Sold in Belmont: Reasonable Sales Prices on Three Below Medium Priced Homes

Photo: 37 Bartlett Ave.

A weekly recap of residential properties sold in the past seven days in the “Town of Homes.”

20 Winter St. Brick Ranch (1961). Sold: $650,000. Listed at $649,000. Living area: 1,248 sq.-ft. 6 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 75 days.

37 Bartlett Ave. Framed Colonial (1905). Sold: $540,000. Listed at $579,000. Living area: 1,334 sq.-ft. 6 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 208 days.

• 103 Shaw Rd. Custom-crafted Ranch (1955). Sold: $815,000. Listed at $809,900. Living area: 1,562 sq.-ft. 7 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 1-full, 2-half baths. On the market: 71 days. 

Three reasonably priced homes, all below Belmont’s median house value of $850,000, sold this week.

For two, the ranch on Winter and the old Colonial on Bartlett, the final sales price was less than 10 percent from the town’s assessed value: The Ranch sold for $650,000 with an assessed value of $592,000 (about nine percent) and the Colonial bought for $540,000 with a town valuation of $494,000 (right at eight-and-a-half percent).

The outlier this week was the custom ranch on Shaw Road in the Shaw Estate’s neighborhood, which has seen house prices bumped up by a smattering of “McMansions.” The final sales price was $815,000, exactly 20 percent greater than its valuation of $652,000.

While hardly a representation of the entire residential market, could this be a harbinger of a more reasonable sales season where values closely relate to true valuations or is that the impact of the snowiest winter ever with buyers staying on the sidelines?

Come back in July for the answer.

Letter to the Editor: An Insider’s Reason for Vote ‘Yes’ on the Override

Photo: Yes campaigners.
To the editor:
We all have been inundated with reasons for and against the override vote on April 7.  I’ve see the needs as a resident and an insider, as a parent and a decision maker.
I have lived in Belmont for 19 years, and on either side of Belmont for another nine.  My six years on Belmont’s School Committee (which included, as the School Committee rep, two years on Warrant Committee and two on Capital Budget Committee) have given an enlightening view into many parts of town government. I’ve been lucky enough to work with professionals in Town Hall, School Administration Building, and each of the schools, I and am sometimes awed by what they can produce for us with limited resources.
Here are the key points that make me an enthusiastic supporter of the proposed override:
Big Picture on School Spending
I’m a fan of allocating a reasonable amount of resources for a given function, then letting the professionals manage within that limit.  Clearly, Belmont Public Schools’ per-pupil spending shows that we get a lot of value for our money. It is about 12 percent below state average and far less than nearby towns such as Newton, Lexington, and Watertown. The state Dept of Ed breaks that spending into major categories, where we can see that our per-pupil spending on teachers is 11 percent below state average and administration is a whopping 30 percent below. Yes, 30. To me this negates squawking from the “no” side about some individual teacher salaries being high.  Yes, some are indeed high. But some are low for what we get. Most are within reason for the professional tasks they do – just like at my own company, and probably yours.
Financial Task Force Cred
One of Belmont’s faults over the past few decades is its lack of planning and reluctance to look ahead, whether for finance or infrastructure. The Financial Task Force, appointed in 2013, is a serious effort address exactly that. Members should be applauded, and their findings taken seriously. This override is a reasonable step to address Belmont’s needs. Names like Paolillo, Carmen and Mahoney are hardly associated with irresponsible spending or caving to special interests.  The additional money won’t fix everything – it is necessary, but not sufficient – and there is still a ton of work to do across Town and Schools for the long-term well-being of our entire community, kids and adults, infrastructure and people.
The “No” Side
I should know better than to be surprised by the ideological intransigence of the “No” side, but I still am.  From my six years on School Committee, and observations the years after, this summarizes the patterns I see from some individuals who are or were on the Warrant Committee:
The disregard of the FTF’s findings is very disappointing, and even disrespectful. It seems they’ve chosen to simply ignore the facts, even in their rhetoric. But then they are trying to position themselves as the eventual saviors, sharpening pencils and tightening belts, or whatever trite phrasing you want. It is as if the professionals who work for the town have not tried and do not know their jobs better than those Warrant Committee members. Every committee has wanted the thorough, factual look that the FTF has produced, and I assume the No side did too.  But I think they did not get the answer they wanted, and are now ignoring and talking over the findings.
The Warrant Committee is often called the “fiscal watchdog,” but too often some want to micromanage departments’ internal spending, and even intrusively try to manage policy. For schools, I have seen them question curriculum offerings, like whether to offer art at all (since it’s not required by the state), advanced language classes, and even support for college counselors. 
Please join me in voting Yes on April 7.
John Bowe
Elizabeth Rd

Heated Election Emotions Spurs Plea for Civility from Town Clerk, Top Cop

Photo: Ellen Cushman.

For the past few weeks, Belmont’s Town Clerk Ellen Cushman has been receiving an increasing number of calls, emails and personal visits from residents on the same topic, the Proposition 2 1/2 override on the Town Election ballot set for April 7.

But the residents were not seeking information about the Question 1. Rather, they showed Cushman examples of vitriol from neighbors or strangers on what side they took on Question 1: angry personal attacks in email and notes left on their property, political signs taken or destroyed, biting comments on social media.

“They’re upset that people are attacking their character for a political position,” Cushman told the Belmontonian Thursday afternoon, April 2.

“It’s been very bad tempered and personal,” she added.

After hearing from Belmont Police Chief Richard McLaughlin that his department has received similar messages, Cushman decided it was time to act by sending an extraordinary email to Town Meeting Members, elected officials, and town department heads to call for a return to civility in the election season.

Under the subject line, “The Community of Belmont – We All Share Responsibility,” (see the email below) Cushman spoke of “rising tide of negative emotion and malicious deeds and speech” against residents on the override question. Declaring she “abhor(s)” the actions taking place, Cushman is calling for those receiving the email to ask anyone they see participating in such acts to stop them and have the people return to “respectful discourse.”

The note is the first time the long-time Belmont resident can recall a town official requesting residents to remain civil during an election. Heated campaigning is not new to Belmont, infamous for the poison pen letters sent days before elections impugning the character of residents seeking town office.

(The Belmontonian has recently deleted Facebook and website comments for phrases and words that questioned poster’s characters.)

After speaking to McLaughlin, Cushman felt the underlying current of ugliness that “people were afraid to have conversations” about the election.

“It reached s a point where someone needed to notify residents of what’s happening,” said Cushman, hoping that residents realize they will still be neighbors on April 8.

While most of her focus is on the day of elections, Cushman said her mandate also is to make sure residents have the right to participate in the election process.

“Honestly, all I’m attempting to say is just be respectful,” she said.

The email from Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman:
As the chief election official of the Town of Belmont, and in consultation with the Richard McLaughlin  our Chief of Police, I must call your attention to a rising tide of negative emotion and malicious deeds and speech regarding the Override, April 7t.   I have the utmost respect for the many volunteers who are active and willing to help educate our voters on this important issue, but I also realize that people cast their secret ballots for a myriad of reasons that I must also respect. Belmont needs the help of all of our elected and appointed officials to get back on track.  Some of the more outrageous examples of this problematic behavior:
  • Vicious emails have been sent to individual residents, stating that other residents “hate” the person who has announced an intention to vote a certain way
  • Political signs on private property, both Yes and No, have been removed
  • Handwritten notes containing aggressive, distressing language have been attached to political signs on private property
  • Facebook posts, online commentary and blogs that question the integrity of an individual volunteer rather than examine the person’s political stance
As a lifelong resident of Belmont, I’m not proud of those behaviors, I abhor them. They do not send a positive message to our children and neighbors; they send a message of personal attack, harassment and disdain.
Belmont is just over four square miles in area containing 25,000 residents. On April 8th, that won’t change. What I ask of you as one of Belmont’s elected and appointed officials is simple:
When you hear or see someone denigrating or criticizing our Belmont neighbors, stop them! Ask them instead to participate in a respectful discourse, not a campaign of hate but one of cooperation. Whatever the outcome on Tuesday night, Belmont will continue to rely on our many volunteers to keep our town strong and a wonderful place to live.  Let’s start displaying that respect right now.

Final Pitch by Override Campaigners Provide More Answers and Questions

Photo: Residents attending the final Precinct Meeting before the Town Election on April 7.

The community room at the Beech Street Center was filled Monday, March 30 with more than 200 residents who came to attend the final Precinct Meeting hosted by the Belmont Board of Selectmen and the Financial Task Force.

But it wasn’t so much the opportunity to hear, once again, the details of the town’s fiscal 2016 budget and the Proposition 2 1/2 override on the April 7 Town Election ballot; there have been more than a dozen presentations to the public and groups in March.

Rather, it was a last-minute addition to the agenda that brought the crowd to the center: the opportunity to hear presentations and have public questions answered from representatives of the two sides of the override question facing voters.

And while the position of those seeking the passage of the $4.5 million, multiyear override has been articulated to the public for several weeks – approving the override is necessary to prevent large cuts to school personnel and programs – Monday would be the first time those calling for a “no” vote would detail its opposition and the course of action if it is successful in defeating the ballot question.

For Adam Dash, who has become the voice of the “Yes for Belmont” committee in the past week, the argument for backing the override – which will add approximately $650 in taxes annually to the “average” Belmont house valued at $847,000 – is simple enough: the time has come to pay the rent.


With 49 line-item cuts in the school department’s fiscal ’16 budget, “it’s mind–numbing it’s so long,” he said.

“It’s … a time to stand up and do what we need to do to accomplish the goals of the town,” said Dash, standing behind a slide with an orange “Yes” behind him.

He also questioned the “No” side’s assurances that the a $4.5 million override is not needed as additional revenues can be found to fund the schools this year “are just assumptions, and assumptions can be wrong.”

Dash compared those pushing the ballot question with complaints of teacher salaries and contract negotiations to Shakespeare’s King Lear bellowing into the tempest, (“Spit, fire; spout, rain”) as they rage against what is out of their reach.

“When the house is on fire, we have to … act now and then do other things later,” Dash said.

“In the big picture, it’s what do you value?” said Dash, saying good education and educators costs money.

“Yes is the action moving forward … and looking at long-range planning while no is just the same old system where we just kicked the can down the road,” he said, telling the audience the easiest way to remember that the override ballot is on the back of the ballot is to recall the phrase, “back the override.”

Holding court for the Vote No on Ballot Question 1 Committee was current Planning Board member and former Warrant Committee Chair Elizabeth Allison, who started by praising “this wonderful town” with many great qualities including a “terrific” school system that, if it was its “small country,” Belmont students would quantitatively be “the best in the world.”


The No committee’s starting point is the same as those supporting the override; funding a level service budget for the schools in fiscal ’16, knowing it will need $1.7 million in additional revenue to bridge the deficit gap.

“The school bus is in the ditch, and we need to pull it out,” said Allison.

But what the no committee doesn’t accept is the path override supporter are mapping. While saying she has admiration for the work of the Financial Task Force, but its financial projections for the town’s revenue growth is “too pessimistic,” running below the ten-year average.

While the no committee bulwarked its argument with data and numbers, its also sought to make political points with voters by attacking labor and unions. While much as been made of the skyrocketing enrollment forecast of nearly 800 more students in the next ten years and accelerating costs in special education and English language instruction, Allison pointed to teachers pay and other compensation as being the greatest cost driver impacting the school budget.

A victory on election day for the ‘Yes’ position “will ratify the hard-liners in the teacher’s union who say, ‘Just keep on going … push through five percent, five-and-a-half percent pay increases a year,” said Allison.

With higher taxes on households, another expensive collective bargaining settlement and higher overall municipal expenses, Allison said voters would not be in the position to support the much needed new Belmont High School with a temporary debt exclusion that will top $1,000 over several years.

Allison outlined the No committee’s alternative course of action, “a road better taken,” to that of the override; calling on the Board of Selectmen to form a “work group” – to include the “new school committee member with an MBA from a school out west” – to produce a “new spin-on-the-ball revenue forecast” since it does not believe the current low estimate.

In addition, the new group would look at cost solutions and seek reallocation of funds “from one department to another” to fill the gap the schools face.

If at the end of that process there remains a deficit, the Board of Selectmen can then call a special election to vote on a “reasonable and justified override on the ballot.”

The No approach provides transparency, keeps taxes down and prepare for the fiscal 2017. Allison suggested one way to cut future costs was for the Superintendent of Schools John Phelan to seek a waiver of the state unfunded mandate on teaching children requiring English learning.

(After the meeting, Phelan said no district has been granted such a waiver and those systems that have not followed the state requirements “to the letter” have been taken to court.)

Selectman Mark Paolillo, a member of the Financial Task Force, defended the revenue projections noting he felt “comfortable enough” with the task force’s assumptions.

During the one-hour long question and answer segment of the meeting, the majority of questions were directed to the No committee, seeking clarification to its blueprint.

Allison said many concerns from Yes supporters will be resolved when the added revenue “baked in” the budget estimates is uncovered. And even if the no side’s estimates “fell short,” most residents will vote for a new, modest override, “perhaps not happily but its so much better for the schools than the alternatives.”

“In the end, people will not damage the schools,” Allison said.

“This approach is a one-year Band-Aid; you’re going to right back where you were. It doesn’t solve anything,” said Dash. “We can build a beautiful high school but if you have a deficient program, what’s the point?”

When asked if the No committee could guarantee that the schools will be adequately funded next year if the overrides doesn’t pass, Allison said there is “a high probability” that nearly the entire $1.7 million needed with more realistic revenue projections.

In addition, Allison said if the $4.5 million override passes, the town is not required to use the entire amount where proponents hoped it would go.

“You have no guarantee that the large designated slice of the pie will go to the schools,” suggested Allison, adding that if there in no cost containment on teacher salaries, it will be very difficult to sustain the schools.”

Asked by a Belmont High School freshman the effects of losing “20 teachers” if the override fails, Robert Sarno, one of the leaders of the “No” committee as well as the chairman of the Warrant Committee’s subgroup that analyzes the school budget, said even in the worse case scenario, only about six or seven full-time equivalent teaching positions will be lost.

“You’re not going to lose that many teachers,” said Sarno.

In the most illustrative moment, Phelan demonstrated Belmont’s student to teacher ratio in relation to all districts in Massachusetts. Holding up six pages from a state-issued report, Phelan took out the fifth page to show that Belmont’s 17.1 ratio is far from the state average of 13.6.

“We’re not that far from the sixth page, and that has only four entries,” he said.

The final question came from a resident concerned that High School students are not meeting the hours of instruction the state requires each pupil to obtain.

Phelan said many upperclassmen at the high school are barely meeting that minimum and “I believe our hours will be at risk” if the override fails.

“I encourage that if [the override] doesn’t win, that those people who supported it, call the state,” referring to an intervention by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Selectman Candidates’ Question of the Week: Making Belmont Business Friendly

Photo: Jim Williams

Every Wednesday leading up the Town Election on Tuesday, April 7, the Belmontonian will be asking a “Question of the Week” to the candidates running for a seat on the Board of Selectmen: incumbent Andy Rojas and Glenn Road resident Jim Williams.

This weekly feature will allow the candidates seeking a three-year term on the board to answer topical questions concerning Belmont and help demonstrate their ability to lead the town.

This week’s question:

The long-standing perception – going back generations – held by many business owners is that existing town bylaws and how they are interpreted by town departments creates a negative environment for retail and commercial ventures in Belmont. As Selectman, how would you make Belmont more “business friendly” for small retail and mid-size commercial companies?

Jim Williams

I am running for Selectman because I know that Belmont is a great town that needs more in the way of support for our residents and businesses.

Having worked with small and large companies my entire career, I am of the belief that local business helps round out the community – from contributions to tax revenue to the donations they make to our neighbors. The specific ways Belmont can support its local business community is outlined in the Vision 21 Business and Economic Development Committee’s recommendations from 2005.

We should immediately implement this town-appointed committee’s recommendations, as we should with other thoughtful recommendations that have come from similar committees. One specific example of what I would recommend is the finalization of the Community Path, because research shows that community paths in other towns improve business vitality. The same should be true in Belmont.

As I have repeated, initiatives that support our whole community are my first priority which is why you should consider me for Selectman.

Andy Rojas

Streamlining the various approvals and permit processes within Town departments is critical to attracting new businesses – large and small. Many new business owners are:

  1. confused by the many requirements for permits which vary by use and must be obtained from departments with jurisdiction over specific permits and approvals, including the Building and Health Departments; and
  2. overwhelmed by the length of time, number of hearings and professional fees needed to obtain approvals from the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

Streamlined Communications & Checklists

The Planning Board and the ZBA are implementing streamlined applicant communications to reduce project review and approval time. My appointees to the Planning Board and ZBA have in-depth professional process experience that allows practical goals to be developed and requirements to be communicated clearly.

  • A well-defined checklist for each required regulatory process — Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Building Permit, Health Department, etc. — should be created so applicants can tailor approval efforts.

Electronic Processes

I have begun the work needed to produce efficient, transparent approvals and permitting processes. Many cities and towns have fully electronic building permit processes that let applicants track, monitor and pay for permit request processing without contacting departments or plan reviewers. Electronic transparency also allows department heads to monitor and evaluate reviewers to determine whether each application is being processed efficiently. While Belmont’s computer software permits this level of electronic building permit processing, further implementation is needed.

  • I will partner with the Community Development Department so a fully transparent electronic building permit application and review process can be implemented within the next year.
Andy Rojas - IMG_0799

Andy Rojas


Business — Specific Districts

The Cushing Square Overlay District (CSOD) should be updated to incorporate these efficiency measures. Revisions should be such that requirements are communicated to business applicants effectively and approval criteria are efficient and transparent.

New overlay district by-laws should be considered for Waverley Square and South Pleasant Street which will likely see development. They should be written to protect residents and, so they include clear goals and approvals processes; all business should know what to expect from day 1.

  • I am committed to leading this effort and to using my expertise and Belmont know-how to make it work.

Current Progress

Business district retail and commercial ventures such as Alchemy 925, Savinos, Il Casale, Spirited Gourmet, and Foodies (coming soon) have increased as issuing more restaurant and alcohol licenses has made Belmont more attractive to businesses. The Belmont Center and Trapelo Road Reconstruction Projects, Macy’s redevelopment and Cushing Village construction will provide even greater commercial and retail growth and improve the prospects for existing small and midsize retail and commercial firms.

Providing businesses with clear, easy-to-navigate building and permit processes will expand Belmont’s commercial tax base, something vital to our long term financial stability, help mitigate the impact of residential taxes that currently comprise approximately 94 percent of Belmont’s revenue and result in a business-friendly vibrant shopping and dining environment.

I respectfully request your vote for Selectman on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Thank you.

Opinion: Vote ‘Yes’ Tuesday to End Cycle of Underfunding Education

Photo: Campaigners at a recent Precinct Meeting.

What are the schools our students deserve? That is the question facing our community next Tuesday.  

As an educator, union member, taxpayer and resident of Belmont all my life, I have seen a cycle of underfunding education that has brought us to this point.  The response now from those against the override sounds familiar; they simply say we can solve the problem without an override. That solution, however, simply places greater burdens on students and educators.

Our town has one of the state’s best public school systems, and it is essential to invest in our students’ future to maintain that excellence. Attacking educators’ compensation is deceptive and ignores how hard the Belmont Education Association and Belmont School Committee have worked together to operate within the town’s means.

An override is needed to sustain the schools and address increasing enrollment over the next three years. We need to support the children of Belmont and to support the town’s Financial Task Force, which is recommending passage of the override.

Since 2009, an additional 317 students have entered into grades K-12. Even with a highly trained and capable staff, larger class size means less individualized attention for our students. Class sizes have increased beyond School Committee-recommended maximums. Without additional staff and resources to address these concerns, students will not have the same learning opportunities and programming as this year’s graduates.   

Belmont is a residential community, and homeowners bear much of the funding for our schools.  This is a choice we make to maintain Belmont’s character and ensure our students continue to perform to the best of their abilities. If we do not want commercial development, then we need to be prepared to pass this override to address increasing enrollment.  This override is an essential investment to maintain the value and quality of the entire community.  

Over the past six years, teachers have forgone compensation to support our students. Your child’s teacher has given back salary increases to fund the schools and prevent the need for an override. It is erroneous to characterize our agreement as expensive and our methods as “more aggressive.”   

While some choose to criticize teacher salaries, ours are lower than competitive communities. In a state analysis of average teacher salaries in towns with the top public high schools, Belmont places last behind Concord-Carlisle, Wayland, Weston, Dover and Wellesley.   

As educators, Belmont teachers strive to provide the best possible outcomes for all students. We have been doing more with less for too long. Based on comparable communities, our salaries are not the issue.  

As residents we must place our children at the center of the conversation and this decision.  Please raise your hand to support our students and vote “Yes” next Tuesday.

John Sullivan

Palfrey Road

(Editor’s note: Sullivan is the president of the Belmont Education Association, the negotiating agent for Belmont’s educators.) 

Hop Over to Belmont’s Egg Hunt Saturday at the Chenery

Photo: Get out of the way!

You’ll probably need to put on your Wellingtons, pack an umbrella and wear your rain slicker, but a little rain – that’s the prediction as of today – this Saturday morning, April 4, should not deter folks from coming down to the Chenery Middle School’s playground to participate in the Belmont Savings Bank’s 15th Annual Belmont Egg Hunt.

The dash for eggs will begin at 10 a.m. sharp – do not be late! – come rain or shine.

Just like last year, there will be a special area for toddlers to hunt for eggs on their own in the playground.

In addition to being the prime sponsor, Belmont Savings Bank will be giving everyone a chance to win a bike through a free raffle, offering a second chance for all attendees. You can enter to win at the Belmont Savings Bank tent. Also, eggs with “gold coin” slips inside can be redeemed at the Belmont Savings tent during the hunt.

The Big Bunny will be on hand to pose for pictures and free refreshments will also be offered.  Face painting will be provided.

Other sponsors of the Egg Hunt include:

  • Pediatric Dental Arts
  • Hammond Residential Real Estate
  • Cultural Care Au Pair
  • Moozy’s Ice Cream and Yogurt Emporium
  • Paprika Kids
  • Rancatore’s
  • Toy Shop of Belmont

For additional information on the egg hunt, please visit the Bank’s website.

Rugby World Comes to Belmont for Matchup Between HS Champions

Photo: Coach Greg Bruce with the team on Monday.

Greg Bruce, the head coach of the Belmont Rugby Club, said Wednesday night’s meeting between the two best high school XV (indicating 15 players) in New England east of Hartford is special enough that the New England Rugby Referee Society is sending a pair of assistant referees/touch judges along with the game referee. 

“We only see that for the big games,” a smiling Bruce told the Belmontonian after a particularly muddy practice on Monday, March 30.

In the most anticipated matchup of the regular season, Belmont hosts arch-rival Bishop Hendricken High School from Warwick, RI in a rematch of the past two Division 1 Massachusetts State champions. (Bishop Hendricken plays in Massachusetts due to the lack of competition in the Island State.) 

The game will take place at 7:30 p.m. on the Harris Field which is adjacent to the “Skip” Viglirolo Skating Rink on Concord Avenue.

In May 2013, Belmont took its first Div. 1 state championships, 17-5, over the Hawks while Hendricken defeated Belmont, 21-19, last year in a match where BRC twice was within five meters of scoring a five-point “try” (the equivalent of a touchdown) in the dying minutes of the game.


“I would say at this stage of the season it is the one everyone is looking forward to,” said Bruce. 

The match is the second of the season for Belmont, having shutout by a wide margin the Div. 2 squad from Lincoln-Sudbury High this past Friday, March 27.

But for Bruce, the celebration of that win needed to be replaced with preparation for this next match.


“You have to get Lincoln-Sudbury out of your minds,” said Bruce in a post-practice huddle with the team.

“What I need you to do is start thinking about Bishop Hendricken, the challenge that lays before you is what you are going to do to help your brothers and sister [senior Rashunda Webb plays with the boys] to get the most out of this team collectively because it won’t be individual effort that will win this game,” said Bruce. 

That collective approach to the game breeds a sense of family developed in the mud and grind that has created not just another outstanding team in Belmont but has established a culture of rugby in the school and increasingly town-wide. The team was established just eight years ago in 2007 and it began playing competitively for the past seven.


“In the first year we had 20 tough hooligans who came out so they could take each others heads off and they were all best friends!” he said

“But little by little, we began growing and started winning and than other kids wanted a taste of that success,” said Bruce.

A big advantage in creating this atmosphere is that along with Bruce, many of the coaches – all long-time players themselves in college and with area teams – are teachers at the high school, checking up on the players in the halls and drumming up interest.

“They have a deep love for the game and they all ended up in Belmont,” said Bruce. 

In addition, from day one, the involvement of the parents and supporters “has been amazing,” he said. 

The team is the most diverse sports team at the school, with the large number of players of different races, cultures and nationalities such as French and Chilean. 

“We don’t say no to anyone,” said Bruce. “And when you don’t say no and the ethos of this game is community and working together … and when you bring that to a place where kids are looking for something to belong to, the rest takes care of itself,”

That feeling of belonging is certainly felt by the students.

“It’s a game like no other,” said senior captain and scrumhalf Darren Chan.

“The comradery, the brotherhood, the amazing coaches we have with this program, they all make a huge difference where Belmont is today,” Chan said.