Principal's Newsletter

Winthrop Middle School / January 2017

Important Dates

  • February 20th-24th = School Vacation
  • February 28th = School Site Council Meeting
  • March 11th = Middle School Solo Ensemble at WMS
  • March 16th = Full Court Frenzy

Dates to come soon for 8th grade dances.

*MCAS Dates

  • April 27-28 = Grade 8 ELA
  • May 2-3 = Grade 6 & 7 ELA
  • May 16-17 = Grade 8 Math
  • May 18-19 = Grade 6 & 7 Math
  • May 22-23 = Grade 8 Science

*These dates were changed from original dates that were posted.

7th Grade Learns about Heart Disease & Organ Donation

Sue Ellen Monaghan and Jon Claflin spoke to our 7th grade students about organ donation and heart disease. The seventh grade just wrapped up a unit on the Heart and Human Body. Sue Ellen's son, Timmy, donated his organs, saving four lives when he passed away in 2014. Jon Claflin received Timmy's heart due to serious heart problems. Through the New England Donor program, Sue Ellen and Jon were able to meet one another and share their incredible stories of medical technology and breakthroughs that allow Jon to live with Timmy's heart. Sue Ellen and Jon were delighted with the student's respect during the presentation and also by the high-level questions asked by our 7th grade students...Thank you to Ms. Stoloff for setting up this event.

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Bobby Hubert Selected as School Ambassador for Project 351

A Project 351 Ambassador is an 8th grade student who demonstrates exemplary ethic of service and the values of kindness, compassion, humility, and gratitude. Bobby will spend time with other 8th graders working on a community service project...Congratulations Bobby!

Please click HERE for a great article in the Winthrop Transcript.

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4th Graders from the ATC Visit WMS

Fourth graders came to Winthrop Middle School to share some of their great writing samples. Sixth grade students were ask to listen and also provide some feedback to help them in their writing process....great to see both schools working together!

Winthrop Elks Supporting WMS

Congratulations to our Elk winners (Students of the Month) for December & January!


Grade 6 Jaguars - Jake McManus & Corinne Powell

Grade 7 Falcons - Dan Tracy

Grade 7 Wolves - Julia Marcoccio

Grade 8 Bruins - Adyana Barbarisi

Grade 8 Patriots - Ronald Mesa


Grade 6 Jaguars - Connor Murphy & Ina Shabini

Grade 7 Falcons - James Sicurella

Grade 7 Wolves - Norah McCarey

Grade 8 Bruins - Joseph Holgersen

Grade 8 Patriots - Colleen Whittaker

WMS Geography Bee - And the winner is...

Congratulations to Julia Dickinson (winner) and all of our finalists for a great effort in the Geography Bee! Special shout out to Mrs. Durkee for doing a great job in organizing the competition and event.


First Place - Julia Dickinson

Second Place - Dan Tracy

Third Place - Max Correia

Fourth Place - Ruwan Aldweib


Santino Perullo

Nick Lamonica

Amelia Barbosa

Maddie Tolliver

Conlan Petersen

Dominic DiChiara

8th Grade Girls Make their Mark in the N.E.C. (Northeast Conference)

A group of 8th grade girls have had an opportunity to play on the freshman girls basketball team. The group led by coaches Brynn Durkee, Mike Gagnon, & Carolyn Gagnon have the girls off to a great start! The girls are currently 9-1 and their average margin of victory is well over 10 points. One of their most recent highlights was a recent win over Peabody. The girls were able to knock off Peabody who beat them earlier in the season. The girls look to finish strong as they have three games left in the season...The future looks bright for the Lady Vikings!!!!

The team consists of: Polina Bell, Maura Dorr, Jenna Dorr, Caroline Earl, Tessa Ferrandi, Katie Gagnon, Grace Galuris, Carolyn Kinsella, Rhiana Powers, Lily Pulsifer, & Lily Skomro.

Curriculum Updates


In Grade 6 our students explored ratios and rates to find solutions to real word problems. Through our class activities, students were able to discover the connection between ratios, rates and percent and use them interchangeably to solve problems. Topics included writing ratios, finding equivalent ratios, using tape diagrams and double number lines to model solutions, writing proportions, and creating and solving proportions by setting up equations. Students also worked with discount, tax and other percent problems. We will be moving on to our next module where students will focus on Order of Operations and Exponents.

In grade 7, students are learning about two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes. Topics included, finding the circumference and area of circles, and finding the area of composite figures. They then move onto calculating the surface area and volume of 3D shapes. Once we wrap up geometry, we will be moving onto our unit on statistics.

In the advanced seventh grade math class, students are currently learning to compare and analyze data in displays such as dot plots and box and whisker plots. They will then be moving on to populations and samples before heading into probability.

Students in grade 8, In January are learning to identify, describe, and compare functions of different kinds. This gave them a chance to continue their practice on finding rate of change/slope, creating equations, and graphing equations. This led into our next unit on solving systems of equations through graphing. Moving into February, students will continue to work on solving systems, but through algebraic reasoning instead of graphing.

Algebra I

In January our students extended their knowledge of graphing and solving equations by learning to solve systems of equations, both algebraically and graphically. Students learned how to solve algebraically both through substitution and through elimination. After systems, students moved on to learning how to simplify expressions with exponents. Moving into February, we will work on applying these concepts to scientific notation and simplifying radicals.

English Language Arts:

In Grade 6 students have finished our big unit of study on literary elements. This unit included the reading and analysis of many short stories, and the writing of works from different narrative perspectives. Students continued to work on reading and writing strategies to help prepare them for state testing in the Spring.

Seventh grade is focusing on Thematic Analysis in January and February. Students will be working on identifying themes and analyzing how an author develops themes throughout a text. We are using several books when completing this work, which include Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper, Hunger by Michael Grant, and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs. Falcons and Wolves students have all been also been working on non-fiction by studying central idea.


Grade 6 has started our unit on Exploring Space. The content that we will be covering is space exploration, telescopes, space objects, the solar system, and the sun. The social focus of this issue is the hazards and benefits of space exploration.

Grade 7 wrapped up our study of the human body with an in-depth exploration of the cardiovascular system and the heart. Students had the opportunity to dissect sheep hearts and listen to guest speakers who shared their experiences with organ donation. We have now begun our unit on ecology, analyzing the effects of introduced species in a new environment.

Grade 8 has been learning about forces and motion. Students have learned how to calculate speed by measuring distance and time, graph motion, and calculate forces. Other topics have included the effect of mass on force in a collision, inertia, Newton's Laws of Motion, net forces, and friction. Soon, we will begin our unit on energy.

Social Studies:

In Grade 6, students are starting the Ancient Egypt unit. Focus thus far is on geography, farming and natural resources of Ancient Egypt.

In Grade 7, geography students are covering Africa and the political, human, and physical geography of the continent. Topics of focus include natural resources, human development, poaching, and civil war.

In Grade 8 History, students have been learning about the rise of Islam and the various empires that existed in the Middle East.


The sixth grade is in the process of completing the Unit on "La Familia" (The Family). To complete this unit, students will be working on a family tree project where they will get to know their family history a bit better while using spanish vocabulary to link their family relationships in larger displayable visual project.

The seventh grade at the WMS is currently working on wrapping up the unit of the verb "gustar" (to like). Students are integrating the recently learned vocab with the previously learned section on pronouns.

The eighth grade students at the WMS are currently working on rules of conjugation of "ER/AR" ending verbs and applying the concept to building group conversations that include discussions about foods & drinks, and exercise activities.


STEM Lab held the Second Quarter Bridge Challenge. Teams built truss-style bridges using only 200 popsicle sticks and 5 hot glue sticks. The bridges were tested to their breaking points. The First Quarter winning team's bridge withstood 300 pounds of weight, but this record was surpassed by the team of Miguel, Brooke, Sydney, Nellie, and Cody whose structure held 310 pounds. Congratulations!


New classes started this week for the third quarter. Students are becoming familiar with the art classroom and are sketching ideas for name designs using repeated lines and organic & geometric shapes. We will use these designs to label individual sketchbooks and folders. Present and past students are encouraged to bring in any artwork that they would like to be displayed in our Youth Art Exhibit coming up at The Clock Tower Gallery at The E.B. Newton School.

Physical Education:

All three grades are completing a Volleyball unit. Grade 6 students are practicing, developing, and applying volleyball specific skills such as the forearm pass, overhead pass, underhand and overhand serves. Grade 7 and 8 students are learning offensive and defensive strategies required for game play. All students will get to participate in a 3 on 3 mini game and a volleyball game with a full size net.


The Winthrop Middle School Band put on an outstanding concert on January 11th. The performance included selections from "Les Miserables" and "Guardians of the Galaxy". If you missed it you can check it out on YouTube at

Post concert, students have started working on new repertoire for the Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association (MICCA) competition. MICCA is on Saturday, April 1st, our students will be competing against middle school bands from all over Massachusetts! The students have also begun work for their Solo and Ensemble Festival coming up on March 11th. The festival happens here at WMS. The students have the opportunity to perform alone or with a small group in front of a panel of professional judges. The judges evaluate the performances based on tone quality, rhythmic accuracy, and stage presence. After the performance, the students are provided a one-on-one clinic with one of the judges. At the end of the day students are ranked and awarded for the caliber of their performance. The festival is an amazing opportunity for our students to be able to work with professional musicians and get experience performing alone!


6th Graders have been studying the vocabulary words theatre professionals use to describe the stage and theater. Over the past few weeks, students researched the various vocabulary words and reviewed them with one another. Students then received a behind-the-scenes tour of the new Neil Shapiro Center for the Performing Arts to see each of their new vocabulary words in action. Their final group project for this unit (which they are working on now) is to create Maps of the Neil Shapiro center featuring a key that uses their vocab words.

7th Graders are studying puppetry and how to create a "noun" (a simple brown paper bag) into a "verb" ( a puppet character). In groups students researched various historic figures from either the social studies or science fields (these various historic figures were provided by their core teachers). After completing their research, groups were provided with 1 brown paper bag and tasked with turning that bag into the historic figure.

8th Graders have been researching the various backstage jobs that are available in the theatre world. This unit involved researching the job descriptions of particular theatre roles (ie: director, stage manager, lighting designer etc.) and watching videos highlighting actual professionals in these fields and their day-to-day tasks. As a final assignment, students are working as part of a production team to design elements for a staged version of "The Outsiders." Students can take on the role of producer and design a poster for the show, design a set for the show, or design the costume and makeup for various characters. Although students are working individually, they need to collaborate to make sure everyone is on the same page with their ideas and look for the show.