Letter for MSMS Parents/Students from Principal Perchase

August 16, 2018

We hope that you are enjoying the summer with family and friends.  Although the school building is quiet during the summer months, our custodial staff has been busy getting the building ready for our students’ return.  Mr. Murphy and I are excited to see the school come alive on the first day of school, Tuesday, September 4, 2018!

The following communication is meant to provide you with important information about the upcoming school year.  You can expect similar updates about every two weeks and more often at the beginning and end of the school year.

Welcome Night- Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Students often have mixed feelings about returning to school in the fall.  On the one hand, they are excited to return to the structure of the school day and their friends.  On the other hand, students may feel anxious or apprehensive about the new school year.  We are excited to provide all students and their families the opportunity to visit the building on Wednesday, August 29th.  The hope is that providing students the chance to see where their classrooms, the cafeteria, the learning commons, the gymnasium, and the auditorium are located will reduce some of the anxiety a student may be feeling.  I know Mr. Murphy and I are looking forward to meeting some of our students before the first day of school!  The building will be open to students and parents from 5:00-6:00 p.m.  At 6:00 p.m., we invite our grade 6 families and any family new to MSMS to the auditorium for an introductory presentation.  Students are welcome to attend with their families.

Attention 8th Grade Students
As our oldest students and leaders in the school, we were hoping that you would be able to assist us with our “Welcome Night”.  We are looking for volunteers to assist students new to MSMS by providing tours.  If you are available to help, please email Ms. Perchase, cperchase@bpsk12.org,  by August 29, 2018 at noon.  We will be asking you to meet at the main office at 4:45 pm.  Thank you!

Summer Reading
It is our hope to develop a love of reading in our learners!  In addition to fostering a love of reading, reading over the summer is known to provide students the opportunity to practice their reading skills and prevent regression.  At the end of the year, information regarding summer reading was sent home with students.  Please use the grade level specific link below for the summer reading list and expectations for your child.

Incoming Grade 6 Summer Reading

Incoming Grade 7 Summer Reading

Incoming Grade 8 Summer Reading

Back to School Nights- Save the Dates
We are excited to provide families the opportunity to meet their child’s teachers and learn about the curricular program that Marshall Simonds Middle School offers all students.  As has been the practice, we have scheduled two Back to School Nights for early this fall.  Please mark your calendars.  More information about the format of the evening will be provided as we approach the dates.

Grade 6 Back to School Night              Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Grade 7 & 8 Back to School Night        Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Picture Day
Picture day has been scheduled for the morning of Wednesday, September 12, 2018.  More information about ordering will be shared with families once it is received from the photography company, Geskus.

School Calendar and School Hours
Regular and punctual school attendance is essential for school success.  While school work due to absence can be made up, it is difficult to replicate the learning experiences in the classroom  The Burlington Public Schools School Committee has established an attendance procedure policy (File #JH) that states, “The administration and faculty of Burlington Public Schools believe that attendance by students at school is vitally important to a successful education”.

The 2018-2019 school calendar, approved by the School Committee, can be found here.

The Marshall Simonds Middle School day begins at 7:35 am and ends at 1:55 pm.  Students are expected to be in homeroom by 7:35 am.  Students who are not in homeroom by 7:35 am are considered tardy and must sign in at the main office to receive a pass to class. Students who are to be dismissed from school should bring a note signed by a parent or guardian to the office prior to the start of school and will receive a dismissal slip.   Students must be picked up from the main office by a parent, guardian, or other adult who has been given permission, in writing, to pick up the child.

In the event that a student is absent from school, it is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to inform the school of the absence.  Parents/guardians must call (781) 270-1781 ext. 1 prior to 8:00 a.m. to report a student absence.  In the event that the school is not contacted by the parent/guardian about a child’s absence, the school will contact the family to confirm the child’s absence.

NEW- After School Program
There is a brand new club style after school program starting September 2018 at Marshall Simonds Middle School. The program is designed for students in grades 6, 7 and 8th, bridging the gap between school and home while supporting students both socially and educationally.  Our tween-friendly club format allows students to make choices, giving them more control of their afternoon. There will be daily homework time with staff support as well as enriching activities, like cooking, crafts, sports and more!

The Middle School Program supports working families by running from school dismissal until 6:00pm Monday through Friday during the regular school year and from 7:30am to 6:00pm school vacation weeks.  Choose the day or days, that works best for you, with flexible enrollment options.

For more information or to sign up for the program contact Donna Sullivan at dosullivan@bpsk12.org or call the After School Program Office at 781-270-1708.

NEW- Cross Country, 2018
Marshall Simonds Middle School is excited to offer students the opportunity to participate in cross country after school this fall.  Thanks to the hard work and support of Mr. Shaun Hart, Burlington High School’s Athletic Director, students will have the chance to practice with other MSMS students and compete with other schools.  Please see below for additional information.

Practice Schedule: Monday through Friday 2:35- 4pm, beginning Tuesday, September 12, 2018.  If there is a half-day or no school, there is no practice.

Every athlete should attempt to be at every practice. The more you train, the better your results will be! With that being said, it is requested that those wishing to join cross country make at least 3 practices a week. If there are any schedule conflicts, please bring them to the coach’s attention as soon as possible.  Arrangements must be made to pick up your child at the end of every practice.

Registration: Every athlete must be registered before attending. This will be done during the first week of school.  Details will follow.

Physical: Each runner must have an updated physical on file with the school nurse (dated 8/4/17 or after).

Meet Schedule: Team will participate in 3-4 meets.  Dates will be announced once they are finalized.


AI Chatbot Presentation at ISTE 2018

Burlington High School Help Desk Students and Teachers representing the school district and community at The International Society for Technology in Education in Chicago. Thank you.

Burlington High School Help Desk

This past semester, the BHS Help Desk and Ms. Tyrrell’s Exploring Computer Science classes were fortunate to be selected by ISTE (The International Society for Technology in Education) to pilot an AI (Artificial Intelligence) Chatbot curriculum. This pilot was made possible through ISTE’s partnership with General Motors. We are doing a poster session at the ISTE 2018 conference, and our Tuesday, June 26, session is entitled, “Shared Solutions in K-12: Artificial Intelligence Using Chat Bots.” My student Gati Aher will also be presenting with us at ISTE. During the conference, there are many other sessions on AI, including “Artificial Intelligence Goes to School” which will give an overview of the program, and “Empowering Students to Develop Artificial Intelligence for Automation and K-12 Solutions.”

This pilot opened up a vast world which we had some understanding of, but we didn’t really know the technology underpinning…

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Burlington High School Post Graduation Party

The Post Grad party for the class of 2018 was held Sunday night June 3rd at Kings in
Burlington. Kings has hosted the graduates the last four years and once again it was a huge success. Kings General Manager Michael Belley and his staff did an amazing job.

We had 190 graduating seniors in attendance and many wore their 2018 Red Devil T-Shirt that they received at post-grad party registration. Each year BHS art teacher, Keith Mistler has his senior students create and submit potential logos for the graduation T-Shirt. Only one logo is chosen. This year, student Kosta Stamides, designed the T-Shirt logo. The Burlington Chamber of Commerce along with the following T-Shirt donors make it possible to purchase and print up a T-Shirt for every graduating senior. An amazing keepsake!

The T-Shirt Sponsors are as follows:

3rd Ave Burlington
The Gutierrez Company
Riemer Braunstein
Burlington AFC (American Family Care urgent care)
Burlington Fitness Together
Cambridge Savings bank
Remax (Realty Experts)
Lahey Hospital and Medical Center
Exit Realty
Winbrook PROMO

Students were able to check in to Kings between 10:00 pm – 11:00 pm Sunday night. When they arrived DJ Greg Gervais from Curtis Knight Entertainment already had the tunes cranking. DJ Greg did an amazing job and many of the graduates were still dancing at 5 am. They were also able to enjoy time with classmates and friends as they bowled, played pool and video games.

At 11:30 pm Hypnotist Frank Santos Jr. began his show. This is always a highlight of the night.  Frank does a phenomenal job of hypnotizing a group, as their classmates watch and laugh in hysterics. A large photo booth with a wide array of props was provided by Curtis Knight Entertainment. Many graduates enjoyed the photo booth throughout the entire night. Additional entertainment was provided by FUN Enterprises, Inc. This included Two Tarot Card Readers, Two Airbrush Tattoo Artists and an amazing Roving Magician. Graduates lined up throughout the night to enjoy all of this entertainment.

On staff, we had Registered Nurses, Officer Fournier, Officer Devlin, Principal Mr. Mark
Sullivan, Assistant Principals Deb Deacon, and Rick Sheehan. In addition, the Class Advisors, Mrs. DiCroce and Mr. Regan, were in attendance, as well as dozens and dozens of parent volunteers throughout the night.

Chicken Fingers, French Fries, soft drinks, and waters were donated by Kings. Tony Cs
donated trays of Mac and Cheese, Chips and Dip, as well Caesar Salad. Pizzas were donated by Pizza Works, Flatbread, Burlington House of Pizza and Dominoes. Newtowne Grille donated Loaded Tater Tots, Not Your Average Joe’s donated Bread and Oil and Papa Gino’s donated Cheesy Bread. Coffee, Donuts, and Munchkins were donated by Dunkin Donuts.

With Gift cards donated by Wegmans, Shaw’s and Market Basket we were able to buy ice cream, fruit, muffins, juice, and milk. Desserts were donated by LaCascia’s and Roma’s Bakery.  Throughout the night we raffled off gift cards, as well as donations from Xtend Barre and Roots Yoga.

As each senior left 5:00 am, they were given a gift bag which included a pair of sunglasses that were created by three of the graduating seniors; Coleman Began, Dylan MacKinnon, and Jeff Russo. The name of their company is Against the Grain. The sunglasses were packaged in a unique wooden case that displayed the Burlington High logo. The gift bags also included water bottles donated by the Burlington Education Foundation, accessories from CrossFit Exclamation, as well as coupons for free coffee at True North, free classes to Xtend Barre and discounts at Bed Bath and Beyond.

This party would not be possible without our Post Grad Party Committee, as well as all of our parent volunteers and the following sponsors:

American LegionMillican-MacKenzie Post 273
Axial Financial
Bedford Farms Ice Cream
Burlington’s Patrolmen’s Assoc
Burlington Police Command Officers Union
Burlington Firefighters Local 2313
Burlington Rotary Club
Burlington Educator’s Assoc
W. Gochis Insurance Agency, Inc.
Gedick Bros
Ernie and Ruth Covino
Gulde Insurance Agency
LTB Insurance
Mount Hope Christian Center
Pandolfo Company, Inc
PTO Fox Hill
PTO Memorial
Riemer & Braunstein Robert C. Buckley, Esq.

7C Learns about Water Filtration with help from MilliporeSigma!

Burlington is so fortunate to have corporate citizens who are invested in our public schools. Thank you MilliporeSigma.

Marshall Simonds Middle School

MilliporeSigma, a biotechnology company with offices in Burlington and Billerica, returned to Marshall Simonds Middle School on Thursday to work with students on Team 7C.  This is part of a community outreach program meant to pair students with real-life scientists.

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MSMS 8th Grader Navya Garg to be Published in The Massachusetts High School Magazine of the Arts

Marshall Simonds Middle School

Burlington, MA: Navya Garg’s photography, “Chameleon” was selected for publication in The Massachusetts High School Magazine of the Arts, the only statewide print and online publication featuring jury-selected artwork, photography, poetry and creative writing by students in grades 8 to 12. Navya Garg is an 8th grader at Marshall Simonds Middle School.

“Chameleon” was selected from over 700 works submitted by teens from schools and community organizations across the Commonwealth. All published works are juror-selected to ensure artistic excellence. Through this selective process, The Marble Collection, nonprofit publisher of The Massachusetts High School Magazine of the Arts, strives to assemble the most diverse and acclaimed collection of work.

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Burlington Police Memo on School Safety

The Burlington Police provided a brief overview of some of the safety protocols in place at this evening’s school committee meeting.  The memo below is one that was provided by the Burlington Police last week in response to parent concerns. 

Many parents have expressed concerns over school safety after the deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

These events are very rare

While we can’t promise that this will never happen here in Burlington, we do want parents to know that mass shooting incidents at schools are incredibly rare. There are more than 132,000 K-12 schools in the United States at last count, with approximately 60,000,000 (Sixty Million) students. The odds of any child being injured or killed in any type of school shooting are less than one in one million. This is being pointed out, not to downplay the seriousness of the issue, but rather to put in perspective, these types of events in relationship to other potential dangers that we additionally need to be aware of. Statistically, the greater dangers to our children are accidents (especially, by far, automobile accidents), homicides outside of schools and suicides. Less than 3% of all homicides with young victims occur in or near a school.

Low Frequency but Very High Risk

However, because of the amount of fear that these attacks generate and the devastating effects they have on a school and a community, we have invested a great deal of funding, time and effort into planning, prevention, protection, mitigation and training for these events.

Our Strategy

We want to let the community know that we are doing everything in our power to make our schools safe and we are writing this to share some of the things that we are doing. We want to make sure that anyone with bad intentions knows that Burlington is not a good place to succeed in a violent attack.  At the same time, we also want to be mindful of not revealing too many details relating to security measures. Our efforts are focused on enhanced presence and increased situational awareness, specialized training and equipment, infrastructure upgrades, public education as well as proactive policies and procedures.

Enhanced Presence

Our protective efforts include having two full-time officers as dedicated School Resource Officers. Additionally, we have another patrol officer dedicated to these duties on a part-time basis. To enhance police presence in the schools, our officers conduct regular, “Park & Walk” assignments during school hours. This serves multiple purposes by deterring any individual with malicious intent; familiarizing officers with the internal layout and with what is “normal” at each school; as well as letting the children regularly see our officers and be more comfortable with their presence at any time.


To increase situational awareness, we have video displays in our police dispatch center with a real-time feed from the external school cameras. We also have a monitor in our dispatch center with a Twitter feed using the free tool TweetDeck to monitor news networks, local police departments and emergency management agencies. This alerts us to breaking news and situations at the local, regional and national level faster than other news sources.

Specialized Training

The Burlington Police Department is nearly unmatched by any area department in the amount of advanced training we have on this topic. All of our officers typically shoot four times per year including indoor qualification, outdoor qualification, at least one surprise on-duty shooting drill and active simulator training. We regularly discuss mass shootings and what our response would be in our daily roll calls and watch the newest training videos whenever they become available. All of our officers see our school response plans prominently displayed in the roll call room every day when they come into work. Several of our officers have been to advanced active shooter, emergency management and school violence training seminars all over the United States and Canada. There are too many programs and certifications to list but some of our most notable trainings include the Active Shooter Training Conference offered by ALERRT, Active Shooter certification offered by FLETC at multiple U.S. locations, and “The Briefings” National School Safety Symposium at Columbine High School. We have brought major training events to us by hosting a two-day program with national experts on school violence and school safety that was attended by nearly 200 area police officers, including a large number of Burlington officers. A number of our officers are also active members of the NEMLEC SWAT and RRT Teams. These officers receive additional tactical training and gain experience in working with other agencies to handle larger scale crisis incidents.

We have partnered with the Burlington Schools and the Burlington Fire Department to send their representatives, along with our officers, to some of these advanced programs. Perhaps our proudest training achievement is being the first police and fire departments in the area to adopt, “Rescue Task Force.” Rescue Task Force is the state of the art in active shooter response and involves close coordination between police, fire and EMS personnel to greatly decrease the numbers of casualties at a hazardous event.

To bring us to the highest level of readiness, we have conducted a large number of small, “Readiness Drills” which are conducted on-duty to prepare officers to respond to a number of situations. These drills ensure that officers become very comfortable with response tactics and check the functioning of all of their equipment on a regular basis. We regularly conduct Lockdown Drills in partnership with all of our schools and we have been doing this on a regular basis for several years. Additionally, we have conducted a number of more advanced drills, tabletop exercises and larger active shooter exercises in partnership with the Burlington Schools, Burlington Mall, Lahey Clinic and other companies in town. We have included area police and fire departments in some of our tabletops and exercises as they would be called upon to assist in any major incident.

Our efforts have been so advanced, that we have officers who are now in demand to speak at local and international conferences on some of these topics and to help other police and fire agencies in the area adopt some of our initiatives.


The Burlington Police Department is very well equipped for emergency situations. All of our vehicles carry a well-stocked first aid kit, defibrillators and additional tactical gear to help in any emergency. Each officer is issued an electronic access card so that they can enter any school at any time. We have specialized weapons including patrol rifles that match anything that we might come across. We also have multiple “less-lethal” launchers that can be used in certain situations when firearms aren’t involved. We have tools that can get us into any type of building at any time, and we have additional ballistic protection to protect against large caliber rifles. All of our officers carry issued tourniquets on their duty belts that they are trained with to control extreme bleeding to extremities.


The Burlington School Department has fortified certain parts of the buildings using discreet techniques that will keep intruders out or, once inside, slow them down. The schools have electronic key cards to limit access only to those who are authorized to be in certain buildings. This is a great safety improvement as compared to traditional locks and keys. All of the schools keep their exterior doors locked throughout the day and access to each building is only allowed at certain entry points. Guests need to be “buzzed” in by school personnel who can see who they are allowing in. All schools have an emergency system that allows for warning messages to be broadcast in each school while automatically alerting the Burlington Police Department over the police radio frequency. All phones in the system are being upgraded so that teachers can page areas of their schools to warn others of any dangers. All classroom doors can be quickly and easily locked from the inside.  These doors, even with tools, are very hard to break through.

All Hazards Policies and Procedures – The Standard Response Protocol

There is no way to know what will happen in the future, but the Burlington School Department has adopted an all-hazards emergency plan called the, “Standard Response Protocol” that covers any type of emergency. The plan is very simple and people only need to remember four responses, “Lockdown, Lockout, Shelter and Evacuate.” The SRP addresses any type of hazard including active shooters, tornadoes, earthquakes, chemical spills, bomb threats and fires. It also covers the most common events that we have seen repeatedly in Burlington, which are hazards outside the school that don’t call for a full lockdown response. These incidents have included a moose in a student parking lot, nearby bank robberies, fleeing felons and suspicious people nearby. To learn more about the SRP parents and residents can go to the I LOVE YOU GUYS website and download all of the materials for free.


For active measures during an active shooter event we recommend the, “Avoid, Deny, Defend” protocol recommended by ALERRT, Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training. ALERRT was founded in 2002 to study active shooter incidents and was named the national standard in Active Shooter Response Training by the FBI in 2013. There are other systems that are similar including, “Run, Hide, Fight” and ALICE. We have officers who have been trained and certified in a number of these systems and we recommend the ALERRT method for our students and teachers.

For bomb threats, our plan is distributed by the Massachusetts State Police and takes into account a risk assessment to determine what actions are reasonable under the circumstances. As a result, our response to bomb threats is very balanced and based on what is recommended by the Massachusetts State Police, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

Our schools will soon finish adopting the Standard Reunification Method (SRM). This is a protocol developed by I LOVE YOU GUYS to cover how children are to be reunited with their parents after a serious incident. One thing that has been learned through many tragic events, is that children can’t simply be dismissed as normal after a school shooting. The SRM will ensure that parents aren’t left in an unnecessary state of panic while searching for their children and that all children are safely returned to the appropriate custodial parent in an orderly fashion. The materials for this program are all available on the I LOVE YOU GUYS website.

Public Education

When the Burlington Schools adopted the SRP, officers went to each school to discuss the safety protocols with any concerned parents. This was done during PTO meetings and it was offered on a number of nights so that parents who missed a meeting could attend at another school. We provide training annually to all of our school bus drivers on the SRP and Active Shooter Response. Our officers regularly conduct workplace violence / active shooter training for a number of facilities in Burlington. They have been doing this training for several years now and have a great deal of experience teaching this subject to a wide array of audiences. Officers also do site assessments and make recommendations based on the latest training in crime prevention and infrastructure protection.

In addition, our officers teach safety and self-defense programs to a number of audiences in town and specifically to children. These programs are called RAD and radKIDS. The RAD program (Rape Aggression Defense) is taught to high school girls and teaches self-defense options and how to avoid crime, date rape and sexual assault. The radKIDS program (Resisting Defense Aggressively) is a program that teaches boys and girls how to avoid all of the most deadly hazards to children as well as defensive techniques to avoid potential abduction. RadKIDS covers dog safety, pool safety, fire safety, traffic safety, poisons, calling 911, bullying, what to do if finding a gun, stranger tricks, how to deal with strangers and self-defense. We have been offering these programs since 2005 and have taught hundreds of children and high school girls how to be safer. We also have similar programs for senior citizens and for men and we offer all of these programs at no cost to the community.

To learn more about RAD, RAD for Men and RAD for Seniors go to: http://www.rad-systems.com

For information on radKIDS go to: http://www.radkids.org/

The Burlington Police department is committed to community safety and our officers will visit any facility or group in town to talk about these topics. We are also happy to visit any school at any time to talk to parents about the issues around school safety.

To Learn More

To learn more about our community safety efforts, contact Lieutenant Glen Mills at gamills@bpd.org or Sergeant Timothy McDonough at tmcdonough@bpd.org.  Please contact Lieutenant Mills to learn more about RAD and radKIDS.

For any questions on school safety issues, contact Detective Thomas Fournier tfournier@bpd.org or Officer Keith Sheppard ksheppard@bpd.org