Connections: A Newsletter from the Somerville Public Schools – December 4, 2015



Welcome back! We hope everyone had an enjoyable and restful Thanksgiving break. Music is in the air as we head toward the official start of winter. Please join us when you can for a variety of music performances by our students.



News & Notes


Argenziano Fifth-Grade Student Wins National Bike Poster Contest

Caleb Piehl, a fifth grade student at the Dr. Albert F. Argenziano School was recently announced as Massachusetts’ first Saris 5th Grade National Poster Contest winner for his poster entry in this year’s Safe Routes to School event. Read more about Caleb’s win at The contest asked students to submit a poster that depicted what they love about bicycling, incorporating the hashtag #LongForTheRide into their entry. Caleb earned a number of awards for his winning entry, including a new Schwinn bicycle, helmet and bell for winning the Massachusetts competition, and a trip to the 2016 National Bike Summit in Washington, DC for his national win. In addition, as the winning school the Argenziano will receive a 20-bike parking rack and The Hub System from Saris, a fun and easy software system that helps in implementing and promoting active commuting. Caleb was one of two Somerville winning entries in the Massachusetts competition. Nora Chiu, a Brown School fifth-grader, finished second in the Massachusetts competition and earned a bike helmet for her entry. Learn more about Massachusetts Safe Routes to School, sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, at 





Somerville Public Schools Receives USDA Farm to School Implementation Grant

Somerville Public Schools is one of 74 projects recently awarded a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm to School grant to expand on efforts to better connect students with locally sourced food products. Somerville was awarded a $100,000 grant that spans two years. This award will allow the District to build on the momentum of a 2014 USDA Farm to School planning grant by helping the District increase the use of local food products in school menus and increase the use of nutrition education in pre-Kindergarten classrooms. SPS will continue to work with community partners to further strengthen Farm to School efforts throughout the District. Additional anticipated project outcomes include the development of a Somerville School Garden Network, a Massachusetts Farm to School Stakeholder network, and the development of local procurement bid templates.



SHS Building Project Update – Quincy High School Site Visit

City and District representatives recently had an opportunity to visit Quincy High School as they explore innovative learning environments as part of the Somerville High School Building Project. Take your own virtual tour of Quincy High School by accessing the site visit video on the Somerville High School Building Committee website ( You’ll find more information about this exciting building project at that website.



Food & Nutrition Services Newsletter – Recipe for Adventurous Eating

Check out the latest edition of the FNS “Empowering Mindful Eaters” newsletter. You can access it on the Somerville Farm to School blog ( or at this Google drive link.



Museum Visit Bring World War II Unit to Life for SHS US History II Students

During the month of November, all SHS tenth grade US History II students visited the Museum of World War II in Natick. The museum, which opened to the public this year, houses one of the largest collections of WWII artifacts and documents in the world. The collection was amassed by Kenneth W. Rendell, who was born and raised in Somerville. The field trip brought the students’ WWII unit to life. Students viewed and examined an impressive collection of artifacts and documents that included one of seven copies of the Treaty of Versailles, a copy of the Munich agreement with handwritten notes by Hitler and Chamberlain, clothing worn by people in concentration camps, propaganda from around the world, one of the chairs Hitler sat in while he wrote Mein Kampf, the wooden eagle that hung over the podium in Nuremberg, and a Japanese flag that was taken as a souvenir by American troops at Iwo Jima. Students were allowed to touch and handle some artifacts, such as Enigma machines, artillery, and even a Sherman Tank. 
While at the museum, students acted as historians by analyzing documents and artifacts of their choosing. For their final WWII project, students are each writing a journal entry about one specific artifact from the perspective of someone involved in WWII. Each class will publish a “magazine” of their journal entries and images from the museum.
PEP Talk – Connecting with Kids and Families at Community Events

This year’s Somerville Early Childhood Literacy Fair provided the perfect backdrop for Physical Education Program (PEP) staff and Farm to School (F2S) staff to connect with children and families about the value and fun of healthy, active living. The overall theme of the 2015 Fair was food and healthy eating. Participating agencies brought stories and offered activities centered around this theme, including Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert and The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss. Kids engaged in a variety of fun activities set up at each table. Somerville Farm to School administered a dot survey asking families whether they read books about food to their children, if they cook with their children, and whether their children participate in food shopping. The questions dug a little deeper as well to find out why or why not. The recently launched Somerville Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) newsletter “Empowering Mindful Eaters” was distributed, in addition to recipes that included squash, the Vegetable of the Month for November! Kids could also participate in a matching game using the PEP “Finding Your Way to Healthy Living in Somerville” map. They picked a card and then would have to find the same picture on the large map displayed at the table. It was a fun and easy way to teach map literacy to young children while showing them all the places they can be active and eat healthy in Somerville!


Learn more about Somerville PEP and ways in which you and your family can stay healthy and active year-round at The PEP program is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.


What’s Happening


December 12th College & Career Day – Save the Date!

Mark your calendars for the first district-wide College and Career Day, Saturday, December 12th from 9:00am-12:30pm at Somerville High School. The event will include workshops led by college and career experts for students in grades 6-12 to help students and parents/guardians plan for their student’s future. Attendees can also learn about financial aid, preparing for college, college options, job preparation skills, and more. All students in grades 6-12 and their families are encouraged to attend. Visit for a complete listing of workshops. Don’t miss this great opportunity to get an early start on college and career planning.


Tree Lot Fundraiser – December 4th through December 21st

The 20th annual Somerville Public Schools Tree Lot Fundraiser kicks off on Friday, December 4th, at Somerville’s Foss Park on the corner of Broadway & McGrath Highway. This annual fundraising event will run from December 4th through December 21st. The Tree Lot will be open from 4:00 to 8:00pm during the week, and 10:00am to 8:00pm on weekends. Trees range in price from $19 to $49. Wreaths are also available for purchase for only $15 apiece. Proceeds help support programs and scholarships for Somerville Public Schools students. Stop by to purchase your holiday tree or wreath, and support Somerville Public Schools students in the process. For more information, watch this video created by the Next Wave media class:


Great Selection of Holiday Treats Offered by Culinary Arts Department

The Somerville High School Culinary Arts Department is offering a great selection of treats for your holiday celebration, at very reasonable prices. Get a selection of 15 cookies and cupcakes for just $5.00 that includes 5 decorated gingerbread cookies, 5 decorated sugar cookies, and 5 decorated Christmas tree cupcakes. You can also purchase delicious rolls for just $2.00/dozen. All orders are PREPAID and must be received at the SHS Culinary Arts Department by 1:00pm on Tuesday, December 15, 2015. Checks can be made payable to “SHS Culinary Arts.” Drop off your order and payment by December 15th at Somerville High School (81 Highland Avenue). You can download a Cookie Order Form from the Culinary Arts website at


Somerville Energy Efficiency Now (SEEN) Program – Get a No-Cost Home Energy Audit!

Did you know that Somerville residents can get a no-cost home energy audit and support a school PTA, group or local organization in the process? Visit the following link to learn more about the Somerville Energy Efficiency Now (SEEN) program, and how your free home energy assessment supports a participating organization. You can also sign up for an energy assessment there.


Sky Zone Fundraiser to Support Student Activities for ESCS 7th and 8th Graders

Enjoy the fun at Sky Zone (69 Norman St #1B, Everett, MA) on Thursday, December 17th from 4-7 PM and support student activities for 7th and 8th graders at the East Somerville Community School! All students, family, and community members are invited! Please mention ESCS when you register. Everyone under 18 must have a parent sign a waiver in order to jump. For a copy of the waiver or for more information contact Mrs. Hughes ( or your homeroom teacher.



Upcoming School & District 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, December 7, 8:30-10:30am: School Success Begins at Home – Ready to Learn Workshop at the Argenziano School (290 Washington St.)

Tuesday, December 8, 8:15-9:15am: ESCA PTA/Principal Roundtable at the East Somerville Community School Afterschool Room #165 (50 Cross St.)

Tuesday, December 8, 6:00-7:00pm: ESCA PTA/Principal Roundtable at the East Somerville Community School Afterschool Room #165 (50 Cross St.)

Tuesday, December 8: Healey Grade 7/8 Field Trip to Biogen

Tuesday, December 8, 4:00pm: Neighborhood Walk for Healey-Mystic Master Plan

Tuesday, December 8, 6:00pm: Healey Community Meeting at the Healey School Library (5 Meacham St.)

Wednesday, December 9: Half-Day Wednesday (pre-K students dismissed at 11:30am; K-8 students dismissed at noon)

Wednesday, December 9: Picture Retake Day at the Argenziano School (290 Washington St.)

Wednesday, December 9: WSNS PTA Fundraiser – Spirit Day

Wednesday, December 9, 5:00-6:30pm: WSNS School Council Meeting at the West Somerville Neighborhood School (177 Powderhouse Blvd.)

Wednesday, December 9, 6:30-8:30pm: SHS School Improvement Council Meeting at the Somerville High School Library (81 Highland Ave.)

Wednesday, December 9, 6:30-8:00pm: Learning about the Somerville Public Schools event at the Capuano Early Childhood Center (150 Glen St.)

Wednesday, December 9, 6:30-8:30pm: Serve & Inspire Volunteer Orientation at the East Somerville Community School (50 Cross St.)

Thursday, December 10: Healey Grades 7/8 Field Trip to Biogen

Thursday, December 10: Kindness Assembly for preK to Grade 3 at the Healey School (5 Meacham St.)

Thursday, December 10: WSNS Picture Re-take Day

Thursday, December 10, 6:00-7:00pm: SFLC Parent Chat – Mealtime and Bedtime Routines at the Cummings School Building (42 Prescott St.)

Thursday, December 10, 7:00pm: All-City Middle School Winter Concert at the Somerville High School Auditorium (81 Highland Ave.)

Friday, December 11: Healey Grades 7/8 Field Trip to Biogen

Saturday, December 12, 9:00am-12:30pm: District-wide College & Career Readiness Day for students in grades 6-12 and their families, at Somerville High School (81 Highland Ave.)



Upcoming Somerville Family Learning Collaborative Workshops and Events

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

Monday, December 7, 8:30-10:30am: School Success Begins at Home – Ready to Learn. Share with other parents successes and challenges you face in creating a supportive home environment. Explore what you can do at home to promote your child’s learning. Presented in Spanish, Portuguese, and English by Cristina Pachano, LMHC, The Parenting Journey.

Wednesday, December 9, 6:30-8:00pm: Learning About the Somerville Public Schools. Prospective Somerville Public Schools families are invited to join us at the Capuano Early Childhood Center (150 Glen St.) for an overview of curriculum and day-to-day life in classrooms throughout the city, with a focus on Kindergarten. Educators and current parents will be available for questions.

Thursday, December 10, 6:00-7:00pm: SFLC Parent Chat – Mealtime and Bedtime Routines. Join SFLC staff and fellow Somerville parents for a series of focused conversations on parenting topics. For parents of children birth to age 5. Cummings School Building (42 Prescott St., Room 14)

Wednesday, December 16, 5:00-6:30pm: Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds workshop. Join us for a fun and active evening during the second in a series of workshops focused on student learning and family fitness. Open to all Somerville Public Schools students and their families.


Upcoming School Committee Meetings

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

Monday, December 7, 6:00-6:55pm: Rules Management Subcommittee Meeting at the Board of Aldermen’s Chambers, City Hall (93 Highland Ave.)

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

Tuesday, December 8, 6:15-7:00pm: Finance & Facilities Subcommittee Meeting at the Central Office Conference Room (42 Cross St.)

Tuesday, December 8, 7:00pm: Educational Programs and Instruction Subcommittee Meeting at the Central Office Conference Room (42 Cross St.)

Wednesday, December 16, 7:00pm: School Committee Meeting for Long Range Planning at the Central Office Conference Room (42 Cross St.)

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


Community News & Events

Saturday, December 5, 2015, 1:00-3:00pm: Somerville All-America City Grooversity Festival 2015. FREE youth activity fair and drumming festival featuring arts and crafts, games, prizes, school garden tours, live music, food, and loads of fun! East Somerville Community School (50 Cross St.)

Saturday, December 5, 2015, 1:00-2:00pm: Tufts University Wind Ensemble – Pixar! The Tufts University Wind Ensemble will be performing music from popular Pixar films under the direction of John McCann. Featured pieces include those from Up, Toy Story, and Ratatouille. Children of all ages are welcome to enjoy this concert.

Somerville Youth Soccer League (SYSL). Registration for the Somerville Youth Soccer League spring season is open until December 19th. To learn more about registration, financial aid options or the SYSL, please visit their site

Somerville Youth Hockey’s Learn to Skate (LTS) and Learn to Play Hockey (LTPH) Clinics. Rolling registration at the Veterans Memorial Rink on Somerville Avenue runs 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. Questions? Please contact David Zraket at

Expressive Explorers. This Arts at the Armory program is a series of drop-in workshops on Thursdays that goes through December 17th, 9:00 to 11:00 am. Parents and toddlers ages 18 months to 5 years can express creativity through a wide range of hands-on art activities. No registration is required. Suggested donation of $5. Visit for more info.

Middle School Writer’s Den. Writers in grades 5 through 8 are invited to write and celebrate with the Middle School Writer’s Den on Monday, December 21, 2015 from 6:00-8:15pm at the Somerville Central Library Auditorium (1st floor). Participants should bring a short completed piece of writing. The evening will include mini workshops, readings for writers, creative writing, dynamic writing, free write, collaboration, micro-parties, and publication opportunities. We are celebrating that we have the following publications in process, and invite students to write for these publications: Happening at the Healey; East Somerville Phoenix; John F. Kennedy (not yet named); West Somerville Neighborhood School (not yet named). If your school does not have a student publication, Middle School Writer’s Den can help you create one. We write poetry, fiction, nonfiction, features, opinion, commentary, school news, brief items, student sports, points of view, etc. Any subject, any genre. Mark your calendar! Writer’s Den is FREE of charge and open to all who are interested. Drop-ins are welcome. Contact for more information.



Looking Ahead

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

Tuesday, December 15: ESCS PTA Executive Board Meeting

Tuesday, December 15: ESCS School Improvement Council Meeting

Tuesday, December 15: El Sistema Somerville Concert – Community in Harmony

Tuesday, December 15: Healey 6th Grade Building Bridges Breakfast

Wednesday, December 16: Healey School Council Meeting

Wednesday, December 16: WSNS Principal Coffee Hour

Wednesday, December 16: WHCIS Winter Concert

Wednesday, December 16: Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds Workshop

Thursday, December 17: Somerville High School Winter Concert

Friday, December 18: Healey Winter Concert – Grades 3-8

Friday, December 18: WSNS Winter Music Concert

Friday, December 18: WSNS PTA Movie Night

Monday, December 21: Kennedy School K-3 Winter Concert

Thursday, December 24: NO SCHOOL – Winter Recess

Friday, December 15: NO SCHOOL – Winter Recess

Monday-Friday, December 28-January 1: NO SCHOOL – Winter Recess



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