One Week To Run The Apple 5K/2K: Tour Belmont Schools In Race To Help Enrich Education

Photo:The start of the 2019 FBE Apple 5K.

There’s one week to go before the running of the Apple 5K/2K this Sunday, Oct. 2, the annual road race that lets runners take part in Belmont’s first in the fall favorite event while supporting the Foundation for Belmont Education and the Belmont Public Schools.

The money raised funds grants to educators in the Belmont Public Schools to implement innovative programs and advanced technology that result in richer and deeper learning experiences for Belmont students. Visit the FBE website to learn more about how the FBE makes a difference in the Belmont Public Schools www.fbe-belmont.org/impact

Register here for the race.

The FBE Apple Run sponsors are:
Platinum Sponsor 2021: Cityside Subaru of Belmont
Results Sponsor 2021: Belmont Orthodontics
Bib Sponsor 2021: Didriks & Local Roots

About The Race  
The FBE Apple 5K and 2K races are events that are a celebration of education in Belmont. Passing four of Belmont’s schools (Burbank, Chenery, Wellington, and the High School), the race funds the FBE’s Education Innovation Fund that works with residents and businesses to raise private funds that are used to enrich the education provided by the Belmont Public Schools. 

Race Day Schedule: Sunday, Oct. 3

  • 8 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.: 5K and 2k bib pickup & race day registration 
  • 9:30 a.m.: The Apple 5K 
  • 10:15 a.m.: 5K Awards Ceremony 
  • 10:45 a.m.: The Apple 2K
  • 11:15 a.m.: 2K Awards Ceremony 

The Course  
Starting and ending at the Belmont High School Harris Field track on Concord Avenue, the 5k course winds uphill for the first half of the race, passing the Burbank Elementary school and the Payson Park Reservoir. The course turns downhill just past the midway mark and then passes both the Chenery Middle School and Wellington Elementary. It finishes on the Belmont High School track. 

The 2K is a timed race suitable for runners of all ages and abilities. It follows a flat, loop course starting on the Belmont track and going over by Clay Pit Pond ending back at the track.

Awards & Post-Race Events  
An awards ceremony will follow the running of both the 5K and the 2K race. Awards will be given to the top three male and female finishers of the 5K and 2K races. 

Race T-Shirts  
T-Shirts will be available for both the 5K and 2K races. 

Parking  
The Belmont High School’s Harris Field is located on Concord Avenue, adjacent to Belmont High School. The track can be easily reached by car and public transportation and there is ample parking available for runners on the surrounding streets (Please obey parking signs). 

About the Foundation  
The Foundation for Belmont Education engages the community in supporting the excellence and enrichment of the Belmont Public School System. Through the generous support of private donors, the FBE ensures that all Belmont schools have the resources to inspire and prepare students for success. 

Since 1993, the FBE has awarded more than $2.8 million in grants to finance over 614 projects initiated and organized by principals, teachers, and staff. Resources are distributed through Learning Excellence Grants, which provide up to $1,000 for small projects and up to $5,000 for those benefiting a wider group of students. The Special Initiatives program funds large-scale projects that enhance the educational experience for the entire student body. The Foundation is also committed to supporting teachers and staff through ongoing Professional Development programs.

Belmont High Field Hockey Rains Over Wilmington In Opener, 3-2

Photo: Belmont High (from left) Sajni Sheth-Voss. Mia Mueller, goalie Julia Herlihy, Layne Doherty and Willa Samg defending a penalty corner.)

Despite the visit of a steady shower, Belmont High School Field Hockey’s opening night of the 2021 season would not be dampened as the Marauders prevailed over the Wilmington High Wildcats, 3-2, on the first game played on Harris Field this school year, Thursday, Sept. 9.

Molly Dacey scored the game winner midway through the fourth quarter off a penalty corner where senior co-captain Sajni Sheth-Voss passed to Layne Doherty who bounced the ball to Dacey who struck it mid-flight and by the Wildcat goalie.

Belmont’s grades 11s and 12s were playing as if was mid-season, pressuring the Wilmington midfield and defenders with their speed on the ball and combination passing.

“We definitely had possession of the ball more than [Wilmington], our passing looked good because they were really looking for each other,” said long-time head coach Jess Smith.

“They were fast out there,” said Smith. “I’m a big believer in fitness. I don’t sub that often when the team is on their game so I want them to have the energy to go for the entire game.”

Belmont was led by senior co-captain Ellie McLaughlin who, with Sheth-Voss, quarterbacked the team from the midfield while fellow senior Mia Mueller anchored the back line moving back from her usual forward position.

“I told [Mueller] that ‘after being a forward and in midfield, you see the field so well you can control the ball and bring it up to the front’,” said Smith, who compares her play with former Marauder Emma Donahue who is playing for Division 1 Merrimack College.

Mueller opened Belmont’s scoring account less than five minutes into the game with a cracker of a shot on a penalty corner. After seeing the game tied at 1 in the second quarter, Sheth-Voss gave the Marauders its second lead in the contest with what could be a contender for goal of the year as she intercepted a Wildcat clearing pass on the right side, sidestepped a pair of defenders and from along the goal line sprung a quick shot that somehow breached the goalie’s pad and into the net.

Belmont will take on Stoneham away on Monday, Sept. 13.

Public Access To HS Athletic Fields Restricted Beginning Sept. 21

Photo: Harris Field in Belmont

Beginning Monday, Sept. 21, access to the Belmont High School Athletic Complex located on Concord Avenue – which includes Harris Field, the track and the fields west of the “Skip” Viglirolo ice skating rink – will be limited to Belmont High School Fall athletic teams and school authorized personnel during Belmont High practices and games, according to Belmont Athletic Director Jim Davis.

In accordance with guidelines set by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, the general public is asked to refrain from any use of the athletic fields and track area of the complex when Belmont High School teams are practicing and hosting games.  

Practices are scheduled for:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Wednesdays: 12:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  

On Game Day Saturdays, the facility is scheduled for use from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. for both games and practices.

Report: Turf Bests Grass For High School Field; See Why At Public Meeting Wed., Aug. 21

Photo: A close up of the artificial turf at Harris Field.

A comprehensive “fact-based” report by a member of the Belmont Middle and High School Building Committee recommends the group move forward with the construct of a new artificial turf ground known as the “Rugby Field” adjacent to the Wenner Field House.

The study’s conclusions will be featured in a grass vs. artificial turf discussion at a public meeting being held by the Belmont Middle and High School Building Committee on Wednesday, Aug. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St.

Authored by Robert “Bob” McLaughlin, the report concludes that turf’s greater capacity to withstand year-round use and the field’s location in a shady corner of the new school necessitates building a turf ground instead of a grass field.

While a growing number of Belmont residents and parents of students are raised concerns that turf fields are connected to serious health and safety issues including alleged increase in cancer rates for certain athletes, McLaughlin reported that independent research overwhelming concludes there are no proven detrimental health effects from playing on artificial fields.

The field, to be built in 2021, will be used by the state champion boys’ and girls’ rugby programs, as a practice and playing site for sub-varsity sports and for three-seasons of physical education classes.

The natural grass playing surface at Grove Street which includes a line of clovers.

The Building Committee’s Chair Bill Lavello said McLaughlin, and School Committee Member Katie Bowen will speak on the issue before the public comments on the findings.

In his 35-page report, McLaughlin started by stating the obvious: Belmont doesn’t have enough playing fields to meet the demands of school teams and the town’s recreational programs with grounds crowded with school and club teams year-round. Currently each town field is used on average 482 hours in the spring and 290 in the fall above the advised limit of 250 hours each season to avoid stress and deterioration.

The town has pointed out in the past the expense of maintaining a healthy football/soccer-sized grass field at upwards to $100,000 annually as well as the loss of playing space as natural surfaces need to be “put to bed” for the following playing season (in the spring if games are played during the fall) to allow the grass and top soil to recover.

The school district’s Athletic Director Jim Davis noted to McLaughlin that turf fields can be used more often, require less maintenance and can be used by many sports without a loss of field consistency.

McLaughlin points to “many … studies” suggesting turf fields can be used “three times” more than natural grass without the wear and tear placed on a nature surfaces.

“The flexibility and increased usage available with artificial turf is vital to maintaining an acceptable athletic program for the now-expanded grades 7-12 enrollment on our limited school campus,” McLaughlin said.

But it is alleged health concerns to young adults and children that prompted the committee to request the study. The report was commissioned in June after a group of residents questions the safety of artificial grass playing ground at the school and in town.

McLaughlin acknowledge the worries from residents and people that turf fields are allegedly linked to cancer threats from the rubber infill – the small round pellets known as crumb made of ground tires – used in the majority of the 13,000 synthetic athletics fields across the US.

Yet McLaughlin could not find any evidence “in the plethora of studies” he researched that links the infill – which McLaughlin noted contains known carcinogens – to increased cancer rates among players who use the turf fields.

He added that just last month, the US Environmental Protection Agency issued a final report of a multi-agency study (dubbed the Federal Research Action Plan on Recycled Tire Crumb Used in Playing Fields and Playgrounds or FRAP) that concluded while chemicals are present in the crumb rubber, “human exposure appears to be limited on what is released in the air or simulated biological fluids.”

There are alternatives to rubber infill such as a cork and coconut mixture and quartz-based sand. Yet each has its own issues: the cork/coconut mix will “freeze” on the first fall frost and has a higher rate of abrasion injuries while field operators question whether commercial sand can stand up to a field under continuous use.

McLaughlin countered some of the health concerns by noting that physical activity during adolescence and early adulthood helping prevent cancer later in life and leading to a reduction in cardiovascular ailments.

While further studies assessing individual-level exposure is needed, [U]ntil then, however physical activity should be encouraged and promoted by year-round, weather resistant fields,” said McLaughlin.

Second, on the list of issues is elevated temperatures produced by a turf field, increasing temps 20 to 40 degrees F. Critics contend the super-hot grounds could prove a serious health condition especially for younger players.

Athletic Director Davis has informed town officials the “cushion” the turf lies on is coated white, which absorbs a great amount of the heat. Davis noted the overwhelming injury concerns at Harris Field are from possible concussions and ligament damage rather than heat. In addition, most high school practices occur after 3 p.m., once the hottest part of the day has passed.

Some residents who are opposed to artificial turf have expressed their goal of not just stopping the high school’s second turf field but also taking out the small field at the Wellington Elementary School and reverting Harris Field to natural grass when the current artificial turf is retired with the next decade.

Support for natural surfaces is growing around town. A few residents who attended a July public meeting on placing temporary lights at two town playing fields to support Belmont Youth Soccer said they would not allow their children to play high school sports due to the artificial turf surface.

Those health warnings associated with artificial turf prompted Connecticut legislators to sponsor a bill that would prohibit towns and school districts from installing new artificial fields. The measure remains in a legislative committee.

At a meeting last month, the Belmont Board of Health stated it may need to weight in on the matter.

It is not known if the Building Committee will vote after the discussion Wednesday on moving forward with a specific surface.

After Nearly Two Decades, Harris Field About To Be Media Savvy

Photo: The pre-hoisted press box at Harris Field in Belmont.

The red single-room structure on a trailer placed hard by the entrance of the Skip Viglirolo Skating Rink looks like one of the popular “tiny” houses that have become all the rage across the country.

But the corrugated steel box with a door and a row of sliding windows wasn’t built with homeowners in mind. Rather, its occupants will be coaches, announcers, and the visiting media during fall and spring sports.

After nearly two decades of waiting, Belmont High’s Harris Field will finally have a press box.

In the next few weeks, the prefab unit will be hoisted to the top of the stands – work has been completed cutting space for the structure to fit into place by contractor Elizabeth Contracting of Westwood – with a completion date of September, coinciding with the start of the football, soccer, and field hockey seasons.

The press box has had a long history, first proposed in 2001 as part of the first renovation of Harris Field. But issues with cost and the need for the structure to include an elevator to comply with the Americans with Disability Act standards place the plans on the back burner. 

Those issues again delayed the press box in 2013 when Harris Field underwent its second renovation. 

Finally, through the efforts of Bill Webster – a long-time member of the Belmont Permanent Building Advisory Committee who has championed the press box since 2001 – the town and community groups and businesses including the Belmont Savings Bank, the Brendan Grant Foundation, the Belmont Boosters and individual contributors came together to raise in 2016 the $240,000 to complete the job. 

Never Give Up: New Harris Field Press Box A Statement In Perseverance

Photo: Belmont will soon have a press box at Harris Field: (from left) Jim Williams, Bill Webster, Bob McLaughlin, Rick Jones, Mark Paolillo and Sami Baghdady.

At Monday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Dec. 12, Bob McLaughlin told the old chestnut of Winston Churchill speaking to graduates at a college commencement after WWII.

“He told them “Never, never, never, never, never, never, never give up,” said McLaughlin.

And when it came to getting a new press box at Belmont High’s Harris Field paid for, “Bill Webster is our Winston Churchill.”

Since 2001, Webster – a long time member of the Belmont Permanent Building Advisory Committee – has led the effort through some difficult times to where he and his team of volunteers gave a ceremonial “big” check of $75,000 to the Selectmen for the construction this spring of the long-sought-after amenity.

For a decade and a half, since 2001, a group of Belmont Boosters and interested residents attempted first to receive from the courts an exemption to the American with Disabilities Act – they never did – from building an expensive elevator to the top of the stands adjacent to the Skating Rink.

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Then there was the challenge of raising the $150,000 needed to build the mechanism. Last year, an attempt at securing Community Preservation Act funds was turned down.

“It’s been a long, long road,” said McLaughlin. “But this year, the stars aligned.”

The town via Town Administrator David Kale, the support of the Capital Budget Committee and other left over athletic field funds provided $75,000 which would be released if the volunteers could match that amount.

McLaughlin praised Rick Jones – who was already instrumental in renovating the White Field House and the High School fitness center – who led the fundraising campaign which was supported by Belmont Savings Bank, the Brendan Grant Foundation, the Boosters and “lots and lots of great people” who contributed.

“This generous gift will allow us to move forward with this structure,” said Selectmen Chair Mark Paolillo.

Sporting Moves: Belmont Savings Assists Press Box, Boosters ‘B’ Drives

Photo: What a new press box will look like in the fall of 2017.

In less than a week, Belmont’s most prominent business has scored big with the town’s high school athletic program.

On Monday, Nov. 7, the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation announced a $15,000 donation to complete the fundraising effort to build a new, state-of-the-art press box at Belmont High School’s Harris Field.

A week earlier, the foundation made a $7,500 matching donation that supported the annual fundraising effort of the Belmont Boosters, which this year yielded nearly $19,000.

“The Belmont Savings Bank Foundation’s matching gift is critical to the success of the Booster “B” Drive not only because of its significance in terms of sheer dollars, but also because it’s a major rallying point for the BHS parents and student-athletes who make it all happen,” said Booster’s President Larry Christofori.

Completing the Press Box

After nearly a decade during which the designated press area has been officially closed, it is now expected a rebuilt press box will be up and running by the opening of the 2017 fall and football season.

“We are more than happy to help make the press box for Belmont High School and its student athletes a reality.” said Hal Tovin, executive vice president and COO of Belmont Savings Bank and director of the Foundation.

“It will be a wonderful addition to Harris Field as well as the town of Belmont itself,” he said.

In 2002, Harris Field was rebuilt with an all-weather turf and track, seating and lighting. Initially, a press box was included in plans before funding fell short. Last year, a group of residents and Belmont High School athletic boosters created a Harris Field Building Committee with the goal of raising $240,000 to make the press box project a reality,

Belmont’s Town Meeting approved $165,000 for the project, leaving $75,000 to be raised by private sources. With the help of private organizations, individual donors, and groups that support Belmont sports teams, the town was able to raise much of those private funds with Belmont Savings put the program over the top with the last $15,000 donation.

With the addition of the press box, both the school and the community will procure multiple benefits as students will see improved game coaching and film capabilities for instruction between games and employees and volunteers who staff events at Harris Field will have a more comfortable experience.

Boosters find the funds

While the press box will be used by coaches and the media, the money raised each year by the parents run Belmont Boosters provides revenue for items unfunded by the Belmont High School Athletic Department budget through individual grant requests, the purchase of varsity letterman’s jackets and investing in capital equipment and facilities.

Previously the Boosters funded the renovation of the White Field House and the school’s Fitness Center and the laying of a new floor/court at the Wenner Field House.

In late October, the student-athletes were divided into teams and followed a route in Belmont to solicit contributions through door-to-door engagement with the community. In exchange for a donation of $20, supporters received a Belmont “B” which can be displayed in a window in support of the school athletic program.

“We are more than happy to match the efforts of our student-athletes, who work so hard alongside the Booster parent volunteers to ensure their programs are properly funded,” said Tovin.

The mission of the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation is to provide financial support to organizations in the communities served by Belmont Savings Bank, particularly those committed towards education, health and human services, youth programs, and affordable housing.

 

 

After Half Century Wait, Chenery Football Returns to Harris Field

They ranged from six-footers to those challenged to break five feet; ones who run like the wind and others who still have the looping strides of a kid in the playground.

But each member of the Chenery Middle School Football team who took Harris Field at Belmont High School were making history on Friday, Oct. 3.

It’s been five decades since the last Belmont middle school team ran onto the home field of the town’s football teams.

“I told the kids, if they choose to play in high school, they only play about 20 games on this field, their field, so they had to make the most of it,” said Chenery’s Head Coach James MacIsaac.

And how they performed. Before a vocal throng of family and fans, the Cheetahs tackled (sometimes), caught passes (sometimes) and ran (a lot) as a team against a polished and older Melrose squad.

“We have some terrific players and all the kids have worked very hard which caught me by surprise of the caliber of play in our league,” said MacIsaac, who is leading the resurgence of middle school football which has laid dormant since the 1960s.

The new middle school football team, for upper school students in 7th and 8th grade, has been on the field since the final week of August, learning fundamental skills and formations while adding their own inert football knowledge to their play.

“The progression of the team [since August] has been great. I can’t say enough of how quick the kids get everything the coaches give them. We don’t have problems with kids not showing up for practice. It’s been a great experience for all of us,” said MacIsaac.
The middle school program is part of the resurrection of a football culture in Belmont, which has been on the wane since Belmont High School won the unofficial state championship 50 years ago this fall.

With the town-wide sports boosters club on the rise and a new young head coach at the High School, “I hope we see a return of football that is a great sport. It offers a lot of kids who don’t play a lot of other sports the opportunity to be around other kids their own age and compete,” said MacIsaac, who has been an assistant coach at the High School.

As for the score? Belmont lost as time ran out as Melrose stopped the Cheetahs on the goal line.

I would have liked to win, but everyone had fun today and that’s what we strive to do with our program,” said MacIsaac.

Harris Field ‘On Schedule’ for Mid-August Return

Belmont High School Athletic Director Jim Davis’ list of things to do this summer has one item that is underlined with a series of stars next to it.

Harris Field Renovation!! ★

In the past two weeks since work began on Belmont High’s field and track adjacent to the Skip Viglirolo Skating Rink and the White Field House on Concord Avenue, Davis’ summer project is going to plan. An excavator has been parked on the barren field having removed the turf to the foundation as huge white bags of plastic pellets and sand are stationed next to the pitch.IMG_1407

“They are on scsedule,” Davis said of the work by Quirk Construction of Georgetown, Mass. which submitted the win bid of $815,300 in March. 

“They have removed all the old turf and trucked it away and now they are drilling the anchors for the fence,” said Davis, who meets each week with the school’s consultant, Activitas, on all aspects of replacing the original synthetic field installed in 2001.

“It’s being helped with all the good weather we’ve had so far,” said Davis, who is confident the turf field and track will be refurbished by Aug. 18, just before training for the fall sports season begins.

Next up for the crew is to clean the drainage around the field and placing a cushioning padding on which the artificial “grass” will rest, with the hope that serious tumbles on the surface will be softened and prevents injuries. In addition, the drainage around the track has been checked and cleaned.

The job in which the synthetic turf “carpet” will be replaced, fencing and walkways repaired and the track resurfaced and relined was authorized by the special Town Meeting in November 2013 for $960,000 with funding from an extension of bonding that purchased the uni-vents at the High School. 

The work so far succeeded in uncovering the electrical conduit on the field once thought lost, said Davis.

Belmont High’s Harris Field Closed Until August

Belmont High School’s Harris Field and its running track at the Concord Avenue Athletic Complex, a favorite destination in Belmont for youth teams, runners and for pickup games, are now officially “closed” for long-anticipated renovations beginning today, Monday, June 16, according to Judi Carmody, business manager of the Belmont Department of Public Works. 

The work is expected to last until Aug. 15, a week before the beginning of practice for the fall High School sports season. 

The $960,000 job, in which the synthetic turf “carpet” will be replaced, fencing and walkways repaired and the track resurfaced and relined, was authorized by the special Town Meeting in November 2013. The funding is coming from an extension of bonding that paid for the uni-vents at the High School. 

“We regret any inconvenience that these improvements may cause,” said Carmody. Residents who have any questions can call the DPW at 617-993-2680 or email at BelmontDPW@belmont-ma.gov