An Important Reminder Regarding Afternoon Carpool Pickup

IMPORTANT REMINDER - AFTERNOON CARPOOL PICKUP

Please keep in mind that our security gate at the entrance to our north (playground) parking lot is now closed and locked after morning arrival to help assure campus security.  This gate is kept locked until 3:15pm.  Please keep this in mind when coming to school in the afternoon to pick up your children.  It is important that you do not arrive prior to 3:15pm.  Early arrivals lead to a line of cars extending out onto Hopmeadow Street.  This presents a serious safety hazard on a very busy roadway.  Thanks in advance for your cooperation in this important matter.

Updates & Reminders for Friday, 8/29/14

Wireless Network Update - We are happy to share that our school's wireless network is now back on-line and functioning well.  Middle School students should be able to access the internet from home using the Lightspeed Mobile browser.  Difficulties should be reported to Mrs. Hatch but students should always remember the workaround if the iPad will not connect to the internet -Using any device with an internet connection, access the Google home screen, sign in with the student's school email credentials to receive all school email and access Google Drive.



Archdiocese of Hartford Press Release - Click here to read a press release from the Archdiocese of Hartford regarding the special "Back to School" Mass that will be celebrated by Archbishop Blair on Sunday, September 7th at 2pm at St. Joseph's Cathedral.  Everyone is invited to attend this special liturgy.  In addition, this press release announces our new playground as one of the notable accomplishments of area Catholic schools as this new school year begins.





Annual Notification Re. School's Asbestos Policy - Click here to read our annual notification.







Important Changes to Attendance Reporting Requirements due to Connecticut State Law - 
As you know, St. Mary's School adheres to all Connecticut State requirements for health and safety.  Regular and punctual student attendance in school is essential to the educational process. Connecticut state law places responsibility for assuring that students attend school with the parent or other person having control of the child. to assist the parent and other persons in meeting this responsibility, the Simsbury Board of Education, through its Superintendent, will adopt and maintain procedures to implement this policy.  St. Mary's school will also implement and follow this policy.

An absence is defined as any day during which a student is not considered "in attendance" at his/her assigned school, or on a school sponsored activity (e.g., field trip), for at least one half of the school day.

Connecticut state law now requires that all student absences be reported in writing to the school nurse.  If your reported absence does not meet the criteria established for proper reporting, our school nurse, Mrs. Kim Tyrrell will contact you.

The first nine (9) days of absence, consecutive or not, will be excused upon receipt of approved absence reports.  After the tenth (10th) day of absence, consecutive or not, additional information is required in the absence report.  The school nurse will contact you to discuss the additional requirements for reporting after the 10th absence if and when this applies to your child.

If you have any questions about this, please contact our school nurse, Mrs. Kim Tyrrell at HOffice@stmarysimsbury.eduk12.net or 860-658-9412, ext. 12.



Mrs. Tunsky's New Fourth Grade Blog is now available.  Click here to access this blog.  Be sure to use the "Follow by Email" option to receive all future posts from Mrs. Tunsky directly to the email inbox you have entered.



It's a busy time of year! Our school's Google calendar has been updated with all of the upcoming school year's events.  The calendar is always available to you using the Calendar tab at the top of the blog. Here are a few key dates that are coming up soon:

*  Labor Day - Monday, 9/1, School is closed.

*  Parent Meeting for NEW Instrumental Music Students - Tuesday, 9/2, 6:30pm in the Grade 4 classroom.  Only parents of students that are beginning study of instrumental music for the first time at SMS need to attend this meeting.  See below Instrumental Music News for more information.

*  Home & School Association Meeting - Thursday, 9/4, 6:30pm in the Grade 8 classroom.  Did you know that just by sending your children to SMS, you are automatically a part of our Home & School Association.  Your active involvement helps assure that our community does all it can to directly benefit our students and to keep SMS a vibrant, family centered Christian community.

*  School Mass - Friday, 9/5, 9am in the church.  Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend our monthly school Masses.  Please remember that no physical education uniforms should be worn to Mass.

*  "Back to School Night" for Parents - Wednesday, 9/10, 6:30pm in the Parish Center.  Book your sitter and join us for your first opportunity to experience a condensed "Day in the Life" of your special SMS student(s).  This is your evening to get to know his/her teacher(s) a little better, visit the classroom(s) and leave a little note of encouragement.  This is also your first opportunity to sign up for your required Parent/Teacher Conference(s) in November.  Signing up for your conference at "Back to School" night helps assure you get the day and time most convenient for you!

Important Updates for Thursday, 8/28/14


ADVISORY REGARDING SMS WIRELESS NETWORK & HOME ACCESS OF INTERNET VIA SCHOOL OWNED iPADS.  Our school's wireless network is currently experiencing an outage.  We are working to resolve the problem.  Until it is resolved, student iPads cannot connect to the internet at school and Middle School students will not be able to access the internet via school owned iPads at home.  Please remind your children that their school email and Google Drive are always available to them via any personally owned device using any internet browser.  To access student email - Open an internet browser and go to Google.com.  From the Google homescreen, click on the sign-in box in the top right corner of the screen.  Enter the student's full school email address and password.  The password is case sensitive.  If a student is having trouble completing these steps at home, please encourage them to see Mrs. Hatch and she will demonstrate on a school desktop.

Student iPad Use - Grades K-5 - Regular iPad use cannot begin in grades Kindergarten - 5 until each class has the majority of its required "Back to School" paperwork submitted.  At this time, in each of these grades, a significant number of students have not returned at least 1 of the 3 required forms.  The required forms are:

1. Electronic Use Agreement - This form must be completed for each student.  The form was included in your back to school mailing and had the student's name on a label in the top right corner.

2.  Signed Acknowledgement of Parent/Student Handbook - This acknowledgement page must be signed by at least one parent and by all students in the family.  This page must be downloaded from our school website.  Click here to download this form.

3.  Signed Acknowledgement of iPad Acceptable Use Agreement - This acknowledgement page must be signed by at least one parent and by all students in the family.  This page must be downloaded from our school website. Click here to download this form.

If you have not already done so, please send in these required forms as soon as possible.  Once a class has the majority of its required forms submitted, the iPads will be deployed for daily use in the classroom.  At that time, families that still have outstanding forms will receive a notice from the school office reminding them of what is missing so their students can begin iPad use too.






Virtus Training - DATE CORRECTION - Yesterday's blog incorrectly listed the date of Virtus Training at SMS as Wednesday, 9/19 - THE CORRECT DATE AND TIME FOR VIRTUS TRAINING IS WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 BEGINNING AT 6PM.

News for the Week of August 27th




It was a beautiful first day of school under bright, sunny skies and filled with bright, smiling faces!  

Father Matera, Father Santiago and Homeroom teachers were on hand in the north parking lot to welcome students as they arrived.  


We are looking forward to a wonderful year and thank you for choosing St. Mary's School!













A Very Special Welcome - Click here for a welcoming letter from Dr. Dale Hoyt, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Bus Transportation Reminders - In the event that our school is in session for a full day on a day when the Simsbury Public Schools have early closing or are closed, please be aware that students that ride the bus in the afternoon may arrive home significantly earlier than usual (10-15 minutes).  Dates that this will occur in the 2014-15 school year are:
Wednesday, 9/24
Wednesday, 10/15
Tuesday - Thursday, 11/18-20
Friday, 1/16/15
Friday, 2/13/15
Tuesday, 6/9/15 (Tentative - public schools' last day depending on snow day makeups.
 Please make note of these dates and make the arrangements necessary to assure that someone is home or that your child(ren) know your family's safety plan if they arrive and you are not at home.

Virtus Training for New Volunteers - All volunteers at SMS are required to complete the Virtus "Protecting God's Children" program and have a background check completed in order to volunteer for any activities at St. Mary's School. This is an Archdiocesan requirement. If you have already done this and submitted your paperwork to the school office, you should be all set. If you have completed this at a previous school, we must have a certificate on file in our office.

If you need to attend a training session, Mrs. Ginny Gore will be holding a training class on Wednesday, September 19th at 6:00pm in the Grade 5 classroom. You may RSVP for this class through Mrs. Gore at vgore@stmarysimsbury.eduk12.net or Tammy Budnick at tbudnick@stmarysimsbury.eduk12.net. If you are unable to attend this class, you must go to the archdiocesan website (http://www.virtus.org/virtus/) and find a class that is more convenient for you. 

You must provide proof of attendance at a Virtus session before you can volunteer at school. If you do come to volunteer and you have not obtained the training, we will have to ask you not to volunteer at that time. Please understand that we must follow the guidelines put in place to protect our children.


It's a busy time of year! Our school's Google calendar has been updated with all of the upcoming school year's events.  The calendar is always available to you using the Calendar tab at the top of the blog. Here are a few key dates that are coming up soon:

*  Grade 8 Parent Meeting - Thursday, 8/28, 6:30pm in the Grade 8 classroom.  At least one parent from each grade 8 family should attend this important meeting.  The 8th grade year includes many special activities and involves several special fund raising projects that help defray the costs associated with these activities.  Your input is needed at this meeting to finalize plans.

*  Labor Day - Monday, 9/1, School is closed.

*  Parent Meeting for NEW Instrumental Music Students - Tuesday, 9/2, 6:30pm in the Grade 4 classroom.  Only parents of students that are beginning study of instrumental music for the first time at SMS need to attend this meeting.  See below Instrumental Music News for more information.

*  Home & School Association Meeting - Thursday, 9/4, 6:30pm in the Grade 8 classroom.  Did you know that just by sending your children to SMS, you are automatically a part of our Home & School Association.  Your active involvement helps assure that our community does all it can to directly benefit our students and to keep SMS a vibrant, family centered Christian community.

*  School Mass - Friday, 9/5, 9am in the church.  Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend our monthly school Masses.  Please remember that no physical education uniforms should be worn to Mass.

*  "Back to School Night" for Parents - Wednesday, 9/10, 6:30pm in the Parish Center.  Book your sitter and join us for your first opportunity to experience a condensed "Day in the Life" of your special SMS student(s).  This is your evening to get to know his/her teacher(s) a little better, visit the classroom(s) and leave a little note of encouragement.  This is also your first opportunity to sign up for your required Parent/Teacher Conference(s) in November.  Signing up for your conference at "Back to School" night helps assure you get the day and time most convenient for you!





New Teachers' Blogs are now available!  Ms. Soucy has launched her new second grade blog and Mrs. Kelley has launched her blogs for grades 6, 7, and 8 Math at the academic level.  You can access these blogs from our main school blog by using the SMS Teachers Blogs links that appear on the right of the blog or you may click on the links below for immediate access -

Grade 2 Blog - Click here.
Grade 6 Academic Math - Click here.
Grade 7 Acaemic Math - Click here.
Grade 8 Academic Math - Click here.

 Once the teacher's blog is displayed, you can enter an email address in the "Follow by email" box to receive all future posts at the email address of your choice.  Senora Puerta, Spanish and Mrs. Tunsky, Grade 4, are in the process of developing their blogs.  Once these blogs have been launched, we will provide access information.


Alumni News - Congratulations to Aaron Belletsky, SMS Class of '14! Aaron was selected as a recipient of the Damuth Music Scholarship at Northwest Catholic High School. It is a $2,000 scholarship (renewable for 4 yrs).  In letting us know about this award, the Belletsky family also shared "Not only are we very proud of him for achieving such an honor, we are thankful for the instrumental music program at St. Mary’s that allowed him to appreciate, enjoy and excel at playing the trumpet."  We love to hear about our alumni's successes, please share any alumni news you may have with us via email to dhatch@stmarysimsbury.eduk12.net.

Welcome Back! School Opens Tomorrow - Wednesday, August 27th!


Our new school year starts tomorrow - Wednesday, August 27th.  It is a full day of school for all of our students.  Both PreKindergarten Enrichment & Aftercare will be available.  Students in grades K-8 should wear their relaxed uniforms unless their homeroom teacher has advised them that it is a Physical Education day.  The hot lunch program does not begin until Friday, September 19th.  Until then, all students must bring a brown bag lunch each day.  The milk program will begin the first day of school.

Mrs. Gannatti officially takes care of the "ribbon cutting"
Our New Playground is ready & waiting!  We were so pleased that so many of you could attend the grand opening of our new playground on August 19th.  Thanks to the generosity of all of you that supported our Home & School Association Auction and associated fund raisers like "Raise Some Dough" at Flatbread in Canton and dinner at Bertuccis and the tireless efforts of the Playground Committee under the direction of Linda Thompson, we have a fabulous new play space for our students.




Father Matera provides a blessing for our new playground.
We also thank our Parish Business Manager, Mr. Bill Heiden, for all his work obtaining the necessary diocesan and town permissions for the construction of this new playground and for coordinating the installation process.

We were so happy that Father Matera could join us at the grand opening to provide a blessing that will surely help assure our playground is always a safe and happy place.

















It's a busy time of year! Our school's Google calendar has been updated with all of the upcoming school year's events.  The calendar is always available to you using the Calendar tab at the top of the blog. Here are a few key dates that are coming up soon:

*  Grade 8 Parent Meeting - Thursday, 8/28, 6:30pm in the Grade 8 classroom.  At least one parent from each grade 8 family should attend this important meeting.  The 8th grade year includes many special activities and involves several special fund raising projects that help defray the costs associated with these activities.  Your input is needed at this meeting to finalize plans.

*  Labor Day - Monday, 9/1, School is closed.

*  Parent Meeting for NEW Instrumental Music Students - Tuesday, 9/2, 6:30pm in the Grade 4 classroom.  Only parents of students that are beginning study of instrumental music for the first time at SMS need to attend this meeting.  See below Instrumental Music News for more information.

*  Home & School Association Meeting - Thursday, 9/4, 6:30pm in the Grade 8 classroom.  Did you know that just by sending your children to SMS, you are automatically a part of our Home & School Association.  Your active involvement helps assure that our community does all it can to directly benefit our students and to keep SMS a vibrant, family centered Christian community.

*  School Mass - Friday, 9/5, 9am in the church.  Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend our monthly school Masses.  Please remember that no physical education uniforms should be worn to Mass.

*  "Back to School Night" for Parents - Wednesday, 9/10, 6:30pm in the Parish Center.  Book your sitter and join us for your first opportunity to experience a condensed "Day in the Life" of your special SMS student(s).  This is your evening to get to know his/her teacher(s) a little better, visit the classroom(s) and leave a little note of encouragement.  This is also your first opportunity to sign up for your required Parent/Teacher Conference(s) in November.  Signing up for your conference at "Back to School" night helps assure you get the day and time most convenient for you!


2014-2015 St. Mary's Directory - Again this year, student and family directory information will be available to you via our Educonnect Parent Portal.  At this time, the portal is accessible but please be aware that the school office is still in the process of updating family information based on this year's Directory Verification sheets.  We will notify you via the blog when all updates are complete.  Until updates are complete, please regard the directory information as tentative and subject to change. The portal can be accessed directly from our blog by using the Educonnect Parent Portal tab.  Newly enrolled families will receive their Educonnect user id and password via kidmail during the week of 9/1.  Returning families retain their existing user id and password.  If you cannot remember your user id and password, please contact Donna Hatch at the school office.  We recommend that every family log into the portal to check the accuracy of the family information contained there.  If updates are needed, please contact the school office with the corrections at smsoffice@stmarysimsbury.eduk12.net.


School Communications - SMS has 3 primary methods for communicating information.  The first communication method is via our weekly school blog (and the teachers' blogs).  In general, the blog is published each week on Wednesdays. You can rely on staying up to date if you subscribe to the school blog and the blogs of all teachers that are part of your child(ren)'s day.  To subscribe, enter the desired email address into the subscription box and then follow the instructions you will receive in a confirming email. The second communication method is via email distribution.  Email is used primarily to distribute letters from Mrs. Gannatti or other time sensitive announcements.  SMS has created email distribution lists for all families and then for families by grade.  To create these lists, we use the "family email" you provide on your yearly Family Verification Form.  We can add additional email addresses to these lists if you would like to receive our emails in more than one email box.  Please email Donna Hatch at dhatch@stmarysimsbury.eduk12.net with the addresses you would like added.  Please note that subscribing to the blog does not add an email to our family email lists.  These are 2 entirely separate forms of communication.  The third communication method is via Remind Text.  This is a free confidential text service that allows us to send out a text message to all subscribers.  Remind text is used to communicate quick reminders about time sensitive events and to announce emergency closings. To subscribe to the school's Remind group, use your cell phone to send a text message that says "@smsfam" to 747-233-2970.  You will receive a response that says "Thanks XXX-XXX-XXXX! As a member of @smsfam, you will receive all Ms. Hatch's notifications.  Some teachers also use Remind to send texts about classroom events and activities.  You will receive subscription information about their Remind group at "Back to School" Night on 9/10.  Please keep in mind that our commitment to mobile device technology and 21st century learning means that we do not distribute paper flyers to publicize upcoming events.  Hard copy forms are used only by exception.

Student iPad Deployment - Students in grades K-5 will begin iPad use once each class has the majority of all iPad related forms returned to school.  Forms required for iPad use to begin include: The Electronic Use Agreement, the signed acknowledgement page for the Parent/Student Handbook and the signed acknowledgement page for the iPad Acceptable Use Agreement.  Please note that all 3 forms require both parent and student signatures. The iPad insurance must also be paid.  This was generally paid at time of enrollment. Based on past experience, we anticipate that most classes will have the required paperwork in within the first week of school beginning. This year, almost all of our middle school students have received their iPads prior to the start of school.  If your family's summer plans did not permit you and your Middle School student(s) to meet with Mrs. Hatch, please contact her ASAP to make arrangements for the brief iPad deployment meeting that needs to take place before your student(s) can begin use of the iPad this year.

Instrumental Music News - Again this year, Future Musicians, Inc (FMI) will provide instrumental music lessons to students in grades 4 -8 interested in this study.  Mrs. Debbie Morse will continue as our FMI instructor. Group lessons take place on a rotating schedule during the school day.  The Beginner (Cadet) students study on Thursdays.  The Advanced students study on Mondays.  All instrumental music students participate in our school bands.  Band rehearsals take place during recess periods on Mondays and Thursdays.  There will be a band demonstration for students in 4th grade on 8/28 to acquaint them with the FMI program and the instrumental options available.  Mrs. Morse will meet with parents that are interested in learning more about FMI and the school bands on Tuesday, 9/2, at 6:30pm in the grade 4 classroom.  This meeting is for parents NEW to band.  If your student(s) have already participated in band in past years, you do not need to attend.  Students that have completed a year or more of instrumental music study are eligible to audition for the FMI Eastern Regional Band.  Click here for more information about Regional Band.


Chess Club 2014-15 - Again this year, thanks to Mr. Omelan Markiw, a parent volunteer, St. Mary's School will be able to offer a chess club to students again this Fall. Thank you, Mr. Markiw, for sharing your love of this game with our St. Mary's family again this year! This program is limited to 12 students. Chess Club will be held on Fridays from 3:30-4:30 pm in the 2nd grade classroom beginning on October 2, 2014 and running through November 21, 2014. The club is open to children in grades 1 through 8. If you sign up for chess club, please make every attempt to be at each session as there are limited seats available.  If needed, children will be able to transition into aftercare at the end of chess club.  If your child is interested in learning to play chess with their St. Mary's friends, please click here.  Pick up after chess club is in the north parking lot. Please go to the north side of the building for pick up as there may not be someone in the office to open the main door. 

Piano Lessons - Again this year, our Kindergarten teacher, Mr. Cosham is offering piano lessons for students beginning their study of piano.  He still has a few time slots available.  If you are interested, please contact him at bcosham@stmarysimsbury.eduk12.net.

Playground Grand Opening Delayed & Additional Information


Rain is expected for tomorrow and it is dampening our spirits and forcing us to reschedule our new playground's Grand Opening Summer Playdate & Uniform Exchange.  This event is now scheduled for Tuesday, 8/19/14 from 4-7pm.  A flyer is attached.  We are thinking sunny thoughts and hoping you will all be able to join us then!



Our New Family Welcome Night is scheduled for Monday, 8/25/14.  We are looking forward to meeting our new parents  at 6:30 at the Welcome Night.  For clarification, this is an opportunity for our new parents to meet their buddy parents, faculty, staff and Home and School Association.  We will be providing limited babysitting as a courtesy to our families but our hope is for the parents to have an opportunity to meet other parents and have their questions answered.  Please RSVP to Angie Connors at 860-658-9412.

iPad Deployment Appointments for all Middle School (Grades 6, 7 and 8) students are now underway.  If you have not signed up yet, please click here to learn more about these meetings and to schedule your appointment.
Seven New England Restaurants Beyond 100 Years Old

Seven New England Restaurants Beyond 100 Years Old

Wayside Inn, Sudbury MA
Given that about 60 percent of restaurants fail in their first year of business, it's amazing to come across New England dining spots in business for more than 100 years. Their longevity is almost always due to keeping the food quality intact, focusing on great customer service and keeping intact unique architecturally historical elements. It also doesn't hurt to have historical icons or celebrity as customers along the way, as well as possessing some unique anecdotal stories that just add to the legend!

With that in mind, here are seven noteworthy New England restaurants that go beyond 100-years-old...

Griswold Inn (1776), Essex Conn. The Griswold Inn stands as one of the the oldest continuously running  taverns in the United States, having served notables from George Washington and Albert Einstein to actress Katharine Hepburn. Originally offering lodging and food and spirits that catered to shipbuilders, the Griswold today retains its rustic, creaky charm in an exceptionally well-maintained setting. With three different dining options offering excellent traditional American fare and 33 charming guest rooms, the spirit of traditional New England resonates so proudly here.

Morin's Hometown Barn and Grill (1911), Attleboro, Mass. Once a dining cable car, Morin's has turned into a bustling 250 seat restaurant featuring breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as weekly buffets. This Attleboro restaurant remains rock solid as a downtown business with some recent national attention: Guy Fieri featured Morin's French meat pie and fisherman's stew on his Diners, Drive-ins and Dives television show on the Food Network.  Two of the Morin's sons continue to run the business with clear pride of ownership and a knack for turning out some amazing comfort foods served in heaping portions. Read our Morin's dining review here

Union Oyster House (1826), Boston, Mass. Located on the famous Freedom Trail, the Union Oyster House stands as the oldest restaurants in Boston and the oldest restaurant with continuous service in the United States. In this building dating back to the 1600s, Daniel Webster once"drank his tall tumbler of brandy and water with each half-dozen oysters." The Kennedy family has also been known to frequent the Union Oyster House.  And how about this for a rather fascinating, or perhaps dull anecdote, depending on how you look at it: the first toothpick was used here.

Today, the Union Oyster House remains incredibly popular -- a tourist attraction and local favorite. It's amazing, too, that there have been only three known owners since its 1826 inception!

Woodman's (1914), Essex, Mass. Known as the birthplace of the fried clam, Woodman's perhaps represents the classic New England clam shack better than any in the region. The unpretentious atmosphere and delicious fried clams and other fresh seafood dishes truly brings one into the heart of New England's seafood scene. Read our Woodman's dining review here as part of our New England's Best Seafood Restaurants and Clam Shacks article.

Lafayette House (1784), Foxboro, Mass. Gen. Lafayette, Gen. Washington and Benjamin Franklin frequented this sprawling yet cozy restaurant with fireplaces and the oldest stand up bar in the country. The traditional American cuisine and authentic colonial atmosphere -- originally a tavern and inn -- make for an experience one wishes was more common amongst the local restaurant scene. Read our Lafayette House dining review here as part of our Best Colonial Style and Traditional New England Restaurants in Massachusetts article.

Wayside Inn, Sudbury, Mass. Known as Howe's Tavern from 1716 to 1861, this historic landmark is best known as the setting for a group of fictitious characters congregating at the tavern in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's renowned 1862 book of poems, "Tales of a Wayside Inn." Howe's Tavern eventually changed its name to Longfellow's Wayside Inn -- a legendary dining and lodging establishment listed on on the National Register of Historic Places. The traditional New England fare here is tremendous! Read our Wayside Inn dining review here

Ye Olde Tavern (1760), West Brookfield, Mass. Beautifully situated off the idyllic West Brookfield Town Common, the Ye Olde Tavern today is more of a local watering hole that specializes in brick oven pizza -- it is now known as Pleasant Street Pub and Pizza at Ye Olde Tavern. The handsome colonial building, however, remains intact with a former clientele that included George Washington (boy, he liked to eat out a lot!), President John Adams  and Daniel Shays, the well-known leader of Shays' Rebellion.

12 Reasons to Love Central Massachusetts

Brookfield Orchards, North Brookfield, Mass. (photo by Eric)

Central Massachusetts represents the heart and soul of New England quite well with its quaint small towns, winding country roads, hills and valleys, and a pace of life that is generally much slower than Boston. The region also features Worcester, an impressive city that keeps getting better each day through its major revitalization projects and a strong cultural and academic base with nine colleges and many cultural institutions.

I've found Central Massachusetts to be a home away from home with an appealing quality of life as well as attractions and events that provide a nice respite from our suburban Boston residence. For starters, here are 12 great Central Massachusetts travel destinations:

Ecotarium, Worcester The Ecotarium, an indoor/outdoor science and discovery center, has a bucolic, campus-like presence that feels a million miles away from the urban bustle of Worcester, New England's second largest city. The museum is modern, clean and features such educational gems like a planetarium, animal educational classes and displays (including bald eagles!), geology presentations, and memory and perception exhibits. There's also an express train, taking you through a wild habitat with red fox, red-tailed hawks, and if you're lucky a glimpse of Kendra the polar bear. The Ecotarium also features The Tree Canopy Walkway where you can experience what it's like to walk at the tops of the trees! More on the Ecotarium...

Brookfield Orchards, North Brookfield More than just one of New England's best apple orchards, Brookfield Orchards has a wonderful country store, as well as serving up some amazing apple dumplings with vanilla ice cream and cheddar cheese. The best part of visiting Brookfield Orchards, to us, is enjoying the scenic countryside, rolling hills in the distance and some of the sweetest smelling air you'll find in these neck of the woods. More on Brookfield Orchards...

Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge As mentioned in the previous post, Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) is a true-to-life outdoor living museum that wonderfully depicts rural New England from the 1790s to the 1830s. The appealing village layout includes 59 historic buildings on 200 acres, three water-powered mills and two covered bridges.  The knowledgeable New England historians in costume really know their subject matter, so don't be afraid to ask any questions! At Sturbridge Village, you can also ride in a stagecoach, view antiques, heirloom gardens, meet the farm animals, and take part in hands-on crafts.  Visitors have been coming to Old Sturbridge Village since 1946. I have fond memories of OSV as a kid going on school field trips, but I can tell you that Sturbridge Village is even better today with so many more attractions. More on Old Sturbridge Village...

Brimfield Flea Market, Brimfield This is the biggest flea market in New England, held annually in May, July and September. You'll find more than 5,000 vendors from all over the country come to this tiny, quintessential New England town! More on the Brimfield Flea Market...

Salem Cross Inn, West Brookfield If you're looking for a restaurant that captures the spirit of traditional New England, the Salem Cross Inn will surely satisfy. With part of the building dating back to the 1700s, this charming restaurant with beautiful hardwood floors, post and beam ceilings, a huge fieldstone fireplace and scenic countryside over 600 acres, the Salem Cross Inn also happens to serve some wonderful Yankee fare. We recommend the New England chowder of the sea, chicken pie, Yankee pot roast, and baked New England haddock. The Salem Cross Inn also hosts several special events a year that re-enact colonial history and cooking. More on the Salem Cross Inn...

Quabbin Reservoir, Belchertown The largest man-made reservoir in the United States is also a naturalist's dream with designated access areas for fishing (restrictions apply), hiking, limited bicycling, walking trails, bird watching (we've heard many reports of eagle sightings here), snowshoeing, picnicking and generally, endless scenic views. We recommend visiting the Quabbin Reservoir at 485 Ware Rd. (Route 9) in Belchertown, or calling (413) 323-7221. More on the Quabbin Reservoir....

Southwick's Zoo, Mendon Along with the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, Southwick's Zoo is, in our opinion, the go-to zoo in New England. Having grown tremendously over the past couple of decades, Southwick's Zoo features a large display of well-known and lesser-known animals, the Safari Skyride where you can view animals from above, a walk-through aviary, a petting zoo, live animal presentations and educational classes and the really impressive Purple Peacock Gift Shop! The zoo is exceptionally well-kept. More on Southwick's Zoo...

Howard's Drive-In, West Brookfield A classic summer destination, Howard's is the place for heaping portions of ice cream at dirt cheap prices, as well as offering great BBQ chicken, lobster rolls, ribs and fried clam plates. Such a nice place -- you order at the window, find a picnic table at the picnic groves and enjoy the feeling of letting someone else create a backyard family-like gathering for your dining pleasure.  More on Howard's...

Davis Farmland and MegaMaze, Sterling This family-run working farm showcases the largest sanctuary of endangered livestock animals in the United States. It's a pleasing, wholesome family-friendly destination that also happens to be a lot of fun. Some highlights includes meeting the farm animals, figuring out the enormous corn maze, taking a pony or "safari" ride, a zero depth "spray  ground" to cool off on hot days, and Adventureland where you can dig for dinosaur bones, or drive on the pedal car track. There's plenty more to see and do here, and it's easy to spend a whole day at the farm! Here's more on Davis Farm Land... 

Worcester Art Museum, Worcester There is life beyond the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, when it comes to art museums in New England. The Worcester Art Museum is one great example, featuring more than 35,000 works of art including  European and North American painting, prints, photographs and drawings as well as Asian art, Greek and Roman sculpture and mosaics and contemporary art. I remember going here are as kid in the 1960s, and can tell you that the multiple expansions since then have made it truly one of the premier art museums I've been to in the six-state region. The Museum also is part of an underrated arts, culture and education scene in Worcester. Think about it: the city has nine colleges and universities, six museums, and more than 20 music, theater and dance organizations, including the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra. But I digress and recommend starting with the Worcester Art Museum! More on the Worcester Art Museum..

Dean Park, Shrewsbury What an absolutely beautiful park! Graced with a scenic pond, pleasant walking trails, and lots of tree shaded areas, idyllic Dean Park features a terrific playground, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, a bandstand and picnic pavilions. A well maintained and attended spot, Dean Park is the prototype for what a park should look like. More on Dean Park...

The Book Bear, West Brookfield For lovers of independent bookstores, the Book Bear is a great read. With more than 90,000 used, rare and out of print books, this pleasant store with wonderful old-fashioned customer service and a warehouse look is one of the best bookstores we've been to in New England. More on The Book Bear...
Greater Gardner Furniture Outlets Features More Than 200,000 Sq Ft. of Furniture

Greater Gardner Furniture Outlets Features More Than 200,000 Sq Ft. of Furniture

OK, please be seated: the Greater Gardner Furniture Outlets in Gardner, Mass., features three family owned and operated  furniture stores offering more than 250 names brands in more than 200,000 square feet.

The Factory Coop, La Chance Furniture Showroom and Rome Furniture Center comprise the Greater Gardner Furniture Outlets. The experience is amazing, offering a fantastic variety of furniture while coming across as authentic. Sometimes, those heavily-advertised furniture stores with the bombastic radio and television commercials seem like they have lost their personal touch. The Greater Gardner Furniture Outlets, on the other hand, comes across more true to their roots -- being born many generations ago in a sometimes gritty city that has held onto community pride through the furniture industry, an ongoing interest in town revitalization, and some of the nicest residents you'll ever meet. I know, having worked with many Gardner residents at one point.

The first time visiting the Greater Gardner Furniture Outlets blew me away, given the enormity of the collective furniture stores, the excellent variety of every genre of furniture, and that employees treated us like family. Purchasing some bar chairs from La Chance was a breeze, and the sturdy quality of the furniture remains intact several years later.

Billed as the "Furniture Capital of New England," this is an apt description for the Gardner Greater Furniture Outlets. While Gardner is not exactly a vacation destination, the Greater Gardner Furniture Outlets stands as a fabulous New England, north central Massachusetts travel attraction.

Find out more information about the Greater Gardner Furniture Outlets.

Lobster Chow Mein at Evelyn's Drive-in, Tiverton R.I.

We had to travel all the way to the Far East to sample some lobster chow mein -- the Far East of Rhode Island, that is.

Evelyn's Drive-in serves this most unusual yet delicious dish. What sounds like a potential culinary disaster actually combines exceptionally well to result in a tasty mix of generously served lobster and noodles. Food icon Guy Fieri took notice of the lobster chow mein by featuring this meal on his Diners, Drive-ins and Dives  Food Network television show.

This unpretentious, seasonal clam shack overlooking Nanaquacket Pond has been in business for about 45 years, specializing in fried whole bellied clams, Rhode Island clam chowder, clam cakes and fried seafood platters. You'll find this type of restaurant all over New England, but Evelyn's seems to turn out higher quality meals while also getting creative with their dishes -- with lobster chow mein at the forefront!

Evelyn's Drive-in is located at 2335 Main Rd. (Route 77) Tiverton RI. Tel. 401-624-3100


Summer Update - August 6th, 2014



Our annual "Back to School" mailing is on its way to you via U.S. mail as of Tuesday, August 4th.  If you do not receive your packet, please contact the school office.  You can view an electronic version of the packet's contents by clicking here.  As usual, there are lots of things to read and many forms to complete.  Please make every effort to return items by the date(s) requested to help assure a smooth start to our school year.


Nobody wants to see it end.....but....it's probably time to take a minute and check out the helpful "Back to School" tab on our school blog.  You will find everything you need to know about supply lists, suggested summer reading and Middle School Summer Assignments.  There are many helpful calendar reminders about upcoming events you don't want to miss including Summer Playground, "Meet & Greets", New Family Welcome Night and Morning in Middle School.  Why not pour a glass of lemonade and check it out right now?


2014-2015 School Calendar - Again this year our main school calendar is a Google on-line calendar.  The calendar has now been updated to list all upcoming school events for 2014-2015 based on today's planned schedules. The calendar is available using the tab located at the top of the blog.  Please check in frequently to stay up to date.  Calendar changes and updates are also announced via the weekly school blog and, when appropriate, via email and/or Remind text.

Hot Lunch News - The first hot lunch order form for the new school year is available now!  The order form and schedule have been sent out via email to all school families.  This information is also available on our school's website.  Click here
 Please note that ALL lunches must be preordered and prepaid. There is no cash and carry for lunches, including on "Pizza Fridays".  

All orders and payments for this lunch period must be received NLT 8/22/14.  Hot lunch will begin on Friday, September 19.  Until that time, all students must bring a brown bag lunch everyday. The milk program will begin on the first day of school.  All students are eligible to participate.  Click here for the milk order form.




H.S.A. News - Our Home & School Association is excited to begin  new school year and has a calendar full of events designed to build community and help support our students and school.  Click here to visit the H.S.A. page of the school website to read a welcome letter from this year's H.S.A. Executive Board, then scroll down and use the link to display the 2014-15 H.S.A. calendar.

SUMMER CHOICE SALES - Choice cards will be available for sale in the school office on August 7 - 9:00am-12:30pm & August 21- 9:00am-12:30pm.

Kategori

Kategori