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MALDEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS NOTEBOOK: K-8 parents want spotlight on food service, quality of school meals

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MPS to lead forums on diversity and equity for parents, caregivers & students; Malden High Info Night to include 7th– and 8th-graders

  The administration and School Committee had already planned on a close analysis of the food services provided to the Malden Public Schools, anyway. But after Monday night’s Malden School Committee meeting, where several parents – and even some Beebe School eighth-graders – addressed the members, count on an even wider, deeper lens.

  With the food service contract with Whitsons Culinary Group, which has served the Malden Public Schools for a while, expiring at the end of the 2020-21 school year, the School Committee at a previous meeting agreed to examine and determine the scope of the district’s wishes and needs as the new contract goes out to bid. Ward 3 School Committee Member Jennifer Spadafora had previously taken the helm of the task, and this designation was confirmed at Monday night’s Malden School Committee meeting.

  At Monday’s School Committee meeting, during the public comment segment, several Malden K-8 parents, from both the Beebe and Forestdale Schools, criticized the food services being provided at this time in those schools – both the breakfast and lunch offerings. In the Malden Public Schools, all breakfast and lunch meals are available to all students free of charge.

  But despite this availability and the convenience of having the foods prepared and served at school, one parent said she often serves her children breakfast at home and frequently sends a homemade lunch off to school with them. “Half my home budget is already spent on groceries,” Kerry Long, a Forestdale parent, said. “Of course, I would like to save money on groceries and have my kids eat the school meals, but I have concerns over the nutritional value of the meals.”

  “The pizza sauce [on one slice of pizza] has more than half the recommended sugar that my child is supposed to have on a daily basis,” she said. “I’m very unhappy with the school lunches.”

  Another parent, Amanda Linehan, whose children attend the Beebe School, said she is pleased School Committee Member Spadafora is “putting s critical eye on [MPS] food service.”

  Linehan, how is also the recently reelected Ward 3 Councillor, said she and her children throughout the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and part of 2021 picked up the school lunches at Beebe along with many others on a daily basis. “It was a way to have myself and my kids keep a connection to their school.”

  Since the return to in-person learning, Linehan said, “I have observed quality is deteriorating” in the school lunches. “I am grateful member Spadafora is taking this on. This [school food service] is a huge issue I hear about from my constituents.”

  The Beebe School eighth-graders specifically asked if the older students, like sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, could receive larger portions of food than the younger students. “We are bigger in size and we need more food than the first- and second-graders,” one student said.

  “This will get our focused attention and we will be seeking more input,” School Committee Member Spadafora said Monday night.


MPS offering virtual forums on equity and diversity on Nov. 15 and Dec. 13

  Supt. Ligia Noriega-Murphy announced on Monday night that the Malden Public Schools (MPS) next week will offer the first of two Virtual Community Meetings on Equity and Diversity. Assistant Supt. of Diversity, Equity and Engagement Laryssa Doherty will lead the sessions, which are designed to enable the MPS administration to “hear from the community about the steps Malden Public Schools has taken to support diversity and equity, as well as identify next steps for the district,” according to a flyer.

  “All are welcome,” Supt. Noriega-Murphy said.

  The first of the two-session series will be held on November 15 at two times: 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. The second session will be on December 13, also at two times: 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. A Zoom link enabling all to attend and participate will be made available on the Malden Public Schools website, www.maldenps.org, in advance of the series.


Seventh-graders now welcome to join eighth-graders at MHS Info Night virtual event

  A planned virtual Malden High School Information Night on Wednesday, November 17, will invite all Malden Public School eight-graders and seventh-graders, following a request by a middle-school parent at Monday’s Malden School Committee meeting. Parent Eden Garhart-Smith made the request Monday, which was immediately endorsed by MHS Principal Chris Mastrangelo and MPS Director of Guidance Erin Craven.

  “We’d be happy to include seventh-graders in our Information Night and we will do so this year,” Craven said during the course of her director’s report on Monday.

  Craven also noted that “Move Up Days,” which consist of in-person, guided tours of Malden High School by groups of eighth-graders who visit by respective schools, will be held on five days (one for each K-8 school) between November 15 and December 2. “We will deliver a lot of information about all that Malden High School has to offer to our next classes to move up,” said Craven, saying that each Move Up Day will have a special touch, a Question-Answer Forum concluding each visit/tour, led by MHS students from that particular K-8 school visiting that day.


Salemwood K-8 School principal gives update on school’s opening, family events held

  Salemwood K-8 School Principal Van Huynh addressed the Malden School Committee at Monday night’s meeting and talked about a successful school opening as well as a number of events hosted by staff and administration at the school. The Salemwood “Fall Fest” held last week at the school, in particular, drew many attendees. (See photo.) Principal Huynh also discussed the successful Salemwood Sharks school mascot and student rewards program, which was introduced as a key factor of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) that has been introduced at Salemwood.

  “It is just great to see the community that is being built at the Salemwood School, and it is built with joy,” Ward 5 School Committee Member Adam Weldai said. “It really is a welcoming place, and the community is moving forward there.”


MPS assisting Board of Health with community-wide survey on health services

  The Malden Public Schools is assisting the Malden Board of Health with a Community Outreach Survey on health services that are offered to the Malden community – and services residents may need, but are not receiving. The purpose of this survey is to help the City of Malden collect data about the residents and to find out what services they may need. As the City is trying to improve, it is also important to know what the general population is lacking in terms of health insurance, mental health assistance, and transportation, among other services. The Survey is looking for ways the community members identify racially and what languages are spoken in the household and among the community. The Board of Health is finding ways to support the community.

  MPS is assisting the Board of Health by carrying the survey and making it accessible on its website at www.maldenps.org. All are encouraged to complete the survey and assist the Malden Board of Health in compiling data.


Malden High Civics Club runs successful Voter Registration Drive
A group of Malden High School students conducted a successful Voter Registration Drive in the weeks before the recent 2021 Municipal Election. Nearly 40 MHS students registered to vote for the first time, a big success and more than the drives conducted in the pandemic years.

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Voter Registration Drive: from left, Eric Chen, Ethan Wong, Lauren Mallet and Justin Long of the Malden High School Civics Club conducted a successful Voter Registration Driver at MHS. (Advocate Photo)
slamewood fall fest
Many families attended the Salemwood Fall Fest along with the students who attend the school. (Courtesy/ Salemwood School)

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