Connections: A Newsletter from the Somerville Public Schools – September 18, 2015


Enjoy the cooler weather and celebrate this weekend, at the ADA’s 25th Anniversary Event on Saturday and Strike Up the Bands @ SomerStreets

on Sunday. See this issue’s Community News & Events for more information about these and other community activities.



News & Notes


SHS Spanish Language Students “Crush” AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam
On May 4, 2015, 19 Somerville High School Latino students sat in the school’s state of the art virtual World Language lab to take the grueling 3-1/2 hour newly designed AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam. After one year of studying Spanish in the newly created Spanish for Heritage Language Learners course, the students were about to have their knowledge, skills, and perseverance tested by the AP Spanish Language and Culture exam, which measures the student’s abilities equal to that of a fifth semester college course. To do well on the exam requires not only Spanish language comprehension and literacy, it also requires a high level of fluency in writing and knowledge of culture and history.


More than 100,000 students from across the United States took this exam in May. According to Mr. James Nocito, the Somerville Public Schools K-12 World Language Supervisor, not only did all of the 19 SHS students pass the exam, but the 19 students averaged a score of 4.4 out of 5! Every SHS student who took the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam can now receive college credit in Spanish. Mr. Nocito added, “This is truly remarkable given that many students who take the AP exam, which is scored on a scale from 1-5, score below the qualifying score of 3 which is required to earn college credit.” Mr. Nocito applauded his students and those of Ms. Serena Steele who taught the Spanish Heritage I Honors class, for having what he called the ‘ganas’ or the ‘will’ to succeed. “Just because a student speaks Spanish by no means does this guarantee that the student will pass the AP exam,” he added. “Each and every student demonstrated drive, passion, perseverance, and resiliency.”


This past summer, Mr. Nocito wrote the AP Spanish Language and Culture course syllabus. The syllabus was approved in August by the College Board, which means that the course may now officially be called an “AP” level course. Mr. Nocito has requested that the course be renamed AP Spanish Language Culture and that it be reflected as such on the student’s transcript and weighted in their GPA accordingly. This year, 28 students are enrolled in the course.


Somerville High School graduate Delmy Hernández, took the course last year and shared her thoughts about the experience taking the class in a reflection she wrote after completing the course. Delmy earned a five on the exam and is currently attending UMass Boston.


“Education is the key to success. We have all heard this said multiple times. In order to ensure a great future we must work to educate ourselves.

Taking Spanish this year has been more than sitting in an ordinary classroom with a teacher who lectures and gives exams. I remember the first day my classmates and I came into the classroom. We were ready for a Heritage class; we were not ready for an AP class! When our educator, Mr. Nocito said that we would be taking the AP exam in May, we were all shocked and thought he was crazy. Mr. Nocito believed in us, but we did not believe in ourselves at that point. It may have taken us a few months to feel confident that we, TOGETHER, would do great on the exam.

Even though most of the students in the class were Hispanic, there was one who was not. This student, who spoke Portuguese, made the choice to go beyond her limits. Together, my classmates and I all accepted the challenge. We wanted to not only take the exam but to CRUSH the exam! Catherine Márquez, who took the class last year as a junior said, “Although every class was challenging, we all pushed one another to do well and most importantly, ace the AP exam!”

It is very important to know where we all come from because that has led us to where we are. Many people did not believe in us. But here was one man who believed in all of us; Mr. Nocito encouraged and motivated us every single day.

Even though we had the goal of crushing the exam, we accomplished so much more. This class, for many, has connected us to our countries. Even though we are so far away, we were able to connect through literature, essays, emails, and cultural events which in turn made us feel closer to our native country.”


Read the full press release to find out more about what the exam entailed at, under “News.” 



Tech Gives Back in Somerville
Thirty volunteers came out to the Brown and Healey Schools on Thursday, September 17 as part of the 5th annual Tech Give Back—a day of service for Boston technology companies, coordinated through TUGG (Technology Underwriting Greater Good) and Building Impact, a partner nonprofit. Volunteers spent the day enlivening two schools’ playgrounds, painting a large kickball court, putting in new four-square courts, hopscotch and a soccer pitch, and repainting basketball court lines. Students watching the progress chimed in with what else they’d like to see on their playground: “gridiron lines!” “another four-square!” … and TUGG delivered.  


Active recreation and outdoor play are integral to Somerville’s commitment to supporting whole child education. Play courts and creative, open play spaces that promote and encourage students’ physical activity, outdoor play, and spark imaginations help to meet this goal.   


Special thanks to the following for their support and help with these projects: Building Impact, Supreme Paint and Wallpaper Co -., Somerville, City of Somerville’s Department of Public Works, Liane Noddin and Abby Luthin – Healey parent volunteers, Lisa Crounse – Brown School parent volunteer, and students and educators at Brown and Healey Schools for navigating around volunteers and wet paint during their recess time.


Cranberries, Cranberries, Everywhere

Karyn Novakowski, Somerville’s Farm to School Project Director and PEP Nutrition Education Coordinator, recently learned everything she ever wanted to know about cranberries, and more! How many pounds of cranberries do you think will be harvested from 200 acres? Find out all about cranberry processing at Cape Cod Select in Karyn’s Boston Food Local article, From Flower, to Package, to Your Home. Then check out the Cranberry Focaccia Bread and Edamame Chickpea Cranberry Salad recipes at Somerville’s Farm to School Blog.

PEP Talk – Mapping Out Where to Practice Healthy Living in Somerville

The Somerville Physical Education Program (PEP) team has hit the ground running this school year with plans in place to continue expanding opportunities for healthy living for Somerville youth, working across the city with youth and community partners. To help us start the school year off on a healthy note, PEP grant-funded “Healthy Living in Somerville” maps are being distributed throughout the community, including at Open House events in our schools. Learn more about Somerville PEP and ways in which you and your family can stay healthy and active year-round by visiting for more information and a list of resources. The PEP program is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.






What’s Happening


Saturday, September 19th, noon-2:00pm: The Americans with Disabilities Act Turns 25!

Join in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act! Enjoy a complimentary lunch and other festivities, from noon to 2:00pm this Saturday at the Somerville High School Atrium and Plaza (81 Highland Avenue). To learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act, visit


School Open Houses

School Open Houses continue throughout September. Stop in to meet your child’s teacher(s) and find out what their school day will be like this year. Here’s the remaining Open House schedule:

· Healey School – Monday, September 21, 6:00-8:00pm

· West Somerville Neighborhood School – Thursday, September 24, 6:00-8:00pm

· Kennedy School – Monday, September 28, 6:00-8:00pm

· Winter Hill Community Innovation School – Tuesday, September 29, 6:00-8:00pm

· Capuano Early Childhood Center – Wednesday, September 30, 6:00-8:00pm


Wednesday, September 23, 6:30-8:00pm: SHS Seniors’ Post High School Planning Night

Attention high school seniors! Don’t miss out on important information about post-high school planning. Stop by the SHS Auditorium on Wednesday, September 23rd, from 6:30-8:00pm to begin planning for your continued success.


Thursday, September 24, 6:00-8:00pm: SPS Volunteer Training

Join us for an interactive training to support students’ early reading skills in the classroom. Learn strategies for decoding text, developing fluency and improving reading comprehension. Open to new and returning SPS Volunteers serving as literacy tutors and reading partners with SPS.
Supporting Early Reading Skills

Thursday, September 24


East Somerville Community School

50 Cross St., Somerville


Presenter: Alex Hershey, Instructional English Language Arts Coach, Somerville Public Schools.

For more information and to register contact SPS Volunteer Coordinator or call 617-629-5475.


Somerville Adult Evening School – Registration Open

Whether you’re interested in learning how to paint with acrylic or master conversational Greek, Somerville’s Adult Evening Program offers just the course you’ve been waiting for. Registration for fall courses is now open.


Register in person at Somerville High (81 Highland Ave.) on September 15, 17, 22, and 24 from 6:00-8:00pm or online at Questions? Call Evening School Principal Sophia Carafotes at (617) 628-2594.


Classes (6:00-9:00pm) begin Tuesday, September 29th and/or Thursday, October 1st. Classes include: Academic Recovery, Driver’s Ed, Sewing, Computers, Spanish, ESL, Real Estate License, Medical Interpretation, Zumba, or YOGA 5. Zumba or YOGA 5 special rates of $25 or $7/walk-in. Why not enroll and begin your fall learning something new?



Upcoming School Events:

Visit your child’s school website,, 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.

Monday, September 21, 6:00-8:00pm: Healey School Open House (5 Meacham St.)

Monday, September 21, 7:00-9:00pm: School Discipline – Your Child’s Right to Stay in School workshop at the Kennedy School Library (5 Cherry St.)

Tuesday, September 22: Healey Class Field Trip to Boat House – Ms. Knottingham and Ms. Brown

Wednesday, September 23: Half-Day Wednesday (pre-K dismissal at 11:30; K-8 dismissal at noon)

Wednesday, September 23, 6:30-8:00pm: Seniors’ Post High School Planning Night at the Somerville High School Auditorium (81 Highland Ave.)

Thursday, September 24, 6:00-8:00pm: West Somerville Neighborhood School Open House and PTA Business Meeting, beginning at 6:00pm (177 Powderhouse Blvd.)

Monday, September 28, 6:00-8:00pm: Kennedy School Open House (5 Cherry St.)


Upcoming Somerville Family Learning Collaborative Workshops and Events

Find a complete list of SFLC events and workshops, and register for upcoming workshops at

Visit to learn more about Somerville Parent-Child Playgroups for children ages birth to 5 years old, and Parent Support Groups.


Upcoming School Committee Meetings

Find the complete School Committee schedule, agendas and meeting minutes (as approved) online at

Monday, September 21, 7:00pm: Regular School Committee Meeting at the Board of Aldermen’s Chambers, City Hall (93 Highland Ave.)

Monday, September 28, 7:00pm: Regular School Committee Meeting at the Board of Aldermen’s Chambers, City Hall (93 Highland Ave.)


Community News & Events

Saturday, September 19: The Americans with Disabilities Act Turns 25! The Somerville community is invited to join the celebration on Saturday, September 19th from 12:00 to 2:00pm at the Somerville High School Atrium and Plaza (81 Highland Avenue). A complimentary lunch will be served.

Sunday, September 20: Strike Up the Bands @ SomerStreets. From noon to 4:00pm, enjoy music and fun at Strike Up the Bands @ SomerStreets, on Holland Street from Davis Square to Teele Square. SomerStreets is the City’s take on the internationally-renowned Open Streets concept, closing busy city streets to vehicles, and opening them up for cycling, walking, dancing, running, and other modes of activity.

Saturday, September 26: 10th Annual Fluff Festival. Union Square Main Streets presents the 10th annual Fluff Festival on Saturday, September 26th from 3:00-7:00pm (rain date is Sunday, September 27th). Join in celebrating Archibald Query, who invented Fluff in 1917, and enjoy musical and theatrical performers, games, cooking contest, activities, delicious Fluff treats, and more! Find out more at

Saturday, October 3: Archaeology Fair at Harvard. From 12:00 to 4:00pm, the Harvard Semitic Museum (6 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge) and Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology (11 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge) host the Archaeology Fair at Harvard. The Fair will include NeferKITTY the cat mummy, clay artists, spear-throwing demonstrations, an archaeologist, exhibition tours of From the Nile to the Euphrates, a new mobile guide on Harvard Yard archaeology, and more. Activities are free with museum admission. For more information, visit

Sunday, October 4: Tufts Community Day. Residents, neighbors and friends are invited to celebrate the 13th annual Community Day on the Tufts University campus. The event will take place on the academic quad at Tufts’ 

Somerville and Medford campus and is co-sponsored by the two cities. Highlights of the day include:

· Complimentary lunch and refreshments

· Exhibits, activities and resource information presented by Tufts faculty, departments/organizations, and by Somerville and Medford community groups

· Tips on safety and fire prevention by police and fire departments

· Music and dance performances by student groups

· Pumpkin painting, crafts, face painting, and other activities for children

Fresh Local Produce at Somerville Mobile Farmers Markets: Check our website Calendar of Events for upcoming Mobile Farmers Markets on Fridays and Saturdays throughout Somerville. The Somerville Mobile Farmers Market sells fresh, local produce at an affordable price. Anyone using SNAP or WIC receives a 50% discount, and a small portion of all full-price purchases supports produce for low-income families. For more information, contact Shape Up Somerville at (617) 625-6600, x4321.

· Fridays, 11:00am-12:30pm @ the Council on Aging (167 Holland St.)

· Fridays, 2:00-3:30pm @ the Winter Hill Community Innovation School (115 Sycamore St.)

· Saturdays, 11:00am-12:30pm @ the North Street Housing Development

· Saturdays, 1:00-3:00pm @ the Mystic Housing Development

FREE Technology Skills Classes by Appointment @ SCATV. SCATV wants to help you get comfortable in the digital world with free technology skills classes offered the third Tuesday of each month, 11:00am to 1:00pm. Classes are by appointment only and are offered at SCATV (90 Union Square). Learn Apple Computer Basics, How to Create Picture Slideshows, Google Research, and Internet Navigation. Schedule your appointment by phone by calling Heidi Downing at the Somerville Public Library (617-623-2920) or Erica Jones at SCATV (617-628-8826).

SCATV Media and Video Classes. Want to hone your media production or grant-writing skills? SCATV is offering great classes this fall to help you do just that! Upcoming classes include: Beyond Grant Writing 101 (Sept. 25, 10am-1pm), Editing with Adobe Premier (Oct. 6, 13, 20, & 27, 7-9pm), and Intro to Studio Production (Oct. 14, 21, 28 & Nov. 4, 7-9pm). Visit for more info.

Champion Youth Art & Illustration Courses: UPDATE – Classes posted in previous CONNECTIONS newsletter have been cancelled for the fall.

Somerville Youth Hockey’s Learn to Skate (LTS) and Learn to Play Hockey (LTPH) Clinics. Rolling registration begins Saturday, October 17th, at the Veterans Memorial Rink on Somerville Avenue, and will run every Saturday until early March. LTS begins at 8 a.m.; LTPH at 9:30 a.m. Cost is $90 for Somerville residents/$150 for non-residents. Make checks payable to Somerville Youth Hockey Association. All skaters must use hockey skates (no figure skates allowed) and wear a hockey helmet with face cage. Elbow and knee pads are also recommended. Questions? Please contact David Zraket at


Looking Ahead

A look at some of the events/activities in the Somerville Public Schools that are taking place in the coming weeks.

Monday, September 28: Kennedy School Open House

Monday, September 28: Regular School Committee Meeting

Tuesday, September 29: Volunteer Orientation Workshop

Tuesday, September 29: Winter Hill Open House

Wednesday, September 30: Capuano Open House

Thursday, October 1: Winter Sports Registration Opens


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