Belmont High Principal A Finalist To Lead Newburyport High

Photo: Dan Richards.

Belmont High School Principal Daniel Richards is one of two finalists to become principal of Newburyport High School, having interviewed with the school’s staff and parents this past Thursday, Jan. 25. 

The other finalist is Andrew Wulf, the administrator of teaching and learning in the Salem public schools.

The next principal of the 9-12 school with nearly 800 students will be selected by Newburyport Superintendent Susan Viccaro after reviewing the candidates’ backgrounds and taking input from staff, the search committee and residents. The final decision will be made in the next month who will replace Mike Parent, the current principal, who is retiring at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.

For nearly a decade and a half, Richards career has been centered at Belmont High, spending seven years from 2004 to 2011 as assistant principal for instruction before being named principal at Melrose High School in 2011. Richards made a surprising return to Belmont High in 2012 after then-principal Dr Michael Harvey left to become superintendent of the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District. He previously worked at Peabody High and Newton South High.

Richards was a National Finalist for Assistant Principal of the Year from the Nation Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and was the Massachusetts Assistant Principal of the Year.

Krafian Named ‘Outstanding Performer’ At State Invitational Track Meet

Photo: Belmont’s Anoush Krafian.

When Anoush Krafian runs or jumps, you can bet that most athletes are trying in vain to catch her. 

At the annual Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association Boys and Girls Invitational for Big Schools held Sunday, Jan. 28 at Boston’s Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, Krafian stole the show by winning one event and was knocking on the door for another, which earned the Belmont High senior the coveted “Outstanding Performer” of the meet award.

The multi-event talent won her speciality, the 60-meter hurdles, with a dominating performance winning in 8.45 seconds, nearly two-tenths of a second in front of senior Christina Speliakos of Milford High (8.71). 

Krafian wasn’t done on the afternoon as she had a go in the high jump placing second with a leap of 5 feet, 4 inches, defeating three competitors with the same height but she had fewer attempts. Only a monster jump of 5 feet, 8 inches by Zoe Dainton from Hingham High School beat her out for the win.

And just for good measure, Krafian took part in the long jump, coming in a respectable 9th with a leap of 16 feet, 11 and 1/2 inches and ran the third leg in the 4×200 meter relay which finished 13th. 

Krafian wasn’t the only Belmont athlete to reach the podium as sophomore Soleil Tseng took an outstanding third in the 600 meters in 1:38.55, the fastest time by a 9th or 10th grader in the event.

Belmont Republicans To Select State Convention Delegates Feb. 6

Photo: MassGOP logo.

On Tuesday, Feb. 6 (snow date Tuesday, Feb. 13) the Belmont Republican Town Committee will Caucus to select 18 delegates to the Massachusetts Republican Convention which will take place on Saturday, April 28 at the DCU Center in Worcester. 
At the convention Republican candidates for federal and state positions, will be selected. The list of candidates include:
  • United States Senator in Congress (Class I)
  • Governor of the Commonwealth
  • Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth
  • Treasurer and Receiver-General
  • Auditor of the Commonwealth
  • Attorney General
  • Secretary of the Commonwealth
The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. in the Belmont Art Gallery (third floor) in the Homer Building in the Town Hall complex. 
Any Republican who was registered by Dec. 31, 2017, is eligible for selection as a delegate. All Republicans are invited to come to this very important caucus. 

Belmont Girls’ Basketball Playoff Bound As It Heads Into Tough Away Games

Photo: Belmont freshman point guard “Kiki” Christofori driving vs. Watertown.

The Belmont High Girls’ Basketball team is playoff bound after defeating its arch rivals, Watertown High, 67-24, on Friday, Jan. 26 at the Wenner Field House.

Belmont (11-1) reached the 10-win postseason benchmark in its 11th game, the quickest the program has clinched a spot in the North Sectionals.

After a hard-fought, 69-49, victory over hosts Lexington in a rare Sunday afternoon matinee on Jan. 28, Belmont will play its toughest stretch this season as it meets a pair of one-loss teams in two critical away contests.

The Marauders meet 11-1 Wakefield on Tuesday, Jan. 30. The Warriors lost its first game of the season on Friday to Woburn by two points, 59-57. On Friday, Feb. 2, the Marauders travel to Woburn to take on the 9-1 Tanners, which Belmont came back from eight points down in the third quarter to defeat back on Jan. 2. 

“It’s a big week,” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart. “Playing really good teams will  help us prepare for the playoffs.”

In the three games previous, Hart’s team cruised by a two-loss Melrose, 57-43, as  junior guard Megan Tan led the Marauders with 12 points, 4 steals and 5 rebounds.

The warm-up to this week’s games was against teams which have been the true nemesis of the Marauders up until 2016. Watertown dumped Belmont from the playoffs in consecutive years, first in the semifinals (2015) and then the finals (2016) of the Division 2 North Sectionals. And over four years from 2013 to 2016, Belmont was 2-6 against a Lexington team with star guard Anna Kelly (who is currently enrolled at the University of Central Florida) who once scored 52 points against the Marauders.

But this year, Watertown is in a rebuilding period and Lexington can’t mesh together its good players for a complete game. Against the Raiders, a season-high 11 Marauders scored and 15 had time on the court as Belmont’s defense blanked Watertown in the third quarter. Freshmen Maiya Bergdorf led all scorers with 19 points while junior center Jess Giorgio scored her 10 points in the first six minutes of the game while pulling down 6 rebounds. Senior Ally Shapazian threw up a three and hit two from the charity stripe, juniors Breath Healey and Alex Keefe each drained threes while junior Audrey Christo knocked in a two. Watertown senior Callie McMahon’s 14 points accounted for more than half of her team’s total.

While Lexington came into the game at 3-8, its outside three-point shooting kept the game close. Down 21-13 in the second quarter, the Minutemen went on an 11-4 run before senior all-star guard Carly Christofori last-second driving bucket gave Belmont a 27-24 lead entering the second half.

In the third quarter, the Marauders relied on its veteran backcourt pairing of co-captain Christofori and junior Meghan Tan both on offense (both scoring 7 points in the frame with senior co-captains Greta Propp and Jenny Call contributing) and defense as Belmont held Lexington to 10 points to stretch its lead to 49-34 at the end of the eight minutes.

“That is a team who played better than their record,” said Hart of the Minutemen. “They scored on the shots we gave them in the first half. Can’t do that against better opponents.”

Shake Up: Major Changes For School Committee With Members On The Move

Photo: Lisa Fiore will be seeking a one-year term on the School Committee.

A resignation, a reduction in time and a decision to seek higher office could likely bring a whole new look to the Belmont School Committee this Spring. At least one full-three year seat is currently open and a partial term could become vacant after the results of the annual Town Election on April 4 are tallied. 

• A move to the west coast to pursue career opportunities resulted in Murat Bicer resigning his seat. 

“Yes, I will be resigning as a result of the move, and I’m planning to do that early next week to give candidates enough time to collect signatures,” Bicer told the Belmontonian, who has a year remaining in his term. 

• Current Committee Chair Lisa Fiore is giving up her full three-year seat to finish the one year position made available by Bicer’s departure. The college administrator who has led the committee for the past two years told the Belmontonian last week she was leaving the committee to spend more time with her children who attend Belmont High School and the Chenery Middle School. A day later Fiore said she “decided to seek the one-year term for School Committee, and pulled papers this morning.”

“After coming to terms with not running again, it is a nice opportunity to continue to serve the town AND focus on family,” she said. 

Susan Burgess-Cox, who is the committee’s secretary, has submitted her nomination papers to Town Clerk Ellen Cushman for certification. She will be seeking one of the two three-year terms up for grabs in April.

• As reported in the Belmontonian, Committee member Tom Caputo has pulled papers for a seat on the Board of Selectmen, to fill the seat currently occupied by Chairman Jim Williams. If he is successful, a joint committee of the Selectmen and the School Committee will select a replacement to fill Caputo’s remaining term which runs until April 2020. 

League Champs! Belmont Boys’ Swimming Takes Middlesex Season Title, First In Two Decades

Photo: The 2017-18 Belmont High Boys’ Swim team, Middlesex League champions.

“How about those Marauders!” shouted senior captain Will Findlay as his teammates cheered in response, as the team celebrated winning the Middlesex League regular season championship for the first time since 1998 after defeating the coop team of Watertown/Arlington high schools, 87-78, in the final dual meet of the season held in the Higginbottom Pool on Friday, Jan. 26.

The Marauders finished the season undefeated, 6-0, in the Middlesex League, losing only once in 2017-2018 by one point to Division 1 Needham to complete the year at 7-1.

“What a season,” said Findlay, one of the team’s five captains and its charismatic leader. “All the work that we put in for the past two years culminated in today. That’s a testament to our freshman class but also all the hard work by all my teammates and the coaching staff.”

For first-year Belmont Head Coach James Saidnawey, the trip to the regular season championship was more than met his expectations. “I knew we had a good team and when the freshmen stepped up early, I thought we could compete with anyone in the league.”

The 9th grader came through against Watertown/Arlington (which saw the coop team end its season a more than respectable 3-3) as three Belmont freshmen records fall by the wayside in a season where underclassmen produced better than expected results. Frosh standout Tor Metelmann is fast becoming Belmont High’s most versatile swimmer since Jessie Blake-West, setting a new 50-yard freestyle standard at 23,19 seconds and being a member of the two relays – 4×200 medley and 4×400 free. 

“Tor is just a star, and he’s going to continue to perform like that for us, not just this year but for years to come,” said Findlay.

Belmont dominated Friday’s meet, winning eight of the eleven events, with big performances by Luc Durand in his speciality the 100 fly (55.85), Sam Thompson in the 100 free (53.73) with Metelmann adding the 100 backstroke (in a swift 57.53) to his arsenal of talents.

For Findlay, his final race as a Marauder – anchoring in the 4×400 to victory – was special “since I have been swimming in this pool for years. It’s great, not just for the team and me, but it hopefully starts a winning tradition for the program.” 

The new championship banner that will go up in the Wenner Field House was in no less part won two days earlier on Wednesday, Jan. 24 when Belmont defeated league standout Lexington, as the meet came down to the final relay before the Marauders pulling out a 92-84 win.

“Let my heart get back to normal,” said Saidnawey when the score was announced to the standing room crowd at the Higginbottom. “[The meet] was won by our guys battling for [places] behind the winners that gave us the margin we needed at the end.”

Case in point: with the score tied at 50, Belmont went 1,2 and 5 in the 500 free with Damien Autissier winning with open water at 5 minutes 24 seconds followed by a gutsy swim by Jason Iler-Kenistan who stormed back in the final 200 to finish in 5:51.53, taking second by half a second while Norman Fu earned an essential point in fifth. 

“Jason is an absolute animal as a freshman, and he is going to be a great swimmer for years to come,” said Findlay. 

Belmont followed up the 500 by winning the 4×200 free relay as Metelmann, Rickey Ye, Findlay and anchor Thompson out-touched Lexington’s outstanding free swimmers by half a second (1:35.97 to 1:36.50). Despite a significant win by Durand in the 100 back, Lexington cut the deficit to six points, 76-70, leading into the penultimate race, the 100 breaststroke, which is longtime Belmont speciality (for both the girls and boys).

Metelmann continued his dominance in the race, going first in 1:04.76 followed by Bulat in 1:08.15 taking the second spot by nearly a second. And it was Ye who powered the final lap to grab fourth place in 1:10.44, outreaching Lexington’s swimmer by .13 seconds. The 12-4 point advantage gave the Marauders a 14 point lead entering the 4×400 free relay.

Only a sweep by the Minuteman of the three scoring places would result in the meet-ending up in a tie. But safe entries off the blocks saw Belmont’s #1 squad of Durand, Justin Dong, Michael Pizzuto and Autissier came home in second and secured the most prominent team victory in many years.  

This week, Belmont will attempt to add the Middlesex League Meet title to the regular season title before heading to the Division 2 North Sectionals and then a visit to the State Championships in mid-February.

New Belmont High School Debt Vote Set For Nov. 6 After Meeting OKs Design, 7-12 School

Photo: Belmont High School Building Committee Chair William Lovallo.

The future of a new Belmont High School will be decided on Tuesday, Nov. 6 when residents vote whether to authorize a debt exclusion for more than $200 million for a new high school, according to the head of the committee shepherding the project from concept to completion. 

“We are looking at the November general election, definitely,” said Belmont High School Building Committee Chair William Lovallo, who made the announcement after the Belmont High School project crossed a significant milestone when the Belmont School Committee unanimously approved the recommendation of School Superintendent John Plehan to house 7th through 12th grades in the new school.

The School Committee’s action took place before members of the Belmont High School Building Committee, the Board of Selectmen, the design and project management teams and 85 residents who crammed into the Wellington Elementary School’s cafeteria on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

With Belmont’s student enrollment continuing to skyrocket – it is expected to increase district-wide by 375 students between now and the 2024-2025 school year – Phelan said the only grade option that will allow the school district to meet its educational vision while being financially viable while adding space required to house the K-12 pupil population is to create a 7th to 12th grade high school.

The presentation, which included data Phelan has shown to the committee and the public for the past year highlighted the disadvantages the district would face by selecting another configuration. For instance, a 9-12 high school would require the town to finance and build a new elementary school and expensive renovations in an 8-12 school. 

“This is a really exciting time, it’s also a very anxious time to change your configuration,” said Phelan as the high school transforms from a 9-12 traditional model into essentially two sections: a lower high school for grades 7 to 9 and an upper school for 10-12. 

“But as long as we do a good job within our schools, the rest will take care of itself,” said Phelan. 

Immediately after the vote, the building committee selected the “bow tie” design scheme (known as C.4.2) from four approaches that survived a year-long process. See all of the designs here

While the building committee selected its “favorite” style, the design phase is at its beginning stage, according to representatives from the architectural firm commissioned to create the new school.

“We are not by any means done at this point. We will continue our work together,” said Brooke Trivas, principal and project lead at the firm Perkins+Will, a notion reiterated by Owner’s Project Manager Thomas Gatzunis.

With grade configuration and design in hand, the project – easily the largest construction project in Belmont’s 159-year history – will quickly gather steam in the creation of a schematic diagram as well as a clearer picture of how much it will cost. Last week, an initial rough estimate of the same design approved by the building committee came in at approximately $310 million.

According to Lovallo, the debt exclusion vote will be one of two watershed events the project will face this year. The second is the production of “a large document” known as the Project Funding Agreement. The PFA is the primary contract the MSBA enters into with districts whose school projects have been approved to receive reimbursement grants. 

The PFA also governs the relationship between the district and the MSBA during the school building process from design through construction and completion of the project and will determine how much the Massachusetts School Building Committee will reimburse the town in construction costs.

“Our work will be intense until July as we will produce the PFA for the MSBA and that will bind us with the state sometime in August,” said Lovallo, who said an independent group of residents would work gathering support for the debt exclusion.

Tuesday’s meeting was mainly a reiteration of the information and data gathered and formulated from a year of public meetings and other forums. Lovallo began the session with a detailed, step-by-step retelling of how the cost of the project was determined, the amount that will be reimbursed by the state, and how the project will impact residential taxes.

One week before, the committee announced the initial rough estimate for a new high school – mostly new construction with minor renovation – would cost approximately $310 million with Belmont residents picking up $231 million after the state’s reimbursement. 

Lovallo stressed was it was “not a wise choice” to make direct cost comparisons between Belmont and other high school projects as factors as diverse as enrollment, the sum of the renovations, removing hazardous material and abatement expenses and how much it would cost to phase the building onto the site while students are being taught there.

In addition, the project cost during the feasibility study stage is more an educated estimate than firm figures, calculated using a formula incorporating the building’s total square footage and not the actual cost of installed building’s mechanical systems (HVAC operations, for example) or the complexity of constructing science labs and other types of construction spaces.

With the new 7-12 school topping 422,700 sq.-ft., “[the high school] will have a large project cost,” said Lovallo. But a big price tag does not mean the building is riddled with extravagances. “I can say to those that question if we are building an opulent building, the answer is no.”

“The Building Committee continues to focus on cost-effective solutions to remain fiscally responsible and not just in capital costs but also in operating costs,” he said.

Lovallo said the “Belmont” cost for the building would be impacted by how much the Mass School Building Authority will provide for reimbursement. Currently, the state is looking to chip in 36.89 percent of “eligible” costs, a significant portion which is made up of a cap on construction costs of $326 per square foot, anything above that amount is Belmont’s to pay. There are opportunities for the reimbursement rate to increase with incentive points up for demonstrating, for instance, a high efficiency designed building, retaining a portion of the existing school and showing good capital maintenance practices.

Lovallo concluded saying the estimated $310 million cost is “within about 5 to 10 percent accuracy” of the final price tag so a 10 percent reduction in the cost of the new school would see the last price tag fall to approximately $280 million with Belmont’s bill knocked down to the low $200 million. 

“I am optimistic that … we will find ways to reduce the project cost from the numbers we have been discussing,” he said.

Girl Scouts Score Cookie Sales With Board Of Selectmen

Photo: Before the board’s three-hour meeting Monday, (in front, from left) Natalie Berman, Reilly Lubien, Ava Eckman, Lucia Campisano, Nina Sheth-Voss; (in back, from left) Adam Dash; Mark PaolilloCraig Spinale, Belmont Light’s acting General Manager, and Jim Williams.

In the bleakness of winter, when days are short and the weather intemperate, there is a sliver of universal joy that breaks through the gloom: it’s Girl Scout Cookies time.

Everyone has at least one favorite of the eleven cookie recipes – including S’mores, Shortbread/Trefoils, Lemonades and Thin Mints – being sold this year. The annual cookies sale provides funds for local experiences such as trips, stays at Scout camps and creating community service projects. It’s also the largest entrepreneurial program for girls in the world.

On Monday, Jan. 23, local Girl Scouts set up a table outside the Belmont Board of Selectmen’s Room before the board’s weekly meeting. Besides have a nice-sized crowd, the girls – Natalie Berman, Reilly Lubien, Ava Eckman, Lucia Campisano, Nina Sheth-Voss – discovered that Selectmen Chair Jim Williams is somewhat of a cookie connoisseur, buying his own supply as he urged his fellow selectmen (Adam Dash and Mark Paolillo) to dig deep and buy a box or two. 

This Saturday, Jan. 27, Scouts will be selling cookies out in front of the Trapelo Road Star Market in Waverley Square while others over the next few weeks will be at the Belmont Post Office on Concord Avenue and at special events around town. You can also find where sales are taking place by going to the website:

Belmont Democrats to Elect Delegates to State Convention on Feb. 11

Photo: Democratic Convention, old school.
The Belmont Democratic Town Committee will hold a party caucus at Town Hall to elect 18 delegates and 4 alternates for the 2018 Massachusetts Democratic Convention. Those wishing to vote in the caucus must be in line by 1:30 p.m. The caucus begins at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 11.

This year’s state convention will be held on June 1 and 2, at the DCU Center in Worcester, where thousands of Democrats from across the Commonwealth will come together to endorse Democratic candidates for statewide office, including Constitutional Officers and gubernatorial candidates.

The Caucus is open to all registered and pre-registered Democrats in Belmont, and the Democratic Committee welcomes all eligible participants. Any person who is not 18 years of age at the time of the caucus but will be 18 by the 2018 Primary date on Sept. 11 may pre-register to vote with their City or Town Clerk. Delegates will be divided equally between men and women, and all ballots will be written and secret.

In the spirit of inclusion, youth, minorities, and people with disabilities who are not elected as delegates or alternates may apply to be add-on delegates, either at their caucus or online at
The Belmont Democratic Town Committee typically meets on the first Thursday of the month in Town Hall. For more information on the caucus or the committee please contact the Secretary, Mary Bradley, at or check us out on Facebook.

Online Registration Coming for Incoming Kindergartners; 1-12 Students New to Belmont

Photo: Belmont Public Schools.

The Belmont Public Schools is holding Online Registration beginning on Feb. 8 for the Fall of 2018 for incoming Kindergarten students and Grades 1-12 Families New to Belmont.

After completing this step, parents will be notified via email of the next step in the registration process.

To enter Kindergarten, the child must be five years old on or before Sept. 1 of the year they will attend school. To enter Grade 1, the child must be six years old on or before Sept. 1 of the year they will attend school.

Proof of residency is required.

Kindergarten Parent Information Night for School Year 2018-2019

A general information program for parents of incoming kindergarten students is scheduled as follows. Please go to your district school open house, as the curriculum covered is applicable to all elementary schools.

Please note: Kindergarten Parent Information Night is for Adults Only.

  • Burbank: Thursday, March 29 at 6 p.m.
  • Butler: Thursday, March 22 at 6 p.m.
  • Wellington: Thursday, March 22 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Winn Brook: Thursday, March 29 at 6:00 p.m.