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SC Meeting: May 16, 2023

At the May 16 School Committee Meeting there was a Portrait of a Needham Graduate Presentation from the Fine & Performing Arts Department, a NHS Student Advisory to the School Committee Update, and the NEF Spring 2023 Grant Award Presentation.



Public Comment

A group of Needham High School seniors spoke about improving the Performing Arts resources here in Needham. Some of them have spent the spring semester doing a community action project for the interdisciplinary senior course- The Greater Boston Project. They have identified that resources for performing arts here in Needham are an urgent need. They have created a report based on research in surrounding towns of their theater programs and auditorium spaces. This paired with the recent Needham theater sound and lighting study demonstrates that there is a strong need for updating our equipment and spaces.



School Committee & Superintendent Comments

  • All schools or groups here in town are encouraged to make a float to participate in the Needham Exchange Club’s 4th of July parade.

  • Dr. Gutekanst urged all families of incoming kindergarten students to please register your k students soon.

  • Bus registration closes on May 19th.

  • Parents and families please complete the Needham Family Survey. Currently only have a response rate of about 20%. (UPDATE: Please note this survey is now closed)



Portrait of a Needham Graduate Presentation: Fine and Performing Arts Department

The Fine and Performing Arts department highlighted several examples of student work and projects that reflect aspects of the Portrait of Needham Graduate vision.



Art 3: Creative Thinkers and Problem Solvers: Inquiry Based Process

This challenges students to design a year long inquiry based on an essential question rooted in personal interest. Visual Art is used as a vehicle to investigate those ideas. The resulting portfolio of 15 works, and written reflections, are less about finalized products, but rather about the process of students continually asking questions, exploring, and revising.


Art 4: Communicators and Collaborators: Collaborative Mural Project

Our senior students are creating an immersive art installation. Questions that were posed to students:

  • How can artists create work that impacts or benefits the community?

  • How does collaboration with other artists expand the creative process?

  • What effect can/do immersive art installations have on their viewers?

Students then made a proposal which included a design, color scheme, class roles for all involved students, a budget for the project, then the execution and construction of the mural.


5th Grade Arts and Installation at Broadmeadow Elementary School

Science, Art and Social Interaction by Karen DiCenzo and Stephanie Hamel. Question posed to students: How can Scientists and Artists work together to be Socially and Culturally Responsive contributors?


Students looked at examples of Activists and Activism:

Greta Thunberg- Environmental Activist

Malala Yousafzai- Female Education Activist


Students then looked at examples of Artists and ARTIVISM:

Shephard Fairey; street artist and activist

Asher Jay: Photographer and conservationist



The 5th grade students then read the book We are Water Protectors by Michaela Goade.


Students were then asked “What are you the protector of?” and why? 5th grade students from Broadmeadow then presented their artwork “I am the Protector of_____.” They also discussed how they chose their object.



6th Grade: Empowered Learners: Collaborative Composition Project- Music, Composition and Technology

Alison Flores presented High Rock’s “Percussion Play Along: Music through the Lens of Technology”.


Students were tasked with:

  • MUSIC- Background music (Purple Planet or compose in Garageband)

  • IMAGES- Draw or find (Sketches, Notability, Image Quest, creative commons)

  • FILM VIDEOS- Conducting and drumming (Camera app)

  • LAYER VIDEOS- Conducting and drumming in one! (Green Screen app)

  • POINTER AND RHYTHM- Follow the bouncing ball (Explain EDU)

  • PUT IT TOGETHER- Put all rhythms together, title, key, and credits (iMovie)

Students reflected on this project and found that they enjoyed collaborating with other students, gained knowledge in technology and ultimately they took pride in their projects.


Senior Directed Show: Little Women

NHS Seniors presented about the Senior Directed Show. Students plan, direct, and cast all areas of the production. Students involved gained confidence in the following areas:

  • Time management

  • Planning and prioritizing

  • Note taking

  • Collaboration, compromise and teamwork

  • Communication skills

  • Navigating conflicts or differences

  • Problem solving

  • Leadership skills

"Come see Little Women June 9th and 10th at the NHS auditorium!”


Many more slides showcasing student art and experiences can be found in the packet.



NHS Student Advisory to the School Committee Updates

Members of the NHS Student Advisory to the School Committee presented an update about recent events and issues at NHS.

  • Freshman Class: Designed and sold their own merchandise to raise funds and school spirit.

  • Sophomore Class: Elected a new class of officers. Planning to hold a community event in partnership with the Robotics Club.

  • Junior Class: At the beginning of May many students took their AP tests. Juniors are excited about upcoming events including the Spirit of Boston Junior Harbor Cruise. On June 10th the Student Council will be hosting a car wash at the Webster Street entrance of the high school.

  • Senior Class: Senioritis is creeping in as the seniors continue to push through the last few weeks of their high school careers. Many fun events are also taking place including Senior Assassins and the upcoming Senior picnic, Prom, and Graduation.

  • Student Council: Held a very successful and fun underclassman semi-formal dance at the high school with professional decorating, food trucks, DJ’s, lighting and spray tattoos.

  • One thing missing is a NHS Pep Rally. There hasn’t been one since May 2019. Students would really like to bring this back but logistics are difficult as there isn’t a space large enough to fit the entire student body altogether. To remedy this in the past, the Freshman class watched in the cafeteria. They feel that this approach lends to a feeling of hazing for the younger class students. Currently the best option is the football field, but that too has many issues to consider. The Student Council would like to find a way to bring back this traditional event for next year and future years.

  • Student Life at NHS: Student mental health appears to be improving as we enter the spring months. Even with the stress of starting final exams, students are feeling excited by Spring extracurricular activities in sports, performing arts and other engagements.

  • The Student Council has been working in collaboration with Principal Sicotte. They do spirit days/weeks throughout the year that have a special theme. They often offer fan buses to championship games that have great student attendance. Hoping to increase the participation of these spirit days and increase school spirit in the next school year.

  • There will be much reflection in the coming months that lead into our next school year as new leadership comes in. Continued focus on topics of mental health and student well-being, as well as new ideas. The Student Council looks forward to a continued partnership with the Needham School Committee and Superintendent Gutekanst.



Needham Education Foundation (NEF) Spring Grant Cycle:

5 Grants have been recommended for approval by the NEF for the Spring 2023 Grant Cycle totalling $34,177.

  • Interdisciplinary Learning for Social Studies and Visual Arts for 7th Grade: $13,567

  • The Waypoint Adventure for the High School ILC (Independent Learning Center) and Post Grad programs: $4,900

  • Lego Tables and Legos for Newman Kindergarten Classrooms: $4,045

  • Bill Harley; Author, Musician and Storyteller for Sunita Williams Elementary: $1,500

  • The 2023 School Librarian Conference and Professional Development for all school librarians: $10,165

NEF reported that during the pandemic they saw a dip in grant requests but now it is increasing again. The NEF trivia bee was a great fundraiser for them and may look to add a second fundraiser during the year. They also want to get the word out that anyone can submit a grant for funding, including teachers, staff, parents, students or any collaboration of those groups. For more information on these grants, please visit Needham Education Foundation.


School Committee unanimously approved acceptance of the NEF Spring 2023 Grant recommendations.


Reminder that NHS graduation is June 4th.


The next School Committee meeting will be Tuesday, June 6 at 6:30pm.







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