Officials Celebrate Groundbreaking for Construction of 2 Watertown Schools

Watertown school and town officials put shovels in the ground at the official start of the construction project Cunniff Elementary School. The ceremony also marked the beginning of the Hosmer School project. Standing next to the first of Watertown schools to be torn down and replaced with a state-of-the-art facility, Watertown School and Town officials celebrated the beginning of what will be several years of construction at school sites around town. Officials posed in hardhats, holding shovels during the official groundbreaking of the project at Cunniff Elementary School on Wednesday afternoon. The ceremony also marked the start of the project at Hosmer Elementary School, which will take place simultaneously.

Mass. Seeks to Bring Back Students in Fall, Classes Will be Social Distanced

Lowell School in Watertown, and all Massachusetts schools, will operate differently in the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Massachusetts school officials seek to bring back “as many students as possible to in-person school settings” in the fall, but the classrooms will look different with schools being required to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has put together its Initial Fall School Reopening Guidance, which is expected to be discussed by Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday. The plan, of which the Boston Globe obtained a copy, says getting students back into the classroom is the goal. Education and medical officials weighed the risks of COVID-19 as well as the impact of keeping students at home.

LETTER: Parent Critical of Watertown School’s Slow Response to Racial Issues

I sat on replying to this for some time because I am pretty angry like many people are. But maybe not for the same reasons you all are. 

In the WPS Statement: (WPS) “are committed to confronting racism in our school community, as well as creating and ensuring welcoming, affirming, and supportive learning spaces for every single one of our students and their families. We commit to our efforts to promote and live anti-racism and social justice in our schools, as well as to serve and support the distinct needs of our students and families of color who are far too often targets of racism and racist acts.” This is absolute [B–s–]. 

My husband and I spoke at a school committee meeting on January 6th about bullying and racism. I spoke up for multiple families who were too afraid to speak for themselves out of fear of retaliation and others who had tried and received a bunch of lip service and no serious support.

Virtual Meeting About Hosmer School Project Planned, New Building Project Website

A rendering of what the new Hosmer Elementary School will look like. The Watertown Public Schools will host a meeting about the upcoming construction project at Hosmer School. The district also has a new School Building Project website. The website covers the projects at Watertown’s three elementary schools, and can be viewed by clicking here. The Watertown Public Schools sent out the following information:

The new Hosmer Elementary School is coming soon to your neighborhood!

Musicians Gather Virtually to Put on 2020 Watertown MusicFest

A shot from the Watertown High School Orchestra’s video from the Virtual MusicFest 2020 website. The organizers of the annual Watertown MusicFest were not going to let COVID-19 stand in the way of putting on their 2020 event. They put together a virtual musical jamboree featuring more than 100 performances by Watertown students and others from the community. The event was created by the Friends of Watertown Music, a group of volunteer parents and friends of the music program that formed in 2011 to support and advocate for the music program in the Watertown Public Schools. The organizers wrote the following introduction for the Watertown Music Fest website (Click here to go to the website):

“Corona may be keeping us apart but it isn’t keeping us silent.

Watertown Preschoolers Get to Say Goodbye to Their Teachers in Drive By Event

A staff member from the Early Steps Integrated Preschool attended the preschool parade where the staff could say goodbye to their students. Children in the Watertown Early Steps Integrated Preschool got a special treat last week, and got to see some old friends — their teachers! The Watertown Public School’s preschool program, located at the Phillips Building, closed along with the other schools in March. As the school year wound down, the preschool staff wanted to see the kids one more time, and they organized a parade to come by the school, said Karen Feeney, Watertown’s Director of Early Childhood. Cars full of preschoolers and their parents drive through the lot behind the Phillips Building during the drive through goodbye event on June 1.

Watertown School Committee, School Administration Release Statements on George Floyd

Members of the School Committee and Watertown school officials separately put out statements about the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and racial inequity. John Portz, chair of the Watertown School Committee, read the following statement on behalf of the School Committee at Monday night’s meeting:

The tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the demonstrations that have followed across the country are witness to the racial injustices that continue in our society. As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote many years ago, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 

As a school committee, we share the outrage over Mr. Floyd’s death and the frustrations felt by many in failures to address long-standing injustices and inequities in American society. 

As a school district, we continue our commitment to equity and respect for differences, through the Responsive Classroom curriculum, Kingian Non-Violence work, the Anti-Bias Coalition, and other district activities in the classroom, in the curriculum, and in all ways that we conduct ourselves as a district. 

We stand together denouncing these continued acts of racism and violence against people of color across our country. The following letter was provided by the administration of the Watertown Public Schools:

Dear Watertown Public Schools Community,

We are profoundly disturbed by the tragic and unnecessary death of George Floyd as well as Ahmaud Arbery’s killing in Georgia and Breonna Taylor’s in Kentucky. We are all negatively impacted by such acts, whether as victims, perpetrators, or bystanders. The families, friends, and community members of these individuals, and the countless others who have been lost to violence, are forever impacted. To our Black Families, Students, and Community Members, although we recognize and empathize with the hurt and the fear you live with on a daily basis, we know we need to and can do more. Please know, we will work every single day with others throughout our strong Watertown community to make our schools and community places for all of us to thrive and prosper, regardless of race or any other aspect of human diversity.

Watertown Schools’ Art Show Goes Online, See Visual Art from All Grades

A piece made by a Watertown High School Student in the Studio Art class. For many years, the Watertown Public Schools Art Show has been displayed at the Watertown Mall, but the Coronavirus has forced the district to find a new venue — a virtual venue. The Connecting Through Creativity – WPS Virtual Art Show 2020 can now be seen online, and features works from every grade at every school in the district. The Watertown’s Coordinator of Fine, Applied, and Performing Arts Magen Slesinger provided the following information:

The Watertown Public Schools Visual Art Department is proud to present our first ever Virtual Art Show! When looking at visual art, we are often looking at the beautiful end product.