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Service held for AHS Spanish teacher

Sami EladhariEladhari

An Arlington High School Spanish teacher known for his love of soccer, a sport he coached in Lexington, died unexpectedly Wednesday, June 18. Sami Eladhari, of Arlington was 32.

AHS plans to hold a memorial service at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 24, in the Lowe Auditorium.

The first word came June 18 from Principal Matthew Janger, who wrote "with a heavy heart" that the teacher had died "after a brief illness."

The next day, Janger wrote that the teacher suffered an aneurism over the weekend and did not regain consciousness.

An obituary posted by the DeVito Funeral Home said: "Sami's real passion, however, was for soccer. His love of the game kept him much in demand as a coach for numerous Boston areas camps and teams, notably AC Milan, Sachems FC, FC Greater Boston Bolts in Revere and Soccer 101 Academy.

"He was the Lexington High boys' varsity soccer coach, where he was admired for his integrity and dedication.

"Sami's zest for life, sense of humor and positive disposition were an inspiration to anyone who's ever met him. A seasoned traveler and sincere friend, Sami had companions from all walks of life in all corners of the world.

"Despite the enduring burden of an ailing body, Sami never complained, but chose to live his life with gusto and passion, devoting himself to the pursuits that fueled him."

For the June 24 service, direct thoughts or contributions to Rob Diloreto (rdiloreto at For a presentation, send pictures to Bill McCarthy (wmccarthy at

The Eladhari family is not planning to have a public service until this fall.

Born in Cambridge on Aug. 1, 1981, Eladhari was the son of Francine Brasseur and Moncef Eladhari, brother of Mounia Pesl and her husband Mark Pesl, Karim Eladhari, and uncle to Omar Raad, Michelle, Nicole and Kathleen Pesl, Alexander and Mitchell Eladhari.

After graduating Arlington High School in 2000, he went to Springfield College, where he received a bachelor's in communications/sports journalism 2004.

He received a master's in multimedia sports journalism from Universidad Europea de Madrid in 2005.

In addition to English, he spoke French, Spanish and Italian.

He spent a year in Alcala de Henares, completing the Advanced DELE diploma in Spanish.

A foundation has been established in Eladhari's memory, to continue his lifelong work of bringing his love of soccer to young people.
Donations can be sent to The Sami Eladhari Foundation, P.O. Box 203, Arlington MA 02476.

Condolences to Eladhari's father:

Moncef Eladhari
1 School St., Unit 201
Arlington, MA 02476

This story was published Saturday, June 21, 2014.

Ottoson students among 5 finalists in 6th annual PSA project

Five student-produced videos from four local school districts -- including Ottoson Middle School -- have been selected as finalists in the 2014 PSA Project, hosted by Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Middlesex Partnerships for Youth Inc.

On June 17, Nashoba Valley Technical High School was anounced as the winner. Its video is titled “Take Time to Get Involved” and was created by students Jack Stavro of Billerica, Aislinn Wolfe of Pepperell, and James Lisciotto of Chelmsford.

As part of the sixth annual PSA Project, middle and high school students were invited to create original 30- to 60-second public-service announcements under the theme "CommUnity Involves You," an effort to encourage students to be engaged and active members of their school and larger community.

About 130 students participated, and 33 student videos were submitted. All entries were reviewed, and the finalists were chosen by a panel of judges that included educators, law enforcement and staff from the Middlesex District Attorney's Office.

The finalists were:

    o Somerville High School, Somerville: "Community Hallway"

    o Nashoba Valley Technical High School, Westford: "CommUnity"

    o Nashoba Valley Technical High School, Westford: "Take Time to Get Involved"

    o Ottoson Middle School, "Arlington: Get Involved"

    o Melrose High School, Melrose: "Helping is Contagious"

"I am so proud of the work of Middlesex County students in creating these videos," Ryan said in a news release. "All of the entries were creative in their interpretation of this year’s theme. We wanted students to think about their role in their community, both inside and outside of school. Each of the finalists was successful in using that message. The PSA Project, and its companion, the Poster Project, have been successful ever year because students are great communicators.  When students create the message they can motivate their peers and effect change."

Last month, the District Attorney Ryan and Middlesex Partnerships for Youth honored four students in the second annual Poster Project, a companion program to the PSA, where students designed original posters following the same theme.
More than 100 posters from 131 students across Middlesex County were submitted.  The winner and three honorable mentions were selected by a panel of judges that included Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and Middlesex Partnerships for Youth staff, art teachers, police officers, and school administrators. Click here for more information.
Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Inc. (MPY) is a non-profit organization which provides prevention and intervention resources and training to Middlesex school districts and communities.  District Attorney Ryan is the Chair of the MPY Board of Directors.
Through the efforts of District Attorney Ryan and MPY, educators, parents, and students can regularly engage in collaborative trainings with law enforcement, social services, and community-based organizations as well as share the latest information and resources.  Such interactions provide the foundation for creating solution-oriented, community-based, multi-disciplinary approaches to addressing youth violence, substance abuse, child abuse and neglect, hate crimes, and harassment across Middlesex County.

For more information on prevention and intervention programs, visit and

This story was published Tuesday, June 10, 2014, and updated June 17

Bodie orders revamp of incident reports targeting 'gray areas'

Kathleen BodieBodie

Following the incident involving a parent and principal at Stratton School last week, the school superintendent has ordered a thorough review of how incidents about the Arlington public schools are reported.

"We have an emergency communications system in place in the event of a major emergency," Kathleen Bodie wrote in a news release, "but we need to remove the gray area when it comes to notifying the community about events that happen after school or that do not involve direct threats and violence, as well as events that require police involvement."

Her comments came after a dispute at Stratton School last Wednesday was first reported by news media Friday and Saturday, but the administration did not respond until later.

She said the new procedures will be updated immediately, and a formal program will be operating before September.

Q & A with parents June 11

Meanwhile, Bodie, Chief Fred Ryan and Principal Michael Hanna invite parents only to a question-and-answer session concerning events last week at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, at the Stratton cafeteria.

Here is the full text of Bodie's news release:

"Today, I had two very productive meetings and dialog sessions with Stratton School parents, faculty and staff that were focused on the events of last week, in which a school parent was ordered not to return to school grounds after displaying a gun permit during an argument with Principal Hanna at an after-school meeting on June 4.

"Last week's incident and the dialog we have had with parents have brought two very important issues to the forefront: First, we always need to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep our children safe. Second, we need to ensure proper communication between the schools and parents.

"In reviewing this incident and other incidents that have taken place in our schools, we firmly believe that our children are safe in the Arlington Public Schools. However, if we do not properly communicate, even once, with our school parents, they will not feel safe, regardless of our physical security measures.

"With that in mind, I have ordered a thorough review and revamp of Arlington Public Schools incident notification procedures and protocols.

"We have an emergency communications system in place in the event of a major emergency, but we need to remove the gray area when it comes to notifying the community about events that happen after school or that do not involve direct threats and violence, as well as events that require police involvement.

"These procedures will be updated immediately, and a formal program will be up and running before the start of the next school year.

"We will also review our chain of command procedures to ensure that there is no break in continuity of communication if a school leader or school system administrator is away. This incident occurred while I was out of state for a family function, but that should be no excuse for a lack of proper communication. We will develop a black-and-white set of rules and a culture of 'when in doubt, notify' when it comes to communication.

"We will also continue to discuss with our teachers and parents ways to talk to their children about what happened last Wednesday, so that our children feel safe and secure at school as well.

"I will continue to meet and discuss this situation with our parents, faculty, and staff. I will also schedule an evening forum for working parents to bring their concerns and questions to school system administration directly.

"I thank you for your work and your continued support of the children of Arlington."

School Committee member Paul Schlichtman, said he welcomes the call for a review and expressed concern that parents first learned of the Stratton incident through news reports.

"You always want the first communication to come from the School Department," he said.

Schlichtman said school officials dealt with the initial incident properly by notifying police, but lack of notifying parents was lacking.

Principal comments to parents

Michael HannaMichael HannaIn addition, Stratton Principal Michael Hana told parents in an email:

"Thank you very much for your honest and productive conversation this afternoon. The timing of the meeting allowed for parents who happen to be available to attend without their children, but made it difficult for some to attend due to work obligations.  We are looking for a time this week for a follow up meeting that honors all of the panelists' schedules, and will get back to you very soon about a day and time.  Dr. Bodie and I wanted to remind you of safety and security frameworks that are in place currently.

"- All faculty have been trained in safety and security protocols. I will be meeting again with faculty in the next couple mornings as we did this morning just to review again.

"- As I mentioned today, all doors are locked throughout the day around the entire building. I will make sure that there [are] school personnel locking the Pheasant Street entrance as soon as the last child arrives. This is promptly at 8:20 AM, so any late backpacks or lunches have to come to the main office, as do all children arriving after 8:20.

"- There will continue to be a police presence until the last day of school on June 23.

"Again, I just want to reiterate how much I believe that a positive and confident conversation with your kids about Stratton school will be the best way moving forward.  I also want to say that Dr. Bodie and I are committed to maintaining open communication with parents."

This story was published Monday, June 9, 2014, and updated the next day.

Close to 300 graduate at AHS, first Saturday commencement in decades

4 graduation speeches

Close to 300 seniors received diplomas June 7, at Arlington High School's Peirce Field in commencement exercises that began at 1 p.m.

The ceremony was the first to be held on a Saturday in decades. Nanci Ortwein, who manages this year's events, as she long has, is the school's institutional memory on this subject: She began teaching at the school in 1968.

Asked the last time commencement was held Saturday, Ortwein wrote Sunday, June 1: "NEVER. In my day and until 1982 it was a Tuesday night.

"But in 1982 it rained Tuesday.....and Wednesday.....and Thursday.....and Friday a.m. Principal Tom Reis called me at 6 a.m. and said, 'Get outta bed now and plan graduation inside for tonight!'

"After that, we went to Sunday with plans for inside if it rains. Actually, I like it inside too - more intimate and you can hear better."

Reasons behind change

So why Saturday? For two reasons, Dr. Matthew Janger explained by phone Tuesday, June 3.

The event was changed based on a parent survey last spring and feedback from the Last Blast Committee, the volunteers who oversee an all-night senior party after graduation.

He said the survey showed 70 percent wanted change, 18 percent did not and for the rest it made no difference.

Last Blast volunteers find it hard going to work on a Monday after an all-nighter Sunday, he said.

In any event, Saturday's graduation, which lasts about an hour and a half, will be held outdoors, weather permitting. If weather threatens, the events would be in the Toz Gym, as it was in 2011, in photo below.

As for weather, Josh Lobel announced June 3 in an appeal from the Last Blast Committee: "Congratulations to the families of the Class of 2014. Looks like great weather for the weekend."


Here is the program for this year's commencement:


Presentation of Colors

National Anthem


Introduction of officers

Elementary School Faculty Appreciation Awards, introduced by Camilla M. Stejekal, secretary of the Class of 2014

Remarks by Dr. Matthew I. Janger, principal, introduced by Jessica A. Kirschner, vice president of the Class of 2014

Remarks by Dr. Laura Chesson, assistant superintendent of schools.

Remarks by William J. Hayner, chair, Arlington School Committee

Faculty Speaker, Edward A. Foley, introduced by John E. O’Brien, treasurer of the Class of 2014

Remarks by Lakota P. Adams-Samuels, president of the Student Council

Presidential Address by Julia M. Wood, president of the Class of 2014

Honors Speaker Laura B. Quinto

Honors Speaker Bennett H. Parsons

Presentation of Diplomas by the principal and Hayner

Presentation of Class gift and Conclusion by Julia M. Wood, president of the Class of 2014


Diploma assistants Susan Briggs and Danielle Rakowsky
Graduation coordinator Nanci L. Ortwein

Principal Matthew I. Janger

Vice Principal William J. McCarthy

Downs House Dean Veronica L. Tivnan

Fusco House Dean Robert DiLoreto

Senior Class Officers Julia M. Woods, President

Jessica A. Kirschner, Vice President

Camilla M. Stejekal, Secretary

John E. O’Brien, Treasurer

Student Council Officers Lakota P. Adams-Samuels, President

Zachary C. Thomas, Vice President

William Sanders, Secretary

Sophia R. Chaves, Treasurer

Student Advisory Committee Murphy Curran, Maggie Kelly, Carolyn Merta, Molly Minniti, Hallie Weiss

Junior Class Marshalls Alex D. Crowley, President, 2015

Guarav Dangol, Vice President, 2015

Camil Miki Zaganjor, Secretary, 2015

Meghan A. Decourcey, Treasurer, 2015

Band Director Sabato D’Agostino

Bagpiper Kevin Eagan

Elementary School Faculty Appreciation Awards

Kate Armstrong, Thompson School

Margaret Trivino, Hardy School

Anne Hess-Mahan, Bishop School

Janice Satlack-Mott, Stratton School

Adriane DiPasquale, Dallin School

Nicole Feroleto, Brackett School

Christina Perkowski, Peirce School

Tom Zierk, Ottoson Middle School

This story was published Tuesday, June 3, 2014, and updated June 8.

25 national French exam winners at AHS

Matthew Janger

The National French Exam results are in, Arlington High School Principal Matthew Janger has reported, and AHS has 25 national prize winners.

"Félicitations!," he wrote to the parents' email list Monday, May 26.

French 2 top-10 medal winners:

Kate Carr

Alexander Klein

Tess Lavalley

Honorable mention:

Nachiket Pathak

Minerva Veeser-Bovea

Clinton Garrahan

French 3 top-10 medal winners:

Kiran Gite: placing first in the state and second nationally

Alice Tracey

Bernardo Lowen Zordan

Ian Bernardin

Rachel Harrison

Madeline Goldstein

Grace Hoglund

Alice Liu

Honorable mention:

Vignesh Chockalingam

Allison Candell

Louisa Kuper

Samuel O'Keefe

Kathryn Ray

French 4 top-10 medal winners:

Emanuele Vico

Luca Canepa

Honorable mention:

Pauline Allqr

Zachary Guion

French 5 honorable mention:

Brooke Bernardin

Gabriel Nahn

This story was published Monday, May 26, 2014.

Foundation funds + student inventiveness = innovation

Ottoson students work on underwater robots May 5Ottoson students Seiji Yoshihara, left, and Braeder Quinlan hope their underwater robots will sink -- and swim -- at Spy Pond in June.

Students' imaginations soar. Their ingenuity is engaged, lifted by money raised by the Arlington Education Foundation (AEF), as hundreds witnessed in May at a crowded Arlington High Schools' media center.

But education is hardly a one-night stand. The effort toward learning bears fruit through time, and in the case of the Arlington public schools' technology advances, some key events took place before May 5, and many more are coming after.

The evening's focus was on what Ottoson students have devised this school year -- including underwater robots, which are expected to be tested in Spy Pond in June -- but elementary through high school students were fully represented.

Showcase photos >>

May 19: Ottoson, Thompson students at Newton forum

Middle schoolers now have "full-blown engineering" in all three grades, said Gary Blanchette, who teaches technology and engineering with Brandy Whitney.

The foundation, which has been aiding the town's public schools since 2010, after growing from an effort that dates to 1990, provided $125,000 in last two years. Of that, $50,000 went to this year's work by Blanchette and Whitney at Ottoson.

May 17: Education foundation gives more than $55,000

Need urged for full computer lab at Ottoson

Rebecca Steinitz, AEF president, as she pitched her enthusiasm for more donations to a packed room, said that Ottoson needs a full computer lab.

Amy Speare, an AEF spokeswoman, said the foundation's goal for its second phase to expand STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) at Ottoson is $50,000. To date, two-thirds of that has been raised.

The first part occurred this spring -- enhancing tech classes with computer simulations, app development and three-dimensional prototyping through the purchase of a 3D printer and iPads.

Over the summer, tech teachers will be updating the curriculum to take full advantage of the new equipment. For the second part of Phase II, AEF is seeking $16,500 to update the Digital Citizenship and Literacy curriculum and equipment.

The results to date were open for public viewing at the May 5 showcase.

Glimpses of some of the projects

Here are some project snapshots from that evening:

    -- Digital Portfolios: Anita C. Cascaterra, a fourth-grade teacher at Brackett who went to Teosinte, El Salvador's sister city to Arlington. Her students were portfolios of their work using these tools -- Explain Everything, Book Creator and Google Drive.

These apps allow students write and embed film and audio in their portfolios. Some reflected the Central American village.

    -- Comment, draw: Using Kidblog on iPads, students join the blogging universe -- in class, but not in the 'Net world -- every Monday using these tools. Watching with approval near Thompson teacher Nicole Melnik, a parent said to a student: "I can see what you write and comment on it."

ScratchJr, a collaboration among the DevTech Research Group at Tufts University, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab and the Playful Invention Co., lets students draw or build images by dragging and dropping icons.

    -- Learning a language: Na Lu-Hogan, teacher of Mandarin at Arlington High deftly stroked Chinese characters as School Committee member Jennifer Susse watched intently. The pictorial letters took shape on Notability.

Later, the lesson might be saved to Dropbox or transformed into animation via GoAnimate. For the moment, amid the din of voices in the media center, the teacher herself was animated enough, as she demonstrated the sound of the Chinese characters by pulling on her ear.

    -- Underwater Robotics: Braeder Quinlan, a sixth grader and Seiji Yoshihara, in seventh, toiled at their robot-making tasks, focused fully, heads down. Whitney said 20 students in the club are working on six robots. They will test their invention in Spy Pond at a date yet to be determined.

Beyond the specific projects on display is the ongoing effort to improve computer systems throughout the public schools.

AHS computer lab advances

One of the evening's organizers, Matt Coleman, math director for kindergarten through 12th grade, told a story that illustrated an advance with the aid of the foundation.

Last year, work on a computer lab got underway at the high school, but much was lacking. There were computers, but they were substandard.

"AEF came to the rescue," he said. Members chipped in to renovate the room, and the foundation helped get new computers, including 30 iPads.

Coleman said he had two sections with 35 students this year. Next year, four sections with 60 are expected. A room that was used once per day now is booked five or six periods daily.

Dr. Chesson called 'engine' of effort

Providing the broader picture was Dr. Chesson, the assistant superintendent, whom Steinitz called the "engine" behind the May showcase.
Elementary students emerging from classrooms using improved high-tech gear presented at conferences in Newton on May 2.

The influx of iPads to the Arlington public schools began as a trickle. In 2012, administrators in special education began using the devices. Now, Chesson said, Thompson Elementary School  has a 1-to-1 iPad ratio, and six other elementary schools has one cart of iPads per grade.

University connections have helped; for example, smoothing the way for ScratchJr, a collaboration with the DevTech Research Group at Tufts University.

Chesson focused on innovation: "Light the spark early," she said, using ScratchJr. Introduce engineering in elementary schools.

Continue to address increasingly sophisticated concepts and practical uses as students head for high school. At Arlington High, computer literacy now includes Java programming.

Blanchette outlines middle-school engineering

As for Ottoson, Blanchette, introduced as "legendary," described the curriculum's progress supported by $20,000 from the foundation for 30 iPads and two 3D printers:

-- Sixth grade (transportation): Previously, teachers used straw towers to demonstrate common concepts in physics. Now they use a program called Simple Physics.

-- Seventh grade (manufacturing): Whirlybirds (flight)

-- Eighth grade (motion): Dragsters

The effort's website shows what students in classes conducted by both teachers have done >>

Commitment? Blanchette drives to Arlington daily from his home in Palmer. That's 74 miles. Google says it should take 1 hour and 12 minutes.

AEF logoThis story was published Monday, May 19, 2014, and updated May 20.

Correction: An initial version of this story reported that all seven elementary schools have 1-to-1 iPads. Only Thompson does.

To donate to the AEF Technology Initiative, click here >>

Tech warm-up: Ottoson, Thompson students at Newton forum

Three days before the Tech Showcase, students from Ottoson and Thompson participated in forum at the Newton Marriott.

Much occurred, some of the teachers involved told YourArlington.

Alison Sancinito, who teaches 610's history, reported that middle schoolers presented on the 1-1 iPad pilot that they are piloting at Ottoson this school year. They discussed how iPads improve student engagement, literacy, organization, research and writing.

"The students attended roundtable discussions on topics like digital portfolios and using technology to engage students," she wrote. "They were the only middle schoolers in attendance.

"During these roundtable discussions, they added their opinions and experiences using technology in the classroom."

The students prepared presentations, demonstrated examples of student work and, she wrote, "spoke eloquently about their topics."

They also spoke about the leadership opportunities the pilot has offered them.

Other district update via Skype

In addition to presenting at the conference, the students also updated the School Committee about how the iPads have worked out for them.

As evidence of how technology education reaches beyond Arlington, she added: "We have recently been contacted by other districts who would like to Skype with the students to discuss their experiences with the 1-1 pilot."

Teacher Lillian O'Donnell and Sancinito lead the iPad Council, composed of eight students. Kristin Keinz, a sixth-grade history teacher, attended.

Student presenting in Newton were Otto Rademacher, Julia Miller, Sarah von Schack, Naomi Alperin and Lauren Murphy.

Ottoson technology link >>

Blogging in first grade? Happens regularly at Thompson

Where does the techie spark first ignite? It may be as early as first grade.

Three first graders were among those participating with Ottoson students in the May 2 forum in Newton. Led by teacher Nicole Melnik, the students involved Alessandra Pejrolo, Moshe Goff and Caroline Tyrrell.

The trio shared a PowerPoint presentation they had created as well as some of the exciting ways they're using iPads. Among the ways:

-- An introductions to QR Codes, a quick way to get to websites, blogs, videos, songs, surveys and books.

-- "Explain Everything is their favorite app for screencasting," she wrote. "They can show their thinking to solve math problems.

-- "They have used Book Creator often. They have used it to create books during writers' workshop, science and social studies. They can import pictures from their camera roll or another app called Drawing Pad to App-Smash while in Book Creator, using more than one app to create an even better project.

"Each of my first graders has a blog on Kidblog, where they share their writing with the world. It's much more motivating to write for a larger audience.

"I see my students adding more details and writing longer stories when they know others will read their work and might even leave them a comment. We were part of a blogging community with three other classes and the kids commented back and forth on each other’s blogs.

-- Finally, the students shared about a beta test they worked on with ScratchJr, a programming app. "They enjoyed it, because it was challenging, allowed kids to work together, practiced sequencing and they were the 'brain' behind the program.  

Melnik's blog >>

This story was published Monday, May 19, 2014.

More than $55K flow to public schools from education foundation

AEF logo

The Arlington Education Foundation (AEF) this spring has awarded $55,225 in grants to the Arlington public schools in four categories: Continuing Scholars Awards, Development & Expansion Grants, Innovations in Education Grants and Technology Initiative Grants.

Rebecca Steinitz, AEF’s president said in a news release issied May 17: "In addition to our excitement about the Technology Initiative, we are particularly proud of the grants that support the Special Education department, a critical resource in our schools."

The awards are:

Continuing Scholar Awards, $7,500

Awards are given directly to educators to fund courses, workshops, trips, or expeditions sponsored by universities, schools, institutes or professional development organizations.

    • Lauren Geiger, Arlington High School English:   Travel Study Trip – Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Prague

    • Sherry Gooen, Occupational Therapist, Grades 6-12 and David Schaye, Special Education, Grade 7; Learning and the Brain Summer Institute: Neuroscience and Executive Skills:  Strategies for Executive Functions, Memory and Classroom Learning

Development & Expansion Grants, $25,000

Development & Expansion grants support system-wide development of new educational strategies.

    • Concentration Tools: Expansion and Acceptance

Every elementary classroom will have a concentration station with a "Cool Tool Box" that contains simple and effective sensory-based self-regulation resources, which all students can use to maintain focus in the classroom.  In addition, all elementary teachers will receive training to maximize the tool box and better identify and support student needs.

    • Arlington High School Technology User’s Group

In advance of a significant technology investment to replace teacher computers, the user's group will gather information and knowledge in support of the technology vision, create a long-term strategy for technology implementation at Arlington High School, and build professional capacity for teaching and learning in a technology infused BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) environment

    • Stratton School Professional Development: Science and Literacy

The Common Core has shifted student achievement expectations from task completion towards the growth of 21st-century skills and dispositions. As a result, teachers must also shift their approach. This grant provides funding to complete professional development on science and literacy that helps teachers cultivate inquiry in classrooms and foster students’ internal motivation to learn, thereby developing "a culture of student talk" in classrooms.

Innovations in Education Grants, $5,725

Innovations grants support innovative teaching and learning projects.

    • Studies in Shadow Puppetry, Stratton School

First graders will connect science, social studies and art through an exploration of shadow puppet theater

    • 21st-Century Reading for a 1:1 iPad School, Thompson School

A school subscription to Subtext Premium, a cutting edge iPad reading app, will meet the needs of student readers at all levels

    • Digital Imaging Program Monitor, Arlington High School

A professional computer monitor will expand the digital imaging program and help pilot the High School’s BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model

Technology Initiative, $17,000

The second phase of the three-year fundraising effort to bring significant new technology capacities to Arlington Public Schools continues with a grant to the Ottoson Middle School.

    • A 3D printer and a set of iPads enhances Tech classes with computer simulation, app development and 3D prototyping
For the past four years, community donations have enabled AEF to award more than $100,000 annually in grants to the Arlington Public Schools. In fiscal 2014, AEF awarded an additional $70,000 as part of a three-year Technology Initiative to accelerate technology in 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

This story was published Saturday, May 17, 2014.

5 at AHS win AFL-CIO scholarships

Matthew Janger

Dr. Matthew Janger, principal at Arlington High School, has congratulated winners of the AFL-CIO Scholarship Awards.

Each year the AFL-CIO administers a Labor History Exam for scholarship awards. Based on their scores, five of our students have received scholarships this year.

"What a great recognition of history teaching and learning here at AHS," Janger wrote.

The winners are:

Madeline Domenichella

Brian Sheehan

Taylor Weber

Liiana Zigo

Jacqueline O'Brien

This brief was published Friday, May 16, 2014.

2 at AHS win $2,500 National Merit Scholarships

School-awards logo

Two Arlington High School students have been named winners of $2,500 National Merit Scholarships.

They are Brooke E. Bernardin, who lists her probable career as surgical medicine, and Jacob Stephen Rappaport Malin, who plans to pursue academia.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation released the names in a news release, among 2,500 designees chosen from more than 15,000 finalists.

National Merit semifinalists at Arlington High were John R. Ammondson, Kathleen B. Barvick, Morgan Chu Davis Jackson, Aaron Noam Prizant Slonaker, Bernardin and Malin.

The $2,500 winners were judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills and potential for success in rigorous college studies, a news release says. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.

These scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the Finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including difficulty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the finalist; and a recommendation written by a high school official.

The corporation finances most of these single-payment $2,500 scholarships. Corporations and company foundations that sponsor awards also help underwrite these scholarships with grants they provide in lieu of paying administrative fees. Scholars may use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university.

This year’s competition for National Merit Scholarships began in October 2012 when about 1.5 million juniors in about 22,000 high schools took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than 1 percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named semifinalists on a state representational basis. Only these 16,000 semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition.

From the semifinalist group, 15,000 students met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. By the conclusion of the 2014 program, about 8,000 finalists will have earned the "Merit Scholar" title and received a total of more than $35 million in college scholarships.

This story was published Tuesday, May 6, 2014.

New Thompson School principal coming from Stow July 1

The new principal at the Thompson School, starting July 1, will be Karen Donato, now the assistant principal of the Center School in Stow, a position she has held since 2011.

Superintendent Kathleen Bodie announced Thursday, May 1, that Donato has accepted the Thompson job.

The search for a new principal got underway earlier this year after Sheri Donovan announced she would be leaving after seven years.

The Stow school, which opened as a new school in September 2012, has 600 students from prekindergarten to grade five in the Nashoba Regional School District. The new Thompson opened last September.

Donovan was named Thompson principal in 2007.  During her principalship, the $20 million rebuilt Thompson opened. Before it did, she served as principal of Thompson and Stratton, before Michael Hanna was hired.

Before the opening of the new school in Stow, Donato oversaw the daily operations of both the grades K-3 and 4-5 facilities that were combined in the new building.

She also served in the Andover public schools as a special-education teacher at the Wood Hill Middle School and then as a learning specialist at the South Elementary School.

Before Andover, she was a special-education inclusion kindergarten teacher and K-2 functional life skills teacher in the Medford public schools.

She received a bachelor of arts in elementary and special education from Providence College, a master of education from Cambridge College and a certificate of advanced graduate studies from Salem State College.

"We are very happy to welcome Ms. Donato to the Arlington public schools," Bodie wrote in a news release. "Her experience in educational leadership, special education, and teaching, as well as the opening of a new school, has prepared her well to be the leader of Thompson's dynamic educational community."

In an email to the Thompson community May 1, Bodie wrote:

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sheri Donovan for her outstanding leadership these last seven years.

"Ms. Donovan will work with Ms. Donato over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition."

She also thanked the search committee, composed of Elaine Shea, Lauren Ledger, Sarah Stockwell and Harriet Vanderput.

She wrote to Thompson parents and guardians on Friday, April 25, that she had hoped to make a decision before school vacation week among three finalists, but "it was not possible to schedule the site visits at the candidates' schools before vacation.  I plan to make a decision next week."

The finalists were announced April 3.

Each candidate met with teachers, staff and administrators during the week of April 7. Parents and community members met with the candidates on April 9, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Thompson school library. The schedule was:

6:30 - 7:00      James Stoddard

7:15 - 7:45      Michele Zottoli

8:00 - 8:30      Donato

Stoddard is the vice principal of the Runkle School in Brookline, a position he has held since 2008. Beforethis position, Stoddard was a mathematics teacher at the Baker School in Brookline. He also has experience teaching mathematics for grades 4 through 8 at the Fenn School in Concord, and at the St. Andrews School in Barrington, R.I., as well as directing summer mathematics camps.

He received a B.A. in psychology from Brown University, a master of education from Lesley University and a certificate of advanced graduate studies from Simmons College.

Zottoli is the principal at the Wyman Elementary School in Woburn.  She began this position in 2011, after serving for several years as an assistant principal in the Lexington public schools. Before becoming an assistant principal, Zottoli was an elementary teacher and a reading teacher in Lexington. She began her teaching career in Sacramento, Calif. 

She received a B.S. in finance from Bryant College, a master of education from Sacred Heart University, a certificate of advanced graduate studies from UMass. Lowell and a certificate of advanced graduate studies from the MGH Institute of Health Professions.

This story was published Sunday, March 2, 2014, and updated May 1.

Teachers credited as AHS hits 21st in magazine's state rankings

 US News logo

Arlington's top public-school administrator has praised teachers after U.S. News & World Report in its annual list of the nation’s top high schools ranked Arlington High among the top-25 in the state.

The magazine put the school at No. 21 in Massachusetts, 465th nationally and No. 200 in STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Superintendent Kathleen Bodie responded: "I am pleased for the recognition of the high school as an excellent school providing rigorous educational opportunities for our students. The hard work of teachers and students is reflected in this report.

"The work of preparing students to be successful in Advanced Placement (AP) courses and standardized tests begins at an early age. All Arlington educators, as well as the community, share in the pride of our students' accomplishments."

The report says the AP participation rate at Arlington High School is 55 percent. The student body is 49 percent male and 51 percent female, and the total minority enrollment is 20 percent.

Massachusetts’ top 10:

1. Boston Latin School
2. Advanced Math & Science Academy Charter School (Marlborough)
3. Belmont High School
4. Wellesley High School
5. The Bromfield School (Harvard)
6. Mystic Valley Regional Charter School (Malden)
7. Dover-Sherborn Regional High School
8. Medfield High School
9. O’Bryant School Math/Science (Roxbury)
10. Sharon High School report about rankings >>

YourArlington: How AHS ranked in 2012

This story was published Thursday, April 24, 2014.

Special-ed programs? Now one place to find them

Special-education logo

Arlington parents who want to know what special-education services are available through the town's public schools now have one place to look, a 19-page booklet.

The push for the booklet came from a parent group; the staff of the Arlington public schools' special-education department put together the first such reference. It was handed out to the School Committee at its April 10 meeting.

"As far as I know, it is the only recent effort to describe our current programming," wrote Kathleen Lockyer, interim director of special education.

SEPAC logoTrish Orlovsky, former leader of the Arlington Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC), noted that the group had "asked for written program descriptions for over five years, so it is with much appreciation that Ms. Lockyer has achieved this.

"When a child is recommended for a specialized program or a family is wondering about special ed programs in the Arlington public schools, SEPAC never had a formal written description to share. This document is long overdue and much appreciated."

Lockyer added that the booklet was a request of SEPAC when she came to Arlington, in May 2011.

She credited the following for producing the booklet: The administrative team (Chris Carlson, Ben Helfat, David Dempsey, Sheilah McCabe, Jill Parkin and she) reviewed and refined a draft written by Julie Woodland last August.

Mary Camaioni Marrocco provided production support, and Carlson was assigned as project supervisor.

"It will need to be a living document," Lockyer wrote, "as programs adjust to the needs of students requiring support and the developments in research and best-practice models."

Orlovsky expressed the hope that the booklet will be shared with the public. 

It is on the schools' website here >>

This information was published Thursday, April 17, 2014.

New AHS woodshop fashions a table

table, Matt Janger photo

Arlington High School Principal Matt Janger sends a shout-out to teacher Frank Tassone and the members of the woodshop.

Janger wrote Wednesday, April 9: "Our newly reopened woodshop (The Maker Space) has created this new rebuilt 'custom' table for our principal's conference room.

"It's a great addition to the space. Note the post in the corner [at rear]. This is the best we can do with an awkward space."

Arlington Education Foundation Trivia Bee raises $7,100

Foxes in Soxes from Friends
of Fox crowned champs

More photos >>

For more than 10 years, swarms of teams clad in creative costumes have buzzed down to Town Hall for the annual Arlington Education Foundation Trivia Bee to test their trivia knowledge.

The annual Town Hall event has become a community tradition, and this year, Foxes in Soxes (Bryan Sinche, Phil Veatch, Alan Frank in photo), a team of sly supporters of the Friends of the Fox Library, carried away the bee's coveted 2014 crown on Sunday, March 23. The fund-raiser drew $7,100.

Jangerous Minds, a young-at-heart team from Arlington High School (including principal Matthew Janger), dressed head to toe as Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore, came in second, and also won the prize for best costumes.

A few questions stumped participants, including this one: "Although it was only about 10 miles away, what ship did not respond to the Titanic’s distress calls because its radio was turned off?"

Answer: the Californian, though one team’s creative answer was the "USS Slowpoke."

In addition to testing trivia knowledge, the event also tests engineering know-how. One of this year’s design challenges required teams to build the tallest index card tower that could hold a stuffed animal. Audience volunteers participated in the design challenge too trying to beat the teams.

All proceeds raised directly fund Arlington Education Foundation’s work in the Arlington public schools.

23 teams take part

Twenty-three teams competed. Participants represented The Arlington Advocate, Arlington Children’s Theater, Arlington Democratic Town Committee, Arlington Education Association, Arlington Family Connection, Arlington High School, Board of Selectmen, Brackett School, Calvary Church, Cub Scout Pack 306, Dallin School, Educatius International, Freud Squad (an independent team), Friends of the Fox Library, Friends of the Robbins Library, Northeast Angels Women’s Hockey Team, Little Fox Shop, Peirce School, Philharmonic Society of Arlington Orchestra, School Committee, Stratton School, and Whole Foods.

This year’s sponsors included Brookline Bank, Watertown Savings Bank, Belmont Orthodontics, Belmont Pediatric Dentistry, Zipwall Dust Barrier Systems, East Cambridge Savings Bank, Winchester Savings Bank, Leone & Leone Attorneys at Law, Rockland Trust, Cambridge Savings Bank, Sweeney & O’Connell Real Estate, Arlington Children’s Center, Arlington Swifty Printing, American Alarm and Communications, and The Balich Corp.  

AEF funds systemwide initiatives and creative new projects to enhance the educational experience of Arlington’s teachers and students.

For the past three years, community donations enabled AEF to award nearly $100,000 annually in grants to the town's public schools.

May 5 tech event

AEF’s next community event is a technology showcase, set for May 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the high school media center. In partnership with the public schools, the event will showcase K-12 technology implementations and feature a presentation by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Laura Chesson on her vision of technology in the Arlington public schools.

For more information on Arlington Education Foundation and their grants, visit

This story was published Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, and updated March 26.


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