Category Archives: From Newton Public Schools

From the Nurse: Ticks, Lyme Disease & Other Summer Notes

Lyme Disease is an illness that can cause flu-like symptoms, sore joints, and chronic heart and nervous system problems. It is diagnosed in people of all ages, including children. Lyme Disease is endemic throughout Massachusetts, meaning it’s not something you get just on Cape Cod or when you go for a hike. You can get it from a tick in your own backyard.

Deer ticks, which spread Lyme Disease, range in size from a poppy seed to a sesame seed. They are most active during the warmer months, but can infect people at any time of year. They cling to vegetation, but cannot jump. Most are found in brushy, grassy or wooded habitats. Continue reading

Reminders for the Week

8th Grade Parents and Students:  Attend the Newton South HS Sports Night for incoming 9th Grade, this Thursday, May 31, at 6:30PM in the NSHS Fieldhouse.  Get an overview of NSHS athletics, sign up for fall sports, and meet coaches and some current players.

6th and 7th Grade Parents:  Get your school supplies for next year online, with just a few clicks. Skip the rush to the store in late August, and save at least $10 to $20 of the cost in local stores.  You must order by June 30. Here’s how:

  • Go to (If you don’t see Oak Hill Middle School listed, then enter zip code “02459″ and click “Go.”)
  • Under Oak Hill Middle School, select your grade for next year (7th or 8th) and click “Select and Continue”.
  • Enter the student’s first name, last name, and gender.
  • Click “Add package to cart” and complete the checkout process with your credit card.

The school supplies kit you order will be available at Oak Hill on the first day of school, marked with your child’s name.  The PTO has worked with OHMS faculty to develop a common list of supplies for both teams in a grade.

Preventing Assaults on Children

Would you like to volunteer for Newton’s Child Assault Prevention (CAP) program? CAP is looking for committed and dedicated child advocates to present its personal safety curriculum in local elementary schools. Join up with current and experienced volunteer Prevention Specialists to teach children to recognize and respond to verbal, physical, and sexual assault and abuse. Help make sure that children have the right information and skills and the support of adults. CAP offers a flexible schedule to volunteers who enjoy teamwork and can make a yearlong commitment of two or three mornings a month. To make it easier for people with busy schedules, the training is divided into two parts: Part 1 is scheduled for Oct. 17, 19, 24 (8:45AM to noon), and 26 (8:45-1PM.) It prepares you to present one of the three facilitations and participate in all of the role plays. Part 2, on Review Time (1:1 conversations), is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 2, 8:45-4PM. For information or to set up an interview call Gail Sommer, 617-969-5906, x143 or email, Newton CAP is a program of Newton Community Service Center. Visit our webpage at for a description of the program and of the volunteer Prevention Specialist position.

NSHS Athletics Meeting for Current 8th Grade Students and Parents, May 31

Current 8th grade students and their parents are encouraged to attend an informational Athletic meeting at Newton South HS for incoming ninth graders. This will be held this Thursday, May 31, 6:30pm-8PM in the Newton South Field House, 140 Brandeis Rd. The Athletic Director, Scott Perrin, will open the evening by informing the students and parents what is expected in High School Athletics. There will be tables set up with every sport represented and a coach or student athlete there to answer any questions.

From the Nurse: Recognizing and Managing Stress

Stress can be both positive (e.g., preparing for school graduation) or negative (e.g., dealing with the death of a loved one). Stress is a condition that is often characterized by symptoms of physical or emotional tension such as irritability, loss of appetite, sleep difficulties, or crying. It is a reaction to a situation where a person feels threatened or anxious. For children, simply the loss of the regular routine of the school year can be stressful, even if the days are filled with fun activities such as camps or vacations. Similar coping tips apply to families whether they are helping a child work through positive stress or something more traumatic.

It’s natural for children to worry, especially when scary or stressful events happen in their lives. Talking with children about these stressful events when they happen, and monitoring what children watch or hear about the events, can help put frightening information into a more balanced context. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers parents these suggestions to help children through their questions:

  • Reach out and talk. Create opportunities to have your children talk, but do not force them. Tell your children you are there to listen to their thoughts and feelings. It is important for children to feel like they can share their feelings and to know that their fears and worries are understandable.
  • Express yourself. Your children may be feeling different emotions at different times: Sadness, anger, fear, confusion, etc. These feelings are normal reactions to stressful events. Encourage your children to appropriately express how he or she feels. Acknowledge that you may have these feelings too, and model good coping for your children.
  • Watch and listen. Be alert for any change in behavior. Are children sleeping more or less? Are they withdrawing from friends or family? Are they behaving in any way out of the ordinary? Any changes in behavior, even small changes, may be a red flag that the child is having trouble coming to terms with the event.
  • Reassure. Stressful events can challenge a child’s sense of physical and emotional safety and security. Take opportunities to reassure your child about his or her safety and well-being and discuss ways that you, the school, and the community are taking steps to keep them safe.
  • Share information with other parents. Get to know your children’s friends and their parents. Make an on-going effort to check in and talk to other parents about any issues or stress. You don’t have to deal with problems alone-it is often helpful for parents, schools, and health professionals to work together in providing support to and in ensuring the well-being of children in stressful times.
  • Stay Connected. After a stressful event, it is easy to pull away from those close to you. Make sure that you are setting aside time to spend time with those who are important to you. Consider planning fun activities with your child to facilitate staying connected.
  • Keep it going. Ask your children how they feel about the event in a week, then in a month and so on. Each child has his or her own way of coping under stressful situations. The best thing you can do as a parent is to listen to your children and allow them to express their concerns and fears.

May is Mental Health Month, which according to Mental Health America “began in 1949 to raise awareness of mental health conditions and mental wellness for all.” This article was adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Violence Prevention.

Newton-Beijing Exchange Program Seeks Host Families

As our world becomes more interconnected, what better way to learn about China and have a family on the other side of the world? Share your home, your family traditions, and American culture with a Chinese exchange student or teacher for the 2012-2013 fall school year. Chinese participants all speak English and are eager to learn about American culture and to share their culture with you. Beijing Jingshan exchange students and teachers arrive mid-September and depart mid-January. Students attend regular classes at the high schools, and lunches are provided. Participants will travel on Columbus Day weekend, Veteran’s Day weekend, Thanksgiving holiday, and winter holiday. We are especially in need of host families for female students for next year. Families do not have to have high school students as families with younger children also make strong connections with the visitors. For further information, please contact the chairperson of the Newton-Beijing Jingshan School Exchange Program:

Talking to Your Child About Sexual Assault (for parents of teens), May 1

The Newton Partnership offers a free presentation Tuesday, May 1, 7-8:30PM, in the Brown Middle School library: Talking to Your Child About Sexual Assault: What to Say, What Not to Say and How You Can Empower Your Child (for parents of teens). Sexual assault is a difficult, but important topic, especially with teens. Learn how to talk to your child and how we, as parents can help our teens to establish appropriate boundaries with peers and others. Presented by Meg Bossong, Community Mobilization Project Manager at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC). Note that a similar workshop will be taking place at Mason Rice School on the same evening for parents of elementary school students. For more information go to

Deciphering Learning Disabilities and Helping Your Student Succeed, April 10

Dr. Ellen Braaten, Director of MGH’s Learning and Emotional Assessment Program, will speak on Tuesday, April 10, 7-8:30PM in the Film Lecture Hall at Newton North High School.

Has your student been diagnosed with a learning disability? Or are you wondering whether he or she has a learning disability? When we think of Special Education, we often think of students with visible disabilities. Yet specific learning disabilities like dyslexia, perceptual disabilities, slow processing speed, and attention issues account for fifty percent of the students on Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

Please join the Newton North and Newton South PTSOs, The Newton Partnership, the Newton North and Newton South Special Education Departments, and the Newton Parent Advisory Council for Special Education for an exciting and informative discussion of learning disabilities with Dr. Ellen Braaten, director of the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Braaten will discuss the following:

  • Getting an accurate diagnosis for your child
  • The parent’s role in supporting a student with learning disabilities
  • Strategies for success in high school
  • Teaching the student to advocate for himself/herself
  • Techniques for managing home life
  • Preparing students for life beyond high school with an eye toward independent living

The evening will include time for questions and answers.

From Newton Dept of Health: The Cinnamon Challenge

There have been recent reports of young people engaging in an activity called “The Cinnamon Challenge.” This practice is being promoted via social networking and in You Tube videos. The challenge involves an attempt to eat or swallow a tablespoon of ground cinnamon in under 60 seconds without drinking. This often causes coughing, choking, gagging, watering of the eyes and burning of the mouth and throat.

Dr. Karen Sadler, Newton’s School Physician, said the fad is dangerous, particularly for children with asthma or other respiratory conditions. “For many kids this is probably just a game that would result in coughing and gagging, but others could inhale cinnamon into the lungs and require emergency care,” she said.

Another concern is an ingredient in cinnamon called cassia that may affect blood clotting, blood sugar levels, or worsen liver disease. “I encourage parents to talk to their children about why this is an unsafe game,” Sadler said. “This is one of those hidden dangers children may be unaware of. We want all of our children to remain healthy and safe.”

Please call your school nurse Sue Riley RN @ 617-559-9215 if you have any concerns or questions.

Dori Zaleznik, MD, Commissioner
Health and Human Services Department, City of Newton

From the Nurse: 3 Healthy Habits to Teach, and Re-Teach Your Kids

Eating Breakfast
The saying, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” still rings true. Eating a healthy breakfast is associated with improved cognitive function (especially memory), reduced absenteeism, and improved mood. Children often end up in the health room at school with a stomachache because they skipped breakfast. A healthy breakfast includes high-fiber foods such as fruit and whole grains. Try hard-boiled eggs, 100 percent fruit juice and high-fiber (low sugar) cereal with berries.

Frequent Hand Washing
Washing hands often and thoroughly is one of the most effective ways to prevent disease. Reinforce hand washing skills learned at school by encouraging your children to wash well. Here’s the procedure:

  • Wet hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  • Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of hands, between fingers, and under nails.
  • Continue rubbing at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse hands well under running water.
  • Dry hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Sharing, or Not!
While we want children to learn to share most toys and books, sharing germs is not something we want them to do. Teach children not to share combs/brushes, toothbrushes, hats, toys used by mouth such as whistles, eating utensils and beverages. Sharing these things helps transmit diseases and lice. This particular habit is great to reinforce with older children and teenagers as they become more independent and often share food and drinks with their friends.

For more information on any of these topics, talk to the School Nurse or visit