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 boxfordpto@gmail.com 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: boxfordpto@gmail.com. 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 www.jmbigheart.org. You can also watch this video she shared from Life Vest Inside (www.lifevestinside.com) about the kindness boomerang, and talk about what the boomerang means: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwAYpLVyeFU

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!