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How town's public schools kept kids fed during pandemic

Cutline Sharon Malone, Diane Morcos, and Denise Hunt Boucher, all with the  Food Service Division, Arlington Public Schools at the curbside food pickup at Thompson Elementary.From left, Sharon Malone, Diane Morcos and Denise Hunt Boucher, all with the Food Service Division, Arlington Public Schools, at curbside food pickup at Thompson Elementary. See more photos >>

Story, photos
by Melanie Gilbert

On a normal day, students in Arlington’s 10 schools and one preschool would be fed breakfast and lunch in their buildings’ cafeterias. The past 15 months, though, have been anything but normal.

“Usually, our work flies under the radar,” says Denise Hunt Boucher, food-service director at Arlington Public Schools for 14 years. “Covid changed all that.”

The district’s food-service outreach during days of both remote and in-person learning is a combination of to-go style hot lunches for the on-site elementary students; cafeteria-style lunch service for the Gibbs, Ottoson and high school students; and weekly meal-kit pickups for remote learners and any family with children in Arlington.

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AHS '21 class graduates outdoors

AHS class gift, 2021Framed painting of former AHS entrance, with signatures, by Genevieve Baldwin.

UPDATED, June 7: As the new Arlington High School rises majestically along Mass. Ave., shielding the old white columns familiar to the town, the class of 2021 emerged from 15 months lost to Covid-19 and graduated at Peirce Field at noon Saturday, June 5. See the building's progress >> 

Read the available graduation addresses >>

Among them was one by Genevieve Baldwin, who created the class gift, a painting. See more photos >>

Her mother, Pamela Baldwin, told YourArlington on June 6: "As we say goodbye to AHS it’s inevitably a time of reflection and nostalgia, and we are among those in town who will really miss the beautiful view of the State-House-inspired Collomb building set back on the stately lawn."

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Ottoson 7th grader rates 7th in U.S. math competition

Ottoson logo

In a nationwide test of math skills, the team representing Massachusetts finished eighth out of 56, and Ottoson seventh-grader Jiahe Liu finished seventh out of the 224 competitors.

"It was a very fun and exciting experience," the student told YourArlington on May 28. "Doing it at home helped because it felt more comfortable at home, and I'm more used to doing problems on my desk as opposed to a table at the testing center. I very much appreciate the effort that the MATHCOUNTS put into organizing the event and making it as fun as possible."

The 2021 Raytheon Technologies MATHCOUNTS contest, held May 8-10, celebrates cybersecurity and computer science and aims to inspire tomorrow's problem-solvers. Besides Liu, the Massachusetts team included Matthew Qian, RJ Grey Junior High School, Acton; Rohith Raghavan, Sharon Middle School, Sharon; and Yuan Zhuang, Curtis Middle School, Sudbury.

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2 Arlington students win $2,500 National Merit scholarships

School-awards logoTwo Arlington seniors earned $2,500 scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corp., YourArlington partner Patch has reported.

They are Genevieve Baldwin and Peter Berggren, both at Arlington High School. Baldwin plans to pursue a career in ministry, and Berggren's probable career field is computer science.

The corporation judges high school students based on their PSATs and awards a number of scholarships in their senior year.

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For Ottoson, Gibbs math teams, focused work adds up to success

The Gibbs and Ottoson math teams have been busy this school year, and their focused activity is about to draw national notice for one of its participants.

Gibbs logo

Ottoson logoImpressive scores in chapter and state competition has vaulted Jiahe Liu, a seventh grader at Ottoson, into a nationwide test in May.

As contests around the country have gone online, they have become accessible to a wider audience, allowing our middle school math teams to take part in contests as far away as California.

In the fall, Ottoson took part in the online AreteLabs Math Madness tournament, matching up against schools from around the country. The Ottoson team won all four of their “seeding” contests, placing them in the top-level bracket, and the team lost by a small margin in the first round of the top bracket. 

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As students return, playground rules affirmed

Kathleen BodieBodie

School playgrounds will be limited to in-person student use only from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days,  Superintendent Kathy Bodie has announced. The elementary schools are reopening Monday, April 5, and middle schools April 27.

The playgrounds will be open to remote students and the public after 4 p.m. weekdays and weekends and any day that in-person learning is not in session, which currently includes Wednesdays, YourArlington partner Patch has reported

Recreation Director Joe Connelly confirmed the report, adding that the announcement continues the policy already in place, with in person students being able to use the playgrounds until 4 p.m.

School playgrounds include:

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Schools get $14K for STEM, owls, theater, music

AEF logoThe Arlington Education Foundation (AEF) thi spring has awarded awarded $5,000 for a development grant and $9,450 for four innovations grants.

AEF’s Development and Expansion grants support school-based or districtwide development of new educational strategies that target demonstrated needs and have the potential to serve as models for the rest of the district. The most recent grant awarded is:

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Overseas zoom-bomber disrupts feminist student meeting, police say

APD logo

UPDATED: A person suspected of being overseas impersonated an Arlington High School student during a videoconference advisory class hosted by a student feminist group on Wednesday, March 24, and made misogynistic comments in a group chat and displayed what appeared to be a gun, according to the school’s principal.

A teacher quickly ended the meeting of the Young Feminist Alliance after the Zoom-bomber appeared, Principal Matthew Janger said in an email message to families.

Arlington police believe the intruder joined the call from overseas, Janger said in a follow-up message to families Thursday, which he confirmed March 27. There is no reason to believe the act was initiated locally or that a student was involved, he wrote.

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Westford promotes one of its own; Janger looks forward to AHS progress

Matthew Janger Janger

UPDATED, March 19: For the second time in a month, Arlington High School Principal Matthew Janger was a finalist for superintendent of a Massachusetts school system, and for the second time, he was not chosen.

Dr. Janger, who was not picked in Reading in February, was among four seeking the top school job in Westford, whose School Committee voted Thursday, March 18, to choose one of their own.

Janger told YourArlington on March 19: "It is always a learning experience to consider other options and, like travel, it is always great to come home again. I am happy to continue as principal of AHS and I look forward to opening the new STEAM building next February." He was referring to the under-construction wing for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

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Analysis: As Riley schedules school reopenings, what do Arlington leaders say?

Baker won't let teachers get shots ahead of 'most vulnerable,' Patch reports

Jane Morgan School Committee chair

'providing vaccines directly to municipal health departments, the state would be treating teachers and staff as the essential workers that they are.'
-- Jane Morgan

UPDATED, Marech 11: Two related demands -- for Covid-19 vaccination to be provided locally to school personnel and for full-time in-person education – continue to grow in Arlington. The stakes got higher March 5, as commonwealth education czar Jeffrey Riley gained broad powers to control when public schools return to the traditional mode, possibly as soon as April 5 at least for elementary schools.

Covid-19 image
Statewide vaccine availability is being expanded for teachers.

As per the 8-3 vote by the board of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, districts who decline to fall in line with whatever deadline is set can request waivers exempting them from the requirement. But if these are not granted, that could jeopardize potentially district funding, with the threat that Riley might declare that their remote instruction hours no longer qualify.

Meanwhile, statewide vaccine availability is being expanded for teachers -- but its schedule probably won’t result in full vaccination by the time five-day-a-week classes are to start, nor will it be locally based, as many associated with Arlington Public Schools had hoped.

Bringing Arlington students back five days a week, instead of the current hybrid plan of two days per week, would almost certainly mean abandoning the protocol of six feet of distance between desks and individuals that the district has maintained since Sept. 21.

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Seniors leave signature legacy at new AHS

AHS senior signs steel beam in February 2021.

Masked Arlington High School seniors greeted one another with smiles Feb. 24 and 25. Many had not seen one another in more than a year and were eager to see their peers and mark their final year at AHS.

The occasion? A special invitation to the AHS class of 2021 to sign a construction beam, which is to be permanently placed in the new high school. On March 12, the 30-foot steel beam is expected to be one of the last placed in the new performing-arts wing at Mass. Ave. and Schouler Court, marking the “topping off” of Phase 1 of the multiyear construction project.

As the end of their high school career comes to a close, students took selfies in front of the signed beam and a special ‘AHS 2EN1ORS’ banner (That creative spelling is correct). At left, a senior leaves his signature for posterity.

More photos here >>

The event was a coordinated effort between the AHS Building Committee and AHS staff. Some students reflected on what their signature represents and what they would like to say to future AHS students.

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Director discusses Metco

Metco logo

"Everyone Belongs: Metco in Arlington," A conversation with Margaret Thomas, on Monday, March 8, 7 p.m.

Jillian Harvey, Town of Arlington’s diversity, equity and inclusion director, hosts a conversation with Margaret Credle Thomas, director of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity program in Arlington.

Thomas and Harvey will discuss the history of the Metco program, its impact in Arlington, and Thomas’s unique role in leading the program and supporting students of color, as well  as the experiences Boston-resident students face navigating the challenges and concept of belonging to a community–as an outsider.

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AHS classmates of fallen soldier launch fund-raiser

Marwan S. GhabourGhabour

Members of the Arlington High School Class of 2010 are raising money for the family of one of their classmates, a U.S. Army soldier who died in a helicopter crash, Patch, a YourArlington partner, reports

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Marwan S. Ghabour, 27, was among five American soldiers killed in the crash in Egypt last  Nov. 12.

The class launched a GoFundMe campaign a week ago to donate money to Ghabour's parents and younger siblings. As of 1:45 p.m. Feb. 24, it has raised $2,305 of its $5,000 goal.

"This period is tough on everyone, so we deeply appreciate anything our community contributes," John Holowitz, a classmate of Ghabour's who started the effort, wrote on the fund-raising page.

Reach the campaign >> 

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Reading chooses Medford candidate for superintendent

Matthew Janger Janger

In a 5-1 vote, the Reading School Committee has chosen a Medford leader as the new superintendent, passing over Arlington High School Principal Matthew Janger.

On Thursday, Feb. 11, the committee favored Tom Milaschewski to begin on July 1, depending on a successful contract negotiation. Committee member John Parks dissented, preferring Stephen J. Zadravec, superintendent for the Portsmouth, N.H., School Department.

The Reading Post, a hyperlocal news site, reported the story.

Members of the committee were exuberant in their praise of Milaschewski, the story says. He is superintendent resident (concurrent with doctoral studies) for the Medford Public Schools.

Read more ...

AHS principal a finalist for Reading superintendent

Matthew Janger Janger

Dr. Matthew Janger, who has been principal at Arlington High School since 2013, is among three finalists for superintendent of the Reading Public Schools. A decision is expected Thursday, Feb. 11.

"I am honored to be considered for this position in Reading," he told YourArlington Feb. 2. "I believe that I can make a positive contribution in the lives of students as superintendent, and Reading is a wonderful community.

"The thought of leaving Arlington High School is certainly bittersweet. I have been principal at Arlington for almost eight years and raised my family here. I love the school and the community."

Read more ...

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Grant, up until your final snide comment I am in general agreement with you. Impact of new housing upon public school enrollment is highly dependent on the type of housing. And that is why I fault t...
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I will point out Don that your own math around school enrollment that really don't justify the hyperbole of claiming that a new elementary is around the corner. Your calculation around housing units ...
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