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Stratton School renovation moves forward; students to be relocated in 2016-17

After the Stratton School closes for renovation, expected in June 2016, its students will have to be relocated, and officials are looking into portable classrooms, the superintendent has told parents.

Stratton signKathleen Bodie plans to meet with the Stratton PTO on Wednesday, April 1, to discuss what is expected to occur during the 2016-17 school year, now that the town Capital Committee has voted to recommend the funding of the renovation project to Town Meeting.

In an email to parents and guardians, she wrote: "As the reality of moving forward with a renovation project at Stratton becomes more certain, both excitement and interest in project details is growing. Until quite recently, there has not been much information to share with parents as the project moved through the Capital Committee process." Now, the committee has recommended the renovation's funding as well as relocation costs.

Last year, a Stratton building committee was formed to develop a renovation plan to provide parity with the six elementary schools -- all of which have been rebuilt or renovated. The panel represents teachers, parents, administrators, the deputy town manager as well as representatives from the School Committee, Capital Committee, Finance Committee and the Permanent Town Building Committee.

The design plans for the project have not changed since they were presented to parents last year, Bodie wrote. The building committee provided the School Committee, Board of Selectmen and Capital Committee with several phasing options for the project, but after deliberation, town officials agreed that the preferred option was to complete all phases at one time rather than spread the construction over several years.

More information April 1

Assuming the approval of funding from Town Meeting, construction is slated to begin immediately after school closes in June 2016, Bodie wrote, with the school reopening for the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

"While I will have more information to share with you at the April 1, PTO meeting, there is some information that I can share with you now.

"The renovation project will be too extensive to safely have students in the building during construction. Students will be relocated to other schools in the district, and busing will be provided."

She wrote that Diane Johnson, the schools' chief financial officer, and Mark Miano, the town’s superintendent of facilities, met with principals this winter to determine how many classrooms could be available for the relocation of Stratton students.

"Given our enrollment growth over the last few years, very few 'extra' classrooms exist," she wrote. "In the past, as you know, Stratton was the 'go-to' school when other schools were renovated or rebuilt because of its size. There is no other elementary school that has space available to house even one grade."

Portable classrooms

Since then, Johnson and Miano have met with a contractor who installs portable classrooms to obtain estimated costs and to determine possible sites, she wrote. With the contractor, they evaluated schools for compatibility for portable classrooms.

Each school site was evaluated on a number of criteria, including available space, ability to connect to the school building, and ease of installing utility connections.

"We have reviewed the recommendations, but need to review them again in light of the possible need for some additional classrooms for ELL [English-language learners], which would affect available classrooms.

"I expect that we will make a final decision on sites in the next couple of weeks. It is necessary to place an order for portable classrooms at least a year ahead of the installation date, so a request for bid proposals will need to be advertised as soon as funding is approved."

Rick Iannelli, the director of transportation, has also begun some preliminary planning for buses and routes, but cannot really begin planning routes until we make a final decision on the sites for portable classrooms.

"We hope to have no more than three sites," she wrote.

Locations have not been determined.

First look at plans last September

The School Committee had its first look at an architect's feasibility study Thursday, Sept. 18. Charged with seeking parity in an upgraded Stratton compared to the town's other elementary schools, Drummey Rosane Anderson (DRA) appeared to have done just that, Bodie said.

At that meeting, Carl Franceschi of DRA noted the library is significantly undersized, the kitchen is in a hallway, space for the nurse is tight and stairs do not comply with laws protecting the handicapped. On the plus side, kindergarten rooms and the cafeteria, which is also serves as an auditorium, are large.

Franceschi pointed to one key suggested change, aimed at avoiding some longtime issues in the 1962 structure: Move the library, which is undersized, to the ground-floor gym on the east side of the building, not used for an after-school program. 

The report spells out four options, suggesting the steps for improvement throughout the school and what those steps would cost. Read the whole report here >>

Over the years after state funds decreased for school construction, Bodie said the Stratton benefited from and a state grant for repairs and for work paid for by the town's capital plan: a roof for about half building, electricals, wireless, heating and windows.


Sept. 21, 2014: At last, study spells out steps for Stratton revamp, if it can be funded


This story was published Sunday, March 22, 2015.

Minuteman early education partners with Cradles to Crayons

Students in Minuteman High School’s early education and care program have formed a partnership with Cradles to Crayons, a nonprofit organization that helps children from birth to 12 years and their families.

Volunteers gather donated items and distribute them to families in need. The nonprofit gives clothing, shoes, socks, underwear, books, school supplies, baby supplies, bedding, diapers, baby equipment, toys, hygiene items and batteries

The program has been planning ways to get involved since September. In the fall, the students toured the Cradles to Crayons facility in Brighton and brainstormed about how they could help the organization.

The early education and care program ran a collection drive at Minuteman from the beginning of November through the end of January. Students collected more than 530 items, made five no-sew blankets and wrote more than 40 "well-wishes," notes that will be placed in donated backpacks to get children excited about the school year. All of these donations are anonymous; still, those involved enjoyed helping out, knowing that they were improving someone’s life.

While volunteering at the factory in January, the early education and care juniors created nearly 50 "kid packets," which gave children in need outfits. The program's sophomores and seniors sorted coats for size and quality, helping 360 children. Minuteman’s Early Education and Care program will be returning to volunteer in the spring.

The program chose this organization because it allowed them to work with children and families and have a sense of pride and accomplishment. Projects like this one are an important part of the valuable "real-world" experience offered at Minuteman.


This story was written by Haley Cove of Arlington (Class of '15) and the early education and care department of Minuteman High School in Lexington.

5 from Arlington among 36 at Minuteman to earn medals in skills test

Minteman High School logo

Thirty-six students from Minuteman High School, in Lexington, received 36 medals in a regional skills competition against their peers last month. Minuteman students earned 11 gold medals, 16 silver and nine bronze in the SkillsUSA district competition held at Joseph P. Keefe Regional Technical School in Framingham on Feb. 25.

Recognized from Arlington were Madeline Bransford, ’15, with a silver in cosmetology over 500 hours; Michael Legere, ’16, bronze, culinary arts; Davis Kahmann, ’17, silver, mobile robotics 1; Julia Ruderman, ’16, silver, Robotics 2; Isaac Bernoff, ’17, gold, Web design.

SkillsUSA allows students in career and technical education to compete in a host of technical and leadership competitions. Fifty-nine students from Minuteman took part in the District III competition.

Two Minuteman students, Michaela Ganimian, '16 of Stow, and Tristin O’Connor, '16 of Bolton, qualified to run for SkillsUSA State Office. Gold and silver medalists will join these two state-officer candidates, as well as the 21 leadership event winners, at the SkillsUSA State Competition in April, where they will compete against the top students from the other five Massachusetts districts.

Special recognition is deserved by the robotics and engineering students and their instructors for sweeping three competitions -- robotics and automation technology, mobile robotics (all the medalists were sophomores) and mechatronics.
 
Finally, kudos to Kate Smith and Patti Metcalf of the hospitality-management program at Minuteman for helping out at the conference, and to all the instructors who worked so diligently with the students to help prepare them for competition. Congratulations also go to Minuteman’s SkillsUSA chapter advisors, instructors Terry Regan and Becky Quay, for their tireless dedication and hard work.

The medalists from Minuteman at the SkillsUSA District III competition were as follows:

Automotive Technology: Jerry Camara, ’16 of Watertown, bronze

Commercial Baking: Charlotte Koch, ’17 of Belmont, gold; David Pompel, ’15 of Lexington, silver Commercial Baking (postgraduate); Robin Verheyen of Harvard, gold

Computer Programming: Anastasia Monichm ’16 of Boxborough, silver

Cosmetology Over 500 Hours: Saranne Wise, ’15 of Stow, bronze

Cosmetology Under 500 Hours: Kevin Lieber, ’17 of Lexington, silver

Culinary Arts: Michael Alfonso, ’16 of Belmont, silver

Early Childhood Education: Olivia Foley, ’16 of Lexington, bronze

Electrical: Matthew Del-Bosque, ’16 of Watertown, silver

Information Technology Service: Scott Gagnebin, ’15 of Wayland, silver

Michael Polito, '16 of Sudbury, bronze for Customer Service

Mechatronics 1: Jacob Gesualdi, ’15 of Medford, gold; Andrew Pica, ’15 of Woburn, gold

Mechatronics 2: Luciano Fiore, ’16 of Medford, silver; Peter Traub, ’16 of Andover, silver
Medical Terminology: Alexandra Pascual, ’16 of Belmont, silver

Mobile Robotics 1: Evan Kennedy-Spaien, ’17 of Revere, silver

Mobile Robotics 3: Sean Datar, ’17 of Acton, bronze; Alexander DeChambeau, ’17 of Lancaster, bronze

Mobile Robotics 4: Marcello Barbieri ,’17 of Lancaster, gold; Jacob Blum, '17 of Wilmington, gold

Plumbing: Brandon Merullo, ’15 of Watertown, silver
Plumbing (postgraduate), Daniel Lessard of Medford, gold

Robotics 1: Matthew Coughlin, ’15 of Reading, gold; John Leonard, ’15 of Medford, gold

Robotics 2: Rachel Toups, ’16 of Boxborough, silver

Robotics 3: Gregory Gobiel, ’16 of Woburn, Christopher Mills, ’16 of Waltham, bronze

Telecommunications Cabling: Aibhlinn Moore, ’16 of Medford, silver
Web Design: Christopher Earl, ’17 of Needham, gold.


This extended announcement was published Thursday, March 5, 2015.

Minuteman High School second-quarter honor roll, 2014-15

Minteman High School logoMinuteman High School, in Lexington, has released its honor roll for the second quater of the 2014-15 year.

Name City/Town Tech Program  Year of graduation
Bielen, Rachel Acton Metal Fabrication 2017
Datar, Sean Acton Robotics 2017
Hendrix, Jasper Acton Engineering Technology 2018
Poretto, John Acton Carpentry 2015
Spencer, Mae Acton Culinary Arts / Baking 2015
Spurr, Thomas Acton Metal Fabrication 2017
Thompson, Christopher Acton Robotics 2018
Traub, Peter Andover Engineering Technology 2016
Alves, Erica Arlington Cosmetology 2015
Bernoff, Isaac Arlington Programming & Web 2017
Cerabone, Alexandra Arlington Health Assisting 2018
Chapman, Liam Arlington Plumbing 2017
Council, Lillian Arlington Health Assisting 2018
Fox, Julian Arlington Plumbing 2015
FrostBrophy, Maya Arlington Engineering Technology 2015
Gatto, Alannah Arlington Biotechnology 2017
Gibson, Jacob Arlington HVAC 2017
Gigante, Nikolas Arlington Plumbing 2016
Guilherme, Robert Arlington Telecommunications 2016
Guler, Ben Arlington Programming & Web 2016
Hiller, Isaac Arlington Engineering Technology 2015
Hurley, Daniel Arlington Culinary Arts / Baking 2018
Ioakimidis, Stavros Arlington Telecommunications 2017
Jorgensen, Allison Arlington Early Education & Care 2017
Kahmann, Davis Arlington Engineering Technology 2017
Khadka, Avishank Arlington Programming & Web 2015
O'Rourke, Brendan Arlington Biotechnology 2016
Powell, Adam Arlington Environmental Science 2018
Ronchetti, Allison Arlington Health Assisting 2018
Ruderman, Julia Arlington Engineering Technology 2016
Schulz, Natalie Arlington Design/Visual Comm 2015
Schwartz, Marina Arlington Marketing 2015
Sordillo, Nicholas Arlington Metal Fabrication 2017
Spadafora, Jacob Arlington Programming & Web 2018
Weber, Zachary Arlington Design/Visual Comm 2016
Whitmore, Michael Arlington Electrical Wiring 2017
Alfonso, Michael Belmont Culinary Arts / Baking 2016
Butler, Amanda Belmont Health Assisting 2015
Del-Bosque, Steven Belmont Metal Fabrication 2016
Khan, Afnan Belmont Health Assisting 2016
Koch, Charlotte Belmont Culinary Arts / Baking 2017
Battcock, Andrew Billerica Telecommunications 2016
Barnes, Andrew Bolton Programming & Web 2015
Barnes, Kathryn Bolton Health Assisting 2017
O'Connor, Taryn Bolton Culinary Arts / Baking 2018
Herrington, Tashiia Boston Environmental Science 2018
Pruitt, Travis Boston Programming & Web 2015
Wright, Shaki Boston Telecommunications 2017
Monich, Anastasia Boxborough Programming & Web 2016
Toups, Rachel Boxborough Robotics 2016
Marchant, Connor Burlington Culinary Arts / Baking 2015
Giniger, Eric Carlisle Engineering Technology 2017
Cupp, Mitchell Concord Electrical Wiring 2017
Martinez, Gisselle Concord Health Assisting 2018
Tate, Candi Dorchester Marketing 2015
Heer, Benjamin Dover Metal Fabrication 2015
DeChambeau, Alexander Lancaster Engineering Technology 2017
Dunlop, Clayton Lancaster Design/Visual Comm 2016
Flake, Katie Lancaster Culinary Arts / Baking 2016
Dekin, Nathaniel Lexington Engineering Technology 2018
Fiora, Helen Lexington Biotechnology 2015
Ham, Kevin Lexington Electrical Wiring 2015
Katz, Semhal Lexington Health Assisting 2018
Leary, Christopher Lexington Automotive Technology 2018
Lieber, Kevin Lexington Cosmetology 2017
McDonough, Christopher Lexington Metal Fabrication 2018
Morgan, Sophia Lexington Design/Visual Comm 2015
Simon, Evan Lexington Programming & Web 2016
Vega, Mark Lexington Carpentry 2016
Blair, Andrew Lincoln HVAC 2016
Blair, Joan Lincoln Cosmetology 2017
Gonzalez, Marangelee Lincoln Biotechnology 2018
Georgoudis, Emmanuel Malden Engineering Technology 2017
Jeudy, Brittney Malden Exploratory Group G 2018
Jeudy, Phillip Malden Engineering Technology 2015
Brennan, Amy Maynard Early Education & Care 2018
Vasselin, Aleah Maynard Cosmetology 2018
Beucler, Alison Medford Environmental Science 2017
Brandes-Krug, Aviva Medford Environmental Science 2018
Cicone, Ralph Medford Programming & Web 2016
Clemente, Emma Medford Environmental Science 2015
Crisafulli, James Medford Programming & Web 2016
De Palma, Enzo Medford Environmental Science 2018
De Palma, Theo Medford Programming & Web 2015
Fiore, Dante Medford Environmental Science 2017
Libby, Stephen Medford Biotechnology 2016
Moore, Aibhlinn Medford Telecommunications 2016
Sanseverino, Isabella Medford Environmental Science 2015
Earl, Christopher Needham Programming & Web 2017
Gallagher, William Needham Horticulture 2015
Seriy, Daniel Needham Robotics 2018
MacDonald, Amanda Southboro Early Education & Care 2015
Lavin, Anthony Stow Electrical Wiring 2017
Tobey, Meagan Stow Design/Visual Comm 2015
Wise, Saranne Stow Cosmetology 2015
Hartman, Taylor Sudbury Early Education & Care 2016
Kelly, Collin Sudbury Environmental Science 2017
Lombardi, Hayden Sudbury Electrical Wiring 2018
Peters, Isaac Sudbury Design/Visual Comm 2016
Tyler, Angela Sudbury Cosmetology 2016
Wolfe, Juliana Wakefield Telecommunications 2018
Cannavino, Lisa Waltham Cosmetology 2015
Chavarria, Jorge Waltham Biotechnology 2016
Condon, Georgiana Waltham Biotechnology 2015
Hawkes, Alice Waltham Biotechnology 2015
Hawkes, Brodie Waltham Environmental Science 2018
Lopez, Jacqueline Waltham Health Assisting 2015
Merrill, Ryan Waltham Telecommunications 2016
Mills, Christopher Waltham Robotics 2016
Noriega, Celenee Waltham Biotechnology 2018
Pierre, Laurie Waltham Culinary Arts / Baking 2017
Shamp, Ryan Waltham Robotics 2018
Abdallah, Sheila Watertown Culinary Arts / Baking 2016
Etienne, Nathaniel Watertown Design/Visual Comm 2016
Lamarche, Alexander Watertown Programming & Web 2017
Mascetti, Andrew Watertown Culinary Arts / Baking 2015
Russo, Natalee Watertown Culinary Arts / Baking 2015
Schiller Robins, Sara Watertown Marketing 2015
Torres-Roman, Mariana Watertown Design/Visual Comm 2018
Gentes, Yuri Wellesley Programming & Web 2015
Monagle, Caitlin Wellesley Environmental Science 2016
Kc, Pratush Woburn Engineering Technology 2018
Steph V, Edward Woburn Biotechnology 2018
Zuccala, Giacomo Woburn Telecommunications 2018

 


This announcement was published Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015.

Arlington senior at Minuteman recognized for academic excellence

Two exceptional seniors from Minuteman High School, in Lexington, have been chosen for recognition for their scholastic achievements.

Maria Cid-PachecoCid-Pacheco

Maria Cid-Pacheco of Arlington, who is studying biotechnology, is Minuteman’s 2015 nominee for the Walter J. Markham Award sponsored by the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (MAVA) and the Massachusetts Vocational Association (MVA). 

Emma Clemente of Medford, an environmental science and technology student at Minuteman, is the school’s MAVA/MVA Outstanding Vocational-Technical Student of 2015.

She, with other distinguished student honorees from technical high schools and programs across the Commonwealth, will be honored at the 29th annual Outstanding Vocational Student Award Dinner at Mechanics Hall in Worcester on April 15.

Both of these remarkable young women have benefited greatly from their Minuteman High School experience. In fact, Minuteman provides all its students with a superb academic and technical education that readies them for professional success and gives them the ability to become contributing members of the community, which Emma and Maria certainly are already.

The Markham Award, which is named for a visionary leader in the field of vocational technical education in Massachusetts, is bestowed on a senior who has demonstrated “leadership, good school attendance, excellence in technical studies and excellence in academic achievement,” according to the guidelines established by MAVA and the MVA.

Cid-Pacheco, Minuteman’s Markham nominee, has shown leadership, initiative and dedication, both in and beyond the classroom, a Feb. 16 news release from the school says. She has already received numerous prestigious awards, such as the Rensselaer Medal from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.; the Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award from the University of Rochester and the Future Farmers of America Agriscience Fair gold medal for Environmental Systems.

"My most significant educational accomplishment," Cid-Pacheco explained, "was winning the gold medal for Environmental Systems at the Future Farmers of America Agriscience Fair. This is my greatest accomplishment because my partner and I worked on this project for months and we were very invested in it. It was one of the most interesting projects I have done so far."

Cid-Pacheco also expressed her gratitude to her Biotechnology teachers. "My biotechnology instructors, Mr. Patrick Rafter and Mrs. Crystal Auger, have influenced my technical school accomplishments. They pushed me to think independently, create my own experiments/projects, and to always ask in depth questions when learning something new. Most importantly, they taught me that failure is never an option. They challenged me to see failure as an opportunity to learn and improve. This is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life."

The criteria for the Outstanding Vocational-Technical Student Award that is going to Clemente include, among other items, "a minimum of a cumulative 3.50 grade-point average, leadership qualities, technical competence, excellent attendance and community involvement."

Clemente has clearly earned the respect of her environmental science and technology teachers at Minuteman, Patrick Rafter and Anthony Wilbur, who believe she is the "most academically gifted student among the senior class, and among the most reliable and conscientious students in the school."

Ranked among the top 5 percent of the students in the class of 2015 at Minuteman, Clemente earned her American Red Cross First Aid & CPR Certification, Massachusetts Grade 2 Municipal Wastewater Operator’s License, Massachusetts Grade 1 Drinking-Water Treatment Plant Operator’s License, OSHA HAZWOPER Certification, OSHA 10Hour General Industry Safety Certification, and a Confined-Space Entry Certification through the Environmental Science and Technology program.

Clemente’s extracurricular activities have included Minuteman’s Drama Club, SkillsUSA, Track, Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), and the Geek Culture Club. Her high scores on the MCAS qualified her to be a John and Abigail Adams Scholar. She hopes to attend college to pursue a degree in Aquatic & Fisheries Science or Environmental Science.

"I am very grateful that I have been chosen as the 2015 Outstanding Voc-Tech Student from Minuteman, and it means a lot to me that my teachers would nominate me for it," noted Clemente. "My years at Minuteman have meant a great deal to me and I couldn't be more thankful for all the opportunities I have been given at Minuteman. My time at this school has changed my outlook on what my education means (for the better) in relation to the ‘real world’ and what I can do out there, and if I could go back to eighth grade I would make the same decision I made then in coming to Minuteman."


This news release was published Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015.

Ottoson tech-ed teacher wins national recognition

Brandy Whitney, Gary Blanchette, Ottoson tech engineering teachersBrandy Whitney with Gary Blanchette, Ottoson tech- engineering teachers.

UPDATED, Feb. 14: Brandy Whitney, technology engineering teacher at Ottoson Middle School, has been awarded the 2015 Pasco STEM Educator Award.

Whitney’s application for the award highlighted increasing the use of detailed measurements and technology when teaching the physical science concepts involved in engineering, as well as her strong commitment to encouraging girls to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

Whitney will attend the National Science Teachers Association, national conference in Chicago from March 12 to 15, where she will receive her award. She will also lead a "shareathon," where she will present her ideas to a group of interested teachers.

"I am honored and humbled to be chosen as this year's middle-school level recipient of this national award," she said in a Feb. 12 news release from the superintendent's office.

"I truly believe that the supportive Arlington community, the amazing children at Ottoson, and my mentor, Gary Blanchette, have all contributed to its being granted to our school and to me. I feel privileged to work at Ottoson and to have the opportunity to teach and hopefully inspire my students to consider a STEM related path in life. The national nature of this award will truly showcase the great work our school is doing as well as our state."

The awards, sponsored by Pasco Scientific, based in Roseville, Calif., in partnership with the National Science Teachers Association, recognizes excellence and innovation in the field of STEM, at middle school and high school levels.

Quality of teaching cited

"People have to understand the quality of teaching that goes on" in the Arlington public schools, Superintdent Kathleen Bodie told the School Committee on Thursday, Feb. 12, in announcing Whitney's honor.

One middle-school educator is chosen each year from a nationwide applicant base. 

Applicants for the Pasco STEM Award must have a minimum of three years' teaching experience in the STEM fields and implement an innovative inquiry-based, technology infused STEM program.

In addition to the daily benefits of participating in Whitney’s classes and the tech-engineering program at Ottoson, students benefit materially from this award. Pasco Scientific, a distributor of scientific equipment for classroom use, is providing $5,000 in supplies as part of Whitney’s award.

Last September, the Ottoson technology engineering program, led by Whitney and Blanchette, was voted the 2014 program of the year by MassTEC.

Two Ottoson teachers were recognized in October by their statewide professional organization.

"I can honestly say that I am humbled to receive this award, as is Brandy!" Blanchette wrote Friday, Sept. 19. "I love kids, and it has been a dream to do what I love for the past 26 years, which is to teach children how to be thinkers and problem solvers, all while using a project based, hands-on approach to learn math, science, history, writing skills etc.

Whitney commented: "Teaching engineering, especially in a supportive district like Arlington, is an amazing opportunity to inspire and nurture the great thinkers and innovators of tomorrow. I feel fortunate to have been an educator for the past nine years and look forward to many more years of guiding my student’s inquiries into the world of engineering. This award showcases the dedication of not only the teachers in this program but the hard work and persistence of its students as well."

The honors were announced by Superintendent Kathleen Bodie at the Sept. 18 School Committee meeting.

Student work showcased

Many in the crowd attending the Technology Showcase last May would not be surprised. Some of the projects on display were put together by students of Blanchette and Whitney. Blanchette said that evening that students were involved in "full-blown engineering."

Whitney's students demonstrated robots, which were successfully tested after the showcase, and were the subject of a separate YourArlington feature story in July (slide show below).The robots still must be tested at Spy Pond, likely this fall.

MassTEC, which stands for Massachusetts Technology/Engineering Collaborative, made its decision based on the following the primary information sought in the application process: department information, department mission statement, syllabus by grade level, curriculum maps, the state standards addressed at each grade, course description/program of studies, samples of student work, assessments and grading rubrics, school and community support, involvement with other departments, involvement in outside groups that relate to our program, involvement in after-school programs, biographical information and letters of recommendation.

This list hardly conveys the teachers' excitement about their subject -- and its honors.

'Great news'

"This is great news for the students, parents and administrators in Arlington," Blanchette wrote. "Since I have come to Arlington six years ago, I have received nothing but the utmost support and respect from all stakeholders.

"When Brandy joined the OMS staff last year, she brought a wealth of 21st-century instructional technology knowledge that is continually being applied to the curriculum I have created over the past 26 years. This is providing our students with an unprecedented opportunity to learn in innovative ways ....

"This award validates all the hard work that the students and I have done to become more in-depth, lifelong learners."

The award, detailed on the teachers' engineering site, at www.ottosonmiddleschoolteched.weebly.com, explains technology engineering further:

"Students in grades six through eight pursue engineering questions and technological solutions that emphasize research and problem solving. They identify and understand the five elements of a technology system (goal, inputs, processes, outputs and feedback).

"They acquire basic safety skills in the use of hand tools, power tools and machines. They explore engineering design; materials, tools and machines; and communication, manufacturing, construction and transportation technologies ....

"The culmination of the engineering design experience is the development and delivery of an engineering presentation and a summary/evaluation showing the understanding of the science."

To learn more about the program at Ottoson, click here >>


This announcement was published Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, and updated Feb. 14.

Minuteman open house for middle-school parents, students held

Minteman High School logoFor the second time this school year, Minuteman High School, in Lexington, is opening its doors to the region’s middle-school students and their parents. Its spring open house is set for Thursday, March 5, from 7 to 9 p.m.

"This a chance for parents and students to give us a good look and ask the tough questions," said interim Principal Jack Dillon in a Feb. 12 news release. "Any student thinking about applying to Minuteman and any parent thinking about sending a child here is invited.”

Students from grades six, seven and eight are all invited, he said.

The open house will start with a brief presentation from Dillon, followed by short overviews of Minuteman’s program offerings from Michelle Roche, director of career and technical education, and William J. Blake Jr., director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

Dillon said open house is a chance for parents and students to "hear from the experts" -- Minuteman’s faculty and staff. He said department heads will be on hand to answer questions and to coordinate tours of the building.

During the event, parents and students can also meet with George Clement, just appointed as interim assistant principal of education services. Clement oversees the admissions process at Minuteman.

Minuteman is an award-winning regional high school that seeks to give its graduates a competitive edge in the new global economy by providing them with career skills – plus a rigorous grounding in mathematics, English, science and social studies. It is one of 26 regional career and technical school districts in Massachusetts.

Minuteman has a selective-admissions policy. Admissions decisions are based on five factors: grades, attendance, discipline record, recommendations from the partner school and a personal interview.

Students can earn a maximum of 100 points, with up to 20 points possible on each of the five factors. Students with the highest scores are accepted first.

There are nearly 4,000 eighth graders in the Minuteman district. Only 150-160 students will be able to join Minuteman’s ninth-grade class in the fall.

Students from within the 16-town Minuteman district are accepted on a rolling basis but are urged to apply early. For students from outside the district, the application deadline is March 15.

"We work very hard to make sure that each of our students will be successful," said Dillon. "While they’re here, we want them to discover their passion and link what they love to do with a career path that will bring them personal satisfaction and economic success."

At Minuteman, students can major in 19 career and technical education programs at the same time they take rigorous academic courses, similar to those in traditional academic high schools. Minuteman offers a wide selection of academic courses and programs, including foreign languages (Spanish, French and Latin), art, Advanced Placement courses, and Girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). It also offers a wide range of sports and does not charge any fees to participate.

Bus transportation is provided to all students within the Minuteman district.

After graduation, more than 60 percent of the school’s graduates pursue college or advanced training.

The Minuteman district includes 16 member communities: Acton, Arlington, Belmont, Bolton, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Dover, Lancaster, Lexington, Lincoln, Needham, Stow, Sudbury, Wayland and Weston.


This extended announcement was published Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015.

First look at cost of a new Minuteman High: $79m to $106m

Minteman High School logo
"The need for building renovation/ replacement is well established, and four separate options have been developed." Sue Sheffler, Minuteman rep

Project architect calls new structure least expensive

UPDATED, Feb. 13: The estimated district share of a new Minuteman High School, in Lexington, ranges from $79.6 million to $105.9 million, depending on how it is rebuilt, school officials have been told.

The district share assumes that the state will cover at least 40 percent of the project.

What part of that range of costs Arlington would pay remains unclear at this stage.

At a Feb. 6 meeting with more than 30 town administrators and officials, Minuteman’s School Building Committee announced preliminary cost estimates for four alternatives: renovating the school with state financial help, renovating and expanding with state help, building a new school with state help and building a new school and demolishing the old one with state help.

In addition, a subcommittee released a cost analysis for a self-funded model that would be required if the project is rejected by any of the district’s 16 member towns.


Feb. 12, 2015: Open house for students parents March 5


According to Kaestle Boos Associates Inc., the project architect, building a new school is the least expensive of the four alternatives. It would cost $132.6 million, with the state paying at least $53 million and the district paying $79.6 million. Construction of a new building would take about 30 months to complete.

Renovating the existing school would cost the district $105.9 million and would take five years to complete. Renovating and adding onto the existing building would cost the district $105.2 million and take four years. Construction would occur while the school is occupied.

"The need for building renovation/replacement is well established, and four separate options have been developed," Sue Sheffler, Arlington's representative to the Minuteman School Committee, wrote in an email Feb. 10. "It is now our task to explore these options in detail, and determine what the best course of action is for Arlington.

Public involvement encouraged

"Over the next several months the public will have ample opportunity to learn and discuss options for updating Minuteman, including the costs and benefits to our Town and our students. I encourage our citizens to be as involved as they can in the process.

"Minuteman is a valuable educational resource for Arlington students who want to graduate high school with significant career skills. Arlington's enrollment of about 150 students annually is the highest of the 16 member towns in the Minuteman district. These students pursue combined skill-development and academic goals, including a high percentage of students who receive supplemental academic support."

In a Minuteman news release. Ford Spalding chair of the School Building Committee, which has been working with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) on the feasibility study for several years, commented:

"These are sound preliminary numbers. We want local officials and taxpayers from within the district to have an idea of the type of investment needed to continue to prepare our students for college and careers."

Now, and over the next several months, the building committee seeks feedback from the public, Spalding said. He said more detailed financial numbers will be generated once the district decides on a preferred option.

The School Building Committee also released an 11-page report, which it called "strongly worded, reviewing current building conditions and investigated whether the district could make repairs, without state help, over many years. The report, drafted by an eight-member subcommittee chaired by Dana Ham, described Minuteman’s building systems as "failing" and said "deteriorating conditions must be addressed."


'Do-nothing' option

The report dated Feb. 2 and titled "The 'Do Nothing' Option" describes the consequences for Minuteman High School if the school district does not approve one of the MSBA-funded building project options that address the deteriorating conditions of the existing school building. The introduction says: "This option can be described simply as 'self-funding' a portion of the proposed MSBA Renovation Project, but doing it more expensively, without MSBA, with serious disruptions in learning for students, and not accomplishing most of the new Education Program Plan."


In its report, the subcommittee soundly rejected the practicality of making repairs without participation from the MSBA. It said doing the work piecemeal would take longer, cost more, accomplish less and cause more disruption to students.

Doing the work without state help would also likely have a negative impact on student enrollment and retention and would jeopardize the school’s accreditation from the New England Association of Schools & Colleges, the report stated. NEASC placed the school on "warning" status in November 2012 due to the condition of the facility.

According to the report, doing the repairs over 10 years would cost either $71.7 million or $141.7 million, depending on whether Minuteman implements the new Educational Program Plan recommended last year by Minuteman’s 16-member school committee.

2 new career academies proposed

The new plan calls for the creation of two Career Academies and a Shared House, two new career and technical programs and the phase-out or upgrade of several others, resulting in 16 career majors serving 628 students, primarily from the 16 member towns.

Under either option, the repairs would need to be paid entirely by district taxpayers, the report said.

The report on the non-MSBA repair option also warned that costs were likely to escalate dramatically because the work would be done over such an extended period. The subcommittee also expressed concern that the district would be able to bond (borrow money) for this piecemeal approach.

The school and its consultants have been in a feasibility study with MSBA for nearly five years. Minuteman is an award-winning regional vocational technical high school that seeks to give its graduates a competitive edge in the new global economy by providing them with career skills -- plus a rigorous grounding in academics.

"We want all of our graduates to understand what they love to do and what they do well," said Dr. Edward A. Bouquillon, Superintendent-Director. "We want to help each of them discover their abilities and tie that to an occupation resulting in greater economic independence as that young person moves into adulthood."

At Minuteman, students can major in 19 career and technical education programs at the same time they take rigorous academic courses, including advanced placement courses. More than 60 percent of the school’s graduates pursue college or advanced training upon graduation.

During recent months, Minuteman has been featured in several state and national media outlets, including The Boston Globe, Boston Herald and National Public Radio. Minuteman was also featured in a book, Job U: How to Find Wealth and Success by Developing the Skills Companies Actually Need by Nicholas Wyman.

Besides Arlington, the Minuteman district includes Acton, Belmont, Bolton, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Dover, Lancaster, Lexington, Lincoln, Needham, Stow, Sudbury, Wayland and Weston.


This story was published Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015, and updated Feb. 12 to add a link. The sources of all numbers in this report are Minuteman news releases.

Parent forum on school tech plan held

AEF logo

Two open-to-the-public events about technology in our school district are scheduled, buit one has been postponed.

The Arlington Education Foundation (AEF) is working with the district to support and accelerate the implementation of these plans. Here's a chance to get more details and ask questions about the current plans and how they will affect children at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

At the parent forums, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Laura Chesson will present the district¹s three-year technology plan and give parents the opportunity to comment. They are:

Wednesday, Feb. 11, at Bishop School, at 7:30 p.m. (elementary focus), which has been postponed; and Wednesday, Feb 25, at Ottoson Middle School, at 7 p.m. (secondary focus)

The draft technology plan is available here >>


This extended announcement was published Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015.

AHS arts aim to take a digital leap forward

Arlington Education Foundation fund-raiser at Involution Studios Arlington Education Foundation fund-raiser at Involution Studios / Photo by Amy Speare  

Plaintive strings pitched Brahms' Violin Concerto from the balcony out over the former ballroom-dance floor at 661 Mass. Ave. -- a gentle invitation to those below, circulating around large Macs displaying works by Arlington High School artists.

An estimated 40 people had come to Involution Studios on a cold night Jan. 29, when the Arlington Education Foundation began raising $50,000 for a digital-arts studio at the high school.

The evening's dream was Moore's -- an art teacher at AHS since 2000 who has taught digital arts there since 2007, a class that has grown from 12 students to 65.

'Just hang out' 

"Many are not in the class [officially]," he said. "They just come to hang out."

Ardito, the interim K-12 arts administrator, told why raising $50,000 for digital arts is important.

"I wish you could see the students clustered around and sharing .... [It] wrenches at your heart."

Moving around the table at Involution were interested adults, marveling at films created by Jasper Hamilton, an Arlington High senior who has his own crew and appears destined to succeed.

Beyond Hamilton, Ardito said, "This [digital-arts studio] will attract many students who do not see themselves as visual artist."

Habits of mind

Underlying the youthful enthusiasm is an arts curriculum, Ardito says, based on "habits of mind." Some of them are:

    -- Not merely seeing, but observing; and

    -- Learning to imagine the next steps of any project.

"Our big idea," he said. "We use technology to deliver an 'imaginative lab,' which integrates art into STEM, to make it STEAM."

Translation: The first acronym stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Add art, and you get the second acronym. (There was no debate about this Jan. 29, but an Education Week article outlines some of the issues involved.)

If funded, the digital-arts studio at the high school would support student work in animation, documentary filmmaking, corporate branding and digital design, aming many others.

Silicon Valley jobs

Why is that good to know? The man with the significant scarf, Juhan Sonin, director of Involution Studios, explained: "Silicon Valley has 3,000 open design jobs."

A sense of play surrounds Sonin's seriousness, leading a software-design company that is a partner with the town in creating its visual budget in 2013. With respect to the proposed digital studio, he says simply, "Technology/engineering requires an artist's eye."

Near the evening's end came the pitch. Annie LaCourt, the former selectman who is the foundation’s treasurer, delivered hard and fast.

With $20,000 raised so far of an overall goal of $130,000, the nearer target for the studio is $50,000.

She said she contributing $1,000 of her own. "It's my birthday," she said, smiling broadly, welcoming "presents" to the foundation.

Among those attending were Laura Chesson, the assistant superintendent and staunch supporter of technology; high school Principal Matthew Janger; Selectman Joseph Curro and School Committee members Jud Pierce and Bill Hayner.

Leaning back, Hayner, a retired teacher, said the evening "makes me wish I was in school again."

What donations help pay for

Here is some of what the fund-raising would buy:

20 27-inch iMacs, costing $2,693 a unit

4 27-inch iMacs with a 5K retinal screen for filmmaking at $3,183 a unit

10 Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions, at $360 each per year

4 NEC PA272w monitors at $1,200 (bring your own devices)


DONATE >>


This story was published Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015.

AHS grad earns top marks on the psychology exam

 

Jacob Malin, a 2014 graduate of Arlington High School, performed so well on his advanced-placement psychology exam last May that he has fallen into a select category, AHS Principal Matthew Janger reported Jan. 30.

Malin not only received the top score of 5, but in doing so, he was one of only three students in the world to earn every point possible on the psychology exam, answering every multiple-choice question correctly and earning full points on the free-response section of the exam.

"We applaud Jacob for his hard work, and we also congratulate his teacher, Michael Sandler, for his ability to engage his students and enable them to excel in a college-level course," Dr. Janger wrote. "This outstanding accomplishment is a wonderful reflection of the education being offered here at Arlington High School."


This announcement was publushed Friday, Jan. 30, 2015.

AHS basketball teams don purple to focus on drug abuse

AHS logo

The Arlington High School boys' and girls' basketball teams are joining schools and groups nationwide by "going purple" at their Friday, Jan. 23, home games.

Arlington teams are honoring Chris Herren's initiative, Project Purple, a national program that aims to increase awareness of substance abuse.

The nonprofit foundation established by Herren, former NBA basketball player and sobriety advocate who played high school ball in Fall River, assists individuals and families struggling with addiction through treatment, education and mentoring.

In 2013, Herren told more than 2,000 Arlington High and Ottoson students about attending similar presentations in high school and that he had easily dismissed them as a waste of time.

Read more ...

Public schools get $12K from education foundation

The Arlington Education Foundation (AEF) recently awarded $12,297 in grants to the Arlington public schools as part of the fall "Innovations in Education" grant cycle.

AEF logo

These grants support innovative teaching and learning projects that augment and enrich the curriculum, encourage leadership, creativity and skills development and provide a lasting benefit to Arlington's public schools.

Awarded at the elementary, middle and high schools, the six grants will fund a wide variety of projects, including art, languages, science and student leadership. They are:

Art. Food. Community: Thompson students create ceramic bowls in art class for use in a community-wide hunger awareness event to support Arlington EATS.

Training for Student Leadership: Leadership training workshops for High School student leaders and teachers.

Gelli Printing in the Art Room: Thompson and Stratton students create monoprints from natural objects in art class using Gelli Plates.

Full Circle Garden: Brackett Kindergarten gardens (flower, vegetable and Zen) teach students the seasons of the year, plant life cycles, composting, and sensory therapy.

Ottoson Science Fair Club: Establishment of a new after school Science & Engineering Fair Club.

Data Collection & Analysis for Improved World Language Proficiency: External World Language assessments measure student proficiency and improve instructional strategies.

"We are pleased to support the dynamic programs funded through our 'Innovations in Education, grants," Jane Biondi, AEF president said in a new release released Jan. 20. "Of all of our grant categories, the innovations grants really let individual classroom teachers and school communities bring new and enriching experiences to their students."

Community donations enable AEF to award more than $100,000 annually in grants to the Arlington public schools. AEF works to support and advance public education in Arlington and funds system-wide initiatives and creative new projects to enhance the educational experiences of Arlington’s teachers and students. For more information on AEF’s current and past grants, or to donate, visit www.arlingtoneducationfoundationma.org.


This extended announcement was published Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015.

Schools to reapply after state turns down AHS rebuild application

UPDATED, Dec. 19: The Arlington public school administration will reapply in 2015 for state funding to help rebuild the high school following rejection of the current application.

Superintendent Kathleen Bodie told the School Committee on Thursday, Dec. 18, that the renewed effort would note the schools' sharp increase in enrollment as well as the fact that certain building issues must be addressed soon.

The Nor'easter in November that brought prolonged rain led to "significant leaks" that caused some ceilings to crumble in science classrooms, she said.

"We had a barrel on the sixth floor [catching leaks] near my office," she said.

The chief reason that AHS did not make the first-year cut, she said, was the number of applicants, many from cities. Those applications attract higher reimbursement rates than those for suburban districts, and that draws down the total pool of available building funds.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) will not be including Arlington High School into the funding process for the current fiscal year but invites the town to apply for next year.

In an email to the high school community Tuesday, Dec. 16, Principal Matthew Janger reported news, which he called "disappointing."

The Dec. 12 letter informing Arlington from John McCarthy, the agency executive director, said the state had received 108 statements of interest about school-building projects from 72 districts.

"Given the needs we experience and the work we have done to document those needs," Janger wrote "this is hard news for many of us. It's important for us to remember the wonderful educational work and community that we have maintained, in spite of our aging facility."

Janger continued: "This is not altogether surprising news, as few schools appear to be accepted on their first request. We plan to update and resubmit our proposal this April. As for our timeline, this news moves the first possible start date for a construction project back to 2018."

In the meantime, he wrote, leaders will do the following at the high school:

"(1) Fix stuff now. We have made substantial and successful efforts in the past year to improve the cleanliness and maintenance of the high school building. In addition, we have been collecting information on the impact of the facilities on instruction. As we are going to be enjoying the high school's particular charms for a while longer, we will begin a new plan for ways we can improve our safety, comfort, and instructional environment over the coming 5 years.

"(2) Build our digital environment. Our new initiatives around creating technology centers and developing a 'bring your own device' model for the high school help us to provide a 21st-century education in spite of an early 20th century building. We will be adding new special use labs (digital media and science computing) in the next year. In addition, we will continue piloting the use of Chromebooks and IPads (adding 80-300 devices) with the goal of creating a technology rich "bring your own device" environment by 2016-17.

"(3) Create a maker culture. Our aging building gives us the opportunity to experiment and build both programs and stuff. Since reopening the woodshop as a maker space, many classes have built, experimented, and improved various corners of the building. Digital devices combined with real tools, allow students and teachers to become active creators of knowledge and real world impact. We will take advantage of the next few years to experiment and prototype for the future building.

"(4) Learn about future buildings. Now that we have an answer from MSBA for this year, our Future Building team will revisit our building vision, review our statement of interest application, and consider new schools for visits and information gathering. We need to continue to keep the interest and energy for a new high school alive for the next generation of Arlington students and the overall Arlington community. This is a long-term investment in the future of our town."

As the principal often is, he signed off in an upbeat way:

"That's it for now. We are ready for round two! Go Ponders!"

From a report last March

In advance of a special School Committee meeting to hear reports about state of Arlington High School, schools' Superintendent Kathleen Bodie has pointed the public to a report calling for an update of all major systems at Arlington High School.

In an email to the community Tuesday, March 4, she wrote that the 100-year-old school has had no "major renovation since the late 1970s. Repairs have been made over the years as needed."

Last year the engineering firm On-site Insight was hired to evaluate all of the mechanical, electrical and infrastructure needs of the building. The report indicates that all of the high school's major systems need updating, she wrote.

In their 20-year schedule for repairs, the vast majority of the repairs would need to be completed in the first year. The complete report can be found on the district website here >>

Every 10 years, the high school participates in an accreditation process with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). In its letter dated Sept. 11, 2013, NEASC placed the high school on warning status for the state of its facilities.

In December, the architectural firm of HMFH, architects for the new Thompson Elementary School, was hired to analyze the programmatic needs of the high school, including the impact of the current building on teaching and learning.

Architect Lori Cowles will present her report to the School Committee on Thursday, March 6, and to the Board of Selectmen on Monday, March 10. Both will be broadcast on ACMi.

In addition, she will present her report to parents and community members on Wednesday, March 12, in the auditorium of the high school from 7 to 8 p.m. There will be an opportunity to ask questions.

A number of people have requested that the administration offer for tours of the building so that people can see firsthand what the needs are. Tours of the high school were held on the following dates and times:

Saturday, March 15, 9 to 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday, March 18, 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 20, 4 to 5:30 p.m.

If you are interested in participating in a tour, RSVP through this link >>


Dec. 23, 2013: Unprecedented process underway to reshape Arlington High


The school's building history reflects a piecework approach, a lack of overall, long-term design. The graphic below shows how. Follow the letters on the image from Google Earth:

Google Earth view of Arlington High School with letters indicating its buildings.A. The original building, off Schouler Court, now called Fusco House, was built in 1914 and had some renovation in 1981.

 B. The current main office was built 1938 and underwent some renovation in 1981.

C. The section called Collomb House was built 1938 and had some renovation in 1981.

D. Lowe Auditorium, the school's performance space, was also built 1938 underwent some renovation in 1981.

E. Toward Peirce Field, Downs House was built 1964 and has had no significant renovation.

F. The Links Building, which connects Downs and Lowe, went up in 1981 has not been renovated.

G. Offices and the cafeteria were built 1960s.

H. The Red Gym went up in 1981.

I. The Blue Gym and its locker rooms were built in 1960 and were renovated in 1981.


This story was published Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, and updated Dec. 19.

Ex-special-needs administrator reportedly kills self

Steve Orloff

A former Stoneham school official accused of posing as a 14-year-old boy online to lure teenage girls into making child pornography videos committed suicide in jail Sunday, Dec. 14, the Essex County Sheriff's Department said.

Channel 5 reported Dec. 15 that prosecutors had alleged that Steven Orloff posed as the teen online to convince young girls to show themselves naked.

Orloff previously worked in the special-education department of the Arlington public schools as recently as 2011.

The former director of a special-needs program in Stoneham was charged last year by federal authorities with production and possession of child pornography.

Orloff, according to the federal affidavit, also allegedly secretly taped "several homemade movies depicting two girls to whom Orloff was related."

He was found hanging in the shower at the Essex County House of Corrections. He was taken to Beverly Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Before working in Stoneham, Orloff held positions in Needham, officials said.


 This story was published Monday, Dec. 15, 2014.

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