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Belmont Public Schools News

Superintendent's June 2019 Newsletter

date 6/13/2019

2019 BHS Graduation Day The end of the school year is upon us, and at this time we want to congratulate our high school seniors who graduated on June 2. We wish them well in their future endeavors. We also at this time want to congratulate and recognize our eighth grade class who move up to the high school, and our fourth grade class who move up to Chenery.

This year has been a historic year in Belmont with the positive vote for a new Belmont Middle and High School. We thank the Belmont community for their continued support for our students and schools. We also thank the faculty and staff of the Belmont Public Schools whose commitment and dedication to our students is paramount to their success.

Each year it is important that our volunteer groups be recognized. Many thanks to all the organizations who support our students throughout the year:

Belmont Boosters
Belmont Against Racism (BAR)
Foundation for Belmont Education (FBE)
Friends of Belmont (FOB)

Belmont High School Beginning Fall 2019: As we enter into the construction phase of the Belmont Middle and High School, the Belmont Public School administration is aware of and understands there will be challenges for staff and students during the next school year. It is our primary goal during this time to ensure that we continue to provide our students and staff with an environment where all are safe, where we continue to build good relationships, and provide high quality educational experiences that balance rigor and social emotional well-being. As always, we appreciate the cooperation and patience of the Belmont community during this time.

School Ending June 17 and Beginning in September 2019: School this year ends on June 17 with a half day for students and a full day for staff.  We will see you on the first day of school on September 4 for grades 1-12 (half day), and September 5 and 6 for kindergarten (half of kindergarten students each day for a half day; notices will be sent home by each school). We hope you all have a wonderful summer.

Reminder regarding BHS access this summer: As you know, beginning June 18 the high school will be closed to the public due to the campus becoming an active construction site. Fences and/or construction barricades will be placed around the entire area; therefore, teachers, parents, guardians, students and the public will not be able to access the site. Belmont High School staff will conduct satellite office hours at Chenery Middle School. Those hours will be posted on the high school website at https://www.belmont.k12.ma.us/bps/bhs.


  • Belmont Middle and High School Groundbreaking Belmont Middle and High School Groundbreaking: The Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Belmont Middle and High School took place on May 28 at the high school. Although darkening skies resulted in the ceremony taking place in the auditorium instead of outside, the threat of rain didn't dampen the spirits of the invited guests and Belmont community members who attended. Speakers included Belmont High School Interim Principal Tom Brow, School Committee Chair Susan Burgess-Cox, Chair of the Belmont Middle and High School Building Committee Bill Lovallo, Senator William Brownsberger, CEO of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Jim MacDonald, and Belmont Public Schools administrative staff. The Belmont High School Marching band performed to welcome the crowd, and then the event moved outside for the symbolic groundbreaking. Special guests at the event were the Chenery Middle School seventh graders, who will be the first class to graduate from the new building. This is a truly historic day for the Town of Belmont, and we are all so honored and grateful to be part of it and for the support of the Belmont community. Please go to the BPS website for more on the event.
  • Grade Configuration at Elementary and Middle Schools: The School Committee voted in favor of changing the grade configuration at the elementary and middle schools. This reconfiguration will help the growing enrollment of the district and free up space in all grade levels at each school. Please see the Configuration Working Group documents.
  • English Senior Capstone Project: Lindsey Rinder, Director of English, ELE, and Reading, and members of the BHS English Department presented an overview of the English Senior Capstone Project to the School Committee at the May 21 meeting. The English Department has spent the last two years developing a new way to access reading, writing, and speaking skills in the senior year to allow for more "student voice and choice in subject matter and mode of expression." This has resulted in proposing a year-long research project called Senior English Capstone Project. Capstone was piloted this year, and will be offered beginning next school year 2019-2020 in addition to the existing written senior thesis about literature. The School Committee voted on incorporating Capstone for FY20 at the June 4 meeting as an official alternative to satisfy the English graduation requirement. Please see the Capstone presentation.
  • FY20 School Budget: The FY20 School Budget was unanimously approved at Town Meeting on June 5. The budget includes 3.60 FTEs in total as we address staffing needs due to growing enrollment. Please go to the BPS website for more on the budget and to see the presentation.


Please see the summer reading list on the BPS website. Summer reading lists will also be available at the Belmont Public Library and Belmont Books.


Summer reading and programs are happening throughout the summer at the Belmont Public Library. Please go to their website for more information.


  • Retirees at 2019 Reception A reception was held prior to the School Committee meeting on June 4 to celebrate the BPS staff retiring this school year. We thank them for their service, and we wish them well in their next endeavors. Please see the resolutions for these retirees on the BPS website:
    Carolyn Bell, Wellington, Grade 1
    Laurie Carlson, Wellington, Grade 2
    Laura Colby, Butler, Reading
    Brian Dunn, BHS, Latin
    Steven Gebhardt, Burbank, Head Custodian
    Tina John, BHS, Physics
    Robert Johnson, Butler, Head Custodian
    Beth Losk, Wellington, Special Educator
    Patsy MacKinnon, BHS, Nurse
    Lianne McCann, Chenery, Speech Language Pathologist
    Jacqueline McTighe, Preschool, Professional Aide
    Patricia Partridge, BHS, Science
    Mary Jane Weinstein, District, Assistant Director of Student Services
  • 2019 Staff Recognition Recipients Standing Staff Recognition Day held on May 22 celebrated 54 staff and faculty members of Belmont Public Schools for their years of service ranging from 10 to 40. Most notable is Chenery Secretary Joanne DiBona who was recognized for her 40 years of service, a milestone achieved by few. Please see more on the BPS website.

  • Flamenco Performance CMS 7th and 8th grade Spanish students attended a performance by the group "Flamenco Boston." The art of Flamenco is studied in 7th grade Spanish classes, and Director of Foreign Language Colleen Foley says the students enjoyed this glimpse of Spanish culture and experiencing this art form firsthand.

  • Belmont High and Chenery Students who did record amounts of volunteering were given the President's Volunteer Service Award. This is a national award recognizing citizens of the U.S. who achieve a certain amount of hours in a period of time. Please see the BPS website for more.
  • BHS Marauders for the week of June 10 are Asanti Andrews and Lily Sama, and for the week of May 28 are Amir Hagani and Gilchrist Imboywa. Please go to the BHS website for more about these Marauders.
  • BHS Chamber Singers WCVB Wake Up Call BHS Chamber Singers appeared on WCVB-TV5 on May 30 to sing a Wake-Up Call. Please go to the WCVB website to see and hear these singers.
  • Memorial Day Exercises at Wellington Memorial Day Exercises were at BHS, Wellington and Winn Brook Schools on May 24. Veterans were honored with a breakfast at the high school followed by programs at all three schools. The veterans and audiences were treated to patriotic songs and readings. It is always an honor to be able to thank our veterans for their service in this way.
  • Colonial Day Activities Burbank held Colonial Day for third graders on May 17. Third graders on this day step back in time and participate in hands-on activities to experience life during Colonial times. Principal Tricia Clifford says incorporating the social studies curriculum with Colonial Day “provides us with a chance to really engage in thematic learning.” 
  • Educators from N.E. Aquarium Butler 3rd graders had a visit from the New England Aquarium aligning with the science curriculum unit on animal adaptations. Organized by the Butler PTA, the students experienced a hands-on program interacting and looking at coastal animals from three different shoreline habitats.
  • Butler 2018 Recognition Butler School was celebrated at a 2018 Schools of Recognition Ceremony on June 7 at the State House in Boston. This is the first year schools were recognized under a new comprehensive state accountability system which takes into account MCAS as well as other areas of student achievement and growth. Butler school was one of only 52 schools in the state to receive the 2018 Massachusetts Schools of Recognition. Butler was also one of only eight schools in the state honored for all three possible categories under this recognition; High Achievement, High Growth, and Exceeding Targets. Attending were Assistant Superintendent Janice Darias, Butler Principal Danielle Betancourt, Elementary Curriculum Specialists Jaynene Delitt-Young and Jessica DeFrances. Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey Riley presented certificates to the schools. Congratulations to all the staff and students at Butler for this recognition.
  • Grade 1 Insect Unit Winn Brook first graders completed a multi-disciplinary unit on insects which included research, report writing and observation of live insects. Principal Janet Cary says the unit culminated with the release of Painted Lady butterflies, which are native to this area.


The FBE Special Initiative and Innovative Teaching Initiative Professional Development Grants for FY20 were approved last month totaling $50,995. We thank the FBE for their continued support to our educators and students. Please go to the FBE website to learn more about these grants.


Chenery and Burbank have a new assistant principal and interim principal, respectively. Ms. Jodie Cohen is the new Upper School Assistant Principal for Chenery, and Mr. J.Seeley Okie is the Burbank Interim Principal. Both will begin in July, and we welcome them to Belmont.

CMS Asst. Principal Jodie Cohen Ms. Cohen comes to us from Newton Public Schools where she worked as a science teacher for 20 years, and recently completed her Principal Internship at Newton North High School. Ms. Cohen holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Massachusetts in Boston, a Master of Arts in teaching from Simmons College, and will hold her second Master's in Organizational Leadership from Endicott College in June.

Burbank Interim Principal J. Seeley Okie Mr. Okie has been an Assistant Principal of MacArthur Elementary School in Waltham for the past seven years. Prior to that, Mr. Okie was a third and fourth grade teacher in the Natick Public Schools, the Charles River School in Dover, and the Keys School in Palo Alto, California. Mr. Okie began his career in education as a K-12 science teacher in the Foothills Academy in Wheatridge, Colorado. Mr. Okie holds a Master's in School Leadership from Harvard Graduate School of Education, a Master's in Elementary Education from Lesley College, and a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from Colby College.


  • BHS Theater Specialist Ezra Flam and members cast, crew, production staff representing nominated catatgories BHS Little Shop of Horrors BHS Little Shop of Horrors spring musical won Best Choral Ensemble and Best Lead Actor, Sammy Haines, for his portrayal of Seymour Krelborn at the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild annual MET Musical Theater Awards held on June 10 at the Berklee Performing Arts Center in Boston. In addition, the PAC was recognized as a nominee in the categories of Lighting Design, Scenic Design, Sound Design, Student Pit Orchestra, Dance Ensemble and Technical Crew. Forty-nine high schools submitted productions for consideration this year. Each production was seen by three adjudicators who scored the shows in multiple categories. In each category, the five or six highest scoring productions or individuals were nominated for their work. Congratulations to BHS Theater Specialist Ezra Flam and the students for their nominations and awards.
  • K-12 Art Show Poster The BPS K-12 Art Show was held at the Belmont Gallery of Art at 19 Moore Street. The show ran from May 22-June 2. Artwork is selected by the art teachers in all six schools and put on display for this exhibit. A great annual event.


The 2019 Spring Athletic Awards were held on June 4. Congratulations to all the recipients.

Boys Varsity Outdoor Track
Sportsmanship Award: Harold Thidemann
Coaches Award: Alex Rokosz
Boys Junior Varsity Outdoor Track
Sportsmanship Award: John Edwards
Coaches Award: Oliver Hees
Girls Varsity Outdoor Track
Sportsmanship Award: Dinara Mardanova
Coaches Award: Brogan Madden
Girls Junior Varsity Outdoor Track
Sportsmanship Award: Chloe Sturgeon
Coaches Award:   Claire Rainey
Boys Varsity Tennis
Sportsmanship Award:  Miles Mamigonian
Coaches Award: Shaw Rhinelander
Girls Varsity Tennis
Sportsmanship Award: Julia Cantor
Coaches Award: Kseniya Dzhala
Boys Varsity Lacrosse
Sportsmanship Award: Philip Scali
Coaches Award: Avery Gartland
Boys Junior Varsity Lacrosse
Sportsmanship Award: Spencer Scali
Coaches Award: Eli Rostler
Girls Varsity Lacrosse
Sportsmanship Award: Kelsey Hanley
Coaches Award: Marissa Cecca
Girls Junior Varsity Lacrosse
Sportsmanship Award: Roxie Kelleher
Coaches Award: Emma Casey
Boys Varsity Baseball
Sportsmanship Award: Brendan Hill
Coaches Award: Joe LaFauci
Boys Junior Varsity Baseball
Sportsmanship Award: Michael Travia
Coaches Award: Alex Fick
Boys Freshman Baseball
Sportsmanship Award: Kevin Guden
Coaches Award: Kadin Phimister
Girls Varsity Softball
Sportsmanship Award: Jenna Crowley
Coaches Award: Meaghan Noone
Girls Junior Varsity Softball
Sportsmanship Award: Kai-Shin Hsu
Coaches Award: Katarina Chen
Boys Varsity Rugby
Sportsmanship Award: Mohamed Abdel-Salam
Coaches Award: John Campbell
Boys Junior Varsity Rugby
Sportsmanship Award: Caleb Christensen
Coaches Award: George Bikhazi
Boys Developmental Rugby
Sportsmanship Award: Abid Islam
Coaches Award: Giorgio Diarbakerly
Girls Varsity Rugby
Sportsmanship Award: Samantha Dignan
Coaches Award: Amanda Hanley
Girls Junior Varsity Rugby
Sportsmanship Award: Erika Carneiro
Coaches Award: Evie Hamer


Below are some events going on through the end of June. Please check school websites and communications for any additional events, information or changes in dates, times and venues.


June 17 - Last Day of School - Early Release for Students; Full Day for Staff

June 18 - School Committee Meeting - 7:00 p.m. - CMS Community Room

Belmont Middle and High School Groundbreaking  CMS 7th Graders in 2018-2019 - first class in new building  BHS Chamber Singers WCVB Wake Up Call  Memorial Day Exercises at Wellington  Winn Brook Memorial Day Exercises  Veterans at BHS for Memorial Day Excercises  Educators from N.E. Aquarium  Butler third graders hands-on  N.E. Aquarium Visit  BHS Little Shop of Horrors  CMS Asst. Principal Jodie Cohen  2019 Staff Recognition Recipients Standing  Colonial Day Activities  Retirees at 2019 Reception  Burbank Interim Principal J. Seeley Okie  2019 BHS Graduation Day  2019 Graduation with Supt. Phelan  Flamenco Dancer  Flamenco Performance  Flamenco Performers  Grade 1 Insect Unit  Butler 2018 Recognition  BHS Theater Specialist Ezra Flam and members cast, crew, production staff representing nominated catatgories  K-12 Art Show-WB Donut Sculpture  K-12 Art Show Poster