Belmont Volleyball Falls To Powerhouse Newton North In Sectional Finals

Photo: Belmont High Volleyball Captains (from left) Leah Barbroudi, Jane Mahon and Mindee Lai along with Athletic Director Jim Davis and Head Coach Jen Couture with the runners up trophy.

At least the Belmont High School volleyball team could smile coming off the court at Wellesley High School early Saturday morning, Nov. 10. 

In the team’s historic season – a record 18 wins and a place in the Central East Division 1 sectional finals – the players and coaches have met a number of very good teams. On Saturday, they met a program that has dominated the Central East for more than a decade. Number one seed Newton North, who just happened to be last year’s Division 1 state champions, had won six consecutive sectional titles and was looking for its seventh against the Marauders.

“We knew it would be a challenge,” said Head Coach Jen Couture. “They are simply a great team.” 

After an impressive 3-1 set victory over second seed North Quincy in Wednesday’s semifinals, Couture believed her team had to transition its strengths on the defensive side of the ledger to scoring quickly against a Tiger team that brought back most of last year’s state title team.

And while Belmont had its moments, especially in the third set led by setter Mindee Lai and senior middle Jane Mahon, the power and skills built into the Tigers DNA was far too much for the Marauders to overcome as Belmont fell to Newton North, 3-0 (25-12, 25-11, 25-15), in a display of power and tactics.

The one person on Newton North who dominated the match was senior Ashley Wang, a strong and tall player who was not only adept at the net where she was deadly with her kill attempts but also quick on defense. Her service game was “on” in the first set when she went on an eight-point run to take the Tigers from a 7-4 lead to a 15-4 advantage. Wang’s skill to drive serves to vacant spots on the floor forced Belmont to place four players on the back line.

Joining Wang in pushing Belmont was senior Chelsea Simmons – who is a teammate with Wang and three other Tigers on a successful Newton-based AAU-type club – who was one of the morning’s most impressive blockers, while stepping in as setter and taking the ball down the line as an opposite hitter. 

Belmont did demonstrate a strong defensive game but the offense was hampered by the Tigers dominate front three which threw up walls of blockers against Belmont. 

The Tigers built an early second set lead at 7-2 and stretched it to 16-5, Belmont began putting up some effective blocking, including senior Gabby Viale stopping Wang one-on-one at the net. But Newton North was too strong on the offense, always looking for the quick kill. 

After going down 11-4 in the third, Belmont started its best rally chipping away with some strong net play to reduce the lead to 16-13 after a big block by Mahon and 17-14 from a Viale floater that just dropped inside the line. But once again, Newton North had so many options to go on a seven point run to extend the lead to 24-15. The final point found Belmont tied up in the net and Newton North getting ready to take on undefeated Lawrence in the state semifinals.

“[Newton North] was a fun team to play. It was the best serving we’ve seen all year,” said Couture. “By the third set, we showed them why we are here. But ultimately, we were overpowered as they were hitting to great spots to beat us.” 

Couture said reaching a sectional final should be a great motivator for future players in the program.

“No more should Belmont just settle with making the state tourament but to see us winning championships. I hope this game opens doors at some point where we no longer look at ourselves as underdogs,” she said.

Bells Rung In Belmont To Commemorate Armistice Day Centennial

Photo: Belmont Veterans Agent Bob Upton reading the names of each Belmont resident who died in WWI.

It was just about two dozen veterans and residents who came out on a cool, bright Sunday morning, Nov. 11 to the World War One memorial just outside of Belmont Center to mark the day 100 years ago when the guns fell silent for the final time.

Belmont’s commemoration of the Armistice Day Centennial was likely one of the smallest and shortest in the state, if not the country. But thanks to Bob Upton, the town’s veteran agent, the Town of Homes was able to join the ceremonies around the globe to honor the young and in some cases not so young who fought and died in “the war to end all wars.”

“I’m so glad that there are people in this town that will come out for what is a truly historic remembrance,” said Upton.

The steeple bells of First Church Belmont and the United Methodist Church in Cushing Square were ready to ring out while a bell was set up in front of the memorial to record the losses Belmont bore a century ago.  

At 11 a.m., on the 11th day of the 11th month, traffic was stopped along Common Street and the church bells chimed. Finally, the bell at the memorial tolled 10 times for the residents who died in combat and from illness during the war: 

  • Joseph Cirino
  • Victor Craigie
  • William Finn
  • Frederick Lincoln
  • Dearborn McAleer
  • Hugh Nimmo
  • Carleton Patriquin
  • William Smith
  • Leon True 

In the past year, another resident, John Cormier, whose name and sacrifice was lost for nearly a century, was added to the roll of honor.

Veterans from Korea, Vietnam and the recent conflicts in the Middle East stood at attention, residents had hands over hearts in paying their respects.

And just like that, the ceremony was done. Vehicles resumed driving along Common, the bells around town were quiet and people went on with their weekend chores.

Belmont High Volleyball To Sectional Championship After Dispatching N Quincy

Photo: Senior Jane Mahon winning a point blocking a kill attempt at the net.

Belmont High Volleyball’s historic run continues as the 3rd seeded Marauders are heading for the Central East Sectional Finals after defeating North Quincy, 3 sets to 1, (27-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-22) in the semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 7. 

Belmont (18-3) will meet top-seed Newton North (14-2) on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. at Wellesley High School. With a win, the Marauders will secure its first-ever sectional crown in program history.

The Marauders came up big in its strength, defense from the back and at the net along with outstanding serving, to defeat North Quincy which in many ways mirrored Belmont’s tactics.

Belmont started the game tentatively falling behind 23-18 before a solid service run by senior defensive specialist Leah Babroudi brought the score level at 23. Down to set point at 24-25, Belmont took the first set on a North Quincy service error and a tip at the net by senior middle Jane Mahon.

North Quincy trailed throughout the second set as both teams went on long service runs with Belmont’s sophomore opposite hitter Kat Cosic hitting a pair of aces as she scored four points to up the Marauder lead to 16-7. Playing an outstanding game both serving and on the back line, junior outside hitter Nena Trifunovic ran down many “free” hits and kill attempts.

In the third set, North Quincy’s star senior captain and outside hitter Alexandra Qose stepped up as her teammates set her up for several crosscourt kills as Belmont appeared to need a breather.

The fourth set was close early with Belmont up 10-9 when they went on a small run to build a three-point lead, 18-15, after sophomore opposite setter Sam Lin’s hit broke a two-player block. Mahon then increased the lead by scoring on a little floater and then won a one-on-one block against Qose. North Quincy got close to the delight of their loud fan base to 23-22 but a net ball on their serve allowed Belmont to win the final point. 

Landslide! Debt Exclusion For New 7-12 School Passes By More Than 3 To 1 Margin

Photo: Ellen Schreiber (right), co-chair of “Yes on 4” celebrating Tuesday night’s election result.

In a result that few could have predicted, Belmont voters overwhelmingly approved a debt exclusion to construct a new 7th through 12th grades school building by more than three to one margin on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 6.

The final vote total on Question 4 was 9,467 yes and 2,952 no with the “yes” vote receiving 76.2 percent support from the 12,833 voters – a whopping 72.4 percent turnout of registered voters – who crowded Belmont’s eight precincts throughout the mostly rain swept day. 

The night was a spectacular victory for two groups, the Belmont High School Building Committee which created a transparent and public-friendly process as the project moved from initial support by the state to a nearly finished design, and the “Yes On 4” advocacy group which promoted the new high school as, despite its costly label, fiscally responsible.

“When I first started seeing the numbers come in, I just couldn’t believe them. It says something when that many people in the town agree that we needed to do this,” said Ellen Schreiber, the “Yes on 4” co-chair with Sara Masucci at a large celebration with Question 4 supporters on Tuesday night. “It’s an amazing day for the town, for our residents, and for our children.”

The question now heads to next week’s Special Town Meeting on Nov. 13 where it will be presented before Belmont’s legislative body for approval, which is a near certainty. While the ballot question does not indicate a cost of the exclusion, the Building Committee placed a $213 million price tag for the town’s share of the $295 million middle/high school. The Massachusetts School Building Committee, which has worked in partnership with the town since it voted to accept Belmont’s application to build a new school in January 2016, will pony up the remaining funds. 

With approval at the Special Town Meeting, the construction of the 451,575 square-foot campus housing 2,215 students will get underway with the completion of the building design in April 2019 with actual shovels in the ground after the school year ends in June 2019 with the 9-12 grade portion of the school completed by July 2021. The middle school section will then be built on the site of the former high school. The school will be completed by September 2023.

Just how unexpectedly large the “yes” majority turned out was caught in the reaction to the vote total from Pat Brusch, a member of the Belmont High School Building Committee, who accompanied Belmont School Committee Chair Susan Burgess-Cox to a backroom in Town Hall where Town Clerk Ellen Cushman and volunteers were tabulating the 3,400 early voting ballots minutes after the polls closed at 8 p.m.

Ten minutes after the polls closed, the first two early voting results, for Precincts 1 and 2, showed the yes’ had scored widespread support, a cumulative total of 777 to 250 in favor.

“It’s still early,” said Brusch, a noted pessimist who had spent past elections anxiously waiting the votes from residents with a well-known skepticism to approving tax increases.

When the result from the precincts themselves began filtering in on Burgess Cox’ cell-phone showing Belmont voters in near complete support for the new school project, Brusch – who was also vice-chair of the Wellington Building Committee and served on the building committees for the Chenery and Burbank/Winn Brook school construction projects – stood to stare in stunned silence for several seconds.

“I’m truly shocked,” Brusch final said as it became clear that before even a quarter of the votes had been tallied the “yes” majority would take the day.

For Burgess-Cox, the result “is amazing. The number of people who voted and the number who voted for [the debt exclusion] is an affirmation for Belmont’s schools.” 

At the celebration at a supporter’s house midway between the Chenery and Wellington schools, Schreiber said the victory for the school was accomplished fully by the dozens of volunteers who did both the large and small activities; from knocking on doors, creating innovative videos, to those who spent Tuesday in the rain for hours holding signs at intersections and the precincts.

“We wouldn’t have won without them,” she said.

The pitch to the public was straight forward; a new school would resolve issues that were threatening the education of the district’s children, said Schreiber

“Everyone saw that we needed to do this. The problems in the school system whether it’s over enrollement or inadequate buildings is real and they need to be solved. And this is a really great solution, it’s well planned and vetted by the building committee and we had an unpresidented amount of community meeting to give their input,” said Schreiber, who praised the group for “kicking the tires” on the project to demonstrate to residents that the project has been thoroughly evalutated with a great deal of transparency. 

“Through the course of this campaign, all we’ve been doing is communicating what the building committee has done. And with 76 percent of the vote, the town agreed.” she said.

Nearly 1 In 5 Cast Early Ballots As Belmont Votes, Tuesday, Nov. 6

Photo: I voted.

Approximately 3,4oo residents took advantage of two weeks of early voting as Belmont prepares to cast ballots in the state general election today, Tuesday, Nov. 6.

The early balloting makes up nearly 20 percent of the roughly 17,100 registered voters in town and is already more than the 2,820 who voted in the town’s annual election in April, according to Town Clerk Ellen Cushman. 

Strong interest in the election was expected with a major debt exclusion vote to pay for a new 7-12 school building along with races for all of Massachusetts’ state and federal constitutional offices. 

Here is some basic fact on voting in Belmont today:


Polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Who can vote

All legally registered voters affiliated with any political party and the unenrolled. 

You may be asked for ID

Did you fill out your town census form mailed earlier in the year? If you did not, then you are known as an “inactive” voter. Luckily, an “inactive” voter may still vote but first must provide adequate identification proving the voter’s identity and current place of residence. Usually a Massachusetts Driver’s License or State issued ID are sufficient.

Who is on the ballot?

Find out about the federal, state and country candidates running.

What are the ballot questions?

QUESTION 1: Patient-to-Nurse Limits

QUESTION 2: Commission on Limiting Election Spending and Corporate Rights

QUESTION 3: Transgender Anti-Discrimination

QUESTION 4: Approve a Debt Exclusion to construct a 7-12 school building. 

View a sample ballot here.


Most questions – including who is eligible to vote in Belmont – that arise during voting can be answered by the precinct warden at the polling station. Other questions should be addressed to the Town Clerk’s Office at 617-993-2600. 

Where do I vote?

Don’t know where to vote? Call the Town Clerk at 617-993-2600, or read or download the handy map included on this web page that includes a street directory.

Polling Places

  • Precinct 1; Belmont Memorial Library, Assembly Room, 336 Concord Ave.
  • Precinct 2: Belmont Town Hall, Selectmen’s Meeting Room, 455 Concord Ave.
  • Precinct 3: Beech Street Center (Senior Center), 266 Beech St.
  • Precinct 4: Daniel Butler School, 90 White St.
  • Precinct 5: Beech Street Center (Senior Center), 266 Beech St.
  • Precinct 6: Belmont Fire Headquarters, 299 Trapelo Rd.
  • Precinct 7: Burbank School Gym, 266 School St.
  • Precinct 8: Winn Brook School Gym, 97 Waterhouse Rd. (Enter at Cross St)

Editorial: Vote Yes On 4; An Investment In Our Shared Future

Photo: An outward expression of our investment in the future of our community, our children and the nation.

A no vote on Question 4 Tuesday to approve a $213 million debt authorization for a new 7th-12th-grade school building is not a rejection of a tax increase but an admission Belmont’s collective futures are not worth the investment.

The numbers and facts concerning the design, cost, and history of the proposed high school (here and here) has been public for several months. Town Meeting spent $1.75 million in a feasibility study that breaks down the project to the cost of the final nut and bolt. The changes in taxes have been calculated by the town treasurer. The school district has forecast a continued increase in students enrolling in the six public schools that requires a large building project. Those are the facts. 

But Tuesday’s vote is more than a series of self-interested personal decisions; it is an opportunity to show how this community views the most important function for all municipal government, educating its children.

Marking the ballot “no” on Tuesday may feel penny wise but it is indeed pound foolish to the extreme. A negative response is not simply a rejection of the future, its a clarion call for the slow decay of the outstanding education system it took nearly five decades to create. 

My standard response to people who ask why people live here is “You don’t move to Belmont for the roads. You come for the schools.” What prospective homeowner would knowingly bring their children into a community that won’t make a commitment to education? Home values will likely begin lag behind surrounding cities and towns which have decided to make education a priority. 

Rejecting a decade of work by committed volunteers and professionals will require Town Meeting to vote over a decade on three ever increasing large debt exclusion measures to house the skyrocketing number of students entering the district for the next decade and extending the life of a fifty-year-old school building that has no business being renovated. How likely will a future Town Meeting be willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on putting lipstick on a pig?

If any of the three debt questions – totaling $50 million more than the debt exclusion being considered Tuesday – is rejected, the outcome would be jammed packed classrooms that will swiftly bring the school district’s accreditation into question. It’s truly an unimaginable conclusion to   

Tuesday’s vote is also an opportunity for Belmont to recommit itself to the great American uniter of public education which has increasingly come under attack by reactionary forces who believe “government schools” – a new pejorative created by the right – are wasteful, run by overpaid bureaucrats who spew progressive messages rather than “real” learning. They call for education to be run as a publicly funded business with vouchers, charter and private schools replacing our shared heritage.

But for communities that take pride in and nurture public schools, the benefits are boundless. Belmont ranks in the top percentile of public schools in a state which leads the country in the quality of schools. While the nation as a whole meanders with lackluster rankings in the core curriculum, Belmont students are on par with the top-ranked education provided in the schools of Europe and Asia. The education our students receive from first-rate teachers and educators provides a world of future options that children from too many communities lack.

And one important component to keeping the stellar standard the Belmont schools have created is for its residents to commit the financial resources in teaching, activities and, yes, modern facilities. There are no other options.

Public education binds us as Americans, it is in our common ethos that an enlightened young is the best path to preserving our country for generations to come.

The time is not to look inward with provincial expectations, but to approve a building project that will become an outward expression of our investment in the future of our community, our children and the nation.

Vote Yes on 4.

Belmont Girls’ Soccer Rolls Over Salem In Playoff Opener

Photo: Belmont senior forward Morgan Krauss in action against Salem. (Credit: David Flanagan)

It was over before it started as 7th seed Belmont High Girls Soccer scored four goals in the first 20 minutes in its first-round Division 2 North Sectional game against an overwhelmed 11th ranked Salem High squad, defeating the Witches 11-0 on a blustery cold Saturday afternoon, Nov. 3.

After all was said and done, Belmont (11-4-2) was sparked by senior forward Ella Gagnon who had a five-point night with a hat trick and two assists. Gagnon’s linemates senior Morgan Krauss and junior Marina Karalis each had two goals and an assist. Salem (9-7-3) who play in the Northeastern South League, were just not in the same level of speed or skills as Belmont or likely most suburban schools with strong town programs that provides a constant supply of experienced players. 

It will be a quick turnover for Belmont as the Marauders is scheduled to play second seed and Middlesex League Liberty rivals Winchester (17-1-0) on Monday in Winchester at 4:30 p.m. Belmont has had its hands full with the League champion Sachems, falling 4-0 at Winchester and 5-1 at home.

“We have to worry about (Hannah) Curtin, that’s for sure,” said longtime Belmont head coach of Winchester’s star forward (who is also a champion indoor sprinter). “We’ll probably have to play her man-to-man but then we are playing much better than we have been even just a couple of weeks ago. When we played them here, we had our scoring chances and if we buried them, it would have been a different story.” 


Belmont Wellness Coalition Awarded $625K Grant To Support Youth Substance Use Prevention 

Photo: A poster of one of the several services provided by the Belmont Wellness Coalition.

Under the auspices of Wayside Youth & Family Support Network’s Multi-Service Center in Watertown, the Belmont Wellness Coalition (BWC) was awarded a five-year Drug Free Communities grant from the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Belmont is one of only 120 communities nationwide to receive an award this grant cycle. The Town of Belmont is eager to bolster its youth substance use prevention efforts and to work collaboratively with a cross-section of town departments as well as community and youth members.

“This funding is a recognition by the federal government, that Belmont, through the establishment of the Belmont Wellness Coalition, is poised to roll up its sleeves and continue the work of reducing youth substance use through collaborative community efforts,” said Lisa Gibalerio, prevention specialist at Wayside, a long-time Belmont resident, and parent of three teenagers.

The BWC meets about once a month and enthusiastically welcomes new members.

Belmont will rely on the coalition to mobilize partners from across the community with the ultimate goal of implementing town-wide prevention strategies that reduce youth use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. The focus of the first year is twofold; identifying the problem and capacity building.

This past year, the Coalition made a NARCAN training available for Belmont residents, provided a workshop at the Chenery Middle School on best practices for parenting teens, instituted a “Relaxation Station” at the high school during final exam week, and implemented a mini YRBS survey to 335 eighth graders in order to establish a baseline of data concerning substance use, perception of harm, and rates of parental disapproval.

The BWC hopes to develop an awareness campaign and to support parent education in order to shift the community norm away from the inevitability of underage substance use, i.e., that substance use is a “rite of passage” for youth.

The Belmont Wellness Coalition was founded in 2017 to support substance use prevention and education efforts.  Its membership includes parents, youth, community leaders, clergy, local business representation, as well as school department and town employees, all of whom work collaboratively to support the Coalition’s mission: to use education and empowerment to reduce substance use and to promote healthy choices and positive decision-making. 

For more information about the Drug Free Communities grant or the Belmont Wellness Coalition, please contact Lisa Gibalerio, MPH, prevention specialist at

Belmont High’s Ski Team Hosts Ski and Snowboard Sale Saturday, Nov. 3

Photo: The Belmont High Ski Team.
The Belmont High School Ski Team will host its annual Ski and Snowboard Sale on Saturday, Nov. 3 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the high school cafeteria, located at 221 Concord Ave.
You will find great deals on new and used skis, snowboards and sports equipment. Rodgers Ski and Sport will have new skis and snowboards. All proceeds raised from the event benefit the high school Ski Team. Folks can drop off used skis, snowboards and sports equipment in good condition between 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the high school cafeteria. Sellers will receive 50 percent of their sold items with the other half going to the BHS Ski Team. Credit cards are accepted.

Letter To The Editor: A Better Diehl For Massachusetts

Photo: Geoff Diehl on the campaign trail.
To the editor:
Our community is a special place. We deserve a senator who cares. I have been disappointed over the past 6 years with Senator Elizabeth Warren. Putting politics aside, she really hasn’t done her job. She has written books and gone on all the shows, but she has not put in the time for Massachusetts.
The office of senator should be to represent us. Warren has ignored us.
That’s why I am voting for Geoff Diehl for U.S. Senate. He led the successful fight to repeal automatic gas tax increases. He has saved drivers a ton of money. Warren has done nothing for us.
Geoff is committed to serving the full six-year term. He wants to be our Senator. I am going with the better Diehl.
Matt Sullivan   
Hammond Road