Obituary: Trevor O’Rourke, 25, Determined To Belong In This World

Photo: Trevor Jamil O’Rourke

Services will be held this weekend for Belmont resident Trevor Jamil O’Rourke who died on Friday, Dec. 7, 2019. O’Rourke, who battled polysubstance abuse for many years, was 25.

Visiting hours will take place in the Brown & Hickey Funeral Home, 36 Trapelo Rd., Belmont on Friday, Dec. 13 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

A celebration of Trevor will be held at Story Chapel in Mt. Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mt Auburn St., Cambridge on Saturday Dec. 14, 2019 at 1 p.m. Relatives and friends invited.

Trevor attended Belmont Public Schools, Landmark High School, and graduated from Clearway High School. He continued his studies at Westfield State University. 

Born five weeks premature on April 7, 1994, in Boston at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, O’Rourke “came into this world fighting and despite his difficult entry, he was determined to belong in this world,” read a statement from his family.

“Over the past 25 years, Trevor and his family left no stone unturned to find the best fit to meet his educational and emotional needs. Throughout his young life he worked hard in therapy and utilized many special education programs to build the skills needed to overcome his disabilities, and emotional hardships which too often included a sense that he didn’t belong in this world. Despite all his struggles and ups and downs, he had many successes and many moments where he felt he did belong.”

“So many people could see his passion, commitment and perseverance particularly when he took on a new challenge such as the way he spent hours perfecting the treflip skateboard trick, or the vigor and energy he put into his newly found hobby of rock-climbing. These were activities that helped keep his mind focused, his body healthy, and deadly substances at bay.”

“Trevor is not defined by the illness of addiction that took his young life but rather by the strength, fortitude, and courage he put forth to overcome his disabilities and mental health struggles,” said his family.

O’Rourke is survived by his parents James and Laura, sister Dana, brother Brady, soulmate and partner Keri Beucler, maternal grandparents Walid and Carol Pharaon, aunts and uncles Madeline, Jackie, Jane, Edward, Basem and many cousins.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Trevor can be made to Learn to Cope, a support network for families coping with addiction: 4 Court St. Ste 110 Taunton, MA 02780 or Foundation for Belmont Education, PO Box 518, Belmont, MA 02478 or

Dust Off That Dream Gown For Belmont High’s ‘Prom Dress Drive’ On Saturday

Photo: The poster of the Prom Dress Drive being held this Saturday, Dec. 14 at Belmont High.

For most prom dresses, it’s a one and done deal. After than special night with your friends, that dream dress is likely to languish in the back of a closet until a younger sibling wants to play dress up.

But you now have an opportunity to take out that dress one more time to allow someone to have their own “special” day as the Belmont High Leadership Team in partnership with Dresses to Dreams Foundation is holding a “Prom Dress Drive” on Saturday, Dec. 14 at Belmont High School Parking Lot from 9 a.m. to noon.

New or gently used prom and dresses will be donated to girls who can use a helping hand to make their prom experience a great one, according to Manisha Tirunagaru and Sara Manganelli from the Student Leadership Team.

“My mom and I thought of the drive idea around prom-day last year,”said Manganelli. “We feel as if prom is a right of passage for a high school girl, and the idea that someone may not be able to participate because of the inability to afford a dress unsettles me.”

“I thought we could hold a prom dress drive at [Belmont High] because almost everybody attends prom here, and a lot of us are very lucky to have gorgeous dresses to contribute to the cause,” she said.

The donated items will be given to Dresses to Dreams, an organization that gathers new and lightly used prom dresses specifically. In February, it holds an event for girls around New England to come and pick out a beautiful dress, said Manganelli.

If you can’t drop off your dress on Saturday, email Manganelli at and she will pick up your donation.

Winn Brook’s Carey Stepping Down As Principal, Search For Next Leader Underway

Photo: Winn Brook Principal Janet Carey

Janet Carey, Belmont’s longest tenured principal, has announced that she is stepping down from leading the educators at the Winn Brook Elementary School at the end of the 2020 school year.

“Filled with mixed emotions, I am writing to let you know that this will be my final year as principal of the Winn Brook School,” Carey wrote in a letter to parents and students.

“Almost eighteen years ago, I came to Belmont as a novice principal. I have cherished my time here and have grown as a result of it. The journey has been challenging yet fulfilling, exhilarating yet exhausting, and constantly changing while unwavering guided by our core values. If I can credit myself with anything, it is hiring well and keeping children central to all decision making,” she said.

While it may seem early to make this announcement, Carey said principal searches typically start in January.

“As I said to [Belmont] Superintendent [John] Phelan, my priority is to give you time to find the right person to lead your school community, the privilege that I’ve so enjoyed.”

Speaking after Tuesday night’s School Committee meeting, Dec. 10, Phelan said Carey put off her retirement for a year as the district welcomed three new principals in the ’19-’20 school year.

“She’s truly a dedicated educator who was really excited to stay one more year with us.” said Phelan.

Search For Next Principal Now Underway

The district posted the Winn Brook job this past Friday, Dec. 6, as Phelan has reached out to the PTO and the Belmont Education Association asking for volunteers to serve on a search committee made up of two parents, two teachers and several administrators.

Phelan hopes to begin the process in mid-January then “whittle the applicants” from about 20 who make the first cut to four or five who will meet with parents, students, educators and administrators. That group will be cut to two finalists who will be interviewed twice by Phelan and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Janice Darias who will then make an offer to the one they feel will be the best fit for the position.

Phelan said he’d like to hire internal candidates “because we know who they are and their character, their work ethic and we have them as part of our family. In turn, they know our culture and all that adds a value to hiring for leadership positions.”

But unlike the recent search for the next Belmont Police Chief which focused on in-house applicants, “we are not just looking internally or just externally,” said Phelan, who was on the chief’s screening committee.

“We let the process take itself through and find out who the best candidate is and move from there,” he noted, pointing to Chenery Middle School Principal Mike McAllister as an internal applicant who beat out a large pool of outside contenders and Heidi Paisner-Roffman, the Wellington’s new principal who was an external candidate from Wayland who “knocked our socks off.”

“If you’re an internal candidate, you might have a slight edge but you’ve got to prove yourself,” said Phelan.

Select Board Pegs McIsaac To Be Next Belmont Police Chief (VIDEO)

Photo: Belmont Assistant Police Chief James MacIsaac

Assistant Police Chief James MacIsaac could soon be leading his hometown police department as the Belmont Select Board unanimously selected the life long resident to succeed Richard McLaughlin as Belmont’s next police chief.

“I hope to continue to serve the Town of Belmont [in] the capacity of Police Chief,” MacIsaac told the board after an hour-long presentation during a public meeting at Town Hall on Monday, Dec. 9.

MacIsaac and Belmont Lt. Chris Donahue – who addressed the board and a handful of residents on Monday – were the finalists from an original group of five selected by the Police Chief Screening Committee chaired by former Selectman Mark Paolillo.

While saying that the town “seems to have an embarrassment of riches” with two outstanding candidates for the job, Select Board’s Adam Dash believed “while Chris Donahue sounded like a great cop, I think James MacIsaac sounds like a great leader.”

MacIsaac will take command of the 108 member (with 49 sworn officers) department – pending contract negotiations with the town – from McLaughlin who is retiring on Dec. 31.

Once a contract is squared away, MacIsaac will be Belmont’s 12th full-time chief since David Chenery, Jr. was named Superintendent of Highways and Police Chief in 1877, according to the late town historian, Richard Betts.

In their presentations, Donahue and MacIsaac agreed on the need for additional support on traffic – 42 percent of all calls to Belmont Police involve traffic related incidents – assisting the elderly and strong school/police relations. Each pointed to strategies to protect victims of domestic violence which make up 90 percent of the assault and battery calls to police.

Belmont Police Lt. Chris Donahue.

They also agreed that civil service, which provides preference to residents in entry-level officer positions, has hurt Belmont’s ability to attract an increased diverse pool of candidates.

In his presentation, MacIsaac said that “attempting to maintain the status quo within the department is not an option.” He noted that his philosophy is that all organizations are “always growing even if you’ve reached that top pinnacle.”

“So we are going to build on success that Chief McLaughlin has created,” said MacIsaac.

Among the first acts under MacIsaac’s watch will be filling the vacancies of assistant chief and captain, create strong lines of communication with an emphasis on collaborative partnership between Command staff and officers as well as be cognitive of the fiscal limitations placed on the police budget.

McIsaac will also commit to a six month evaluation of 21 specific areas of policing including staff levels, whether there is too many supervisory positions, reviewing the IT function including the possibility of adding a software specialist to the force and if the department should continue a K-9 unit.

“You need to be willing to try new things. As long as it doesn’t endanger somebody or endangers civilians or cost a lot of money, I’m willing to try just about anything … to improve the organization,” he said.

The Select Board were more supportive of MacIsaac’s approach and specifics to issues. While there were many similarities to the finalists approach to the job, “the principle difference is the fact that MacIsaac’s has been assistant chief for some time and I think he is more attune to the issues on the management side of things,” said Roy Epstein.

And Board Chair Tom Caputo said while the town would benefit with either candidate in the job, “I was engaged and excited to see the depth in which he seems to understands the issues … and the manner in which he was able to provide specific examples to almost take it to a strategic level.”

“While we have two very good candidates, the nod for me is to Jamie,” said Caputo.

Belmont Football Wins Thanksgiving Tussle Over Watertown, 24-14, As Team Fulfills Pre-Season Goals

Photo: Belmont Head Coach Yann Kumin with his players after defeating Watertown on Thanksgiving.

There were four goals Belmont High Head Football Coach Yann Kumin sought to accomplish by the end of the 2019 season; three concerning the team and a very personal one.

The objectives on the field were to have the program’s first winning season since 2009, make the Division 3 North sectionals playoffs for consecutive years and beat neighboring rivals Watertown on “Turkey Day.”

And when Belmont senior QB Avery Arno took a knee with the team in the victory formation, Kumin’s team met all the preseason challenges presented to it in the heat of late August. A 6-4 season, a playoff game at Danvers and a 24-14 victory on a cold windswept Victory Field over hosts Watertown.

“This is the perfect ending of a perfect year,” Kumin told his team minutes after the conclusion of the game. “I love you guys. I’m so proud of what this team accomplished because it wasn’t an easy game to play.

But it was the unspoken goal that was the greatest accomplishment for the sixth-year coach; being diagnosed cancer-free after a summer of surgery and chemotherapy at Mass General Hospital. A lot lighter and with a lot less hair than his usual appearance, the end of the season was just the beginning of Kumin’s long recovery.

“I got so many emotions right now that I don’t really know how to feel as this is the hardest year of my life,” said Kumin after the game.

“I’m so lucky to have so many people making it possible for me to fight through it and give me something to come to work for every day and believing in us and believing in what we’re doing. You know, it’s really hard to put into words,” said Kumin as he held the game ball given to him by Belmont AD Jim Davis.

Belmont finished the season winning six of its final seven games, and had a 3-2 winning record against Middlesex Liberty opponents, a first for the program. The victory is the second in as many years for the Marauders which trails Watertown. 45-49-4 with one cancellation, in the 99 years of the rivalry.

Watertown came to the game with a simple defensive scheme: stop Belmont’s offensive juggernaut junior RB Chad Francis, who had scampered for more than 200 yards four times this season.

The Raiders’ commitment to putting eight players “in the box” to clog up the line of scrimmage put a damper on Francis’ ability for most of the game to find holes to run through. Consequently, the Raiders’ decision to focus on Francis allowed Belmont’s receivers to be covered “man-to-man” downfield which ultimately proved to be the difference at the end of the game.

“We just couldn’t really get … our run game going and that’s been our money all season,” said Kumin. “We’ve had a good [passing] game all season long and so we just went over the top. We saw some mismatches and kept going to it when we were in trouble and it worked out.”

It was all Watertown to start, throwing the playbook at Belmont with sweeps, dives into the line, short passes and finally a 35-yard pitch and catch TD from Watertown QB Brennan Cook to WR Will Dolan to give the Raiders’ a 7-0 lead with 3:35 left in the first quarter.

But Belmont’s defense settled down and had three consecutive series in which the Marauders stuffed Watertown’s attack including a stellar goal line stance after the Raiders’ had a first and goal from the 4-yard line.

Belmont finally got on the scoreboard when Arno hit junior WR Preston Jackson-Stephens with a 47-yard touchdown with 2:25 left in the first half to tie the game. The score came after the Raiders had a chance to extend their lead, but a first and goal from the four resulted in a missed field goal.

Belmont was able to uncork its running game early in the third quarter as it marched downfield behind Francis and senior FB Ryan Santoro. With a third and goal from the five, Arno located senior WR Zack Hubbard on a quick slant route – which the two used to win the Arlington game – to give Belmont the lead, 14-7, at the 6:06 mark.

Taking advantage of a three and out and a shanked punt that went 5 yards, Belmont‘s outstanding kicker Hampton Trout knocked through a 30-yard field goal into a stiff crosswind to extended the Marauders’ lead to 17-7 with 1:30 remaining in the third.

Watertown found its footing in the fourth quarter as the Raiders’ scored on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Cook to RB Karim Monroe with 8:26 left in the game to close the gap to three, 17-14. On its next possession, Watertown found it deep in the Marauders’ end with a first and 10 at the Belmont 29. But a penalty on first down, a flea-flicker pass that nearly worked on second down and a sack on third resulted in Watertown punting the ball to Belmont’s 13-yard line with 2:55 left in the game.

After failing the move the ball on the first two plays, Belmont faced a third down and 10 from the 13 when Kumin would say later was the best play call in his coaching life.

“It’s [called] the scissors with the ‘s’ vertical. This is one of our moneymaker combos but we added a little wrinkle that allowed the seam [the gap between two defenders] to open up,” he said.

And the call worked to perfection as Arno found junior WR Matt McHugh beyond the safety and cornerback for an 87-yard touchdown with 1:50 remaining. It was Arno’s second 87 yard TD pass in consecutive games.

For Kumin, the win was less a statement of what the Marauders had done this season but rather as a foundation for the program’s future.

“This is only the beginning. We’ve always said we completed phase one with last year’s class, and that this was the start of phase two which was to make runs in the Middlesex League and the D3 North bracket to win consistently on Turkey Day,” he said.

“We’re going to enjoy the heck out of it and then we’re going to get back to work and start getting ready for next year because you know we’re just really excited for where this program can go,” said Kumin.

BREAKING: Parking Ban In Belmont Tuesday; Trash Pickup Delayed One Day

Photo: If your vehicle is on the street Tuesday, it’s getting towed.

Belmont has issued a snow emergency for Tuesday, Dec. 3 due to a storm impacting the town beginning

The Belmont Police has issued a town-wide parking ban effective at midnight, Tuesday, Dec. 3 and will run until further notice. The ban includes all roadways and municipal and Belmont Public School parking lots.

Any vehicle parked in violation of the ban will be towed at the owner’s expense.

The Department of Public Work has announced that trash, recycling, and yard waste pickup have been delayed one day due to the inclement weather

Pep Pie In The Face: How Belmont High Prepped For Turkey Day Match

Photo: SPLAT!

Who doesn’t like a pie in the face? It’s been a staple of films, surprise parties and as of Wednesday, Belmont High School’s Pep Rally.

Due to some dubious voting, it was determined the senior class leaders would be the recipient of a cream pie. And to the delight of a field house filled with the four classes (about 1,500 kids), the end result was as messy as everyone had hoped.

Wednesday’s rally was held for the school to show its support for the next day’s annual rivalry football game against Watertown with a list of “fun” events: musical chairs, spinning bat relay, cheer team, an educator’s dance squad, the school’s Step Club and the marching band performing from its half time show.

And it all worked as Belmont defeated Watertown 24-14 on Thanksgiving.

First Winter Storm Brings Snow, Rain Through Tuesday; Schools Still Open Monday

Photo: A snowy return from the Thanksgiving break.

Monday and Tuesday’s morning commutes will be trying for commuters and students as Belmont prepares for the first winter storm of the season which begins late Sunday evening, Dec. 1.

Belmont is under a Winter Storm Warning which will last until 7 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3. Belmont currently lies on the line of 6 to 8 inches and 8 to 12 inches of snow according to the latest map from the National Weather Service Boston.

As of 6 p.m. Sunday, Belmont schools will open on Monday.

In a 4 p.m. Sunday update from the NWS, heavy accumulating snow will come in two parts:

  • First part beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday through just after midnight Monday, Dec. 2, with the heaviest snow north of the Mass Pike;
  • The second part will begin Monday night into Tuesday morning, with greater snowfall in eastern Massachusetts.

A mix of freezing rain and sleet along with light snow will fall during the day Monday.