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School vehicle hits home; some injured, none children

A two-vehicle collision that sent an SUV into a home where propane was stored resulted in injuries but no harm to students.

An Arlington public schools' sport utility vehicle was headed from Lexington to Arlington via Route 2A when it was struck by another vehicle about 12:10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20. The collision caused the Arlington vehicle to exit the roadway and crash into a building on Lowell Street in Lexington, an Arlington news release said.

New England Cable News reported the vehicle struck a propane tank and caused a leak, which has since been mitigated.

The town release reported two Arlington school-bus drivers were aboard the SUV, one driving and one as a passenger, and both were taken to an area hospital for examination, but they were not seriously harmed.

NECN reported three injured.

There were no children aboard at the time, the town release said. The vehicle was driving through Lexington on an errand to pick up replacement parts for a school bus when the incident occurred.

"We are grateful that our drivers appear to be OK and were not more seriously injured," Superintendent Kathleen Bodie said in a statement. "Arlington Public Schools will fully cooperate with Lexington police in their investigation."


This story was published Thursday, Nov, 20, 2014.

Goodbyes said to retired Stratton teacher

Janice Satlak-Mott, Dennie McCabe

UPDATED, Nov. 5: A farewell retirement celebration for Janice Satlak-Mott, a Stratton kindergarten teacher for 42 years, is set for Arlington Town Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 12, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public.

After more than four decades of dedicated service teaching a cumulative total of almost 1,000 of Arlington’s youngest students, Mrs. Satlak-Mott has retired from Stratton Elementary School.

To honor her teaching legacy, the Stratton Community is planning an evening reception.

One highlight of the evening: a few familiar songs performed by a multiage chorus of her “alums.”

All former students, families, friends and associates are welcome to attend.

The evening is, in part, sponsored by the Stratton PTO, and will include light refreshments and nonalcoholic beverages.

The Stratton PTO provided this statement:

Saying that teaching kindergarten has been her "life’s work," Mrs. Satlak-Mott welcomed each class with warmth, patience and a keen understanding of what made an individual child tick. Her love of music, science and art permeated her K1 classroom; you’d be hard pressed to find a former student who doesn’t know the words to The Beatles song "Here Comes the Sun," or who doesn’t remember hearing her read the book Owl Babies on the first day of school?


At right, Janice Satlak-Mott honors Dennis McCabe, a custodian, in a ceremony in June."How blessed I have been to be a part of the lives of hundreds of children and their families who have taught me a great deal about life, learning and resiliency! You have all enriched my life and left me with wonderful and gratifying memories. I am fortunate indeed to have been able to do the work I love, my life’s work, for so many years!


In fact, the Arlington High Class of 2014 presented Mrs. Satlak-Mott with an “Elementary School Faculty Appreciation Award.”

In her letter to the Stratton community announcing her retirement, Satlak-Mott wrote, "My work with children has allowed me to be creative, intellectually curious and purposeful. It surrounded me with optimism and the 'pinnacle of possibility' that children bring with them every day as we all worked together as a kindergarten family of learners and thinkers."

In recent years at Stratton, it was not uncommon to find that the parents of many of her kindergartners were also former students themselves. How incredibly unique and special it was for these children to sit in the very same Stratton K1 classroom that their own Mom and/or Dad sat in, being taught by the very same teacher.

PTO seeks donations

The families have also set a goal of donating a reading bench in her honor to the Stratton School. To contribute to the "Janice Satlak-Mott Reading Bench" Fund, click here >>

Or, if you prefer, you can mail a check payable to "Stratton PTO" to JSM Fund, c/o Stratton PTO, 180 Mountain Ave., Arlington, MA 02474.

More information about the event, including how to join the JSM "Alum" Chorus, can also be found on Facebook.


This story was published Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, and updated the next day.

Thompson recognized as high-performance green school

New Thomppson School/ logo

Thompson was recognized Nov. 13 as an elementary school that is both high-performance and green.

The honor of having been verified as CHPS, or Collaborative for High Performance Schools, is set for a ceremony during the School Committee meeting that Thursday.

Thompson meets the tough state standards for a green school. To find out what a high-performance school is, click here >> See what the CHPS criteria are here >> 

"Arlington Public Schools is to be commended for attaining the status of CHPS Verified for the Thompson Elementary School," a statement from CHPS headquarters says. "This means students and staff at Thompson will enjoy a healthy, high-performing environment in which to learn and work."

The Cambridge architectural firm said: "HMFH designed the Thompson School to be sustainable and durable, as well as an engaging and welcoming learning environment for its young users. We expect that the school will serve the community well for decades to come."

HMFH Architects designed the Thomson. G & R Construction built it.

CHPS, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., works to make schools a better place to learn. For more information about CHPS, visit www.chps.net.

Kids learn better in schools with good lighting, clean air and comfortable classrooms. That's why the Collaborative for High Performance Schools'1' works with schools and experts to make changes to ensure that every child has the best possible learning environment with the smallest impact on the planet.

CHPS created the nation's first green building-rating program developed especially for school-learning environments. Incorporated in 2002, CHPS is celebrating a decade of making schools a better place to learn.


This story was published Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Statewide honor for Ottoson tech engineering, its 2 teachers

Brandy Whitney, Gary Blanchette, Ottoson tech engineering teachers

Two Ottoson teachers whose enthusiasms for engineering capture the imaginations of middle-school students will be recognized in October by their statewide professional organization.

The school's technology program, led by Brandy Whitney and Gary Blanchette (at left), has been voted the 2014 program of the year by MassTEC.

"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."


This story was published Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014.

Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School welcomes new students

Chauncy-Hill logo

Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School has welcomed the following Arlington students to their Waltham campus:

Katrina Conrad and Natasha Ramirez-Scott.

Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall is a coeducational day and boarding school. Grounded in 180 years of history, the school remains dedicated to teaching the way students learn.

Students in grades 9 through 12 thrive in a college-preparatory curriculum where they find small class sizes, academic challenges and a multiple intelligences approach to teaching and learning.

Visit Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School online at www.chch.org.


This brief was published Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014.

AHS National Merit semifinalists, commended scholars announced

School-awards logo

Arlington High School Principal Matthew Janger congratulated the school's National Merit commended scholars and semifinalists on Tuesday, Sept. 23.

In an email to the AHS list, he wrote: "These students have demonstrated high levels of academic promise on the PSAT exam and some will qualify for scholarships based on this program.

"We encourage all students to take the PSAT in their sophomore and junior year and to use that information for postsecondary planning and SAT preparation.:

Semifinalists listed are:

William Doyle
Yana Galina

Commended scholars

Cameron Adelman
James Barvick
Julia Blass
Dominique Carey
Tim Chang
Dorothy Cooperson-Vieweg
Isaac Czapski
Lucas Delbanco
Eryk Dobrushkin
Andrew Felknor
Leah Grodstein
Zachary Guion
Elyana Heigham
Allison Holt
Ian Hopeman
Ruby Kinnamon
Daniel Klingsberg
Jacques Libresco-Puckett
Aidan O'Day
Diego Opperman
Joseph Romano
Emma Stewart
Catherine Tiffany
Olivia Wan

Of the 1.5 million entrants, some 50,000 with the highest PSAT scores qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

More than two-thirds (about 34,000) of the approximately 50,000 high scorers on the PSAT/NMSQT receive letters of commendation. Although commended students do not continue in the competition for National Merit Scholarships, some of these students do become candidates for special scholarships sponsored by corporations and businesses.  

About 16,000 students, or about one-third of the 50,000 high scorers, are notified that they have qualified as semifinalists. They are designated on a state-representational basis. They are the highest-scoring entrants in each state. NMSC provides scholarship application materials to semifinalists through their high schools. To be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, semifinalists must advance to finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic standards and other requirements.


This story was published Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014.

Arlington teacher to train in education-policy leadership

Linda HansonHanson

Linda Hanson, district literacy coach and president of the Arlington Education Association, will spend the 2014-15 school year developing her skills as an education leader.

She will participate in the Massachusetts Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP), run by the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy, a program serving midcareer professionals who seek to expand their networks and build their policy and leadership skills to move forward effective reform.

She will interact with fellows from a variety of sectors, including school districts, business, nonprofits, state agencies, unions and institutions of higher education.  

Hanson began teaching in the Arlington public schools in September 2000. She has worked as a reading teacher in the Thompson School for seven years and as a district elementary  literacy coach and curriculum coordinator for seven years.

The 2014-15 fellowship program in Massachusetts will feature a variety of workshops with prominent leaders, including Paul Reville, former state education secretary and Rennie Center founder. Fellows will also visit the Massachusetts State House and Washington D.C. to meet with policymakers and learn about the policy process firsthand.

The Massachusetts fellowship program is one of 13 sites that comprise the national program sponsored by the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington, D.C.

"We are excited to welcome a talented group of fellows to participate in EPFP this year," said Chad d’Entremont, executive director for the center, in Cambridge, said in a news release. "The 2014-15 EPFP fellows bring a wide range of perspectives and experiences to our program, and we look forward to promoting constructive conversations that help fellows explore the state education policy context and build their networks in the education and policy communities.

"By the end of the program, fellows are in a strong position to move forward in their careers as education professionals and advance effective policy reform," d’Entremont said.

The Rennie Center’s mission is to improve public education through well-informed decision-making based on deep knowledge and evidence of effective policymaking and practice. The center creates open spaces for educators and policymakers to consider evidence, discuss cutting-edge issues and develop new approaches to advance student learning and achievement.


This story was published Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, and updated the next day.

Minuteman's educational style touted on broadcast

Minteman High School logo

Minuteman High School, in Lexington, is described as the future of vocational education in a program to be broadcast at 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21, on WBUR (90.9 FM).

The American RadioWorks documentary is titled "Ready to Work: Reviving Vocational Education."

Listen to a part of the program here >>

The school website describes the effort under the headline "A 21st Century Vocational High School."


This story was published Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014.

2014 MCAS: Initial, overall Arlington scores

MCAS logo

Would you like to know overall scores among students in the Arlington public schools on the 2014 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, known as the MCAS tests?

Here is the first report >>


State Department of Education 2014 MCAS results

June 26, 2014: Tie vote defeats plea for early online-testing decision (MCAS is not forever)

Sept. 24, 2013: Top scores in 2013 MCAS


This story was published Friday, Sept. 19, 2014.

3 at AHS named semifinalists in National Merit Scholarship Program

School-awards logo

Three Arlington High School students are among the 16,000 semifinalists in the 60th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

They are Joshua T. Bartkoske, William C. Doyle and Yanan G. Galina. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced the names Wednesday, Sept. 10,

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for about 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to finalist. About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title, a news release says.

The not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance was established in 1955 to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation with its own funds and by approximately 440 business organizations and higher-education institutions that share the corporation’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

About 1.4 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest -- scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the Semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

From the about 16,000 semifinalists, an estimated 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level, and in February they will be notified of this designation. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin or religious preference.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2015 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 308,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.


This story was published on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014.

 

 

Asbestos out, new floor tiles in at Stratton

Stratton sign

When students return to the Stratton School in September, they will find the ground-floor classrooms new tiling. Gone will be old carpets, which covered asbestos-laden tiles.

The asbestos removal began in mid-July was completed during the first week in August, Principal Michael Hanna said.

The carpeting contributed to some mold buildup over the summer in recent years, adding that "generally, then, the air quality will be much improved by this project."

Diane Johnson, chief financial officer for the public schools, reported that abatement was awarded to Premier Abatement & Labor Services of Methuen for $31,132. Tile replacement was awarded to MJ Connors Co. for $28,649. That work is expected to be completed by the end of the week of Aug. 11.

Hanna said the projects were funded through the town's capital plan. They were on a list waiting until funding was appropriated, which occurred last spring.

The school, built in 1962, awaits renovation or rebuilding. It is the last of seven town elementary schools to receive such work.


This story was published Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014.

Persistent Ottoson students sail toward Spy Pond robot test

Twenty Ottoson Middle School students hope to put their six robots underwater in a real-world test at Spy Pond this fall.

Their teacher, Brandy Whitney, stands behind that hope.

The students worked from February into June to assemble and successfully test the robots, called SeaPerches.

"They amazed me with their will to keep doing something over and over despite setbacks and challenges," Whitney wrote in an email. "They have amazing dedication."

A teacher for eight years, four of them instructing in engineering, Whitney provided an outline of the persistence by the members of the Robotics Club.

Sixth- through eighth-graders aim to complete the project this fall and hope to compete, perhaps diving into the SeaPerch challenge.

High schoolers usually tackle this kind of engineering project.

The slide show with this story portrays snapshots of the students' progress. See the full robot assembly slide shown here >>

An update from June on the Ottoson engineering site says four of six robots are complete and two of six complex circuit boards are running. "Robots experiencing a need for extra design process and reengineering time will be finished at the start of the 2014-2015 year," it says.

Edited excerpts of a Q-and-A with Whitney at the Ottoson site explains further.

Q: What can you say about the experience of building the SeaPerch?

A: Building the SeaPerches was a challenging yet very rewarding experience for all students involved. Generally, most SeaPerch teams are groups of high school students, although it is definitely a project that has been and can be done with students as young as grade six.

Students who for the most part had no knowledge of even basic circuitry now know how to wire a motor, assemble a robot and have a basic understanding of soldering and more complex circuits. I think learning how to solder was probably the most rewarding and exciting part of the project. Student remarked how they felt it was “real-world engineering” and they felt “like college students.”

Q: Have you been able to do any underwater testing?

A: End-of-the-year testing of the robots underwater was done inside Ottoson. It was a complete success. Students were quickly able to assess the buoyancy for their vehicle and started to discuss how they would modify it.

Q: I know you really wanted an underwater camera. Were you able to solve that problem?

A: We have not solved that yet, although I am planning on investigating funding sources for next year and already have a camera in the $100 range in mind.

Q: What do you think are the most important lessons that the students learn from participating in the club and from the SeaPerch project?

A: This project is very challenging mentally and physically. It requires a lot of time and patience. Some groups did not complete the circuit board and used a spare for the launch; others had different issues with their robots. The most important thing they learned was never, ever, ever give up! To quote Dori from "Finding Nemo" (as they often did), "Just keep swimming!"

Q: I know you got a grant this year. Are you hoping to do SeaPerch again next year?

A: I am very hopeful to add to our SeaPerch team next year. I will be writing a grant, however funding is limited, and we did already receive a grant last year. If we cannot receive grant funding, we will still meet and work on this project, perfect it and see how far we can go.


May 19: Technology showcase includes robot makers


This story was published Thursday, July 31, 2014.

2 from Arlington win college-sponsored scholarships

School-awards logo

Two Arlington residents, Susanna Faas-Bush and Miranda Liang, have won National Merit Scholarships financed by colleges and universities.

Faas-Bush, whose probable career field is archaeology, won a scholarship through Oberlin College. She is a graduate of the Boston University Academy.

Liang, whose probably career field is medicine won a scholarship through Tufts University. She is a graduate of the Winsor School, Boston.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced this month that about 1,600 winners of National Merit Scholarships financed by colleges and universities join about 2,500 other college-sponsored award recipients announced in May.

Officials of each sponsor college selected their scholarship winners from among the finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program who will attend their institution. College-sponsored awards provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship.

This year, 181 colleges and universities are sponsoring about 4,100 Merit Scholarship awards. Sponsor colleges include 106 private and 75 public institutions located in 44 states and the District of Columbia.


This story was published Monday, July 21, 2014.

Sheffler named to Minuteman School Committee

Sue ShefflerSheffler

Sue Sheffler has been chosen as the Arlington representative to a three-year term on the Minuteman School Committee.

Town Meeting Moderator John D. Leone wrote in a letter that he had reviewed the credentials of several qualified candidates. He called it "a very hard decision, and in making it I spoke with some of the candidates as well as people who knew them or have worked with them in the past."

He wrote that "several factors went into this decision. Sue has six years of experience on the Arlington School Committee and understands the intricacies of school funding, the number of disparate groups seeking some influence over how school policy and operations unfold, and the vital importance of providing the best possible education for a wide variety of students within a limited budget.

"With this experience she will be a useful committee member, representing the interests of our students and our Town without too steep of a learning curve. This is of critical importance considering the new Regional Agreement status and the anticipated reconstruction of the school building.

"The Minuteman School Committee influences the educational outcomes for many of our students and it directly impacts our Town's finances.

His letter does not say who the other candidates for the position were. The deadline to apply was June 20.

He thanked Laura Morrissette, the outgoing member for her several years of dedicated service.


This story was published Thursday, July 3,  2014.

Sister cities breaking up?

Michael Dukakis addresses Arlington-Japan delegation April 27, 2014.Michael Dukakis draws applause while addressing Arlington-Japan delegation April 27. In the crowd is Nagaokakyo's mayor.

Arlington reponds as Nagaokakyo mayor suspends exchange program

In April, during a warm celebration of a three-decade sister-city relationship, Arlington and a city in Japan seemed so close that their names were joined: The program for a Town Hall dinner billed the two as ArlingtoNagaokakyo.

But behind the scenes, a yet-to-be clearly described dissatisfaction was bubbling among some members of the Japanese delegation.

Foiur days after returning from Arlington, in May, the mayor of Nagaokakyo, Japan, announced a suspension of the student-exchange program for middle-school students next year.

End of decade-old exchange announced

Press reports in Japan quoted Yutaka Oda, Nagaokakyo's mayor, as saying he will review the 10-year-old exchange by next March.

In response, the Arlington School Committee has sent a letter urging that the exchange be restored.

The June 30 letter, signed by all committee members, says, in part: "We were very saddened by the news as we greatly value the exchange. We, as well as our students, have learned very much from our compatriots in Nagaokakyo, and we hoped to continue the exchange in the future. We feel the benefits touch many more people than the students who travel back and forth.

"We believe that in the spirit of friendship, you should have communicated your intentions to us at the time of your visit, so we may work together to address any concerns you may have about the student exchange program."

If the relationship cannot be repaired, the School Committee earlier voted to authorize a new relationship -- between Arlington High School and Nishiotokuni High School in Japan following a motion by Paul Schlichtman.

'Really necessary'?

In a May 29 report in Kyoto Shinbun, Mayor Oda said "though the sister-city friendship should be actively nurtured, we need to stop and check if it is really necessary to be sponsored by the city hall since it was once determined to be unnecessary project. We should review it from many angles and should move it to more grass roots activities."

Sue Sheffler, a former School Committee member, who has been actively involved in sister-city events over many years, was asked what might be afoot here.

She said she has written to Mayor Oda and is waiting to hear back.

"I am fully confident that our wonderful collaboration with Sister City Nagaokakyo will continue to grow," she wrote.

"Our colleagues in Japan are working through some internal confusion at the moment, but all agree that the strong ties to Arlington are not involved or affected. The deep bonds forged over the last 30 years are expected to sustain another 30 years of Arlington-Nagaokakyo friendship and exchange."

Arlington students welcome in July

Nagaokakyo officials made clear that Arlington students, due in Japan this month, will be welcomed, as planned.

This turn of events or next year is not what town and city officials expected in late April, when they paid homage to Dick Smith by dedicating a bench near the town flagpole at Town Hall. The Arlington resident, who was the engine behind the sister-city relationship, died last December.

Clues suggesting why this occurred are hinted at in reports in Japanese newspapers, which were translated for the Arlington School Committee by Rieko Tanaka of Arlington.

The official letter announcing the suspension of the program cites the difficulty of finding chaperons and host families as well as budget problems. Japanese students pay their own travel cost, and the city subsidizes travel expenses for chaperoning teachers as well as postage and communication costs.

The Nagaokakyo expect to review the programs' educational merits. The Sister City Friendship Committee, of which Arlington is a part, will review the operations procedure.

In Japan, the exchange program, which began in 2005, has been sponsored by the city's middle school international communicational education council, which consists of School Committee members and four principals of Nagaokakyo middle schools. The participants were selected from city's middle schools through interviews. Students of Nishiotokuni High School have been included since 2010.

To date, 165 middle school students and 24 high school students from Arlington have visited Nagaokakyo.

Dismay reported in Japan

News accounts in Japan reported that middle-school students, parents and teachers are dismayed by the suspension of the program. They are said to be "weary since the exchange program with another sister city, Nimbo (China) was suspended the same way after 10 years and it was never resumed."

Participating students and parents in Japan are asking schools whether the suspension was their fault. Students have been assured that they did a great job as grass-roots ambassadors.

Some have criticized the exchange program about the number of participants -- 16 students out of an average 100 applicants. The travel cost is about 200,000 yen (about $2,000). Some questions the fairness of the program for the students who weren’t chosen or the costs, which not everyone can afford.

However, one news report said, most middle-school teachers tout the program for its educational value. Many participants are reported to change after the program, becoming school leaders.


April 29: ArlingtoNagaokakyo: Paying tribute to 30-year 'marriage' of communities


This story was published Wednesday, July 2, 2014.

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