School Committee Chair Responds To Rash Of Hate Incidents At Belmont Schools

Photo: Racial, homophobic and anti-Semitic incidents have occurred in Belmont schools in the past three years.

In October, there were multiple reports of racist, homophobic, and antisemitic hate speech scrawled on the walls of Chenery Middle School and racist slurs posted in the library of Belmont High School. These incidents, and the beliefs that they reflect, are not new to Belmont or any other community, and cannot be interpreted as another troubling outcome of the pandemic. 

I write as an individual School Committee member, Town Meeting member, and parent to condemn these acts. Every time a slur is written or spoken, there are people who feel less welcome in Belmont. We should all be concerned about the impact of recent incidents and what could happen next. I also worry about how to ensure that responses not only help heal and bring us closer together, but also help prevent future incidents.

I urge everyone – especially those with systemic privilege and power – to not stay silent, to denounce injustice when it happens, and to contribute to actions to improve our systems.

Amy Checkoway, Belmont School Committee

I witness the hard work that our leaders, educators, and staff are doing to foster safe and supportive environments for all students. More detailed protocols are being developed to ensure immediate and effective responses. The district is working to add layers of preventative measures to try to stop incidents before they happen.

Achieving a more inclusive and equitable school communitywill not happen overnight. As leaders, we must identify where the system is falling short. One current focus is the external equity audit of the Belmont Public Schools. The audit is identifying issues and challenges that the district – and our students and families – face with the goal of supporting each student to reach his/her/their potential. With the audit findings in hand by early 2022, the district will develop a strategic actionplan that includes concrete steps forward by the spring.

I urge everyone – especially those with systemic privilege and power – to not stay silent, to denounce injustice when it happens, and to contribute to actions to improve our systems. We must be clear that racist, homophobic, and antisemitic actsare unacceptable, that those who threaten others will face consequences for their actions, and that it is our collective responsibility to speak up for one another. We especially owe this to our children, who are watching, listening, and counting on us. I should have made this public statement sooner.

Amy Checkoway

Pequossette Road

Santa’s Coming For Belmont’s Tree Lighting, Thursday, Dec. 2

Photo: Yup, Santa and Mrs. Claus will make their return to Belmont

After being cancelled in 2020, Belmont’s traditional start of the holiday season returns to Belmont Center as Santa and Mrs. Claus will lead the annual tree lighting ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 2 starting at 5:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The event, which will include closing Leonard Street to allow for caroling, food and merchants stalls, and the arrival of the Claus’ on top of a Belmont Fire engine, is sponsored by the Belmont Center Business Association.

Thank You, Power Ranking: Three Belmont Teams Make Their State Tourneys Under New System

Photo: Belmont High Girls’ Volleyball starts tourney play on Nov. 4

Jen Couture, Belmont High Volleyball head coach, was joking – a bit – when discussing her team as it wrapped up the 2021 fall season last week.

“Best 7-11 team ever, huh?” she said.

In fact, Belmont IS the best 7-11 volleyball team, at least, in the context that the Marauders will be taking its below .500 record into the MIAA Division 1 state tournament. Just two years ago, a similar “losing” season would have seen the team packing their uniforms early. But in 2021, Volleyball is joining Field Hockey (6-10-0) and Boys’ Soccer (6-9-3) into the playoff brackets with a more defeats than victories to their names.

What gives?

The reason a trio of Belmont squads have a chance make some post season noise is the new process instituted this year by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. For the first time, teams are not judged by their win/loss records but ranked under a formula that considers how strong each opponents’ schedule is and the team’s average margin of victory. Under this system, playing well against top ranked teams is rewarded even if your team suffers losses during the season while defeating weak squads by a small margin could see you tumble in the rankings.

The Division 1 tournament for Belmont’s fall teams starts on Thursday, Nov. 4 with Volleyball at 10th seed Lincoln-Sudbury Regional (14-6) at 4:30 p.m. and then the 28th ranked Boys Soccer (6-9-3) hosting Peabody (8-8-1) at 7 p.m. Field Hockey (30th ranked at 6-10) ventures up Route 2 to meet its traditional pre-season opponent third-seed Concord-Carlisle (16-1-1) on Friday, Nov. 5 at 5 p.m.

The overall ranking decides if a team is one of the 32 teams that make the playoffs and their seeding in the tournament. A team’s win/loss record only comes into the mix if a squad is outside the top 32 but has a winning – above .500 – record. And then they are required to meet one of the lowest seeds, starting with the 32nd ranked team in a play-in match.

If the MIAA had followed the playoff criteria from previous years based on a team’s victories and defeats, every Belmont’s fall team – boys’ golf and girls’ swimming state championships are determined at single event meets and matches – would have failed to make the tournament.

Belmont’s teams benefited from being in a very competitive conference, the Middlesex League, with a number of strong teams. For example, Field Hockey faced three of the top 12 teams in the state twice during the season. Because the three top teams have very high ratings, just playing them is important in making the tournament. In their second games against Winchester and Arlington, Belmont kept the margin of victory of their opponents to less than the three – which is the maximum amount the ranking will count for or against a team – which prevented the Marauders from slipping out of the tournament as they placed 30th.

For volleyball, the new system doesn’t punish the team ending the season on one of the most brutal seven match losing streaks in team history, five of those losses going the distance, 3 sets to 2. But due to the tough schedule it faced, Belmont is ranked 23rd, one place higher than Natick High (10-4), three better than Wellesley (11-6) and five notches greater than Bridgewater-Raynham which finished the year at 12-5.

Boys soccer also found itself on the wrong end of an early season seven game bad beat, which in previous seasons would have been fatal to its chances making the playoffs. But a win against Winchester and two memorable ties vs top-ranked Melrose and Arlington saw the Marauders slide in seeded 28th with a play in game to come.

Yet losing to underrated teams or playing a slew of weak squads has dashed the fortunes of Girls Soccer (5-6-5) and Belmont High Football. Belmont’s Hall of Fame Girls Soccer Head Coach Paul Graham lamented his team’s losses to “small schools” Wakefield and Stoneham – those in the Middlesex League Freedom division – which the Marauders would traditionally skim by. A 1-1 tie against three-win Watertown, which hadn’t scored a goal against Belmont in 30 years, and a 5-0 home defeat against Arlington in the season finale was just enough to place the Marauders 34th in Division 1, the first team that missed the tournament as the 33rd placed squad had a better than .500 record and is in a play-in game.

While the football team (4-4) has had a great start to the season, the four wins came against opponents with a combined record of 3-28, which put the Marauders behind the eight ball early. And while Belmont finished the regular season with a one-point loss to 6-1 Woburn, they lost big to middle-of-the-road Wakefield (4-3) and Arlington (3-4) which saw them fall to 25th where the first 16 in Division 2 made the post season.

Belmont To Commemorate Veterans Day With Breakfast, Clay Pit Pond Events

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Belmont will be honoring all veterans of the US armed services at three events commemorating Veterans Day.

Wednesday Nov. 10

Belmont’s 7th annual Veterans Breakfast at 10 a.m. at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St., sponsored by East Cambridge Savings Bank. Free to all Veterans.

As a thank you to our local Veterans, the Belmont Council on Aging hosts its seventh annual Veterans’ Breakfast, free for Veterans, spouses, and families. Enjoy a hot breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, and hash browns provided by our friend from the Diner at 11 North Beacon in Watertown. Belmont Hill School’s B-Flats will provide us with entertainment. A special thank you to East Cambridge Savings for once again sponsoring this special event. Please call 617-993-2976 to register.

Thursday, Nov. 11

At 10 a.m., there will be a short Veterans Dedication Ceremony held at the Open Door Baptist Church on Pleasant Street with Pastor Bob Butler presenting.

At noon, a Veteran’s Day gathering will take place at the Belmont Veteran’s Memorial at Clay Pit Pond. Bob Upton, Belmont’s Veterans Agent, will make some brief remarks. There is no Belmont schools Veterans Day Program this year and the VFW does not have an event scheduled.

Updated Design Presentation Of Community Path Set For Thursday, Nov. 4

Photo: The location of the design presentation of the Belmont Community Path

The Belmont Community Path Project Committee invites residents and the public to join the Town of Belmont’s design consultant Nitsch Engineering for a public presentation (via Zoom webinar) of the 25 percent design plans for the Phase 1 of the Belmont Community Path on Thursday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m

Phase 1 of the Community Path will extend from the end of the existing Fitchburg Cutoff Path at Brighton Street on the Cambridge line through Belmont Center Station and to the existing Clark Street Pedestrian Bridge at Pleasant Street, and will include a spur at Alexander Avenue connecting the Winn Brook neighborhood to the Belmont High School and Middle School and Concord Avenue via a tunnel under the MBTA Fitchburg Line. 

Phase 1 of the Belmont Community Path has been determined by the state to be eligible for Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) funding for construction and the submission of the 25 percent design plans to MassDOT (which occurred on Nov. 3) is an important milestone towards securing TIP funding and generally moving the project toward completion. 

During the presentation, the design consultant will walk through the 25 percent design plans, discuss updates to the plans since the draft set of plans were presented in July 2020, discuss next steps for the project (including further opportunities for public input), and answer questions and take comments and feedback on the plans. 

The 25 percent design plans are posted for review at https://belmontcommunitypath.com/2021/11/25-submission-public-information-meeting/. For those who wish to watch the presentation again or for the first time, the event will be recorded by the Belmont Media Center.

Final Belmont Farmers Market Of Season Thursday

Photo: See you next June!

After a summer and fall of Thursdays, the Belmont Farmers Market has reached the last week of the season, Thursday, Oct. 28. The market will be open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

For the final time in 2021, the popular market will be filled with vendors, music, activities, story telling and community information. And fill out a comment card and a survey to let us know what you think about the market.

The market is located at the Town Center parking lot, 10 Claflin St.

This week’s vendors include:

PRODUCE

  • C&M Farm
  • Dick’s Market Garden
  • Giant Gorilla microgreens
  • Hutchins Farm
  • Nicewicz Family Farm
  • Joyberry Farm mushrooms

MEAT, DAIRY & FISH

  • Hooked (Red’s Best Seafood + Boston Smoked Fish)
  • Lilac Hedge Farm
  • Round Table Farm cheese

BREAD, PASTRY & SWEETS

  • Hearth Artisan Bread• Mariposa Bakery• Sweetheart Vegan Bakery

PREPARED MEALS

  • Del Sur empanadas
  • Mei Mei dumplings
  • Chef Cyrille/Papa’s Ravioli
  • Valicenti Pasta Farm

SPECIALTY VENDORS

  • Flores de Cafe coffee
  • Just Hummus

EVENTS TENT & COMMUNITY TABLE

Storytime: Belmont Books joins us to read stories from 4 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Performers: 2 p.m. A&W Ukulele Players

Community Table: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Community Organized for Solidarity; 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Foster Parent Recruiter, Department of Children and Families.

Belmont, Lexington To Provide Covid Testing After Halloween

Photo: Detail of the poster on post-Halloween testing in Belmont and Lexington

In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, Belmont is partnering with neighboring Lexington to offer free COVID-19 PCR testing following Halloween at two upcoming testing events on Thursday, Nov. 4 and Nov. 6. Both are open to residents of Belmont and Lexington, regardless of the testing location.

PhysicianOne Urgent Care will be providing the testing.  

Please note: You will need to set up an account on their website through the highlighted link below to register for a COVID-19 test, and to view your test results. 

Guide for setting up an account

Residents must have an appointment to be tested. Proof of residency is required.

Register for a COVID-19 test

The testing dates is

Thursday, Nov. 4 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

173 Bedford Street, Lexington (drive-through testing—remain in your car)• 

Saturday, Nov. 6 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Chenery Middle School, 95 Washington St., Belmont (indoor testing)

Nasal swab process 

PhysicianOne Urgent Care uses the Project Beacon online platform for account registration and test scheduling. If you have any issues with registration or scheduling, please contact Project Beacon by email at help@beacontesting.com, or call 617-741-7310, Mon.-Fri. from 8 AM – 4 PM.

Lions Roaring Back With Trees, Wreaths This Christmas Time

Photo: Selecting the right tree at the Belmont Lions Club tree sale

Alright, yes, I know Halloween is more than a week away and Thanksgiving’s turkey and football game is still off in the distance. But Monday, Oct. 18, residents were reminded Christmas is just around the corner as the Select Board approved the annual license for the Belmont Lions Club to sell trees and wreaths outside of its clubhouse on Royal Road at the commuter rail station.

The club will sell Nova Scotia gown trees – from the same farm since the sale began in 1957 – and wreaths, mantle pieces, baskets and many other holidays items from Friday, Nov. 26 through Friday, Dec. 24. But don’t dawdle: last year the trees sold out early so get them as soon as they come off the truck.

Lions Secretary Felix Firenze told the board it will continue the Covid-19 restrictions and contract tracing from last year at the site at the corner of Common Street and Royal Road just outside of Belmont Center. It will also keep last year’s hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weeknights.

“We have all the protocols that we needed to get through this pandemic and it was very successful for us [in 2020],” said Firenze.

In addition, the club will keep the revamped parking and pickup practice caused by the rerouting of the MBTA bus last year.

“It sort of ran right through [the site] but you soldiered on and worked your way through it and I’m thanking you for that,” said Adam Dash, Select Board chair.

In addition, the Lions have already set the date for the 2021 Traveling Santa: Saturday, Dec 18. So be good.

“It’s a wonderful operation, Felix, and a great service for our community,” said Board Member Mark Paolillo.

Preforming Arts Co.’s ‘Broadway Night’ To Show Off Belmont High’s New Black Box

Photo: The finale of BHS PAC Broadway Night (thanks to BHS PAC)

The Belmont High School Performing Arts Company is returning after a year-and-a-half in the virtual sphere to all live performances with its annual “Broadway Night: Musical Theater Cabaret” this weekend, Oct. 22 and 23 at 7 p.m.

To celebrate its homecoming, the in-school group will welcome the audience to its new home: The Black Box Theater on the first floor of the recently opened high school wing of the Belmont Middle and High School. The space has professional lighting and sound as well as flexible seating configurations that will allow for a greater audience experience.

Students artists will perform classic and contemporary works of musical theater consisting of solo/duet/small groups songs which are primarily self-directed which will showcase the acting, singing and dancing talents of the PAC members. And with every year, there will be a final song and dance performed by the entire company.

Tickets are $5 for students/children and $12 for adults. Tickets can be purchased online, and advance ticket purchase recommended: shows, as always, are expected to sell out!

Details about the show and ticket sales at bhs-pac.org

Due to As we prepare to invite audiences back into our schools, here are some guidelines for those who plan to attend theater events this year:

  • MASKS WILL BE REQUIRED for all audience members.
  • Food/drinks will not be allowed in performance spaces.
  • The size of our Black Box Theater means that there is not a guarantee of distancing for audience members. We encourage family units to sit together, but at sold out shows, you will be seated directly adjacent to others.
  • Some students performing on stage for theater events will be unmasked. These students have been required by the Belmont School Committee to be vaccinated.
  • Anyone experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 should not attend performances. You can reference the BPS Student Symptom Checker here.

Foundation For Belmont Education Thanks Record Number Of Runners, Supports For Successful 2021 Apple Run

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For the first time in two years, the Foundation for Belmont Education’s Apple Run returned to its five kilometer tour of Belmont schools on the first Sunday of October.

With close to 800 runners – 689 pre-registered and 109 day-of registrations – the support of 60-plus event volunteers, the race committee, multiple sponsors, many in-kind donors and the Partners in Education made the annual community event a unmitigated success.

“We truly love this annual community-wide event and would like to thank the following community members for their generous support: Triogo owner Donna Ognibene, who expertly got everyone warmed-up and ready to race; DJ Paul Madden for keeping the motivation and excitement going all morning with his music; and Belmont High School senior Emily Kaiser for her amazing rendition of the National Anthem. Thank you to Belmont Center Business Association and Moozy’s Ice Cream & Yoghurt Emporium for their incredible generosity with prize donations,” said the statement,” said the FBE in a statement.

The FBE also thanked the Belmont Police Department, Belmont Department of Public Works, and Belmont High Volleyball Team for their tremendous support.

Platinum sponsor: Cityside Subaru of Belmont

Results sponsor: Belmont Orthodontics

Bib sponsor: Didriks and Local Root

Water table sponsor: East Cambridge Savings Bank

T-shirt sponsors: Anne Mahon, Shant Banosian and Rogaris Law

FBE Investors in Education: Belmont Orthodontics, Belmont Savings Bank Foundation, Cityside Subaru of Belmont, and People’s United Bank.

5K MALE WINNERS:

Russell Leino, 39 – 16:41
Jackson Coelho, 17 – 17:12
William Ronchetti, 25 – 17:59

5K FEMALE WINNERS:

Francesca Kitch, 17 – 20:42*
Meredith Mikell, 39 – 20:57*
Heidi Kimberly, 46 – 21:10*
* The top 3 women broke the previous course record!

FASTEST 5K PER AGE GROUP:

U12 M – Fridolin Meichsner, 20:07
U12 F – Sasha Romig, 25:58
13-19M – Giulio Valfre Zaydenman, 20:56
13-19F – Sarah Yu, 22:50
20-29M – Sam Belcher, 19:29
20-29F – Olivia Sedita, 21:46
30-39M – Yuxiao Wang, 21:24
30-39F – Menfru Li, 21:35
40-49M – Lixin Qin, 18:57
40-49F – Becca Pizzi, 22:00
50-59M – Kevin Hettenbach, 21:29
50-59F – Lili Zhang, 23:30
60+M – Roger Tobin, 25:42
60+F – Mary Ciampa, 30:10

2K WINNERS (U12):

Fastest F – Elise Tandy, 10, 8:38
Fastest M – Will Olmstead, 11, 7:59

TEAM WINNERS:

Largest team – Belmont Public Library Road Warriors
Fastest M team – BCAA (Belmont Chinese American Association)
Fastest F team – Belmont High School Field Hockey
Fastest mixed team – Trombone Gang

MOST FESTIVE RUNNING OUTFIT:

Kara and Campbell Sassone