Peirce Principal News
August 24, 2023
A Message from Ms. Vargas
Dear Peirce Families,
The Vargas family has gone shopping for school supplies and our local ice cream shop is now selling pumpkin flavors, so it's truly starting to feel like a new school year is on the way! I am excited for the start of school-- and not just because I treated myself to a new set of flair pens during our shopping trip. Each September brings renewed hope and energy for the important work of guiding young students in their learning and engaging in our own learning as educators in service of our students.
This past summer, I achieved a good balance of recharging and preparing for the new year ahead.
I'm including a picture of my family on the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park a few weeks ago. (Julian will be in 8th grade this year, and Ella will be a senior year in high school!)
In addition to spending a lot of time with friends and family, some other summer highlights include my work with Peirce staff:
- In July and August, literacy specialist Brett Aronne and I engaged in a course on the Science of Reading. The content of this class affirmed many of our strong instructional practices at Peirce and helped us consider the implementation of our new literacy curriculum and other areas of change.
- In June, July, and August, I had the pleasure of working with a team of seven staff members who designed a new format for strengthening our social emotional learning at Peirce. More information to come!
- Yesterday, I joined district-wide professional development on Culturally Responsive Instruction with three Peirce teachers. These teachers will collaborate with me throughout the year to provide CRI training focusing on maintaining a safe learning environment for all children and implementing well-structured units and lessons.
I am eager and proud to welcome both new and returning students on Tuesday, September 5th.
* The 2023-24 Roster of Fantastic Peirce Teachers *
You may be surprised to know that Peirce has around 80 different staff members including classroom teachers, specialists, special educators, behavior technicians, interventionists, custodians, and more! In upcoming newsletters, I plan to highlight an array of educators and their unique roles within our school. For now, I will provide you with a basic list of classroom teachers and specialists we are fortunate to have at Peirce this fall.
Kindergarten- Melina Crovo and Megan Leone (formerly Megan Luce)
First Grade- Erin Tracey and Breane Norvell
Second Grade- Nicole Capodilupo and Gennie Salzsieder
Third Grade- Emily Donahue and Amanda Anderson (formerly Amanda Berneberg)
Fourth Grade- Katie Busk and Laura DiSipio
Fifth Grade- Katie Beaulieu, Anne Carey, and Kelly Champagne
Classroom teacher assignments will be available in Aspen on Friday at noon. Please see this link for directions on accessing this information.
Library- Morgan Harper
Art- Georgia Smith
Music- Olivia de Geofroy
Physical Education- Gary Nye
School Hours and Schedule
The first day of school is Tuesday, September 5th.
Students are welcome to enter through the front or back entrances of our school building depending on how they arrive or where their classrooms are located. In grades 1-5, all parents will remain outside the school building as students are dropped off. Additional staff will be on hand at the start of the school year to escort children who need assistance.
For Kindergarten: On September 5- September 8 only, parents may drop students off to classrooms through the side doors in the front of the building. By the second week of school (September 11th on) teachers will meet students at these doors and bring them inside each morning while parents remain outdoors.
The first bell rings at 8:10. This is when students are expected to arrive and enter the building.
The second bell rings at 8:20. This signifies the start of school. Students should have their belongings stored and be inside their classrooms ready to start learning activities at this time.
Students arriving after 8:20 are marked late and need to check-in at the main office.
Please understand that we will be looking more closely at absences and tardies this school year since school attendance has a significant impact on learning. Arriving on time each day ensures that students participate in essential morning routines that prepare them for a successful day ahead.
Please see our new Student Attendance and Absence Procedures for more information.
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: School dismisses at 2:50 (Lunch is served.)
Wednesday: School dismisses at 12:20. (No lunch is served.)
Here is the 2023-24 Newton Public Schools Calendar. Please refer to this calendar when planning family vacations and other events to avoid missing school as much as possible.
There are 6 special early release days (5 Thursdays and 1 Tuesday) with a 12:10 dismissal:
September 28th, November 7th, December 7th, February 1st, March 21st, and May 9th
Check out our new look!
Many thanks to parent Emily Hughes for coordinating and installing this thoughtful gift from last year's 5th grade graduating class-- another sign of our great school spirit!
Aspen Update Required
Please login now to Aspen to update your student’s contact information and permissions. This review must be done every year so that the district has accurate and up-to-date information on addresses, emergency contacts, health records, etc. It is also critical to review the permissions for the 2023-2024 school to indicate preference on utilizing and releasing student information and photos. Please update all records and permissions by Friday, September 29th. See below for directions.
School Supplies and Food Support
Updates from the Peirce PTO
Peirce Back to School Picnic is Friday, September 8 at 5:30 pm. All Peirce families are invited to come celebrate the new school year with old friends and new! Pre-order your pizza by September 5th via this link.
If you have not ordered your school supplies, please find the School Supply Lists for this year here.
Each year the Peirce PTO publishes a secure online and print directory. All families must confirm their family information every year. Please go to https://peircepto.membershiptoolkit.com and Click Register/Login to choose your publish preferences and information you would like shared. New Families, Select "Create Account." For more detailed instructions go here.
Food Services Update
From NPS District News:
Massachusetts will again provide universally-free meals for students in the 2023-24 school year. Please note the following:
The FIRST breakfast and lunch are free each day
Please note that first meals are free for all students. However, second meals and a la carte items must be paid for with cash or with MySchool Bucks.
Paid Meal Pricing for Second Meals
The student charge for second meals is $5.25 for elementary students and $5.50 for middle and high school students.
How to use MySchoolBucks
Please create or check your family MySchoolBucks lunch account to ensure there are funds available if your child purchases a second meal or a la carte items (middle and high school only).
The district cannot allow negative balances in student accounts. Please ensure that your student's account has funds to purchase second meals or a la carte foods if you choose to allow this option for your student.
All student meals must be processed at the register
All student meals must have their meal scanned at the Point of Sale register - even though the first meals are free. This is necessary so that Newton receives the accurate federal and state revenue to operate the program.
Student ID barcode cards will be provided for all K-5 students, which will be waiting for them at school on the first day of school. The cards will remain at school, and each school will determine how the kids will access their cards each day.
Please encourage students to be patient as they wait in line and to be kind to the Food Services team!
Direct Certification for Free and Reduced Meals
Families who are determined eligible for free or reduced-price meals through Direct Certification (state process) will receive a letter from NPS stating their benefit eligibility. Notification letters will be sent via email to the main household contact/s on file in Aspen for each eligible student the week of 8/21 and then as new eligibility may be identified. Please check your Junk/Spam folder to ensure receipt of this email.
Reference the Food Services tab on the NPS website to see how Free and Reduced-Price Eligibility is determined through Direct Certification.
NOTE - Students with free or reduced-price status are still obligated to pay the full price for second lunches or for all a la carte items this year. These charges are the family's responsibility.
Eligibility Period for Free and Reduced Lunch
If you do not receive a letter of your free or reduced-price eligibility through Direct Certification for the 23/24 school year and believe that your income would make you eligible for benefits, please apply for benefits through the online application or the printable application. Please choose the “information sharing options” provided in the application, which will allow Newton to extend financial assistance/fee waivers for other activities.
*Previous eligibility determinations from the 22/23 school year will expire as of 10/19/23 if not renewed via a new application.*
A notification letter will be sent confirming eligibility within one week of submitting an application.
National School Lunch Program (NSLP) FAQ
Please review the National School Lunch Program FAQ found on the Free and Reduced Price Documents tab on the NPS Food Services website for more information about free and reduced-price eligibility.
Financial Assistance - Waiver Request
Families who are notified of free or reduced-price eligibility through Direct Certification would be eligible for NPS financial assistance and fee waivers. However, NPS needs a family's explicit approval to extend this assistance. To receive this financial support, please choose one of these options:
1. Use the online application for Fee Payment and Waiver Information available on the NPS website or by using this link: https://www.newton.k12.ma.us/page/1072 to receive Newton Public Schools financial assistance.
2. Update your sharing preferences in the Parent Portal during the Annual Update in Aspen.
Public Comment Sought on Draft Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Framework
From the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education:
On June 27, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to send the draft updated Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Framework out for public comment. It supports the design and implementation of comprehensive health and physical education programs that are inclusive, medically accurate, and developmentally- and age-appropriate. The framework emphasizes the skills students need to promote health and avoid risk and covers mental and emotional health; personal safety; physical health and hygiene; healthy relationships; nutrition and balanced eating; physical activity and fitness; substance use and misuse; gender, sexual orientation, and sexual health; and public, community, and environmental health. Additional supporting documents can be found here.
The Department is happy to receive feedback on the draft via this online survey at any time on or before Monday, August 28. If people would prefer not to use the survey, they can provide written feedback via email to Kristen McKinnon at firstname.lastname@example.org or via mail to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Attention: Kristen McKinnon, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, MA 02148.
Community Meeting on Proposal for a Family Shelter on September 14th
Below you will find an excerpt from the mayor's update on August 17th. It refers to a proposed family shelter within our school zone. This shelter could bring students with more diverse experiences to Peirce as well as access to additional services and support. Please consider attending the community meeting to learn more:
Join FamilyAid, State officials (from both Executive Office of Livable Communities and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education), and City leaders and staff for a community meeting to hear more about plans to create a Family Navigation Center with 42 units of transitional housing.
FamilyAid, with State support, plans to rehabilitate the former Chetwynde Nursing home property at 1650 Washington Street into a long-term space offering housing and services for families experiencing homelessness.
The meeting will be an opportunity for everyone to ask questions. It will also serve as the City’s “administrative site plan review” community meeting to hear comments about the proposed use.
FamilyAid is entering into a long-term lease (55 years) for the property which will be home to its second “Family Navigation Center.” They will provide both housing and a variety of on-site services to families. The services will include job training, financial literacy, adult education, life skills, nutrition courses, and housing search and placement. Family Aid staff would be on-site 24/7 to assist residents. Their clients typically move from this temporary housing to permanent housing in under a year. (FamilyAid continues to support the families when they are permanently housed for another two years.) Find more information at: familyaidboston.org/newton.
This type of housing is a temporary family shelter. To be clear, while a family will only live at 1650 Washington Street for about a year, FamilyAid is leasing the building for 55 years and thus expects to operate the family shelter permanently.
The proposal for 1650 Washington Street involves moderate rehabilitation of the building to take place over the next 5 months, with February1, 2024 the target opening date.
Given the growing humanitarian crisis in Massachusetts, I look forward to the opportunity to help children and families at such a difficult time in their lives.
Join the zoom meeting on Thursday, Sept. 14 at 6:00 p.m. Please click the link below to join the webinar: https://newtonma-gov.zoom.us/j/81092049758?pwd=YjFBa1RYaWpSOFBxaTRTTEtPY3NFQT09, Passcode: 749491, Passcode: 749491.
Or One tap mobile :
+16465588656,,81092049758# US (New York)
Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
Webinar ID: 810 9204 9758
International numbers available: https://newtonma-gov.zoom.us/u/kcb0d48Qaq
Mark your Calendar!
August 25- Teacher assignments available in Aspen at 12:00 PM
August 31- Kindergarten Open House, 2:30-3:30
September 1- School Tours for New Families, 9:00 and 10:00
September 5- First Day of School!
September 7- New Family Coffee, Peirce Library, 8:15AM
September 8- Back to School Picnic, 5:30
September 19- PTO Board Meeting, 7:00
September 25- School Holiday honoring Yom Kippur
September 27- School Picture Day
October 4- Curriculum Night, 7:00 PM
Peirce Elementary School
170 Temple Street
Newton, MA 02465