September 13, 2023
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Welcome back to school!
We are excited to have students and educators back in schools and wish everyone a wonderful start to the 2023–2024 school year. Thank you to the amazing and hard-working school and city staff who made sure students in all our schools are safe and comfortable so they can engage fully in learning, including our Winter Hill Community Innovation School community. Please read below to find out more about the Winter Hill as well as many wonderful projects throughout our district.
This year is also the inaugural year for our new Superintendent, Dr. Rubén Carmona. Pictured below are Dr. Carmona (L) with Mayor Katjana Ballantyne (R) before staff Convocation, showing their SPS school spirit!
Winter Hill Community Innovation School
Winter Hill Updates
WHCIS grades 1–8 and students in the AIM program and the Newcomer program are attending classes at the Edgerly Education Building at 8 Bonair Street. WHCIS students in grades PK and K are at the Capuano Early Education Center. Both sites have full facilities available and some students qualify for a shuttle bus from the original Winter Hill building site at 118 Sycamore Street to the new facilities. If you have any questions about whether your family qualifies for this service, please call the Winter Hill front office at 617-629-5680. The WHCIS community is encouraged to look for information about school logistics and updates about the building process on this website: https://somervillema.gov/whcis. Families with students at Winter Hill should also watch their email inboxes for regular updates. [photo credit for Edgerly photos below: Mayor Ballantyne]
New Locations for Central Offices
Central Office administrators working in the Winter Hill and the Edgerly Education Center have moved to the T.A.B. at 167 Holland Street, third floor. These offices include Enrollment, Payroll, Basic Needs (for families and students facing housing challenges, food insecurity, or other critical needs), SFLC (Family Engagement), Special Education, Food and Nutrition Services, Human Resources, and other offices. Visit the SPS website to find contact emails and phone numbers for offices.
Student and Staff Stories
Eight Class of 2023 Students Participated in Early College at SHS
Congratulations to the eight 2023 graduates who took advantage of the Somerville High School Early College program. These students were dual-enrolled in SHS and Cambridge College, earning as much as twelve credits that can be applied to their degrees, saving up to $50,000. The graduates matriculated this year at colleges like Wesleyan University, Suffolk University, Bennington College, and more. Read more about this collaboration on the district blog. Students wishing to participate in the program are encouraged to talk to a School Counselor.
After several years' delay due to weather and the pandemic, SPS started the school year with the traditional—and fun—Convocation for educators and staff. Staff gave the Winter Hill Community Innovation School staff and educators a standing ovation for their resilience, determination, and hard work in the face of recent challenges. Each school was invited to enter a competition by creating a school-specific song or cheer. The Winter Hill staff won the contest and Next Wave / Full Circle received an honorable mention awarded by our ceremonial judges from the SHS Cheerleading team.
SPELL Summer Program
Every summer, Somerville students in SPELL (Summer Program for English Language Learners) spend their days in vocabulary-rich environments and use their language skills to participate in engaging, fun activities. This summer, one theme was saving the oceans. Students learned about the topic, learned important vocabulary for discussion, then worked in a group to build and program a robot designed to clean the ocean floor. The Highlanders Robotics team worked with educators to design a robotics curriculum that tied into the thematic and language curriculum for the summer and then staffed the robotics sessions as mentors. Learn more about Multilingual Learner Education in SPS and learn about our high school robotics team, The Highlanders FRC 6201. Interesting tidbit: Somerville Public Schools served 1,194 students across 14 free programs this summer.
Civic Action Project for 8th Grade Students
Last spring, social studies classes at the East Somerville, West Somerville, Kennedy, and Argenziano piloted a fantastic civic action project. Students chose a hyper-local issue, like affordable housing, rat control, or teen mental health, then researched those topics and developed presentations. In the photograph below, you can see an East Somerville student who worked on bicycle safety; he is in the UNIDOS program and presented in English and Spanish. This program will roll out to all district 8th grade classes this year.
Animating at Somerville High School
2022–2023 was the inaugural year for animation curriculum at Somerville High School. Students took the first animation course, called Static and Motion. Topics included learning animation forms like stop motion, time lapse, claymation, and pixilation. Outside of class time, library assistant Zac Mino supported students developing animation skills in the SHS Library Makerspace. This year's class will be called Cartooning and Animation. Pictured below are animators and friends watching art teacher Lindsey Richard introduce the end-of-year presentation in the Highlander Forum lecture hall. If you would like to see some of the animation, watch the slideshow presentation from the event.
Two Educators Recognized as Emerging Latine Leaders
Congratulations to Christine Brito and Nancy Uribe for winning the Carmen M. Torres Scholarship for Emerging Latine Leaders from Hale Education! This award will support these educators' participation in the 2023–2024 Perrone-Sizer Institute for Creativity Leadership at Hale Education (PSi) certificate program. Christine Brito is the UNIDOS curriculum and instruction specialist with a particular interest in multilingual and special education learners. Ms. Uribe is a third grade teacher at East Somerville Community School and says "this scholarship represents an opportunity to advance my education in leadership." Read more in the Somerville Times article. Pictured below are Ms. Brito (L) and Ms. Uribe (R).
MLE Specialist Named WIDA Fellow
We are proud to announce that Multilingual Learner Education Curriculum and Instruction Specialist Antonella D'Eramo was named a 2023–2024 WIDA Fellow. WIDA is a nationally recognized organization that advances academic language development and achievement for multilingual learner educators. As a WIDA fellow, Antonella brings her extensive teaching background and innovative approach to the MLE classroom. She currently supports multilingual learners at SPS and their teachers through collaboration, professional development, and curriculum design. Currently, 24 percent of the SPS student body are multilingual learners.
Two Educators Win Internal Educator Leadership scholarships
Congratulations to Somerville High School math teacher Michael Morgan, who received an internal SPS scholarship to attend Massachusetts School Administrator Association Leadership Licensure Program. And congratulations to Healey School Spanish teacher Alzimara Oliveira, who received an internal SPS scholarship to participate in the PSi certificate program.
SHS Re-Accreditation Process
Somerville High School is in the process of re-accreditation through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). This is a 10-year process, though it was delayed this cycle by the building renovation and the pandemic. The high school worked with a visiting team of NEASC peers from other districts to develop a set of priority areas of growth. You can read the full report submitted by NEASC here, including commendations about inclusive culture and expansive technology resources available to all students.
Information for Families
Change to Reporting of Class Rank at Somerville High School. Starting with the graduating class of 2026 and after thorough research and consultation with stakeholders, Somerville High School will no longer be tracking or reporting class rank. The main purpose of this change is to allow students to choose courses based on interest and need rather than pressure to raise class rank. Staff made this decision after an intentional process that included focus groups with students and families, conversations with college admissions officers, a presentation to the School Committee, and research into the policies of other high schools. SHS administrators and staff feel strongly that this change will go a long way in improving the student experience at Somerville High School. Please note that class rank on all transcripts for the class of 2026 will currently show up as “0.” While there are no changes to how GPA is calculated at this time, SHS will continue to investigate the value and impact of the weighted GPA policy, and will address their approach to the traditional SHS practice of naming a valedictorian and salutatorian. For more information on our process and rationale, please see our SHS Class Rank Proposal 2022. Traditional class rank practices continue for the classes of 2024 and 2025 (this year’s 11th and 12th graders).
Free MBTA Passes for Students. SPS students in grades 7–12 receive free MBTA passes, called M7 cards, again this year. Schools have begun distribution. If your child needs a card and has not received one, please reach out to your school's front office. Find more information about the M7 card program here.
School Meals are Free! Ongoing. Breakfast and lunch are free to all students this year and moving forward. Be sure to check out the daily menu of healthy meals on the Food and Nutrition Services Department website.
Welcome Letter from Food and Nutrition Services Department. Learn more about this school year's meals program by reading the 2023 Welcome Back letter from Director Lauren Mancini.
Activities for Families and Students
Activities listed below are free unless otherwise indicated.
Special Education Virtual Job Fairs. September 20 & 27, 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. The Special Education Department is looking for Educators and Paraprofessionals to join their amazing team. Join one of the virtual job fairs to learn more about opportunities. More information.
Free Classes Available to Parents and Guardians. Register on the first Monday of each month from 6:00–9:00 p.m. Somerville Center for Adult Learning Experiences (SCALE) offers free, in-person high school equivalency classes. SCALE is located at 167 Holland Street and can be reached at 617-625-6600 x6920.
Somerville Public Library Activities. Ongoing. Families are encouraged to take a look at some of the fun programming available to them at the Somerville Public Library. Library staff organize story hours and crafts events for younger children as well as LGBTQIA+ Craft Hangouts for Teens and Tweens, Half-Day Wednesday Video Game Hangouts, and more. Plus, they have an amazing collection of books, musical instruments, and low-cost or free museum passes for patrons.
Somerville Public Schools Jobs. Find the complete listing of SPS open positions, including an art teacher, automotive technology instructor, senior clerk, and more.
City of Somerville Jobs. Find the complete listing of City of Somerville open positions.