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PSAT Registration Information

Register for October 14, 2015 PSAT on September 15, 16 and 18

For one year only, College Board is not offering the Saturday option for the PSAT/NMSQT exam. It will be given at Newton South on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 during regular school hours. Beginning in the spring of 2016, College Board will be changing to a newly re-designed SAT exam. As part of the SAT Suite of Assessments, the new PSAT/NMSQT is tightly aligned with the new SAT. More information regarding the changes can be obtained on the College Board website.

The PSAT will be given at Newton South High School on Wednesday, October 14, 2015.

  • Members of the Class of 2017 and the Class of 2018 at Newton South are eligible to take the exam.
  • Students from other schools/school districts must take the exam at their own school.
  • There is no make-up date for the PSAT.

Information Regarding APPROVED College Board Accommodations:

  • Students who may qualify for approved College Board accommodations received information in January of 2015.
  • Students should contact their guidance counselor if they have any questions.
  • If a student has an I.E.P. with the Newton Public Schools, they are not automatically guaranteed approval from the College Board.
  • Students who have approved accommodations must bring a copy of their College Board letter with their SSD number to the PSAT registration.

Registration Dates and Information:

  • Registration will be on September 15, 16 and 18 in the CAFETERIA DURING ALL LUNCHES.
  • The exam cost is $15 cash or check. The check must be made out to the Newton South High School with “PSAT” and student’s FULL name on the MEMO line.
  • Students who have approved accommodations must bring a copy of their College Board letter with their SSD number to PSAT registration.

Check back to the NSHS website for more PSAT information. If you have any questions, please email Joan Bryant ( or MaryAnn Price ( ).

Changes in End-of-Year Routine for Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior English Classes

Dear Newton South families,

I am writing to update you on some changes in the end-of-the-year routine in English classes.

We have asked all seniors for the last two years to write what we call a synthesis essay. Each student develops an argument on his or her own, and uses the texts the class has read to support that argument. In order to ensure that seniors are ready for that quite challenging task, we have recast the common writing sections of the freshman, sophomore and junior exams to lead up to the synthesis essay. Freshmen will analyze an unfamiliar text closely, sophomores will compare their analyses of two excerpts from texts they have read, and juniors will choose from among several excerpts of texts they have read to develop an argumentative essay. The hope is that this change will become reflected in the curriculum of each year and lead to a natural progression that allows more students to succeed on their senior papers and to be better prepared for the writing demands beyond high school.

All students in grades 9, 10, and 11 will be writing some version of these assignments in their English classes in the next two weeks (likely during their long English block). Freshmen and sophomores/juniors, however, will be taking different approaches to this end-of-the-year writing.

  1. All freshmen will write a close analysis of an unfamiliar passage in class next week. Teachers will score this essay according to a common set of criteria, and return it to students by the end of May. At the start of June, students will hand in a portfolio of their work from the school year, which will include a) the close reading essay from May, b) an essay about a book from earlier in the year (students choose which one), c) a piece of either personal or creative writing (again, students choose) and d) a short self-assessment of the student’s writing. Teachers will score this portfolio based on a common set of criteria, and this grade will count as the writing portion of the student’s final exam. (The final exam in June will have some multiple choice questions, but will not contain any extended writing.) The hope here is to honor a wider array of student work and not have one on-demand essay stand as the only way a student’s writing is graded on the final. We recognize that there is a potential downside in that students will be writing an essay that “counts” earlier in the year than they otherwise would have, but we want to emphasize that this essay is just one part of a portfolio that will include three other examples of the student’s writing, and all of that writing itself will comprise just one section of the student’s final exam grade. (We also hope the final exam in June is somewhat less stressful, as it will be much shorter.) The Frequently Asked Questions sheet (PDF) for freshmen that we developed earlier in the year might help answer additional questions.
  2. Sophomores and juniors will write their essays at some point in the next two weeks (AP exams make scheduling somewhat more problematic for the older students). Teachers will score the essays according to commonly agreed upon criteria, and return them to students. The essay itselt will not count, however, as either part of the exam or fourth term. It will merely serve as formative feedback for the essay that students will write on the final exam in June. So sophomores and juniors will have writing as part of their June exams, and it will look much like the writing they did in May. The hope here is that as many students as possible will be given a chance to succeed on the final exam.

We look at both of the above approaches as pilots. We will use feedback and student results to decide if all three grades should adopt one or the other method, or if we should continue with different grades using different methods.

We’re working hard to build a more coherent and rigorous curriculum for all students, and we are confident that these changes will lead us closer to that goal. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Brian Baron
English department chair
Student publications coordinator

Come Cheer for South in 3 Nearby State Tournament Games This Week!

GIRLS BASKETBALL AT HOME:  This Thursday night, February 26, the Girls Basketball team will compete at home in the MIAA quarterfinals, having received a first-round bye as the DCL as co-champs. They will play the winner of Quincy vs. Durfee. The game will be at 6:30PM in the Field House.

BOYS HOCKEY IN WATERTOWN:  This Friday night, February 27, the DCL league championship Boys Hockey team will host a quarter-final state tournament game at Jack Ryan Arena (1 Paramount Place, Watertown) at 7:45PM.  Having earned a bye in the first round, they will play the winner of Bedford vs. Hamilton-Wenham.

BOYS BASKETBALL — FREE FAN BUS TO BROCKTON:  The Boys Basketball team has qualified for the MIAA State Tournament and will play Brockton Wednesday night, February 25, at Brockton High School at 6:30PM.  There will be a free fan bus available for students and adults to attend the game.  We need 20 people to sign up by Wednesday morning in order for the bus to go to Brockton.  If not enough people commit to the bus, it will be cancelled, and we will notify those who have signed up.  The bus will depart Newton South at 4:30PM and return immediately after the game.  If you take the bus to Brockton, you must return on the bus back to South.  PLEASE SIGN UP ASAP:  Either at the Athletic Office or by email to

NOTE:  MIAA charges admission for all state tournament games:  $5 students, $7 adults.  
Come out and cheer on our student athletes — GO LIONS!

Important Information About NSHS Parent/Teacher Conferences

Tuesday, December 9 and December 16 from 1:00-4:00PM
Sign up for conferences: Sunday, November 30, 6:00PM – Friday, December 5, 6:00PM

You’ll need: a list of the THREE teachers per child you would like to see. Note to new parents: Conference slots fill quickly – some teachers will be fully booked early in the process.

To get into the reservation system: Go to

The school’s master password was sent in a separate email. 

  • Create your own account: (We do not save accounts from last year)
  • You may do this before the reservation period starts.
  • Choose a user name and password.
  • Please include your child(ren)’s full name when you create your account. If you have more than one student at Newton South, please list each of your students’ names (first and last), so that the system allows you to book three conferences per student.
  • Be sure to save your user name and password to change or add reservations.

Parent Conference Rules

  1. Reserve a maximum of THREE conferences per student from Sunday 11/30  – Wednesday, 12/3. The three teacher limit is in place during the initial sign up period so all parents have the opportunity to see teachers. Any conferences beyond the third will be deleted and a new schedule emailed to you.
  2. Beginning Wednesday, 12/3 at 6pm until Friday, 12/5 at 6PM, you may reserve a maximum of three additional conferences per child.
  3. Reserve only one 10-minute time slot per teacher per child.
  4. Allow at least 10 minutes between conferences for travel time.
  5. Extra conferences that do not abide by the above rules will be deleted.

To make reservations:Log into the system with your user name and password. At the main menu:

  • Select the activity you want such as MAKE RESERVATIONS or CHANGE RESERVATIONS.
  • Select the teachers you want to sign up for by clicking in the box by each teacher’s name.
  • The schedules of teachers you have selected will be displayed next to each other. You can scroll side to side to see the different teachers. Scroll up and down to see their different time slots. Reserve only one 10-minute time slot per teacher.
  • Allow at least 10 minutes between conferences for travel time.
  • Reserve your THREE slots per child by clicking in the available time slots. Press SAVE to reserve the slots you have selected or press DONE when you have finished making your reservations. The reservations are not yours until you press SAVE or DONE.
  • Check the list of your reservations. If you are satisfied, you can print your reservations and log out of the system, or you can go back and make changes.

If you do not have access to a computer, you may call Vice Principal Candice Beermann or Records Secretary Jackie Casto at 617-559-6500 during the signup period. If you encounter problems or have any questions, send an email

If you need translation services, please contact your child’s guidance counselor.

Important Information Regarding SouthFest

Congratulations to you and your son or daughter on reaching this milestone! This message contains important information regarding SouthFest, the after-prom party, happening this coming Monday night/Tuesday morning, June 2-3, from midnight until 4AM.   Continue reading

SOS Program: Brief Screening for Signs of Depression – Week of May 19

Dear Parent/Guardian:

We will be conducting the Signs of Suicide (SOS) Curriculum and the Brief Screening for Adolescent Depression (BSAD) for your son/daughter’s class during the week of May 19th. This program has been used by thousands of schools over the past decade. It has proven successful at helping students concerned about themselves or a friend, while reducing suicide attempts. It is the only school-based suicide prevention curriculum listed by SAMSHA in its National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices that addresses suicide risk and depression. The curriculum includes viewing a video, followed by a discussion period.  Continue reading

Final Teacher Appreciation Breakfast of the Year Another Success!

Once again: a huge thank you to our Hospitality Chair, Bonnie Barber, and her crew of more than 100 dedicated parents who showered teachers and staff with all kinds of culinary delights for our last Teacher Appreciation Breakfast of this school year! The end of the term is a busy time for students and teachers alike. After a long weekend crunching grades, our teachers were so uplifted to see all the goodies brought in. They tell us repeatedly that the Teacher Appreciation Breakfasts make for some of their favorite days of the whole school year. Thanks to all who participated!

PTSO Volunteer Jobs Available!

Newton South is a dynamic place that depends on the input of parents. Here are lots of very rewarding ways to get involved. Please email the PTSO at and let us know which option interests you!

  • Communications Support: Check parent email subscription status as needed and other various support tasks. Training provided. Time commitment: 1 hour per week.
  • Community Dinner Organizer: Plan and execute Community Dinner, Newton South’s progressive dinner for all parents. Expected date next year is October or November. Recruit hosts, coordinate invitation, set up and clean up. Note: experienced parent available to help you with dinner assignments. Time commitment: some planning required over the summer, average 7 hours per month September through November.
  • Co-President Shadow: Work with other PTSO co-president and committee chairs to run Newton South PTSO. Strong organizational, people and technical skills are a plus. Previous PTO experience is a plus, but not required. Shadow this year’s co-presidents to learn the job and begin 2015-2016 school year. Time commitment: 5-10 hours per week.
  • Newsletter Editor: Organize, edit and upload notices for the weekly editions of the PTSO Announcements and Community Notes newsletters, which are distributed Sundays at 6PM. Training in MailChimp and WordPress web software provided. Time commitment: averages 5 hours per week.
  • Secretary: Schedule PTSO meetings twice a year, take minutes, and write thank you notes as needed. Time commitment: averages 1 hour per month.
  • Stress-buster Coordinator: Work with students in the South Senate to create a fun outlet to help students cope with finals in June. Develop ideas of future ways parents can help students learn positive stress management techniques. Time commitment: 2 hours per month, April through June.
  • Treasurer Shadow: Reconcile monthly bank statements, prepare and present budget for approval, complete 990 filings to the IRS, track donations to the PTSO, Success@South, SouthFest and South Stage. Experience with QuickBooks required. Time commitment: 2 – 3 hours per week, but more during peak fundraising times. Note: current treasurer, Faith Paul, will continue through June 2015. Parent needed to shadow Faith next year and learn the process.

An Invitation to Meet our Athletic Director/Wellness Department Chair Finalists

You are invited to meet the AD/Wellness Department Chair finalists at Newton South! The Athletic Director/Wellness Department Selection Committee has selected 3 finalists for the position, and we are very excited about the strengths of these educators. The selection committee has been meeting for the past 3 weeks and chose to interview 7 candidates from the 80 applications we received. From the many highly qualified candidates, we have chosen 3 finalists who will be returning to South next week for full day site visits on Monday, April 14, Tuesday, April 15 and Wednesday, April 16. The finalists are Patricia Gonzalez, Katrina Antonellis, and Tom Bresnahan. Parents are invited to meet with the candidates from 10-10:50AM each day, and to provide written feedback after the meeting. During the rest of the day, each applicant will meet with coaches, students, wellness teachers, and administrators.  Continue reading

URGENT – Volunteers Still Needed for Teacher Appreciation Breakfast THIS Monday, April 7

We are still desperately in need of volunteers for this Monday’s Teacher Appreciation Breakfast. Our teachers are so devoted to our students and this event means so much to them, but we need you to make it happen! Please consider donating a homemade or store bought treat for this important occasion. If you have volunteered before, we would love to have you back to assist! If you haven’t, this is a fabulous and simple way to help out. Please click on your house at this link to see what is needed. If your house’s volunteer slots are already filled, please consider donating to another one. Donations can be brought directly to the house office, or left in the front office between 7:15 and 8:30AM on Monday, April 7. If this time frame is inconvenient, please contact Bonnie Barber for alternate arrangements. Thank you!