The Salem Public Schools Weekly Newsletter

Posted on: March 17, 2023

Salem Public Schools Weekly Update

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Salem Public Schools Weekly Update
A Note From the Superintendent

March 17, 2023

Dear Salem families,


It is MCAS season in Salem! All students in grades 3-8 and grade 10 in Salem will be taking the MCAS in English Language Arts (ELA) and math. Students in grades 5 and grade 8 will be taking the science, technology, and engineering MCAS. Depending on the science course that our high school students are taking, they might be assigned to take a biology, chemistry, physics, or technology/engineering MCAS this spring. 


The MCAS is intended to provide you and your child’s teacher with information about how our students perform relative to the MA State Frameworks. Results from the MCAS assessment are used by the Salem Public Schools to inform professional development for teachers, curriculum material purchases, and instructional practices. Once again, all grade levels will take their ELA, math, and science assessments online this spring. Your child’s school will provide you with information about the administration of the upcoming MCAS assessments, including school-specific schedules. See the Spring 2023 MCAS assessment windows below.

In the fall, parents, students, and staff will receive individual score reports that will provide helpful information on how to best address the academic needs of your child. The results, in aggregate, will also inform the district’s ongoing improvement efforts. I encourage all families to visit the following websites for information on test design:

  General parent/guardian information:





While there are many different perspectives about the value/meaning of MCAS, it is one of the ways that allows us to know if students are performing at grade level. Ultimately, we are a teaching and learning organization, and we are in the business, as our vision states, of fully preparing students to thrive in a diverse and changing world. In order for our students to graduate from the Salem Public Schools with a diploma that truly affords them the opportunity to have a choice to attend and excel in college and/or enter the workforce, our students must be able to demonstrate grade-level mastery. However imperfect the MCAS is, it is an important way to gauge whether our students are growing toward this critical academic goal. 

Please assist us by providing your child with encouragement and reassurance leading up to these assessments. It is important to remind your child that these assessments are an opportunity to share how much they know and are able to do. It is one piece of information demonstrating their many talents. Test scores should be used along with in-class performance, report cards, and teacher reports to form a complete picture of a student’s achievement and areas for continued growth. If you have any questions about these sessions, I urge you to reach out to your child’s teacher(s) and/or your school administrators. As always, we appreciate your support and investment in your child’s learning.




And the winner is……

At Salem Public Schools, we are recognizing one staff member a week who exemplifies our core values of celebrating differences, facilitating collaboration, fostering innovation, creating equity and access, growing all students, and upholding high standards for all. We are surprising a deserving SPS team member with a rock star trophy.

This week’s rockstar award goes to districtwide multilingual educator, Rita Constantinou. She has been a key player at Bentley, deepening her knowledge of dual language practices and leading the multilingual learner team through the changes of teaching English language development in a dual language setting. She also supports our dual language teachers in improving the quality of instruction throughout the school. Additionally, Ms. Constantinou has been a huge staple and support to the Horace Mann team! She brings passion and drive to her work for students and staff every day.

Finalist for Executive Director of Special Education – LAST CANDIDATE FORUM

Tuesday, March 21st

4:30 p.m. – Pamela MacDonald, current Asst. Supt. of Student Services (Malden P.S.)

If you are unable to attend but have questions you’d like to ask, please fill out this form.

Join the conversation: Reimagining Middle School in Salem Public Schools

Salem Public Schools is exploring the purpose of middle school given the ever-changing times facing our young adults – see Dr. Zrike’s letter in the March 3rd newsletter for more information. To do this work well, we need as many voices from our families and stakeholders as possible – so the Reimagining Middle School Task Force is asking for you to join the conversation!

What: A deliberate and inclusive process to articulate a “Portrait of a Middle Schooler” as a vision to guide the work of middle schools in Salem moving forward. The work of the task force is to collect community input for this vision. This vision will inform the work to expand and rethink the middle school experience over the next 1-3 years at both Collins and Saltonstall. This vision will also serve as input into the district strategic plan. The reimagining work is specific work about the middle school experience that we are launching now. It is currently a separate conversation from grade configurations and our future use of facilities.

How: Please join the conversation!

  • Complete this quick survey: 

  • Attend an event and participate in the conversation over food, with fun and interactive activities (interpretation services provided!):

    • Collins Cafeteria: 6:30-7:30 on Monday, 3/20

    • Join us on Zoom on Tuesday, 3/21, from 7:00-8:00pm. Register here to get the link.

    • Saltonstall Library: 6-7pm on Wednesday, 3/22

  • Stop by to learn more at our tables at other events

    • In the lobby at your elementary school during parent-teacher conferences on 3/22

    • Outside the CMS play Aida on 3/23 or 3/24 at 7pm or 3/25 at 2pm

    • As part of Saltonstall’s Latino Game Night on Thursday, 3/23

  • You can reach out to your school’s family engagement facilitator or email with your ideas

Please note – all stakeholders (families, students, educators, partners) are welcome to attend any event (they are not specific to individual schools or age groups!) 

Lots of Socks Spirit Day for World Down Syndrome Day

In recognition of World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, Salem High School is excited to to raise awareness and acceptance for Down Syndrome with our Lots of Socks Spirit Day. Why socks? The idea was created because chromosomes are shaped “like socks” and people with Down Syndrome have an extra chromosome. All students and staff districtwide are invited to join Salem High School in celebrating by showing up to school wearing colorful, creative, and crazy socks on March 21!

Call for Nominations for the Margaret Voss Howard Teacher Recognition Award

Do you know an exemplary teacher? Please nominate that individual for recognition.

What is the purpose of the award? Each year, The Margaret Voss Howard Teacher Recognition Award recognizes one Salem and one Marblehead teacher as representative of all the excellent, dedicated teachers in the community who make a difference to children every day.

Who is eligible? Teachers from the district schools in Marblehead and Salem, Massachusetts, are eligible.

What is the award? Each honoree receives an unrestricted cash award of $500.

Who may nominate? Anyone—educators, parents, students, community members

How do I nominate someone? Send a letter of nomination with your reasons for nominating the teacher. Please be as detailed and specific as possible. Please keep nominations confidential and do not inform individuals that they have been nominated. Nominations must be postmarked by April 21, 2023.

How are honorees selected? A committee of two administrators from each district and a representative of the Howard family reviews the nominations and selects the honorees based on the criteria below.

Criteria for selection: Candidates must have made substantial contributions to the profession, such as:

  • Exceptional or creative contributions during restrictions due to Covid-19.
  • A specific, creative project that inspired students to perform and achieve and/or contributed positively to school culture, climate, or community
  • An inspirational influence on a particular child or group of children that made a difference in their progress and achievement
  • An innovative practice that led to positive growth in a school or the district or beyond
  • A long, distinctive, and influential career in which the teacher positively impacted many children
  • Leadership among colleagues that solved problems or led to educational improvements
  • Other outstanding contributions to the profession, described in the nomination letter.

Please send your letter of nomination, along with the nomination form (English/Spanish), to (preferred) or mail to:

Teacher Recognition Award

190 Bridge Street, #2301

Salem, MA 01970

Nominations must be postmarked by April 21, 2023. For more information, email or call (978) 609-0813. The award is a fund of the Essex County Community Organization.


We’d like to remind our community that Ramadan begins at Sundown March 22nd and goes until April 21st

Ramadan is the Islamic holy month of fasting, prayer, and reflection. During Ramadan, it is customary for Muslims to pray extra nightly prayers and participate in other religious practices throughout the day and night when possible. They will often wake up for, or stay up until “suhur,” a pre-dawn meal.

For each day of Ramadan, fasting consists of abstaining from eating or drinking, including water, while the sun is out.

Some staff or students may be tired, hungry, and dehydrated by the end of the school day, especially during the late afternoon.

As Ramadan is a time of worship, it is better to wish students a Blessed Ramadan rather than “happy.”

Important Information About MassHealth Renewals

We have important news regarding MassHealth (Medicaid and CHIP) health coverage for families in Salem.

What is changing:

In March 2020, the federal government declared a public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, in response to federal requirements, MassHealth put protections in place that prevented members’ MassHealth coverage from ending. These protections are ending and MassHealth will soon return to the standard annual eligibility renewal process. In the coming year, all current MassHealth members will need to renew their health coverage to ensure that they still qualify for their current benefit.

These renewals will take place over 12 months. In order to help members maintain the best coverage that they are eligible for, MassHealth is working with its partners to make sure members know how to renew their coverage and are aware of other affordable health coverage options if needed.

What you need to do now:

  1. Make sure MassHealth has your most up to date address, phone number, and email so you do not miss important information and notices.

  1. Report any household changes. These include a new job, address, changes to your income, disability status, or pregnancy. You can update information and report changes using your MA Login Account at

Please see the attached flyers for more information.


Haitian Creole



Happy National Nutrition Month from Food and Nutrition Services!

Check out the various nutritious breakfast and lunch options being offered throughout our schools next week:

We began March by celebrating National School Breakfast week from March 6th – 10th. During this week-long celebration, we launched our weekly breakfast raffles. Our first winners were drawn on Friday, 3/10. Pictured is our first winner at Saltonstall with his prizes. Raffles will run until June with winners drawn every Friday. Students have the opportunity to enter the raffle every day they participate in breakfast. The more times a student participates in breakfast, the greater the chances they have of winning.

On March 10th, a celebration to conclude National School Breakfast Week was hosted in the first-floor cafeteria of Salem High School with music, photo booths, and a Plinko game to win prizes. Superintendent Steve Zrike, Mayor Bob McCarthy, and Senator Joan Lovely helped serve breakfast to our students. This event resulted in the greatest breakfast attendance SHS has had all year!

A competition was also held among all of the schools to see which school could have the highest percentage of students participating in school breakfast. We would like to extend our congratulations to…Carlton Innovation School! Throughout the week of 3/6, 88% of Carlton students received breakfast.

Thank you to all students/staff for the enthusiasm we received during the National School Breakfast week. We look forward to continuing our breakfast raffles and will have more fun events and prizes coming soon.

Remember, school breakfast is always free. Each meal served at breakfast in our schools meets the USDA’s nutritional standards. Schools are required to provide a breakfast meal that includes fruit, whole-grain-rich items, and low-fat or fat-free milk. The benefits of eating breakfast can be felt throughout the school day. Take a look around our cafeterias to find our “benefits of breakfast” banners to learn more.

Earning While Learning!

Salem 10th-12th graders are invited to apply for KidWind Academy, a week-long summer program (July 23-28) to learn about offshore wind and the career opportunities it offers. The program is free, and students earn $100/day for their participation (total: $500). The program takes place at Mass Maritime Institute; students live in the dorms while taking classes, engaging in hands-on activities, hearing from guest speakers, and taking field trips to wind facilities. Housing, food, transportation all included at no cost to participants. Learn more:



  • New and Unopened Diaper Packages Only
  • All Sizes Needed: Newborn to Size 6
  • Baby Wipes Welcome, too!

Collection Dates: Now – April 30, 2023

Drop-Off Locations: Salem City Hall, Salem City Hall Annex, Salem Public Library

Drop-Off Times: Regular business hours at each building


Help the After-Prom Committee plan a fun night. The After Prom Committee, led by SHS parents, is running a scratch ticket raffle to raise money for a fun and safe post-prom party at In The Game. Purchase a $20 ticket, and you could win big! 1st Prize: $1,000 in scratch tickets, 2nd Prize: $300 in scratch tickets, 3rd prize: $200 in scratch tickets. Only 300 tickets will be sold, and the drawing will be on April 1st. Venmo @MaryBeth-Costello to purchase tickets or email for other payment options. Want to help sell tickets? Email Donna for that too! Thank you for your support!

Salem High School Hall of Fame Committee Members Wanted!

The Salem High School Athletics Department is looking for YOU! Our Athletics department is looking for people to join a Hall of Fame committee to help recognize our athletes, past and present.

The Salem High School Athletic Hall of Fame recognizes:

  • Individuals who have demonstrated exceptional skills and talents in a particular sport
  • Coaches, teachers, and other community members who have made outstanding contributions to individual sports or overall sport programs of Salem High School. 

The Salem High Hall of Fame Committee consists of 11 members that establish an ongoing and fair process for the nomination and selection of former Salem High School athletes, coaches, and other Salem School and community members who have made exceptional contributions to the Salem High School athletic program.

To establish a diverse and consistently balanced committee, terms will be staggered as follows: three (3) members will be selected for one-year terms; three members will be selected for two-year terms; and four (4) members will be selected for three-year terms. Terms will expire on June 30th of each year.

Please complete this form if you are interested in serving as a member of the Hall of Fame Committee. If you have any questions, please contact Reilly Christie at 978-265-4044 or


As winter approaches, we want to remind staff and families to be sure we have current contact information to reach you in the event that we have a cancellation or delay. Notifications will go out through ParentSquare via automated phone call, text, and email. It will also be posted on our website as well as social media and local TV channels. We do not have the option of remote instruction in the event of a closure.

kids with backpacks

The Virtual Backpack

Welcome to the Virtual Backpack. This is a space where we will place items that in the past may have been a flyer in your student’s backpack from friends and partners to SPS.

XKickball Spring RegistrationXKickball Inscripción de primavera

QR codes for ParentSquare

Download the ParentSquare app today!

A reminder that ParentSquare is the district platform for communication. You will receive communication from the district, your school, and your student’s classroom all in one space. You can communicate 1-to-1 with teachers, sign up for parent-teacher conferences, and more.

This is how our school and teachers communicate with families districtwide. Please be sure you are receiving messages from ParentSquare. If need support downloading the app or receiving messages, please contact your school’s front office. You can visit for more information.

Find tech support for Chromebooks, Aspen, ParentSquare and more

click here

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Salem Public Schools

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29 Highland Ave.

Salem, MA 01970