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OMS News

A Publication of the Ottoson Parent Advisory Council

Ottoson Middle School

Click on this link to see old issues.

May 2003

Please note that the text below has been extracted from the printed version of OMS News, and has been edited to conform to the web site policy of Arlington School District.


All 6th, 7th, and 8th grade ACE students have completed their second unit and should have brought home a packet to share with you. Please ask your child if you have not seen such an item! Final ACE activities units for the year are Symmetry for 6th graders, Creative Problem Solving for 7th graders, and Cultural Interactions for 8th graders. Some ACE Writing students have volunteered to serve as editors for the school's literary magazine, and all ACE writing students have submitted pieces to be considered for publication by the editors; the literary magazine will be published some time in June.

We occasionally receive flyers announcing summer programs with an academic orientation. If your child is looking to spend some time this summer with other youth with similar interests, you may be interested in looking into some of these:

Also, the annual New England Conference on Gifted and Talented Education, oriented towards parents as well as teachers, will be held this year Oct. 23-25 in Nashua, NH:

Important Reminder for Next Year: Current ACE students in 5th, 6th, and 7th grades will be enrolling for ACE for the 2003-2004 academic year during the next few weeks. The students will be recording their preference for participation and, if applicable, specific classes (7th and 8th grade students may participate in ACE Activities, ACE Writing, or both) on the application form, and then the form will be mailed home to parents. FORMS MUST BE RETURNED BY THE DATES INDICATED ON THE BOTTOM OF THE ENROLLMENT FORMS. Any student who has participated in ACE in the past, who is not currently participating, but who would like to enroll for next year may pick up an application form from Mrs. Duke or Mrs. Crasco in Room 323.


The school council is working on various improvements and enhancements to Ottoson Middle School. The signage subcommittee will begin phasing in signage, starting with the 6th grade wing. Temporary solutions to lack of signage in other parts of the building are being discussed and may be implemented. Administrative issues under discussion by the council are safety planning, budget, and transition to high school during challenging times. In communications, the council commended George Blaszczynski for his awesome revisions to the Ottoson website, which incorporates new details and options, is easy to navigate, and is very comprehensive. Plans to revise the parent/guardian handbook and the student agenda book are underway.


In March, Ms. Alderuccio's eighth graders competed with 22,607 other middle and mostly high school students in the National French Exam. Le Grand Concours is a prestigious and comprehensive exam that measures not only achievement, but proficiency in French. With total points possible at 80, the national average was 50, the state average was 54, and Ottoson’s average was 60. Nearly all Ottoson students scored above the national average, and more than half scored well above the state average!

Any school would be proud to have just one top ten winner, and Ottoson has eight! The winners will receive prizes (engraved plaques and medals) and certificates at the end of the year ceremonies. We are extremely proud of all our students.


Attend BeJAZZled, an evening of live Arlington jazz, on Thursday, June 12th, 2003 at 7:00 PM in Arlington High School's Lowe Auditorium. Featured in this performance will be the Ottoson Middle School Jazz Band, directed by Paula Demetrio; the Arlington High School Jazz Band, directed by Sabato D'Agostino; and Spajazzy, a professional "Italian Flavored Jazz Ensemble." A donation of $5.00 is sought, with all proceeds benefiting the Arlington Public Schools’ Jazz Music Library Fund. Tickets will be available at the door.

For more information, call 781-648-2720 or 781-316-3589 or email:


How long should students be working on homework? Students at the middle school level should expect between 60 and 90 minutes of homework per night. If your child is consistently spending much more time than this, there may be an issue. Check for these typical problems:

  1. Is your child distracted during homework? Does he or she shift activities often during homework time? Make sure your child has a consistent time and location to do their homework. Work to minimize the distractions in that area, and check in to make sure they are working consistently.

  2. Is your child hyper-vigilant when it comes to homework? It is a good idea to talk to your child about the amount of time that it should take to successfully complete an assignment and then stick to it. Students should learn to manage tasks and to manage their time.

  3. If your child consistently has difficulty starting assignments, doesn't understand directions, or has difficulty mastering the material, please contact your child's teacher or guidance counselor. This may be an indication of learning issues or other issues that may require attention.

  4. Advice for those students who spend less than the expected time: make sure they are doing something school-related for 60 - 90 minutes, even if it is reading. Get them in the habit of spending homework time in one quiet space. Definitely contact the school to make sure other issues aren't interfering.

Remember, homework is designed to support the curriculum and to help assess a child's learning. Try not to make homework a big issue. If it is, ask the school for help.


The Recognition Ceremony, a.k.a. Graduation, will take place on Wednesday, June 18, at 6:30 p.m., in the Upper Gym. During the ceremony, each student will receive a certificate of recognition. In addition, certificates of achievement will be presented to students, and there will be recognition of faculty and staff. Following the ceremony (approximately 7:30 p.m.) all Ottoson Eighth Grade students are invited to the cafeteria to participate in the Recognition Evening Dance. The dance features a professional DJ, pizza, dessert, and other refreshments.

The Dance is solely supported by the generous contributions of Eighth Grade families. We are requesting that every family make a contribution. We need the participation of everyone in order to make the dance a memorable one for our children. Please make your check payable to OPAC and mail to Grade 8 Recognition, Ottoson Middle School, 63 Acton Street, Arlington, MA 02476. Questions, please contact Jayne Thompson 781-648-0533 or

Thank you for your support.

Looking for Help on June 18

The Grade Eight Recognition Committee is looking for volunteers to help in several areas. Please contact a chairperson or Jayne Thompson to help.

Water/Drinks/Ice/Soda. Advance planning needed as well as time on June 18, approximately 11:00am-2:00pm and/or after dance. Several people needed to gather large plastic containers, pick up ice, gather donated drinks and chill for distribution to students during dance; clean up ice and return containers after dance. Chairperson: Mary Johnson (781-643-2011)

Certificate Organization. Monday, June 16th, 10:00am-1:00pm at the Ottoson.

Decorating. Wednesday, June 18th, 2:30pm-4:30pm, at the Ottoson. Several volunteers for each area (ceremony area/dance and food area). Please bring scissors and tape.

Balloon Pick-Up. Wednesday, June 18, 2:00pm at I Party in Burlington - need several large cars/vans to transport balloons to school.

Grade 7 Parent Volunteers. Wednesday, June 18, from 7:30pm-10:15pm. Five to seven Grade 7 parents to help distribute pizza, drinks, fruit, baked goods.

Fruit/Baked goods. For evening of June 18, by 6pm, need several volunteers to bake, slice up fruit for trays and bring to school.

Clean up. June 18, 10pm-10:30pm. Decoration removal after dance--many hands make for less work and more fun!

Please contact Jayne Thompson at 781-648-0533 or email Thank you for your support!


Beautifying Ottoson

Some may have forgotten that this committee exists because it is very much behind the scenes in its work, but a Beautification Committee was formed in the fall of 2000 at the request of former principal Mr. Lamoureaux. It is an outgrowth of the 1999 Garden Project that was initiated by the 630s cluster teacher Mrs. Colozzo and the 6th grade science teachers. The committee has worked the past couple of years to improve the school entrance and areas around the school building under the guidance of Ottoson parents Tom Briner and Jean Rosenberg and numerous volunteers.

This past fall many spring-flowering bulbs were planted by 7th grade Soar Groups in Mrs. Beverly’s and Mr. Crowe's classes. The 7th grade Girl Scouts dug and prepared the beds for bulb planting. This spring, which we all hope is about to commence, look for colorful narcissus, crocus, scilla, and wood hyacinth blooming on the slope across from the building on the right-hand side of the entrance road. The committee thanks all volunteers who donated time to help beautify the landscape around the school.

Food Drive a Success!

The Arlington Food Pantry drive officially ended on April 30th, and the overall goal of collecting 5,000 items in three months was not only met, but surpassed big time! The final count was 5,502 items--that's 10% over the goal! It was a very impressive last three days, with three station wagons filled to the brim with donations. The dance has been won (was there ever any doubt?), and the 8th-graders have won the pizza party with an average of 129.8 items donated per day in their month.

The final rundown of donations by grade:

February: the 6th grade donated 1533 items, divided by 15 school days = 102.2 daily average.
March: the 7th grade donated 1892 items, divided by 21 school days = 90.1 daily average.
April: the 8th grade donated 2077 total items, divided by 16 school days = 129.8 daily average.

Regardless of the numbers, there is no doubt in our minds that each grade more than pulled its share of the load. Without the efforts of any one of them, the ambitious goal of 5,000 items would not have been reached, let alone surpassed.

As co-chairs of the OPAC community service committee, Nancy Nicolora and I want to thank each and every person who donated items and their time and energy to this food drive. We thank the hundreds of Ottoson students, families, and staff members who kept the momentum going by generously bringing in donations every week. We thank everyone for the enormous variety and quality of items donated. We thank the many students, families, and staff who donated goods even when it wasn't their designated month, in the true spirit of helping others. We thank Mrs. Johnson and the food pantry volunteers, who let us know each week how much Ottoson's donations were appreciated. And we thank our wonderful committee of energetic and dedicated volunteers, without whom the logistics of this food drive might have proved beyond reach: Lucia Caetano, Pam Colt, Donna Eidson, Kathy Feinmann, Cathy Marqusee, and Eric Saum.

One of our goals for this drive was to foster an awareness in the Ottoson community that the Arlington Food Pantry has an ongoing need throughout the year for donations of non-perishable food items, toiletries, and household paper goods. We hope that in the future you will keep it and the Arlington residents who depend on it in mind.

The pantry is open to receive donations each Friday between 1:00 and 3:00 pm and is located at 21 Marathon Street (in the basement of the Church of our Savior).

Thank you again for your generous participation in the Ottoson/Arlington Food Pantry drive.

OPAC Thank You

Many thanks to all of the parents who worked on committees this year. We look forward to your continued participation. Please contact Amy Cohen with any ideas for next year.

Welcome to Incoming Sixth Grade Families from OPAC

OPAC (Ottoson Parent Advisory Council) is similar to the PTOs at Arlington's elementary schools. We do fund-raising for the school and coordinate parent volunteers. One distinct difference is that we have only one major fund-raiser each year, which is the Annual Fund Drive beginning in September.

We request a $20 donation from each family, but any amount is welcome. Most of the OPAC funds are used for our Teacher Wish List requests from teachers for educational materials and supplies. OPAC also funds the printing of the Student Directory, Teacher Appreciation Events, partial funding of 8th Grade Graduation, and more.

Parents can participate in OPAC by attending monthly meetings and/or working on a committee. A list of OPAC committees is as follows:

Annual Fund Drive
Wish List
Conference Scheduling
Teacher Appreciation
Community Service
Activity Day
Drama Production
Positive Reinforcement

Please look for OPAC information coming home in September. We look forward to your financial support and participation.



Are YOU wondering, "How will I travel to the Ottoson next Year? Walk, Bike or Bus?"

Are you wondering what safe route you will choose? Find the Ottoson with your parents!  You can go to an Open House this summer, or walk over some fine summer day with a friend. To test out your route, you and an adult can try walking/busing to Ottoson one day this summer; or you can go with a group of other 6th graders on a ‘rehearsal’ or walk/bus ride to the summer Open House day at Ottoson.


Congratulations on the Ottoson Walker success!  More students than ever are helping Arlington's air quality, and having fun, by walking to and from school.  Keep it up!!

Have fun!

Sue Sheffler, Safe Routes Coordinator.

OMS NEWS STAFF: Shari Craig, Cindy Gallagher, Gail Rogers, Tina Schultz, Lois Scribner, Sue Sheffler, Barbara Swist, Rose Udics.

Contact with items or questions regarding the OMS News.

This page was last updated on Sunday, August 17, 2003