It’s difficult to believe that we are fast approaching one week before the December break. Our students have been thrilled to have our first snowfall so early in the season and always look forward to recess with a newfound enthusiasm when the ground is covered in snow. Teachers and I have been taking time to remind students of our expectations for the winter. Please make sure that your child is dressed appropriately for this season (hats, gloves/mittens, boots, jackets, snow pants). Also, our school policy is that students must have on both boots and snow pants to be able to go on areas where there is snow (field or hill). Recess is a really important part of the day and our goal is always to provide this necessary time for students to be outside engaging in movement and interacting with their peers, though if the temperature is below twenty degrees with the wind chill the policy is that we must keep students inside.
Families across our district have worked together to establish a group called FORJ, which stands for Families Organizing for Racial Justice. The mission of this group includes generating understanding and curiosity about differences in our society, and working together to teach our children, and ourselves, about how to stand up for racial equity. Next Wednesday, December 20, at 7:30 PM, at Mason-Rice, there will be a Newton citywide FORJ meeting, which means there will be parents from many different Newton schools in attendance. At this meeting, Superintendent David Fleishman, METCO Coordinator Maricel Sheets, and Countryside Teacher/Courageous Conversations Trainer Jennifer Tomaneng will share about what is happening in terms of racial justice and anti-bias training at our schools, with a specific focus on the “Courageous Conversations” project of the Newton Public Schools, one that we have begun here at Mason-Rice. Time will be provided for questions, as well as a discussion. If you are interested in hearing about or supporting this extremely important work I encourage you to attend this event. You can also find more information about FORJ by clicking on the following link: https://forjnewton.wordpress.com
In addition, many schools across our district have developed their own FORJ teams. Beginning this year we have established a Mason-Rice team that is led by Emily Frank, Io Cyrus, Sarah Fogelman, Janelle Phillips, Neena McConnico, Sara Penn, Erica Rai, and Melanie Goins. Our Mason-Rice team is already meeting and actively working to increase diversity awareness, maintain a welcoming school atmosphere, create opportunities for more integration within our community, and celebrate our differences with rich educational experiences and social events. This group put on a small event with Newton and METCO families a few weeks ago at Boston Bowl where students enjoyed an evening of candlepin bowling, delicious food, and the opportunity to genuinely connect with one another. It was truly a special evening. Please stay tuned for more events to be coming in the future. Our Mason-Rice FORJ group will meet next in January at a date that will be shared soon.
Lastly, please remember that next week is Spirit Week. We will have a theme for each day (see below). Participating in this is completely voluntary for our staff and students and not something that anyone should feel obligated to participate in.
* Monday, December 18 – Crazy Hair Day
* Tuesday, December 19 – Mismatched Socks Day
* Wednesday, December 20 – Favorite Sports Team Day (hats allowed)
* Thursday, December 21 – Ugly Sweater/Sweatshirt Day
* Friday, December 22 – Pajama Day
I wish you all a wonderful weekend!