Hello Newton South,
Happy October! The leaves are turning, the building is full of energy, and the school year is off to a great start! I am writing to tell you about some important upcoming schoolwide and classroom events that will be taking place over the next few weeks.
As a part of our safety protocols, we train all of our students on what to do in the event of an emergency inside the school or an emergency outside the school, but in our near vicinity. We conducted this training today during a special long Advisory.
During this training, we had a fire drill. If you live in the neighborhood, you may have seen emergency vehicles at the school, and I want to assure you that there was no cause for alarm. Over the last few years, the Newton South Safety Team has worked diligently in partnership with community emergency responders, Newton Health and Human services, the school department and in-building clinical staff to build an age-appropriate training that gives students the necessary information to stay safe, while not unnecessarily raising student anxiety. That being said, we understand that these drills may have a different impact on everyone, and wanted to invite you to reach out to your student’s guidance counselor or dean if you have questions or concerns about these drills and this training.
In keeping with our goal of creating educated citizens and embedding anti-racist and culturally responsive practices into our curriculum, our 9th grade history and English teachers will be delivering important upcoming lessons. These lessons are the beginning part of an overall curriculum focus on human rights, genocide, and social justice, which are woven through students’ four years of history and English education.
In the next couple weeks, our ninth grade students will learn about the history and meaning of common hate symbols. The lesson our teachers use has been adapted from one developed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in 2020 (“Swastikas and other Hate Symbols”). As the lesson plan states, our goal is to “provide an opportunity for students to reflect on the importance of symbols in our society, understand more about specific hate symbols, and identify strategies for responding to and eliminating hate symbols.”
After learning about hate symbols in history classes, the 9th graders will read a short story in their English classes which involves the use of a hate symbol. Through discussions about the story, students will have an opportunity to reflect further on the impact of hate symbols and ways to respond to their use.
Our staff has been thoughtful about how to deliver these important lessons in a way that will support student growth. We also recognize that these lessons may cause a variety of emotions for different students, and we welcome your continued partnership as we support your 9th graders.
Towards the end of October, students from all grade levels will be trained in the Newton Public Schools Non-Discriminiation Protocol. This protocol, developed with input from educators, parents, community members and students, guides our practice for handling any incident of hate, discimination, or retaliation in all Newton Public Schools. It outlines both our approach to discipline and our philosophy regarding education and restoration practices when these situations occur. Even in communities like ours, which are vigilant about creating spaces where those of all identities can celebrate who they are, incidents occur. We strongly believe that we have the choice as a community as to how we respond. The protocol describes a process for discipline, for education, for restoration and for therapeutic interventions following such situations. Our four deans and the South Human Rights Council, unfortunately, have already used this protocol for a few incidents which impacted a few students at a time. When incidents impact a small group of people, we do not notify the entire community; however, we handle them with the same level of respect and thoroughness as we would in an incident that impacted more people.
After following the protocol, we have heard from those impacted that they felt supported and heard. While there is “no perfect” when these incidents happen, we are hopeful that we are moving in the right direction. Our FORJ (Newton Families for Racial Justice) and PTSO partners were trained in this protocol last year, and can serve as resources for parents. If you would like to discuss the protocol with a fellow parent, please reach out to PTSO Council Co-Presidents, Terry Prasad and Elsa Janairo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! Our Spanish Service Club has shared a series of options for teachers to use in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated annually from September 15th to October 15th. Thank you to Spanish teacher and club advisor Cynthia Manthei for her work on this!
We also have a new exciting initiative taking place during WIN to support wherein students of Hispanic and Latinx heritage meet as a community to celebrate their shared experiences. Thank you to Gene Stein and Helena Alfonso for leading this group of students!
As a school, we have begun our year’s work on social-emotional learning, excellence in instruction and equity of access to our curriculum. Below, I wanted to highlight some things that are underway.
In a demonstration of a bit of theatrical STEAM, students Anna Wright-Lee and Leah Vashevko designed and constructed a scenic element for the upcoming South Stage production of “The Visit.” The play is set in a fictional Eastern European country, and the scenic design concept reflects various Steampunk elements. This gear was carved out of extruded polystyrene, placed on a wooden mounting bracket, and anchored by a vertical boom pole. The gear moves up and down, rotates around the pole, and spins with a motor triggered remotely by our light control board. Thanks to South Stage Technical Director Ryan Spruck for his guidance!
Each year South and Needham play volleyball matches to raise money for breast cancer research through the Dig Pink organization, alternating the match location between Newton and Needham. 2019 was our fundraising high mark with just over $10,000 for the cause by Newton and Needham. We’re proud and driven to keep this tradition going strong each year!
This Friday, October 7th, Newton South will host the Dig Pink Fundraiser game against defending state champs Needham High School! We want to make this event bigger, louder, and more successful than ever!! If you would like to make a donation or know someone that would:https://giving.side-out.org/campaigns/18541
Family members and friends are encouraged to attend the event wearing pink like our players and coaches. Each team will play their own game in center court in the Field House.
9th Start: 10/7, (approx.) 5pm
JV Start: 10/7, 6 pm*
Varsity Start: 10/7, 7:30 pm*
*Start times are approximate.
Which fan has the best serve? Fans will get to test their serves in a contest for fun prizes between the JV and Varsity match. Tickets $5 at the door.
Unified Basketball Season is Starting!
The Unified Basketball Team opens their season at home on Thursday, Oct. 6th. The game will start at 4:30 PM in the Field House. Come to support our Unified athletes and partners!
October 15th thru October 22, 2022
Get ready for a week of exciting athletic competitions, PTSO treats, student performance, club events, Spirit Days, and more! More information to come!
As cold and flu season begins, I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone of the NPS COVID protocols. It is very important that students stay home if they are sick. Some important guidelines regarding COVID, more specifically:
- COVID positive individuals should isolate for 5 days.
- After the isolation period, students and staff may return to school once ALL of the following are true:
- Fever has been absent for 24 hours without use of fever-suppressing medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen;
- Symptoms have improved; AND
- At least five days have passed since symptom onset or a positive test result, whichever is earlier.
- Isolation can end on day 6 as long as the individual wears a mask through day 10.
- Please let our nurses, Gail Kramer and Karleen Kiritsy, know if you test positive.
Some have expressed concern about staying home if they are sick because of our new attendance policy. (Our FAQs here.) Please, please, stay home if you are ill. All absences due to illness, including COVID are excused. If you are concerned about the impact of illness on your child’s attendance, please contact your child’s dean.
As always, we appreciate your partnership in making the South a safe, spirited learning community. For those of you celebrating Yom Kippur, I wish you a meaningful and reflective day.