Expressing Our Appreciation

View this article about our community project in the Tri-Town Transcript:
“Boxford Students Create Thank-You Collage for Teachers and Staff” 

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Click this link to view our original heart-felt community project, on Canva:

And here are the words of the poem:

We love and miss our teachers and staff
Because we appreciate all that you do
For your students, our families, and the future—
So we made this poem for you.

Thank you for helping us learn about the world
So we grow up helping it heal.
Because of you we learn to read and write,
And can express what we think and feel.

Thank you for helping us learn to use skills
That solve problems and that create good plans.
Because of you we can work on our own or in groups—
Using our minds, our hearts, and our hands.

Thank you for encouraging our curiosity
To ask questions like how and why.
Because of you we understand our environment
And can care for our earth, life and sky.

Thank you for helping us learn to think big,
Use teamwork and learn from mistakes.
Because of you we support each other and we know
That together we have what it takes.

Thank you for creating a culture that values
Different people and perspectives and minds.
Because of you we all know we each matter so much
You inspire us to care and be kind.

Happy News Oct 2019 – Mar 2020

Sweetness Abounds at Ziti With Your Sweetie

Sixth Grade Service Projects:
One Mission Cancer Care & Birthdays in a Box

Geography Game Show with Neal Nichols in Grade 4

Mime Show with Scot Cannon in Grade 4

Discovery Museum: Physical Changes of Matter in Grade 2

Kindness Rocks! Assembly and Rocks at Cole School

Ben Franklin Tells His Life Story to Third Graders

Native American Storytelling with Diane Edgecomb in Grade 3

Sounds Like Fun! Sound Waves & Vibes in First Grade

Sticks & Stones: Words DO Matter at Spofford Pond

Wizards Assemblies &
Harlem Wizards vs. Boxford Breakers

Olympic Fencer Molly Sullivan Sliney visits Third Grade

Spooky Fun at the PTO Halloween Party!

Sticks & Stones: Words DO Matter at Cole School

Happy News Sept 2019

What an AMAZING start to the year! We are so grateful for all the great energy~ from parents, teachers, kids and community. Here are a few highlights from this month!

Kindness All Around Us!

Our Kindness Craze fundraiser brought heartwarming Acts of Kindness to our schools, homes and community, as well as almost $13,000 to put toward this year’s Curriculum Enrichment and Teacher Wishes in the schools. Many thanks to everyone who participated!

We were so proud of the kids and families doing many different Acts of Kindness. We heard about kind notes to friends and family, meals for neighbors, cards & boxes for sick children, lemonade stands for causes, cleaning up neighborhoods, reading to younger children, friendship bracelets & pins, helping coaches, thank-you cards, household chores, new friends on the playground, extra compliments, passing kindness cards, food donations, hat donations, animal shelter donations, happy welcome greetings …. and the list goes on! 

We talked with many kids about the chain reaction of kindness, how it feels to receive kindness, and how that motivates us to “pay it forward” to others. At Spofford Pond, we created a literal “kindness chain” where the kids each wrote a kindness they received, and an Act of Kindness they did. It got very long!

And speaking of receiving kindness, Masconomet students did Acts of Kindness for both our Cole School and Spofford Pond students by greeting them with high-fives, fist-bumps and happy wishes as they arrived at school. They even joined the Cole School Morning Meeting to read and talk about kindness with the kids. Everybody was beaming, and the fun, kind energy was definitely contagious.

Many, many thanks to Masconomet for sending us some of your kind, spirited students. They are great role models for our young ones! Many thanks also to our school principals, teachers and staff for all the encouragement and support. The friendly grade competition and playful traveling trophy added a fun element to the cause!

Finally, our sincere thanks to the parents who helped their kids participate. Our goal was to involve the students in being active participants in the system that works to enrich their learning ~ and to have their role be meaningful, authentic and positive for the whole community. We couldn’t have done this without you!



Gettin’ Down with Fall Fun at the Fall FunDown

Friday, Sept 27 was a gorgeous Fall day filled with delicious, festive energy at Spofford Pond playground. We had grilled meats from Texas Roadhouse, who happily handled all the added walk-in attendees. Thank you! We also had lots of veggies, some candy for sale, and scrumptious fresh apples donated from our local Ingaldsby Farm. Everybody loved them!!!

On the fields, kids played flag football and soccer, as well as several lawn games. The playground thrived, the music energized, and on the blacktop kids played basketball, hula-hooped, jumped skip-balls, chased bubbles and posed as the “I” in KIND.

Several tables were also set up for Acts of Kindness. Sixth-Graders hosted a table for friendship bracelets and pins, and this is where the “kindness chain” began. People made cheer-up cards for sick children, made thank-you cards for local fire and police, and also made their own cards for mom, dad or a friend. The “kindness card” was passed around, and everyone seemed happy enjoying the time together.

Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped make this event happen, and all the families who showed up to be part of the fun. We were all delighted to see the principals and so many teachers there, too! Thank you for extending your week to be there with us. We appreciate it, and all you do!

Final thanks to the mosquitos for waiting till sundown before invading the FunDown. The timing was perfect, as we had all skedaddled by then.


Teacher Wishes Support Collaboration, Exploration, Playful Learning and Empathy 

Each year, the teachers of Cole School and Spofford Pond submit requests to the PTO for classroom learning tools beyond what is provided by the school budget. These range from magazine subscriptions and educational games, to technology and experiential tools, to creative project kits and programs, to furniture for sitting, working, and storage ~ and much more. Featured in our photos below are flip tables, virtual reality goggles, a Q-ball game, picture books, writing sand, and Dot seating for a floor table.

From fourth-grade teacher, Laura Valzania: “The kids absolutely love using the whiteboard tables for math collaboration, in particular. The tables are great because they flip from table position to stand-up whiteboard position, making thinking clearly visible for group work. The dots are so much more comfortable for our floor table and provide opportunities for much-needed movement (they rock and swivel)… The kids are most grateful for your support.”

From Cole School education support specialist, Amy Vera: Thank you so much for all the supplies and books from PTO Wishes for our learning center! We greatly appreciate all of them, especially the new multi-sensory sand for our reading program, and books about kindness and empathy.”



Warm Welcome and Cool Sweets at the Ice Cream Social

Many thanks to all who came out for our first event of the year! This free social gathering at Cole School on Sept 6 was topped with sweet smiles, playful energy and a fantastic obstacle course by KidSHINE!!

Thank-you to all the volunteers who scooped, squirted, sold and cleaned up the happy sticky mess! Many thanks also to those who joined our membership by donating to Support the PTO on our website. Congratulations to Julianne Diamond, our membership raffle winner!



Joining Us is OPTIMAL!

To be included in the PTO Directory App and receive our emails, simply log in to our website at and update your account with your child’s teacher for this year. To create a new account, you will need the security code to ensure you are part of our community. It was sent home in our welcome packet at the start of the year, or you can send us an email to request it.

FYI- In the past, families were automatically included in the directory if they did not “opt out” by a certain date. This has changed to a more protective practice across the Tri-Town. It is called “OPT IN” ~ meaning you must actively go to our website in order to be included.

However, once you log in, you can also customize which information you would like to have listed in the Directory App. You can even opt out of being listed in the directory. But if that is your choice, (as absurd as this may sound, get ready…) you should still Opt In (log in to our website) to Opt Out (customize what is listed in the directory). That way you can still use our website to buy tickets to our events and donate to Support the PTO!

Below is a screen capture of the Directory App Class Directory. You will receive the App with a website donation of any amount to Support the PTO.

Thank you so much for thoughtfully opting.


Happy News May–June 2019

Looking Forward to Learning with You!

If you are interested in being involved in the Boxford PTO next year, we’d love it! We are working over the summer to develop opportunities for a variety of levels and new ways to contribute to our cause and school community. We always appreciate financial support, of course, as this is essential to our Curriculum Enrichment and Teacher Wishes programs. But we are also interested in your gifts of time, talent and involvement (in manageable chunks) because this is a valuable aspect of a healthy community.

Studies show that parent volunteerism in schools improves student success, as well as family morale — and it certainly enriches our whole learning community, as well!

Plus, this is an exciting time! As our education system continues to transform in structure, theory and methodology — fueled by the inspiration of design-thinking, social-emotional learning, project-based learning and community engagement — the possibilities are endless…

To get started: 1. Take a deep breath 2. Come forth 3. You are hired. (LOL) Then we are happy to work with you on your thoughts, how you’d like to be involved, and how your role (big or small) connects to the larger system of our goals and processes. We know you have something great to offer, and we want you to feel good about what you can give!

Please email us at or reach out to any of us individually by clicking our names below. We need help in all areas: Communication, Web Management, Directory, Community Outreach, Enrichment, Service Projects, Events, Sponsorship, Volunteer Coordination, Appreciation… and lots of TBD. 🙂

We look forward to hearing from you — and learning with you!

Michelle Fallis, Co-President
Bonnie Thornborough, Co-President
Jessica MacDonald, Secretary
Julie Cave, Events/Fundraising Chair
Diane Deeks, Treasurer
Lisa Koris, Assistant Treasurer
Tara Donnell, Member at Large
Colleen Regan, Teacher Wishes Co-Chair
Meghan Randall, Teacher Wishes Co-Chair


As we wrap up the 2018-2019 school year and head into summer, we are overwhelmed with appreciation for the wonderful people who support the good we all do together. It is impossible to thank everyone by name — so hopefully you know who you are! But we would like to especially thank Rachel Wolters for the gift of her time, skills and leadership as PTO President over the past two years. The Boxford PTO is better because of you.

Thank-you to all the good party people who came out for our Spring Fundraiser at Stonewood Tavern. We met our goal of raising $15,000 at the event, so it was a great show of community spirit and support!

We would also like to thank all the teachers and staff for your commitment to supporting what we do. We are truly touched by the generous and fun-filled activities you offer as both fundraising auction items, and meaningful events for our kids. We are also grateful for your support with our coin challenge fundraiser, and to all the parents involved in facilitating these exciting events. The activities have been numerous, and we only have photos of a few — but please know we appreciate every single dollar raised, and all the happy spirits raised, too.

Happiness Celebrated in Cole and Spofford Pond Yearbooks

Many thanks to all our dedicated photographers and designers for your diligent and heartfelt work on our yearbooks this year! With inclusion as our primary goal, we deeply appreciate the challenges you face and your valiant efforts toward ensuring that every single one of the 700+ children in our schools is represented and happy in these precious keepsakes.

Our theme this year is Happiness: the little things that cheer us up, and the deeper reflection on who we are as individuals and community members with a sense of purpose. You may have noticed that this theme is tied to the Cole School Expo songs, and the song lyrics from school and popular culture throughout the Cole yearbook. It is also represented in the Spofford Pond yearbook with original student quotations throughout the pages, answering: “happiness is…” We loved the students’ thoughtful, earnest, playful and profound comments! Happiness is also symbolized in the original bubble art used in both books. These bubbles were made by Spofford Pond students at recess, with watercolor paint bubbles, and they represent the idea of helping each other and ourselves “rise up” above troubles — to feel lighter, happier, and brighter as we spread joy to the world. Or, at the very least, the happiness of playing in summer bubbles!

Most of all, many thanks to all the happy, smiling kiddos who are the reason these yearbooks are so wonderful!!!!

Please reach out if you wish you had ordered a yearbook: Late orders do not support the Boxford PTO — so please remember to order before the deadline in the future! … But it is not too late to have the memories to keep.

And keep us in mind when you consider the time commitment you’d like to give next year. Being on the yearbook team is such a fun and rewarding job ~ capturing smiles and memories during quality times with the kids!


A Rainbow of Happiness at the Annual Color Run!

We had a very successful Color Run on Friday June 7! We were thrilled with the turnout and all the positive feedback we have received about the event. We are so grateful to Denise Cugini and Yoonjin Lee for running the event this year. Ladies, thank you for your time, dedication, and enthusiasm to make this such a fun and exciting event for our children and community.  

We would also like to thank all of our generous volunteers who gave their time, helped with signage, and allowed us to borrow their personal items for the event. We are so thankful for the Quigley family for donating the signs and tents. Thank you to our dedicated school principals and staff for your support, and our wonderful gym teachers, Mr. Aho and Mr. Petelle, who helped the kids stay on track with their hours of activity each week.  

We are grateful to our town services: Police Chief James Riter and his staff, Fire Chief Brian Geiger, and Lt. Michael Soltys for helping us make this a safe event, and to the DPW, BAA, BOH and COA for your hard work, guidance and equipment. Many thanks to the Men’s Softball League for grilling the hamburgers and hotdogs for our runners and spectators. We were thrilled to have West Village Provisions and Cookie Monstah to help feed our guests, too.    

Thank you, parents ~ for bringing your families, cheering on all the children, and supporting the PTO and our elementary schools. We appreciate you!!  

Hands On History: Reenacting the Revolution in Fifth Grade

Colonists. Conflict. Storytelling. War. Communication. Role-Playing. Rights. Laws. Revolution. On June 3, Denis Cormier of Hands on History (Commander – 7th Mass Regiment) presented an interactive, storytelling perspective during which the kids were 18th-century colonists. They got to wear, demonstrate and handle the clothing, gear, documents and lifestyle items from that time.

Commander Cormier took them through the emotions of anger at pressure from England. He infused their discussion with awareness of all the cruelty inflicted on indigenous peoples by explorers around the globe. His stories brought critical factors to life- terrible conditions and high expense in supporting troops, strategic challenges and actual battle descriptions – including key players such as George Washington, Ichabod Alden and “Mr. Nasty” Walter Butler. He explained how coat colors and markings were critical in organizing the war, and how drumming and fifing were key to communication. He told stories of women like Deborah Sampson who fought battles, and he described the role of women in supporting, feeding and caring for soldiers throughout the war. He outlined the difference between muskets and rifles, and how this determined battle proximity, as well as helmet technology including horsetail protection. He explained words like “siege” and detailed the battle of Lexington and the Siege of Boston.

Cormier concluded with insightful descriptions of the basic rights and founding principles written into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The kids all got to sign the Declaration, too, as a symbolic memento, and they also learned how the rights and protections established then are still supported today. Google the number for the White House, he said, and it comes right up for anyone to call!

GRUPO FANTASIA Totally Salsa’d the Spofford Pond School!

Culture. Music. Difficult History. Heartfelt Resourcefulness. Togetherness. Celebration. Authentic Latin music band Grupo Fantasia (Fan-ta-SEE-ah) performed for grades 3-6 in a spirited cultural enrichment assembly on May 31. Led by percussionist Angel Wagner, the group took the audience on a “tour” of the Caribbean, focusing mainly on the musical heritage of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. They taught the kids about indigenous instruments, music styles, and traditional dances — from merengue, to the cha-cha, to the “spicy mix” of salsa. They also explained how early Caribbean instruments were made by African slaves forced to destroy their own instruments, but who were inspired to create new instruments from materials in their new environment. They built hollowed-out guiros from dried gourds, maracas filled with dried seeds, and even used simple cow bells – from the farming cows. At one point, Angel played the merengue guiros faster and faster, to mimic the sound of a galloping horse. Several students were invited to demonstrate the use of rhythmic percussion, and giggled through performances of a variety of traditional dances. The assembly finished with dancing for all — and we were so grateful for this fun celebration of Latin culture!

Transportation Techsploration in Sixth Grade

History. Curiosity. Humor. Innovation. Experimentation. On May 22-23, Tom Wahle presented his hilarious, animated, super-smart Transportation assembly and workshops for sixth grade. He took the kids through history while demonstrating the application of scientific principals in several entertaining ways: a home-made hovercraft that carried a student and teacher, Humpty Dumpty on a mag-lev train, an original hot air balloon, a home-crafted Bernoulli shooter, and his own pump rocket creation. The kids were wide-eyed and rolling with laughter throughout the whole show, including when he aimed a foam airplane right at a student’s face, and it instead swirled over their heads. He brought the principals of motion vibrantly to life, and the audience was also wildly entertained when he invited their Masco interns up on stage to perform the Transportation Blues, with Mr. Wahle jamming on his harmonica. Afterward, the students got to do their own experiments with mag-lev motion in a series of hands-on workshops over two days. Keep an eye out for his next endeavors with a youtube channel he plans to start up soon!

Studying Nature in Our Own Backyard: Audubon Spring at Cole

Nature. Exploring. Observing. Asking. Connecting. In May the Cole School first, second and multiage classes were visited by the Audubon Society for their third round of on-site field-trips of the year. Visiting several different stations in the forests and fields next to Cole School, students learned about animals, insects, habitats, life-cycles, trees, flowers, energy and soil. Mrs. Russel’s class said: “It was fun to see what soil is made up of and to hike the small trail near our school to find interesting plants and trees and to talk more about how everything connects in nature.” These Audubon field-trip visits occur in Fall, Winter and Spring and are a shared sponsorship among parents, BTA/BOLT, and Boxford PTO.

“Ripple of Kindness” presented to Fifth & Sixth Grades

Loss. Sadness. Injustice. Choice. Kindness. Love. Action. On May 21 & 28 Kate Middlemiss, founder of the Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation, presented “Ripple of Kindness” during the fifth- and sixth- grade Team Times (a grade-wide time focused on Guidance topics). Kate shared the story of her son Joseph’s death, the injustice she and her husband felt, their initial emotions, and their transformation. They realized that it felt best not stay angry — but to continue spreading all the good, kind, loving energy Joseph had shared during his six years. She talked about the power of the ripple of kindness to impact numerous lives, the concept of the kindness boomerang, how they use kindness cards as one way to spread kindness, and how they even track the cards all over the world.

We are grateful to Guidance Counselor Julie Benson for bringing Kate and her presentation back for our students over the past few years. You can even ask a seventh- or eighth-grader if they remember her presentation, and what it means to them now. For more information, visit You can also watch this video she shared from Life Vest Inside ( about the kindness boomerang, and talk about what the boomerang means:

Teacher & Staff Appreciation Week May 6-10

School staff play a special role in our children’s live, so this week is a wonderful opportunity to express our appreciation for everything they give and make possible for our children. As we were raising funds for appreciation, the Massimino family offered to donate a delicious luncheon for the Cole and Spofford Pond staff! Everyone was delighted, and the amazing Italian spread — straight from the menu of their North End restaurant — was enjoyed immensely!!

Funds raised in advance contributed to part of the luncheon, which included the superintendent’s office staff, and also allowed us to give appliances to both school’s staff lounges: A new Keurig coffee maker for Cole, and a new toaster oven for Spofford Pond. Each school is also receiving a year’s supply of coffee, tea and hot chocolate, and received some stocked candy dishes for the last week of school.

Lastly— the handmade cards! The kids made amazing, thoughtful, creative cards! Thank you for helping us ensure that all our staff received some! And thank you to everyone who contributed funds, commitment and time to make this week truly special for our teachers and staff. Extra thanks to Elizabeth Palmer and Rebecca Seaha for coordinating our Appreciation!


Happy News March-April 2019

Roots of American Music in Fifth Grade

History. Culture. Music. Creativity. Experience. On April 30 our fifth-graders experienced the “Roots of American Music” performance and workshops. Roots Music Collective members Crick, Dan and Zack began on a variety of instruments with the blues at the Crossroads, and continued through jazz, country, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and on to funk, disco, rap and hip-hop. Each stop along the timeline, they talked about how the music, instruments and rhythm changed to give each its unique sound tied to the culture of that time ~ all coming from the roots of the blues.

Then the kids got to actually write their own blues song in small groups for Roots to perform! Ask them what their group wrote about, and have them sing it if they can. Blues has an A, A, B structure to it (with lots of variations). What did other groups sing the blues about? What was meaningful and what made them laugh? How can you use the blues to express the emotion of something troubling at home?

Go Bruins!

On Friday, April 26 Blades and the Bruins community outreach team held a playoff spirit rally at Spofford Pond!


Miraculous Mice in Kindergarten

Cole School kindergarteners had three tiny, quick friends visit on April 8. They learned that mice are omnivores who eat lots of different things and live in lots of different habitats. There are also more of their species in the world than any other mammal. Ask a kindergartener what happened in the story that the Drumlin Farms educator read? Were there predators, friends, and somewhere safe to take a nap?


Kids Shine in Boxford Talent Shows

Talent. Courage. Collaborating. Planning. Shining. On March 22 and 29, the Spofford Pond and Cole School stages were filled with stars, and the rooms beamed with bright smiles. 

Three Talent Shows – two at Spofford Pond and one at Cole – featured dancing, singing, gymnastics, piano, guitar, flute, drums, light shows, basketball, hockey skills, hula-hooping, martial arts, creative costumes, science experiments, comedy, magic acts and skits. With a total of over 130 kids involved in 80 different performances, there was much to applaud and celebrate. 

The Boxford PTO extends our warmest gratitude to the event organizers Jill Robinson, Lee McCann, and Sam Stevens, along with Boxford Cable’s Brad Sweet, hosts Luke Dumouchel and Brian Middleton-Cox, all the invaluable parent and student volunteers, and every single dedicated performer who made the shows truly amazing. Thanks also to the parents, family, friends, teachers and community who were there to cheer them on. 

May we all be reminded that with ideas, courage, practice and support we can make meaningful things happen ~ and have a lot of fun together, too!

Photos courtesy of Geskus Photography: 

Wingmasters Raptors in Grade 5

Rehabilitator Jim Parks shared descriptions, insights and stories about five feathered guests: a red-tailed hawk, an eastern screech owl, a barred owl, a great horned owl, and an American kestrel (falcon). His articulate and fascinating presentation covered where these birds of prey live (here in Boxford!), what they eat, and how they have unique adaptations in their feathers, colors, eyes, speed, and sound in flight. Ask a fifth grader why these birds of prey often hang out around schools, and which one had the most surprising weight? Why did we see the imprint of one in the snow? And what did the screech owl’s call sound like?

A Tortoise and a Rabbit in Kindergarten

Mass Audubon Drumlin Farms brought two animals friends to our kindergarten on March 11. They discussed the similarities and differences between the tortoise and the rabbit ~ their bodies, physical adaptations, habitats, diets, and how their babies are born. Ask a kindergartener why a tortoise has a hard shell, or why a rabbit has tall ears and fast feet?


Author/Illustrator Timothy Basil Ering at the Cole School

On March 6, during Read Across America week, students in grades K-2 were treated to an engaging, entertaining, inspiring and informative visit from Author/Illustrator Timothy Basil Ering. Ering connected deeply with the kids through humor, playfulness and his own enthusiasm for what he does. He began with a quiz about silly and hilarious facts throughout his presentation, and then continued with visual slides and enlightening discussions about where ideas come from, different uses for illustration, what one learns in art school, how mistakes can become something new, and what inspires him and his artwork and stories.

Ering described amazing adventures and opportunities one can have simply from doing what one loves to do. And he gave kids so many great bits of advice: what to say to a scribble, how to start simple, to never give up, to practice, practice, practice, and how to find creative inspiration anywhere in the world ~ by seeing ideas everywhere, and using your imagination. He described how a single idea can grow into bigger ideas, and all kinds of different ideas.

Ask a Cole School student what pictures and videos he showed~ was there a lobster, and a shark? How did his experience with a lobster become so much bigger, for him as an artist, when Xbox called him? What did his imaginary lobster do? What were some of the other questions he asked in his quiz? Was there a selfie with a moose? What are some of the other cool things he has been able to see in different places because of being an author/illustrator?

May we all go out into the world and be inspired to create an imaginative story from what we experience!

Earthview Experience for Sixth Grade

The Earthview Inflated Globe from Bridgewater College visited the Spofford Pond gym on March 1. Sixth-graders got to see the world from different perspectives by looking from the outside, and then from the inside! They talked about geographical regions, identified types of geographical features, and discussed how geography affects culture and life in different areas. Ask a sixth-grader what they learned, and why they had to keep looking down at Antartica as they entered the globe.