Dear Sprague Community,

It is great to see so many parents in the building on the half days to meet with teachers. I know this is a valuable time for parents and teachers to touch base and share how children are progressing. As we move into spring (despite the recent weather), we think of longer days and more time for kids to play outdoors. We have had some messes brought into the school during after school hours recently, so please remind your children to take care of our school building if they need to use the rest room after school hours. Mr. Grady, Mr. Carter, Mr. Gigliotti, and I really appreciate your support.

Our music teacher, Mr. Hagar-McKee has been out sick and will be out at least until after the April vacation. We will have substitute teachers in music. We will need to postpone the concert that had been scheduled for April 29 and was to feature students in grades K and 2. We will keep you posted. Thank you for your understanding.

Recently, we have heard some students discussing the presidential primary elections. Children have varying degrees of exposure and knowledge/interest regarding the election, but as adults, we always want to be aware of how the media can affect children. Many children hear political ads and ignore them, but others listen and may or may not understand the references. For those who are interested, it is important for them to learn that not all claims in an ad are true. Just as we teach kids to be careful consumers of information on the internet, we must point out that some ads contain information from a perspective that can stretch the truth or lead the viewer to believe something that may or may not be true. If you discuss such ads with your child, you may want to ask him/her to think about who made the ad and whether it was even the candidate him/herself. What were the techniques used to inform, persuade, or attract attention? In school, we try to emphasize that everyone has the right to his/her opinion and we may not always agree. However, we must always respect a person’s right to an opinion and be sure to share only things that will not upset others or make them feel uncomfortable. In case you are interested in reading more, last week’s Marshall Memo referenced the following article,

“Visual and Digital Texts” by Stergios Botzakis in Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, March/April 2016 (Vol. 59, #5, p. 599-601), available for purchase at . The article suggested a fact checking site, – Produced by the fact-checking website PolitiFact, this site has a section titled The Argument Ender, a searchable collection of political statements about a variety of issues, with a full analysis of why they are true, mostly true, false, and outrageously false.

Peer Mentoring

The Peer Mentoring program pairs selected Wellesley High School students with interested Sprague students in grades 3-5. Once a week, high school mentors come to Sprague to help students with homework. This is a great opportunity for your child to receive additional help with homework after school on a regular basis!

For Whom: Sprague students in grades 3-5

Where and When: At Sprague every Monday from 3:05pm to 4:00pm. This program will run from April 25 – May 23. These are the scheduled dates for the program: April 25;May 2, 9, 16, 23.

Note: The program will take place in Ms. Blumenthal’s room (Room 113). She will be supervising the students each Monday.Your child may bring a snack if they would like.

If you are interested in having your child participate, please email Ms. Blumenthal (blumenthall). Once she knows the exact number of high school students that will be volunteering, she will begin accepting Sprague students. It will be on a first come, first serve basis.

Pick up will occur at 4:00 p.m. sharp in car line.

Special Education Strategic Plan Focus Groups

Members of the Wellesley Public Schools community have begun the important work of establishing a Strategic Plan for Special Education. A critical step of this planning is to check in with our stakeholders and capture their feedback. We value the input of educators in this process. Regardless of your current involvement with the Special Education Department, we invite you to join us for a focus group to help strengthen our District programming.

April 7, 2016
3:30 pm Wellesley Middle School Library

April 13, 2016
3:00 pm Wellesley High School Library (please note location change)

Should you have questions, please contact Lori Cimeno, Director of Student Services via email cimenol. Light refreshments will be served.

Event that may interest you:

B.R.A.I.N. Day is a free event on Boston University’s campus designed for students in grades K-12 and their parents and teachers. The event features a variety of fun and interactive activities along with mind-boggling demonstrations led by BU Neuroscience undergraduates. Our goal is to share our enthusiasm for science and discovery, and inspire questions about the brain!

In addition to having brains on display, this year¹s event will include tests and demonstrations to:

· Evaluate cognition and memory,

· Show how the brain tricks your visual system,

· Reveal the value of mistakes and practice,

· Introduce Brain Machine Interfaces and neuroprosthetics,

· Illustrate the language of the brain through neural recordings,

And MANY more!

Our newest addition to this year¹s BRAIN Day is a career panel that will feature a graduate student focusing on policy, a neuroeconomics professor, among others in the neuroscience field.
When: Sunday April 10th
Where: 770 Commonwealth Ave (George Sherman Union 2nd floor ­ Ziskind Lounge)
Cost: Free

For more information, please visit

Should you have any further questions regarding the event please reach out to bubraindday

We look forward to seeing you there, and teaching you all about the brain!

Kind regards,

BU Mind and Brain Society

From The Nurse: Making Sense of Medical News: What to Believe?

Attention, parents: TV viewing can be harmful to your kids! Attention, parents: TV viewing is not harmful to your kids!

Which is right? Depending on which story you read, either is correct, at least for a time. Researchers reported that young kids who watched a lot of television were prone to attention problems at school. But then two years later another study discounted that finding, concluding that kids with attention issues may, for a variety of reasons, simply watch more TV.

These conflicting headlines are just one example of how baffling medical news can be. What one study claims to be true may soon be disputed by another study. And with so many studies in the news and on the Internet, how does one know what’s important, accurate, and relevant to your family’s health?

The good news is you don’t have to be a doctor or a scientist to sort it all out. There are some simple ways to evaluate what medical news means to your family. Then you can talk with your doctor about whether the news is relevant or appropriate as you make decisions about your child’s health.

Medical Research vs. News Stories

There are some points to consider when reading or listening to a report on a health topic to help decide whether to trust it and whether it applies to your family. It takes a solid study to prove something substantial about health or treatments. And usually it takes years of many solid studies to confirm conclusions that doctors can stand behind in making decisions about health care for kids.

When you hear about a new medical development, the first questions to ask are: “Is it based on a scientific study?” and “What have the other studies of this issue shown?”

Many medical news reports rely on anecdotes – stories of people’s experiences with a particular problem or treatment – rather than on documented findings. Reporters often use personal stories to illustrate the impact that sensitive topics have on people. Personal stories are compelling, but by themselves they don’t prove anything.

It’s sometimes tough to tell the difference between news articles and advertisements. Ads can be designed to look like news. Check the fine print for the word “advertisement.”

Websites often have names that sound authoritative, but are run by organizations or companies selling products. It’s important to make sure that the sites you see are reliable. Look for sites that are maintained by government agencies, which have .gov in their URL address such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( and the National Institutes of Health (, and by medical groups, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (

Studying the Studies

Knowing there’s a study behind the news is only the first step. How the study was done and who did it also matter. Once you know that a study is the basis of the news report, consider these questions to decide whether it’s important to your family.

Was the study done using people?

Many research findings involve work done in the lab, not in humans. These experiments help scientists study the possible effects of a treatment. But what happens in a test tube does not automatically translate into something useful that can be applied to people. Sometimes treatments work in lab animals (like mice) but don’t work in people.

Who did the study involve?

Even if the study was done in people, it may not be meaningful for your family. For instance, studies involving only adults may not apply to kids; often, treatments that have been studied and proven safe and effective in adults haven’t been tested in children. Medical research presents ethical and financial issues that can be barriers to studies involving children. Reports on medical research studies should include the characteristics of the participants, such as sex, age, and health status, and this can help one decide if the findings might be of interest.

What kind of study is it?

Researchers conduct studies in a number of ways. Prospective studies, many of which track thousands of people for years to see what factors (ex – diet, vitamins, exercise, or other habits) affect health, tend to be more reliable than studies that ask patients to remember and report aspects of their health habits in the past.

Sometimes, researchers look back at medical records or death certificates or give out questionnaires to find out what people did in the past that might have put them at greater risk for some health condition, like heart disease or cancer. Those studies, called retrospective studies, can provide useful clues about diseases but they are not definitive.

Randomized, controlled clinical trials are best at examining whether a treatment works. For example, in these kinds of trials, half of the participants might be randomly assigned to get a drug or other therapy, and half get a placebo (a pill with no effective ingredients or medications). These types of studies are typically “double-blinded,” which means that neither the patients nor researchers know which participants receive the medications being tested and which receive the placebo.

Understanding the Numbers

How big was the study and how long did it last?

Some studies in the news involve just a handful of people. In general, you can have more confidence in the findings from studies that involve hundreds or thousands of participants.

What do the numbers mean?

Numbers can be confusing. And news reports often make medical conditions seem more common than they actually are. For example, a report may say that a certain factor may “double the risk” of getting a given condition. But if the risk goes from 1% to 2%, that’s still small. On the flipside, a drug may cut the risk of getting a condition in half, but if the risk is low to begin with, taking the drug may not be worth it.

Consider numbers from different perspectives. A child who has a 5% chance of getting a disease has a 95% chance of not getting it.

Where are the results published?

Look for studies that are published in academic research journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics, and The New England Journal of Medicine. The groups that issue these journals carefully scrutinize studies before publishing them. That means you can usually trust what appears in them.

But the research that appears in the journals can get distorted in news reports. Reporters cramming complicated information into a short story may oversimplify and make findings seem more conclusive than they are. They also may fail to mention the treatment’s downsides. If possible, look up the original source. Many journals can be read for free at local public libraries or online (where non-subscribers may be charged a fee).

Who funded the research?

The federal government, particularly the National Institutes of Health (NIH), funds a lot of research. Government-sponsored studies are usually credible, since the researchers and the work that they do has to be carefully evaluated before they can get funding from the government for the study.

It’s become more common for pharmaceutical companies and the makers of medical devices to fund clinical research. That doesn’t mean the findings are tainted, but you should take the funding source into consideration. Medical journals list where the funding for a study came from. They also require researchers to disclose conflicts of interest, such as if one of the researchers who conducted the study owns stock in a company that could benefit from positive results.

How do the findings compare with previous studies?

Often, studies make the headlines because they tend to contradict conventional thinking. In truth, it’s rare for a single study to be the final word.

Be especially cautious regarding studies whose conclusions are vastly different than the existing body of research. Most medical thinking emerges from conclusions drawn from many studies over time, and often there are contradictions along the way.

Acting on Medical News

Never diagnose your child or stop a medical treatment based on something in a news report. Instead, when you read or hear about a study that you think may affect your family’s health, talk with your doctor.

Dates to remember:

April 6: Parent Conferences

April 7: Grade 5 Basketball Game

April 7, 8, and 11: ELA MCAS Grade 4

April 11: School Council Meeting @ 3:15

April 13: Multicultural Night from 6-7:30 PM

April 29: Concert POSTPONED…not yet rescheduled

Weekly note from Ms. Snyder–April 5, 2016
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