A huge success, the sale raised $3000 both to help the literacy initiative and act as an affordable source of books for South students and teachers.
English Department Head Brian Baron came up with the idea to host a youth book sale two years ago. The PTSO, in conjunction with the English department, planned and organized the event, setting the price of paperbacks at $1 each, and hardcovers at $2.
According to volunteer Patrice Wilson, last year’s goal was to raise $400, but the final total came out to $2400.
Although that success set a high bar, this year’s totals surpassed last year’s; by May 26, one day before the end of the event, the book sale had already raised $2600.
South families helped out by donating used books two weeks prior to the sale in a pod provided by Pods of New England, a company that rents out storage devices.
As books accumulated in the pod, volunteers had to work every day to keep them organized. At one point, there was such a high volume of donated books that the organizers were forced to shut down the pods for two days in order to give volunteers time to organize and sort books.
According to Wilson, however, the book sale was easier to run this year because of the experience gained from running last year’s sale.
There are several uses for books that are not sold by the end of the book sale. The PTSO donates unsold children’s books to Lincoln-Eliot Elementary School to be used in a summer literacy initiative. Remaining books are picked up by the for-profit book re-use company Got Books and are sent to servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan through the company’s Books for Troops program.
This year, unlike last year, teachers were given a preview of the book sale a day before the official start of the sale, and had the opportunity to pick up a free book.
Junior Melanie Rucinski, who purchased four books at the book sale, enjoyed the event and believes it is beneficial for the community.
“I think that it’s worth keeping as an annual event, Rucinski said, adding that the only possible improvement for next year is to hold it in a larger area, such as Cutler Commons. “It was really hard to move around in such a small space, especially because there were so many people and everyone has backpacks.
In addition to used books, over 200 copies of the school-wide summer reading book This I Believe 2 were sold at discounted prices.
“[The book sale] is a great way to help out the community in several different ways, Wilson said. “At once, we are helping to promote literacy, recycle books and donate to the military.]]>
Pierce, Horace Mann, Lincoln-Eliot, Memorial Spaulding and Burr Elementary Schools as well as Day and Oak Hill Middle Schools will all have new principal assignments, selected by the superintendent. Brown Middle School will also be assigned a new assisant principal.
This widespread change of administration in elementary and middle schools may offer fundamental change in students’ earlier years of schooling. While some schools have already found principals for the following school year, some are still searching for candidates.
According to Interim Superintendent Jim Marini, a selection advisory committee has been put together for each school to run the interview process and to advise Marini in making his selections.
The teams are composed of teachers, parents, school staff and the principals of the respective schools. The committees were organized by Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Joseph Russo and Assistant Director of Human Resources Gil Lawrence.
Several other administrative positions such as the Superintendent of Schools and the Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education will be filled for the next school year.
The new Superintendent, Dr. David Fleishman, was appointed by the School Committee on February 25 and will begin his term on July 1.
Fleishman is currently serving as the Superintendent of Schools in Chappaqua, NY, but has also held administrative positions in the Massachusetts Public Schools in the past.
“Newton is in great shape, Marini said, “and we’re looking forward to the new superintendent coming in with the background, skills and knowledge to lead a strong administrative staff.
The new wave of Newton principals could be a positive change for Newton. According to Marini, the city has been extremely fortunate with the deep candidate pool that has applied for the vacant principal positions. He said that the changes are both exciting and challenging, because the new administrators must learn to understand Newton’s culture.
“Newton has a school culture that transcends individuals, Marini said. “It is a desirable school system to work in because it has a great professional work environment.
Although there are seven principalships being appointed, some of the individuals who have been appointed are veterans of the NPS, and several have already held principal positions in the system.
At Oak Hill Middle School, current interim principal Eva Thompson has been appointed permanent principal.
Current Horace Mann Interim Principal Greg Hurray has been appointed interim principal for one year at Lincoln-Eliot, replacing Katie Charner-Laird, who has accepted a principal position in Cambridge.
Horace Mann is still searching for a replacement.
Cynthia Bencal will leave Burr School to retire. Bencal has worked in Massachusetts schools for 35 years, and has served as the principal of Burr for 19 years.
Though she is retiring, Bencal said that she is considering some work in educational consulting.
“[Newton's] retirement system for our teachers and principals is quite good, Bencal said. “Nineteen years is a long time to do one thing, and I’m ready to try other things.
If Bencal decides to pursue consulting, she will likely work with the school improvement organization Research for Better Teaching. She has already learned to teach one of the organization’s courses that is meant to improve teachers’ in-class instruction.
Mindy Johal, who has worked in the Wayland Public Schools as a Language Arts and Social Studies coordinator, has been selected to replace Bencal.
Current Pierce Interim Principal Ruth H. Chapman has finished her interim term. Chapman has also served as principal at Angier, Bowen and Franklin Elementary Schools.
“She has provided great service to Newton, Marini said.
Memorial Spaulding’s Donette Wilson-Wood is moving on to a different challenge after serving for five years in Newton.]]>
The event, held in the auditorium, was organized by the Liberal Student Union with the goal of bringing more political awareness to South. The group chose to invite Dukakis because they thought his superior speaking skills would enable him to both educate and inspire students.
Liberal Student Union Co-President and junior David Melly said the event was incredibly successful. “Everyone really seemed to enjoy it, Melly said, “because [Dukakis] is very down-to-earth.Dukakis’ main purpose was to inspire students to get involved in politics and public service. He spent a large part of his introductory speech focusing on how he got into politics, initially getting elected as a Brookline town representative.
Dukakis lost to George H.W. Bush in the 1988 presidential election, and in his speech he acknowledged that he made several mistakes in his presidential campaign. Even so, Dukakis repeatedly attributed his prior successes to his devotion to “precinct-based support.
“I went around to each house, ringing every doorbell in my precinct [of Brookline], Dukakis said, referring to his first political experience. “If I could do it, each of you can do it,
Dukakis proclaimed, urging members of the audience to either volunteer in politics or run for public office. He explained that his political career began from nothing except discontent with the local politics at the time.
This theme continued with his presidency run when he was specifically disturbed by the Iran-Contra scandal.
Dukakis also discussed several current issues, such as the recent Supreme Court decision not to ban corporate donations for political campaigns and George W. Bush’s presidency. He heavily criticized the ruling and said that nowhere in the Constitution does it say that monetary donations are an expression of free speech. On the topic of Bush’s presidency, he called Bush “the worst president we’ve had in the past 100 years.
Junior Joe Step said that it seemed like Dukakis’ story really got through to students.
“Coming from such a modest background he was able to do so much, Step said, “and I think that got through to most of the kids because he did such a good job of making his story relatable.]]>
At the meeting, School Committee member Kurt Kusiak brought up the question of privacy and civil rights infringement that may occur through the use of surveillance.
The proposal, drafted by Principal Joel Stembridge and Newton North Principal Jenn Price, requests a change in the current School Committee policy so that cameras can be permanently installed.
The cameras would be used as a deterrent against crimes such as theft and vandalism, and the recordings would be reviewed if an incident were to occur.
Kusiak and others fear, however, that access to the footage may be abused and serve to hurt students and faculty.
South Assistant Principal Mary Scott, North Assistant Principal Deborah Holman, and Chief of Operations Mike Cronin presented the latest version of the protocol and answered questions at last week’s School Committee meeting.
The current proposal lacks specific information about the cost, number, and placement of the cameras but more information was requested for the next meeting.
According to School Committee Chair Claire Sokoloff, a new policy on school surveillance systems must be written and then voted on by the School Committee. Also, the current proposal must be revised before the School Committee can vote on it.
School Committee members each had a chance to voice their questions and particular concerns about the proposal.
“Right now we are just thinking [the proposal] through, Sokoloff said. The main area of concern is that the protocol needs to be more clearly delineated, especially with regard to how the recordings would be used.
Kusiak raised several points about the potential abuse of the system.
“This is the government infringing upon students’ civil liberties, Kusiak said at the meeting. “There’s something un-American about that.
On the other hand, Kusiak said that he supports the use of cameras to maintain safety in the schools, as long as the recordings are only accessible to a small group of people and only under specific circumstances.
Kusiak also suggested that to limit the possibility of abuse, the recordings should be erased within a very short period of time.
“I want to make sure that people’s privacy remains as private as possible except for the purpose of deterring crime, Kusiak said, adding that other members voiced similar concerns.
Junior Joe Step agrees that for the purpose of safety, cameras are acceptable.
“I think safety should come before civil rights, as long as the administration does not abuse this new power, Step said.
Freshman Avra Liverman conceded that although it may be unpleasant to be constantly watched, it is a measure that is needed.
“If that’s what it takes to protect our school, then it is alright, Liverman said.
Though the exact specifications and prices of the cameras are not known, Kusiak very roughly estimateed that the costs could be between $50,000 and $70,000 per school.
Even if the policy is changed and the protocol is passed, funding for the cameras still remains an issue. No money in the current budget is allocated for this project, but according to Sokoloff, the School Committee may have up to $150,000 in surplus. This money, however, has other potential uses, which may interfere with the installation of cameras.]]>
The proposal, presented last week, sets the date of installation for this summer.
According to Marini, the two schools would have to bypass the current School Committee policy regarding security cameras. The current policy states that if cameras are needed, they can only be installed for a limited amount of time to deal with a specific problem.
The School Committee would have to vote on changing this policy to allow for permanent cameras.
“Nothing can happen until the committee changes its policy, Marini said, adding that he agrees with the idea to install cameras, as long as everyone in the schools knows about them.
“[I agree with] whatever it takes to keep schools safe, he said, “but people need to be informed.
According to Stembridge, the main reason for the cameras would be to act as a deterrent against theft and vandalism. The cameras would be marked and students would know where they are located. If an incident were to occur, however, the principal and housemasters would review the recordings to determine the perpetrator.
Stembridge said that theft has become so common that students do not even report it anymore, and that this year’s pulled fire alarms have been another major issue.
“I am frustrated that we haven’t been able to apprehend any students [who pulled the fire alarm], Stembridge said. “Kids are tired of fire alarms and theft.
Before submitting the proposal, Stembridge reviewed it with the housemasters and asked for their feedback. If the proposal were to be approved by the superintendent, the housemasters would begin meeting to discuss the details of the plan. Goldrick Housemaster Henry Turner thinks that the cameras are needed for the purpose of safety but that students’ rights are a sensitive issue.
“As a school we have to support students’ rights but we also need to keep kids safe, Turner said.
Stembridge and Price have worked on the letter to the superintendent for over a month, but Stembridge emphasized that the idea is still in the planning stages. He also acknowledged that some students will be unhappy with the idea, but said he is confident that the cameras will help to reduce crime.
“We do lose a little bit of naivetÃƒÂ© but we gain far more when students don’t have to worry about theft, Stembridge said.
According to Stembridge, if Marini were to approve the proposal, the next step would be for the School Committee to approve it.
Stembridge said that he wants to gain input from the School Council and the South Senate as well.
“As we’re going forward, people will have a chance to voice their concerns, Stembridge said.
According to Senate President and senior Ben Chelmow, the Senate has had no input on the proposal so far, but that Stembridge plans to attend a Senate meeting this spring to discuss it.
“I’m happy that he’s taking our opinions into account, but I don’t know how much say we’re going to have in the actual proposal, Chelmow said, adding that he thinks the cameras are a good idea.
“I’ve had things stolen from me over the years and I’d like to see measures put in place that would help prevent future incidents, Chelmow said.
As president, Chelmow’s aim is to represent the opinions of the student body, and he realizes that there will be a wide spectrum of opinions.
“The Senate will hopefully voice as many student opinions as possible, Chelmow said. “If there are students who have qualms about the cameras, their voices should be heard through the Senate.
Many students support the idea because, like Chelmow, they have had personal belongings stolen in the past.
Sophomore Dan Rozenblum thinks that cameras are a good idea, but said that the number of cameras should be limited and that recordings should be reviewed only when it is absolutely necessary.
“If they weren’t just used to spy on kids, but [for authorities] to find out who stole something or who performed vandalism then it’s a good idea, Rozenblum said, “but they shouldn’t be used for any other reason.
On the other hand, some feel that the installation of cameras would be a violation of privacy and an unnecessary measure. Sophomore Dana Cohen-Kaplan said that cameras would make him uncomfortable.
“It’s an infringement on privacy, Rozenblum said. “People become self-conscious when they know they’re being watched.
The School Committee will consider and vote on changing the policy and installing the cameras within coming months.Ã¯Â»Â¿]]>
“[The car] is totaled, Ma said, adding that the water in her basement destroyed household supplies and stored food and may have damaged her washer, dryer, and hot water tank. Ma praised the quick response of the city’s Public Works crew which came to pump water from her backyard across the street into the Charles River.
“The city did a great job and it was a very quick rescue, Ma said, explaining that most of the water was gone from her backyard within three days.
Like Ma, many Newton residents struggled to deal with the nine inches of rain that soaked the city over three days, leaving flooded basements, closed roads, and a damaged MBTA line.
On Ma’s Quinobequin Road in Waban, rising water levels from the Charles River flooded the street. Water burst out of several manholes, creating small fountains in the middle of the road.
Mayor Setti Warren announced a state of emergency on March 15, allowing the city to apply for federal relief money. According to Warren, city offices received more than 700 calls from residences and businesses asking for assistance.
Junior Josh Horenstein and his family, who live in Waban, suffered severe flooding in their basement and backyard.
According to Horenstein, his backyard was completely covered by over a foot and a half of rainwater, and his basement had nine to 12 inches.
“Water started gushing out of the toilet, Horenstein said, explaining that his family had to remove everything from their basement as quickly as possible when floodwater began to overflow into the sewage main. The Horensteins used a wet vacuum and two sump pumps to get all the floodwater out of their basement.
“We had to buy a second sump pump to handle the amount of water, Horenstein said.
His family hired a company called ServPro, a storm response team that deals with natural disasters, to strip the carpets in his basement. The company also gave his family an estimate of damages, including damage to the walls and floorboards, and recommended that the floorboards be replaced because they could be unsafe. ServPro’s Storm Team estimated the damages at approximately $3000. According to Horenstein, his parents plan to apply to city and state officials for assistance in paying for the damage.
In Newton Center, Junior Luke Shanahan’s finished basement was flooded with over five inches of water. Like many Newton families, Shanahan’s family does not have flood insurance. This means that they will likely be paying for their repairs out-of-pocket.
“[The flooding] completely destroyed all the rugs and we had to rip them out, Shanahan said, adding that his family borrowed a pump to get rid of the water. Shanahan’s family cut out the lower ten inches of the wall because of water damage.
Nearby, the D line was shut down between Newton Highlands and Reservoir stations from flooding that washed out the ground from under the train tracks, leaving a sinkhole. Service was predicted to be knocked out for at least a week, but was repaired ahead of schedule on March 19. According to Chief Operating Officer of the Public Works Department Bob Rooney, the total repair cost of the MBTA line is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, including labor, materials, and a replacement fleet of busses that was used to shuttle passengers between the disrupted stations.
Twenty-six public buildings were impacted by the flooding, more than half of which were schools affected by leaks. The most significant damage was to City Hall, in which 20 people working in the basement were displaced. Flooring, carpeting and archived files were all damaged by flooding.
Head Custodian Dan Bianchi said that South has not had any significant damages from flooding, except for several minor leaks in the cafeteria and library. According to librarian Marnie Bolstad, several persistent leaks in the library classrooms left splattered stains across the walls and whiteboards. Custodians are working to fix the leaks.
Other flood stories include that of mathematics teacher Margery Waldron, who had a particularly difficult time getting to South from her home in Marlborough, due to flood-related road closures.
“It normally takes me about 45 minutes to get to South on an average day, she said. “Last Tuesday, however, traffic came to a halt.
Waldron described a chaotic scene of impassable streets, angry drivers, and frantic police officers trying to direct movement. The Sudbury River overflowed its banks and rain water accumulated to such a point that police were forced to close parts of Routes 117 and 20.
“From door to door, [the trip] was just about two hours, Waldron said.
New potholes formed on city roads as a result of the recent flooding, creating slalom courses for many drivers. According to Rooney, over $60,000 has been spent on repairing potholes arising from recent inclement weather. He encouraged concerned citizens to report serious potholes to City Hall.
Rooney said that a flood clinic was held on March 18 for anybody interested or concerned about the impact of the flooding. In addition, residents were encouraged to fill out an estimated loss report, detailing their private property losses.
According to Rooney, the clinic had two purposes: it gave officials an estimated cost of damages, and it allowed the Public Works Department and the Fire Department to answer questions about the process of remedying problems caused by flooding and about how the process could be improved in the future.
“Every homeowner has their own specific challenge and [the clinic] offered [homeowners] advice from experts to help with resolving their challenges, Rooney said, adding that over 200 people attended the clinic throughout the night.
Rooney explained that the city needs estimated costs to be over $4.7 million, in order to apply for state aid.
Though many residents suffered immense damage to their homes, they never withheld a lending hand from their neighbors. As soon as the rain ended, residents were out and helping their neighbors pump out their basements, driveways, and backyards. Within days, the floodwater was removed, and house repairs began.]]>
Warren planned the event as a way to communicate directly with residents of Newton.
“They were really excited about the opportunity to come and participate and talk to the next mayor about what was important to them, Warren said, explaining that the residents who attended were split up into six groups – Public Safety, Energy and Environment, Economic Development and Housing, Infrastructure, Education, and Community Life.
Those chosen to participate either had expertise in the areas covered, signed up on Warren’s website, were elected officials, or won a ‘Ëœlottery’ in which the winners received phone calls from Warren’s offices inviting them to come.
After holding separate discussions, the six groups reconvened and presented their thoughts and ideas to Warren and the rest of the groups.
Prevention/Intervention Counselor Rich Catrambone, who was invited to the summit because of his expertise, thinks that this is the first step to gain the trust and respect of Newton residents. “[Warren] is really interested in developing a common vision, Catrambone said.
Catrambone appreciates Warren’s new approach to governing Newton and thinks that people’s input is very important in a city government.
Just a few of the suggestions presented at the summit were to improve energy efficiency of buildings, improve road conditions, and appropriately challenging all levels of students in the school system.
The summit was the beginning of a series of communication improvements that Warren plans to implement.
“The fact is that this is the beginning and this is not a one-time event, Warren said, adding that he hopes to hold “mini town hall meetings throughout the city in each of the 13 villages.
Warren also hopes to utilize the city website more effectively in the future as well as chand change the atmosphere of Newton politics.
“It’s ok to disagree, it’s a good thing to disagree, but we should do it in a respectful fashion, said Warren. As mayor, he believes that the community needs to change its tone regarding city issues.]]>
Block and Jones are hopeful that the squad will be smaller and more committed this year.
“[Last year] we didn’t have the commitment that we needed, and I take this very seriously as a coach, Block said, noting how the lack of commitment from members made it impossible to accomplish the squad’s goals.
According to Block, a large number of last year’s members had never participated in step before.“Nobody really had an awareness [of what being on Step Squad entailed], she said.
Last year’s squad had four captains including Jones, three of whom were seniors. According to Jones, part of the reason that Step Squad was cancelled was because of the seniors’ scheduling conflicts. Last year’s squad never performed at any events.
Jones, who teaches dance after school, will be taking on the task of reviving the step squad as the sole captain.“I’m the only captain this year, and I’m definitely making that commitment to come [to every practice], she said. “We need to prove [to the administration] that we can actually do it.
Both Block and Jones agree that this year, the administration has been supportive but has not done enough to provide practice space.
“I have to be creative, Block said, explaining that without a viable practice location, the club might be forced to hold practices in a classroom.
Block added that the lack of a practice area “makes the kids feel like they are unappreciated.
This problem was apparent last year mainly because the school did not recognize step as a sport.
Practice concerns aside, Block and Jones plan for Step Squad to make appearances at South basketball games and Tertulia in the spring.
“We’ll try to keep it fun and real and get the crowd excited, Block said.
Jones will be responsible for most of the choreographing of the squad’s routines.
A possible new feature of Step Squad this year is the division of the group into two parts: an A squad and a B squad. This system, suggested by Principal Joel Stembridge, resembles the Varsity/Junior Varsity sports system and would provide two levels of participation in Step.
Those who have experience with step and are ready to commit to attending all the practices would be on the A squad. Students who want to learn step in a less intensive atmosphere would participate on the B squad.
Although the lack of a second adviser is a major challenge of forming two squads, Stembridge is working to find a co-adviser, Block said.
Many students are eager for the Squad’s return, especially those who remember a performance by the Squad two years ago, which involved both step and break-dancing.
“I’m excited to see them again because they are really entertaining and talented, junior Danny Connolly said.
Jones mentioned that in addition to full uniforms, she wants every member of the team to have matching pairs of sneakers for performances.
“We’re going all out this year, she said.
An informational session and tryouts will be held on December 2.]]>