MURSD District Update

From the Office of the Superintendent

March 28, 2023

Message from the Superintendent

March 28, 2023

Dear Mendon-Upton School Community,

I’d like to begin by saying that my original intent of this school message was to continue to highlight the amazing teaching and learning taking place within our district each day. Unfortunately, external national and local events find me writing a different message to the community today.

First, I felt it was important to inform you that area towns have received calls today with various threats to schools, all of which have been hoaxes, but are disruptive and concerning nonetheless. Mendon-Upton did NOT receive one of these calls, but we find ourselves in a place where these hoaxes are becoming more common not only around the country, but across Massachusetts as well.

These calls are known as a “swatting” hoax in which local police departments or schools receive calls declaring a non-credible bomb threat or active shooter threat at a school. Swatting is the action or practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.

As soon as our Mendon and Upton police departments were informed that the hoax calls were coming into area schools, they immediately informed our school departments and were available at our schools to answer questions and to support our teams. We are extremely thankful for the close partnership with the local safety departments in both towns and our continued safety planning efforts in our district.

Second, these local swatting incidents follow the senseless and tragic school shooting in Nashville yesterday. I am deeply saddened and dismayed by the fact that we are faced with these tragedies. In the aftermath of these events, it is normal to feel an increased sense of anxiety, especially regarding the safety of schools. Please know that our administrators and counselors are always available to support members of our community. We want to assure you that the safety of our students is our top priority. We are constantly reviewing our security measures to ensure that we are doing everything we can to protect our students and staff. We firmly believe that schools should be first and foremost safe environments for our students to learn and thrive, and we are proud of the collaborative work of educators, police and other community resources that make this a reality.

Warm Regards,

~Maureen Cohen

Superintendent of Schools

District Highlights

MIAA Recognizes Nipmuc Student-Athletes

Congratulations to Kylie Bodzinski and Gianna Yordanopoulos who have been recognized as the recipients of MIAA Community Service Challenge award. Each year the MIAA recognizes two student led community service efforts as exemplars for all high school students across the commonwealth. Kylie and Gianna have made it a goal to bring awareness to mental health issues amongst teens, especially student athletes. Kylie and Gianna have been instrumental in starting an Active Minds chapter here at Nipmuc and have partnered with the Kyle Cares organization.

Gianna and Kylie will continue to speak about mental health awareness throughout the spring season as well as presenting at a statewide conference this April.

DECA Leadership: Congratulations to Reham Harrati and Sofia Geremia

We wanted to congratulate Nipmuc senior Reham Harrati on completing her two-year term as the Massachusetts DECA State Officer and Nipmuc junior Sofia Geremia who was just voted into this state-level role.

As DECA state officers, Reham and Sofia were voted into the position by their peers across the state. They campaigned for the role at the state competition and became one of only 5-8 students across Massachusetts to take on this leadership role. In their roles, they are responsible for planning, organizing, and carrying out every DECA event, meeting, competition, and conference. They plan every facet from speakers to food, programs, workshops, and the budget for these events.

In reflecting on the position, Reham stated "it is a unique role to be given so much responsibility and get to collaborate with state representatives and the board of directors." It was exciting to see Reham pass the leadership torch to Sofia, maintaining the role of Nipmuc leadership in Massachusetts DECA. Other Nipmuc students to hold this important leadership role include graduates Walker Penfield (Class of 2021) and John Dacey (Class of 2019).

Congratulations to our leaders!

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Strategic Planning 2023-2028

We are making great progress on the development of our next strategic plan with our committed and dedicated strategic planning committee. (Thank you!) After 10 focus groups with feedback, we are starting to see the development of broad themes from our school community. Here is a list of some of the initial themes:

  • Student Supports: Increased support for mental health, therapeutic, behavioral, and special education to meet the needs of all learners.

  • Real World Application and Connection: Prioritize real world connections with curriculum through community partnerships.

  • Expanded Programmatic Choices: Expanded course options for students such as ASL, virtual reality, media productions, or creating pathways of learning.

  • Student Agency: Increase voice and agency in their learning and in school decision-making. Desire for individualized, personalized, and flexible learning options.

  • Facilities and Fields: Modernize our middle school facility and upgrade our middle and high school fields to today’s standards.

  • Community Vision and Commitment: Develop a shared community vision for the future of MURSD schools and the financial investment in that vision.

We will continue to report out to the community on our strategic planning development process.

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FY2024 Budget Development Process

After a lengthy and collaborative budget development process, the Mendon-Upton Regional School Committee certified the FY2024 budget at the open budget hearing last Monday, March 20th. I'd like to thank the budget subcommittee members, which consisted of representatives of the school committee and members from both towns, who provided multiple meetings and gave input during the development process. Additionally, thank you to the building and district leaders and their teams who provided thoughtful input regarding our prioritized needs for our students and school community.

This year our budget goals were:

  • Continued High-Quality Service and Instruction for Students: To ensure a level services budget to maintain class sizes, programs, and services that are currently provided to our students to maintain high-quality instruction.
  • Comprehensive Multi-Tiered Systems of Support: To address the most critical academic, social-emotional, and behavioral needs of our students as we emerge from the pandemic through staff support, professional development, and data inquiry.
  • Future Ready: To support our strategic goals and development of the portrait of a learner competencies through professional development, technology integration, and program enhancement.

If you are interested in reading our budget book and reviewing our presentations from the hearing or previous departmental budget presentations, they can all be found on our school district's budget webpage:

We're Hiring!

We have a number of current positions open and anticipated positions that will be posted soon. If you know of qualified candidates who are looking to join our incredible MURSD Team, please send them to our upcoming Blackstone Valley Job Fair or to go to our district's employment website for more information.
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Health Updates

New State Behavioral Health Help Line

The Department of Mental Health has launched a new Behavioral Health Help Line that people can call or text at 833-773-2445. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in more than 200 languages. The help line can help individuals and families navigate the behavioral health system and access treatment, including mobile crisis services. District and school leaders are asked to please share this resource with staff, families, and students, where helpful. For more information, please see the FAQ. Anyone with questions or concerns about the help line can email the help line director at

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Career Shadow Day-Seeking Community Partners

Over the past few weeks, all students in the tenth-grade class have been researching career interests and working on a plan to participate in a Career Shadow Day on May 5, 2023. This Career Shadow Day will provide a full-day meaningful experience for students as they shadow a professional in a potential future career path.

A Career Shadow Day is not possible without community partners. If you or a colleague are able to host a Nipmuc student on Friday, May 5, please click here to complete the form.

District Events

Upcoming Events

  • March 20- Semi Formal Committee Meeting
  • March 27- Practice MCAS
  • March 30- Grade 5 + 6 Chorus Gala
  • April 4/5- ELA MCAS (Memorial)
  • April 6 - Miscoe ELA MCAS
  • April 7- Early Release
  • April 10-School Committee Meeting
  • April 11- Miscoe ELA MCAS
  • April 11-Miscoe Expo Elective Showcase
  • April 17-21-Spring Break
  • May 1-School Committee Meeting
  • May 9- Miscoe Math MCAS
  • May 11- Miscoe Math MCAS
  • May 12- Early Release (Teacher PD)
  • May 15- Miscoe Science MCAS (Grades 5 & 8 Only)
  • May 15-School Committee Meeting
  • May 16- Math MCAS (Memorial)
  • May 16-17-Grade 10 Math MCAS
  • May 18- Miscoe Science MCAS (Grades 5 & 8 Only)
  • May 29-Memorial Day-no school
  • June 5-School Committee Meeting
  • June 6-7, Grade 9 Biology


This portion of the newsletter will be dedicated to celebrating all members of our school community who are difference-makers. If you have someone you would like to highlight that is making a difference, please let us know by using the link below. Some will be highlighted here and everyone will receive individual recognition.
You Inspire Me: Lauren Lajoie, 5th Grade Teacher and Mentor

She has gone above and beyond helping me transition into this position throughout the year. She always makes sure I feel prepared and appreciated for whatever this year throws my way. She also does so much for her other colleagues and students without any need for thanks in return. I look forward to seeing her at work and have become a better teacher and person because of her.

You Inspire Me: Rina Manser, 6th Grade Teacher

She inspires me in her tireless efforts for her students and her co-workers. She goes above not only for her students every day but also in the efforts she puts in for the committees she is on to help improve the MURSD community. `

You Inspire Me: Nipmuc Cafeteria Staff

These ladies are always there to support faculty with their ability the "whip up" food and beverages for the masses at a moment's notice. They support our students by providing needed food and also sometimes their favorite food :) when it is needed for physical or mental nourishment.

You Inspire Me: Miscoe Hill Cafeteria Staff

These ladies take excellent care of the students and staff. I feel that they go above when preparing treats for the staff. They inspire me because they work tirelessly every day and don't always get a lot of thanks. They are kind, caring, and patient.

You Inspire Me: Whitney Simmonds

Whitney inspires me because she is unconditionally supportive of all members of the music department and is very knowledgable in her craft. She has made the transition into this district a lot easier for me thanks to her humor, passion, and patience.

You Inspire Me: Lori Beaudoin

Lori's compassion toward other teachers and her ability to help them succeed is like no other. Additionally, Lori's compassion and drive to help her students learn and understand content is unmatched. Lori created a new small group English class (Essentials of Literacy) which was born from the needs of students and the results so far have been astounding.
Than you Lori for being the strong human that you are! We all love you!

Mendon-Upton Regional School District Store

We have partnered with a local business to begin offering some Mendon-Upton clothing items. You can use the following link to order Mendon-Upton gear.