Author Archives: Bigelow PTO

Food Service Request for Proposal

Message from School Committee Member Matthew Miller:

“Dear Newton Parents,

I am writing to provide an update regarding the Food Service Request for Proposal.

Sodexo is currently finishing up the 3rd year of three back-to-back 1-year contracts. NPS is required to put out an RFP (Request for Proposal). We approved adding two additional years to the contract for a total of 5 back-to-back years with the hope of making us more attractive to vendors.

The FRP group includes:

Dana Bennett (K-8 PEHW Coordinator)
Liam Hurley (NPS Finance)
Cindy Brown (Purchasing)
Eva Thompson (Interim Assistant Superintendent of Elem. Ed.)
Jon Ledwick (Consultant with Edvocate)
Stephen Marshall (Grants Manager, with Food Service experience)
Matthew Miller (SC Rep)

We have met twice as a group, the most recent meeting being held yesterday to review the proposals that have come in.

At the most recent meeting we reviewed the two proposals that have come in. Those include Whitsons and Sodexo. We had expected Chartwell and Aramark to also put forth a proposal. However, they did not. We think this is b/c after crunching numbers they realized they could not make it work. We are calling them to find out more. However, one theme of our discussion yesterday was that NPS is not that attractive to vendors. Some vendors are much better suited for bigger cities where more students (if not all) take advantage of school lunch. It is also helpful to note that we have basic criteria that a potential vendor needs to meet in order to be able to send in a proposal. Given the size of our district, we are limited in options.

Both Whitsons and Sodexo have put together proposals in the form of glossy, colorful binders full of info. While this info is proprietary, the info can be found online. I am in the process of going through the hundreds of pages and will be sharing my analysis. Happy to answer questions as well.

At the meeting yesterday, we established that both vendors meet the minimum criteria to set forth a proposal. The next step is to interview each vendor. These interviews will take place on March 28th from 9-1:30P. We are inviting a team of key stakeholders to watch observe yet not speak at the interview. I am sure many of you want to be a part of this team. To be fair, we are working with the administration and PTO council to get an appropriate cross section of our community including parents, students, High School, Middle School, Elementary School, teachers, custodians, principals and community members. We are currently reaching out to those individuals. That small group of 10 reps will be able to contribute interview questions and lend insight during a debrief. As such, I will be doing my best to collect your questions ahead of time so we can represent what is important to you. After the interview, we will be able to provide a summary.

The interview is one part of an evaluation process. We will be meeting after the interview to compare notes. At that time we will make a decision about which vendor we will move forward with.

One concern that was raised yesterday is how our community will react knowing that we are going to have to choose between Sodexo and Whitsons. Numerous complaints have come in about both companies, and participation rates have not increased. This is why we are, for the first time, involving the community in the process. Both companies have the ability to provide a higher level of quality. It is important for us to work together to decide which represents the best options and the best Food Service Director.

Finally, while there are many areas that we are focused on including conservation, allergies, communication, organic options, local options, etc., as a group we agreed that the number one priority is creating meals that are attractive, delicious and healthy. We are prepared to support whichever vendor we choose so that they can focus on improving food quality first and foremost.

Thank you,

Original message on the Newton Parents group.

Monday: Last Big Night Planning Meeting

Our last planning meeting for Big Night is this Monday, March 18th at 7:30pm, at the home of Karen Markson, at 150 Hunnewell Ave.

We will continue our planning for Big Night, the biggest fundraiser for the Bigelow community, held this year on Saturday, March 30, 7:30-10:30 pm.

We ask for your participation so we can make this a successful fundraiser for the Bigelow community. Please join us and see how you can help!

Bigelow Teacher Runs the Boston Marathon for NSF

Brooke Brady, our own special education teacher at Bigelow, is training to run the Boston Marathon. She is committed to raising $5000 for the Newton Schools Foundation!  Even though this week was Newton Public Schools’ February break, she took no days off!

This is the link to her fundraiser page:

As a native of Boston, she grew up watching the marathon as a spectator, cheering on the runners. Now, she will be a participant anticipating the crowd’s support, as she makes her way up Heartbreak Hill.

Message from Brooke
“I am proud to have been chosen to run for Newton Schools Foundation. The Foundation supports new curricula and learning opportunities that foster high achievement for all students.
“As a special educator in Newton for the past fifteen years, I have had the opportunity to strengthen my skills and see first hand the positive impact that these programs have on our students. The funds raised go directly to the professional development of the staff, and programs for the students.”

Donate To Brooke’s Run

Volunteers needed for Bake Sale – March 22

The 8th grade will be holding a Bake Sale, during the Student/Faculty Basketball Game on Friday, March 22, 2:45pm – 4:15pm. All proceeds will go towards funding 8th grade year end events!

We need parent volunteers to sell baked goods and to BAKE!
Please sign up here if you can bake some treats or if you are able to volunteer with the bake sale.

If you have any questions, please e-mail

Thank you!

Tickets for Big Night are on sale!

Join us for our BIG NIGHT 2019, Bigelow-on-the-Charles

This is Bigelow PTO’s biggest social and fundraising event of the year! Come out with your friends on Saturday, March 30th, from 7:30pm to 10:30pm! This event is expected to sell out, so get your tickets now.

All food, drinks and entertainment are provided for your enjoyment at the beautiful venue on the Charles River, the Cambridge Boat Club. You can sit, mingle or dance away at your leisure.

Buy Tickets

Big Night 2019 – Bigelow-on-the-Charles
When: March 30th, from 7:30pm to 10:30pm
Where: Cambridge Boat Club
                2 Gerrys Landing Rd
                Cambridge, MA 02138
Ticketson sale now
Why: Money raised from this event supports our students, and it’s a lot of fun!

Please consider a sponsorship when purchasing tickets! There are three levels – Head Coach, Coxswain and Crew Member. Each level will include two tickets to the event and your name will be listed in the auction booklet as a donor. This is a generous and much appreciated way to support Big Night!

NEW THIS YEAR: You can use LYFT Discount Bigelow19 and not worry about parking. 

Big Night is for the Bigelow adult community – guests don’t have to be parents, but they need to be over twenty-one years of age. There will be a DJ, food, open bar, dancing, and a silent auction which will feature wonderful donations from local businesses and the Newton community. Check out the one of a kind items such as “Coffee with Mayor Fuller,” “Surfing Lesson with Mr. Harrison,” and “Priority Reserved Seats for the 8th Grade Graduation.” The latest listing of auction items is available here. We are adding auction items all the time so please check back frequently to see what’s new!

 There is still time to donate for the auction so please get your items in!

We look forward to seeing you! 

March Book Madness

Bigelow Library is running a March Book Madness (MBM) Bracket in the month of March for Bigelow students.  

MBM was started by two classroom teachers in 2015. They have built incredible enthusiasm for reading among middle schools students throughout the country over a short period of time. By having Bigelow students participate in this “madness” means they will be reading more books, talking about their favorite ones with others at school, and voting with students all over the country to choose a champion book!

Checkout the MBM page on the Bigelow Library’s website. Since the MBM books became available for circulation, there have been 78 student check outs of these books.

This program is sponsored by the PTO, thanks to the continuos support of the Bigelow community!

Big Night – we still need auction items!

Hello everyone!
We are well on our way to collecting 60 great items for our Big Night silent auction. Some of the highlights we have so far are:

  • Coffee with Mayor Fuller – enjoy a one hour session with our new mayor to discuss the state of the city or anything of interest to you!
  • Gift certificates to Legal Sea Foods, Stone L’Oven, and other restaurants
  • A signed Bruins poster
  • Four tickets to a New England Revolution game on April 13, 2019 at Gillete Stadium

We are still seeking donations and ask for your help. In particular, we are looking for sporting event tickets, additional restaurant gift cards and tickets to museums.  Please use the form below to solicit donations to businesses or to describe your donations. 

Download business solicitation letter here.

We are grateful for any other donations, thank you in advance. And a big thank you to all who have donated so far!

Karen Markson, Big Night Chairperson

Survey about homework and stress

Please help Mr. LaBrache by answering the survey: 

“As part of a graduate education course, I am conducting a survey about homework and stress for our students and families. The results are anonymous and only data regarding the entire group and subgroups will be analyzed. Your thoughtfulness and honest feedback is much appreciated and will be extremely useful to guide us in creating a stress-reduced learning environment.

Please complete the survey by Friday, March 8th at 6:00 pm. Here is the link:

If you are interested in possibly joining me and other parents/guardians on a committee to develop resources and strategies to help with homework and stress, please be sure to answer the last question. 

Thank you very much for your time and assistance.

Chris LaBrache 
Grade 7 Social Studies Teacher”