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ដើម្បីបកប្រែព្រឹត្តិប័ត្រព័ត៌មាន សូមមើលលើផ្នែកខាងស្តាំខាងលើនៃព្រឹត្តិប័ត្រ ព័ត៌មាននេះនូវមធ្យោបាយ ហើយសូមចុចលើជម្រើស" បកប្រែព្រឹត្តិប័ត្រព័ត៌មាន ។
Dear Lowell Public Schools Families, Faculty, Staff, and Community Partners,
We have the pleasure of celebrating Khmer New Year not just for one weekend, but for the entire month and beyond. We kicked off the month with an incredible Khmer dance performance at the Stoklosa Middle School by a troupe led by a Stoklosa alumnus, which includes several Stoklosa students.
The following week, Lowell Public Schools again participated in the city’s Cambodian flag raising along with our friends from the Lowell Community Charter Public School and the City of Lowell. And on the evening of May 11, there will be another celebration including a performance by the Angkor Dance Troupe at the Butler Middle School.
April proved to be a very busy month in the schools with many activities and exciting learning opportunities taking place, even throughout spring break. During the vacation week, learning and fun activities continued in many of our schools, like at the STEM Academy where students participated in engineering and science feats, as you will see in this newsletter.
There will be even more opportunities this summer for academic and enrichment programs at all of our schools. Registration is now open for these programs, and more information - including the registration link- is available in this newsletter.
While we are looking forward to this year’s summer programming, we still have a couple more months of this school year. It has been exciting to see so many of our students developing and displaying their leadership skills. In this newsletter you will find a story about Students Making Change at Lowell High School, highlighting students who are working to combat racism and change the way people think about and consider the lived experiences of others; they have become the teachers of their teachers. You will also see a story about our U.S. Air Force JROTC members who recently visited with the 8th graders at the Sullivan Middle School to show and tell the future LHS students what their group does and about the benefits of being a member.
However, it is not only the students in the district who are learning new skills, but many parents are taking part in the workshops and activities being offered by the Family Leadership Institute. On April 6, the Family Leadership Institute graduated its first class of LPS parents taking conversational survival English classes. The graduates who spoke shared that the classes meant a lot to them and have given them the confidence to participate more in their children’s schools. Our hope is that these classes will be able to do the same for many more parents for years to come.
Joel D. Boyd
Superintendent of Schools
Celebrating Khmer New Year - The Year of the Rabbit
The Stoklosa Middle School kicked off Khmer New Year in style with a beautiful traditional dance performance by a troupe led by Stoklosa alumnus Kennis Yin-Mor that includes several Stoklosa students. Enjoying the performance in the audience were State Rep. Rady Mom, Mayor Sokhary Chau, School Committee Member Dominik Lay, and Superintendent of Schools Joel Boyd.
Cambodian Flag Raising
Suor Sdey Chnam Thmei! Happy New Year! On Friday April 14 we celebrated another fantastic Cambodian flag raising at Lowell City Hall in honor of Khmer New Year; it is the year of the rabbit. The event is a collaboration between the City of Lowell, Lowell Public Schools, Lowell Community Charter Public School, and the CMAA - Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association.
Students Making Change
Lowell High School student Maureen Onyeneho recalls coming back from Thanksgiving break. People were discussing what they had eaten over the holiday.
“I know you enjoyed those collard greens!” someone said to her.
Maureen was taken aback. Her family is from Nigeria. The person assumed that because she is black, her family eats the same foods traditionally associated with African American culture. They don’t.
When Eva Reyes was in middle school she thought “wager” was pronounced “wagger” because she grew up in a house where both Spanish and English were spoken and sometimes mixed. Other kids made fun of her and her nickname became Wagger.
Lowell High School student Stacey Reyes told an advisor what college she was interested in attending. Without even looking at her transcript (she is in the top 10 percent of her class), the advisor responded “I don’t think you’re going to get in there.”
These are some examples of microaggressions members of Lowell High School’s “Students Making Change” presented in a recent workshop for teachers and administrators.
Microaggressions are everyday insults and demeaning messages by an often-well-intentioned person in a dominant group against a person in a minority group. Examples include things like: “You are so quiet for a Puerto Rican!” “You act so white” or “You’re Asian so you’re good at math.”
Students Making Change is a student-led anti-racism group working to educate Lowell High School and the community at-large about racism including how it is portrayed and how it affects the community. Their goal is to elevate student and teacher consciousness while raising awareness about racism. The group was created by Project Learn four years ago, and brought fully into the high school with teacher Kendra Bauer as advisor last year, with support from Project Learn.
They are hosting workshops with teachers, presenting in freshman seminars, and working as thought partners with Lowell High School and community organizations on topics of race and diversity.
The group is also publishing a book of student portraits and writing about the importance of anti-racism work. The powerful book, “Class Pictures,” is edited by Bauer and includes photos taken by Lowell photographer Henry Marte. It was made possible with support from Project Learn.
During the recent workshop for teachers and administrators at LHS, participants were asked to write down microaggressions they have experienced or witnessed.
Teacher A.J. Antiss recalled having to do a presentation in her college Spanish 3 class. Her mom, who speaks Spanish, helped her put it together. The professor’s response to her presentation was: “we don’t speak ghetto Spanish in this class.”
Antiss promptly dropped the class.
This novel workshop where the students become the teachers and the teachers the students, focused on macro and microaggressions, microinsults (like telling a black classmate she was only accepted to Harvard because the school needs the diversity, despite her 4.6 grade point average), as well as ethnic stereotypes and assumptions, and other ways tone and word choice can have damaging impacts.
“Adults listen when it comes from the students,” said LHS student Elizabeth Zhan. “It brings a new level of accountability because these are the student they deal with every day.”
Onyeneho said these types of workshops are especially important in a school like Lowell High.
“In such a diverse school it is important for teachers to be educated in these subjects, especially since most of them are not people of color and have not had the same experiences as their students,” she said.
Pareja said the purpose of these workshops are not to tell people they are doing things wrong, but to help them be aware of the experiences of people around them. The ultimate goal is to make school a positive environment for both teachers and students.
“We are all human and make mistakes,” said student Eva Reyes. “Sometimes we don’t even realize how something we said or did impacts another person. It is important to have these open discussions where people can feel comfortable and learn from each other.”
The students acknowledged it can be difficult to speak up when a microaggression comes from a teacher or boss, but we need to find ways to have discussions to help people understand the impact of their actions.
“It is important to have a conversation rather than to attack people because people get defensive,” Onyeneho said.
Student Angelica Pareja said it is important for teachers to let students know the classroom is a safe space for discussion. She had a teacher in middle school who had a mailbox where students who did not feel comfortable speaking out could leave a note.
“It is ways like that you can start making changes in the classroom,” Pareja said.
Antiss, as well as many other teachers and administrators, praised the students for their work following the workshop.
“People have to be okay with being called out by people who are younger,” said Antiss. “Just because they are younger doesn’t mean they are less knowledgeable.”
Winter Guard Teams Compete at State Championship
On Saturday April 1, the dedicated and talented members of Lowell's Middle (STEM Academy) and High School Winter Guard teams wrapped up their season at the New England Scholastic Band Association's Finals at Salem High School.
Coached by STEM Academy teacher Kristen Crotty, the teams are still new to Lowell, but the kids have taken to it and have done an excellent job.
Winter Guard/Color Guard is a beautiful mix of acting, dance, and a bit of gymnastics. The middle school team finished in 4th place with a score of 88.11 and the high school finished in third place with a score of 90.87. This program is just getting rolling and we cannot wait to see what they do next season!
Earlier this month, a bus of LHS students arrived at the Reilly Elementary School full of kids ready to read to their much younger friends.
They were dispatched throughout the school armed with books and enthusiasm. The younger kids LOVE seeing the cool high schoolers.
In what may be the sweetest thing we have ever seen . . . senior Aidan Lavoie (super hockey dude) - the guy in the pink cowboy hat - made sure he was assigned to his little sister Evelyn's class. Evelyn is in 1st grade and . . . it was her birthday!! She was so overwhelmed and happy to see her big brother that she started crying. He wrapped her up in a big hug and let her sit with him while he read "The Cool Bean" to her class.
Superheros Rally to Prep for MCAS
There was a powerful aura surrounding the McAuliffe Elementary School.
The place was packed full of superheroes! Wonder Woman, Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Wolverine and more - they were all there as the school prepared for MCAS testing that began the following week. The 3rd and 4th graders were encouraged and cheered on by their younger friends at the Pep Rally; and the 3rd and 4th graders explained to the younger kids they could help them during testing by being encouraging and by being quiet and respectful in the hallways.
Additionally, the 4th graders, under the direction of Mr. Bowden, created an incredible rap to prepare themselves and their classmates for the test.
During the pre-MCAS Pep Rally, 4th grader Sophia Fraser was recognized for a very special achievement.
Her scores on last spring's MCAS caught the attention of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and she was awarded a Student Achievement Award. This new awards program honors high-needs students who scored Exceeds Expectations or Progressing on the 2022 MCAS in English Language Arts or Math.
Sophia received a certificate of achievement, a Target gift card, and tips to help her family continue to support her education at home.
For the pep rally, students and staff dressed at superheros. There was Spiderman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Wolverine, Batman, all the regulars. Sophia dressed as an astronaut - how appropriate for a superstar student at the S. Christa McAuliffe School, named for Concord, NH teacher Christa McAuliffe, who was tragically killed in the Challenger explosion in 1986 on her way to becoming the first teacher in space. Keep reaching for the stars, Sophia!
Law and Order at the Butler
The prosecution and the defense rested.
The future of Laura Hoops, charged with criminal harassment for allegedly cyberbullying classmate and longtime friend Jenna Jackson by posting mean things about her on social media, was now in the hands of the jury.
Both sides anxiously awaited the verdict as the jury deliberated.
Then, Judge Peter Acton made an announcement. He had received word from the jury. They were deadlocked!
One member of the jury was sticking by her contention that Ms. Hoops was not guilty. With the jury unable to reach a unanimous verdict, Judge Acton had no choice but to call a mistrial. Ms. Hoops was free to go; but the prosecution could choose to retry her later with a new jury.
The court sat in stunned silence.
How did we get here?
Okay, so it wasn’t a courtroom and the lead attorneys are still in middle school.
The drama took place in the auditorium of the Butler Middle School in a mock trial. Members of the school’s Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion (JEDI) group who aspire to become lawyers or work in law enforcement, spent more than a month working with attorneys from UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group) in Lowell to prepare for the big event.
In March, they even got to visit the John Adams Courthouse in Boston and meet with two judges including Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly Budd, the first woman of color to lead the SJC and Justice Serge Georges. They had the opportunity to ask Justice Georges questions about their career aspirations as well as the work they were doing to prepare for the mock trial.
The students were well prepared as Judge Acton called the court to order in the case of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Laura Hoops.
On one side of the stage sat the prosecution table, advised by Sheryl Berkowitz, Legal Director at UKG and Patricia Stokes Ramos, Corporate Counsel at UKG.
On the other side sat the defense table, advised by Robert Steinberg, Assistant General Counsel at UKG.
Ms. Hoops was accused of cyberbullying her former friend Jenna Jackson on social media and refusing to stop even though she was asked to several times.
Witnesses were called to the “stand” – a chair on the far left of the stage – and the dirt began to fly. It was alleged that the District Attorney was corrupt because he was Ms. Jackson’s uncle; Ms. Jackson was also revealed to have posted unflattering things about other classmates online; Ms. Hoops was portrayed by the prosecution as vindictive and mean; she claimed she was just joking around like they always had.
Students even threw objections around and fought for points with the judge. The best of these sparring matches occurred between prosecutor Je’Niyah Sneed and defense attorney Ozaiah Sneed - her brother!
In the end, it appears both sides did a pretty great job arguing their cases with the match ending in a tie decision.
Special thanks to the attorneys from UKG who helped make this experience a reality and taught our students so much about the law and what it is like to be a lawyer:
Lynda Killeen, Sr. Compliance Operations Associate
Robert Steinberg, Assistant General Counsel
Sheryl Berkowitz, Legal Director
Patricia Stokes Ramos, Corporate Counsel
Peter Acton, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel
Future Teacher Signing Day
Signing ceremonies are no longer reserved just for elite athletes headed off to the Division 1 program of their dreams.
At Lowell High School, this fun tradition has been extended to the future teachers in the class of 2023.
On Wednesday Tuesday April 25, the Lowell High School Library was packed full of teachers and administrators celebrating the accomplishments of the 10 seniors who have met the requirements of the Education Pathway, a program created in partnership with the UMass Lowell School of Education. A signing ceremony was held for the three members of the class – Fiona Haley, Kaunitha Heng, and Tiana Rom - who have committed to either major or minor in education in college.
In addition to celebrating the students’ achievements, each of the students had the opportunity to recognize the teacher that has been most influential in their 13-year educational journey.
The students who have completed the Education Pathway and were presented with a blue cord to wear at graduation are:
Veronica Jones, who attended the Pawtucketville Memorial Elementary School and the Wang Middle school before coming to Lowell High School. Next year she will attend the University of New Hampshire where she plans to major in Statistics. Her most influential teacher is Mrs. Kristie Volante from Lowell High School.
“She has built an influential community in our English class,” Jones said of Volante. “If I end up teaching, I want to create the same kind of community.”
Tallea Lebing, who attended the Pawtucketville Memorial Elementary School and the Wang Middle School before attending Lowell High School. She will be studying Psychology at UMass Boston this fall. Her most influential teacher is Ms. Katie Mahoney from the Wang Middle School.
Lacey Pare, who attended the Washington Elementary School and the Daley Middle School before attending Lowell High School. In the fall, she will be studying Business at a yet-to-be-determined college in Florida. Her most influential teacher is Ms. Jen Carey of Lowell High School.
Stacey Reyes, who attended the Lowell Community Charter Public School for elementary and middle school and attended Campbell High School freshman year, before transferring to Lowell High School. Next year, she will be attending either Boston College or UMass Lowell to study Nursing. Her most influential teacher was Ms. Sarah Lord of Lowell Community Charter, now Mrs. White of Up Education Network.
Caden Smith, who attended St. Margaret’s Elementary School and Innovation Academy Charter School for middle school before attending Lowell High School. In the fall, he will be attending Saint Anselm College studying Business and Economics. His most influential teacher was Dr. Anne Woodward, formerly of Lowell High School, who returned to celebrate Caden from retirement.
Declan Silva, who attended the Bailey Elementary School and Daley Middle School before entering Lowell High School. Declan is going to Lasell University in the fall and studying either Sports Media & Communications or Business. His most influential teacher was Mr. Glen Gallagher of Lowell High School.
Thomas Woodlock, who attended the Greenhalge Elementary and Daley Middle Schools before entering Lowell High School. He intends on studying Psychology and Marketing at Roger Williams University this fall. His most influential teacher was Mr. Jason Lewis of the Daley Middle School.
Fiona Haley, who attended the Reilly Elementary School and Daley Middle School before coming to LHS. Next year she will attend Providence College to study English Education on a pre-law track. Her most influential teacher was Ms. Robin Jubinville of the Reilly Elementary School.
“She was the first teacher who made me feel seen and acknowledged that my learning style was different,” Haley said.
Kaunitha Heng, who attended the Morey Elementary School and Daley Middle School before coming to Lowell High. Next year Kaunitha is excited to join the UMass Amherst Honors College as an English major and Education minor and hopefully study abroad in London. Their most influential teacher was Ms. Melissa Fontaine from the Daley Middle School.
Tiana Rom, who attended the Pyne Arts Magnet School for elementary and middle school. Next year, she will attend UMass Lowell where she will major in Health Sciences and minor in Education. Her most influential teacher was Mrs. Kendra Bauer of Lowell High School.
One of the objectives of creating the Education Pathway was to encourage diverse Lowell students to become teachers and hopefully come back to teach in Lowell in an effort to diversify the district’s workforce so students have more teachers who look like them and share similar backgrounds and experiences.
While only 21 percent of Lowell Public Schools students are white, 90 percent of teachers are white. A 2018 study by the Learning Policy Institute concluded that when students of color have teachers of color, they put more personal attention on school and have stronger post-graduation plans. Representation matters.
“The education pathway represents our growing partnership with UML and our desire to grow and diversify the teacher workforce,” said Lowell High School Associate Head of School Jill Rothschild. “Throughout the last year we have worked hard to realign our course offerings, our field experience programs, and our partnerships to produce a stronger pathway and greater opportunities and support for our students and future educators.”
In the program students study the history of public education, how it is practiced across different disciplines, the day-to-day reality of working in education, how to teach in an inclusive classroom, and examine the inequalities in institutions of learning to see education from a social justice perspective. In addition to classroom course work, the LHS students have the opportunity for hands-on learning in elementary school classrooms in the district.
While in the pathway, LHS students receive support from UMass Lowell student ambassadors who are advanced in their education degree program and have successfully completed the introductory teaching courses; monetary support for transportation to and from required field experiences; invitations to all UML School of Education events; teacher mentors who promote teaching as an act of social justice; and advising support to demystify the college application process.
Pathway graduates are given special consideration for admission into UML School of Education degree programs and those who enroll are eligible for:
- 20,000 dollar GROW scholarships
- Mentoring and support throughout the four-year experience
- Monetary support to fulfill the state/district fingerprinting requirement for school visitations
- Monetary support to pay for the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTELs)
“These efforts to diversify are not good just for students of color, but for all students,” said Stacy Szczesiul, Associate Dean of the UML School of Education. “You are the face of teaching in the future. To me it is the most important issue of our time – diversifying the educator workforce.”
How to Save a Life
A group of 10 fifth-graders walked into the Sullivan Middle School on Wednesday morning like it was any other day. They went home with the knowledge and skills that could save a life.
That morning the students began a four-class CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) course taught by paramedic Armen Jeknavorian. Gayl Hurley, the Sullivan’s Community Schools Program Manager met Jeknavorian, who has worked on ambulances for 27 years and taught CPR for 12 years, at her son’s karate class and they got to talking about their jobs. She pitched him the idea of teaching CPR at the Sullivan and he jumped at the chance.
The course covers adult, child, and infant CPR, as well as basic first aid.
“Even if after this they only go away with knowing how to recognize an emergency and how to call 911 it is a win,” said Jeknavorian. “You never know how you will react in an emergency situation, but it is good to have some knowledge to rely on.”
Their first class began with the basics of calling 911 and making sure to speak clearly and provide the address of the emergency to the dispatcher.
Through a mix of watching videos and discussion with Jeknavorian, they learned the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest. A heart attack occurs when a blocked blood vessel prevents blood from getting to the heart – it may cause cardiac arrest or sudden death. Cardiac arrest occurs when an abnormal heart rhythm causes the heart to quiver, leaving it unable to pump blood. The heart will stop and the patient will be unresponsive; that is when CPR is necessary.
“Most people are not prepared in an emergency because they are not trained in CPR or are afraid to hurt someone,” Jeknavorian said. “Don’t be afraid to help.”
Survival rates drop 10 percent for every minute someone doesn’t receive CPR.
The first thing to do when you come upon an emergency is to assess the situation and make sure it is safe to help the person in distress. For instance, if there is a car accident where a person hits a pole and there is a wire that has fallen and is on the car – call 911 and wait for the fire department.
Once you determine that it is a safe situation, try to wake the person up. If they do not respond, look, listen, and feel for breathing and check the neck for a pulse.
One of the students asked if they needed to do mouth to mouth resuscitation. Jeknavorian said that is not necessary. When chest compressions are done correctly, they automatically suck air into the lings and push it out.
To do chest compressions correctly, put one hand on top of the other, fully extend your arms so your elbows are straight, and push hard in the middle of the chest to a depth of about two inches, completing 100-120 compressions per minute. In order to keep the correct tempo, it is suggested to keep the Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive” playing in your head. Since that is an old song with which the kids may not be familiar, Jeknavorian suggested they use the song “Baby Shark,” which also provides the correct tempo.
This course is just the beginning at the Sullivan. Hurley plans to extend the training to other grades and on May 10 there will be a class for adults.
Autism Awareness at the Adie
Members of the Lowell Police Department and Chelmsford Police Department stopped by the Dr. Janice Adie Day School for a drive through on April 4, flashing their blue lights for the students and staff in observance of Autism Awareness/Acceptance Day. It was a great opportunity for the LPD to show off their new very cool Autism Awareness Cruiser. V
Sullivan 6th Graders Invade UML
On Wednesday April 5 UMass Lowell's South Campus was invaded – by more than 120 Sullivan Middle School 6th graders.
Middle school is the perfect time to be exposed to the college experience and to get the students excited about planning for their futures.
The crew arrived at O’Leary Library at 9:30 a.m. and were met by a group of UMass Lowell student ambassadors who brought them up to the library’s auditorium. There, Lowell High alumnus Cassie McCallum of the UML College of Education gave the students an overview of the university. At UML there are 12,000 undergraduate students, 38 percent of whom are people of color. Forty-one percent of incoming freshmen are first-generation college students. The school offers 120 different majors and the opportunity to play on (or cheer on) 14 NCAA Division 1 sports teams.
The Sullivan students then had the opportunity to ask questions of a panel of UMass Lowell students to find out what college is really like and they had a lot of good questions!
What does it feel like to be a college student? What is it like to live at college? What should I study if I want to be a pro wrestler? How many classes do you take a day? Is the food here good? How do you get scholarships?
The UML students fielded all of the questions with honesty and ease. They admitted they were a little scared when they first arrived at college, but soon got used to their new environment and made friends; someone who wants to be a pro wrestler should study exercise science; it is easy to craft a class schedule that meets your needs like not having morning classes or not having classes on Fridays; the food is indeed good and there is a wide variety of items from which to choose; there are many resources available at Lowell High School and UMass Lowell to guide students in finding scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options.
Following the Q&A they broke up into eight groups and set off to tour South Campus, followed by a snack break with Rowdy the Riverhawk on the quad. Then it was off to class!
The students headed to Coburn Hall and were broken up into four groups to attend mock college classes in real college classrooms taught by real college professors.
Special thanks to the professors who took the time to participate – Professor Cassie McCallum, Professor Pat Fontaine, Professor Katherine Flowers, and Professor Phitsamay Uy.
“I’m hoping this sparks something in them,” said Gayl Hurley, the Community School Program Manager at the Sullivan, who coordinated the trip. “We are hoping to continue this partnership and maybe bring the eighth-grade students here in the fall.”
It appears that spark has indeed been ignited. As the day wrapped up, one newcomer student held up the UMass Lowell sicker she was given and said to her teacher “this is my future.”
Dayamani Barla Visits LHS
Social justice starts with ecological justice.
That is what UMass Lowell’s 2023 Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies Dayamani Barla recently told a group of Lowell High School students interested in social justice and environmental issues.
“Each and every person should have access to clean water; each and every person should have access to fresh air; each and every person has the right to good health and good health is tied to nature,” she said in Hindi, which was translated into English by an interpreter. “Our social, cultural, economic, and health conditions revolve around the health of the forest. Our struggle is about protecting forests, agricultural land, rivers, lakes, streams and mountains. It is only when we can protect these things that we can talk about social justice.”
Barla, known as The Iron Lady of Jharkhand, is an Adivasi (Indigenous) activist, journalist, writer, and storyteller from Jharkhand, Central India.
For decades she has been at the forefront of the fight to protect the natural resources so central to the live of Adivasi people, battling against her own government and global conglomerates looking to strip the land and people of their resources for profit.
She was jailed for leading a long and successful movement against the incorporation of a steel project by global conglomerate Arcelor-Mittal and has spent decades leading the fight against industrial projects that displace indigenous people and destroy the natural environment.
Lowell High School Social Studies Department Chair Robert DeLossa said Barla’s visit was the first time in Lowell High School’s nearly 200-year history that a presentation has been given in Hindi and thanked her for taking the time to speak with students.
“As an indigenous person I have always felt a close relationship with nature,” Barla said. “It is not something that is outside of us. Our lives are intertwined with nature.”
She encouraged the students to learn as much as possible and get involved in causes about which they are passionate.
“You are really impactful because you are our future generation,” she said.
For more information about Dayamani Barla and the Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies program, visit: https://www.uml.edu/res.../pacsi/greeley-scholars/about.aspx
Trims, Fades, and Smiles
On a recent Wednesday morning, in between mastering Algebra and learning about the American Revolution, 16 Sullivan Middle School students were able to pop into a room on the first floor for a trim or a fade.
Kerbin Nin, of Chuchi Barbershop on Mammoth Road has two sons who attend the Sullivan, one in 5th grade and the other in 8th grade.
This is the second time Community School Program Manager Gayl Hurley has brought him in to provide free haircuts for the students. When she first floated the idea and put out a sign-up form to gauge interest, 53 students signed up in just a few day; they ended up with a waiting list.
Like we have seen previously with similar programs at the Greenhalge Elementary School and with high school students, there is a need and a desire for these kinds of services in the schools and it is the perfect fit particularly for the schools in our Community Schools network that are aiming to become a resource hub for families.
"Having the barbers here really gives the kids accessibility to a haircut they may not have because of money or transportation or just time," said Hurley. "Having a fresh haircut really boosts their confidence and makes them feel good."
What Do You Know About Blue Jays?
The Kindergarten students at the Lincoln Elementary School LOVE their after school program with the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust and Mass Audubon.
In late March they learned all about turtles and got to meet a box turtle. The following week they did a great job remembering what they learned about reptiles - they are cold-blooded, have scales, and lay eggs; they hide in their shells and use their habitat to camouflage them when predators are near.
This week the young scientists moved on to birds with Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust Community Conservation Coordinator Antonio Trinidad Martinez and Mass Audubon Teacher/Naturalist Susannah Elliott.
Birds are warm-blooded, have feathers, beaks, and long skinny toes.
The students did an art project where they drew and decorated a blue jay using construction paper "feathers." Each one of their birds were very different. It was a great expression of their creative abilities.
While they were working on their art, they also had the opportunity to view replicas of more than a dozen bird eggs of all different sizes and colors and see a real next built by an oriole. The oriole's nest is much different than those we see that birds like robins make - this nest looks more like a purse or pouch than a bowl. It is soft and this one was constructed from a hair from a horse's tail as well as other materials.
Family Leadership Institute Graduates First English Class
Cleide Freitas Alves immigrated to the United States seven years ago.
Since that time, she has avoided being around people who speak English and did not participate in many things at her children’s school because she was afraid she could not speak the language.
“We had a meeting at school this past Tuesday and I was able to express how I felt,” Alves said through an interpreter. “That roadblock has been removed.”
She is one of 104 Lowell Public Schools parents who graduated from the Family Leadership Institute’s first 6-week Conversational Survival English class. Their accomplishments were celebrated at a ceremony on the evening of April 6 at Lowell High School.
Because it is just a six-week class, the graduates are still hesitant to speak a lot in English, but many said the classes have boosted their confidence and given them the tools they need to learn more and become active participants in the school community and their children’s education.
“I’m very happy today and more confident that we immigrants can do it – we can conquer a lot here,” Alves said. “We will have many many more people graduate.”
The next step for many of the graduates will be to enroll in more intensive English classes at the Abisi Adult Education Center. The 6-week conversational course is just the beginning, a kind of training wheels of language to boost confidence and help adult students ease into learning new skills and become comfortable with Lowell Public Schools.
“You are on your way now that you have taken the first step to improve your English skills,” said Abisi Adult Education Center Director Betty McKiernan, adding that registration for fall classes open June 1. “We hope to see you in the fall so you can continue what you started already.”
Superintendent of Schools Joel Boyd lauded the parents for being brave enough to stand up and learn alongside their children and promised continued support as they become more active participants in the school community.
“We are here to support you, stand by you, and empower you,” he said.
Students were given the option to attend classes on Monday and Wednesday nights or Tuesday and Thursday nights at locations around the city including at Lowell High School’s McDonough Freshman Academy, Moody Elementary School, Greenhalge Elementary School, and Robinson Middle School.
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to teach you and to give you the confidence to speak,” teacher Phany Nguyen, who led a class at the McDonough Freshman Academy said to the students. “We can’t give you much in six weeks, but at least you had the confidence to get up and start talking with me.”
The idea for such a course was hatched last fall by Moody School Principal Robbie Keefe and her staff, who saw a great need for evening conversational English classes. More than 60 percent of the students at the Moody speak a first language other than English.
The curriculum was created by UMass Lowell Education Professor Phitsamay Uy and the program was able to be launched citywide following the creation of the Family Leadership Institute, led by Zoe Dzineku.
“In order for our students to be successful we need to partner with you to provide them with the best education so they can be successful,” said Lowell Public Schools’ Chief Equity and Engagement Officer Latifah Phillips. “You need to learn how to work with our schools to advocate for your children and so we can learn from you how to do our jobs better.”
She applauded the parents for being great role models for their children in what it means to be life-long learners.
For more information about the Family Leadership Institute, including upcoming classes and programs, visit: www.lowell.k12.ma.us/FLI
LHS JROTC Visits the Sullivan
On the Friday before April vacation, members of the Lowell High School U.S. Air Force JROTC visited 8th graders at the Sullivan Middle School to explain the program to them and show them some of what they do to help the students decide if they want to join when they get to LHS in the fall.
The students who spoke said the program has provided them with discipline and a way to give back to the community, as well as a sense of belonging. They all said they have made what they hope will be lifelong friends through the group and have truly enjoyed the experience.
Working to Bridge the Achievement Gap
Earlier this month, a group of Lowell Public Schools administrators, faculty, and staff, as well as community members met at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center at an event hosted by LPS and Fortaleza, Inc. to discuss the results of an analysis of the experience of Hispanic/Latino students conducted by the UML Center for Program Evaluation.
Fortaleza is a non-profit made up of educators, community leaders, and parents, advocating for the removal of structural educational inequalities and barriers and the elimination of education opportunity gaps for LPS Latino students. They have been a key partner of LPS in recent years.
The study, completed by Jill Hendrickson Lohmeier, Ph.D, Teresa I. Gonzales, Ph.D, and Shanna R. Thompson, Ed.D, used available data as well as interviews with focus groups of students, parents/guardians, and staff to paint a picture of the current state of education in Lowell Public Schools from the perspective of Hispanic/Latino students and families, as well as to provide recommendations moving forward.
The LPS Hispanic/Latino experience, by the numbers, looks like this:
- From 2017-2022 the total student population decreased by 3.1 percent. However, the Hispanic/Latino population increased by 14.5 percent and the Hispanic/Latino staff increased by 38.2 percent over that same time.
- 37.7 percent of LPS students are Hispanic/Latino with six of our schools having Hispanic/Latino populations of more than 50 percent. The state average for a district is 23.1 percent.
- In Lowell, 85 percent of staff are white, with 7 percent being Hispanic/Latino. The state average is 5.4 percent. Six of our schools have more than 10 percent of their staff who are Hispanic/Latino.
- During the 2021-2022 school year 925 students were disciplined; 52.2 percent of whom were Hispanic/Latino.
- The dropout rate for Hispanic/Latino students is 4.7 percent, compared to 2.7 percent for all students
- Hispanic/Latino students have the lowest rate of advanced course completion of any race/ethnicity group. Thirty-four percent of 2021 graduates attend higher education which is much lower than the all-student rate of 53.3 percent.
The conclusions the researchers came to included:
“The Hispanic/Latino parents noticed that as the number of Spanish speaking staff increased within the district, the inclusion and communication within the schools improved. The district has dedicated teachers who are actively trying to improve the Hispanic/Latino experience. Employees, parents, and students feel the district acknowledges and celebrates the different cultures within LPS. Even so, the district needs to continue improving the Hispanic/Latino experience within the district by addressing the challenges identified in the focus groups, amending some current practices, and adapting to students’ varying needs and cultural backgrounds. Also, it is important to note bullying was a main topic of discussion and concern for students and parents, but employees discussed it only minimally, which is consistent with the finding that several students said they do not have an adult they feel comfortable talking with at school. Thus, they may not feel comfortable telling adults that bullying is occurring.”
Recommendations made by the CPE and their focus groups include:
- Hiring more Hispanic/Latino educators, with a consideration of starting a “Grow Your Own” model of supporting LPS students to someday become LPS teachers; increasing mental health resources and supports; encouraging bilingualism and multilingualism; strengthening communication between schools and Hispanic/Latino families; empowering students; and connecting curricula to students’ cultural backgrounds.
- Employees recommended establishing a welcoming environment with more representation for Hispanic/Latino students, families, and staff, more academic opportunities and supports, more flexibility, and more consistency.
- Parents recommended adding more bilingual adults, more safety trainings, more bullying prevention, more sports and extracurricular activities, and more cultural exchanges within the school community.
- Students recommended increasing Hispanic/Latino representation in faculty and staff, encouraging more connections between members of the school community, providing more language-related academic supports, offering more clubs and social opportunities, and improving awareness around issues such as bullying.
After hearing Lohmeier break down the study and having a few minutes to absorb the findings, participants settled into intense table discussions to talk about their takeaways from the presentation and recommendations for the future.
When they reported out to the full group, many of the table leaders said their small groups were not surprised by any of the findings. They offered a variety of suggestions including creating a parent mentoring program, strengthening the middle school to high school pipeline to ensure students receive the guidance and supports they need, addressing disproportionate discipline toward Latino students, conducting more outreach to families where they are, making students aware of high expectations at early grades, using peer mentorship to encourage underclassmen to sign-up for advanced courses, engaging more parents in Parent Teacher Organizations, and providing cultural sensitivity training for staff.
“Now that we are talking about it what are we going to do about it?” asked Superintendent of Schools Joel Boyd.
He added that initial steps include language affirmation and inclusion in the community, to ensure that students sustain their Spanish language heritage while learning English, as well as embarking on a feasibility study for dual language programming in the schools.
Additionally, the district is launching a Latinx Scholars program for 20-25 students a year “with direct supports to bring kids from at-risk to success.”
“There is a new day for young people coming tomorrow,” Boyd said.
Peer Mentorship at the Stoklosa
Prior to April vacation, the Stoklosa Middle School continued their Peer Mentorship program Designed by Community Schools Program Manager Matthew Gillis, Social Workers Jose Rodriguez and Myhozotys Balbuena.
In this program the 7th and 8th grade students connect with 5th and 6th grade students working on positive behavior, building relationships, and helping new students get acclimated to middle school life.
This day's focus was "problem solving" where students were working together to solve digital escape rooms. Guidance Counselor Yvette Crowell, Asst. Principal Tara Fletcher, and Teacher Jessica Gorbet were also there to help groups through the challenge.
Yay! Ms. Sisson!
Greenhalge Elementary School Special Education Teacher Meaghan Sisson ran the Boston Marathon on Monday April 17 to raise money for Massachusetts General Hospital's Pediatric Cancer Team. She finished at 3:55 p.m. with a race time of 4 hours, 38 minutes and 22 seconds!
On the Friday before the Marathon, the kids and staff at the Greenhalge cheered her on through the hallways just before dismissal. She is seen here (in the middle wearing a blue T-shirt) with members of the Greenhalge Girls on the Run team she coaches.
Speaking of the Marathon . . .
On the Saturday of Marathon Weekend, the Butler Middle School was invited to participate in the BAA Middle School Relay Challenge as part of the Boston Marathon weekend festivities. The Butler extended the invite to the Wang Middle School who was able to add 10 students to the Butler's 26, creating Team Lowell.
The streets were blocked off and the kids ran 300 -400 meters per leg.
Parents and teachers lost their voices cheering on the future elite runners. A great time was had by all!
Building Future Engineers
Having fun and learning never stops in Lowell Public Schools - not even for April vacation. At the STEM Academy on Friday the kids attending vacation camp were very busy with a variety of activities. These included building structures and testing them to see if they could withstand earthquakes and learning how to program robots and then use them to compete in a "soccer" game. The young engineers did a terrific job all around. Maybe over the summer we can get them to build a new Rourke Bridge!
We Come From Everywhere
Before April vacation, the S. Christa McAuliffe Elementary School 4th graders, under the direction of music teacher Cathleen Garry-Durand, put on a performance of "We Come from Everywhere." The students worked on the production for 12 weeks and did a terrific job.
We Come From Everywhere celebrates the diverse origins of people in the United States, from Native Americans to immigrants from all over the globe. Students learn that we come from a variety of places and cultures, exploring some of the historical reasons that specific groups migrated to this country, while they develop an appreciation of the opportunities and challenges of immigration.
The video below shows a few snippets from the show.
Break Box Bonanza
The staff at our schools make sure families are taken care of not only when school is in session, but even during break weeks!
On Friday before April vacation, staff at the Greenhalge Elementary School distributed "break boxes" to two dozen families that included nutritious food like rice, beans, tuna, and milk and some fun snacks like Cheetos. The boxes also included a backpack full of fun activities for the kids to do during vacation - a football, checkers set, sidewalk chalk, and games - with the goal being to keep them off of their electronic devices for a bit.
The day prior, the staff at the Greenhalge was able to provide 60 families with boxes of beautiful fresh produce from Farmer Dave's in Dracut. We hope everyone had a fun and happy vacation week!
LHS Students Awarded Tsongas Scholarships
Congratulations to Lowell High School seniors Rasmeyvisey (Visey) Ouk and Eva Reyes, who have been awarded UMass Lowell's Tsongas Scholarship.
The scholarship, awarded to two graduating Lowell High School students each year provides full tuition, fees, room & board for FOUR YEARS OF COLLEGE!
Visey Ouk is the youngest of two siblings; her older brother also went to UMass Lowell. She is a first-generation college student and will be studying finance in college.
She attended Washington Elementary and Butler Middle School. At LHS she has achieved over a 4.5 GPA and loves math, but will tell you her favorite class is AP US Government this year. She has truly appreciated her teacher and friend relationships that she has been able to develop at LHS.
She is thrilled to be a recipient of the Tsongas scholarship which values community service, something she believes is very important in her life. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, and working at a dental office. Her advice to younger LHS students is to “be willing to help your school and Lowell community as it really helps build perspective and helps young adults shape their personality.”
Eva Reyes is the youngest of two siblings, and a first-generation college student.
She will be majoring in Sociology and minoring in Spanish with a goal to attend law school after graduation. While she isn’t sure what type of law she wants to pursue, she knows she wants to be a positive role model and give back to her community. At LHS she has achieved over a 4.5 GPA and loves history, but will tell you her favorite class was Social Justice and Modern Media. When asked what she appreciates most about LHS she quickly responds with “all of the different opportunities. It’s so easy to find your own community here.”
She is so appreciative of the Tsongas Scholarship as it places such an emphasis on community service and helping others which she values. Outside of school she works at Market Basket and works a second job during the summers, but most importantly she loves spending time with her family and cherishes the time she has with each of them.
Her advice to younger LHS students is, “don’t be afraid to throw yourself out there. High school is the perfect time to experience different things...if you aren’t willing to experience them you may miss something you would love. All the best clubs I have joined are those that I was originally afraid to join. You will definitely find your community of people if you are willing to experience things.”
Paraprofessional Appreciation Day
April 5 was Paraprofessional Appreciation Day! And NO ONE appreciates a para more than our sweet Kindergarten students. T
That afternoon, a group of Lincoln Elementary School Kindergarteners were VERY excited to see their favorite paraprofessional, Mrs. Toomajanian. Mrs. T has been on leave so they haven't seen her for a bit; she stopped by to visit today and they all lost their minds. Several told her they never wanted her to leave.
Happy Paraprofessional Appreciation Day to all of our hardworking paras - we love you all almost as much as these kids love Mrs. T.
Summer Learning and Enrichment
Registration for LPS Summer Academic and Enrichment Programs is now open! Find all the info here: https://www.lowell.k12.ma.us/Page/201
Student Police Academy
It's almost that time of year again - Student Police Academy. Middle School parents - be sure not to miss out on signing your kids up for this very popular program! Each session runs Monday-Friday from 8 a.m to 2 p.m. at the STEM Academy on Highland St.
Girl Scout Registration
Robinson Career Day Speakers Needed
What do YOU do? The Robinson Middle School is looking for people working in all professions to share their career path journeys with middle school students on May 19. If you are interested in participating, please email Helen Metcalfe at email@example.com.
2016 Lowell High School Records to be Destroyed
This spring, temporary records for students who graduated in 2016 and did not obtain these records before graduation as well as those students who withdrew from Lowell High School during the same year, will be destroyed.
According to state regulation 603 CMR 23.06, temporary record information not contained in student transcripts shall be destroyed no later than seven years from the date of the student’s withdrawal, transfer, or graduation. The records may include but are not limited to, standardized test results, class rank, extracurricular activities, and recommendation letters from school staff.
If you wish to have your records, please contact Darmery Montoya in the Student Support Services Office at Lowell High School Before May 25. The office can be reached at 978-937-8911 and firstname.lastname@example.org
All record requests will be held for thirty (30) days after the destruction date of May 31, 2023.
If you are not picking up the records yourself, you will need to provide your designee with a signed release to obtain your records.
Please note that the permanent record will be kept for sixty (60) years.
Early College Lowell
Are you a Lowell High School student or the parent/guardian/buddy of one? Early College classes are FREE and a great way to earn college credits while you are still in high school! For more info: https://earlycollegelowell.org/
Family College Visits
The Lowell Public Schools' Family Leadership Institute is offering FREE family college visits for parents/guardians and their children in grades 3-12. These visits are targeted toward students who will be the first in their family to attend college and may not otherwise have the opportunity to visit a college or university. It is never too early to get exposed to and excited for college. For more info and to sign up, visit: https://bit.ly/41WdMb1
For more info about the Family Leadership Institute, visit: https://www.lowell.k12.ma.us/Page/5266
FREE Health and Wellness Fair
It is Springtime - time for spring cleaning and self-care! Our friends at LASA on Old Ferry Road (the former Elks building behind the new Market Basket in Pawtucketville) ar hosting a FREE health and wellness fair on Saturday April 29 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. NO INSURANCE REQUIRED. See the flyer below for more information and how to register.
Big Brothers/Big Sisters
Looking for a mentor for your child ages 7-12? Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts maks connecting with one easy. To sign up, scan the QR code on the flyer.
Harvest of the Month
On April 10, students had the treat of eating up our Harvest of the Month Menu special. The breakfast bake featured local potatoes from Szawlowski Potato Farms in Hatfield Ma., Young Family Farm in Rhode Island and Green Thumb Farm in Maine. Thank you Stoklosa Middle School and Shaugnhessy Elementary school for being our taste testers of this new menu item!
If you would like to try it at home here is Mass Farm to School recipe that was served
French Onion Soup for Everyone!
On April 14, homemade French onion soup was on the menu at Lowell High School. That is A LOT of onions! Our cafeteria workers musty have been weeping all day!
Professional Development for the School Culinary Team
Our cafeteria staff recently had a Professional Development Training day with chefs at Project Bread . Our staff had a hands-on training on upcoming menu items spicy chicken flatbread and kale and crispy chickpea salad!