Category Archives: From the Principal

Lip Dub!

We are getting excited about Newton South’s first Lip Dub, which will take place during the last part of the half day on Wednesday, November 23rd (we are moving the pep rally the we normally hold on this day to February).   During a “lip dub,” student lip-syncers are videoed walking through the school as other students cheer, dance or do other things showing school spirit. Our lip-syncers (all self-volunteered) have been practicing their moves to Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA” and Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” Some students plan to stand with a team or club during the video, others have chosen to stand in larger schoolwide groups, and some have volunteered for our production crew. Club presidents, team captains and class officers have been planning hallway decorations and attire for the day for each of their groups. If your child is not planning to stand with a particular club or group, please encourage them to wear any South “swag” that they have, or blue and orange clothing. We have also made some separate arrangements for students who may feel uncomfortable in a large group so they have an alternate place to hang out during that time. We are looking forward to coming together for this exciting school wide activity!

Math teachers too!

Follow-up to yesterday’s sharing of halloween moments – I missed the math department photo!!!

 

Have a lovely weekend.

Halloween Fun…

You may have heard a little fun was had in South’s halls and classrooms on Tuesday.  I’m pleased to share some evidence!

 

  

Also, thank you to the PTSO (also in costume) for serving surprise refreshments during advisory.

Hope your Tuesday was joyful too!

 

Information about electronic cigarettes

I am writing to bring to your attention the increasing use of electronic cigarettes, in many forms, in our community. Scientists are still learning how e-cigarettes affect health. However, there is already enough evidence to justify efforts to prevent e-cigarette use by young people, including recent studies that suggest e-cigarettes are the latest “gateway” to harder drug use.

Electronic cigarettes are devices that utilize stored electricity to heat a liquid into vapors, which are then inhaled by the user. The liquid can be anything from a flavored water-type mixture to liquid nicotine to THC, the principal active element of marijuana. These devices are relatively easy to conceal and very easy to disguise.

Here are a couple examples of what these devices look like:

  • This is a brand of a type of e-cigarette called “Juul.”  The use is sometimes called “vaping” or “juuling”

  • Here is a Juul device disguised as a Sharpie Pen:

  • Another style that looks like a ball-point pen at first glance:

The vapor from e-cigarettes, when used with liquid nicotine or THC, is unsafe and harmful to young people. We know that nicotine exposure during adolescence can cause addiction and can harm the developing brain. The use of these devices on school grounds is both against school policy and against a city ordinance. Students caught using or in possession of these devices are subject to school discipline.

I share this information with you to make you aware of this public health concern and with the hope that you can have a good conversation with your student about their health and your expectations for their choices regarding electronic cigarettes.

As always, thank you for your partnership!

 

One-to-one Technology Pilot

Technology has become an integral part of the teaching and learning experience in Newton. This year, as part of the district’s ongoing commitment to increasing access and use of technology in our classrooms, we will be piloting a one-to-one program in each of our high schools. Through this pilot, we aim to learn more about how technology can further enhance the academic program in Newton, as well as how access to a personal device impacts a student’s learning experience.

After careful review and consideration, we have selected two classes in each high school to participate in this pilot program.  We are excited to provide this opportunity and look forward to learning from our experience.

All students in the selected classes will be assigned a personal laptop to use throughout the school day and to take home with them each night. Each student will be assigned either a MacBook Air (Apple) or a Chromebook (Hewlett Packard). Students will be able to utilize the computers throughout the school day and outside of school hours.

Our hope is that we learn how to best support a full one-to-one roll-out should the district choose to so in the near future.

Stay tuned!

New Flooring for Field House

On behalf of our operations and public buildings departments, I would like to share information with you regarding the upcoming replacement of the flooring in the South Field House.

As many of you know, the flooring in the Field House is quite worn. It is unusable in some spots and is quickly becoming a safety hazard. We had hoped to complete the work in the summer, but due to several different variables, could not. We are anxious to install new flooring in advance of the winter sports season for the safety of all of our athletes, as well as the students in our health and wellness classes.

The contractor has informed us that the flooring installation can begin in the middle of October. We expect the process to take approximately six weeks from start to finish. The Field House should be open and usable again soon after the Thanksgiving holiday.

In anticipation of this event, our athletic staff and coaches have been working hard to develop a plan that will minimize disruption to our sports teams and class schedules. We will utilize alternative spaces, such as Gym B, Brown Middle School, and outdoor fields, to conduct practices and classes for our fall athletes and classroom students. Matches and games with other districts have already been adjusted to accommodate the floor replacement. Your student’s coach will provide more specific information, if they have not done so already.

We are fortunate to have the opportunity to install the new flooring this year. I know our operations and building departments will work to ensure it is done as quickly and efficiently as possible. I am confident our athletic and classroom staff can make the necessary adjustments to minimize impact to our students. Thank you for your patience.

Our Values

Our first week of school is complete and we are off to a great start here at Newton South. Students and faculty alike are excited and enthusiastic about the year ahead.

Yet we begin this year in the context of a national climate that is divisive, challenging, and ever-changing. As Superintendent Fleishman shared in his opening remarks to faculty and staff, there is no doubt that events and actions at the national level impact our school community by way of policies, conversations, and relationships. However, when such events are handled well by experienced and knowledgeable educators, they present real opportunity for learning.

It is incumbent upon us to prepare our students to listen (especially to perspectives different than their own), engage in well-reasoned debate, and stand up when they see injustice. Quoting Richard Weissboard of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Dr. Fleishman shared “educators need to confront dilemmas at the heart of our democracy, dilemmas that we rarely take on squarely in schools at any level.  These conversations require teachers to navigate among basic human and democratic rights. Important as it is for teachers to promote the right to free speech and encourage multiple views, teachers also need to promote students‘ right to freedom from discrimination.” 

How do we have these conversations in a way that is productive, respectful, and most importantly, equips students with essential skills for life beyond high school?

To answer this question, last year our faculty and students, in separate meetings, developed a near identical list of 4 values that we are committed to here at Newton South.

They are:

Choose Kindness

Show Respect

Take Responsibility

Listen First

These are not rules, but guidelines that will help us navigate our conversations, statements, and actions.  These phrases are posted throughout the school, and teachers will refer to them in their lessons.  We will be working with each other to discover the many nuances of these four concepts, and to hold each other to these standards.

It is critical that we go toward difficult conversations rather than shying away from them. It’s even more important that we have the tools to ensure that our work together builds a stronger community.  We believe that our four values are a good place to start.

Thank you for your support and involvement.

Ashley Anderton Memorial Fund

It is with deep sadness and many fond memories that I share with the Newton South community the passing of Ashley Anderton, our beloved English teacher, on June 22 of this year.  Her husband Derek Van Beever, Newton South science teacher, and their family have created a memorial fund in Ashley’s name to benefit cancer research and to provide scholarships for Newton South students.

You can find information about the fund here:

For all of Mr. VanBeever’s current and former students, he knows you support him and his family (including his eldest son who joins the South community this year), and they want to begin this fall in as normal a way as possible and focused on the year ahead.

Thank you for your understanding, and for your support.

Welcome back, and some information…

Happy “not-yet-the-end-of-summer-but-almost” last week of August!

It’s been wonderful having students return to our school and liven our hallways again, and I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting many of our incoming parents at one of our many events this summer.

I am writing to share the following:

  1.  Road construction.  Brandeis road will be closed for paving on Friday, September 1.  Anyone needing to access the school should park/drop-off on the Brown and Oak Hill side of our property and take the path through the athletic fields.
  2. L-Bench.  Our L Bench, (it’s more of a U, really) which has been a fixture at South since the renovation in 2004, is no longer.  Demolition of the bench is making way for an atrium with plants that will be maintained by our biology program.  As we increase in size (we will have more than 1900 students this year, the largest ever enrollment in the history of Newton South, and we are predicted to grow to 2000 soon), we have found that many students congregating so close to several classrooms is not good for our learning environment.  While it is true that recently we have had some poor decision-making from students in this area, this change is more related to proximity of classrooms and noise than any specific student behaviors.  Traditionally, this bench has been an area where juniors tend to congregate, and we will work with this year’s junior class to find a different space for a home base.

Thank you, and we look forward to seeing all of our NSHS students back in our classrooms on Tuesday, September 5!

Global Education Leadership Fund

I am writing to personally request your support for our Jennifer Price Global Education Leadership Fund (GELF)’s annual benefit dinner. For those of you who don’t know about the GELF, it’s a fantastic scholarship program that supports Newton students from low-income homes in participating in the many life-changing international travel learning opportunities offered through Newton North and South. Students who return from abroad speak often about the pivotal role these experiences have played in their personal and academic lives. Please help us convince our students that no one should tune out when opportunities are announced!

On Saturday, April 1st, GELF will hold its annual dinner/fundraiser from 6:30-10:30pm at Newton North High School. The evening is a not-to-be-missed community event, featuring an amazing 5-course gourmet meal (cooked from scratch on-site!!), paired fine beers & wines (featuring Sam Adams beer pairings, a major hit last year!), dancing (with a great live band featuring our own Katani Sumner), 150 like-minded community members, table service by Newton principals, and a raffle.

This year alone we have funded:

  • More than $30,000 in grants to
  • 20 students for
  • 8 different international trips

We need your support! Please buy tickets online here: http://www.newton.k12.ma.us/Page/2289 (scroll down to the bottom for the PayPal button) or send a $150/person check (made payable to Newton Schools Foundation with GELF in the memo line) to Newton Schools Foundation, ATTN: Diane Greer, P.O. Box 590020, Newton Centre, MA 02459.

Whether you are coming or not, please consider donating to Support a Teacher to attend the event ($100/person) or making a tax-deductible donati0n, all possible here: http://www.newton.k12.ma.us/Page/2289.

If you would like to support GELF but cannot donate, there are many other ways to help out. Please email Samantha_mandel@newton.k12.ma.us to find out more.

Thank you very much for your support.