The LABBB Collaborative Newsletter
February, 2015
LABBB Burlington High School and Brio Integrated Theatre Present

In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Patric Barbieri



I have been under pressure lately to put together a music video for announcing when school is canceled. I am sure many of you have seen the videos that have gone viral, such as the principal of Moses Brown doing a version of Frozen to make his announcement (Moses Brown: School is Closed). Now, I am not exactly a gifted dancer or a Broadway singer, so my announcement would need to have a different twist. The wheels in my head are turning, so do not be surprised if you see something soon. It is no secret in the LABBB community that I am an avid Rolling Stones fan and can play a little guitar, so that just might be the inspiration behind this production.


When I attended elementary school, it was mandatory to participate in chorus. We had a dynamic and passionate music teacher, Ms. Tyrie, on whom I had a crush in 2nd grade. In 6th grade, it was also mandatory to play a part in the school play. No one was exempt and many students voluntarily enlisted to be a tree out of fear of having any speaking lines. I'm quite sure that if given the choice to be part of the chorus, many students would not have participated, but as part of the school culture, it was just an expectation. As for me, I looked forward to seeing Ms. Tyrie-I mean going to chorus!


Everyone sings and performs, whether in the car or the shower or anywhere else. Singing is a natural expression and we feel good when we do it. It doesn't matter if we are in tune or not, and sometimes we don't even realize we are singing aloud. Introverts and extroverts alike all have the same need for this expression.


On Wednesday evening, February 4, I attended the LABBB performance of Spectacularis at Burlington High School; this was a production performed by LABBB students in collaboration with the Brio Integrated Theatre group.


I didn't know what to expect, but I had heard that LABBB students were working extremely hard on this production. On the evening of the performance, the Burlington High School auditorium was almost full. The show started off with a video presentation that immediately grabbed the audience's attention. It was a documentary of the behind-the-scenes action, and provided background for what we were about to see. For the next 45 minutes, we enjoyed short skits by the students, each with a unique theme. Kermit the Frog narrated the production and that performance, in itself, was amazing.


When the show ended, I wanted more. It went by so fast that it left the audience with an energizing feeling. I thought, "We need to do more of this!" This form of expression is such a benefit to our students. Parents and staff were so proud of the performance, and it was obvious that they all felt a sense of accomplishment from this experience.


With all of the educational mandates that take priority, music and the arts have taken a back seat in our educational system. How do you measure the benefits of a performance in which each student is part of a production team that puts in months of hard work, with only one evening to show the results? Evidence of how our students can perform, and what they are capable of, was demonstrated with Spectacularis. Can you think of a better methodology to build self-confidence and character, and is a form of artistic expression?


If it wasn't for Ms. Tyrie, I would have never learned how to play the guitar. She encouraged me to be part of the school band in 3rd grade and I would've done anything Ms. Tyrie asked me to do, so of course, I took up the trumpet and joined. I didn't particularly like the trumpet, but I stuck it out for a few years and learned about music. I became part of a group that worked together to perform.


If not given the opportunity in school to engage in music, I would never have been inspired. We look forward to giving our students in the LABBB community this same opportunity, and to collaborating with organizations like Brio to inspire them.
Spectacularis was an inspiration for future development of music and the arts in the LABBB Community
Parent Resources and Events
School Cancellation: 
All LABBB programs follow the school cancellations in their respective towns.

Recreation links:
  • February 12: PAC Meeting 
    Topic: The ICE Program at Middlesex Community College
    Presenter: Patric Barbieri 
    Time and Location: 7:15 - 9:00 Lexington High School Library
  • March 19: PAC Meeting
    Special Needs Planning: Legal, Financial and Healthcare
    Presenter: Frederick M. Misilo, Jr. Esq., Tletcher Tilton PC
    Time and Location: 7:15 - 9:00, Lexington High School 
If you would like to add a resource or event to this page please e-mail [email protected]

LABBB Parent Advisory Council (PAC)


Click here to visit our Yahoo discussion group


Click here to visit our website and resource page


Transition Success!
By: Lindsay Rice Sass

In the second year of the LABBB Belmont Transition program, an additional classroom cohort has been added.  Belmont LABBB now has a Monday and Tuesday classroom with Ms. Dickson, and a Thursday and Friday classroom with Ms. Cronin.  This is a unique model compared to other LABBB high school classrooms, where students attend class on the same two days each week.  The other three days a week the students work at LABBB supported worksites or jobs in the community.


In the classroom, the students focus on functional / real world academics, preparing each student to live as independently as possible in the future. Units from this school year include:  job interview skills, banking and budgeting, community college exploration, and email writing. Various staff have been supporting Ms. Dickson's classroom to participate in practice interviews with the students.  The next visitor will be Mr. Barbieri.  Good luck to all the students interviewing!  In Ms. Cronin's classroom the class is getting ready to go on a tour of a local bank and learn more about banking from the manager. 


Students in Ms. Dickson class are starting to apply for jobs in their own communities.  We are so excited to see what jobs and experiences they are getting ready for after LABBB.  Best of luck to all the transition students.  





JFK Library and Museum
By: Michelle Hirth


This fall, Mrs. Hirth's US History class visited the JFK Library and Museum. It was a wonderful way to finish our unit on the Kennedy presidency. As part of the ILS curriculum, in conjunction with speech and OT departments, students used their TAP (Charile) Cards to access the MBTA. We took the red line from Alewife station to the JFK/UMASS stop, then boarded a shuttle for the museum. The adventure had begun! 


Having read about Kennedy, watched video clips, and presented Power Point reports in class, the students were able to engage with the exhibition on a deeper, more substantive level. An engaging introductory video biography on Kennedy's family used historic footage and sound clips to bring history alive. Students then followed a chronological series of exhibitions filled with actual artifacts and documents starting with the excitement of the 1960 Democratic National Convention, to poignant news footage from JFK's funeral procession. Some students were dazzled by Jacqueline's dresses and gowns, while others explored photos, videos, and White House notes from the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis. 


We all ate a lovely lunch in the museum's cafe, practicing our money and budgeting skills, while enjoying the amazing view of the Boston waterfront and the company of our friends. 

February Recreation News and Events 
by Paula Rizzo


In collaboration with the Lexington Recreation Department, beginning on February 28, we are doing an open gym on Saturdays at the Estrabrook Elementary School in Lexington.  LABBB's own Danielle McMahon will be running the Saturday events. Find out more about this program on the Lexington Recreation website. Sign ups will be done through the Lexington Recreation Department.  

We also have a handful of Valentine events, with both LABBB Recreation and the Best Buddies from each of the 5 LABBB chapters. Please check your mailboxes, and please respond by the due dates. 

Why does LABBB have due dates? What is the importance of getting the paperwork in on time? Most of our programs have 8-10 students sign up, while other events have closer to 20, and sometimes even 50 or 60, students sign up. In some cases tickets or space have to be ordered three weeks prior to the event. LABBB transportation has to be set up and staffing needs to be assembled. 


Most importantly, from a safety perspective, the staff and parents have to be notified. A day or two before an event, the parents & staff are notified of the students that will be attending the event/trip.  This information is very important to the staff who make sure students get to the event meeting location, and not on their vans at the end of the day.  It also gives staff a chance to make sure, on the day of the trip, that their student has all the items/money they may need for the trip at the end of day, and to prepare them for the event.  


The email, from the parent to Paula Rizzo and their child's teacher, that they are sending in a sign up for an event, is the first step in a long process to organize the trip. Your help to make the system work smoothly, is appreciated.

February 8     Boot Camp for a Cause (Special Olympics) at                                                 Accelerated Fitness, Lexington
February 9     Make up Motown Trip 3:30-10:30 PM 
February 10    Transition Rec Program 3-5 PM
February 11    Valentine Shopping & Dinner
February 12    Transition Rec Program/LABBB Valentines Day Dance
                       (Lexington High Cafe 7-9 PM)
February 23     Around Town Dining
February 25     Chenery Best Buddies Event
February 26     LABBB Movie Night
March 3           Tuesday Bowling for LABBB High School
March 5           Thursday Bowling for Middle & High School
March 6           Middle School LABBB Pottery Trip

November, December, January Happenings at LABBB Lexington High, Room 715

By: Becky Niman & Carol Chaisson

November, December and January have flown by! We can't believe we are almost half way through the school year.  During these months, students participated in a couple of travel training trips, a charity event, and of course, our daily academic and functional activities. We continued our "Big Question" articles focusing on the theme of "How Communication Changes Us." We read articles, both out loud and independently, that centered on this topic. One of these articles was entitled, "Bridging the Generation Gap." Students engaged in group discussions about how younger and older generations perceive and utilize modern technology. They then chose a piece of technology, researched the features, and wrote an essay explaining how those features would appeal to both generations.

With MCAS fast approaching, we have been doing a lot of work with math formulas. Students have been calculating area and volume for a variety of 2D and 3D shapes.  One new tool we have been using in class is Math IXL. This is a website where we can log on and complete math problems as a group.  The program gives immediate feedback, and if the answer is incorrect, it shows the steps to getting the correct answer.  There is virtually every math topic available from Pre-K to Twelfth grade, so it's a valuable tool to have in any classroom.

Human genetics has been the big topic in our Biology lessons. We have learned about Gregor Mendel (the "Father of Genetics") and done a lot of work with Punnett Squares.  Students have practiced crossing the biological codes for various genetic and physical traits. This topic is not an easy one to understand, however all the students seem to be enjoying the challenge, and are quite engaged in the group discussions.

We are moving along our time line in World History and are finishing up the Ancient Civilizations Unit with Ancient Africa. Soon we will be starting World History II, and learning about the Middle Ages and the Age of Ideas. 

In November we planned a travel-training trip to Wegman's in Burlington. Each group of students was given a list of items to find in the store, and they had to compare the prices of the name brand to the store brand.  They planned the whole trip from mapping out the store and figuring out the bus schedule, to leading the class discussions. It was a great real-world experience for all the students.

The most rewarding event we participated in was the annual Secret Santa charity that Laurie Harrington organizes every year. We were given 8 year old twin girls to shop for this holiday season. The students planned out what to buy, estimated the cost, shopped, and wrapped the gifts. Thanks to the generous donations from our students and their families,  these two girls were given a wonderful holiday.
Please check out our slideshow at: 

Teachable Moments at LABBB Chenery Middle School, Room 112
By: Sarah Bennett

January 19, 2015, our nation celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It was a day of remembrance and a day to celebrate what our nation has overcome and become.


As a teacher, I felt it was essential to explain to my students the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and why we celebrated that day. I read my students a book entitled "Martin's Big Words" and was struck by the first quote in the book. "You are as good as anyone". This, I realized, was the message I wanted to portray to my students.


"You are as good as anyone".


I spent the week of January 19th taking the time to teach about equality, peace, and love. They learned about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King and how he cared for all people, and how people all over the world admired him. They learned about his words and how they are still true for us today.The students of room 112 then created a piece of artwork that depicted the life of Martin Luther King and how his message is still alive and meaningful to this day. They each made a poster with their two handprints; one white handprint and one colored handprint, and attached a poem. The poem read,


"I can change the world with my own two hands.

Make a better place with my own two hands.

Make a kinder place with my own two hands"


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Room 112 learned the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year, and I feel incredibly proud and blessed to have had this teachable moment with my students who are as good as anyone. 

Preparing for MCAS Season
By: Sue Good

As  we enter the month of February, I would like to say that we are officially in what I deem as MCAS Season. The duration and dynamics is much like tax season, with assessments scheduled each month with testing windows and deadlines. MCAS assessments are scheduled for various types of administrations from February through May.  During this time, school districts are under demanding testing schedules for all grade levels with what the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education considers the Spring Testing Schedule.  MCAS-Alternate assessments are also due during this time period.

For LABBB Programs this is no different.  We are required by law to engage in high stakes testing, and it can become very complex, and many times down right confusing for all involved. Procedures and protocols are changing each year, which can make it difficult to keep abreast on all information that encompasses MCAS administration.  

A quick overview:


"MCAS is designed to measure a student's knowledge of key concepts and skills outlined in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. A small number of students with the most significant disabilities, who are unable to take the standard MCAS tests even with accommodations, participate in the MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt). MCAS-Alt consists of a portfolio of specific materials collected annually by the teacher and student. Evidence for the portfolio may include work samples, instructional data, videotapes, and other supporting information."

With that said, there is much controversy over high stakes testing, but it becomes more complicated when students with a range of disabilities are required by law to be tested too.  

One major question that is always asked is, why do we have to assess students with disabilities?  Again,  it's the law. Participation in MCAS is required in order to assess students' acquisition of knowledge and skills when accessing the state's

Curriculum Frameworks. Having different MCAS assessment options for students with disabilities certainly is beneficial for the students, but many argue this is unfair.  So, LABBB students, and all special education programs, just like regular education students, are required to take MCAS tests, either with or without accommodations, or the MCAS-Alt, if they cannot take the standard tests depending on their disability.

In order to help support LABBB students, we offer tutoring for students interested in participating in extra learning time on curriculum, and learning testing strategies to work towards passing the test for a high school diploma.  In addition, our programs generally compile 45-60 MCAS-Alt portfolios each year.  The LABBB students' portfolios are very comprehensive, and must be compiled and submitted in the same content areas and grades as those in which standard MCAS tests are administered.  

As much as Administrators, Educators and Parents alike believe there are pro's and con's to high stake testing, one thing is for certain; schools and districts are held accountable for having students assessed, and are required to report on all students' achievement levels, regardless of the nature of their disability.  


Welcome to LABBB's 2015 MCAS Season and Good Luck to all students who are participating!

LABBB Arlington High Best Buddies Event
By: Jeff Caritey
The Arlington High Best Buddies organized a great event this month! Students played a game of kickball, and each peer buddy was able to play along side their buddy to help cheer and coach one another. Students were able to rotate through the game and also catch up with one another while making some Patriots themed art work! 

The AHS Best Buddies host a variety of monthly events. This was a fun afternoon for all!
About Us
For more information please visit us at:


LABBB Collaborative Central Office
36 Middlesex Turnpike
Bedford, Massachusetts 01730
(339) 222-5615