Belmont High Will Be In Session Tuesday Despite Early Morning Fire Monday

Photo: Crews cleaning the room where a floor cleaning machine was destroyed by fire early Monday morning, May 25.

Belmont High School will be open on Tuesday, May 26, a day after a fire in a storage room next to the school’s auditorium destroyed a floor-cleaning machine and damaged the room.

“The fire started shortly before two o’clock this morning and [the entire] company went down there for an alarm investigation,” said Belmont Fire Chief David Frizzell.

“When they got there, they found smoke coming from a custodial storage room underneath the back end of the auditorium outside the hallway that runs from the cafeteria and the music department,” said Frizzell.

In flames was a battery-operated floor maintenance machine used to clean and wash the school’s floors. It’s suspected an overheated battery caused the fire. The arriving companies stretched hose lines into the building to reach the area.

The blaze destroyed the machine and resulted in smoke and water damage to the room and a thick, smokey odor throughout in the auditorium and the immediate area, said Frizzell.

In an unrelated issue, a water pipe in the recirculation system in the adjacent room “let go” resulting in the water being shut off, he said.

By early Monday afternoon, building maintenance had opened all the doors to the school and positioned fans to clear the smoke from the premise. 

“Early this morning, the odor was overpowering. Now it’s so much better,” said Angela Braun, Belmont’s Health Department Director, as she visited the site.

Inside, members from a professional service company were scrubbing the walls and floors of the damaged room as water service was returned to the building. 

The fire comes as the town’s Capital Budget Committee prepares to replace the existing 40 year old alarm system the Fire Department said is past its useful life. The $1 million price tag to replace the system drained the entire bonding capacity provided to Capital Budget in this year’s $4.5 million Proposition 2 1/2 override. 

Belmont’s Memorial Day Parade Kicks Off at 11 AM


It’s the one day of the year Belmont comes out for a parade.

Marching bands from Belmont High School, and the Chenery Middle School, color guards and members from the Belmont Police and Fire departments, Veteran motorcyclist, marchers from local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts troops and veterans will all take part in the 2015 edition of Belmont’s Memorial Day Parade and Public Ceremony beginning at 11 a.m., Monday, May 25, beginning on Trapelo Road adjacent to the municipal parking lot and Starbucks in Cushing Square.

All veterans and current military personnel are invited and welcome to join the other vets at the head of the parade.

Lining the route – up Trapelo Road before making a left at Grove Street and continuing to the Belmont Cemetery – will be families and residents cheering the marchers.

At the cemetery, a wreath laying ceremony will take place, speeches will be read, flowers laid at the graves of veterans, the names of Belmont citizens who died for this country will be honored, “Taps” played and a final salute will be given.

Belmont Rugby in State Championship Finals in Worcester Saturday Afternoon

Photo: Belmont High Rugby.

For the third consecutive year, the Belmont High School Rugby Club will be taking the pitch in Worcester today, Saturday, May 23, in the title game of the Massachusetts Youth Rugby Organization’s sixth annual State High School Championships.

Belmont meets Boston College High School at the Commerce Bank General Foley Stadium, 305 Chandler St., Worcester, at 2:15 p.m. The undefeated Boston College High defeated Belmont at its Dorchester campus in April. 

A donation will be requested from adult and high school spectators for the championship matches.  There will be no charge for kids below high school or for players and coaches in the jamboree matches.

Parking is available across the street.

Follow the results of the game via the Belmontonian Facebook and Twitter feeds. 

Belmont Yard Sales: May 23-24

Photo: Yard Sale in Belmont.

Yard sales in the “Town of Homes.” 

• 65 Bartlett Ave., Saturday, May 23, from 10 a.m. to noon.

• 199 Beech Street Apt. A, Saturday, May 23, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• 35 Clarendon Rd., Sunday, May 24, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• 80 Davis Road, Saturday, May 23, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• 9 Gilmore Rd., Saturday, May 23, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• 30 Moraine St., Saturday and Sunday, May 23 and 24, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

‘Something to Say’: Blacker Prizes Honor ‘Insight’ in Writing, and Life

Photo: The Blacker Prize winners: (from left, front) Eunice Lee, Devon Carter, Sarita Shea with English advisors (back) Nathaniel Markley and Dr. Kristin Comment.

They unveiled society’s truth in the writings of a French existentialist, explored the paradigm of linguistic suppression within dystopian literature, and provide their thoughts on women, men, love and marriage in the novels of Jane Austen.

For the past 34 years, Belmont High School seniors have slogged through a process in which, as one said, “is a year-long marathon” in which selecting the right – or wrong – author must mesh a theme, no matter how messy the process.

But the senior theses is not the culmination of a single project, but of 12 years of English language learning and instruction, said Lindsey Rinder, director of English, ELL and Reading for the Belmont School District.


From writing their first stories in first grade to creating critical analysis of literature with primary and secondary sources when they graduate, “this is testimony to both our students endeavor and to their education. I believe Belmont High School’s dedication to the senior thesis and to writing education in general singles it out from most secondary schools,” said Rinder.

The senior thesis is not simply a writing exercise, but also the study of literature “that helps us understand who we are,” as it encapsulates and dissects our most human qualities; “our passions and our frustrations, our capacity for great deception as well as brutal honesty, our dignity as well as our most grieves failings.”

On Wednesday, May 20, the Belmont Public School English Department honored three senior student theses writers with the Lillian F. Blacker Prizes for Excellence in Writing.

“Tonight we celebrate our students and ourselves as literate and literary creatures,” said Rinder, as she introduced the honorees; first prize winner Sarita Shea, second prize Devon Carter and third prize Eunice Lee.

The three-winning works can be viewed below.

If there was one certainty when she began the theses process, “I was very clear about just one thing … I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do,” said Lee, who will be attending Harvard College in the fall. Her work, “Freedom in Exile: The Development of Intellectual Independence in Vladimir Nabokov’s Novels.”


So she took a list of authors provided to the students, “so I took about four of these … based on how famous their names were and started reading excerpts from their novels.”

“I found out that this was a very important part of the selection process, sampling the flavor of an author’s writing before one commits to the full course,” said Lee. She finally selected Nabokov as his prose “is absolutely gorgeous.”

The Brown-bound Carter selected the Romantic poet Lord Byron – “The Torrent With the Many Hues of Heaven”: The Replacement of Traditional Morality in Works of Lord Byron” – for how he influenced his generation through not only through his works but also with scandals and outrageous behavior, becoming “the first modern celebrity. Think Kardashian, but talented.”


“I have always been interested in stories, and the way we as humans tell stories and why we tell them,” said Shera, whose theses featured the role of storytelling in the novels of Toni Morrison.

Since storytelling shapes every part of a culture and vice versa, “stories do not exist in isolation … they are constantly interact with the culture that produce them and the cultures that absorb them,” said Shera, who will matriculate at Hampshire College this fall.


“As stories change, so do we. As we change, so do stories,” she said.

For Rinder, these and other notable theses are examples of how students have been transformed into richer learners and people through this task. 

“We see these students in a new light tonight. You are no longer just our children and our students. Your commitment to your work has made you thinkers, intellectuals and writers. You created something new,” said Rinder.

“Now, students, it is incumbent upon you to go out into the world and find a place for your voice. You have something to say, something to contribute.”

Eunice Lee Blacker 3rd Place 2015

Sarita Shera Blacker 1st Place 2015

Devon Carter Blacker 2nd Place 2015

Notable Theses 2015

Belmont Boys’ Tennis Rebuilding in Style

Photo: The 2015 season Belmont High Boys’ Tennis team. 

It wasn’t a season the Belmont High School Boys’ Tennis had been hoping for.

After making the team tennis post season for the past four years, the Marauders was caught in the duel predicament of being in the midst of a rebuilding year – depending on athletes who come from other sports – while being in the league in which some of the best tennis players in the state happen to reside. 

And while the team did stride off the courts at the new Wilmington High School Wednesday, May 20, with a convincing 5-0 victory over the Wildcats, the hope for a fifth consecutive playoff invite didn’t materialize as the team finished the season at 6-10.

While there were a number of individual highlights in 2015 – senior Enrique Massidda came back from a set down to Concord-Carlise’s Cody Machen, 2-6, 6-0, 7-5, to win his first-round match in the North individual tennis tournament this month – Belmont still found it hard to find their game against the powerhouse squads including Lexington and Winchester which have players heading to Div. 1 college and university programs.

Leading Belmont was Massidda (who took up rowing with the Arlington-Belmont Crew club this past fall), senior Ben Lazenby who is best known for his play on the soccer pitch and basketball court,  second singles Caleb Harris, junior singles/doubles Grant Stievater who traded in his bat and glove for a racket this year, and this season’s captains, double specialists Cheng Qin and senior Amar Fernald.

On the doubles court, underclassmen sophomore Andrew Reppucci and frosh Jackson Luce – who were selected to compete in the individual doubles North playoffs – will bring a year’s worth of varsity experience to the courts next year, anchoring the team. 

The senior leadership showed up in the final match with the top-ranked and defending state champions Lexington held in Belmont on May 14, the Marauders made life a little more difficult then what the number 1 seed in this year’s tournament was expecting. Lazenby and Stievater extended rallies and won points to take five and four games respectively. Third singles Fernald lost 6-4 in both sets while second doubles Reppucci and Luce fought hard in a 6-1, 6-3 defeat. 

Not that the entire year was without its moments as Belmont was a solid mid-level squad, overpowering teams such as Stoneham, Watertown, Woburn (May 6), Wakefield (May 13) and Wilmington by identical 5-0 victories as the three singles matches and pair of doubles barely lost a game.

And not all highlights were strictly on the court. In a league where looking professional is the norm among the top teams, Stievater decided the Marauders should set the standard in high-quality apparel. 

“I came from the baseball team and they’re known for their gear so I thought if I’m playing tennis, you might as well go all out and get the best you can,” said Stievater.

Working with Gerry  Dickhaut, owner of Champions Sporting Goods in Belmont Center, Stievater organized the selection of the matching caps, sweatshirts, towels and even Belmont “B” socks to outfit the team at a price everyone agreed was a fair expense.

“[Dickhaut] gave us a discount and allowed us to get all the embroidery we wanted,” said Stievater.

“It feels nice to have something you do actually impact the team and have everyone like it. We really worked hard this year so it’s a nice little thing we get to do for ourselves,” he said. 

Sold in Belmont: Affordability in Housing, in Threes

Photo: 14 Scott Rd., Belmont.

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

20 Ericsson St. #3, Top-floor condominium (1908). Sold: $386,000. Listed at $415,000. Living area: 930 sq.-ft. 5 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1-full bath. On the market: 58 days.

• 29 Thayer Rd. Condominium (1958). Sold: $233,750. Listed at $259,900. Living area: 602 sq.-ft. 4 rooms, 1 bedrooms, 1-full bath. On the market: 163 days.

• 14 Scott Rd. Colonial (1934). Sold: $750,000. Listed at $699,000. Living area: 1,880 sq.-ft. 7 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths. On the market: 77 days.

Housing affordability continues to be a challenge in Belmont where the medium housing value ($847,000 for a single-family house) results in homeowners needing to pay out $3,900 a month in mortgage payments (30-year/4.5 percent/10 percent down) along with $10,000 annually in taxes.

So it’s heartening to see three properties – each with hardwood floors – that fit the bill in getting your foot in the door to live in Belmont. There is the top-floor condo on the street that literally is on the Cambridge line. I thought Oxford was the border of the People’s Republic yet Ericsson Street, with some nice century-old structures, including the two-bedroom condo which is spread over 930 square-feet. The new owners get some original detail, a very cool dining area with fun angled windows, plenty of solid doors and a new-ish kitchen. And the owners got it for a $30,000 discount by waiting out the seller.

You can tell the condo on Thayer Road was viewed in the early 60s as the height of modern living; open floor plan, freed from ornamentation, a tightly-spaced kitchen which wasn’t used that much because owners were dining out and bring home takeout during those swinging times. (I could see Joan P. Holloway living in these digs.) This condos have the basics which many want while saving up for the next move. And the owner(s) will be living in about as inexpensive abode Belmont has, at $233,000. (Inexpensive for Belmont; this is what you’ll get for the same money in Charlotte, NC.)

Even the brick/frame Colonial on Scott Road, just on the base of Belmont Hill, is on the less expensive side of most single-family homes. It’s boxy, with a curved staircase (no photos of the kitchen, hmmmmm) and a nice sized backyard; all for $750,000. 

Confidence: Rec Dept. Selling (Reduced) Summer Pool Passes

Photo: No swimming just yet.

The new Underwood Pool is not yet completed – in fact, there’s not much water in the one pool that has been finished – but the Belmont Recreation Department is confident enough that the two pool facility that’s being built over the former historic pool will be open for part of the summer, it is selling season passes for resident’s swimming enjoyment.  

Starting now and lasting until June 30, the Rec Dept. will be selling pool passes for $100.

“At this time we are planning for an Aug. 10 opening of the Underwood Pool. Until that time, we will offer public swimming six days a week, limited hours at the Higginbottom Pool at Belmont High School,” read a press release from the town. 

The pass will also be valid for the Underwood Pool the moment it opens until Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7.

Residents can find out more about the public swimming schedule at the Higginbottom Pool this summer on the Recreation Department calendar online

Chan Kicks Belmont Rugby into Third Consecutive State Finals in Epic Win

Photo: Senior Captain Darren Chan leading Belmont Rugby off the field Monday.

The traits of a good captain lie in three “Cs”: they care about the success of the team through example and encouragement while being consistent in playing to the best of their ability at practice and in games.

Finally, they must be courageous when the game and season are on the line, to step up and lead their team.

With two-and-a-half-minutes remaining in the state semi-finals on Tuesday, May 19, and trailing 2014 State Champions Bishop Hendricken High School by two points, 21-19, Belmont High School Rugby’s senior captain Darren Chan demonstrated all the characteristics of leadership in one decision.

After a yellow-card penalty for an illegal and brutal tackle on senior center Campbell McCready (who had scored two of Belmont’s tries), Belmont had the opportunity to attempt a three-point penalty kick to take the lead.

But for Belmont High School Rugby Head Coach Greg Bruce, the decision was a tricky one: the ball was 30 meters out from the goal post, a distance made more difficult due to the acute angle coming from the right sideline. Go for the kick and the lead (a miss would seal the game for Hendricken) or take the ball and attempt to score a try in the waning moments.

Bruce brought over Chan and senior wing (and varsity soccer player) Luke Gallagher and asked if either one were comfortable making the attempt.

“[Bruce] asked me if I could make the kick. I put it on my shoulders and said ‘I could,'” said Chan.

“[Chan] just said, I got the kick. I got the kick,” said Bruce. “All that mattered is that he felt confident in himself, he stepped up and led from the front foot.”

After waiting for nearly 10 minutes as McCready was taken from the field and with the large, boisterous Belmont crowd suddenly hushed, Chan lined up the free kick and saw it sail just inside the left post.

Three points, and the win.

“It felts like last year’s state championship,” said Chan, referring to the 21-19 Hendricken victory over Belmont.

“That was one of the toughest games I’ve ever been a part of. It was a good battle. Every player played their heart out, and we did what we needed to go win this game,” said Chan, who was a member of the 2013 state championship squad.

“Don’t ever accuse Belmont of quitting. Ever,” said Bruce to the players in the after- game huddle

Chan’s clutch kick sealed an epic victory over Hendricken and sends Belmont Rugby to its third consecutive Massachusetts Youth Rugby Organization state championships where the boys will meet first-time finalists Boston College High School, which defeated Xaverian Brothers High School in the other semi-finals, 43-17, on Tuesday.

The championship will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 23, at Foley Stadium in Worcester.

Belmont’s (5-1) only loss this season was to the undefeated Eagles (8-0), 20-7, in April.

“It was a nail-biter to the end,” said Bruce after the game. “I thought I was going to have a heart attack.”

“The game didn’t go the way we planned it,” the long-time head coach said. The team turned over the ball 20 times during the match” and usually you can’t win a game by doing that.”

“Our defense was phenomenal, but the problem is that we were playing defense way too much,” Bruce said.

The game begin with Belmont pushing forward for the first eight minutes of the 35 minute half as senior lock Nick Ryan and the red-head storm senior hooker Bryce Christian made a series of crushing tackles.

Yet this was not the same Hendricken team Belmont defeated April 1, 29-5 and using a turnover in Belmont’s zone, they punched in a quick try (worth 5 points) and the conversion kick (2 points) eight minutes into the match to lead 7-0.

“They have a strong core, and they like to ram it down your throat,” said Bruce.

But for the rest of the half, it was Belmont’s big men up front, seniors props Omar Escobar Jr. and Deshawn Frederick, who dictated play as they began wearing down Hendricken’s front line allowing Belmont to push the visitors backwards throughout the evening through the efforts of seniors Marco Perrone, Luke Perrotta and Peter Berens.

With Chan “quarterbacking” the team from the scrum half position, the team was rewarded when senior flyhalf Paul Campbell took the ball the final three meters to try at the 26-minute mark. Chan’s conversion tied the match. It appeared Belmont had a second try, but the ref determined that junior second row Lowell Haskett had dropped the ball crossing the goal line.

Hendricken appeared ready to break things open in the second half as they pulling off a pair of long runs. But during a rare attempt Hendricken made passing the ball to the wingers, McCready intercepted a back pass and scampered 50 meters by his lonesome for the try, to up Belmont’s lead to 14-7.

Then, in the fading evening light, the field’s lights went out as did the scoreboard. And so did Belmont’s energy as the visitors, with a pair of advantageous infringement calls against Belmont, allowed Hendricken to tie it up three minutes later.

McCready’s second try, helped by the wing play of senior Norman Kilavatitu, gave Belmont a 19-14 lead (the conversion, from an extreme angle, was missed). Yet, while both teams tired in the somewhat muggy conditions, Hendricken caught a break when Belmont turned over the ball for the final time and got a great side out deep in Belmont territory, scoring just after the lights came back on to go up 21-19 with just under four minutes to play.

Belmont was quickly able to retain the ball when McCready, being in a defenseless position after kicking the ball down the field, was flattened to the pitch by a Hendricken player. As medical attention was rendered, and he was taken off the field, Chan – who was the kicker for the football team – decided he would take the a shot at glory.

With players and coaches hugging each other after the final whistle, Bruce was asked about going back to the state championships for the third straight time.

“It feels pretty damn good,” he said.


Belmont Saving’s Foundation Passes $500K in Charitable Giving

Photo: A new court will be installed in the Wenner Field House thanks in no small part of the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation. 

There will be a new varsity and junior varsity court in the Wenner Field House, thanks in no small part to the generosity from the same people that came through with the seed money for the new Underwood Pool. 

This week, the Belmont Youth Basketball Association received a $35,000 matching grant from the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation for the $180,000 it will cost to resurface the Belmont High School gymnasium floor.

Previously the Foundation successfully pledged a $200,000 matching grant to preserve Belmont’s new Underwood Pool.

With the gift to BYBA, the Foundation has surpassed $500,000 in charitable giving with its latest round of contributions to 13 other local organizations that received $82,000 in the past quarter, the Foundation announced Tuesday, May 19.

Formed when the bank became a public company in October 2012, the Foundation is dedicated to community activities and the promotion of charitable causes in the communities in which Belmont Savings Bank operates. Since its creation, the Foundation has contributed $552,580 to local groups in Belmont, Cambridge, Watertown, Waltham and Newton.

“We are thrilled to announce this important milestone of the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation,” said Robert J. Morrissey, chairman of the board of directors of Belmont Savings Bank as well as the Foundation.

“The mission of the Foundation is to provide financial support to organizations in the communities we serve, particularly those committed towards education, health and human services, youth programs, and affordable housing. We are very pleased with the impact our local partners have as a result of these contributions, including this latest round of giving.”

In addition to the BYBA, the Waltham YMCA and the West Suburban YMCA each received $10,000 for their youth programming, which will enable children and families to attend high quality YMCA programs such as teen leaders club, summer day camp, preschool and licensed after school care, and aquatics.

Additional grant recipients include:

  • African Cultural Services, a Watertown child care program committed to the beauty of African and Haitian culture through dancing, storytelling, and performance, for the purchase of new instruments.
  • Alzheimer’s Association, local chapter, for a 2015 water stop sponsorship at their Walk to End Alzheimers in September.
  • Bais Yaakov, which seeks to provide comprehensive Judaic studies and secular education, for their performing arts program.
  • Belmont High School for their Educational Speaker Series beginning in September.
  • Family Access of Newton received a matching grant for their 2015 Spring Annual Appeal.
  • Friends of Belmont Wrestling received funding for their 2015 scholarship & Brendan Grant Memorial wrestling tournament
  • JDRF received a sponsorship for their Kids Walk to Cure Diabetes.
  • Metro West Collaborative Development for their housing programs.
  • Springwell for their money management program to assist seniors and individuals with disabilities with organizing bills, providing guidance on financial scams, learning budgeting skills, and relieving anxiety over financial matters.
  • Watertown High School Robotics Program to support their team.
  • Women of Means for nursing care at their Waltham Shelter.

“With these contributions, our Foundation continues to ensure community organizations in our footprint will provide high quality services to many of this region’s residents,” said Bob Mahoney, President and CEO of Belmont Savings Bank and an officer on the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation.

“This is a very worthy group of recipients, and it is our pleasure to support them with these grants.”