Principal's Newsletter

February 2020

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Winter in New England!

Greetings, Lowell Families,

I can't believe it's already the end of February; this year seems to be moving along at a face pace. We have lots to celebrate, starting with Punxsutawney Phil not seeing his shadow. If you believe the meaning of Groundhog Day, we'll have an early spring, that's sounds lovely to me. I hope you and your family are enjoying this spectacular weather over vacation.

Thursday, February 13th, we held our monthly School Council Meeting. We invited parents to come and share their thoughts and concerns surrounding digital responsibility. We've decided to add a School Improvement Goal focus on Digital Responsibility. Parents are specifically looking for ways to keep informed of the current trends in social media and internet apps. They're also looking for practical tips on how to monitor and support their children. Here is the Digital Responsibility Powerpoint for our meeting.

As many of you know from personal experience, we've experienced a high number of illnesses. Please know, the health of our staff and students is always a priority. Nurse Taverna is monitoring illnesses closely. She is responsible for keeping track of confirmed flu cases for the Board of Health. If your child has a confirmed case of the flu, please notify Nurse Taverna. Our custodial team comprised of Mr. MacLeod, Mr. Gonzales, and Mr. Williams have been diligent in their cleaning efforts. Over the weekends and during this week, they have sanitized classrooms and cleaning railings and doorknobs. It's undoubtedly helpful having this week off to clean and sanitize the building.

Massachusetts will hold the Presidential Primary on March 3rd. Lowell School is an official polling site. You can expect higher than usual traffic surrounding the building during drop off and pick up. Those of you who vote here at the Lowell you will need to enter the polling through the gym doors, we restrict access to the building on voting days by locking the gym doors. You will not be able to gain access to the school from the gym. We do this to maintain security for our students and staff. Otherwise, it's a typical school day.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at or by phone at 617-926-7770.

Warmest regards,


MCAS Dates for Grades 3-5


Lowell- Tuesday, April 28

Lowell- Thursday, April 30


Lowell- Tuesday, May 5

Lowell- Thursday, May 7


Lowell-Tuesday, May 12

Lowell-Thursday, May 14

Helpful Tips for Teaching Children How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable

In our current climate of polarized opinions children are looking to us for leadership. I thought I'd share a few suggestions for expressing differences in opinions.

Respecting Each Other

Being respectful is more than just using good manners—it means treating people the way you want to be treated. Keep these ideas in mind to help your whole family focus on respect. Use peaceful tones, shouting often leads to more shouting. Ask your child to speak in a calm tone to show respect for the person they are talking to—and for everyone around them. If they start yelling, speak to them in a whisper. They will likely lower their voice to match your volume. Or if they shout from another room, wait until they come to you, this way they learn that you don’t respond to yelling.

Avoid Making Assumptions

Your youngster can respect others’ feelings by giving them the benefit of the doubt. For example, encourage them to rephrase an accusation like “Who took my water bottle?” Instead, they could ask, “Has anyone seen my water bottle?” That’s more respectful because it won’t make anyone feel accused or defensive.

Accept different opinions

With your child, role-play ways to respect opinions that are different from their own. They might start a sentence with “That’s one way to look at it, but I think…” or “A lot of people would agree with you. In my opinion… ” If a conversation is getting heated, they could simply say, “Let’s agree to disagree and talk about something else.”

Math Tips For Parents

Many parents have asked for homework help. Over the past few years, parents have expressed their concerns with understanding the new math. Have you heard this said, "Mom/Dad, that's not the way we do math in school!"

I'm attaching Math Tips For Parents to this newsletter in hopes of supporting your efforts in understanding the concepts and vocabulary we use in school. The following Parent Tip Guides are by grade. These are the current units we are teaching by grade.

Be a Family of Readers

When families share a love of reading, children develop stronger literacy skills and become more motivated to pick up a book. Here’s how you can make reading a family affair.

After-Dinner Novel - Pick a story all ages can enjoy—let everyone take a turn choosing a book—and take turns reading a chapter a night. The kids will look forward to it, especially if you stopped at a cliff-hanger the day before. After each chapter, share your opinions about the book and predict what you think will happen at tomorrow nights reading.

Reading Adventures- Every time you visit the library, look for books related to someplace, you may travel soon. Before a visit to the aquarium, look for nonfiction books about sharks and dolphins. Maybe before a trip to Boston, read about skyscrapers, subways, and taxis. Next time your traveling to another state/country, look for a book to learn more about the destination your visiting.

Become Involved, Join our Robust PTO!

Enrichment Program

The Lowell School PTO has initiated a new Enrichment Program this year. As a part of the Enrichment Program, we are bringing programs into school and bringing students to local sites for educational enrichment experiences. We are working directly with teachers at all grade levels (Pre-K - Grade 5) to choose enrichment experiences that align with and enhance the curriculum for each specific grade. All students will participate in two grade-specific enrichment experiences. Ranging from learning about life cycles by observing and interacting with live animals, to learning about astronomy in an inflatable planetarium, to visiting the Harvard Natural History Museum to participate in a hands-on program on geological history. In addition to the grade-level specific programming, we are also bringing in two school-wide assemblies, including an interactive magic show aimed at increasing students' excitement about reading and a presentation by internationally acclaimed storyteller Len Cabral.

PTO Clubs & Open Gym

The PTO is sponsoring two different sets of clubs this year. The first is Open Gym, which has been wildly popular. Open gym is supported and financed 100% by the PTO. This year all students can attend completely free of charge. Tuesday/Thursday is for grades 3-5, and Wednesday is for grades 1-2. We have nearly 100 students signed up across all grades. The students love having the opportunity to come into the school early and get some energy out! Our fantastic gym teachers, Ms. Donahue and Ms. Loguidice, couldn't be more enthusiastic about it either. They are also able to use this time to try out new games for their PE classes, and the students love that they are getting a sneak peek of what they may ultimately see in class! This "club" is open to EVERYONE, thus reaching almost all the students in the school – don't worry, K families, we'll be adding your students to the mix on Wednesdays come springtime! We are still accepting students into this program at all grade levels. Parents can fill out an open gym form and return it to the PTO mailbox in the main office. Once their child is on the list, they are free to attend. There's no pressure - if a student is ready and excited to go one morning...great! If they're not in the mood the next time, that's fine! Not prepared by 7:30 am but can make it for 7:45 am, that works too! Open gym is a nice, flexible option for families in the mornings.

Once again, this year, we are running our free PTO clubs. This year we have four sessions of clubs! We offered a garden club in the fall, and we have two winter and one spring session lined up: Winter 1 (currently running through Feb break), Winter 2 (running between Feb and April breaks), and Spring (post-April break). Ms. Moriarty teamed up with Ms. Antonelli and Ms. Levine to host a knitting club for grades 3-5. They had such an overwhelming amount of applicants that they are hosting the club during Winter 1 and Winter 2! Ms. Gerring is offering the always popular cooking club for Kindergarten through 2nd grade. Also oversubscribed, Ms. Gerring was able to recruit a second set of hands, and she will be running the club for all three sessions with the hope that we can get all of the students interested in to one of the three sessions. Finally, Ms. Zywocinski and Ms. Altobello are currently running a Board Game/Sportsmanship Club for K-1. It's another maxed out club having a ton of fun! What's so wonderful about all of these after school clubs is the fact that they are teacher run. Students get a chance to spend time with a former teacher or get to know a new one. The teachers get to see the students outside of school hours, build relationships with students, and teach them something about which they are passionate. Thank you to our amazing teachers for being part of this program!


The Lowell Community Volunteer Program is having a very productive 2019-2020 school year with over a dozen in-house volunteers helping out with a variety of teacher projects Monday - Friday mornings. These volunteers have completed over 110 teacher requests, which translates to 70 hours of volunteer time. The eight faithful Library volunteers are also in 5 days a week to assist Ms. McCollum with keeping the library organized and checking books in/out for the classes promptly. The new garden coordinator, Rachel Danforth, joined the team this year and has already organized a few well-attended garden clean up days, and we're sure we will see more of her as Spring grows closer. During this cold winter mornings, you may also see many of our volunteers assisting teachers in the car drop off line! HUGE thank you to all those who take time to volunteer for our wonderful community!

Mission Statement of the Lowell School PTO

The JR Lowell School PTO

Enrich ~ Encourage ~ Empower

Enrich the educational experience with in-school enrichment opportunities and after school clubs.

Encourage a spirit of community by sponsoring and hosting social and educational events throughout the school year.

Empower teachers, staff and parents by supporting teacher lead initiatives both financially and through volunteerism.

Enrichment Provided by Lowell's PTO and Organized by Laura Antipov, Enrichment Coordinator

Amazing opportunities to enhance our Science curriculum by sponsored by our PTO.


Forest School Program- A free seasonal outdoor enrichment program consisting of a 60-90 minute block of outdoor learning time once a season. Sessions culminate in a group project depicting seasonal change as it was experienced by the students during their time outdoors.

Mass Audubon Drumlin Farms: Seasonal Discovery Program (in-class enrichment) Students will explore the seasons as they observe native wildlife and learn about adaptations that help animals survive year-round.


Discovery Museum: Force and Motion Workshop (in-class enrichment) What makes an object move? Can we control the movement? Does the strength of a push or pull have an effect? How about the direction of the push or pull? What happens when objects move past each other or collide? Students explore concepts of force and motion while interacting with a variety of toys, balls, and vehicles.

Waltham Fields Field Trip: Eat the Rainbow Plant Parts and Nutrition. What part of the plant is a carrot? How about cabbage? Explore the different plants we eat, learning their botanical functions and nutritional components. Then create a healthy farm-fresh snack in our outdoor, solar-powered kitchen!

First Grade

Discovery Museum: Sound Workshop (in-class enrichment) Plunging a vibrating tuning fork into a bowl of water creates quite a spray as students learn that sound is vibration. Students actively engage in exploring sound, creating unique sound makers with household materials.

Museum of Science: Life Cycles (in-class enrichment) Life Cycles is a 50-minute presentation about how living things grow and change. During the program, students are introduced to two live animals and a live plant, each with a different life cycle.

Second Grade

Author/Illustrator visit will be planned

Mass Audubon Plants and Pollinators in-class presentations

Third Grade

Mass Audubon Animal Adaptations in-class presentation

Boston Tea Party Museum Field Trip Third graders travel back in time for a multi-sensory visit to a replica Boston Tea Party Ship. The students participate in a reenactment of the historic town meeting held just hours before the Boston Tea Party, learn about life at sea, and even take turns tossing tea into the Boston Harbor!

Fourth Grade

Discovery Museum: Sound Waves Workshop students will explore simple wave models while delving into the science of sound and how it travels. This is an adaptation of our original Sound workshop that specifically supports the new Grade 4 STE standards for Waves and their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer.

Harvard Natural History Museum and Peabody Museum Fieldtrip Fourth grade students will visit the Peabody Museum and Harvard Museum of Natural History. In addition to exploring the Native American, Glass Flowers, and Mineral, Gems, & Meteoriteexhibits, each class will attend the Changing Earth presentation. Students will use rocks and fossils to discover how oceans, volcanoes, plate tectonics, weathering, erosion, and mountain building have all shaped New England’s landscape.

Fifth Grade

Inflatable planetarium: An inflatable planetarium will visit the school! Each class will enjoy a 30 min planetarium show where they will learn about astronomy and space exploration. They will also get to touch a real meteorite, a dinosaur egg fossil, and pieces of NASA space gear.

Coming Events for Lowell School Students

As we kick off the Month of March and celebrate Literacy! We have a number of exciting events for students. In honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday, we are hosting Dr. Seuss The Magic of Literacy Show. Next, by the Bamidele African Dancers and Drummers. Followed by Len Cabral Storyteller on March 12th. We also invite all parents and students back to school that evening for Literacy Night.

Upcoming Events

Monday, February 24th - School Resumes

Tuesday, February 25th- Anti-Bias Coalition Meeting, room 204 Phillips Administration Building 5:30-7:00 pm.

Thursday, February 27th- Discovery Museum Sound Waves Presentation Grade 4

Friday, February 28th- Coffee with the Principal

Wednesday, March 4th- Dr. Suess Assembly Grade Prek-2 (9:00-9:45) and 3-5 (10:15-11:00)

Friday, March 6th- Kindergarten classes visit the Watertown Post Office

Tuesday, March 10th- PTO Meeting 6:30-7:30

Wednesday, March 11th- Band-A-Rama 7:00-8:00 Watertown High School

Tuesday, January 14 Lowell PTO 6:30-7:30 pm Lowell Library

Wednesday, January 15 Early Release 12:15 Teachers Professional Development

Thursday, March 12th Len Cabral Visits Lowell

Thursday, March 12th Literacy Night 6:30-7:30

Thursday, March 12th School Site Council 3:00 pm