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The Gates Newsletter

Volume XIII, Issue 10 Charting the course for excellence February 12, 2010
Scituate Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin,
sex, disability, religion, or sexual orientation.

Principal’s Corner

I‘m sure everyone has an opinion about how schools should measure student academic progress in
school. Maybe homework shouldn‘t count, or maybe there are too many (or not enough?) tests. It is a
controversial subject, and has become even more so with the increased emphasis on the ‗one size fits all‘
testing philosophy nationwide. The truth is, the more teachers test, the less time they have to teach. It is
also true that the success quotient of a school or school district should never be measured just by the
results of one test (think MCAS). Yet town and city real estate values are now (at least partially)
dependent on district MCAS scores, and the pressure on schools continues to increase as 2014
approaches, when all public school students are supposed to be proficient or advanced in both English
and mathematics. In his article called ‗Assessment: Pass or Fail?‘, Todd Farley* makes some valid points
on this subject, which I offer below:

―We‘re fast approaching a point in this country when the promotion or graduation of students will result not
from their classroom work or the opinions of the educators who spend each day with them, but from their
performance on a single standardized test. Because I‘ve spent the last 15 years inside the testing
industry, working for many of the biggest companies on many of the biggest tests—this trend doesn‘t
seem so smart to me. In fact, I‘d say linking federal education funds to regional standardized test scores,
as NCLB does, or teacher pay to student test results… are ideas that should be reconsidered. My
complaint with large-scale assessment is not with multiple choice tests, as these are scored electronically.
The real trouble begins in the realm of open-ended tests, where students answer questions in their own
words and are assessed by fallible human beings. The testing industry wants those subjective student
responses to be scored as consistently as multiple-choice tests. To do this, the industry establishes hard
and fast rules for its short-term ‗professional scorers‘ to adhere to. In my experience, these rules—written
for recently hired temporary employees—ultimately turn the process into a theatre of the absurd. I know
because I‘ve sat through the training sessions.‖

When Mr. Farley is asked about how he would reform standardized testing, he speaks about the need to
used models on a smaller scale: ―In the current system, temporary employees must adhere to unyielding
rules established to deal with tens of thousands of student responses‖, Mr. Farley says. ―A reformed
system would have a smaller number of scorers assessing the work of a smaller number of students.
This means placing assessment back in the hands of the teacher who can make thoughtful decisions
about the students he or she knows.‖ He cites great progress in the state of Washington, which ‗rolled
out‘ a new classroom-based assessment program (CBA). These ‗CBA‘s‘ are written and administered on
the state level, but student results are assessed by classroom teachers. In Mr. Farley‘s opinion, ―… this
produces a win-win situation‖, as policy makers get their standardized tests, and students are assessed
by professional educators who know them. In his final remarks, Mr. Farley notes: ―It is increasingly
important to change the testing industry… absent reform, we are placing life-changing assessments about
students in the hands of bored temps who give fleeting glances to students‘ work.‖
From the Literacy Corner

Check out the Literacy webpage:

Happy Reading! ~Mrs. Sullivan

Attention Team E parents/guardians!

This is a friendly reminder that our Team E medieval feast day will be held on Friday, February 26th. We
are seeking historically authentic food contributions as well as $3.00 per student to cover the cost of the
main meal, all of which was explained in the letter sent home with your child on Monday. Please also
encourage your child to dress in a no or low-cost costume according to his or her character for bonus
points added to their research project grade! Feel free to contact any Team E teacher with questions or
concerns! Thank you for your support!
Mrs. Murphy, Ms. Kruggel, Ms. Lirosi, and Ms. Herr

The Guidance Corner:

Please join the Scituate High School Counseling Staff for ―8th Grade Parent Step-Up Night‖ on Tuesday,
February 23, 2010 at 6:30 pm in the high school library. The high school counselors will discuss the
Program of Studies, the course registration process, and how to make the most of your student‘s high
school experience. We look forward to seeing you there!

From the Physical Education Dept.:

We will provide the monthly be active activities outlined in the Teen Food and Fitness brochure provided
by Resources for Educators, a division of Aspen Publishers.

Be Active!
Keep moving year-round! Teenagers are more likely to stay active when they see their parents getting fit,
too. So gather everyone together for activities that will build muscles, get hearts pumping and increase
flexibility-month by month.


Healthy Hearts

Show your family how much you love them by scheduling ―family dates.‖ The only rule, no sitting still!
You might try bowling, laser tag, or find and indoor pool or rock-climbing wall.

Some schools and community centers schedule a weekly open gym where your family can play basketball
or volleyball. Also, some malls open early for walkers, you can take a brisk walk around on the weekend.
Reward yourselves with healthy smoothies when the stores open.
If it snows, go sledding, slide down a hill in an inner tube, take a snowy hike, or go skiing or snowboarding
if you live near any slopes.

Gates Drama Club:

The members of the Gates Drama Club are gearing up for our annual musical production. We had many
enthusiastic students audition prior to our Winter break and the parts have been posted. We have almost
80 students involved in this year‘s production!
This year‘s production, ―Flapper,‖ is a madcap musical comedy tribute to the roaring 1920‘s. Rehearsals
begin this week and the performances are scheduled for April 9th, 10th and 11th. We are looking forward to
working together to present a first class show!

Bee Ready!!!

The winner of the Gates Spelling Bee will be

eligible to compete in the Patriot Ledger Regional
Spelling Bee to be held in March.

Foreign Language Department:


Twenty students have signed up for the Quebec City Field Trip June 5-9. They are looking for ways to
raise money to help defray the cost of the trip. Families of participating students are welcome to contact
Mme Dufault for a packet of fundraising ideas. Also, there is still time to sign up for the trip! See Mme D
for info.

Latin News:
The seventh grade Latin students have learned that the holiday we celebrate as Valentine's Day can be
traced back to an ancient Roman festival known as Lupercalia which was celebrated on the Ides of
February (February 15th). As part of the celebration, the priests put the names of the local girls in a box
and each boy drew a girl's name. The couple was then paired until the next Lupercalia.

The students further learned that in 260 AD the emperor Claudius II, called Claudius the Cruel, decreed
that Roman soldiers may not marry or get engaged. However, a Christian priest named Valentinus
(Valentine) defied this law and married young couples. He was arrested, imprisoned and beheaded on
February 14th. His name became associated with young love forever after. In the 1600's it became
common to give flowers, particularly roses, as a sign of love. The giving of Valentine's Day cards started
in the 16th century but didn't become popular until the 18th century.
On Tuesday, February 9, students made "Latin" Valentine cards, with appropriate sayings in Latin, to give
to "someone special". As was the Roman custom, they celebrated the day enjoying refreshments.

Gates Dates:

February 15-19 February Recess

February 23 Co-Teaching Workshops
February 26 Team E Medieval Feast Day
February 26 Neon Dance: 7-9 pm in cafe
March 1 Faculty Meeting
March 3 Principal Coffee, 5:45-6:30 pm
March 3 PTO Meeting
March 4 Glimpse of Gates, 8:15 am
March 5 Co-Teaching Workshops
March 10 Spring Open Mic
March 11 Grade 6 Parent Orientation
March 19 Term II Report Cards
March 23 ELA Long Comp MCAS, Grade 7
March 25 Principal Coffee, 5:45-6:30 pm
March 25 Parent Conferences (evening)
March 25 Early Release Day
March 29 ELA MCAS Grade 7/8
April 2 Good Friday, no school
April 5 Faculty Meeting
April 19-23 Spring Recess

Friendly reminders:

First Friday of every month: Students who bring in antibacterial wipes may wear a school-appropriate hat.
The students may come into the office with their wipes and receive a sticker to wear on their hats.

Any student that is involved in an after-school activity must pay the $100 Activity Fee. Thanks!
Principal Coffees

Date Time Topic

March 3 5:45-6:30 pm Middle School Philosophy

March 25 5:45-6:30 pm Transitions - to/from Gates

Parents and Guardians of Gates students are welcome to join Principal Dick Blake and Vice Principal
Sharon Seyller for an informal discussion on the above topics. No need to RSVP – just come as you
are! Meetings will be held in the Gates Library. Please note that the first two dates are morning coffees
and the March dates are evening coffees.

The METCO Office:

METCO students, you have been invited to participate in the eighth annual Reflection in Action:
Building Healthy Communities™ Contest (RIA). This is a city-wide student competition in visual,
written and performing arts including a day of healthy living. The contest themes are related to health and
include: heart lung, blood diseases, strokes, and asthma. You may also and included issues like
homelessness, violence, and environmental pollution. All students that live in Boston are able to
participate. Entries must be submitted by March 17, 2010. For more information please visit


We are still collecting clothing, personal care items, towels, shoes, sheets, tents and sleeping bags to
send to Haiti. Items can be dropped off at the METCO Office at Scituate High School. Thank you for your
Student Government:

There will be a neon dance on Friday February 26th from 7-9. Students are encouraged to wear neon
colored clothing or bright colors if they choose to.

The Month of March is Tolerance Month at Gates and our theme this year is centered on bullying. There
will be numerous events and activities throughout the month.

EMPTY BOWLS FOR HAITI: is happening on March 4th. This is a fundraiser by the students as they have
been making ceramic bowls as symbols of hunger and each person participating in this fundraiser will
take a bowl home with them. Family and Consumer Science will be preparing a meal of beef stew or
onion soup, rolls, and a dessert. The cost for this event is $20.00 per person and will be held at 11:15 in
the media center of Gates School. You must pay in advance and reserve a spot as seats are limited.
Forms will come home with your student or you may fill out the form below and have your child return it.


March 4, 2010 11:15- 12:15
Gates School Media Center
$20.00 per person

Students at the Gates Intermediate School are busy making clay bowls, preparing a menu
and practicing their music for this event.

In an effort to bring awareness of the catastrophe that has hit Haiti and to help students
become involved, some specialists have joined together in Empty Bowls for Haiti. Grade 8
art students are creating ceramic bowls. Family and Consumer Science students are
preparing a menu of onion soup and beef stew. Chorus and Band students are practicing
entertainment for this event. At 11:15 the luncheon will be opened for business until 12:15.
Because empty bowls is symbolic of hunger, this will be a bare bones lunch of onion soup,
beef stew, bread, water and a dessert. Each participant will walk away with a hand crafted
bowl as a constant symbol of the event and people who suffer from hunger. All profits
received will be donated to the Red Cross for Haiti.
This is a reservation only event. If you wish to attend, please fill out below and return to
your child’s homeroom by February 26th. Seating is limited. Please make checks payable to
Town of Scituate-Gates.
Name:_____________________________ Number attending____
Phone #________________ Homeroom of your child ( if applicable) ____________
Meal Preferance:________Onion soup_______Beef stew ( # for each)
Each meal is $20.00. Enclosed is $___________.
___check ___cash
____Sorry, I cannot attend but would like to make a donation of $__________.
Gates Band:

Twelve music students from the Gates School did quite well at their recent SEMSBA auditions.
SEMSBA is a collection of 33 south shore schools that host a music festival each spring. The
Gates students put in many hours of practice to prepare for their auditions.

The following students will participate in the 2010 Junior Semsba Festival on April 30 and May 1
at Randolph High School: Sylvie Grenier flute, Molly McConaughey flute, Emma LaBreck flute,
Scott Reinhardt trumpet, Jack Duff trombone, Hannah Nelson trombone, Max Fenton bass
trombone, Hannah Ellis baritone horn, Teddy Ragge french horn, Kelly Vickers tuba, Leah
Donnelly Cello, and Jillian Palubicki alto.

Congratulations to all who made it and to those who tried out!

We are fortunate this year to have Study Island, a web-based state assessment program, for all students in
grades 2-8. We purchased the program for Math and ELA so students can practice various topics in a fun
way. Results from students‘ study sessions are recorded and made available to both teachers and parents.

Each topic contains about 20 to 25 questions with explanations. All topics are accompanied by a lesson, which
includes some brief information about the material covered by the questions in the topics. It is helpful to view
the lesson before answering the questions in the topic.

Study Island questions can be answered in test mode (just questions) or game mode where students can play
a game after each correct answer.

The website is: Every student has a username (FirstnameLastname@gates) and a
password (chosen by the student).

After the pre-test is completed, students may click on any assignment not completed. Some teachers assign
specific topics that are due in a given time frame. To pass a topic, students must satisfy the topic‘s passing
requirements that are based a minimum number of questions answered (usually 10) and a minimum
percentage correct (around 70%). A blue ribbon icon is displayed next to all passed topics. Students can keep
answering questions even if they have passed a topic so they can have additional practice and increase their
percentage score. If a student does not pass a topic the lettering will become grey and underneath the topic a
building block will appear in black type. The student must then pass the building block before attempting the
topic again. When students pass all topics in all sections, they have completed the program and will be well
prepared to take the state MCAS test or other standardized assessment.

It is very important to click (End Study Session‖ when exiting out of Study Island. Otherwise, the student‘s time
and/or work may not be recorded.

If you have any questions concerning Study Island, contact either your student‘s teacher, Mary Ellen Gaziano
(Math Specialist) or Maureen Sullivan (Literacy Specialist).
Food for Thought on Body Mass Index:

Recently, there has been much media attention focused on the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts‘ new, mandated, regulations requiring public schools to calculate Body Mass
Index and then report the findings to parents. The compiled, anonymous data from districts
across the Commonwealth will then be reported to the Mass. Department of Public Health. This
comes at a time when there is much controversy and confusion surrounding the proposed
health care legislation in Washington, raising a flag of suspicion as to the state‘s intended use of
this information as well as the overall value of such an initiative.
In order to fully understand this initiative, it is important to look at the supporting data at its
foundation. It is no secret, that like the rest of the nation, Massachusetts suffers from a
childhood obesity epidemic. We know that over the past 20 years there has been a steady
increase in the numbers of overweight and obese children. Currently the estimate is that a third
of our children are classified in these two weight categories. These are staggering numbers and
even more concerning are the associated illnesses directly related to excess weight. We are
seeing unprecedented numbers of weight related diabetes as well as increases in arthritis,
kidney, liver and cardiac vascular disease in our children. Most recently, we know that a
person‘s recovery from the H1N1 virus can be compromised by obesity. In addition we know
that many of these children suffer from poor self-image throughout their childhood and
potentially adulthood. If left unchecked, these obesity related disorders will have grave
implications for the future of our health care system as well as a staggering cost to our nation.
At the Massachusetts state level, this screening mandate went through an exhaustive review
process, over a three year period, before it reached the Public Health Council for approval. A
committee that consisted of representatives from all levels of health care including pediatricians,
psychologists, nutritionists, exercise physiologists and school nurses advised the development
of these regulations. The Massachusetts BMI program is modeled after other states such as
Arkansas and Pennsylvania who have data starting in 2003 and whose school based healthy
weight initiatives have shown encouraging results. The importance of gathering data on weight
cannot be overstated. It is this information, on the health of our youth that directs programming
and funding at the state and federal level directly to this area of critical concern.
It is important to note that school nurses have been measuring their student‘s height and weight
along with screenings for vision, hearing and scoliosis since the 1950‘s. The height and weights
were simply charted on the student‘s record with no requirement for follow up with parents. With
this new BMI initiative the school nurses will now share the results with parents. Included in this
report will be a list of resources, unique to their demographic area that can be used to support
families in making healthy lifestyle choices. In the approximately sixty Massachusetts school
districts, who have been the recipients of the Department of Public Health‘s grant funding,
school nurses have been doing BMI and reporting to parents since 2007. The response has
been positive. The Department of Public Health is vigilant in providing both online training and
professional development opportunities for nurses in the area of accurate BMI surveillance. This
surveillance is not meant to replace the yearly BMI assessment done by the child‘s primary care
provider. It should be seen as an opportunity to reinforce and encourage the physician‘s
recommendations and support the move in the direction of a healthy weight.
In that effort, schools districts across the state have a renewed interest in health and wellness.
Many systems are positioning themselves to support healthy choices by monitoring and
improving the nutritional content of their menus, vending machine choices and snack options.
Some are creating policies on celebrations and fundraising as they relate to food and teachers
are using their creative genius designing unique ways to rewards students with non-food
incentives. The goal is to support children through education and modeling to make healthy
School nurses have a unique level of trust with their students. In their role, they are acutely
aware of potential negative effects of this type of screening program, if it is not carried out in a
professional manner. I have confidence that school nurses are keenly sensitive to the issues of
confidentiality and that they will provide utmost privacy and sensitivity as they complete the BMI
screening of their students and report the results to their parents.
We know body mass index is not a perfect screening tool and that results can be skewed by
factors such as an athletic build. Clearly the results must be evaluated on a case by case basis.
It is a number, a guide, a starting point for dialogue and indicator that family supports may be
needed on a variety of levels. In the face of this health crisis that threatens our children it is
certainly a tool that has merit.

Marge Rossi
Nurse Leader
Scituate Public Schools