TEWKSBURY — Last week, the School Committee saw several presentations and recognized high-achieving students.
The committee recognized Darya Mehrabani as the winner of the 2019 Wynn Middle School Geography Bee.
The committee also recognized the TMHS DECA club, who recently competed in Orlando, Florida, at the international DECA competition. Members Victoria Schille, Colby Brown, Rebecca DiFrancesco, Matthew Fronduto, Ryan Bennett, Mihir Bagul, Marissa Ladderbush, and Jack Stadtman, along with their advisor, Jim Sullivan, were praised for placing in state competitions.
The TMHS Titans Robotics team gave a presentation about their season this year. iRobot employee and head mentor Scott Morris, along with team members, explained how the international high school FIRST Robotics Competition works, and demonstrated their robot for the committee.
The team fell one spot short of the world championships this year. The team is sponsored by several local STEM companies, including Raytheon, Analog Devices, and Holt & Bugbee.
Representatives from AlphaBest Education Company gave a presentation about upcoming changes to the summer program. AlphaBest will be taking over operations of the summer and extended day programs, which was previously handled by Community Services. The company will be establishing new programming, but will keep much of the infrastructure of previous years the same.
Prices will remain the same, and all previous summer program staff have been invited back to work under AlphaBest. Jenny Mutter, regional director of AlphaBest, spoke about the AlphaBest curriculum which is designed to “engage” students.
She said that the curriculum varies from year to year to fit within the framework, but provided new activities for returning students.
Assistant Superintendent Brenda Regan spoke about the interview process with AlphaBest: “We really saw this as an enrichment and extension to help our students academically and socially succeed; it really impressed us.”
Members raised concerns over accommodations for special education students; Mutter said that parents are invited to work with AlphaBest to create an optimal experience for their students.
The committee addressed the 2019-2020 elementary school student handbook. Heath Brook and Dewing School principals Felicia Wettstone and Terry Gerrish presented formatting changes, updated information, and new language changes to be consistent with other schools in the district. Gerrish also demonstrated an online form to replace a paper signature sheet that will allow parents to turn in acceptable use and photography permission forms for up to four children.
The members praised the consolidation of the handbook across the four schools, as well as the “family-friendly” online form. The board unanimously accepted the handbook.
Superintendent Chris Malone praised district students and teachers for the recent art show and band and chorus concert.
“It’s one of our hallmark events,” he said.
Dennis Francis gave an update on the Elementary School Building Committee, following the project’s approval at Town Meeting. He stated that the project is in the design phase, and the committee will be working on contracts with the developer and project manager, and will be defining a budget with the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
“We are confident that this process will lead us to a school building complex that we can all be proud of,” he said.
Regan delineated the summer reading program and broke down requirements for each grade.
“Really, what this is about is keeping those students’ brains alive; reading keeps them thinking and engaged in the learning process,” she said.
She also mentioned that the reading lists are posted on the district’s website.
The committee voted to extend Malone’s contract through 2022. The committee also voted to approve the 2019-2020 committee assignments for members, including the new addition of the Tewksbury Special Education Parents Advisory Committee, and approved the 2020 meeting schedule.
The committee wished the Class of 2019 good luck in the future, and encouraged students to enjoy their final moments at TMHS.
The next meeting is scheduled for June 12, 2019.