Superintendent’s Update - December 20, 2013

Post date: Dec 24, 2013 1:38:45 PM

Superintendent’s Update December 20, 2013

I want to begin by wishing everyone a wonderful holiday break and a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year! We look forward to students, faculty and staff returning to school on Monday, January 6, 2014. Our high school basketball, ice hockey, and track teams will be practicing and competing over the break. Please join us to cheer on the Lunenburg Blue Knights! Team schedules can be found under the athletics’ tab at our website.

Childcare Available During Special Town Meeting January 7, 2014

The Extended Day Program will provide childcare during the Special Town Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. in the high school auditorium. Please contact Ms. Perry at 978.582.4100 X309 or X315 by noon on Monday, January 6, 2014 to register for childcare.

Special Town Election January 11, 2014

Special Town Election is scheduled for Saturday, January 11, 2014, from 7:00 AM until 5:00 PM at the Thomas C. Passios School, 1025 Massachusetts Avenue gymnasium. Information about voter registration and absentee ballots can be found at the Town’s Website.

Student Transportation

The district’s current school transportation contractor Atlantic Express Transportation (d.b.a. McCarty Limo/Atlantic Express) will be unable to fulfill its school transportation contract with the Lunenburg Public Schools and many other school districts in Massachusetts after December 31, 2013, given that the company has filed voluntary petitions for debt relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The School Committee took action at its meeting on December 18th to allow Atlantic Express Transportation to dissolve its contract with Lunenburg which clears the way for the District to enter into another transportation contract.

We are currently soliciting bids for a new transportation contract with a bid opening scheduled for 4:00 PM on Monday, December 30, 2013. Following the bid opening, the district will award a new transportation contract to the lowest qualified bidder to ensure there is no disruption of transportation services. Necessary arrangements have been made by Mr. McCauliff, Lunenburg Athletic Director, to ensure transportation for the athletic teams. Additional information will be provided to parents and guardians via electronic communication once a new contract is in place.

Personnel Changes

I want to extend best wishes to Laura Rudy, LHS Special Education Teacher, upon her retirement. Ms. Rudy was instrumental in developing a community based transition program at the high school. We thank her for her seven years of service in Lunenburg and nineteen years of service as an educator. I am pleased to announce that Kimberly Jones has been hired to replace Ms. Rudy. Ms. Jones is a graduate of Lunenburg High School and a Lunenburg resident.

I also want to make you aware that Mary Landi has accepted a position in the Office of the President at Fitchburg State University. Ms. Landi’s final day in the District will be January 3, 2014. She has been a valued member of the central office for the past eleven years having provided outstanding assistance and service to students, parents, faculty and staff.

Appreciation and Resiliency

The following article was submitted to this week’s edition of the Lunenburg Ledger and I want to also share it with members of our school community in this update.

The last few days have afforded us the opportunity to reflect on the events of the past several weeks, begin debriefing and thinking about what we have learned as individuals, as a district, and as a community. We have benefited from our meetings with Dr. John Chetro-Szivos and other staff from the Douglas and Isabelle Crocker Center for Civic Engagement and greatly appreciate former Turkey Hill Middle School educator and current Fitchburg State University President Robert Antonucci’s willingness to share these resources with us. We are also grateful to our students for standing proud in the face of adversity and the parents and community members who reached out to offer help and support.

Looking back I continue to be impressed with the manner in which the students and athletes of Lunenburg High School represented their school and our community. Their kindness when confronted with negativity, and at times hostility, is to be applauded. Their focus on their studies and other school commitments was equally impressive. It was a joy to attend the production of, “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play”. What a remarkable performance by the cast and crew presenting this holiday tradition. Likewise the LHS musical concerts lifted everyone’s spirits and were a testament to the talents and work ethic of our musicians. Simultaneously, students from across the district engaged in a number of community service projects such as donations to the giving tree at the Primary; the coat, hat, and mitten drive at the middle school; and collecting food at the high school. Our students truly reflect the values of the Lunenburg community, a community committed to justice and acceptance and who come together to help and support one another in times of need. That is who we are.

The resiliency demonstrated by the students, faculty, and staff is reflective of that which the Lunenburg community has historically shown. We are overcoming this most recent challenge in our schools. We are not only bouncing back, but coming through this situation stronger, wiser, committed and as passionate as ever about our mission to prepare students for lifelong learning and responsible community membership. It comes as no surprise that helping others and resiliency goes hand in hand. Individuals who may feel helpless can be empowered by helping others. That is why it is an important part of our social-emotional curriculum in our schools to engage students in age-appropriate volunteer work. Helping others builds resiliency. Likewise, connecting with people provides social support and strengthens resilience. At a time when one might feel inclined to pull away or retreat from others, it was remarkable to see how the students, our faculty and staff and the community reached out to one another. That act of connecting, pulling together instead of pushing apart, is another major contributor to developing resiliency in children and adolescents.

In schools, and in our personal narratives, we often use history and heroic figures to illustrate resiliency - the power to keep going after extreme hardship. The world recently lost one of these heroic figures in Nelson Mandela who said it best: “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” Our community has faced hardships in the past and those past challenges strengthen us to handle future difficulties. At school, using programs like Responsive Classroom and Development Design, Lunenburg educators help students see how their individual actions contribute to the well-being of the class as a whole. Helping students keep a long-term perspective and an optimistic outlook enables them to know about good things in life and the importance of keeping going even in the hardest times.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2014!