UPDATED, June 22: Black student leaders at Arlington High School held a peacful protest from noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, June 20, starting at Town Hall. An estimated 300 people of all ages and backgrounds attended, despite temperatures in the 90s.
The event posted on Facebook was called "Arlington Activates." The Black Alum of Arlington, in support of the Black Student Union, was the host for the protest and march to address systemic racism within the Arlington Public Schools.
A former data specialist for the Arlington Public Schools who is black has alleged in a video posted to social media that the school superintendent asked him not to dig too deeply into district racial data after he said he questioned its integrity.
Asked about the explosive claim, Superintendent Kathleen Bodie emphatically denied she said that during the employement of Jean Mike Remy from 2015 to 2017. In a statement to YourArlington, she wrote, "The former employee’s allegations are not accurate; at no time did I say that we were not going to look deeply at the data because we have done so for many years."
Remy makes his claims in a 6:26-minute Instagram video, which you can watch here >> In the video, he says that "he just wants to speak this truth, especially today."
That includes describing his work collecting sensitive data about race and discipline for state and federal reports. He says the data with which he worked "was in such disarray," in 2016-17, and he sought to "improve the data integrity to make sure we had actionable numbers." He said that while compiling numbers for a Civil Right Data Collection report, he saw that, of about 1,400 students in the district, 3 percent were black, Hispanic or special education, but they reflected 80 percent of the suspensions and expulsions.
UPDATED, June 7: Members of Arlington High School's Class of 2020 and their families know what to expect for graduation.
In a bittersweet message, Principal Matthew Janger has written: “This should be a time of happiness and celebrations for the class of 2020. Despite the challenges we are all facing, the Arlington High School community is committed to making this a special time for you to remember” – holding a graduation ceremony on the originally scheduled weekend, June 6 and 7.
As quickly as Covid-19 tore loose Arlington High School senior traditions this spring, positive forces sprang into action -- school staff, imaginative parents, volunteers.
Among them was Lori Pescatore, who has coordinated the Last Blast, the annual all-night senior party following graduation. The coronavirus had closed schools in March, and of course derailed commencement rituals, include the parent-chaperoned "blast."
What to do?
Paul McKnight, the Collomb House dean, got in touch with Pescatore and told her about the idea to celebrate he had heard about in nearby towns: give gifts of up to $50 recognizing AHS seniors, showing how the community feels for what these kids are all missing.
To get the word out, on May 2, Pescatore created a Facebook group, whose final name was "Sponsor an Arlington High Senior -- Support Our Ponders." See it here >> She invited friends, who invited more friends. Those signing up emailed Pescatore, who assign each a senior. She kept track on a Google Sheet.
The Arlington Education Foundation (AEF) has completed its spring grants cycle and has awarded a total of $10,310 in two grant categories, Innovations in Education and the Continuing Scholar Award.
“AEF is proud to continue its mission to support Arlington's public school teachers and administrators despite the current school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We look
forward to schools reopening and these exciting new opportunities getting underway at that time,” remarked Julia Schilling, AEF president, in a May 21 news release.
Innovations in Education grants support innovative teaching and learning in classrooms throughout the district. This spring there were four such grants awarded:
Renovations at Parmenter School, at Irving and Academy streets, are set to begin Monday, March 16.
Construction work hours will be Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some Saturday work may be required as the schedule develops.
Material deliveries and other work will be coordinated around the school and traffic schedules to create as little disruption as possible.
The renovation is part of the project to rebuilding Arlington High School and will provide temporary housing of Menotomy Preschool, whiuch has long been at AHS.
UPDATED, Feb. 17: For the first time in five years, Arlington will be represented at the Mathcounts state contest.
Results were better than expected for Arlington, wrote the teams' coach, parent volunteer Jon McIntyre. The Gibbs team secured one of the two statewide wildcards, and seventh grader Kenneth Lu of Ottoson grabbed one of the eight statewide individual wildcards.
The state contest is set for Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, on Saturday, March 7.
Going to Wentworth from Gibbs are Jiahe Liu, Xitiz Shakya, You-Yan Wang and Yaxin Zhang. See a photo of the teams here >>
The Arlington Education Foundation (AEF) has awarded $16,000 for six Innovations in Education grants that will affect students across the school district.
“These grants represent the vast learning experiences made possible by AEF, from biotechnology at the high school to multicultural reading at Ottoson to individualized fitness in elementary schools. We are grateful to the teachers who apply for our grants and are excited to watch these programs develop,” said Julia Schilling, AEF president, in a Jan. 6 news release.
Innovations in Education grants support innovative teaching and learning in classrooms throughout the district. This fall six such grants were awarded:
Individualized Fitness: Hardy students will use pedometers and blink wristbands in physical-education classes to track their individual fitness activity and learn strategies to stay active in their daily lives.
Orff Instrumentarium: Stratton music classes will use Orff instruments, such as metallophones and glockenspiels, to teach pitch, harmony, tonality and to encourage improvisation and composition.
PCR Biotech Equipment: Arlington High School AP and tenth grade biology students will conduct experiments with miniPCR DNA Discovery Systems to learn about polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the most widely used method in biotechnology.
Keeping turf fields, cutting bikeway connection
UPDATED, Dec. 21: The building committee, sharpening its rough-cut diamond of a budget for a rebuilt Arlington High School, this week cut $24.7 million, to bring expected costs back into alignment.
To reach that goal, 15 members of the volunteer committee voted to retain two turf fields, but reduced the number of geothermal wells, remaining an all-electric facility; eliminated the Minuteman Bikeway connector ramp as well as the eastside staircase and ramp connecting Mass. Ave. to the fields; removed lights for the new athletic fields (lighting infrastructure and artificial turf surface remain); and modified exterior brick selection.
In bringing projected projected costs down to $290.8 million, with the state contributing $86 million, the "committee worked extraordinarily hard" to reduce the total gap of $29.5 million, committee Chair Jeff Thielman said. "We got this news back in November, and in one month we have made the necessary adjustments.”
Meeting considers ways to stay within budget
UPDATED, Dec. 18: The Arlington High School Building Committee has trimmed about $5 million from the design-development estimate for a rebuilt Arlington High School, but the new amount remains $24.7 million over the agreed-to top amount. The project is to cost $290.8 million, with the state contributing $86 million.
To reduce the gap, the committee met three times recently. Its meeting set for Tuesday. Dec. 17, was postponed to Wednesday evening, and the committee worked that night to greatly reduce the gap.
An update from the committee reported Friday, Dec. 13, said, "Much of the remaining gap is attributable to the rapidly changing construction market and the number of large, competing projects underway."
The committee continues its work to align the project with the approved budget through value engineering, design modifications and changes in scope. At meetings Dec. 3, 9 and 10, the group discussed a variety of ways to close the gap, while maintaining the education program and functionality, building quality and sustainability.
UPDATED, Dec. 16: Spirits were high at Arlington Education Foundation’s annual fund-raiser on Nov. 25, as those gathered celebrated innovations in education within Arlington’s public schools.
Board members, supporters, guests and grant recipients shared a lively evening recognizing AEF’s work. The event raised $9,380 for the foundation. All funds raised will directly support advancing public education in Arlington, a Dec. 14 foundation news release said.
Through its grants, AEF aims to enhance the educational experience of teachers and students by empowering teachers, school staff and administrators to design innovative projects and initiatives, which in turn empower students as they grow and learn to think in new ways.
Evidence of AEF’s work was on display through numerous presentations of recently awarded grants that are now operating the schools. The grants highlighted the wide variety of projects funded and included the following:
Following the lead of 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg and students worldwide, the Thompson Green Team has been holding climate rallies regularly this fall on the first and third Fridays before school and monthly in Arlington during evening rush hour.
Joining the global call to action for international strike Dec. 6 during the U.N. Climate Conference, known as COP 25, Arlington Green Teams organized a day of climate events, including attending the Boston strikes.
On Friday, Dec. 13, the Arlington Green Teams plan to rally again on the front lawn of First Parish on Mass. Ave. and Pleasant from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Second Line Honk Band will join them. All are welcome. Participants will be wearing red because "the Earth is on Fire, and So Are WE!"
Manager calls issue 'common for large projects'
The Arlington High School rebuild project, in the phase where the design is further developed and refined, has completed a revised project estimate, and it shows a $29.5 million gap between the design-development estimate and the approved project budget.
Significant contributors include higher estimates for HVAC, mechanical utilities and site costs.
In a Nov. 22 post on the project website, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said: “Situations like this are common for large projects and are part of the process. Maintaining educational components of the facility are the highest priority and the Committee remains dedicated to building an educationally exceptional facility.”
Feminist 'Three Musketeers' performed at AHS
"The Three Musketeers" shwashbuckles onto the Arlington High School stage with a feminist twist on Friday, Nov. 15, and Saturday, Nov. 16.
Find out how at freelancer Carla DeFord's feature, which includes her photos here >>
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