Celebrate Plymouth Nursery’s 70th Birthday This Saturday

Photo: The Plymouth Nursery’s playground.
The Plymouth Nursery School is celebrating its 70th year. And all former PNS students and parents are invited to a birthday party celebration on Saturday, April 30, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the school, located at 582 Pleasant St. 
If you would like to attend please RSVP by email at pnsadmissions@plymouthnurseryschool.com

Since 1946, Plymouth has fostered the intellectual, creative, and social development of thousands of children in the Belmont area. Plymouth’s teachers provide a warm, nurturing environment that is responsive to the developmental needs of each child.

As a co-operative nursery school, parent and teachers are partners in the education and growth of the children and stewards of the school and its mission. Our longevity as an institution would not have been possible without the dedication and generosity of generations of families.

It’s Official; the Last Day of the School Year Is …


Belmont schools will begin the summer recess this spring.

At the Belmont School Committee’s meeting on Tuesday, April 26, Schools Superintendent John Phelan thanked residents and students for their “understanding” for trudging through a few heavy snow days this winter as the administration decided against declaring a snow day.

And since the district only cancelled classes once due to weather, the reward is that school children will begin summer break on one of the earliest dates in memory.

The Committee voted unanimously to approve Thursday, June 16 as the final day of the 2015-16 school year.

The day will be an early release day for students and a full day for staff. 

Butler’s Principal McAllister Named to Chenery’s Top Post

Photo: Mike McAllister. 

Daniel Butler Elementry Principal Michael McAllister is returning to the Chenery Middle School where he started his Belmont career as a fifth-grade teacher.

But this time, McAllister is coming back in September as the Chenery’s new principal.

“Principal McAllister was chosen from a field of very strong candidates who participated in a rigorous interview and selection process,” said Belmont School District Superintendent John Phelan. 

McAllister, a Bedford resident (who is on his town’s School Committee for the past three years), replaces Kristen St. George, who announced she would be leaving her position in March. He was a finalist for the Chenery position with Belmont High School Assistant Principal John Muldoon and Watertown Middle School Principal and Belmont resident Kimo Carter.

A Bedford native (as is his wife, Meg), he graduated from Bedford High School in 1995. He and his wife have two children. McAllister holds a B.A. in Political Science and English from Northeastern University and an Ed.M. in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard University.

McAllister was named principal of the Butler in 2009, having previously been the district’s social studies director and a teacher at the Chenery. 

“McAllister is a proven leader in the district, who brings a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience as an educator and leader. I am confident in his ability to advance the good work already happening at the Chenery and to work together with the Chenery staff,” said Phelan.

Unanimous: Selectmen Recommend No on $144 Million Minuteman Building

Photo: A rendering of the new Minuteman School.

In a surprise vote of unity, the Belmont Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to recommend a “no” vote by the annual Town Meeting on a request to finance a new $144 million building for the Minuteman 

“I was not expecting a 3-0 vote from the board,” said John McLaughlin, who has been advocating that the town rejects the proposal.

“That said, I am delighted with the vote,” said McLaughlin, who was part of the town’s task force that spent two years atttempting to construct a new district plan and attempt to build and finance a new school.

McLaughlin noted that nearly all the remaining nine community town meetings have or are likely to approve the measure, saying the Selectmen were showing the same courage to act on principal as is the theme of the play “Twelve Angry Men.”

“It shows leadership to vote and not be influenced or motivated what others are doing,” he said.

For Jack Weis, Belmont’s representative on the Minuteman School Committee, the negative vote was not unexpected.

“I not surprised by the vote because [the Middlesex school authorities] had a high bar to clear” which it could not do because “the project had major flaws,” said Weis. 

“This is a really tough call,” said Mark Paolillo, chair of the board, as the selectmen reviewed and voted on each of the articles that will be before Town Meeting in the May session which includes all non-budgetary items as well as the scheduled Special Town Meeting.

“As a group, we are not ready to move forward” on the measure since the building selected is “too big” for the students committed to attend, said Paolillo.

Saying that while the board is not saying a new school building – the current structure dates from the early 1970s and was nearly shut down by the Lexington Fire Department four years ago for safety concerns – “it’s just that we could have a white elephant” on the town’s financial books, said Paolillo.

In the end, the selectmen could not justify building a new school for roughly 630 students when the now reconstituted ten community Minuteman school district is sending little more than half – 330 pupils –of that number.

“It really is froth with uncertainity,” said Selectman Jim Williams.  

In addition, the Selectmen were concerned that many assumptions being made by the Minuteman administration – of increasing enrollment, the hope the state would approve placing a $8,400 tuition surcharge on the nearly 45 percent of the school’s population that come from “out of district” communities (such as Watertown and Waltham) to help pay for the new school – were too risky to undertake considering that Belmont would be saddled with between an annual charge of $372,000 to $500,000 in capital expenses for the next 20 years. 

“That’s a lot of money to spend when [Belmont] sends 26 students there a year,” said McLaughlin, 

The selectmen’s vote came two days before the Warrant Committee, the Town Meeting’s financial watchdog also votes on the Minuteman measure. In previous meetings, a majority of Warrant Committee members voiced similar concerns with the proposal.

If Belmont rejects the Minuteman school, the new building scheme – which the Massachusetts School Building Authority has pledged nearly $45 million to its construction – would be set aside while several options are considered by the state and Minuteman administration. 

One alternative would be a district-wide vote in the remaining 10 communities in which a simple majority of the 10 communities would ratify the deal or if the district ejects the town from the school district. 

The vote came after the town in February voted to overwhelmingly approve joining an newly structured Minuteman School District.

But McLaughlin said Town Meeting Members should not confuse that approval of a new district structure should automatically lead to approving a new building,

“For towns like Belmont and Arlington that rely on their residential tax base, it would really hurt if something that is overbuilt and over priced is crammed down their throats,” he said. 

‘The Boston Girls’ Author Anita Diamant Caps One Book One Belmont With Talk

Photo: Anita Diamant

Best-selling author Anita Diamant, author of “The Red Tent” and “Day After Night,” will read from and talk about her most recent novel, “The Boston Girl,” tonight, Tuesday, April 26 at 7 p.m. at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St.

Diamant’s talk is the capstone of a month-long series of events associated with One Book One Belmont, which picked Diamant’s novel as its 2016 selection.

Author Stephen McCauley (“The Object of My Affection,” “Insignificant Others”) will introduce her and her work.

After a question and answer session, books will be available for purchase and signing.

One Book One Belmont 2016 marks the sixth time that the Belmont Public Library has joined with a broad range of co-sponsoring organizations to offer a community-wide reading program.

This year, the programs include an art exhibit, walking tour, programs on women’s suffrage and immigration, an oral history project, book discussion groups and children’s and teen programs

The goal of One Book One Belmont is to build a spirit of community by bringing together individuals and groups through a series of book-related events and discussions and to promote reading as an enjoyable and mind-opening activity. It is patterned after community reads held in hundreds of cities and towns across the country.

Belmont Drug Take-Back Set For Saturday, April 30

Photo: The Belmont Police will have a collection point Saturday, April 30.

The Belmont Police Department in conjunction with the Belmont Auxiliary Police and the Drug Enforcement Agency will be hosting a Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative to prevent the abuse and theft of old, unused and expired prescription drugs.

The Belmont Police will have a collection point set up at the DPW yard, 37C St., on Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Unfortunately, these drugs are highly susceptible to misuse by family and friends. Also, they can be improperly disposed of and end up in our environment, posing a potential health hazard.

Old or unused prescription drugs – no liquids – may be dropped off for free with no questions asked. You won’t even have to get out of your car.

Please take some time to check your medicine cabinet and visit us on Saturday. Unfortunately, these drugs are highly susceptible to misuse by family and friends. Also, they can be improperly disposed of and end up in our environment, posing a potential health hazard.

For more information on the Rx Drug Take Back Initiative or a list of additional collection sites visit the DEA’s website. You may also contact Lt. Daley at kdaley@belmontpd.org. We also have a permanent Rx drug collection kiosk located in the lobby of the police station that is accessible 24/7.

Sports: Boys’ Lacrosse Enters ‘Critical’ Stretch at .500 With Strong Win Over Dracut

Photo: Trey Butler. 

Belmont High School Boys’ Lacrosse Head Coach Josh Streit wanted to go into the coming week on a high note. And Saturday’s performance by his squad was the response he was seeking as the Marauders behind senior captain midfielder Trey Butler’s nine goals, four assist morning beat a young Dracut High team, 17-7, on a wet Harris Field Saturday, April 23.

“This a huge week coming up and we are excited how we played today,” said Streit, noting that they play Arlington, Stoneham and Woburn in the week after spring recess. 

“This is where we wanted to be at .500 (3-3), so this week is a make or break for us because these are all winnable games coming up,” said Streit. The first week of May will see two more games with Burlington and Watertown that Belmont should be favored to win, he said.

The next five games are important for us and important for us to win. We are looking to get to nine [wins, which will put the Marauders in the playoffs] and if we can run five more we will be at eight and then we just have to steal one down the road,” said Streit. 

On the field, Middlesex All-Star Butler was again the spark for the offense to run off, taking on the double team; either beating multiple defenders or dishing off to a cutting attack. Butler is also nearing the school record for points and goals, marking just another school career record that appears ready to fall, this year including in girls’ swimming (Jessie Blake-West) and boys’ basketball (Matt Kerans).

“[Butler] will get the headlines for the goals but the best player today was [senior midfielder] Justin Wagner (1 goal) was the man of the match for the first half because of all the ground balls he picked up and riding so he was a huge difference-maker for us,” said Streit. 

Also with multiple goals were attack Michael Cole with four tallies and Nick Coppolo with a pair. 

The game began under a dark cloud as senior goaltender Peter Stoesser “injured his thumb in warm ups” said Streit.

Stoesser has been unbeatable from 15 yards and longer “and that’s the reason we play the defense that we do,” said Streit.

In his place, freshman Mike Delhomme was put in the net “and he’s great; athletic, moves very well and is very loud. I was concerned for [Stoesser] but not for the team today,” he said. 

Belmont Recognized as Purple Heart Community

Photo: Members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart saluting the flag during the National Anthem.

Speaking before Purple Heart recipients and residents on Friday, Belmont Asst. Police Chief  James MacIsaac told the story of three young Belmont residents who died in defense of their country. 

James Paul White (whom the White Field House is named after) killed in 1944 and friends Teddy Lee and Donny Ray who died in Vietnam were just three of hundreds of Belmont residents from the Civil War to Afghanistan whose “stories needed to be told to ensure that the residents of Belmont never forget the young people from Belmont who have answered the call to war time and time again,” said MacIsaac.

It was on that theme of sacrifice for the country that on Friday, April 22, in front of Belmont Public Library with the Belmont Hill School’s a capella group The B-flats singing the National Anthem; Belmont was formally recognized as a Purple Heart Community by the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Belmont’s Veteran Services Agent, Bob Upton received a plaque from officers of the Order before veterans, town officials, residents and the handful of Belmontians who were honored with the medal in defense of the country. Belmont is now one of 86 municipalities which “shows our appreciation to our combat wounded, Purple Heart recipients.”

The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving, with the U.S. military. With its forerunner, the Badge of Military Merit, the Purple Heart is the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members. 

In his keynote speech, MacIsaac told the story of a message that was reportedly found in an old sentry box in Gibraltar.

“God and the soldier all men adore, in a time of trouble and no more. For when war is over and all things righted, God is neglected, and the old soldier is slighted.” 

“It’s a timeless quote that I think we can all agree has some truth to it,” said MacIsaac.

“That’s why I think it is important for the cities and towns that make up this nation to make an effort to remember and recognize those that served and those that were wounded or killed in action in the service of their country,” he said.

“I’m very happy that Belmont has made a step, by being designated a Purple Heart Community, that will help ensure that our old soldiers are not slighted but remembered for their service to our town and country, and I’m honored to partaking in this morning’s ceremony,” said MacIsaac. 

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Sold In Belmont: How Hot Is The Market? Winn Brook Cape Tops $1 Million

Photo: This Cape sold for nearly $200K more than its assessed value.

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150 Sherman St., Over-sized Cape (1940). Sold: $1,065,000.

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7 Belmont Cir., Condo in a two family (1958). Sold: $389,900.

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

150 Sherman St., Over-sized Cape (1940). Sold: $1,065,000. Listed at $995,000. Living area: 2,463 sq.-ft. 8 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths. On the market: 90 days.

7 Belmont Cir., Condo in a two family (1958). Sold: $389,900. Listed at $389,900. Living area: 935 sq.-ft. 5 rooms, 1 bedroom, 1 baths. On the market: 70 days.

Ah, the Cape Cod-style of residence: simplicity in design, affordability in mind. Created in New England in the 1700s, the structure was intended to withstand the storms that hit Cape Cod with its recognizable amoderately steep, pitched roof – anyone more than six feet tall has to be careful navigating those rooms – with end gables and very little ornamentation other than the use of shutters. Even the 20th-century version especially those built after WWII (that include dormers that bastardize the roof’s pre-Revolutionary elegance) still retain the essence of its Puritan roots. For those reasons, the Cape was seen as a more affordable family residence to Belmont’s favorite, the Colonial. 

Even the 20th-century version especially those built after WWII (that include dormers that bastardize the roof’s pre-Revolutionary elegance) still retain the essence of its Puritan roots. For those reasons, the Cape has been seen as a more affordable family housing compared to Belmont’s favorite, the Colonial.

So when the Cape at 150 Sherman sold last week in the heart of the family friendly and not-so-fancy Winn Brook neighborhood, you’d expect it would sell at or around the town’s assessed value. 

And you would be wrong; this over-sized Cape (about 5oo extra square feet than the traditional abode) with a renovated kitchen – gray granite countertops and boxy cabinets doesn’t really work for me – along with a new air system and extensive landscaping broke the seven-figure barrier, a whopping $200,000 greater than this fiscal year’s assessment. 

Just as the overheating real estate market has produced million dollars sales in neighborhoods where you least anticipated, you can now add Winn Brook to that list.

Business: A Simple Concept Brings Yoga Business to Cushing Village

Photo: Stephanie Mills, owner of Simply Yoga in Cushing Square.

The circular logo on the window of Simply Yoga, which opens this weekend in the heart of Cushing Square, is not associated with traditional yoga illustrations. 

In fact, owner Stephanie Mills brought the symbol over from her native Ireland.

“It’s an image carved in stone at Newgrange,” said the Dublin native. Four days a year at the winter solstice, the sun enters a tiny roof box which allows the morning sun to illuminate the vast interior of the 5,000-year-old structure.


And Mills wants to enlighten resident to the benefits of her brand of yoga. 

In many ways,  the name of Mills’ studio– who practices and teaches Vinyasa/Flow Yoga, where movement and breathing are synchronized  – is her business philosophy.

“That’s what I’m offering here, simply yoga. I’m not offering all the other exercise. It’s just yoga because I believe in it. It’s about the exercise; it’s about the mind, and it’s about creating a community. I want people to come here and to leave their stress at the door, where you can bring your kids, that you know this studio has a good vibe.”

“I’m not looking to build an empire. This is it,” she said.

Belmont residents got the opportunity to experience Mills’ approach with a free weekend – April 23 and 24 – of classes at her studio at 95 Trapelo Rd. which was once the location of a Chinese restaurant and a convenience store. The completely renovated interior has a large room (named Adam) and a more intimate space (dubbed Saoirse – not after the actress, Saoirse Ronan, but is Irish for “freedom) where she and staff can conduct classes and workshop.

“Yoga is for everyone, no matter what your experience. Simply Yoga is about building a community and introducing people to the simplicity that yoga can bring to our chaotic lives,” she said. “I think it’s very important in today’s society. We are constantly chasing our tails. Yoga is a reminder to take time for oneself.”

The Watertown resident has left a long career behind the camera – working at WGBH in production for NOVA and The American Experience and as a freelancer for National Geographic and The History Channel – after “returning to the yoga mat 17 years ago like most folks do; to get a workout,” she said,

After suffering a back injury that required surgery, going to the studio as well as finding a committed chiropractor “renewed my enthusiasm for yoga as I found it to be very restorative,” she said. The next step was her belief that she could provide people of all ages and abilities the same experience. 

Mills said she hopes the studio “is everything to every person” whether the customer is the middle-aged dad, the empty nester or the young professional who will be living in Cushing Village.

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Stephanie Mills, Simply Yoga.

“I believe strongly that yoga is for everyone,” said Mills. The range of classes are from yoga’s foundations, for the very beginner and the more experienced to go back to basics and learn the cues and get proper alignment for poses, Yin yoga where poses are held for minutes with the idea that your mind relaxes into that pose, more traditional flow classes, and a heated class. 

“People go to various yoga studios for lots of different reasons. When I envisioned taking this leap, starting a yoga studio, Belmont was the town I [saw], specifically Cushing Square,” she said.

“I envisioned a community, a ‘yoga strong’ community built by the instructors – who she spent the past six months recruiting for her studio – and the students, a place to learn and where knowledge is shared freely.  The team at Simply Yoga are deeply committed to the practice of yoga and the community,” said Mills.

“I think I have a stellar team, and they are really invested in yoga and invested in Belmont,” she said.