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STAFF & COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER
June 4, 2021      
 
Dear Portland Public Schools families, staff and community members,
 
We’re now in the home stretch of the 2020-2021 school year,  with June 15, the last day of school for students, less than two weeks away! I recognize how challenging this year has been for students, families and staff and am deeply grateful for everyone’s patience and perseverance as we all worked together to make it as successful as possible.
 
It was so awesome to see nearly 500 Portland Public Schools seniors able to graduate earlier this week in person – thanks to an increase in COVID-19 vaccinations in Maine and lower case counts. It is even more awesome how much the Class of 2021 achieved in academics, athletics and other activities during this hardest of years. The majority of the graduates are headed to institutions of higher learning that include elite colleges and universities all across the country and in Maine. They’ll attend with the aid of millions of dollars in scholarships and grants. I couldn’t be more proud of the Class of 2021 and I feel confident they’re prepared and empowered for a promising future.  Click HERE for details on the commencement ceremonies for Deering, Portland and Casco Bay high schools and to see photos. 
 
We’re now focused on helping families access our summer learning programs. Schools have sent out an invitation to students designated to attend our school-based programs. Families can sign up for our elective new summer Community Partner Program. Read on in this newsletter to learn more.
 
As summer approaches, please make sure that everyone in your family who is eligible gets vaccinated – including students 12 and older.  It’s a surefire way to make the season more relaxed and enjoyable for everyone in our community! Did you know that FEMA’s Mobile Vaccination Unit is coming to Portland? This drop-in clinic – no appointment necessary! – will be at the Rising Tide Brewing parking lot, located at 103 Fox Street, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 10-June 13. This event offers the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, so is for those 18 and older (only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for those aged 12-17). But you can learn about other vaccine opportunities in our Health Updates document. The more members of our school community who get vaccinated, the safer we’ll all be for the fall, when we plan to be back to full-time school.
 
The Portland Board of Public Education will be taking a summer break in July but has one more meeting this month – on June 15.
 
At its June 1 meeting, the Board and the district recognized more than 35 PPS staff retiring this year. We celebrated and expressed our gratitude to these amazing people – representing every employee group across the district and more than 1,000 years of collective service to our community. Learn the details HERE.
 
The Board also held a first reading and workshop on our new Equity Policy. Here’s the first read version. The purpose of this policy is to respond to and redress inequities in our school system and identify  the ways in which the Portland Public Schools will be accountable for centering equity in all aspects of our work. The policy establishes a shared definition for “equity” and serves as a guide by which to evaluate all other policies, practices, and procedures throughout the district. We anticipate the policy will be approved at the Board’s June 15 meeting and we will be working on strategies for making sure all staff and students know about, understand and act in a manner consistent with the policy.  In addition, the Board will vote to approve revisions to the graduation requirements policy (IKF). This will be the final update to represent our proficiency-based graduation requirements.  As a result, next year all students (not just students in grades 9-11) must demonstrate they have mastered standards, not just completed courses.
 
I’ll close by reminding everyone that the City of Portland’s June 8 special municipal election is just days away! Portland voters  will decide on our FY22 school budget and on City Charter commissioners. Please vote! We are hopeful that our Portland Public Schools community will continue to support the work of our district and recognize the importance of the equity investments in our school budget. Get voting information here.


Sincerely, 


Xavier Botana, Superintendent
SCHOOL BOARD NEWS
Thank You to Our Retirees for Collective 1,000+ Years of Service!
More than 35 Portland Public Schools retirees were honored by the Portland Board of Public Education and the district on June 1. Thank you, PPS retirees! Learn details here.
HEALTH AND SAFETY UPDATES


HEALTH AND TRAVEL UPDATES

This link has the latest information on clinics and vaccine opportunities, travel guidelines, distancing, use of masks, cleaning, and COVID-19 testing. 

WEEKLY COVID-19 UPDATE
The Portland Public Schools puts out a weekly COVID advisory each Friday. It includes the number of positive cases associated with our schools during the past week and any outbreak declarations or building closures as a result. Staff, families and staff at impacted schools are immediately notified of positive cases and closings, but the weekly advisory is an effort to keep the broader PPS community informed. The advisory typically is posted at the end of the day on Fridays in the District Spotlight section of the district's homepage. Here’s the link to the June 4th weekly update.
SUMMER SOCIAL EMOTIONAL WELLNESS AND SUPPORT
What a challenging school year it has been! Portland Public School support teams, including school counselors and school social workers, have compiled wellness resources for students to refer back to this summer. The document can be found here, and includes items such as opportunities for joy and resources to support you if you find you are having a difficult time. 

FEMA Mobile Vaccination Unit is coming to Portland

FEMA’s mobile vaccination clinic is coming to Portland! This is a drop-in clinic – no appointment necessary! J & J vaccine for those 18 and older.

Date: Thursday, June 10th – Sunday, June 13th, 2021 

Time: 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Thursday to Sunday 

Location: Rising Tide Brewing parking lot, 103 Fox Street, Portland
Learn more here

Check this link for the translation of this flyer in different languages Acholi, Arabic, French, Khmer, Portuguese, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese. This Northern Light clinic will offer the Pfizer vaccine, which is for anyone 12 and older.
RECOGNITION
Congratulations, Class of 2021!

The Portland Public Schools’ three high schools – Portland, Deering and Casco Bay – held in-person commencement ceremonies on June 2 and 3 for the nearly 500 graduating seniors in the Class of 2021. Click on the links below to read all about the ceremonies and see photos.

●  147th Deering High School Graduation: June 2, 11 a.m. Memorial Field. Read more here
●   200th Portland High School Graduation: June 3, 11 a.m., Merrill Auditorium. Read more here.
●   13th Casco Bay High School Graduation: June 3, 6 p.m., Merrill Auditorium. Read more here. 
NOTICES
JUNE 8th SPECIAL ELECTION – PLEASE VOTE!
The City of Portland is holding a special municipal election on Tuesday, June 8 for Portland voters to vote on our equity-based FY22 school budget and on City Charter commissioners. Get voting information here, or learn more below. Learn details of the school budget here. We encourage members of our Portland Public Schools community to vote!
Families: Register Now for Our New Summer Community Partner Program!

As we wind down the year, we’re shifting our focus to helping families access our summer learning opportunities. 
Schools have sent out an invitation to students designated to attend our school-based programs. Families can sign up for our elective new summer Community Partner Program. We sent out an email/text to all families last week with details about the Community Partner Program and we’ve also made brochures available in a variety of languages. We are thrilled to have great summer learning and engagement options and hope that our families will take advantage of them! These are incredible summer opportunities for your children to attend a wide range of camps whose fun and instructional activities include music, sports, art, theater, writing and much more!

These slots are intended for families most in need financially – those who qualify for free and reduced price lunch. We are asking families to self identify on the choice/registration form if they qualify.
Click HERE to learn more about our roster of engaging summer programs in a variety of languages. Any families who are interested should complete the registration form to identify which camps they are interested in. Please register soon – matches will be made on a first-come, first-serve basis!
PPS NEWS 

More Independent Capstones at PHS in 2020-2021

Typically, just a handful of students take on an independent senior capstone project at Portland High School, but during this challenging school year, many more took on unique independent projects, according to Andrea Levinsky, PHS Extended Learning Opportunities Coordinator. The projects included building an artist’s shed, building a smoker, artwork, career research, building a guitar, making electronic music, and researching topics such as Buddhism, reading and mental health, preparing for the Navy, lobstering and African clothing, she said. Learn more here
PAE and Maine Humanities Council Collaborate
Even in the time of COVID-19, nothing brings people together quite like a good book. This past semester, in virtual classrooms across the Portland area, the Maine Humanities Council and Portland Adult Education (PAE) teamed up to read and discuss the classic novel “Things Fall Apart” by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. As messy spring weather and the pandemic kept many inside, students, teachers, and discussion facilitators logged on to Zoom classrooms to share their thoughts on Achebe’s literary masterpiece. This project was the outgrowth of a long-standing community partnership. Read more here.
KING STUDENTS' ARTWORK ON DISPLAY IN AUGUSTA 

Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows on May 26 hosted student artists from King Middle School and Sweetland School in Hope for a viewing of the students’ artwork and poetry on display in the Secretary of State’s main office. Maine artist Rob Shetterly and Assistant House Majority Leader Rachel Talbot Ross of Portland also were in attendance.

The students made the artwork in partnership with Americans Who Tell the Truth, a nonprofit arts and education organization founded to foster and inspire a profound sense of citizenship in students. 

Learn more details about the collaborative project from the Secretary of State’s office. 

The artwork by the King students, taught by art teacher Rachel Maloney-Hawkins, can be seen HERE

Maloney-Hawkins also made a video of the students reading some of their poetry. Watch HERE

OPPORTUNITIES 
TEACH PORTLAND APPLICATIONS NOW AVAILABLE
The Portland Public Schools is excited to be offering the Teach Portland program this summer! Teach Portland is a summer program that seeks to build interest in the teaching profession and increase the diversity of teachers in Maine. Teach Portland provides an opportunity for participants to experience teaching firsthand in one of our summer learning classrooms, to receive a stipend for participating in the program, and to access optional professional development activities. Read more and access the application here.
CELEBRATION
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TRANSLATION
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