HARVARD -- Bromfield School Principal James O'Shea briefed the Harvard School Committee Monday night about beefed up security measures at the middle/high school. It's the latest effort to snuff out vandalism at the middle/high school.
There is now an intrusion alarm system in place, including motion-activated alarms with silent signals sent to the police department if the alarm is tripped.
"Last year was a rough year," said O'Shea. There were separate incidents of property damage in and around the school grounds. "It was not a good situation," said O'Shea.
At the end of the prior school year, off-hour access to the building was choked off. Only O'Shea, Assistant Principal Scott Hoffman and the custodial staff had access outside of the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 10 p.m.
The locks were changed. The courtyard doors were flipped to prevent access from outside the building for potential vandals attempting entry to the school by crossing over the roof.
So far, so good, there have been no incidents since June 1, said O'Shea. "Everything is secure. Everything is positive."
As a result, there's strict access to Bromfield, making it trickier for coaches and teachers to enter off hours. "It's not 'Everyone has their own code.'"
O'Shea said it became necessary to enact the tighter policies. "We have a great deal of capital investment there - and liability."
Access right can be granted, but he also retains the power to "taketh away" for those who don't follow the new tighter protocols. "As we told them the first day -- 'We have no room for error. If you can't handle the system, then you won't have access."
O'Shea said new signage at the school warns students that illegal entry will spark "consequences."
Until April, teachers had "all access, all the time," said O'Shea. With May's "condiment incident," the response was swift. "We took access away from everybody. Keys had been used for decades and decades."
Minnow Cup Open
O'Shea said the afterschool "Minnow Cup" program at the middle school resumed on Monday. The hours last year were from 3 to 5 p.m. This year they'll shift from 2:30 to 4:30 to ensure the highest turnout after the final school bell rings, hopefully keeping students in the school setting instead of sending socializing students spilling into the Harvard Public Library.
Ping-Pong, billiards, and art offerings are available. There's also space and time available to complete homework assignments.
There will also be special offerings twice weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
This week, however, the special event is set for Friday at the Hildreth House where students will prepare and serve a meal to senior citizens at the Hildreth House ,which will be followed by a movie screening. "So it's like dinner and a show," said School Committee member Kirsten Wright.
"We'll put up a calendar for each month showing the special activities," said Wright. Upperclassmen have reached out to serve as mentors to the middle school minnows, said Wright. Other ideas in the pipeline include beach volleyball and ice cream social. There'll be increased opportunities for positive connections," said Wright.
The cost is $50 for the entire year, whether a student visits daily or intermittently.
Health & wellness
Elaine Beckett introduced herself to the school committee. Beckett is the new health and wellness teacher at The Bromfield School. Previously at the Nashoba Valley Regional High School, Beckett brings years of experience to Harvard.
Beckett obtained her undergraduate degree from Framingham State University and her master's degree from the University of New Orleans.
Her initial lectures focus on stress and depression management. The results of last year's Bromfield behavior survey are due shortly and Beckett said her class curriculum will be adjusted accordingly to ensure she's teaching to identified needs.
Coming next year will be Common Core standards which will require wellness education for all high school students. Bromfield students can opt into the wellness class in lieu of physical education classes.