February 14, 2020
We reach the break with gratitude for what community brings to us. The past two weeks brought a sense of togetherness that I have heard in ongoing conversations, ideas, and acts of support to one another. This, undoubtedly, strengthens us in good times and bad.
The upcoming week will be one of travel, joy, respite, and relaxation. Sometimes, though, the change in routine is hard and support does not seem as readily available if needed. We wanted to be sure that support was accessible throughout the upcoming week.
Riverside Trauma Center recommends two primary options in the community in addition to your own private providers. They are:
24 hour emergency and crisis support
Eliot Center, Concord
(978) 369-1113 ask for intake
Enjoy the time with family and friends. Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns.
Dr. Laurie Hunter, Superintendent
CMS Building Project Public Forum — February 27, 7:00 PM
Share your voice in the design process of Concord’s future middle school building!
The CMS Building Committee will host its next Public Forum on Thursday, February 27 at 7:00pm in the Peabody Forum. Representatives from the Building Committee and design team SMMA|EwingCole will share highlights of recent site visits, present an overview of the educational visioning and programming work completed to-date, describe next steps, collect further feedback on vision and direction, and answer questions.
The middle school building project is currently in the Feasibility Study phase, which will last through the end of February and lead into the Schematic Design phase as of March. The Building Committee plans to narrow down design concepts by spring and bring the project to a Special Town Meeting for funding approval this fall. This Public Forum is the best opportunity for residents to share thoughts on elements and attributes of the building design early in the process.
For questions, or to share input if you are unable to attend the Forum, please email the Middle School Building Committee at MSBC@concordps.org.
The forum will also be recorded by Minuteman Media Network and posted on the Building Committee web page: https://www.concordps.org/cms-building-project/
Thank you, and we hope to see you there!
What: A Chance to Share your Input in the Design of Concord’s New Middle School Building
When: Thursday, February 27, 7:00pm
Where: Concord Middle School Peabody Building, in “The Forum”
February 6, 2020
I wanted to provide additional information about the session on Monday, February 10 at 7 p.m. in the CCHS Learning Commons. Nanci Ginty Butler, LICSW from Riverside Trauma Center will join us in a discussion of how to support children in response to suicide. Her biography is found below. Members of the CCHS Administration and Guidance Department will also contribute to the discussion. This is an adult event meant to help parents support children. Of course, please reach out to the administrators and counselors for immediate needs at any time.
Dr. Laurie Hunter, Superintendent
Nanci Ginty Butler, LICSW
Senior Clinician – Coordinator for Program Development
Nanci is a seasoned clinician and trainer with 20 years of experience. Her specialties include adolescent mental health; family systems; school-based programming, community-based psychotherapy; program analysis, development, and management; and suicide postvention. She has been a Trauma Responder at Riverside Trauma Center for broad-scale events like the Boston Marathon bombing, and for more localized events such as suicides and other sudden losses in schools and communities. At Riverside Trauma Center, Nanci conducts trainings and is responsible for program development and trauma responses. She holds a specialty certificate in family therapy, is a Certified Instructor for QPR Gatekeeper Course for Suicide Prevention, a Certified Instructor in Youth Mental Health First Aid, and a Certified Trainer for the Signs of Suicide school-based prevention curriculum. She is an active member of the National Association of Social Workers – Massachusetts Chapter and is President Emerita of Boston University School of Social Work Alumni Association.
February 3, 2020
In the days following the tragic loss of a student in our school community, we want to continue to provide you resources and opportunities relative to suicide prevention and support. It is also seemed very important to share an overview of the districts’ belief that the mental health of our students is in crisis and our efforts to respond.
Community Meeting- Monday, February 10, 2020, at 7 p.m. at CCHS
The schools will be hosting a meeting for parents and others in the community on Monday, February 10, 2020, at 7 p.m. at Concord Carlisle High School in the Learning Commons. Members of the Riverside Trauma Center’s team and other school and local providers will be present to provide information about common reactions following a suicide and how adults can help youth cope. They will also provide information about suicide and mental illness in adolescents, including risk factors and warning signs of suicide, and will address attendees’ questions and concerns.
Attached are additional resources to support you and your children regarding self-care and relationships after loss. A third resource is found linked below from the Alliance of Hope: https://allianceofhope.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Children-Teens-and-Suicide_loss.pdf
The school-based counselors and staff are valued resources for you and your family. Ongoing monitoring following a suicide in the community is critical to the safety of all children. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the guidance and adjustment counselors in the schools.
Our Growing Concern and Our Approach
Stress and the mental health of our youth have been a growing concern. This concern has grown to such a critical level that it is a core initiative in the five-year strategic plan (Objective #2 of 4: “Establish and commit to ensuring student achievement through student well being”). Among the messages sent to date was my parent newsletter in October describing our level of commitment and concern: https://www.concordps.org/mental-health-youth/
Our concerns stem from ongoing data indicating a high level of need. Below is information on this concern as self-reported by our grade six through twelve students in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2018.
- Many students report behaviors related to significant stress:
- 14% have injured themselves on purpose in the past year
- 22% have felt so sad or hopeless almost every day that they stopped doing usual activities
- 12% have seriously considered suicide at some point in the past year (highest in 10thgrade at 15%)
- 7% have made a plan about how they would attempt suicide in the past year
- 3% said they have actually attempted suicide in the past year
- 12% are worried about someone at school who they think is thinking about self-injury or suicide
- 16% were told by a peer that the peer was thinking about self-injury or suicide
Below are the initiatives currently underway to decrease the school-related stress that students feel and to support our students in order to better cope with stress and foster well-being:
At each of our school sites, students and families have access to counselors and psychologists. These professionals support students through running lunch groups, providing support to classroom teachers, and coordinating with pediatricians and outside therapists.
All of our mental health professionals actively work together to coordinate efforts on the PreK – 12 Mental Health Team.
During the 2017-2018 school year, a PreK – 12 group of teachers and administrators worked together on the Health Committee to improve and expand our curriculum. Direct lessons on self-awareness, emotional regulation, mental health self-care, peer interactions, and positive decision making are delivered through PreK – 12 health classes and through our social-emotional curriculum (Open Circle at the elementary level, Homebase at the middle school level, and Advisory at the high school level).
At each school site, students have opportunities to learn a variety of coping strategies to develop mindfulness and manage technology use and stress.
Concord Middle School and Concord High School have begun to administer a social-emotional screening assessment (PEAR) to determine if individual students need support.
The Signs of Suicide screener will continue to be administered to all students at Concord Middle School.
Major efforts have been made to ease student transitions: from one school to another and one town to another. At Concord Middle School last school year, all the sixth graders began going to the Peabody building where the program of studies now includes a class, “Fundamentals,” to smooth the transition to middle school. Better coordination is occurring between Carlisle grade 8 families and Concord Carlisle High School. Finally, plans are well on the way to smooth the transition to high school for the current 8th graders; this new structure and classes are called, “The Ninth Grade Academy”.
Concord Middle School and Concord Carlisle have both engaged with Challenge Success over the last five years. Committees at both schools have put into place: homework-free weekends, coordination of exam schedules so that students don’t have too many at a time; and, review of the school schedules to allow for an improved pace to the school day. CCHS Principal Mastrullo’s blog of a year ago offers addition highlights.
We fully recognize that we are at the beginning of this journey and the need to partner with families and the community in these efforts. Please join us in this important journey.
Dr. Laurie Hunter, Superintendent
Practicing Self-Care After Traumatic Events.pdf
January 31, 2020
The recent death of our student, Chase Bjork, has impacted many if not all of us in some way. This is a tragedy for the Bjork family, for our school and for our community, and we are all deeply saddened by what has happened. We are grieving the loss of one of our own.
Support for anyone in need is being offered in multiple forms:
- There will be Open Hours at CCHS on Saturday, Feb. 1, from 11 AM – 1 PM and Sunday, February 2, from 2 PM – 4 PM with counselors present for anyone (students, parents, faculty, and community members).
- The bottom of this message has a list of Mental Health Resources for Youth and Families.
- The school is working closely with the Riverside Community Care, a Department of Mental Health funded organization that provides support to schools and communities following suicides. They are helping us to plan student support groups, conduct staff training and provide more resources for parents. More information will be forthcoming.
- Counselors and teachers at the schools are providing ongoing support to students. This support will continue over the coming days and weeks.
- More supports and training will be available through the Center for Parents and Teachers, the Parent Teacher Groups, and Riverside Community Care.
This is a time for our community to grieve and there are no easy answers. We need to be accessible to one another and to truly listen when someone opens up to us. In short, we need to be here for each other during this difficult time.
Dr. Laurie Hunter, Superintendent
Mental Health Services for Youth and Families
This list of resources is presented in an attempt to provide options for those seeking assistance.
Their mention herein does not necessarily indicate the endorsement of Concord-Carlisle High School.
LOCAL AND COMMUNITY RESOURCES
CCHS Guidance Dept. (978)341-2941 or (978)341-2924
Emerson Hospital (978) 369-1400
Advocates 800-640-5432 (mobile risk assessment service)
Concord Emergency Services (police & fire dispatch) (978)318-3400
Domestic Violence Victim Assistance Program (800)799-7233
Elliot Community Health Services (800)988-1111
Concord Health Department (978)318-3275
William James College Interface, Help-Line, Website: www.interface.williamjames.edu; 617-332-3666, x 411
HELP FOR TEENS
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800)273-TALK (24 hr.)
National Hope Line Network (800)442-HOPE (4673)
Covenant House Nine Line (800) 999-9999
Boston Emergency Screening Team (800) 981-HELP
Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (800) 841-8371
Fenway Community Health Center Peer Listening Line
(Hotline for GLBT teens) (800) 399-7337
Samaritans Teen Line (For Teens Only) (800) 525-TEEN (24hrs.)
HELP FOR FAMILIES
Riverside Emergency Services Team 24-hr Crisis Line: (800) 529-5077
Parental Stress Line (800) 632-8188 (24 hrs.)
Samaritans Hotline (617) 247-0220 (24 hrs.)
Riverside Outpatient Center (617) 969-4925
SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT AND SUPPORT
MA Substance Abuse Information and Education Help Line (800) 327-5050
Substance Abuse Treatment Referral (800) 662-HELP
Alcoholics Anonymous (Boston) (617) 426-9444
Needham ACTS – Parent Resources
Massachusetts Health & Human Services – Suicide
Sign and Symptoms of Depression
Supporting Your Teen After the Suicide of a Friend
Signs Symptoms of Depression and Suicidality – advocates ES – Concord.docx
Supporting Your Teen After the Suicide of a Friend 10.13.pdf
January 20, 2020
As previously mentioned, it is important to share updates relative to the efforts toward reaching the goals in the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan. The goal of creating a safe and healthy learning environment includes environmental sustainability. The schools are committed and enthusiastic about these efforts. One year ago, a District Sustainability Committee formed where administrators, faculty, parents, students and community members could plan this work.
The 2019-2020 Sustainability Action Plan integrates school-based focuses on reaching the Town of Concord’s Sustainability Goals and Principles. This year, we are focused on: Composting, Energy, Transportation, Student Learning. Updates on each are provided below.
Thoreau started composting last year. Results to date:
Composting Kickoff! A Composting Crew of 50 CCHS students recently started to coach their peers daily so composting happens smoothly!
CMS, Willard, and Alcott are making plans to get started!
Electric School Buses
We were notified in late December that our grant application for a second electric school bus was accepted! On January 21, 2020, we will present an overview of the status of the fleet and offer recommendations to continue to expand the number of electric buses.
Middle School Project
Please visit the CMS Building Project web page for an overview of the sustainability discussion to date: https://www.concordps.org/cms-building-project/cms-building-project-presentations/. The project looks to be among model schools in Massachusetts.
One of our major goals for the year is noting the alignment between the curriculum and sustainability. Director of Teaching and Learning, Kristen Herbert, will join us at the District Sustainability Committee meeting next week for that purpose.
In the meantime, I wanted to share a fantastic Energy Fair where 7th students made projects to educate their classmates on different types of energy. The students then recommended an energy source for the town which I shared with the Middle School Building Committee.
We enjoy partnerships with multiple groups in the community including:
Climate Solutions Speaker Series
Concord Climate Action Network
Concord on Tap
Mother’s Out Front
Town of Concord Sustainability and Energy Committee
Town of Concord Climate Action Advisory Board
Students are actively engaged in these efforts. Among a number of student groups are:
Concord Middle School Green Team
Concord Middle School Animals and Plant Club
CCHS Environmental Club
CCHS Green Team
CCHS Sunrise Movement
In order to share information regularly, the district web page now hosts an Environmental Sustainability page.
Finally, I want to highlight an event we are co-sponsoring at Willard tomorrow night at 7:30 pm. The founder of the Sunrise Movement, Varshini Parkash, will be available via video call. I’m sure it will be a motivating discussion!
Dr. Laurie Hunter, Superintendent
January 4, 2020
Families of the Concord and Concord-Carlisle Schools:
Among our primary focus areas in the 2018-2023 strategic plan is the objective to create a collaborative and inclusive culture in the schools and community that values diversity and recognizes the contributions and uniqueness of each learner. Since the Fall of 2018, a priority has been to enhance our understanding and to foster a culturally competent community.
A District-Wide Cultural Competency Committee formed to craft a definition, vision, and action plan. The committee defined cultural competency in our districts as:
We strive to be a more culturally competent community. We support our diversity of race, gender, religion, national origin, gender identity, color, ancestry, sexual orientation, and ability. By our choices and actions, we promote all members to feel recognized, respected and valued. We have set our intention to be responsive, proactive, and empathetic to all facets of culture and diversity. The goal of continuously developing our cultural competency is that it will enable our students to develop the values, skills, and behaviors needed to interact effectively in a culturally diverse community, both locally and globally.
A significant component of the action plan is providing professional development. During the 2018-2019 school year through the support of the Concord Education Fund, three keynote speakers brought messages of cultural competency in the classroom:
- Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum: Nationally renown author of “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” and Other Conversations About Race
- Principal Baruti Kafele: Highly regarded urban educator, author, and leadership expert focused on the success of at-risk students and Black males
- Dr. Derrick Gay: International consultant on issues of diversity, cultural competency, and global citizenship
This year, all of PreK-12 will engage in professional development pathways that include offerings such as:
- Let’s Talk About “IT”: How to Have Difficult Conversations About the ISMS. Presentation by Dr. Paula Martin, Consultant with EDCO Collaborative
Student and staff groups now exist at both Concord Middle School and Concord-Carlisle High School. The CMS Allies teacher group and CCHS Charge (Concord-Carlisle High School Anti-Racism Group for Educators) meet regularly to discuss issues like racism and unconscious bias. The CMS RISE (Racial Impact Social Empowerment) and CCHS Intersections Club have similar discussions about the inclusion of all students, highlighting diversity, and how social identities shape student development.
The middle school is expanding its work with the Playbook Initiative. CCHS is looking to join the middle school in participating in the Tenacity Challenge, an academic competition for Latino and African-American students. We learned this week that we received a METCO grant to host a performance of a theater production of “Mr. Joy,” a play about racial divides. These programs are not reflective of all of the work to be done but do establish strong structures and models. A successful International Fair was held at Willard and is planned for other schools later this year. Equity walks through our hallways and classrooms allow for self-assessment of our efforts at inclusion.
Our work extends into the community. As part of the annual “Can We Talk?” series, Concord Carlisle Adult and Community Education (CCACE) presented workshops on cultural competency for our broader community. In November of 2018, “The Defamation Experience” was well attended. In this play, the audience acted as the jury in a civil lawsuit: An African American female business owner is suing a Jewish male real estate developer for defamation. The deliberations of this “case” focused on the role of race and culture play in society. This winter, CCACE partnered with the Friends of the Concord Free Library to offer a series, “Unconscious Bias: Interrupting the Cycle.” This series is comprised of five workshops: Unconscious Bias – what is in your backpack?; Class/Culture; Race, Racism, Racialized Structures, and Privilege; Gender, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression; and Tying it Together! Having Courageous Conversations about Difficult Topics. Both of these experiences were available at a minimal fee due to generous support from our sponsors.
This spring, we will conduct an equity audit where focus groups, surveys, and a review of our policies and practices will inform our effort to date and provide data as to the vast amount of work yet to be done.
Your feedback as students and parents is critical throughout these efforts. We encourage you to communicate about successes as well as to report incidents that should be brought to our attention or require intervention. With you as partners, we look forward to continuing to create a community that welcomes and values everyone.
Tuesday, January 14, 2020, 7 p.m.
Concord Middle School-Sanborn Building
The Concord Middle School Building Committee invites you to come hear about the Concord Middle School feasibility study process and timeline, ask questions of the project consultants and learn about future opportunities to engage and provide feedback.
After a brief overview of the process and timeline, we will open the floor to community questions and feedback. Our goal for this initial forum is to kick off the feasibility study public engagement process and hear from you! Visioning education in a new school will be a priority in the discussion. Subsequent sessions will be scheduled that will provide updates on the study progress and respond to questions raised.
We welcome your comments and input via the CMSBC email portal: https://www.concordps.org/cms-building-project/email-the-cms-building-committee/
Addition information and our meetings and forums online are found on the CMSBC webpages:
December 21, 2019
Dear Families of the Concord and Concord-Carlisle Schools,
As we move into the vacation, I reflect on the metaphors and meanings associated with the winter solstice and the upcoming new year. We often complain about the many hours of darkness and short days. That said, there is often a slower pace and an expansion of the comforts of home that correlates to the extended hours we spend inside with family and friends. Although the year’s end is the time we talk about resolutions, the new year is also an opportunity for reflection and anticipation of what is to come.
In 2020, we will provide updates as to Social-Emotional Learning, cultural competency, innovative teaching, Ninth Grade Academy, expansion of the electric bus fleet, and the design of a new middle school. All of these projects are outcomes of community discussions and goals set with the support of families and students.
Enjoy the Winter Solstice! Happy New Year!
Dr. Laurie Hunter, Superintendent
November 22, 2019
Dear Members of the Concord and Concord-Carlisle Community:
At this time of year, we are grateful for the partnership between the schools and families. We also want to express appreciation for connections between the schools and Concord’s town leaders and services.
As previously referenced, the districts’ strategic plan highly emphasizes student well-being. This priority is why we write to share growing concern over substance use-related issues among high school students. This fall brought a series of alcohol-related incidents both at and outside of school events leading to unsafe situations that required police support. Underage drinking is illegal and leads to the deaths of more young people than all other drugs combined. Our concerns for student safety compelled us to compose this joint letter to our parent community to not only notify, but more importantly, to re-affirm our strong partnership and mutual commitment to student safety. We encourage you to share it with high school and middle school-age students. For those with younger children, we know that early education and awareness is critical.
CCHS and area high schools are also not immune to the national vaping epidemic dominating news headlines. In conjunction with the Concord and Carlisle Boards of Health, we want to increase awareness of the dangers of vaping, especially given the unknown causes of serious medical harm. Please see the Concord Health Division’s webpage: https://concordma.gov/714/Tobacco-and-Vaping for more information and resources on vaping. On December 3, the speaker series regarding vaping continues in Bedford sponsored by the Concord, Carlisle and Bedford Boards of Health. Information can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/vaping-and-our-teens-what-do-we-know-about-the-risks-of-vaping-tickets-75932493131
Research is clear that parents have the most influence on student use of substances. Being a role model, sending messages as to your expectations, and providing information as to the dangers of drug and alcohol use does matter. Resources such as Pathways to Prevention (https://www.pathwaytoprevention.org/resources/parents/) can help you know how to navigate these challenging topics.
In conjunction with the Concord and Carlisle Police Departments and the local Boards of Health, we will continue to develop student instructional programs, opportunities for parent information, and implementation of both proactive and deterring measures.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Dr. Laurie Hunter, Superintende
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Chief Joseph O’Connor, Concord Police
Chief John Fisher, Carlisle Police Chief
Susan Rask, Concord Public Health Director