Stay Connected with the Somerville Public Schools

Stay up-to-date with what's happening in the Somerville Public Schools and in our community by subscribing to CONNECTIONS: A Newsletter from the Somerville Public Schools. CONNECTIONS goes out weekly during the school year, except holidays. If you would like to receive CONNECTIONS, send us a note with "SUBCRIBE to CONNECTIONS" in the subject line at:

Connections newsletter

March 17, 2017

News & Notes

Somerville Volunteer Spotlight:  Susan Burnim

Somerville Public Schools volunteer Susan Burnim serves up joy and mathematics three times a week at the West Somerville Neighborhood School.  A retired K-8 teacher, educator mentor and demonstration teacher from Amherst, Susan relocated to Somerville in 2010, seeking the new experiences that urban living has to offer.  Finding Somerville a welcoming community, Susan has launched her second and third careers—Volunteer Educator and Joy Dispenser. Susan has been serving in these roles for nearly three years, helping students individually or in small groups master mathematics concepts and skills—and making math fun.    

Somerville Educator Stephen Hughes says that Susan is a welcome addition to their classroom. “Susan is a kind, calm and wonderful role model and teacher for our community. Her bright, positive attitude shines in our class, as evidenced by students’ smiles when they realize it’s a Ms. Burnim day.  She embraces any and all challenges, and we’re lucky to have her.”

Susan, Stephen and volunteers may be on to something.  An interesting long-term study of middle grades students conducted by the Project for the Analysis of Learning and Achievement in Mathematics correlates students’ feelings about mathematics with higher achievement:, The Boston Globe, Feb 23, 2017.  

Learn how you can become a Joy Dispenser and more on April 6 at the next SPS Serve and Inspire Volunteer Orientation, 6:30pm-8:30pm, at the East Somerville Community School. Visit for more information.

SHS Students Excel at SkillsUSA District Competition

Students in the Somerville High School Career and Technical Education (CTE) SkillsUSA chapter recently participated in the District III SkillsUSA competition, facing off against regional CTE schools in the district. Students were required to take a written exam in their field of study. Placement on this district test qualifies students for the state competition which includes a hands-on challenge in their field, and which can possibly also qualify students for thousands of dollars in scholarships. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry partners working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA helps students excel in their chosen fields by providing educational programs, events and competitions that support career and technical education in the nation’s classrooms. Congratulations to the following Somerville students who earned medals for their outstanding performances on their written exams. Sponsorship opportunities to support the work of the Somerville SkillsUSA team are available; contact team advisor Mario Sousa ( or (617) 625-6600, x6273) for information. To learn more about SkillsUSA Massachusetts, visit

  • Anthony Araujo Amaral – Gold (Graphic Design & Communication)
  • Samuel Saron – Bronze (Drafting and Engineering)
  • Charlotte Kafka-Gibbons – Gold (Commercial Baking)
  • Brian Garcia – Silver (commercial Baking)
  • Tabatha Bohmbach – Bronze (Cosmetology)
  • Molly Roderick - Silver (Dental Assisting)
  • Alexis Mcgeoghean - Silver (Early Education and Childhood)

Brown School Students Explore Windows of Wildlife

Students in the Brown School Afterschool program recently had the opportunity to enjoy the wonders of wildlife up close and personal. Heidi Wejman from Windows on Wildlife stopped by the school with a few friends in tow. Her presentation to students in the K-2 and 3-5 groups focused on the life cycles of raptor birds. Ms. Wejman presented facts about raptors, shared artifacts that students could examine, and brought out three different birds for the students to see. The birds she cares for are considered “unreleasable” because of their inability to survive in the wild. Students were delighted to have the opportunity to meet Hattie the majestic barred owl, Ranger the colorful American Kestrel, and Quill the tiny northern saw-whet owl.

Winter Hill Partners with UNICEF and Scholastic to Support Children in Need

Fourth grade teachers, staff members and students at the Winter Hill Community Innovation School are sporting Power Bands from March through May to not only keep track of how many steps they take each day, but also in support of a very special cause. Teachers applied for a program through UNICEF and Scholastic and are making the most of the opportunity to encourage students and each other to stay active and send aid to children in need simply by keeping track of their daily activity. Each time someone wearing a Power Band logs 2,400 steps, they earn a PowerPoint. For every 10 PowerPoints earned, UNICEF will send a therapeutic food package to a child in need in Uganda, Haiti or Burkina Faso in West Africa. One fourth grade homeroom unlocked 68 therapeutic food packets for children in need in only 6 days. Thank you, and keep up the great work!

Updated 2016-2017 School Year Calendar

With this week’s school day cancellations due to weather conditions, the last day of school for the 2016-2017 school year is now Wednesday, June 21st, a half day for all students. This year’s and next year’s school year calendars are available on our District Calendar web page.

What's Happening  

2017 MA Region IV Science Fair – March 18

The 2017 Massachusetts Region IV Science Fair, sponsored by Tufts University, the Rotary Club of Somerville, DistriGas, and the Somerville Public Schools, will be held in the Somerville High School Field House on Saturday, March 18. The six Massachusetts Regional Science Fairs serve as qualifying competitions for the Massachusetts State Science Fair to be held in May at MIT. Many Somerville High School students go on to compete at the Region IV fair annually. Projects will be on display after the judging in the afternoon. Judging takes place from 8:30am to noon. Projects will be on display for public viewing starting at 1:00pm. An awards ceremony will follow at 3:00pm.

SHS Career & Technical Education (CTE) Fair – March 25

The annual Career & Technical Education (CTE) Fair takes place on Saturday, March 25th, 9:00am to 12:00pm at the Somerville High School Atrium (81 Highland Ave.). The event is FREE and open to the public. Stop by for a tour and to learn more about Somerville’s outstanding technical/vocational education programs available to all Somerville High School students. Guests have an opportunity to learn directly from students and teachers about each program, and also have a chance to participate in a variety of hands-on activities at each program. We encourage you to stop by early for a leisurely guided tour. Visit the CTE website ( for a glimpse of our existing CTE programs.

SHS College and Career Day – April 1

April 1st is College and Career Day for Somerville Public Schools. Students and families in grades 6-12 are invited to attend the event, which takes place from 9:00am-12:30pm at Somerville High School. There will be workshops for all grades on topics such as: saving and paying for college, community college, alternatives to college, college admissions panels, career panels, the college process for juniors, and others. Expert guest speakers from MEFA, uAspire, Middlesex Community College, Job Corps, Boston University, Brandeis University, Tufts University, and others will be available to provide information and answer questions. Guest speakers from our own community will talk about their careers. Regardless of your child’s age, you’ll leave with valuable information about planning for the future. Snacks, childcare, and interpreters will all be provided! Learn more at  

Somerville Public Schools Career Fair – April 1

The Somerville Public Schools hosts a Career Fair on Saturday, April 1st, from 10:00am to 1:00pm at the Somerville High School Atrium. Representatives from the SPS Human Resources Department as well as other departments from across the district will be on hand to share information about career opportunities and current job openings in our district, and to answer questions about our schools, departments, and the application process. Visitors are encouraged to bring a current resume or curriculum vitae. Stop in to learn more about how you can become part of an educational community dedicated to helping youth explore, learn, grow, and develop into tomorrow’s leaders.

Upcoming School & District Events

Visit our website at, and click on the "calendar" link at the top of the page for a complete list of all the activities happening at schools and in our District this month.


  • Friday, March 17, 5:30-9:00pm: Brown School PTA Adult Bowling Night (adults only) at Ball Square Bowling
  • Saturday, March 18, 1:00-4:00pm: 2017 MA Region IV Science Fair Exhibit and Awards Ceremony at the Somerville High School Field House (81 Highland Ave.)
  • Tuesday, March 21, 3:00-4:00pm: Capuano School Improvement Council Meeting at the Capuano Conference Room (150 Glen St.)
  • Tuesday, March 21, 5:30-7:00pm: ESCS Pizza and Papusas and quarterly PTA Meeting at the East Somerville Community School Cafeteria (50 Cross St.)
  • Wednesday, March 22: Half-Day Wednesday (PK dismissed at 11:30am; K-8 dismissed at noon)
  • Wednesday, March 22: WSNS 7/8 Spirit Day – Formal Dress, at the West Somerville Neighborhood School (177 Powder House Blvd.)
  • Wednesday, March 22, 6:00pm: El Sistema Somerville Concert at the East Somerville Community School Auditorium (50 Cross St.)
  • Friday, March 24, 9:10-10:00am: Malian Drum and Dance Community Concert at the Argenziano School (290 Washington St.)
  • Friday, March 24, 6:00-8:00pm: WSNS Western Night and Family Dance, at the West Somerville Neighborhood School (177 Powder House Blvd.)
  • Saturday, March 25, 9:00am-noon: SHS Career & Technical Education (CTE) Fair, at the Somerville High School Atrium (81 Highland Ave.)
  • Monday, March 27, 6:00-8:00pm: Somerville Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SSEPAC) Meeting at the Kennedy School Library (5 Cherry St.)
  • Wednesday, March 29: WSNS 7th & 8th Grade Trip to TD Garden: Financial Education Program
  • Wednesday, March 29, 8:30-9:30am: Healthy Kids, Healthy Families Presentation at the Argenziano School (290 Washington St.
  • Saturday, April 1, 9:00am-12:30pm: SHS College and Career Day at Somerville High School (81 Highland Ave.)
  • Saturday, April 1, 10:00am-1:00pm: Somerville Public Schools Career Fair at the Somerville High School Atrium (81 Highland Ave.)

Upcoming Somerville Family Learning Collaborative Workshops and Events

Find a complete list of SFLC events and workshops at

Visit the SFLC website for information on the many services and programs that the Somerville Family Learning Collaborative offers:   

  • Ongoing: English Class Registration. Parents/guardians can practice and strengthen their English language skills while learning about and becoming more involved with their child’s education. SFLC works in partnership with The Welcome Project to offer classes in the morning and evening. Register by calling (617) 625-6600, x6702.
  • March 27, 6:30-8:30pm: Special Education Basic Rights Workshop. Join the Somerville Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SSEPAC) for a workshop on federal and state special education laws, the special education process, parent and student rights, and how to resolve differences with the school. Presented by the Federal for Children with Special Needs. Workshop will be held at the Kennedy School (5 Cherry St.)
  • March 29, 8:30-9:30am: Healthy Kids, Healthy Families. Learn about healthy eating habits with experts from the UMass Extension Nutrition Education Program. Hear about what your child is learning in school regarding healthy eating, making healthy choices, and how you can support your child at home. At the Argenziano School (290 Washington St.)

Upcoming School Committee Meetings

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

  • Monday, March 20, 7:00pm: Regular School Committee Meeting at the Aldermanic Chambers, Somerville City Hall (93 Highland Ave.)
  • Tuesday, March 28, 7:00pm: Educational Programs & Instruction Subcommittee Meeting at the SPS Central Office (8 Bonair St.)
  • Wednesday, March 29, 7:00pm: School Committee Meeting for Finance & Facilities at the SPS Central Office (8 Bonair St.)
  • Somerville School Committee Spring Office Hours:
    • The Somerville School Committee wants to hear from you at their Spring Office Hours scheduled 3/18 - 3/26. Talk 2017-2018 School Budget and more.
    • Saturday, March 18, 10am-12pm, Forge, 626 Somerville Ave. with Lee Erica Palmer ***También se habla español and Board of Aldermen President Bill White
    • Sunday, March 19, 11am-1 pm, Bloc 11, 11 Bow St. with Dan J. Futrell
    • Sunday, March 19 1:30-3:30 pm, Armory Cafe, 91 Highland Ave. with Laura Pitone and Mark Niedergang (Ward 5 Alderman)
    • Tuesday, March 21, 8-10 am, Armory Café, 91 Highland Ave. with Laura Pitone  and Mark Niedergang (Ward 5 Alderman)
    • Thursday, March 23 6:30-8:30 pm, Mystic Community Center, 530 Mystic Ave. with Andre Green
    • Saturday, March 25, 10am-12pm, Diesel Cafe, 257 Elm St. with Paula O’Sullivan
    • Saturday, March 25, 9-11am, Community Assembly Room, 50 Middlesex Ave., Assembly Row (Self-Storage Building) with Steve Roix , Lee Erica Palmer ***También se habla español and Matt McLaughlin (Ward 1 Alderman)
    • Saturday, March 25, 11-1pm, Angelina's, 230 Holland St. with Carrie Normand
    • Sunday, March 26, 10am-12pm, Winter Hill Brewing, 328 Broadway with Andre Green

Community News & Events

Youth Arts Arise at Arts at the Armory. Registration for the Spring 2017 semester of Youth Arts Arise is now open. Youth Arts Arise is a free after-school program for students ages 11 to 16. Participants can explore creativity in a wide range of artistic mediums and disciplines. Workshop themes encourage positive self-expression while exploring a multitude of cultures and traditions, embracing diversity while simultaneously working towards a better understanding of individual identity. The Spring 2017 session for our after school arts program will run from March 29th through June 7th (excluding April 18th and 19th). The showcase will take place either on June 13th or 14th (TBA). Workshops will run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5:00 pm and the topics. To register, you can either fill in the All LanguagesYAA Form, Spring 2017 or pick one up in person from the office. Learn more about this and other arts education programs by visiting:

SCATV April Vacation Break Camp. April 18-21st (Vacation Week) from 10am-3pm; Cost: $125 | scholarships available | Ages 9+

Discover your inner journalist! Learn from real TV anchors how to make a news show from start to finish. Conduct interviews, investigate issues that matter, and write, host, produce and film your very own news show that will be screened on SCATV Channel 3. LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD. More information available at:

SCATV Summer Youth Program Registration. SCATV Summer is back and better than ever! Fill out this form to register your child for one or more of our upcoming summer youth programs. Please note that all programs are for ages 8 and up, except for the Teen Movie Making camp which is geared towards teens only. (If you have a youth on the cusp we may approve them on a case by case basis). All programs run Monday-Friday, from 9am-3pm, with a showcase at the end of the week that families are invited and encouraged to attend. The cost per week is $200 (except for Wild Tales, which is free), but there are full and partial scholarships available for those who qualify. Please note we give priority to youth from Somerville, low income youth, and new campers–although we encourage everyone to apply. Accepted campers will be contacted directly with a link to pay and complete registration. If you have any questions, or would like to know more about any of our programs, please contact Heather McCormack at or 617-628-8826.

KidZine. Student Poetry Wanted … because April is National Poetry Month! In preparation for National Poetry Month, KidZine invites students to write poetry, or gather poems together that you have written this year. Email them directly to, or give them to your teacher, making sure your name, school, and teacher’s name are on your submissions. We will post your poetry to our annual Poetry Wall online for all to read, and our poetry editors will make selections from them for possible further publication (in print). Visit! (Sponsored by Writer’s Den, The ESCS Phoenix, Happening at the Healey, the AFAS Journal, and Kid! and 12! magazines.)

Looking Ahead

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

  • Monday, April 3: School Committee Rules Management Subcommittee Meeting
  • Monday, April 3: Regular School Committee Meeting
  • Tuesday, April 4: School Committee Meeting for Finance & Facilities
  • Saturday, April 1: College & Career Day
  • Saturday, April 1: Somerville Public Schools Employment Fair
  • Wednesday, April 5: Half-Day Wednesday for PK-8
  • Wednesday, April 5: WSNS School Council Meeting
  • Thursday, April 6: Serve & Inspire Volunteer Orientation

Archive of this year's CONNECTIONS e-Newsletter: