Belmont High Darkroom To Be Named for Late Benefactor’s Generosity

In a rare gesture at Belmont schools, the Belmont School Committee unanimously approved a recommendation from Belmont School Superintendent Dr. Thomas Kingston to name the photography darkroom at Belmont High School after Paula Lerner, the award-winning Belmont photographer who donated her extensive photo equipment to the Belmont High arts department before her death in March 2012.

“The administration certainly endorses the request as it is perfectly appropriate commemoration for the considerable contribution that Paula Lerner made to the development of a really compelling program at the High School,” said Kingston in his recommendation.

The request for a memorial plaque bearing Lerner’s name and date of the dedication came from Andrew Roy, the Belmont High teacher who instructs the Photography III Honors class and whose students use the equipment, which, Roy noted, is the “single largest donation to the photography program in [more than] 10 years.”

“There has been so much positive outcome from Ms. Lerner’s generosity and my students have truly benefited in ways far more significant that the material gifts and financial support,” said Roy.

The honors program used a Foundation for Belmont Education grant to create an exhibition of photos in Lerner’s style in the summer of 2013 at the Belmont Media Center in honoring her.

Power Off: Wellington Solar Panel Project Goes Dark

The sun set on plans to place solar panels on the roof of the Wellington Elementary School as the Belmont School Committee voted last night, Tuesday, April 8, to support Belmont School Superintendent Dr. Thomas Kingston’s recommendation to rescind the contract associated with Boston-based contractor Broadway Electric, the solar installer which decided to close its business earlier this year.

“So it’s time to fish or cut bait and I’m suggesting we cut bait,” said Kingston.

Despite attempts to find another solar installer that would take over the current contract – which is considered a very small project by industry standards – the earliest that it would come before town officials for another round of approvals  would be in three months after studying the job.

“We need to stop protracting this,” said Kingston.

Kingston, who said the committee and the town remain strong supporters of using solar power, said it would be best for the new superintendent, John Phelan, who will begin his tenure on July 1, to take charge in leading the committee in finding a new vendor.

Kingston suggested that it would be advantageous for the town and schools to revisit the Wellington solar plan when a new High School is constructed, pairing it up with a larger project that could also include other municipal building such as the town’s fire stations.

“The bigger the project, the more attractive the job will become,” said Kingston.

Yet it is not known when that project will come on line; the school committee today submits its statement of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority for the renovation of the current High School, a process that can take several years.

Nor is there any certainty that solar-power tax credits, which allows contractors to install panels for no cost to the town or school committee, will remain at the current level or be around when the High School project begins.

Changing Lauries: Slap Selected School Committee’s New Leader

In a changing of the guard but not first names, Laurie replaced Laurie as chair of the Belmont School Committee last night Tuesday, April 8.

That would be Laurie Slap, who is known for her stellar, thoughtful work on budgets and financial matters, was installed as the new chair of the six-member board replacing Laurie Graham who has held the position for the past several years.

(It shouldn’t come as a surprise that it was Lauries switching seats; the name – the “pet” form of Laura, derived from the Latin “laurus,” the evergreen shrub or tree whose leaves were woven into wreaths by the ancient Greeks to crown victors in various contests, according to – reached its popularity as a girl’s name from the 1950s to the 1970s (in the top 50 list of names) before plunging off the charts today.

The Long Avenue homeowner, who has been a Belmont resident since 1993 with her husband and three children, said she sees no reason to change the committee’s course.

“I think the team has been working well together, so if we follow in [Graham’s] footsteps we’ll be in really good shape. I am looking for continued continuity,” said Slap.

Slap, who won her seat on the committee in 2010 and was re-elected comfortably in 2013, is an economist by trade matriculating at Colby College earning a BA in Economics/Mathematics and earned a MA in Management from the MIT’s Sloan School with a concentration in finance/corporate strategy.


Beautiful Music: Belmont High Ensembles Garner Highest Honors

Tonight, at Belmont High School, the elementary schools will be holding its concert with many of students performing on stage for the first time as they begin their artistic journey through the district’s music program.

The result of the district’s commitment to music in those early grades was evident this past week as Belmont High School’s numerous musical ensembles took home a Priam’s treasure of top honors at the Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association festivals.

On Friday, April 4, the Chamber Singers and the Concert Chorale, both led by long-time director Sean Landers, earned Gold Medals at the MICCA’s festival site in Norwood.

On Saturday at Lexington High School, the Concert Orchestra under conductor Margot Reavey earned a Gold Medal, the Symphonic Band, directed by Lauren Haley, earned a Bronze Medal and the Wind Ensemble earned a Gold Medal.

“Each ensemble performed at a very high level, and the students represented our music program and our school with a great deal of pride and professionalism, as usual,” said Arto Asadoorian, Belmont School District’s director of fine & performing arts.

Today, Monday, April 7, Asadoorian received notification that the Wind Ensemble was selected through a lottery to perform in the the MICCA Gold Medal Showcase at Boston’s Symphony Hall on Saturday, April 12 at 12:30 p.m.

Anyone interested in hearing the Wind Ensemble should arrive by noon to be seated in time for the performance at 12:30 p.m. Performances by top groups in the state will begin as early as 8 p.m. and are all open to the public.

The 15th annual Foundation for Belmont Education Fundraiser

The theme of the 15th annual Foundation for Belmont Education Fundraiser was “Light Up the Night” and that was accomplished Saturday night, March 22 at the Belmont Hill School as hundreds enjoyed a night of dining, dancing and the auction of some very impressive packages, all in benefit of the Foundation’s four-year Innovative Teaching Initiative that funds training for educators in new technology – the addition of iPads into district classrooms – and programs to provide more enriching and engaging instruction.