Connections: A Newsletter from the Somerville Public Schools – October 24, 2014

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Happy National Food Day! Students across the District are celebrating Food Day and learning how to be ‘healthy eaters’ with A Tale of Two Apples, a series of Farm to School apple taste-testing events featuring locally-sourced produce. Stay up-to-date on other Somerville Farm to School activities and events at www.somervillefarmtoschool.blogspot.com.

News & Notes

High School Students Explore College Options at Annual SHS College Fair
More than 80 colleges were in attendance at the 20th annual Somerville High School College Fair held at the SHS Atrium earlier this week. Despite the downpour, an estimated 273 high school students, many of whom attended the event with parents and family members, filed into the high school Atrium on Wednesday evening to talk with college representatives from across the country about the college’s degree programs and their admissions process. The event was open to all high school students, and college representatives were excited to see that, along with graduating seniors, many SHS 10th and 11th grade students were in attendance and starting the college research process early.

Bringing Reading Home – Helping Children Choose Books
Find out how the librarian at the Capuano helps young children choose books, and learn some tips to help children connect with books. http://somervilleearlyeducation.blogspot.com/2014/10/bringing-reading-home-helping-children.html

STAR Assessment Update
One key to Somerville’s success in improving student learning is the “just in time” information teachers receive about student learning. These assessments take a number of forms, ranging from informal teacher-made assessments to MCAS results. This fall has seen a change in one of our assessments for students in Grades 2-8, as we have rolled out STAR testing to replace MAP. Here are some key points related to the implementation:
· Less Testing Time Means More Time for Instruction! – MAP gave us good data, but one of our goals in moving to STAR was to decrease students’ overall testing time. As we expected, we were able to reduce testing time from approximately three hours to one hour.
· Reliable and Valid Results – We have generated initial scatter graphs comparing the 2014 Spring MCAS scores of students with their 2014 Fall STAR scores. So far, the correlation is much stronger than it was with MAP. This means that teachers have a good bead on their student’s standing with MCAS; the STAR reports that teachers receive also indicate specific focus skills for each student, allowing teachers to better target their instruction.
· Parent Reports – STAR generates a report that is geared to parents which includes a student’s national percentile score as well as their instructional grade level. These will be printed at each school and sent home with the November report cards for students in Grades 2-8.
We will continue to monitor STAR as the year progresses, but initial reports are all good. Parents/Guardians with questions about the SPS assessment program can call the Curriculum office at 617-625-6600 x6030.

SPS Volunteer Spotlight: Tufts Team Youxi
International students from Tufts University’s Preparatory Program (UPP) have been enjoying playing math and other games every Wednesday with students in West Somerville Neighborhood School’s afterschool program. Tufts UPP professor Ariel Hoover was looking for ways for her students to gain exposure to American culture and school systems, and to fulfill their community service requirement as part of the UPP program. Team “Youxi” (pronounced ‘You She’, Chinese for ‘games’) was formed, with volunteers coming weekly to play math games, chess, Othello, Chinese Tic Tac Toe, cards and dominos.

Afterschool Coordinator Gina D’Haiti-Miranda reports that the WSNS students look forward to playing and learning new games, and that the UPP students are a fun and flexible group. “One week the students wanted to wrap up early and play outside. Especially with afterschool, having volunteers who can go with the flow and support what our students are wanting to do is a wonderful addition to the program.”

Volunteers serve in Community Schools’ afterschool programs throughout the District helping with homework, tutoring, or assisting with an enrichment activity. Community members interested in sharing a skill—visual or performance arts, writing, math and cooperative games, languages, cooking, gardening, or athletics—for one or more sessions in an afterschool program are welcome to submit a proposal. Visit www.somerville.k12.ma.us/volunteer or call 617.629.5475 to get started.

SHS Band @ HONK! Festival Parade
The Somerville High School band celebrated and performed at the 2014 Somerville HONK! Festival parade. The annual event brings together activist street bands, local and from around the country, for a weekend of celebration and activism. Among the bands coming to Somerville to join the celebration this year was New Orleans’ Red Flame Hunters, who performed at the East Somerville Community School.

The Somerville High School Music Department works to create a musically-literate student body who loves to perform, play and create music of all types.

Maya Culture and History at the West Somerville Neighborhood School
Ms. Carafotes’ 5th grade students at the West Somerville Neighborhood School recently researched a project about the ancient Maya in Central America. They worked in teams to create a project poster about Maya history, culture and lives.

This week, students continued their study of Mayan culture. They took a trip to the Museum of Science to see the special exhibit “Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed”. For more information about this and other exhibits at the Boston Museum of Science, visit http://www.mos.org/.

What’s Happening

Friday, October 24: Somerville High School Football Homecoming Game
Stop by Dilboy Stadium (300 Alewife Brook Parkway) and cheer on the SHS Highlanders as they face off against Medford in the 2014 SHS Homecoming Game. Kickoff is 7:00p.m.

Saturday, October 25: Celebrate the SHS Soccer Program with SYSL
Celebrate the Somerville High School Soccer program with SYSL (Somerville Youth Soccer League) on October 25th. Join SYSL at Dilboy Stadium on Saturday, October 25th for tailgating and bagels at 11:00 am. SHS Boys Soccer plays Cambridge Rindge and Latin at noon. There will be a half-time competition.

Save the Date – Wednesday, November 5th: “Parents and Teachers as Partners”
In this SFLC workshop, meet with other Somerville families to discuss communicating with your child’s teachers about setting learning goals and how to support student success at home. Workshop is from 6:30-7:30pm at the Winter Hill Community Innovation School (115 Sycamore Street). Presenter: Meghan Bouchard, SFLC Program Liaison.

This week in the schools:
Visit your child’s school website, http://www.somerville.k12.ma.us/schools, and click on the “calendar of events” link at the top of the page for a complete list of all the activities happening at school this month.

Friday, October 24: National Food Day Celebration
Friday, October 24, 6:00-8:00pm: Kids Nite Out – Grades K-4 at the Kennedy School Cafeteria (5 Cherry Street)
Friday, October 24, 7:00pm: El Sistema Somerville Presents Arunagiri Perumaale, a free concert of modern Indian Classical music at the East Somerville Community School Auditorium (50 Cross Street)
Friday, October 24, 7:00pm: Somerville High School Homecoming Football Game vs. Medford, at Dilboy Stadium (300 Alewife Brook Parkway)
Saturday, October 25: ACT Testing at Somerville High School (81 Highland Avenue)
Saturday, October 25, 7:00-10:30pm: Highlander Homecoming Dance at the Somerville High School Atrium (81 Highland Avenue)
Monday & Tuesday, October 27 and 28: ESCS 8th Grade students visit Somerville High School
Monday, October 27, 11:00am-1:00pm: A Tale of Two Apples, Somerville Farm to School taste test event at the Winter Hill Community Innovation School (115 Sycamore Street)
Monday, October 27, 6:30pm: Special Education PAC District Update meeting with Mary DiGuardia, Special Education Director, at the Kennedy School Library (5 Cherry Street)
Tuesday, October 28: ESCS 7th Grade Field Trip to Biogen IDEC (Cintron)
Wednesday, October 29: Half-Day Wednesday (PreK dismissed at 11:30; K-8 dismissed at noon)
Wednesday, October 29, 5:30-7:00pm: The Marshmallow Challenge for Grades 7 & 8. Parents welcome, at the Kennedy School Cafeteria (5 Cherry Street)
Wednesday, October 29: WSNS Pajama Day PTA Fundraiser, at the West Somerville Neighborhood School (177 Powderhouse Blvd.)
Thursday, October 30: ESCS Picture Day
Thursday, October 30: ESCS 7th Grade Field Trip to Biogen IDEC (Gardner)
Friday, October 31: ESCS 7th Grade Field Trip to Biogen IDEC (Weaver)
Friday, October 31: Healey Grade 7/8 Field Trip to local colleges
Friday, October 31: Healey Lunchtime Concert at the Healey School Cafeteria (5 Meacham Street)
Friday, October 31: SHS Winter Sports Online Registration Closes
Friday, October 31, 1:00-2:15pm: ESCS K-4 Harvest Book Character Parade from ESCS to Windsor House

Upcoming School Committee Meetings
Find the complete School Committee schedule, agendas and meeting minutes (as approved) online at http://www.somerville.k12.ma.us/school_committee.
Monday, October 27, 6:30pm: School Committee Meeting for Personnel – Evaluation of the Superintendent at the Central Office Conference Room (42 Cross Street)
Monday, October 27, 7:30pm: School Committee Meeting for Long Range Planning at the Central Office Conference Room (42 Cross Street)
Monday, November 3, 6:00-7:00pm: Rules Management Subcommittee Meeting at the 3rd Floor Conference Room, Somerville City Hall (93 Highland Avenue)
Monday, November 3, 7:00pm: School Committee Meeting at the Board of Aldermen’s Chambers, Somerville City Hall (93 Highland Avenue)

Community News & Events
Autism Waiver Program: November 7 through November 21, 2014
The Autism Division at the Department of Developmental Services will soon hold an open enrollment period for the Autism Waiver Program. This program, made possible through the use of federal/state funds, provides intensive in-home and ancillary supports for children under age nine with a diagnosis of autism. Children must also be on or able to obtain MassHealth Standard Insurance, which is at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. The open enrollment period begins November 7th and ends November 21st. Applications are only accepted during this window. Please see the links below for more information. Translated applications are available as well on the Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC) website below.
· http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dmr/waiver/family-notice-autism-waiver-program.rtf
· http://massadvocates.org/open-enrollment-childrens-autism-medicaid-waiver-nov-7-21/
· http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/consumer/disability-services/services-by-type/intellectual-disability/support/autism-spectrum/developmental-services-autism-waiver-services.html
Saturday, October 25, 2014: Food Day Mobile Market Party. Shape Up Somerville celebrates healthy, affordable food in our community with a Mobile Farmers Market Party in honor of national Food Day. Partygoers can enjoy live music from local entertainers, participate in children’s activities including face-painting, book giveaways and the MUSCRAT Art Bus, be part of a food mapping activity that will help the City better understand our food resources, participate in urban growing activities like harvesting vegetables from crate mini-gardens and workshops on home composting, win great raffle prizes, swap recipes, learn about growing their own food, and buy fresh, local, healthy food from the Mobile Farmers market at very affordable prices. Join the celebration on Saturday, Oct. 25th from 1-4pm at 530 Mystic Avenue.
Saturday, October 25, 2014: Tufts University’s Halloween on the Hill, offered by the Tufts Leonard Carmichael Society. Annual celebration for Somerville and Medford students in grades K-2 held on the Tufts University campus from 10:00am to 3:00pm; registration starts at 9:30am. Students were required to pre-register in order to participate. For more information, visit https://sites.tufts.edu/tuftslcs/ and click on the “Halloween on the Hill” tab under Programs. Students will tour a haunted house, watch a fun-filled show, participate in Halloween-themed crafts, and more. Snacks will be provided; please send your child with a bag lunch. While most activities will take place indoors, children will be outside. Please make sure your child has appropriate outerwear.
October 24, 25, 30, 31 and November 1, 2014: Armory of Horror at Arts of the Armory. In addition to a haunted maze, families can also enjoy a Family Day (November 1st) geared for kids, with special activities to celebrate Halloween in a cool and fun place. A special “lights on” backstage tour will show folks all the secrets lurking in the shadows and shed light on how a Haunted House is produced! Matthew Martino, a veteran haunted attraction and horror movie producer, and a Somerville resident, leads The Armory of Horror and brings decades of experience to the creation of this show. The Armory of Horror will open on October 24th, 25th, 30th, 31st and November 1st from 6pm to 10pm. Tickets are $20 for adults and $12 for kids. The “lights on” tour is from 2pm to 4pm on October 26th and on a donation basis. Family day is November 1st from noon to 4pm and tickets are $5!
Wednesday, October 29, 2014: Last Chance for Poetry October: A program for middle school writers and artists, presented by Friends of the Somerville Public Library. All 5th through 8th grade students are welcome. Please bring poems to the Central Branch on Highland Ave. Email aball@tuftsmedicalcenter.org to sign up, or drop in. Wednesday evening, 6:00-7:15pm. Offered by Kid! Multimedia Magazine (http://12zine.com)
Sunday, November 2, 2014, 12:00-4:00pm: Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Family Event. Experience the customs that make this holiday a joyful celebration. At the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, 11 Divinity Avenue in Cambridge. Families can enjoy traditional snacks, folk dance, crafts, and music in museum galleries. Decorate a sugar skull, peruse folk art for sale, or design a message to place on an altar. Free parking available at the 52 Oxford Street Garage. Event is free with museum admission; sugar skull craft $5 extra. Want more Day of the Dead? Check out the Day of the Dead Evening Celebration on Saturday, November 1st. Advance tickets required. For more information: (617) 496-1027 or www.peabody.harvard.edu.
Thursday, November 6, 2014, 6:00-7:30pm: Restorative Justice. Learn how to support Somerville restorative justice efforts. Find out about current strategies in the community and share what you’re doing to get more support. Network opportunity with friendly restorative justice folks. Follow the Somerville Commissions work and events on Facebook at www.facebook.com/somervillecommissions.
Sunday, November 9, 2014, 10:30am: Team Chase Run/Walk for Autism. Race begins and ends at the East End Grille on Broadway & Glen Street in Somerville. Supporting the Team Chase 5K Run/Walk for Autism supports research, autism awareness and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism. Enjoy a fun-filled day walk, run, food, drinks, and a live band while supporting a great cause. Register online ($35 pre-registration fee for the 5K Run and Walk; $40 for late or race-day registration) at www.active.com/somerville-ma/running/races/team-chase-2nd-annual-5k-for-autism-speaks-and-somerville-special-ed-nov-9th-at-10-30am-2014.
Arts at the Armory “Youth Arts Arise.” Free afterschool arts program for youth ages 11-19. Fall semester runs from October 7-December 16, every Tuesday from 3:30-5pm. An additional workshop will be offered every Monday from 3:30-5:00pm starting November 3. The program is free but advance registration is required. Registration forms available at www.artsatthearmory.org or in person at 191 Highland Avenue, Suite 1A. Contact Bridget Galway, education@artsatthearmory.org or (617) 718-2191, for more information.
Somerville Youth Hockey Registration. Learn to Skate (LTS)/Learn to Play Hockey (LTPH) for ages 4 and up started October 18, 2014 and runs until early March, 2015. Sign up at the Somerville Rink 8-10:30am on Saturday. $90 registration fee for LTS/LTPH. For more information, visit www.somervilleyouthhockey.org.

Looking Ahead
A look at some of the events/activities in the Somerville Public Schools that are taking place in the coming weeks.
Monday, November 3: A Tale of Two Apples, Argenziano School
Monday, November 3: ESCS 6th Grade Field Trip to Biogen IDEC (Caraballo and Spence)
Monday, November 3: ESCS Assembly – Energized Guys
Tuesday, November 4: Professional Development Day – No School for Students
Wednesday, November 5: SFLC Workshop: Parents and Teachers as Partners
Thursday, November 6: ESCS PTA Roundtables
Saturday, November 8: SAT Reasoning & SAT Subject Tests

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