arlington Public Schools had hoped.

Bringing Arlington students back five days a week, instead of the current hybrid plan of two days per week, would almost certainly mean abandoning the protocol of six feet of distance between desks and individuals that the district has maintained since Sept. 21.

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Seniors leave signature legacy at new AHS

AHS senior signs steel beam in February 2021.

Masked Arlington High School seniors greeted one another with smiles Feb. 24 and 25. Many had not seen one another in more than a year and were eager to see their peers and mark their final year at AHS.

The occasion? A special invitation to the AHS class of 2021 to sign a construction beam, which is to be permanently placed in the new high school. On March 12, the 30-foot steel beam is expected to be one of the last placed in the new performing-arts wing at Mass. Ave. and Schouler Court, marking the “topping off” of Phase 1 of the multiyear construction project.

As the end of their high school career comes to a close, students took selfies in front of the signed beam and a special ‘AHS 2EN1ORS’ banner (That creative spelling is correct). At left, a senior leaves his signature for posterity.

More photos here >>

The event was a coordinated effort between the AHS Building Committee and AHS staff. Some students reflected on what their signature represents and what they would like to say to future AHS students.

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AHS classmates of fallen soldier launch fund-raiser

Marwan S. GhabourGhabour

Members of the Arlington High School Class of 2010 are raising money for the family of one of their classmates, a U.S. Army soldier who died in a helicopter crash, Patch, a YourArlington partner, reports

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Marwan S. Ghabour, 27, was among five American soldiers killed in the crash in Egypt last  Nov. 12.

The class launched a GoFundMe campaign a week ago to donate money to Ghabour's parents and younger siblings. As of 1:45 p.m. Feb. 24, it has raised $2,305 of its $5,000 goal.

"This period is tough on everyone, so we deeply appreciate anything our community contributes," John Holowitz, a classmate of Ghabour's who started the effort, wrote on the fund-raising page.

Reach the campaign >> 

Read more ...

Reading chooses Medford candidate for superintendent

Matthew Janger Janger

In a 5-1 vote, the Reading School Committee has chosen a Medford leader as the new superintendent, passing over Arlington High School Principal Matthew Janger.

On Thursday, Feb. 11, the committee favored Tom Milaschewski to begin on July 1, depending on a successful contract negotiation. Committee member John Parks dissented, preferring Stephen J. Zadravec, superintendent for the Portsmouth, N.H., School Department.

The Reading Post, a hyperlocal news site, reported the story.

Members of the committee were exuberant in their praise of Milaschewski, the story says. He is superintendent resident (concurrent with doctoral studies) for the Medford Public Schools.

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AHS principal a finalist for Reading superintendent

Matthew Janger Janger

Dr. Matthew Janger, who has been principal at Arlington High School since 2013, is among three finalists for superintendent of the Reading Public Schools. A decision is expected Thursday, Feb. 11.

"I am honored to be considered for this position in Reading," he told YourArlington Feb. 2. "I believe that I can make a positive contribution in the lives of students as superintendent, and Reading is a wonderful community.

"The thought of leaving Arlington High School is certainly bittersweet. I have been principal at Arlington for almost eight years and raised my family here. I love the school and the community."

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Bodie receives leadership award from superintendents' group

Kathleen BodieBodie

During the Jan. 28 School Committee meeting, Chair Jane Morgan congratulated Superintendent Kathleen Bodie on having just received major recognition from an organization of her peers -- the Bobbie D’Alessandro Leadership Award. 

Bodie responded that it was “quite an honor” and that she was “quite humbled by it.”

According to information received Friday from Bedford-based Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS), the award was presented Wednesday, Jan. 27, during the organization’s 15th annual Women’s Educational Leadership Conference, held virtually this year.

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Foundation boosts antiracism, innovation with more than $15K to public schools

AEF logoReads Together author, laser cutter

The Arlington Education Foundation (AEF)  has awarded $7,500 for a development-and-expansion grant and $7,665 for three innovations grants aimed to affect students districtwide. 

AEF’s development-and-expansion grants support school-based or districtwide development of new educational strategies that target demonstrated needs, and have the potential to serve as models for the rest of the district, a Jan. 14 news release said. The most recent grant awarded is:

  • Author/Speaker for APS and Arlington Reads Together: Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of the 2021 Arlington Reads Together selection Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, will participate in a districtwide discussion with APS faculty. Read more >> 

AEF’s Innovations in Education grants support innovative and creative teaching and learning projects in classrooms throughout the district. The three recent grants are:

Read more ...

AHS antitobacco group awarded grant to probe effects on people of color

Smoking-ban imageThe Arlington High School chapter of The 84, a group that works to oppose smoking, was awarded a $4,000 grant for the Racial Justice-Black Lives Black Lungs project.

Students will explore the ways in which the tobacco industry targets people of color, Patch has reported

The chapter will learn about the #BlackLivesBlackLungs project, which highlights the impact of the tobacco industry on the black community.

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'Wonderful Life': AHS live radio play performed

Drama logo

The Arlington High School Drama Guild has announced its first streamed performances -- ever -- of "It’s a Wonderful Life," a live radio play.

Directed by drama teacher Michael Byrne, the play runs about one hour. 

"It's a Wonderful Life" is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra. It stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel who shows George how he has touched the lives of others.

The cast rehearsed on Zoom. Audience members will watch from a secure link on Broadway on Demand, but actors will be on Zoom during the performances.

The performance was written as a radio play, but it includes video in addition to audio.

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Analysis: A closer look at process, vote in superintendent choice

Elizabeth Homan
Elizabeth Homan: Coming from Waltham next year.

It was a long process, full of surprises. That is one way to view the lengthy superintendent search, which began in June and ended, at least for now, with a lopsided vote at the Nov. 24 meeting of the Arlington School Committee.

One surprise could be considered the timeline itself. It currently appears that that Dr. Elizabeth Homan – presumed successor to retiring Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Bodie – may have seven months’ lead time from her Nov. 24 positive vote until officially taking the reins July 1. For comparison’s sake, that is thrice the transition time accorded President-Elect Joe Biden from his Nov. 3 election to his Jan. 20 inauguration – 34 weeks versus 11 weeks.'This is not what was promised to us. It is not OK.'

Then there is the fact that Tuesday’s agenda item had been described simply as a “superintendent discussion.” That was consistent with Chair Jane Morgan’s statement at an earlier meeting that a vote was not necessarily to be expected that evening -- barely two days before Thanksgiving Day.

That scheduling of a meeting to consider such an important matter might itself be considered a surprise. Celebrating the holiday responsibly in 2020 meant dining with as few others as possible. But preparing the traditional meal plus cleaning and decorating the home typically is a labor of many hours if not days even if arranged for only two participants and carried out by someone – such as this correspondent  -- who has been doing so for decades.

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Bodie provides a fuller account of staff Covid testing in public schools

Arlington included on upcoming state testing list

UPDATED, Nov. 19: Superintendent Kathleen Bodie has provided a more precise look at Covid-19 testing of public-school employees since September and has offered an expected schedule into December.

Covid-19 logo

Following persistent questions from YourArlington, the school leader, in a Nov. 14 email, looked back and then ahead.

Testing on the following dates yielded these numbers with no locations:

Read more ...

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