Friday, March 15, 2019

It's Electric!

The night has finally arrived! The BES dance is tonight so "Let's Glow Crazy"!!! The PTO is hosting a family dance, so come out and hang out with your families, glow in the dark, take a few selfies, and have a great time! I'll be the guy walking around with a glow in the dark tie asking kids to not play "tag games." Keith's Music House is once again DJing the event and we hope to teach this new generation the "Electric Slide" really, they don't know how! Given the recent snow, we will drop the rope to the playground to allow extra parking. 

My personal highlight from the week was our Pi Day celebration. For those who don't know, March 14th is a bit of a holiday in math circles (pun intended.) March 14 = 3/14. Our math crew (Mr. Andrews, Mrs. Koziak, and Mrs. Smith) planned an afternoon of inquiry-based activities for our 4th and 5th graders all relating to pi. Students were measuring circles, calculating areas, discovering volumes and having a blast doing it. No really, I saw smiles and laughter while they were exploring math concepts (and some tough ones at that). I think their favorite part though, was when we calculated pi using pies as a unit of measurement. Thanks to Table Talk pies generous donation, each student had a pie to place in a circle. Once we counted the pies in the circumference, we determined how many pies were in the diameter. We took the circumference and divided it by the diameter to get within .2 of pi. Not bad! And the pies tasted great too! The video below explains the mathematical experiment. 

We finished our week with a first for us. We held our first Virtual All School Meeting. We regularly discuss behavior here at BES as a part of our Positive Behavior Intervention and Support system (PBIS). Most recently, the topic of student's behavior in the bathroom was a topic of conversation. The typical response is to develop some clear expectations and then host an all-school meeting to teach the kids the right way act. Given the topic (bathroom behavior) the group had a hard time picturing a format that would cover our multiple age groups and differentiating for their developmental need. From this sprang the idea of a "virtual" meeting. The group, led by Mrs. Koziak, developed a slide show and a few short videos to share in classrooms to drive conversations. At 2:00 today, we held our first VASM. You can see it for yourself and even better yet, ask your kids about it!  

A note from Mrs. DiFonso: "Mini-courses are set! If you haven't heard from me with mini course enrollment confirmation please reach out.

The Week Ahead:

  • Thursday (3/21) 
          • Kate Hanscom Author's visit to the library
  • Friday (3/22) 
          • Wear Orange for MS Awareness! 

Friday, March 8, 2019


What a wonderful and surprisingly short week we had here at BES! Our snow day finally arrived and now that it is out of our system, the last (unofficial) day of school is a half day on Tuesday, June 18th. Meanwhile, I'd like to remind everyone that if kids want to play in the snow, they need to come with snow pants, boots, gloves, and jacket on. I hope you all enjoyed the snowy start to the week! 

In other big news here at BES, Mrs. Bowen is pregnant! So, this may not be news to many of you but the real news is that we have hired a long-term substitute to complete the school year while Mrs. Bowen enjoys her sons. I have made her promise to come back for Field Day though. Mrs. Colleen Lombardi joins us after covering several long term substitute positions for PE and with an extensive soccer coaching background.  If your children are coming home talking about her, it is because we were able to have a shadow day this week to try to maintain as much continuity as possible for the children. I know they will all continue to have a fantastic year in PE!

One huge highlight from the week was our annual Specials Spectacular! Thank you to all our specialists for coming out and celebrating our students. Thanks too to the many parents who came out to show support for their work in these classes! And thank you to the PTO for providing the snacks and moral support! They say a picture is worth a thousand words so here are about 14,000 words in easily digestible pictures: 

Every year, our 3rd through 5th graders take part in the statewide MCAS assessment. This test provides us as a school with feedback on how we are doing delivering our educational standards to our kids. It is important to us that the kids are present and give their best effort (they always do) so that we have a valid picture of our efforts. To this end, I share the dates in advance so that you can plan accordingly: 
3rd Grade April 23rd & 24th - ELA, May 7th & 8th Math
4th Grade April 23rd & 24th - ELA, May 7th & 8th Math
5th Grade April 24th & 25 - ELA, May 8th & 9th Math, May 15th & 16th Science

The PTO has asked me to share the following information with all of you: 
Start thinking about Box Tops (aka - cardboard money) for next year! We've already been able to send in hundreds of dollars worth this year and want to keep it going next year. To help keep track of these we have uploaded the box top drive sheet. Print them as often as you'd like and fill as many up as you can. There will be another collection in the fall! 

Also, the Let's Glow Crazy Dance is next week! We'd like to ensure everyone has a fantastic time and part of that is remembering that many hands make for lighter work. There is a volunteer sign-up to help make this event a success or everyone. Please consider giving some of your time.  

I am always amazed by this community. Kids think of others in need and parents support it. We had an amazing book collection for bus bins so the kids would have something to do while riding the bus. And now the Girl Scouts have reached out to me to share a program they are working to support: 
Boylston Junior Girl Scout Troop 40057 is  working towards their Bronze Award
Lend -A -Hand -Bag Drive 
Supporting Dress for Success in Worcester
1.  We need new or gently used handbags
2.  Toiletries regular or travel sized.
3.  Gift cards to Dunkins, Target or Walmart. (Any Gift Cards are welcome)
4.  Monetary donations are welcome.  
Drop of Locations
NKD in Worcester
Connect with Janice Poretsky for pickup  

The week ahead: 
  • Wednesday (3/13) 
    • Early Dismissal at 11:45 (Please update School Dismissal Manager, especially if they normally stay for ASP) for Teacher PD
  • Thursday (3/14) 
    • Pi Day!
  • Friday (3/15) 
    • Clinton Savings Bank Day
    • Hawaiian Day in Kindergarten
    • PTO Dance - Let's GLOW Crazy

Friday, March 1, 2019

So much this week!

What a week to come back from vacation! Some of my favorite events of the year took place this week. We had the invention convention in the gym and community readers everywhere! 

This week, the 4th grade presented their annual Invention Convention. Every year, 4th graders go through the design process and develop a solution to a problem. And every year, I see new ideas. The kids' creativity blows me away every single time. We had kids who solved problems on the soccer field, who created portable guitars and even one who solved the problem of losing those tiny tastes of popsicle when you freeze them on their side (a problem I've spent my whole life not even acknowledging!) This year, Mrs. Koziak and Mrs. Avery took it to another level and kids showed each iteration of their idea to show the process. They also incorporated math and had kids price out how much their prototype cost to create, what their wholesale price would be, the retail price and their profit margins. Great job! 

For this year's Community Reader Day, Mrs. Kelleher kicked it up a notch! Every class had two readers and we had a whole host of Tahanto National Honor Society members down to read to our kids. For those who didn't know, it was Read Across America week and at BES we celebrate by inviting members from the community to come in and read to our students. Not only is it a great celebration of literacy, but it's also a great way to bring the whole community together. I'd like to thank all our guest readers for making this a special day and especially Mrs. Kelleher for organizing the whole event. 

Our Specialists and our students would like to invite you all to our Specials Spectacular Thursday night. The kids have been anxiously preparing for the evening for weeks. It is always a fantastic night!

The Spring Mini-Course offerings are out with 12 awesome offerings! Please be sure to check your child's backpack and the electronic blue folder for the flyer and registration form!  Sign-ups are due to Mrs. DiFonso by Wednesday, March 13th! Early enrollment is encouraged as classes fill up quickly!  

The Week Ahead: 

  • Monday (3/4)  
    • Staff meeting 
    • School Council
  • Tuesday (3/5) 
    • School Committee
  • Wednesday (3/6) 
    • PTO meeting (this is a change)
  • Thursday (3/7)
    • Specials Spectacular (6:00-7:30)
  • Friday (3/8) 
    • 3rd Grade Biography Presentations 1:30 (please note "Early Pick-up" on Dismissal Manager if you plan to dismiss straight from the presentation)

Friday, February 15, 2019


The week leading into vacation is always an exciting one! Throw in an early dismissal and delayed opening and this week was no different. We had spirit days, Patriotic Performances, Jumping Rope, Valentine's Day and of course an epic battle on the basketball court. We even had our own #HereComesAndy challenge. Where do I begin? 

Well, our 1st graders, teachers, and Ms. Thompson put on an adorable Patriotic Performance in anticipation of President's Day. Not only was it entertaining but I was amazed at the poise these young students showed, presenting and speaking in front of an auditorium of people. They learned American History in the process and celebrated through music and movement! Great job!

For the third consecutive year, Mrs. Bowen has organized our Jump Rope for Heart event! Students learn healthy habits for their hearts and earn some cool prizes along the way. It culminates in an afternoon open gym! The kids had a blast! 
And the week ended with our PBIS Basketball game! Twenty-four 5th graders joined the staff on two teams to determine the BES basketball champions. The whole school came down to support the teams and cheer along. We built community as we sat together as buddies and we did the wave, and we even pretended to be toys when Andy shows up. After a 3rd quarter comeback by team Bob, the game ended in a tie! I told the kids we all won!

Mrs. Fletcher's class recently came to me with a great idea to support both literacy and give kids something to do on the bus. I thought I'd share it with all of you. In their own words: 
Bus Books
By Ivy H and Camden L
Have you ever wanted to do something more on the bus? Do you get tired of just sitting and watching the cars go by? It can get really boring! How about this, try reading a book on the bus by yourself or with friends.

Mrs. Fletcher’s class would like to donate buckets of books to each bus. From February 25th - March 1st please donate books for our bus buckets. If you have a book that you kinda like but are done reading, please donate it to bus buckets. We are doing this to make the buses a bit more fun so you can have fun reading to your friends. If you have trouble reading a book, ask a friend to read it to you. There will be four buckets outside in the lobby where you can drop off books. You will not get your books back so pick books that you know you don’t want to read anymore. Also please make sure the books are appropriate for little kids and older kids. Don’t only bring in chapter books because there are some younger kids that can’t read chapter books.
Please donate books to make the buses fun and the school better.

Now down to some serious work. Yes, there was some of that this week as well! The state has released district/school report cards. Here at BES, this is our last year where our district report is the same as our school report before we regionalize. Thanks to our wonderful students' hard work, our parent support, and our super staff, we did well. You can see for yourself here.  

Week Ahead: 
  • No school until 2/25 for February Break
  • Monday (2/25) 
    • BES Budget Hearing
  • Tuesday (2/26) 
    • 4th-grade Invention Convention 1:00-3:00
  • Friday (3/1) 
    • Community Reader Day!

Friday, February 8, 2019


So I'll have to start with my highlight for the week. I really wanted to skip school and head into Boston for the parade on Tuesday...but the responsible side of me said no. The past two decades of Boston sports dominance has been amazing but how much longer can it last? When will be the last Duckboat parade? We try to celebrate every moment here at BES and rather than put the parade on SmartBoards, we elected to have our own. Mrs. DiFonso was kind enough to design our own DuckBoat and Lombardi trophy that we paraded around the school with. The student council tricycled through with us dispersing Bobcats in every hallway. Ryan was our Bill, Mrs. Hatem our Tom Brady Bobcat, and I had my moment to shine as Robert Kraft (I even wore my pink tie). It was a short moment but a fun reminder that we work hard and celebrate hard work! I hope the kids enjoyed it as much as we did. 

Speaking of Celebrations: we spend countless hours here looking over academic achievement scores, celebrating MCAS improvements, and generally focused on Literacy, Math, Science, and Social Studies. The often forgotten heroes are our specialists. These teachers make every day special for our kids, find successes for those who struggle in other parts of the day, and push kids out of their comfort zones when necessary. One month from now on 3/7, we will be hosting our annual "Specials Spectacular" to celebrate them and all the work the kids have done in those classes. I wanted to give everyone notice so they can mark it on their calendars. It's always a great evening! 

And while we're in that vein... next week is the week before vacation and as is our custom we will celebrate it with a Student Council sponsored Spirit Week!
"Hello! It is Kiera from the student council here to tell you about the upcoming spirit week. 
Monday is Maui Monday where you can dress like you are going to Maui or be a tourist. 
Tuesday is Tired Tuesday where you can wear your PJs to school. 
Wednesday is Color wars: Kindergarten is yellow, 1st grade is blue bottoms and white tops for the Patriotic Performance, 2nd grade is light blue (dark blue and navy blue don't count), 3rd grade is red, 4th grade is purple, and 5th grade is navy blue (light blue doesn't count). 
Thursday is Have a Heart day, wear lots of hearts and pink and red. 
Friday is TGIF 80's day or comfy clothes because it is FriYAY! Show your spirit during spirit week!" 

The week ahead (and there is sooo much to look forward to):

  • Monday (2/11) 
    • Maui Monday
  • Tuesday (2/12) 
    • Tired Tuesday
  • Wednesday (2/13) 
    • Class Colors Day
    • Patriotic Performance  
      •  If you plan to dismiss your first grader and any siblings after the program, please change their dismissal option to "Dismissal from Patriotic Program."
  • Thursday (2/14) 
    • Valentine's Day - please make sure all celebrations are within the guidelines of our Wellness policy. Please do not send in sweet treats with valentines. It can be a difficult temptation for kids during the day. 
    • Have a Heart Spirit Day 
    • Jump Rope for Heart (3:00-4:00)  
      • Students who attend ASP will be dismissed there first,
        and then sent to the gym. At 4:00, they will be sent back to ASP.  
      • Students who typically ride the bus or get picked up must update their dismissal on School Dismissal Manager so they can be dismissed to the gym after school. They must be picked up by a parent/guardian promptly at 4:00pm. 
  • Friday (2/15) 
    • Clinton Savings Bank Day
    • Box Top Collections
    • TGIF Spirit day
    • PBIS Basketball Game
    • February Vacation Begins!
  • Friday (3/15) Save the Date! 
    • PTO sponsored Let's Glow Crazy Dance! #BESGlowCrazy

The Boylston Youth Baseball and Softball group would like to remind everyone that the early bird discount ($20) ends on February 15th! It's never too early to start thinking about spring!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Go Pats!

So, I guess you can file this as not school related but it kind of is. A video has been running through staff emails this week that I find particularly poignant (and not just because it's my boy, Tom). A young child is "interviewing" Tom Brady and asking him about "the haters." His response is everything we try and teach our kids about kindness. I found it also tied to our recent professional development day speaker Dr. Robert Brooks. He spoke to the whole district on how to foster a positive climate and resilient kids. It was great! But I'm putting in to have Tom at a future PD day for a similar topic! 

For those of you who haven't been around the music program at BES recently, Mrs. Bruss our band teacher no longer pregnant. Nora Bruss has joined the BES family! We are all so excited for her and she joins the ranks of parenthood. Meanwhile, the band plays on! While Mrs. Bruss is off doing one of the most important jobs in the world (Mom), we are very fortunate to have the expertise of Ms. Sarah Harney working with our students. Ms. Harney (pictured on the right) joins us from UMASS Amherst where she completed a dual degree in Music Education and the Clarinet. I'm most impressed that, just like Mrs. Bruss, she can play ALL of the band instruments. Pardon me, I was a percussionist. I know you will all welcome Ms. Harney and reach out with any concerns. 

Jump Rope for Heart
"Last week in Physical Education we kicked off our annual Jump for Heart campaign (renamed the Kids Heart Challenge). This fundraiser is in support of the American Heart Association and their efforts to find ways to save and improve countless lives. Students have until February 15th to raise money to be donated to the AHA both online and in check/cash form with the provided envelope. Students can also participate in the actual event, which will take place on Thursday, February 14th after school until 4pm. Please see the letter sent home by Mrs. Bowen for details on both parts of the campaign and email her with any questions you may have ( Last year we raised an astronomical $7000 (yes, that's the correct number of zeros!) but we are motivated to beat that total and show what Boylston is made of - a whole lotta HEART! Thank you for all of your support for BES and this great cause." - Mrs. Bowen

The Week Ahead:
  • Sunday (2/3) 
  • Monday (2/4) 
    • The day that should be a New England Holiday but isn't. Sorry, we all have to be at school. 
    • School Council 
  • Thursday (2/7) 
    • PTO @ 6:30 
  • Friday (2/8)
    • The 100th Day of K! 

Friday, January 25, 2019

Short week, short blog

It was a short but productive week here at BES. This time of year I find myself having conversations with students about recess. Specifically, indoor vs. outdoor. No one thinks outdoor recess is more important then I do (at least no one I have met), but I do have to weigh that importance against the safety of our young students. We always try to err on the side of sending them out but there are occasions when we can't. Our primary tool in the decision-making process is the chart I have shared here. It was generated through monies granted by the US Department of Health and Human Services. As you can see, based on the concern for frostbite, if the temperature gets close to 20 degrees and/or the wind gets much over 5 mph we have a decision to make. Another factor considered is the level of precipitation, I'm the guy that sends them out if it's only "misting." I've been known to look out the window and if I don't see drops hitting puddles we're good to go. And finally, we evaluate the condition of the playground. If it's too wet, we may shut down the fields, too icy on the hardtop, we ask kids to stay off of it. Additionally, if the DPW hasn't been able to plow out our playground we struggle to send the kids out. While many have the appropriate clothing, many do not and we don't have the staff to supervise both an indoor and outdoor recess. I laugh because you'd think indoor vs. outdoor recess would be the easiest decision of the day but on some days it is far from it. I always encourage people though, if you'd like to know, feel free to ask. I'd also encourage parents to send their kids in ready to go out. That is always our preference. 

It is an exciting time in Boylston and Berlin as we move through the regionalization process. There is still much work to be done and we want to include your voices in the process. In this vein, the School Committee has asked me to share the following with all of you:
"The Boylston/Berlin Regional school committee is looking for volunteers. We are looking for  one or two people from each town to participate and play an advisory role in a community engagement group.  As part of this group you will be expected to provide ideas, feedback and possibly participate in outreach and engagement activities. Requirements include
  •  Ability to attend a minimum of four scheduled group meetings during the school calendar year.
  • Ability to meet during school hours.
  • Willingness to engage in community outreach activities.
If interested or have any comments or questions please email School Committee member Jim Spencer at"
- Thank you
Boylston/Berlin Regional School Committee

The week ahead: 

  • Wednesday (1/30) 
    • Kindergarten Registration (9:00-12:30)
  • Thursday (1/31) 
    • Kindergarten Registration (11:30-2:30)
  • Friday (2/1) 
    • Patriots Day! It's the Super Bowl! I don't think I even have to declare it