An Open Letter from Philip Conrad, Bedford Superintendent of Schools

Hi Everyone,

I am looking forward to seeing you at the Town Meeting tomorrow morning.  Please note that as I write this at 4:30 on Friday afternoon, the meeting is scheduled for Saturday, July 11, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. on Sabourin Field at BHS.  

Jonathan Pierre ~ President of the BHS Class of 2020

Jonathan Pierre’s laundry list of extracurriculars could hardly be more extensive. Bedford High School Class President, member of the football team, student representative on Student  Council, Challenge Success Committee, National Honor Society, The Calculus Project, founder of the Ground-Up Initiative, and stints with the track, lacrosse, and wrestling teams. The young man from South Boston’s resumé certainly stands out, but for Jonathan Pierre the road to success has not always been the most direct.

Reflections ~ A Student’s Perspective on Senior Year, 2020

Back in April, I was approached by my English teacher to contribute a piece of writing to what would eventually become a collection of Shawsheen-student perspectives on Covid-19 and its effect on our lives. Essentially, my words would be included in a published book that would be accessible to students in the future. As I reflect on this piece of writing now, over two months later, there was one line in particular that I feel embodies my entire experience.
My name is Grace Clark, and I can now officially say I am a graduate of Shawsheen Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School. A Bedford resident my whole life, my decision to go to Shawsheen wasn’t exactly what was expected of me back in middle school …

Looking Back to National History Day, 2020 ~ A Bedford High School Tradition

For the past 14 years, National History Day has been an important milestone for the Junior Class at Bedford High School. From the winter evening when all the projects are shown to classmates, parents, and friends through the season, typically culminating in some of the BHS projects competing at the University of Maryland in June.

Read on to learn more about this year’s NHD competition, the projects, and their creators.

Op-Ed: A Message from Shawsheen Tech on Reopening the School

A message from Shawsheen Tech’s Interim Superintendent-Director Melanie L. Hagman and Superintendent-Director Designate Bradford L. Jackson, Ed.D.

Today, Governor Baker’s office and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released their initial guidance about reopening schools this fall. We applaud the level of thought and care that went into the development of this guidance, and share its goal of the safe return of as many students as possible to in-person school settings in order to best meet students’ academic, social, and emotional needs.

Op-Ed: A Message from Superintendent Jon Sills on Reopening Bedford Schools

Today, Governor Baker and Commissioner of Education Jeff Riley released their initial guidance about reopening schools this fall.  We applaud the level of thought and care that went into the development of this guidance and share its goal of the safe return of as many students as possible to in-person school settings in order to best meet students’ academic, social, and emotional needs.  Our thanks go as well to all of the stakeholders who have contributed to this plan, including health professionals, the Massachusetts Superintendents Association, and the teachers’ unions.

MCC Graduation Honors Fourteen Bedford Residents

Fourteen Bedford residents completed their studies at Middlesex Community College with a virtual graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 21, 2020. 

On behalf of the Board and readers of The Bedford Citizen, we offer congratulations on this achievement to the following Bedford residents. 

Online Gallery Shows Work by All of Bedford’s Art Students

The coronavirus pandemic and resulting closures of nearly everything didn’t succeed in sweeping Bedford’s 26th annual K-12 Art Show into oblivion.  Originally organized by a group of volunteers under the ArtLink banner, this year’s online gallery is the work of the Bedford Schools’ Art Department.

Program Director Sean Hagan wrote, “As you know, we were unable to hold our annual exhibit due to Covid-19. The art department still wanted to honor the great work of our students, so we have embarked on a massive online project.”

Lane School ‘Clap Out’ 2020

Lane School’s 80+ teachers lined the school’s driveway on Friday, to celebrate the last day of school and to bid adieu to the 5th-grade students heading to the John Glenn Middle School next September.

The Lane Lion was on hand to greet the parade, and many of the cars were decorated to match the day.

Scores of families took part in the parade, lined up ahead of the start at high noon. The line of cars filled Sweetwater Avenue, all the way to North Road.

Class of 2024 ~ JGMS Luau Parade and Moving On Celebration

Bright sunshine, blue skies, a sea of colorful tropical leis, a few grass skirts, and smiles aplenty greeted members of the Class of 2024 during the JGMS Moving On Parade celebration on Monday, June 15.  JGMS principal, Kevin Tracey, and faculty members sporting tropical attire and leis lined the parade circle to greet the students who arrived masked and in decorated vehicles, both vintage and new. The atmosphere was festive and observant of social distancing. Students were presented with their certificates, class gifts, and took advantage of a photo op with Principal Tracey and a colorful tropical backdrop.

Following the parade, Principal Tracey still attired in his Hawaiian shirt and lei presided over a virtual Class of 2024 Awards Ceremony. Moving On students and families were present via Zoom and others were invited to watch the live Bedford TV coverage. The National Anthem was presented by the Eighth Grade chorus led by Amy Budka and accompanied by Thomas Griffin.  After welcoming everyone, Tracey took an opportunity to thank and acknowledge the many individuals (parents, JGMS faculty and staff,
Bedford school administrators, Davis and Lane teachers, and Bedford community members) who have supported the students throughout their educational experience and especially during this Covid-19  period of distance learning

School Committee Confirms Y2020-21 Budget Cuts

At their June 16 meeting, the School Committee approved the 2020-21 school year budget, approved changes to the JGMS and BHS handbooks, and approved a two month contract for retiring Superintendent Jon Sills to assume an associate superintendent position from July 1 through August 31, 2020.

Bedford Education Foundation Announces its Summer Grant

We at the Bedford Education Foundation (BEF) hope that this message finds you and yours well at this challenging time for our community and our country as a whole.  Now, for some good news…

The BEF Grant Committee has voted to award the Bedford Public Schools a $15,000 grant for two site licenses, one each for Davis and Lane Schools, for the Lexia Core5 Reading (Lexia) program. Lexia is an online tool that students in grades K-5 will use to build their reading skills. The program supports educators in providing differentiated literacy instruction for students of all abilities from grades Pre-K to 5.

Back-to-Back School Committee Meetings Push Proposed FY21 Budget Closer To Reality

The School Committee met twice last week, once on June 10 and again on June 11.

June 10th Meeting
At their June 10 meeting, the School Committee approved a $1,278,000 reduction to the originally proposed FY21 School Budget. This vote did not approve cuts to specific line items, rather a collective reduction.

June 11th Meeting
The following night, at their June 11 meeting, the School Committee deliberated the reductions that were proposed at the previous meeting.

The School Committee was met by a vocal group of parents, advocating for special education, world language, and the gifted and talented program. Superintendent Jon Sills and School Committee Chair JoAnn Santiago assured parents that the comments would be taken into consideration.

Celebrating the Class of 2020 ~ The Citizen’s Special Tribute Edition

Today in the virtual pages of The Bedford Citizen we bring you our first-ever Special Tribute Edition dedicated to all of Bedford’s high school seniors. Whether you attended Bedford High School, Shawsheen Tech, or an independent high school we salute your achievements and your resilience in this very unusual year.

Click this link in the actual story to read The Bedford Citizen’s Tribute to the Class of 2020. After graduation The Citizen will offer this special edition in PDF format,
so it can be printed and saved alongside your yearbook and other mementos.

I know there was a lot surrounding graduation that didn’t happen this year…but we are struck by the creative and innovative ways that so much did happen…and may even happen yet. Virtual awards are not as much fun as the in-person events, but our kids got recognized. While photos of friends in caps and gowns are not as wonderful as photos together in caps and gowns, hundreds of pictures and videos are being shared through The Citizen. Yard signs dot our local landscape…and for the first time were hand-delivered by BHS principal Heather Galante and teacher Charlie Humphrey. Cap-and-gown pick-up was transformed into a mini-parade which made a socially distanced attempt to allow students and teachers to see one another one last time.

To the Class of 2020: We’ve brought all of this and more together into a single edition of The Bedford Citizen. This edition captures the ways in which parents, teachers, administrators, town officials and employees, and Bedford at-large came together in the Year of the Pandemic to ensure that your graduation would be recognized and remembered as the important milestone it is…Covid-19 be damned!

A huge thank-you and shout-out to the many hands that brought this special edition to life: Heather Galante; Andy Pigeon; Charlie Humprey; Patrick Morrissey; Jonathan Pierre; Keith Mangan; Karen Santos; the 2020 BHS Senior Parents Committee; Jeff Hoyland; Rep. Ken Gordon; and all those who generously shared their videos and photographs with us.

The Bedford Citizen’s Tribute to the Class of 2020 was coordinated by Ginni Spencer with help from Gene Kalb, Meredith McCulloch, Mike Rosenberg, Jordan Stewart, and Julie Turner.

Ninth Annual Tenacity Challenge Grapples with Racism, Reparations, and the 2020 Elections

For the first time since its inception, the L&A2 Tenacity Challenge, could not be held in person. Undeterred, however, by the limitations of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bedford High School virtually hosted its annual academic scholarship competition for Latino and African-American high school students from urban and suburban districts across Massachusetts.

Even with the limitations resulting from a mid-semester shift to on-line learning, teams from Framingham, Lowell, Methuen and Newton North, in their determination to compete in the ninth annual challenge collaborated and prepared remotely to present arguments and analyses on this year’s theme – Racism, Reparations and the 2020 Elections.

Recognizing Bedford Students in the Class of 2020 at Shawsheen Tech

Like countless seniors around the nation, Shawsheen Tech’s Class of 2020 has a distinctly unique Senior Year. This year’s graduating class includes 5 students from Bedford.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Andy Pidgeon for helping The Bedford Citizen to recognize these students for their hard work and determination during their time at Shawsheen Tech. Shawsheen’s graduation ceremony is set for three evenings — June 16, 17, and 18 pending approval of the Billerica Board of Health. Final details will be released as soon as they are available.

A Message from Superintendent Jon Sills ~ Reductions to the FY21 School Budget

Editor’s Note: The following message regarding reductions to the FY21 budget, was sent by School Superintendent Jon Sills  to families on Sunday, June 7, 2020

As you may be aware, the school department is required to reduce the FY21 budget that we originally created with the support of the School Committee, and which received the support of the Finance Committee back in January, by $1,278,000.  This is due to over $2,000,000 in reduced state and local revenues.

While we are not reducing below our FY20 budget number, we are significantly reducing what we originally proposed for FY21.  The $1,278,000 net reductions change our FY21 budget from a 3.5% increase over FY20 plus a $450,000 extra fund for what were extraordinary out-of-district special education costs, to a .4% increase plus the extra special education funds.  In looking at where to make these changes, we could not simply eliminate the new positions we had asked for, as these are needed to meet our special education/IEP ethical and legal obligations and anticipated increases in emotional and mental health needs.

Click the following links in the actual document:

Read the FY21 Budget Chart – Bedford School Department 06072020

The School Committee will meet in remote session at noon on Wednesday, June 10; click this link for the agenda and instructions for joining the meeting

Saluting Bedford’s Spring Athletes ~ 2020, the Vanished Season

Thanks to Mr. Hoyland for memorializing the 2019 season for the spring teams, and to Mr. Mangan for his roster of all the athletes who would have competed.

When the coronavirus pandemic struck, Bedford’s spring athletic season was just beginning to get organized.

When the stay-at-home order went into effect in mid-March, the season ended before it began.

A look back at Spring, 2019