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SC Meeting: February 27, 2024

 At the February 27 School Committee Meeting there was a discussion of the Portrait of a Needham Graduate: Middle School Math, the Needham High School Improvement Plan, and the Needham High School Performance and Achievement Report.

Superintendent’s Comments

NHS Junior Vann Hotchkiss and Coach Adam Cole were recognized for winning the MA Division 1 State Diving Championship for the 2nd year in a row.  Vann outscored his closest opponent by more than 20 points.

Portrait of a Needham Graduate Presentation: Middle School Math

Presented by Borkeny Sambou, Middle School Math Curriculum Leader, Sarah Burns, 8th Grade Math and Data Science Teacher, Rachael Silver, 7th Grade Math Teacher, and 7th Grade students 

  • The middle school math curriculum integrates the principles of the Portrait of a Needham Graduate with the eight Standards for Mathematical Practices

  • The Graphing City Project was just completed by 7th graders, and provided a way to increase the social and cultural awareness applications of math.  After completing the unit on graphing linear equations, students worked together to develop a city, including details about the culture of the city.  7th grade students presented the results of their project, including how they came up with their city and the math they used to plot their maps.

  • Teacher Sarah Burns spoke about the Data Science curriculum.  This class provides students many opportunities to think critically, collaborate, and become empowered learners. The Big Numbers project allows students to work together to create a visual or physical representation of a big number.  This culminates in the class presenting to 4th graders across the district.

  • The math curriculum is focused on both teaching mathematical competencies as well as teaching students how to approach and think through problems.  The teachers recognize that students have varying skill levels and backgrounds in math and differentiate to accommodate them all.

Needham High School Improvement Plan 

Presented by Aaron Sicotte, Principal of Needham High School, Catherine Brandish, High School Senior and School Council Co-Chair, and Needham High School Council Members 

  • The current School Improvement Plan overlapped with the pandemic, but the school was still able to accomplish many of its goals.

  • Catherine Brandish spoke about the Social-Emotional Learning aspects in place at the High School, including Own Your Piece/Peace and Mental health days.  Students appreciate the ability to take mental health days without being penalized or questioned.

  • The High School has implemented many culturally responsive teaching practices, both in regards to recognizing the diversity among the students as well as highlighting diversity within the curriculum.  All staff heard a presentation from Cornelius Minor and have learned how to implement a lens of cultural relevance and its impact on students.

  • Teachers have been successful in designing curriculum to meet the students’ needs

  • The Interdisciplinary Learning program continues to grow and evolve

  • The use of technology has expanded and shifted thanks to the pandemic.  Teachers no longer need to rely as heavily on technology as they did during remote learning, and are able to find ways to meaningfully use it in the classroom to support and enhance instruction.  The new amplification system in the building is supporting all those with hearing issues as well as those who may have attention issues.  Students are taught about responsible technology use and digital literacy

  • Catherine highlighted the impact of the X-block and how students have found it to be extremely beneficial.  The overall schedule has been adjusted to try to best meet the needs of the students. 

Needham High School Performance and Achievement Report 

Principal Aaron Sicotte highlighted some of the academic as well as athletic, artistic, and co-curricular student accomplishments at the High School.  

  • Students have been highly successful in many areas, including music and the arts.  

  • The students helped organize the Pep Rally, which returned after 4 years and was highly enjoyable for all.  11th and 12 graders started the Pep Rally in the gym and then were joined by 9th and 10th graders on the fields, allowing all students to participate together.  The last time the full school was able to gather was in 2012, after which the student body outgrew the gym.

  • NHS SALSA club focuses on preventing substance use and abuse.  It has over 200 volunteers, providing more than 1500 hours of service in the Needham Community

  • Every student in every English class in the High School participated in the Poetry Out Loud competition, and the winner will represent the High School in the MA Regional Semifinals

  • NHS has been honored as a Special Olympics Massachusetts Unified Champion School, recognizing the commitment of the staff and students to meaningful inclusion, advocacy, and respect.

  • Senior Studio Art Students will be working with the town on an immersive “art walk” outside to highlight and focus on safety issues around crosswalks.

  • The Jewish Student Union brought in a Holocaust survivor to speak to a group of students and staff, which was a meaningful, powerful experience for all.  The Asian Student Union celebrated the start of the Lunar New Year with an art installation in the school.

  • The Class of 2024 collected 81 bags of clothing and shoes from NHS families this year, and in 3 years they have donated 320 bags of goods to Cradles to Crayons.

  • The Speech and Debate team is very active.  1215 individual speeches given/debate rounds participated in by team members, and there are 12 national qualifiers.

  • Students continue to perform very well on the ACT, SAT, and AP exams.  The full academic performance report is available here.

School Committee Comments  

  • The class of 2024 is doing a fundraiser where they “flock” yards with plastic flamingos to raise money for the class.  Donations can be made on MySchoolBucks

  • The League of Women Voters will be putting on a program about how town government works.  It will take place on March 20 at 6:30pm in the Broadmeadow Performance Center.

  • Tickets are currently on sale for the HS production of Les Miserables, taking place March 8-10

The next School Committee meeting will be Tuesday, March 5, 2024.


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