Through today, we have completed 124 learning days in school year 2020-21; 73 percent of our students’ 170-day school year is behind us. I hope we all continue to collaborate, communicate, and follow all safety measures to ensure that the remaining 27 percent of our school year is productive, wonderful, and safe for our scholars and staff. Last week we welcomed students in grades 4, 5, 7 and 12 back as full-time in-person learners—joining our prekindergarten through grade 3 students who have been full-time in-person learners all year long. This week students in grades 6, 8, and 10 returned to full-time in-person learning. Some of these students have not been physically in school since March 2020! Everyone is doing an outstanding job understanding and meeting the expectations for learning in our school setting while keeping all safety protocols and practices in place. It is so wonderful to have these students back. We look forward to students in grades 9 and 11 returning to full-time in-person learning on Monday, April 26. Then we will be complete! We remind everyone that next week is our April vacation week.

We continue to remind our students and staff that they are not to come to school if they or any member of their household has tested positive for COVID-19 and is still isolating, is awaiting COVID test results or has COVID-19 symptoms. Staff and families are making informed decisions based on guidance and support received from our MPS District COVID-19 Health Coordinator Stacey Schakel and our amazing school nurses. We know it is not easy, but we are so grateful to everyone for prioritizing our health and wellness by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, washing/sanitizing hands frequently and choosing not to participate in activities or gatherings that put us at risk. Adhering to these expectations positively impacts our ability to provide a COVID-19-free, in-person learning environment for all of our scholars. Thank you to our families and staff for following all safety and travel guidelines—partnering with us to keep our schools safe. Our COVID-19 Data Dashboard can be accessed via a quick link on the main page of the district’s website, www.mpspk12.org, and is updated daily.

The Mashpee Public Schools’ COVID-19 pool testing program for asymptomatic staff and students began on March 22. Pool testing has been shown to reduce overall COVID-19 rates by 50 percent by identifying asymptomatic cases before spreading to create more cases. Participation in this program is voluntary, and parental consent is required prior to testing a student. The results of each week’s testing are posted to our district website, included on our COVID-19 Data Dashboard. Through three weeks of testing, all pools (18) have tested negative for the virus. There is a rolling enrollment for this program, so you can join at any time as we move forward. We are hoping more families will choose to have their MPS student(s) join this program. This program adds another layer of safety to our practices and protocols and will, hopefully, help to ease some of the worry and anxiety experienced by students, staff members, and families.

Many members of Team Mashpee received their second dose of the Moderna vaccine today at the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Indian Health Services Clinic. We remain so grateful for this opportunity and for our partnership with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. Mashpee is a truly Connected Community—always seeking ways to help and support each other.

Please share your thoughts related to the redesign of the Seal for the Town of Mashpee by visiting www.mashpeema.gov/home/news/mashpee-town-seal-survey and by participating in a brief survey.

The Mashpee Public Schools is proud of the equity work we are accomplishing in partnership with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. Our efforts have been recognized on the national level by the National School Boards Association (NSBA)—one of only three grand prize winners of a 2021 Magna award. Sponsored by NSBA’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal, the Magna Awards honor districts across the country for their programs that advance equity and break down barriers for underserved students. Mashpee Public Schools was selected as a winner by an independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators.

Mashpee was honored with the grand prize in the under-5,000 enrollment category. It’s great to be in Mashpee–A Connected Community. You can learn more by visiting nsba.org/ASBJ/2021/April/grand-prize-magna-awards.

On March 28, Mashpee Middle-High School junior Hunter Tobey was presented with a President’s Volunteer Service Award–Gold Level from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for serving his community in emergency preparedness efforts. Hunter is a member of the FEMA National Youth Preparedness Council, Region 1, Massachusetts. In 2003, the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation founded the President’s Volunteer Service Award to recognize the important role of volunteers in America’s strength and national identity. This award honors individuals whose service positively impacts communities in every corner of the nation and inspires those around them to take action too. Hunter’s next service project is presenting a Tornado Preparedness webinar. The webinar will include federal, state, and local public safety agencies discussing response efforts of this type of a disaster. The webinar event will be an opportunity for collaboration between agencies in the development of solutions to barriers.

We celebrate the 17 new members of the Ted O’Rourke Chapter of Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society at MMHS. A virtual induction ceremony was held on April 7. We are so proud of these students for the #212TheExtraDegree effort they put into their learning: Megan Binette, Caroline Raber, Alexa Garcia, Samantha Morry, Isabella Eagan, Skyla Rimple, Callia Eaton, Grace Funk, Evelyn Provencher, Brady Johnston, Owen Balfour, Samantha Rozum, Brooke Johnston, Alyson Lihzis, Logan Westcott, Samantha Kersey, and Serena Tripp.

The National English Honor Society held a virtual induction ceremony last night. Congratulations to the newest members: Sadie Biehl, Maya Brainson, Charlotte Bohnenberger, Emerson Fraser, Gabriele Santos, Kasey Boettger, Bailey Hewson, Amna Iqbal, Sarah Landry, Maya Leyden, Ethan Lu, Hadley Medeiros, and Stella Stecei.

We also recognize last year’s inductees who did not experience an induction ceremony: Dolfina Allan, Grace Antis, Jared Barr, Sophia Bergonzi, Maile Biehl, Megan Binette, Alexia Brandt, Isabella Eagan, Callia Eaton, Matthew Fish, Alexa Garcia, Cheyenne Hendricks, Brooke Johnston, Benjamin Kennedy, Dennise Janna D Laguna, Alyson Lihzis, Paige Lundberg, Abigail McGrory, Erich Menke, Ellie Mitchell, Bridget O’Neill, Gabriel Palhais, Shivani Patel, Sydney Pinhack, Sydney Puchol, Juliana Reynolds, Skyla Rimple, Samantha Rozum, Jessica Rullo, Caroline Shields, Sean Smith, Ella Stolba, Jack Stone, Gabriel Tellez, and Francesca Toews.

Congratulations to our senior athletes who are just finishing up their Fall 2 season: Volleyball—Maggie Connolly, Clara Signs, Taylor Lacava, and Kelci Culver; Cheerleading—Jenaya Perry, Ruby Lyons, Sydney Burke, Megan Lavigne, and Elizabeth Kidwell; Indoor Track—Alinna Hanna and Caroline Shields; and Football—Caesar Hendricks, Jared Barr, Nicolas Santos, Jordan Vasquez, Jack Vinitsky, Cameron Sweeney, Dakohta Dias, Ryan Hendricks, Shea Eaton, Daneil Stewart, and Matthew Bowen.

We also celebrate our MMHS Robotics Team who, for the first time in program history, has won the Southern New England VEX Robotics Championship. With their victory on March 27, four members of the program earned a chance to compete in the Live Remote VEX Robotics World Championship, which begins on May 14. The team who will be representing Mashpee comprises seniors Nathan Ware and Nathan Perry, sophomore Sean Ware, and freshman Camden Perry.

The Cape Cod Virtual Hackathon/Inventathon is happening on April 30 and May 1 and is sponsored by the Mashpee High School National Technical Honor Society. Students, parents, and community members are welcome to participate both virtually and in-person to create the Next Big Thing! Opportunities include attending Zoom meetings with local STEM professionals and other participants to Invent and Hack together as well as a STEM Demo outside at the #WeAreMashpee Store on Friday, April 30, from 3 to 6 PM. Please scan the QR code on the poster at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1P00GRiWmbQ_R_DKWsIPCd9ZZUuxc-vQ1/view?usp=sharing for more information and access to the participant form.

Quashnet Elementary School is busy transitioning students in grades 4 through 6 from hybrid learning to full-time in-person learning. It is a wonderful and joyful time to have all of our children back together. The 6th-grade student council at the Quashnet School is hosting a “Week of the World.” Students are sharing a brief video during each lunch block and will have information on each region for students. They have also worked with Food Services Director Gus Stickley to create a menu that will highlight food from the focus region each day: April 26—Asia, April 27—South America, April 28—Africa, April 29—Europe, April 30—Oceania. Did you know the Quashnet School has a beautiful labyrinth and do you know the history and benefits of labyrinths? April 30 is National Labyrinth Day, and several special activities are being planned. A video explaining the history and purpose will be shared with classes. We are excited to highlight the Quashnet labyrinth, which was recently freshened up by Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School—weeding and spreading stone dust. Visitors to the labyrinth will also find freshly painted kindness rocks placed around the center tree. Quashnet’s labyrinth is open to the community during non-school hours.

The Kenneth C. Coombs School has seen the return of many previously remote learners. Beautiful smiles and fancier attire filled the building last week on individual student picture day. Students are learning how to golf in their physical education special. Last week, our preschoolers learned about chickens and their life cycle—complete with a hands-on opportunity to hold baby chicks—thanks to Ms. McDonough and Mrs. Davis, who brought in some friends from home. The Falcon Nest is returning to the Coombs School after the April vacation. This is a school-wide program that recognizes students who follow the Falcon Five by awarding them with Falcon eggs. These eggs are deposited in the Falcon nest. When the nest is full, the school will hold an event to celebrate the collective efforts of its students to make the Coombs School outstanding. Finally, we were very happy to donate some student artwork to our Southport Falcons’ community for them to display in some of their common areas. We are striving to stay connected and bring joy to our friends.

Our planning for MPS Summer 2021 Genius Academy—an exciting learning opportunity for all MPS students (kindergarten through grade 12)—is progressing. Parents have received the Google form to sign their children up for this five-week program of engaging literacy and mathematics learning experiences designed to foster academic and social-emotional growth through project-based, immersive learning experiences. This no-cost learning opportunity will be in-person and will include bus transportation. The program will run Tuesdays through Thursdays, July 6 to 8 and July 20 to August 12, from 8:30 AM to 12:15 PM. There is still time to sign your child up!

There are many reasons to be proud of the Mashpee Public Schools. We are a small, student-centered school system that thinks big. Our innovative partnerships, programs, and learning experiences, together with a culture that values relationships, set us apart from other districts. We live by a “whatever-it-takes” mindset. This year, more than in all past years, we are asking all members of our connected community to go that one degree further and experience achievements that we may have never thought were possible—#212TheExtraDegree.

This year we are learning new things, discovering different ways to accomplish tasks, and creating valuable connections with each other in creative ways. We continue working hard to make school year 2020-21 an outstanding year—remembering that each student only gets one year at each grade level and that we must make it the best that it can be. Moving forward, we are not going to seek to make up “lost” time. The time was not lost; it was invested in surviving a historic period of time in our lives. Our children do not need to be fixed; they are not broken. They need to be heard and to be given as many tools as possible to nurture resilience and to help them adjust to a post-pandemic world. What are we thankful for? Our cup is half-full because of our amazing students, our hard-working staff, our supportive families, and our caring connected community; I am so grateful to have traveled this journey with this group! Together we can do this!

As Rita Pierson says, every child deserves a champion—an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and who insists that they become the best they can possibly be. The children of Mashpee are embraced by a connected community that is filled with champions—and for that we are very grateful!

Stay Connected To Us

Visit us at our outreach site #WeAreMashpee at 11 Greene Street in Mashpee Commons, Tuesday through Sunday from 11 AM to 6 PM; ordering of Mashpee swag is available at sites.google.com/mpspk12.org/wearemashpee/online-store?authuser=0.

Mashpee Public Schools website: www.mpspk12.org

MMHS athletic schedules: miaa.net/schools/public/MashMa

MMHS online newspaper—The Falconer: www.thefalconer.net

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