Monday, November 28, 2016

Lot's Going On...

Just a few reminders:

  • It's a Wonderful Life opens on Thursday at 7:00. There will also be shows on Friday at 7:00 and Saturday at 2:00 and 7:00. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $10/student and $12/adult. If your middle school student will be attending the show with a group of friends, please help us by reminding them of the expectations for a live show audience:
    • Please do not talk during the show. 
    • Please do not leave your seat during the show. If you need to exit the theater, you will be asked to wait in the foyer until intermission.
    • Please do not eat or drink in the theater. 
    • Please turn off your cell phone during the show.
  • Profiles of Student Life Survey will be conducted with grades 6 and 8 in the next week. This survey is used by Newburyport Youth Services and the district to measure student assets and student risk behaviors. Information on the survey went home over email to all grade 6 and 8 parent/guardians.
  • Grade 8 Parent Night at Newburyport High School-Wednesday, November 28 at 6:30 - Join NHS staff and students to learn about the high school experience
  • Thursday, December 1 is an early release day - The Newburyport School District has been in conversation with the Mayor, members of the Chamber of Commerce, and the Newburyport Police Department about concerns from business owners around student behavior downtown on early release days. Our students need opportunities to feel independent and we are lucky to live in a safe and welcoming community where they can explore. But some business owners are expressing concerns around students not knowing how to act appropriately in shops and restaurants. Please take a moment to have a conversation with your child about traveling in groups and etiquette around eating at restaurants and visiting shops. 
  • Report Cards will be mailed home on December 9th

          Wednesday, November 23, 2016

          Facing History and Ourselves--Nock Professional Development Partner

          As we continue to work on enriching and developing our curricula, Nock ELA, social studies, art, and special education teachers have been working with Facing History and Ourselves.

          Facing History is a nonprofit educational organization whose mission is to "engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry."

          Our partnership with Facing History will support us in continuing to create opportunities for conversations about how our identity shapes our understanding of each other, our school community and the world. Teachers can borrow resources from Facing History's extensive library, take workshops, and continue with individualized coaching from our school consultants. 

          Facing History resources and teaching strategies are being used in units of study throughout the school including a Holocaust study unit in grade 7, a Civil Rights unit in grade 8, and a unit based on the novel To Kill a Mockingbird in grade 8. Other new and re-imagined units are also in process.

          You can learn more about Facing History and Ourselves and their extensive experience working with schools at

          A Sidewalk Chalk Welcome!

          Yesterday we were surprised with a sidewalk full of positive messages thanks to a team of 8th grade leaders! We are all thankful for our students and the positive energy they bring to our building.

          Tuesday, November 15, 2016

          Mr. Reynold's Phragmites Boats

          Image result for phragmites definition

          Last Friday, I found seventh grade science teacher John Reynolds and a group of industrious students on the border of a marsh cutting, weaving, and tying phragmites reeds.

          Students in Mr. Reynold's class spent much of the fall out and about around Newburyport exploring and learning about our city's diverse ecosystems. As students learned about plant types they discovered the impact of invasive species on Newburyport's ecosystem. One particularly invasive species in our local marshes is phragmites-you have probably noticed the large swaths of tall reeds throughout the region.

          Based on lessons from ancient civilizations and cultures in coastal areas in today's world (e.g. Peru), Mr. Reynolds challenged students to create something useful from this seemingly useless plant. And so a boat is emerging! Below are some pictures of the boat in action-stay tuned for updates on the final product and launch.


          Thursday, November 10, 2016

          The Nock Story Project

          Under the leadership of 8th grade language arts teacher Eriko Antos, the Nock will be embarking on an initiative to explore the power of people's stories. Below is a note from Ms. Antos about the project:

          The most extraordinary lives are often the ones lived most quietly, most remarkably, by one’s neighbors and loved ones, if we just pay attention.  If you just listen, everyone has a song. Lara Dotson-Renta

          This year, the Nock Middle School is planning a school-wide project to give all students the opportunity to listen to some of these songs.

          You may be familiar with StoryCorps, a project founded by Dave Isay whose mission is “to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”  In 2003, Dave Isay started with a recording booth in New York’s Grand Central Station to give people the chance to interview each other and to share their stories.  Thirteen years later, the result is a weekly broadcast on public radio and thousands of interviews archived in the Library of Congress.

          We have decided to give students their own opportunity to listen to the stories of a family member this holiday season.  In the next two weeks, students will be introduced to the project and will receive a packet of possible interview questions.  Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, we ask that they conduct their interviews and record them by audio, video, or take notes on paper.  Alternately, you or your child may choose to download the StoryCorps app on your phone.  If you choose, you may opt to upload the interview to the StoryCorps website for archiving in the Library of Congress, but that is optional.  Later in the year, we will be sharing some of the recordings, with permission, in a school assembly.

          Our hope is that the interview process will be just as valuable to both interviewers and interviewees as the final product.  If you have the time, please take a few minutes to visit to download the app or listen/watch a few of the stories.  You’ll quickly see that everyone does, indeed, have a song.

          Please feel free to contact me at or your child’s LA teacher with any questions or concerns.  Thank you for support.

          The Eleventh Hour of the the Eleventh Day in the Eleventh Month

          Today we recognized and celebrated our nation's Veterans. Our morning assembly was written and delivered by a team of students under the guidance of our remarkable social studies teachers. The students shared some historical context and reminded us that it was on the eleventh hour of November 11, 1918 when an agreement was signed to end the fighting in WWI.

          We were honored to hear two stories from veterans. First Robert Shouinard shared his experience of being enlisted in the US Army during WWII. Mr. Shouinard spoke beautifully of growing up in Newburyport and the impact his service had on his life and sense of self.

          We also heard from 8th grade student Kate Lucy. In a video created by our student team, Kate described how her father's enlistment affected her and her family. Kate's father, Michael Lucy, spoke about his experience in both active and reserve duty. Our thanks go to the Lucy family for sharing their story.

          As you enjoy your day off tomorrow, I hope you will take a moment to remember our nation's veterans: our neighbors, family, and friends who have made great sacrifices for our country.

          Our 8th grade assembly team with Mr. Robert Shouinard

          Friday, November 4, 2016

          Preparations are underway for our visit with Salva Dut

          Under the leadership of Ellen Menesale and Elizabeth Carroll, our entire 6th grade team has been hard at work preparing for a day-long "Water Changes Everything" celebration on November 16.

          The culmination of the day will be a school-wide assembly with Salva Dut. All of our students, grade 6-8, have read the book A Long Walk to Water which is a fictionalized account of Mr. Dut's story. In addition, Nock students have been part of a multi-year civic engagement project to support worldwide water initiatives. We are proud that Mr. Dut has chosen to visit the Nock and will be able to meet the staff and students who have been so committed to his story and cause.

          Below is a link to an article on Salva Dut and the program that is in today's Newburyport Current. 

          Salva Dut (

          Tuesday, November 1, 2016

          Book Title Poetry

          Our 7th grade ELA students were in the library recently practicing their poetry skills. They were presented with a stack of books and challenged to write a poem using the book titles. Students were also encouraged to explore the library and find their own titles. It was a fun exercise, allowing students to apply lessons from the poetry unit while also increasing their familiarity with the many interesting books we have in the library.

          Below are two examples of book stacks-do you see any poems?

          Our Amazing Nurses and their "Day After Halloween Potion"

          Nock Nurse, Christen Page, and Molin Nurse, Michelle Rybicki, were ready for the post-Halloween tummy and head aches today...

          Protein for energy and to balance all last night's sugars, seltzer water with fresh orange slices to hydrate and settle a grumpy stomach. Not pictured: two friendly nurses ready to help you get back to class!

          We hope you all had a fun night!