St Rose Students to Stage Walkout on March 14 to Draw Attention to Gun Control

St Rose Students to Stage Walkout on March 14 to Draw Attention to Gun Control

Students at the St. Rose School in Chelsea have organized a walkout on Weds., March 14, to make a statement about how the federal government is handling gun issues as related to school shootings.

Trinity Hoffman, 13, and an eighth grader at St. Rose, said she and several students felt it was important to be part of the national effort, which encourages students to walk out of school for 17 minutes to commemorate the 17 students killed recently in a Florida high school.

“We just really want a lot of people to hear how we feel about this and how the government is  failing to deal with the problem.”

Hoffman said students would leave class on March 14 and march on Broadway to Chelsea City Hall for a gathering. There, they will mark the 17 minutes, which is being done at many schools nationwide. Revere High students are also staging a similar effort in that city.

When the solemn moment is over, students at St. Rose will return to class. The walkout will entail about 50 students from the St. Rose 7th and 8th grade classes.

Hoffman said they are encouraging students from other Chelsea schools to join them.

Teacher Cristina Rivera said the staff and school are supporting the student decision, and believe it to be a good learning experience.

“It came about because of conversations that we were having in class,” said Rivera. “Students were very concerned about Florida and about an incident that happened in Wakefield. Even though it wasn’t credible, students came back to St. Rose and initiated a discussion. We had heard about the March 14th date already and we let the students vote on it and they wanted to do it.”

She said the students have taken charge making signs and mapping out the route and planning the action. She said the school believes it’s a great learning experience for the kids, especially around getting involved civically.

“We feel it’s really an important part of learning democracy and something we want to support in our students,” she said. “In four years, our oldest students will be allowed to vote. However, having a voice and learning to participate starts before that. Exercising their right to assemble freely on an issue they are passionate about is the start of learning about this democracy.”

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Chelsea Public Library Wins NASA@ My Library Grant

Chelsea Public Library Wins NASA@ My Library Grant

The Chelsea Public Library announced Tuesday that it has been awarded a grant from NASA and the American Library Association called NASA@ My Library.

Chelsea Public Library is one of 75 libraries that have been chosen from a total of 513 applicants to receive the NASA@ My Library grant, and is the only library in Massachusetts selected to participate in the initiative.

The NASA@ My Library project is led by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute. Partners include the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, Pacific Science Center, Cornerstones of Science, and Education Development Center. NASA@ My Library is made possible through the support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Mission Directorate as part of its STEM Activation program.

The Children’s Librarian Martha Boksenbaum said, “We are very excited to have won this grant, it will enable the library to bring more STEM programming to Chelsea, and build an environment of exploration, play and learning.”

The library will receive the following from this grant:

  • Two NASA STEM Facilitation Kits including STEM tools and programming materials including a green screen and solar eclipse viewing glasses
  • A $500 programming stipend
  • Travel reimbursement for the Children’s Librarian to travel to Denver, CO for training

In implementing this grant, the Chelsea Public Library will run at least three programs between May 2017 and October 2018.

  • A Solar Eclipse Viewing Party on August 21.
  • A series of workshops in which children and adults can explore the NASA Facilitation kits

materials and activities

  • An Earth Day Celebration in Spring 2018
  • Guest visits from Subject Matter Experts to engage with children and families

The Chelsea Public Library provides programming free of charge, and strives to create an environment of learning and exploration to the Chelsea community.

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Citizen Schools Helps Chelsea Students with Donated Backpacks

Students from Chelsea public schools, including those that participate in Citizen Schools’ Expanded Learning Time, will kick off the new school year with 900 donated backpacks full of pencils, notebooks, rulers, and more. Citizen Schools, an organization that empowers public middle schools in low-income communities with longer learning days, received the backpacks filled with supplies as a donation from Kronos Incorporated, Mass.-based global leader in workforce management solutions.

Committed to supporting organizations that encourage, educate, and train the next-generation workforce through its GiveInspired corporate giving program, Kronos made the donation in recognition of Citizen Schools, an organization that inspires the future workforce. Kronos also joined forces with its partners Cognizant, The WFC Group, Workforce Insight, and one of its leading retail clothing and accessories customer to further add to the contribution.

“Kronos is excited to help Citizen Schools ensure that its Chelsea students have a great start to the school year,” said Liz Moughan, director, retail and hospitality practice group, Kronos. “At Kronos, we value the impact of giving back to our communities and investing in the future and we collaborate with a variety of causes and organizations that focus on growing and empowering the next-generation workforce. For these reasons, we recognize and value Citizen Schools’ tremendous contribution and are humbled and pleased to organize the backpack donation.”

Media is invited to the presentation of backpacks during a back-to-school event on Thursday, August 25 at 2:30 p.m. at the Williams Building, 180 Walnut Street, Chelsea. Liz Moughan, senior director of the retail and hospitality practice group, Kronos, and Megan Bird, executive director of Citizen Schools Massachusetts, will be on-site distributing backpacks to students along with employees from both Kronos and Citizen Schools. Chelsea city manager Tom Ambrosino is also expected to be on hand.

Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization based in Boston, which provides academic support and enrichment to middle school students from high-need districts in six states. Volunteer teachers lead Expanded Learning Time (ELT) programs in subjects such as robotics, financial planning, and marketing during after-school hours. The organization’s mission is to help children from low-income school districts overcome the opportunity gap that exists between them and kids from more affluent communities.

Citizen Schools operates in two Chelsea middle schools, the Joseph Browne School and the Eugene Wright Science and Technology Academy, and will serve about 900 students this year. The dropout rate in Chelsea is more than triple the state average – 6.4 percent compared to 1.9 statewide. After the first year Citizen Schools partnered with Chelsea schools, English Language Arts proficiency rates improved by 16 percentage points. In addition, about 50 percent of Chelsea students come from homes characterized as economically disadvantaged and for 80 percent of those students, English is not their first language.

“Citizen Schools is proud to join forces with Chelsea Public Schools and Kronos,” said Megan Bird, executive director, Citizen Schools Massachusetts. “These backpacks and supplies will help prepare our students and get them excited for the start of the school year.”

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Stricter Lead Testing In School Fountains Detects 17 Problems

By Seth Daniel

The Chelsea Public Schools has conducted a laborious sampling of all the water fountains and faucets used for food preparation in its buildings this summer and found that 17 of 313 fixtures had levels above the limits.

The testing was reported by Supt. Mary Bourque on Wednesday morning and indicated that the schools have tested randomly every year throughout the schools over the last 20 years, but had never tested every fixture and, this year, had to test with newer, stricter standards.. This year, likely in light of the fountain problems discovered in Boston schools this past term, the Chelsea schools decided to conduct thorough tests using the new, stricter lead level standards recently adopted by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

“A total of 313 water samples have been recently tested,” wrote Bourque in a letter to parents that went out Thursday (today) morning. “While we are pleased to report that the Silber Early Learning Center, the Wright Academy, the Browne Middle School and Chelsea High School passed with no samples tested above the lead action level, the sampling did indicate that 17 fountains and sinks had lead levels that exceeded the Massachusetts action level for lead in drinking water.”

The problems were detected mostly at the Burke Complex. Those exceeding levels were at the following schools:

  • One water fountain and one sink at the Clark Avenue Middle School.
  • Two water fountains at the Kelly School.
  • Four water fountains at the Berkowitz School.
  • Four water fountains at the Hooks School.
  • Five water fountains at the Sokolowski School.

The problems at the school buildings, especially the Burke Complex, is a bit confounding due to the fact that it is such a new facility with fully updated plumbing. Bourque said an analysis has indicated that they don’t believe the water source is contaminated nor is the plumbing faulty.

“Because our schools are relatively new, and based on an analysis of our recent test results, we do not believe the internal school plumbing is contributing to lead levels,” she wrote. “We have also confirmed that our water source does not contain lead. The testing is indicating isolated instances of excessive lead levels which are likely caused by the installation of these faucets or water bubblers or the fixtures themselves…We will be replacing the fixtures identified above and retested before they are available for use.”

Bourque said the administration is taking the 17 problem fountains very seriously, and have taken five action steps to prevent the problem by the time school starts later this month.

First, the fixtures have been shut off and enclosed. Second, parents and school staff were notified. Third, the Chelsea School Committee and Board of Health were notified. Fourth, the fixture is evaluated by a licensed plumber to determine the source of the problem and the fixture is remediated or replaced.

Finally, the fixture is retested to determine if lead levels are below the new Massachusetts standards.

The letter describing the problems and the non-problems was sent out to parents and posted on the district’s online networks Thursday (today) morning, Aug. 11.

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Chelsea High Valedictorian Ivanis Ready for Yale

Chelsea High Valedictorian Ivanis Ready for Yale

CHS Senior Milica Ivanis learned she was the valedictorian of this year's class this past Tuesday, something that came as quite a surprise to her. She will attend Yale University this fall.

CHS Senior Milica Ivanis
learned she was the valedictorian
of this year’s class this
past Tuesday, something
that came as quite a surprise
to her. She will attend Yale
University this fall.

Chelsea High School (CHS) Senior Milica Ivanis has had a spring filled with surprises.

First, she got the surprise of her life earlier this spring when she found out she had been accepted to the Ivy League gem Yale University – which caught her completely off guard.

Second, this past Tuesday she got a second big surprise when she learned from CHS Principal Joe Mullaney that she had finished at the top of her class in what was a very tight finish.

“I had no idea I would be valedictorian,” she said on Tuesday shortly after learning the news. “I wasn’t expecting it because I thought I was third or fourth in the class. There are so many smart kids in my class.

“It’s just like getting into Yale; that was the biggest surprise of my life,” she continued. “I didn’t expect it at all. Yale was my reach of all reaches. I applied to four Ivy League schools and had been wait listed for three of them. When it was time to open up my letter from Yale, I wasn’t expecting much. I waited a half-hour before I opened it up. When I saw that I had been accepted, I couldn’t believe it.”

Though it might have been a surprise for Ivanis, it’s a movie that her family has seen before.

That’s because in 2011, Jelena Ivanis – Milica’s older sister – was also the valedictorian at CHS and also went to an Ivy League school. However, she landed at Harvard University, which is the arch rival of Yale.

That hasn’t been lost on the valedictorian sisters.

“We’ve talked about that,” said Ivanis, 18. “It’s funny. I told her we’re going to be big rivals during football season.”

Ivanis is the daughter of Milenko, who works at the Cambridge Marriott, and Dragica, who works at Chelsea City Hall in the DPW. The family – which also includes Berkowitz School second-grader Mira Ivanis – came to America from Croatia when Milica was only 3.

They had fled from Serbia, where they were living, following the Yugoslavian Civil War – a conflict that devastated the family.

However, new hope was found in Chelsea and Ivanis said her family has embraced the City and its schools.

“In my college essay I wrote about how my home and my village in Croatia had been completely destroyed during the Yugoslavian Civil War,” she said, not wanting to elaborate too much on those tough times. “It’s been very hard coming here because it’s just us. We don’t have a big family in the area. My parents have sacrificed a lot for us and we realize that.”

Ivanis began her academic career at the Silber Early Learning Center (ELC) and went to elementary school at the Berkowitz School. She attended middle school at the Clark Avenue School and finished up at CHS.

She played volleyball all four years and is currently a volleyball coach at the Brown Middle School. She is in the National Honor Society, serving as president this year. She has also been a peer mentor for two years at CHS.

Throughout her career, Ivanis said she felt that Chelsea schools have provided her an excellent education. She points to the fact that she has been able to take seven Advanced Placement (AP) classes at CHS, including such difficult courses as Sophomore AP Biology and AP Chemistry.

“I think that Chelsea is an excellent school, not only for the diversity, but also because it’s a place where students have the support to thrive,” she said. “If students are focused and don’t get distracted by things, they can take whatever life throws at them and make it work.”

Ivanis singled out teachers Michael McCarthy (English), Ana Romero (Spanish), Ilana Ascher (history) and Irene Mahoney as particularly motivating her.

Now, as she gets ready for Sunday’s graduation exercises, her attention has turned to what she might say during her Valedictory Speech.

“I remember my sister’s speech,” she said. “I sat next to my father and it was an ode to my father, and it made both of us cry. It was a special moment. I’m not sure what I’ll say yet.”


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Thank You Governor for Your Commitment to Education

Thank You Governor for Your Commitment to Education

Massachusetts has become a nationwide leader in the field of education during Governor Deval Patrick’s tenure in office. The Governor has helped the Bay State become the very best for children and students at all levels in the educational experience.

The Governor has made early education a priority in his administration and he made a visit to CAPIC headquarters on Crescent Avenue to announce that the Department of Education and Care (EEC) has increased opportunities for more than 3,200 children in our state.

In Chelsea we have seen first hand the importance of laying the educational foundation at a very young age, not only in the success of CAPIC – which has been so ably and professionally administered by Executive Director Robert Repucci -  but also at the John Silber Early Child Learning Center at the Shurtleff School.

We praise Governor Patrick for making education a top priority throughout his seven years as the leader of our state government. The Governor earned a scholarship to Milton Academy and went on to attend Harvard University and Harvard Law School before embarking on a dynamic path that included his work as the United States Assistant Attorney General in the Clinton Administration and his election as the state’s chief executive in 2006.

We thank the Governor for choosing CAPIC and our city to make such an important announcement and for his diligent efforts on behalf of all the schoolchildren of Chelsea.

And we also thank CAPIC Head Start Director Joanne Stone-Libon for her outstanding work in making this vital first step in our children’s educational careers a productive experience for the children and their parents


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Browne Step Team Steps Up Their Game

Browne Step Team Steps Up Their Game

The Browne Middle School Step Team has come a long way since forming in December, and will travel this weekend to Providence College to perform at the school's Diversity Festival. The team includes (front row) Hector 'El Jefe' Roman and Jennifer 'Vice Perea' Perea. (Back Row) Teacher and Coach Asha Chana, Cristal 'Flaka' Santana, Keyvin 'Macho' Rodriguez, and Brianna 'The Captain' Wesley.

The Browne Middle School Step Team has come a long way since forming in December, and
will travel this weekend to Providence College to perform at the school’s Diversity Festival.
The team includes (front row) Hector ‘El Jefe’ Roman and Jennifer ‘Vice Perea’ Perea. (Back
Row) Teacher and Coach Asha Chana, Cristal ‘Flaka’ Santana, Keyvin ‘Macho’ Rodriguez, and
Brianna ‘The Captain’ Wesley.

Step by step, the Browne Middle School Step Dance team will make their way to Providence College this coming Saturday, April 13th, to perform in front of several thousand students as part of the College’s Diversity Festival.

Teacher Asha Chana and five students from the school have been honing their skills since last December when the team formed, and have actually become close friends as a result.

“We have gone from all being cool with each other to being besties with each other,” said Brianna ‘The Captain’ Wesley, an 8th grader. “We went from just being a group to becoming a team – a real step team.”

Step dancing is one of the most popular forms of group dancing nowadays with performers clapping, stomping and moving to the music in a choreographed dance. However, it not only includes dancing, but also the sounds of stomping and clapping and occasionally, chanting.

That is one reason this form of dance appealed to Wesley and the others.

“I’ve done step before and it allows you to show emotion,” said Wesley. “You can express yourself in so many ways. I say it’s better than other dance styles because you’re stomping your feet and clapping and doing other stuff to show the way you feel.”

Keyvin ‘Macho’ Rodriguez, also an eighth grader, said he had never heard of step dancing until he watched the team practicing.

“I didn’t know anything about step dancing; I had never even heard of it,” he said. “I was walking by the classroom and saw them practicing and came in to watch. I kept watching and then I tried it, and I had it down. Ms. Chana told me I had to be on the team, and now I love it.”

Others on the team include Cristal ‘Flaka’ Santana (a 9th grader at Chelsea High that returned from last year’s Browne Step Team), Jennifer ‘Vice Perea’ Perea (an 8th grader), and Hector ‘El Jefe’ Roman (also an 8th grader).

Chana said she formed a step dance team last year, and it went pretty well, with Santana being one of the lead dancers.

This year, students wanted to be able to do step as an elective course during the school’s innovative Extended Learning Time day – a program at the Browne funded by the state that allows students go to school for several extra hours per week and, as a consequence, allows students to take elective courses like dance.

The team has given each other formal nicknames, and they all wear tan Timberland boots and black T-shirts.

Likewise, they’ve set some pretty tough standards for conduct and grades – standards that, if not met, will get a member dismissed from the team.

“If you have a ‘D,’ you have to bring it up or you get kicked off,” said Wesley. “We also all signed a contract that we can’t have any bad behavior. Keeping our grades up is the most important thing here.”

Added Chana, “They really hold each other accountable and they’re disciplined and they check on each other’s work.”

Chana said she is particularly excited to go back to Providence College – where she went to college.

“I was an officer in the Multicultural Club there when I was in college and every year they call me to see if I have a step team that could participate in the festival,” said Chana. “I never had one that could travel there until this year. This was the first year I was able to tell them we were coming. This is really an amazing team we have and they’ve shown perseverance, dedication and improvement.”

Students said they were excited to perform at Providence, and have been very focused during practices over the past several weeks. Today, on Thursday, they will hone their skills in front of the entire Browne Middle School during a warm-up performance at 2:30 p.m.

Wesley added that the team is planning to walk in the ‘Walk for Hunger’ next month and needs to raise money for the effort. She said the Step Team would be willing to perform for anyone in order to raise money for the Walk.

“We do need help raising money for the walk and we’ll perform for any school or organization in Chelsea to help raise money,” she said.


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