December 8, 2022
A Message from Superintendent Curley
Welcome to the December edition of the Somerville Public Schools district newsletter. As we near the end of the first half of the school year and 2022, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude to all of the students, families, and staff within SPS. I am always proud to be a part of the SPS community – both as an administrator and as a parent – and I am thankful for all of your collective commitment to our schools. Each month we provide you just a brief snapshot of what’s happening in our district with this Connections newsletter, and we’re glad to be able to highlight, celebrate, and promote our schools’ and our students’ work. We hope you enjoy!
DLab visits New Teen Center in East Somerville
For over a year, a group of Somerville High School students has been working on designing youth-centered spaces and programs in an on-going, innovative, and student-led afterschool club called DLab (Design Lab). Students developed a research study about youth spaces in collaboration with Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Critical Participatory Action Research (CPAP) students. CPAP has a framework for research for creating primary stakeholders as the researchers. DLab's first step was to design a poll to give their peers, collecting information on what students want to see in a future youth center space. DLab then designed a teen event at the Somerville High School library, essentially three interactive and engaging pop-up data collection events. Pop-ups included a podcast interviewing station, a LEGO™ construction: build your dream youth center station, whiteboard mural station, and a live polling station. They gathered robust input from over 200 Somerville High School students. DLab's next step was to analyze then present their data to local leaders. DLab students presented their findings to Mayor Katjana Ballantyne and other local leaders in June 2022. As a result, Mayor Ballantyne understood the urgency for teen spaces in Somerville, and had a solid road map for important features for a teen space. The mayor prioritized opening a teen center space immediately. After a soft opening in the summer, the Somerville Recreation Department opened the flagship Teen Center at the Edgerly Building in November 2022 and it has been an overnight success. The photo below shows DLab students at a follow-up event with the mayor and administrative leadership. They met with the mayor, toured facilities, watched other students using the Center, and even played some games themselves. Former Out of School Time Director McCormack describes it as "a true full-circle moment for these students." Somerville teens and tweens are encouraged to join the Recreation Teen Center. Learn more.
Poster Contest Winners Announced
Our Student Services team engaged students in a school attendance campaign this fall through a district-wide poster contest. They asked students to submit marketing posters to showcase the benefits of consistent attendance. The winning posters will be featured in the halls of winners' schools. Congratulations to winners Lulya and Avianna from the West Somerville, to Matthew from the Healey, to Clyde from the East Somerville, and to Isabella and Samaira from Somerville High School. Visit the SPS Instagram page @somervillepublicschools to see a complete gallery of their work. Pictured below is Matthew, with Supervisor of Attendance Jennifer LaGreca, Healey Principal Dr. Mary Ellen Carideo-Cobbs, Supervisor of Attendance Carlos Valente, and Assistant Director of Student Services Larry Silverman.
Next Wave / Full Circle volunteers
In October, Next Wave and Full Circle (NW / FC) students spent two days volunteering on homes with Habitat for Humanity / Boston. Student volunteers weeded the yards of two homes, spread topsoil, and covered the lawns with grass seed. Students had actually worked on the construction of these two homes last year, so this was an opportunity to revisit their work and see the progress. NW / FC is an alternative, therapeutic school community that serves students in grades 6-12 who have different learning styles and needs. Learn more at the NW / FC webpage.
Dazzle Art Show
If you visited the Somerville Public Library gallery space in November, you likely saw some amazing artwork by Somerville High School students. All the works are by SHS art majors or newly immigrated Multilingual Learners (students who are working on their English language acquisition). They came to the projects with differing levels of exposure to art. The projects are inspired by a unit they did about Japanese artist Shigeki Matsuyama. The student pictured below stands next to her artwork which she describes as being about learning a new language and her immigration story. Another student explained that the process of creating his artwork "helped me think of who I am as a person and what makes me who I am," and also touches on issues around cultural identity.
Thanksgiving Celebration for Special Education Students
The Kennedy School hosted a fun Thanksgiving celebration for their students in special education programs Life Skills and SKIP. Students in the SHIP program (Specialized High School Intensive Program) came back to the Kennedy as SKIP alumni and were able to reconnect with their former Kennedy educators and staff. Family members joined the event as well. Thank you to Ms. Vendola for the lovely photo of staff at the buffet table.
SCULPTURE INSTALLATION AT ARGENZIANO
4th, 5th, and 6th grade students experimented with three-dimensional art in Ms. Taremi and Ms. Molly's art classes at the Argenziano School. Their assignment was to create a monochromatic 3-D sculpture creating unity through color, shape, and pattern. The resulting art installation has transformed the third floor foyer at the Argenziano. Light streams through the sculptures, giving the viewer a chance to see different perspectives and shadows as they walk through the space. The assignment and installation were inspired by Ukrainian-American sculptor artist Louise Nevelson, whose artwork was influenced by Modern Art, Abstract Expressionism, and Cubism.
Author Workshops in our Libraries
Students at the Brown, Argenziano, West, and Healey Schools enjoyed engaging visits with author Mat Heagerty. He spoke about idea generation, writing, and book production, answered questions about his life, and discussed his own experience as a neuro-diverse writer with dyslexia. After his presentation, Mat lead students through a collaborative writing and illustration exercise that kids could complete in groups of four.
Meet the Director of School Health Services
Somerville Public Schools' Director of School Health Services Elizabeth Quaratiello has worked as both a school nurse at the West Somerville Neighborhood School and in public health. She discusses how nursing and public health align in Somerville Public Schools in the latest district blog post.
Information for Families
The Somerville School Committee is hiring a new superintendent to lead Somerville Public Schools, starting in the 2023-2024 school year. The School Committee wants to hear what community members want in our next Superintendent of Schools at several remaining Listening Sessions. If you are unable to attend a Listening Session, please take a few minutes to fill out the Community Survey in English, Spanish, Portuguese. (Haitian Creole will be available soon.) Find more information about the search process on the Superintendent Search webpage.
Open Houses: Visit Our Schools!
Don't miss the opportunity to visit our Prekindergarten - Grade 8 schools on December 8 and 13, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Prospective parents choosing a school for their child, other family members, and community members are all invited. No appointments are needed; simply stop by one of our schools and take a tour. More information about our schools and about Open Houses is available on the Open Houses webpage. Somerville High School will host their Open House events on February 8 and 9, 2023.
Once families choose a school, they are invited to enroll their child in Somerville Public Schools. The Enrollment Period for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten runs from January 4 through February 24, 2023. Families are most likely to get their first choice school by enrolling during this period. Families enroll through an online enrollment portal and anyone looking for support during this process is welcome to set up an appointment with one of our wonderful, multilingual Enrollment Office staff members. Learn more by visiting the Kindergarten or Preschool enrollment pages and don't miss the fun video introduction to enrollment (also available in Spanish, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole).
Community Schools Enrollment for Afterschool Programs
There is afterschool care for students at each school through the SPS Somerville Community Schools department. Spaces are limited and the enrollment period for prekindergarten and kindergarten students is January 4 – 27, 2023 for the 2023-2024 school year. Students in grades 1 and up can be enrolled from March 7 – 31, 2023. The afterschool enrollment process is separate from the school enrollment process. Parents and guardians can learn more by visiting the Afterschool webpage.
Go Green Line! Community Celebration
The final phase of the Green Line Extension is finally set to open on Monday, December 12, and Somerville is celebrating! For many SPS staff and families this is especially exciting as the new stations will increase accessible transit options for getting to and from most of our schools, and reduce car traffic. We hope you can join in one of these upcoming events to help celebrate!
There are a series of opening day events planned for December 12. You can find details at www.somervillema.gov/glx. On Saturday, December 16, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., join the Go Green Line! Community Celebration at Somerville High School (81 Highland Avenue). The indoor-outdoor celebration will feature a kids' choo-choo train ride (outside), live music, indoor children’s activities, an oral history project, a food truck and hot cocoa, other refreshments, a speaking program, and more. Event attendees will also be close enough to walk down and check out the new Gilman Square T-stop behind the High School before or after the event.
Free Food Resources around Somerville
Please visit the amazing Somerville Food Security Coalition's food resources webpage to find local food pantries, community meals, and holiday meal resources. If your family is struggling and you need further support, please contact your child's school-based family and community liaison. We also have staff who work specifically with unhoused students and can be reached at 617-625-6600 x6994.
Student Winter Concerts start next week
Check the district calendar and the music webpage to find students’ performance schedules.
Send a star to your favorite teacher
Somerville Education Foundation (SEF) invites community members to show their appreciation for an SPS staff member or teacher by buying a star and making a donation in their name. The fundraiser ends December 16, 2022. Recipients will get a beautiful certificate with a personal message from the donor. SEF supports opportunities of all types for our students. Learn more at their webpage.
Council of PTAs Scholarship Fundraiser
Support Somerville High School seniors by purchasing a shirt from the Somerville Council of PTAs. They offer an SPS design and a GLX design. Adult and youth sizes are available. The fundraiser is on-going. All profits go to the PTA scholarship fund for graduating Somerville High School seniors. Community members can also contribute directly to the scholarship fund through this link: bit.ly/PTACouncilScholarshipFund.
Somerville Public Library Teen Room
Teens and tweens are invited to the Teen Room at the Somerville Public Library central branch. This is a dedicated space where teens and tweens can hang out with peers, use computers, read books and other media, and even participate in activities like Anime Club, crafting opportunities, video gaming, and more. Learn about the space and find scheduled events on the Teen Room webpage.
Register for Youth Hockey
Register now for the second session (Jan. 7 - Mar. 4) of Somerville Youth Hockey Learn to Skate/Learn to Play Hockey. All classes take place Saturday mornings at Veterans rink in Somerville, and are geared toward kids 3 – 9 years old who have never skated nor played hockey before. Learn more and register. Financial aid (and some equipment) is available.
The City of Somerville Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) is looking for Climate Forward Ambassadors. Ambassadors will educate residents about climate change and increase the community's capacity to engage in climate action. Ambassadors do not need prior knowledge about climate change to participate. Dinner will be served at meetings and participants receive a one-time stipend. This opportunity is open to Somerville residents 16 years and older. Apply by January 2, 2023 at the OSE website.
Winter Break begins on Thursday, December 22, 2022 after early dismissal. Classes resume on Wednesday, January 4, 2023.