Category Archives: From the Principal

January Updates

We are into second semester with no reports of frozen pipes for two weeks (as of this writing)!  The cold weather continues for some time, of course, and students should still be prepared for evacuating into the elements in case the pipes freeze in the near future.

I am writing to share some updates for ongoing projects:

A)  Our newest addition: indoor plants!  Before and after pictures of the area formally known as the “L” bench.  Wonderful to walk by and get a burst of oxygen!




Thanks to the many clubs, science students, and science teachers for securing funding and designing an indoor atrium featuring non-pollen producing leafy vegetation.

B)  High School Schedule

The Newton North and South High School Schedule Committee has been meeting since the Spring of 2017.   Since that time the committee has made a lot of progress in learning about the values that are most important within the school day such as time for students and teachers to meet for extra help.  Additionally committee members have visited area schools and learned about the pros and cons to their high school schedules.  This spring possible schedule options will be presented to the NNHS and NSHS faculty.   More updates to follow…

C)  Pep Rally

Led by our senior class officers, our student leadership council has been hard at work designing and planning our upcoming spirit week (February 5th – 9th), culminating in a pep rally on Friday!  I’m excited about some new ideas and old favorites, and look forward to sharing our day with you.


2017-18 NSHS Lip Dub Video

I am so proud to present our lip dub creation!

Thank you to students, faculty, and staff for making this possible.  I especially want to thank all-student production team, including the director, videographer, editors, and choreographers!


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Another interesting day: 2 more bursting pipes, one evacuation (at 1 pm for about 10 minutes – thankfully the outside temperature was warmer than yesterday), and then sprinkler system testing during J block.

The challenge with a California style school building (actually several buildings, low and spread out, with connectors) is that certain spaces are very challenging to maintain sufficient heat to not freeze the pipes in the ceiling that service the overhead sprinkler system.  With the extreme cold of this coming weekend, I would not be surprised to experience another pipe burst next week when the building warms up, which will result in another evacuation.  Students should plan their attire for next week accordingly.

I want to specifically thank our wonderful custodial team – all three shifts – for being so quick to problem solve and mitigate water damage.  They have been awesome, and are deserving of our praise and admiration!

Update on Building Status (and Happy New Year!)

Greetings – may your 2018 be healthy and joyful!

What started in the morning as a major water leak due to a frozen, split coil in a heating unit became in the afternoon a short in an electrical box in the basement boiler room due to the water leak, prompting the fire alarm system to sound and forcing an evacuation into the cold weather around 1 pm.  Students were outside for 10-15 minutes while the fire department assessed the situation and determined that it was safe for students to reenter all other parts of the building except for the part with the boiler room (the 9000 building).  Eventually, this was cleared too, and students and teachers in 9000s were also allowed to return to their classroom prior to the end of the school day.  Students and staff responded promptly (if reluctantly) and the evacuation was very smooth.  In the end, it was painful, but hopefully there are no lasting effects from being outside in the cold.  In case you were wondering, had the fire department not been able to allow us to re-enter we would have moved all students to the middle schools and dismissed from there.

Later, during our after school activities, we were asked again to evacuate the building by the fire department so that the facilities folks could assess and repair the damage from the water leak – we were thankful that students and staff were allowed to stay in the field house rather than outside in the cold.  We also had a pipe burst in the second floor of the 3000s after school, and our custodial crew is at work cleaning that up too.  It’s been an eventful day!

In the unlikely event that we do not have school tomorrow, we will contact you by phone and email by 5:30 AM.

On a positive note: earlier in the day, the senior class officers shared the completed NSHS Lip Dub with the class of 2018 during advisory.  In my opinion, it looks amazing!  Terrific work by the production crew (all NSHS students) and Lip Dub team!  Next Tuesday, we will share the video with the class of 2019 during advisory, after which time we will make the video available for all to see.  I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.

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.