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November Citizen of the Month at AHS: Elliot Johnson

Principal Matt JangerJanger

The Student Council is proud to present the Arlington High School Citizen of the Month for November -- Elliot Johnson.

Matthew Janger, AHS principal, wrote Dec. 4:

"Elliot was nominated by his peers for countless reasons. He is known by his classmates to “always be positive and always try to include everyone in things that he does.

"We want to thank him for creating a wonderful sense of community and bringing joy to everyone around him, for taking spending countless hours of dedication giving back to his school community, for friendliness to all his peers, and just being a “courageous and kind” person! Thank you, Elliot, for your constant efforts to make AHS a more positive and welcoming environment."

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Fears about cost may divide town, but numbers face more scrutiny

UPDATED, Dec. 4: Above a recent news summary about the Arlington High School rebuild, a Boston Globe headline describes the town as "divided" over the issue. Is it?

AHS project
Wynelle Evans, who "wholeheartedly supports the rebuild," said. "Cost is going to hit very hard on those who can't keep up with it."
A petition from the group Save Our Historic High School has 306 signers as of Nov. 30. Of those, the petition says 218 are from Arlington, a town of about 44,400, according to the 2015 American Community Survey

At the Wednesday, Nov. 28, forum in Town Hall, an estimated 250 people attended the public update focused on exterior design, as 18 people spoke. Did their questions or comments reflect division?

The answer depends on who was speaking, what he or she said and the audience reaction.

ACMi broadcast of Nov. 28 forum >>

What are the general takeaways? A key one was fear about costs. Consider what people said, summarized below, and judge for yourself.

First, building committee Chairman Jeff Thielman provided a project timeline and Lori Cowles, principal for project architect HMHF, reviewed three new exterior design options.

On Tuesday, Dec. 4, the building committee plans to choose the exterior design concept of the three options discussed at the forum -- see them all here >> -- and was to begin in earnest to discuss project costs. Tonight's agenda (CM stands for construction manager) >>

Cost estimates will be discussed in late January, and on Feb. 5, the building committee plans to approve the total project budget and concept design for submission that month to the Mass. School Building Authority, whose rules drive process and funding. 

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AHS rebuild committee reviews 3 new exterior designs, gives go-ahead to memorial effort

UPDATED, Dec. 1: Three fresh designs for the front of a rebuilt Arlington High School are headed your way at the Town Hall forum set for Wednesday, Nov. 28, changed from Tuesday because of visiting hours for the late Kevin Greeley.

option a 400 112018Option A, the more traditional of three Arlington High designs presented Nov. 20. / HMFH Architects

High school building committee members reviewed the designs Tuesday, Nov. 20, offering their pluses and minuses about the traditional and nontraditional looks -- one with white columns and two without. All three are included in the full HMFH presentation >> 

In addition, during the four-hour meeting, the committee heard a new idea for a memorial in front of the rebuilt school that would include as part of its design the white columns dating from the 1930s. The panel voted to establish a memorial committee.

"We replicate the historic building," said Town Meeting member Ted Peluso, who proposed the notion of a smaller version of the current entrance as part of a memorial. "We see the building that we love."

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AHS journalism symposium draws local scribes

AHS 300

The editors of the Arlington High Journalism Club, Claire Kitzmiller and Isabella Scopetski, invited residents to hear a panel of journalists, some nationally known, to a symposium 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec.7, in Old Hall.

The event was free, but if you enjoyed the return of the AHS newspaper last year or hope to see a new issue, there was food for sale to raise funds for the next printing. The Ponder Report has been largely an online publication since 2011.

This symposium was an opportunity for students and staff to learn more about journalism and how it's changing with the media and our current political climate. Audience members had time to ask their own questions as well as meet the panelists.

Panelists scheduled to take part were:

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AHS design discussion turns to interior ideas, and reaction is positive

Cutaway showing proposed spine at Arlington High. / HMFH ArchtectsCutaway showing proposed spine at Arlington High. / HMFH Archtects

UPDATED, Nov. 13: Public focus about the design of a rebuilt Arlington High School has emphasized exterior features since summer -- green space near Mass. Ave. and white columns. But the project is much broader than that, as discussions have turned inside the proposed structure, and with much enthusiasm from the building committee.

More proposed views >>

In addition, significant discussion about costs is expected to get underway in earnest in December.

"Fantastic .... I want to go there," building committee member Ryan Katofsky reacted to fresh news about the interior plans.

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October Citizen of the Month at AHS: Pratika Dhungel

Principal Matt JangerJanger

The Student Council is proud to present the Arlington High School Citizen of the Month for October -- Pratika Dhungel

Matthew Janger, AHS principal, wrote Nov. 1: "Pratika was nominated by her peers for countless reasons. She is known by her classmates to 'say good morning to everyone who walks by going to home room.'

"We want to thank her for creating a wonderful sense of community and bringing joy to everyone around her, for taking spending countless hours of dedication giving back to her school community, for friendliness to all her peers, and just being a 'kind and considerate' person!

"Thank you, Pratika, for your constant efforts to make AHS a more positive and welcoming environment."

Read more ...

MEDIA WALL: AEF, Belmont Savings partnership aims to enliven project-based learning

aef logo 2018“It’s ... motivating for students to know that their work will be presented in this larger way for others to see."
-- Gibbs Principal Kristin DeFrancisco
Ann Pirone, AEF president, with Faisal Azim, BSB assistant VP and one of their branch managers.Ann Pirone, AEF president, with Faisal Azim, Belmont bank assistant VP and one of their branch managers.

Project-based learning is more than just making a collage about a novel, constructing a model of the pyramids or analyzing water samples from a lake. While these artifacts and activities could be part of a project, they are not the whole project.

True project-based learning leads students through a subject area with a meaningful intent to explore and engage in solving a real-life problem. No matter the content, students experience a consistent method with which to approach a project and they understand the need to focus, research, plan, reflect, revise and finally present.

The new sixth-grade Gibbs School has a "project block" built into the school schedule -- one that incorporates innovative, multidiscipline, project-based learning into the daily routine. It is designed to encourage and nurture social-emotional growth and to prepare students for successful careers in the 21st century.

A key component of project-based learning is nurturing the ability for students to present their work to an audience wider than their classmates. This final, crucial component is made possible with the installation of the Gibbs Media Wall, which has been made possible through a partnership between the Arlington Education Foundation, Belmont Savings Bank, and the Arlington Public Schools.

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More than 100 celebrate renovated Gibbs School

UPDATED, Oct. 24: Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine estimated that more than 100 people attended the ribbon-cutting and tour at the Gibbs School, held Sunday, Oct. 21.

The official ceremony began with speakers at 2 p.m. The public also toured the school during the open house to follow, which continued to 5.

The above video was shot by Terry Weems, who has a Thompson student in fourth grade. He said his wife was curious about the school, so they went to the open house.

See photos of the event by Joe Moran, whose daughter Alex attends Gibbs. All are included in this video >> (after the page opens, scroll down).

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4 AHS rebuild concepts aim to show architect is listening

ahs historic 450 101618One of four new AHS draft concepts showing columns retained.

Discussion previews next forum

UPDATED, Oct. 19: The next forum about planning for the Arlington High School rebuild was set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the Thompson School, but that has been postponed to Nov. 27.

Here is what the public was expected to see at the time, a situation that likely will change by late November: Four concepts reflecting efforts by the architect, HMFH of Cambridge, to listen to those who want to retain green space along Mass. Ave. and white columns added to the front of the school in the 1930s.

Members of Save Our Historic Arlington High School, the group seeking to retain these long-established features, were among the 25 people attending the Oct. 16 AHS Building Committee meeting during which the four concepts were unveiled. For some, the revised concepts did not appear to go far enough.

"The building committee has not take seriously the gifts of architects" in town, said Ron Alex, an architect. He cited the Arlington Historical Commission vote to protect the columns and continued to maintain that renovation would cost less.

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Schools' CFO to leave for Burlington; search to start

John Danizio, new CFODanizio

School Committee members Thursday night discussed steps to name a new chief financial committee 120517

John Danizio has told YourArlington that he is leaving the position he has held since March 2017 to become the assistant town administrator and town accountant in Burlington.

In response to questions Oct. 10, he wrote that his last day will depend on how the search for a new CFO goes, but he expects to begin working in Burlington no later than Dec. 1.

"I am proud of the work we have done in the business office over the last year and a half. I think we have created a culture of collaboration and cooperation that I know will continue long after I am gone," he wrote.

"I believe that the credibility of the office is unquestioned, and they will continue to be be accurate and efficient in all they do. Although I am happy with all that we have accomplished, there still remains some ongoing and unfinished business that I wish we could have finished, but I am confident that the office and new CFO will continue to make improvements.

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AHS rebuild update: Some urge more green; $308M called top cost

ahs preferred design 62618

UPDATED, Sept. 26: As an estimated 140 people on Monday, Sept. 24, heard four speakers out of 17 urge more green space along Mass. Ave. after the building committee voted a week earlier to support the current plan for a rebuilt Arlington High School.

The first of four Town Hall forums before a final design is decided next February heard a range of views as well as comment from building committee Chair Jeff Thielman that $308 million, the rough estimate of total project costs, is "the high-water mark." Costs for AHS educational program needs are estimated a: $240.7 million.

ACMi video >>

Thielman made clear the committee had built in higher costs. The current plan goes beyond the template for space needs called for by the state School Building Authority as officials are allowing for enrollment growth and expanding other factors. Approved was a plan for 1,755 students.

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Next AHS building-project forum set for Oct. 24

AHS project logo

UPDATED, Sept. 25: The Arlington High School building project has entered the schematic-design phase, and the community is attending a series of fall/winter public forums to provide feedback on multiple aspects of the future building’s design.

At each forum, the AHS Building Committee, Skanska and HMFH Architects will update the community, present concepts, answer questions and gather feedback. Topics to be covered include site, exterior facade, and interior layout and features.

Further forums after Sept. 24 are scheduled for Town Hall from 7 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 24, Nov. 27 and at a January or February session to be determined.

Read more ...

Public schools draw U.S. honors for 'green' advances


Arlington public schools have received congratulations for achievements in sustainability at a ceremony at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

Honoring the district Friday, Sept. 21, as a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools District Awardee were Louisa Koch, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration education director; James L. Elder, director, of the Campaign for Environmental Literacy; Anisa Heming, director of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council; and Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan.

The Arlington district was nominated by Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The district’s recognition is based on three areas: reducing greenhouse gases; addressing the nutrition, fitness, mindfulness, and overall health of students and staff; and teaching curricula that addresses environmental topics at the elementary, middle and high school level.

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Semifinalists in '19 merit scholarships include 1 at AHS

School-awards logo

The National Merit Scholarship Corp. has announced the names of about 16,000 semifinalists in the 64th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. One of them, Henry Fox-Jurkowitz, attends Arlington High School.

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a merit scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level.

More than 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and about half of the finalists will win a national scholarship.

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AHS rebuild design raises questions, but process has just begun

ahs preferred design 62618Footprint design by HMFH Architects of Cambridge.

UPDATED, Sept. 6: Some want to preserve the white columns and grassy space in front of Arlington High School. Some worry about costs. Others fear missing the shot to rebuild the 104-year-old school, tied to a taxpayer vote next June.

Lori Cowles, a principal for project architect HMFH, offered some perspective about design later at the Sept. 4 building-committee meeting: "We're going to do a lot of work in the next six months, but we are not going to be done."

She explained that the creative process is reiterative and counseled patience. By late January, the team is expected to provide a design for a rebuilt high school that is expected to be done enough to send to the state agency providing project funds. That is to occur in February.

Leaders look ahead to design, cost challenges

The state School Building Authority (MSBA) board voted Aug. 29 to approve Arlington’s preferred option, once called option 3A, which the AHS Building Committee approved in late June and affirmed July 10. That vote moves AHS into the next phase of the years-long rebuilding process, called schematic design.

Bottom line: Through the fall and into winter, the design process remains flexible.

The next community forum at Town Hall about the high school project is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24.

Read more ...

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