February 1, 2024

Alcott Newsletter

February 2024

Happy Groundhog Day Alcott!  I can’t believe how quickly this year seems to be speeding by.  It feels like just yesterday I was wishing everyone a joyful December vacation and yet, somehow, here we are ushering in the beginning of Black History Month, Lunar New Year, the 100th Day of School and February vacation!  In this month’s newsletter, you will find information about the upcoming breakfast program, progress reports, a new staff introduction, a review of our emergency preparedness drills, and much more.

School Breakfast Program:  We are excited to announce the start of daily School Breakfast service at our CPS elementary schools beginning Monday February 12th!! All district families will have the ability to preorder their student’s breakfast via our online meal ordering platform NutriSlice. Breakfast meals can be order up to 5 days in advance, and up until 7 am on the day of meal service. Breakfast will be served in each school’s cafeteria from 8:40 am until 9 am. Due to the Universal Free Meals legislation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, these breakfast meals will be available free of charge to all students. For menu selections and preordering please remember to visit our NutriSlice Online Meal Ordering Platform

If you have any questions or need assistance creating a NutriSlice account for your student, please email our Department of Nutrition & Food Service: foodservice@concordps.org

Progress Reports: Progress reports will be posted to the parent portal in Aspen on February 15th.  Reports are available on the portal for approximately one month, but can be downloaded and saved as .pdf files.  You can access the Parent Portal here. A link to request a password reset can be found at that site or you can email parentportal@concordps.org.

Core Value Focus: It was so wonderful to see, hear and experience all of the acts of caring that students engaged in during the month of January as a part of our core value focus.  In the picture below, you can see how Mrs. O’Rourke encouraged her students to think about what it looks like to be caring in the library.

As a reminder, at Alcott, we strive to be a caring, cooperative, respectful community of learners.  In February, we will focus on what it means to be a cooperative member of our school community.

Welcome New Staff: I am excited to share the news that we have a second school adjustment counselor joining Alcott this month.  Latoya Ogunbona will be joining our current school counselor, Rene Kashmiri, and our school psychologist, Brigette Sayles, in supporting the social/emotional needs of all of our students.  Prior to transitioning into the field of school based mental health, Ms. Ogunbona served as a METCO director for more than a decade.  We are very happy that she is joining our community!

Climate Survey: This year, we are surveying all families about their experience within the schools. The results of this anonymous survey will help Alcott and the District better understand families’ experiences and perceptions. The survey data will be used to identify strengths and areas for growth.  Families should have recently received an individual link from an email entitled Concord Public Schools (MA) Request for Feedback.

Informance: There will be an All-CPS 5th Grade Band Winter Informance on Thursday, February 15, at 6:30 pm, in the Willard auditorium. The event will run one hour and conclude no later than 7:30 p.m.  An “Informance” is similar to a performance, though the goal is to make the evening informal as families watch how instruction is provided during a typical Band rehearsal. The students are excited about this opportunity to demonstrate what they do every week during class.

Celtics Playbooks Initiative with CMS: I am excited to share that our 5th graders have the opportunity to be introduced to the Celtics Playbook Initiative this month.  On February 8th, student leaders from the middle school will be here to introduce our 5th graders to this powerful anti-discrimination and bias prevention program.  In addition to being an invaluable standalone workshop, it is an introduction to the program that they will participate in during their three years at CMS and so serves as one of many steps in their transition to 6th grade!

Diversity without Divisiveness: Families are invited to join this series on understanding and interacting with Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) practices in education.  It is geared for parents and anyone interested in learning what DEI is and how it can be practiced inclusively and constructively. The three 90-minute sessions will each have a different focus that will support participants in learning about DEI and what they can do to support DEI best practices in education.  Please visit this flier for more information.

Coffee with the Principal: February’s coffee with the principal is scheduled for Friday, February 9th from 9:30-10:15am.  This coffee is virtual.  Please join for casual conversation, questions and connection.  A zoom link will be sent out closer to the event.

Alcott’s Emergency Preparedness Drills: This last update includes information about Alcott’s emergency preparedness drills.

Since the start of the school year, we have practiced both bus evacuations and fire evacuations in collaboration with our School Resource Officer, Detective Cara Paladino, the Concord Fire Department and the CPS transportation department.

Our Bus Evacuation drill involves students practicing how to exit the bus in the event of an emergency in the most efficient and safe manner.  Members of the Concord Public Schools Transportation Department and Concord Police Department were on hand and commended our students in their efficiency and ability to follow directions.  Bus Evacuations take place 1-2 times a year.

We have also held three Fire Drills already this year, which are overseen by the Concord Fire Department.  All three were completed in great time.

After February Break, we will be completing a Lockdown drill.  As you may recall, all staff have been trained in the most up to date ALICE protocol.   The ALICE protocol helps schools prepare for the threat of an intruder or active shooter.  ALICE stands for:

  • Alert – individuals remain alert to surroundings to make the best decision

  • Lockdown – used if an evacuation is not a safe option

  • Inform – communicate any information available in real time

  • Counter – create noise, movement, distance and distraction (used only if evacuation is not possible and an intruder has entered your area)

  • Evacuate – when safe to do so, remove yourself from the zone of danger

Staff are trained to use their judgment to determine which of the five elements of ALICE are most appropriate to use in a potentially dangerous situation.

Lockdown drills are announced and can occur any number of times throughout the year.  These drills involve staff locking their classroom doors, turning off the lights, and positioning themselves in a location that is out of sight and in accordance with ALICE guidance.  An instance where we might put this into practice would be if an individual without authorization to be in contact with students gained entry into the building.  We inform students about this in a developmentally appropriate manner – highlighting that we practice being out of sight to keep everyone safe should a stranger ever enter the school building without permission.

Whole School Evacuation drills may be announced, can occur any number of times throughout the year, and involve relocating the entire staff and student body from the campus to our reunification site. In the event of an evacuation drill, the Concord Police Department closes the streets along our evacuation route and we practice our relocation protocol.   An example of when we might use this protocol would be if we lost heat in the winter months.

Another part of our safety plan you may have heard about is what we refer to as Shelter in Place.  We utilize shelter in place mode (restricting students to a particular area of the building) when a medical or environmental issue arises and we need a clear path for responders and/or to protect the confidentiality of the individual having a medical issue.  Instruction continues as usual during a shelter in place so this is not a safety procedure we typically drill with students.

We teach students that lockdowns, evacuations and shelters in place are steps that we may take to keep everyone safe during any number of situations.  Please know that we will not be explicitly using the terminology “active shooter” when explaining these drills to students though we will describe them as practices we might implement to keep them safe from any possible dangers that could occur while they are at school.  We will share explanations similar to the ones included in this letter and highlight that there are a number of different options we can follow to keep everyone safe.

If you have any questions about our emergency preparedness drills or anything else in February’s update, please do not hesitate to reach out!


Naomi Krakow